KENNEDY, GEORGE RAINY
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REV. ALEXANDER KEITH, ST. CYRUS
(Died April 29, 1880)
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.279
The following minute regarding the death of Mr. Keith was approved of by the Free Presbytery of Fordoun at its meeting on the 5th October, having been adopted at its previous meeting:—
“With heartfelt sorrow the Presbytery have heard of the death of their brother and co-presbyter the Rev. Alexander Keith, late of St. Cyrus. Although to some of them he was unknown by face, yet to those who knew him personally he endeared himself by his obliging disposition and by his gentle and unassuming manners. A son of the manse, he was privileged with that moral and intellectual training which specially fitted him for his future work. In 1840 he was ordained as assistant and successor to his father, the Rev. Dr. Keith; and in that capacity, by the efficiency both of his pulpit ministrations and of his pastoral visitations, he earned the warm attachment and high esteem of his people. His literary and theological attainments, too, were of a high order, as indicated by his able commentary an Isaiah.
“In 1843, only three years after his ordination, his loyalty to Christ was put to the severest test. Scarcely had he begun to reap the temporal fruits of his profession when he was called upon to lay these on the altar of the gospel. To that call he nobly and unhesitatingly responded; and, along with many of his brethren, renounced State support because he could not, with a good conscience, submit, in spiritual matters, to State control.
“In the mysterious providence of God he was permanently laid aside from active duty by a severe complaint in the year 1860. This trying dispensation he accepted with child-like submission to the will of his heavenly Father; and through a painful and protracted period of suffering he was enabled to bear up with wonderful patience and resignation. Now death has come upon him as a friendly messenger, and has found him ready to depart. While we mourn his loss, we are comforted by the persuasion that he has entered on his everlasting rest, for ever blessed in the presence of that Saviour whom he loved so well and served so faithfully. He died at Musselburgh on the 29th April 1880, leaving a wife, three sons, and two daughters to mourn his loss.”
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THE HON. ION KEITH-FALCONER
Author: Rev. P. W. Minto, Cannes
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July, 1887, Biographical Notice, p.212
On the opening day of the Assembly, in well-chosen words, the late and present Moderators gave touching expression to the feeling produced throughout the Church by the news of the sudden death of the distinguished subject of this notice, and to what was then said little needs to be added in the way of indicating the loss that has thereby been sustained.
Nor is this the place to attempt to tell the story of the brief but brilliant career that, to the inexpressible sorrow of those who with loving eyes watched its progress, has been brought to a close. It is fitting, however, that in these pages some estimate should be given of a character of such marked individuality, and which drew forth the warm regard of all who had the privilege of coming into close contact with it. This perhaps may best be done by putting together a few personal recollections.
The last time I saw Mr Keith-Falconer was a few months ago, when he and his devoted, true-hearted wife were starting from the Cannes railway station on their way to Aden. After parting with him, my thoughts went back to the early times of his life, and of my ministry, when, eighteen years ago, I first knew him as a frank, manly boy, coming during the summer holiday to his happy home at Keith Hall. In those days there was many a pleasant saunter through the beautiful grounds that surround the old family mansion, and many a talk concerning his school life, and of the hopes that he entertained in looking forward to a university course. When he went to Cambridge there were still further opportunities during the long vacation of watching the development of his mind and character. No youth could be more accessible, more simple hearted, more thoroughly genuine. He had a way of making his companionship interesting. He had endless things to tell about university life, his studies, and his friends. Not long after he went I spent a day with him at Cambridge, and what an eager interest he took in pointing out the glories of the grand old place! It was a busy day of sight-seeing, but he did not omit going as usual to the daily prayer-meeting, conducted entirely by undergraduates.
Already he had taken his stand as a Christian student, and never was he ashamed of his colours.
His friends were not all what are called reading men, some of them indeed having small enough share in his enthusiasm for books, but they were all men of decided Christian purpose, and his chief bond of union with them was fellowship in Christian work. In their society he was saved from the pedantry that so often grows out of a mere intellectual clique. Whilst intellectual himself, he rose above the temptation of regarding the intellectual as the highest standard of excellence. Simplicity was one of his most beautiful characteristics. After he became distinguished as a scholar, he remained what he was before, having about him not a trace of assumption, but ready as ever to appreciate whatever good he found in men who had no claim to the attainments that he possessed. Generosity was another of the fine traits of his character. What a generous pleasure he took in the mirthfulness of some of his companions! His own merry laugh will never be forgotten by those who enjoyed the privilege of being with him in his hours of relaxation. One of his most attached friends was a young and devoted clergyman of the Church of England, whose exuberant spirits helped him to carry on what in itself was depressing work among the degraded and criminal classes. How he delighted to get this friend to tell some of his queer stories relating to strange out-of-the-way people whom he had sought to influence through expedients that would have occurred to nobody else!
Generous indeed he was in every way. After he came to have the command of his own money, he gave largely to objects that interested him, the noble efforts of his friend Mr. Charrington in the East End of London specially calling forth his liberality. Nor did he shrink from asking subscriptions when he had any scheme on hand. On one occasion, when travelling in Germany, he learned that the scholar Lagarde was unable for want of funds to publish an edition of the Septuagint, that had been prepared with immense expenditure of labour. On his return home he at once set to work to raise the needful sum—a kindness which Lagarde has gratefully acknowledged in the Latin preface to the first volume of the book.
With his special aptitude for languages he might have gained high honours in classical scholarship. It was to sacred learning, however, that at an early period of his studies he was attracted. He had a good knowledge of the Greek New Testament, and became familiar with the names and ages of the leading manuscript authorities. But it was Hebrew, with the cognate Semitic dialects, that had for him nothing less than a fascination. He pored over a Hebrew or an Arabic grammar with the delight that others find in a great poem. Early choosing his own field, he kept to it to the last. Thoroughness was his habit of mind. He went through any amount of mental toil in order to gain the knowledge upon which his heart was set. He had no idea of being a dilettante student. What he believed in was hard, persistent work. Educated in England, he gave proof that he possessed not a little of what is regarded as the specially English quality of pluck, but he combined with it the peculiarly Scottish element of indomitable perseverance. His strength of will was shown in his determination not to be beaten by difficulties. Whatever he undertook must be done, as far as he could do it, perfectly. His chief recreation was cycling; and he became, as is well known, one of the best cyclists of the day. So it was with shorthand writing. He formed the acquaintance of the eminent stenographer Mr. Isaac Pitman, went to stay at his house, and afterwards carried on a correspondence with him through phonetic signs. As showing his readiness to be helpful, I may mention that he frequently gave me the benefit of this useful acquirement. When I wanted to preach, as far as language is concerned, extempore, he took notes of the sermon, word for word, and then would spend three or four hours next day in writing it for me in longhand, so that I might have it for use on future occasions.
His religious views were those that he had learned in childhood: he saw no reason to change them. In the great doctrines of grace he found what was adapted to the wants of his spiritual nature, so that amidst theological discussions of different schools of thought, he was enabled to fall back on an experimental knowledge of the teaching of Scripture. That he was saved from the speculative doubts through which so many young man trained in Christian families have to pass ere they gain a firm footing for their own faith was mainly due, I believe, to his early interest in evangelistic work. From almost the beginning of his university career he threw himself with zeal into efforts for bringing the gospel to bear on the minds of the poor. In concert with some of his friends he procured the purchase of one of the Cambridge theatres, which became the centre of a students’ home mission. Reference has already been made to his interest in the work of Mr. Charrington in the East End of London. It was a work to which he devoted a large part of his energies. Amidst his absorbing Oriental studies he found time for many a visit to the East End; and though he himself did not often address the meetings, by his presence, and by enlisting the sympathies of others, he did much to help on the vast undertaking. There he saw what the gospel could do to raise the degraded and bring peace to hearts desolated by sin and by sorrow.
He never lost his interest in that work, but as time went on his thoughts widened out to a yet larger sphere. He had been much impressed with the reading of the Life of Dr. John Wilson of Bombay by Dr. George Smith. It was the first thing that led him seriously to think of the foreign field. He came to Cannes in the spring of 1885, and I found that his mind was full of the subject. Amongst other things the question came up, in what way he should undertake mission work, whether on his own responsibility, or whether it would not be better to offer himself to be taken as a recognized agent of the Church. He had made up his mind that he could not offer his services to the Church of England. Naturally there was much to attract him to that Church. Many of his dearest friends belonged to it; and for some of its scholars, especially Bishop Lightfoot and Canon Westcott, with both of whom he was personally acquainted, he had unbounded admiration, yet he was not satisfied that he could conscientiously use certain of its formularies. On the other hand, he did not take it upon him to judge those who, keeping themselves loose from all ecclesiastical connection, go forth to preach the gospel, responsible to no Church at home for the way in which they carry on mission work. All that he ventured to say was that such a method would not be the best for him. The more he thought about it the more there grew in his mind the conviction that, in labouring for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, he ought to occupy the position of one sent by a regularly constituted branch of the Church of Christ. And why should it not be that branch of the Christian Church to which by birth he was attached, of which his father had been an honoured and much-loved elder, and whose ministrations when in Scotland he always attended? So the conclusion arrived at was that he asked me to lay his request before our Foreign Missions Committee; and I may mention that he was greatly pleased with the result, when Colonel Young, the then Convener, and Dr. George Smith responded to it in so hearty and sympathetic a manner.
His letters communicated to these pages, his speech at the Assembly of 1886, and his addresses at meetings held in Edinburgh and Glasgow during the autumn of the same year, have made the Church acquainted with the circumstances of the foundation of the mission at Aden. It has pleased God that he should see only the hopeful beginnings, but surely not in vain was he prompted to devote himself to so noble a cause. His own spirit was doubtless thereby elevated, and so better fitted for the higher service into which he has now entered; and we may believe that the example which he has left behind will tell for good on the lives of many.
In days to come, when we recall the image of a young man of gentle birth, of high scholarly attainments, yet humble, unassuming, generous in disposition, lofty in aim, thorough in all that he undertook, self-sacrificing, loyal to his friends, consecrated to God, and full of zeal for the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, our thoughts will turn to the tall and manly form of Ion Keith-Falconer.
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REV. GEORGE RAINY KENNEDY, DORNOCH
(Died June 29, 1899.)
Author Rev. Principal Rainy, D.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1899, p.215
Mr. Kennedy was the son of the Rev. Angus Kennedy, minister successively at Lairg and at Dornoch. The father was well known in his time as a man evangelical in his doctrine, exhibiting a high standard of personal conduct, and remarkable for independence and force of character. His wife was a daughter of the Rev. George Rainy of Criech. George, the eldest son, was born at Lairg, November 3, 1812. By-and-by his father’s translation to Dornoch brought him to the scene in which so much of his life was to be spent. He studied at the University of Glasgow. Among his contemporaries and friends at college may be mentioned William Arnot and Dr. Hanna. Though the latter was an older and a more advanced student, between him and Mr. Kennedy a very special college friendship existed. Mr. Kennedy received licence in 1836, after which, for a year, he took charge of the parish of Helmsdale. He then became assistant to his father at Dornoch, and was ordained there as assistant and successor in 1837. He became known at once as an impressive and attractive preacher. Sharing in the religious impression and impulse experienced at that time by so many of the rising ministry in Scotland, the gospel became the central influence of his thought and life. His preaching, alike in Gaelic and in English, was frankly evangelical, and it was delivered with great freedom and power. Perhaps its most distinctive feature was its intellectual strength and vigorous good sense. Mr. Kennedy probably wrote few sermons, but he had acquired the art of studying thoroughly by sustained and systematic meditation, and perhaps no system more than this, if it is honestly worked out, gives a man a thorough grasp of his subject. With most of us it fails, because the process becomes discontinuous and superficial, and the pen must come in to define and record results, and to force the mind to reckon with its own plans and processes.
The success which attended Mr. Kennedy must have been largely enhanced by the remarkable kindliness of his disposition. This made his friendship acceptable to all classes and to all kinds of men, and it endears his memory to all who knew him.
Mr. Kennedy shared in the impressions and excitement of the Disruption, and carried out with him almost the whole congregation of Dornoch as it then was. His father was equally decided, but by that time was less able to undertake laborious duties. A leading part in organizing and providing for congregations in Sutherlandshire naturally fell to Mr. Kennedy, and the writer can remember his speaking of having had to preach one Sabbath to five congregations in five distinct places. In 1845 he was released for six months from his ordinary work in Dornoch, that he might itinerate in Mull and organize congregations there.
Mr. Kennedy as a preacher was greatly valued throughout the Northern Highlands, and not there alone; but for the most part he declined preaching engagements in the south, and consequently was a stranger to south country congregations. In all cases he avoided or discouraged calls, and the few that reached him, notwithstanding, he declined. He remained resolutely at his post in Dornoch during the whole period of his active ministry, and retained the respect and the devoted attachment of his people throughout his life.
Vigorous and laborious as he was, his health at one time seemed to be threatened; but he outlived the weakness, and enjoyed a healthy old age, having, at the time of his death, passed his eighty-sixth birthday. He resigned his charge in 1880, and lived for some years in Edinburgh, but returned to his own house at Dornoch in 1894. He was twice married, and by his second wife had two sons, the elder of whom is the Rev. H. A. A. Kennedy, Free Church, Callander.
Mr. Kennedy had much of the ease, culture, and hospitality of the clerical gentleman of the old school. With him have passed away many pleasant memories and traditions of bygone days. While he kept the tenor of his own way in religious, intellectual, and social life, and had a shrewd eye for facts and characters, he was himself one of the most unpretending of men. He retained to the last much of the youthfulness of feeling which had qualified him throughout his life to brighten every circle of which he formed part. One more distinction must not be forgotten. He was the last surviving Disruption minister of any Highland charge. In that respect, as in some others, his departure makes an epoch in the history through which we are passing.
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REV. JOHN KENNEDY, GREENOCK
(Died December 21, 1870)
Author: Rev. John Nelson, D.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 1, 1871, p.37
The Rev. John Kennedy, minister of the Free Gaelic Church, Greenock, died at Bristol. He had been in feeble health for many months before, and was proceeding to the milder climate of South Devonshire, when the Lord thus weakened his strength in the way and shortened his days. He finished his course before he had completed his thirty-eighth year.
Mr. Kennedy was born at Kishorn, in the parish of Applecross. in Wester Ross — the son of godly parents, who took the deepest interest in his studies for the holy ministry. His father and mother were taken away within the last two years, and must have had great comfort in the career of their son, who was destined so soon to follow them into the rest of the promised land. During schoolboy days he was noted for his modest and quiet disposition, which kept him from taking much part in the usual games of the playground and the countryside. This, however, did not arise from any morbid dislike to amusement and exercise; for he was always exceedingly fond of boating, and exhibited no small skill as a youth in managing his little craft on the arm of sea where his father’s farm lay. He early acquired a moral ascendency over his companions, who knew that any impropriety in word or deed gave him pain, and would draw down his rebuke. He passed from the parish school of Redcastle to the Academy of Inverness, and thence to the University of Aberdeen, where he studied for two sessions — the remainder of his curriculum having been completed in Edinburgh. One of his fellow-students at Aberdeen states that they were in the habit of devoting a portion of time each morning in private Bible-reading before the exercise of social worship, and that he never knew an instance, in which Mr. Kennedy omitted thus to begin the day with God and His blessed Word. All accounts appear to prove, that the seeds of the divine life were sown within him from his youth, and that his seriousness of manner was itself the token and index of early discipleship. Be this however as it may, it was not till seventeen years ago, that he opened his mind to his father in a letter which is still in his brother’s possession, and which expresses his good hope through grace of knowing whom he believed.
He was settled in Greenock in 1859, as minister of the Free Gaelic congregation, which had enjoyed the services of a succession of able and faithful pastors. The Gaelic-speaking population of Greenock is large and mixed, and the town itself may fairly be regarded as the key to the Western Highlands. The duties of such a sphere of labour are proportionally arduous, the thought of which made him hesitate not a little before accepting the call. However, his way was made plain by the belief, that the finger of God was pointing him to the field of his pastorate, and, as it has turned out, of his life-work. During these eleven years he enjoyed the confidence and esteem of his flock, as well as of Christ’s people in other Evangelical denominations. His congregation can fully testify to his clear statements of gospel truth, his unction and spirituality of mind, his earnest commendation of the Christ of God to one and to all. Out of the pulpit, he was noted for the accuracy of his scholarship, his order and method in the discharge of ministerial duty, and his high-toned consistency as one who sought to live daily under the eye of the Master. He presided over meetings of his office-bearers with much discretion — never uttering an unkind word, never shewing favour — hearing patiently the views of all, and receiving in return the tribute of their cooperation and good-will. He took a special interest in his Bible classes, and made full use of his varied reading in Theology and general Literature for behoof of those, who had settled in Greenock from all parts of the Highlands, and were growing up to manhood and womanhood around him. He was well versed in the public questions of the day affecting the Church and the world — and his brethren in the Presbytery could not but honour his independence of judgment, as well as his firm adherence to the convictions of truth and duty.
It is hard to say, when he came under the grasp of his fatal malady. Medical men detected symptoms of serious ailment years before he became a minister, and he repeatedly spoke about length of days as a doubtful blessing, on which his heart was by no means set. His friends can recall many incidents which proved his sense of life’s tenure as precarious, although he generally kept such thoughts within the secret chamber of his own heart. Apart from former illnesses, some of which were exceedingly severe, he suffered much from the keen east winds which prevailed in Edinburgh during the Assembly of 1869, as also from exposure after a sudden summons to visit his dying mother. He preached last in the month of June. When he went thereafter to Wester Ross, the people of the district came in great numbers, and from great distances, to inquire about him, knowing his personal worth as a minister of the Lord Jesus, and remembering the affection they had for him in his earlier days. The Continental Committee at one time hoped that he might recruit by a sojourn at one of their southern stations, but absolute rest from all kind of duty was insisted on by his physician. He was persuaded to leave Greenock for Torquay, and had proceeded as far as Bristol, when severe haemorrhage supervened, requiring removal from the railway station to the Hotel. Providentially he was accompanied by Miss Buchanan of this town whose brother (also removed by early death) had been one of his most useful office-bearers and intimate friends. Great kindness was paid to him by the people of the Hotel during the five eventful days of his last sickness, as well as by the physicians who were summoned in the emergency. Certainly he had not expected such a sudden collapse of strength on leaving home; he even spoke about future plans of travel as the season advanced. But it was ordered otherwise, and he was ready. So far from shewing any alarm when he felt the tide of life ebbing away, he meekly requested Miss Buchanan to be calm, and bowed himself before the decree of Him, whose sovereignty is that of perfect holiness and love. It is specially interesting to notice that one of the last texts he quoted was that one (2 Tim. 1:12) about knowing whom he believed, which he had made use of in his letter to his father concerning his spiritual state seventeen years before. He requested two passages to read to him — the 103rd Psalm and the 14th of John’s Gospel — with their cognate lessons of gratitude for the past and hope for the future. His death was thus in many things the counterpart of his quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Funeral sermons were preached by Rev. Mr Lauder of Strachur, Ralph Smith of Glasgow, and MacDonald of Applecross. He is buried in the Greenock Cemetery, according to a wish expressed by himself to that effect some years ago.
To our poor view, it seems strange that the Good Shepherd should order the under-shepherd’s death in circumstances so touching as these; but our doubts and misgivings vanish when we know, that He is with His own in all the incidents of their history, as well as in all the places of their sojourn, and that none can pluck them out of His hand. The shadow of death crosses their path in strange localities, as here, in a dwelling where travellers tarry but for a night. Yet this is the very lesson which Scripture enforces in divers ways. How often did God tell Abraham that the land of Canaan was one in which he was a stranger! Did not the Psalmist speak about God’s statutes being his songs in the house of his pilgrimage? Above all, was not Jesus born in the manger beside the inn and was not His work as the preacher of righteousness finished within the compass of a few years? Evidently the standard of measurement is not that of the dial-plate of time but the reckoning of eternity. By death the Lord calls His servants and people from the outer courts of the Temple into the Holiest of all.
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REV. CATHEL KERR, M.A., MELNESS
(Died March 11, 1900)
Author: William Mackay, Thurso
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July, 1900, Obituary, p.195
The winter of 1899-1900 and the South African War have left their sad memories in many communities and in many homes. While every county in Scotland, and almost every parish, has been represented in the lists of killed and wounded, the parish of Tongue, Sutherland, and the district of Melness have had a specially sad experience in the death, at Kimberley, of the Rev. Cathel Kerr, who volunteered as chaplain to the Highland Brigade.
Mr. Kerr was a native of Farr, Sutherland, and was born on June 8, 1865. In early youth he was fired with a strong desire to preach the gospel; and though in the attainment of this he had many difficulties to encounter, the indomitable courage and energy which were so characteristic of his later years stood him in good stead in his earlier days.
He was a Macphail bursar, and was educated at Rainings School, Inverness, and the Grammar School, Aberdeen. He was a graduate of Aberdeen University, and took his divinity course at the Free Church College in that city. As a student he took a good position in all his classes, while during the summer vacation he was regularly employed in missionary work. In Harris, under the Rev. Mr. McLean, he became accustomed to hard work, especially during a revival which took place there, and in which he took a very prominent part. He was for some years assistant to the Rev. Alexander Lee, late of Nairn, as well as to Mr. Macdonald, Logie-Easter. In the absence of Dr. Macdonald, the pastor, he had charge of the Queen Street Church, Inverness, for six months, where he made many warm personal friends. Thus during his career as a student he had exceptional opportunities for exercising his gift as a preacher of the gospel, and for getting insight into pastoral work.
In November 1894, after a unanimous call, Mr. Kerr was ordained to the charge of Melness and Erriboll in the Tongue Presbytery, as successor to the late Rev. James Cumming. Here he had two churches in which he preached, giving two Sabbaths to Melness and one to Erriboll, fifteen miles distant. His people were scattered over a very wide district, and in winter especially he had to face much exposure and fatigue. He entered on his work with great spirit, and his labours, especially among the young, will bear lasting fruit.
In addition to the spiritual oversight of his congregation, Mr. Kerr found it necessary to undertake extensive repairs on the manse as well as the erection of a new church at Melness. The raising of funds for this purpose devolved entirely upon himself, and no one could have done so more successfully. His interesting personality, and the brave way in which he faced the difficulties he had to encounter, secured for him a ready response from those to whom he applied for assistance. When he left for South Africa he was only £200 short of the whole amount required, and in a letter to the writer he expressed his confidence that on his return he would have that sum cleared off.
Mr. Kerr’s labours were not confined to his congregation. He was a public-spirited man, and both as a member of the School Board of Tongue and as a County Councillor took a warm interest in public affairs. He was specially interested in the scheme of the Congested Districts Board for forming new crofter settlements in Strathnaver, and interviewed Lord Balfour and other members of the Board upon the subject.
The leading features of his character were earnestness and enthusiasm in any work he undertook, and his aim to use the talents God had given him in His service.
The circumstances which led to his early and lamented death are well known to the readers of the Monthly. An opportunity having been given to the Free Church to send a chaplain to South Africa to minister to the Highland Brigade, Mr. Kerr, who was south at the time in connection with the build-of his new church, volunteered, and without even returning to see his family, sailed for the Cape. On his arrival there, there was some unavoidable delay in his being appointed to any special regiment, but he did excellent work in the hospitals at Wynberg and Rondebosch, where he found and ministered to many men from the Highland counties. Eventually he was attached to the Scots Greys, an appointment which gave him much satisfaction. Several letters were received from him giving interesting information as to his work, and then came a telegram containing the sad news of his death from enteric fever. After having continued with his regiment on the march towards Paardeberg for several days, he had been seized with fever, and carried across the veldt to Kimberley, where he died on 11th March. A fortnight before, he had preached his last sermon in Kimberley from the text, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.”
His career as an army chaplain was a short one; we had hardly ceased rejoicing with him in his appointment when we were appalled by the sudden and sad news of his death. Short though his period of active service was, it was a period of ceaseless activity, and of great mental and physical strain, which rapidly told on a constitution not over robust, but which was upheld by his enthusiasm both as a patriot and a Christian.
Mr. Kerr was married to the eldest daughter of the Rev. D. Mackenzie, Farr, and for her and her two children there has been the greatest widespread sympathy. His parents, now aged people, who have had much affliction in their family, have a strong claim on the sympathy of the whole church, and so have his sorrowing congregation, who have been so suddenly bereaved of a beloved pastor.
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REV. GABRIEL KERR, GLASGOW
(Died July 29, 1882)
Author: Rev. James Kessen, Bathgate
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.370
Mr. Kerr was born at Stewarton, in Ayrshire, of respectable parentage, and was wont to speak lovingly of his mother (his father died while he was a boy) as having given him a strong bias, if not something more, to a godly life.
After receiving his education, he was brought to Paisley, and was engaged for a few years in a secular calling; but his heart was set on the Christian ministry, and, as might be expected, he availed himself of all the means of spiritual instruction and spiritual improvement that were so richly supplied in the High Church there, with which he was connected, and which was then under the powerful ministry of the Rev. Mr. Macnaughtan, now in Belfast. And as during these years the Church, in many parts, was throbbing with revived spiritual life and energy, his desire to proclaim the gospel grew more and more. His paternal uncle, hearing of this, offered to supply him with the means of prosecuting his professional studies.
Mr. Kerr studied partly at Glasgow and partly at Edinburgh Universities, and his whole theological training was obtained at the New College in George Street. He took a respectable place in all his classes, but was distinguished in the logic class, then under the renowned Sir William Hamilton.
For some years, after receiving license from the Edinburgh Presbytery, he was employed at various preaching stations, such as Chapelton, Waterside, etc., and did good work at them all. At a later period he began labouring in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, under the Free Tron Church of that city. Having proved himself an acceptable worker, and gathered round him a goodly number of people, he was ordained as minister of the congregation in 1867.
All the various departments of Christian and Church work were carried on vigorously and with considerable success, especially in the Sabbath schools. At length a church was built—the present large and commodious Cowcaddens Free Church.
Mr. Kerr was a highly conscientious, large-hearted, open-handed man, a diligent student of the Bible, a well-read theologian. As a preacher he was earnest and faithful, always striving to win souls, and his discourses were solid and instructive, the product of careful preparation.
From the first, unfortunately, there was a heavy debt upon his church. This was a constant source of sorrow to him, as collecting money to wipe it off encroached so much upon his time and energies, which he longed to give to pulpit and congregational work. Still, he was unwearied in his labours among his flock, by whom he was greatly beloved, and to the poor he was often a “friend indeed.” Only three years ago he married a daughter of the late Dr. Stewart of Maryhill, and his young widow now mourns his loss. He was sixty-two years old. His death, though sudden, was peaceful and happy.
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REV. JAMES KESSEN, BATHGATE
(Died March 10, 1892)
Author: Rev. J. Anderson, Polmont
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1892, Obituary, p.124
Mr. Kessen was born in Paisley on 28th September 1820. His father was an elder in the United Presbyterian church there, and one who took a deep interest in the religious education of the young. His own house was a Bethel, and young Kessen from his earliest years moved in a spiritual atmosphere. Need we wonder that he attached so much importance to family religion, or that he held so firmly the position that many children in their most tender years undergo a saving change without being able to look back and give the day and date thereof? He knew that he was resting in Christ, but when he began to do so he could not tell.
He received his education first at the Grammar School of his native town, thereafter at the Glasgow University. When he began his university course perhaps his thoughts were of the ministry of the United Presbyterian Church; but in course of time a change came over his mind. The Rev. John Macnaughtan was then minister of the Free High Church, Paisley. His eloquence and earnestness, but especially his clear exposition of Free Church principles, appears to have captivated both heart and mind of the young student. The result was Kessen proceeded to the New College, Edinburgh.
He was licensed in May 1848, and ordained at Bathgate in September 1851 as successor of Rev. Samuel Martin. The spiritual life of Bathgate, notwithstanding the earnest evangelical preaching of Mr. Martin, was then at a low ebb. But the revival in 1862 produced a marvellous change. When Mr. Kessen came to Bathgate he could get only one or two to pray in public. Since the revival he has been surrounded by a numerous body of earnest workers and men of prayer.
At the date of Mr. Kessen’s ordination the Free Presbytery of Linlithgow consisted of twelve charges; now the number has increased to twenty-three. Of the toil and anxiety connected with this amount of Church extension he had his full share. There was first the station at Armadale committed to his care. In 1861 this station was raised to a regular charge. To form the nucleus of this charge, Mr. Kessen and his session cheerfully gave off some thirty or more members residing in the neighbourhood. A few-years later a station was opened at Crofthead. Mr. Kessen took a leading part in this movement. Together with Mr. Irving of Falkirk and Mr. Tulloch of Livingstone, he became personally responsible for the cost of the new church. Few have any idea of the toil and trouble which this charge entailed on him; but he manfully stuck to his post till the station was raised to a regular charge and the debt on the church wiped off.
Mr. Kessen had a vigorous and robust constitution, equal to any reasonable amount of fatigue and exposure. But the strongest constitution may be overtaxed. About twelve years ago he got wet and caught a chill while attending a children’s trip.
This brought on a severe attack of rheumatic from which he never fully recovered.
In July last he caught another chill, which brought on another attack of rheumatic fever. This was followed by an attack of influenza about the New Year. Then on the 3rd March of this year, he caught another chill. Congestion of the lungs set in, which proved fatal on the 10th of the same month.
On the Tuesday before his death he was very weak. The end seemed at hand. Mrs. Kessen asked him how he felt. “Peace, perfect peace,” he replied. He was able only for a few words to those around his bed, and a message to his son in Australia, when he sank into a stupor which continued till the end.
He was an earnest evangelical preacher a kind and sympathizing pastor. In the Presbytery he was always friendly and obliging towards his brethren, never shrinking from work laid upon him and always to be depended on for doing that work conscientiously. He held decided opinions, but he always gave his brethren credit for their convictions when they differed from him.
The funeral will be long remembered by us all. All the ministers of the town took part in the funeral service. Nearly all the members of Presbytery were present. The merchants of the town gracefully put up their shutters as a mark of respect; and stormy as the day was, a very large represention of the congregation and public followed the remains to the place of interment in Bathgate Cemetery.
Softly and pathetically the precentor, with a choir of female voices, sang three verses of Mr. Kessen’s dying hymn, “Peace, perfect peace.”
He has left a widow, two sons, and a daughter.
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REV. DR. ANDREW KING, HALIFAX
(Died February 24, 1874)
Author: Rev. Lewis H. Irving, Falkirk
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, June 1, 1874, p.127
Dr. King was born at Glasgow on January 27, 1793, his father, Mr. John King, being a mill-owner there. He was educated for the ministry, but spent the earlier years of his manhood in teaching. He was ordained minister, and settled in the quiet rural parish of Torphichen on April 27, 1830. His diligent discharge of the pastoral duties and the earnestness of his pulpit services were duly appreciated by his flock; and after nearly six years’ work amongst them, it was to their great regret that he removed to Glasgow on being appointed minister to the newly-erected charge of St. Stephen’s, to which he was inducted on February 19, 1836. He gathered round him there a large and attached congregation, to whose spiritual interests he devoted himself for eleven years with much painstaking. He had an active share in all the stirring times that preceded the Disruption, steadfastly maintaining the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ over his Church, and the claims of minister and people to render allegiance to him alone in all matters spiritual. He took a cordial part in the general and local arrangements consequent on the formation of the Free Church and her institutions, rejoicing to aid in rearing the old banner for “Christ and his cause.”
Subsequently Dr. King was sent to our American colonies on deputation work, and shortly after his return was appointed Professor of Theology in the newly-formed Free Church College at Halifax, Nova Scotia, an office for which he was well qualified by the direction and extent of his previous studies, and the precision and clearness wherewith he habitually conveyed his meaning to the minds of others. He entered on the work of his professorship in 1848, and continued in the careful discharge of its duties for about twenty-one years, during which a large share of home mission and ministerial work devolved on him through the necessities of the colony, where new Free churches had to be planted, organized, and fostered amid a great dearth of ministers and preachers. When the negotiations for union with the United Presbyterian Church in the colony, in which Dr. King had a distinct and prominent part, were brought to a successful issue, and the union in Nova Scotia was consummated, the college was necessarily new modelled; but Dr. King continued in his professorship, struggling with bad health and increasing infirmities, until in 1871 he was compelled to resign all active work. He returned to Scotland with Mrs. King in 1872, calmly and trustfully awaiting his Master’s summons, recognizing that his work on earth was done. After residing for some time in Edinburgh, he removed to Helensburgh, where he died on February 24, 1874, and was interred in the new cemetery there on the 28th of that month. He has left a widow, but no children.
Dr. King possessed an intellect of rare clearness and logical accuracy; he was well read, especially in Theology and Church History. He had weighed and matured his views with great care; they were entirely in unison with those of the Scottish worthies of the first and second Reformations: these views he maintained unflinchingly and with all his heart, but without acrimony or self-assertion. His advocacy or defence of his conscientious convictions was never offensively expressed, but calmly and decidedly, with an utter want of all controversial violence or irritating personalities. However tenacious and indomitable in asserting what he held to be true, there was no sourness in him even when his arguments failed to convince others. His preaching was earnest and thoroughly scriptural. Pretending to no gifts of high eloquence or rhetoric, and devoid of the powerful but sometimes dangerous aid of a fertile and vivid imagination, he set forth the truth of God with all clearness and explicitness, in a way well fitted to arrest the careless and to furnish to the Lord’s people substantial nourishment. He preached Christ with manifest single-heartedness and sincerity of soul, speaking out of the experience of his own heart.
The kindliness, unassumingness, thorough straight-forwardness, and unselfishness of his character, deservedly endeared him to all who had close fellowship with him, whether as a minister, an instructor, or a friend; whilst his shrewdness, prudence, and integrity made him a valuable and trustworthy adviser, both in matters public and personal. There was to a stranger, when first brought into intercourse with Dr. King, a certain amount of stiffness or reserve of manner, arising mainly out of retiringness of disposition and averseness to all display, which had to be overcome; but this slight crust was soon worn through, more especially when there was harmony of feeling as by the momentous truths of God’s Word. Those who knew him best esteemed him most, and all who had the privilege of his intimacy will affectionately cherish his memory as that of a single-hearted and devoted servant of the Lord.
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REV. ROBERT KINNEAR, MOFFAT
(Died July 10, 1883)
Author: Rev. W. Bennet, Marlfield, Moffat
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.309
Robert Kinnear was born in Edinburgh, in December 1811, his father being a bookseller in that city, and an elder in St. George’s congregation.
He received the earlier part of his education at the High School. After completing his curriculum in arts at the University, he entered a lawyer’s office, where he acquired a knowledge of business that in after years greatly enhanced his usefulness. Profiting much by the preaching and influence of Dr. Andrew Thomson, he seems at an early age to have experienced the power of the truth; and in due time he was led to dedicate himself to the work of the ministry. At the time when he entered the Divinity Hall, Chalmers and Welsh had begun to exert a most stirring and salutary influence on the minds of their students. Among the intimate friends of Robert Kinnear at that period were such men as McCheyne, Somerville, the Bonars, and Robert Johnston, afterwards missionary at Madras. Along with some of these congenial spirits, he paid special attention to the study of the Hebrew Scriptures. After finishing his attendance at college, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Dumfries. He was subsequently employed as assistant at Stranraer, at Kilmarnock, and at Kelso.
In 1841, he received from the Marquis of Queensberry a presentation to the parish of Torthorwald, near Dumfries. The condition of the district presented some difficulties, as party feeling ran high at the time; yet Mr. Kinnear was well received by his parishioners, and his ministrations came to be greatly valued by them. In those days the controversy which occasioned the Disruption was rapidly approaching its crisis. Quietly, but firmly, the young minister maintained the principles of spiritual independence and non-intrusion; and when the time for deliberation had passed, he, in obedience to the call of Christian duty, left one of the most pleasant and advantageous situations in the south of Scotland, literally not knowing whither he went. The number of adherents to Free Church principles in his small parish did not suffice to constitute a new congregation, while the expenses incurred during his brief incumbency made the sacrifice all the greater; yet he did not repine.
Shortly after the Disruption, he received a unanimous call from the Free Church congregation newly formed at Moffat, where he was not a complete stranger. To this flock he ministered for many years with constant energy, patience, and activity; and, at a time when the burden of ecclesiastical work was heavy, and there were few to bear it, he was also unwearied in his attention to the business of church courts.
It was not until the vigour of his constitution had begun to yield to organic disease that he was induced to apply for permanent assistance. In 1869, the Rev. Kenneth Moody Stuart was appointed colleague-pastor. Yet, until last year, Mr. Kinnear continued to take his usual share in the Sabbath services, and, despite of failing strength, to bestow much attention on presbyterial as well as congregational work.
To many excellent natural qualities Mr. Kinnear added some of the best graces of the Christian. His earnestness was manifest to all; but only his more intimate friends could appreciate his tenderness of conscience, his abiding sense of spiritual realities, and, withal, the geniality and kindness of his inmost nature. As a minister, he endeavoured, in all circumstances, to follow his Master, Christ. In his preparations for the pulpit he was industrious to an unusual degree; and he never hesitated to declare the whole counsel of God; but Christ Jesus constituted the main theme of his discourses. His natural sensitiveness was apt to produce an impression of reserve or stiffness, which interfered with his popularity as a preacher; his faults lay, indeed, in the direction of over-scrupulousness. By his familiar friends and constant hearers he was better understood, for they knew that he lived under the continued influence of those principles which he taught. In his visitations, and in attention to the sick or afflicted, he was unwearied; nor did he confine such service to members of his congregation, for he bestowed them willingly on all who sought his aid. From persons unwilling to profit by his ministrations he did not withdraw his kindness in time of need. To the interests of the poor he was ever attentive; and his deep interest in education fitted him to effect much good as a member of the Moffat School Board, of which he became chairman. The youth of his own congregation were special objects of his solicitude, which was frequently manifested in kindly converse with them. Some of them, who were removed by death at an early age, made grateful acknowledgment of their obligations to him as their spiritual father.
In the funeral sermon, preached by his old friend, the Rev. Walter Smith of Half-morton, it was stated, ”If there was any work of difficulty to be performed, Mr. Kinnear was the man to steer his way through its intricacies. If the courts of the Church have been saved these forty years the necessity of reviewing the judgments that this Presbytery had been called on to pronounce, we feel bound to attribute this, in a very great degree, to the clear judgment and patient industry of Mr. Kinnear.” In Church politics, he strove to carry out the same principles which had ruled his conduct at the Disruption period. To changes he was somewhat averse, and to some his sentiments might seem to savour more of the former days than the present; yet to extreme views, and measures of a divisive tendency, he had a strong dislike. Avoiding all interference in politics, he yet retained, almost to the last, a keen interest in all events that could affect the good of the Church or the nation.
In all relations, in truth, he proved himself a faithful man, taught and led by the Spirit of truth. To him “to live was Christ, and to die was gain.”
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REV. JAMES KIPPEN, ARROCHAR
Source: Minutes of the Free Presbytery of Dumbarton, 7th December, 1881
The Presbytery hereby record their sense of the loss they have sustained by the death of their brother the Rev. James Kippen: called in 1866 from Raasay, to fill as colleague the charge of Arrochar, Mr Kippen was eminently qualified by natural gifts, high scholarship, and large experience to perform the duties of that peculiar charge. To the resident Gaelic-speaking portion of the congregation he was able with much acceptance, to preach the gospel in their native lanuguage, and to his whole congregatgion – which in the summer months was largely augmented by visitors to the neighbourhood – he was able to present his Master’s message with rare felicity and power. His death in the noon-tide of his life and work speaks to the Presbytery its own impressive lesson. It is the desire of the court to commend to God, the widow of their departed brother – praying that in her sorrow she may be upheld by the sustaining presence of the Lord Jesus.
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REV. JOHN KIRK, ARBIRLOT
(Died 4th March, 1858)
The Home and Foreign Record of the Free Church of Scotland, 1858
At the Free Church Manse of Arbirlot, on March 4, the Rev. John Kirk, in the sixty-third year of his age.
Mr Kirk was ordained to the ministry in 1824. and has laboured in the vineyard of the Lord thirty-four years. He was first settled as minister of the parish of Barry, and on Dr Guthrie’s translation to St John’s, Edinburgh, Mr Kirk succeeded him at Arbirlot. At the period of the Disruption, Mr Kirk took a part in obedience to his deepest convictions, and, having counted the cost, cast in his lot joyfully with those who, on that occasion, left the Established Church. The following years brought him no small privations, from his having to preach in a wooden shed, and live at some distance from his congregation. He was a man of cultivated mind, of deportment becoming his high calling, and of conversation that savoured of “the things of Christ,” and “ministered to the use of edifying.” He has departed much regretted by his people and his brethren in the ministry, by both of whom his memory will be long and warmly cherished.
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REV. GEORGE FULTON KNIGHT, EAST WEMYSS
(Died February 12, 1891)
Author: Rev. Thomas Brown, D.D., Edinburgh
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1891, Obituary, p.149
In the death of Mr. Knight of Wemyss another of the loved and venerated Disruption fathers of our Church has passed away.
He was born at Edinburgh on the 8th of June 1808. His father was a well-known teacher, whose school was attended by most of the younger children of the upper classes in Edinburgh. He was an elder in the Tolbooth Church, where, during past generations, many of the most devoted Christian laymen in the city were accustomed to worship. There young Knight grew up under the ministry of Dr. Davidson and Dr. Campbell. He received his education at the High School and University of Edinburgh, where he took an honourable place among his fellow-students. At the Divinity Hall he studied under Dr. Chalmers, then in the zenith of his powers.
In 1832 he was licensed, and during the same year was ordained as parish minister at Mordington in Berwickshire. There he found, as he states, that, “with the exception of one or two, the whole ministers of the Presbytery were of the old Moderate school, and the parishes were pervaded by general apathy.” His own parish had been long under that influence, and it was said that one of his predecessors, who died a good many years before his settlement, had been a particularly objectionable specimen of the class to which he belonged.
I remember well how Mr. Knight’s coming was welcomed in Berwickshire, and how his preaching was appreciated at Langton when he assisted my father at communion seasons. Mr. Wilson of Welnage, formerly of Edington Mains, a large farm not far from Mordington, has kindly supplied some notes describing Mr. Knight’s entrance on his work.
“Mordington is a very small parish, with a church seated for one hundred and twenty hearers. Under Mr. Knight’s faithful and earnest ministry it was soon crammed to the door, and many more people from neighbouring parishes would have attended had there been room to receive them. The young minister was highly appreciated, but his ways were most distasteful to his co-presbyters. One of his proceedings which gave great offence was his bringing a representative elder from his session to the meeting of Presbytery. For a very long time there had been no such thing known. Indeed, at the beginning of the century the eldership had become all but obsolete in these parishes. For many years there were only two remaining (one of whom I remember), and these two, every summer, were in requisition to assist at the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the several parishes, the particular day for its observance in each case having to be arranged beforehand, so as to suit the convenience of these two worthies. Another offence given by Mr. Knight was that he insisted on the meetings of Presbytery being closed before dinner. Their practice had been to keep the sederunt open, on the pretext that omissions which might have been made could be supplied before they separated, with the result that many a time there never was any formal closing at all. Mr. Knight urged that he was entitled to know when the business was concluded without having to remain to dinner. He only succeeded in carrying the point by threatening to appeal to the higher courts. Dr.____ (a leading minister in the Presbytery) once said to me, ‘That man Knight is a mystery to me. In private he is the mildest and gentlest of men, but at the Presbytery he is constantly fighting with us about something or other.’ Moderates had little sympathy with those who made conscience of duty.”
When the Ten Years’ Conflict began, it increased the difficulties of Mr. Knight’s position; but all through he faithfully upheld the principles of the Church’s spiritual independence, and at the Disruption, without hesitation, cast in his lot with the Free Church.
“The most of his congregation,” Mr. Wilson states, “came out with him. They obtained a site about half a mile from the parish church, on which they managed to erect a very plain building of a size suitable to their numbers. No house could be obtained for the minister in the parish or conveniently near it, and so, in default of better, Mr. Knight during the remainder of his ministry at Mordington occupied the upper flat of the farmhouse at Edingtonhill, which, happily, I was able to put at his service. This was four miles distant from his church, which necessarily entailed very serious fatigue and inconvenience on him and his family, to which, however, he cheerfully submitted. About a year after the Disruption, when he had seen the church at Mordington erected and the congregation organized and landed on its new footing, he accepted a call from the Free Church at East Wemyss.” He had been blessed at Mordington with much success in his pastoral work, and had proved his faithfulness in the courts of the Church and amidst the trials of the Disruption.
At Wemyss, after his settlement in 1844, Mr. Knight found a wider field for the exercise of his powers, and for long years made full proof of his ministry. In his views of divine truth he adhered heart and soul to the old Reformation theology. Habitually conscientious in preparing for the pulpit, he sought with all his powers to bring the message of salvation home to the hearts of his people. At the same time, he was a man of refined taste, whose discourses were not only clear and full of fervour, but often beautiful in expression. In other parts of ministerial work he was devoted and faithful above many. To the young he gave special attention, both in the Sabbath school and in the advanced classes. In times of affliction his faithful and tender attentions to the sick and the dying were welcomed and valued. Among the poor and the needy he was ever ready with his help. His delight indeed — even apart from his pastoral work — was to do good to all as he had opportunity. He took, for example, a deep interest in everything intended to promote the social and material as well as the religious welfare of the large mining population of the district.
In private life he was modest and unobtrusive, a Christian gentleman, kind and considerate to all around him. His whole manner and bearing gave you the impression that he walked closely with God, while he lived and moved under a deep sense of the responsibility of his work. Thus for many years he went in and out among his people, leading before all men a consistent life, honoured by his brethren in the ministry, and followed by the universal respect of all classes of the community among whom he lived.
Such was the work which went on for nearly forty years after his settlement at Wemyss. At last his health, which had never been robust, began to fail, and in 1881, the Rev. L. A. Muirhead, B.D., was ordained as his colleague and successor. This welcome change enabled him to obtain the rest he so much needed. For a time he resided at Aberdeen, in order to be near his eldest son; afterwards he went to England, but on recovering some measure of health, he came again to reside at Wemyss, and so far as his strength would allow he took part in the pastoral work. Thus the evening of his days was peacefully spent amidst the people and the work he loved. The end came when he was on a visit to his son in Manchester, where, on the 12th February 1891, he passed away in his eighty-third year. After a long life of devoted Christian usefulness, the “good and faithful servant” entered the joy of his Lord.
He leaves a widow with four sons and two daughters. Two of his sons have entered the ministry — the Rev. G. F. Knight of Dollar, Aberdeen, and Bearsden, Glasgow, and the Rev. W. Knight, LL.D., of Dundee, now Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of St. Andrews. One son is a medical practitioner at Keswick, and another is in business at Manchester.
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REV. RUDOLF KOENIG
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1894, Among the Jews, p.255
News has reached us of the death of Mr Koenig, which took place at Potsdam on the 16th of September. A licentiate of the Prussian Church, he entered the employment of our Jewish Mission Committee at Constantinople in 1845, and two years thereafter was ordained, with the special sanction of the General Assembly, by the Presbytery of Edinburgh. After spending the winter of 1847-8 in room of Mr. Wingate at Budapest, he returned to Constantinople, where he laboured till 1863. He was then transferred to Budapest, where he continued to labour, till, on account of the failure of his health, he resigned in October, 1890. His friend and fellow-worker, Mr. Tomory, writing from Constantinople on the 24th September, says that the news of his death “recalls a world of associations, and throws memory back to a long bygone time, even to the beginning of our Galata Mission. Mr. Koenig was twenty years here, and had his full share of the pioneering work, when Galata was a hard field, true fallow ground, and it required all the faith and patience to maintain and continue the work. On looking back to the time of small things, we cannot but adore the Giver of every good and perfect gift for his vouchsafed blessing. What a change ! He left us in 1863 for Budapest but his name and memory are not forgotten. He was a fine German preacher. It was not only edifying to hear him, but it was often a treat to listen to the outflow of oratory. I learned much from him.” He leaves a widow to mourn his loss.
(Died September 16, 1894)
Author: Rev. A. Tomory, Constantinople
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1894, Obituary, p.289
The Rev. Rudolf Koenig was born in Dantzig, Prussia, in the year 1816. He received his school education in his native town, and then studied successively at the universities of Berlin and Bonn. In the former place he enjoyed the privilege of the teaching of such men as Hengstenberg and Nitsch; but it was from his student years in Bonn that Mr. Koenig dated his spiritual birth.
Soon after completing his university course, he was led, in the providence of God, to Constantinople, where he first occupied the position of assistant-chaplain to the Prussian Embassy. He might have obtained promotion in that service, but having become acquainted with the Scotch and American missionaries at Constantinople, he decided to devote kimself to the Free Church Mission to the Jews in that city. Mr. Koenig was ordained in Edinburgh in 1847, and in the same year he married Miss Gumprecht of Glasgow, and returned to the work at Constantinople, whore he laboured till 1863. His fine preaching from the first attracted a considerable audience of German-speaking residents, who became very much attached to him. For the Jewish Mission at Galata it was still but sowing-time, yet Mr. Koenig and his fellow-workers laboured assiduously with voice and with pen. He was for years engaged in preparing a Judeo-German translation of the Old Testament, the first edition of which was almost entirely bought up in Roumania. He also revised the German translation of the Shorter Catechism, adding a number of Messianic passages to the proofs. This proved a most valuable work, and has been blessed to many. In 1863 Mr. Koenig was called by the Free Church to the mission work at Budapest, and there he found full scope for his preaching gifts and for his organizing powers. He consolidated the German congregation on its present footing; and his tact and prudence reconciled Superintendent Török of the Hungarian Protestant Church, whose friendship was at that time of great value to the mission. Both at Constantinople and in Hungary Mr. Koenig did valuable service for the National Bible Society of Scotland, and for the London Tract Society, and got many excellent works translated into the various languages of the Danubian countries.
Mr. Koenig’s great capacity for work found full scope in these varied labours, till at last his health failed, and in 1890 he was obliged to resign his office. He spent his last years at Potsdam.
Now that the Lord has called his faithful servant home to his eternal rest and reward, may he raise up others to enter, on the work, to unfurl the banner of the Cross, and to declare the riches of his grace through the crucified Saviour.
P.S.—The following letter has been received by the Convener of the Jewish Committee from Mr. Schoenberger of London:—
“October 15, 1894
“Rev. and dear Sir,—Since I heard of the death of your old missionary the Rev. Mr. R. Koenig of Potsdam, I had a strong desire to write to the revered Committee of the Free Church Mission to the Jews, conveying my humble estimate of that departed servant of the Lord.
“I have known the late Mr. Koenig for more than thirty years. He was one of my leaders and teachers in the way of life, under whose able teaching and powerful influence I at last yielded to receive Christ as my God and Saviour openly by baptism.
”Mr. Koenig was no ordinary man, for apart from his thorough theological and ministerial equipment, he had wide general knowledge, could write and speak several languages, and was a preacher and teacher of great weight and force. None who came into contact with the deceased will ever forget his beautiful, consistent, and attractive Christian character, his thoroughness in everything he did, his unceasing devotion to his call. Among the prominent men I have met during my life, Mr. Koenig shines forth as a model of what a Christian man and labourer for Christ and his church should be: full of faith and sanctified zeal, unceasing in teaching the Word of God and in prayers, blameless in life, pure in motive, always about his Master’s business. He was a tower of strength to those around him, and an astonishment to all who witnessed the amount and various work he was able to perform. Truly he did not spare himself to the last—that is, as long as the Lord enabled him to work; and has made his mark in Constantinople as well as in Budapest, especially in the latter city.
“Would to God that all who labour in the mission field were of the stamp and had the spirit of the late Mr. Koenig, commanding such a respect from friend and foe, and exercising such an influence in the church and outside as he.
”Truly the memory of the righteous is blessed, and many are they, Jews as well as Gentiles, who, like myself, bless the memory of Mr. Koenig, by whom they have been led and knit to Christ for time and eternity.—I am, etc., C. A. Schoenberoer.”
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