MACDONALD, JOHN, Fearn
MACDONALD, JOHN, Kinloch
MACDONALD, JOHN, Blackburn
MACDONALD, JOHN, Calcutta
MACDOUGALL, JOHN RICHARDSON
MCDOUGALL, WILLIAM S.
MCEACHRAN, PETER C.
MCGILLIVRAY, ALEXANDER GORDON
MACGILLIVRAY, ANGUS M.
MACINTOSH, JAMES M.
MACKINTOSH, CHARLES C.
MACKAY, DAVID NORRIS
MACKAY, WILLIAM MURRAY
MACLAUCHLAN, SIMON FRASER
MCMEIKAN, DAVID K.
McPHERSON, JAMES M.MACPHERSON, JOHN
MACQUEEN, JOHN, Kirkmichael
MACQUEEN, JOHN, Daviot
MACRAE, DONALD, Cross
MCRAE, JOHN, Duirinish
MCRAE, JOHN, Knockbain
REV. JAMES F. MCARA, KINLOSS
(Died June 19, 1879)
Author: Rev. William Winter, M.A., Dyke
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.251
Mr. James Finlay McAra was born at Crieff, November 11, 1827. He was educated in that town and in the neighbouring parish of Monzie, where his father occupied a farm under the late Alexander Campbell, Esq., M.P. He passed from the parish school of Monzie to the University and New College of Edinburgh.
It was at the era of the Disruption, when matters affecting the honour of Christ as Head of his Church, and in that view of them were widely discussed, that Mr. McAra was led to make choice of his life-work; and, notwithstanding strong inducements addressed to him to take a different course, he devoted himself to the ministry of the Free Church.
Having finished his studies at Edinburgh, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Free Presbytery of Auchterarder in June 1854. He thereafter ministered with much acceptance in the Free Churches of Auchterarder, Forgandenny, and Blackford, in his native district, and at the mission station of Crosshill in Ayrshire, and was thus occupied till towards the end of the year 1855, when, in the providence of God, he was called to preach at Findhorn, which had then been for a considerable time without an acting minister,—its pastor, the venerable and lamented Mr. William Robertson, being laid aside by old age and infirmity. He succeeded by his gifts as a preacher in drawing together a divided congregation, who united in giving him a hearty call to be their minister, a call which he accepted; and the tie of mutual attachment thus formed remained unbroken during the twenty-three years of his ministry. He was admitted colleague to Mr. Robertson, February 28, 1856.
The full results of his ministry in Findhorn the day alone can declare, but there was one remarkable period of it when the interest awakened was so deep, and the power of the divine Spirit was so felt, that the communion roll in the course of a year was almost doubled; and while previously the minister had to complain that from the paucity of male communicants there were scarcely materials in the congregation for the choice of officebearers, this defect was remedied, and he had the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of this work not in the eldership merely, but in the ministry of the Free Church.
His ministerial gifts were excellent, so that few ministers, if any, in the district were more acceptable as preachers to the mass of its congregations. One felt when hearing him that he was the messenger of the Lord of Hosts, and, in this character, to those who loved the truth his message was both welcome and profitable.
His loving and lovable nature, together with his capacity for speaking the word, adapted him for ministering successfully in the scenes of sudden calamity and sorrow which in his sphere of labour, among a people largely sea-faring, his office led him frequently to visit and witness. How often in such circumstances did he uphold them that had no power, and the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon him!
His kindness and help in temporal things were also freely bestowed wherever he had the opportunity. He had an open heart and an open hand, and an open house, too, above many; so that one might reasonably expect the promise of God to them that consider the poor as having been specially experienced by him. And there is no doubt it was; for though God was pleased to try him for some years back, and particularly in the last year of his life, with great bodily suffering, so that he was constrained to give up the active duties of the ministry, and, with the consent of the General Assembly, to obtain the assistance of a colleague, and though his hope in doing this, that by a period of rest he might regain something of his former vigour and usefulness, was not realized, yet God gave him strength on the bed of languishing, and made all his bed in his sickness. He exhibited throughout his illness such unmurmuring submission and such a measure of cheerfulness, even while habitually contemplating, as he did latterly, the only probable issue of his sufferings, as could only come from the strength given by God himself and from the comfort of his Spirit.
After seeing matters on a fair way for the harmonious settlement of his colleague, he left for Glasgow with his wife and children—three sons and two daughters—in September last, having taken a house there mainly that the family might be united while his sons were prosecuting their school and professional education. He was chosen by his Presbytery a commissioner to last General Assembly, but was unable to take his seat; yet so far as he was able he read the accounts of its proceedings, having always taken a lively and intelligent interest in the business of our Church courts. After this he rapidly sank, till, as has been noted, he died on the 19th June.
The place of his dust is far removed from the people among whom he lived and laboured, but he will be had, it is believed, in lasting remembrance by them as well as by his co-presbyters and many others, by whom he was “greatly beloved.” “And the memory of the just is blessed.”
REV. W. MACARA, STRATHMIGLO
(Died 11th March, 1889)
Author: Rev. Thomas Gillison, Fossoway
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July, 1889, Obituary, p.218
Mr. Macara was a native of Glasgow, born in 1812, and educated at the High School there. He entered the University in 1828, attending the arts classes and also the Divinity Hall there, receiving license to preach the gospel in 1836. He was employed, after receiving license, in two of the congregations there for two years, when he removed to Perth, and was engaged as assistant to Dr. William Thomson. Here he laboured up to the period of the Disruption, and went through, though not with the status of a minister, the whole Disruption controversy in connection with that congregation.
In this way he got well instructed in Church principles, Church organization, and pastoral as well as pulpit duties. This preparation proved to be of great service to him when, shortly after the Disruption, he was called to Strathmiglo, where he laboured so acceptably and so successfully for forty-five years, having the entire burden of organizing and establishing the congregation. There he was ordained on the 30th January 1844.
The work in which he had been engaged was not intermitted but only transferred; and it may not be out of place to remark how greatly he was assisted in his work by Mrs. Macara—she holding mothers’ meetings and classes for young women, where she was not less honoured than her husband, and which gave her a place in their affections not soon to be effaced, as was evident from the unaffected grief manifested on the day of her funeral, to a day seven years before her husband.
While she was so engaged Mr. Macara had established cottage prayer-meetings in the village, which were at first conducted by himself. But the fruit of his earnest ministry appeared very early, the Master honouring it in awakening many to spiritual life, when young men, now gray-headed, became officebearers in the congregation, and relieved him of these cottage meetings, which they continue to maintain to the present day.
In his college days modern criticism and advanced views were unknown or shunned as savouring of heterodoxy, and he never saw the necessity of changing from the Puritanical views of such masters as John Owen or John Howe. His preaching was always on these lines, with sometimes an earnest appeal to the unsaved, as if he had risen from the perusal of the “Reformed Pastor” or the “Call to the Unconverted.” Nor did he appeal in vain, for more than once in his congregation there was a manifest work of the Spirit, when souls were born unto God, and those who had previously received the word of the truth of the gospel were quickened. Mr. Macara felt and preached that those who had tasted the old wine neither needed nor desired the new. He has left in his congregation a savoury memory which will not soon die out.
REV. ALLAN McARTHUR, BARVAS.
(Died July 1, 1887)
Author: Rev. Donald Mcmaster, Port Ellen, Islay
Source: The Free Church Monthly, March, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.83
Born at Dervaig in Mull in 1822, Mr. McArthur early gave evidence of being a subject of the gracious work of the Holy Spirit. As was so often the case in the Highlands and Islands, he had, in his boyhood, to travel a distance each day in going to school; and long after he left the district, a spot near the road to which he regularly retired for prayer used to be pointed out as Allan McArthur’s praying nook—so early was he known for what in after life was the most marked feature in his character, a childlike confidence in his covenant God.
For several years during his college curriculum he taught the Free Church school of Kilberry, Argyleshire. That district was then under the fostering care of Miss Helen Campbell of Ardmore, an admirable Christian lady, whose aim was to have a gospel ministry secured for the district, and who saw before her death, as the result of her energy and labours of love, a most interesting congregation formed, whose first minister was the devoted Mr. Gillies, and which has been favoured since his death by a succession of ministers of excellent character. Miss Helen had the most cordial assistance from Mr. McArthur in all her efforts for rescuing that interesting district from the grasp of a soul-destroying Moderatism. A portion of the district, which is a double charge, had a genuine revival of religion through the labours of Mr. Peter McBride of Rothesay.
Mr. McArthur was settled at Barvas in 1857. He was its first minister, and the Day will alone declare what his labours over that large stretch of country were for the long period of thirty years. The congregation had to be organized, a manse had to be built, the church had to be rebuilt, schools had to be set up and maintained; and the main burden of the whole lay on the minister, although he was cordially assisted by a band of earnest Christian men, especially by the teacher, Mr. Nicolson, a Disruption worthy, who had been ejected from the parish school, and whose character and attainments would secure respect in any community where his lot might be cast. The religious history of the district of Barvas, as well as of the whole of Lewis, is of surpassing interest, and a real service to religion would be rendered if given to the world at a time when so much that is spurious is accepted in the name of religion.
Mr. McArthur’s ministry was greatly blessed. Fervour was the most marked feature of his preaching. The writer remembers well his preaching for him on one of the days of a communion occasion, when he took for his text the words, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Critics found fault (among those who are at ease in Zion there are always great critics)— they said the sermon was defective in its arrangement and in other respects; but the fault-finders were silenced when it was found that a hearer, probably as unlikely a subject as could well be thought of, was, through that sermon, brought to the feet of Jesus, and was afterwards known as one who was in very truth in his “right mind.”
There was perhaps never a minister whose growth as a preacher was more marked. And with this there were a beautiful humility and affectionateness of character. He was the friend of every one in his congregation. Poverty is the normal state of the people of Lewis, and the minister is often applied to for temporary relief. It was well known that Mr. McArthur, in securing credit for his people, was involved frequently in an amount considerably exceeding his year’s salary.
The writer was present on an occasion when his meekness came out as that grace of the Christian character is seldom seen. It was at a Justice of Peace Court, held in Stornoway, where Mr. McArthur appeared as one of a deputation to plead for a reduction in the number of public-houses. During the proceedings a J.P., who ought never to have had a place on the bench, addressed remarks to him which were as undeserved and as undignified as could well be spoken; but, instead of retorting, the servant of Christ held his peace, and his dignified silence thoroughly disconcerted the coarse judge.
He never rightly recovered from a gig accident, when his life was endangered, a number of years ago. But the illness that led to his death was contracted when preaching four years ago in an overcrowded place of meeting. For the last two years he was able to preach but little. His last text was Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him.” On that occasion his strength had been so wasted that he had to creep up the pulpit stairs on his knees from the vestry.
His deathbed was very remarkable. He was willing to die. His great concern was the state of the unconverted in his congregation. He pled with the Great Shepherd to send one who would plead with the people, saying, “I can’t speak to them now.” At times he seemed to think he was addressing them, and would cry out, “O my people, who of you will take the Lord’s side, the Lord’s side against the mighty? Have the faith of the children of God; seek it with your whole heart, and you shall have it.”
His expressions of trust in view of death were most touching. “There is pain now,” he said, “but I am going to my everlasting rest.” In his distressing bodily agony he would say, “Blessed be thy name, O God, for the refreshing of the Holy Spirit.” And he would add, “My soul thirsteth for the living God.” In speaking of his work in the ministry he employed language like Baxter: “If thy work on earth be sweet, what will thy glory be?”
REV. DUNCAN McBEATH, NESS, LEWIS
(Died October 20, 1891)
Author: Rev. John Macmillan, Ullapool
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, February, 1892, Obituary, p.44
Mr. McBeath was born in the parish of Applecross about the year 1821. He descended from a godly ancestry, his father being the eminent John McBeath who exercised the office of catechist in that parish for about fifty years.
Mr. McBeath was regarded by all who knew him from infancy as, Jeremiah-like, sanctified from the womb. He grew up as one who feared the Lord, but it was not till after one of those periodic revivals which visit the country now and again that he made public profession of Christ. This must have taken place when he was very young, for we find him called to what in the Highlands is called the “Question” on the Friday of a communion at Ferintosh by the eminent Dr. Macdonald when he was only sixteen years of age. We understand, in the estimation of the proper judges, the young man passed through his severe ordeal with credit; so report says.
After this Mr. McBeath began to keep meetings and follow in the footsteps of his father in exercising the office of a lay preacher. In 1850 we find Mr. McBeath appointed town-missionary of Inverness, where he spent the best part of his day, about thirty years, visiting and preaching with all the earnestness and zeal which characterized him through life to the end. In this field of labour he was, we have no doubt, blessed to many; for, according to report, we find his services and counsels in great demand by those who were in deep soul-trouble, and passing through the waters and the rivers of affliction.
When well advanced in years, it is said, by being prompted by the advice of friends—but why so late in their advice?—he attended the Divinity Hall of our Free Church College, Edinburgh, as a private student for four years, which no doubt fitted him for his future work, and gave him that order and method in his preaching which are looked for in vain in the preaching of ordinary laymen.
While attending college he preached regularly every Sabbath evening to the Highlanders of Leith.
Leaving Edinburgh, he preached throughout the country, often supplying the pulpits of ministers. It was at this time the congregation of Ness became vacant by the death of Mr. Donald McRae, a man of much originality and poetic vein, the poet-minister of the Highlands. Mr. McBeath was sent there at the recommendation of the late Mr. McColl. So much were the people of Ness taken with the pulpit gifts of our friend, that nothing would satisfy them but to have him as their pastor at once. On being licensed, the matter had to be referred to the General Assembly, who in their wisdom deemed proper that the people should have their request granted, with the proviso that if called elsewhere he could not accept without the sanction of the Assembly.
In 1879 Mr. McBeath was ordained at Ness over one of the largest and most important congregations of Lewis. There he laboured most assiduously and acceptably, and with the zeal and fervour of a first love, for nearly thirteen years. During that time the writer was often with him at his communions, and he has good reason to believe his labours were blessed to his people. He used to point out to us a batch of young men seeking the way to Zion. There were many such, we have no doubt.
We need not say Mr. McBeath was a popular preacher. He was, and he was increasing in it daily. But some may be ready to ask, How was he so effective and successful while lacking the advantages of academic training? The answer is, he was a born preacher, not made. If he lacked academic training, he had something else—namely, the deep experience of the work of grace in his soul. He was the product of nature, not of art.
Our friend was full of matter, he therefore spoke; “while he mused, the fire burned.” This is what we need—the fire which burns. And it cannot be said that too much attention is paid to it. We hear of perfervidum Scotorum. But as Scotchmen we are actually getting to be the dullest of men in the pulpit. As John McNeill said the only time we heard him, “If you wish to draw a picture of dulness enter any of our churches, and you can have it to the life.” What our pulpits need, as the editor of the British Weekly puts it, in reviewing Dr. Stalker’s Lectures, is the “restoration of passion”— “the smell of the heather once more.” This is what made our friend what he was. May the Master of Assemblies grant us more of those men possessed of this divine “passion.”
REV. ALEXANDER McCALLUM, MADRAS
The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, August 1, 1862
The Free Church is already aware, through various channels, of the death of this missionary. Another blow has fallen on our Madras Mission; in God’s mysterious providence, another serious breach has been made in the staff at that important station, already so much weakened by sickness or by death.
It is not likely that the Church at large is possessed of information regarding her last departed missionary, sufficient to enable her to estimate the loss which she and Madras have sustained by his sudden removal. Presuming that more ample details of his life and labours will be made public in some form, we at present speak of this servant of Christ, so single-eyed and simple-minded, in somewhat general terms. And yet we feel that our language could scarcely be too strong. During his studies at the New College, Mr. McCallum evinced strong leanings towards the missionary field, and was signalized above many for zeal in that cause. As president of the Missionary Society, he both stimulated the minds of others, and had his own convictions deepened and enlarged. We are not aware, however, that he had actually decided on proceeding to India till towards the close of his studies. His reverential, and, to Christ’s will, most docile mind, waited submissively for indications of his Master’s purposes, prepared to go far hence, or to remain at home, as that mind which is over all should indicate. It was, we believe, an address by Dr. Duff to the Missionary Society that decided Mr. McCallum. Along with him the Rev. A.B. Campbell, and the Rev. R.B. Blyth, as cordially, as promptly expressed their willingness to proceed to India, if called by the Church, even to “the land which eateth up” the missionaries who are sent to it. Indeed, we believe that their conduct at that time was a model; and never were the words, “Here am I, send me,” more cordially uttered, or more implicitly acted on than by these three men. There was no faltering, no half-heartedness; no difficulties were raised, no higgling stipulations made. Their spirit was,—The heathen are perishing, and our one decisive question is, Does the Lord of the heathen call us to go? Settle that, and we are, through grace, prepared.
But circumstances prevented Mr. McCallum from proceeding to India along with his two friends. For some time thereafter he acted as a missionary to the Rev. Dr. Tweedie in the Lawnmarket of Edinburgh, and in that sphere evinced a love of souls, an earnestness in winning them, a sagacity, a tact which gained some even of the most thoughtless, and endeared him as a father or a brother. On the Castle Esplanade he often preached to crowds; in the courts of his district he did the same, where his audience looked forth in hundreds from the windows of some of those ten-storey houses; and, even now, after the lapse of the seven or eight years, during which he has been a foreign missionary, his name is cherished with an evergreen freshness. The intelligence of his death was felt like a home bereavement by not a few.
It was as a missionary in India that Mr. McCallum appears to have felt he was in his proper place. Always bright and hopeful, always earnest, loving, tender, and discreet, he watched, and laboured, and prayed, with a buoyancy and a zeal which have rarely been surpassed. His feeling was like that of the hopeful men of old, “Let us go up at once and possess it: we are well able to overcome it.” Devoted alike to work in the Institution, and to direct preaching of the gospel in tours, bazaars, or bungalows, he cared not how or where he was employed, if only he were proclaiming the love of Jesus, according to his word, to those among whom he laboured. He had trials in that work, such as only a missionary can know; but amid them all, in season and out of season, he looked up and laboured on, assured that the night was far spent. Amid all changes, the unchanging One remained to him; amid all deaths the living One was still his present help. In the Lord the servant lived ; and when the intelligence reached us of his death on the 11th of June last, one of the first thoughts which it occasioned was, that he had not left behind him a man of simpler faith, of more devoted earnestness, of deeper love to souls, or one more bent on sowing beside all waters the incorruptible seed of the kingdom. “Servant of God, well done!” is true of him, if ever true of man.
Mr. M’Callum was just about to be united in marriage to the widow of a former colleague, Mr. Moffat. She, as well as the Church at large, has now to mourn over this sudden stroke; but if the Lord has given and also taken away, does he not teach us that he is good alike in each? All of us have much to learn in regard to mission work. The Lord alone is to be exalted, especially there, and the wisest and the holiest will seek most earnestly to be silent and adore, even when they cannot interpret such bereavements.
But who is to supply Mr. McCallum’s place as a missionary? Whom will the Spirit of grace prompt, guide, and qualify to fill the blank which this devoted man’s departure has occasioned?
Since this notice of Mr. McCallum was in type, some details have reached us concerning his death. His colleague, Rev. Alexander Blake, informs us that he had been ailing for some time, and complained chiefly of debility. Though still bent on his much loved work of preaching Christ to the perishing, he left Madras on Tuesday, June 10, as earnestly advised, to proceed to Bangalore for rest; but on the night of the 11th he became alarmingly ill, and died at the house of Mr. Rice of the London Missionary Society’s Mission. Mr. McCallum’s death, it is believed, was caused by apoplexy; and his last severe illness was only of half an hour’s duration. Mr. Houston of the Madras Mission accompanied him on the journey, which was by rail, and did all he could to alleviate the sufferings of a brother so beloved and revered. But his race was run. “Heaven is my home” was one of his last utterances, and so he entered into his rest. We repeat it,—in all India there is not a more-devoted, more loving, energetic, hopeful missionary than this departed man was; and while we mourn, as many in India and Scotland will do, for his departure, surely the voice which comes to us so impressively from the mission field will not be heard in vain.
REV. JAMES McCLELLAND, HARTHILL
(Died August 28, 1875)
Author: Rev. Archibald Black, Armadale
The Free Church Monthly January 1, 1876, p.16
Mr. McClelland was known at college as a painstaking, conscientious worker. Naturally somewhat shy and reserved in disposition, the circle of his intimate friends was limited. But those who enjoyed his friendship valued it, and ever felt that if wanting in show, it never lacked in substance.
For about nine years he conducted a mission in the western part of Glasgow, the history of which testifies to his indefatigable industry. When he entered upon the work, the district, as a whole, cared little for spiritual teaching; but patiently and perseveringly he toiled on, and day by day he gained a place in the hearts of many in the district. And now the mission has developed into a congregation numbering 250 members, with an ordained pastor of its own; while on the day of his interment not less than eight or ten of the office-bearers of the mission-congregation were present, all of whom, it is believed, had received permanent blessing through Mr. McClelland’s instrumentality.
These labours were carried on during his student course; and there can be little doubt that the many duties then devolving upon him combined to injure his health and, humanly speaking, to shorten his life.
Shortly after receiving license from the Glasgow Presbytery, he was unanimously called to be pastor of the Harthill congregation. To this charge he was ordained by the Presbytery of Linlithgow on August 27, 1874. His death occurred on August 28, 1875, just one brief year and a day after. As a pastor, he was unremitting in his attention to the sick, and for this department of Christian work he was particularly fitted. His conversation on such occasions was well suited to comfort those who mourned, ever being seasoned with the consolations of the gospel, and mellowed with the unction of a heart that was no stranger to its soothing power.
As a preacher of the gospel, Mr. McClelland ranked high. Emphatically he preached Christ crucified. The way of salvation he pressed home with rare felicity, his naturally fine linguistic ability enabling him at once to clothe his thoughts with precision, force, and ornament.
Yet it is chiefly as a truly Christian man that his memory is now dear to us. His Christianity was at once transparent and unpretending, but decided. In private conversation it was no difficult matter to engage his ear and heart in what concerned the kingdom of Christ; and, as far as his strength permitted, he willingly took part in any work which had as its object the salvation of sinners and the promotion of godliness.
At the commencement of his last illness he clung to the hope that rest and change of air would strengthen him for future labours; but, alas! too soon it became apparent that such expectations would never be realized; his life-work was done, and the Shepherd was now gently leading him “through the valley.” His faith and patience at this juncture were very marked, and afforded strong evidence of the upholding power of Divine grace. Death to him was robbed of its sting, and the grave spoiled of its victory. He was contented with whatever the will of his Lord might appoint.
To the last he cherished a deep interest in all the concerns of his congregation, and frequently inquired of visitors how the work of the Lord prospered amongst them.
Scarcely had he girt on the full equipments of the Christian minister than the last messenger announced that the King called him. Calmly he laid aside the vestments of earth that he might assume those of heaven. In the ripening years of manhood, with a settled sphere of labour and prospects of much usefulness, he has been called away. The hopes of a widowed mother and loving sisters are buried in the dust; but “he being dead yet speaketh.”
REV. ALEXANDER MCCOLL, LOCHALSH
(Died January 22, 1889)
Author: Rev. W. Sinclair, M.A., Plockton
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1889, Obituary, p.118
Mr. McColl was a native of Lochcarron. His parents came from Argyllshire, and finally settled in Glenelg.
At the Disruption of 1843 Mr. McColl was parish schoolmaster of Uig, in Lewis, from which situation he was ejected on account of his adherence to the Free Church. Such was the opinion the Presbytery of Lewis formed of Mr. McColl’s piety and ability that they pressed him to accept of license a year before he had finished his course in the Divinity Hall. Dr. Chalmers wrote him to the same effect; but “constitutional” from the very first, he respectfully declined.
On receiving license in 1844 he returned to his native parish, where he continued for several years, ministering, in the scarcity of Gaelic-speaking preachers, to the three large congregations of Lochcarron, Applecross, and Shieldaig. These three parishes formed then the princely property of Applecross, and although the proprietor was hostile to the Free Church, and for a time a site-refuser, Mr. McColl was hospitably entertained at Hartfield, the residence of godly and highly-cultured ladies, daughters of the previous proprietor. During this period Mr. McColl received but declined several calls. He was busy preaching, catechising, erecting churches and schools, at the building of which he hesitated not “to work with his own hands.”
In 1852 he closed with a call from Duirinish, in Skye, the population of which parish exceeded 4,000, and where he had three preaching places, which entailed much arduous labour. Frequently absent from home in summer assisting at communions, he spent the winter at home preaching in various districts of his wide parish and catechising all his people. In 1860-62 a great revival took place in the parish. Much good was the result. Many of the Lord’s people in Duirinish date their first impressions to Mr. McColl’s ministry at that time. Mr. McColl was seldom absent from the courts of the Church, although in the Highlands this duty cannot be overtaken without much expense, labour, and loss of time.
Finding his health giving way from incessant labours, and from much exposure to wet and cold by night and day in a most tempestuous region, he accepted in 1870 a call from the united charges of Fort-Augustus and Glen-Moriston. The change proved beneficial to his health; but as Glen-Moriston, which has since been erected into a separate charge, was at such a great distance from his manse at Fort-Augustus, he accepted in 1877 a unanimous call from Lochalsh, where he continued to labour with much acceptance till his death. For the last five years he suffered from a mysterious ailment. On the 22nd of January he quietly passed away in the seventy-fifth year of his age.
As a man Mr. McColl was possessed of a clear and logical mind, of great natural sagacity, unflinching in his friendship and in his adherence to truth. Reserved among strangers, he was communicative and displayed not a little quiet humour among congenial friends. He was most kind and hospitable in his own house. As a minister he possessed much unction, was “mighty in the scriptures,” a good exegete and textuary. He had perfect command of choice, chaste, idiomatic Gaelic, in which language indeed, it is no exaggeration to say, he was quite an orator. Since the days of Dr. Macdonald of Ferrintosh, to whom Mr. McColl bore a striking resemblance in appearance and preaching, no minister excelled him in presiding on a communion Sabbath, in addressing a congregation at the conclusion of the table services, and in closing a question—a matter requiring much discrimination, and affording a rare opportunity of speaking in love and faithfulness to the unconverted. There is every reason to believe that on such occasions Mr. McColl’s services were much owned. At the beginning of his ministry Mr. McColl dealt much in rousing appeals to the conscience and judgment of sinners, and in powerful denunciations of sin. Towards the decline of his ministry he devoted more time to study, his library being one of the best in the Highlands, select and extensive. He read much of the works of the German divines, and fully appreciated their diligence and labour, while grieved at and mourning over their rationalism and other errors.
During the union negotiations he issued a pamphlet in opposition to the union; and during his last illness he published a still larger pamphlet against Disestablishment, which appeared in English and Gaelic interleaved. Both are masterly and unanswerable. As Convener of the Synod Bursary Committee he greatly helped in collecting nearly £400 to found a bursary in memory of the late Dr. Macintosh Mackay of Harris, once of Dunoon; and to the general Synod Bursary Fund he has bequeathed £250 free of expense. Although confined to the house for the last five years, he appeared in his pulpit every Sabbath until within a month of his death, giving to his people the result of his studies during the week, combined with his own matured and mellowed Christian experience. His removal has left a great blank in the Highlands—the greatest, indeed, since the removal of Dr. Mackay of Harris, Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall, and Dr. Mackay of Inverness.
Dr. Aird, the venerable Moderator of the General Assembly, preached Mr. McColl’s funeral sermon in which he said much that might well be inserted here, such as that he had known Mr. McColl for upwards of half a century; that he feared the Lord from his youth; that he was a Christian first and then a Christian minister; that he was most consistent in his conduct from first to last, etc. But our space forbids further quotation from a most appreciative and appreciated discourse, and we must stop. The people of Lochalsh are not alone in their sorrow. The whole Highlands and Islands mourn Mr. McColl’s removal. Yea, we are sure that thousands of Highlanders in the colonies and in all the British dependencies will be deeply affected when they hear of his death. “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
REV. R. McCORKLE, M.A., ST. NINIANS
(Died April 18, 1883)
Author: Rev. John Chalmers, M.A., Stirling
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July 2, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.212
Mr. McCorkle was born at Port-Dundas, Glasgow, in 1806, and was the son of a Glasgow citizen, who was also an elder in St. Peter’s Church of that city. After the usual preliminary education he entered the University of Glasgow, where he pursued the course of study in arts and theology.
He was one of the most distinguished students of his time. In addition to various prizes he won two gold medals, one of which was the gift of the poet Campbell when he was Lord Rector of the University.
After leaving the University, and license, he was for some time engaged in editing the Scottish Guardian.
In 1837 he was ordained by the Presbytery of Glasgow to the pastorate of the Presbyterian congregation at Limerick. There he laboured for more than six years, not only building up the congregation, but also taking an active and successful part in the controversy with the Arians.
When the Disruption occurred in Scotland, Mr. McCorkle, being ordained by a Scottish Presbytery, intimated his adherence to the Free Church, and in 1844, to the great regret of his congregation, and at a considerable sacrifice of stipend, he resigned his charge at Limerick, and entered the service of the Free Church in his native country. He was therefore in a sense a Disruption minister.
In September of 1844 he was called and inducted to the charge of the Free Church congregation at St. Ninians, vacant by the death of the Rev. Mr. Greig, where he continued to labour for nearly thirty-nine years with the utmost diligence and faithfulness.
It may be mentioned here that in the end of 1846, at the request of the Church, Mr. McCorkle went to Toronto, where for several months he taught the students in the Theological College. His services in this capacity were so much appreciated that he was offered a permanent appointment in the College, and also the presidency of the Halifax College but both of these offers he declined, preferring his pastoral work in Scotland.
For some years back Mr. McCorkle had been in failing health. His last public duty was performed in his own church in October of last year. Since that time he was almost entirely confined to the house. At his own request arrangements were made by his congregation and the Presbytery, subject to the sanction of the Assembly, for the appointment of a colleague and successor. Death, however, has intervened. On the 18th of April last he entered on his rest.
Besides being distinguished for general scholarship, Mr. McCorkle was an accomplished and matured theologian. In particular he had an extensive knowledge of and a great attachment to the Federal system of theology, the system of Boston and the older Scottish divines. He had also an enthusiastic love for the principles of the first and second Scottish Reformations, of which he gave frequent expositions, some of which were printed and widely circulated. As a preacher he was eminently evangelical and Biblical. He emphasized the doctrines of sin, grace, and redemption through the blood of Christ. His sermons were full of solid expository thought and pervaded by true spiritual unction. Both in the pulpit and on the platform he could speak with classic grace and eloquence, often very impressive.
Besides his pulpit and pastoral labours, Mr. McCorkle gave much of his time, on his best days, to evangelistic work, especially in the mining districts. He was also long and deeply interested in the cause of temperance and total abstinence, and was for many years Convener of the Presbytery’s Committee on Temperance. In the General Assembly he was a frequent speaker on questions of public and ecclesiastical interest. During the union negotiations he took an active part against the basis then proposed. Mr. McCorkle occasionally published lectures and sermons, all of which bear marks of his intellectual vigour, literary culture, and theological ability. But more impressive, perhaps, than all his utterances were his high Christian character and his consistent Christian life. We have rarely known a man who in his personal life walked so humbly with his God, in the spirit of devout fear and filial confidence. He was indeed “a man of God.” His last words to the writer were, “I feel it to be a solemn thing for a sinful man to meet a holy and righteous God; but my trust is entirely in the atonement and advocacy of Jesus Christ the righteous.” This was the trust of his lifetime as well as of his latter end. To him “to live was Christ, and to die” has been “gain.”
PRESIDENT JAMES MCCOSH, D.D., LL.D.
(Died November 16, 1894)
Author: Rev. John Laird, D.D., Cupar-Fife
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1895, Obituary, p.18
As one of our Disruption ministers, and one who has had a very distinguished career both at home and abroad, it is most fitting that there should be a biographical notice of Dr. McCosh in the Record of our church; and as he and I were co-presbyters, first in Arbroath and afterwards in Brechin, I have been asked to give, in a short notice, some account of his life and work.
He was born in Ayrshire, where his father was a farmer, on the 1st of April 1811, and was therefore in his eighty-fourth year at the time of his death. He received the first part of his education at the parish school, and while yet very young he was entered as a student in Glasgow University. He continued there through his literary course; but, like many others at that time, attracted by the fame of Dr. Chalmers, he came to study theology in Edinburgh. He took a distinguished place at the Divinity Hall, being greatly influenced by the eloquence and enthusiasm of Chalmers, and being a favourite pupil of Dr. Welsh. While at Edinburgh College he wrote an essay on the Stoic Philosophy, which was thought so able that the university, on the motion of Sir William Hamilton, conferred on him the honorary degree of M.A.
In due course he was licensed as a probationer and after a very short experience of a preacher’s life, he was ordained as minister of the Abbey Church, Arbroath, in the autumn of 1835. There he laboured most acceptably for four years, building up a large and flourishing congregation. He took a deep interest in the church question, and along with Dr. Guthrie, then at Arbirlot, and others, he helped very effectively in preparing the people for the approaching Disruption.
While at Arbroath, Dr. McCosh married Miss Guthrie, a niece of the Rev. Dr. Guthrie. She survives to mourn the loss of her husband, who spoke of her frequently in his letters as being a great comfort to him in his declining years. Besides his widow, he has left a son and two daughters. His son is Professor of Surgery in New York University, and his daughters are both married in the city, and their husbands are office-bearers in congregation of Dr. Hall.
In 1839, Dr. McCosh was translated from Arbroath to the first charge of the Cathedral Church, Brechin. He was presented by the Crown; but it being alleged that the six months were expired before the presentation was lodged, the presbytery rejected the presentation, and by a majority of one appointed another minister jure devoluto. The minister appointed having voted for himself, the question came up to the synod if it was lawful in such circumstances for a man to vote for himself. It decided that it was not lawful, and the vote being rejected, Dr. McCosh became the presentee both by the Crown and the jus devolutum, and thus a lawsuit was avoided, and the settlement was carried through to the satisfaction of the congregation. Dr. McCosh continued at Brechin to take a deep interest in the Ten Years’ Conflict, and when the crisis came in May 1843, he with his whole heart cast in his lot with the rest of the outgoing ministers. After the Disruption he did a great deal by his influence and example to advance the cause of the Free Church in the whole district of country where his lot cast.
In 1851, Dr. McCosh was appointed Professor of Logic and Metaphysics in Queen’s College, Belfast. The appointment was made by the Earl of Clarendon, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in sequence of his having read a volume Dr. McCosh had published, entitled “The Method of the Divine Government.” He was a most successful professor at Belfast for about sixteen years; and beside his reputation as a professor, he published works from time to time which made him more widely known in the literary world. He must have led a busy life, as first and last he has given to the world twenty-three volumes, besides pamphlets and magazine articles.
Being thus known through his works that had been previously published, he was in 1868 elected President of Princeton College, New Jersey, U.S.A. For twenty years he held that office, and during the time of his presidency the college flourished to a very remarkable degree. He collected large sums from wealthy men in many parts of America for the extension of the college. During his term of office, the number of the professors was greatly increased and the number of students was more than doubled. After twenty years’ service in the college he retired with distinguished honour in 1888.
I have no room to narrate his services connected with the Pan-Presbyterian Council, which held its first meeting in Edinburgh in July 1877. Suffice it to say that Dr. Blaikie on this side of the sea, and Dr. McCosh on the other side, have the chief credit of the formation of the Council of the Presbyterian Churches throughout the world.
Although so many years have passed away, Dr. McCosh left our shores, he never forgot his native land and the church which he so much loved. It was his earnest desire in his old age to visit “dear old Scotland” again, and to resume fellowship with old friends still surviving. In the year 1889, when I was Moderator of the Assembly, I received from him the following letter, which proves his unabated love to the Free Church:—
“Princeton, N.J., U.S.A.
“My dear Friend,—Having finished my work in the college and in philosophic research in this country, I was seized with a strong desire to visit my old church, the Free Church of Scotland, after a separation of thirty-eight years, to meet with you and other old friends, and to proclaim my continued attachment to the principles of the Free Church, and my very deep interest in its welfare.
”God has seen fit to deprive me of this privilege. In the last four weeks I have been confined to a sick-room by a bronchial trouble; and though my medical advisers expect me to recover, yet this can not be in time for me to go to the Assembly. I had gone so far as to engage a berth in a Cunard vessel, but have been obliged to withdraw, and can now only send my well-wishes and prayers to you and the Assembly.—I am, yours truly,
In August last I received another letter from Dr. McCosh, in which he says he has written an autobiography in a volume of three hundred pages, and that he has devoted a considerable space in it to the Disruption and the state of Scotland. He says, “I am not satisfied with it,” and at all events it will not be published “till my death.” It is to be hoped it will be given to the world, as it will contain interesting accounts of the founding of the Free Church in Angus and Mearns. In this his last letter to me he speaks a great deal of the infirmities of his old age, and mentions it as his great trial that although he loved to preach and lecture, he could now neither do the one nor the other. His letter, however, shows that he took a Christian view of God’s dealing with him. He says in it, “I can do nothing but prepare for the other and better world.” “I now cast myself solely on the mercy of God, and ask him to prepare me for his presence.” And again, “I have to sing of the mercy of God, and commit myself implicitly to him.” In this frame of mind he waited for his change; and on the 16th of November, after a life of devoted service and much usefulness, and with his loving friends around him, he fell asleep and entered on his eternal rest. He was taken from the church on earth to join the general assembly and church of the first-born in heaven. His death, we believe, was an answer to the Lord’s intercession for his own: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am: that they may behold my glory.”
REV. GEORGE MCCRIE, CLOLA
(Died June 1, 1878)
Author: Rev. A. Urquhart, M.A., Old Deer
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August 1, 1878, Biographical Notices, p.187
This much-beloved minister was a son of “the biographer of Knox and Melville,” and the youngest of four brothers, all of them notable men. He was born in March 1811.
Both as a school-boy and a youth at the University he evinced good natural endowments, and he took and kept a high place among his fellows. A professor under whom he studied spoke of him as the first Grecian of his class. He gave himself for a time to the study of “law;” but by-and-by abandoning that, he prosecuted a course of divinity in connection with the Original Secession Church. Soon after being licensed, he succeeded, as minister at Clola, his brother Thomas, on his translation to Edinburgh to fill the pulpit left vacant by their father’s death. He continued to minister there from 1837 onwards to his death.
The malady which proved fatal seized him while he was yet hale and vigorous. Though, at the instigation of his medical advisers, he had consented in April to take a furlough, he conducted the communion services on the first Sabbath of May, apparently with his usual vigour, and with all his wonted calmness and precision. One of his addresses that day, on “Lovest thou me more than these?” will be gratefully treasured by his attached flock as a closing testimony that he was “affectionately desirous of them.” On his arrival in Edinburgh, a few days afterwards, he was told by his physicians that his disease was beyond cure, and that his life could not be much prolonged. Writing to a very old friend, he announced this opinion, adding, “Doctors are sometimes mistaken; but I wait upon God. I am sure I will have an interest in your prayers.” During the last fortnight of his life he suffered much from spasms. He showed his consideration for members of his family, by asking them to retire when he felt an attack coming on. On the subsidence of one of them, he spoke of them as “the swellings of Jordan.” Once he said, “This is the rod of God. It is heavy; but it is also sweet.” At another time, he spoke of “the awfulness of the judgment-seat;” then added, “But the righteousness of Christ is sufficient even for that.” He would have liked, he said, to die among his own people; but, assured that he was unfit for the journey, he resigned himself composedly to the will of God.
The blank made by his death in the family circle, in the congregation, and among his brethren, is great indeed.
Mr. McCrie was a student throughout his life. In preparing for the pulpit, he adhered rigidly to the rule “not to serve God with that which cost him nought;” and he was conscientious in preparing for household visitations, and for all public meetings. His discourses, always edifying, were generally remarkable for their originality. Often they were beautiful in diction and gave evidence of keenness and skill in exegesis. They testified, too, to breadth and power of intellect, and to accurate and extensive theological learning. But invariably they bore the impress of “Only truth” as his watchword, and that the great end of them was the glory of God in the salvation of his people.
Besides his necessary studies, he systematically carried on a course extraneous to them; and he has left behind him an immense mass of manuscripts, part of which—a lengthened and careful study of Exodus and Leviticus— he has entrusted to a literary friend, to be dealt with according to his judgment.
He has several times come before the public as an author—now as a contributor to high-class periodicals, again as a poet, and yet again as a theologian. Genius and large acquirements appear in his writings; but he fell into the error of “going to press” too soon, and thus did not always do himself justice. His last work—”The Religion of our Literature”—will probably become better known than it now is. Its quality may be argued from the storm it raised among certain critics, and in Broad Church and Rationalistic newspapers and magazines.
As already indicated, it was eminently true of him that he “loved the truth.” He had faith in its stability, and that it would spread world-wide. Between him and all that tended to imperil it there was an instinctive repulsion. Though he mourned over being morally timid, he was stanch and fearless in maintaining and defending it. If he manifested indignation, it was at hollow and specious attempts to undermine it; and if these were malicious and honeyed, he became vehement and unsparing in his treatment of them. Latterly, his spirit was grieved at the letting go by some of truth concerning the future state, and at what he thought a growing tendency towards the letting go of such truth. Latterly, too, he spoke sadly and with fear for the near future, of the want of rigidness in the faith of some in important truths, and of their slowness and hesitancy to condemn fashionable heresies.
Yet, while an independent thinker and a decided Calvinist, Mr. McCrie respected the judgment of others, and was ready to co-operate with good men. His heart was never more in any work than in prayerful and combined effort for the revival of true religion. Extravagances and mere excitement in pursuing it were obnoxious to him, and wisely, kindly, and with known happy effect, he acted against them. But with his whole soul he took part in services suited to the prayer, “Revive thy work in the midst of the years.”
He had attained to a remarkable degree of self-unconsciousness. He was absorbed by his duties, lost sight of himself, and was scarcely known to speak of his own performances.
Among his brethren he was modest, unassuming, unobtrusive. Yet they all owned his ability, and he exerted a silent but powerful influence over them.
He had humour, and in society and on the platform he turned it to good account. Though he kept it in check, he was yet often, through it, the life of the fireside circle. In platform speeches it sometimes got scope; and then, never coarse, never fantastic, it was skilfully used to pave the way for unpalatable truth, or for the reprehension of a prevalent vice or a fashionable folly.
Among children and youth, pitiful, gentle, tender, and at the same time buoyant and sympathetic, he joined heartily in their innocent games and pastimes; and so his word was law with them.
Music and song were his favourite recreation; and one of his luxuries was to speak of those of his class-fellows who had risen to eminence.
He always said he was no business man; and yet when business was committed to him, he carefully prepared for it, and was exact and punctual in the performance of it.
He was manly and true; a man of a large heart and of great tenderness. Men differing widely among themselves found in him congeniality, brotherliness, sympathy.
Through the grace of God given unto him, he for forty years went out and in among his people, leading a pure and blameless life ; he came to secure the respect even of many who did not follow his faith; he enjoyed the confidence of his people; and he was loved, trusted, and honoured by his brethren. He has lived to be missed, and his memory is fragrant.
“We desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
REV. THOMAS McCRIE, D.D., LL.D.
(Died May 9, 1875)
Author: Rev. James Black, A.M., Dunnikier
The Free Church Monthly, July 1, 1875, p.176
Thomas McCrie, D.D., LL.D., eldest son of the Rev. Dr. McCrie, author of the “Life of Knox,” &c., was born at Edinburgh, 7th November 1797, where he died, May 9th, 1875. First ordained at Crieff, June 1822, by the Constitutional Associate Presbytery, he was afterwards settled at Clola, Aberdeenshire, in April 1828. Thence, in 1836, he was translated to Edinburgh to be successor to his father, whose death had taken place the previous year; and was, at the same time, appointed by the Synod to which he belonged to be their Professor of Divinity. The majority of that Synod, headed by Dr. McCrie, having accomplished a union with the Free Church in 1852, he was elected to be Moderator of the General Assembly in 1856. The same year he was removed to London, to be Professor of Divinity in connection with the English Presbyterian Church; the duties of which office he faithfully discharged until failure of sight necessitated his retirement with the status and privileges of emeritus professor.
As a preacher, his discourses were marked by the amount of accurate teaching which they contained, and the rich vein of Christian experience which ran through them. Always popular in the treatment of his subject, he was, on occasion, powerful and eloquent.
At the commencement of his career as a professor, when we had the privilege of hearing him, he followed the methods of his predecessors in the same chair. We believe, however, that, in the ardour of a mind constantly bent on improvement, he afterwards adopted a course in his treatment of the system marked by originality. Embracing a wide range of study, his prelections were never superficial, and when most controversial were something more than negative. After the manner of Marckius, his method was dialectic rather than inductive; but his accurate distinctions between truth and error were so justly and clearly drawn that they could not be mistaken, and were not easily forgotten.
Dr. McCrie wielded a ready and elegant pen. His contributions to periodical literature, both as editor and occasional contributor, were uniformly marked by an ardent attachment to the great truths of the gospel and a liberal system of Church polity. “The Life of his Father,” “The Memoirs of Sir Andrew Agnew,” “Lectures on Baptism,” “Annals of English Presbytery,” “Translation of the Provincial Letters,” are well known; but, perhaps, more extensively useful than any is “The Story of the Scottish Church.” Those who wish that history eloquently and philosophically told, will turn to the pages of the elder McCrie; those who would read it most graphically, popularly, and continuously told, will turn to those of his son.
Firm in his grasp of the truth, there was nothing of sect or separatism in his spirit; and both in Scotland and England he evinced the same comprehensive aims as did Henderson, Rutherford, and Gillespie, when they went from Edinburgh to Westminster more than two centuries ago.
Dr. McCrie’s personal Christianity was of a robust and practical type, in which the cheerful element predominated, characterized by habitual unselfishness and disinterestedness, and rendered attractive by a fine flow of genuine humour, which never raised a blush nor left a sting.
The removal of prominent men from the Church — when it takes place simultaneously — seems to foreshadow a new epoch of fresh enterprise and more arduous conflict. The Lord changes his workmen, but carries on his work, and still says to Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.”
REV. WILLIAM McCULLOCH, LL D., CARNBEE.
(Died May 19, 1887)
Author: Rev. Neil Macleod, M.A., Newport, Fife
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1887, Biographical Notices, p.341
Although it is twenty-three years since Dr. McCulloch left Scotland, and ceased to hold a ministerial charge, it is fitting that in these columns place should be found for a short tribute to the memory of one, the story of whose connection with the Free Church is so interesting and unique.
During the presidency of Dr. Chalmers over the New College, the attraction of his fame always brought there a large contingent of students from Ireland. Among these was William McCulloch. He belonged to a family of good social position residing in Kingstown, near Dublin. He was a graduate of Dublin University, and an accomplished scholar. When he came to Edinburgh he had formed no definite plans as to his future course of life. The effect produced on his mind and heart through the teaching and influence of Chalmers was very great. It was well understood by those who knew Mr. McCulloch in his student days that Chalmers might be regarded as his spiritual father. Mr. McCulloch decided to dedicate himself to the work of the ministry, and to that work in connection with the Free Church of Scotland.
In the extensive district between St. Andrews and the coast-towns on the Firth of Forth there was no Free Church for years after the Disruption. The spiritual necessities of Carnbee led the late James Maitland Hog of Newliston, who was specially interested in the parish, to originate a movement for setting up a Free Church in it; and Mr. McCulloch, after his license, was induced to go to Carnbee to build up the congregation. In course of time he was ordained as the first minister of the new charge. This was in May 1851. The field of labour was a stiff one, and there were many difficulties and discouragements; but right manfully did the young minister set himself to his task, enduring toil and hardship. He proved a great blessing to the parish, making known the glad tidings in a region which stood much in need of a faithful ministry, and doing the work of an evangelist and of a pastor with all diligence and fidelity. He was an effective preacher—earnest, evangelical, and practical. The manliness of his character, the unfailing courtesy of his bearing, the purity and loftiness of his aims, and his manifest devotion to his work, could not but impress all who came into contact with him.
Those of us who remembered the attacks of illness to which he was subject when a student, had all along the fear that, from the exposed situation of Carnbee, it was not exactly the sphere for which he was best suited, and would have liked to see him settled in a more sheltered locality. He had, however, formed a very strong attachment to the place, and with that buoyancy and hopefulness of spirit which characterized him he persevered in clinging to his post till the state of his health compelled him to retire. When, after thirteen years’ service as ordained minister in Carnbee, he reluctantly withdrew, he did so amidst the universal regrets of all who knew him, and who appreciated his worth and his work.
In the minutes of the Free Presbytery of St. Andrews it is recorded that in 1864, when Mr. McCulloch resigned, the Free Church of Carnbee had about £3,000 worth of property, of which sum Mr. McCulloch himself had given £2,250. On leaving his loved charge, the parishioners presented him with a costly testimonial in token of the affectionate regard in which he was held.
Mr. McCulloch resided in Ireland for ten years after leaving Fife. During that period he received the degree of LL.D. from his own university. He afterwards removed to Cheltenham, where he spent the last thirteen years of his life, preaching occasionally when he was able in the Presbyterian church there; but for some years before his death he was a great sufferer, and was entirely laid aside. He died at the age of sixty-three.
REV. ALEXANDER McDONALD, URQUHART
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, October 1, 1864, p.641
In Mr. McDonald the Free Church has lost another of the distinguished men of the Disruption, the men who gave weight and character to that great event. Mr. McDonald was a native of the Highland portion of Caithness, and gave early indication of a desire to study for the ministry. He was one of a group of eleven or twelve ministers whom the parishes of Reay and Halkirk produced during one generation, every one of whom joined the Free Church at the Disruption. Mr. McDonald first came into notice when minister of the Parliamentary Church at Plockton, in the Presbytery of Lochcarron. He became marked as a man of great preaching power and Christian faithfulness. From all the parishes round—most of them at the time indifferently supplied with gospel ordinances, the people, earnestly longing for the bread of life gathered to his ministry, and on communion occasions there were few places in the Highlands where a more remarkable gathering of the tribes, with the men at their head, could be found than at Plockton. The proprietor of Lochalsh at the time was the late lamented Mr. Lillingstone. In him Mr. McDonald found a most true and congenial fellow-worker, and for many years their friendship continued unbroken, to the manifest advantage of the cause of Christ in the quarter.
In 1844 Mr. McDonald was translated to the parish of Urquhart, or Glen-Urquhart, in Inverness-shire. The parish was a large one, containing a population of nearly 3000. The people of this parish had not for a long time been favoured with what they esteemed as a truly gospel ministry. It has been said that the gospel had not been preached there, save through occasional visits from stranger ministers, since the Reformation. And yet the parish was remarkable for the number of its intelligent, devoted Christians. Few parishes in the Highlands could in this respect be compared with it. Much of this was owing, under God, to the character and teaching of the admirable catechist of the parish, John McDonald, who died about five-and-twenty years ago, but whose memory is savoury, not only in this part, but over the whole neighbouring parishes, and in parts of Ross-shire. As might be expected, to such a people the Disruption was a relief, and upon that event taking place the whole population, with few exceptions, took part with the Free Church. After looking in several directions for a minister their affections were finally fixed upon Mr. McDonald. The settlement was a most harmonious one, and the expectations of the people were not disappointed. For twenty years Mr. McDonald has continued to minister to them, and his death has filled the glen with mourning.
Mr. McDonald was an able divine and a most effective preacher, usually brief and pointed. He was equally at home in Gaelic and English, and addressed large and intelligent congregations in both languages each Sabbath-day. His statements of doctrine were remarkably sound and scriptural, indicative of a thorough acquaintance with the best sources of doctrinal theology, while in what belonged to the experience of Christians he gave evidence of his own deep experimental acquaintance with saving truth. Mr. McDonald belonged to that class of ministers whom the Church at present can least afford to lose. The passing away of such men gives cause for much serious reflection, and is not without reason for anxiety on the part of them who love Zion.
REV. DONALD MACDONALD, PROBATIONER
(Died February 10, 1892)
Author: Rev. D. J. Martin, Stornoway
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1892, Obituary, p.123
Mr. Macdonald was born at Stornoway on 9th March 1853. He was brother to the Rev. A. Macdonald, Ardclach, and the Rev. P. Macdonald, St. Columba’s, Edinburgh. His conversion took place in the summer of 1874 in Glasgow, at an open-air meeting addressed by the late Rev. James Scott of the Evangelistic Mission. It was not till 1878 that he made up his mind to enter the ministry, and in 1880 he entered the University of Glasgow. He missed a year between his arts and his divinity course. He took his divinity course at the New College, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Nairn in May 1889.
All along both his arts and divinity courses his services had been eagerly sought for. He was employed as a missionary at Arisaig, Rothesay, Helmsdale, Oban, Appin, and Taynuilt. In all these places the savour of his ministry remains. He was very much blessed in soul-winning, both before and after his engaging in mission work. He was peculiarly clear in his statement of the way of salvation, and he had a special aptitude for personal dealing. His kindly way and pawky humour opened many a door to him. His ministry promised to be a most useful one, and one our Highlands could ill spare.
In the autumn of 1889 two congregations, Killean in the south, Latheron in the north, elected him almost simultaneously, and the call to the latter, which he had intended to accept, was in the course of preparation, when, suddenly, another call came. He was taken seriously ill in his sister’s house in Stornoway on a Saturday afternoon in September as he was preparing to preach for me on the morrow. He at once sent word putting off the Latheron call; but so attached were the Latheron people that they voluntarily resolved to wait till the following spring, when it was thought that he might be recovered. But the hope was vain. Various expedients were tried, among others a winter in Algiers, but with no permanent benefit, and after lingering on for over two years, he finally succumbed and fell asleep at his brother’s manse in Ardclach on February 10th, 1892. The end was very beautiful. He believed in the City, and looked for it. For over two years he lay at its gates, and its radiance shone out on him. One friend said the sick-room always reminded her of heaven, not so much from any words spoken as from the calm repose of the sufferer. Latterly he seemed almost to dwell within the city, and his thoughts and sayings were of it.
He literally fell asleep. One who had watched by his bed said that, if there be such a thing as entire sanctification before death, it was in our friend’s case.
On the 16th February, as the snow was gently falling like down from guardian angels’ wings, we laid his remains to rest in Sandwick Cemetery by the sea. As the white flakes fell we thought of angel spirits, and the pure white pall that mantled the earth seemed in perfect keeping with the thought of the sinless abode of the now spotless spirit.
REV. JAMES MACDONALD, GLASS
(Died September 7, 1876)
Author: Rev. W. Moffat, Cairnie
The Free Church Monthly March 1, 1877, p.67
Born in Dingwall, 3rd October 1806, where he received his early education, Mr. Macdonald became a student of King’s College, Aberdeen, in 1829, where he completed his studies for the ministry. While at college, and some years afterwards, he was occupied in private teaching, more especially in the family of his parish minister, Mr. Wood. Among his favourite ministers in those days were those distinguished “fathers in Ross-shire,” — Dr. Macdonald of Ferintosh, Mr. Sage of Resolis, and Mr. Kennedy of Killearnan, father of Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall.
Mr. Macdonald was licensed in 1840, and came to Glass immediately after the Disruption, where he preached his first sermon on 18th June, 1843, and, upon the unanimous call of the congregation, was ordained to the ministry in the following August. Here he found a congenial sphere of usefulness. A cordial tribute has been rendered in the public prints to his zeal and success in the suppression of scandalous revellings, at one time customary, even on solemn occasions, in the district; his diligence in feeding the flock of Christ with the bread of life, not merely in the public ordinances of the sanctuary, but in visiting and catechising, so long as he was able, “from house to house”; his special attention to the lambs of the flock, particularly in planting and watering Sabbath schools throughout the parish; the kind affability, and pleasant familiarity, by which he drew to himself the love and confidence of young and old; his love of hospitality; his delight, as he had opportunity, in doing good to all men; his esteemed services as a friend and adviser in temporal concerns; and his valued ministrations as “a son of consolation,” and experienced Christian counsellor among the afflicted.
Much, indeed, of what was so “true and honourable, and just, and pure, and lovely, and of good report” in the character of the deceased, might be accounted for by the pure and affectionate disposition with which he was apparently endowed by nature; and this was, no doubt, to a large extent, the cause of his being regarded with so much affection by men of every class and character. It is evident, however, that for his loveliness of character, especially as connected with his faithful maintenance of sound principles, and steadfast perseverance in every good word and work, he was mainly indebted to the regenerating grace of God, and the operation of a living faith in spiritual and heavenly realities. The combination of so much gentleness with so much firmness as he exhibited in respect of sound doctrine and scriptural principles, cannot be otherwise explained. In private, as well as in his public preaching, which was memorable for plainness of speech, familiarity of illustration, and fervent appeals to the heart and conscience, he declared the pure, unmutilated doctrine of the grace of God in Christ, and “contended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.” He faithfully adhered to “the old paths, where is the good way,” not merely in respect of doctrine, but also in respect of the worship of God, and the divinely appointed government of the Church of Christ. He followed the pure scriptural worship of the Church of our fathers, at once in respect of the matter and the manner; preferring the psalm-book of divine inspiration, and “the melody of the heart” in “the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of the lips,” to all human supplements or substitutes. Nor was he ever tempted to compromise either of the two great principles for which our Church has been specially honoured to contend; whether the principle of Christ’s exclusive Headship in his Church, as maintained against Erastianism, or the correlative principle of his Headship over all things to the Church, as maintained against what is called the Voluntary principle. It is, at the same time, worthy of notice, that one of the last duties which he painfully but firmly discharged as a minister, was refusing to countenance a party that, with the highest professions of Christian zeal, makes light of Christ’s ordinances of a visible Church and a standing Christian ministry.
Though he lived till within a month of seventy years, there is reason to believe that his natural strength had been prematurely exhausted by his willing but arduous labours, having, in addition to hard parochial work, had more than his proper share of labour in the supply of vacant congregations in the Presbytery. He appeared to enjoy vigorous health till about three years ago, when, having walked a long distance to a prayer-meeting high up among the hills, he was suddenly seized with a violent bleeding at the nose, which continued two or three days, causing much weakness, from which he never properly recovered. About a year before his death he had a paralytic shock, by which both body and mind were considerably affected. He continued, however, to conduct the Sabbath services till the 23rd of January last, when he preached from the words: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth ” (Ps. 31:5). Another paralytic seizure unfitted him for almost any duty but that of preparation for His coming, into whose hands he had, in faith and patience, committed his spirit. “His end was peace,” and his memory is venerated by all with whom he came in contact.
From the whole tenor of his ministry, it cannot be doubted that it was blessed of God to the advancement of his cause, and the salvation of souls to the glory of his grace. While, therefore, his bereaved friends and brethren have reason to say with the Psalmist, “Help, Lord, because the godly man ceaseth, and the faithful fail from among the children of men,” they have no reason to “sorrow as others who have no hope.” Trusting in Him who is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,” and who can uphold them to the end of their conversation, as He has upheld those whom He has taken to Himself, they have every encouragement to “give diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end, that they be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
REV. JOHN MACDONALD, M.A., BLACKBURN
(Died June 1, 1899)
Author: Rev. William Innes, Skene
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1899, p.217
By the death of Mr. John Macdonald our church has lost one of its oldest ministers, his ordination dating a few months after the Disruption. He was born in Buckie, and his early education, begun at the parish school of Rathven, under Mr. Robertson, afterwards minister of Aboyne Free Church, was completed at the Aberdeen University, where he graduated in arts and studied theology. During his course at the Divinity Hall he had charge of the school in connection with Union Church, Aberdeen —a training that proved effective in his after ministry—and at its close was licensed to preach in 1842. Mr. Macdonald’s grasp of principle and decision of character were early manifested, and witnessed by his whole career.
Bravely facing the toil of collecting, building, and organizing involved in the Disruption, he joined the Free Church with about two hundred other probationers, to whom a tardy tribute is about to be paid by the erection of a memorial tablet to their honour in the Assembly Hall at Edinburgh. The temperance cause also won his admiration and support. Half a century ago he was one of about forty other ministers forming the Free Church Temperance Society, whose roll to-day numbers over eight hundred.
Mr. Macdonald was ordained at Blackburn in December 1843, and there he lived and laboured, filling the pastorate for nearly two generations, till relieved, between two and three years ago, by the appointment of Rev. J. A. Jaffray as colleague and successor. Mr. Macdonald’s sphere was limited, subject to the discouragements common to most rural parishes of a decreasing population; but his labours were abundant and fruitful among young and old. Two at least of his flock are gospel ministers—Mr. Angus, of the West Church, Stirling, and Mr. Moir, our missionary at Blythswood, South Africa. His style of preaching was of the older school—thoroughly biblical and evangelical, apt and copious in Scripture quotation; lacking, perhaps, in modern form and freshness, but excelling in substance and unction, and enjoyed by many beyond his own congregation.
Mr. Macdonald was a man of simple life, exact and methodical in his habits, of quiet and kindly disposition, firm in principle, yet sympathetic and broad-minded beyond many at his age, a good man, a pleasant neighbour, and an earnest preacher of Christ’s evangel. He lived to be for some years the father of the presbytery; and on the occasion of his jubilee the brethren acknowledged his merits in an illuminated address, his congregation at the same time testifying their interest by substantial gifts. Latterly, Mr. Macdonald retired to live with his family at Brockley in London, where he died peacefully at the ripe age of eighty-one.
May his bereaved widow and children find their comfort and consolation in “the God of all grace;” and may his flock and brethren be admonished by his removal to fresh diligence “while it is day,” for to them also “the night cometh.”
REV. JOHN MACDONALD, FEARN
(Died August 2, 1880)
Author: Rev. W. Taylor, Editor of “British Messenger”
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.253
No one who witnessed the funeral of this “good minister of Jesus Christ,” on Friday the 6th day of August last, could fail to be impressed with the scene. The number of persons present could not have been less than three thousand. The assemblage was gathered not only from his own congregation and parish, but from the whole neighbourhood, and from still greater distances: as the procession passed along for two hours, between the Free Church Manse and the old Abbey of Patrick Hamilton, the dark band filled nearly the whole mile and a half; and companies of weeping women and awe-struck children awaited it along the road and at the grave,—all telling of the deep affection and wide-spread esteem with which the departed minister had been regarded.
There is perhaps not a parish in Scotland whose history is, in one respect, more representative than that of Fearn; that is to say, more suggestive and illustrative of the grand formative principles of the Free Church. This thought was strongly impressed on us in the churchyard, as we observed some of the women standing under a broken arch of the old abbey, while the remains of the first Free Church minister were being committed to the grave. In that sight, the Reformation and the Disruption joined hands before our eyes; the intervening history of the parish indicating strikingly the living principles by which they were connected.
That for which Patrick Hamilton (who was abbot in commendam of the Monastery of White Friars at Fearn1) died as protomartyr of the Scottish Reformation was the gospel of the grace of God, preached by him in obedience to Christ’s commandment, and in spite of the prohibitions of men. His martyrdom, doubtless, excited inquiry in the neighbourhood of his monastery into the cause for which he died; and his second successor, the last abbot of Fearn, voted in the Scottish Parliament of 1560 for the Reformation. The people of Fearn seem to have been favoured with the gospel almost ever since; and in recent times they have emphatically shown their desire to hear it preached in purity, and by men whom they believed really to feel the power of it. In the early part of this century there was presented to the parish an outwardly respectable, not unlearned, and, as far as we have heard, orthodox minister; to whom, however, the people would not commit the care of their own and their children’s souls, because they were not satisfied that he possessed the one essential qualification of a minister of Jesus Christ. Accordingly they did not sign his call, and the Presbytery, in consequence, refused to induct him until peremptorily ordered by the General Assembly. The induction took place in the presence of soldiers; but the people, almost all of them, asserted their evangelical liberty by resorting, as they could, to the preaching of ministers in neighbouring parishes, and partly, also, by attending meetings, held (generally on Sabbath evenings) by pious men in the villages of the parish, for prayer, reading of God’s Word, spiritual conference, and mutual giving and hearing of notes from the sermons of the godly ministers to whom they had listened during the day. One of the leaders of these meetings, Alexander Ross (better known in the district as Allister or Sandy MacHomash), has been immortalized by Hugh Miller, not only for his deep piety and for his eloquence in his native Gaelic tongue, but for his heroic self-devotion in ministering medically and spiritually to cholera patients, when that disease raged in the parish. Sandy MacHomash died about a year before the Disruption, but his example remained, and good men continued to follow in his steps; so that the people of Fearn were conscious of no change of principle when they recognized the Free Church at the Disruption as the true Church of Scotland, and hardly of any change of position in adhering to it; on the contrary, they rejoiced in being able now to carry out more advantageously their long, practical protest. The Free Church congregation had virtually been already formed; it comprised almost the whole population of the parish; and they at once sought among the adhering probationers of the Church for a pastor whom they could receive as from the Lord. Such a one they found in John Macdonald.
He was born at Dingwall in 1808; was parish schoolmaster of Dunnet, in Caithness, at the time of the Disruption; adhered to the Free Church, notwithstanding several offers of presentations to vacant livings; and having within a few months received the call to Fearn, was ordained on the 14th day of December 1843, in the open air, under a hurricane of wind, which did not, however, prevent the gathering of a large crowd to the solemn service. From that time forward he passed his ministerial life among his people. The congregation was what Dr. Chalmers would have judged a healthily constituted one, comprising almost all classes of society; and he won the esteem of all. He was himself one of the most loving and genial of men, and, being by grace one of the most humble, was altogether indisposed to quarrelsomeness or self-assertion; and this, combined with the sound evangelical character of his teaching (cast in the old Scottish type), with his solemn and affectionate pulpit manner and evident solicitude for the salvation of his people, with his laboriousness also as a faithful pastor, his practical sympathy in his people’s sorrows and joys, and his loving interest in the young, whose religious and educational welfare he constantly promoted, endeared him to his flock, until they came to regard him as their beloved father. This feeling was certainly not diminished among the great majority of them by his steady conservatism of old religious customs, which had contributed to the promotion of vital religion in the district for generations, against unnecessary and unwise innovations. Even the few Established Churchmen in the parish shared with his own people, and with the people of the surrounding district, in their feelings of esteem and love. A week after his last communion, at a prayer-meeting, he addressed a number of his people for the last time from the Twenty-third Psalm, thus closing his public ministry with the words, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” His illness, which was frequently very severe, lasted for six weeks; again and again he expressed to his beloved family his longing to go home; and he finally took leave of them, with the apostolic benediction, on the 2nd day of August 1880. He has left a widow and six children, one of whom is a young minister of promise in the Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
JOHN MACDONALD, KINLOCH, LEWIS
(Died February 14, 1896)
Author: Rev. Donald J. Martin, Stornoway
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October, 1896, Obituary, p.255
Mr. Macdonald was born at Knockchollie, in the parish of Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, in September 1845. His father, William Macdonald, was married to Margaret Mackenzie, of the Mackenzies of Kinneries in the same parish, known in generations past for their piety. Born of pious parents, and early yielding to their religious influences, it may be said of him that from his youth he knew the Holy Scriptures. Not, however, until he had outgrown bpyhood did he undergo that saving change without which there is no seeing the kingdom of God. He had been for a time deeply concerned about the nature of true repentance, and earnestly seeking it. A sermon on Christ, “exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins,” was the means of showing him that repentance could only be reached through faith in Jesus, and that the Christ who died for him was the giver and worker of true repentance. So was he led into the peace of the gospel and shortly thereafter resolved to enter the ministry. With a view to this he resumed his studies, and attended the High School of Inverness for some time preparatory to entering on his university course. He entered the University of Glasgow in 1870, and afterwards studied at the Free Church College of that city. Thereafter he crossed over to Canada, where he was licensed in 1870. In February 1880 he received a unanimous call to Dundas, Prince Edward’s Island. In 1882 he was called, again unanimously. to Cowbay. Cape Breton, where he laboured until his return to Scotland in 1885. On November 11, 1885, he was inducted into the then new charge of Kinloch, Lewis, where he laboured till his death, on February 14, 1896.
In Canada, as at home, Mr. Macdonald endeared himself to both his people and his presbytery. When the news of his death reached there it cast a gloom over the parts of the country where he was known. He was equally beloved and respected in his home charge. His preaching was more of the edifying than the rousing kind, and his ministrations were of the sort that grow upon the hearers. Solid, sound, and earnest, his discourses were greatly appreciated by the intelligent and the interested, and his people became increasingly attached to him, for his preaching was thoroughly backed up by daily practice. He lived out what he preached. During his ministry in Kinloch there were times of very special spiritual blessing, and since his decease several have expressed their indebtedness to him in spiritual things. He took a special interest in the young, both as regards day-school and Sabbath-school instruction. The church was a long distance—two miles at least—from his residence; By his own exertions and those of his wife a suitable manse was built close by the church, and none rejoiced more than he did in the proximity of the new manse to the church, as affording him more time and strength for Sabbath work amongst the young. Of this he availed himself, and during his last winter he held a large Bible class, to the teaching of which he gave much time and pains. His last year was marked by increasing earnestness in his work and anxiety for his people’s spiritual welfare. There was none of our ministers more respected, and by his brethren he was simply loved. To know him was to love him; and this regard grew with years, for Mr. Macdonald’s great power was the power of personal worth. In character he was a Nathanael; and though in his congregational work he had much to try and vex him, he never was heard to utter a severe sentence against or pass a harsh judgment on any, not even on those at whose hands he most suffered. And all this with great firmness of character and strength of individual conviction and purpose. Amidst all the turmoil and struggles of the land agitation, of which his own district was a distinct centre, he managed to maintain a thoroughly independent position, and to retain, amidst many severe strains, the confidence and esteem of both rich and poor. He was one of Nature’s gentlemen; a hater of meanness and falsehood; a lover of good and true men. He died as he had lived—at peace with God and man. A large concourse accompanied his remains to their last resting-place in Laxay graveyard; for at his own dying request he was buried amongst those to whom he had ministered for over ten years, whom he had loved, and who in turn had learned to love him. His widow, his people, and his presbytery mourn his loss, and it will be many a long day before the blank made by the absence of the kindly, genial, courteous presence of our late friend will be unfelt among us.
REV. JOHN MACDONALD, CALCUTTA
The Free Church Magazine, November, 1847, p.360
lt is our melancholy duty to record the decease of this devoted missionary, which took place at Calcutta early on the morning of Wednesday, the 1st of September last. Mr. Macdonald was attacked by intermittent fever on the Thursday previous to his death. So late as the afternoon of the day preceding that sad event, no fear of a fatal termination to the illness was entertained, but “coma” and stupor supervened, in consequence of pressure on the brain. Medical aid, though affectionately and assiduously employed, was unavailing. Without a struggle or a sigh, he breathed his last on the morning which we have mentioned.
Mr. Macdonald was born at Edinburgh in the year 1807, when his father, Dr. Macdonald of Ferintosh, was the pastor of the Gaelic population in the metropolis. After finishing his preparatory studies, he entered as a student at Aberdeen, in the year 1821, where he was distinguished not less by his exemplary character than by his high attainments as a scholar. He secured by competition certain of the honours there which decide the standing of the students much like the exercises which decide the order of merit among the Wranglers in England; and among the wranglers of Aberdeen, John Macdonald was the Senior of his year.
He was licensed to preach the gospel in the year 1829; but even before that time he had begun the work in which he ever after delighted, and in prosecuting which he died — the work of winning souls to Christ. From the time that grace took possession of his heart, and transformed it, his chief joy lay in spreading the savour of the Redeemer’s name; and almost contemporaneously with his conversion, he formed the resolution of becoming a missionary to the heathen — a sphere of labour from which he was never wholly diverted, although, in the providence of God, events occurred which prevented him for some time from carrying his purpose into effect. During a residence in the neighbourhood of Elgin, about the period to which we now refer, from which he ever dated his conversion, his strong predilections to evangelistic work first showed themselves; and it was there, we believe, that he first became the means of reclaiming sinners from the error of their ways. So holy aud peculiar was the deportment of the young Christian there, that not a few still remember him with affection, aud bless God for his labours. His first production, “The Suffering Saviour” — a tract of exquisite beauty, and running over with Christian affection, though bearing the marks of the author’s youthfulness — was written for the good of a Sabbath-school which he kept at Pluscarden, in Morayshire.
In the year 1831, Mr. Macdonald was invited to minister for a season to a Scotch congregation then assembling in Chadwell Street, London, but subsequently worshipping in a new church erected in River Terrace, Islington. This visit ended in a call; and he laboured among the people of his first charge till the period of his sailing for India. We cannot tarry to detail the principles and views, as we have often heard them narrated by himself, with which the Scottish stripling entered on his labours in the metropolis of Britain. Once, when enjoying with him a sail on the Thames, he described his emotions at the first sight of London from the river, as the sphere of his future labours, in his own graphic way, by stating, that if he were sure he had God’s command to lift Ben Nevis, he would proceed to do it, looking to the Commander for strength; and in that spirit he entered on his labours in London. He continued there for a period of five or six years; that is, till he embarked for India in 1837. His labours extended not merely to his own flock, who were attached to him in a way that scarcely ever was equalled, but spread in one sense over the whole of the metropolis; and literally, wherever he found an open door he entered, and preached the gospel there. He co-operated largely with Mr. Nasmyth in forming the city mission. In large printing establishments, in mews, in breweries, in Magdalene asylums, in hospitals, as well as in churches and chapels, John Macdonald was instant in season and out of season in preaching the gospel to sinners. Nay, he did not confine his labours even to these spheres, all unwonted as they are. He had a station under the wall of the Coldbath Prison, in the field, where he once in each week addressed the loungers in what was then an open space. Other districts of the metropolis received similar visits; and there the young apostle might be seen, in his own placid manner, and most benignant tones and looks, beseeching men to be reconciled unto God. With no covering but the blue sky, and no companion but Him who said, “Lo, I am with you alway,” did John Macdonald go forth from day to day to these open-air preachings, literally spending and being spent in the work.
It will readily be supposed that he was grieved in his spirit at the extent of Sabbath desecration witnessed in London. To mitigate the wretchedness that flowed from it, as far as he could, Mr. Macdonald adopted the practice of resorting on the Sabbath mornings to the Farringdon, and other markets — at the earliest hour at which the people flocked to them; and there on the morning of the Lord’s-day, as under the Coldbath Prison walls and elsewhere throughout the week, this Christian indeed might be seen holding forth the word of life to the perishing around him. In his Lord’s name, he arrested them in the very act of violating his commandments, and sought, by the Spirit’s blessing, to reclaim them to holiness and God. Nor was he without success. We have seen the fruits of his labours, though we know not whether such things ever came to his knowledge —but his works will follow him.
Even while thus engaged, Mr. Macdonald had not withdrawn his mind from the foreign missionary field. On the contrary, while he was unconsciously in course of preparation for occupying it with advantage and effect, he was from time to time revolving the important subject. To an observer of Providence so judicious and intelligent as he was, incidents were frequently occurring to fix his attention on heathen lands, and sometimes he was so exercised in spirit on the subject, that he feared his God might have a controversy with him for duty declined or delayed. Often was he on the eve of offering himself to various missionary bodies—to be instantly employed in the work; and these proceedings were spread over a period of four or five years. Neither presentations to parishes at home — of which he was offered more than one — nor what he called a “ready-made popularity” in his native land, ever lured him away from the great object of his heart’s desire and prayer — the preaching of the gospel to the heathen.
Dr. Duff’s visit to this country was the means of deciding him, about the yearl836. The fervent appeals of that devoted man brought matters to a crisis in Mr. Macdonald’s mind — or rather, they put the machine in motion which had previously been all constructed. A correspondence with the committee in Edinburgh, begun on their part, ended in Mr. Macdonald’s appointment as a missionary minister to Calcutta. The steps by which that was effected, and his reasons for accepting the call, we need not detail. Be it enough to say, that they were such as to silence, if not convince, one of the most loving and beloved congregations within the bounds of the universal Church. So holy and heavenly were the principles on which Mr. Macdonald acted, that his flock felt they durst not offer objections to his going; and though some other parties spoke of the proceedings in a tone and spirit on which subsequent events have thrown enough of light, yet none that were capable of appreciating high principle combined with a devotedness that was self-sacrificing, and had learned in spirit aud in truth to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified, but must have admired the calm intrepid zeal with which that devoted minister addressed himself to the work to which he believed that he was called of God. He sailed for India in the autumn of 1837, so that he has laboured there for just ten years. Previous to his embarkation, he was married to Miss Anne Mackenzie, a lady of respectable family in Ross-shire, and who has proved in all respects an help-mate for such a servant of God.
His labours in India we cannot trace — indeed, it is unnecessary. He transferred to the heathen and to godless Europeans there the same yearning affection and devoted zeal as had signalized him in London. In the pulpit, in the missionary Institution, and by the press, he laboured in season and out of season, in the work to which he was devoted. At the period of the Disruption, he was the very first of the devoted band in India to proclaim his adherence to the principles which were then contended for, and are now secured by the Free Church of Scotland. He never could understand how any Christian in this country could fail to see, or seeing, to be influenced in the whole soul by these principles. They formed to a large extent the life of his ministry, and no doubt, had the majority of the Church been allowed to falter, as they would have done had they been left to human strength, he would at once have severed his connection with us, and transferred his services to a body with a sounder constitution. Some of the most influential members of the Free Church in Calcutta were attracted to study, and prevailed on to embrace, the peculiar tenets of the Free Church of Scotland, by the singular holiness and the beautiful consistency of his life. In a word, in India, as in Scotland and England, this servant of Christ was about his Master’s work; and like others recently departed to their home and their rest, his transition was a gentle one — a translation rather than a death.
Other opportunities may be taken to draw attention at once to the published works and the evangelistic labours of Mr. Macdonald. We have glanced already at the latter, and in regard to the former, he was the author of a volume of discourses and addresses, with the title, “A Pastor’s Memorial.” He edited Brown of Wamphray’s treatise, entitled “The Hope of Glory,” to which he prefixed a striking preface. In 1842, he edited “Isobar Hood’s Memoir and Manuscript” a most interesting memorial of a Christian woman in humble life, rendered yet more attractive by the interspersed sentiments of the editor. He was also one of the conductors of the Calcutta Free Churchman — an able periodical; and separate publications on the theatre, duelling, and kindred vices, emanated from his unwearied mind, in the hope of repressing their prevalence in the East. He has also published some detached sermons; and when we consider the enervating effects of the climate in the East, with his constant employments as a missionary and a minister, it is not the least surprising portion of his history, to record how much he wrote and published.
But his labours are for ever at an end. His Lord was with him on earth, and he has gone to be for ever with his Lord in heaven. All eulogy and panegyric he would shun, for humility was one of his most notable graces; yet the truth may be told — it should be told, to the glory of that life-giving Spirit who made him what he was. By nature he was gentle and reserved. His mind was exquisitely balanced in all its various powers, rather than signally pre-eminent in any, although the result of the whole was decided mental vigour. When he became a new creature in Christ Jesus (and none ever made a more decided transition than he, gentle and amiable as he was by nature), all the natural loveliness of his character was immeasurably enhanced. His faith was of the simplest, and therefore of the strongest kind. Love was the predominating grace in his soul. He was at all times cheerful, and even joyous as a Christian; so that in his case, Religion ever appeared in her most attractive forms. He was everywhere a Christian — a Christian minister; for, even in his most ordinary doings, it was his habit to remember whose and what he was. As a preacher, he was solemn and winning — the arrows which he shot at the sinner’s heart, being winged with love, penetrated and subdued, when a bolder marksman might have caused a revulsion; and in preaching to the people of God, he showed how well be had been trained by the Shepherd of Israel to guide them to the green pastures, and by the still waters. In prayer, the spirit of adoption pervaded all his sentiments; and yet his awe of soul in that exercise awed even the careless into a kind of sympathetic reverence for the duty, if not toward God. In brief, whether we think of a bereaved mission deprived of one of its sagest counsellors and most devoted members — of a widowed partner mourning over the delight of her eyes taken away with a stroke — of his seven fatherless children, among whom there are twins, Thomas Chalmers and Robert Gordon — or the Church of Christ, deprived of one of its holiest ministers — we must equally deplore his departure. But his work was done; and while we acquiesce in the award of the Supreme, be it ours to be followers of those who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises.
REV. MURDOCH MACDONALD, LOGIE-EASTER
(Died June 24, 1892)
Author: Rev. John MacCallum, Kincardine
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1892, Obituary, p.228
Mr. Macdonald was born in the island of Lewis, in the parish of Barvas, on the 24th of June 1811. His father was a farmer in comfortable circumstances, and was desirous that at least one of his sons should serve God in the ministry of the gospel.
At a very early period of his life Mr. Macdonald came under serious impressions, and was in the habit of retiring to a cave in the vicinity, for reading the Word of God, meditation, and prayer. His aptitude for learning, his thoughtful turn of mind, and his piety, disposed his father to have him educated for the work of the ministry. This he did not live to see, for he died in the prime of life, but bequeathed to his son the means necessary for prosecuting his studies, which he did first at Stornoway, and then at Inverness.
For a time, prior to his entering the university, he taught a school in the parish of Cross, where the late Rev. John Macrae was then minister. Between them a friendship sprung up that did not end while life lasted.
After entering the Hall, Mr. Macdonald succeeded the Rev. Donald Murray as Inspector of the Gaelic Schools, and in this important work he continued for nine years, acquiring experience and knowledge, which afterwards proved very service-able to him—and also preaching the word of God in the different districts he visited. At the Hall he had the great benefit of the teaching of Drs. Cunningham, Duncan, Buchanan, and Black. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Lewis, and received a unanimous call from the Free Church congregation of Logie-Easter, which he accepted. There he was ordained in October 1853, and there he laboured faithfully and with great acceptance for the space of thirty-seven years. He preached “the word” clearly and faithfully. He was much respected by his own and neighbouring congregations as a faithful and able minister of the New Testament; and his services were in much request and greatly appreciated on sacramental occasions throughout the north. As a member of Presbytery, he was regular in his attendance, took a lively interest in all the business of the Court and Church in general, and towards his brethren studied the things that make for peace and edification. He was a loving man, and his love was cordially reciprocated by his brethren. He was affectionate and dutiful as a husband and father, and had the satisfaction of seeing his children begin their course in life in a manner fitted to inspire good hope that their lives will exemplify the Scripture declaration, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he shall not depart from it.” As might have been hoped for in the case of a man of his character and principles, who lived in the enjoyment of the divine favour, his closing days were full of comfort, and “his latter end was peace.”
REV. ROBERT MCDONALD, BLANTYRE
(Died October 20, 1881)
Author: Rev. James Laing, M.A., Stonehouse
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August 1, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.230
Mr. McDonald was born in the West Indies in the year 1825, and was the son of Major (now Colonel) McDonald of the 93rd Highlanders, a gentleman of the greatest worth, and an elder in the Established Church of Scotland. Like most men who have attained to positions of usefulness, especially in the Church of Christ, he had a mother of the most eminent piety, who seems to have largely moulded his youthful life with the power of vital religion. At an early age he removed to Canada, where he was for some time engaged in business; but although he was offered a partnership in a large and wealthy house, and had thus before him the almost certain prospect of great success in the commercial world, so strong and decided were his religious convictions that he made up his mind to devote himself to earnest study with a view to the work of the holy ministry.
On his father’s return to Scotland with his regiment, Mr. McDonald accompanied him, and began his studies in the University of Glasgow, in which he was recognized as one of the ablest and most successful students of his class, especially in the departments of logic and moral philosophy. To this fact is to be attributed the close, compact, and clear argumentation which afterwards characterized his pulpit discourses, as also the acumen of mental discrimination and accuracy of moral distinction which they displayed.
His studies in Arts past, he took his theological classes in the New College, Edinburgh, and gained a very high place of esteem and honour among his contemporaries, all of whom speak of him as one of the most vigorous and original thinkers of his course.
He was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, and shortly after became minister at Blantyre, labouring there most assiduously for twenty-one years. With his fine gifts of head and heart, his strong constitution and active habits under the influence of a scrupulous conscientiousness in the discharge of all duty, he exhibited a beautiful combination of the preacher and the pastor, while a notable feature of his ministerial life was an ardent devotion to evangelistic work, into which he threw all his energies with a system and a spirit which powerfully enlisted the sympathy and co-operation of others, so that few congregations were better equipped than his, in this most important branch of Christian life and work.
His preaching was pre-eminently thoughtful, earnest, evangelical, practical, and withal attractive, bespeaking great natural ability, high culture, refined taste, freshness of thought, rare spiritual insight, and deep personal experience of the truth and power of the grand eternal verities he proclaimed. During the later years of his ministry it became highly spiritual, unctional, impressive, and instructive. This was very marked, and was spoken of wherever he officiated. After the lapse of a considerable time he assisted the writer of this notice in a series of special services a few months before his death, and all were struck with a deepened savour of holiness on his part, and a richer, sweeter realization of the mediatorial fulness of Christ. He seemed to be preaching as if from the border-land of heaven, with its light and glory already falling on him.
In private, Mr. McDonald was at once the Christian and the gentleman. He was modest almost to a fault. Indeed, had it not been for an innate modesty of a very peculiar character, he could and would have taken rank among the foremost of our ministers both in the pulpit, at the Presbytery, and on the platform. The entire absence, however, of the power of self-assertion unfitted him for rising to the place to which his abilities entitled him, and hence he was comparatively little known beyond his own immediate sphere of labour.
Toward the end of August last three members of his family were seized with blood-poisoning; and although they recovered so far as that the doctor advised him to go on his holidays, according to previous arrangements, he was soon recalled to the death-bed of one of them—a sweet girl of five years, to whom he was very much attached.
Immediately after her funeral, he again returned to the coast with his whole family; but scarce three days elapsed when he began to show symptoms of the same disease, and after lingering on for five weeks, he succumbed to it on the morning of the 20th October.
About a week before his death, he said to his wife that he would like to live a little longer for her and the children’s sake, as also for the sake of his congregation, adding, however, that if it was the will of God to take him away he was prepared to go. After this he was constantly praying for her and his family and congregation. When he became fully conscious that death was not far off, he remarked to Mrs. McDonald that God had service for him in another world, and that he felt his work was in a sense but beginning. He made her promise that when she saw him dying she would gather all the family around him and sing the twenty-third psalm, as also the hymn—
“The cross! the cross! the blood-stained cross!
The hallowed cross I see,
Reminding me of precious blood
That once was shed for me.”
On the Thursday of his death he repeated the request, and accordingly the twenty-third psalm was sung, or rather sobbed out by breaking hearts. At the close he whispered, “That will do. That psalm I love and know well;” then, turning his head gently on the pillow, he gave, a slight quiver, and breathed his last without a single pang.
Mr. McDonald has left a widow and five children.
REV. ROBERT MACDONALD, D.D.
(Died August 21, 1893)
Author: Rev. Norman L. Walker, D.D.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1891, Obituary, p.149
In Dr. Macdonald the last of the great actors in the Disruption struggle has passed away. Chalmers, by organizing the Sustentation Fund, enabled the Free Church to assume national dimensions, and to maintain ministers in the poorest districts of the country; Guthrie, in his Manse Scheme, gave additional security to our tenure of the districts which we occupied; while Macdonald, by establishing a nonconformist School System throughout the length and breadth of the land, gave an extraordinary impulse to education in Scotland, and contributed materially to the securing of that great Educational Act which has helped us to regain our ancient place among the nations of the earth.
Dr. Macdonald was born at Perth in 1813. After attending the Academy there he went to St. Andrews University, and from thence proceeded to Edinburgh, where he took his divinity course under Welsh and Chalmers.
It is said that, to begin with, Chalmers thought he himself had gifts which qualified him to be a military engineer. Macdonald also had his early aspirations—he wanted to be a soldier; but the death of his elder brother and of his father made a profound impression on his mind while he was in his second year at college, and his thoughts became finally turned in the direction of the ministry.
After receiving license he spent something approaching to a year as minister of Logiealmond, a place which, like East Kilbride, has been rather famous as a stepping-stone in the career of notable men. But he was soon called to an important parish. In 1837 he was, with the cordial approval of the parishioners, presented by Mr. Oliphant of Gask to the parish of Blairgowrie, and in the same year he entered on the remarkable ministry which he fulfilled there.
The time, as we all know, was a stirring one. That revived interest in the Church and its work which had issued three years before in the passing of the Veto Act was affecting in a lively way those younger ministers who had come under the spell of Chalmers; and, as it happened, within no great distance of one another several men were settled whose earnestness and activity made them by-and-by well known throughout all the country. Among these were Macdonald of Blairgowrie, Milne of Perth, Andrew Bonar of Collace, and McCheyne of Dundee. The intimacy of Macdonald and McCheyne was very great. McCheyne was groomsman at Macdonald’s marriage. They often assisted each other at communion and other seasons, and frequent letters passed between them. They were of one mind and one heart in regard to all religious and ecclesiastical matters; and it was because there were so many of their class in the van of the great movement which culminated in the Disruption that so many of the best people of Scotland were found in the Free Church when the crisis of 1843 arrived.
One of the longest letters given in the biography of McCheyne was addressed to Dr. Macdonald. It was written on Carmel, and contains an account of the visit of the deputation to Jerusalem and to Sychar. In speaking of Sychar, Mr. McCheyne refers to the well-known incident of Dr. Andrew Bonar dropping his Bible into Jacob’s well. That Bible was afterwards recovered by Dr. Wilson of Bombay and restored to the owner; and it was a touching sight to see Dr. Bonar very long after bringing this precious relic out of his bosom and showing it to the meeting he was addressing. Our impression is that that meeting was on the occasion of Dr. Macdonald’s jubilee. If not then, there was certainly at that time exhibited another relic of the friend whom they had both loved —McCheyne’s walking-stick, which had been lost and found somewhere in the Holy Land.
During the five or six years which elapsed between his induction and 1843, Dr. Macdonald made his mark in Blairgowrie and in the Church. He preached with extraordinary vivacity and power; his prayers were as bright and, one might almost say, as ringing as his preaching; his doctrine was intensely and warmly evangelical; and his church soon became so crowded that seats could not be secured in it. But he was not content with filling the pulpit. He took quite an unusual interest in the young, and for nineteen years he continued the habit of spending forty minutes every Sabbath in catechizing all the children of the Sunday school. We have heard him more than once describe this service, which he spoke of as even more remunerative in a spiritual sense than the ordinary diets of worship; and it has often seemed to us that this is a branch of work which many ministers are neglecting to their own serious hurt. There are men, we know, who never enter their own Sabbath schools from year’s end to year’s end. It is a fatal mistake, and no excuse can be offered for it; because, as one reads of what was done in earlier days, one blushes to think of what some are now content to regard as the limit of their daily labour. Might not something be done to revive the decaying second service in our churches by the minister devoting more attention to the instruction of the young?
It was not, however, in Blairgowrie alone that Dr. Macdonald made his influence felt before 1843. His name, even by that time, was noised abroad throughout the Church, and we have a distinct recollection of his being followed in Edinburgh wherever he was announced to preach. His light hair, his fresh complexion, and the sunny expression of his face attracted people to him, and the joyous spirit in which he proclaimed the gospel added greatly to the interest and power of his discourses.
When the Disruption came, Dr. Macdonald had, of course, no difficulty in retiring from the Establishment. He had, in common with his brethren, to relinquish his church, his manse, his glebe, his stipend, and his official status. But his distinguishing feature was his faith, his confidence in God; and having had clearly pointed out to him, as he believed, what the will of the Lord was, he did not hesitate for a moment as to the propriety of going forward. And, happily, his faith was not long in calling forth a response. Almost all his people went out with him. A tent was immediately provided by a friend in which the worship of God could be continued. The building of a Free church, capable of holding many more people than that which he had left, was set about at once. He soon was provided with a beautiful manse; his stipend rose far beyond what seemed possible at the Disruption; while his status in the community was elevated to a far higher point by his consistent piety and the noble simplicity of his life. Thus his ministry, after the crisis was over, was continued with new heart and under better conditions.
Soon, however, he was to move out of the provincial position which he had hitherto occupied, and to take a more conspicuous part in the public business of the Church.
It is not very pleasant, although it is very instructive, to recall what foolish things were done by the Established Church at the time of the Disruption. Its leaders and advisers seem to have shared the convictions of the lairds that the Free Church movement was a summer flood which would soon be over. In this belief they, among other things, tried to make it impossible for any Free Churchman to take any share in the education of the country. They drove the teachers who went out from the parish and other schools, and they did their best to render it impossible for any Free Churchman to be a professor in any of our universities. And what has been the consequence? It is this, that at the present moment the Established Church has no connection whatever with the national schools and comparatively little with the universities. If they had acted more wisely and in a more generous spirit it is absolutely certain that the cry for the abolition of university tests would not have arisen so soon, and that those steps would never have been taken by the Free Church which secured the passing of the Education Act under which we are now living.
The subject of providing schools as well as churches for the outgoing people was formally brought before the Disruption Assembly of 1843. Already it was known that a number of teachers were joining the Free Church, and that they were to be compelled to resign their livings. To provide for them was recognized as a manifest duty, and an Education Scheme accordingly became a necessity. But how was a new framework to be constructed? By an annual collection, incomes of some kind might be obtained; but what about the schools in which the teachers were to carry on their work, or the houses in which they were to dwell? It was a great and a grave question, and in reading about its solution one does not know whether most to admire the faith and ingeunity of the proposal for meeting it, or the courage and intrepidity with which the scheme was carried out. The Glasgow Assembly of 1843 came round. Mr. Lewis of Leith gave in the Education Report. From it, it appeared that, so far as the returns showed, at least 300 teachers had joined the Free Church. Of these 80 were parochial schoolmasters, 57 had been maintained by the Assembly, and 27 had received their support from the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Whatever might happen to others, there could be no doubt about the fate of the latter two classes. It soon transpired that the whole of them were to be cast on their own resources. The Church was face to face with one of its most stupendous undertakings. And here Mr. Macdonald of Blairgowrie stepped in. He undertook, by a process which he explained, to raise £50,000, and his offer of personal service was accepted without, it must be confessed, much enthusiasm or hope. But be was freed for a time from his charge. For a number of months he travelled the country, making his appeals to the people; and when the Assembly of 1844 came round, he was able to report subscriptions to the amount of £52,000. Largely by means of this fund schools were built all over Scotland, and the interests of education were at the same time greatly promoted. But more than that, when the Government addressed itself to the business of more adequately providing for the educational wants of the people, the position which the Free Church had secured made it necessary that it should be consulted; and, as has been already said, the Act which was passed would not have been what it is but for the shortsightedness of the Established Church and the noble enterprise of Dr. Macdonald. In 1857 Dr. Macdonald accepted a call to North Leith, where, as in Blairgowrie, the blessing of God continued to rest upon his ministry. The congregation increased under his oversight from 450 to 1,100 members, and the old church gave place to one of the handsomest structures in Edinburgh or its neighbourhood. But he did not confine his interest to his own flock. He took a large share in the general work of the Church; and it is somewhat notable that while his friends the Bonars and Dr. Moody Stuart all ranged themselves against the union with the United Presbyterian Church, he was heartily and even enthusiatically in its favour.
The honours he had earned came rather late to him. It was only in 1870 (after he had been thirty-three years in the ministry) that he received from his alma mater, St. Andrews, the degree of D.D., and it was not till 1882 that he was raised to the chair of the General Assembly. But he was not an ambitious man, and this slow recognition of his services may have been felt as a grievance by his friends, certainly not by himself.
My own earliest recollection of him is at a casual meeting of ministers in the house of Mr. Milne of Perth. It was proposed that we should have prayer together, and Dr. Macdonald was asked to lead. I shall never forget the impression then produced. One felt at once that here was a man who was well accustomed to pray, and who delighted in the exercise. There was a joyous confidence in the supplications which showed a persuasion that He to whom he was speaking was willing to give, and a fulness and freedom of utterance which spoke of a loving heart and a rich spiritual experience. In after years I had much pleasant intercourse with him, and I ought always to remember with gratitude that it was by him largely that I was encouraged to make use of the pen, which has been so much to me in life.
He wrote most on the page of the human heart. It was the saintliness of his life, the joyousness of his Christianity, his unfaltering faith, his hopefulness, his benignity and loving sweetness of disposition, that won for him the affection of so many, and will ever make his name fragrant to those who knew him. But his book From Day to Day will live, both in the original English form and in the various translations, and keep his name from being forgotten.
REV. WILLIAM MACDONALD, BALLAHULISH
(Died May 13, 1876)
Author: Rev John Kennedy, D.D., Dingwall
The Free Church Monthly December 1, 1876, p.300
The Rev. William Macdonald, Ballahulish, died on the 13th of May last. His death was the close of a life of conscientious labour and of patient suffering. Naturally modest and reserved, having learned, through looking on Jesus’ glory, that the Master alone deserveth praise, and quietly labouring in a secluded sphere, he was never much in the eye of the public, and was known only in a section of his Church. But such a name as his should not be left by others in the obscurity in which it was his choice to hide it, and is worthy of a place in the record of the men who served the Lord in the gospel as ministers of the Free Church of Scotland.
Born in the parish of Urray, Ross-shire, educated in the parish school there, licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Dingwall, he was, in 1867, ordained and inducted as the Free Church minister of Ballahulish and Glencoe. His health, never robust, was soon broken by his arduous labours in that his first and only charge. Having two preaching stations, he was often exposed to drenching rains, and was often jaded by long walks. After a few years of such work, symptoms of consumption began to appear; but in growing weakness he struggled on, attempting to perform all the services which made up the labour of healthier days. But he was soon compelled to escape for rest to a more genial climate. His disease, however, made sure, though insidious, progress, and with but little strength left in his wasted frame, he returned to Edinburgh, and pined on a sick-bed there till he died.
During his last illness, he looked with calmness to his approaching death, and with hopefulness beyond it to the rest of the Father’s house, “continuing instant in prayer,” his sense of mercy often bursting into songs of praise, and still taking an unselfish interest in those who kindly ministered to him, and in the welfare of his family, of his flock, and of his church. One of his last prayers was,—”Lord, we are weak, but thou art strong. Deliver us from sin, its pollution, dominion, and consequences. Make us trophies of divine grace. Be with all our friends here and everywhere. May they be thy redeemed, trophies of thy grace.” After a fit of unusual pain, he exclaimed, “The Lord shall soon give me a triumphant entrance into glory.” His last words on the Saturday evening on which he died were, “I am tired. Is it Sabbath? The rest for which he pined his longing spirit found that night in heaven, and his worn and wearied body found it in the sleep of death.
Amiable and modest as a man, devout and humble as a Christian, clear and solemn as a preacher, and assiduous, faithful, and kindly as a pastor, he was one of the Lord’s gifts to the Free Church; and though early recalled by his Master, He had given him some fruit of his labour which shall be to his joy for ever. His youthful wife, who so helped to brighten his last years of life, and whose affectionate tenderness he so often gratefully acknowledged, still survives, with two little boys, whom, with their mother, he who went away left in charge of Him who “relieveth the fatherless and widow.”
REV. ARCHIBALD MACDOUGALL, ARGYLL CHURCH, GLASGOW
(Died March 28, 1883)
Author: Rev. John Isdale, Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 1, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.181
Mr. Macdougall was a native of Tarbert on Loch Fyne; and after occupying several situations as a teacher, and attending college both cin Glasgow and Edinburgh, he was licensed as a probationer by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in the year 1842.
In 1843, he was ordained to the ministry by the Presbytery of Glasgow, in connection with a new Gaelic charge, a split from Hope Street, which met in what was called Kirkfield Church, Buchan Street. That was the year of the Disruption; and one very marked feature about Mr. Macdougall was his loyalty and steadfastness to the principles and cause of the Free Church. He began his ministry with about one hundred and fifty people; but such was his popularity and success, that, when Argyll Church was opened in 1847, it was nearly filled to the door. And for many years did he continue to gather around him a large and crowded congregation.
In 1859, he visited Ireland during the great awakening that took place there; and such was the quickening he himself received, that, returning home, he threw himself into his work with redoubled zeal and energy. His labours at this period were beyond measure abundant, and attended with the most blessed results. Not only was the spiritual life of his congregation in a general way quickened and revived, but many still speak of them as the means by which they were brought to the knowledge of the truth. Nor was it only in his own congregation that the excellence and power of Mr. Macdougall’s ministrations were recognized. Instances could be quoted of their effect in other congregations throughout the country, where tokens of the divine blessing appeared to accompany them.
The chief feature of his preaching, while he was in his vigour, consisted in the earnestness and affectionateness with which he sought to bring home the truths of the gospel to the souls of men. This gave it its force and power. And by this, though not a great preacher in the ordinary sense of the word, he commended himself to men’s conscience in the sight of God. By any one knowing Mr. Macdougall, it was not difficult to form a correct estimate of his character. His sincerity and uprightness were quite transparent. Steadily and faithfully to do his work was what he lived for. A beautiful trait of his character was his singular modesty and humility; and altogether it was a character fitted to win affection and command respect. I can testify to these being the sentiments with which he was regarded by his brethren in the Presbytery, and, I believe, by all who really knew him. By the congregation among whom he ministered he was especially beloved; and the good seed which he sowed amongst them is still bearing fruit.
For some years before his death his health was in a declining state, and he was obliged to retire from the active work of the ministry. And now that he has gone to his reward, his life leaves behind it this lesson to us—let us faithfully use the talent God has given us, and our labour will not be in vain in the Lord.
REV. JOHN RICHARDSON MACDOUGALL, D.D., FLORENCE
(Died January 12, 1900)
Author: Rev. Alexander Robertson, D.D., Venice
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1900, Obituary, p.91
By the death of the Rev. J. R. MacDougall, D.D., which took place in the manse, Florence, on the twelfth of January, the church has lost its oldest and one of its ablest ministers on the Continent, the Italian Evangelical Church its mainstay, and the city of Florence one of its best friends.
Dr. MacDougall was born in Glasgow in 1831. When his school-days were over, the question of a profession came up, and, as he himself told me, his saintly mother “prayed him into the ministry.” At the early age of twenty-four he had completed with distinction both his arts course at the University of Glasgow and his theological course at the Free Church College in that city, and was licensed to preach. He then went to Brighton, where he was ordained as assistant minister in the Presbyterian church there by two well-known men—Dr. James Hamilton, with whose life the Rev. William Arnot has made us all familiar, and Principal William Chalmers. Two years’ hard work in this fashionable resort brought on the threatening of a breakdown. In order to combine rest and change with instruction, he was planning a trip to the Holy Land, when a letter reached him from Dr. John Bonar, the Continental Secretary of the Free Church, asking him to go without delay to Florence for six weeks to assist the Rev. R. M. Hanna. Mr. Hanna had gone out from Scotland to Italy for his health ten years before, in 1847, and becoming comparatively well, had, at the request of the home committee, begun Presbyterian services in Florence in 1849. Dr. MacDougall responded to the call with the promptitude of a soldier, leaving Brighton for Italy within twenty-four hours. On reaching Genoa he learned that Mr. Hanna had died. Pushing on to his destination, Dr. MacDougall at once stepped into the breach, and found at Florence not a few weeks’ occupation, but his life’s work. He was inducted to the Florence charge in June 1857, when in his twenty-fourth year; so when he died on the twelfth of January last he was in his sixty-ninth year, and had almost completed the forty-third year of his pastorate in Florence, and the forty-fifth of his ministry.
Dr. MacDougall’s immediate work in Florence was to maintain the Presbyterian services established by Mr. Hanna for the English-speaking residents and travellers. The Grand Duke was still on the throne of Tuscany, so there was no religious liberty, and the services had to be conducted in an “upper room.” Very soon Dr. MacDougall chose for his house, and for his “church in the house,” a building on the Lung’ Arno Guicciardini. This building he afterwards purchased and altered, turning the ground floor into a large hall adapted for public worship, and there the Scottish Church of Florence meets to this day. At first, however, Dr. MacDougall only hired some rooms in it, which were sublet to him by the tenant, who was a shoemaker. One day, some fifteen years ago, when I was walking with Dr. MacDougall in Florence, this man passed us, when he told me the following story about him and the building. When Dr. MacDougall was his tenant, urged on by the priests, he used to give trouble by having his men work noisily whilst the services were going on, and by continually raising the rent. Dr. MacDougall said nothing, but quietly went to work to raise money to buy the building, which he soon succeeded in doing. By the old laws of Tuscany, purchase cancelled all leases. This man, meeting Dr. MacDougall when the next rent was about due, said to him, “By the way, I am going to add fifty francs to your rent next term; if you do not care to pay it, you can go.” Dr. MacDougall quietly said, “I have bought the building, and it is you that must go, and that immediately.” And he went.
Work amongst the Italians had been going on in Tuscany since 1845, in which year Dr. Stewart was settled in Leghorn, where there were not a few Scottish residents engaged in business, the port being more important for shipping than it is now. The work was carried on under serious difficulties, both the Scottish ministers and merchants engaged in it, and their Italian converts, exposing themselves to banishment or imprisonment. Yet the work prospered, and when Dr. MacDougall went to Florence, some ten thousand converts existed in Tuscany. Two or three years before his arrival, however, (in 1853) a law had been passed authorizing the retention in prison of Italian Protestants for a period of five years before bringing them to trial. The result was that meetings had to be almost abandoned, and reliance placed more entirely on the distribution of the Scriptures and of Christian literature. History and historic novels, like The Gadfly, tell us of the heroic exploits of Italian patriots in smuggling arms into Tuscany for the liberation of the Duchy and of the Papal States; but rivalling some of these in daring were those of the Scottish ministers and the members of their churches in introducing secretly the weapons of their spiritual warfare. Bibles and Christian books were brought in thousands in Henderson’s ships to Leghorn, landed secretly there, and carried secretly, in small quantities at a time, to Florence, which was the centre for their distribution. Into this work Dr. MacDougall threw himself with all the fervour of his Highland nature, and was eminently successful not only in putting books into the converts’ hands, but in cheering and guiding them by wise counsel. A secret printing-press existed at this time in Florence; but when, in 1859, the Grand Duke fled, and Tuscany was the next spring annexed to Piedmont, the need for secrecy ceased to exist. It was then that Dr. MacDougall conceived the idea of the Claudian Press, and was mainly instrumental in founding it, and in carrying it on for upwards of six years. This press, as is well known, exists to this day in Florence in ever-increasing vitality and usefulness, and it is the one great Protestant printing-press for Italy.
From 1860 onward, civil and religious liberty being now the prized possession of Tuscany as of other parts of Italy (though Venice and Rome had to wait a little longer), the Italian converts could breathe freely, and pursue their work without let or hindrance. Indeed, liberty was doubly secured in Tuscany, for its head, Baron Ricasoli, next to Cavour the ablest statesman in the country, was himself almost a Protestant. Dr. MacDougall took full advantage of the changed times to help on the work. He threw open his church for Italian services, and the Waldenses, who were now in the field, used it till Dr. Stewart gave them one for themselves. Dr. MacDougall also started numerous schools both for secular and religious teaching, some of which are still carried on in Via dei Benci. From 1860 till 1870 the evangelical Italian work made splendid progress. In this latter year Dr. MacDougall founded the Chiesa Libera, in order to utilize the services of such patriots as Padre Gavazzi, who, having helped to give their country civil liberty, were now anxious to see it possess that better liberty wherewith Jesus Christ makes His people free, and for whose services no outlet existed. At its first synod, held in Milan in June 1870, he became its treasurer, and generously undertook to find it material support, he did this, and much more, as we all know, for he organized and directed the whole work of the church. It grew and prospered, until it is now one of the most vigorous bodies in Italy, recognized by the government as a moral entity, and possessing churches and mission stations in almost every quarter of the land. For the purchase of its property, Dr. MacDougall has raised in all some £40,000, whilst latterly he was raising from £6,000 to £7,000 annually for the carrying on and extension of its work. The church is now no longer known by the name Chiesa Libera but by that of The Evangelical Church of Italy. This generic name was adopted some fourteen years ago, when Dr. MacDougall made heroic efforts to unite this church with the Waldenses and other Protestant bodies in Italy. It is, I believe, the old historic name by which the original Italian Protestants were known, and it was felt that, because of this and because of its breadth and simplicity, all evangelical churches in the land might, without much sacrifice, forego their own specific provincial names for it. The hope was not realized, but the name remains a standing protest against division, and a call to union.
Another branch of work that early engaged the thoughts of Dr. MacDougall concerned itself with the city poor. Year by year, as many of his friends in Scotland know, he issued his appeal headed, “Help to the Poor in Florence.” The one for 1899 bears the words, “Twenty-second year,” and tells us, what he often said, that nothing gave him greater joy than this branch of his work. In this connection, I may say that there was no more truly hospitable home in Florence than Dr. MacDougall’s. He and his wife, to whom he was married in 1861, and his daughter, so well known in musical circles on both sides of the Atlantic as an accomplished linguist and vocalist, were “given to hospitality.” Many Scotsmen who have been to Florence, and many Americans and strangers from other lands, as well as the resident Christian workers in Italy of all churches, can witness to this.
None knew better than Dr. MacDougall that to better men’s condition they must be made better men; that no external improvement was enough: they must be made better intellectually and spiritually; they must be regenerated, converted, born again; and a desire to effect this higher improvement, a desire to convert men, characterized his life. This was what he aimed at in the establishment of the Claudian Press, from which has issued forth continuously since its opening a stream of pure, invigorating, regenerating literature. Of course the book that it was started mainly to bring out was the Bible, and on putting this into the hands of the people in whole or in portions was what Dr. MacDougall chiefly relied on for enlightening and regenerating effects. The aim I am considering was that which he also kept steadily before him in his pulpit work — the enlightening, upbuilding, and quickening of the believer, and the turning to God of the unconverted. For Dr. MacDougall knew well that the divine Word tells to greatest effect not when presented to the mind by the written page, but by the living human voice, and by a life the outcome of its influence. To read a truth in a text-book is one thing; to learn it from the lips of a teacher is another and a very different thing. Dr. MacDougall knew this, and hence for spiritual results, for conversion, for quickening, he relied mainly, under God, on his pulpit work. His preaching was intellectual, vital, spiritual, “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” His congregations, Sunday after Sunday, were large, composed of residents in Florence and of travellers from different countries, belonging to different sections of the Church of Christ. Dr. MacDougall, with his broad and liberal mindedness, avoiding controversial matters, preached the truth in Christ common to all believers, to the comfort and edification of all. We Continental ministers are sowers more than reapers, for many of those who are present at our services to-day are away to-morrow. Yet we too have our reaping time. As travellers in the spring and summer come north to Venice from Florence in great numbers, many a good thing have I heard said of Dr. MacDougall, and valuable testimony borne to blessings received from his ministry; and writing to me on this subject, in a letter dated June 25, 1897, he says: “I have often told my family that I only wish printed after my death a selection from the thousands of kind and generous things my hearers have said of me in their letters as to the eternal good they have got in the church.”
By Dr. MacDougall’s death his family and friends, the Presbyterian Church in Florence, the poor of that city, and the Italian Evangelical Church have all sustained a severe loss; in the case of his family, an irreparable one. Yet, in our mourning, we can rejoice that numbers in these classes and churches can, and I believe do, gladly acknowledge and confess the influence he exercised over them for the bettering of their condition, and for the comfort and inspiration—it may be, in not a few cases, for the regeneration—of their hearts and lives. Nor does his influence cease now. It is continued in the lives of others, and in the work which he has bequeathed to his successors. The words of the Bishop of Durham, used with reference to the death of Dr. Lightfoot, and applicable to that of all Christians, we feel to have a special reference here: “What is lost to the eye rises transfigured in the soul, and we come to know that when the Lord said, ‘It is expedient for you that I go away.’ He revealed a divine law, by which each bereavement, each apparent loss, becomes through His grace the source of new spiritual blessing.”
REV. WILLIAM S. MCDOUGALL, FODDERTY
(Died March 31, 1892)
Author: Rev. John S. Macphail, Benbecula
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1892, Obituary, p.301
William McDougall was born at Downpatrick in December 1814. His parents were Argyllshire Highlanders. The father held a Government situation in Ireland, but having fallen into broken health, he retired with his family to his native county, and became tenant of a farm in Kintyre when the son was a boy of ten. William attended the Grammar School of Campbeltown, where he received a classical education, and from there he went to Glasgow University. His first intention was to qualify for the medical profession; but it was the stirring time of the “Ten Years’ Conflict,” when many a youthful mind in Scotland was led to consider the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to decide for him and for his service. Whilst studying in Glasgow, and lodging with his friend D. McEachran, now of Melbourne, he became the subject of a saving change. All true Christians are not able to fix a date as the time of their conversion; but the subject of this notice records in a brief diary that on the 9th of March 1842 he was brought by the power of the Holy Spirit as a guilty, condemned, heavy-laden soul to the foot of the cross, and was enabled to lift uo his eyes to his bleeding Saviour.
In 1818 he entered the Divinity Hall in Edinburgh, and when prosecuting his theological studies, he gave a portion of his time, especially on Saturdays, to visiting families in the Grassmarket and Cowgate. His heart was drawn out greatly in compassion for the souls of those living in such wretchedness and ignorance.
When in Edinburgh, he sat under the searching and refreshing ministry of Mr. Charles Brown and Mr. Moody Stuart. He found the students’ Saturday morning missionary meetings, and Dr. John Duncan’s solemn addresses to students on that same morning, very helpful to him as means of quickening spiritual life. From those meetings many another student as well as William McDougall retired to the solitude of his lodgings for self-examination and prayer. Perhaps no part of their training was of such permanent value to students as what they got on the Saturday mornings in the New College.
He finished his college course in 1850, and was licensed in June of that year by the Presbytery of Skye. The Rev. Roderick McLeod, being Moderator, addressed him impressively on the work of the ministry. Immediately after being licensed, he went to the island of Raasay, and passed his year of probation there and in Sleat, Lochcarron, and Kilmuir. He believed that the Lord had owned his labours in all these places, either in the conversion of sinners or in feeding the flock of God.
A most harmonious call was given him by the Raasay congregation—proprietor and people joining heartily. He saw it to be his duty to accept this call. He was ordained on the 26th November 1851. During his first year in Raasay he went to St. Kilda along with Rev. Roderick McLeod. They were appointed to dispense the Lord’s Supper there, and they had the use of the Breadalbane yacht for the occasion. His first address at a communion table was in St. Kilda, which he regarded as a striking providence. His own heart was much enlarged in speaking to these poor islanders, and there were symptoms of deep and strong feeling among the people, many tears being shed.
When in Raasay, Mr. McDougall married Miss Mary McPhail, who was his devoted helpmate during the remainder of his life. She made his home a happy one, and by her bright, cheerful disposition sustained and helped him in his work.
After four years of fruitful labour in his first charge, he saw it to be his duty to accept a call from Appin and Ardchattan, then a united congregation. Here he laboured with much acceptance and many tokens of God’s blessing for eleven years. From Appin he was translated to the larger and more important sphere of Fodderty and Contin in 1866. God owned his servant’s ministry there also. Some are still left who remember him with affection as their spiritual father, and many of God’s saints were fed and strengthened by his ministry. As long as he had strength he laboured assiduously in this charge. But finding himself unable, through growing infirmities, to bear the strain of so large a congregation, he applied for a colleague and successor, and upon this being granted, he retired with his family to Portobello in May 1890. His last sermons were preached in Fodderty shortly before he left there, and he chose for his texts on the occasion 1 Cor. 15:58, and 2 Cor. 13:14. In Portobello he gradually became weaker, and he peacefully slept in Jesus on 31st March 1892, in his seventy-eighth year.
His preaching was very highly prized. Those capable of judging had no difficulty in giving him a place among the foremost of our Highland ministers. He gave himself to the ministry of the word and to prayer. What he delivered in public was carefully prepared and written out, and was the result of much meditation and prayer. His preaching was remarkable, not only for its scripturalness, but for clearness, simplicity, order, tenderness, and unction. Hearers felt that he spoke what he believed, and what had first gone through himself. The godly felt that his lips fed them with the finest of the wheat. “The broken and contrite” were specially drawn to him, for they found in him one to sympathize with them, and who knew from experience what a broken and contrite heart was.
His devotional exercises were always striking, whether in the pulpit or in the family. His prayers were pervaded with a heavenly unction; there was such reverence mingled with holy confidence, one was made to feel that he was on holy ground, and that God was very near. It was his habit to spend much time alone with God, and he was much in intercession for all classes of men, and especially for the household of faith in their trials and sorrows in the wilderness.
He was an excellent teacher of the young; his Bible-classes trained up many who are now doing good service in the Church, and who cherish his memory with lively gratitude.
He was a laborious pastor, and as long as his strength allowed he went from house to house carrying his message and dealing with souls individually. He believed that this part of his ministry was not only calculated to be useful, but was much acknowledged by God.
He took no very prominent part in church courts, but he was most regular in his attendance, and his opinion on matters under discussion was always regarded with much respect by his brethren, for they had confidence in his judgment and conscientiousness. He held decided views on the many questions that have been subjects of controversy in the Free Church, but he never allowed his views to interfere with private friendship. Some of his most familiar friends took opposite sides from him, but he never judged them harshly, nor supposed that they were less conscientious than himself.
He was a man greatly beloved by a wide circle of friends, and he has left with them a very fragrant memory. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
REV. ANDREW McDOWALL, KIRKCOLM, WIGTOWNSHIRE
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 1, 1865, p.735
Mr. McDowall was in many respects a remarkable man. In early youth, on the occasion of his father’s death, by a distinct and solemn act of dedication he gave himself to the Saviour. As the labour of his life he chose the ministry, and, like many of the most able and useful among our Scottish ministers, he had to provide by teaching for his support and education. A student of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, he was licensed by that body in 1836. In 1843 he joined the Free Church of Scotland, and shortly after undertook the charge of a Home Mission sphere in Aberdeen. He threw himself with his whole soul into his work, and still is he spoken of in that city as one whose like in missionary labour is scarcely to be found. He remembered with devout gratitude the many instances in which the Lord established the work of his hands. Called to Kirkcolm in 1849, from the day of his ordination over that remote and secluded congregation he laboured assiduously in the pulpit and from house to house. He exhorted and rebuked with all authority, and let no man despise him. Among his people his memory will be warmly cherished.
He had a thorough acquaintance with the scheme of Christian doctrine. His knowledge of the Word of God was wide, full, and familiar, and his discourses eminently Biblical.
He was a man of great energy and straightforwardness of character, and was at the same time full of soft and deep sensibilities. He was greatly beloved and esteemed by his brethren in the Presbytery, and his own family clung to him as the vine to its supporting elm.
It was beautiful to see how, through Divine grace, under the pressure of infirmity and pain he grew in meekness and patience, in firmness of faith and fulness of joy. The vicissitudes of a hard and chequered life had stamped him prematurely with the appearance of age, and he sank at last under a complication of disorders. The memory of the grace bestowed on him, and the thought of the glory he now inherits, sustain and solace the heart of his widow and children. Thankfully and joyfully may it be said of him that he was “found of God in peace.”
REV. P. C. MCEACHRAN, WALLS, SHETLAND
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, September 1 1868, p.210
Mr. McEachran was born in the parish of Kilchoman, Islay, in the year 1832. Deprived of his mother very early, he was brought up under the care of an aunt, who resided in Greenock. Having entered the University of Glasgow, he passed through the usual course of study, and was licensed to preach the gospel on the 2nd September 1862 by the Free Presbytery of Irvine.
After preaching at several places in the west of Scotland, he came to the Shetland Isles in March 1863, and was stationed at North Yell till the close of that year. He was settled in Walls about the end of March 1864. His short ministry ended in May last.
It would appear that for many years he had not enjoyed good health, but was frequently subject to severe illness. He was induced to remain in Shetland, having experienced a measure of relief from his complaint (disease of the heart) during his residence in Yell. Though he entered on his ministry at Walls hopefully, he was all along well aware that his tenure of life on earth was held by a peculiarly brittle thread. Often did he express to those with whom he was most intimate the likelihood of his sudden removal. His last texts at Walls and Sandness—”Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” and “Be ye therefore ready also,” &c.—indicate the direction of his thoughts, and are a token of the gracious Master’s loving-kindness in preparing him for the solemn change so near at hand.
After giving directions to his servant relative to his proposed journey to Edinburgh to attend the meeting of the General Assembly, he retired to rest in his usual state of health. When this faithful domestic, after repeated calls at his door in the morning, received no answer, she at length entered the room, and found the body of her beloved master still in the arms of death. He had himself realized the truths which formed the subject of his last public addresses.
Those who were intimate with him had learned to value him the more they knew him. For candour, integrity, and warmth of heart, he was peculiarly distinguished. Anything like duplicity or hypocrisy he abhorred; and when his state of weakness and repeated ailments are remembered, the wonder is that he retained so much cheerfulness and buoyancy of spirit.
His visits to the sick of all denominations were earnestly desired and highly prized. For all in affliction he felt deeply. Not a few will sorely miss him for the solace and help he so cheerfully bestowed. In the pulpit his manner was earnest, and his discourses, though cast for the most part in a doctrinal mould, were strikingly impressive, and pungent in their application.
Occasionally during the time of conducting divine service, he had to pause when his ailment manifested itself. The weakness to which he was reduced after his work was over affectingly showed under what difficulties he was fulfilling his course. All this was much aggravated by the peculiarly laborious nature of the Walls ministry. The Lord in mercy grant that a suitable labourer may soon be thrust forth to that remote yet very interesting corner of the vineyard.
REV. JOHN McFARLAN, GREENOCK
(Died December 18, 1891)
Author: Rev. Hugh Macmillan, D.D., LL.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1892, Obituary, p.72
The subject of this short notice was born in Linlithgowshire in 1815. His father was the well-known Dr. Patrick McFarlan, whose portrait is represented in the foreground of D. O. Hill’s picture of the Disruption, as signing away one of the largest stipends in Scotland, in proof of his devotion to the cause of the Free Church.
The son, who was carefully educated at home and college, was licensed to preach in 1839. His first charge was at Monkton, in the neighbourhood of Ayr, which he occupied with great acceptance and usefulness for several years, till he was transferred to Greenock in 1854.
In this town he found a sphere which suited him in every respect, and for which he was well adapted. His congregation was large and influential, and helped him very heartily in all the departments of Christian work which they carried on together. He did not spare himself, but gave of his best to the service which he loved for the long period of four-and-twenty years; and often his strength of body and mind must have been taxed to the utmost to satisfy the many demands made upon him.
Mr. McFarlan always gave one the feeling of a man who was deeply in earnest, who lived the atmosphere of pious meditation and prayer, and who had a single eye for the glory of his Redeemer and the salvation of souls. He had a shy, reserved manner, arising from great distrust of himself. His speech was slow and deliberate; he had about him a constitutional calmness which strangers might not have been able at all times to penetrate to see beneath the wise mind and the warm heart. But those to whom he unveiled his inner moments of confidence knew well that under his seemingly impassive exterior there was not a little of his father’s strength of character and sanguine temperament. He appeared always like a man who held himself in leash, who had reserves of intellectual and spiritual force which he did not call forth; and this calm, slow manner of his was often most effective in giving solemnity and weight to his preaching and conversation. It had a momentum which carried his words—few and well-ordered and memorable–straight to their point and fixed them there.
Mr. McFarlan was a well-read and well-cultured man, and had a mind richly furnished from many sources of knowledge; and he laid all his gifts and acquirements most conscientiously upon the altar which sanctifies the gift, and used them freely and effectually in the work of the ministry. His preaching was simple, natural, and unaffected; redeemed from commonplaceness by the beauty of his thoughts, the aptness of his images, and the unction of his manner. He was an excellent teacher of the young and his Bible-class trained up many men and who have since done valuable service to the Church and who cherish with lively gratitude the memory of the happy and profitable connection. In his pastoral work he was indefatigable, visiting all the members of his congregation in their homes, in times of sickness and sorrow, but on other occasions as well, making himself their friend, to cheer them in their dark, and to share their joy in their bright, experiences. By his efforts, ably aided by the office-bearers and members, the old brick church was superseded by the present large and beautiful church in a more suitable locality; and that admirable organization was formed which has made the congregation under the former and the existing ministry so strong, so united, and so enthusiastic in carrying on their numerous successful agencies. A ministry so long continued and so devoted as his was has left behind rich and abiding results. Obliged in 1878 by the breaking down of his health to give up his much-loved work, he spent the last years of his life in retirement; and by a slow and gentle, and in the end unconscious way, he was led like a little child down the dark valley, until it opened out for him upon the green pastures and the still waters to which the Good Shepherd whom he served so faithfully and so well conducted him. He leaves behind a widow and a son and daughter to mourn their great loss, and many friends to cherish the memory of a beautiful and consistent life.
REV. DR. JOHN MACFARLANE, DALKEITH
(Died June 2, 1875)
Author: Rev. Hugh MacMillan, LLD., F.R.S.E.
The Free Church Monthly August 2, 1875, p.199
Not the least conspicuous among the many notable Disruption ministers who have recently left us, one after the other, was Dr. Macfarlane of Dalkeith. One of the oldest members of that noble band of spiritual heroes, he lingered amongst us — after nearly all his contemporaries had passed away — like the last red leaf of autumn that trembles on the bough of spring. But he has gone at length to join the great and blessed majority, leaving a blank behind which cannot easily be filled. Many will cherish the remembrance of his wise words and kind deeds, of his tall, stately form and snow-white locks, his genial manners and hearty generous hospitality; while not a few will reckon among their most precious treasures of memory the associations connected with his name. He was not in any sense what is distinctively called a public man; his voice was seldom heard on the platform, or in the ecclesiastical arena. A certain sensitiveness of disposition, which clung to him to the last, prevented him from coming forward on conspicuous occasions, and doing justice to the talents for debate and administration which he undoubtedly possessed. But there were few ministers whose character was more highly respected, and whose opinion was more justly valued, than his. He possessed the esteem and friendship of many of the leading men of the Church, who often enjoyed the benefit of his counsel and experience in times of difficulty. He was one of those quiet, retiring men, whose life-work was hidden, as it were, beneath the surface; but which, in its own way and degree, was as useful and needful as that which wrought in the eye of the public, and attracted prominent attention.
Dr. Macfarlane was born in Edinburgh shortly before the commencement of the present century; so that, at his death, he had attained to the mature age of seventy-seven years. His father was a man of considerable culture, and made some attainments in geology, at a time when that science was in its infancy, and popularly unknown; while his mother was a woman of great piety and activity, going about continually doing good among the poor and helpless. One or two prominent benevolent institutions in Edinburgh owe their origin to her sagacity and zeal. Reared in such a home, he early gave proof of having undergone a saving change, and resolved to dedicate bis life to the work of the ministry. At college, his companions were Dr. Guthrie, Dr. Smith of Glasgow, Dr. Brydone of Dunscore, and other kindred spirits, who formed an evangelical nucleus amid the prevailing moderatism, and were distinguished for their religious devotion. With these he maintained a mutually pleasant and profitable intimacy, lasting as long as life. Licensed at an early age, he officiated for some time in London as a probationer with great acceptance. In 1823 he was ordained at Ardoch, in Perthshire — the site of the famous Roman camp; and, in this quiet country district, he spent ten years of a laborious and successful ministry, greatly respected and beloved by the people, who had unanimously chosen him to be their pastor. Amongst his intimate associates at this period was the late Dr. McCrie, who was settled in his neighbourhood as minister of the Secession Church at Crieff; and many a pleasant day did they spend together in friendly intercourse and discussion. In 1833 Dr. Macfarlane was presented to the parish of Collessie, in Fifeshire, where he had the great happiness and privilege of being associated in every good work with his able and indefatigable parishioner, the well-known Mr. Maitland Makgill Crichton of Rankeillour. His ministry in this parish extended over the whole period of the Ten Years’ Conflict; and so successful was he in imbuing the minds of his people with his own high ideas of evangelical truth and spiritual independence, that at the Disruption no less than two-thirds of the congregation left the Established Church along with him. On the ever-memorable 18th of May 1843, Mr. Makgill Crichton and he, as elder and minister, walked side by side from St. Andrew’s Church down to Canonmills, and cast in their lot with the Free Church of Scotland. During the summer Dr. Macfarlane and his people — as was indeed the common experience — endured many hardships and privations. No suitable place of worship could be found; and the Sabbath services had to be conducted in the open air. But their trials only strengthened their mutual devotion to the cause, quickened their spiritual life, and drew the bonds of attachment to each other closer. Before he left, however, which he did at the close of the year, he had the satisfaction of seeing his congregation settled in a comfortable place of worship, and in a fair way of becoming a prosperous charge.
From Collessie Dr. Macfarlane was translated to Dalkeith, with which, for the last thirty-one years, he had been closely identified. In this larger and more important sphere he did much for the cause of evangelical religion, and for the promotion of the temporal interests of his fellow-townsmen. He was a most faithful and efficient preacher of the gospel, setting the truth before his people in a manner at once to convince their understandings and captivate their hearts. As a pastor, he was most diligent and conscientious in all his duties, winning the warm regard and love of all by his thoughtful attentions and his tender sympathy in the time of trouble. He was ready to lend a helping hand to every local work which had for its object the social or religious improvement of the town. The cause of education especially ever found in him a warm advocate; and it was chiefly through his exertions that the Dalkeith Academy, which has proved so useful and successful, was instituted. A striking practical proof of the high estimation in which he was held by all classes of the community was given in 1873, when, in connection with his jubilee, a magnificent piece of silver plate was publicly presented to him in the Corn Exchange at Dalkeith. On that occasion the spacious hall was filled with a large and enthusiastic assemblage; and leading ministers of all denominations, from different parts of the country, united in doing him honour, and testifying their esteem and regard. His speech, reviewing the principal events of his ministerial life — delivered in a clear distinct voice, heard in every part of the hall perfectly, although physical weakness compelled him to keep his seat all the time — was most touching in its humility and pathos, and left an impression upon all present which will not soon be effaced.
The same cause which prevented him from taking the prominent position in the Church for which he was fitted, also hindered him from doing much literary work, for which he had gifts and qualifications of no ordinary kind. His principal work is “The Jubilee of the World: an Essay on Christian Missions to the Heathen,” published in 1842. It received the warm commendation of the late Isaac Taylor, and is well worthy of perusal, not only on account of its clear, just views on the subject of missions, but also on account of its fervid zeal and inspiring eloquence. For his scholarly attainments and eminence as a minister and author, the Princeton University conferred upon him the honorary degree of D.D.
For a number of years past Dr. Macfarlane required the assistance of a colleague; and he was most fortunate in those, who were associated with him in that office. Latterly he retired altogether from active duty, and was confined to the house. Besides the infirmities of old age, he suffered much from a painful and protracted disease, which reduced him in the end to a state of great helplessness. But although the trial was unusually severe to one whose habits, during a long life, had been peculiarly active and independent, he bore it with Christian patience and trust in the Divine goodness. And his last days bore ample testimony that the crown of a noble, uniformly consistent life — namely, a righteous death – was not wanting in his case; displayed the triumph of grace, mellowed and ripened by sore and long-continued affliction. His remains were interred in the New Burying-ground at Dalkeith, in the presence of a very large concourse of attached and mourning friends gathered from all quarters, and amid many touching tokens of the deep and sincere regret of the whole town. Some time before he died he wished that I should undertake this labour of love which I have now fulfilled. As a relative, I have refrained from expressing my own feelings regarding him, but have simply endeavoured to convey the impression which he produced upon ordinary acquaintances. Those who knew him best, and loved him most, could, by unveiling the sanctities of private and domestic life, have added many touches of a tender nature to this slight sketch. To them, though dead, he will ever speak in the sorrowful silence of memory — of much that must remain unspoken to others.
REV. ALEXANDER GORDON MCGILLIVRAY, M.A., ROSEBURN, EDINBURGH
(Died May 11, 1889)
Author: Rev. Dr. Burns, Kirkliston
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August, 1889, Biographical Notices, p.246
Mr. McGillivray was born in the manse of Assynt, and brought up in the manse of Lairg, of which parishes successively his venerable father, the Rev. Duncan McGillivray, was for long years the minister. He was the youngest but one in a large family. Two of his older brothers having studied for the ministry, he, in the first instance, made choice of the medical profession, and with that view attended the usual classes at Aberdeen and Edinburgh, where he took his degree.
Soon after this he was appointed medical officer for the parish of Tongue, where his practice obliged him to travel over a very wide district of country, “in journeyings oft,” affording him thus the best opportunities of knowing the social condition of the people, and of sympathizing in the hardships which those of them especially who had been evicted from their own pleasant valleys to become “crofters” on the lonely, sterile shore were then suffering, as their descendants still are. He became their friend and counsellor, as he was their physician; and Sutherlandshire ever after retained a very warm place in his affections, even to the last days of his life.
While resident at Tongue he was brought much into contact with its worthy old minister, Mr. McKenzie, and formed a very close intimacy with his like-minded son William, the tragic story of whose Disruption experiences made their names famous afterwards all over the north, as it keeps their memory fresh and fragrant still.
This intimacy with the manse of Tongue, together with the painfully sudden death of his own brother Robert at the manse of Lairg while he was there on a short visit, had much to do in the fixing, if not the forming, of his religious character, and in shaping the course of his subsequent life. It led him to resolve that he would be a minister. So, having obtained a situation as tutor in a gentleman’s family, he gave himself forthwith to the studies of the Divinity Hall, first in Glasgow University and then in Edinburgh, finishing his course under Dr. Chalmers, just in time to receive license as one of the two hundred Disruption volunteers in 1843.
That summer he, with his aged father and sisters, had experience of the trials and difficulties which “leaving the manse” brought with it, especially in a parish situated as Lairg was, dependent absolutely on the factors of the Duke of Sutherland. His father preached for a time on the hillside to the congregation which, almost to a man, had left the church along with him; but afterwards was obliged to go south and find a home with his eldest son Angus at Dairsie, in Fife, in the comparatively comfortable cottage which, on leaving his manse, had been kindly offered to him. Alexander then stepped into the vacant charge, and carried on for a season as he was able the work of the open-air congregation, one of its female members bravely running the risk of sheltering him along with his sister in her humble cottage.
In 1845 he accepted a call to Mains, near Dundee, leaving his beloved early home with deepest sorrow, but “believing that there was a greater probability of sites for church and manse being granted, if the family whose influence had so secured the sympathies of the people for the Free Church were no longer to be seen in the parish.” As soon as he was settled at Mains, his father and two of his sisters had their home thenceforward under his roof; and in 1848 the good old man died, at a very advanced age.
Mr. McGillivray’s ministry at Mains, during upwards of twenty years, was such in respect of efficiency and acceptableness as to mark him out for service in a wider sphere; and accordingly in 1866 he removed to Edinburgh, under the auspices of Free St. George’s congregation, for the purpose of forming a new congregation at Roseburn, a promising suburb to the west of the city. He began his mission there in a school-room, with only three or four hearers; but soon the attendance grew, and it was not long till the crowded school-room became too narrow, and had to give place to a more suitable ecclesiastical building. Then, having received a unanimous call from the flock which he had gathered, he was inducted as the first minister of Roseburn, and had a commodious manse provided next door to the church for his residence.
Of his eighteen years’ ministry at Roseburn it may suffice to say that, if it was not visibly or largely successful, it was, to the flock whose pastor he became, an eminently profitable one. His preaching was richly evangelical—solid, satisfying, full; at the same time able, accurate, tasteful—often poetically beautiful. His pastorship was as remarkable for its tender, sympathetic fidelity as his pulpit-work was for its savour and power. “It was a singular privilege,” says one of his co-presbyters who knew him well, and whose witness is weighty as it is true, “to meet him from time to time, as I did, during his last years. He always left upon me an elevating impression. He lived entirely to the last in and for the ministry, to which he had manifestly been called by the Lord. The Christian ministry is to many ‘a profession.’ To him it was a life-interest and a joy. He was entirely at home in the region of experimental Christian truth. His poetic sense and his literary gifts enabled him to express the truth so felt in an exquisite form. There was to me in his preaching, and still more in his conversational remarks, a singular charm. Many, I know, have felt this. My people have often spoken of his discourses as wonderfully impressive. In prayer he was singularly powerful, and at the same time perfectly simple. Then he was so straightforward, so simple, so single-minded, that his character to those who knew him gave the greatest force to his utterances. He has left blessed and bright memories of a devoted, humble, gifted Christian spirit, — one whom it was a singular privilege to meet.”
In June 1884, his health having been very uncertain for some years, he retired from his ministry—a colleague and successor being appointed. In his retirement, however, he was neither indolent nor idle —often able, and always willing, to assist his brethren both in town and country, until last winter, when his increasing infirmities obliged him to decline preaching engagements, and to be a “keeper at home.” On Sabbath, 5th May, he had a sudden increase of illness, and inflammation of the lungs was developed, occasioned by his other complaints. Six days of painless prostration supervened, and on Saturday, the 11th, at 10 p.m., “the peace of God keeping both his heart and his mind,” his labouring breath gradually became fainter, his speech failed him, and without the semblance of a struggle he ceased to breathe. “He was not, for God took him.”
In 1849 Mr. McGillivray was happily married to the daughter of Dr. Charles Watson (late of Burntisland), who, with their two sons, survives to mourn his loss. He died in the seventy-fifth year of his age, and the forty-fourth of his ministry.
REV. ANGUS M. MACGILLIVRAY, DAIRSIE
(Died December 7, 1873)
Author: Rev. J. W. Taylor, Flisk, Cupar-Fife
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, March 2, 1874, p.61
Mr. MacGillivray was born in 1805, in the mission-manse of Strathnaver, Sutherlandshire. He was quite young when his father was translated to the parish of Lairg, and received his education there at the parish school. At a time like the present, when the question of religious teaching in public schools is being canvassed, it is of consequence to record the utterance which Mr. MacGillivray often repeated: “To my parish teacher, Mr. John Sutherland, when I attended his school, I owe the best part of my religious teaching, I am as much indebted to that man, as my schoolmaster, for the knowledge of the truth, as to any minister or professor of divinity.” He studied at the Universities of Aberdeen and of Glasgow, and although no distinguished student, he carried away from his curriculum that general culture and capacity for thought which to one whose ambition is to be an efficient minister of the gospel, is probably of more use than if he had taken the gold medal in some special branch of study.
In 1828, at the early age of twenty-two, Mr. MacGillivray was ordained minister of the parliamentary charge of Strathy. By this time — to use one of his own expressive phrases — “God was a reality to him,” and the salvation of Christ was a necessity. He entered on his work with a deep sense of its sacredness. It was a quiet charge, with a quiet Sutherlandshire population. To them he ministered faithfully, preaching the gospel of Christ, and resolutely setting himself to uproot what had obtained a footing in the district — an Ultra-Calvinism which had passed into Antinomianism, the most pestilential of all heresies. In another way he also ministered to the people. When at college he had picked up some plain medical knowledge, which grew with his practice, and this he turned to good account in cases of sickness, as the nearest doctor was a far way off. Oberlin-like, he also interested himself in the employments of the people, and in apostolic fashion often went afishing with them at the season when they caught cod and ling.
It was when at Strathy that Mr. MacGillivray acquired acquaintance with those interesting facts connected with the religion of Easter Ross and Sutherlandshire, which he embodied in his “Sketches of Religion and Revivals of Religion,” and published in 1859. The work is a small one, extending only to 47 pp., but it contains much that is valuable and interesting, and characteristic of true Highland piety. Dr. Charles Macintosh of Dunoon, who knew the district intimately, pronounced the sketches to be most truthful pictures.
In the parish of Reay, and not very far off from Strathy, is Sandside. It was the property and residence of Captain Macdonald, who was patron for Dairsie. The captain had frequent opportunities of witnessing the ministerial ability and zeal of Mr. MacGillivray, and presented him to the living of Dairsie. It was in 1841 that Mr. MacGillivray was translated to Dairsie. He had not been long there before he discovered that a master-worker had been before him. Dr. Macculloch had laboured there in a long pastorate, extending from 1771 to 1821. The fruits of that faithful pastorate still remained, and with a uniform candour Mr. MacGillivray was ever ready to acknowledge, “I am reaping the results of Dr. Macculloch’s ministry.”
By 1841 the Disruption was casting its shadow before it, and when it did come it found Mr. MacGillivray prepared for it. It had been his long desire to become a parish minister. This he had reached under the happiest circumstances. His Strathy income, with all the shifts of economy, was scarcely able to support him. The expense in removing south was great. The furnishing of the manse had not been fully paid for. He did not know how he was to be supported when the Disruption came. Yet he never faltered. He trusted God, and went out. In these times Mr. MacGillivray was in the height of his strength, and it would be difficult to estimate the amount of service which he rendered to the Church in many places by his clear exposition of principles, and by his organizing power in setting up congregations.
He was an admirable preacher. At times he preached great sermons. These were not the sermons which he had prepared with great skill and care, thinking them great from their exact logic, and profound theology, and precise expression. Like most ministers, he found that such great sermons were often great failures. But his great sermons were some of his ordinary sermons, which had grown without effort out of the text and out of his own mind. In these he pushed up great principles to the front. He rightly divided the subject, holding each division well in hand, and at last precipitating the whole force of the sermon in solemn appeal upon his audience, forcing the hearer to acknowledge the importance of the subject, and leaving him in no uncertainty as to his personal relation to it. More latterly, seduced by southern example, he wrote elaborate lectures, reading them from his manuscript in the pulpit. And in his case, this altered method was neither to the improvement of the discourse nor of the hearer.
At a sick or dying bed Mr. MacGillivray’s presence brought confidence, for the people knew he was no flatterer. He had a discriminating discernment of cases; he was never satisfied unless the faith of the sick man rested on sufficient Scripture ground; and he was skilful in the application of the word.
He had an observant eye and a well-informed mind; and if one enjoyed a quiet hour’s converse with him, it was the person’s own fault if he did not carry away from the interview suggestive thoughts which abode in the mind. Very seldom was he found in a mood which disinclined him to converse on the highest subjects.
But strong-willed natures generally protrude in some side or another their sharp and hard points. Mr. MacGillivray’s nature was constitutionally firm-willed, self-cherished, sharp-tempered, and exacting. It was the strong man keeping the house; but a stronger than he came and bound the strong man, and spoiled him of his goods. After displaying a wrong spirit, when sharply pulled up in private and confronted with some saying of God’s Word which rebuked the spirit he had displayed, you might see him quivering with emotion. You would be afraid as to the turn things might take, when, bowing before the Word, he would suddenly calm down and say, “Well, you are right; I was wrong.” And years after he had in his own strong aud decided way done injustice to some one, we have heard him of his own accord lament it, and acknowledge that if the thing had to be done again he would act very differently. It was the prey taken from the mighty. Many a severe struggle he had to keep himself right both with God and man.
Very likely it was to subdue his constitutional spirit that the God of all grace, instead of continuing him to the end in the active ministry, laid him aside and made him suffer for a while. For nearly two years he was quite an invalid, suffering from creeping paralysis. It was a severe discipline, carrying with it a refining and subduing influence. Scrymgeour of Kinghorn knew the process, when to Mr. John Livingstone, who came to see him in his last illness, he said, after a severe attack of pain, “Joannes, I have been a rude, stankard (sullen) man all my days, and now by this pain the Lord is dauntaning me to make me as a lamb before he take me home to himself.”
On December 7, 1873, Mr. MacGillivray was taken home. On the 12th his people carried his body past the door of the old church of Dairsie, which as minister he had often entered, and lowered it into a grave close by the wall, and separated only by a few paces from the grave of Dr. Maccullocn. On the day of the funeral one felt this is the funeral of one who, during a ministry of forty-six years, had done some good work for Christ. In after years, when the local memories of Dairsie are recalled, the name of Mr. MacGillivray will be associated with that of Dr. Macculloch as a faithful witness for Christ, and an able minister of the New Testament.
REV. ROBERT MCGILLIVRAY, BALLACHULISH
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March 1, 1866, p.17
The Rev. Robert McGillivray, of Ballachulish and Glencoe, was the fourth son of that eminent minister of Christ, the late Donald McGillivray of Kilmalie, whose name is still savoury in the parish. Having completed his curriculum at College and the Divinity Hall, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Lorn and Mull, in 1846. After labouring as a probationer in several places, and more especially in Kilmalie and Inverness for a short time, he was in the year 1848 called to the pastorate of Hope Street Gaelic Church, Glasgow. After labouring there for five years his health failed him, and he consented to accept of a call from the Free Church congregation of Ballachulish and Glencoe, whither he was translated in 1853. Here he laboured for twelve years, prosecuting with ardour and zeal his ministerial duties on Sabbath and week days among a flock scattered over a great extent of territory, and separated by the rapid and dangerous ferries of Ballachulish and Corran. His ardour and zeal were greatly stirred up at, and after the revival of, 1860, into which he entered with all his heart and soul, and constrained him to redouble his pastoral labours among his own people and the neighbouring congregation. These labours, it is feared, enfeebled his constitution, which, though active, was never strong, and so hastened him to a premature grave—where, amid the tears of many, his brethren laid him beside the ashes of his beloved parents. Mr. McGillivray enjoyed the advantages of a liberal education, as clearly appeared from his pulpit preparations, in which he was very careful. His style was forcible and practical. His acquaintance with the Word of God was extensive, and often furnished him with appropriate illustrations which told with happy effect on his hearers. His exposure of hypocrisy under the cloak of piety was withering, and his appeals to the Christless were at times very arousing, and especially after he had expatiated on the love of our Lord and Saviour—a theme on which, above all others, he latterly delighted to dwell. Those who frequented the Free manse of Ballachulish on communion occasions can never forget his frank hospitality and large-hearted liberality, and no more can some Highland students to whom he was liberal up to, and beyond, his means. He was born at the manse of Lochgoilhead, 1st February, 1824; and died at the Free manse of Ballachulish, on 27th November, 1865, in the forty-first year of his age, and seventeenth of his ministry.
REV. WALTER MCGILVRAY, D.D.
(Died June 30, 1880)
Author: Rev. David Nelson, Renfrew
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.252
Dr. McGilvray, the senior pastor of Gilcomston Free Church, Aberdeen, commenced his public ministry in Glasgow, and was ordained to the pastorate of St. Mark’s Church in 1835. We have been told that it was empty when he entered it, and in a twelvemonth it was full. From that time till a few years ago, when his health gave way, he was a conspicuous figure in the Church. He was a good man, and the superstructure rested upon character. He had a sound and penetrating mind, a warm and brilliant imagination, a severe and cultured taste. In addition to these, and to learning which gave them scope and material, he had the gift and passion of the orator. We used to hear him in Glasgow, and he so printed himself upon us, so held us captive, that we seem to ourselves to be in his hands still, while the preacher of yesterday is forgotten. It was the good fortune of the Church of Scotland at the period of the Disruption to have a number of ministers in her ranks of great and extraordinary merit. Those ministers united to their personal worth and evangelical doctrine a power of swaying men’s minds, of commanding their confidence and admiration, and kindling their enthusiasm, which has hardly been equalled since the Reformation. In this noble band Dr. McGilvray formed a notable figure. He was sent to north and south to plead the popular cause, and he bore a distinct and honoured part in leading the “Conflict” to victory. The heart of the nation instinctively trusted and followed such men, and the Free Church can never forget them, or cease to honour their memory. Some years after the Disruption, Dr. McGilvray was one of a deputation sent to America. Our friends there were so struck with his preaching and other public appearances that they persuaded him to remain with them for some years, and it is believed that his services powerfully contributed not only to raise the tone of religion, but to strengthen the bonds which bind them and us, and to draw them closer. The fruits would have been more manifest if he had been allowed to remain; but his old friends in Glasgow never rested till they got him back among them. After some years of splendid service he removed to Aberdeen, to preside over the large and influential congregation of Gilcomston, which enjoyed his ripest and matured experience as a preacher and pastor. They built for him a new church, in token of the growing prosperity they had under his ministry. But five years ago his health gave way under his manifold and unceasing labours, and he was forced to quit the work he loved so well. Two years ago, when enjoying a temporary improvement, he told the writer that his great ambition was to come back to Glasgow, to select a very poor locality, to preach and work among the neglected, to form a congregation, and hand it over to the Church. The experiment of Dr. Chalmers in the West Port was his ideal for the evening of his days. But the desire of his heart was soon seen to be for him a thing impossible. He submitted to the disappointment with Christian resignation, and closed his days with that faith and patience which had so long endeared him to his family and friends. He died as he lived, trusting in that Saviour whose attractions and grace he had so long and so movingly proclaimed. His widow, a daughter of the late Sir William Hooker, was a true helpmeet for him, entered heartily into the great work and joy of his life, and by her unwearied devotion cheered and strengthened him.
REV. JAMES McGOWN, AIRDRIE
(Died 2nd June, 1864)
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, August 1, 1864, p.589
The Rev. James McGown of Broomknoll Church, Airdrie, died on Thursday the 2nd of June, in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and the thirty-second of his ministry.
He was a native of Glasgow, and having been brought in his early days under the power of Divine truth, he resolved to devote himself to the work of the Lord. With this view he entered the University, and, after completing his studies, he received license in connection with the Associate Synod in 1830. He was ordained in 1832 to a pastoral charge at Bankhead, Midmar, and after labouring there for twelve years he was translated to Bervie. In 1846 he accepted a call from the congregation of Broomknoll where the last eighteen years of his life were spent.
In these varied spheres Mr. McGown approved himself as “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” He had a minute and profound acquaintance with the Scriptures, and his preaching was characterized by its clearness, fulness, and eminently practical tendency. He was most assiduous in his visitation of the flock, in his care of the young, and in all the other duties of the ministerial office.
Though his health had been failing for some time, yet his removal was sudden and unexpected. He preached on the previous Sabbath with his accustomed earnestness and unction, although at the close more fatigued than usual. On the Wednesday of that week he paid a visit to his son, Dr. McGown at Bellshill, and returned in the evening, remarking to his family that he had spent a happy day. After retiring to rest he became unwell, and though conscious of all that was going on around him, to any question put he could only answer a few words. He was visited in his last illness by his friend and fellow-labourer in the same town, the Rev. William Jackson, to whom he expressed his confidence in the Saviour, and his desire “to depart and be with him, which is far better.” At his own request repeated prayer was offered up, in which he fervently joined. In this happy frame, within twelve hours after lying down he fell asleep in Jesus, quietly and without a struggle. “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”
The respect in which Mr. McGown was held for his private character and public usefulness was exhibited by the large attendance at his funeral, not merely of the brethren of his Presbytery and the members of his congregation, but of the general community of the town of Airdrie.
REV. JOHN McGOWAN, CATRINE
(Died April 7, l874)
Author: Rev. D. Landsborough, Kilmarnock
The Free Church Monthly, August 1, 1874, p.171
This esteemed minister was a native of County Down, Ireland. He took his collegiate course at Belfast, where he occupied a highly honourable position — distinguishing himself specially in the science classes, where he carried off a number of honours. He was also noted as a young man of earnest piety; took a prominent part in the students’ prayer-meetings, and chose as his associates young men of decided godliness.
While Mr. McGowan was at college he attracted the attention of the Rev. Dr. Cook, who took in him a deep interest, and with whom Mr. McGowan ever after enjoyed tne honour and privilege of friendship. Intercourse with this great and good man had the effect of confirming the young student in his political and religious views, deepened his personal piety, intensified his zeal and devotion, and perhaps also tended to develop that warrior spirit, which formed one of the features of his public character.
Mr. McGowan was licensed in 1842, and at once approved himself an able and popular preacher of divine truth. He might early have been settled in his native country, but, like many of his fellow-probationers, he gave his first year to mission-work in the south and west of Ireland. At its close the Disruption had taken place. The Irish Presbyterian Church took the warmest interest in this memorable event; and there being a great lack of probationers to supply the rapid development of the young Church, Mr. McGowan and several other Irish probationers gave practical proof of their interest by coming to her help.
A number of congregations in the Free Church endeavoured to obtain Mr. McGowan as their minister. He accepted the call to Catrine, a beautiful village on the banks of the classic Ayr. Here, ordained in 1844, for thirty years with much fervour and ability he made known to a much attached congregation the glad tidings of salvation. As a minister, Mr. McGowan was distinguished for his able exposition, illustration, and enforcement of “the old paths” in theology, the interest he took in home mission, and his strenuous exertions to secure, a scriptural education of the young.
He suffered much before his removal, but bore all with patience. To a friend who called upon him, pointing to the simple food of which he was at the time partaking, he said, “You see I am back to child’s diet. It is so also spiritually — now, as at first, it is simple faith that suits.” On his death-bed he sent no special message to any of his more intimate friends, yet, remembering there had been a coolness between himself and a brother in the ministry, he sent to him the message: “Tell Mr. _____ I am very ill.” The Christian hint was at once taken; a visit immediately paid, and a thorough reconciliation took place. Thus, at peace with all men, and at peace with God through the blood of the cross, Mr. McGowan fell asleep.
Mr. McGowan was of a very open, manly disposition. Clear as was his intellect, his heart was yet more remarkable for its warmth; hence he frequently expressed himself with great strength, for everything mean, low, or crooked he hated and abhorred. Had he been possessed of a little more worldly wisdom his course through life would have been more tranquil, and outwardly more successful; but he would not have been more loved by his friends, nor might he have enjoyed more of the smile of his God. Prudence is good, but a loving heart, an unselfish aim, a noble self-forgetfulness are immeasurably better; and these were Mr. McGowan’s characteristics. Awaiting the resurrection of the just, his mortal remains rest amid the scenes of his earthly labours.
REV. DUNCAN MACGREGOR, M.A., GLASGOW AND DUNDEE
(Died February 20, 1891)
Author: Rev. Professor Laidlaw, New College, Edinburgh
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1891, Obituary, p.149
Mr. Macgregor was born at Fernan, on Loch Tayside, March 10, 1824. His early education was conducted there, and at the school of Fortingal. With countless others he illustrated that feature of our Scottish educational provisions of which we have long been justly proud — that for any bright boy there was a clear path from every parish school right up to the university. Straight from his country school, young Macgregor went to Edinburgh in 1840, where he took, at the end of his terms, the M.A. degree with honours, and gained one of the earliest fellowships. The instance was all the more remarkable that he was one of five brothers who, from the same Perthshire home, took a similar course, three of them (one still surviving in vigorous middle life) into the ministry of the Free Church.
The chief moulding influence of his student-days, and one which left evident impress on his mind and ministry all through, was that of William C. Burns, afterwards of China, with whom he enjoyed much intercourse during the winter when Mr. Burns occupied the pulpit of St. Luke’s, Edinburgh, during the temporary absence of Dr. Moody Stuart. Mr. Macgregor joined the Free Church College in 1844 while it still occupied temporary premises in George Street, and during his course attended the classes of Dr. Chalmers, Dr. Welsh, and Dr. Cunningham. After the usual four years’ Divinity course, he became assistant in the Gaelic Church, Greenock, in 1848. He was ordained minister of the Free Church, Stornoway, November 1849. After five years’ ministry there, he was transferred to Hope Street Gaelic Church, Glasgow, where he laboured for ten years with much success among his own countrymen from the West and North. He had the encouragement of a great work of grace among them in the years 1859-60, and left an enduring proof of his evangelistic and pastoral industry in the present Macdonald Church, a healthy offshoot of the parent congregation.
In 1864 he was translated to St. Peter’s, Dundee, a church known to all English-speaking evangelicals by the sainted memory of R. Murray McCheyne. There he spent the rest of his active ministerial life — a period of twelve years. Thus his public service of nearly thirty years was almost equally divided between his brethren of the Highlands and the pastorate of an ordinary Scottish city charge. But during this second half of it he kept himself always in touch with his earlier work by frequent preaching excursions to the north and west, where his native Gaelic was lovingly employed by him to the last in commending the gospel of grace.
Early in 1876 he accepted a call back to Glasgow, in the new Augustine Church; but only a few weeks after it was hopefully begun, his ministry there was closed by the subtle access of the malady which, though it abated once or twice and permitted brief temporary returns to the loved work of preaching, kept him in retirement for the remainder of his days. He who is with His own, even when they do not consciously enjoy His presence — when they are “under the cloud and passing through the sea”— has now been pleased to lift the veil from His servant’s face, and to fulfil the aspiration which it had been his life-long habit to inscribe at the end of his year-book and at the close of his sermons — Post tencbras lucem spero.” For him “the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. His funeral sermon was preached on the 1st of March this year, in St. Peter’s, by his former co-presbyter, the Rev. Andrew Inglis of Dudhope, Dundee.
Mr. Macgregor was the author of several bright sketches and tractates, as well as of a volume of sermons entitled, The Shepherd of Israel; or, Illustrations of the Inner Life (London: Nishet and Co., 1869). These all bear unmistakable marks of his mental characteristics. But it was in the pulpit that his power shone. He had the genius of preaching in no common degree. His presence and voice were in themselves arresting. His highly emotional nature, his lively imagination, his suppressed humour, his true pathos, his faculty of vivid illustration, his graphic touches and memorable phrases, all made him one of the most attractive of preachers. And the fruit of his pulpit and pastoral labours was abundantly evidenced. He ministered to large and attached congregations. Not in revival seasons only, but all through, his ministry was marked by “conversions not a few, and was distinguished by its helpfulness to those already in the kingdom and on their way to heaven.”
One characteristic note in him was his frank and hearty appreciation of other Christian labourers. His brief sketches of Campbell of Kiltearn and Finlayson of Lochs, culled from the memories of his youth, and of Henderson of Port-Glasgow — a brilliant fellow-student of his own – remain to attest his possession of this attractive gift.
In private life he was most lovable. His visits to the manses of his brethren show in memory’s retrospect like patches of brighter sunshine across life’s landscape. His geniality and brotherliness made him a universal favourite. He has left a widow and three of a family, one daughter and two sons, both of whom the Free Church has the good fortune to number among her ministers — the Rev. D. C. Macgregor of Elie, and the Rev. W. M. Macgregor of Renfield Church, Glasgow. Another daughter, whose lips were also touched with honey from the sacred heights, passed away from a life of much promise some years before her father.
REV. RODERICK MCGREGOR, CANISBAY
(Died August 25, 1889)
Author: Rev. Finlay M. Harper, A.M., Wick
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February, 1890, Obituary, p.55
Mr. McGregor was born at Inverness in 1818. When he was about three years of age, his family left this country and settled in Prince Edward’s Island; but after a sojourn of thirteen years they returned to their native land again. The vessel which brought them back narrowly escaped shipwreck in the Pentland Firth.
After a time of much mental exercise and heart searching, Mr. McGregor concluded it to be his duty to prepare for the work of the ministry. In these days Aberdeen was the place where the greater portion of the young men from the north of Scotland studied; and to that ancient seat of learning he betook himself, with high hopes and pure motives. During the years of his student life he came under the influence of that spiritual impulse which led to the breaking up of the Church of Scotland in 1843. He felt constrained to cast in his lot with the party which afterward became the Free Church, and ever afterward continued a loyal and devoted Free Churchman. And as there was not then a fully-equipped Divinity Hall in Aberdeen, he studied for a time in Edinburgh, under some of the most eminent theologians which Scotland has ever produced. He finished his course in the Aberdeen Hall, which was then taught by Dr. McLagan and Marcus Sachs, a Hebrew of the Hebrews.
He was licensed to preach the gospel in 1849 by the Presbytery of Dingwall. He came to Canisbay in the year following, and was ordained in 1851. He married Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of George S. Sutherland, Esquire of Brabster, who, with three sons in the medical profession, survives to mourn their loss. Mr. McGregor did not travel much, but he visited Ireland to see for himself the work of revival which then attracted so much notice. At a later period he paid a short visit to Prince Edward’s Island. But his heart was ever in Canisbay, and nothing but a sense of duty could make him leave it for even a short time. He loved the work for the work’s sake.
Mr. McGregor was a conservative in theology, but a liberal in politics. He warmly approved of the union of the Free and United Presbyterian Churches, and strongly maintained the necessity of disestablishment.
Mr. McGregor’s strength as a minister lay mainly in an earnest and systematic study of the Word of God. He rarely contented himself with any translation of the Bible, but always sought to examine the original for himself. It was thus day by day bringing himself in humility and prayer face to face with the truth in the very language in which God revealed himself to holy men of old that made Mr. McGregor so scriptural and so powerful a preacher. It is true his audiences were not always able to follow his steps, but they could not fail to feel the force and influence of a strong mind fresh and radiant from living and close contact with the Divine Word. In this region he was facile princeps among his brethren.
Such a ministry was not and could not be without much good fruit, and we think that we can safely affirm that in this respect few congregations in the north of Scotland can show a better record. During the later years of Mr. McGregor’s ministry there were several “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” One result of these visitations was that minister and people were drawn nearer and nearer to one another in hearty sympathy, and stimulated and strengthened for new aggressive work.
He died in harness. As one well remarked, his departure would be more fittingly described by the term translation than by death. Clearly realizing himself that his hour had come, he bade farewell to his heart-broken family, which were all assembled around him, and in a frame of mind which finds its fittest expression in the words, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly,” he entered on his rest.
REV. ANDREW McILWRAITH, LOCHLEE
(Died January 6, 1886)
Author: Rev. D. Simpson, Laurencekirk
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1886, Biographical Notice, p.114
Mr. McIlwraith was born in Ayr, where his father held a good social and commercial position. He received his elementary education in the Academy of that town, and his professional — literary and theological — in Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively. Beyond the enthusiasm which the teaching of Dr. Chalmers kindled in him, and which never cooled down, there is no outstanding fact connected with this part of his history.
His first impression of divine things dated far back into his childhool, and was got in a way which he ever felt contained a great lesson to parents and all in charge of children. Dismissed from the church on a Communion Sabbath, immediately before the administration of the Sacrament, he, in place of going home, made his way with another lad to the gallery, and looked down at the service going on. As he did so the thought came into his mind, “This is like heaven.” The idea so vivid left permanent and practical results. He frequently recalled it in his later years, usually coupling it with the remark, “It was not conversion,” sometimes adding, “though very like it.” In consequence of this experience he always maintained that children were capable of receiving spiritual impressions at a much earlier age than was usually supposed, and also that they should be present to see the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper.
The regenerating change did not take place till after he was twenty-one years of age, when, as he often told, he heard the gospel preached for the first time. A stranger on that occasion occupied the pulpit, and the sermon struck him, because it was so different from those he had been accustomed to hear, in consequence of being so full of Jesus Christ, its great aim being to prove that he is God. The teaching he had been brought up under, thoroughly Socinian in its essence, had kept him so ignorant of divine truth that he did not recognize what he that day heard to be the gospel of Jesus Christ, though he soon came to know it to be so. Whether the great change took place then is not known, but ere long its existence was asserted by his feeling constrained from inward conviction, seriously and in the right spirit, to carry out the destiny assigned him from his infancy and become a minister.
During a considerable period of his university career he resided in Wales, but was kept regularly informed of the progress of the Ten Years’ Conflict. At the Disruption he immediately returned to Scotland, and at once threw in his lot with the Free Church, for which he was honoured to both testify and suffer.
Licensed in the beginning of 1846, after supplying in two or three vacant parishes, one of which would have liked to retain his services permanently, he was ordained in Lochlee in March 1847. The parish at the time was in the hand of a site-refuser, whose intention was to stamp out the Non-intrusion movement. The opportunity seemed to present every element of hope for his purpose being carried out, as he was the only proprietor in the glen. He ejected the congregation from the building in which they first met in connection with the Free Church. From that time they had no stated place of meeting till a farmer built an extension to one of his shepherd’s houses, and fitted it up in a temporary way with pews and pulpit. This generous deed placed the people beyond the power of the laird, and he clearly recognized the fact; for when told of what had been done, naming the farmer by his farm, he said, “Baillies has out-generalled me now”—a saying which became proverbial in the district. As you stood beside the door of that humble building in a depression surrounded by mountains, and watched the little lines of persons, four or five in number, coming down the various paths, concentrating on the one point—the church—you felt as if transferred into Covenanting times, and had enacted before you part of what our fathers did when they gave their blood for Him who died for them. It is with a feeling of sadness one has to record that the little building has all but disappeared. Its historic associations render it even yet, dilapidated though it be, worthy of the rank of being an illustration in “The Annals of the Disruption.”
When Mr. Mcllwraith was settled in Lochlee he had only one small room in a thatched cottage to live in. In that room he lived till he lost his health. Then, mainly by his own exertions, but also by the help of a few friends, two rooms were built for him at the end of an adjacent cottage. Thither he brought a young wife, who, like a fragile flower from a warmer clime, soon withered and died. This affliction brought on him what he ever characterized as the three darkest months of his life.
While he was passing through this affliction a change took place in the proprietorship of the glen, and the proprietor who entered on possession was as truly and generously friendly to our Church as his predecessor had been bitterly hostile. Thus an end was put to what may be called the period of Mr. McIlwraith’s sufferings for Christ— sufferings of which no man ever heard him complain. Within a little time, by the liberal help of the proprietor, first a church was built and afterwards a manse. Thenceforward there was no marked incident to distinguish his ministry from any other carried on in similar circumstances of seclusion from brethren, of physical toil, and of mental and moral depression arising from the want of social stimulus, with its attendant benefits and comforts.
Early in 1884 his health suddenly broke down. He then applied for leave to call a colleague and successor, which was granted. He preached his farewell sermon to his congregation in the following June, and immediately after bade what proved to be a final adieu to the scene, not only of many labours and trials, but also of many joys.
His preaching was pre-eminently the preaching of Jesus Christ. It ever circled round his person. The sermon which first brought him the gospel seems to have brought with it the loadstone which ever afterwards attracted him. Anxious above all things to bring his people to Christ, he gave his discourses an evangelistic form, dwelling upon the great doctrines connected with the earlier stages of the divine life, and this became more and more the characteristic of his preaching as he grew older. When in full vigour his discourses were often very powerful. Possessed of good mental powers, and gifted with an imaginative faculty both genuine and unusually strong, he would seize on natural objects around and use them as illustrations with great effect. The river which runs down the glen thus became the type of the river of the water of life—free to all, but needing to be taken. Sometimes, breaking out in strains which reminded one of some of our old worthies, he called upon the mountains, which he named in succession, to bear witness to the offer of Christ he had made, and the obligation of those who had heard to accept him.
Nor did these invitations fall on altogether heedless ears. Though the tests of spiritual character which he applied were very high, and when men did not come up to the standard he had set he felt inclined to despond as to the fruits of his ministry, yet once and again God showed him such results that he was obliged to say, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”
REV. ROBERT MCINDOE, GALSTON
(Died March 10, 1877)
Author: Rev. David Landsborough, Kilmarnock
The Free Church Monthly August 1, 1877, p.199
The subject of the following notice was born at Partick, in 1804. His parents were respectable and pious, and set before him an excellent example; but their position in life did not enable them to give him the benefit of a superior education. He, like many other Scottish youths, with God’s blessing upon economy, industry, and application to study, fought his way to the position in life he came to occupy.
His literary course was taken at the University of Glasgow; but his special training for the ministry was received from the Rev. Mr. Taylor, Perth, the professor of the Old Light Burgher Associate Synod, of which denomination Mr. McIndoe was in early life a member. Licensed in 1830, he was speedily settled in Kirkcaldy. His congregation was not large, and the church was small and old; but under his ministry a handsome new church was soon erected, seated for between eight and nine hundred, and costing two thousand pounds.
The most remarkable event during Mr. McIndoe’s ministry at Kirkcaldy was the union with the Established Church of the Old Light Burgher Synod. It and the Old Light Anti-Burghers were the representatives of the Church of the Erskines, Moncreiff, Wilson, and Fisher, who left the Establishment, appealing to the first free, faithful, and reforming General Assembly, and this their descendants recognized in the Scottish Church of 1839. At the Disruption Mr. McIndoe had no hesitation as to the course he should take. After this great event, the congregations of the Free Church were so numerous that there was a great scarcity of ministers. It was therefore thought desirable to unite the two churches in Kirkcaldy; and Mr. McIndoe, in the most disinterested manner, agreed to make the sacrifice, and left. After being employed for a few months in organizing congregations at Coatbridge, Houston, &c., in December 1843 he accepted a call to Galston, a numerous and important charge, as then there was no Free Church at Newmilns, Darvel, or Hurlford; and here he ever after remained.
Mr. McIndoe was distinguished for the faithful and conscientious discharge of all his pastoral and presbyterial duties. He had a very minute and accurate acquaintance with the Word of God, which he quoted aptly, copiously, and impressively. In preaching he delighted to speak of the covenant of grace, dwelling upon Christ Jesus its Mediator, and was emphatically a son of consolation. He was conspicuous for sterling integrity, of which the following instance may be given. Toward the close of the Union movement, to which he was opposed, a friend of the writer said to him, “What will you do should the union take place, and your congregation be in favour of it?” Mr. McIndoe at once replied, “I have already given up a congregation for my principles, and I can do so again.”
Mr. McIndoe, though in his seventy-third year, was remarkably strong and healthy, and appeared as if he had many years on earth before him; yet it seems as if God had been saying to him, “Be thou ready,” for on Monday the fifth of March he went to Glasgow and arranged his worldly affairs. He returned home at night, and continued seemingly in his usual health, going on Thursday to examine schools at a distance. On Friday night he became unwell, and died about noon on the following day, his last words being: “Our times are wholly in God’s hands. It is all well.”
REV. WILLIAM MCINDOE, PAISLEY
(Died October 18, 1889)
Author: Rev. David Stewart, Pollokshaws
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January, 1890, Obituary, p.20
Mr. McIndoe was a native of Rothesay, where he was born on the 3rd March 1828, and where he received his early education. His family had long held a position of considerable influence there, and his father was for many years chief magistrate of the burgh.
Reared in a pious home, he was just half through his teens when the Disruption came; and the enthusiasm which that great event created had not a little to do with the shaping of his future course.
Nowhere were keener sympathies excited on behalf of the cause of non-intrusion and spiritual independence, and nowhere did the principles for which the Church contended throughout the Ten Years’ Conflict take deeper root, than among the people of the region where he was brought up. Early in the century they had suffered from the evils of patronage and moderatism. Under the gracious, cultured ministry of Robert Craig, and the apostolic preaching of Peter McBride, the cause of evangelical religion and of loyalty to the Church’s living Head had so commended itself to the hearts of the people, and gained so much ascendency in the community, that, when the crisis came, the Free Church made its mark in Rothesay even more than in any other town in Scotland. When its burgh elder returned from the Assembly of 1843, and told of what had been so bravely done in the march from St. Andrew’s Church to Tanfield, the town council, in approbation of that course, recorded at full length in their minutes the Church’s famous protest; and the handsome churches which soon sprang up, with their towering spires dominating the bay, gave substantial proof to all of how much the Free Church had made Rothesay her own. In all this, William McIndoe’s father, both as elder and provost, had taken a leading part; and the son, with his heart opening to the love of Christ, came fully under the best influences of that stirring time, and resolved to study for the ministry of the Church.
Mr. McIndoe’s preparatory studies were pursued with great credit, first at the Universities both of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and finally at the Divinity Hall of the New College, over which Principal Cunningham presided; and in the autumn of 1852 he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Dunoon and Inveraray. Shortly thereafter he was appointed by the Colonial Committee to Canada, where he laboured for several years with much acceptance as minister of the united charge of Waterdown and Wellington Square. Greatly to the regret of his Canadian people, he found it necessary in the course of time, chiefly for family reasons, to return to this country; and not long after his arrival he was honoured to form and consolidate the first English Presbyterian congregation in Carlisle, and to accomplish the erection of the fine church in Warwick Road which remains there as a memorial of his work in that city.
Soon, however, his services were simultaneously sought by two of our congregations on this side of the Border; and, as his heart was always specially with the Church of his fathers, he yielded to the call of Free Martyrs’, Paisley, and was inducted to that charge on the 26th January 1866.
The new field of labour there opened up to him, and the work thus laid to his hands, presented at first some peculiar difficulties; but he gave himself to it, heart and soul, with all his strength. Both as a preacher and a pastor his influence soon made itself felt; and for nearly twenty-four years he toiled on with great ability and ever-increasing acceptance, delighting in his work, striving for the spiritual edification of his people, and seeking only to spend and be spent in the Master’s service. Besides his pulpit and pastoral labours, he did much to further the work of the mission prosecuted by his congregation in the neighbourhood of his church; and both old and young of the congregation and the mission in that district of the town will long remember with gratitude the untiring devotion with which he sought to interest and instruct them.
During the later years of his ministry he held the office of Presbytery clerk, for which his sound judgment, his business faculty, and his knowledge of Church law, eminently fitted him.
What he was in the bosom of his own family, only those who there were blessed with his fervent love and tender care may tell. The end came unexpectedly, though not without some forewarning. And the sorrowing wife and children will long remember the deep pathos of that last night he spent with them on earth, when, but a few hours before his death, he gathered them round his couch once more in family worship, and, while commending them all to the care of our heavenly Father, asked them to sing with him of the “quiet sleep” for which through weary and painful nights of sleeplessness he had longed, and to unite in reading with him the apostle’s grand triumphal assurance, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
REV. ALEXANDER MCINNES, TUMMEL-BRIDGE
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 1, 1867, p.41
The Rev. Alexander McInnes of Tummel-Bridge, a man of rare gifts and noble Christian spirit, died on the 8th of December. Like the sequestered Highland strath in which his lot was cast, Mr. Mclnnes stood considerably aside from the din and strife of the great world. Possessed of a well-balanced mind, he had enriched it by the most assiduous culture. He was an accomplished classical scholar, well read in questions of general literature and philosophy, and a master of the Gaelic language. But it was as a theologian that he chiefly excelled. His mind was completely saturated with the Puritan theology. He had read and mastered all the leading works of that school. Nor was he unobservant of the currents of modern religious thought. Few of our ministers were better qualified for gauging the real value and tendencies of these. And while himself standing firm on the good old foundation of the Scottish standards, he was ever ready to welcome whatever was good, fresh, and true, come from what quarter it might. His ministry, we believe, was largely blessed. On the last occasion on which he officiated in public, it was observed that he appeared to be in a remarkable manner under the power of the Spirit; and during his last short illness his friends were greatly comforted by the peace and assurance with which he was prepared to enter the dark valley.
REV. DONALD MACINNES, GLEN-MORISTON
(Died September 24, 1889)
Author: Rev. Murdo Mackenzie, Inverness
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February, 1890, Obituary, p.55
Mr. MacInnes was born in Glendale, in the parish of Duirinish, Skye. His father was a godly man, who, along with others like-minded, conducted prayer-meetings on week-days and Sabbath, which were highly appreciated and much blessed to the people.
Donald was only one year old when his father died. The widow had thus to struggle alone with the difficulties of bringing up her family; but she struggled nobly, relying upon the promises of Him who said, “Leave thy fatherless children to me.” Her great ambition was to see her only son walking in the footsteps of his father, and to take his place in the prayer-meeting of the district. She gave him all the educational advantages that the schools in the neighbourhood could supply.
On attaining to manhood he turned his attention to the cultivation of the small farm of which his mother was a tenant. At this period the parish of Duirinish had the unspeakable privilege of the earnest and zealous ministry of the late celebrated Mr. MacColl, whose ministry was so signally blessed in that parish, as well as in many other parishes throughout the Highlands and Islands. It was under his faithful ministry that young Donald was solemnly impressed, and decided to consecrate himself to the Lord and to his service. Mr. MacColl, when he saw young men of decided religious character and good ability, encouraged them to prosecute their studies with a view to the ministry.
Mr. MacInnes went first to the Free Normal Seminary, Glasgow, and there qualified himself as a teacher. He received an appointment in one of the Western Islands, and for years prosecuted his profession with much success. Though teaching was not distasteful to him, yet the bent of his mind turned towards the ministry of the gospel. The Ladies’ Association for Improving the Religious Condition of the Highlands and Islands was then in active operation—an association that did more for the Highlands and Islands, religiously and educationally, than any other organization of the kind then in existence; for it provided destitute districts with the means of sound secular and religious education, and furnished the Free Church with a full supply of Gaelic-speaking ministers. Men who new occupy prominent positions in the Church in the Highlands, as well as in the colonies, were teachers of this association.
Mr. MacInnes during his college course taught one of these schools. In due time he was licensed by the Presbytery of Skye and Uist.
After a short probation he was unanimously called to Glen-Moriston, which was disjoined from Fort Augustus (on the translation of Mr. MacColl to Lochalsh) by the Assembly of 1878, and erected into a separate ministerial charge. On the 11th of June 1879 he was ordained and inducted to that charge; and there he laboured earnestly and zealously till his death on the 24th day of September 1889. The new and most commodious manse was built solely through his efforts, and stands in a beautiful locality as a memorial of Mr. MacInnes’s enterprise.
As a preacher Mr. MacInnes was highly evangelical. He knew his Bible well, and from his own experimental knowledge of the power of the truth, he was able to present it in a way that touched the consciences of his hearers, and comforted the true people of God.
He was highly esteemed by all his brethren of the Presbytery, and when the unexpected tidings of his death reached them, they mourned his loss as a beloved brother. His congregation, to show their respect, insisted on his remains being interred in front of the church, over which a memorial stone is, to be erected by them. His aged mother still survives him, for whom much sympathy is felt.
REV. JAMES M. MACINTOSH, SKENE
(Died June 12, 1879)
Author: Rev. Alexander B. Campbell, Markinch
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.201
The Rev. James Miller Macintosh was born in Nairn in 1820. His life was neither a long nor an eventful one, as these terms are usually understood. Naturally retiring and modest in disposition, he courted no notice, made no display, and never aimed at securing mere human applause. He held on his quiet way, nobly and faithfully doing his work, whatever at the time it might be. He seemed to be content with the thought that he was always under the great Master’s eye, and was satisfied to leave all with him.
In early youth he enjoyed the inestimable privilege of a thoroughly godly upbringing and a sound education. How much he profited from these appeared in all his after-life. His piety was pre-eminent. Whatever finally led him to decision for Christ, there never could be any doubt about the fact that he was a thoroughly Christian man. He was, in all circumstances, a man of God—reverential in spirit, and holy in heart and life. He loved prayer, and, as all who ever heard him know, he possessed a wonderful power of pouring out his whole soul before God. Highly as his other labours may be estimated, perhaps his devotional exercises were the most remarkable parts of his ministerial work. This is saying a great deal when, in these days of ours, so many of us have need to cry out, with the sainted Samuel Pearce when on his death-bed, “Oh, I wish I had prayed more!”
Then Mr. Macintosh, though perhaps not in the mere technical sense a scholar, was scholarly in all his tastes and habits, and was able to do all his work in a way which proved him to be a workman that needed not to be ashamed.
After passing through the usual Arts course in Aberdeen, and the Theological curriculum in the New College, Edinburgh, he was licensed to preach the gospel in 1851. By-and-by, through various causes, he was led to give himself heart and soul to the great work of Indian Missions. And having done so, he never looked back. In December 1853 he was ordained as a missionary, with the view of proceeding to render much-needed assistance at Madras. Arriving in January 1854, he threw himself, with that calm, persistent energy which was so characteristic of him, into the varied work of the mission. In Madras and at Nellore he did most effective work, gaining the affections of the native Christians and the respect of the heathen with whom he came into daily contact. By prayer and pains he sought habitually to do his Master’s work. He taught in the Institutions, he went out on evangelistic journeys, and he watched in private for souls as one who had to give an account at the great day. And also he sought with steady devotion and love to train up native Christian agents to take a part in the evangelization of their countrymen.
Never possessing a very strong constitution, he was, after several years’ work, prostrated by dysentery; and so weak did he become that his loving and skilful medical attendant insisted on his return to Europe, as the one means to restored health and strength. This was early in 1859; and so, after little more than a five years’ residence and labour in India, he was reluctantly driven home. We well remember the grief which he felt at separation from his work and his beloved colleagues in the field. But, as usual with him, he bowed to what was evidently God’s will in the matter, only hoping that by-and-by he might be permitted to return to India to live and die there. But this was not to be. The doctors at home decided that he was physically unfit to return and labour in a tropical climate, and after-events fully justified the wisdom of their decision. This was to Mr. Macintosh a sore trial, for he loved India, and to the end it had a place in his heart. Dr. Elder of Rothesay says that the only service which Mr. Macintosh rendered in the place of his last brief sojourn was to address a meeting of ladies on the interesting and important subject of female education in the East. Thus he laboured to the last for the cause to which he had devoted his life, and which he loved so well.
When it was finally decided that Mr. Macintosh should not return to India, God guided his footsteps to Skene, Aberdeenshire, where he was inducted as pastor in March 1862. During the seventeen years which he spent in Skene, by the testimony of all, he did the work of a pastor with rare fidelity, tenderness, and devotion.
A few years ago symptoms showed themselves which told of the presence of a serious malady. But he struggled on, trying to do all his duties. His faithful and able medical attendant, Dr. Laing, warned him of the danger of this, and urged him to retire from public work. This advice was followed; and with the loving consent of all parties a colleague and successor was appointed. Abundantly satisfied with the choice of the people, Mr. Macintosh determined to take up his abode in Rothesay, which he had found suitable alike to himself and his family. His general health seemed to improve with the rest which he enjoyed. But the Lord was gently drawing him to himself with the chords of love.
The end was very sudden. When he was conversing with a brother minister, Mr. Watson of Ratho, his wife saw a change come over his countenance. She perceived that something was far wrong, and led him gently to his own room. He was able to go. He drew aside with his own hand the coverlet of the bed, and lay down to die. He never spoke again. Nor with such a life as his was this much needed. In about two hours he was with his Saviour. His death was thus like his life—one of calm, quiet peace. He “walked with God: and he was not: for God took him.”
About eleven years ago Mr. Macintosh was joined in marriage to Miss Annie Macdowal, a daughter of the late well-known and much-loved Rev. Peter Macdowal of Alloa. From this happy union Mr. Macintosh enjoyed much help in his work, and great comfort in his home. His widow, and a son about nine years of age, are left to feel the bitterness of a sore and sudden bereavement. We commend them to the prayers of God’s people, and the tender care of him who is the Husband of the widow, and the Father of the fatherless.
REV. PETER MCINTOSH
(Died September 15, 1878)
Author: Rev. M. MacAskill, Greenock
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.18
At Dalnaspidal, in the heights of Athol, on the 15th of September, died the Rev. Peter McIntosh, for thirty-five years probationer of the Free Church of Scotland, and for twenty-five years missionary of the Free Gaelic Congregation, Greenock. Mr. McIntosh went away in the beginning of September for his usual annual rest, and after spending a week at Killin, found his way to Dalnaspidal, the home of his eldest surviving sister, a few days before his death. He left Greenock in his usual health, and in more than ordinary spirit, anticipating much pleasure from his journey, and intending to be back for the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper on the first Sabbath of October. But the Lord had purposed otherwise: before the month was half over, he was holding communion with “the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven.” The Lord seemed to have been preparing his servant in a special manner for his sudden and unexpected departure home. On the Wednesday evening previous to his leaving home, he presided at the congregational prayer-meeting, and lectured with peculiar solemnity from 2 Cor. 5:1, 2: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” And at Killin, the Sabbath previous to his death, and the last occasion on which he was publicly engaged, he preached with great solemnity, and more than ordinary freedom, from Eccles. 3:20: “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” His thoughts were evidently away from the earthly scene, and dwelling most on the heavenly and eternal scenes, which were so soon to break upon his view.
Mr. McIntosh was a native of Killin, Perthshire; and in his youth enjoyed the able and evangelical ministry of Dr. McKenzie, of the Rev. Mr. Elder (now Dr. Elder of Rothesay), and latterly of Mr. Stewart, still the much respected minister of the Free Church congregation there. His father was an elder of the church there, highly respected for his Christian worth, and lived to the advanced age of a hundred years. The writer is not able to say at what period Mr. McIntosh was brought to the saving knowledge of the truth, but it must have been at an early period, for when, at a comparatively early age, he entered upon his studies for the ministry, he was known in the district as a young man of outstanding piety. He completed his course of study in the year ‘Forty-three, and unhesitatingly threw in his lot with the Free Church, adopting her principles with an intelligent heartiness that knew no change or abatement to the close of his life. He was licensed in ‘Forty-three by the Free Presbytery of Lorne and Mull, and for some time after served the Church in several districts in the Highlands; but from weakness of voice and a certain diffidence of manner, he was unsuccessful in securing a settled charge, though, had he done so, few charges would have been better wrought than his, alike from his thorough conscientiousness as a labourer in the vineyard, and his accurate knowledge of his Bible and the best authors in theology. He was an assistant for some time to the late Dr. Charles C. Mackintosh at Tain, and was highly esteemed by that eminent servant of Christ to the close of his own saintly life. Twenty-five years ago Mr. McIntosh was brought to Greenock by the late Rev. John McRae, then pastor of the Free Gaelic congregation, to assist him in the duties of his arduous charge. Here he continued labouring, in season and out of season, till the Lord called him to himself. He was extensively known in the town; and by all who knew him, and could appreciate true Christian worth, there could be only one estimate of his character, namely, that of a true, gentle, and upright follower of the Divine Master. Naturally of a retiring and shrinking disposition, he avoided publicity as much as possible, and preferred to do his work for the Master in a quiet and unostentatious spirit. But the work was none the less real and important because of that. The poor and needy, the distressed and bereaved, found in him always a true, generous, and sympathizing friend; and if his words were few, they were always well chosen, and spoken from a heart of much natural and gracious kindness. Many of his poor countrymen and countrywomen in this town did he kindly succour during those twenty-five years of his labours among them, and many were his kindly efforts to cheer the hearts of the widow and fatherless. And we have reason to believe that his labour was not in vain in the Lord. He was a man of no ordinary attainments as a scholar, and as a theologian knew his Bible and the voluminous writings of Dr. John Owen—the prince of theologians—with a precision which few could excel. His reading was extensive and varied, and he deeply interested himself in all the questions of the day that concerned the glory of God, the good of the Church, and the temporal and spiritual interests of his fellow-men. He manfully and intelligently adhered to the old paths in doctrine and Church polity, and though never forward to obtrude his opinions, yet was always ready to give the grounds on which his convictions were based. To all who knew him he has left behind him a savoury memory—the sweet remembrance and example of a truly consistent Christian life; and they all feel that the Church on earth is the poorer by the removal of another upright spirit from her midst, and the Church in heaven the richer by the acquisition.
REV. JOHN MACKAIL, CALCUTTA
(Died May 9, 1884)
Author: James MacDonald, LL.D.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1884, Biographical Notices, p.340
John Mackail was born on the 4th September 1810 at Coylton in Ayrshire. His ancestors had been west country farmers since early in the seventeenth century, when, as the family tradition is, they emigrated to Scotland from Ulster. Hugh Mackail, the famous confessor and martyr, who suffered in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh in 1666, belonged to them. He, as is well known, died unmarried at the age of twenty-three; but the present family draw their descent from his brother. It is in such a stock—”grave livers, religious men”—that the Lowland Scotch character appears in its highest form; strong feeling veiled in a somewhat austere reserve, piety, intrepidity, constancy all but inflexible, caution of speech united with capacity in action.
Mr. Mackail was educated at the parish school of Coylton, from which he proceeded in 1829 to the University of Glasgow. There he passed through a distinguished course, and became one of the leaders in that brilliant society of theological students in which James Halley, James Hamilton, and William Arnot are the names best known. It was under Sir D.K. Sandford, then the professor of Greek, that he acquired that scholarly instinct and that taste for classical literature which never left him. Licensed in due time by the Presbytery of Glasgow, he shortly afterwards began his ministerial work in Dundee as assistant to Mr. Lewis of St. David’s. He left this in 1842, at Mr. McCheyne’s suggestion, to take temporary charge of the parish of Gretna, which was then vacant. There are still a few people there who remember and speak of him as unexcelled in devotion to his pastoral duties.
But the work of a large and disorganized parish proved too severe for a constitution always delicate. He had to resign his work there, and in the spring of 1843 was in Glasgow, too ill to take part in the famous proceedings at Edinburgh. Meantime he had been nominated to undertake the chaplaincy of the 42nd Royal Highlanders, then in garrison at Malta, together with the charge of the small Scotch congregation of Valetta. There was some difficulty with the War Office when the Disruption occurred; but this was cleared away by the intervention of the late Lord Dalhousie, then Mr. Fox Maule.
He remained in Malta till the spring of 1846, when he accepted a call from the Free Church congregation, Calcutta. This was to be his last sphere of public labour. He arrived in November; in February 1852, he returned with health broken by the climate and exertions too great for his strength, leaving his people more devoted to him than the best of congregations often is to the best of ministers.
Thirty-two years of enforced inactivity remained to him; and through them all he retained the old unbroken spirit, the severe strength of mind, which would have made him a Stoic had he not been a Christian. Secretum meum mihi, he might have said; but it was no less true of him, Secretum Domini cum verentibus illum. His wife, a most estimable woman, the youngest daughter of Dr. Carson, rector of the High School of Edinburgh, died in June 1865, leaving two children, a girl and a boy, to whom he devoted himself with persistent care and vigilance, and for whose sake, it might be said, he continued to live. He was spared to officiate at his daughter’s marriage, and to see his son, after winning the highest distinctions at Ayr Academy and at the University of Edinburgh, terminate a career of almost unexampled success at Oxford by being elected a Fellow of Balliol College. Of late years his strength gradually decayed; but up to the very last his keen and strong intellect remained quite unimpaired. On the 9th May last, at the age of seventy-three, he died at Ayr (where the last twenty-two years of his life had been spent) quietly and painlessly, and in the assured hope of a blessed resurrection.
REV. ANGUS MCKAY, GLENSHIEL
(Died October 12, 1897)
Author: Rev. A. Galbraith, Lochalsh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, February, 1898, Obituary, p.44
Mr. Mackay was born at Jeantown, Lochcarron, over eighty years ago, of humble but respectable parents. At the time of his birth, and for a few years thereafter, Lochcarron was highly favoured in having the eminent Mr. Lauchlan McKenzie as its minister. Though baptized by Mr. Lauchlan—as he was generally called—Mr. McKay was too young to remember this precious minister or his preaching.
After leaving school he followed a seafaring life, and thus acquired a training which he found useful in his frequent journeys afterwards through the Highlands and Islands.
It was during the stirring times that preceded the Disruption that Mr. McKay was brought under the power of the truth. He often spoke of the late Mr. John McRae and Mr. McColl as ministers to whom, under God, he was indebted for spiritual benefit. For some two years he was kept under deep conviction of sin, and his first relief was obtained through a sermon by Mr. McColl, who at the time laboured as a probationer in Lochcarron.
Having undergone a saving change, he resolved to give up his former calling, and become a fisher of men, if not in the ministry—to which he did not at first aspire—in the office of a catechist. Through want of means, he continued for several seasons to go to the fishing at Peterhead and Fraserburgh, where he conducted meetings, for prayer and exhortation, for the benefit of his fellow-countrymen. Being somewhat advanced in years, and destitute of means, the difficulties in the way might to some appear insurmountable, but his courage and diligence proved equal to the circumstances. He went through the usual curriculum in the University of Edinburgh and the Free Church College there, and bore witness that from the time he entered on his studies he did not lack money. No sooner were his scanty means exhausted than the Lord wonderfully provided for him.
While at college he was employed during summer in the islands of Barra and Eigg, where his labours were acknowledged in bringing numbers to the knowledge of the truth. After receiving licence, he laboured for a time in the McDonald Church, Glasgow, where he gathered around him an attached congregation.
In 1863 he began his work in Glenshiel—formed a congregation, collected funds, and built a church and manse in all respects suitable for the place, in the construction of which he has evidenced much practical common-sense. Over this congregation which he had formed he was ordained in 1866, as the first Free Church minister of Glenshiel, where he laboured earnestly and faithfully, till he was brought home to his rest and reward.
As a preacher in Gaelic, which he spoke with great fluency, he was much appreciated. Possessed of a strong physical frame and melodious voice, he was peculiarly adapted for open-air preaching, which was extended to, and was acceptable, in many parts of the Highlands. His principal study was his Bible, of which he was a diligent student; and his vivid imagination, coupled with his keen observation of men and things, imparted a freshness and interest to his preaching which seldom failed to command attention. From his extensive supply of choice Gaelic, he invariably expressed himself with wonderful clearness and effect. A faithful and fearless reprover of sin, his appeals to sinners were often very affecting; and no one could hear him without the conviction that he was thoroughly in earnest. But, above all, he was eminently a man of prayer; and to this his success is largely to be attributed. A true Free Churchman from the beginning, he continued loyal to her and her distinctive principles to the last. As a private friend he was most genial, and in his own house truly hospitable. In short, he was a genuine Christian, a faithful preacher, whose removal is a great loss to the Highlands. He “fought a good fight, he finished his course, he kept the faith.”
REV. DONALD MACKAY, ECHT
(Died August 13, 1896)
Author: Rev. James Smith, M.A., Tarland
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October, 1896, Obituary, p.255
Mr. Mackay was born at Tain in 1817, and he also received his school education there, entering St. Andrew’s University in 1838, and graduating M.A. in 1842. After finishing the university curriculum, he was for some time engaged as private tutor in various families. Having, in 1848, finished the usual course of study in theology, he was in that year licensed by the Presbytery of Kelso. He was for the next two years connected with the Aberdeen City Mission, which was then an important evangelistic agency.
Like most of the congregations in the presbytery, that at Echt was for a considerable time a preaching station. Only one minister in the presbytery “came out” in ’43—namely, Rev. D. S. Ferguson of Strachan, now in his ninetieth year, and much heavy work fell upon him and those who were associated with him in organizing and fostering the numerous stations. When Echt was sanctioned as a ministerial charge in 1850, a church and manse had been already built. But, owing to serious divisions in the congregation, a minister was not settled till August 14, 1851, as the result of a very cordial and unanimous call presented to Mr. Mackay, all the members having become happily united in their choice, which was directed to him in no small degree by their knowledge of his work in Aberdeen, and the estimation in which he was held there.
Mr. Mackay laboured quietly and unobtrusively, but diligently and faithfully, at Echt during the rest of his life. He was an earnest evangelical preacher, many of his earlier texts in particular being what would be called evangelistic. In his latter days his preaching became more doctrinal and experimental, combined with earnest practical appeals. His pastoral work was carried on with regularity and thoroughness. Being of a kind and sympathetic disposition, this was much valued. Like most other country ministers, he had to mourn the loss of many of his best and most hopeful young men by removal; but he kept his eye on many of them, and often made inquiries about “my boys.” There are many affectionate memories of his interest in the families of his flock, and they, on various occasions, testified their appreciation of his labours by substantial gifts.
Growing infirmity led him to apply for a colleague in 1893, and just at the time when Mr. W. M. Whyte was unanimously called to occupy that position, he had a shock of paralysis, which laid him almost entirely aside; but he was able at times to help his colleague with wise and fatherly counsel.
As he felt his end drawing near, his prayer for himself was that he might be spared severe suffering, while his congregation also was on his heart to the last. This prayer was mercifully answered, and he fell peacefully asleep on the forty-fifth anniversary of his ordination, in the eightieth year of his age.
His funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Cowan of Banchory on August 23, and his references to the deceased have been spoken of by office-bearers, members of Echt congregation, and by his co-presbyters as remarkably appropriate. Space forbids our quoting more than a single sentence: “We [his co-presbyters] looked up to him with a most sincere and hearty respect. We loved him with genuine affection; we shall mourn for him with a very real sorrow. We knew him to be a most sincere man; there was nothing false, unnatural, affected, in his speech or manners.”
Mr. Mackay was twice married, and leaves a son, who is in business in London, and a daughter, the wife of Mr. Clark, banker, Echt. Another daughter, who was the wife of Rev. H. Currie, Keig, died several years ago.
REV. DAVID NORRIS MACKAY, RAFFORD
(Died January 26, 1875)
Author: Rev. James Morrison, Urquhart
The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1875, p.95
Mr. Mackay was the eldest son of the late Rev. George Mackay, D.D., and was born in 1817. He was well trained at home, and at an early age he entered as a student in King’s College, Aberdeen. He distinguished himself in all his classes, especially in Greek, and completed his curriculum in Arts, taking his M.A. at the close of his fourth session. In preparing for the office of the ministry, to which he had early resolved to devote himself, he studied partly at Aberdeen Hall, but subsequently in Edinburgh, where he enjoyed the privilege of sitting under Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh.
After being licensed, he was appointed in 1840 assistant to the late Dr. Rose of Drainie, and discharged his duty there with zeal and efficiency till the Disruption. Into that movement he threw himself with devoted self-sacrifice, and left the Church in which his prospects were fair and hopeful, not knowing what hap might befall him. The love of his former people called him to be pastor of the Free Church at Drainie in 1844. There he remained for many years, loved, honoured, and useful. He afterwards accepted a call to Castleton, in the Presbytery of Jedburgh. His father, who had carried with him into the Free Church the overwhelming majority of the people of Rafford, feeling the infirmities of age, applied for and obtained the sanction of the Church for a colleague and successor. The hearts of the people turned to the son of their venerable pastor, and a call of singular unanimity was given to him. Thus, in 1860, he was inducted as colleague-minister at Rafford, and on his father’s death he became sole pastor. By appointment of the Church, he was sent in 1872 to preach to the fishermen at Barra. The hardships to which he was then subjected undermined his constitution, and laid him for some time aside from work. Latterly he seemed to be regaining strength, and down till within a few days of his death was able to discharge all his duties with comfort and acceptance.
None could know Mr. Mackay without loving him. He possessed a most tender and affectionate nature, and would put himself to any amount of labour to oblige a friend or brother. In the several spheres which he occupied, he at once endeared himself to his people, winning and retaining their confidence and esteem. He was greatly liked as a preacher, being simple, warm, and impressive — plainly feeling what he said. Few ministers have had in richer measure the grace of prayer; his devotional exercises being remarkable for their unction, reverence, and profound earnestness. He took a very deep interest in the young, and, next to being in the pulpit, his happiest hours were spent with his Bible-classes and Sabbath-schools. He was a model pastor, ever moving about among his people, and sedulous and sympathizing in visiting the sick and the bereaved. He leaves a widow to mourn her loss — a daughter of the Rev. Dr. Julius Wood of Dumfries.
REV. JOHN MACKAY, LYBSTER
(Died May 11,1874)
Author: Rev. William Taylor, Editor of the “British Messenger.”
The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1874, p.215
The Free Church has lost a very estimable minister by the death of this able and worthy man. He was born on the 7th May 1813 in Strath-halladale, on the borders of Sutherland and Caithness, and died in his manse at Lybster on the 11th May 1874. Although not one of the Disruption ministers — for his ordination was in 1844 — he was a distinguished Disruption witness, having been ejected in 1843 from the mastership of the parish school of Clyne on account of his adherence to the Free Church, after an oral defence before the Established Presbytery of Dornoch, in which he stated the principles at issue with a freshness of scriptural quotation and allusion that must have taken his judges by surprise, as much as it gratified Free Churchmen elsewhere, who learned to know him for the first time from the newspaper report. His amiable temper, his attainments, — classical, and still more mathematical, — his power of discerning principles and drawing fine analogies (which were too metaphysical at times for common minds, but which were appreciated by the more intellectual), but, above all, his true Christian experience and character, his sympathy with exercised souls, and his acquaintance with God’s Word, endeared him to his people in Lybster, and procured him the esteem of many friends besides. His pulpit delivery was extremely quiet, and might be almost described as meditative; oratory or ornate composition he never attempted; but as he passed on from thought to thought, the scriptural principles he enounced fell like fruitful seeds on prepared hearts. He stood high in Caithness as an educationist; and his election to the chairmanship of the School Board of the large and populous parish of Latheron, with its many schools, was a well-earned tribute to the enthusiasm, perseverance, and skill by which he had helped to maintain the instruction in the district of his labours for many years at a height quite unusual in country places. He wrote one book, in memory of his friend the Rev. John Macdonald of Helmsdale, as well as of other Highland worthies. For some years before his death his labours were much interrupted by clerical dysphonia, and he was several times obliged to leave home for the south of England and the Continent. On his partial restoration, he was able with assistance to resume his pastoral work; and he continued to labour among his people, esteemed and beloved, until an attack of typhoid fever removed him from the Church below. A widow, and nine of eleven children, survive to lament him.
DR. MACKINTOSH MACKAY, HARRIS
(Died May 17, 1873)
Author: Rev. John Mackay, Lybster
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, September 1, 1873, p.191
Dr. Mackay was a native of the county of Sutherland, having been born at Duartbeg (Eddrachillis, we suppose) on the 15th November 1793. His father, Mr. Alexander Mackay, had served as a lieutenant in the North Lowland Fencibles; and his mother was a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Falconer, minister at Badcoll. Their family of sons and daughters had been trained in the way they should go, and all served their generation, by the will of God, in respectable stations; and with the exception of two sisters, who still survive — one at Portobello, and another married in Australia — all entered into rest.
Before leaving his father’s house to prosecute his studies, Dr. Mackay called for the wise and venerable William Calder, Catechist, and was addressed by him in the words of David — “And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.” The words thus addressed to the student’s youthful ear by an eminent man of God, appear to have been spoken to his heart, and to have been the key-note to his future life. A word fitly spoken, how good is it!
Dr. Mackay studied at St. Andrews, having been presented to the Mackay Bursary there by Lord Reay; and he continued throughout life to enjoy and highly to appreciate the respect aud esteem of the succeeding and of the present Lord Reay, and of all the members of that noble family.
It may serve to show our young students their superior advantages, if we inform them that Dr. Mackay walked all the way from Sutherland to St. Andrews before entering college there. Dr. John Hunter was the Professor of Humanity, and under that accomplished scholar the young student applied to his work with a will; and, we believe, the thoroughness with which he then learned to do his tasks characterized him in all his classes, and, indeed, in all his after labours and works. However numerous and varied the demands upon his time and attention, he did nothing by halves. His known proficiency as a Celtic scholar procured his being employed by the Highland Society to compile their Gaelic Dictionary. This was a work of immense labour, and the Doctor was known to add to his hours of toil by taking a cold bath when sleep would have been the more pleasant, because the more needed, relaxation. His engagement in this great work brought him into acquaintance with Sir Walter Scott and other literary celebrities, and on its completion the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him.
In 1823 he was licensed to preach the gospel; and in 1825 ordained minister of Laggan, in the heart of the Highlands, and amidst scenery of much natural beauty, in the neighbourhood of which the Queen passed a season some years ago. In 1832 the Doctor was translated to Dunoon, and was honoured with much usefulness in that parish, and with much respect from the numerous visitors from Glasgow and other places that passed their summer months on the banks of the Clyde. He took an active and decided part in the Ten Years’ Conflict, and was one of thirty-two ministers who signed the circular calling the Convocation in 1842. Of these there were only two survivors two years ago. When the Disruption took place, it may be truly said that the care of all the churches in the Highlands devolved on Dr. Mackay. The amount of work which he did (1) in the way of correspondence with ministers, probationers, and vacant congregations, as to supplies; (2) in going in the schooner Breadalbane from place to place preaching on Sabbath and week days; and (3) in editing and writing for the Gaelic Witness, implied an amount of labour which could not have been undertaken by any other man; and the only satisfactory explanation of his abundant services was that it was not he, but the grace of God in him.
On the occurrence of the potato failure in 1846-7, when famine began to be not only feared, but felt throughout the Highlands, Dr. Mackay was the first to ask a collection from his own congregation at Dunoon, and to appeal to his church and country to come to the rescue; and £15,000 sterling was the liberal and serviceable response.
Soon after, during the sitting of the General Assembly, Dr. Mackay met a select number of ladies and gentlemen, who organized the Ladies’ Association for promoting Education in the Highlands and Islands — an association which has done immense service to the Highlands, and with which the names of Miss Abercrombie, Miss Cowan, Dr. McLauchlan, and a host of others, will long be honourably mentioned and remembered. Besides this, he had previously originated a Synod Bursary in the Synod of Argyll, which has aided many students in prosecuting their studies for the ministry, and which we hope is still destined to do good work in that good cause.
In 1849, Dr. Mackay was chosen to be Moderator of the Free Church General Assembly; and when retiring from that office, which he filled with credit, he preached an able and excellent discourse — which was published soon after — from Ps. 148;14 — “He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord.” Among the Doctor’s great services to the Free Church in the Highlands, his originating and arranging a scheme for the payment in full of all debts upon churches and manses deserves to be specially noticed. He called a meeting of the Church’s ablest and most liberal members, which was attended only by three gentlemen — Mr. Campbell of Tilliechewan, Mr. McFie, Greenock, and Mr. James Cunningham, Edinburgh. Each of these subscribed £1000, and Mr. Cunningham gave his able and efficient services in working the scheme; and so by giving one-half or thereby of the whole debt, on condition that the remaining half should be raised locally and the whole debt discharged, the thing was done, to the great relief of many ministers, and the lasting benefit of their congregations. Aid was, of course, obtained from other parties, in addition to the £3000 so generously given, as above stated.
Dr. Mackay and Dr. Cairns went to Australia in 1853, after being loosed and set apart for the work of the Lord in that colony by the General Assembly. Dr. Mackay was then in the sixtieth year of his age, and, as appeared to some of his friends, “too old a tree to transplant.” But he himself had the spirit and ardour of youth; and he hoped in various ways to be of service to his countrymen who had already emigrated to that country, and he contemplated organizing methods to induce and assist others to emigrate in greater numbers. He did good work in Melbourne and Sydney, but his efforts were not seconded as he would require; and from various causes, doubtless including increasing infirmity, the Doctor returned to his native country, and was settled as minister of Harris.
Finding himself unable to do the work requisite in that charge, he procured the appointment of a colleague and successor, to whom he gave up the manse and whole emoluments, retaining his status as a minister and member of Presbytery, and his income from the Aged and Infirm and Pre-Disruption Ministers’ Funds.
His last public work was to attend the Synod of Glenelg on the 9th April. He was opposed to union with the United Presbyterian Church, but is reported to have said that he trembled at the idea of a second Disruption. In Australia, Dr. Mackay favoured the union which took place there, believing it a right thing to do in the circumstances in which the Presbyterian Churches are there placed. But he considered the state of the Churches at home so far different as to oppose the majority.
Besides the Gaelic Dictionary, which was his great literary work, and editing an edition of Rob Donn’s poems, published at Inverness, Dr. Mackay found more congenial work in publishing a volume of sermons on the Christian Warfare, and two volumes on the Beatitudes, besides funeral sermons on the occasion of the death of his esteemed friend, the Rev. Roderick McLeod of Snizort, and the burial of the honourable Mrs. Aylmer in the family vaults at Tongue. By these works he desired and deserved to be long and honourably remembered, and in them, though dead, he yet speaketh, as an able minister of the New Testament — a workman not needing to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
In the Glasgow Assembly in 1843, as sites for churches and schools were then refused by the Duke of Sutherland, Dr. Mackay called the attention of the Assembly to that subject, and his speech was characterized as the speech at that Assembly. This was no faint praise. In the year 1845 he appeared at the bar of the General Assembly to plead for the translation of Mr. William McKenzie, Tongue, to Breadalbane; and Mr. Handyside pronounced his speech the best and most powerful pleading to which he had ever listened from the bar.
But all flesh is as grass; and ministers, however able and eminent, continue not, by reason of death. They rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.
Dr. Mackay married in early life, and the issue was one child, who died in infancy. The widow survives to mourn his loss.
Much might be added to all that is said above from personal knowledge of the subject of this notice — as a gentleman of cultivated feelings and taste, a scholar of varied attainments, a valued friend, a true patriot, and an upright man of God. In looking over his voluminous correspondence, it appears that while he had asked and obtained many favours for others, there was no trace of asking favours for himself. He was one of the most large-hearted and unselfish of men.
REV. WILLIAM MURRAY MACKAY, GLASGOW
(Died November 8, 1898)
Author: Rev. Gilbert Laurie
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, February, 1899, Obituary, p.43
By the death of the Rev. William Murray Mackay the Free Church has lost one of her most loyal ministers, and Glasgow one of the most faithful workers in the Home Mission field. He was a native of the parish of Halkirk in the county of Caithness. He was descended from a family which for generations were well known for their piety and zeal for God. His grandfather, Mr. Donald Mackay, was one of “the men”—a class of earnest, faithful persons who kept the light of religion burning in those quarters when there was generally nothing but death and darkness in the pulpit. It is difficult for us to realize how much the Free Church is indebted to the life and labours of these men.
God was pleased to call Mr. Mackay by His grace when he was quite a boy, and at the same time to put into his heart a strong desire to become a preacher of the gospel. Many difficulties stood in his way. His parents were in humble circumstances, and education was not easily obtained, for at that time not only religion but education, too, were at a very low ebb in his native parish.
With some difficulty his father sent him to the academy in Wick, in order to get the knowledge needful for his entering the university. Thereafter he went to Edinburgh, and took several of his literary and all his theological classes in the New College.
During the latter years of his student life he acted as chaplain in the Queensberry House, a refuge for fallen men and women, maintained by the philanthropy of the city. Here he gained that sympathy with the outcast and hopeless which afterwards was the leading feature in his character.
Shortly after being licensed he was called to Young Street Church in the year 1859. This was a territorial charge promoted by Free St. John’s, which was under the ministry of Dr. Roxburgh. The district was very poor and the congregation very small. He entered upon his work with great zeal and devotion, and continued in it till the day of his death. The remarkable fact is that, as the years passed, his influence over the people of the district increased. He loved his people and his work, and the people loved him. The congregation grew steadily under his ministry in numbers and usefulness until at the time when he was laid aside by sickness the membership was nearly eight hundred.
Mr. Mackay had not been many months in his new charge until Glasgow was visited by the great revival of 1859. Into this movement he entered most heartily. For nearly two months his church was open daily. The fruit of that time of blessing was more permanent in this congregation than in some others, which was due to the fact that he was most assiduous in his pastoral work and in his great care over the young of his congregation. All the years of his lengthened ministry he had a large class of young men and women which was conducted summer and winter. There have gone forth from this class many who now fill prominent places in all parts of the world.
His interest in church extension and evangelistic work was unabated till the last. He took an active part in initiating several new charges in Glasgow and its neighbourhood. He was ready to adopt any new method that might be suggested to reach the outcast. Many speak to-day of “the brotherhood of man,” and are content simply to speak of it: Mr. Mackay lived it. His continuous efforts to help the helpless will never be fully known; but this told on his naturally strong frame and broke him down at sixty-five. The poor people who knew him nobly repaid him by their love and gratitude, and he received from them many tokens of esteem and regard. It was a touching sight to see a crowd of the poor people of the Calton gathered round his open grave, and, with eyes filled with tears, saying, “He was a good man,” as they took farewell of him who was like a father to them.
For years he acted as convener of a committee of the Free Presbytery that had been appointed to arrange for evangelistic services during the winter months in the congregations in the eastern part of the city. He took the deepest interest in this work.
At length, five years ago, he was laid aside, and during all that time was a constant sufferer. It was a delight to visit him. He was never heard to complain. He was perfectly resigned and patient, and, indeed, often filled with joy and peace in believing. He was constantly speaking of the preciousness of Jesus, and longing to be home with his Saviour, whom he trusted with such childlike confidence, loved so sincerely, and served so faithfully during forty years in one of the poorest districts of the city.
He was often very anxious about his congregation; but two years ago he was greatly relieved when the Rev. Mr. Macraken was settled over them as his colleague and successor. He felt that their spiritual wants would be faithfully attended to by him.
He leaves a widow (a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Sage of Resolis) and two sons. One of his sons, the Rev. Dr. Donald Sage Mackay, has taken a high position in the American pulpit; the other, Rev. Mr. Macintosh Mackay, is now the minister of one of our largest congregations of Aberdeen. It is most touching to read the father’s prayers as recorded in his diary for these two sons, that God would be pleased to make them able ministers of the gospel of Christ.
Mr. Mackay kept a diary extending over all the years of his ministry, till at last he was unable to use his pen. No one knew of it. He was the most modest of men. He was the last to speak of himself, of his own work, or of his own experience. It is only when reading that diary that we can understand how it was that he was able to labour so constantly and so devotedly in that field, which in some respects is not an inviting one. But when we know from his diary how, during all his life, he sought “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God,” we see the springs by which his useful life was fed. The toiling masses of our great cities greatly need such ministers, and may God be pleased to raise up many such workers.
REV. ALEXANDER MCKENZIE, D.D., EDINBURGH
(Died September 11, 1894)
Author: Rev. P. W. Robertson, M.A., Portobello
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1894, Obituary, p.288
Dr. Alexander McKenzie, who died suddenly at his beautiful retreat, Westerlea, Nairn, in his seventy-fifth year, was a native of Inverness. He had the great advantage of being reared by godly parents, who dedicated their intelligent and attractive boy to the service of Christ in the ministry of the gospel. In the early decades of the present century teachers trained for their special work were unknown: but in many rural parishes, and still more in the towns and cities, were to be found university graduates as teachers, scholarly and accomplished, with a passion for literature, and who lavished their stores of classical lore on studious lads apt at learning and with congenial tastes. Such individual influence and instruction were, I believe, the privilege of young McKenzie.
As was the custom in those days, he was a mere boy when he went to King’s College, Aberdeen, where he took his M.A. degree about the age of eighteen. According to a wholesome practice with students looking forward to the ministry, Mr. McKenzie held a tutorship to a family in Lochaber for a time, and afterwards was appointed teacher in a parish school at the age of nineteen. Thus early was he initiated into that knowledge of the needs of “primary schools” which were so near his heart, and which he served so well in later years in Edinburgh.
Alexander McKenzie had a distinguished career as a student in Aberdeen, but his distinction was even more marked in Edinburgh, where he studied theology under Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh.
The ministers trained under Chalmers, Andrew Thomson, and the other apostles of the evangelical revival, and in sympathy with them, never lost the clear vision which fills the soul of those “called out of darkness into marvellous light.” Moderatism had too long chilled the life-blood of Scotland’s sons. The Evangelical doctrine meant a revolution in men’s ideas of their relation to God and to one another, and the impetus of awakened faith thrilled through the land, knitting all classes and all interests into one. The church shook off her lethargy, there was a moral upheaval in every parish, and the claims and merits of the Evangelical doctrine were discussed at every fireside. Scotland realized once more, as in the days of the Reformation, her nationality, her Christian nationality, and her outstanding obligation of loyalty to Jesus Christ.
Just at that era, in the plastic period of his manhood, Alexander McKenzie received impressions of divine truth, deeper but not diverse from the early instruction of his Highland home, which could never be erased. At the culmination of the conflict in 1843, Mr. McKenzie was standing ready for his life-work, a fully-furnished probationer of the church. In order to be prepared for any field of labour to which he might be called, he had set himself to perfect his knowledge of the Gaelic language, and became a proficient and acceptable preacher to the Highlanders in their own tongue. With his Celtic fire and intellectual gifts, with his gentlemanly and genial manners, with his attractive and boyish appearance, with his winning tact and forceful personality, Mr. McKenzie might have had the pick of the parish churches, especially in the Highlands. But his sympathies were with the Evangelical party, and notwithstanding his constitutional instinct towards established institutions, he never had any hesitation as to the path of duty.
On the 4th of October 1843 Mr. McKenzie was unanimously elected minister of the Free Church of Nairn, and was ordained there on the 16th of November. As he said himself on the occasion of his jubilee, “Nairn was his first love;” and even after thirty years of work in Edinburgh, there was nothing pleased him better than to be called “McKenzie of Nairn.” For twenty years Mr. McKenzie’s was a name to conjure by in the north. An unwritten law of those years of fervid faith was this, “Never refuse a request to preach the gospel if you can help it.” I believe Mr. McKenzie carried out this rule to the letter; and as the demand for his services was great, both in the Gaelic speech and in the English, he was in labours abundant and in journeyings often.
The great esteem and love shown to Mr. McKenzie when he returned to Nairn, there to spend his last days, and the unmistakable signs of grief at his funeral, betokened an attachment, after thirty years of separation, quite unique. Perhaps nowhere else but in Scotland is such unfeigned affection to be found between pastor and people. Truly it can be testified of Nairn that the Free Church congregation has been an epistle—a letter of commendation and of testimony to the wisdom and energy of her first minister and her early office-bearers. When Mr. McKenzie went to Nairn he had only three elders; when he left there were thirty office-bearers. One thing he could say of them, “They were not his critics, they were his helpers; and a blessed spirit of unity prevailed among them.”
In 1863 Dr. McKenzie accepted the call given him by the historic Tolbooth Church, Edinburgh, in succession to Dr. Tweedie. The new church in St. Andrew Square had just been taken possession of by the congregation, and the difficulties of the position were somewhat trying. The Tolbooth was an “old town” parish, many of the members lived on the south side of the city, and the removal of the place of worship to the north of Princes Street rendered it almost impossible for the old and infirm to continue their connection with the congregation.
Notwithstanding these difficulties, for the first ten years of Mr. McKenzie’s ministry in Edinburgh the Tolbooth enjoyed a large measure of prosperity and of influence in the community. Such well-known men as Dr. James Buchanan, David Guthrie, George Todd, and Thomas Martin joined the ranks of the members and office-bearers.
The introduction of tram-cars had by this time swept the central streets and squares of the city bare of family residences. Nearly every tenement within easy reach of St. Andrew Square had been turned into business premises, and the population of all ranks and grades had their homes in the distant suburbs. It was no marvel, therefore, that the membership decreased. The wonder is that in such adverse circumstances the heavy debt was cleared off the church, a new manse was provided for the minister, and the congregation maintained the high position it had always held in contributing to the general funds of the Free Church.
Several times during these thirty years the congregation made special presentations to Mr. McKenzie, in token of their esteem and love for him; but no private claims were ever allowed to interfere with their liberality to the various schemes of the church, or to the cause of Christ everywhere.
Dr. McKenzie excelled as a pastor to his flock. One of his most intimate friends, an elder of the Tolbooth, writes thus: “During all his ministry in Edinburgh, he visited every family yearly as their minister and spiritual guide; and in times of trial and difficulty his wise counsel and Christian sympathy gained the affection of every one.” The mission district in the Lawnmarket he counted as his parish. He knew all the families in it, took a deep interest in both old and young, and was particularly beloved by the children for his kindly ways with them. He had a special care for the domestic servants in his church: he had a profound esteem for them, and they for him. They often expressed their indebtedness to him for his visits, which left them cheerful and happy, because of his kindly inquiries and prayers for their welfare.
Dr. McKenzie’s public services as a member the Edinburgh School Board were incalculable. He had always a passion for education; and the Free Church in the metropolis was well guided when Dr. McKenzie was chosen as their representative in the early years of the great educational movement for the welfare of the masses. Convener of the Education Committee of the Free Church, and having charge of the Edinburgh Training College, his natural sagacity and Christian wisdom have had far-reaching results, on which it is impossible to enlarge. One thing here may be noted. He seldom forgot to name the “elementary schools” in his pulpit prayers—a practice which it would be well for others to follow.
Dr. McKenzie was a most profitable preacher at all times; and some of his sermons, such as one on the text, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” might take rank with the most impressive of pulpit orations. That “he spoke because he believed” was undoubted. His genuine and transparent character gave point to all he said, and his grip of divine truth lent a force to his preaching which is seldom shown and seldom appreciated in these later years.
The Free Church in Edinburgh owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. McKenzie for his self-effacing and public spirit in the matter of the union of the congregations of Tolbooth and St. Luke’s. The negotiations demanded the utmost wisdom, delicacy of feeling, and nobility of aim. Without discretion and prudence, very uncommon in frail human nature, the happy issue never could have been secured. His was the only hand which could take the helm at such a juncture; the ministers, office bearers, and members of both congregations had equal confidence in his judgment and in his singleness of purpose; and in the successful settlement of Mr. Durran as colleague-minister to Mr. Cunningham, all difficulties were surmounted. The most sanguine expectations of the church have had full fruition.
A noble ministry of fifty years being now fulfilled, Dr. McKenzie, with his three daughters, retired to the scene of his early life and work. His eye was not dim, his natural strength appeared to himself unabated. “I have come to spend my latter days in Nairn,” he said. “But I do not come to be put on the shelf; my brethren will ever find me ready to give such assistance to them as is in my power.”
It was not so to be. He had finished the work given him to do; and like other eminent ministers of the Free Church, such as Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Robert Buchanan, his death was almost a translation. A sudden faintness seized him on Monday evening the 10th September, and on Tuesday evening slept in Jesus. “Our friend,” the church’s friend, the Highlander’s friend, the children’s friend, sleeps in peace. The Sutors of Cromarty which he loved so well look over to his grave, and the long waves of the northern firth sound his requiem, now in deep and anon in gentler tones.
REV. CHARLES MCKENZIE, M.A., GOLSPIE
(Died January 23, 1889)
Author: Rev. John Murray, Clyne
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1889, Obituary, p.183
Mr. McKenzie was born in the parish of Knockbain in 1814. On the completion of his school education he spent some time as tutor in a family in Rosskeen, and after that attended the Grammar School in Old Aberdeen, from which he passed to King’s College. Here, having finished a distinguished cuirriculum, especially in Greek, he took his degree of M. A.
About the time his University course was finished, he was appointed parish school-master of Urray and he taught that school with great efficiency and success, until at the Disruption he was ejected from office and house for his adherence to the Free Church and the great principles for which she then contended. He attended theological classes at Aberdeen while schoolmaster of Urray; but his theological course was finished at Edinburgh in 1845, in which year he was licensed by the Presbytery of Dingwall to preach the gospel, and in the same year unanimously called to Golspie, where he remained until his Master called him home.
Mr. McKenzie was by natural disposition reserved, and was not very ready to enter upon terms of friendship, but to those with whom he did become intimate he proved himself thoroughly genuine. That fact is illustrated by the long attachment that existed between himself and the Rev. Mr. McDonald, the late and highly-esteemed Free Church minister of Urray. Mr. McDonald was minister of that parish before the Disruption, and the intimacy between himself and Mr. McKenzie commenced as soon as the latter was appointed parochial schoolmaster there. In the controversies that sprung up in the Church—such as that about the negotiations for union with the United Presbyterian Church— Mr. McDonald and Mr. McKenzie took opposite sides. It is well known that that controversy interfered with social intercourse and broke up friendships that lasted long; but it was never allowed to interfere with the attachment between Mr. McDonald and Mr. McKenzie, for that attachment, even in the midst of serious difficulties, instead of diminishing increased. The fact says a good deal in favour of the strong common sense and genuine religion of those two departed brethren; and of Mr. McKenzie it may be said, without any exaggeration, that it would be difficult to find a friend more faithful and reliable.
Mr. McKenzie was not perhaps what is called a popular preacher. But possessing a well-cultivated mind, and of scholarly habits, his preaching was exceedingly thoughtful, and very much prized by thoughtful hearers. He could put much in little. He had, moreover, very clear views of divine truth, and he could express those views with unusual accuracy, deliberation, and power.
But Mr. McKenzie’s forte unquestionably was Church-court work. For that kind of work he possessed special talents, and in Church courts he was seen at his best. His retiring disposition and natural modesty made him shrink from taking part when a member in the deliberations and discussions of the supreme court, although by his debating power and extensive knowledge of Church law and procedure he was well qualified to do so. But he took a very prominent part in the work of the local Church courts, and acted for upwards of twenty years as clerk to his own Presbytery. The duties of that office, while his health lasted, he discharged with the most thorough accuracy and fidelity; but some years before he died his health broke down, and since then he was not able to attend properly to his work in any capacity. He was obliged to place himself twice under the care of Dr. P. H. Watson, Edinburgh, for whom he cherished not only respect, but deep affection, and made no secret of his conviction that, under God, he owed to the skill and care and kindness of that eminent surgeon the later years of his life. Mr. McKenzie had to endure not only personal, but a good deal of family affliction in the course of his life; but he endured all his sufferings most patiently and in the spirit of entire submission to the will of Him that afflicted him, believing that although “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby,” and that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Mr. McKenzie was twice married, and both his wives and two daughters predeceased him, but he leaves a grown-up family of four sons to mourn his loss.
REV. DAVID MACKENZIE, FARR
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 1, 1868
Mr. Mackenzie was born at Polrossie, in the county of Sutherland, on the 20th September 1783, and died in the Free Church Manse of Farr on the 24th February 1868, in the eighty-fifth year of his age, and fifty-fifth of his ministry. His father, Mr. Hugh Mackenzie was a man of strongly marked character. He was the sixth or seventh in descent from the famous John Row the Reformer, and in him the principles of the Reformation survived in all their power.
After receiving the usual preliminary education Mr. Mackenzie entered upon his college studies at Aberdeen about the year 1802. In the interval of the college sessions, he taught for some years the parish school of Tongue, where his uncle, the Rev. William Mackenzie was minister. He was subsequently tutor in the family of McLeod of Dalveg, and, during his tutorship there was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of the bounds. Shortly thereafter, the mission of Achness in Strathnaver, a part of the parish of Farr, became vacant, and Mr. Mackenzie was chosen to fill the vacancy about the year 1813. Strathnaver was then thickly peopled. There was a congregation of from 600 to 700 hundred worshippers. Many of them, both men and women, were eminent for piety. Their names are savoury still among the churches in the north. Mr. Mackenzie, then young in the ministry, found them nursing fathers and mothers to him.
After labouring for two or three years at Achness, he was translated to the parish church of Farr. When the Disruption came, he left the parish church with, it may be said, the whole of the people, for very few indeed remained behind, and some that did, afterwards followed the rest. He changed his residence, but not his principles or his congregation. He cheerfully took up his position, like many of his brethren, on the green dell, in the gravel pit, or canvas tent, to preach the word, and was instant, in season and out of season, not only among his own people, but also in surrounding parishes. He took his full share of those extra labours which the men of the Disruption know well and remember. A comfortable church and manse were at length got.
Mr. Mackenzie was a man of sound judgment, clear and evangelical in the exposition of truth. As a preacher, he was highly valued wherever he went. His discourses were always substantial and judiciously arranged. His manner of delivery was calm and solid. His language was correct, well chosen, and expressive. An eminent Christian of his congregation was known to have said, that when unfolding the terms of the covenant of grace, he would not wish another word to be substituted for any word he used. His prayers were full of unction, and appropriate to the nature of the duty in which he was engaged. He was always ready to engage in any ministerial duty, always willing and ready to help a brother; and though he carefully prepared for his pulpit duties, if occasion occurred to require it he would at once consent to preach without previous warning. He was most regular in his attendance in church courts, reckoning it a part of a minister’s duty to do so.
He had a numerous family, but he survived them all, excepting one son, who is in Australia, and a daughter, married in Edinburgh. As a husband and parent, he keenly felt being bereaved and left alone in his old age; still, he bore all in calm resignation to the will of his heavenly Father. He did not indulge in murmurring, or dejectedly abandon the duties of his calling. On the contrary, he always appeared serene and cheerful. He reserved his griefs to be unbosomed in his solitude at the throne of grace. Here, no doubt, he received the strength which he manifested in his intercourse with the public, and which often drew forth the remark, “What a wonder to see him so composed and cheerful!” and, from others who knew more of the secret springs whence spiritual strength cometh, “It is of the Lord that he is so supported.”
His constitution was naturally sound and healthy, but during the last year or more it was becoming evident that old age was telling upon him. For the last two or three months general debility pervaded his whole frame. His strength, without any particular disease or pain, was rapidly giving way, though his departure was not anticipated to be so near. He continued to preach and catechise during the winter. Sight and hearing failed him very much, but his mind was sound and collected as ever. On the Friday before his death his daughter and her husband, Mr. Macdonald, General Treasurer of the Free Church, came from Edinburgh to visit him. He spent the evening in his usual cheerful and happy manner with them. After worship he retired to rest. He rose no more. On Saturday and Sabbath-day he was almost constantly repeating Scripture texts and promises, and ejaculating prayers and joining in singing psalms. At ten o’clock on Sabbath night he began to breathe rather heavily, and ceased to speak. At half-past one on Monday morning the spirit took its departure to its eternal rest. It is pleasant to think that the truths which he preached to others for the long period of fifty-five years were the subject of his thoughts and utterances until the hand of death silenced his tongue for ever here.
On the following Friday his remains were carried to their last resting-place in the churchyard of Farr by a large multitude from his own and all the surrounding parishes. When the procession was moving slowly from the manse to the place of interment, every rock and hillock which commanded a view was occupied by groups of sad-looking women and children, gathered out to take a last farewell of one whom they loved, who had baptized and married the most of them, and was the kind friend and instructor of them all.
REV. JAMES MACKENZIE, DUNFERMLINE
(Died June 10, 1869)
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, September 1, 1869, p.205
This lamented minister was the son of a much-respected elder of the Church in Barry, who at the Disruption sacrificed his State connection and emoluments as parish schoolmaster for the principles of the Free Church. He received a preliminary training in the High School of Dundee, before going to the University of St. Andrews, where he took the whole of his literary course. Of his theological curriculum, the latter part was taken in Edinburgh, to which he had been attracted by the presence of Chalmers in the University. Young as he then was, he was chosen to co-operate with Hugh Miller in conducting the Witness newspaper at the beginning of its grand campaign. His first ministerial appointment was to the quoad sacra church of Dalbeattie; so near the Disruption that, we have been informed, he was the youngest of our Pre-Disruption unisters. He was translated to Annan in 1844; and thence, in 1849, to the Abbey Free Church, Dunfermline, from which he was called to another world on the 10th of June last, in the twenty-sixth year of his ministry and fifty-first of his age.
Mr. Mackenzie was recognized by his brethren as a preacher of singular freshness and power, setting forth the old evangelical truth with ever-new life, derived from copious learning and deep insight into the experience and heart of man, by a master of graceful and vigorous exposition. He distinguished himself also by ability and zeal in such important secondary departments of public usefulness as the origination of courses of public lectures—in which he himself took a leading part—and the support of such beneficent enterprises as that of savings-banks for the working classes. But while it is thus he will be best remembered in Dunfermline, there are other aspects in which his memory deserves to be cherished by the Church and nation as a whole.
The value of his services to the Free Church, in preparing the daily narrative of her Assembly proceedings, and editing the yearly “Blue-Book,” and conducting the Missionary Record for the last seven years, it would be difficult to estimate. The value of the man may partly be divined from his separate publications, “Our Banner and its Battles,” and the “History of Scotland.” Each of these has achieved a success of a very unusual character, springing at once into extensive popularity among classes of readers whose taste is usually found conflicting instead of conspiring. On the one hand, the “Banner,” intended for children, has made the story of our Church principles as popular among them as any ordinary story; and the “History”—in its earlier form intended for schools —has invested for them our nation’s life-history with the fascination of romance. On the other hand, it is known that a venerable elder of our Church, having found the “Banner” at a railway-station, read it through on the spot; and, incredible as it may seem, we happen to know that a minister of our Church confessed the fascination of the “History” precisely in the same way, by finishing his first reading of it before setting off for home with it. The story for children is really a masterly exposition and defence of our Free Church principles on the basis of Scottish Church History; and the history for boys is a singularly fresh and powerful re-exhibition of the thrilling story of our nation’s life.
The secret of that success is partly that Mr. Mackenzie was a man of genius — with the patience of true genius labouring until he saw things with his own eyes, and then with the graphic power of true genius describing them in his own words. But along with this quality of his intellect, there must be taken into account a kindred quality of his heart. To those who knew him, his acquaintance derived a peculiar zest from what we shall describe as a copious geniality of natural feeling. The man was never lost in the minister, nor the boy in the man. Hence, even in the robust prime of his manhood, he could speak so as to command the interest of boys, because he was a boy at heart. And hence his writing is found to interest all men, not only because of its graphic power as literary workmanship, but also because the writer himself takes a keen human interest in the subject, and thus unconsciously diffuses through his vigorous outlines the inimitable glowing grace of healthful natural feeling. This naturalness of affection was peculiarly observable in the form of a passionate patriotism, blending ardent love to the Church which baptized him with a not less ardent love to the land which gave him birth. This patriotism, as it grew with his growth and strengthened with his strength, attained in the mature man to the dignity of a principle; but it always retained the freshness of a feeling of earlier days. No ardent youth had a more glowing sympathy with Knox and the Covenanters, with Wallace and Bruce, than the grave divine from whom so many of our youth have learned the eventful story of ancestral successes and reverses. And, as in the case of Herodotus — to whom as a historian he has been compared—the peculiar charm of his historical compositions may be ultimately traceable, not more to his literary genius than to his patriotic enthusiasm.
Mr. Mackenzie was not a mere eminent minister, nor a mere collection of excellent qualities, but distinctively a large man—of the class of which we had a noble sample in Principal Cunningham—”a puissant individuality,” consecrated to the sacred profession; so that to us who knew him, detailed services and excellencies which may be defined have very little interest as compared with that indefinable something which constituted the living person of our friend. As we henceforward look at his vacant place in the Assembly, our thought will be, not of the services, nor of the detailed excellencies, but of the large quantity of genial Christian manhood that has been withdrawn in his person from the Church. And as we compare the amount of his services here with what we saw and felt to be his amount of capability, we receive a new impression of the truth that the services of the man of God are not completed here, but only begun.
For several years his health had been evidently failing, in consequence, it is believed, of incessant mental toil. In April last the discovery that he was labouring under serious enlargement of the aorta made it manifest that his working days were ended. On his last Sabbath morning a shattering stroke of paralysis destroyed the hope that his life might be prolonged as an invalid. He lived till the following Monday, but never spoke again. A widow and five sons survive him. His two little girls had gone before him to the unseen world.
REV. JOHN McKENZIE, LOCHGILPHEAD
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, January 2, 1865, p.711
Mr. McKenzie was a native of Gairloch, Wester Ross, and it being the early desire of his mother that he should study for the ministry, she sent him to prepare for college to the parish school of Lochcarron, chiefly in order that he might be for a time under the evangelical ministrations of the then famous minister of that parish, the Rev. Lachlan McKenzie. He subsequently prosecuted his studies and graduated at King’s College, Aberdeen. After passing through the ordinary theological curriculum, and receiving license to preach the gospel, he was appointed to the mission at Strathconan; and when that station had been raised to a Government charge, quoad sacra, he was with the unanimous consent of the inhabitants ordained its minister. Here he laboured with much acceptance among an attached people until after the Disruption. Throughout the Ten Years’ Conflict he acted with the Evangelical party, and when the day of trial came the tempting openings, then within the reach of men of much less mark than he, failed to swerve him from the path of duty. In the summer of 1843 he was requested to itinerate in Argyleshire, and among other places preached within the bounds of the Presbytery of Inverary, of whose members not one joined the Free Church at the Disruption. Many still recollect his powerful discourses on that occasion. The result of this tour was a movement on the part of several congregations to call him to be their pastor. That from Lochgilphead first reached him, and he considered it his duty to close with it. He was inducted into this charge in November 1843, and continued his connection with it until his death.
Mr. McKenzie was a man of no ordinary talent and acquirements. Clear and sound in judgment, and a profound theologian, he was a safe as well as powerful preacher. Finding the resting-place for his own mind in the profound and harmonious truths of the Calvinistic System, he presented these truths unto his people. In his exposition of doctrine to the young, whether in Sabbath-school or his congregational class, he was particularly happy; and in them he took the liveliest interest. When inducted into the charge a church was building; but there was no manse, nor was there any suitable school building in the village. With characteristic self-denial he set about erecting a school before building a manse,—a fact (and it is only one of others that might be mentioned) which speaks volumes to his unselfishness. Hospitable almost to a fault, of extensive acquaintance with men, full of historic lore, having a large fund of anecdote and a strong sense of the ludicrous, a wide circle of friends and acquaintances will never forget the cheerful conversation with which he and his excellent partner used to entertain their guests. The teachers to whose lot it fell to conduct the schools in connection with his congregation for a season, will cherish his memory with the liveliest gratitude, as that of a generous friend and sympathizing supporter.
Mr. McKenzie was sincerely attached to the principles of the Free Church, and consistently and constitutionally endeavoured to carry them into practice. Deeply conversant with the deceitfulness of the human heart, he considered the path of safety and prosperity for the Church to lie in being guided by principles rather than men, and was therefore sensitively jealous of any interference with even those forms which experience and usage had constituted into rites of procedure in the conduct of her affairs. Obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ might be said to be his watchword for office-bearers and people. This he perceived ought to he applied in the province of doctrine and discipline. Grounds so high could scarcely be occupied without at times coming into jarring contact with less holy principles. He had accordingly in his day to endure somewhat of the offence of the cross, and in so enduring might give indications occasionally that he himself was not perfect. His firm adherence to principle was at times, even by brethren who loved him in the Lord but who were only imperfectly acquainted with him, ascribed to a tendency to overbear—than which there was no feature more alien to his character. A faithful and consistent standard-bearer has thus fallen. Indeed the Church could scarcely have a truer son. For many years Mr. McKenzie’s health had been giving way. In 1860 he felt his strength so impaired that he applied for the appointment of a colleague; but even long after he himself might be said to be on their list, his attentions to the sick and bereaved were most assiduous. Laying his hand with the Presbytery on his colleague’s head (now his excellent successor) might almost be said to be his last public act. Removed during his last illness to Edinburgh, he died there on the 8th November last, in the sixty-fifth year of his age and thirty-fifth of his ministry. His remains lie in the Grange Cemetery among those of a galaxy of noble witnesses for the truth, with whom we believe that in the morning of that day he shall arise to immortal glory and honour (Matt. 9:37, 38).
REV. JAMES MACKINLAY, WELLPARK, GLASGOW
(Died at Edinburgh, June 16, 1876)
Author: Rev. Thomas Main, Edinburgh
The Free Church Monthly August 1, 1878, p.199
It is now more than a quarter of a century since the subject of this sketch retired from the pulpit, and to many therefore he may be but little known; but his early friends feel that he should not be permitted to pass away without some tribute to his memory.
James Mackinlay was born at Kilmarnock, March 4, 1817. He was a son of the manse. His father, the Rev. Dr. Mackinlay (Burns’ “great Mackinlay”), was one of the most remarkable preachers of his day. At a time when Socinianism had infected the Ayrshire pulpit, and religious life was low, he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but unfurled the standard of the cross, gathering around him a large congregation, to which he ministered for the long period of fifty-five years. His pulpit popularity was unrivalled, and it knew no decline. He preached on the very last Sabbath of his life, when upwards of fourscore years, with all his accustomed fire and unction.
It was to James a matter of very deep concern that his father had designed him for the ministry. Filial affection would have led him to comply, but his own spiritual condition interposed a complete barrier. Amiable and upright, beloved by all who knew him, still he had no saving experience of an interest in Christ. With that conscientiousness for which throughout life he was so remarkable, he said to one of his sisters that he would rather occupy the meanest position than enter the ministry with an unconverted heart.
Happily this difficulty was soon removed; in his fifteenth year he came under the power of the gospel, and willingly gave himself to the work.
At an early age he was sent to the University of Glasgow, where he proved himself a diligent and successful student. In those days the College Missionary Society was open to students in any of the classes and of all denominations. It was at once a test and a training, none but students of a certain stamp were accustomed to attend; and those who did so got an interest in the mission cause they never lost. In the business of this society Mr. Mackinlay took an active part. It was he who introduced to the society Dr. Kalley, then of Kilmarnock, when he gave that address which led William Burns afterwards to go to China. He was eminently a godly student, and especially given to prayer. Burns and he used to meet almost every day for this purpose when they left their class.
Having obtained license in 1839, he acted for a time as assistant to his father, throwing himself heart and soul into the work of a large parish, labouring, in season and out of season, to win sinners to the Saviour. The congregation of Wellpark, Glasgow, having become vacant, made choice of him as their pastor; and he was ordained over them on February 10, 1842. It was in the very heat of the Disruption controversy. Trained as he had been in the evangelical school, there could be no doubt as to the side on which his sympathies would be found. He attended the Convocation in November, and on the 18th of May marched to Canonmills in company with that glorious band that formed the Free Church of Scotland.
But while decided in his views and prepared to act out his convictions, Mr Mackinlay was no ecclesiastic; he was a minister of Jesus Christ. Ardent in his temperament and enthusiastic in his work, he entered on his ministry in
Wellpark with great energy and zeal; and so long as he was able to occupy his position he met with a large measure of acceptance and success. But, unfortunately, from the great strain which his labours imposed, his nervous system became unhinged; so that, after struggling for a time in the hope of restoration, he felt himself constrained, much to the sorrow of his attached flock, to tender the resignation of his charge on the 1st of August 1849. The Presbytery, in accepting it, “express the high esteem and regard in which he is held by the brethren of this Presbytery, and their earnest wishes and prayers for his comfort and success in the work of the Lord as he shall be graciously pleased to appoint.”
Shut out from the ministry, which he loved so well, he spent the later years of his life in the bosom of his family, surrounded by his books. His Greek Testament and his Hebrew Bible were his daily companions. A year ago his strength began to fail, but, except from an occasional attack of breathlessness, he suffered no pain. About a week before he died he began to write at intervals, from memory, a few of those texts which he felt to have been precious to his soul. The last in the list, written in a very feeble hand almost the day before he died, is the closing verse of that peerless chapter, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, &c., shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Death came and separated his soul from the body, leaving loving friends behind to mourn. But instead of separating his soul from Christ, it introduced him into his presence in glory with exceeding joy, to be ever with the Lord, where the clouds that obscure the mental vision upon earth are all cleared away. In the light of God they see light clearly.
REV. ALEXANDER MACKINNON, STRATHFILLAN
(Died May 23, 1884)
Author: Alexander S. Patterson, D.D.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1884, Biographical Notices, p.310
Mr. MacKinnon, the son of a pious patriarch, was born in 1802 at Sliddery, in the south of Arran. He attended the High School of Ayr, and, though with some pecuniary difficulties, went through a regular course of study at the University of Glasgow, where he was considered a diligent, thoughtful, and successful student. At the close of his academic course his conscience, which to the end of his life was keenly sensitive, suggested to him doubts whether he should face the work of the ministry; and at that period of his life, between intellectual difficulties and a deep sense of the responsibilities to which a minister committed himself, his mind was painfully impressed. Two years, accordingly, passed before he felt free to go forth as a public preacher of the gospel. At length he emerged triumphant from the darkness and perplexity which had settled on his soul; and from that time forward till the close of his earthly pilgrimage he “walked in the light of the Lord,” and “served his generation according to the will of God.”
Esteemed as a man and acceptable as a preacher, he soon received invitations to several important, if not very prominent, spheres of labour. He himself chose to act as a missionary among the Highlanders of Edinburgh—a calling for which his knowledge of the Gaelic language, his sympathy with those who like himself had been reared among the Highland hills, and his yearning desire to promote the spiritual welfare of that interesting class of his fellow-countrymen, were urgent motives and important qualifications. In that congenial work he spent five years, not without good fruit from his faithful services.
In 1840 Mr. Mackinnon became minister of the parish of Strathfillan, where a place of worship had been planted by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and which had been, shortly before his appointment, constituted a quoad sacra parish of the Church of Scotland. The strath itself extends for about ten miles from east to west; but the district of which he had the spiritual oversight stretched from the head of Loch Lomond to the entrance of Glencoe—a distance from end to end of about thirty miles. It includes what is supposed to have been the scene of a famous encounter between Robert Bruce and Macdougal of Lorne, and a pool to which superstition drew many pilgrims in the days of old. A considerable part of the district is tame and unimpressive; but in the neighbourhood of Mr. Mackinnon’s dwelling Ben More, Ben Cruachan, and other stately mountains lifted up their heads, and, to use the language of Wordsworth, “the power of hills was on” him.
Shortly before the Disruption the Marquis of Breadalbane, who in the autumn season attended his ministry, offered him a presentation to a vacant parish a settlement in which would have entitled him to certain privileges awanting in the case of Strathfillan; but he respectfully declined his lordship’s offer, probably in prospect of what was even then impending — a disruption in the National Church. When, in 1843, the Disruption actually occurred, he and his people heartily joined the Free Church party; and in the district of Strathfillan he remained throughout an active ministry of thirty-five years, going in and about among the people with the love of Jesus in his heart and words of scriptural instruction on his tongue—”doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with his God.” There were two churches in the district—the one at Tyndrum and the other at the Black Mount. In these he regularly conducted service, and he occasionally preached in a hotel at the head of Loch Lomond. On one occasion, when seventy years of age, he walked to the Black Mount, preached twice, and returned on foot—the double journey amounting to eighteen miles—on a day when the snow lay so deep on the ground that he could not make use of his gig.
Mr. Mackinnon had a firm hold of the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith, conscientiously studied beforehand the subjects on which he discoursed, carefully wrote his English sermons, and proclaimed, with characteristic simplicity and fervour, the duty of man and “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Regularly once a year he overtook a pastoral visitation of his flock, and throughout a large portion of his ministry he carried on courses of catechetical examination. There being no minister of the Established Church settled in the district so long as he resided in it, he freely extended his visitation to residents who were.known to differ from him on ecclesiastical questions, and even among these his pastoral visits were welcomed and his public ministrations were esteemed.
Having become acquainted with Mr. Mackinnon through my family connection with his amiable and excellent wife, who was a lineal descendant of Thomas Boston of Ettrick, the author of “TheFourfold State,” I accompanied him on a tour in the north of Ireland at a time when a remarkable religious excitement occurred in that part of the sister isle, and had thus an opportunity of observing with what satisfaction and discrimination he contemplated a movement which manifestly involved a work of saving grace, and with what yearning earnestness he sought by prayer and quiet active effort to promote the diffusion of vital religion among the Irish people. Soon after his return to Strathfillan, there appeared a remarkable spiritual quickening among his flock.
Mr. Mackinnon’s occasional services in other congregations than his own were much appreciated; and with neighbouring ministers —more especially Mr. McLean of Glenorchy and Mr. Stewart of Killin—he lived on terms of familiar, affectionate, and happy fellowship. Who can tell but the friendship which subsisted among these three excellent men has been renewed and glorified in heaven?
The dwelling which Mr. Mackinnon occupied at Strathfillan, though the property of the Marquis of Breadalbane, was considered as virtually a manse. But in 1875, after the death of his lordship, a leal-hearted member and supporter of the Free Church, it was alienated from that Church, in consistency, however, with legal rights, and turned into a farm-house. Age and partial infirmity had now overtaken Mr. Mackinnon, and he considered it desirable that a colleague and successor should be assigned him, and that for the sake of his family he should take up his residence in Glasgow. This he accordingly did; but a considerable time elapsing before a successor was appointed to Strathfillan, he for nine months went thither weekly to minister among the flock which he had tended for so many years. While residing in Glasgow, he frequently occupied pulpits in the city and neighbourhood, and in one of the Glasgow churches he faithfully acted as an elder. A few months in the year he spent at Marykirk, of which one of his sons is the Free Church minister, and the latter thus writes respecting his venerable father: “At Marykirk, where he spent a few months every summer, he visited a great deal among the sick and poor. He would go quietly out after breakfast, and call on every cottage he came across, speaking to the people of spiritual things, and almost always praying with them.”
In 1877 Mr. Mackinnon lost by death his kind and faithful wife, who had been long the congenial partner of his pilgrimage; and soon after that event he himself was confined by a painful illness. These trials he bore with meek and pious resignation, and in both cases he found consolation from Christian faith and hope. In his declining years, as in those of his active ministry, he exemplified some of the finest features of the Christian chnracter. He lived a sober, righteous, and godly life. His piety was very unostentatious and serene. He was “instant in prayer,” and communion with God was his delight. He was “clothed with humility,” and remarkably free from jealousy, envy, and ambition. He “ran the race that was set before him, looking unto Jesus.” At length his useful, though comparatively uneventful, life was terminated by a placid and peaceful death. He died at Glasgow after a short illness on the 23rd of May 1884, leaving behind him two sons and two daughters.
REV. W. MACKINNON, NIGG2
(Died July 28, 1888)
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1889, Obituary, p.183
Mr. MacKinnon was born in Prince Edward Island in 1830. received his early training there, and prosecuted his studies in arts and theology in Pictou, Nova Scotia. In 1855 he attended classes at the University of Edinburgh, and finished his classes for the ministry at the United Presbyterian Hall. Returning home, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Pictou in 1858, and in September of that year was ordained to the work of the ministry at Hopewell, where his labours were much blessed, and especially in 1875.
For several years he acted as clerk of this large Presbytery with credit to himself and satisfaction to the Presbytery and all concerned. In 1876 he accepted a call to the extensive and onerous charge of St. David’s Church, Georgetown, Prince Edward Island, where he laboured for four and a half years with much success. Here he had frequent attacks of catarrh, which resulted in his moving to Edinburgh, where, during eighteen months, he assisted the Rev. Thomas McLauchlan, LL.D, till he received a unanimous call to Nigg Free Church. He was inducted into that charge on May 20, 1884, and he finished his career after a ministry of thirty years in the Lord’s work.
Mr. MacKinnon was a good scholar and extensively read, a man of physical and mental vigour, of fine utterance and strong convictions, which he manfully asserted on all suitable occasions. He proved himself an able minister of Christ, and a faithful steward of the mysteries of God, an active pastor, and a courteous, true, and loving friend; was able to co-operate in all ministerial and presbyterial work that tended to the glory of God and the good of his fellow-men.
The Synod commend the bereaved widow and her three sons to God and to the word of his grace, praying that they may be supported by that grace which is made sufficient for God’s people in all their trials and sorrows, comforted by that redeeming love which passes knowledge, and made ready in due time by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost to join those dear ones who departed from them in the faith of Jesus.
REV. ALEXANDER MACKINTOSH, PAISLEY
(Died December 9, 1880)
Author: Rev. D. McLauchlan
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.96
The early death of this much-esteemed minister has filled with deep regret a large circle of attached friends. Few men brought a clearer intellect or a warmer heart to the work of the Christian ministry. He was known extensively both in the Highlands and the Lowlands, and wherever he was known he was held in high regard.
Mr. Mackintosh was born in the parish of Daviot, Inverness-shire, in the month of November 1826. His father was an excellent specimen of a shrewd, sagacious Highland farmer, consulted by men of all classes on country matters, and a firm, intelligent adherent of the Free Church and her testimony. His son, of whom we write, was educated at a country school near his father’s house, and from thence proceeded at an early age to the Royal Academy, Inverness, where he made remarkable progress both in classics and mathematics. He had won so good a name for himself that he was chosen to be tutor to the family of Mr. Fraser of Abersky, a well-known gentleman in the neighbourhood; and from thence he went in the same capacity to the family of Mr. Gentle of Dell, one of the largest sheep-farmers at the time in the country. In both these families he gave the utmost satisfaction, and secured for himself the affection of his pupils to the end.
While thus engaged, he attended during the winter months the University and King’s College, Aberdeen. Here he acquitted himself with utmost credit, and took a high place especially in the class of mathematics. He bore the highest character both for gifts and conduct, and impressed all his friends in college with a sense of his real worth.
Having finished his college studies, he was chosen head master of an important educational institution in Halifax, Nova Scotia, whither he proceeded at once. His work there was well done, and earned him a high reputation. He was a scholar, and had power to communicate what he knew with ease and accuracy, and his consistent character exercised the most salutary influence over his pupils; but the climate of Nova Scotia proved too severe for his constitution, and he was obliged to return to Scotland again.
In 1856 he was unanimously chosen to be minister of the Free Gaelic Church at Paisley; and here he continued to labour assiduously and with much acceptance during the last four and twenty years among a warmly-attached people. He was simple and unostentatious in his manner, but always left the impression of possessing real power. His preaching was excellent, his sermons were carefully prepared, the fruit of much reading and much labour. He was eminently sound in the faith, a thorough Calvinist, and an able expounder of the Calvinistic doctrine. His early training in the Highlands in the knowledge of the Bible and Shorter Catechism left its mark upon him. He was early brought up under the ministry of the Rev. Archibald Cook of Daviot, a man of prayer and real Christian worth; and the teaching which he had heard from him and others he followed in his own pulpit exercises. Deeply impressed with the high importance of divine truth himself, and living by faith near to Him whose truth it is, he earnestly strove to bring others under its influence.
He was a man of excellent business habits, and for several years previous to his death he filled with real ability the important place of Clerk of the Free Presbytery of Paisley. His brethren uniformly spoke with high commendation of his capacity and his industry. He was convener of a sub-committee of the Committee for the Highlands and Islands upon lapsed members, and prepared part of the report on that subject given in to last General Assembly, which bears ample testimony to his business skill and assiduity.
His wife, a most estimable person and faithful partner, predeceased him some years, and he died on the 9th of December 1880, leaving five orphan children, the eldest fifteen years of age.
REV. CHARLES C. MACKINTOSH, D.D., DUNOON
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, January 1 1869, p.16
We strongly feel our inability to do even approximate justice to the memory of this departed servant of Christ. The very symmetry of his character, the equipoise of his mental faculties, and the even consistency of his holy walk, which made him so remarkable, render it peculiarly difficult to describe him.
He was born at Tain in October 1806. His father, Dr. Angus Mackintosh, was the sixth, and probably the greatest, of an unbroken succession of evangelical ministers with whom Tain had been favoured since the Revolution; his maternal grandfather was Mr. Charles Calder, the no less excellent minister of Ferintosh. By his maternal grandmother he was descended (like his relative, the last Duchess of Gordon) from that Brodie family which, since the times of the persecutions, has given a succession of faithful witnesses to the cause of Christ. He was licensed in 1827; was, at the earnest desire of the whole people of Tain, presented to the parish, and ordained as his father’s colleague in the year 1828; and became sole minister on his father’s death in 1831. His early studies, carried on under an excessive apprehension of unfitness to fill the place of so revered a father, inflicted much injury on his constitution; so that he was obliged to leave home for protracted rest very soon after his ordination, as he was at several times afterwards. But from these absences he returned to his flock fraught with the blessing of the gospel of Christ, and all the richer, as his people used to feel, in Christian experience. He continued to labour at Tain, in the Church established, and then (carrying almost the whole people with him) in the Church disestablished, until 1854, when enfeebled health induced him to accept a call to the lighter charge of Dunoon. In that charge he ministered until his death, which took place at Pau, in France, on Tuesday, the 24th day of November last.
Sent to college at a very early age, he became, during one of the years of his attendance there, the subject of a peculiarly deep work of grace, which subsequently gave character to his ministry. “Contemplate the fact of the heart of man standing out against the Son of God, and it will work its application in your soul: it will show you what kind of heart you have; it will lead you to wonder at the riches of redeeming love; it will make you a willing debtor to great and sovereign mercy.” We could not better describe, than by this sentence from one of his sermons, the fundamental tone both of his own religion and of that which it was his object to have wrought in his hearers.
Never have we heard a preacher, or known a man, who manifested such a deep sense of the evil of sin, or such humility under a conviction of personal sinfulness; never one who more submissively bowed, as a justly-condemned and impotent soul, to the sovereignty of saving grace; and yet never one who had richer, deeper views of the love and the preciousness of Christ. The people of Tain used to say that he combined, both in private and in the pulpit, some of the most remarkable characteristics of his father and his maternal grandfather—the cheerful, happy temper, the wisdom, the gravity and authority of the former, with the brokenness and tenderness, the accurate thinking, and the simple, lucid style of the latter; and with the decided doctrinal views, the deep experience, the holy life, the solemnity, and the unction of both. Beyond most men we have heard he appeared in the pulpit as an ambassador for Christ. Too much impressed with the reality and immense importance of his message to deliver elaborate essays about the gospel, to speculate on its doctrines, or to give forth opinions of his own regarding it, he sought in simple faithfulness to declare and apply “the testimony of God,” and never without the most careful study of the import of that testimony before he dared to unfold it. With a dignity in his bearing that befitted an ambassador of the “great King,” he conjoined a humility that made him afraid to bring himself into men’s view, lest he should stand between them and the full view of the crucified Saviour. He realized too deeply also what it was for a sinner to have to do with God ever to dare to heal slightly the wounded conscience; and yet how like were his words to leaves from that very tree which is for the healing of the nations; and how much had he of the Spirit of Him who “breaks not the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.”
The principle that guided his preparation for the pulpit may be judged of by what he once told the writer (then a candidate for the ministry),—that it was when enabled in any measure to realize the glory of God as the end that he found light thrown on the subject he was studying. No wonder, then, that holy reverence and unction characterized his preaching, or that his hearers felt under it the fulfilment of his father’s dying exhortation to him: “Charles, let your face shine; be much on the mount with God: the praying minister is the preaching minister; let your face shine, Charles!” And no wonder that the feeling that grew up towards him in Tain and the Northern Highlands was not mere admiration; though his personal endowments, the structure of his sermons, and (especially during his more vigorous years) the chaste beauty of his style and delivery, called forth much even of that; but confidence, love, and what can be described by no feebler name than veneration.
As a theologian, he was clear and decided; as a pastor, sympathizing and faithful; as a private friend, what some feel no other on earth is likely to be to them, so wise, helpful, and trustworthy. As to public questions, he was not more careful to weigh well the principles involved in them, in order to ascertain the right path, than he was afterwards courageous and firm in pursuing it.
In 1839, and the beginning of 1840, he was much pressed with a sense of the deadness of his people. His prayers in public became peculiarly importunate; his elders sympathized and joined with him. Soon the meetings for prayer increased greatly in numbers and in life; and in the summer of that year a remarkable awakening took place (beginning conspicuously under the preaching of Dr. Macdonald of Ferintosh).
If we are not mistaken, some of the most indubitable fruits of Dr. Mackintosh’s ministry dated from that period, and from the years immediately succeeding it. His labours were widely blessed to very many in the North, either for conversion, or for consolation and edification. There were decided fruits afterwards of his ministry at Dunoon.
Last spring his health utterly broke down, and he was laid aside from work. In the beginning of winter he repaired to the south of France; but, amid much bodily suffering, he rapidly sank. “His characteristic humility,” writes an eye-witness, “was conspicuous to the very end; but he betrayed no fear or doubt, and ever spoke of his Redeemer with reverential love.” He took leave of his family one by one: a sweet expression of peace and trust lighted up his countenance as the end drew near, until insensibility came on, from which he awoke only for a few moments to look an adieu to his beloved wife, and so fell gently asleep in the Lord.
REV. JAMES MACKINTOSH, LOGIE-EASTER, ROSS-SHIRE
(Died January 2, 1895)
Author: Rev. Allan Cameron, Inverness
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1896, Obituary, p.18
Mr. James Mackintosh was born at Fort-Augustus, Inverness-shire, in 1861. From the days of the Rev. Francis McBean (about the forties), one of the most powerful Gaelic preachers that the Highlands produced, Fort-Augustus was highly favoured with a succession of evangelical preachers. Mr. Mackintosh from his youth was in touch with the fruit of their ministry, and was familiar with the story of the great awakenings of ’43 and ’59. At a very early age he gave evidence of a saving interest in Christ, and took part in religious services and Christian work. Much against the wishes of his family, on account of apparent unsurmountable difficulties, the young lad made up his mind to be a minister. He took the fullest advantage of the education furnished by the public school of his native parish, from which he went straight to the university, where he took a creditable position amongst his fellow-students.
During his studies in the Glasgow Divinity Hall Mr. Mackintosh acted for three winters as assistant to the Rev. A. Cameron in St. Columba’s Church, Govan, with great devotion and marked success. During the summer vacations he was assistant to the late Rev. Mr. McDougall of Contin, the Rev. Dr. McTavish, Inverness, and the Rev. Mr. McDonald, Logie-Easter, whose successor he became afterwards. So greatly pleased were the people of Logie-Easter with his services that on the death of their esteemed minister they resolved to wait for a year till Mr. Mackintosh completed his studies, and on the day of his licence by the Presbytery of Glasgow he was elected minister of Logie. He was ordained on the third of September 1890. He was greatly beloved by his flock, amongst whom he laboured with great zeal and ceaseless energy. His closest friends alone knew how dear his people were to him, and how he yearned for their spiritual welfare. His short ministry was greatly blessed. No people were so dear to him as his own, and no minister filled the pulpit for them like their own minister.
Mr. Mackintosh was never robust in health. His college studies and mission work made too great a demand upon his strength, and his devotion to his pastoral duties began to tell seriously upon his constitution. Again and again his attached congregation sent him away on holiday in search of health. In September 1893, after overwork in visitation, he took suddenly and seriously ill, and was confined to his room for several months. After repeated efforts to recruit by change of air at Bridge-of-Allan and elsewhere, his medical advisers recommended a voyage to New Zealand. Again his congregation most loyally and liberally entered into the proposal, and with a buoyant spirit he sailed for that distant land in October 1894. On arrival in Melbourne, he met with many dear friends, amongst others the Rev. Mr. McEachran, late of Cromarty, who showed him great attention. The friends he was most thrown upon, however, were the family of the late Mr. McDonald of Fearn, the parish neighbouring on Logie. Young Mr. McDonald is minister of Surrey Hill, a suburb of Melbourne, whither Mr. Mackintosh had removed from the city in the hope that the hill air might help him. There he was nursed by Miss McDonald with a kindness and devotion singularly beautiful. The Lord provided loving sympathetic friends to comfort and sweeten his last days. He fell asleep on the third of January 1895.
Mr. James Mackintosh was of an exceptionally fine and lovable character, most approachable in his manner, and always making friends. He gave great promise as a preacher, and, if spared, would have continued to prove himself a most successful and useful minister. In his discourses he invariably combined thoughtfulness with earnestness. He was a careful student of the Word of life, one that sought sincerely and prayerfully to win souls for Christ. His flock will not readily forget his zeal for his Master amongst them, and the great day alone will reveal how far his preaching and his consistent life have been blessed in Logie-Easter. “While dead, he yet speaketh.”
REV. SIMON FRASER MACLAUCHLAN, CAWDOR
(Died May 8, 1881)
Author: Rev. John Falconer, Rosehall
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.225
The venerable subject of this notice was born on the 4th of September 1808 at the Manse of Moy, of which parish his father, the Rev. James Maclauchlan, was for many years minister. His grandfather, Mr. Lauchlan Maclauchlan, was catechist and exhorter at Abriachan near Inverness; a man in his day famous throughout the Highlands as a man of God, a speaker at fellowship meetings, and a writer of spiritual songs of no mean ability.
Under the tuition of his father, Mr. Maclauchlan’s early training was well attended to; and was eminently fitted, with the divine blessing, to prepare him for the holy calling to which his life was devoted. When sufficiently advanced in knowledge at home, he was sent to the University of Edinburgh, where he completed his Arts curriculum with honours. Thereafter he studied divinity in the halls of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, winning the goodwill and esteem of all his professors. Having finished his studies at the Divinity Hall, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Inverness; and was afterwards engaged for a considerable time as assistant at Tain to the eminently godly Dr. Charles C. Mackintosh, to whose sister he was subsequently married.
In 1833, he accepted a presentation to the parish of Snizort in Skye, where he laboured in the ministry of the gospel for about four years, and where flagrant memories of his ministry remain to this day. In the summer of 1837, after his life-long friend Mr. Fraser—the present venerable Free Church minister at Kirkhill—had been translated from Cawdor to occupy his deceased father’s pulpit at Kirkhill, Mr. Maclauchlan was inducted to the vacant charge at Cawdor; and there, notwithstanding calls to larger and more important spheres of labour elsewhere, he continued to discharge the duties of the ministry with diligence and acceptance till, about five years ago, failing health and the infirmities of old age rendered necessary his retirement from active service, when he left the parish, and went to reside in the neighbouring town of Nairn. There he spent the latter years of his life in comparative solitariness, his accomplished and devoted wife having been removed by death about ten years ago. He was cheered, however, by the society of loving friends; and especially by the glorious truths of the gospel, which it was his life-work and his delight to proclaim.
The year after his settlement in Cawdor, his brother, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Maclauchlan of Edinburgh, was ordained as assistant to their father in Moy; and the two brothers, occupying adjoining parishes, had the spiritual oversight of a district of the country about forty miles long.
At the time of the Disruption, Mr. Maclauchlan had no doubt as to the path of duty; and without hesitation he cast in his lot with those who forsook houses, and lands, and worldly advantages for the sake of upholding the spiritual liberties of the Church and the honour of her heavenly King. Nor did he ever regret the choice he made at that trying time. Notwithstanding many trials through which, in consequence thereof, he had to pass, he used to declare that he had found out in his own experience the truth of our Saviour’s promise: “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29, 30). And as he would say that he had found the first part of the promise true, we doubt not that, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is now finding the latter part true as well.
No man could be more careful, in the pulpit or out of it, in keeping himself out of view. His aim was constantly to set forth the truth of God in all its simplicity and beauty, and to lead his hearers to the knowledge that maketh wise unto salvation. His discourses—always clear and methodical, thoroughly evangelical, and delivered in a calm, solemn, and impressive manner—drew the attention of old and young, and were highly appreciated by all who loved the truth. The good seed of the kingdom, which he was enabled for upwards of forty years to sow, has, we doubt not, brought forth fruit in the conversion of some, and in the edification and comfort of others, who will be to him a crown of rejoicing in the day of Jesus Christ. Many, both in his own and in other parishes, will cherish the memory of his character and of his ministry with the deepest affection and veneration, as a warm-hearted friend, a sound divine, and an able minister of the New Testament.
The brief but appropriate terms in which, at last Assembly, his brother, Dr. Maclauchlan, referred to his death, give so clear and faithful a description of a dearly-beloved minister and friend, that we cannot help quoting them verbatim. “I am sure,” said the doctor, “that I will be accused of no bias more than justly favourable, when I say that he was a faithful minister of the New Testament, a man of culture and grace, who joined with unswerving consistency in the Disruption testimony, suffered much in its behalf, and adhered to it firmly to the end. None that knew him would deny that he was in many respects a model of a Christian minister.”
THOMAS McLAUCHLAN, LL.D.
(Died March 21, 1886)
Author: Principal Rainy, D.D.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1886, Biographical Notices, p.370
Some commemoration of the character and services of Dr. McLauchlan might fitly have appeared in these pages several months age and perhaps there is no better reason for the delay than that the very number of the warm tributes to his memory, offered through various channels at the time of his death, suggested the feeling that to add another then would be of little service, and would make no impression. It is not too late to discharge the office now. The late Convener of the Committe for the Highlands will be long missed and long remembered.
Thomas McLauchlan was the youngest son of the Rev. James McLauchlan of Moy, Inverness-shire. His earlier studies were carried on at the University of Aberdeen, where he graduated in 1833, and he studied divinity in Edinburgh under Dr. Chalmers. He received license from the Presbytery of Inverness in 1837, and was ordained as colleague and successor to his father in April 1838. He laboured with much acceptance in this parish during the stirring years which preceded the Disruption, and was one of those who walked from St. Andrew’s Church to Tanfield on the Disruption day. He accepted a call to Stratherrick in 1844, and in 1849 was translated to Free St. Columba’s, Edinburgh. He spent some time in Canada, with great efficiency and success, as a deputy of the Free Church among our country men there; and in 1854, after serving during some years under Dr. Candlish, he became Convener of the Committee for the Highlands and Islands. He served in that capacity for a period of twenty-eight years.
Dr. McLauchlan was a thorough Highlander. He loved the land, the people, and the tongue. Of the leisure which he could redeem from the main work of his life, much was devoted to the cultivation of Celtic history and philology. Besides his more important contributions, such as the “Book of the Dean of Lismore,” and “The Early Scottish Church,” a great amount of work, partly in papers for learned societies, partly in books and periodicals of a more popular kind, passed his hands. A great deal of material, stored in his really splendid memory, remained unpublished, and died with him. But, while thus responsive to the claims of the more learned, and also the more popular and sentimental aspects of Celtic lore and Celtic life, his main strength was given to more serious interests. He exerted himself constantly for the promotion of education in the Highlands, under the successive systems which have reigned in that department during the last thirty years. And in the mnintenance and extention of gospel work and gospel ordinances over the whole Highlands he laboured, in season and out of season, as no one else has done in his time. His work as Convener af the Committee, and also, we may add, as advising and co-operating with every society and every scheme which contemplated educational improvement and evangelical work in the Highlands, was such as only near and constant observers could measure adequately. Besides his general ability and his special acquaintance with Highland feelings and necessities, he brought to this work an extraordinarily minute and accurate knowledge of individual men in all classes of society and in every part of the Highlands. It was knowledge supplied by a memory of uncommon retentiveness, and by an interest in the work the keenness of which never was relaxed.
During all this time Dr. McLauchlan carried on the work of his large congregation. It may be enough to say, as to the generalefficiency of his ministry, that at the end of it, when the pastor’s health was failing, the congregation continued to be numerous and united as ever. The evangelical theology of the Reformation was the basis of his ministry, and all who knew him privately, as well as who waited on his ministry, knew how earnestly he held to it, and how little he was disposed to be moved away from the old and tried teaching of the Catechism and the Confession. But he knew well also that a form of godliness which stands mainly in reciting Shibboleths is of little worth. He rejoiced greatly in every symptom of genuine revival; and he had an open heart for good men of other communions than his own.
Dr. McLauchlan carried out during his whole life one noble tradition of Disruption and pre-Disruption days, that of hearty, loyal and unsparing devotion to the Church’s work and cause. No motive could persuade him to swerve from that course, and no difficult was allowed to arrest his progress in it. He unquestionably leaves to those who survive him a notable example of the diligent improvement of time for worthy ends. It is probable that many even of those who esteemed him have not estimated sufficiently the amount of resolute and sustained labour from day to day implied in the work which he succeeded in performing.
It is possible to task too hard even exceptional powers and exceptional diligence. It is to be feared that Dr. McLauchlan did so. Steadfast and energetic as he was, Dr. McLauchlan was one of those men on whom the wearing effect of public life tells heavily. He was sensitive alike to worthy and to unworthy treatment, and though he could repress his feelings, be could not escape the effects of them. No man takes an active part in prolonged public life without experiencing some of its trials. If any share of these fell to Dr. McLauchlan’s lot, they had passed away before the end. But manifold work, and in some degree the inevitable attendant worry, had told upon him. Comparatively early, in the case of a man who bore so much the aspect of vigour and health, signs of breaking down appeared. Ultimately he had to resign himself to years of weak and suffering existence. It is a discipline often sent by our Heavenly Father to men who have been strong, aspiring and laborious. His last days were marked by a lightening of the pain and weariness. He departed this life on the 21st March last.
During his years of active service Dr. McLauchlan received many testimonies of the value set on his public work and the regard cherished for his private character. He was Moderator of the General Assembly in 1876. The University of Aberdeen conferred on him the degree of LL.D. His portrait by Norman McBeth was presented to him at a large gathering of Highlanders. When his public work was ending, a sum of £1,850 and a piece of plate were presented in recognition of his services. And his Gaelic classes repeatedly made acknowledgments of his unpaid and unwearied labour in promoting a scholarly knowledge and use of the language. But his best monument is the progress made under his care in extending and building up the organization of the Free Church in the Highlands. The Long Island, Skye, and many parts of the mainland, will permanently bear the marks of his wise and thoughtful toil in charges and stations originated and fostered by him, to be the scene, as we trust, for many a year to come, by God’s blessing, of fruitful ministerial work and of prosperous congregational life.
REV. EBENEZER MCLEAN, FORDYCE
(Died August 15, 1899)
Author: Rev. John Arnott, M.A., Stirling
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1899, Obituary, p.264
The Rev. Ebenezer McLean, the son of the late W. McLean, Esq., stockbroker, Glasgow, and brother of David McLean, Esq., one of the most respected and generous of our elders in that city, was born in 1842. He had the privilege of being trained in a home which was pervaded by Christian influences. Apart from his home, his earliest religious impressions were received from the preaching of the late Rev. Jonathan Anderson, John Knox Free Church, Glasgow. He was educated in Glasgow Academy, which he left to enter the office of his father. But his heart was not in stockbroking. He desired to enter the Christian ministry. In this he was encouraged by the members of the family circle. He studied in the Glasgow University and in the Free Church College there. After being licensed by the Glasgow Presbytery he served his church as a probationer, in various places, faithfully and well.
In April 1877 he was ordained to the Free Church at Fordyce. This congregation had been weakened by unfortunate experiences. His task, therefore, was neither encouraging nor easy; but he set to his work with characteristic energy. He very soon made a deep impression on the community. The membership increased, and the church property was considerably improved. His preaching, evangelical and earnest, was valued because of the character of the man. It was evident that the minister lived in close touch with the Master whom he commended to his flock. His life, lived among a people who knew him, was the most eloquent of sermons and the most powerful of influences. His name will not be soon forgotten at Fordyce, and many will yet rise up to call him blessed.
Six years ago he retired from the active duties of the ministry, and settled in Stirling. He speedily identified himself with the best interests of the community. Attaching himself to the South Free Church, he soon became an elder, and gave much valuable help in labours and in contributions to that congregation. But he was large in sympathy. All the ministers of the district found in him a brother who was willing to give a helping hand in any time of need. He was specially interested in temperance work. He longed and laboured for the day when our church and country would be delivered from the evils of intemperance. He greatly helped also in aggressive evangelistic work in the town. Indeed, he made for himself during his sojourn in Stirling a unique place of usefulness and influence which few could fill.
The church can ill afford to lose such a minister, who was so devoted to her best interests, and who supported so loyally all branches of her work, especially her work in the foreign field.
During the past two years he had repeated warnings of failing health, yet he was bright and hopeful. On Thursday, the tenth of August last, he set out with his wife to visit once more the scenes of his ministry. Never was he in happier mood. He worshipped twice on Sabbath in the church which he loved. On Monday he visited some of his friends, and hoped to see more during the week. That same evening he retired to rest in good spirits, and at midnight he passed away from the side of his wife, painlessly and without even awaking. It was fitting and pathetic that he should enter into his eternal rest in the manse which was dear to him, and amongst the people to whom he had taught the truth of God.
He leaves behind him a good name and a record of faithful service.
REV. PETER MACLEAN, STORNOWAY
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, June 1, 1868
This faithful servant of Jesus Christ passed away from the scene of his labours and sufferings on the 28th of March last. Mr. Maclean was a native of Lewis, and was born in the year 1800. He came under the power of the truth in his twenty-fifth year, and as soon as the great crisis had occurred in his spiritual history, it was indicated by an earnest concern for the souls of others. His thoughts turned towards the gospel ministry, and he entered on the preparatory studies at King’s College, Aberdeen, in the year 1828. In the following year he proceeded to the University of Edinburgh, where he continued his attendance until the close of the usual theological course.
During his attendance at the classes, his desire to win souls found a field for itself in mission work among the Highlanders of Edinburgh and Leith, a work in which he engaged at the request of an association of pious ladies in Edinburgh, and which was blessed as a means of reclaiming many who had fallen away from ordinances for many years.
Soon after he was licensed, which was in 1836, he received a call from settlers in Cape Breton, who had known him in Scotland. This call he felt it to be his duty to accept. He was accordingly ordained for the Cape Breton Mission in 1837. On his arrival he took up his head quarters at Whycocomah, but extended his labours over the greater part of the island. Here his ministry was abundantly blessed. A great thirst for the word of life was excited among multitudes. Many were awakened to a sense of divine things. Mr. Maclean, placed in such circumstances, felt great necessity laid upon him to preach the glorious gospel. He was a man always ready to spend and be spent in the service of his blessed Master, ever burning with holy desire to do good to souls. And when multitudes thronged on every hand with anxious hearts to hear the word, any one who knew Mr. Maclean’s alacrity in every good work can imagine how promptly he would devote himself to every duty, in season or out of season, which such a solemn occasion might demand. In a word, he was engaged incessantly in travelling from place to place and breaking the bread of life.
At last, though his physical frame was powerful, and capable of great endurance, his strength gave way, and he was under the necessity of returning to Scotland in 1842 in broken health, from which many of his friends never expected him to recover. Nevertheless, in an incredibly short time his strength returned, but only to be laid out anew in preaching Christ throughout many neglected and destitute districts of the North and West Highlands. He was present in Edinburgh on the day of the Disruption, and went heart and soul along with the movement on behalf of Christ’s crown rights which has made that day for ever memorable.
Soon after he received a call from Tobermory, and was settled there in August of the same year. While in this charge his labours extended to all the vacant and destitute districts of Mull, Morven, and Ardnamurchan, and the Lord continued to honour him as an instrument for good to souls.
In 1855 he accepted a call from the congregation of Stornoway. Here also the Lord was pleased to give him seals to his ministry. In common with other congregations throughout the island, Stornoway shared in the blessing of the revival of 1859, and some were added to the church who have continued steadfast until now, or who have died in hope of a better resurrection. In the summer of 1861, Mr. Maclean’s health again seriously gave way; but after he had somewhat improved and had taken a sea voyage, which he was enabled to do through the considerate liberality of his people, he was again able to resume his congregational duties in January 1863.
In May 1867 he visited Nova Scotia at the request of the Colonial Committee, and returned home in October. Soon after his return he caught cold; which shortly took the form of plastic bronchitis. His complaint resisted every remedy, and after fifteen months of severe suffering he entered into rest.
Mr. Maclean’s great leading characteristic was zeal for the glory of God in the salvation of souls. He was thus ever on the watch for opportunities to warn, counsel, and admonish those who came within the sphere of his influence. And when opportunities were offered he never missed them. In private intercourse, or by the wayside, as well as in more public duties, he was ready to speak a word in his Master’s name. Another feature of his character was ardent love of the truth as it is in Jesus, and as it has been confessed and testified to by the great body of faithful witnesses raised up in Scotland from the days of our fathers until now. He was remarkable for his faithfulness in dealing with souls. He never shrank from saying to the wicked that it should be ill with him, any more than he neglected to show that it should be well with the righteous. He desired to be pure of the blood of all men. Any one coming even slightly in contact with Mr. Maclean could not help being struck with the whole-heartedness with which he threw himself into all the duties of his office. He loved his work. He discharged it ungrudgingly. As he had freely received, he was ever ready freely to give.
As a preacher, Mr. Maclean possessed in a very eminent degree the power of bringing the truth to bear upon the consciences of the ungodly. While ever mindful in his ministrations of the circumstances, sorrows, joys, and wants of the believer, his spirit never seemed more moved within him than when dealing with the unconverted, and warning the sinner to flee from the wrath to come.
As a man he was warm-hearted and affectionate. Coldness was quite alien from his nature. He was respected by the whole community among whom he dwelt, and his loss is felt by many as a personal bereavement.
REV. DR. PETER MACLEISH, DUNLOP
(Died February 2, 1888)
Author: Rev. J. Connell, Dreghorn
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.149
The subject of our sketch was born at Lochwinnoch, in Renfrewshire, on 27th April 1815. It has often been remarked that a man’s parentage has generally much influence in the determining of his future, especially on the religious side of his character and life-work. It was so with Dr. Macleish. His parents were pious and godly, and so the home influences were most favourable throughout. The mother especially has been spoken of as one who was, above many, “well instructed in the way of the Lord; and, being fervent in spirit, she spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord” to the children of her house. Under such a teacher, her son “from a child knew the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
These home influences were fostered and strengthened by the fervently earnest evangelical preaching of the late Dr. Robert Smith of Lochwinnoch, and by the instructions of pious and godly teachers of the village Sabbath schools. From early boyhood, Dr. Macleish was characterized for a clear and forceful intellect. This was apparent all through his school life, and he carried the same vigour of mind into and throughout his University career as well.
Having early chosen the ministry of the gospel as his life-work, he entered the University of Glasgow in the session of 1834-5; and in all the classes of his four years’ course he distinguished himself as a student, as the many class prizes he obtained testify. Nor was his theological course less so—a course finished under Dr. Chalmers, not long after the Disruption of 1843. It may be said here that he never relinquished his studious habits; for amid all his arduous duties as a minister he continued them, so that perhaps he was among the best Latin and Greek scholars, and the most advanced Hebraist, to be found in the Churches.
Having taken his side in ecclesiastical matters as a student, he was in due time licensed as a preacher and probationer of the Free Church; and, after a short period of probation, was elected, called, and ordained to the ministry in Dunlop in 1846. He fulfilled his duties as a minister and a pastor most faithfully. His heart was in his work; and, “both publicly and from house to house,” he taught his people the things of the Lord. In his preaching there was no uncertainty, no vagueness, no haziness in doctrine. He knew nothing therein but “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” The last text of his ministry, on the evening of the Sabbath which preceded the beginning of the short illness which culminated in his death, seven days thereafter, summed up his ministry from first to last,— “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14). He preached thrice on that last Sabbath of his ministry.
He was ever most painstaking in his preparations for his work. Never did he serve the Lord, in his public or private ministry, with that which cost him nothing. “Pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always,” was his motto in all his preparations. Every lecture, every sermon, every prayer-meeting address, was fully pondered, deeply studied, and carefully written out to its closing “Amen.” Yes, he was faithful as the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nearly twenty years ago the senatus of his University unanimously bestowed upon him the well-earned and well-deserved degree of Doctor of Divinity; and I shall say that none of her alumni were more worthy of the honour. His Presbytery and his congregation rejoiced when he was thus honoured; for, besides his scholarship, he had become a trusted adviser of his Presbytery in cases which required wisdom to direct. For seven years he was its clerk, and fulfilled all the duties of this office with his wonted painstaking fidelity and exactness.
His last illness was of short duration. On a Wednesday afternoon and evening he was occupied in pastoral visitation. On the following day he began to complain under a bilious attack, accompanied with bronchitis; and in one short week the servant of the Lord “entered into the joy of the Lord.”
REV. DONALD MCLEOD, GOUROCK
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, August 1 1868, p.186
In the Rev. Donald McLeod, another Disruption minister has passed away; one who, although during the later years of his life living in comparative retirement, was yet to the last known and affectionately remembered by a large circle of friends, both in the Church and out of it.
He began his labours as an ordained minister in the year 1831, in the village of Gourock. He laboured there until the year 1850, when, at the instance of the Colonial Committee, he went out to Canada to visit mission stations, and give what help he could to the Church. Having laboured there a year in various districts, he received and accepted a call to the Free Church congregation in Coburg, Canada West. Having taken out his family, he continued minister of that place till the year 1860, when from failing health he was compelled to resign and return to Scotland. Since that time till his death, he continued to preach as opportunity offered, not being able to undertake any regular work.
Feeling his strength giving way, he had consented to reside for the future with his son the Free Church minister of Campsie. Preparations were completed for his removal. No symptoms of approaching death were apparent. With accustomed vigour he prepared for the journey. But God had ordered it otherwise, and, at the very time when he was to have left for his appointed destination, took him home to himself. After eighteen years of absence from his first field of labour, he had returned there to live, and, as it turned out, also to die.
He who thus passed away deserves a longer record than he can have here. His life, from the time when, a youth, he began to prepare for the work he had chosen, up till the day of his death, was one of incessant activity and usefulness. He was naturally of a most energetic disposition, and both as a preacher and pastor was diligent and faithful in a high degree. Often have we known him set out on his pastoral visitations at five in the morning, that he might meet heads of families before leaving for their work. And in these visitations he kept up the good old system of catechising in every house. This activity he carried into all his duties. In the language of one who long sat under his ministry—”He laboured amongst his people in simplicity and godly sincerity; in season and out of season.”
In Canada he did much mission work, besides attending to his own more immediate duties. And there, whilst by his earnest labours he did much to advance the cause of Christ, by his kindliness and warm hospitality he endeared himself to a large number of friends.
His preaching though not particularly striking, was always sound and instructive. His power did not lie in any eloquence or boldness of thought, so much as in the great skill with which he applied the work of redemption to the sinner’s case. He had a special gift in comforting the bereaved. Few could more tenderly and wisely mingle consolation and spiritual counsel in an hour of sorrow.
He was a man of very extensive information, which made his conversation always interesting and profitable. Being of a modest and retiring character, he never obtruded himself on public notice, further than his duties as a minister required. And whilst most diligent in his work, it can be truly said, he was a man of prayer. At all times of the day he might be found on his knees; and while a minister of a congregation, far into the Sabbath morning he would still he heard pleading for a blessing. And though not rewarded by seeing any great revival of religion under his preaching, he was gladdened from time to time by hearing of and meeting with those to whom his ministry was blessed.
The Church may not feel his loss, yet she has few more attached and diligent servants than he was, while his strength allowed. His work was well done, but he himself had continually a very deep sense of its shortcomings. His call was sudden and unexpected, yet he met it calmly and with unshaken faith; and passed into the glorious service of the Church triumphant, expressing unabated confidence in the covenant mercy of his God.
REV. HENRY McLEOD, ARDCLACH
(Died February 19, 1876)
Author: Rev. John H. Fraser, Rosskeen<
The Free Church Monthly April 1, 1876, p.94
The Rev. Henry McLeod was born, on the 26th April 1805, in the parish of Rogart, Sutherlandshire, but removed in boyhood with his parents to Invergordon, parish of Rosskeen. From his earliest years he discovered seriousness and a desire to prosecute his studies towards the ministry. He received such instruction in English and in classics as the parish school afforded, and enjoyed the inestimable advantage of that domestic discipline which is ordinarily found to be the most efficient means in forming character. From the then proprietor of Invergordon, Mr. McLeod of Cadboll, he received much kindness and encouragement in the prosecution of his studies. The last time we saw him, two months before his death, he referred to this, and to the impression which the whole bearing and Christian character of the late Mrs. Carment, Rosskeen, left on his mind. He attended the arts and divinity classes in Aberdeen with diligence and success; and during these years taught successively — first, a district school in the parish of Resolis, and, latterly, the parish school of Kincardine. He was privileged to enjoy the preaching of those eminent men for whom the Synod of Ross was then noted. No theme delighted him more than to dilate upon the Stewarts, the McDonalds, the McIntoshes, the Sages, &c., of his student days; and many were the characteristic anecdotes he related of them, especially of Mr. Stewart, Cromarty. Although not a Disruption minister, he was a Disruption probationer and an ejected parish teacher. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Tain shortly before the Disruption, and was ordained in Ardclach on the 16th August 1844. Oft did he refer with pleasure to the happy times that succeeded the Disruption — so remarkable for love among the brethren, warmth among the people, and much of the presence of the Lord in the means of grace. Besides having his hands strengthened by several eminent men among the office-bearers in the district, he received much kindness and attention from the principal heritor in the parish, and elder in the Free Church, Mr. Brodie of Leithen. Mr. McLeod’s natural gifts were superior; his conceptions of divine truth were clear and well-defined; and in language of great simplicity and terseness he expressed them. His pulpit delivery was quiet and solemn, with no attempt at oratory: and at times the pith of his sentences gave them the shape of proverbs. Though he wrote not his discourses, he was a conscientious student, and did not trifle with the interest of immortal souls by going to the pulpit without due preparation. His chief preparation was meditation and prayer. His devotional exercises were characterized by solemnity, variety, and fervour. So far as the state of his health permitted, he visited and catechised his scattered congregation. He had a good library, and made due use of it; but the Bible was the subject of his first and principal study; his acquaintance with its contents was minute and particular; and every opinion which he formed or adopted was rigidly tried and tested by the balance of the sanctuary. All his instructions and exhortations were derived immediately from Scripture, and were conveyed, for most part, in Scripture language. It was the Word itself he preached; but so selected and combined were the passages, that the setting showed the skilful workman. For many a year his body was much enfeebled, and it would shame many a hardy preacher to be told how ill he has often been on a Saturday night or a Sabbath morning, and yet undertaking his public work. His strength failing him, he engaged probationers at his own expense to assist him in his work, till, in 1873, he obtained a colleague, when he was entirely relieved of the charge of the congregation, and since has resided in the parish of Ardersier.
The complaints under which he laboured exerted a depressing influence on his spirit; and it cannot be doubted that the subtle enemy of the people of God availed himself of the circumstance, in endeavouring to shake his confidence, and oft distress his soul. His closing years present to us an individual walking rather in the twilight of enjoyment, when the sun and the shade were struggling together for victory, than in a region of undisturbed serenity. By his old friends be will be long remembered, and their comfort is that his sufferings are over, and that, as he lived, so he died, resting on the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
DR. HUGH MACLEOD, NOVA SCOTIA
(Died January 18, 1894)
Author: Robert Murray, Editor, “Halifax Presbyterian Witness”
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1894, Obituary, p.116
Dr. Macleod was born at Tongue, in Sutherland-shire, April 23, 1803. His father, George Macleod, a farmer, died when Hugh was but a few years old. His mother, a pre-eminently pious woman, lived to hear her son preach the gospel. Hugh could read and write when in his fifth year, and his career as a student was brilliant. He studied theology under Drs. Mearns, Brown, and Chalmers, and was licensed in 1831 by the Presbytery of Tongue.
His first charge was Melness and Eriboll, and his ministry there was followed by a remarkable revival of religion. In 1836 he accepted a call to the Gaelic Church, Edinburgh, then one of the largest congregations in the city. Here, too, a fruitful revival crowned his labours. From Edinburgh he was called to Logie Easter, Ross-shire, where he remained till he accepted the call to Nova Scotia.
At Logie a remarkable revival took place, which added greatly to the membership of the congregation. The people were devotedly attached to their pastor, and when the Disruption came they almost to a man followed him in his adherence to the Free Church. Dr. Macleod took an active, earnest, and effective part in the “Ten Years’ Conflict.” In 1845 he was sent to Nova Scotia—I may say to Canada—as a deputy from the Free Church to visit the Highland congregations, preach to them the gospel, report upon their spiritual condition, and explain to them the principles of the Free Church.
He was received by his countrymen with the utmost enthusiasm. Wherever he preached, in town or village, or in remote and sparsely settled districts, great crowds assembled to enjoy his services; and in the rural districts the people followed him from place to place, often travelling scores of miles in order to hear him. Whenever it became known that he would assist at a communion, old men and women as well as the young would travel on foot fifty, sixty, or a hundred miles in order to enjoy his ministrations. Never did Dr. Macleod appear to greater advantage, or seem to be more thoroughly at home, than when, standing in the “tent” under great overarching maple or birch trees in the ancient forest, he addressed three or four thousand people sitting on the ground in long lines before him. Such communion seasons were great events among our Highlanders forty years ago.
Dr. Macleod’s first visit to Canada was so beneficial and so acceptable that in 1848 he was asked to revisit these provinces. His welcome was most cordial, and his second visit was not less profitable than his first.
In 1849 the congregation of Mira, Cape Breton, invited him to become their pastor. Their call was not merely unanimous; it was pathetically earnest. The greater part of the large county of Cape Breton was without a minister, and the people were as sheep without a shepherd. Dr. Macleod knew from personal observation their spiritual destitution. He accepted their call, settled among them in August 1850, and continued their pastor till 1885. This was his fourth and last charge. He declined a call to one of the leading churches in Halifax, and to more than twenty other places.
It was no light matter to cast in one’s lot with the people of Mira forty-three years ago. It was then a comparatively new settlement. There were very few roads that were passable, and few bridges that were safe. There was but one carriage in the whole region. There were hardly any ploughs or carts. The barns were small. The houses were log cabins, with accommodation of the most primitive condition. On the other hand, the people were ardently attached to their new pastor. They were sorely in need of his services. They were naturally bright and intelligent, and anxious to improve. They profited greatly by his ministry. He led them, he toiled for their good, in matters temporal as well as spiritual and eternal. He stirred them up with mighty religious impulses that told on their progress—their roads and bridges, their barns and houses, their schools and churches, and all their enterprises. To-day Mira is a prosperous and very beautiful countryside, with large, brimming barns, well-tilled fields, comfortable frame-houses. The noble Mira river is spanned by safe and handsome bridges, the roads are good, and the railway whistle is heard not far away. Commodious churches and well-equipped schools are within reach of the people. In this change, so marked, so beneficent, Dr. Macleod’s influence and leadership were an invaluable factor.
His ministrations were not confined to the congregation of Mira, but extended to a territory now occupied by eight ministerial charges. His infleunce for good extended not only beyond Mira, but beyond Cape Breton. His tours among the scattered population were frequent, and were invaluable in reviving the people’s interest in religion and in stirring them up to inquire, “What shall we do to be saved? Very extensive revivals were the result of his labours—revivals the fruit of which remain in evidence to this day.
Dr. Macleod in 1853 visited nearly all our Free Church congregations, to obtain subscriptions to the “Professorial Fund” of the Free Church in Halifax. He secured about £5,000—a large sum considering the weakness of our congregations at that period. He gave his cordial aid in the union of 1860 between the Free and United Presbyterian Synods in the Maritime Provinces—the first union by the way, among the colonial churches after the Disruption. We had a union in Nova Scotia and one or two unions in the interior provinces, prior to the Disruption. Dr. Macleod also promoted the union of 1875, when all the Presbyterian Churches of Canada combined. The third meeting of the General Assembly, after the union, was Halifax, and Dr. Macleod was the unanimous choice for Moderator. His closing address on that occasion was singularly brilliant and appropriate.
The honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him by the University of Indiana. He built or helped to build, eight places of worship. He organized ten or twelve congregations. For five years he was a Commissioner of Schools in the county. He took a very deep interest in the development of the resources of the country. No one could be more hospitable than Dr. Macleod. For years the people of the congregation streamed in upon him in scores, and all were welcome. His house was ever open to the pilgrim stranger as well as his own people. All were sure of a “Highland welcome.”
In 1883, his jubilee was celebrated with fitting services and suitable expressions of the high estimation in which he was held. For several years he was confined to his house by asthma, from which he suffered terribly; but till within six days of his death his mind was perfectly clear. His memory was extraordinarily accurate, and his acquaintance with all events of the day marvellously minute. His interest in the progress of the world, especially in the great religious movements of our time, was intelligent and intense. He read almost incessantly. One eye failed him some years ago, but the other continued serviceable to the end. Till the last week of his life he wrote a bold, clear hand, that scarcely showed a tremor indicative of old age.
Three of Dr. Macleod’s sons are doctors of medicine. One son, Hugh, was a lawyer, and for some years a member of the parliament of Canada. He died young. The county of Cape Breton then elected another son, William, as their member. Mrs. Macleod, a daughter of a Scottish manse, was a most amiable and admirable Christian lady. She died suddenly over a year ago. One of his three daughters died two months ago. His son-in-law, Rev. Alexander Farquharson, died suddenly in the very prime of life a year and a half ago. Thus it will be seen that the aged saint had to taste the bitterness of family bereavements.
Dr. Macleod was, when in his prime, physically, mentally, and spiritually a man of remarkable strength. He easily made his influence felt in any popular assembly. Gifted with a clear, piercing, powerful voice, he could be easily heard in the open air by audiences of five thousand people. He had no difficulty in making himself heard in any building. His prayers were direct and fervent; his sermons were short and pointed. Of more than six thousand that he preached, it is probable his hearers never thought one dull or long. It was a saying among his people that the “blessing” from Dr. Macleod was better than a long sermon from any one else. For generations Dr. Macleod’s memory will be cherished in Nova Scotia, and especially in the beautiful island of Cape Breton, in which he laboured so abundantly.
REV. JOHN MACLEOD, FREE WEST, ALLOA
(Died November 27, 1875)
Author: Rev. James Moffat Scott, Alloa
The Free Church Monthly March 1, 1876, p.70
In the death of the Rev. John Macleod the Church has lost an able and accomplished minister. Born in Rothesay in 1810, he early devoted himself to the cause of education, in which he was engaged for a considerable time. By his townsmen he was highly esteemed for his arduous and independent exertions, and for the deep interest he took in various societies for the promotion of the best interests of young men. Thereafter, directing his attention to the Church, he attended the Arts classes at the University of Glasgow, and, in course, entered the Reformed Presbyterian Hall. Here he was regarded by the professors as a student of great talent, and, after license, he was speedily called to fill the pulpit of one of the most distinguished men in the denomination.
In 1841 he was ordained as successor to Dr. William Symington at Stranraer. For fully seven years he laboured in this corner of the vineyard with great diligence and success. “His ministrations were faithful and acceptable,” and he was held in high esteem by all who knew him. Indeed, we learn, on the best authority, that he won for himself in the south the reputation of being an eloquent, earnest, and powerful preacher.
In February 1849 he resigned his charge at Stranraer, and joined the Free Church of Scotland, convinced that the great principle of spiritual independence on which she was founded, was identical with that for which the grand old Covenanters fought and bled in the stormy days of yore.
Having fulfilled his days of probation, he was called successively to Wellpark, Glasgow, to Dunblane, and to the Free West, Alloa. To the last named charge he was inducted in 1850, and in it he laboured steadfastly, though called to other important spheres of usefulness, till compelled to resign in 1870, in consequence of failing health.
In Alloa Mr. Macleod was a prominent man. A perfect gentleman, an exact scholar, an excellent theologian, an able and accomplished preacher, interested in every good cause, he was long an ornament to the Free Church. During his ministry, he was the means of erecting a beautiful Gothic structure for the better accommodation of his congregation; and his onerous labours in connection with this cherished undertaking seem to have shattered his nervous system. For the last five years of his life, Mr. Macleod was in delicate health, having several shocks of paralysis at various intervals. In spite of the depressing nature of his disease, he bore his troubles with much patience and resignation. He often lamented his inability to toil as wont; and then would find comfort in the thought that God was disciplining him for nobler work in a better and a brighter world. He waited for the change; he sometimes longed for it. The end was peace. Those who stood by him in his last hours know best how precious the Christ crucified he preached was to his soul; they know that Jesus’ name was known when every other was unknown; they know that when half unconscious even he said he stood upon the Rock of Ages. He knew that his Redeemer lived; and like a child he went to rest. He has gone through the gates into the city! An only daughter is left to mourn a loving father’s departure.
REV. NEIL MACLEOD, D.D., NEWPORT, FIFE
(Died November 11, 1895)
Author: Rev. Patrick W. Robertson, M.A., Portobello
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1896, Obituary, p.69
Neil MacLeod was born at Edinburgh on the tenth of June 1827. There he was educated at the High School, entering the University of Edinburgh at the early age of twelve years. He remained at college till his eighteenth year, when he took his degree of M.A. in 1845. After leaving the university, Mr. MacLeod accepted an appointment as tutor to the two sons of the late David Maitland Macgill Crichton, Esq., of Rankeillour.
Maitland Macgill Crichton, as he was familiarly called, was an able and eloquent exponent of the principles of spiritual independence, before the Disruption of the Church of Scotland. He was no less enthusiastic in his advocacy of Free Church principles after 1843; and in the young tutor of his sons he found one in thorough sympathy with him. Mr. MacLeod, when asked, declined to fix the date of his first religious impressions; but he gratefully acknowledged his indebtedness for help and stimulus in divine knowledge to the Rev. Mr. Reid of Collessie. He joined the church at Collessie when he was seventeen years of age. A sensitive soul like his could not fail to be impressed and stirred by the revival of evangelical religion, which affected every parish in Scotland as the result of the “Ten Years’ Conflict.” The triumph of principle evinced so nobly by the ministers, who gave up all for conscience’ sake, appealed to the heroic in young men like Neil MacLeod. He never hesitated in the choice of a profession; but gave himself at once to preparation for the ministry of the Free Church. After his honourable and distinguished curriculum at the New College was finished, he was for a short time working at a mission station in Loanhead; this was in 1849. From Loanhead he went to Forres, to be assistant to the venerable minister there, Mr. Grant, a man of quite uncommon ability and of marked individuality. Mr. MacLeod made many friends in Forres, friends who never ceased to love him; and some who survive now deeply mourn his loss. From Forres, Mr. MacLeod came south to assist Dr. Guthrie in the congregation of St. John’s, Edinburgh.
In December 1851, he was ordained at Newport, in succession to Mr. John Nelson, afterwards the well-known Dr. Nelson of Greenock. Mr. MacLeod was the third minister of the Free Church of Newport; and was honoured to labour in that charge for the long period of forty-four years. He had the longest record of any minister of the parish of Forgan, since the Reformation. The writer of this tribute became acquainted with Neil MacLeod when the latter was at Forres; and as a probationer, was present at his ordination in 1851. Having the sad satisfaction of taking part in the funeral service, while the past forty-four years appeared but a dream, it was very solemn to know that not one of those who assisted at the ordination was spared to this present except himself. In 1855 Mr. MacLeod was married to Miss Isabella Gordon, daughter of the Rev. Charles Gordon of Assynt; and notwithstanding the delicate health of his wife, no brighter or happier home can possibly be imagined than that of the Free Church manse of Newport.
When Mr. MacLeod was ordained, there were only about eighty members in East and West Newport, and about eighty members from the country districts, chiefly farm servants. At that time the congregation could guarantee only £90 to the Sustentation Fund.
The first Free Church, hallowed by many holy associations, was pulled down in 1868, and replaced by the present one. To this, galleries were added in 1885. It now seats about 750. The church, the halls, and the manse, all commodious and comfortable, are entirely free of debt.
The great trial of Mr. MacLeod’s life and ministry was the weakness of his eyes, which was brought on by inflammation in 1867. In 1877, Dr. Argyll Robertson forbade the writing of any more sermons; but Mr. MacLeod, while taking special precautious, continued his work, writing his sermons in pencil with his back to the light. In 1890, the congregation being then prosperous, arrangements were made for having a younger man associated with him in the ministry, and in September 1891, Mr. Rae was ordained as his colleague and successor. This colleagueship turned out to be a very happy one. Mr. Rae says of his experience: “I suppose it would be difficult to find colleagues who got on so well. He was singularly generous to me and to my ministry, and I was happy to have many tokens of his love for myself, and an affection sometimes touching in its expression.” In the autumn of 1894, Mr. MacLeod began to have alarming symptoms, but was really not off work till the following March. The well-merited degree of D.D. was conferred on him by the University of St. Andrews last spring, and he was able to gratify his friends by going to the ancient city to be capped. A fortnight at Bridge of Allan had reviving effect on his health, and though the serious nature of his illness was known to his wife and daughter, the knowledge was kept from him for a time. He was even permitted to take part in the communion service, the Rev. W. Lewis Robertson of Greenock, his assistant for the occasion, being, however, warned to be ready to relieve him if necessary. This was the last occasion of his ministering to his beloved flock. The strain had been too much for him; and during the six months following, he got gradually weaker. When told, early in May, that the disease was incurable, he heard the news quite calmly, though it was a great surprise to him, such a result being quite out of his thoughts. After this, he made all his arrangements deliberately, and though he did not speak much about himself, his “going home” was the usual expression of his mental attitude. No one could more quietly wait God’s will till the change came. During his illness, the great desire of his heart was to speak once more, even for ten minutes, to his beloved flock. This he was never able to do. The church was, however, the last place he visited. In the month of June, there was a flower service, and he managed to go down to the church to see the decorations. Once since then has a profusion of flowers been in the choir—on his funeral day.
It is impossible in the short space available in the Monthly to express one half of what Neil MacLeod was in every relation of life. His home was ever the. abode of peace, though sorrow and bereavement were not unknown there. His ministry was his delight. He had much to try him in the weakness of his eyesight, but by the help of his wife and his devoted daughter he kept himself abreast of present-day problems in theology and in literature. His sermons were thus ever fresh and stimulating; while the transparent simplicity and sincerity of the preacher, his high ideal of the Christian life, and his unfailing consistency of conduct, could not fail to impress the people who had the privilege to call him pastor.
The fellowship of Neil MacLeod as a friend is a sacred memory to all who enjoyed that companionship. Nearly every autumn he and I met in Forres, and his warm grasp and loving smile were ever eloquent of almost boyish frankness of affection. Truly in his companionship “earth was full of heaven, and every common bush afire with God.”
It was on an exquisitely lovely day, the 27th November last, when all that was mortal of my dear old friend was carried forth, from his sweet manse overlooking the Tay, to the church where he had ministered for forty-four years, for the simple Presbyterian service prior to the funeral in Dundee. The place which had known his gentle guilelessness and consistent piety was henceforth to know him no more for ever. “The birds would come and cry there, and twitter in the chimney; but he goes for ever, and comes again no more.”
“Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.” The entire population of Newport were the mourners. Every representative man in the district came to show respect and love, all the ministers of religion of all denominations, and nearly every member of his own presbytery. The bright and balmy day, more like a sample of spring than of dark November, made it possible for the people to stand in the open as the funeral cortege passed to the quay. The waters of the Tay danced and glistened in the sunshine, while the precious casket was carried across from the picturesque village of Newport to the busy city of Dundee. Newport was but a small village when Neil MacLeod began his ministry there in 1851. The Brae, which commands a view almost unrivalled in beauty and interest, is now thickly studded with villas—villas which are the modest homes of Dundee merchants whose honourable trade sends ships to the ends of the earth. The village has grown to a place of considerable importance during these years—the elegant Tay Bridge joining the Fife and the Forfarshire shores. Who can reckon the sum of goodness and righteousness and truth which has been the result in human character of this faithful pastor’s life and labours for forty-four years? No wonder that Newport mourned the loss of one who had moulded the spiritual history of the fathers, who had baptized and taught the children, who had soothed many a sorrow and driven away many a fear. In these years the young men and maidens had been led to Christ, and to Christ’s feast of love. They had been united in the bonds of marriage; they had been comforted in the hour of anxiety and bereavement. They had been prepared by the earnest preaching of the gospel and by faithful counsel: some of them for careers of honour on earth, some for an early removal to glory in heaven. In works of faith, such as has been indicated, is spent the life of a Scottish Presbyterian minister. Who can estimate the influence for good of one such as Neil MacLeod? No wonder that the roads were lined with men, women, and children yearning, in their great sense of bereavement and loss, to catch a last look of the drapery which covered the beloved dead. That drapery was the cap and gown which had been presented to him on the occasion of his receiving the degree of D.D. in the previous spring. Dr. MacLeod was laid to rest in the Western Cemetery, Dundee, beside the grave of his eldest son, who had died on the threshold of manhood.
REV. NORMAN MCLEOD, NORTH UIST
(Died March 5, 1881)
Author: J. S. McPhail, Kilmuir
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.200
This “good minister of Jesus Christ” has recently gone to his rest, in the eightieth year of his age and the forty-sixth of his ministry. In him has passed away the last but one, in the extensive Synod of Glenelg, of the tried and trusted ministers of the Disruption; and in the Western Isles, where he was best known, his venerable appearance will be much missed, and his memory long cherished. He was an earnest preacher of the gospel, a man of culture and of gentlemanly manners, a steadfast friend, and a most genial companion. He was much beloved by his brethren in the Presbytery and Synod, who at their last meetings recorded their high appreciation of his worth, and their deep sense of the loss sustained by them, as well as by the Church at large, through his removal.
Mr. McLeod was descended from a well-known and highly respected family in the Isle of Skye, and was born at Swordale, near Dunvegan, in December 1801. While he was yet quite a young man, his cousin, the late Mr. McLeod of Snizort, was, in all the fervour of a first love, preaching Christ with great power. Multitudes from all directions flocked to hear him, and many conversions took place. It was at one of those memorable gatherings that Mr. McLeod was first deeply impressed with a sense of his spiritual state, and was led to close with the Saviour of the lost. Very soon after he had decided for Christ, he also decided to study for the Christian ministry; and in taking this step, he had to exercise no little self-denial, for other ways that offered more worldly prosperity were open to him, and he was urged to choose them. He studied in the University of Glasgow, and in due time was licensed to preach the gospel. His first appointment was to a mission in Saltcoats, where his labours were much appreciated by the more serious portion of that community. In 1835 he accepted a call to the Government charge of Trumisgary in North Uist, and in that district he continued to labour till the close of his life.
In the conflict that preceded the Disruption, Mr. McLeod identified himself with the evangelical party; and when the day of trial came, he unhesitatingly resigned his charge, casting himself and his young family on the care of a covenant God. Few ministers suffered so much and so long in connection with the Disruption as he did. He alone in his Presbytery “came out,” so that he had no brother to strengthen his hands. A heavy burden of work was necessarily thrown upon him; for he had to attend to the interests of the Free Church people not only in the two Uists, but in Harris and Barra as well. “The powers that be” were hostile, and manifested a degree of the persecuting spirit; and, worst of all, he had no prospect of a home for his family. He could have easily escaped from all these difficulties had he pleased to accept of a cordial call, with the offer of a liberal income sent at the time, by his former flock in Saltcoats. But this he declined on the ground that, however advantageous to him, it would be against the interests of the poor North Uist people. In 1843 he occupied a small farm, and on it he built, at his own expense, a cottage containing six rooms. There he resided for some three years; but no sooner was the lease expired than he was ordered to quit both lands and cottage, without receiving any compensation for his outlay. The only shelter then available was a dilapidated house on an island some twenty miles away from his charge. For fifteen years he was tossed about in this manner, and had five flittings before the manse at Paible was built, where at length he found suitable accommodation for his family. His singularly interesting evidence before the Sites Committee in London furnishes a touching record of his position and trials at the time referred to. Yet no one acquainted with him during those years could fail to admire the constant cheerfulness and Christian fortitude with which he bore all his discomforts. It was Mr. McLeod’s happy privilege to witness seasons of revival among his people; and it was delightful to see how heartily he threw himself into such work, and how he appreciated the co-operation of ministers and lay brethren who helped in it. He spoke of his last communion as a time of special comfort to him. It was after such a season of revival, and several new communicants had been admitted, and he felt greatly cheered and strengthened.
The end was sudden and unexpected; for though he had reached so ripe an age, he was still wonderfully hale and vigorous. On the 3rd of March he left home at six in the morning, in high spirits, to attend a fellowship meeting in the neighbouring island of Benbecula. He concluded the services of the day with unusual liberty, telling the people that he wished he could continue longer, as he felt as if he were never again to address them. There was a snow-storm, and the cold was intense. Yet he returned home, and did not appear to suffer from the journey. On Saturday the 5th he was engaged as usual in preparing for the Sabbath, intending to preach at Sollas on the morrow. In the evening he felt some discomfort about the region of the heart, but did not think much of it. He retired to his room earlier than usual, and prayed with Mrs. McLeod in his usual calm manner. In a few minutes afterwards Mrs. McLeod returned to the room and found him sitting in his chair. But the spirit had fled. He was “absent from the body and present with the Lord.”
REV. RODERICK MACLEOD, SNIZORT
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 1, 1868
The intimation made in the journals that this eminent minister was labouring under a severe illness had prepared the Church for the melancholy tidings of his death.
Mr. Macleod was a son of the minister of Snizort. It is about forty-five years since he was settled as minister of Bracadale. For two or three years previously he had acted as a missionary in the neighbourhood, filling the office without possessing the spirit of an evangelist. But when thus “far off,” it pleased God to “call him by his grace, and to reveal his Son in him.” He has been heard to say that a sermon of Chalmers, on man’s natural enmity to God, first led him to mourn over his own lost state, and to see his need of the gospel remedy. The people soon discovered the change which had taken place in young Mr. Macleod, and numbers gathered to his ministrations.
Not long after his settlement at Bracadale, Mr. Macleod found himself involved in those troubles with the Church courts which are memorable as an illustration of the long-dominant Moderatism of the Church of Scotland. Finding certain of his parishioners extremely deficient in Christian knowledge, besides being careless of attending the house of God, he refused or delayed to baptize their children. One man complained to the Presbytery. To a Presbytery of Moderates nothing could be more detestable than the righteous strictness of the minister of Bracadale. They ordered him to baptize the complainer’s child; which he refused to do, and the Presbytery referred the matter to the General Assembly of 1824 for advice. The Assembly directed the Presbytery of Skye to enjoin Mr. Macleod to baptize the child; and, further, to see that the ordinance of baptism was “duly administered” in the parish of Bracadale.
In May 1826, the Presbytery held a presbyterial visitation of Bracadale. Mr. Macleod had adhered unflinchingly to his rule of admission, and by this time the unbaptized children in the parish had increased to a considerable number. Some fourteen men, whose children were unbaptized, came forward on the Presbytery’s invitation. A few questions were put to them, and the easily satisfied court ordered Mr. Macleod to baptize their children. Mr. Macleod did not deny the right of the Presbytery themselves to baptize those children, if they saw fit; but he denied their right to bear down his conscience, and force him to administer the holy ordinance in circumstances of sinful laxity. He therefore declined to obey. Whereupon the Presbytery, then and there, without a libel, and without hearing him in his own defence, suspended him from the office of the ministry till their next ordinary meeting on the 18th of July. Intimation of the sentence was made in Bracadale church, and supplies sent to the pulpit.
Mr. Macleod, taken by surprise, allowed the legal opportunity to pass without entering an appeal. His father, however, as a member of the Presbytery, brought the case before the General Assembly by a dissent and complaint.
The upshot was, that a motion by Principal Nicol was carried, dismissing the complaint, approving the conduct of the Presbytery of Skye, and instructing them to restore Mr. Macleod to his ministry “as soon as he expresses his willingness to conduct himself in a manner becoming a dutiful son of the Church.”
When the Presbytery of Skye met, they formally, by the mouth of their moderator, put the question to the suspended minister, Was he willing to be an obedient son of the Church? Of course he was, and he said so; but added that he did not consider his previous conduct to have been at variance with the laws and standards of the Church. The Presbytery, not satisfied with an answer thus qualified, adjourned till the evening, when they found that Mr. Macleod adhered to his former answer. At their next meeting, the Presbytery resolved to serve him with a libel for contumacy. Next day the libel was served, and at next meeting written defences were given in by Mr. Macleod, and a committee appointed to answer them. Then, without hearing or calling a witness, the Presbytery found the libel relevant, and resolved to depose Mr. Macleod! Having thus found the libel relevant and the accused guilty, they agreed to refer the case to the Assembly for advice.
The case of Mr. Macleod came before the Assembly of 1827. A committee, of which Dr. Chalmers and Sir Henry Moncreiff were members, was appointed to confer with him. At the hands of this committee Mr. Macleod received at last Christian and brotherly treatment. The committee reported to the House that he had given them entire satisfaction, and produced a paper signed by him, in which he acknowledged—what he had assuredly never denied—the authority of the Church. On this the Assembly directed the Presbytery to dismiss the libel which had been raised against him, and to treat him as the Church’s obedient son.
It was a great and glad occasion when the suspension, which had continued nearly a year and a half, was removed, and the beloved minister of Bracadale preached to his flock again. This was his text, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” That sermon is spoken of among the people to this day. But the annoyance, or rather persecution, which this inflexibly faithful minister had to endure at the hands of his brethren did not cease then, nor indeed for twenty years to come. It was not till the Assembly of 1837 that the matter was finally allowed to drop.
Mr. Macleod was translated from Bracadale to Snizort in 1838, and there he laboured till his death. He was privileged to witness three revival movements in Skye. His labours on these occasions were immense, and the evident blessing of God rested on them. To him it was given to be very largely instrumental in moulding the religious mind of Skye. His sayings and his views of passages of Scripture are household words. His powers of endurance when on preaching tours were, even in his old age, astonishing. After passing nights without rest, while journeying by sea and land, he would appear in the field of action and preach with the greatest vigour.
At the Disruption, he and almost his whole flock joined the Free Church, and most faithfully did he serve her. Long the one Free Church minister of the island with its seven parishes, he bore the banner of her testimony single-handed for years; and when at last joined by a band of faithful men in the work, it was his delight to be as a father in the midst of them, affording them such counsel and aid as his long experience put it in his power to give. Few will miss him more than the brethren who looked up to him with so much affection and esteem.
In 1863, Mr. Macleod was appointed Moderator of the Free Church—an honour to which his long, faithful, and successful ministry, as well as his high talents, had formed a just title.
It was the Divine will to visit him with many and sore bereavements. Out of a family of thirteen, only four survived him. Mrs. Macleod died in the year 1856.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1897, Obituary, p.19
REV. DONALD MCMASTER, KILDALTON, ISLAY
(Died August 1, 1896)
Author: Rev. A. Macrae, M.A., Kilcalmonell
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1897, Obituary, p.19
Mr. McMaster was born at Corriebeg, Kilmallie, November 1827. His father was a teacher of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and was stationed at Stornoway, where he died in 1837. His mother, Mary McMillan, was a woman of marked individuality and independence.
He was only ten years of age when he lost his father. Soon after, the family removed to Fort William; and at the Grammar School there (taught at the time by the father of Dr. Donald McLeod of St. Columba’s Church, London), and at the General Assembly School of Corpach, the education begun in his father’s school at Stornoway was vigorously prosecuted. When thirteen years old he began to teach in the Braes of Lochaber, going from house to house, a week in each, thus earning a small salary, and meanwhile teaching himself as best he could by the help of books. Another short period of attendance at the Fort William Grammar School enabled him to gain a bursary at the University of Glasgow when he entered it in 1844. He studied to good purpose, and Professor Lushington at the end of the session certified that he was a very excellent and distinguished student, and that he had obtained the second prize awarded by the votes of the class. His Arts studies were continued in Edinburgh for the next three years, and he distinguished himself especially in the Natural Philosophy class. After this, for a while he devoted himself to teaching, beginning his work in the Free Church school at Fort William. Having then qualified himself as a government certificated teacher, he obtained an appointment as master of Stornoway Free Church School, which he held from 1850 to 1856. This school he taught with energy and enthusiasm, giving a prominent place to Bible instruction, and conducting all the work with great moral earnestness.
It appears that from an early age the Spirit of God had been striving with him. While living at Corpach, he used often to go alone to a hill near his home to pray. He spoke always with the greatest affection of his minister, Mr. McGillivray, Kilmallie, and of the benefit he derived from his preaching. The preaching also of Mr. John MacRae, Knockbain (afterwards his father-in-law) when he visited Lochaber about the time of the Disruption, was much blessed to him. Thus his mind was led “to desire the office of a bishop,” and so in 1852, though still retaining the mastership of the Stornoway school, he began his studies in divinity at the New College, Edinburgh. These he carried on uninterruptedly thereafter till he finished his course. He found himself specially attracted by the teaching of Dr. Duncan and Dr. Cunningham, and among the Edinburgh preachers his favourites were Dr. Bruce and Moody Stuart.
In 1857 he was licensed by the Presbytery of Dunoon and Inveraray, and he was ordained in 1859 to the pastoral charge of the congregation of Back, in the island of Lewis.
The memorable revival of religion which was so widespread throughout the country in 1858-9, extended to the whole district of Back, and many in the congregation became new creatures in Christ Jesus. The tone of the whole place was raised, and there are many yet living who speak of the happiness of that time. His first communion at Back, which was held in the month of October 1859, was a remarkable season. The snow was thick upon the ground, and the weather was intensely cold, but as the church was far too small to accommodate the people that assembled to the services, they were obliged to sit day after day outside; and yet the impression made was such that, on the Monday, the closing day, some of the people went to him to ask that the services should be continued another week! In the course of three weeks after this communion considerable outward excitement appeared among the people under the hearing of the Word. Mr. McMaster records in his diary that “the truths which seemed to impress the people most deeply were the misery of man’s fallen condition, the guilt of unbelief, and the need there is of the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost. … The first occasion of deep impression was on an evening in November, the subject being Lot’s leaving Sodom. There was much impression under addresses from the first few verses of the fifty-third of Isaiah, during a sermon from Mal. 4:2, from Jer. 8:20, and on various other occasions.”
Entering upon his work in such circumstances, Mr. McMaster felt the solemn responsibility as well as the great privilege of his position, and that it was a time when one should rejoice with trembling. His labours were abundant in season and out of season. As he was the first minister settled in Back, there was much to do in the way of organizing work in the congregation. He had also to build a manse, but the people very heartily co-operated with him in the undertaking. Besides a good deal of free labour given by the men, the women, not to be outdone, carried all the sand that was needed in creels upon their backs a distance of some miles.
In 1876 he was translated to Kildalton, Islay, where he spent the remaining years of his life. The religious atmosphere in the new sphere of labour was very different from that in which he began his ministry in Lewis; at first at least, but he entered upon it in a hopeful spirit, and he was diligent and laborious as ever, sowing the good seed of the kingdom in the faith that God would give the increase. He was accustomed to visit all the families in the parish without distinction once a year, and was welcomed by all. And he made it a point, for many years, never to speak to any one without saying a word to them about their soul’s salvation.
Six years ago he was seized with influenza, by which he was laid aside for several weeks. He never properly recovered from this attack, and though he resumed work for a while his vigour was much impaired. At length steps were taken to obtain a colleague and successor, and he was removed a year ago in great bodily weakness to Edinburgh, where he fell asleep on the first of August last.
Mr. McMaster’s preaching was mainly expository and practical. He adhered closely to the words of Scripture with which his mind was well stored. He read extensively in the Puritan theology and in religious biography, of which he made effective use in his sermons. He was a most impressive speaker, and his discourses were at once calculated to arrest the careless and edify those who had believed through grace.
He is known as the author of a short biography of his father-in-law, Mr. MacRae, which was published in the “Disruption Worthies of the Highlands,” and a sketch of the college days of his companion, Mr. Christopher Munro of Strathy. He translated into Gaelic “Blind Bartimaeus,” by Dr. Moses Hoge of Richmond; “Christ is All,” by Wilcox; and a volume of addresses by Mr. Moody, which he called “Earailean Soisgeulach” (Gospel Exhortations). These translations have been extensively circulated in the Highlands—the last especially, through the kindness of Mr. Moody’s friend, Peter Mackinnon, Esq., of Ronachan and Rosemount, Campbeltown.
REV. DAVID K. MCMEIKAN, CUMBERNAULD
(Died May 5, 1890)
Author: Rev. Robert Gault, Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October, 1890, Obituary, p.310
The Rev. David Kirkpatrick McMeikan, M.A., the senior minister of Cumbernauld Free Church, Dumbartonshire, was born in the parish of Faughanvale, county of Londonderry, and received his classical education at the diocesan school, called Foyle College, in the city of Derry. Entering the University of Glasgow, he took his degree in arts, and excelled so much in his knowledge of the Hebrew language that, under the sanction of the professor, he conducted a class of students who, through circumstances, were unable to attend the ordinary course of instruction. On the 18th of May 1843 he cast in his lot with the Free Protesting Church of Scotland; was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, Dr. Thomas Brown of St. John’s officiating on the occasion; and in 1844 he was ordained in the East Church, Cumbernauld, a congregation which had been connected with ” The Original BurgherAssociate Synod,” and which in 1839, with its minister, joined the Established Church of Scotland. In this church, the centre of a large agricultural, mining, and manufacturing population, Mr. McMeikan laboured most assiduously nearly forty years. Always a diligent student of the Scriptures, whilst he was most attentive to his pastoral duties, his great delight was on Sabbath and week days throughout the districts to expound the principles of evangelical theology at once doctrinal, experimental, and practical; and the Lord was graciously pleased to bless his labours in a field comparatively difficult. Seasons of revival were vouchsafed, when many were added to the communion of the Church. The heavy debt pressing on the church at his settlement was mainly through his exertions removed, a handsome and most commodious manse erected, and the old church renovated, whilst a large hall was added to the building, including a vestry, and all at the cost of many hundreds of pounds, for the most part collected by himself. In ecclesiastical questions he sympathized on such topics as Union, Disestablishment, and Purity of Worship with that section of the Free Church which was represented by the late Professor Gibson and Dr. Begg; but he seldom interfered in the business of the Church Courts, preferring to devote his time and talents to the interests of his own peculiar charge at Cumbernauld. His anxieties and labours led to the failure of his health, and in 1883 he resigned, the Rev. Thomas Adam, M.A., being chosen as his colleague and successor. Retiring to his native place, he still was most helpful to his brethren in the vicinity, preaching for them and administering the sacraments when necessary. After only two days’ illness he died at Campsie, near Derry, on Monday, May 5th, of congestion of the lungs. His intention was to have come to the last General Assembly, to which he had been commissioned by his Presbytery; but the Lord called him from service on earth to the higher service in heaven, in the seventy-first year of his age. The Presbytery expressed its warmest sympathy with his sisters in the sudden loss of their only brother, and with his bereaved and attached flock to whom he so long ministered in the gospel of Christ.
REV. JOHN MCMILLAN, D.D., KIRKCUDBRIGHT
(Died November 29, 1876)
Author: Rev. George Brown, Castle-Douglas
The Free Church Monthly April 2, 1877, p.97
John McMillan was born in Moffat in 1809. His father, whose ancestors had come from Galloway, was well known as a man of integrity and worth, accompanied by rare Christian meekness. His mother, who came of a family long noted for intelligence and piety in Dumfriesshire, was distinguished for her Christian activity and benevolence. Their influence was manifest in the early religious impressions which led their son to devote himself to the ministry. Having received the elements of his education at Moffat, he studied at Edinburgh University, and obtained license from the Presbytery of Lochmaben in 1831. As a preacher he soon attained to considerable popularity, and his gifts were recognized in his temporary employment at one time by Dr. Brown of Eskdalemuir; at another, by Dr. Dunbar of Applegarth. Afterwards he acted for more than a year as assistant at Cardross on the Clyde. A vacancy occurring in the important charge of Kirkcudbright in 1837, in consequence of the death of the Rev. George Hamilton, a good many candidates were heard by the congregation; and in recognition of a strong and general feeling in his favour manifested by the people, a presentation by the Crown was placed in his hands. For some time after his ordination he officiated in the ancient church, which was superseded shortly afterwards by a more spacious modern building. At the period of the Disruption he cast in his lot with the Free Church, and was followed by a large and influential congregation to a church erected in a great measure by the liberality of friends in America who loved and honoured him. His last public act was to assist at the laying of the foundation-stone of the present new and handsome building. He was spared to see its completion, and took a deep interest on the occasion of its being opened for public worship. But, alas! he was never privileged to proclaim from its pulpit the words of eternal life to his beloved people. After a long and severe illness, borne with exemplary Christian patience and humble submission, and full of peace and hope, he fell asleep in the sixty-eighth year of his age and fortieth of his ministry.
In 1838 he received the degree of M.A. from the College of Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1860 the University of New York conferred on him the honour of D.D.
Than Dr. McMillan, perhaps few have been more highly esteemed as a man, more deeply beloved as a minister. In his walk and conversation be was a living epistle of Christ seen and read of all men. His whole bearing and spirit made you take knowledge of him that he had been with Jesus. There was a gentleness of disposition, a frank warm-heartedness, a humbleness of mind, combined with thorough principle, and a dignity and manliness of character, that not only secured affection and esteem, but commanded respect. In his public ministry, and in his pastoral labours, he was a workman needing not to be ashamed. In the never-to-be-forgotten crisis of our Church’s history — the period of the Disruption, when men’s principles were put to the test — Dr. McMillan, amid the many defections of brethren around him, and in the face of strong and powerful opposition — it might even be called persecution — held fast his integrity, and would not let it go. He took joyfully the spoiling of his goods, and counted all things but loss, that he might lift up a standard for the truth, and maintain the crown rights of the glorious Redeemer. With him there was no halting, no wavering; and never was there any looking back. Girding up his loins, he set himself with all his heart, and with all his strength, to build up the waste places of our Zion, and to minister to our ousted people. How zealously and faithfully he served the cause of our Church at that memorable epoch, is known only to those who were privileged to labour with him, and who were helped and encouraged by his unwearied exertions, and his hearty and untiring support. To his memory the Free Church owes a deep debt of gratitude. By his death, the truth has lost a true friend, the Church a leal and faithful minister, and the congregation of Kirkcudbright a pastor whose heart was with them, and whose prayers and labours were for their spiritual and eternal welfare.
REV. DUNCAN MACNAB, GLASGOW
The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, August 1, 1863, p.306
The Rev. Duncan Macnab, of Renfield Church, Glasgow, died in London, on the evening of Friday, the 12th of June. He had been in infirm health for nearly two years, and had gone to reside for a short time with some friends in the neighbourhood of that city, for change of air and scene, and was rather suddenly cut off in the end. His death is most deeply lamented by a large circle of relatives and attached friends, and by a very devoted congregation. Mr. Macnab was licensed to preach the gospel by his native Presbytery, in Argyleshire, in 1831. He laboured for some time as assistant to Dr. Mackintosh Mackay, in his then extensive spiritual operations for the benefit of the large united parishes of Dunoon and Kilmun. He was ordained in the year 1839 to the ministry of the first charge in the town and parish of Campbeltown, in which he laboured with distinguished success for seventeen years. He accepted the call to the Free Church congregation of Renfield, Glasgow, in 1866; and had thus been engaged in the work of the ministry for the long period of thirty-two years, though he died in comparatively early life, at the age of fifty-two.
Mr. Macnab was possessed of fine talents. He was gifted with a large and lofty intellect, a clear, sound, and penetrating judgment. His mind was of a wide and comprehensive range, and yet singularly accurate and minute in its observation. He was a man of genius — scholarly and scientific. He had studied, and continued almost up to the day of his death, to improve, and even amuse himself, by the study of the abstract and physical sciences. He was a profound thinker. His theology was of the Puritan type— deep and accurate, rich and spiritual. His language was fastidiously simple aud strikingly felicitous. His illustrations as a preacher, beautiful, often sublime, aud never exaggerated, were drawn from science, philosophy, nature, art, and human life, in all its varieties, indicating the minutest acquaintance and largest sympathies with all that was human, whether in its joys or sufferings. While he had a supreme contempt for all pretentiousness, and for the boasting sentimentalities of the age, no man rejoiced more than he did in the triumphs of modern civilization, — though he never forgot, nor allowed his hearers or friends to forget, that the true source, and security, and means of all real, permanent, and moral civilisation are the authority of God, and the reception and practice of the truths, and precepts, and doctrines of his word. His acquaintance with Scripture facts and principles was minute and familiar. With these and other qualifications and characteristics, to which we cannot more particularly refer, it was to be expected that Mr. Macnab, by the blessing of the Spirit of God, which he devoutly implored, could not fail to produce a deep impression on the congregations to which he ministered. They were most devotedly attached to him. He won the respect and love of all classes and ages, no less by his frankness and genial simplicity than by his original genius and powers of thought and expression, whether in the family visit, the social circle, the pulpit, or the Church court, or by the dying-bed. His death adds another to the departed worthies of the Disruption period, in whose toils, and anxieties, and sacrifices he largely shared, and from whose noble principles he never swerved. He was a man mature in counsel, of great prudence and sagacity, and “faithful above many,” and has left behind him a spotless reputation, and a high example of the qualities that form the powerful preacher and eminent divine. It is hoped that the world may be favoured with some specimens of his noble discourses and fine expositions of the word of God, both in the Old Testament and the New. He was preeminently distinguished as a preacher, whether in the English or Gaelic language, in the latter of which he greatly excelled, as well as in the former.
REV. ALEXANDER MCNEILL, PAISLEY
(Died December 10, 1887)
Author: Rev. D. M. Black, Eccles
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.148
Alexander McNeill was a native of Kilmory, Arran. Having received the rudiments of his education in the parish school there, he was sent to the Irvine Academy. He next removed to Glasgow, where he was occupied for a short time as clerk in the shipping firm of a friend. At this time the brightest worldly prospects were opened up before him, and several lucrative positions were offered to him. Reared, however, amid the peculiar advantages of a pious ancestry, he early felt the constraining influences of a Saviour’s love, and these prospects lost all their charms for him. He was repeatedly urged by Christian friends to devote his life to the ministry. This thought was perfectly congenial to his own inclinations; and being persuaded that it was of God, he heartily adopted it. Accordingly, he entered the University of Glasgow, and afterwards the Theological Hall, where he studied with the most gratifying results, and endeared all his fellow-students to him by a peculiarly amiable disposition.
Duly licensed, some time elapsed before he took any ministerial engagement. He travelled on the continent of Europe, and was compelled to return home earlier than he anticipated, owing to the thunder-clouds of war which were then rumbling all around the Franco-Prussian horizon. By-and-by he was induced to accept the combined offices of secretary and assistant to Dr. McLauchlan, then Convener of the Highland Committee, and minister of the St. Columba Free Church, Edinburgh. This was no doubt a good educational position for a young man, and he proved himself equal to it and the opportunity. As secretary, he won the approbation of the Church and the esteem of his probationers; as assistant, he drew forth the love and good-will of the congregation. While here two calls were placed in his hand—Killin and Cockburnspath. He accepted the latter. After five years in Cockburnspath, during which time his relations with the people were of the happiest and most affectionate kind he was induced to accept the pastorate of the Free Gaelic Church, Paisley. Here he was pre-eminently successful, both in pulpit and pastoral duties; and he has left in the heart of his brethren in the ministry and members of the church a memory of grateful appreciation and tender love which will not soon pass away. It was in the faithful discharge of these duties that this gentle servant of Christ fell a victim to the fatal stroke which closed a short but useful career. Visiting some members of his flock who were suffering from typhus fever, he caught the infection, came home, and died. His remains were carried to the Paisley Cemetery, where he rests till the day break.
Possessed of an amiable disposition, deeply imbued with the spirit of Christ, profoundly sensible of his responsibilities, moved with zeal for God’s glory, and filled with tender compassion for souls, he deserves to be ranked among those who live and die for the salvation and consolation of men. He has left a widow to mourn his loss.
REV. PATRICK MCNEIL, AUCHENCAIRN
(Died February 16,1900)
Author: Rev. George Laurie, Castle-Douglas
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1900, Obituary, p.140
Mr. McNeil, as one loyally attached to the Free Church, who served the Master well in one of her country charges for six-and-thirty years, deserves to have inscribed on the pages of the Monthly a slight memorial. He was a native of Wigtownshire, being born in the parish of Leswalt in 1830, and remembered only as a schoolboy the stirring times of the Disruption.
At the close of his professional training in Edinburgh, which was carried through with distinction and success, and embraced some medical classes, as well as those of arts and divinity, he became assistant in the South Church, Aberdeen, and obtained in fellowship with the late Dr. Adam, who was its pastor, and in the prosecution of the work assigned him there, much valuable experience for after years.
His first and only charge was Auchencairn, a sweet spot near the Solway, in the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright. There he buckled on his armour as an ordained minister, and there he put it off, after thirty-seven years’ earnest and faithful toil, having fought a good fight, and maintained to the close an unblemished reputation.
It cannot be claimed for him that he was eminent in the church in the sense of being widely known or of taking a prominent part in her affairs; but no man took a more intelligent interest in her manifold operations, was more attached to her distinctive principles, or manifested more delight in the success of her agencies at home and abroad.
Of a singularly modest and unobtrusive disposition, he eschewed notoriety, and loved to labour quietly where God had placed him, and to expend his strength amongst those for whose spiritual well-being he felt himself peculiarly responsible.
Possessing a vigorous constitution, a keen intellect, a well-balanced mind, a sympathetic nature, and a loving heart, and keeping abreast of the thought of the day, he was admirably equipped for service—a workman that needed not to be ashamed; while his acquaintance with literature and certain bypaths in it, notably pertaining to Galloway, made him a most agreeable and informing companion. His preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but consisted of faithful, thoroughly evangelical expositions of the Word of God, his acquaintance with which was extensive and accurate, and his reverence for which was profound and habitual. Although his congregation was widely scattered, he never allowed his fondness for reading and study to interfere with his pastoral duties, despite the toil which visiting in all seasons involved. He delighted in employment, and was never by serious illness incapacitated for it. His heart was in his work, and the people of Auchencairn were on his heart.
Those who knew him intimately valued him highly for his manly honesty, his sterling integrity, his deep conscientiousness, and his clear transparency of conduct. Although decided in his opinions, nobly independent of spirit, and not easily turned aside from his purpose, he was genial, kind-hearted, and tolerant; while no one could ever discern in act or word of his that he coveted praise.
During the whole of his ministry Mr. McNeil was warmly interested in the education of the district, and gave not a little of his time and energy to the organization and administration of the schools in the parish. Prior to the Education Act of 1872, the two Free Church schools under his care were amongst the most flourishing in the county; and since that Act came into operation, he, as a member of the School Board, took a leading part in carrying out its provisions, and in maintaining efficient instruction in the district.
For twenty-six years he acted as clerk to his presbytery, and discharged the duties pertaining to the office, irritating and troublesome though they were at times, with painstaking fidelity, his power of clear statement and his obedience to ecclesiastical authority marking all he did. In that court, indeed, he displayed some of the highest qualities of his mind, bringing to the consideration of every subject extensive knowledge and considerable tact.
The sense of loss felt by all classes in Mr. McNeil’s removal was strikingly evinced on the day of the funeral, when the shops in the village were closed, and the inhabitants attended the service in the church, and followed his remains to the lovely little cemetery overlooking the bay, with the Cumberland hills in the distance. As the cortege passed the village school, the children, bare-headed, were ranged outside in solemn silence, equally impressed with their seniors, because deeply conscious that they too had lost a friend.
Mr. McNeil was extremely happy in his family relations, and his life was brightened by the devotion of those around him. His manse was ever a pleasant spot, and not a few can bear testimony as to the hospitality dispensed without grudging there. He is survived by a widow, three married daughters, and two sons, for whom all friends will wish a large measure of the blessing of the God of their fathers.
REV. HECTOR McNEILL, LOCHEND, CAMPBELTOWN
(Died August 3, 1879)
Author: Rev. D. Graham, Campbeltown
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.175
The Rev. Hector McNeill was born at Ellister, Islay, in 1807. At an early age he entered the Glasgow University. In the last year of his theological course he studied in Edinburgh under Dr. Chalmers. When he entered college he had no definite view to the gospel ministry. Through the instrumentality of a teacher of the Gaelic School Society he received his first religious impressions. During the summer recess, when home from college, the student and the teacher might often be seen wending their way from Ellister down to the sea-shore deeply engrossed in religious conversation. In the quiet retreat found by the sea-shore they lingered long. He who saw Nathanael under the shade of the fig-tree was now calling another into the number of his disciples. Jesus was opening his heart, revealing himself to him, and preparing him for his life-work. This event, occurring during the early years of his college life, revolutionized all his plans and impressed a new character on his studies. He was now studying for the Church.
Licensed to preach the gospel, he began as a missionary in Ardrossan. Shortly afterwards he became assistant to Dr. Mackintosh Mackay, his former tutor. While assisting Dr. Mackay, he supplied for two months the pulpit of Mr. Irving of London, who afterwards seceded from the Church of Scotland, and became the founder of the religious body known by his name. Mr. McNeill’s first parochial charge was his native parish in Islay (1835). A year afterwards he was called to Hope Street, Glasgow, then, as now, one of the largest congregations in the city. Notwithstanding the advantages gained by this translation, he felt much leaving the quiet and peaceful scenes of his native parish to live amid the incessant toil and whirl of labour inseparable from ministerial life in a large and prosperous city charge. He felt particularly severing the pastoral tie to a flock greatly attached to him, and among whom God was owning his labours.
Mr. McNeill entered upon his work in Hope Street with characteristic zeal. He did not spare himself. He carried out a regular system of pastoral visitation during the week, and often preached thrice on Sabbath. The minister of Hope Street was soon widely known as one who preached the word of God with eminent ability, earnestness, and power.
In 1841, finding that the work in Hope Street was pressing too heavily on his physical frame, if not also on his mental energies, he accepted a call from the English charge, Campbeltown.
The English and the Gaelic charges were at that time collegiate. Both congregations, to the number of about 3000, united in calling him, and from both congregations, as well as from the Rev. D. McNab, whose colleague he now became, Mr. McNeill received the most cordial welcome.
In the public question which agitated the whole of Scotland during the “Ten Years’ Conflict” he took a deep and active interest. He contended earnestly for the sole and supreme Headship of Christ over the Church, which he has purchased with his own blood, and which as the Son he has made free. His convictions were strong. To his eye the path of duty was unmistakably clear. He could not allow considerations of worldly interest, or of any kind, to interfere with his following out to its practical conclusion the doctrine of Christ’s sole and supreme Headship over the Church. He was a member of the General Assembly of 1843. He signed the Protest and Deed of Demission, and took part in the deliberations of the first Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland, held in Canonmills Hall.
When the congregations in Campbeltown heard an account of the proceedings in Edinburgh, they did not leave their ministers, Messrs. McNab and McNeill, long in suspense as to their decision. Amid sighs and tears, they lifted up their Bibles and Psalters and walked out to join the Free protesting Church of Scotland. A few families remained behind, but their place was more than filled by others, who flocked to hear the gospel preached by men who forsook all for Christ.
Considerable discomfort and inconvenience were felt for a time through the want of churches, schools, and manses, but these in most cases were soon provided all over the land. As Mr. McNeill took an active part in the stirring events which ushered in the Disruption, he was not less active in the general and local arrangements consequent upon the formation of the Free Church.
It is believed that Mr. McNeill had seals to his ministry in all the congregations in which he laboured; but, in the year 1859-60, when a wave of religious awakening passed over Scotland, his labours in Campbeltown, throughout the bounds of the Presbytery, and in Islay, his native island, were eminently owned for the gathering of many souls unto Christ, as well as for quickening and refreshing the people of God.
In Campbeltown, eager crowds flocked to the church to hear the gospel. The churches were open daily. Many were seized with deep conviction of sin. It was a time of great interest to all who were watching for the salvation of souls. The pastor of Lochend was among the labourers who went down into the harvest-field. He laboured night and day, and with a fervour and zeal that kindled zeal in others.
The Rev. Mr. McNab, speaking at a public meeting in Campbeltown of the labours of his former colleague, Mr. McNeill, in connection with this awakening, and of his own immediate successor, Mr. Munro, said that many in after years would inquire for their graves in grateful memory of the spiritual benefits they had received through their labours. The Rev. Dr. Beith assisted Mr. McNeill for a few days during that revival. In preaching his funeral sermon, Dr. Beith bore high testimony to his ministerial labours, and said he was highly honoured in connection with that revival, and that the day alone would reveal the full results. All who came in contact with Mr. McNeill at that time speak of his labours in the same strain.
After the exertions then put forth, he never recovered his former strength and buoyancy of spirit, yet he never was heard to complain or utter the least regret. Preaching was a work he delighted in—a work in which he was greatly honoured ; and he looked back to the days in which he was overtasking his strength by his abundant labours as the most hallowed and delightful period of his ministry.
In 1877, he obtained the Rev. J.R. Caird as his colleague; and in the following year, acting on the advice of his medical advisers, he retired from the active duties of the pastorate, bearing with him a massive and expensive time-piece, a purse of two hundred sovereigns, and a gold watch for Mrs. McNeill, the parting gifts of his attached flock.
He died at his own house in Edinburgh, on Sabbath evening, the 3rd day of August last, leaving a widow and a numerous family to mourn his loss.
Of his manly and high-toned Christian character, of his earnestness in preaching the gospel and rebuking vice, of his work as a pastor, of his faithfulness in the discharge of every duty, of his kindly and attractive manner, of his many estimable qualities which secured for him wherever he was known high respect and warm affection, we cannot enlarge here.
REV. ALEX. MACPHERSON, B.A., MEIGLE
(Died June 17, 1892.)
Author: Rev. John F. Linn, M.A., Airlie
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1892, Obituary, p.228
At the ripe age of eighty-five, Mr. Alexander Macpherson has been called from the stage of time. Owing to increasing infirmity, he applied to last General Assembly for a colleague and successor, and he had hopes of seeing the arrangements suitably carried out; but the end has come, and his death has removed from Meigle and the surrounding district a well-known figure and one of the oldest ministers of the Church.
Born in Glasgow on 3rd June 1807, and educated in the university there, he became a licentiate of the Church of Scotland, and was for a time engaged as chaplain to the Messrs. Burns’ Shipping Company. After assisting the late Dr. Munro, Manchester, for a short period, he was ordained on 25th August 1841 in Dudhope, the fourth quoad sacra church in Dundee. At the memorable Disruption time he was appointed to Mortlach, Aberdeenshire, where he laboured with acceptance for two years. It was on 9th September 1845 he was translated to Meigle, where his ministry has been maintained in zeal and faithfulness for well nigh forty-seven years. Many changes in the Presbytery, in the parish, in the congregation he witnessed, and very few survive who were members of his congregation at the beginning. Now the great change has come.
As the progress of the trouble that eventually carried him away was watched, very noticeable was the longing he had for a realizing of the presence of the Lord, and for the preparation of his gracious Spirit for the scenes beyond the grave. With submission he sought to commit himself to the will of his heavenly Father, in whose great salvation, by the precious blood and infinite righteousness of Christ, he ever found the source of his peace and hope. In the period of his illness, oftentimes the great central verities of the gospel formed topics of conversation and meditation. Fervent and reverential were the prayers he offered for the shining of his Father’s countenance and for the peace of God to rule in his heart; and earnest and devout were the wishes he expressed for the good of his office-bearers and the welfare of all his people.
Mr. Macpherson was eminent in preaching gifts, and his pulpit work was very carefully attended to. No novel theories were propounded by him as to the way of a sinner’s acceptance with God, or the way of progress to the heavenly land. His sermons were biblical, lucid, and well composed.
As a pastor his visits were valued, his cheery words of kindness and sympathy being a source of comfort to many; while to the population of the parish and neighbourhood he endeared himself by his zeal, his charitableness, and his devotion, as was signally evidenced at his jubilee services in January 1891.
The interment of Mr. Macpherson took place on 22nd June in Lennel churchyard, Coldstream, where a suitable service was conducted by several ministers. In Meigle Free Church also, on the same day, an impressive memorial service was held, which was largely attended by the general public.
REV. COSMO MACPHERSON, STRATH-BRAAN AND DALGUISE
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, April 1 1869, p.90
The Free Church of Scotland has lost another of her devoted sons, in the removal, by death, of the Rev. Cosmo Macpherson of Strathbraan and Dalguise. He died in the seventy-second year of his age, in the manse at Strathbraan, on the 13th of February last, after an illness of about six months.
Mr. Macpherson was a native of Tomintoul, in the parish of Kirkmichael, Banffshire, where he received the rudiments of his education. From the parish school he passed to the University and King’s College, Aberdeen, in which, with approbation, he concluded his literary, philosophical, and theological career as a student. A few years prior to the Disruption of 1843 he became a licentiate of the Established Church, and was soon thereafter appointed assistant to the Rev. Mr. Wilson of Aberdeen, where his faithful, evangelical ministrations were so much prized, that the parishioners marked their appreciation of them by the presentation of a handsome gold watch with suitable inscription, to which he ofttimes afterwards facetiously referred, as an indication, through his instrumentality, of the breaking up of the hard crust of Moderatism, in a district long subject to its baneful influence. During this period of his incumbency as assistant preacher, he and another of like mind were confirmed in their attachment to the principles of the Ten Years’ Conflict by the reading of the “Witness” newspaper, under the able editorship of Hugh Miller, whose services to the cause of Christ the Day will alone reveal. The two associates became ministers of the Free Church, one of whom still labours with success in the north of Scotland.
In 1845, after commending himself by his faithful labours to the adherents of the Free Church of Strathbraan and Dalguise, encouraged by the presence and powerful support of Lord Dalhousie, who then resided in that district, and who has laid the Free Church, there and elsewhere, under an immense debt of obligation, the subject of this notice was unanimously chosen and ordained as their pastor.
Mr. Macpherson was never possessed of much physical strength; yet with this manifest disadvantage, with unflagging zeal and unceasing diligence during the four-and-twenty years of his ministry, he laboured on at his post of duty—a post rendered arduous because of the necessarily scattered and divided nature of his flock— the two congregations being territorially separated by a distance of seven miles. The decay of strength consequent on the infirmities of advancing years, and the sure approaching footsteps of the last enemy, compelled him to withdraw from the field, till at length he, with assurance, committed his spirit into the hands of his blessed Redeemer.
Possessed of a well-balanced mind, with the intellectual and moral powers well proportioned, and these brought under the sanctifying power of Divine grace. Mr. Macpherson’s ministrations were ever intelligible, savoury, and practical. His pulpit addresses were the result of most careful study and preparation, of clear, accurate thinking, of a mind well stored with the good old theology of Reforming and Puritan divines; and above all, they bore evidence to a heart deeply imbued with the spirit of his Master and with the truth, whose lessons in their bearing on the details of Christian life were urged with all his characteristic energy and force of character; laid out, moreover, in well-arranged periods, and delivered in tones of impressive import.
In the spheres of domestic and social life, Mr. Macpherson was affectionate, kind, genial, generous, and unassuming. His brethren prized much his ministerial intercourse, and the Presbytery of Dunkeld testified their confidence in his business habits by conferring upon him the important office of the clerkship, the duties of which he most faithfully discharged to the last.
When God, in his adorable and all-wise providence, gave monitions to his servant of his approaching end, he was prepared; and throughout the course of his illness, with steadfast and unfaltering faith, waited calmly the hour of his decease. The last night of his life was spent much in silent prayer, apparently for strength and grace in passing the swellings of Jordan. Being made aware, a few hours before his departure, of an affecting trial, which rendered the bereavement doubly heavy to the family—the death of an infant daughter after a short illness—he thanked God that she had gone before; and in the near prospect of being welcomed by the tender ransomed spirit at the gates of the celestial city, he took a calm and peaceful farewell of his family and surrounding friends. He has left behind him a widow and six children.
REV. DOUGAL MACPHERSON, DUNKELD
(Died November 5, 1897)
Author: Rev. C. A. Salmond, M.A., Edinburgh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1898, Obituary, p.68
Mr. Macpherson of Dunkeld, to whom farewell had lately to he said, is one of the most affectionately remembered of the many retired veterans who have left us for the fellowship above. In the earliest days of our congregation here, and so long as a measure of health was continued to him, he was a true friend of our young cause. His sympathetic counsels, his occasional pulpit services, his generous contributions, and, more than all, his gracious, kindly, courteous character and presence among us, made him, in the evening of his days, after his own stated ministry was over, such a genuine support to a younger ministry as it is pleasant now to recall and proper thus to recognize.
Dougal Macpherson was born at Callander, where his father was teacher, on September 22, 1822. Like his brother Finlay, afterwards of Larbert, he inherited the love of books; and, like him, he came under the influence of divine grace in his youth, and gave himself with all his heart to the ministry of the gospel. He received his university education at Edinburgh, from 1844 to 1848, and then passed to the New College for the usual theological curriculum. All through his student course he was distinguished by much intelligence and by great earnestness of purpose, as well as by a brotherliness of spirit, indicative of the man and minister he was afterwards to be. In his university days he was brought into close touch with Dr. Chalmers, for whom his brother and he used to do amanuensis work; and he had many interesting reminiscences of our great Free Church Nestor, as well as of the younger leaders of the Disruption movement. On a certain Saturday, in May 1847, Dr. Chalmers said, in parting with one or other of the young Macphersons: “Now you will be sure to come early on Monday morning, as we must get those papers ready for the Assembly.” The student-secretary was forward betimes on the Monday at the familiar house still standing in Churchill, Morningside; but, on ringing the bell, he was shocked and grieved to be told that Dr. Chalmers, though in his usual health the evening before, had been found dead that morning in his bed.
In 1854, Mr. Macpherson was licensed by the Presbytery of Stirling, and in the same year he was ordained minister of Dunkeld, where for the next thirty-three years he proved himself a good minister of Jesus Christ and a man of public spirit as well as of spiritual-mindedness—a power on the side of evangelical religion and of every movement for the material well-being and social advancement of the district. There have been many testimonies to the affectionate regard in which he was held by his own flock; and his pulpit ministrations were not less appreciated by the numerous summer visitors to Birnam and Dunkeld. In the presbytery he was recognized as not only a ready and resourceful speaker, but a man of reliable judgment and of great business capacity; and, though his voice was not often heard in the General Assembly, he did excellent service on some of the committees of the church. A large sympathy was united in him with strong personal conviction; and while he stated his own opinions with frank and independent emphasis, he was never anything but a brother beloved to all who knew him—a kind-hearted, large-hearted, hospitable friend. One subject on which he felt strongly was the importance of Presbyterian union in Scotland. In some of his utterances on that theme he was only a little in advance of his time.
Mr. Macpherson’s bodily frame was never very robust, and more than once, toward the end of his busy ministry, he had to seek a respite on the Continent. In 1888, he retired from the active duties of the pastorate, and found a home in that district of Morningside which, though outwardly greatly changed, had still for him many cherished memories of earlier days. He could still point you to the cottage where the great Chalmers found lodgings for him and his brother, and called, on the evening of their arrival, to make sure that they were comfortable, and to feel, “with his own hand,” whether the mattress of their bed was soft or not!
Mr. Macpherson was twice married. His first wife, daughter of Sheriff Clark of Alloa, died in 1879, being predeceased by several children who died in infancy. His second wife, daughter of Dr. John Thomson of Newmarket, Canada, survives him, and has the heartfelt sympathy of many friends, in view not only of her present bereavement, but of the period of peculiar trial which preceded it. As many of his brethren know, Mr. Macpherson— through the intimate connection, no doubt, between the body and the spirit—had latterly to undergo an ordeal of sore personal affliction. It is sad indeed, both for himself and for those who love him, when the child of God has to walk in darkness, having no light, and does not find himself able, as he used to do, to stay himself upon his God. But feelings do not alter facts; and though God sometimes, for reasons inscrutable to us, sees meet to put His children to bed in the dark, the shadows at length flee away, and they awake satisfied—with His likeness.
REV. FINLAY MACPHERSON, LARBERT
(Died December 7, 189.)
Author: Rev. William F. Goldie, Stirling
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1894, Obituary, p.91
The subject of this notice was born at Callander, Perthshire, on 21st March 1821; and as the son of the parish schoolmaster, having special opportunities of acquiring a thorough education, he made the most of them. He began the business of life in a lawyer’s office, and it was the opinion of those who knew him most intimately in after years that, had he continued in it, he would have risen to eminence in the legal profession. But it was ordered otherwise. In the days of his early manhood the great non-Intrusion controversy was being stoutly waged, and as a legal question it had, and continued to have, special attractions for him. But with the evangelical party it was as much a question of vital religion as of civil or Church law. It was a time of religious revival to the country. The gospel was more fully, earnestly, and widely preached in the parish churches than it had been since the Revolution. Many thoughtful young men—and Finlay Macpherson was one of them—gave themselves to the Lord and to the ministry of his word. So, leaving the practice of the law, he began his studies for the ministry, taking his arts course at the University and his divinity course at the New College, Edinburgh, and at both colleges he held a prominent place among his fellow-students.
After the Disruption, he attracted the attention of Dr. Chalmers, who appointed him as his private secretary to help him with his multifarious correspondence, a position of which any student might well have been proud. Having been licensed, Mr. Macpherson received two calls—one from Cromarty, to succeed that remarkable preacher, the Rev. Alexander Stewart; the other from Larbert, to succeed the well-known Dr. John Bonar, who had been translated to Aberdeen. After full consideration Mr. Macpherson accepted the call to Larbert, and was ordained there on 20th July 1848, where he remained to the close of his active ministry, never having a wish, as he said, for a change of place.
It was a large and important congregation, with stimulating historical associations and the spirit of the Disruption still animating it. The young minister threw himself heartily into his work in all its departments, and with gratifying results. Although well read in theology and philosophy, and abreast of the thought of the time, there was not a scent of speculation about his preaching, which was thoroughly scriptural and evangelical. Every sermon was a careful study or exposition of the passage in hand, delivered with fervour and unction, and closely applied to the hearts and lives of his hearers. He emphatically preached Christ and him crucified. Had his voice been more flexible and musical he might have been a more popular preacher; but as it was, no one could have desired more able, instructive, and edifying sermons. His first sermon was on the text, “So neither is he that planteth anything nor he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” This was characteristic of the man, and so also are the words which his son finds written on this sermon beneath the date and the occasion—”The Lord gives the word.”
About twenty-seven years ago there was a marked and decided religious awakening in Larbert. Mr. Macpherson was himself greatly stirred up, and with a heart full of gratitude and adoration took his place at the head of the movement. Cautious brethren warned this man of tact and prudence to beware of excesses, but his reply was substantially this, “The Lord does his work in his own way, and we must not dictate to him but be led by him. The characteristics of a time of awakening are of course peculiar. But preach the gospel fully and faithfully, and the Lord will take care of his own work.” Everything depended on the preaching of the gospel. “What,” asked one, “is the kind of preaching which produces such effects as you have at Larbert?” “Just the old gospel,” was his reply. “But I notice in the preaching of the most successful evangelists that they present the truth as God’s message or offer of salvation to their hearers to be believed and accepted on the spot, and not on any account to be postponed. The directness and urgency of this preaching is one of the main elements of its power.”
And as showing how such work may be conducted without sensational appeals and expedients, he used to tell how he did not alter his style of preaching in the height of the movement, but went on with his expositions of the Epistle to the Romans, which had been begun some time before, and found them adapted to the spiritual necessities of the people.
Mr. Macpherson took a prominent part in the business of his presbytery, his ability and his knowledge of the law being of great service. He easily got at the status questionis of a case, and expressed himself with facility and force, and with perfect courtesy and good temper, even in trying circumstances. There were important and difficult cases in the settlement of which his counsel and guidance were acknowledged to be of the highest value. It is known how anxious he was that the spiritual tone of the presbytery should be maintained, and its influence exerted for the promotion of vital religion. It may be stated here that he was for many years a member—a portion of the time chairman—of the board of trustees of Drummond’s Stirling Tract Enterprise, where his business talent and religious sympathy had fit sphere for exercise.
There was a time when affliction seemed to settle down upon his family and upon those connected with it. Successive bereavements came with surprising rapidity, yet he meekly bore them all without murmuring or ostentation. It was only when his friends referred to his bereavements that the thickening voice and moistening eye told how tender and deep was his sorrow. Then the hand of affliction was laid on himself, and it was evident from the first stroke that he would not completely recover. Again he manifested the same quiet spirit of resignation, and with the aid of successive assistants carried on the work of his congregation. Retiring from active duty in May 1891, he took up his residence in Edinburgh, where he died on 7th December last in the seventy-third year of his age and the forty-sixth of his ministry. On one of the last occasions of his appearance in the presbytery, as he was leaving, one of his brethren, observing a look of weariness in his face, followed him into the lobby, to whom he said in a pathetic tone, “I would like to remain, but I cannot. I feel unable to take part in the business, and must go home. It is God’s will, and I submit.”
REV. JAMES M. McPHERSON, M.A., KILLEAN
(Died October 4, 1888)
Author: Mr. Archd. McLellan, C.M., Kilcalmonell
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January, 1889, Obituary, p.22
Mr. McPherson was born in the year 1823 in the parish of Insch, Inverness-shire; and though the last to glory of the fact, there is ample reason to believe that he could trace his ancestry to some of the most honourable and distinguished families of that locality. By his mother he was closely related to that “prince of missionaries,” the late Rev. Dr. Duff.
Though early brought under the influence of the truth, he laboured for a lengthened time in “deep waters” but it pleased the Lord to grant him such a sense of his redeeming love in Christ as almost overpowered him, and constrained him to remind his Deliverer that the earthen vessel could stand no more. Henceforth it was his ambition to tell
and from that moment he consecrated himself to be the Lord’s. Possessed of a most precocious disposition, and considerable intellectual endowments and aptitude for acquiring knowledge, such were his scholastic attainments that, even at the early age of eighteen, he was deemed qualified to have charge of a school in Muthil, Perthshire, where he was generally known as the “godly teacher.” During his residence in this district he entered with the greatest enthusiasm into Sunday-school work and the evangelistic movement then originated in the parish, with the result that many souls, through his instrumentality, were gathered into the fold of Christ.
At the age of twenty-two, Mr. McPherson enrolled himself as a student in St. Andrews University with a view to give himself up entirely to the service of the gospel. Passing the Arts classes with very high distinction, and obtaining the degree of M.A., he entered the New College, Edinburgh, where he had as class-fellows Dr. Douglas, Free Church College, Glasgow, Dr. W. C. Smith and Rev. Ralph C. Smith, and other distinguished students. Of Principal Cunningham he always spoke with feelings of the greatest reverence and affection.
Duly licensed to preach the gospel in 1851, after a short probation in North Knapdale and Islay, he was cordially and unanimously called as successor to Rev. John (now Dr.) McTavish, Inverness. From his induction until the close of his ministry Mr. McPherson was “instant in season and out of season,” regarding visitation and catechising important factors of his duties; while he was ready to attend the bed of affliction, even in dangerous cases of infectious diseases, when the nearest relatives stood aloof. On one of those missions of mercy he carried with him the germs of a malady from which he himself escaped, but which caused a sad bereavement in the family, his kind and amiable lady having died in 1856. This dispensation he severely felt, and composed an elegy in remembrance of her. His labours were, however, unremitting and the night of sorrow gave place to a morning of joy when, in common with other parts of Scotland during the years ’59 and ’60, the parish was visited with a mighty wave of revival.
At the commencement of the work, besides preaching three times each Sabbath, he conducted regular nightly meetings, Saturdays excepted; and, possessed as he was of a constitution capable of great endurance, his services were universally sought for throughout Argyleshire, comprising Campbeltown, Clachan, Tarbert, Ardrishaig, etc., and other parts of the Highlands. Wherever he was known to preach, multitudes flocked to listen to his fervid entreaties; and in every place the Lord granted manifestations of his saving power, but the full and blessed results the Great Day alone will reveal.
Until within the last few years, he addressed a meeting every alternate fortnight in Rhunahaorine, five miles distant from the manse; and when conscious of failing strength, his appeals, on such occasions, were couched in the most pathetic language, fearing that any of his hearers might be found despisers of the Saviour brought so frequently within their reach. Three years ago, when compelled through weakness to curtail the Gaelic service, he remarked to a sympathizer, “There is now another pin loosened from the tabernacle.” He occupied the pulpit for the last time on 23rd September, and ended his Gaelic sermon with these words, “God grant that we may all be mindful of death!” The fatal illness seized him on the Wednesday following, and on Sabbath, 30th September, an English service was conducted by an eminent Christian layman guest of Mr. Hall of Killean; but by next Lord’s day the saintly spirit of one of the most dearly beloved and faithful ministers of Christ, no longer fit for earthly society, had joined the heavenly choir, together with the innumerable company,—
And Sabbaths have no end.”
In prayer, both in the family and sanctuary, Mr.McPherson exhibited extraordinary power; and coming as he did each Sabbath morning fresh from the sacred Presence, his manner in the pulpit was impressive. He was a minister of ripe scholarship and high theological attainments, an excellent Hebraist, and well read in the various departments of science; but unlike many with considerably less acquirements, such was his modesty that no display was ever made except what emanated from him in ordinary conversation. Endowed with a calm and keen judgment, his counsel could be relied upon; his friendship was genuine and immovable; and his hospitality was measured out to the recipients without a tinge of ostentation. In fine, all the elements which have ever been associated with real humanity and greatness were so combined in him whose loss we now deplore, that we don’t expect on this side of the grave to meet a truer man.
His intimate friend and co-presbyter, the late Rev. Dr Cameron, Brodick, was asked to preach his funeral sermon; but being unwell, the painful duty was performed by Rev. Murdo Mackenzie, Inverness.
REV. JOHN MACPHERSON, CAWDOR
(Died March 29, 1884)
Author: Rev. Alexander MacDonald, Ardclach
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1884, Biographical Notices, p.309
Mr. Macpherson was born in the Popish island of Barra about the beginning of the year 1830. His youth was spent in the islands of Harris, Skye, and Lewis, where his father pursued his calling as a gardener. After receiving a fair education, and filling temporarily the situation of clerk in a public work, he set himself to learn a trade in the city of Glasgow. It was while so employed that the Spirit of God strove with him and awakened him to a sense of his danger as a sinner. He was wont to tell that the first question of the Shorter Catechism was the means used for discovering to him the selfishness and sinfulness of his life. The answer to that question forced on him the inquiry, “Have I ever done anything to ‘glorify God’?” Conscience responded, “No.” The train of thought thus begun plunged him into deep waters, from which he eventually emerged through the exercise of faith in Christ as the substitute of sinners. The light and life of which his soul became possessed begot in him zeal for the salvation of others, and a burning desire to advance God’s kingdom on the earth. Then he commenced to study during his spare hours with a view to the ministry. Having attended the University of Glasgow and the Free Church College throughout the usual course, he was licensed by the Free Presbytery of Islay in 1860. On receiving a cordial call to Lochalsh he was ordained there in 1862, where he laboured diligently and faithfully till his translation to Cawdor in 1876. During his student days and throughout his whole ministry he was distinguished by much bodily energy, vigorous powers of thought, zeal for the salvation of men, and uncompromising opposition to whatever was considered by him false in doctrine, injurious to morality, unbecoming conduct, or dishonouring to God. This sometimes led him to speak with a sharpness which gave offence, and caused some to become his enemies. But all who knew him, and understood his disposition, felt that in so acting he was free from malice and was animated by the best motives. He was a diligent student of the divine Word, and made conscience of carefully preparing his discourses—discourses which were always full of Christ, contained much ripe Christian experience, and were rendered attractive to the hearers by quaintness and terseness of expression, as well as the apt illustrations and anecdotes with which they abounded. As a man he was downright, honest, free from duplicity, and entirely transparent. As a neighbour he was most kind and obliging. His residence in so many of the western islands in his youth made him very proficient in the speaking and writing of the Gaelic language, which he turned to good account by his published translation of “Craig’s Catechism,” and a short Memoir of the late Rev. Robert Finlayson of Lochs and Helmsdale. He was almost equally conversant with the English language, and hence he was acceptable as a preacher in the Highlands and Lowlands. Though not in robust health during the last two years of his life, his end came with startling suddenness. While seated in his study on Saturday the 29th March, revising two sermons which he meant to preach on the following day, he was seized with apoplexy, to which he succumbed within two hours. On the previous day he had visited the manses of Ardclach and Auldearn, when, to all appearance, he was in excellent health, and had his mind full of his work. As was usual with him during such visitations, he discussed with the writer of these lines the treatment of the texts from which each had last preached. The texts meant to be dealt with on the following Sabbath next came under review, together with the encouragements and discouragements which each had in his work. While on this theme, his finely-formed face shone with brightness as he related the fruits and evidences of divine grace which had appeared in three young persons connected with his congregation who had recently been removed by death. None looking at him then would have imagined that ere next Sabbath dawned he was to be in eternity, yet such was the will of the Lord. Mr. Macpherson was twice married, and is survived by his widow—the youngest daughter of the late Rev. Peter McLean of Stornoway—and seven children, three of them being children of the first marriage.
REV. JOHN MACQUEEN, DAVIOT
(Died May 7, 1891)
Author: Rev. A. R. Munro, Alness
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1891, Obituary, p.274
The removal by death of the Rev. John Macqueen, Daviot, has caused great sorrow throughout the Highlands wherever he was known. He was brought to the knowledge of the truth in early life, and the searching discipline which he passed through at that time gave a marked complexion to his teaching in after years. He was notable for the clearness and fulness of his doctrinal teaching. Along with that, his preaching was richly experimental. The truth presented by him came forth as a living message, which nourished his own soul. It was the outcome of a life “hid with Christ in God.”
He was ordained in the year 1853 at Strontian, and there he passed fourteen years in loving and abundant service. His labours extended to Ardnamurchan, Acharacle, and Morven, where he preached and dispensed ordinances frequently during a lengthened period.
He met with a large share of “the afflictions of Christ” personally and as a minister. In the “Annals of the Disruption” there are not many events more interesting than those connected with the “Floating Church” of Strontian.
Refused a site for a church by the proprietor of the land, the Free Church people had an iron church provided for them, where they met on the sea-shore for several years. One night a great storm arose, and the church was driven inland at a spot which was accessible from the land; and there they continued to worship, until the landlord consented to give a site for a church.
Mr. Macqueen was called to Daviot in 1867, and there he took a place like that which he held in Argyleshire. By the weight and attractiveness of his Christian character, and by the excellence of his ministrations in public and private, he won and retained the respect and love of his people in an extraordinary degree. He was a man much “exercised unto godliness.” The word of Christ dwelt richly in him. He was very tender in his teaching, and, at the same time, very discriminative and searching. Much that passed current in the Church did not satisfy him. Few things were more touching than the strong attachment to him of deeply exercised Christians, whose cases he met and handled in his preaching.
His labours at Strontian and Daviot were owned by the Lord for the conversion of sinners, as for the edifying of believers. “He had a special gift in feeding the flock of God in the rich, green pastures,” is the testimony of a beloved servant of Christ who knew him well.
He had great delight in the work of the ministry, and when he was laid aside from his work he felt the privation very much. “Impatience to preach Christ publicly often interrupts me in doing what the Lord now lays to my hand in his holy providence”—patiently and lovingly enduring his will—was his remark in a letter last winter. And further: “He gives me to see deeper into the exceeding evil of sin and into the depths of the love of Christ. To be saved is more trying to flesh and blood than is generally believed.” Such were his exercises in the chamber of sickness.
Mr. Macqueen was twice married. His wives predeceased him, and also several members of his family. The effect of these bereavements was manifest in greater weanedness of disposition from earth and greater tenderness of spirit on the part of Mr. Macqueen. He was evidently being prepared, by the discipline through which he passed, for the rest and service that remain for the people of God.
A native of Uig, in Skye, he paid frequent enjoyable visits to his native place. One of these visits took place during the last year of his life.
He was brought to Inverness in April last to be near medical aid; and there, after prolonged suffering, borne with meekness and patience, he rested from his labours on the 7th of May.
To him to live was Christ, and death was great gain. As we think of his loving, attractive Christian character and influence, we mourn the great loss which his congregation and Church have sustained; and we feel that we shall never look on his like again in the Church on earth.
REV. JOHN MACQUEEN, KIRKMICHAEL
(Died April 18, 1880)
Author: Rev. A.C. Fullarton, Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August 2, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.201
Mr. Macqueen was born at Braemar in the year 1824. His father was the godly and greatly-respected Mr. Macqueen, the teacher of the district. While yet young, he was brought under the power of the Spirit of grace, and, like Samuel, devoted to the Lord, to serve him in the ministry. The rudiments of his education he received from his father; and he received, at the same time, in the bosom of a God-fearing family, a training in godliness which was far more mighty in developing a young mind than any mere intellectual culture. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” He was trained, as well as taught, to look up to God, to lean on the Almighty arm, and being led into the line of the promises, the truth of the promises was in him realized. At college he was a man of mark, where, by conscientious application, he became well furnished to be a preacher of the everlasting gospel.
Having finished his college curriculum, he was licensed in 1855; and in August of the same year he was called and ordained as colleague to the venerable and deeply-spiritual Mr. Tulloch of Kirkmichael, who was esteemed as a prophet by his people, and who, at the Disruption, was faithful to the trust reposed in him, surrendering his worldly all, amidst great difficulties, that he might keep a pure conscience and maintain the gospel of Christ untarnished and unmutilated. There Mr. Macqueen found congenial society and a suitable field of labour; and there he continued from his ordination to his death as the minister of his first congregation, and showed the exceeding advantage of a ministry continued in one place during a life-time. His influence grew with his years. He made the religion of Jesus Christ to be respected in his life as well as in his ministry, and thus recommended the gospel to many outside his own denomination. Universally trusted, he became the father of his people, as well as their Christian instructor, and stamped the impression of his life on his district.
As a preacher Mr. Macqueen was calm and solid. Mr. Morrison of Urquhart, who preached his funeral sermon, says of him:—”It was ever a joy to our congregations when they learned that he was to be with us, as they were sure of a rich feast of the very marrow of gospel truth. He gloried in preaching Christ and him crucified. In all his ministrations the Cross occupied the central place. Holding with firm grasp the grand old doctrines of grace himself, out and out believing them, and finding in them life, and joy, and strength to his own soul, it was his delight to proclaim them to others; while he carefully sought to impress upon his hearers the necessity of having these doctrines hid in the heart and influencing the life.” When he heard of times of refreshing he was refreshed, and was always ready when called upon to engage in evangelistic and revival work; and there are few congregations in the Synod of Moray in which his help was not sought and given and owned in that work. Such a ministry could not be barren. Though his own special field was thinly peopled and his congregation small, yet there are few congregations in the Free Church that supplied so many faithful and successful ministers for her pulpits as this one has done during the last twenty-five years.
Another characteristic feature of the ministry of him whose departure we lament was his great knowledge of business and his complete mastery over his temper— qualities that rendered his presence extremely valuable in the courts of the Church. In the business of these courts he took a deep interest, never absent when able to be present, and always attending to it as being in reality Christ’s business, to be done with a single eye to the good of the Church and the honour of her Head. Hence he was greatly beloved, and his judgment was greatly deferred to by his brethren.
During the last two years he was in feeble health, but always hoping to be restored, so as to resume the work he loved. On the last two Sabbaths of his life he preached from the text, “Do this in remembrance of me,” preparatory to sitting with the congregation at the Supper of the Lord; and on the evening of the Saturday before his death he lay down in as good health as he had enjoyed for months; and early on the Sabbath morning he quietly breathed out his spirit, and, without a struggle, took his departure for the land where they weep no more.
REV. ANGUS MCRAE, GLEN-URQUHART
(Died February 15, 1892)
Author: Rev. D. Sutherland, Kilmonivaig
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1893, Obituary, p.94
Mr. McRae was a native of Kintail in Ross-shire. His father, a farmer in pretty good circumstances, died when quite a young man, leaving a widow and two children, Mr. McRae, the elder, being then only four years of age. At the age of nine he was sent to the small village school of Dornie, where he was taught very little, and in a very defective manner. To overcome this gave him much trouble in after-years.
He was about twelve years of age at the time of the Disruption, and was greatly interested in the agitation. Though he could then understand but little of the cause at issue, yet the prevailing agitation greatly impressed him. It was at that time he became anxious for his soul, and was greatly moved by the earnest and able ministrations of the gospel by many of the ministers who visited the district at that period, specially by the preaching of Rev. Mr. McLeod of Uig, and latterly of Rogart. He also derived much spiritual benefit from the preaching of Rev. Mr. McDonald of Plockton, and afterwards of Glen-Urquhart, to whom he became successor in 1866. About that time he very earnestly consecrated himself and his services to the Lord, and began to think of preparing himself for the ministry of the gospel, fully convinced that the Lord would open a way and crown his efforts with success, though at the time he had little means and no fair prospects for prosecuting his education. However, he persevered in his efforts.
Fully bent on becoming a minister in the Free Church, after an interval of three years he went to Inverness and attended the Free Church Institution, then under the able management of Mr. Thomas McKenzie, who became his sincere friend, and remained so all his life. He prosecuted his education in Inverness during two years. It was during that time he first visited Glen-Urquhart, and afterwards taught the school at Buntoit as Mr. McLean’s substitute while he was absent at college. The following summer he went to teach one of Sir Kenneth McKenzie’s schools in Gairloch, and continued to hold that school during his university course, providing a substitute in winter during his absence in Edinburgh.
After completing his university and theological course, and having received license, he visited the greater part of the north-western Highlands and a considerable part of Sutherlandshire as probationer, and latterly on mission work, after being settled in Glen-Urquhart. That work he greatly enjoyed, and during it made many friends, and received much kindness. His call to Glen-Urquhart was signed by 1,103, including members and adherents. For twenty-six years he laboured diligently in their spiritual and temporal interests, visiting and catechizing as he had opportunity. They always came to him with all their troubles, and invariably found him a sympathizing and willing helper at all times.
To the poor he was always kind and helpful, sought them out in all corners of the parish, and gave them liberally of his means in a quiet and unostentatious manner. His liberality was not always confined to his own congregation or parish. He was a member of the School Board from its beginning, and chairman for the last ten years of his life. In his pulpit ministrations he was thoroughly evangelical and Calvinistic, and in the discussion of ecclesiastical questions he could take an intelligent and creditable, as also an interested part. The genuineness of his piety no one could doubt, and the uprightness of his character was apparent to all in the least acquainted with him. By his brethren in the presbytery he was greatly respected and esteemed.
In a letter to his widow, Sir Kenneth McKenzie, who knew him intimately, says of him, “I have lost many friends this year, but none whose friendship I valued more than his; and he was not only a kind and steadfast friend to me, he was that to almost all with whom he was brought into contact, and he occupied without ostentation a sphere of usefulness from which he could ill be spared.” Similarly Rev. Mr. McKenzie, Maryburgh, who also knew him intimately, says: “He was one of the most genuine and consistent of my friends. He was, in my opinion, one of those Highland ministers of his day who distinguished between truth and caricatures of so-called orthodoxy, who had a mind of his own, and could stick to his guns irrespective of popular odium or the opposite. He was a faithful preacher of the blessed evangel, and appreciated others who were so.”
REV. DONALD MACRAE, CROSS
(Died November 15, 1876)
Author: Rev. D. Murray, Tarbat
The Free Church Monthly March 1, 1877, p.68
We regret to have to record the death of this estimable servant of Christ, in his own manse at Cross, in the island of Lewis, on the 15th of November. Mr. Macrae was born in 1802, in the neighbourhood of Inverness; but his parents, who were natives of Lochalsh, returned to that district shortly after his birth, and there Mr. Macrae lived until his twentieth year. Brought in early life to the knowledge of the truth, he was anxious to be instrumental in communicating to others the blessed and saving knowledge of the divine Redeemer which rendered himself so happy.
In 1822 he was appointed teacher by an Inverness Society in the village of Bayble, in a part of the civil parish of Stornoway called Knock, and which has since been erected into a quoad sacra parish. Here he found the opportunity he so ardently desired, for as soon as he was settled, besides teaching the school, he conducted a weekly meeting for prayer and exhortation. The village being eight miles from the parish church, he often had to conduct meetings on Sabbath, especially in winter; and there the Lord countenanced the humble efforts of the youthful exhorter. Many of the people wondered how such a youthful person could be so earnest in persuading his fellow-sinners to dedicate themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ; and not a few, both young and old, were brought through him to a knowledge of the truth — several of whom were personally known to the writer: some of them are still in life, while others have slept in Jesus. From all parts of the parish many resorted to hear him, so the school-house soon became too small for their accommodation. The people, however, very willingly built him a larger one. After labouring here for several years as teacher and exhorter, he entered college; and having gone through the usual curriculum, he cast in his lot at the memorable Disruption with the Free Church, was licensed by the Free Presbytery of Lewis, and in 1844 was ordained to the charge of the congregation of Cross, where he laboured assiduously for thirty-two years. His ministry there was blessed to not a few. He was a sound, practical preacher. No one could hear him without recognizing the depth of his knowledge of the depravity of human nature, and his great knowledge and experience in things divine. He always exposed man’s sinfulness and utter helplessness; and at the same time he never failed to magnify the free grace of God as the only fountain of life and salvation, and set forth with great unction the power of the Holy Spirit in all his saving operations. He was a man of great originality, and yet of a retiring disposition, and withal no mean Gaelic poet. He composed several pieces of poetry. One of his pieces, “The Emigrant’s Farewell,” translated and set to music, may be seen in the music-folio of many a Highland lady. Three years ago his health began to fail, and last August he came to Strathpeffer, where his health greatly improved; but on his return home he gradually became weaker, until he died on the 15th of November. He has left a widow and six children to mourn his loss. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
REV. D. MCRAE, KILMORIE
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, November 2 1868, p.258
In the death of the Rev. D. McRae, Kilmorie, Arran, the Free Church has lost one of her most useful Disruption ministers. Born at the beginning of this century, in the parish of Lochcarron, he was privileged to have been brought up under the ministry of the godly Mr. Lachlan McKenzie, in whose session his father was an elder. The influence of that ministry was such that the Free Church owes to it very much her position in that district, as well as several excellent ministers who have laboured in the vineyard with much acceptance.
After pursuing the usual course of study at King’s College, Aberdeen, Mr. McRae was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Lochcarron in 1828. Shortly thereafter he was appointed missionary to Carinish in North Uist, where he officiated for about a year. In 1830 he was presented to the newly-erected Government church at Poolewe, in Ross-shire, in which charge he remained until after the Disruption in 1843.
Shortly after that memorable event he was called to Tarbert of Lochfine-side, and laboured there in midst of many difficulties for two years. When he went there his congregation had no place of worship, and met each Sabbath in the open air in the churchyard. A site for a church was at length obtained, and in the face of much and painful opposition the present Free church was erected. The stones used in the building were brought from the opposite side of Lochfine, permission having been refused to take any for that purpose from the rocks about Tarbert. With the exception of Campbeltown, there was not then a minister connected with the Free Church in the Peninsula of Kintyre.
In 1845 he was translated to the parish of Kilmorie in Arran, where the Rev. Mr. McBride and the Rev. Mr. McMillan had previously laboured, and whose ministry was eminently successful. In this charge Mr. McRae laboured with great energy for twenty-three years. His solid doctrinal preaching, and his excellent judgment as a ruler in the Church of God, were much appreciated, whilst his conscientious attention to all parochial and presbyterial duties, and the honourable uprightness of his character, gained him much respect.
During a severe illness, which confined him for three months to a bed of suffering, and which he bore with much patience and resignation, he looked forward to his departure with the calm and confident hope of one who knew in whom he had believed; and at last, without a struggle, fell asleep in Jesus in the sixty-eighth year of his age and thirty-ninth of his ministry.
REV. FARQUHAR MACRAE, M.A., KNOCKBAIN
(Died December 20, 1882)
Author: Rev. John MacPherson, Cawdor
The Free Church Monthly, April, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.117
Mr. Macrae was born in Camuslinie, in the pariah of Kintail, on the 23th of November 1805. There was very little vital religion in the parish, and family worship was scarcely known, at the time of his birth, in Kintail, but he was brought up by godly parents. He received his elementary education from Fionnla naFaddoich, who is still spoken of with admiration in that district. At the age of thirteen Mr. Macrae entered the Grammar School, Old Aberdeen, then superintended by the far-famed Mr. Ewen McLauchlan, and for three years prosecuted his studies with much earnestness and success. “I was sent [Mr. Macrae’s own words] at an early period of life to school to Aberdeen. In going to that place I was ignorant of God, and there was little in the instruction I received calculated to make me acquainted with him.”
The attention of the trustees of the Macrae Mortification was drawn to Mr. Macrae’s distinction as a scholar, and with the aid of this bequest he prosecuted his studies in King’s College, where he distinguished himself, especially in classics, and graduated with high honours.
In 1825 he was appointed parochial teacher of Lochcarron, and continued there a successful teacher until 1833. Here he evidently underwent the great change. He had intercourse with the godly men of that and other parishes, and had the opportunity of hearing some of the great and godly evangelical ministers of Ross-shire. Here also he became a decided non-Intrusionist. He saw the best members of the Church excluded from sealing ordinances because they attended the ministrations of evangelical ministers; and others admitted whose only qualification for the Lord’s table was mere attendance on the Parish church, particularly on those days on which evangelical ministers happened to be preaching in the neighbourhood.
Mr. Macrae was licensed by the Presbytery of Lochcarron in 1829, and was ordained to the royal bounty charge of South Uist on 6th December, 1833. Here he laboured successfully until 1841, when his health failed. A similar appointment was offered to him at the time, which he accepted, and in Braemar he ministered to an attached congregation until the memorable Disruption took place, when without doubt or hesitation he cast in his lot with the Free Church.
Mr. Macrae might have left Braemar for more important charges before he accepted of the call to Knockbain as the successor of his namesake, countryman, and friend, Mr. John Macrae, who was translated to Greenock.
In Knockbain, and in neighbouring congregations, his services were highly appreciated; his preaching was edifying and refreshing.
Failing health constrained Mr. Macrae to retire to make room for a younger man in 1880, when the Rev. James Macleod of Kilberry was appointed colleague and successor.
Mr. Macrae was scrupulously conscientious, exceedingly modest, a man of peace, and yet firm as a rock when duty called him to speak and act. He knew and loved the old Puritans. His sermons were carefully studied. He preached in English and Gaelic equally well: he was master of the Gaelic language.
For the last two years he lived in Nairn, where he died. It was a high privilege to listen to his heavenly remarks, and to hear him engage in prayer, as one who was just about to cross the Jordan.
His only son, who is prosecuting his studies for the Church in Aberdeen, was from home when his godly father died; but his beloved wife had the satisfaction of hearing his last words, namely, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
REV. JOHN MCRAE, DUIRINISH
(Died January 5, 1900)
Author: Rev. A. Galbraith, Lochalsh, Strome Ferry
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1900, Obituary, p.114
Mr McRae was born at Letterfern, parish of Glenshiel, in the year 1823 and was thus in his seventy-seventh year when he died. After availing himself of such education as could be had in his native parish, he went for some time to school in Inverness. Having lost his father when a child, he along with other two brothers and a sister were left to the care of his widowed mother, to whom he considered himself indebted for early religious training. More favoured in this respect than many in his native parish, the seed sown was not without fruit. An elder brother, Duncan, was widely known and esteemed for his piety, and on communion occasions he ws generally accorded a foremost place among the Friday speakers. His memory is fragrant in the district, where he was for half a century a faithful witness for Christ. Like his eminent brother, the subject of our sketch was considered God-fearing from his youth. While a pupil at Inverness he had opportunity of hearing the Apostle of the North and other eminent ministers, and there is reason to believe that he benefited much by their preaching. In the great and imperishable principles involved in the Ten Years’ Conflict, which issued in the Disruption of 1843, Mr McRae had a warm and intelligent interest.
For a number of years after the Disruption he taught schools in the parishes of Lochalsh, Applecross and Lochbroom. In the last mentioned he enjoyed the acquaintance and friendship of the late Mr. McLeod, the minister of that extensive parish, for whom he cherished so much regard that – probably unconsciously to himself – he appeared to imitate him in many of his ways. During all these years, while a Teacher, he conducted religious meetings, which were much appreciated, and it is believed were profitable to many. In 1860 he began his university course in Edinburgh and finished in Glasgow in 1864. He studied divinity in the Free Church College, Glasgow, form 1865 to 1869. Immediately after finishing his college course he was licensed by the Free Presbytery of Skye and Uist in 1869, and in the same year was ordained the first Free Church minister of Carinish, North Uist. On the translation of the Rev. Alexander McColl of Duirinish to Fort Augustus, Mr McRae was inducted to the pastoral charge of Duirinish, as his successor, in 1871. Considering the extent of the parish, and specially the popular gifts of the eminent man who preceded him, it was no easy position he was called to occupy. Yet he earnestly and faithfully devoted himself to the work, and in the discharge of his duties he had the implicit confidence of the godly, while his faithfulness and consistent life could not be denied by any.
Mr. McRae had acquired a considerable knowledge of medicine, which he found useful; and especially while labouring as a missionary in Barra, during his college course, his medical skill procured for him access to houses from which as a missionary he would be excluded. Mr. McRae was eminently a man of prayer, deeply exercised, and rich in Christian experience. As a preacher, he was faithful and practical; as a friend he was affectionate and true. In church politics he was a through constitutionalist, holding by the original principles of the Free Church, which he sincerely loved and faithfully served, and his anxiety for her purity and well-being had by no means diminished after had had retired from the active duties of the ministry. Mr. McRae’s labours for about thirty years were faithful and abundant, and we believe they were not without fruit. We do not know any parish rhis day in the Highlands in which there are so many godly men and women as in Duirinish. We have seen about a score of men – all belonging to the parish – called on a Friday to speak to the question. Verily the seed so faithfully sown by Mr. McColl, and after him by Mr. McRae has been bearing fruit.
When through failing health, Mr. McRae was constrained to retire, he removed to his native parish, where he hoped to spend the evening of his days doing some work among the people. But this was not to be, for his health gradually broke down, and within six months from the time of his retirement he was called to his reward. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
REV. JOHN McRAE
(Died October 9, 1876)
Author: Rev. Alexander Beith, D.D.
The Free Church Monthly January 1, 1877, p.18
Mr. McRae was one of the most distinguished of the Gaelic preachers who have appeared within the last sixty years. Like many others who have been celebrated in their time, and honoured from above, as heralds of the glorious gospel, Mr. McRae was not, in the earlier years of his life, intended for the ministry, nor was he trained in prospect of the ministry becoming his profession. A Highlander of the district of Kintail, West Ross-shire, his youth and some portion of his young manhood were given to the pursuits of a laborious life in the capacity of shepherd and fisherman. Even then he was a man among men; his natural sagacity and powers of speech securing to him a prominence among his compeers. Even when yet unchanged by the power of divine grace, his influence for good among the young men of his time and country was great. Decision in behalf of what he believed to be good, was always an outstanding virtue in his life, in which he was an example to many.
When arrested by the gospel — brought to him in a remarkable way, at a time when God was not in all his thoughts — and when it pleased God to reveal his Son in him, his choice of pursuit was soon made. His one desire became to devote his life to the work of telling others what God had done for his soul, to do this in whatever way opportunity might be given to him, to lead them into the same blessedness. In the first instance he formed no definite purpose of studying for the ministry. In the first instance he was not led to do that. But, from the period of his conversion, all his spare time was devoted to the increasing of the education he had previously received — education not exceeding what was usually reached by Highland lads in the Highland rural parochial schools. After a little time, he advanced from the stage of scholar to that of teacher. The small school of which he took charge had its place in a remote corner of the parish of Glenelg, Inverness-shire, the parish adjoining that of his nativity. The Arnisdale school then became a centre of influence, not merely as a seminary for the young, but as an adventure mission-station for the advanced. In this sphere, whilst he bestowed good on others, he acquired much good for himself. His work on the banks of Loch Hourn formed a valuable training for more extended work elsewhere in the years that lay before him. Here he first conceived the desire and formed the purpose of becoming a minister. Really a man of natural genius, he could not, however humble his views of himself, remain unconscious of it. He was made to feel that he possessed natural qualifications which, by cultivation, with the blessing which he believed it was not presumptuous to expect, and which he earnestly sought, might become serviceable in the great cause. In his retirement he gave himself to the study of the languages and of mathematics. His progress in both departments was great, though he could not himself judge of this. When, after a wonderfully short time of self-teaching, he appeared at Aberdeen, with many doubts and fears, to compete for bursaries — on which, if successful in securing one or more, added to his very scanty stock of savings, he hoped to subsist during his first session at college — he was nowhere in the languages; his pronunciation of Latin and Greek (most arbitrary and original as it behoved to be, never having had even one lesson to guide him) proved fatal to his hopes. But in mathematics the case was not so. His pronunciation of English, though not vastly superior to his pronunciation of the dead languages, opposed no insuperable barrier to success in this department. He obtained a bursary, which sufficed for all his need. At the close of his four months’ session he found his way back to his old charge, and resumed, though only for a limited period, the work which he had temporarily relinquished for college life. The days in which he lived were not those of associations for providing means to aid Highland students looking forward to the ministry; and no one will say, whatever the present hardships, in being cast wholly on his own industry, that this self-reliant, earnest youth was ultimately the worse for it.
When Mr. McRae obtained license, he was speedily called to stated labour in the vineyard. His reputation as a holy man and an able speaker was great. His early course as a licensed preacher confirmed and increased the impressions previously entertained of him. After a period of service in the island of Lewis, as minister of one of the quoad sacra charges there, he was transferred to the parish of Knockbain, Black Isle, Ross-shire, one of the most important ministerial positions in the North Highlands. Here he made the acquaintance of the late Mr. Stewart of Cromarty, an acquaintance that ripened into the warmest friendship. Much as Mr. McRae was wont to speak of his indebtedness to such men as the first Dr. McIntosh of Tain, Dr. John McDonald of Ferintosh, and others, far more did he speak of what he had learned from the minister of Cromarty. Stewart delighted in him; for in him he had found a mind into which he could pour all his rare and precious cogitations on divine truth — a mind capable of receiving, appreciating, improving them for himself, and making them available for good to others. So earnest was the mutual attachment, that when the required measures were being taken in 1847 to remove Mr. Stewart to Edinburgh as Dr. Candlish’s successor in St. George’s, Mr. McRae declared he would not stay in the North after him. The lamented death of his friend — over whose last illness he had watched with tender care — deprived him of this most valuable fellowship in a way he had not anticipated, and prepared his mind for his accepting any suitable invitation which might be presented to him to leave his then locality. This soon came. He was chosen to be minister of the Gaelic Church, Greenock, where, to one of the largest congregations in the country, he laboured for some years, until town life and town labours began to tell heavily on his health. Once more he became a minister in the island of Lewis, where he continued to serve until he could no longer, according to his view of duty, allow himself to continue in the full charge of a congregation. From this responsibility, at his own request, he was released. He nevertheless continued to labour in various parts of the country, as opportunities afforded, and, although his natural force had abated, still with great power, acceptance, and usefulness. One of our best Gaelic scholars, his closing efforts to do good took the form of translating from English into the mountain tongue instruction he believed to be required by his countrymen, and calculated to be useful to them.
The Disruption found Mr. McRae minister of the parish of Knockbain — a position of much distinction in the Highlands. But he did not hesitate. Previous to the crisis he had done important service in instructing Highlanders, all over the north and west, in the vital question with which the friends of religion in the Church of Scotland were, at the time, called to deal. He was one of many then enlisted in the effort which the interests of our Zion demanded; and none of all the labourers in the field was more marked, more eminently successful than he. The result for himself was, when the crash came, being followed by his whole congregation into separation from State connection — being also the erection of church and manse, and the formation of an interest as Free Church minister of Knockbain certainly not inferior to what his previous interest there had been. His labours thereafter in preaching, both at home and in all the region round about, were wonderful; and the effects, by the blessing of God, were most precious. In all his ministry God had acknowledged him by manifest fruits as he has not done always by his servants; but never more than after, at the call of duty, he had abandoned his earthly inheritance that he might be free to follow everywhere and at all times the Master’s steps.
Mr. McRae was a man of fine personal appearance, the type of a genuine Kintail man — tall, well-proportioned, beautifully shaped head and shoulders, herculean limbs, and deep chest. His voice could, in a whisper, be heard over a large area. When it rose to its highest notes, it was like the roll of thunder. His gestures were never taught him; elocution had been no part of his studies. His manner was not the less impressive for that. When illustrating some fine thought, his manly countenance lighted up, his voice assumed its deep tones, and his whole body, with outstretched arms, quivered under the effort. Effects were produced on his hearers such as no modern preaching, except Chalmers’, was known to produce. In Gaelic his power came fully out. In English, though he sometimes seemed shackled, yet, overcoming all hindrance to expression by efforts made with that view, he often thrilled his hearers as he did when he spoke in his own tongue — the richness of thought, the beauty, because simplicity, of his illustrations, banishing for the time from men’s thoughts the fact that they were listening to a man speaking in a language of which he had only partial knowledge, and over which he had little command.
Large-hearted, sound in doctrine, versed in heart theology, liberal in sentiment, yearning for the unity and universality of the Church of Christ, he was esteemed by all.
Mr. McRae died in a good old age. He surpassed the fourscore years, the all but utmost limit of human life, and he has left to his children, and to their children, a name of sweet odour, a memory blessed by many happy recollections; and to all others who had the happiness of knowing him, an example to be well studied and to be faithfully followed — an example of faith, hope, love; of wisdom, meekness, and fortitude, throughout a long life to the end. Laus Deo.
REV. MALCOLM McRITCHIE, KNOCK
(Died July 8, 1885)
Author: Rev. Alexander MacDonald, Ardclach
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 2, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.340
Mr. McRitchie was born in the parish of Uig, island of Lewis, in 1803. He received his early education in the parish school—the only school at that time within thirty miles of his father’s house.
The period of his boyhood begins an interesting chapter in the religious history of his native island. The Bible was then almost an unknown book. Perhaps no copy of it could be found in the parish of Uig outside the manse and church. The Rev. Hugh Munro, who was then parish minister, was feeble through ill-health and old age, and was able to preach but seldom. Though an amiable, generous, gentlemanly man, his preaching had not the effect of rousing sinners frcm the slumber of spiritual death. The prevailing ignorance, arising from the want of education and the want of Bibles, militated against that. It was in the midst of that spiritual deadness and darkness that Malcolm McRitchie, when a boy of fourteen years of age, became possessed of a copy of the Gaelic Psalm book, which he in a short time committed to memory. In the following year he received from an acquaintance, in another part of the island, the loan of a copy of the New Testament, Baxter’s “Call to the Unconverted,” and Joseph Alleine’s “Alarm.” Having a thirst for knowledge, he read these books in a short time and with great interest. While he read, the impressions made on him by the Psalm book were deepened. His conscience awoke; conviction of sin, with all its accompanying misery, fears, and trains of thought, seized him. Like Christian in the “PilgriMcs Progress,” he realized that he was in “the City of Destruction;” but there was no human being near him whom he might profitably consult as to how he could escape therefrom and obtain salvation. His mental struggles at that time were great. They were registered on his retentive memory; and during a subsequent part of his life they were a kind of storehouse from which he often brought forth what proved serviceable to other inquiring, struggling souls. His great desire at that early period, in addition to the desire of getting salvation, was to procure a copy of the whole Bible. It was not until January 1821 that that desire was gratified. On the sole errand of procuring a whole Bible he travelled on foot at that inclement season of the year, over hills and moors in which there was no path-way, a distance of sixty miles. But before he became possessed of that treasure, there is reason to believe that he had found the still greater treasure—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mr. McRitchie, at the time of his conversion, was in his native parish as the “voice of one crying in the wilderness.” Among the rocks and cliffs on the sea-coast his voice was raised crying to God in prayer. Some of these places became to him what Peniel was to Jacob—places of wrestling with God, and places in which he had soul-stirring views of, to use a favourite scriptural phrase of his own, the excellency of Christ. His voice was also heard by his neighbours and companions reproving their sins, telling them of God, eternity, the wrath to come, and of Christ and his love. These themes were so new to them, and such was the earnestness of the speaker, that the only solution they could find for his conduct was that which Festus found for the language and earnestness of Paul. Hence they were afraid of him, and shunned him as one who had lost his senses. By-and-by they came to a different conclusion and heard him gladly, especially when he began to read to them some interesting portion of the New Testament, and accompanied the reading thereof with some comments and seasonable applications. These early endeavours to benefit his fellow men were the means of rousing some to think seriously of their everlasting welfare.
In 1823 he taught a school at Athline—a township on the march between Lewis and Harris. A work of grace began there also. Children, parents, and even grand-parents attended his school together, by night as well as by day. He used to say that he would feel happy if he saw as much fruit of his labours in the three congregations of which he was minister as he had seen in that township alone. Its inhabitants afterwards emigrated to America, whence they transmitted to him, when he was minister at North Knapdale, a numerously-signed call to become their pastor — thus testifying to the benefit which they had derived from his youthful labours.
The island of Lewis owes much, under God, to the Gaelic School Society. Lewis was one of the first places in which its agents began their labours. As early as 1812, or 1815, their influence began to be felt. Its teachers have all along been men of more than ordinary talents, prudence, and piety, who made choice of their profession because of their desire to be engaged in the work of the Lord. Their influence over the children whom they taught daily, and over the parents to whom they read and expounded the Scriptures, was remarkable. Their exemplary lives were potent factors for good in the localities in which they lived and laboured. Owing to the itinerating character of the Society’s schools, these teachers seldom remained longer than three years in one place; thus their influence was felt over a wide extent. Nearly sixty years ago Mr. McRitchie became one of the teachers in the service of that Society. He had the privilege of teaching in several parts of Lewis and at Sconser in the isle of Skye during the time he remained in the Society’s service. Everywhere he was esteemed as a man of God. His sojourn in the isle of Skye was always remembered by him with pleasure, both on account of his frequent intercourse with blind Donald Munro, the eminent and godly Skye catechist, and the success which attended his own labours.
Later on he taught in connection with the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and was one of the band of teachers who in 1846 were dismissed from the service of that Society on account of their adherence to the Free Church. During the Disruption conflict he was one of several eminent laymen who travelled through the West Highlands expounding the principles for which the evangelical party in the Church of Scotland were contending.
He had always a desire to study for the ministry. His sense of duty constrained him to enter college after the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge had cast him off. His faith in God at that time was strong. Though he had his difficulties during his student life, yet he and his were amply provided for. In the interval between the college sessions he found congenial work as missionary at Glencoe, and among Highlanders in Ayrshire and Faikirk.
After being duly licensed as a preacher of the gospel, he was ordained in 1854 as the first minister of the Free Church congregation of North Knapdale. In that parish his labours were abundant and arduous. He took particular interest in the education of the young. Foreign missions also commanded his attention. At the annual examination of the congregational schools of the Presbytery he was sure to refer to that subject. I remember well his address on that subject in the spring of 1860 to the pupils of the Congregational School of North Knapdale, which I was teaching at that time. Endeavouring to win the heathen for Christ, he told them, was the noblest work in which they could be engaged.
In 1862 he was translated to Strathy—a charge which had been vacant since the Disruption—where he laboured faithfully till in 1869 he was translated to Knock, one of the largest and most interesting congregations of the Free Church. During the last four years of his life his health was indifferent, and he could not preach but occasionally. He was able to preach twice to his own people last December. Those who heard him say that he had wonderful strength and liberty. His loving, earnest appeals to sinners to embrace the Saviour were so touching that the congregation were moved and melted to tears. These were his last sermons.
The shadow of death repeatedly fell across his household during the last period of his life. His only son, an amiable and promising young man, was taken away while prosecuting his studies. In May 1884 his singularly gentle and godly wife was called to her rest. In her he had a true helpmate, and one who above many possessed “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price.” Next, one of his sons-in-law died suddenly in India, and in a few days thereafter his youngest daughter, and wife of that son-in-law, also died in India. These bereavements, coming so quickly one after another, told heavily upon him, and made him long for his own departure.
When suffering great pain in his last illness he would often ask, “How many hours till I get over this Jordan?” At other times he would ask those who lovingly nursed him if they heard of any of the Knock people turning to the Saviour, adding, “Ah, if they come to him he will not cast them away.” These were the subjects which occupied his attention till he peacefully passed away at Bridge of Allan on 8th July.
He is survived by five daughters, one of whom is the widow of the late Rev. Donald McLeod, M.A., the scholarly and devoted African missionary. Another is the wife of the Rev. Dr. Mackichan of Bombay; while a third has been for the last twelve years labouring in one of the missionary institutions of South Africa.
Mr. McRitchie was a laborious pastor. His forte as a preacher lay in exposition and the analyzing of Christian experience. The freeness and fulness of the gospel, together with the excellency of Christ, were also themes in which he greatly delighted, and in speaking of which he delighted and edified others. His strong musical voice gave him a power over large audiences, while his public prayers gave the impression that he walked closely with God. In private life he was most agreeable; always lively, genial, and full of humour. The young instinctively drew to him and felt at home with him. At the same time he fearlessly reproved sin in public, and defended with characteristic ardour what he considered truth. Now he rests from his labours after a long, active, and useful life, leaving behind him an unblemished reputation. “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth.”
REV. JOHN MCTAVISH, D.D., INVERNESS
(Died May 11, 1897)
Author: Rev. D. Connell, M.A., Inverness
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1897, Obituary, p.272
The death of Dr. John McTavish, the senior minister of the East Church, Inverness, has deprived the ranks of the ministry of a noted figure, and Scottish life of a strenuous and influential personality. His stalwart presence, his white locks and flowing beard, and the kindly glance of those eyes which seemed to be always smiling, arrested attention wherever seen, and made strangers wish to know more about him.
Every voyager along the Argyleshire coast is familiar with the two conical peaks known as “the Paps of Jura.” Under the shadow of these guardians of numerous islands and many a mile of sea and coast, is the site of the manse where John McTavish was born in 1816. His father was the parish minister of Jura, but was soon after translated to the parish of Kildalton, in the adjacent island of Islay. In his thirteenth year he entered the University of Glasgow, and after the usual course of study in arts and divinity was licensed as a preacher in 1838.
It was an interesting and exciting time in the annals of the Scottish Church. The tide of evangelical revival had nearly reached its height, and the “Ten Years’ Conflict” was near the crisis which ended in separation. John McTavish from the beginning took the Free Church side. It would have been unaccountable if a man of his intense and eager nature, full of the fresh enthusiasm of youth and the glow of a first love, had done otherwise. He threw himself with all his native ardour and energy into the work of preaching the gospel and advocating the principles of freedom and independence for which the non-Intrusion party contended. As a licentiate he laboured over a great part of Argyleshire—Ardnamurchan, Islay, Campbeltown, Arran. When the crisis came, he had no hesitation in throwing in his lot with the Free Church. To licentiates of a worldly and selfish temper the numerous vacancies, with comfortable manses and fat livings, were an irresistible temptation; but to a man of John McTavish’s spirit the call of duty was too clear and imperative to be resisted, although there was thrown in the opposite balance his five years’ probation without a call, and the fact that nearly all his relatives adhered to the Moderate party in the church.
In the year after the Disruption, John McTavish was ordained at Bailechaolis, where, during the seven years of his ministry, he did noble work for the cause of Christ among a widely-scattered and inaccessible population. His contemporaries in that district are now nearly all gone, but occasionally one meets a very old man or woman who still speaks with enthusiasm of his arduous labours and feats of endurance. They will tell you how his first church was an old, disused saw-pit, occasionally covered by the flood-tide—the proprietor of the land refusing a site for a church, or permission to meet elsewhere; how fearlessly he braved storm and tempest on sea and land to keep some preaching engagement; how many a weary mile he tramped over hill and moor, to bring comfort and hope to some shepherd’s humble dwelling; how he exerted himself in the cause of education, for years paying part of the salary of a teacher out of his own scanty income.
In 1852, the minister of Bailechaolis was translated to Killean, in Kintyre. Here his ministry was short, and the reason was characteristic of the man. A large band of emigrants from Argyleshire were about to sail for Australia, and John McTavish volunteered to accompany them to their new abode. The voyage was unpropitious from the beginning. Repeatedly the vessel was driven back by stress of weather, and had hardly cleared the Scottish coast when fever and small-pox broke out among the emigrants. Mr. McTavish, with fearless sympathy and zeal, devoted himself to cheer and comfort the sufferers, caught the fever, was landed prostrate at Cork; and the emigrants sailed without him. His recovery was tedious, but at length he was able to return to Scotland.
In the following year Mr. McTavish set out for Canada. He had already visited the colony in 1845 as a deputy from the Free Church, along with the late Dr. Begg, and on that occasion had travelled over a large part of the Dominion, preaching the gospel and expounding the principles of the Free Church. It was a field which greatly attracted him. From the beginning he threw himself with all his native ardour into the pioneer work of the church—a work which gave scope to his abounding energy, and called forth the latent resources of his nature. For the next twenty-three years his labours were so numerous and arduous that only a man of iron frame, devoted faith, and indomitable determination could have gone through with them. Immediately on his arrival in the colony he was ordained at Beaverton, to minister to a large and growing district, afterwards divided into several congregations. Out of these he selected Woodville, because the most difficult and laborious; and there he built up a large and flourishing congregation. In 1871 he was translated to Woodstock, where he ministered to a large and attached flock.
But the duties of his own flock, faithfully though they were discharged, were but a small part of his work. He gave himself to the work of evangelization throughout the Dominion, to the establishment and fostering of new congregations, and the organizing of missions to the Indians and French Canadians. In 1859 he was sent by his church to visit the Red River Settlement—a journey which in those days entailed untold fatigue and privation.
He was the means of organizing an Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund in his church. In the negotiations which led to the union of the Presbyterian churches in Canada he took a leading and influential part, being always the trusted leader and counsellor of the Gaelic-speaking people in the colony. In 1864 he was called to act as Moderator in the supreme court of his church; and in 1887 he had the unique mark of appreciation of having conferred on him a doctorate of divinity simultaneously by Knox’s College, Toronto, and the Presbyterian College, Montreal.
In 1877 Dr. McTavish was translated to the East Church, Inverness. Since his return to Scotland, besides ministering to a large congregation, he took an active and influential part in the councils of the church. He took a deep interest in every question which concerned the wellbeing of his native land. In social questions he took a keen interest. He was an earnest advocate of the cause of the Highland crofters, the cause of temperance (he was a life-long abstainer), and the freedom of religion from all state entanglements. In social and political questions he was a Radical of the Radicals, in questions of doctrine and criticism he leaned to the side of conservatism.
A fearless advocate of whatever he believed to be the cause of God, his pronouncements were always forcible and decisive; yet so pure were his motives, and so genial and kindly his spirit, that he won the respect of all, and never made a foe. He was thoroughly Biblical and evangelical in his teaching, and direct and pointed in his methods of stating the truth. It was his life-long habit to read daily a portion of the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek.
A few years ago he was relieved of the main burden of his work by the appointment of a colleague, but the vigour of his mind knew little abatement. The last few months of his life, though not free from suffering, were happy and peaceful. He was like “a warrior taking his rest.” He died in the eighty-first year of his age and the fifty-third of his ministry.
REV. ANDREW McTURK, B.D., INCHINNAN
(Died 24th April, 1891)
Author: Rev. Thomas Carruthers, M.A., Bridge of Weir
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August, 1891, Obituary, p.245
Mr. McTurk was a native of New Cumnock. From early years he was a lover of books, and all through his life a hard student. He applied himself with ardour to his studies, especially to the classics, at the Glasgow University, where he gained both prizes and bursaries. His scholarly tasks and habits were cultivated till the very last. He read French and German almost daily, while the Hebrew Bible was his constant study. He was acquainted with Syriac, and had mastered the rudiments of Arabic. He had intended to follow up the B.D. degree he held by taking the D.D. degree, and had prepared himself; but a mistake as to the hour prevented him from appearing last year at the necessary examination, and attaining that academic honour. One of his early friends says that he fought his way through great difficulties, having none of the advantages possessed by many, and that the story of his career, if told, would be an inspiration.
Being shy and sensitive, he took no part in the discussions of his Presbytery, yet he deeply interested himself in all the ecclesiastical and social questions of the day. He was no recluse, out of touch with the movements of the world around him. He believed Disestablishment would be a great blessing to Scotland, and often deplored the many millions of the nation’s “Drink Bill.” He was strictly orthodox, and warmly attached to the fundamentals of the faith, which he faithfully preached; but his culture guarded him against all narrowness in regard to critical questions affecting the Bible. Though reticent about himself, his integrity of character and unobtrusive piety were manifest to all that came in contact with him. He lived the life of faith, walking with God.
He was a conscientious and faithful pastor. He prepared diligently for the pulpit, and visited the whole parish monthly, leaving a tract at every house. Hence he was well known and much beloved in this rural district. He also devoted great attention to the young. As many as eighteen young persons have been equipped by him for examination in a single year under the “Welfare of Youth” Scheme. Last year he was appointed one of the examiners under this scheme in the Life of Abraham; but when the papers of the young people reached him he was too weak for the task.
After an illness of deep prostration, lasting seven weeks, he passed away in his fifty-seventh year. He leaves a widow and six children – three sons and three daughters.
REV. DONALD MCVEAN, IONA
(Died January 16, 1880)
Author: Rev. D. C. Ross, Appin
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.148
Donald McVean was born in 1808 in the manse of Kenmore (Perthshire), of which place his father was parish minister. He came under the power of the truth in his youth, and he himself attributed his first saving impressions to “The Jerusalem Sinner Saved;” while the preaching of Dr. McDonald, Ferintosh, and of Dr. Gordon, Edinburgh, was helpful in the formation of his religious character.
He studied in Edinburgh, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Lorn in his twenty-fifth year. In 1835 he was presented to Iona; and two years thereafter was married to Miss Susan McLean, of an old family in Mull, who for forty-three years “was his true and loving helpmate, and by act and word unweariedly forwarded him as none else could in all of worthy that he did or attempted.” He was evangelical from the outset, and both loved and preached a full-orbed gospel. In the Disruption struggle he had to hold up the banner and fight its battles single-handed against the combined influence of the Presbytery and the landed gentry; but soon thereafter the Lord sent him a mighty coadjutor in the late Mr. Peter McLean of Tobermory and Stornoway, when the banner not only stood its ground, but was carried into the surrounding parishes with such success that now, instead of two, there are nine ordained men within its borders. With a young family, he had to bear a more than ordinary share of the hardships incidental to the years following the Disruption. After flitting from one place to another, he got a manse built in Iona, as well as two churches, one there and the other in the Ross of Mull. In that manse he lived for twenty-one years. Then for cogent reasons he sold it, and built another in the Ross of Mull, in which his eldest son ungrudgingly sank a considerable sum of money. It was like tearing the heart-strings to quit the much-loved spot; but duty demanded the sacrifice, as on the other side of the stormy sound he lived amid a much larger though sparsely-scattered population, which could be worked from the new manse to far greater advantage.
Outside the Free Church there was no Highland minister more widely known than Mr. McVean; and while that arose, as he with his genuine modesty would be the first to admit, from the fact of his being minister of the “illustrious island,” yet, on the other hand, it would be hard to find among all his brethren one more fitted to represent them. Dignified and gentlemanly, affable and social, knowing as none other did the history and topography of the place, and ready to enter con amore into the subject, possessed too of unusual powers of conversation, and hospitable to a fault, he was much sought after by the lovers of Christian antiquity. In his library were to be found all kinds of books bearing on Iona, many of them inscribed, “With the author’s compliments,” such as Skene’s works, Reeves’ “Adamnan,” Graham’s “Antiquities of Iona,”—indeed, the latter rare and valuable work was prepared under his roof. Besides being widely read, he was well versed in astronomy, and loved to communicate his stores to the debating societies of which his own family formed the mainspring; and, indeed, so winsome was the manse influence on the young men, that several of them were animated to fight their way up to the learned professions. This trait of his character remained to the last; for only a short time ago he was found deep in one of the “Welfare of Youth” text-books, and on being jocularly reminded that he was rather old to compete, replied that he would be very happy to help any young person preparing for the competition.
But what lay nearest his heart after all was the salvation of souls; and perhaps he never spent a happier winter than that of 1875-76, when the Ross of Mull was visited with times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. He was too infirm to preach during that tempestuous winter, but he showed how near his heart the work lay in securing at great expense the assistance of others; and I well remember how fervent he was in upholding their hands, and how happy in dealing with the anxious, and examining the young converts applying for admission to sealing ordinances. He spent the last year or two of his life in Oban; and when his present able successor was appointed colleague, seemed ready to sing his “Nunc Dimittis.” Nor had he long to wait for his release. Latterly he seemed to pray without ceasing, and his end was peace. His remains lie in the well-known “Reilig Orain,” which was dearer to him as the last resting-place of a son of much promise, who died while passing through the classes, than as the sleeping-place of kings. His widow, two sons, and three daughters live to mourn his loss.
REV. ALEXANDER McWATT, ROTHES
(Died November 27, 1880)
Author: Rev. Dr. Scott, Aberlour
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 1, Biographical Notices, p.148
Another Disruption worthy, “a good minister of Jesus Christ,” has gone to his rest.
Mr. McWatt was born at Inverness, of religious and reputable parents, in the year 1801. He received the rudiments of his education in his native town, where he was known as an apt and lively scholar. At a very early age he entered King’s College, Aberdeen, where he not only took a full curriculum, but a good place in his classes. He afterwards studied theology at the same university, and was duly licensed to preach the gospel. But though his vivacious youth, his glowing fervour, and his evangelical preaching made a deep impression wherever he preached, he had to wait a long time in those days of patronage for a charge. He acted as tutor for fifteen years in the family of Altyre, where he was held in high esteem, until he was presented by the Earl of Seafield to the church of Rothes in 1839. But he had scarcely set his manse in order when he felt bound in conscience towards Christ to leave it. Conservative in politics, but thoroughly evangelical in religion, and true to the ancient polity and historical traditions of the Church of Scotland, he joined in 1843 the noble Disruption host, with whose contendings he was in fullest sympathy. For several years both before and after this event he was so instant in season and out of season, preaching generally thrice on Sabbath, and frequently in the neighbourhood all round the week, that he sowed in his elastic and vigorous frame the seeds of the debility and pain of his later years. He was not only the assiduous pastor, and even the medical adviser of the parish of Rothes, but, as the only Disruption minister in the Presbytery of Aberlour, he either planted or watered all the Free Church congregations of the bounds. He also acted as Clerk of the Presbytery for twenty-seven years with singular courtesy, close attention to the business of the court, and much knowledge of Church law. Towards the close of his long and laborious life he suffered from paralysis, and had the help first of a probationer, and latterly of an assistant and successor, for some time before his death, which took place at the manse on the 27th November 1880.
As a minister of Christ, Mr. McWatt preached not only the old Puritan theology, but the gospel of God with great fervour, faithfulness, and love. And we know that he was wise in winning souls to Christ, some of whom wept over his bier and bless his memory. He was beloved not only by his own people and co-presbyters, but by the congregations of the Presbytery and the whole community, who laid him in his new tomb with reverence and regret, feeling that they had lost a father in Israel. He was not only a man of culture, of polished manners and genial gentleness, but full of faith and of the fire of devotion, a good example of the Christian gentleman. Mr. McWatt, who was unmarried, was a brother indeed to the two sisters in whose society he lived, one of whom survives him.
1 The Gaelic name of the parish is Sgire Mhanachan, or the “Monk’s Parish”.
2 His name is John McKinnon in Ewing’s List of Ministers.