MARSHALL GEORGE ALSTON
MASSEY, ROBERT M.
MEYER, THEODORE J.
MILLAR, PETER GIBSON
MILLER, WILLIAM JOHN
MILNE, JOHN, Glasgow
MILNE, JOHN, Perth
MITCHELL, ALEX. S.
MITCHELL, DAVID, Blairdaff
MITCHELL, DAVID, Glasgow
MITCHELL, DAVID, Kirkurd
MITCHELL, ROBERT A.
MITCHELL, WILLIAM LAMB
MOIR, ALEXANDER HENDERSON
MONCREIFF, SIR HENRY WELLWOOD
MONCUR, WILLIAM RITCHIE
MOIR, ALEXANDER HENDERSON
MORRISON, JAMES, Eskdalemuir
MORRISON, JAMES, Urquhart
MUIRHEAD, PATRICK T.
MUNRO, DANIEL ROSS
MURRAY, J. G.
MURRAY, W. B.
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REV. THOMAS MAIN, D.D.
(Died May 28, 1881)
Author: Professor Smeaton, D.D.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.225
Dr. Main was born at Slamannan on the 5th of January 1816. He gave early indications of a capacity for learning, for which a fitting outlet was found in a course of preparatory study for the ministry of the Scottish Church. Ripe scholarship, united to an early development of mind and mature judgment, soon distinguished him among his contemporaries. As a man, mental powers of a high order, an affectionate, genial nature, an amiable character and unpretending disposition, with a talent for affairs and a highly practical turn of mind, rendered him an object of prepossessing interest at an early period of life. But he was soon led by grace to discover the emptiness of everything but Christ. Connecting himself with the congregation of St. Enoch’s when a student, he formed one of a company of Sunday-school teachers who laboured in a poor district; and one devoted minister of the Church has told me that he looks back to the Christian bearing and interesting instructions communicated at that early date as giving his mind the bias under which it came toward evangelical religion.
The first criticism which I heard of Mr. Main as a preacher was so accurate that it often recurred to me in after years (it was in the year 1839, when the young preacher would have been chosen as assistant to my friend Dr. Buchanan of North Leith):—that he had the happy faculty of not only presenting the truth, but of speaking to men so as to make them feel that they were personally addressed. It was as true as it was appreciative.
He was called to Kilmarnock, and ordained on the 8th of August 1839. His ministry from the first had a singular charm from a rare combination of qualities which met in him,—felicitous statement of truth, directness, earnestness, and unction. Here his influence went on increasing till the Disruption, when the congregation which gathered round him became decidedly the most influential in the west. Here he reached his throne and wielded a power in behalf of the gospel to which few ministers have attained. He was married to Miss Cuninghame of Craigend, whose affectionate tenderness and wisdom strengthened the hands and sweetened the lot of the admirable man for whom she now mourns.
During Mr. Main’s ministry at Kilmarnock there were movements in more congregations than one to call him elsewhere. He declined a presentation to North Leith in 1840, and another to Dundee as the successor of Dr. Roxburgh. He continued in Kilmarnock, where his ministry was singularly blessed both in the way of conversion and in edifying the body of Christ. He infused a warm missionary spirit into his flock, and laboured to render them zealous of good works in all directions. In the year 1857, when the call was addressed to him to become colleague to the venerable Dr. Henry Grey, Mr. Main saw it his duty to accept it. And in Edinburgh he developed, along with the assiduous labours of a zealous pastor, a talent in conducting the business of the Church which was highly appreciated on all sides. He was made Convener of the Church’s Education Scheme in 1873, and rendered important service in behalf of the teachers and of the normal schools. When the convenership of the Foreign Missions Scheme became vacant by the death of Dr. Duff, Mr. Main was unanimously appointed in his room, and in the difficult position approved himself to the universal satisfaction of all connected with that scheme. In 1880 he was chosen to fill the Moderator’s chair of the General Assembly, and took his place invested with the D.D. conferred by the University of Glasgow. He visited America as a deputy to the Presbyterian Council, and received the welcome to which his gifts as well as his dignity entitled him. As the retiring Moderator, he opened the Assembly with a sermon marked by all his wonted felicity and unction; and before the sittings closed he was, after less than a week’s illness, taken away from the midst of us like a shock of corn fully ripe.
In recalling Dr. Main’s career, we feel that we have lost another of those men who were conspicuous in that cloud of witnesses who were summoned to testify for great truths at a time when a momentous issue was presented to the Scottish nation, and decided by the deep aspirations of its piety. There were no exciting incidents in his life, but he pursued a course which had its own peculiar charm, and which the Church will cherish among her fragrant recollections.
He was a model convener,—he seemed born to it,—and discharged the duties with wisdom, firmness, and conscientiousness, as well as dignity; and commanded confidence. The personal was never lost in the official, according to that fatal law of gravitation under which religious bodies fall when they have spent their spiritual momentum. It was from God’s Word that he drew his inextinguishable fidelity to conviction, making the Word the reason and the rule of action. He never made culture take the place of unction, or artistic efforts to be a substitute for winning souls.
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REV. JAMES MANSON, DUNS
(Died February 21, 1890)
Author: Rev. George Elder, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Greenwich
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1890, Obituary, p.150
Less widely known than many others of the Disruption worthies, though not less missed by those who knew him, was James Manson. One of the band of young men to which belonged William Burns, McCheyne, the Bonars, and Dr. James Hamilton, Mr. Manson was from the beginning of his course untiring in zeal, with a passion for the salvation of souls.
Born in Edinburgh in 1800, and an alumnus of its university, he came under the potent influence of Dr. Chalmers in the chair and Dr. Gordon in the pulpit. For a time feeble health prevented him from keeping pace with his fellows in the ordinary stages which lead to the ministry; but even that did not keep him back from winning souls in mission work and the Sabbath school. When at length licensed to preach, he succeeded Dr. James Hamilton as assistant at Abernyte, where the savour of his name still lingers. In 1842 he was ordained minister of the Dean Church, Edinburgh, a territorial church originated by Dr. Chalmers. In the work there he laboured with remarkable success, especially among the young.
In 1848 he was led to accept a call to Duns; but after a few years’ labour there, the state of his health obliged him to retire. The south of England restored him to some measure of strength, and eventually he settled at Lanark.
Having purchased a lovely spot, the Hut-on-Clyde, adjoining the village of Crossford, he found himself able to conduct a weekly evangelistic service, and his work there proved to be not the least successful of his life. Religious apathy and ungodliness around him stirred up in him a Christ-like compassion toward the perishing. The announcement of a midnight service to usher in the new year caused some merriment among the villagers. That the public-house should be deserted for a meetinghouse was not very likely, they said. But just the unlikely happened; and a work of grace was begun, of which there are many living monuments. Friends, such as Dr. Andrew Bonar, were ever ready to help him. The place of meeting was unique. It was his vinery in the garden attached to the house. But the place was soon found too strait; and at his own expense he added a small hall, and this was for several years the place of worship of the Crossford congregation. The writer of this notice was for a time one of his assistants, and does not hesitate to testify that he never came into contact with a more manifest work of God. About one hundred and thirty souls were the fruit. In due time a church was built, for which Mr. Manson provided a site, and also raised the greater portion of the amount required. For many years Crossford has been a sanctioned charge of the Free Church. Never were Mr. Manson and his much-loved partner (who predeceased him by some years) more in their element than in making friends happy round them. He had his little foibles, and often were these made the subject of friendly remark. But to the end “the old, old story” and its proclamation was ever in his thoughts; and his trumpet gave no uncertain sound. He peacefully departed to meet his Lord on the 21st of February of this year, and lies buried in a beautiful spot, beside his beloved wife, at Kilmun, on the Holy Loch.
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REV. JOHN MANSON, A.M., FYVIE
(Died 20th November 1872)
Author: Rev. G. R. Davidson, Edinburgh
The Free Church Monthly Record, January 1, 1873, p.16
In recording the death of this eminently pious and peace-loving servant of Christ, which occurred in Banff on the 20th November last, I would say, that of all my loved friends, in the ministry or out of it, I have not known any possessed of a purer mind, a more genial spirit, or more sanctified heart. Had this event taken place some six years ago, when he had all his vital energies in action, and was in the full discharge of the duties of the pastoral office, which he loved so well, his devoted people would have had double cause to lament the loss of one of the most faithful and affectionate of ministers; his family, one of the best of fathers; and I, who write, one of the most loved and valued of friends.
It having pleased the Almighty, however, to lay him wholly aside from public duty by a paralytic affection, at the period mentioned, the agonies of separation between him and his attached flock have doubtless in a good measure passed away; but the fruits and fragrance of his ministry will, I doubt not, long remain. From the time of this afflictive visitation his whole frame, mental and bodily, had become sadly shattered; yet his love to his Saviour never faltered; his intense affection also to his family, and to old friends who came to visit him, continued warm as ever, though often overpowering to himself in his endeavours to express it.
Mr. Manson was the son of a much-respected family in Old Meldrum; was brought up under the faithful ministry of the late Rev. George Garioch (who also joined the Free Church in 1843); and having passed through his full curriculum of study in Aberdeen and received license, he obtained a presentation and call to the Church of Fyvie, in the Presbytery of Turriff, and was ordained and admitted to the ministry of that important parish on the 7th of July 1829, in his twenty-fourth year.
His deep personal piety, together with the diligence and assiduity wherewith he discharged the duties of his sacred office, soon began to make itself felt. Besides his annual course of family visitation and catechising, he, at an early period of his ministry, divided the parish into convenient districts, and established a week-day prayer-meeting in each in turn, when such a practice was little known in that part of the country.
He himself, meanwhile, had been sensibly growing in spirit, as well as in labour and enterprise; so that, upright and earnest from the beginning, he was one who largely experienced the truth and force of that scripture—”Unto the upright doth light arise.” He was truly upright, and most visibly did he advance in spiritual life and culture, and in the love and fear of God.
Associated too, as he was, from an early period of his ministry, with several much-loved brethren in the presbytery, of like standing and sympathies with himself—these all were true fellow-helpers of one another; and meeting often together for Christian fellowship and prayer, they were mutually encouraged and strengthened. And to them, perhaps, under God, was mainly owing the large following which, at the Disruption, the Free Church had in Fyvie and other neighbouring parishes.
Though eminently steadfast to principle, and able to assert and maintain it in his own calm and judicious way, Mr. Manson had no love for mingling in controversial debate. He was by nature conservative; and next, in his estimation, to the dignity of the pulpit, which, with him, always stood the highest, was the dignity “of the powers that be.” He loved the Church of Scotland, and he loved the Constitution; and so to him the sacrifice made at the Disruption must have been doubly severe. Nevertheless, dearly as he loved the Established Church, and high as he considered the dignity which belonged to its ministers, never for a moment did he shrink from the alternative presented, but, following out faithfully the Scripture maxim, “We ought to obey God rather than men,” he left that lovely manse which he had so worthily occupied, and the parish pulpit, the duties whereof he had so long and faithfully fulfilled, and retired with his young wife, to whom he had been united only a few mouths before, to a humble farm-house at some distance. His ministerial and pastoral work was prosecuted as formerly; and having obtained two places apart, as temporary preaching stations, there he held two diets of service every Lord’s day, to the edification of many; and as much, perhaps, from his strength of character and holy bearing, as from intelligent conviction on the part of his people, there came forth with him a goodly congregation, among whom he maintained the sacred dignity of his office, in barn or shed, as might be provided for him.
The Earl of Aberdeen (afterwards Premier), much to his credit, was the first to grant a site for a church and manse when others had refused. The spot, at the time, was not an inviting one, presenting, as it did, an endless background of moss and moor; but it was the point of his Lordship’s property which was the most convenient, as being nearest the centre of the parish and population.
There a Free church and manse were built—the latter not unworthy of that which had been left; and by a well-directed zeal and commendable outlay on the part of the people and their office-bearers, the barren outfield, in a few years, became a well-sheltered and verdant spot. And in the lowly sanctuary, erected hard by, Mr. Manson held forth publicly the word of life, not only with a safe conscience, but with much unction from the Holy One; and to that place, I doubt not, some, still living, can trace the birth and nursing-place of their precious souls.
In his preaching, his manner of presenting Christ Jesus to souls for their acceptance was ever affectionate and free; and in his public devotions, his pleading at the footstool on their behalf was unusually fervent,—so fervent, indeed, that at times it almost choked his utterance, as if he was dealing altogether with God in heaven, and, in no degree, with men upon the earth.
Unwearied in his labours and visitations among his people, it was in the excess of these that at last he fainted. Returning one evening alone in his gig from a day’s labour in a distant part of the parish, the reins dropped from his hands, and he became prostrate; when the horse, faithful to its instinct, brought him, without mishap, all unconscious to his own door.
Though consciousness returned, and other partial improvements followed, yet, from that day and hour, his period of active service was over—his public work was done. But, possessing his soul in patience and meekness throughout his long retirement, he was filled with the abundance of peace, and died in Banff, in the bosom of his family, in his sixty-fourth year,—none more sincerely loved,—none more universally revered.
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REV. CHARLES MARSHALL
(Died June 16, 1882)
Author: Rev. P. Macainsh, Lochgelly
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.274
Mr. Marshall was born in Paisley on the 2nd of June, 1795. He was the eldest of a family consisting of three sons and eight daughters. His father was connected with the manufacturing trade common to Paisley at that time, and was a man of great shrewdness and force of character. Tannahill was then alive, and was a frequent visitor at the house. Charles had a lively recollection of the poet, and, doubtless, it was on this account that he received a pressing invitation, which he could not now accept, to be present at his centenary. He was reckoned a precocious boy, and it is told that he always held a foremost place in his class at school. He soon manifested a love for literature, and at an early age he, along with a few others of like spirit, started a periodical in his native town, to which he was a regular and much appreciated contributor.
We do not know when it was, but it must have been about or shortly after this time that he was led to take a firm and decided stand on the side of Christianity. And this was no easy thing to do, especially on the part of one so young, in those days when it was the fashion for politicians of a certain class to hold, and to pride themselves in holding, views directly opposed to the principles of the Christian religion. We have reason to believe that young Charles was brought into close if not intimate contact with some of the parties referred to. And it required no ordinary force of character and conviction to withstand them as he did, and to say to his companions after a time, “I am no longer one of your company.”
Two things seem to point to this period in his life as that in which a radical change in his views took place. He gave up contributing to the periodical indicated, under the pressure of what was believed to be conscientious convictions. And there are letters written at a somewhat later period which clearly show that he had already become an intelligent and earnest Christian. In one of these, which now lies before us, he thus pleads with one—not for the first time—who was evidently coming to a knowledge of the truth:—
“I rejoiced with a high and holy joy that your heart seemed touched with something like a reverence for the truth. I emphatically say, ‘the truth.’ God grant, is my prayer, that the impression produced may not be as the early cloud and the morning dew, which passeth quickly away. I may rejoice in health and strength, in advancement and distinction and honour in the world; but all these would I willingly, ay, cheerfully forego, if so be that I saw you converted, by the grace of God,—a new man, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Oh that you were made to experience ‘the joy and peace of believing.’ It is not a hollow joy, it is a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory; it is a substantial and permanent joy. If you once taste that the Lord is gracious, you will join with me in saying that there is a happiness and blessedness in believing that you would not exchange for the whole world. ‘What will a man be profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'”
Then after telling him to read the four Gospels, and especially the Gospel of John, and giving his reasons for this, he adds: “Whatever you do, I shall not cease night and day to mention you always in my prayers —yea, I shall wrestle with God in prayer, mingled with strong crying and tears, that the Spirit of the living God may come to you in demonstration and with almighty power; and I am persuaded that I shall not pray and cry and weep in vain. God grant that it may not be in vain.”
Mr. Marshall had the satisfaction of knowing that it was not in vain. His prayers were heard, and it was not long till he could write to his friend as a brother believer.
His experience at that early time, not unmixed with danger to himself, stood him in good stead in after days. The sincere seeker after truth found in him a kind and ready and able adviser; and the scoffer who happened to enter the lists with Charles Marshall cared not to do it a second time.
He entered Glasgow University in the winter of 1822. For some time previous to this he had to support himself by the labour of his hands; and all through his college course, and up to the close of his life, he was not the helped but the helper. He finished his literary course in Edinburgh; and in the year following its close was appointed headmaster of John Watson’s Hospital, Edinburgh—a situation which he filled with marked success for thirteen years.
In this situation he made the acquaintance of not a few men eminent in literature, and specially Professor Wilson — Christopher North—his distinguished townsman; and he occasionally contributed a paper to Blackwood, no doubt at the request of his friend, who at that time was its editor. He was also asked to conduct one of the Perthshire papers published at Perth; but, acting on the advice of one of the principal directors of the institution, and keeping the ministry before him as the grand object to be reached, he declined the invitation. So highly, indeed, were his services in the institution appreciated that the governors raised his salary, and gave him leave at the same time to prosecute his studies at the Divinity Hall.
He was licensed in 1840, and received a call to the North Parish Church, quoad sacra, Dunfermline, in 1841, and was ordained on the 16th of July of that year.
The Church was at that time in the thick of the “Ten Years’ Conflict.” It was a conflict in which men, and especially ministers, had to choose and to take their side. And all who knew Charles Marshall knew where to look for him. He at once took his place in the ranks of those who were fighting for the crown rights of the Redeemer. And when at length the “conflict” ended, and the Church left the State that she might be free to do the work of the Church of Christ, he did good service both at home and in England in advocating the principles of the Free Church of Scotland.
Driven out of his church by a decision of the House of Lords in 1849, which held that quoad sacra churches were the property of the State Church, he was followed by his congregation, and the present New North Church, in Bruce Street, Dunfermline, erected mainly through his exertions, was opened by Dr. Begg in October 1850.
He continued to minister in this church till 1866, when, under the pressure of failing health, he retired altogether from the work of the congregation, and transferred his residence to Edinburgh. At the close of that year the present minister of the congregation, the Rev. J.B. Brown, was ordained as his colleague and successor. But he frequently visited the scene of his former labours, and was ever warmly welcomed by his many friends.
In his preaching he was thoroughly evangelical. He ever presented Christ as the Substitute of sinners and the only Saviour of men. His style in the pulpit was clear, direct, and illustrative, and he was always striking and impressive. And if it was felt by some that his words carried a sting in them, it had to be acknowledged that it was the sting of truth, and that they flowed from a loving and sympathetic heart. While he spoke strongly against sin—and he could not speak too strongly—he was kind and tender in dealing with the slaves of it. We can recall how, after some strong language about sin, lowering his powerful and finely-toned voice, he earnestly, and even pathetically, entreated his hearers to accept him who loved them and gave himself for them.
As a pastor his visits were greatly relished. He was a shrewd observer of men and manners, and knew well when and how to speak with effect. In the chamber of sickness and at the fireside of the bereaved few could speak a word in season to the weary better and fitter than he could. And while he wept with those that wept, he was ever ready to rejoice with those that rejoiced.
Although he never forgot the responsibility of his professional position, and ever maintained it with true and Christian dignity, his conversation was genial and original, and his criticisms on social, ecclesiastical, and political questions were always telling and suggestive. He greatly loved little children, and was loved by them in turn. A gentle pat on the head and a word spoken in a kindly tone won their confidence at once. And since his death we have been told by some, now grown up, that they still associate with the pleasant things of their early days the kindly visits of the minister to their home, and the sweet presents which he dropped into their little hands. A Christian gentleman himself in every sense of the term, and generous to an extreme, he despised everything that was selfish and mean, and could speak of it only in terms of withering scorn. Punctual to a moment in all the business of life, everything was arranged according to the clock, and everything had its own place. This was one reason why he was never in a hurry and was always in time. He took but little part in the business of Church courts. He felt he was not “cut out” for it. But had he done so, his powers as a public speaker must have told with effect.
Mr. Marshall was always busy with his pen, generally writing a portion of something every day. His “Lays and Lectures” are well known and greatly prized by all who know them. They evidence the deep interest which he, like many other ministers of high position in the Church, took in the temporal affairs of men, and they show that he thoroughly understood the everyday life of those for whom they were written, and that his heart throbbed in sympathy at all their joys and sorrows. They are written in a tone of Christian love, and there breathes through them a spirit of genuine piety of an intensely minute and practical kind. Dealing in them with the theme of daily life, he never forgets to mingle with these the leading truths of God’s Word. Employers of labour, after reading them themselves, could not do a more kindly act, following the example of the Messrs. Coates of Paisley, than present copies to their servants and work-people, or otherwise place them in the hands of those to whom they are addressed. They have passed through a fourth edition, and we should like to hear that a fifth may soon appear.
One thing to be specially noted is that he was a thorough master of the Scottish dialect, and could use it with fine and telling effect both in speech and in writing.
A workman all through, he continued to work up to the day of his death. There were found in his desk, and newly from his pen, little pieces of verse bearing upon his approaching end. He knew that his death was not far off. He often spoke of it with his nearest friends, and very specially with her, his widow, whom he has left to mourn his loss, and who tenderly and faithfully ministered to him in his last sufferings. When he was carried in from the street, where he had been thrown down by a passing phaeton, and when he was laid upon the bed, he said that they had laid him down to die. And he was prepared for that solemn event.
His friend Dr Begg, in whose church he worshipped, and who saw his frequently before his death, in referring to him from his pulpit on the Sabbath immediately succeeding it, said: “That he anticipated the event that has happened, although not in the way it has happened, I have the very best knowledge. He pointed out to me some time back with the greatest calmness and self-possession the place where he is to be buried tomorrow – anticipating without the slightest alarm the approach of the King of Terrors. And I can certify that that energetic mind of his, and also deep devotional feeling, were continued to the very last; and it was only two or three days ago, when the clouds of death passed round him, that he became insensible and passed away, with the greatest quietness into that land where ‘the wicked cease from troubling and where the weary are at rest’”.
He had his failings. Who has not? He would have been the first to own them. And none knew better than he did that not native talent, nor accomplishments, nor labours, but a firm trust in Christ, will secure acceptance with God and eternal life in heaven. His body rests in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh, and in a spot selected by himself. A plain stone with a simple inscription, in fulfilment of his own wish, marks the spot.
It is expected that a brief memoir of his life will appear shortly.
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REV. GEORGE ALSTON MARSHALL, GREENOCK
(Died February 17, 1881)
Author: Rev. George Hanson, Springburn
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.253
George A. Marshall was a native of Glasgow, and received his education there at the High School, the University, and Free Church College. He was regarded by all who knew him at college as a diligent and careful yet by no means an ambitious student. He gave himself conscientiously to the work of all the classes he attended; but, with a nature utterly averse to rivalry, he shrank from competition with his fellow-students in any one of them.
He received license as a preacher from the Presbytery of Glasgow, and some time thereafter was called to the church at Bewcastle, in Cumberland. He was ordained to that charge by the Carlisle Presbytery in November 1871.
In July 1873 he was recalled to Greenock, where he had previously acted as assistant in Wellpark Church. A year later he was inducted by the Presbytery of Greenock to Mount Park, a church extension charge. “The work of organizing the congregation fell to him, and he set about the task with much discretion and business aptitude.” He soon gathered around him a flourishing, vigorous, and devoted congregation.
About two years ago his health was seriously impaired by an attack of rheumatic fever. The severe strain of his early labours as a minister in a new church had told upon him, so as to cause grave apprehension on the part of his family and friends. His Presbytery granted him leave of absence for several months, and his congregation generously subscribed the funds to enable him to spend the winter in Egypt. On his return from the East, however, his health was not at all improved. He was anxious to reach home in time for the communion, but was unable to proceed beyond Croydon. There he remained in the house of his brother, Mr. James Marshall, till the end came. His end was marked by peace and quiet confidence. Thus he passed away at the early age of thirty-four, deeply regretted by a congregation that esteemed him very highly, and by friends and fellow-students who loved him well.
Mr. Marshall was distinguished as a most excellent preacher. He came very early to see that his strength lay in that department. Instead of giving his time and energies to many things, he wisely preferred to do this one thing well. In the scrupulous care and patient labour which he faithfully gave to every sermon he was an example to many. The result was seen in the clear, forcible, and instructive discourses invariably offered to his people. He was also distinguished by a modesty at once very rare and very attractive. He shrank instinctively from platforms and from general public gatherings. He had no taste whatever for the ordinary business of church courts. And while deeply interested in all that was going on, he never took, and never desired to take, any part in ecclesiastical debates. Mr. Marshall is survived by his wife and three children.
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REV. THOMAS MARTIN
(Died January 25, 1879)
Author: Rev.Nathan Cosh, Strathmiglo
Source: The Free Church Monthly, March 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.70
This highly-esteemed and well-known clergyman died suddenly at his residence, Stewart Lodge, Strathmiglo, on the 25th of January, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and fiftieth of his ministry.
Mr. Martin was born on the 17th of May 1805, in the parish of Shotts, Lanarkshire, where he received his elementary training. At an early age he was enrolled a student in the University of Glasgow, with a view to the ministry in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. In his later years he loved to recall some of the incidents of that distant period; and he was always very much affected on reading in the obituary columns of our daily newspapers the decease of one after another of those who commenced their career as students at the same time with himself. After finishing his Arts curriculum, he repaired to the Divinity Hall at Paisley, presided over by that eminent man of God, the late Rev. Professor Andrew Symington, D.D., whose memory was cherished by Mr. Martin with peculiar reverence and affection. Next to his mother, he was accustomed to trace to Dr. Symington whatever, through grace, he was enabled to accomplish in the ministry of the gospel.
After completing his studies, he was licensed in 1828. It was speedily discovered that he was a preacher of considerable ability. In 1829 he was called to the pastorate of the Reformed Presbyterian congregation, Strathmiglo, and on the 28th of July of the same year he was ordained, so that had he been spared for a few months he would have attained to his jubilee. At the time of his settlement here he had many difficulties to face, not the least of which was the procuring a place of worship for the congregation. Mainly through his active energy a church was built, which in 1851 was superseded by the neat ecclesiastical edifice the congregation at present possess. The congregation, never a large one, was very small in the beginning, but the attractiveness of Mr. Martin’s preaching, the clear and lucid manner in which he unfolded the doctrines of Scripture, gathered around him from the neighbouring parishes a devoted and intelligent congregation. He has told me that at one time he had members in no fewer than seventeen parishes. Such a congregation entailed a great amount of physical labour in the way of pastoral visitation, a part of ministerial duty he never omitted till failing health compelled him. For forty-four years Mr. Martin laboured in this corner of the vineyard without any help, and those who have sat under his ministry can bear testimony to the faithfulness and tenderness of his preaching, the forcible and impressive manner in which he pressed home the duties of the Christian religion. Those who knew him in the full vigour of manhood tell me that his sermons were rich and fragrant with the pith and marrow of the gospel. He followed in the lines of the old Calvinistic theology, and had no sympathy, but the reverse, for the so-called Broad Churchism of the present day. Possessed of a mind at once matured and youthful, he had always a generous sympathy with the young, and ever ready to give them sound Christian advice. From the beginning of his public career to its close he was an ardent and consistent advocate of the temperance cause, and to him in a great measure are to be ascribed the progress and success of that movement in this district.
While holding firmly and intelligently the principles of the Church of which he was a minister, he was in no sense a “bigot,” but was a “lover of all good men,” and rejoiced in the prosperity of every good cause. When, fifteen years ago, the Union movement took form, he hailed it with peculiar pleasure, recognizing in it an honest attempt to bring together the scattered branches of our Scottish Presbyterianism. As a member of the Union Committee he laboured hard in the good cause, and no one regretted more than he the failure of these negotiations. When, in 1876, the union of the Free and Reformed Presbyterian Churches was accomplished, his heart was made glad, recognizing in such a union the strongest testimony given to the soundness and catholicity of the principles upon which the old Church of the Covenant was based.
For some years he had been labouring under heart disease, which eventually carried him off. In 1873 I was inducted as his colleague, so that the close of his life was one of comparative ease. It was hoped that many years of well-earned rest would be his, but an All-wise God has decided otherwise. A few hours before his death he was seized by severe pain over the region of the heart. This pain continued with him to the close. Conscious to the last, while restless on his bed, he would say, “Oh for the rest!” and with his dying breath he committed himself into the hands of God, through Jesus Christ. He is now, we believe, in the enjoyment of the rest—the true Test— “the rest that remaineth.”
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REV. ROBERT M. MASSEY, M.A.
(Died February 27, 1882)
Author: Rev. John Mcewan, John Knox’s church, Edinburgh
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August 1, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.231
Mr. Massey was born in 1846, in the parish of Drumblade, and was noted when very young for his love of reading. His first teacher in the parochial school was a licentiate of the Church, now a parish minister—the Rev. J. Souter of Inverkeithing. The family removed to the parish of Forgue, and there he attended the parish school, which was also taught by a licentiate of the Church, now the Rev. A. McWilliam of Ythan Wells. Under these teachers he made rapid progress, and was regarded by them as one of the most promising of their pupils, carrying off at the examinations the most valuable prizes.
It had been the earnest wish of his parents, who still survive him, that he might become a minister of the gospel, if such were the will of God; and very early, while still at school, the boy’s most ardent ambition coincided with his parents’ wishes. In due time he left the parish school, and repaired to Aberdeen to prosecute his studies there, with the view of being prepared for the ministry. The grammar school of Aberdeen has long maintained a high reputation among kindred institutions in Scotland, and it says much for the character of Mr. Massey’s early training in the parish school that he succeeded even there in maintaining a first-class position. The grammar school was then under the superintendence of Mr. Barrack, who maintained its well-earned renown for thoroughness, specially in classics and mathematics. It will give some idea of the distinguished place which Mr. Massey occupied in the school when I state that, from certificates now before me, at the close of the session 1864 he gained the first prize in no less than in five distinct departments of study—namely, Latin, Greek, Greek private readings, visitation exercise, and in English.
I am not familiar with the details of his career while attending the university, but I observe that on leaving it in the spring of 1869 he obtained the degree of Master of Arts. From his high attainments as a scholar he had no difficulty in maintaining himself when a student by private teaching.
He entered the Divinity Hall in the winter of 1869, and continued in Aberdeen during his whole theological curriculum. Much was expected of him when he became in due time a licentiate of the Free Church, and Mr. Massey’s first efforts as a preacher did not belie the promise of distinction which his earlier life had given. His sermons were well studied, and delivered with an earnestness and vigour which are always acceptable to gospel hearers.
We do not know how it came about, but in some way Dr. Whyte, the minister of Free St. George’s, had heard of the genuine qualities of the young probationer, and thought he would prove the very man for Fountainbridge, then reduced to a station by the removal of Mr. Morgan, with the greater part of his congregation, to his new position at Viewforth. Mr. Massey was asked, and undertook the difficult task of building up a new congregation in that interesting mission field. It was no child’s play to follow the footsteps and fill the place occupied so successfully by such men as Dr. Wilson of the Barclay Church and Mr. Morgan of St. Peter’s. It was expected that some years at least would elapse before the station could be ripe for elevation to a sanctioned charge. But so earnestly and successfully did the young minister prosecute the work of the mission, that during the first year of his labours the station was raised to a sanctioned charge, and he ordained to the ministry, as the unanimous choice of the people.
For a time that ministry was very successful, and the minister greatly beloved by his people. He laboured most assiduously, and, as it turned out, far beyond what a constitution, never robust, could bear with impunity. After a few years his health gave way, the best medical skill asserting that he was afflicted with a disease which in the course of a short time must prove fatal. About this time he passed through a fiery ordeal of trial, by which he was deeply exercised, and through means of which he was being prepared for the final rest in the not very distant future.
He obtained six months’ leave of absence from the Presbytery, and returned wonderfully recruited both in body and mind. He resumed his much-loved work, and, notwithstanding his previous prostration, was able to achieve fresh success, his people, who sympathized deeply with him in his affliction, cleaving more closely to him than ever. Each returning communion season witnessed considerable additions to the communion roll.
For several months during last autumn the congregation of Free St. David’s worshipped along with that of Fountainbridge, while the former church was undergoing alterations; and members of St. David’s speak still of the high character of his pulpit services, and their great enjoyment of them.
But the end was drawing near. The old disease had never been overcome. It manifested itself occasionally during the winter months, frequently incapacitating him from pulpit duty. At last it reached an acute stage, involving great suffering, which was borne with becoming Christian meekness and submission, recognizing in it the hand of a Father. He clung even then to the hope of recovery, anxious to do more work for the Master. But such was not the will and purpose of the Lord. All that medical skill could devise was tried, but in vain, and on the 27th day of February he passed away, leaving a widow, who tenderly cared for him, and a deeply attached flock to mourn his early removal.
He was about thirty-six years of age at his death, and his remains lie in the Grange Cemetery, a place sacred to the memory of many honoured dead, till the trumpet shall sound, when we doubt not he shall appear among those who, dying in Christ, shall rise first. One of his elders remarked as the grave was closed, “Where shall we get a preacher like Mr. Massey?” and the testimony of brethren in the ministry who heard him preach is to the effect that the elder had good grounds for his question.
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REV. WILLIAM MASTERTON, B.D., INVERKEILLOR
(Died July 3, 1895)
Author: Rev. David Carnegie, Culsalmond
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1895, Obituary, p.221
Mr. Masterton was born at Larbert on January 5, 1816. His father, Alexander Masterton, was a man of great influence in the district. He was an elder in the church of Larbert and Dunipace, under the ministry of Dr. J. A. Bonar, who was afterwards minister of the Free South Church in Aberdeen, and Convener of the Colonial Committee. It sometimes does not mean very much to say that a man was an elder of the church, but it meant so much in the case of Alexander Masterton that he was known as “The Elder.” His services were sought far and wide, by night and day, to visit and comfort the sick and the dying; and when the district was ravaged by cholera, he fearlessly gave his services in attending to those that were stricken by that awful disease. He was the friend of McCheyne and of Dr. Andrew Bonar; and only a few years ago Dr. Bonar was recalling to the subject of this sketch the happy intercourse he had had with “The Elder.”
After the usual courses of study at Edinburgh University and the New College, and periods of work as a probationer at Wolflee in Roxburghshire, and at Carmylie in Forfarshire, Mr. Masterton was settled at Inverkeillor in 1848, as successor to Dr. Laird, now of Cupar. He retired in 1888, giving up the usual claim of the retiring minister to a share in the Sustentation Fund. After a short stay at Levenhall, Musselburgh, he removed to 45 Cluny Gardens, Edinburgh, where he died on the third of July, after long weakness and suffering, which had their beginning in a fall on the ice in January last.
Mr. Masterton married Miss Lumsden, sister of Principal Lumsden of Aberdeen College, and had a family of two sons and one daughter. Mrs. Masterton and the daughter and the younger son survive.
It is not easy to give an account of spiritual influence, and personal spiritual influence was the power in Mr. Masterton’s life. He was forty years minister in a quiet country parish, and his personal influence worked quietly and grew all the time, and never waned. Few men in such a sphere have entered into the lives of so many as an influence for good, and have made their influence reach so many beyond their own congregation.
His preaching had not much of the graces of oratory, but it had the result of deep thought and experience and wide reading. One felt that a very real man was dealing in a very serious way with those matters that concern life most deeply; and now and again there was a breaking forth of real heart-searching eloquence. Those found most in it who waited upon it regularly, and who had the advantage of knowing the man to begin with.
In the other departments of ministerial work, such as general pastoral visitation, and the visiting the sick and the bereaved, Mr. Masterton was surpassed by very few. His power in prayer was very remarkable. Few had such power of taking others into the feeling of the presence of God. On one occasion a woman, who came from a distance to the funeral of a member of Mr. Masterton’s congregation, remarked after the service, “The young men don’t pray like that nowadays.” It is not well to be hard on the young men, and we shall keep from being hard on the young by saying that Mr. Masterton had a gift and power in this way that few old men had.
It was this power and the reality of the man that helped to make Mr. Masterton so successful as a minister of consolation. Many will remember his visits and letters to them when they were in sorrow. The letters of sympathy that were sent in such numbers to Mrs. Masterton after her husband’s death, bear witness abundantly to the kindly recollection of Mr. Masterton’s ministration to the writers when they had been in trouble. It may be that Mr. Masterton got a kind of preparation for this work when his father was visiting the cholera patients. The impression made upon him then would be a kind of baptism, leaving something with him that others want who have had no such experience.
Mr. Masterton’s activity and usefulness were not confined to the ordinary spheres of ministerial work. He was a good business man, and gave advice to many in difficult matters. His capacity in this way found exercise in his work as clerk and treasurer of the Free Presbytery of Arbroath. That presbytery has charge of considerable funds bequeathed by Mr. David Duncan. For many years Mr. Masterton had charge of the investment of these funds; and it may be stated as an instance of his shrewdness that he had the portion of the funds that was deposited in the Australian banks transferred from these to more secure investments before the recent crisis. His presbytery showed their appreciation of his work in this department by presenting him with his portrait.
Mr. Masterton was always ready to give such aid as he could give to the widows and fatherless who were in need of it. He was also very helpful to many young men in getting them into situations. He had a peculiar power of getting into the confidence and interest of business men, so that it seemed a pleasure to such to take in the young men in whom he was interested.
Another matter of great interest in Mr. Masterton’s life was his connection with Denmark. This began, many years ago, at a time when a great number of young Danes came to Scotland to study agriculture. Mr. Masterton took an interest in those that came to Forfarshire, and got them settled at the farms. He visited Denmark frequently, and had many friends there. In 1872, his services were recognized by the King of Denmark, who conferred on him the knighthood of the order of the Dannebrog. Such a distinction has seldom been better merited than it was in the case of the minister of the Free Church of Inverkeillor. It is specially interesting to observe here, that not a few Danes acknowledge that they owed Mr. Masterton benefits of a higher kind than those above referred to. They got from him a Christian influence that made them other men.
It is good for the church to have such men in the quieter places of the field; men who never change, and never wish to change their place, but are content to go on for life doing quiet work. Mr. Masterton was devoted to the interests of the Free Church, but was in no sense a partisan. Many members of other churches have borne testimony to the good they derived from his public services, and still more from his private ministrations. He will be long remembered at Inverkeillor, and by many in other places who have felt the benefit of his influence.
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REV. WILLIAM MATHER, M.A, STANLEY, PERTH
(Died September 25, 1877)
Author: Rev. David Thorburn, M.A., Leith
The Free Church Monthly, March 1, 1878, p.70
This much-esteemed minister was born in January 1800. He was the eldest son of William Mather, Esq. of Burnhouse, in Renfrewshire, who was descended from a family which left England during the Nonconformist persecution, —the old psalm-tune “Sheffield,” composed by an ancestor, indicating the proximity of that town to their home. On settling in the west of Scotland, they joined the Covenanters; and some of the family, amongst them the Rev. Cotton Mather, sought freedom to worship God in the New England States.
Mr. Mather’s mother was a lady of deep piety. She died when he was three years old. Her death seems to have made a deep impression on her son; and it may be that religious feelings thus early affecting a mind containing great natural strength and sweetness, laid the foundation of that consistency of Christian character and entire self-consecration which led to a life and ministry of unbroken harmony.
Mr. Mather entered Glasgow College in 1815, where he took his degree of M.A. The prizes he obtained indicate a high standing in his classes. After finishing his curriculum in Glasgow, he attended classes at Edinburgh College, amongst others those of Medicine. He was licensed in 1825, and some time after became assistant to the Rev. Mr. Steel of Greenock. In 1832 he was appointed to the church at Stanley, then a chapel of ease.
All his sympathies being with Evangelical doctrine and spiritual independence, he entered heartily into the movements which led to the Disruption; and his congregation were so deeply impressed with their vital importance that all his large session, the teachers of a Sabbath school numbering about 500, and the very large majority of the members, accompanied him into the Free Church.
The congregation adhering to his ministry had for a time difficulty in finding a place of worship. They were, however, temporarily accommodated in a stable belonging to Mr. McGregor of Stanley, where from week to week Mr. Mather and his flock met for several months. But at length a commodious church was built, which was followed by a school and a manse, and the ecclesiastical buildings were complete.
Mr. Mather’s long ministry of thirty-four years succeeding the Disruption was quiet and uneventful. But from his ordination in 1832 to the close of his labours he proved himself to be a workman that needed not to be ashamed.
His literary acquirements were extensive. A hard student in his earlier life, he continued to devote much of his time to literary pursuits, until his strength gave way. He kept himself abreast of the modern researches made in the domains of natural science, of theology, and of other cognate subjects. This he did not simply under a sense of duty, but from his literary tastes and his ardent love of knowledge for its own sake. His acquaintance with literature and science was singularly minute. What he knew, he knew thoroughly, and nothing less would satisfy him. This peculiarity of mind was exhibited in his pulpit ministrations. To give a half-studied discourse was to him impossible. He strove to have his subject in all its aspects revolved in his mind, and what he thus gathered he gave out to his people. Nothing therefore could exceed his clear statement and elucidation of doctrinal truth. At the same time, realizing his trust as an ambassador of Christ, he faithfully declared the whole counsel of God. With a mind richly stored with the good old Puritan theology, which he gathered for himself, not from Puritan writers only, but from the fountain of inspired truth itself, he sought to feed his people with that on which he himself lived and fed. Thus the pulpit was to him the place whence he might best serve out the provision of God’s house to those that hungered for the bread of life.
From the period of Mr. Mather’s entering on his ministry to its close he manifested much interest in the young people of the village, dividing his large Sabbath school into junior and senior classes, each branch with its staff of male and female teachers. But the general Scripture lesson he taught himself. His method of teaching Scriptural truth was most interesting and instructive, and he always pressed on his scholars the need of a Saviour to save them, and of a Friend and Protector to guide and help them.
An interesting feature of Mr. Mather’s character was the interest he continued to take in those who left the village, and more especially in the young persons who had been brought up under his ministry — of whose well-doing he was always pleased to hear, and with whom in their difficulties, temptations, and trials he was ever ready to sympathize, and was especially gratified when he heard of their adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things.
His Sabbath classes were fruitful of good results. Most of those attending them as they grew up removed to Glasgow and other places, where many of them took an active part in the Home Mission work, and became office-bearers of the congregations they joined.
Besides his pulpit work, preaching two carefully-prepared discourses, which he delivered memoriter, and his labours in his Sabbath classes, in which he spent two hours, Mr. Mather was most assiduous in the duty of household visitation —visiting all the families of the congregation annually, and the sick and afflicted from week to week — a duty in the performance of which his punctuality shone conspicuous.
It was in the performance of this pastoral work, and at tin bedside of the dying, that Mr. Mather’s visits were peculiarly welcome. Such, indeed, was the acceptability of these ministrations that Mr. Mather was often sent for on the part of those not connected with his denomination, and eves by those who were unfriendly to it. To these calls he n always ready to respond, deeming it sufficient reward if be should be the means of cheering the dying, and of throwinj light upon the dark valley through which their spirits wen about to pass.
In 1867 a peculiarly trying bereavement, the death of his eldest son, who was approaching maturity, a youth of the highest promise, deeply affected him. He continued his ministry for more than a year after, but early in 1869 an attack of paralysis so abated his strength, that not long after a colleague was appointed.
Mr. Mather’s health gradually declined. He felt his inability to serve with his wonted activity the Master he loved so well; but no cloud ever darkened his happy assurance as he rendered the service of those “who wait” with a quiet, patient submission to the will of his Lord until his appointed time came.
Mr. Mather was of commanding presence, and his manner of delivery in the pulpit was calm, dignified, and impressive. His distinguishing characteristics were a strict regard to truth, sterling probity, urbanity, conscientiousness, a constant aim and endeavour to approve himself a faithful steward; and as a husband, a father, a friend, and a pastor, he was a living epistle known and read of all. He was much esteemed by all who knew him, and especially by his brethren of the Presbytery of Perth, who, in a minute in reference to the loss sustained by his death, bear testimony to his fidelity and excellencies in the following terms:
“The duties of the ministry he discharged with remarkable punctuality, faithfulness, and earnestness. A man of God, he was signally endowed with the graces of the Spirit, and it will be long before his brethren of the Presbytery of Perth forget the beauty and fervour of his devotional exercises. Giving himself wholly to the ministry, he laboured indefatigably for the good of his people; and it is believed that not a few of his spiritual children ‘crossed the flood’ before him, while some remain to bear testimony to the spiritual benefit they received through his instrumentality. As was to be expected, he grew in grace as he advanced in life. Towards the close those around him marked a very winning gentleness of deportment and a chastened spirituality of mind. On the 25th of September he quietly fell asleep in Jesus, entering, as there is all ground for believing, into the saint’s everlasting rest.”
Mr. Mather has left a widow, three sons, and a daughter to mourn his loss, and many warmly-attached friends and a huge congregation to cherish his memory ndth sentiments of affectionate regard.
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REV. DUNCAN MATHESON, GAIRLOCH
(Died December 12, 1873)
Author: Rev. John Kennedy, D.D., Dingwall
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 1, 1874, p.103
Mr. Matheson’s birthplace was Lochalsh. His exact age cannot be ascertained; but he himself recollected being at school when this century began, and reckoned that he was then about eight years of age. While yet a boy, he accepted the offer of a situation in a mercantile establishment; but even then his conscientiousness was regarded as inconveniently rigid by his employer, who preferred smartness to honesty, and who, after a few weeks’ trial of him, sent him back again to his home. Thereafter he was requested by a landed proprietor — a kinsman of his own — to enter his family as a tutor to his children; but not being disposed to rate the honour so high as his patron reckoned it to be, he declined the offer, unless an adequate salary would be given. This was refused; and thinking that the laird was disposed to regard the tutorship as an honour as well as an employment — as being pay as well as work — and that he expected his protégé to be a cringing dependant, he refused the situation, and preserved his liberty. The manly independence thus early developed was a life-long feature of his character.
Having, with considerable difficulty, obtained the necessary training, he entered college with a view to studying for the ministry. During his college course, he successively taught a school in Strathglass, and was a tutor in the family of Mr. Mackenzie of Sand, in Gairloch, out of which he afterwards brought his excellent wife. He was licensed in 1831, and in that same year was ordained and inducted as minister of the Parliamentary Church of Knock, in the island of Lewis. Soon after the Disruption he was translated to Gairloch, where he continued to labour till laid prostrate by the illness which cut off from public service the last year of his life.
Sterling honesty was the marked feature of his character. Rigidly conscientious, he was prone to be exclusively careful as to his motives, not considering the manner as well as the aim of his action. This led him sometimes to do injustice to his own heart, and to give needless offence to the feelings of others; but even those to whom he was most severe were fain to acknowledge his uprightness, and to allow that there was more kindness in his heart than in his words. In hospitality few could excel him.
He was a good classical scholar, and during all his life he studied the Bible in the original languages. He was more of an exegete than of a systematic theologian; but he had carefully studied Calvin and Turretine, with whose theological opinions his own were in thorough accord. Persuaded that he had suffered in his youth from imbibing some of the views of the “Marrowmen,” he made it the leading aim of his preaching, during the later years of his ministry, to testify against their mode of presenting the offer of the gospel, and against their definition of faith; and he regarded with special aversion the doctrine of a double reference of the atonement revived and defended by those who claimed to be their successors. This may have been too exclusively the drift of his preaching; but judging that the current of modern theology was forsaking the channel formed by the labours of the great Calvinistic divines, and was turning aside in an Arminian direction, he could not refrain from attempting to expose the deflection. To occasional hearers he may have seemed more anxious to define the act than to exhibit the object of faith; but there are many to testify that with clearness and unction he could preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Stopping short of the new birth as a change, and of God as a portion, were the dangers against which he most frequently warned his hearers.
His work was early and manifestly blessed by the Lord. Some souls were given him as an earnest of his hire before he was licensed to preach; and throughout all his service in the gospel he received seals of his ministry. His reputation as a man of true godliness was high; his preaching was greatly valued; by all who knew him his character was regarded with respect; many had experience of his kindness; and to some he was an intimate and faithful friend.
During the earlier part of his last illness his bodily suffering and his mental distress were great; but ere he passed away his soul was lifted, as on eagle’s wings, out of doubt and darkness, and reaching the calm, bright summit of Pisgah, his eye rested on the glory of the land of promise. Enjoying the calm of peace and the gladness of triumph, as a foretaste of what awaited him beyond the Jordan, he went singing through the river, to enter his eternal home. He represented, while he lived, a generation of whom, since he died, scarce any survive to link us to the past.
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REV. JOHN MATHESON, M.A., HAMPSTEAD, LONDON
(Died December 17, 1893)
Author: Rev. James Sutherland, Senior, Turriff
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1894, Obituary, p.66
Mr. Matheson was born in 1819, and brought up in the manse of Kilmuir-Easter, a parish in Ross-shire, of which his father and grandfather had been successively ministers for over ninety years. His preliminary education was conducted at the parish school and at Tain Academy. At an early age he was sent to King’s College and University, Aberdeen, where he went through the usual four years’ course, and graduated M.A. in 1837.
He entered the Divinity Hall at Aberdeen, studying for three years there, and taking his last session under Dr. Chalmers in Edinburgh.
It was a time of great controversy and of decided opinions with the students in their classes, as well as with the ministers in their church courts. And it may be added that the students had to make no small prospective sacrifices in attaching themselves to that party in the Church that was contending for spiritual independence and the rights of the people. Mr. Matheson, however, never hesitated as to the path of duty.
He was licensed to preach the gospel by his native Presbytery in the beginning of May 1843; and having been called to the eldership in his father’s congregation some time before, he sat as an elder in the first General Assembly of the Free Church.
Not a month had elapsed after the Disruption when he was requested by Professor Garden Blaikie then minister of Drumblade in the Presbytery of Turriff, to repair to the parish of Forgue in the same presbytery, and to give his services as a probationer. The minister of that parish, although he had for years professed to be on the evangelical side, had failed to stand firm in the day of trial. A large portion of the congregation, however, joined the Free Church; and having had ample opportunity of satisfying themselves as to Mr. Matheson’s gifts, they called him to the ministry, and he was ordained in December 1843.
The new minister from the first threw himself with great energy into the work. He not only preached regularly to his own flock, but frequently had to ride miles away to minister to congregations in other parishes. During the week his time was largely occupied with house-to-house visitation, district prayer-meetings, and what used to be called “diets of catechizing,” at which the oldest of the people were examined on Bible knowledge as well as the young. For years after the Disruption, there was necessarily a great amount of organizing work to be done throughout the presbytery. In this department of labour Mr. Matheson’s services were simply invaluable, often extending to distant parts of the Synod of Aberdeen. In his own neighbourhood he fostered the two stations of Auchterless and Gamrie until they were made sanctioned charges. He did much also for the cause of education before the present national system came into operation, having been instrumental in building and equipping no fewer than four schools throughout the district. In the years 1859-60 the minister heart was greatly cheered by seeing an increase of spiritual life and vital godliness amongst his people, they having largely shared in the revival that pervaded many parishes in Aberdeenshire at that time.
Believing that his work was now accomplished in Forgue, Mr. Matheson in 1864 accepted a unanimous call that had been addressed to him from the congregation at Hampstead. It was an entirely new field of labour that lay before him in the metropolis, but with a singular power of adaptation he girded himself to it, and continued at it for two-and-twenty years. In addition to the ordinary pastoral work of a growing congregation, he entered with characteristic fervour into any scheme of Christian enterprise that would promote his usefulness. He was the life and soul of fellowship meetings with some clerical brethren. He used to preach on Hampstead Heath on Sunday evenings after his regular services; he acted for years as honorary-chaplain to a reformatory for girls, and was the means of leading not a few of them to a better life; and he did good service as examiner of candidates for the London City Mission.
But beyond the sphere of his own congregation, the most distinctive feature of Mr. Matheson’s career in London was his connection with the church extension work of the presbytery. He was convener of the committee intrusted with that work for about twelve years, acting as moderator of twenty-one congregations until these congregations had settled ministers of their own. This involved a vast amount of personal interview and correspondence with local parties, as well as the conduct of affairs in the Church courts. His brethren showed their estimate of his capacity and zeal by electing him to the Moderatorship of the English Presbyterian Synod in the year 1875.
Such abundant labours began to tell seriously on his health. He was constrained to resign his charge in Hampstead in 1886, and retired to Edinburgh, where he continued to give such service to the cause of Christ as strength and opportunity permitted. It gratified him much to represent the Free Presbytery of Turriff as an elder in the General Assembly for several years.
In the course of last summer, which was his jubilee year as well as that of the Free Church, he went north to the scene of his first labours, and met with a most cordial reception from the congregation with which he had been so long connected. Addresses were sent to him, and deputies from different quarters spoke at a large and enthusiastic meeting in the church of Forgue, presided over by Mr. Wishart, the respected brother who succeeded Mr. Matheson. It was very gratifying to the old minister; but he seemed to feel that he was near the end of his course. In the month of December, when he was engaged in organizing some evangelistic meetings that were to be held by his old London friend, Dr. Newman Hall, at Morningside, he was seized with fatal illness, and passed away quietly on Sabbath the 17th December, his last audible words being, “Father—home.” Mr. Matheson is survived by a widow, three sons, and a daughter.
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REV. CHARLES MATHIESON, KILMUIR EASTER
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, July 2, 1866, p.19
The Rev. C.R. Mathieson of Kilmuir Easter, another of the Disruption fathers, died on the 14th of May, in the eightieth year of his age, and the fifty-fourth of his ministry. He was ordained in 1812, and for about two years was minister of the Gaelic chapel in Edinburgh. In 1814, on the death of his father, the Rev. John Mathieson of Kilmuir Easter, he was unanimously called to succeed him, and completed a ministry of fifty-two years in that parish ere his Master came to call him home. His father, who for nearly forty years laboured in Kilmuir, was a faithful and much loved minister, one of a noble band who in Easter Ross preached Christ, and steadfastly maintained in evil days those principles which, at the Disruption of 1843, received such a goodly testimony. Early brought to Christ, and trained up at the feet of such men as his father and his father’s friends, Mr. Mathieson from the first preached the glorious gospel of the grace of God, and was one of the evangelical party which, under the leadership of his great friend Dr. Andrew Thompson, contended for the crown rights of the Lord Jesus and the spiritual liberties of his people. Most consistently did he ever keep by these principles; and the sacrifice which he made in 1843 on their behalf was but the following out of one of his earliest acts on his entrance on public life. For soon after he was licensed to preach, which was in 1810, he was offered by a friend a presentation to a parish then vacant; but under the belief that the people were anxious for another, he declined it, though it turned out that he was mistaken, for the people wished himself to be their minister and applied for him, but it was too late, as at his own request his friend gave the presentation to the other; and also when, in 1812, he was, on the presentation of the patron and the call of the people, ordained assistant and successor to his father, and afterwards his father’s health so improved that he could again undertake the whole duty of the ministry. Mr. Mathieson would not remain half idle, but removed to Edinburgh, where he was appointed to the Gaelic chapel, and on his father’s death he received another presentation and another call as minister of Kilmuir Easter.
He took an active part in all the ten years’ conflict. At the Disruption he, like others, endured no little trouble and petty persecution, which he might well have been spared; but all this was lightly borne, and after a time entirely ceased. For some years after the Disruption, he every summer spent some weeks of evangelistic work in the destitute districts of the Hebrides, and the west coasts of Ross-shire and Inverness-shire. The toil and exposure he endured in this work, at his time of life, told on a constitution naturally vigorous and elastic, and laid the foundation for much of the sufferings of his later years. Until within three years of his death he continued to discharge all the duties of a large parish; and when laid aside he enjoyed the comfort of seeing his work in the hands of a like-minded colleague, the Rev. D. C. Macdonald. During his long ministry he had tokens not a few of the blessing of the Lord on his labours.
His mental powers were far above the average, and were carefully cultivated. He was well read not only in theology, but also in general literature; and as a proof of his aptitude for languages and scholarly habits, he acquired the knowledge of German when past sixty years of age, and that without any lesson from a teacher. In matters of taste his perception was nice and accurate.
He was fearlessly open and honest in the expression of his sentiments; and while he loved peace much, he loved truth more. His disposition was altogether unselfish and generous; and being capable of deep and lasting affection, he did not fail to attach to himself many warm friends, while no man commanded a more universal respect from all who knew him. No one could hold intercourse with him without seeing in him the gentleman, the scholar, and the Christian.
Soon after his settlement in Kilmuir Easter, he married the youngest daughter of Mr. Shaw, Culblair, Inverness-shire, who for fourteen happy years made his home a very pleasant one. But her death, in 1830, made it for a time very desolate, and during a long widowhood of six and thirty years, the memory of all she was seemed to be ever fresh with him.
Latterly he suffered much from bodily weakness and pain, but his mind was always acute and active. He had on a sickbed clear, unclouded views of the Saviour, and a firm trust in him as his Saviour, while he frequently expressed a desire to depart and to be with the Lord. Ten days before the end he fell into an unconscious state, and without a struggle breathed his last on the 14th May. He was interred on the anniversary of the Disruption.
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REV. JOHN MENNIE, M.A., METHLIC
(Died December 14, 1886)
Author: Rev. George Archibald, M A., Senior Minister, Udny
Source: The Free Church Monthly, March 1, 1887, Biographical Notices, p.83
Mr. John Mennie was a native of Aberdeen, being the second son of Alexander Mennie, who for many years as a merchant carried a successful business in the Upper Kirkgate.
After a preliminary training he was entered at the Grammar School, where he attended the full curriculum, and had the inestimable advantage of being for a time under the training of Dr. Melvin, its rector. From the Grammar School he went to the University, where he was known as a diligent and persevering student, who conscientiously did the work of his classes, and in the end graduated with the respect and good opinion of his professors and fellow-students.
From an early period the bent of his mind inclined him to the study of theology; and as from the first he had identified himself with the Eree Church, the way was open to him of at once entering the Divinity Hall in his native city. It is not necessary in this brief notice to describe his course there. Suffice it to say that the same conscieLtious-ness and diligence which marked his previous career continued to distinguish him, until after passing throrgh all the prescribed forms he obtained license as a preacher of the gospel.
His experienre as a mere licentiate was but of brief duration. Only a short time elapsed before a sphere of usefulness was opened up to him in the parish and district where he so long and successfully laboured. The congregation of Methlic, to which he was called, was a post-Disruption one, and was at the time he became connected with it in so enfeebled a condition that it needed all the nursing and fostering that prudence and discreet management could secure in order to keep it from extinction. Mr. Mennie, though young in years, was just the man for it. He was kindly and conciliatory in manner, wholly bent on his Master’s work, catholic in his sympathies, a lover of all good men, and ever ready to identify himself with what he believed to be for the glory of God and the good of the community.
As a preacher, in his more vigorous days he was surpassed by few. Under such masters as Dr. Melvin for classics, Dr. Cruickshank for mathematics, and Professor Sachs for Hebrew, he brought to the duties of his profession the materials of an exact scholarship; his sermons, therefore, were always based on a careful exegesis of the text and context, and contained a clear and succinct statement of the points at issue. They were not only thought out, but written out; yet delivered, without the use of manuscript, with great readiness, in a clear and forcible style, with unction and point. As in a purely rural parish he found it impossible to get two good congregations in the church, he was in the way of holding afternoon or evening meetings in various outlying districts; and this habit of preaching without notes gave him the decided advantage of being independent of pulpit or platform, and, as is often the case in such places, of imperfect light. His sermons were full of the marrow of the gospel; and in its many-sidedness he found the key which could unlock the various chambers of the human heart, be the means of introducing light for its darkness, healing for its wounds, and balm for its sores. And it is in this fact—his speaking to the heart from the heart—that you have the explanation of the power which he undoubtedly possessed over his audiences. He did not need to have recourse to the very questionable expedient of sensational announcements, or choosing texts from other sources than the inspired Word of God, in order to attract a crowd. He regarded “the old, old story,” with its ever fresh and varying adaptations, as sufficient for his purpose; and his motto was, “Woe, woe be to me if I preach not the gospel.”
At communion seasons his assistance by his brethren in the ministry was much sought after; and it is a well known fact that over a large district in East Aberdeenshire no one was more welcome. “The common people heard him gladly;” and when it was known that Mr. Mennie was to be the preacher, a full house might be expected.
He was not in any sense of the term a controversialist; business was not his forte; he rarely opened his mouth in Church courts. But he had his own distinct convictions; and though tolerant of the opinions of others, where he believed principle to be involved he could be firm and steadfast.
As a pastor he was systematic and assiduous, visiting his people from house to house, and specially attentive in cases of sickness and family affliction. He was equally attentive to the young, regularly taught his Bible class, and at stated times had special services for them.
I would not say that he was without ambition, for he was animated by the laudable desire of doing his best in every work in which he was engaged; but he was singularly devoid of self-assertion, and, if allowed, invariably kept himself in the background. During his ministry at Methlic, frequent overtures came to him from other quarters for a change of sphere. These were not entertained. He chose to remain among his own people.
The congregation may be said to have been made by him. From the first to the last he possessed not only their confidence but affection ; and now that he has gone, he has doubtless left amongst them many seals of his faithfulness and zeal. Several years ago Mr. Mennie, by a fall, met with a serious accident, which for a time laid him aside, and disabled him from active work. Probably he never fully recovered from its effects, but be this as it may, it became very manifest that of late there was a gradual breaking-up of his system, and that his end was drawing near. Owing to his natural reticence he spoke but little about himself; but his mind was calm and unclouded, and his peace unbroken. By medical advice he was sent to Bridge of Allan; but it was too late to be of any avail, He only survived, in a state of increasing weakness, for about a fortnight, and at last passed away, through sheer exhaustion. He literally fell asleep in Jesus. He had just entered on the sixty-first year of his age and thirty-fourth of his ministry. He leaves behind him a widow and large family—six sons and three daughters— to mourn his loss. “The memory of the just is blessed;” and “the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.”
N.B.—Mr. Mennie’s remains were brought back from Bridge of Allan, and, amid many manifestations of sorrow and sympathy, laid in their last resting-place in a plot of ground contiguous to the church.
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REV. THEODORE J. MEYER
(Died March 14, 1896)
Author: His son, Max Meyer
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August, 1896, Among the Jews, p.186
[The information with regard to his earlier Jewish life is taken from a German autobiographical memoir written in 1847, shortly before his baptism.]
My father was born of Jewish parents at Crivitz, a little town in Mecklenburg, in the year 1819, and at the early age of four was sent to the local school for religious instruction, and was soon able to delight his father by repeating portions of the Pentateuch in Hebrew. At six he was sent to the state school, where he received general instruction from a certain Herr Krull, a Christian, who was afterwards the principal means of his conversion. After this he completed his education at the gymnasium (higher school), and then took various posts as private tutor, until, in 1842, he accepted the position of religious instructor to the school attached to the Jewish congregation at Schwerin; and after passing his examination, was duly licensed by the chief rabbi of the district, Dr. Holdheim, to be a Jewish preacher. In 1843 he was moved to Bützow, where he officiated for four years as teacher of religion and public preacher. Previous to this he had gone through various phases of religious thought. As a child he had been brought up as a devout Jew; but he had left his parental home when but eight years of age to go to live with some relatives. They were careless in their observance of the Jewish law, and their laxity had a bad effect on him. After leaving the gymnasium, and at the time that he was filling his first post as private tutor, he went through a period of carelessness and worldliness which lasted two years. He awoke from this; but there was nobody then to lead him to Christianity, so that all he could do was to take refuge in a strict observance of the Jewish law once more. In the MS. he says: “With what joy I would then have heard it [the way of salvation]; with what trust I would then have embraced faith in the Redeemer, and have thrown myself on the mercy of God!”
As a Jewish teacher and preacher he was greatly influenced by Dr. Holdheim, the chief rabbi of the grand-duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Judaism was at that time much distracted, being divided into the two parties of Reformed and Orthodox Jews. Holdheim was one of the leaders of the former party, and my father therefore attached himself to it. Their objects at first seemed laudable enough, but the proceedings of the second Jewish conference at Frankfurt-am-Maine finally disgusted him with the party, for they passed resolutions denying the belief in a personal Messiah, which seemed to him the fundamental idea of all Judaism. Going from one extreme to the other, he now felt inclined to throw himself into the arms of the opposite party, but was repelled by their coldness and formality, so that he did not know where to turn, and was left without religious belief or hope.
Some time before this he had again met his old instructor Krull, who had endeavoured to persuade him of the truth of Christianity; but at that time the influence of the writings of Strauss, Feuerbach, and others, was still too fresh. Now, when his faith in Judaism was shattered, he came by God’s providence again in contact with Krull, and being himself so full of anxiety and doubt, he could not help envying the joy and peace which this earnest Christian man enjoyed. He was induced by Krull to study the New Testament more earnestly than he had hitherto done. He studied the Old Testament passages which referred to the Messiah, and found the various marks and tokens of the promised Messiah mentioned in Isa. 7:14, 9:1-6, 11:1-5, 1-9, 42: 1-9, 49:1-9, and ch. 50, 53, and 61; Micah 5:1; Zech. 9:9, and 12:10; Dan. 9:24-27, and other places, were all fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. The MS. here continues: “The personality of Jesus filled me with awe, as did also His teaching. No mere man was capable of such gentleness and love, such self-sacrifice and devotion. A teaching which was so opposed to the natural desires and inclinations of mankind must have been of divine origin. No man without having a divine call would have dared to proclaim what had so little hope of success. If Jesus had only been an ordinary man. what could have induced the apostles to continue a deception further, from which they could certainly expect no earthly advantage, but only shame, scorn, derision, and suffering?”
Having become persuaded of the truth of Christianity, he could not continue in his post as Jewish preacher and teacher; and although he had retained his post while merely in doubt, as it was his only means of livelihood, he now gave it up without hesitation, relying on Christ’s promises in Matt. 6:34. He was still puzzled about various matters, but having gone to Berlin he met Dr. Schwarz, and through intercourse with him many doubtful points were made clear. Having entered the University of Berlin, he also obtained much benefit from the lectures of Professor Hengstenberg on the Old Testament; and he was finally baptized by Dr. Schwarz in Berlin on July 18, 1847, Hengstenberg and others being witnesses. On his baptism he first adopted the Christian name of Theodore, his Jewish name being been simply Jonas Meyer. The autobiographical MS., which terminates with his baptism, concludes with the words, “Ich weiss dass mein Erlöser lebt ” (I know that my Redeemer liveth).
After his baptism he studied at the University of Berlin till September 1848, and attended lectures by Neander, Hengstenberg, Strauss, and others. On leaving Berlin he came to Scotland, where he studied for one session (1848-49) at the Free Church Divinity Hall, Aberdeen. After this he went to Edinburgh to act as Hebrew tutor in the New College, and assistant to Dr. Duncan; and he held the post for nine years, during which time he had as pupils many who afterwards became distinguished in the Free Church and also in the Presbyterian Churches of England and the colonies.
While still holding this position in the New College, he was ordained by Dr. Candlish, in February 1856, to be “minister and missionary among the German population in and about Edinburgh.” The German pastorate in Edinburgh was the result of his own efforts amongst foreigners from the time he came to Edinburgh, its first small beginning being a Bible class. For some years he preached on Sunday evenings to a congregation of Germans, his services being rendered gratuitously. He was married in 1858, and in the summer of that year he was sent by the Free Church to be their missionary to the Jews at Galatz, in Moldavia. He had previously been sent out by the church to report as to a suitable location for a Jewish mission, and it was by his advice that Galatz was selected. His “Report on the Danubian Principalities,” which was published in November 1857, contained much interesting information about the Jews and the various Christian Churches in Moldavia and Wallachia. My mother went with him to Moldavia, and also accompanied him in his subsequent moves to Italy and Holland. They only remained at Galatz two years, having to leave on account of ill health. In September 1862 he was sent as Free Church Jewish missionary to Ancona in Italy, having spent the intervening two years touring in Austria and Hungary, visiting and preaching at the various mission stations. He learned Italian in an incredibly short time, being able to preach in that language very few months after his first arrival in the country. The field of work there was large, as his was the only evangelical mission station between Trieste and Brindisi. He stayed in Italy till the summer of 1867, and the years spent there were not wanting in eventfulness. The war between Italy and Austria was in 1866, and during his stay in Ancona the place suffered from an outbreak of Asiatic cholera, my father himself catching the disease in his ministrations. In 1866 there was also a massacre of Protestants by Roman Catholics at Barletta. On hearing of it, Mr. Meyer at once went to the place, and finding that the Protestants did not dare to show themselves, he claimed the protection of the civil authorities, and restored confidence by openly holding a religious meeting. A full account of this exciting time appeared in The Free Church Monthly for May 1866.
In 1867 he was moved from Ancona to Amsterdam to replace Dr. Schwarz, and had again to learn a fresh language. He remained in Holland till 1871, when he accepted a call to London, to be missionary to the Jews there. Previous to this, however, he was very nearly being brought back to Scotland again, for the Hebrew Chair in the Free Church College, Aberdeen, having fallen vacant, some of his friends in Scotland brought his name forward for the vacancy. The late Dr. Robertson Smith was finally elected to the post by a small majority; but though unsuccessful, the candidature was a source of gratification to my father, in that it called forth so many unsolicited expressions of esteem and appreciation from his old pupils, and also from many other Scottish friends. He went to London in 1871, and on the 23rd of November of that year he was inducted to the office of missionary to the Jews in London by one of his former pupils, Dr. Dykes, then minister of Regent Square Presbyterian Church. In the year 1874 the various Presbyterian Churches in England were amalgamated under the title of the Presbyterian Church of England, and he had the control of the Jewish mission of the church till the end of 1894, when he was obliged, owing to increasing years and failing health, to relinquish the work which he so dearly loved, and to which he had devoted all his energy.
Shortly after his retirement he moved to Jersey, where he greatly enjoyed the rest, the sea air, and the country surroundings after all his hard work in London. God, however, called him to his eternal rest before he had quite completed his first year in Jersey. His last illness was a short one, and he passed away very peacefully and without suffering on March 14, 1896.
The Jews were in his thoughts up to the end, for once or twice during his final illness, when only semi-conscious, he was heard speaking of them and their manners and customs. He was also frequently heard speaking to himself in Hebrew—evidently quoting passages of Scripture.
The funeral took place in Jersey on the 18th of March, and by his own desire it was of a very simple nature, the services, both at the house and at the grave, being conducted by the Rev. W. B. Macleod, the Presbyterian minister in Jersey.
After his retirement, his health was not sufficiently good to enable him to undertake any preaching in Jersey, but on one occasion (it being the Sunday arranged for the Jewish mission collection), he consented to say a few words on behalf of the mission in Mr. Macleod’s church, after the termination of the usual service. He experienced great difficulty in speaking, and was much depressed afterwards at what he termed his failure. God’s ways are however higher than our ways, and on a visit Mr. Macleod paid him not long before his last illness, and seven or eight months after the words had been spoken, he was able to give the joyful and unlooked-for news that these few words had been the means of a young man’s conversion. This intelligence happening to arrive on my father’s birthday, he called it a birthday gift from God, and it served to greatly cheer and brighten his last remaining days upon earth.
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REV. GEORGE MILLAR, CLUNIE
(Died 24th December 1869)
Author: Rev. R. Williamson, Ascog
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, April 1, 1870, p.81
A quarter of a century has elapsed since the memorable Disruption of 1843. Many of those who took part in the ten years’ conflict by which it was preceded, and who struggled nobly in defence of those imperishable principles for which the Church was at that time honoured to contend, have exchanged the Church militant for the Church triumphant; and now “through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Having overcome, they have been made pillars in the temple, of their God, to go no more out.
To that goodly company another of our Disruption worthies has recently been added—the Rev. George Millar of Clunie.
Mr. Millar was born in the parish of Ardoch in December 1804. For some time he attended the parochial school of Crief; when sixteen years of age, entered the University of Glasgow; and, having passed through the literary, philosophical, and theological classes, was licensed by the Presbytery of Auchterarder. For three years he acted as chaplain on board of one of the Glasgow and Liverpool Steam Shipping Company’s vessels, and received from the proprietors and managers six volumes of Scott’s Bible, “as a mark of their esteem for his ministerial character and approval of his useful services.” For some time he laboured as a missionary in Perth, and also in Glasgow; and to his mission work he was wont to look back wdth great pleasure, as being, in his judgment, the most fruitful in spiritual results. Mr. Millar was also prison chaplain in Perth, and lectured on the Sabbath evenings in the North Church, on which occasions he had crowded audiences. He was the first minister of St. Leonard’s, Perth, where he laboured with great acceptance for three years. An attached people gathered around him, and the church was soon filled by a devoted flock. In 1839 he was presented by the Duke of Atholl to the church and parish of Clunie, near Dunkeld. At the Disruption a great majority of his flock followed him, and he continued to minister till a few years since, when a stroke of paralysis so shattered his constitution as to render necessary the appointment of a colleague and successor.
By his people at Clunie he was greatly beloved; his labours among them were unwearied. With the spirit of prayer he was richly endued. In this respect he resembled the late Dr. Brown of St. John’s, Glasgow, more than any man we have ever known. His sermons were ever the fruit of careful preparation. The doctrinal and the practical were beautifully blended in his discourses. Ever faithful and searching, he was, at the same time, most tender; while few men excelled him in powerful and solemn appeals to the conscience. He was at once Boanerges and Barnabas — a son of thunder, and a son of consolation. His memory will long be fragrant in the districts in which he laboured, and in the affections of those of his brethren in the ministry who knew him.
At the period of his death Mr. Millar was resident in Crieff. Three days before the Master came and called for him, he went to the house of an invalid, not far from his own dwelling, and there read the Scriptures and prayed. During the twilight of the last evening of his life he walked in front of his own house, the slippery condition of the street preventing him from going further. Between eight and nine o’clock he conducted family worship a little longer than usual, Psalm 24:1-6 being sung. Alarming symptoms came on when he was retiring to bed. His medical adviser and friend was sent for, and, having arrived, found him dying. In less than fifteen minutes from the time that danger was apprehended, he calmly and placidly, on the 24th December, departed. He was not, for God had taken him. He had “full assurance of hope.” He was gone “to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense,” “until the day break, and the shadows flee away.” “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth.”
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REV. PETER GIBSON MILLAR, CAMBUSNETHAN
(Died April 27, 1892)
Author: Rev. W. M. Clow, B.D., Aberdeen
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1892, Obituary, p.277
Peter Gibson Millar was born in Hamilton in 1821. His father, Dr. Millar, was one of a band of enthusiastic Free Churchmen whom the Rev. William Buchan, that ideal Presbyterian bishop, gathered around him. Mr. Millar’s boyhood and young manhood were passed under Mr. Buchan’s ministry; and his minister’s fine fearlessness in the discharge of duty, clear views as to the Erastian character of the Establishment, and generous self-sacrifice won his enthusiastic devotion and did much to mould his character. He was educated in Hamilton, and then passed through the arts course in Glasgow. His divinity curriculum was taken in Edinburgh, where he was attracted by Chalmers and the strong men who first gave the New College its prestige. On the completion of his course he shrank from taking immediate license, having a very high conception of the work of the ministry. Of these years, with that marked reticence in all that concerned himself, he seldom spoke. They were years when “he was in the desert”—years of self-examination and deep communion, when he widened his studies and acquired that invincible love of reading which he retained to the very end. A strong Calvinist, yet holding the minor points of Calvinism with large toleration, he followed every movement in theology with engrossing interest, and was to be found on the forward side of all the recent controversies.
In the years in which he chose still to continue a student he was by no means idle. He helped in the mission work of the congregation at Hamilton, and began the work at Chapelton. In 1851 he was licensed, and assumed the charge of the congregation forming at Cambusnethan. As the result of his work a regular charge was constituted in 1851, and in that year he was ordained over it. To that congregation he gave his thirty years of arduous ministry. The older members often speak of his coming among them—a tall, handsome man, with a strength that no distance could tire and no labour exhaust, with his dearly-loved evangel, his fervid speech, and his noble enthusiasms. When preaching his funeral sermon, the Rev. David Ogilvy, his life-long friend, referring to his affectionate zeal, fitly said: “Cambusnethan and its people were to him as the apple of his eye. He loved them as few ministers love their people, and I have good reason to believe that his love was reciprocated, from the way in which old members scattered throughout the congregations of the presbytery speak of him to me. I find particular sermons of his have stuck in the memories of more people than the sermons of any other minister I know. They were like the man himself—grand and massive, delivered with a superabundant energy which no doubt helped the memory; and then they were so thoroughly evangelical as to be attractive to devout hearts.”
In these thirty busy years he improved the appearance and comfort of the church; he built a handsome manse; and with the help of sympathetic friends in Wishaw he erected the present Wishaw Academy, now under the care of the School Board. He gave faithful service to the Parochial and School Boards, and cared for the poor and shepherdless in every corner of his wide parish. To the Church he gave unsparingly generous service. In the furtherance of the great extension of the Presbytery of Hamilton, and especially in connection with the erection of the various charges within or on the borders of the parish, he spent laborious, self-denying nights and days. He drafted off members with a sacrifice whose only pain lay in his love for them. The present flourishing congregations of Cleland and Wishaw owe their origin to his fostering care.
Most finely typical of him was the spirit in which he passed through the two critical experiences of his older years. His ample private inheritance was swept away by the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank. For a man verging on sixty to have his gourd wither in one night is a crucial test. On the following Sabbath he preached with unusual composure from the words, “The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” No word of complaint or of reproach was ever upon his lips. His one sorrow was that the projects of his benevolence, and especially the building of a new church, with which he had hoped to crown his service, had to be abandoned. In 1880 he entered on his severer trial. The strong man’s nervous force was weakened, and although he hoped that the progress of the paralysis might be stayed, he preached his last sermon on the last Sabbath of the year. In 1881 his first colleague (the writer of this notice) was ordained, and in 1886 the Rev. Charles Steele became co-pastor. To succeed such a man was an education; to enjoy his affectionate friendship, as both his colleagues have done, has been one of time’s kindest privileges. Twelve years of retirement from active service; of eager, sustained interest in the kingdom of God (receiving “all who came in unto him,” especially if they brought him word of his flock); of weakness and suffering through which the beauty of the Lord came upon him, fill up his record. ”Men’s faces looking into a sunset are golden; so are our lives when they look always into the countenance of coming death.”
He is survived by his widow, a daughter of the late James Brydes, Esq., W.S., who, after a faithful fellowship in her husband’s ministry, found her own in a service which kept her ever at his side, rendered with a devotion which had its spring in her reverential love for this good soldier of Jesus Christ, the halo of whose grace is no longer veiled in the haze of our thoughts of the living, but revealed to our clearer, wiser discernment of the dead.
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DR. SAMUEL MILLER, GLASGOW
Author: Dr. Andrew A. Bonar, Finnieston, Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.279
There are some of us who remember well when Dr. Miller preached before the General Assembly in 1851. He closed a most earnest as well as able lecture on Psalm 126 in these words, “Sent forth from God to sow and reap, and with God to strengthen for the work, we must come again to God with whatsoever gathered shocks of corn we have as a whole thank-offering to his grace. Dare we come empty-handed and stand sheafless before the throne?” It was in this spirit that he carried on his ministry from year to year, till the Master called him home, 5th July last, after forty-five years’ service, and in his seventy-second year. He was born at Eassie, 2nd March 1810. He studied at the University of St. Andrews, and in 1832 was licensed by the Presbytery of Dundee to preach the gospel to his fellow-men. In the course of his studies he from the first gave himself more to theology than to literature; and in that department was all along distinguished. His fellow-students remember that he excelled in Hebrew; and that on one occasion his essay on the Resurrection of Christ won the highest commendation as the best of all the class. An early friend of his mentions that he understood him to refer to a Sabbath evening class taught by Dr. Chalmers in St. Andrews as having had a most important bearing in bringing him to Christ, though in the manse of his father at Monikie he had doctrinally received the truth from early days. In September 1835 he was ordained minister of the parish of Monifieth, a few miles from Dundee, and there he laboured for eight years, seeking to do work for his Lord in winning souls and edifying the saved. During that time he cultivated the fellowship of all who held and preached evangelical truth, and none was more loved than Robert M. McCheyne. Indeed it was noticed that that friendship greatly intensified his zeal, as well as deepened his views of truth. He himself one day specified the impulse he got from a sermon preached in his pulpit by Mr. McCheyne, on Isaiah 44:3—”I will pour water on him that is thirsty,” etc. At any rate he was now a growing minister, preaching Christ not exactly with what men would call eloquence, but with great power and attractiveness. He was tall, and had a commanding presence; his voice was full, his manner authoritative; and in later years his admiring people sometimes spoke of their pride as they looked on him in the midst of his elders on a Communion Sabbath. When the days came on that led to the Disruption and the formation of the Free Church, he never for a moment hesitated as to the path of duty, throwing all his energies into the cause, because he believed that the crown rights of Christ, “the King of kings” were at stake in that great controversy. When tbe Free Church Presbytery of Dundee was formed in 1843, the brethren chose him to be their clerk. His business talents fitted him for this work, while a sense of duty impelled him to take his full share.
But it was now manifest that a larger sphere ought to be his; and accordingly his brethren could not but assent to the call addressed to him from Glasgow to come and labour there. And so it was that in September 1844 (though he had declined a call to Manchester and another to St. Andrews) he was ordained over Free St. Matthew’s congregation, Glasgow, then worshipping in Kent Road. The congregation increased; a new church was built in Bath Street, and filled. It became one of the most influential congregations in the city. Nor need we wonder, for Dr. Miller was felt by all to have peculiar power in preaching. His style of preaching laid hold on a large class of intelligent and godly hearers. Mr. Watson (now of Sefton Park, Liverpool), colleague to him for a time, remarked in the funeral sermon that his preaching was quite unique; it was Scripture scripturally preached, as if in one hand he held up his text, while with the other he caused light to fall on it from all other parts of the Bible. “Oh how I love thy law,” was altogether characteristic of him; and no one felt more indignation than Dr. Miller when the Word of God was handled with irreverence and flippancy.
In what we call “the Union Controversy” in our Church, he steadily, and even sternly, supported the Anti-Union Movement. He took great interest in the Ladies’ schools for the Highlands and Islands; though he did not do much work beyond his own congregation, except in the direction of the territorial mission field. In that he heartily engaged so far as strength permitted, encouraging Sabbath schools, tract visiting, district meetings; and when some of his people proposed to form a new congregation and build a church in a most needy part of Anderston, he at once seconded their efforts. The writer of this notice came from a country parish to be the labourer in that field (Finnieston Free Church), and never once during more than twenty years found him otherwise than ready to co-operate in any useful plan, with all the heartiness of brotherly sympathy. Dr. Miller, to all his friends, was warm-hearted, affectionate, and kindly.1
His health, for many years latterly, was such that he found himself restricted to the visiting chiefly of the sick in his flock; but his study of the Word was kept up to the very last. He would not offer to the Lord what cost him nothing; and no doubt just on this account his Master showed him occasionally that if necessity compelled him to go forth, comparatively unprepared at the time, the blessing, nevertheless, should not be withheld. One day he had gone with his father, in the middle of the week, to take a trip down the Clyde. On reaching Greenock, the church-bells were ringing; for it was the Fast-Day before communion. Dr. Miller was thunderstruck, remembering that he had engaged himself to preach there that day. Hurrying from the boat, he reached the place of worship, no doubt somewhat discomposed, and took for his subject what came to hand. At the close a hearer came to speak with him and thank him for special blessing found under that sermon. He told another, as unexpected a case. When preparing for Sabbath one Saturday, he could fix on no text. He tried one, and another, and another, all in vain. Sabbath morning came; still he was unsupplied. He went out, however, to the day’s work, hoping that the Lord might suggest a text by the psalms sung (for he never sang paraphrases, far less hymns, in congregational worship) or in the chapter read. I cannot name the text that at last was given him, but in the course of the week a stranger called to thank him for that sermon, telling how she came into his church anxious and distressed, having gone from one church and minister to another, all in vain. That day she got what her soul sought, and was now at rest.
In the beginning of this present year he caught cold, but still was able to preach occasionally. When Mr. Salmond agreed to come as his colleague, his heart was gladdened, and he hoped for more strength and double blessing. But on the very evening when Mr. Salmond was inducted, he was prostrated, and never saw his loved flock again. At last his weakness began to be apparent to all around him; only he himself did not feel that he was sinking, having no pain except when the cough came on. When his beloved and devoted wife spoke of the end being near, he said it might be so, though he did not think it. And when asked, “But, at any rate, you are resting all on Him!” his reply was in his own manner, brief and emphatic, “Yes, wholly.” And so in a few hours he passed quietly away, perhaps never knowing that he had left the body till he found himself in glory.
“Having served his generation, by the will of God, he fell on sleep, and was laid with his fathers” till the Chief Shepherd shall appear to give the crown of glory.
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REV. WILLIAM JOHN MILLER, M.A., TILLICOULTRY
(Died January 29, 1890)
Author: Rev. Gavin J. Tait, M.A., Paisley
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1890, Obituary, p.118
Mr. Miller’s death, at the comparatively early age of thirty-five, came as an unexpected blow to his congregation and a wide circle of friends. Although he had enjoyed but indifferent health for the last five years, there seemed good hope that with care he might be spared for many years to come, and his own bright and buoyant spirit strengthened the hopes of his friends. The first sign of the final break-down came last May during the General Assembly, when he was taken seriously ill in Edinburgh, and in consequence had to go away for a lengthened summer holiday. He resumed work in September in good spirits, and toiled on manfully, until in December a fainting fit in the pulpit warned him that his strength was not what he had counted on. From this attack, however, he partially recovered, and was planning out his work with the assistant whom the congregation had thoughtfully provided, when a relapse set in, and after little more than a week’s struggle he passed away on the 29th of January.
It was the end of a most promising life and ministry. Born at Fort-William in 1854, and educated there, Mr. Miller entered Edinburgh University in the year 1869, with his mind, even at that early age, fixed on the ministry as his life-work. Owing to his extreme youth, his university career was interrupted for one or two sessions, so that it was not until 1875 he finished his arts course and entered the New College. There he soon made his mark as a man of real ability, of a most amiable disposition, and of genuine though unaffected piety. The esteem in which he was held by his fellow-students showed itself in his election first as secretary and afterwards as president of the New College Missionary Society. At the close of his divinity course, he spent some months travelling on the Continent. On coming home he was licensed, and began work as assistant to the late Dr. Main of St. Mary’s, Edinburgh. He was not long without a charge, and in September 1880 was ordained minister of Tillicoultry Free Church.
The ministry then begun proved in many ways to be singularly fruitful, and gave early promise of Mr. Miller’s fitness for a larger sphere had he been spared. The tie between himself and his people was from the first specially close and endearing. With his warm heart and genial manner he soon succeeded in securing their attachment, which his preaching and whole bearing increasingly strengthened.
As a preacher he combined vigour of thought and delivery with a singular refinement of style and a gentleness and persuasiveness of manner eminently characteristic of his whole disposition. While the gospel message to sinners was a prominent feature in all his preaching, and was ever delivered with the utmost faithfulness and tenderness, his chief power probably lay in his rich unfolding of the elements of genuine religious experience, and in the freshness with which he depicted the various aspects of the Christian life. In dealing with these subjects he spoke of what he ever practised, and testified of what he had seen.
For the work of the pastorate he was rarely gifted. Possessed of a large and sympathetic heart, and of no small share of practical wisdom, and with a rich vein of kindly humour, he was well fitted to enter into his people’s joys and sorrows, and to be their counsellor in perplexity.
He was thoroughly qualified likewise, especially through his gift of easy and graceful utterance, to represent his Church in the community at large, and in all movements for the general welfare he took an active part. In this way he speedily made himself in the busy little town of “the Hillfoots” an influence that was widely felt and warmly appreciated.
His end was perfect peace. He had long looked the enemy in the face, and when the last conflict came he was more than conqueror. His remains were taken home to his native Lochaber, and followed to their last resting-place on the banks of the Nevis by one of the largest funeral processions the district had witnessed for many years.
Mr. Miller was unmarried. He was the eldest son in a large family, most of whom, including both his parents, survive to mourn his loss.
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REV. ROBERT MILLIGAN, DUNDEE
(Died August 22, 1888)
Author: Rev. John Duke, Campsie
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December, 1888, Obituary, p.371
Robert Milligan was born in Dumfries in the year 1836. He had the great advantage of being reared in a godly home. His parents manifested the deepest interest in his spiritual welfare. Whilst very young, he was powerfully impressed with divine things, and brought to decision for Christ.
He received his early education in his native town. At the close of school days he entered the University of Edinburgh with a view to prepare for the ministry. In the prosecution of his studies there he showed exemplary diligence, and attained a very good position in his classes. He passed through the usual course in theology at the New College, Edinburgh, and there also acquitted himself in a highly creditable manner. He was much esteemed and beloved by his fellow-students, who felt that they had in him a true and deeply attached friend.
In the year 1861 he was licensed to preach the everlasting gospel. At that time there was a great spiritual movement in Dumfries, one result of which was the formation of a new mission charge in the town. Of this Mr. Milligan was appointed to take the oversight. For more than a year he laboured with characteristic devotedness in this field, and was instrumental in gathering not a few into the fold of the Redeemer. We are told that many in the town still remember his loving, active efforts for the salvation of the careless, and the good success given to him.
In the year 1863 he received a unanimous call to the Free Church congregation of Wolflee. In this sphere he spent about eight happy years of earnest ministerial work amongst a deeply attached people. In the course of this time there was a remarkable work of grace in the district. For several months in 1867 there were meetings in the Free church every evening. Believers were much quickened and souls converted. With all his heart Mr. Milligan entered into the movement, and rejoiced that the ends of his ministry were being gained in so wonderful a manner. The good work spread into the surrounding districts, where he most gladly gave his valued services. In the Free Church mission in Hawick he did good work, the result of which was the formation of a new congregation.
In 1871 he was inducted to Chalmers’ Territorial Church, Dundee. In this field his labours, carried on in the midst of considerable difficulties, were incessant and arduous. He was indeed “instant in season and out of season,” devotedly seeking the spiritual and eternal welfare of immortal souls. His work was accompanied with much prayer. He was verily a man of prayer. His preaching was at all times thoroughly evangelical, and calculated to be productive of lasting good. His voice was very frequently heard at the West-port proclaiming to multitudes in the open air the unsearchable riches of Christ. As an evangelistic minister he excelled. Repeatedly he was engaged in different parts of the land in giving valued aid in evangelistic work. The seals of his ministry were manifold. In his pastoral work he was most assiduous, devoting much care on the poorest in his congregation and mission district. He was ever ready to lend a helping hand in the furtherance of such public movements as those of total abstinence, female rescue, etc. In connection with these his aid was invaluable. His power over individuals was great. He had rare tact in the way of personal dealing, and was instrumental by this means in winning many to the Lord. He was distinguished by affectionateness, which, whilst specially manifested within his own family circle, overflowed on all with whom he came in contact. His love to the Master whom he served so devotedly was very ardent. It is known that frequently he had remarkable experiences of spiritual joy in communion with the Lord.
In the beginning of August this year he went with his wife and family to Montrose to enjoy some measure of well-earned rest and recruit his energies for further service in the good cause. Whilst bathing there, on the 22nd of the month, he was borne out a long distance by powerful currents; and although he was a good swimmer, and strenuous efforts were put forth for his rescue, he succumbed to exhaustion. The scene at the funeral was of the most touching and impressive character. Multitudes lined the streets, and a vast concourse gathered round the grave. Many were in tears, realizing that one who had truly loved them and laboured for their highest interests had been removed.
Mr. Milligan was called away on the eve of his semi-jubilee in the ministry. Arrangements had been made for its celebration. On the occasion the Rev. Principal Duff, D.D., London, also a native of Dumfries and a school companion, had engaged to preach. Instead, however, he had the mournful duty of preaching a funeral sermon. For the surviving widow and family there has been evinced the utmost sympathy.
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REV. JOHN MILNE, GLASGOW
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, November 1, 1864, p.662
This indefatigable and faithful minister, who was removed by death from the scene of his earthly labours on the 20th of August last, would have received an earlier notice in these pages but for peculiar circumstances. He was born in the neighbourhood of Kelso in 1828; and, having completed with honour, the usual course of preliminary study in Edinburgh, he received license to preach the gospel. Soon after, he sailed for Canada, where he accepted a call to be minister of the congregation at English River. He laboured there for, some years with much diligence and success, but, his wife’s health having failed, he was advised to return to his native country. On coming back he spent a short period in missionary work in Montrose, and afterwards in Rutherglen, and about three years ago, he was invited to take charge of a suburban station, in the district of Bluevale, in the east end of Glasgow.
He entered on his duties in this locality, in the full vigour of health and hope, and by his faithful preaching on the Sabbath; his assiduous visitation on the week days; his attention to the sick and dying; and by his unaffected, gentle, and winning manner, he endeared himself to all classes of the people; and the congregation prospered in his hand. For some months past he had become enfeebled in body, but he still continued to prosecute his work, both on the week-day and the Sabbath, as far as his strength permitted. In order to recruit his exhausted frame he went down to spend a few weeks in the Island of Bute, without, however, experiencing any benefit from the change.
On Sabbath the 14th of August Mr. Milne fulfilled an engagement he had made to preach at Kilchattan Bay, in the Free Church station of South Kingarth. His wife, seeing his great weakness endeavoured to dissuade him from going to the pulpit. Twice he replied to her expostulations: “Woman, must I not be about my Master’s business?” and she ceased to speak to him on the subject. He conducted the services in a most solemn and impressive manner; his text in the forenoon being Hebrews 2:3, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” and in the afternoon, Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” In the closing sentences of this discourse he pictured the dying Christian, with the swellings of Jordan before him, the land of Beulah in the distance, the Star of Bethlehem shining in the horizon, and the kind welcome of his heavenly Master falling sweetly on his ear: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” The words were spoken with prophetic earnestness, and seemed to his hearers, and were felt by himself, to foreshadow what was soon to happen in his own experience.
It was with considerable difficulty he was brought back to his own house in Glasgow on the following Thursday. When, after medical consultation, it was announced to him that there was no hope of his recovery, and that his end was near, he said, gently lifting his hand: “The will of the Lord be done.” And he was just as calm and composed, on to the last moment of his life, as if he had been preparing for an ordinary discharge of ministerial duty, he died in mid-time of his days, and bore with his dying breath a noble testimony for that Master whom he had faithfully served in the gospel for about fourteen years. These removals are mysterious to us, and he himself made this remark, while expressing his entire acquiescence in the will of his heavenly Father.
Mr. Milne has left a widow in very delicate health, and, along with her three children, in very dependent circumstances, and we understand an earnest effort on their behalf is being made by friends in Glasgow, which, we hope, may be crowned with desired success.
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REV. JOHN MILNE, ST LEONARD’S, PERTH
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, November 2 1868, p.257
Among the losses sustained by the Church during the present year, there is none which she has cause to mourn more than that of this eminent and beloved minister. Mr. Milne was a native of Peterhead, where he was born in the year 1806, and where his early school career was marked by much promise. He afterwards studied at Marischal College, Aberdeen: his course there was a distinguished one, terminating in the literary part with his obtaining the Gray Mathematical Bursary—the highest honour conferred by that College on its students. It is somewhat interesting to note that the same honour was afterwards obtained by William Burns, being in his case divided with another.
Mr. Milne was licensed to preach in 1831, by the Presbytery of Turriff. For several years, however, after that date he engaged himself in tutorial work, holding some important appointments. One of these—of considerable duration, we believe—was in England; and Mr. Milne was accustomed throughout life to speak of great good received by him at this period through an evangelical and earnest ministry in connection with the Church of England, under which he sat, and through Christian example and intercourse in the family in which he was tutor.
After holding for a short time the evening lectureship in Gilcomston Church, Aberdeen, Mr. Milne was chosen to the then recently erected quoad sacra church of St. Leonard’s, Perth; Mr. Millar, translated to Clunie after two years’ service in Perth, being his only predecessor. Mr. Milne was ordained in 1838. Little more than a year after, at the close of 1839 and beginning of 1840, St. Leonard’s was the scene of a wonderful work of God—the revival of religion at that time, specially connected with the preaching of Mr. William Burns, finding one of its chief centres there. Mr. Milne, with truly Christian self-denial and humility, cordially welcomed the young evangelist, and rejoiced in the work of God by him; and the Lord gave him, like his friend Robert McCheyne in Dundee, to be himself very largely an instrument in that work, and to see many years following of remarkable prosperity, both spiritual and ecclesiastical, in the congregation of which he was minister.
At the Disruption Mr. Milne led out a very large congregation. Though a man who had nothing polemical in his nature, and who even had little taste, because little felt fitness, for Church business, yet none appreciated more than he the principles contended for; and not only by voice but by pen did he efficiently do his part in the conflict. In the abundant labours of that period also—the amount of which, in the case of some ministers, it is astonishing now to think of—none perhaps took a larger share than he did; and there are stirring memories in many parishes and districts around Perth, and even at wide distances from it, of occasions on which, to deeply interested congregations hungering for the Word, and hanging for hours on the lips of the preacher, he ministered with power the gospel of the grace of God.
In 1853, and after having been tried with severe family bereavements, Mr. Milne was led, in the providence of God, to consider the claims of the Indian field, and he accepted a call to the pastorate of the Free European Church of Culcutta. To the esteem in which he was held there, and the worth of his labours in that sphere, there are many who will bear grateful witness. His own health, however, and especially that of Mrs. Milne, shortened his stay in India.
Returning home in 1858, it happened that his old Perth charge was vacant, and Mr. Milne was again called to and settled in Free St. Leonard’s. There, along with a younger colleague afterwards, on account of health, associated with him, he laboured devotedly till a few months before his death.
Mr. Milne’s decease was strikingly sudden. For some years he had often suffered, sometimes agonizingly, from headaches: these affections his medical advisers, at the beginning of last winter, found to proceed from heart-disease, and entire rest was prescribed. About the time of the General Assembly in May last, Mr. Milne was somewhat better, and on Saturday the 30th of that month, being then lodging, together with Mrs. Milne, in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, he was out transacting business, and was also at the Assembly Hall, where he conversed with several brethren. Next morning he rose in his usual health, and had gone to his dressing-room: there, when called about a quarter of an hour after, and no answer returned, it was found, on entering, that life was extinct. He had finished dressing, and the end, it would appear, had come instantaneously. His conversation that morning had been about communion with God, and the joy of having the light of his countenance. His Bible was found open on the bed of the room at the third of Ephesians, and the bed had marks of having been leant against when kneeling; and thus, almost as by translation, this servant of God was taken from the Sabbath of the Church below to the unclouded Sabbatic rest of the Church above.
As a preacher Mr. Milne’s gifts were of no common kind: the originality and freshness, the impassioned and often long-sustained oratory, of his earlier ministry savoured not merely of talent but of genius; and, savouring yet more of grace, the effect was rivetting to the hearers at the time, and not seldom fruitful of blessing permanently. We doubt whether any materials can be found which will fitly represent this earlier era of Mr. Milne’s ministry to those who were not familiar with it, unpremeditated as some of its most powerful utterances appeared often to be. But the mellow grace and ever fresh spiritual life of his later preaching are well represented in an interesting and most edifying volume entitled “Gatherings from a Ministry,” in the compilation of which he was induced to beguile the weary weeks of his enforced silence at the beginning of the year. As a pastor he was eminently diligent and faithful, and won by love, courtesy, and kindness the hearts of those whom he sought to benefit, while commending himself to their consciences by a guileless and holy character and self-forgetting and godly aims. Rich and poor he equally succeeded with; and beyond the bounds of his own denomination no minister’s pastoral services probably were ever more sought after; indeed, his interest in the universal Church, and the interest which good men from all its branches felt in him, were not the least of his many marked distinctions.
His character as a man will be inferred from what has been said—he was holy and sincere, loving and peculiarly lovable. He could make a playful remark on occasion, but his speech was always with grace. A warm friend to his friends, it was also remarked that if any one had done him an injury he sought to heap some special kindness upon the head of that person. He was also eminently generous—the Lord gave him private means, and he used them largely for the Lord. When a colleague was associated with him, he took care that it should be without expense to the Church; he was likewise a liberal contributor to all her schemes, and his liberality flowed over to missionary and other objects beyond her cognizance. It may be mentioned in this connection, both as showing his public spirit and also his desire for the comfort of his brethren in the ministry, that he took a deep interest in the scheme lately adopted for the increase of ministers’ salaries—coming forward and warmly advocating it in the public papers, as well as giving it his own liberal assistance. The removal of such men, in this day of fields white at homo and abroad for the gospel harvest, may well quicken the Church’s prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth other and like-minded labourers into his harvest.
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REV. WILLIAM MILNE, M.A., BRACO
(Died August 4th, 1892)
Author: Rev. D. Maclean, Dunning
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October, 1892, Obituary, p.254
Mr. Milne was born and brought up in the city of Aberdeen, and even in his early childhood began to show a brightness and a talent that marked him out for distinction in his riper years. While he was at school and at college, Aberdeen was visited with a remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the congregation of Bon-Accord, with which he was connected, shared largely in the blessing. At that time he appeared to have been converted to God. Having finished a distinguished career at the University and the Divinity Hall, and having been licensed to preach the gospel, he acted as assistant to Mr. Philip of Fordoun and to Mr. Henry of Marnoch, and was at length called to Braco, where he laboured for thirty-two years, proving himself to be an able minister of the New Testament, rightly dividing the word of truth. He was a faithful, impressive, and powerful preacher of the glorious gospel, firmly maintaining the integrity and purity of God’s most blessed Word, freely proclaiming the priestly sacrifice and work of Christ, and fully unfolding his royal prerogatives and glory. He never shrank from warning sinners of the consequences of their evil ways, while it was his delight to build up God’s people in their most holy faith, encouraging them to abound in those pleasant fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. For many years he laboured as a Home Mission deputy, by appointment of the General Assembly, in various parts of Scotland, and while his ministrations were appreciated everywhere, they were followed by a special blessing in Hawick and Lochee.
He was a pastor as well as a preacher, visiting his people with regularity in their own homes, and becoming the personal friend and adviser both of old and young. Shrewd in his counsels, sincere and tender in his sympathies, manly and courageous in the expression of his sentiments, and singularly unselfish in his spirit, he was welcomed by all with pleasure and respect wherever he went, and moved among the young as a father among his children.
We cannot close this brief memorial without referring to the service he rendered as a member of Presbytery. Regular in his attendance and interested in all its proceedings, he contributed valuable information to its debates, made important suggestions at its conferences, and prepared thoughtful reports as convener of many of its committees.
When he drew near the end of his pilgrimage, his sense of weariness was great, but, upheld by divine grace, he was preserved from impatience. Stretching his arms around his mother, whom he dearly loved, he said, “Jehovah-jireh, mother: the Lord will provide.” Feeling that the Lord would soon call him home, he said to his sister, “Why do you look so sad? why grumble at my being raised from a lower to a higher place? I am going home—to be with Jesus.” Then on the morning in which he died, as if he saw heaven opening before him, he looked up and whispered, “Ladder—Jesus;” and on being asked if he saw Jesus beckoning to him, he replied, “Yes, yes,” and so, breathing his last, he entered into the joy of his Lord.
“Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle’s fought, the victory’s won,
Enter thy Master’s joy.”
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REV. ANDREW MILROY
(Died May 3, 1873)
The Free Church Monthly September 1, 1876, p.226
It so happened that no notice of Mr. Milroy appeared in these pages at the time of his death. We always regretted this, because he was at the Disruption one of those parish ministers whose testimony to the principles of the Free Church was of peculiar value, and also because all his life long he was recognized as a truly godly man. We are very glad, therefore, to have the opportunity of so far making amends, by quoting a few paragraphs from a sketch of his life, which has just been published by his son. Mr. Wallace Milroy is a minister of the Church of England, but no biographer could more anxiously keep himself and his individual opinions in the background than he has done. His single aim has been to tell the story of how his father lived and thought, and he has performed his task with the greatest modesty and good taste. The extracts given below all belong to the earlier part of Mr. Milroy’s history. Our limited space renders a selection necessary, and there are some things in the following sentences which our readers will recognize as specially interesting. We may simply mention here that Mr. Milroy in 1844 accepted a call to Henderson Church, Edinburgh — that the congregation over which he was then placed took the name of the Tron — and that he continued to labour in this sphere until his death in 1873. It need hardly be said that the following is not a continuous narrative, but a string of passages taken here and there from the fuller account in the biography:
“My father was born in 1801. In his father and mother he was blessed with the best of parents, of decided piety, and distinguished by great culture of mind and force of character. The former, descended from a Covenanting race in Ayrshire, seems to have inherited the true Covenanter’s spirit, being described as ‘an honest and upright man, who feared God and eschewed evil; of the strictest moral integrity and true Christian principles, holding fast the form of sound words in faith and love.’ He died while my father was young, but the bright example of his Christian character had a lasting influence upon his son. In his mother he was equally fortunate, as she was endowed with great ability, and, by her interest and encouragement in his studies, contributed not a little to his success both at school and college.
“At an early age he entered the High School of Edinburgh, then the great classical school of Scotland. The Rector of the High School at that time was the celebrated James Pillans, the Nestor of teachers, who taught so many generations of the Scottish youth. At school my father was early remarkable for his classical scholarship, for which he was equally distinguished when he entered the University of Edinburgh.
“While a student of theology, in conjunction with Mr. Drummond of Forgandenny, he founded a new theological society, which was named the Theolectic; and its members, who were limited to nine, were, in the words of the founder, ‘to have it as their object to provoke one another unto love, helping and bearing with each other’ in their efforts after mental and spiritual improvement. They met in a church to hear one of the members deliver a sermon, and adjourned to the vestry for discussion and friendly criticism. ‘We always felt anxious,’ Mr. Drummond adds, ‘to bear what your father had to say, and his opinion generally settled the question as to the real character of the particular exercise. He very early impressed me with the conviction that, besides his excellent mental powers, his clear head, and his great good sense, his diligence and high attainments as a student, there were in him a depth of Christian feeling and an extent of Christian experience which were far from common among young men in those days’
“In 1829 he was presented to the living of Crailing, in Roxburghshire, by the patron, the Marquis of Lothian. In this appointment he loved to own the leading of God’s providence, as he was an entire stranger to the patron, who with a laudable sense of his responsibility, had looked out for the most qualified presentee.
“Crailing itself was not without some historical interest, being associated with the names of two worthies of the Scottish Church — Calderwood and Samuel Rutherford.
“The house in which Rutherford was born, or at least a house situated on the same spot, was pointed out at the time when my father went to Crailing; and Dean Stanley tells an interesting story, in his ‘Lectures on the Scottish Church,’ of a former Marquis of Lothian who never passed the spot without touching his hat as a mark of reverence to the memory of Rutherford.
“At this period, as always, my father was a diligent student, and I find most careful analyses of books he had read. For Calvin especially he had the highest admiration, as one of the best expositors of Scripture, and he enjoyed the excellence of his Latin style.
“The Rev. Joseph Yair, minister of the neighbouring parish of Eckford, thus describes my father’s zeal in the work of his parish:
“‘There was no one who could have prepared with greater diligence than he did for the work of the Sabbath. All his expositions of divine truth were the fruit of anxious thought, of attentive study, of patient research, and of prayerful meditation. His discourses were practical and edifying, and there was always an unction and a freshness about them which truly reflected the inner life of the preacher. He delighted to proclaim to the people of Crailing the gospel of God’s kingdom. He spoke to them in sincerity, and in the love of it, because he believed it; and his word was in demonstration of the Spirit and in power.’
“These years (1830-40) were thus a time of great enjoyment and progress. The good seed sown had taken root, and was bearing fruit. A religious awakening took place in the neighbourhood, especially in the village of Ancrum, in which, with McCheyne and the Messrs. Bonar, my father took a great part. There was everything that could make a man happy whose heart was in his work, and many were the testimonies borne to the good that was being accomplished by the holy and blameless life of the minister.
“The Disruption was felt to be a really necessary step at the time by some of the calmest and coolest men, who were quite sensible of the consequences, and had everything to lose and nothing to gain by any change. The question on which the issue turned was not the existence of patronage, as is now sometimes affirmed; for I know that my father, if he did not advocate patronage, did not regard it as an unmitigated evil. As my father always expressed it, the contention was for the Headship of Christ over his Church, the principle ‘that he hath therein appointed a government in the hands of church-officers, distinct from the civil magistrate.’
“That this was a well-founded claim to spiritual independence, was acknowledged by many who took no part in the controversy. ‘I hold it to be certain,’ Lord Cockburn wrote in his journal, ‘that the assertion of its supremacy is within the words and in the spirit of our law. The Church has the law on its side. The Church of Scotland was established by brave and good men, who made it, and meant it to be, more independent of the State, and more purely spiritual, than any religious system that has ever been reduced to practice.'”
In his farewell sermon in 1843, Mr. Milroy said: “‘Ever since I came amongst you I have advocated spiritual religion — that is, a religion in which the heart is supremely given to Christ — not a religion of forms and decencies. I have insisted on the claim of Christ to be followed implicitly through good report and through bad report, through light and cloud, through prosperity and adversity. I have set myself against that accommodating religion which will go so far with Christ, but will not follow him wholly; and now I am called myself to set you the example. Interest and feeling stand ranged on one side, principle on another. I choose the latter; I cleave to Christ’s supremacy; and I trust to be remembered amongst you, even after my body shall slumber in the dust, as one who honestly urged you to give yourselves wholly to Christ, and who himself set you the example by sacrificing his earthly advantages for Christ’s crown and glory.’
“Hunthill, the new temporary home, was about six miles distant from Crailing, as no house could be obtained nearer. The Sabbath came, and the people anxiously waited to know what was to be done. The first Free Church congregation met in a field by the roadside. An old man spread his shepherd’s plaid for my mother, saying, ‘Here, mistress, I’ll try and build you a house myself.’ These seemed to be the old days of the Covenanters returned again, when men met on moor or hillside to worship God with liberty of conscience.
“Soon afterwards a barn was offered by a stranger simply out of admiration for the suffering cause, and here services were regularly held for several months. After preaching there, my father rode on to Morebattle, a village at the foot of the Cheviot range, and preached in the open air. A congregation was thus gathered, and before he left the neighbourhood a church had been permanently set up.
“From Morebattle there was a long ride over a lonely moor to Hunthill, and much hardship and painful fatigue was undergone by him in these missionary excursions.
“The charge has often been made against members of the Free Church, and especially the ministers, that they have exalted a mere question of Church policy into a fundamental truth of religion, and have set up Free Church principles as an arbitrary standard of spiritual life. The following letter may serve to clear away this prejudice, as it plainly puts the different questions in their relations as they appeared to my father’s mind:—
“‘June 27, 1846. It gave me great delight to hear ______ was looking so well. Oh that her soul may also be in health and prosper. Her remark that our principles are not essential to salvation does fill me with much alarm. I should be very unwilling to affirm that it was essential to salvation that every person should be so far advanced in discussing the application of divine truth as to the Headship of Christ, that he could have no hope without this discernment. But, on the other hand, an unwillingness to perceive truth concerning Christ, a desire to escape from it because it is associated with suffering, is a most unfavourable mark. There are two passages which prove this very clearly. The first is Matthew fifth chapter, 19th verse; and the other is where our Lord speaks of the fearful consequence of being ashamed of him or of his words. In regard to my own consistency in this, great question I feel perfectly at ease, for during my whole ministry and in my public actings I maintained Christ’s rule in his Church, or, in other words, the duty of the Church to own Christ alone; and I maintained also that our Lord had bestowed privileges on his people in the election of ministers which it would be sinful to take from them, though I differed from some brethren as to the extent of these privileges. These two points I always held, these truths I always saw. But what I ought to do in order to maintain these truths I did not see until the crisis came, when the choice lay “between consenting to merge Christ’s supremacy,” and losing my worldly emoluments. I never in heart hesitated a moment as to which of these alternatives I should adopt, though I did look very anxiously to see if no way of deliverance could be found, if the Lord would not open a door of escape to his Church. But, in truth, the grand question _____ has to determine is not so much our Free Church, as just “living to Christ,” or living to herself and the world.’
“Amid all his labours and discouragements the people of Crailing were never forgotten in my father’s thoughts and prayers, and he watched with an intense yearning for tidings of fruit in the field where he had sown the seed.
“In 1847 he wrote:
“‘Amid my duties here, my old friends and former scene of labour intermingle with my thoughts. Nothing can refresh me more than to hear of those I love, and of good being done in the portion of the vineyard over which I watched.’
“The parish of Crailing had thus been the subject of many prayers. Of the same neighbourhood, Samuel Rutherford, who, as already mentioned, was born in the parish, in a letter written 1655, in which he regrets his being unable to visit that quarter, and speaking of the state of religion, said:
“‘My heart’s desire is, that the place to which I owe my first breathing may blossom as the rose.'”
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REV. ALEX. S. MITCHELL, A.M., ORWELL
(Died June 17, 1882)
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.340
Mr. Mitchell’s death was very sudden— unexpected till within a few hours of its occurrence. He preached on the forenoon of Sabbath the 11th June, but was unable to continue the service in the afternoon. He had all his arrangements made for the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper in the congregation on the following Sabbath, and hoped, even in the beginning of the week, to be able personally to carry out these arrangements. The Master had ordered otherwise; and early on the morning of Saturday the 17th June, Mr. Mitchell passed from his labours to his reward, leaving a widow and four sons and a daughter to mourn their early bereavement.
The Rev. John Macpherson of Hilltown, Dundee, a fellow-student in the Divinity Hall, writes of Mr. Mitchell’s student life:—
“As a student Mr. Mitchell was characterized by diligence, punctuality, method, and thoroughness. He took a good place in all his classes, and was universally respected by his fellow-students. While he stood well in general scholarship, he was in particular a sound and able theologian. He was a master of the old Puritan theology, and excellent even then in the clearness and fulness and precision with which he could present the glorious gospel of the grace of God.
“He took a leading part in all the earnest movements of the Hall. He was unanimously appointed to the office of Secretary to the Students’ Missionary Association, an office which he filled with conspicuous fidelity and efficiency during our four sessions. I believe he held the same office also at the University.
“He was always ready to take part in prayer-meetings and in all spiritual work. He was one of a little company who met once a week in the room of one of the students for prayer and the study of the New Testament in the original.
“He was singularly frank and outspoken and straightforward. No man ever had more the courage of his convictions than he had. He was downright even to a fault—a feature in his character for which he was admired by all who love truth and manliness. He was affectionate, kind-hearted, genial, and detested everything petty and mean. I shall ever cherish his memory.”
And Mr. Gillison of Fossaway, preaching in Orwell Free Church on Sabbath 25th June, spoke as follows:— “While I have been speaking of this glory (John 17:24, ‘The glory which thou gavest me’), your thoughts have been of one who, you have reason to believe, has now entered on its enjoyment. It is hard for you to realize that he is not still present with you. On this day fortnight he was where I now stand, speaking all the words of this life, and now he is living in the presence of the things which yet to us are unseen. It will be twenty-three years next month since I officiated here and ordained him to the ministry of this congregation, by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. And with what anxiety he watched for your souls during these years you know. He was not perfect: he had his infirmities,—which is just to say that he was a man of like passions with ourselves. But of this I am assured, he watched for your souls, mourned over backsliders, and encouraged himself in the Lord when he saw you walking as the children of God; and prayed over his preaching, declaring to you what God gave to him, that he might win you to Christ. This is the object of the ministry, and he made it the end of his life to work the work of him that sent him, fulfilling the ministry of the Lord Jesus. I know that he reckoned it lost in so far as he was not successful in this. His desire was to present you faultless before the presence of his glory, that you might rejoice together in his salvation. He has been cut off, as we reckon it, in the midst of his years, but not so in His estimation who gave him his work, which he has now finished, and has glorified him with himself—to be with him where he is, to behold his glory.
“Up to within a week of your late pastor’s removal, you were looking forward to sitting down with him at the communion table; but the Master ordered otherwise, and ere that day had arrived he had sat down at the table above to drink the new wine in the Father’s kingdom.
“His work among you is now over—his pains and fears and anxieties—and he has gone to give in his account, and to receive his reward. How solemn the event is to you, and how loudly it calls to you, ‘Be ye also ready.’ But however great the loss to you, and however much you are to be sympathized with under your bereavement, how much more the family that has been bereaved of a husband and father, and how much do they require and deserve your sympathy and prayers. We would commend them to him who is the Husband of the widow and the Father of the fatherless. His very presence was a joy to his household; and no one can heal the breach but he who has made it. And we commend them to his sympathy, that they may be supported; and we pray for sustaining grace to that one who is far removed from the parental roof, [his eldest son who was in Bombay] when the intelligence of the removal of one so dear to him shall reach him that he is not, for God has taken him.”
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REV. DAVID MITCHELL, BLAIRDAFF
(Died May 31, 1876)
Author: Rev. George Bain, Chapel of Garioch
The Free Church Monthly January 1, 1877, p.18
The Rev. David Mitchell was a native of Aberdeen. He was born in that city on the 4th July 1808; and, according to some autobiographical jottings left by him, he had, like many of his fellows, in his day, to bear the yoke in his youth. “I had,” he writes, “many a hard struggle to maintain myself at the grammar school and divinity hall, having often to teach from six a.m. to ten at night.” In the jottings referred to, he mentions that during his five years’ attendance at the New Town Grammar School he experienced much kindness and assistance from the rector, Dr. Melvin, towards whom, in consequence, he always continued to cherish the warmest gratitude. At the bursary competition, before entering college, he was awarded the second bursary, and after some reconsideration, the first was given him, which he held for four years. Having, at the close of his divinity studies, been licensed by the Aberdeen Presbytery, he laboured for some time as missionary in the South Church parish, and afterwards in that of the East Church. For ten months subsequently he held the office of chaplain in the City of Aberdeen steamer; and, finally, his way was opened up to Blairdaff through the instrumentality of Rev. Henry Simson, then minister of the parish of Chapel of Garioch, of whom he always delighted to speak in terms of cordial esteem and regard. At the great Disruption he was found faithful to the principles for which the Church of Scotland had been honoured to contend during the memorable ten years’ conflict, as on many former occasions; and for thirty-three years he gave his undivided attention to his work as Free Church minister of Blairdaff — “labouring,” as he states in his recent jottings, “among an attached and devoted people, many of whom have been removed by death, and have, I hope, entered into the rest that remaineth for the people of God.”
Mr. Mitchell was always a sound and faithful preacher, and, as a pastor, was very attentive to his people; by whom, in return, he was very much beloved. To oblige any of his brethren in any way in his power he was always most willing and ready, sparing neither time nor travel to do a kind service. For a number of years he was Clerk of the Presbytery, in which capacity his courtesy and fidelity secured for him the highest confidence of his brethren, whilst the Synod’s encomiums were often drawn forth by the correctness of his beautifully kept Presbytery book. He was always a member-elect of the Parochial Board, and was so also of the School Board. But his work is done, and he is gone to give to his great Master an account of his stewardship. To his brethren left behind him is addressed the solemn call, “Work while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.” Mr. Mitchell was married, and leaves a widow and a son, their only child.
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REV. DAVID MITCHELL, FREE ST. LUKE’S, GLASGOW
(Died 25th March 1882)
Author: Rev. Alexander Wilson, Bridgeton, Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 2, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.297
Mr. Mitchell was born at Madderty, Perth-shire.
He came early to the knowledge of “the truth as it is in Jesus;” and throughout a life lengthened beyond “the fourscore years” he was enabled to prove to all with whom he same in contact the depth of his religious convictions and the strength of his attachment to Christ and his cause. Devoting himself to the Christian ministry, he laboured first of all for about four years as a city missionary in Edinburgh, and for a similar period in building up a congregation at Pultneytown, and in both spheres his labours were earnest, efficient, and much blessed to many.
Casting in his lot with the Free Church of Scotland, to the distinctive principles of which he was most devoted, he became minister of Free St. Luke’s Church in Glasgow in August, 1843. It was an era that of sifting and trial, and St. Luke’s suffered much by the Disruption in consequence of his predecessor not adhering to the Free Church. In these early years of his ministry, Mr. Mitchell had much to do in the building up of the congregation; but in the doing of this, through steady devotion to his work, he met with a good measure of success.
But a second time was the congregation subjected to a process of trial and sifting through the decision of the House of Lords in 1849 anent the quoad sacra churches; but it stood the trial well, and a handsome new church was built, and the congregation grew and became very influential through the zealous, conscientious, and efficient labours of Mr. Mitchell for well-nigh a quarter of a century. He took a lively interest in the young, and was very successful in winning their confidence. His whole heart indeed was in his work. Scrupulously careful in his preparations for the pulpit, faithfully preaching evangelical doctrine, and most kind in his attention to the sick and the dying, Mr. Mitchell ever exemplified in his life that godliness which he enforced in his preaching of the word.
Possessed of considerable literary talent, he wrote a series of articles in the Scottish Christian Herald on subjects connected with the natural history of the Bible, and these were followed by two volumes from his pen: the one called “Christian Fidelity in the House of Mourning,” which received the warm recommendation of Principal Cunningham; the other, “Prophetical Utterances and their Accomplishment,” both of them highly creditable as literary productions and as proofs of his devotion to the word and the works of his Master.
Constrained by failing health to retire from the active duties of the ministry in the year 1867, and going to reside at Bridge of Allan, all who knew Mr. Mitchell were aware how he adorned the doctrines of his Lord and Master, interesting himself in every department of the work of the Church and the congregation which he joined even to the very last, and giving most liberally of his means to maintain and advance the Lord’s work. He died as he lived, “looking unto Jesus;” and now, having fought a good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, he has gone to his reward, leaving all of us a truly blessed example, which we would do well to follow.
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REV. DAVID MITCHELL, KIRKURD
(Died June 7, 1896)
Author: Prof. Sir T. Grainger Stewart, M.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, July, 1896, Obituary, p.173
Among all the parishes of Scotland there are few that possess a greater natural charm than Kirkurd. Its green hills, its rich woods, its beautiful streams, its ancient remains of hill forts and terraces, and its splendid air combine to lend it attractions which are rarely equalled. But its spiritual character and history is almost equally remarkable. For many generations it has been rich in God-fearing people, and a long line of eminent and saintly men have ministered there in holy things. Before the Disruption the parish was well known in connection with Mr. Paterson, the brother of that minister of Galashiels who helped Sir Walter Scott to lay out the grounds and woods of Abbotsford, and who was the author of “The Manse Garden.”
In 1843 Mr. Paterson left his much-loved manse and glebe, and the church where he had so long ministered, and he and his people had to find a new Manse and a new church. Happily the chief heritor Of those days, Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael, was a man of eminent piety and a steadfast supporter of the evangelical party in the church, and when the time of trial came, the minister and the outgoing people found that they had the warm sympathy and support of many of his family. Mr., afterwards Sir Alexander, joined them in selecting the most suitable position for the new church and manse, and so it comes that the Free Manse of Kirkurd stands among its old ash trees on a lofty bank commanding a beautiful view of the valley of the Tarth, and the woods and hills of Castle Craig, and the church adjoining it is near the junction of the main roads through the district. To the good taste of the Laird the people are indebted for the simple beauty of the church, while the minister’s skill in gardening and the laying out of policies explain the wonderful use made of the ground at his disposal and the charm of the immediate surroundings of church and manse.
When Mr. Paterson was called to his rest, a few years after the Disruption, he was succeeded by Mr. Taylor, afterwards of Blairgowrie and Greyfriars’, Edinburgh, and of Norwood, who had a very fruitful ministry in Kirkurd as in his other charges. He was succeeded by Mr. Mackray, afterwards of Torquay and now of Croydon, and much good was also done during the few years of his incumbency. He was followed by Mr. Caird, now of Paisley, and his successor was Mr. David Mitchell, who has so suddenly been taken away.
So among the warm and devoted Christians of the congregation there were some that dated from the old days of Mr. Paterson; some who owed what they most valued to the revivals that occurred during Mr. Taylor’s ministry; some who spoke with deepest feeling of the years that Mr. Mackray was among them; and not a few who dated their best spiritual experiences from a later period. But one and all of them felt that their spiritual life was most lovingly fostered and cared for by their young minister.
I well remember my first impression of him and of his congregation, when in the summer of 1879 we went to reside for a time in the district. On a fine Sabbath morning we found, on reaching the grounds, many people conversing in groups on the beautiful sward of the enclosure, or seated under the ancient trees. Presently the bell was rung and the church filled up, and a young man stepped into the pulpit. There was something both in minister and people fitted to impress a stranger. The people showed a simplicity and intelligence, with an earnestness in their singing and an intentness in their listening, which one often fails to see; while the minister showed at once that he was a strong man and a powerful preacher. We left the church that day satisfied that we had been fortunate in our choice of country quarters that season, as we were to have the privilege of worshipping with such a congregation.
We found that their young minister had been placed among them for a year or more, and that the whole district was full of his praises. Whether in his own pulpit or in meetings held in outlying parts of the parish, his services were always welcome. And as we came to know the people more closely, we found that his visits to the homes of rich and poor were valued, both on account of the sympathy he showed in all their joys and sorrows, and of the strong common sense with which he spoke upon every topic. But most of all, they believed in him because they found that his daily life so well corresponded to his pulpit exhortations. For five additional years we spent each summer in the district, and each year learned to esteem Mr. Mitchell the more, while we noticed that every friend who accompanied us to the church was impressed with him, just as we had been at the first.
Mr. Mitchell was a native of the Logiealmond district, which has been made famous under the name of Drumtochty, having been born at Almond Bank in 1848. His father died when he was a child, and after some years spent in the neighbourhood of Pitcairngreen and in Perth, his mother and he removed to Edinburgh. Here he took his Arts classes in the university, distinguishing himself chiefly in the department of Moral Philosophy. His mother was his most intimate companion and friend while he was struggling through classes at the University and the Divinity Hall. During all that time he contributed to the family income by working as a student missionary. In that capacity he served both in Free St. Stephen’s and Stockbridge congregations, and later in his course he had the privilege of acting as assistant to Dr. Hood Wilson of the Barclay Church. Even then his power as a preacher was conspicuous. The Kirkurd congregation chose him for their minister before he was licensed, and so he passed directly from the New College to his first and only charge.
He had not been long placed before signs of his popularity manifested themselves. He received many encouragements, but among them all, none gratified him more than a generous offer of the late Sir William Gibson Carmichael—himself an Episcopalian — to re-seat and otherwise improve the church at his own expense as a token of esteem for the congregation and the young minister.
Of course a man so gifted could not but be called elsewhere, and he might have accepted invitations to Newcastle and another large English town, to Rothesay, to Leith, to Newmills in Ayrshire, or to the Gorbals in Glasgow. But all of these he declined. Within a fortnight of his death he unexpectedly found himself unanimously elected colleague minister of the Buchanan Memorial Church, Glasgow, and when death came he was considering whether, even with his damaged health, he might venture upon a new sphere, or whether he ought again to refuse.
When he was under call to the Gorbals, his people at Kirkurd made a most earnest appeal to him to remain, a petition being signed by every man, woman, school-boy, and school-girl in the congregation; and when he announced his decision, they gave him a generous presentation as a token of their gratitude and affection.
On every question that emerged, Mr. Mitchell formed a decided opinion, and while very tolerant of the opinions of others, he was outspoken and vigorous in the statement of his own. A clear-headed man of business, he was a natural leader; and both in presbytery and synod he was of great service, and even in the General Assembly he early made his mark.
A strong character like his is apt to make bitter foes as well as warm friends. But it may be truly said that no man was ever his foe who came much into personal contact with him, and that the closer men were to him, the more apt were they to be his friends, even if they might differ from him in opinion. Many in Scotland knew him only as he was misrepresented in certain newspapers, and were surprised when they met him in society or heard him preach to find him an amiable and lovable man, a most interesting and often amusing companion, and an admirable evangelical preacher.
About the time of the General Election in 1880, he began to take an active part in politics. When he first began to do so many of his friends expressed doubt or disapproval of the step. But his answer was invariable, that he felt the duty laid upon him, that he knew of no one else who could and would do what was required in the district in which he lived, and that his conscience compelled him to play the part he did. In general politics he was a steadfast upholder of the policy of the Liberal party as then expounded by Mr. Gladstone. And in regard to church questions, his interest centred in the means of bringing about a general reunion of Scottish Presbyterianism. He believed that this could never take place unless the Established Church was deprived of the privileges of which it had, as he thought, become unjustly possessed in 1843. He believed that without Disestablishment reunion was impossible, and therefore he threw himself heart and soul into that movement. It may be truly said that few, if any, have served that cause more effectively than he. His indefatigable seal, his unfailing readiness of resource, his inflexible will, his patient assiduity, his good-natured tolerance of the natural objections and even the dullness or perversity of others made him the trusted ally of the leaders in church and state who believed in the movement.
It is still a question with many of his friends whether he acted wisely in taking so prominent a part in politics. But all who know the facts must agree that he acted conscientiously, and from a sense of duty, and utterly without rancour; and that active as he was, his public work never in the slightest interfered with the discharge of any professional duty. No doubt it closed some doors of usefulness against him, and brought him obloquy that may have given him much pain, but these disadvantages were deliberately encountered and calmly endured.
No man was ever more indefatigable in the discharge of duty than Mr. Mitchell. Soon after he was placed he was on his way to preach at Peebles when he was thrown from his horse and his arm was broken. He preached with it still unset, and would scarcely be restrained from preaching again in the evening with the fracture newly put up.
Mr. Mitchell was very fortunate in his marriage. He made the acquaintance of his wife’s family when they occupied Rosetta, near Peebles. She was the daughter of the Rev. George Middleton, an eminent minister of the United Presbyterian Church, first in Kinross and afterwards in Glasgow, and niece of Mr. R. T. Middleton who for some years represented Glasgow in Parliament. They enjoyed ten years of happy married life together, and in all his activities she rendered him the most valuable assistance. Their only child is a boy now nine years old.
Mr. Mitchell was very popular as a lecturer. It was always a great treat if a district secured from him the promise of a discourse on Scott or Burns or Carlyle, on Scottish Characteristics, or other topics, and a Peeblesshire congregational meeting or soiree was deemed safe if the minister of Kirkurd was to be there. His knowledge of English literature was both wide and deep, and often did he speak with pleasure of what Professor Masson had done for him in student days. He enriched his discourses with apt quotations and illustrations and references derived from his reading—most of all, from his reading of the poets.
As a platform speaker Mr. Mitchell had rare gifts. He knew his own mind, and could express himself with the utmost fluency. His statements were not only lucid but luminous, and his grasp of the essentials of a question was firm.
As to his success as a preacher and a pastor, perhaps enough has been already said, but it may be added that his congregation was the most numerously attended in the district, and one of the most liberal to all good causes. The scanty population prevented its being numerous, but it kept at about 150, while its annual contributions to the Sustentation Fund were £113, or more, and that not by the large giving of any wealthy member, but by the liberality of working people and others of modest income.
It is now nearly three years since Mr. Mitchell knew definitely that he was suffering from incurable disease of the heart, and that of the kind which most frequently brings about a suddenly fatal result. When a man is thus called to look into the eyes of death, to realize that the change may at any moment come, his real character is tested. Mr. Mitchell went quietly on with his work. He prepared his discourses with even more than his usual care, and preached with a tenderness and a power which profoundly impressed his hearers, and sometimes made them disperse in silence, as if each was too much solemnized to be able to converse, but desired rather to be alone with God.
He visited the sick and the afflicted with a sympathy even surpassing that of former days, and in all his people’s joys he rejoiced with a chastened happiness.
The nearness of death made no change in regard to his public conduct. He took his part in elections, in the work of the Disestablishment Council, in the presbytery of which he was clerk, in the General Assembly and in its committees, as he had been accustomed to do. And while he comforted his wife, who alone shared with him the knowledge of the nature of his illness, he tried to conceal from others that loved him the peril in which he stood. But those who knew him best were struck with his growing saintliness, with his ever-increasing tenderness and earnestness in pulpit and pastoral work, and we are told that never did he preach with more power and persuading influence than he did in his own pulpit in Kirkurd in the morning, and at Peebles in the afternoon, of the day he died.
His funeral was on Thursday the 11th June. The sun shone brightly as the people gathered to perform the last offices; the little church was crowded to overflowing, and friends had gathered from far and near. The services were conducted by Mr. Ballantine of Peebles, Mr. Miller of the Established Church of Kirkurd, Mr. Kinloch of West Linton United Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. Principal Rainy. Some who were there say that they never witnessed deeper emotion at any service, and as the solemn procession formed, and passed through the grounds of the manse and along the beautiful road to the quiet churchyard, it was felt that the whole community was one in sorrow.
One of the young men of his flock writes to a friend from his home in a distant part of the country: “I have to go back to the time when, little more than a lad, I was taken in hand by a faithful pastor, and under his manly and godly influence kept often and often from going astray.” And he speaks of Mr. Mitchell as “the ever-ready friend to whom I did and ever would have gone.”
It is a good thing for the church and for the country that our rural parishes should have among their ministers such men as Mr. Mitchell. Of great natural ability, he was, as a mere boy, brought to a knowledge of the truth. His widowed mother brought him up devoutly, and the little child and she used to hold long and grave conversations about passages of Scripture and spiritual things. As he grew up to manhood, among the chastened joys of his simple home, his character was formed, and he was in every way helped by her who so prayerfully watched over him. She lived to know his powers as a preacher, although not to see him placed at Kirkurd, and no doubt, as he bore the yoke in his youth, he learned to comfort others as he himself had been comforted of God. His one great aim was to serve his Master, and to care for those who had been entrusted to his charge.
He read widely, was a keen observer, and possessed in a rare degree a knowledge of men, and an instinctive insight into human character. He formed decided opinions, and, being unacquainted with fear, never hesitated to express himself plainly; but he respected the rights of judgment of others, could hear their statements with unruffled composure, and with kindly courtesy hold his own. The smaller the audience was when he was dealing in debate, the more was this kindly courtesy apparent.
He had much weight of character, and that weight was due mainly to two features, he was extraordinarily rich in common sense—that faculty which enables a man to do the right thing in new circumstances—and he was full of manly uprightness, determinedly upholding what he believed to be right.
Many in Scotland must feel with his devoted people at Kirkurd how irreparable is their loss, much as they may rejoice that their beloved friend is now with the Lord, “which is far better.”
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REV. HUGH MITCHELL, LL.D., CRAIG
(Died November 10, 1894)
Author: Rev. George S. Sutherland
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June, 1895, Obituary, p.143
Dr. Mitchell, minister of Ferryden, Craig, for nearly half a century, died on November 10th at Old Aberdeen, in the seventy-third year of his age. He was born in the Granite City in July 1822, his father being manager for many years of the well-known firm of Messrs. Blackie Brothers, engineers. The subject of our sketch received his early education first at a private school and later at the Grammar School of Aberdeen, at that time taught by the celebrated educationist Dr. James Melvin. Dr. Mitchell then matriculated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he highly distinguished himself, in science especially, carrying off several prizes. He was at that time and all along through life closely associated with his attached friend, Dr. Robert Hunter, at one time Free Church missionary in Nagpore; and among his other class-fellows may be mentioned the name of Dr. Walter Smith.
During his third year in the Divinity Hall of the Established Church the Disruption took place, and Mr. Mitchell unhesitatingly cast in his lot with the Free Church, and from the first loyally devoted himself to mission and other work in her service. He was licensed by Aberdeen Free Presbytery in 1845, and after assisting as a probationer in several places, he received a call in 1848 from the Free Church congregation of Ferryden, in the parish of Craig, beside Montrose, to become successor to the late Dr. Brewster. He laboured there most faithfully and unceasingly till within two years of his death, when he applied to the Assembly for a colleague and successor; and on Rev. George Williams being happily and unanimously chosen, Dr. Mitchell retired to his native town of Aberdeen, but only survived the change some twelve months. His end, like his life, was peace.
His funeral took place at Aberdeen, and was attended by many members of the Presbytery of Aberdeen, and members of the Synod of Angus and Mearns and Presbytery of Brechin, of which two latter courts he was for many years the esteemed clerk.
Dr. Mitchell’s life and ministry were in many respects remarkable and signally owned and blessed of God. Again and again under his ministry there were marked seasons of blessing such as few congregations experience, and from which precious and lasting fruits were gathered. As a preacher he was eminently evangelical, simple and chaste in his style, earnest in his delivery, and ever careful to have a full gospel clearly put before his hearers. His kindly face and frank, genial manner made him a great favourite with his people and always welcome in his pastoral visitations. He was a scholarly man of high attainments, a good theologian, and an ardent student of natural science, more especially of geology and botany, his being a well-known name in the former science. He read a paper before the British Association at its meeting in Aberdeen; and in 1874, in recognition of his geological research and discovery, he received the degree of LL.D. from his university.
Dr. Mitchell has left behind him many hallowed and cherished memories, both among the people of Craig, to whom he so long ministered, and in Montrose and its neighbourhood, where he was always welcomed as a preacher and as a speaker at congregational and other meetings.
In temperance work he took an active part, and as evidence of success in this department of labour, he had the satisfaction of seeing the licensed houses in his parish reduced from fifteen to one.
The memory of the just is blessed, and truly Dr. Mitchell has left behind him many sacred remembrances and precious evidences of a consecrated life and ministry. He rests from his labours now, and his works do follow him. His esteemed widow, daughter of Mr. George Smith, retired merchant, Aberdeen, survives him.
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JAMES MITCHELL, POONA
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June 1, 1866, p.1
The oldest missionary of the Church has fallen at his post. The Rev. James Mitchell died at Matheran, near Bombay, on the 28th of March.
Mr. Mitchell was born in the neighbourhood of Stirling in the year 1800, and was thus sixty-six years of age when he was taken to his rest.
He removed, when a young man, to Leith, and became connected with the congregation of the well-known Dr. Colquhoun. More especially, the services conducted in the Sabbath school connected with the congregation seem to have been blessed to hint. His attention was soon directed to the claims of foreign missions, and he felt an ardent desire to preach to the perishing heathen the gospel that was now so precious to his own soul. Serious difficulties stood in the way, and among these the fixed opposition of most of his relatives. But he felt that necessity was laid upon him, and after receiving a considerable measure of academical training, he was sent out to Western India as an agent of the Scottish Missionary Society. Mr. Mitchell arrived in Bombay in July 1826, accompanied by Messrs. Cooper, Stevenson, and Crawford. The Rev. Donald Mitchell had preceded them by a few months, but his course was very brief. Of that first band of Scottish missionaries sent forth to the great continent of India, there is now only one survivor, the Rev. John Cooper, late of Fala, whose voice we had the pleasure only the other day of hearing, as he still earnestly pleaded for the cause to which he and his youthful brethren consecrated themselves forty-three years ago.
The Scottish mission settled on the sea-coast to the south of Bombay, as the Government would not, at that time, consent to their occupying Poona. By and by Messrs. Stevenson and Nesbit began operations in that city, and when they were both driven from it by failing health, Mr. Mitchell took up their work; and in the record of the Church his name is closely associated with Poona. Indeed, with the exception of two short visits to Europe, which were rendered necessary by the state of his health, Mr. Mitchell’s whole energies were devoted to the proclamation of the gospel in Poona and the neighbourhood for the last thirty-three years.
Poona was certainly a hard field. Largely and bitterly Brahmanical, and therefore intensely superstitious, it might be called the key of the citadel of Hinduism in Western India. Mr. Mitchell was fully aware both of the difficulty and importance of his post. He had many valuable qualifications as a missionary. Of very active habits, and much disposed to say labor ipse voluptas—cheerful, buoyant, hopeful—in character beautifully simple, “open as day”—universally respected and beloved—above all, a man of true, earnest faith, and of entire devotedness to Christ. Mr. Mitchell accomplished not a little in his very trying sphere. The varied agencies that exist at other stations were also employed, as far as possible, in Poona; but the kind of operation in which our departed brother delighted most was vernacular preaching. He has been honoured to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ, not only to the proud inhabitants of Poona, but also in countless villages scattered over the whole region round it for tens, or, we may almost say, hundreds of miles.
Mr. Mitchell was twice married. Some of the children of the first marriage still remain, and among them the respected minister of Cluny, who, if health permitted, would, we doubt not, cheerfully return to India and stand in the breach at Poona. By his second marriage Mr. Mitchell has left a family of seven. The widow and orphans of this honoured labourer require— and they cannot but receive—the fullest sympathy of the Christian public.
Much might be said of Mr. Mitchell’s last illness, and of the peace—”peace like a river”—that was graciously accorded him, but we forbear. And now his dust rests in the land for which he laboured so faithfully and so long, sowing the precious truths oftentimes with tears— he rests where rest so many devoted men and women, who, like himself, toiled, and fainted, and fell, and were buried where they fell; and truly, since their precious dust is sleeping there, India, in spite of all its dark idolatries, may seem to us already almost a consecrated soil.
We cannot, however, yet pause. The funeral of our departed brother demands a brief notice. The body was conveyed from Matheran to Poona, and laid in the chapel. All day the chapel was filled with natives, both Christian and heathen, who had come to take a last look of the loved missionary. Many blind and lame persons came from the Poona Asylum—an institution originally established by the mission—in which Mr. Mitchell always took the deepest interest. The blind were seen feeling all over the coffin and the body with their hands, trying thus to take the farewell of him who had been “eyes to the blind and feet to the lame.” They then sat down and wept bitterly. Sirdars (chiefs) and native officials, who very seldom attend a European funeral, unless that of a man of the highest rank, came in numbers, and not a few were seen to weep. One aged sirdar, who could not personally attend, sent his elephant to accompany the procession, and stand at the burial-ground. Six native preachers were the pallbearers; they were connected with the Church of England, American, Baptist, and Free Church Missions.
Besides the missionaries at Poona, Dr. Wilson, from Bombay, was present, and took part in the services. Funeral sermons were preached in Poona by Mr. Gardiner and the Rev. J. Bunter, a native missionary of the Church of England; and in Bombay by Dr. Wilson.
Respecting the mournful event Dr. Duff has received the following letter from Dr. Wilson of Bombay—containing many particulars which will be perused with peculiar interest:—
”Before my last letter to you had left the Bombay harbour, our dear old friend and father, Mr. Mitchell of Puna, to whose threatening illness it alluded, had in reality laid aside his earthly tabernacle to be clothed upon with his house which is from heaven. He died on the heights of Matheran, at noon, on the 28th of March, in the full exercise of all his mental and spiritual faculties, and in the possession of perfect rest and peace in Jesus, and joy in the salvation of his God.
“Mrs. Mitchell, his eldest daughter, Dr. Fraser, and Mr. Small, were present with him when the solemn event occurred, and they were all greatly comforted by witnessing the triumph of his faith in the Redeemer, of whose glory and grace he delighted so much to speak during his long ministry in the west of India. This satisfaction was denied to myself; for, owing to the state of the university examinations then proceeding, it was impracticable for me to leave Bombay, though I knew the crisis was approaching.
“The mortal remains of the departed were, under the light of the moon, carried down the mountain on a cot to Parel, the station on the railway leading to Puna, where a coffin, forwarded from Bombay, was obtained, which enabled the friends present to convey the body to the place so much hallowed by the labours of the departed. The funeral was impressively conducted by Messrs. Gardner and Angus, and I arrived just as the procession was leaving the mission chapel, and joined it with Mrs. Mitchell, who acutely but resignedly feels her irreparable loss. The funeral was to all very affecting. It is very difficult to say whether the members of the family, or the converts of the mission, young and old, most deeply felt their bereavement. Numbers of the pupils and ex-pupils, and teachers of the schools and institution, too, were sincere mourners, as, I need not say, were all the European friends of Mr. Mitchell who were present. In the evening I delivered an address in English at the usual prayer-meeting held in the chapel, and next morning, before leaving for Bombay, I preached in Marathi to a large congregation of natives. The arrival of Mr. Stothert from Bombay enabled us to hold a united meeting of both missions, to consider what was to be done in our afflictive circumstances. When I got to Bombay, in return, I found a letter of condolence and sympathy awaiting me from our admirable Governor, Sir Bartle Frere, in which he most suitably expresses the high esteem in which he held Mr. Mitchell during the thirty years of their mutual acquaintance. Similar expressions of respect were tendered by many Christian brethren. Last Lord’s day, I preached a memorial discourse in the Esplanade Church, Bombay, on Mr. Mitchell, which was repeated here last night before a crowded assembly of Europeans and natives. The portion of it bearing on Mr. Mitchell’s exemplary character and devoted labours, you may afterwards see. I content myself by quoting the entrance which our Presbytery, at a pro re nata meeting held this morning, has entered in its minutes:—
“‘The Presbytery record their deep sorrow in view of the great bereavement which they have sustained by the death, on the 28th March last, of their most worthy father and associate, the Rev. James Mitchell, after a course of unintermitted and devoted labour as a missionary, extending to the long period of forty-three years, about eleven of which were spent in the southern Konkan, and the remainder, exclusive of four years during which he was absent from India on account of impaired health, in the Dekhan, with Poona as his headquarters. In doing this they call to mind his decided personal piety; his amiable and humble disposition; his loving and unswerving attachment to the cause of Christ; his untiring efforts to promote the enlightenment of the natives of India, and especially to bring them to the knowledge and acknowledgment of the true God, and of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, whom he has sent; his success, by the divine blessing, in founding various schools and educational institutions, and more especially a Native Church at Puna; his abundant services in the instruction of the Presbyterian soldiery and other European Christians at this station ; the edifying intercourse which he has always maintained with many of the Lord’s people resident in different parts of the west of India; and his exemplary walk and conversation in the sight of all who were privileged to enjoy his acquaintance and friendship. They also tender the expression of their most sincere sympathy to his widow, and all the members of his family and flock, beseeching the Father of mercies to extend to them these consolations in the Lord Jesus which are neither few nor small, and to supply all their wants from his own inexhaustible fulness and grace.
“At a meeting of Mr. Mitchell’s friends (many of whom are absent on the adjoining heights on account of the advance of the hot season) held here this forenoon, and presided by the senior Episcopal chaplain of the station, the Rev. G.L. Fenton (a descendant of our own John Livingstone of hallowed memory, and a minister of Christ of a kindred spirit), the initiatory steps were taken to raise a testimonial subscription, in grateful recognition of the character and services of Mr. Mitchell, which, after defraying the expenses of his tomb, bearing a suitable inscription, shall be devoted to the benefit of his widow and such of her children as have not yet completed their education. This is to be done through the exertions of a general committee already nominated in the west of India. We confidently believe that you will have tender satisfaction in suggesting the formation of a co-operative committee in Scotland, where Mr. Mitchell’s warm Indian friends are neither few nor insignificant.
“About the arrangements proposed to be carried into effect consequent on the death of Mr. Mitchell, you will hear particularly by next, if not by this mail. For myself, I hope to write to you fully in regard to them from Mahabaleshwar, to which, with Mrs. Wilson, I (D.V.) proceed this evening. It is unnecessary for me to solicit for the Mission in Poona, and all its friends affected by this sore bereavement, a cordial interest in your prayers.”
Relative to the demise of Mr. Mitchell, the Foreign Mission Committee have placed the following memorial statement on their records:—
“The Committee have heard, with deep regret, of the death of the oldest missionary of this Church, the Rev. James Mitchell of Poona. The sad event took place on the 28th March, at the hill station of Matheran, near Bombay.
“While the Committee very deeply feel the removal of this venerable evangelist, they desire, at the same time, to record their gratitude to God for the long and faithful services which Mr. Mitchell was enabled to render. His missionary life extended over the space of forty-three years. With the exception of two short visits to Europe, which were required by shattered hearth, and during which he laboured to stir up the missionary zeal of the Church at home, the whole of the forty-three years were spent in active service in the foreign field.
“Mr. Mitchell all along took a special interest in the proclamation of the gospel through the vernacular languages; and the last four years of his life were almost entirely given to this important work. During his lengthened career he was able to preach the gospel of salvation very extensively among the inhabitants of western India, especially in the region around Poona. The precious seed, so largely sown, cannot have been scattered in vain.
“For many years also he ministered, along with his colleagues in the Mission, to the Scotch soldiers and other Presbyterian residents of Poona, who, but for such services, would have been almost entirely destitute of the means of grace.
“Mr. Mitchell was a man of rare singleness of heart, of earnest devotedness to Christ, and of unremitting activity in labour. He largely enjoyed the esteem and confidence of the Christian community in western India, and, we may add, of the native community. His kindly, genial disposition endeared him to all who knew him.
“The Committee unanimously express their deep sympathy with the bereaved widow and children of the deceased; and they earnestly commit them to the loving-kindness of Him who healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds.”
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REV. ROBERT A. MITCHELL, M.A., GILCOMSTON, ABERDEEN
(Died October 31, 1897)
Author: Professor Iverach, D.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1898, Obituary, p.18
Mr. Mitchell was born at Nairn sixty years ago. Descended from a pious and godly ancestry, he was trained in the best traditions of our Scottish people. The first missionary to India was an uncle of his, and we have heard him, when preaching at the ordination of a missionary to India, tell with pathos and power the story of the conversion of his uncle, and how he was led to give himself to the work of the conversion of the heathen. Mr. Mitchell was early led to consider the ministry as his life-work. He trained himself assiduously for that high calling. His career as a student was most brilliant; indeed, few men have had so brilliant a course at the university. He was one of the favourite students of Sir William Hamilton, and carried off the highest honours in various classes. When he graduated, he took first-class honours in classics and philosophy. While at the New College he acted as assistant to the professors of logic and moral philosophy, and also was tutor to Lord Amberley, son of Earl Russell. In the New College he was the first man of his year —a year which had many distinguished students in its ranks. Having won the first Cunningham Scholarship, he studied for two years in Germany, and had for his teachers, among others, such men as Lange, Ritschl, and Dorner. He thus made acquaintance at first-hand with the best results of German scholarship and German science. When subjects which were freely discussed in Germany became burning questions in our own country and church, Mr. Mitchell was able to look at them with the calm eye of a student who knew the past history and present bearing of these questions. While he knew the best German thought in many departments of theology, and particularly in exegesis and dogmatics, he never lost hold of the great verities of the Christian faith, and was prepared to vindicate them against all objections. The defence he was wont to set up was always well-informed, thoroughly thought out, and grounded in the most satisfactory way. It is a source of the greatest regret to the present writer that he has no external evidence to point to in support of the statement now made. But from many conversations with Mr. Mitchell, and from much intercourse with him, it is the persuasion of the present writer that no more accomplished theologian lived in our time, nor one better fitted to take a leading part in the theological discussions of our century. He was shy, sensitive, and retiring; he had a difficulty in making friends, and it needed a close acquaintance with him to persuade him to unlock the treasures of his mind and disclose the results of his thought. He had a very high ideal of what literary work ought to be, was never satisfied with his own work; and from these and other reasons his friends mourn that he has departed without revealing to the world the treasures of thought that lay within him. He was fitted to take a leading part in the theological work of our time; his actual contributions were few, and mainly in the suggestiveness of his influence over other minds, who were more willing to publish than he was.
Trained and fitted for his work, he, on his return from Germany, began his public ministry as assistant to Principal Candlish, in Free St. George’s, Edinburgh. He was settled at Carnbee in 1864. When Dr. Ross Taylor was translated to Glasgow, Mr. Mitchell was called to succeed him at East Kilbride. Twenty years ago he was translated to Aberdeen, and through these years he laboured faithfully and steadfastly as the pastor of an attached and devoted people. While he took his fair share of presbytery work, his main strength was given to his pastoral and pulpit work. He was a man who gave much earnest attention to the preparation of his sermons. He never began to write a sermon without a careful and minute examination of the Scripture passage, and he used all the resources of exegesis to ascertain the meaning of the text. Based on careful exegesis as the indispensable foundation, his sermons, in the building up of them, laid hold of the resources of his wide reading and deep thought. They were always written out, and might be printed without alteration or correction, so carefully were they composed. Quietly and modestly he did his work, loved and trusted by his congregation, admired by his friends, and regarded with reverence by those who were admitted to his close friendship. Bravely he strove to do his work, even when under the cloud of nervous depression which, in later years, greatly afflicted him. He never spared himself, and sometimes continued to work when his friends thought he ought to rest. Of late his strength was evidently failing. The end came suddenly, and ere many, even his friends, had heard of his illness, they were startled to hear of his death. The last public meeting he attended was a meeting in the Music Hall to commemorate the jubilee of the United Presbyterian Church.
In all his work Mr. Mitchell was greatly helped and strengthened by his wife, a daughter of the late Adam Young, London, a man who rose to be the head of his profession, a man greatly beloved and highly esteemed, who was an elder of Regent Square Church for forty years. Mrs. Mitchell, who lives to mourn the loss of her beloved husband, was a constant source of strength and help to him in his times of depression, and without her help and sympathy his work could not have been done.
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REV. WILLIAM LAMB MITCHELL, ABERDEEN
(Died May 15, 1880)
Author: Rev. Alexander M. Bannatyne
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.225
William Lamb Mitchell was born on his father’s property, at Burn of Kilrie, near the entrance of Glen Isla. In the place of his birth he spent his boyhood. In early youth he was in business, but after a time he left it to study for the ministry. The university of St. Andrews became his alma mater, and St. Mary’s College there his divinity hall. The savour of such men as Chalmers and Duff was about the place then; and to Dr. Haldane, as a teacher of theology, he ever felt not a little indebted. His object in studying was the Foreign Missions field, though quite ready for any other sphere. After getting license to preach, he laboured zealously as a town missionary in Dundee. One of his converts then was a middle-aged man, a Papist. In those days, like a man of independent thought and resolute spirit, he came into collision with a church patron on whom he had claims. Holburn quoad sacra congregation, Aberdeen, was then looking for a minister, and Mr. Mitchell was invited to occupy its pulpit for a day. It was the winter of 1837. Deep snow was on the ground. The stage-coach to Aberdeen could only get a little beyond Stonehaven; and late on Saturday night he had to struggle through the snow on foot to a cottage whose light had guided him; and after a few hours’ shelter there he had to resume his tiresome journey on foot on the morning of the Sabbath on which he was engaged to preach, and only arrived in Aberdeen when the city bells were ringing for forenoon worship. His vigorous struggle through the snow must have convinced the congregation that the probationer from Dundee was a man of power. Certainly his preaching and whole demeanour did. And he was happily ordained their first minister in 1838. He does not seem to have ever desired a change of sphere of labour. The congregation was in its infancy. Under his faithful ministry it rapidly reached maturity. The scriptural theology of the Puritans he preached freshly and fully. Sin he unsparingly denounced. Sinners he affectionately appealed to. Saved ones he carefully and judiciously fed. Seals of his ministry in conversions were numerous. The Holburn people, like Dr. Kidd’s, became famous for their acquaintance with gospel truth. The quoad sacra parish was assiduously cultivated. Town missionary operations were practically loved, as they had been in Dundee. And when rightly-conducted revival movements, like those of William C. Burns, were generally disliked and frowned on, the minister of Holburn took delight in them, helped them on, and stood heroically at the side of that eminent servant of Christ. His congregation came out with their minister in 1843 almost to a man. He and they encountered the common Disruption difficulties. God prospered them and their minister afterwards, as he had done before, and a succession of valuable congregational coadjutors rose to usefulness in Christ’s cause. Latterly in failing health he continued his work, till six years ago, when he applied for a colleague, to whom he might hand over all ministerial responsibility and work. In 1875, with the right goodwill of the aged minister, Rev. Andrew Macqueen, B.D., was ordained his colleague and successor. Mr. Mitchell died somewhat unexpectedly on 15th May 1880. He was never married. On his retirement he did not ask any pecuniary supply from his much-loved congregation, and for years before he is known to have afforded pecuniary help to the deserving; but his simple habits, after a frugal upbringing and limited means at the outset of his career, admitted of a larger infusion of the benevolent, considering his accumulated resources. He loved God’s Word so much that he used to study it by writing sermons he never expected to preach, forty or fifty of which he has left. His inexhaustible source of real Scotch humour welled out continually. His large fund of original anecdotes far outnumbered and surpassed Dean Ramsay’s. A lover of unity, he was an Anti-unionist. Calvinism, as from Christ and his apostles, he ever delighted in. The old wine of preaching, of Disruption principles, and of Reformation elements of worship, was to him better than any of the new. And, waiting for his change, he once, when personal usefulness was conversed about, said, “The day of judgment alone shall reveal all our good deeds, ay, and all our bad deeds too.”
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REV. WILLIAM MOFFAT, CAIRNIE
(Died September 15, 1886)
Author: Rev. Alexander M. Bannatyne
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1887, Biographical Notices, p.342
A year has elapsed since Mr. Moffat passed from earth to heaven. I am reminded of this by the putting up of a memorial slab at Cairnie by attached members of his late congregation there, bearing the following inscription:—
William Moffat, born 7th July 1810;
Came to Cairnie in 1842; ordained there in 1843;
And died 15th September 1886
His ministry was faithful and loving—his attachment to Free Church principles unswerving—his defence of gospel truth and practice courageous— his mourning over defection unfailing—and his whole life considerate, humble, unostentatious, hospitable, and unselfish.
“Whose faith follow.”
The putting up of that slab reminds me that neither in the Free Church Monthly nor in the General Assembly has there been any obituary notice of him. Hence this very brief notice, from one who was more in his confidence than perhaps any other minister during the last two or three years of his life on earth. A native of Kirkintilloch, a student at Glasgow, after recovery from a very severe illness he was, as a licentiate of the Church of Scotland, located, in very trying circumstances, within the agitated and agitating Presbytery of Strathbogie. He valiantly and faithfully, and with much self sacrifice, stood the test of these trying circumstances. The success of his manifold labours was conspicuous. To his energy, and the sympathy of the protesting Church at the period, the erection of Cairnie Free Church and manse, like the formation of its congregation, is due. He was almost a pre-Disruption minister, and the honour due to such is due to him. All the creed of the Free Protesting Church he believed and adhered to to the last. All its claims he deemed valid, and was ready to prefer in the proper quarter to the last. Its simple, scriptural worship he loved, and would never give up. Its government and discipline he uniformly admired and acted upon, as having their foundation in God’s Word, and as the very best for effecting governmental and disciplinary ends. And in carrying out what he was conscientiously convinced of, in reference to any of these, he, as before God, could afford to be one of a minority, or even to stand alone. It is not the design of this notice to represent his attitude or procedure in certain religious and social and ecclesiastical questions in which he took part, in a few of which, constrained by the deepest convictions, he may have disregarded such a thing as expediency. Nor is it its design to follow him at every step of his career. It is sufficient to add, that after long serving his Master and Saviour in the ministry in the possession of a robust frame and with much physical and mental energy, he continued for not a few years so to serve him after the not wholly eradicated seeds of his early illness had resumed their potency; and that it will be long before Cairnie ought to forget his generosity, his hospitality, his faithfulness, his honesty, his fearlessness, his liberality, his large-hearted utterances, and his exemplary life, His death took place at Govan.
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REV. ALEXANDER HENDERSON MOIR, ABOYNE
(Died March 1, 1899)
Author: Rev. J. Smith, M.A., Tarland
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1899, Obituary, p.117
Mr. Moir was born at Aberdeen, October 24, 1844, and was educated at the grammar school there, from which he passed to the university, and in due course graduated M.A. From his childhood he was interested in divine things, and was exemplary in his conduct; but he always dated his conversion to an evangelistic address by the late Mr. Reginald Radcliffe in 1860—a time when a great wave of blessing passed over the land, and was powerfully felt in the north of Scotland. From that time he dedicated himself to the service of the Lord in the ministry. He derived much benefit from a young men’s class conducted by the late Principal Brown in Marywell Street School on Sabbath mornings, and from the preaching of the late Dr. Davidson of the West Church, of which he became a member. He was one of the originators of the boys’ prayer-meeting which was at one time a well-known institution in Aberdeen, and a means of much blessing.
On passing to the divinity hall he devoted himself conscientiously and earnestly to his work, and became a favourite student of Principal Lumsden, who used to speak of him in the most affectionate terms. During the greater part of his theological curriculum he acted as students’ missionary in their district in Shuttle Lane, and was the means of much good work there. After receiving licence he was for a short time assistant at Birkenhead, and afterwards to the late Dr. Thomson, Paisley. While at Paisley he received a unanimous call to Aboyne, where he was ordained May 11, 1871.
As a minister he was painstaking and laborious. His sermons were prepared with much prayer and study. His own spiritual life underwent a deepening and quickening some sixteen years ago, which was felt in his preaching also. During the summer months Aboyne receives a large increase to its population, and by these summer visitors the church was filled, often crowded. Many testimonies have been given by them regarding the value and helpfulness of his ministry, and their appreciation of his services was manifested in many ways. It was mainly due to them that both church and manse were greatly improved some years ago, and both they and the ordinary members of the congregation testified to the high esteem in which Mr. Moir was held, on the occasion of his semi-jubilee in 1896.
He was of a singularly amiable and sympathetic disposition, and was greatly beloved by his congregation and co-presbyters. He was at all times ready to sacrifice himself and his own convenience in order to help others, and was greatly delighted to see or hear of tokens of blessing in connection with his own work or that of his neighbours.
His health was seriously affected nearly two years ago by the illness (which proved fatal) of his only child, a bright girl of twelve; but his last illness was of comparatively short duration. He preached his last sermon at Echt, on the nineteenth of February. He was feeling unwell when he left home, and was worse when he returned on Monday; but he attended a Band of Hope meeting that evening. During the rest of the week he was mostly in bed, but it was only on Saturday that he gave up all hope of being able to preach on the following day. On Tuesday afternoon, the twenty-eighth of February, he became much worse, and next forenoon he passed away.
He leaves a widow, a daughter of the late Mr. Harry Michie, merchant, an elder of the congregation, and sister of Rev. H. E. Michie, Stonehaven, and of Mr. Coutts Michie, A.R.S.A.
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REV. JAMES MOIR, M.A., MAYBOLE
Author: Rev. R.H. Arbuckle, Kirkoswald
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May 1, 1882, p.148
Mr. Moir was born in Huntly in 1829, but removed with his parents, at an early age, to the city of Aberdeen, where he continued to reside until near the close of his college course. Having passed through the various classes in the Faculty of Arts, and taken in them a distinguished place, he graduated with honours at King’s College. During these years and subsequently, as opportunity occurred, he attended a number of medical classes, which proved eminently serviceable in after-life. Indeed, his almost passionate fondness for chemistry, physiology, and kindred sciences, and his approved success as a teacher of them, seemed to many of his friends as likely at this critical period to divert the current of his future history into a channel far removed from that of the gospel ministry.
However, the religious impressions formed in early youth, stimulated and strengthened by the stirring events then happening in the Church, and revived by the spiritual outcome of Disruption struggles and sacrifices, combined with the gentle but powerful influence of endearing companionship with such contemporaries as his life-long friend the late Mr. Wilson of Musselburgh, confirmed his early purpose to pursue his studies for the ministry of the Free Church.
On the completion of his theological studies in the Halls of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, he was engaged in tuition for a considerable time, which brought to him the advantages of a lengthened stay in Paris and travel in various Continental countries. On his return home he was licensed by the Presbytery of Aberdeen, and immediately thereafter was engaged to supply the vacant pulpit of one of the city charges. Here he began the work of preaching with such acceptance and promise that overtures were made for his continuance among them as their minister. He preferred, however, an offer simultaneously made to become the temporary assistant of the Rev. Dr. A.S. Patterson of Glasgow. From that position he was called to Maybole, and ordained there in 1854 as colleague and successor to the Rev. Selby Ord Dods.
Though repeated attempts were made to induce him to leave his first and only charge, they were unhesitatingly declined. Here were formed ties of the most tender and enduring kind, and these supplied reasons sufficiently clear and convincing to satisfy his own mind that among his deeply-attached flock he had found a sphere ample enough to employ all his energies. His highest ambition was to labour among them in season and out of season—to spend and be spent in the Master’s service; and when his work was done, find a resting-place among the graves of their households until the day of the Lord’s appearing.
For fully a year before his death symptoms of serious illness appeared, which gradually-increased in severity and painfulness. Ere long it became too evident that he could not again unaided discharge the duties of his office, and his medical advisers could only express the hope that prolonged rest and relief from the anxieties incident to his position might lengthen his days and usefulness. To one who had enjoyed almost unbroken health all his lifetime, and whose elasticity of frame had proved equal to many a strain under which the greater number would have broken down, this announcement was peculiarly solemnizing and startling. But it was received with calm resignation and acquiescence, as the voice of God intimating that his work was well-nigh done, and that the time of his departure was at hand. Deeply interested in the welfare of his flock, and anxious that they should not even temporarily suffer from his inability, he was greatly exercised in getting arrangements made whereby the work of the congregation might be efficiently carried on until such time as a colleague and successor could be appointed. Meanwhile application was made to the General Assembly, and at his urgent solicitation the congregation were requested to make a large addition to the staff of office-bearers. He rejoiced greatly in the result, which promised an increase of working power which would enable his successor to carry forward more effectively the work of the Lord among them. The last public duty he discharged was at the ordination of these elders and deacons. His heart was greatly set on taking part in this ceremony. It was a source of much satisfaction that he was able, even in much weakness, to preside on that occasion. He felt as if it would be his last public act in the presence of his people, and it proved to be his last public appearance. It took place at the close of the Fast-day service in October. His people were deeply solemnized, and the impression made will never be effaced from their memories. The painful malady made certain progress, and at times his suffering was intense; yet he bore all with singular patience, and frequently spoke of the Lord’s goodness in supporting him in his troubles and surrounding him with kind friends, who ministered greatly to his relief. His mind never wavered through these wearisome days and nights, weeks and months. He unhesitatingly testified to the grace of God which had brought him salvation in youth, upheld him in the services of the sanctuary, and was more than sufficient for him in the time of his weakness and decay.
Shortly before his departure, when to those around he seemed in quiet, peaceful slumber, he opened his eyes and uttered these words, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” His wife predeceased him several years ago. He has left two sons—one in the medical profession, and the other a student in one of our universities.
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REV. THOMAS MOIR, M.A., CRUDEN
(Died June 22, 1877)
Author: Rev. John S. Clark, A.M., Foveran
The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1877, p.300
This highly esteemed minister of the Free Church has been called away by the Master in the very prime of life. He was born at Udny in the year 1830. In early boyhood he was very delicate, requiring much care, which was cheerfully given by a loving mother. His preliminary education, before entering the University of Aberdeen, was got at the Parish School of Tarves, and Grammar School, Aberdeen, in the fifth class of which he enjoyed the instruction of the late Dr. Melvin, the ablest of the many able teachers who have been rectors of that institution. Mr. Moir obtained a good bursary on entering the university; and during the years he attended it, held a good position in the various classes. In due time he graduated, and thereafter entered the divinity hall of the Free Church at Aberdeen. During the time of his attendance at the divinity hall, like most of his fellow-students, he was largely engaged in private teaching. He was for a considerable time tutor in the family of Dr. Harvey, and also in that of the late Admiral Nares at Straloch. He made friends in these situations of all with whom he came in contact; his conscientious discharge of duty, combined with the gentleness and kindness which were always marked characteristics in his bearing to all, commending him much to his employers, and winning the affections of his pupils. In due time he was licensed to preach the gospel. After license, he was employed as assistant in the High Church, Elgin, and for a short period in Trinity Church, Aberdeen. To the vast majority of both these large congregations his preaching proved most acceptable, so much so, that a large number of the congregation in Free Trinity were anxious to have him as their pastor. But as there was want of entire unanimity in the congregation, he did not encourage those who were attached to him to press his claims. In the year 1864 he was chosen as minister of the Free Church congregation of Cruden. His settlement there — as all admit who knew him best, and are best able to judge — proved a great blessing to the congregation and to the community. Many and touching are the testimonies borne by all classes in Cruden — from the peer down to the humblest peasant — to the work of Mr. Moir, and to his many and unwearied labours for the good of all. His preaching was simple, yet vigorous and effective. His influence over the young men of his flock was most marked. His manly yet gentle bearing won their love, and made them look up to him on every occasion as a trusted guide. In the spring of this year he was attacked by the illness that proved fatal to him. For a considerable time hopes were entertained by his medical attendants of his recovery. Not until within a fortnight of his death did they fear that the result would be fatal. During the course of his illness he had fully learned that most difficult of all lessons, thorough resignation to a heavenly Father’s will. He had asked God if it were his holy will to spare him for a little longer to labour among his much loved people. He intensely desired this; but when he knew that this could not be, he did not repine, but looked forward cheerfully and in faith to the rest that awaited him after his time of work, a time which, to us who know the value of the work, seems all too brief.
The deceased was married in 1868 to Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. William Rettie, jeweller, Aberdeen. She proved a helpmeet for him whose loss she now mourns.
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REV. SIR HENRY WELLWOOD MONCREIFF, BART., D.D.
(Died November 4, 1883)
Author: Rev. William Laughton, D.D., Greenock
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February 1, 1884, Biographical Notices, p.51
Sir Henry Moncreiff was the eldest son of the late Sir James Wellwood Moncreiff, better known as one of the judges of the Court of Session by the title of Lord Moncreiff, the most eminent lawyer of his day in Scotland, and one of the most distinguished judges who have adorned the Scottish bench. His grandfather was the well-known Sir Harry Moncreiff, minister of St. Cuthbert’s Parish, Edinburgh, a man of high Christian character, faithful to the cause of evangelical religion at the period of its deepest depression, and of such singular sagacity and soundness of judgment as gave him the greatest weight among his brethren. The subject of the present notice was born in Edinburgh in 1809. Educated at the High School and University of that city, he afterwards went to Oxford, entered as a gentleman commoner at New College, and took his degree in 1831. With every advantage in point of family and education, it might have been expected that he would choose the law for his profession, for which, indeed, his special gifts eminently fitted him; but his preference was for the work of the Christian ministry. It would not have been surprising, however, if his residence at Oxford had weaned him of Presbyterianism and inclined him to Episcopacy; all the more that the influence on which he could have reckoned, both political and ecclesiastical, afforded him every prospect of advancement in the Church of England. He was certainly in better circumstances than most young men to weigh impartially the respective claims of the English and Scottish Churches; and his deliberate conclusion was to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel in the Church of Scotland. The step he thus took was a striking illustration of the sincerity and manly independence of his character, and of the calm decision by which he was distinguished throughout life.
In November 1831, Mr. Moncreiff entered the theological classes of the Edinburgh University, and pursued the regular course of study under Dr. Chalmers and his colleagues. As a student he was diligent and painstaking; conscientious and exemplary in every duty; distinguished by the lively interest he took in all the great questions which then agitated the mind of the country and the Church; fond of argument and eager in it, but always free from temper; indeed, his singularly amiable disposition made him a favourite with all who knew him. His aptitude for argument and discussion appeared in the active part he took in various debating societies, particularly the theological and the exegetical, which included at that time many names well known to the Church in after years; such as (to mention only some that are gone) Dr. Hanna, John Anderson of Madras, and Robert Murray McCheyne. Mr. Moncreiff was licensed in 1835, and in the beginning of the following year was ordained minister of the parish of Baldernock in the Presbytery of Dumbarton. Towards the end of 1837 he was translated to East Kilbride in the Presbytery of Hamilton; there he remained till 1852, when he was translated to Free St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh, in which charge he continued during the rest of his life. In these several charges he made full proof of his ministry. It was not in his nature to do anything he undertook in a slight or superficial manner, and least of all in the discharge of his duties as a minister of the gospel. Sir Henry’s preaching was characterized by the clear and comprehensive exhibition of divine truth, and the earnest application of it to the heart and the conscience. He was wanting in some things which contribute much to effect in popular speaking: the declamatory element, which has a legitimate place in oratory, was rarely present; though at times he showed he could command it at need: and as is often the case with clear and accurate thinkers, he was wanting in imagination. But there was in his preaching all the warmth of genuine feeling—a pervading glow of subdued emotion, which did not fail to interest and impress his hearers. In the pulpit the genuineness of the man was very manifest; that he spoke because he believed, and that he believed what he spoke. The gospel of the grace of God was precious to him in his own experience, and as such he commended it to others with a simple earnestness. In the more private duties of the ministry—the visitation of the sick and of the congregation generally, and attention to the young—he was most assiduous and persevering. That there should have been such a warm attachment to him on the part of his flock was not surprising. Though for ten or eleven years past he has had a colleague to share the burden of pastoral duty, he continued his regular visiting of the congregation to the end. It is of importance that this should be known, not only in justice to his memory, but as an example to stimulate and encourage his brethren.
To the public at large, indeed, Sir Henry was best known by the position he occupied in the General Assembly. In relation to the Free Church he was a representative man, thoroughly imbued with her principles, having a perfect understanding of what may be termed her raison d’être, intimately acquainted with every step of her history, and able to vindicate her position against misrepresentation from whatever quarter. His appointment in 1855 as one of the principal clerks of Assembly placed him in a position in which his gifts were turned to the best account in the service of the Church. In the knowledge of Church law and of the forms of procedure in Church courts he occupied the first place. His opinion on such matters was deferred to on all sides, and his authority was of the utmost service in facilitating the business of the Assembly and enabling it to be carried on with order and regularity. Sticklers for forms are often narrow enough; but there was no narrowness in Sir Henry’s view of them. With the instinct of a judicial mind he saw in them the conditions of order and safeguards of justice. His authority as clerk was certainly much enhanced by the unaffected dignity and unfailing courtesy with which it was exercised: he could be firm and decided, but he was always the Christian gentleman. This honourable position he has occupied in no fewer than twenty-nine Assemblies, during that long period constantly growing in the confidence and esteem of his brethren.
But Sir Henry’s influence in the Assembly was not limited to the sphere of his official duties; by the part he took in its discussions he attained a position still more important and influential. In all the great questions which have engaged the attention of the Church he took a prominent part, and became one of the recognized leaders in the prolonged and agitating debates to which they led. His influence, indeed, was exerted both in private counsel and in public debate. As a wise counsellor his opinion and advice were sought and relied on by the ablest and most distinguished of his contemporaries. He seemed to inherit the sound judgment and practical sagacity of his venerable grandfather. As a debater, his power was of a rare and peculiar kind. He discussed a subject in the temper of a judge rather than an advocate; he would not commit himself on any question till he had deliberately considered it and weighed what could be said on the one side and on the other; he could state the strong points of a case with great force and clearness, but it was always with perfect justice to arguments on the other side; he seemed to place himself in the position of an opponent, and to realize the strong points of the case as it appeared to him. With all the legal acumen of his family, seeing at once important distinctions which others overlooked, and quick to perceive the logical consequences involved in any position, he had a fairness of mind, a comprehensiveness of view, a moderation of tone, such as are too often wanting in acute and skilful disputants. Hence his peculiar power in debate, the attention with which he was listened to, and the confidence he inspired. He was at all times perfectly free from controversial acerbity. Sometimes, indeed, he was felicitous in retort, or surprised his hearers by suddenly placing an opponent in some unexpected dilemma. But however hard he might press any one in argument, he avoided everything fitted to wound or leave any soreness behind. With his peculiar cast of mind, it was to be expected that Sir Henry would sometimes occupy a middle position. But when in such cases he differed from brethren with whom he was usually associated, it was not so much about principles as about the practical aspects and issues of a question. Neither was it timidity—for in the most important matters which have agitated the Church he took a firm and decided part—but rather the caution of one who will not lift his foot till he sees where he is to set it down.
It would be a most inadequate estimate of Sir Henry’s character which only took account of his vigorous intellect and logical acuteness: there were moral elements in it of a high order, which contributed not a little to his influence, especially a pervading truthfulness, which gave to his character much of its strength and dignity,—not merely that his word could be relied on, but all hollowness and insincerity were alien to his nature. He was remarkably free from vanity and affectation of every kind; there was no endeavour to appear anything else than what he was. What he did and said was the natural outcome of the man, without guile or concealment. Hence his simplicity of character; hence his independence of mind and opinion; and hence, too, that habitual fairness which gave others credit for the same sincerity he was conscious of himself.
Sir Henry Moncreiff was Moderator of the General Assembly in 1869. It is scarcely necessary to say that he was in the highest degree entitled to the honour, and that he discharged the duties of the chair in a manner worthy of his high reputation. He was a member of the first Edinburgh School Board, in which he rendered efficient service, and for many years he held the office of secretary to the Bible Board for Scotland.
With his varied occupations of a public kind, it was not to be expected that Sir Henry could find much time for the use of his pen. Yet he has made important contributions to the literature of the Free Church: in particular, his letter to the Duke of Argyll on “The Identity of Free Church Claims from 1838 till 1875;” and his “Vindication of the Claim of Right.” in 1877. In “The Practice of the Free Church in her Several Courts” Sir Henry has furnished a Manual of Church Law and Form of inestimable service to all who have to do with the business of Sessions, Presbyteries, and Assemblies. But his most important work is the first series of the Chalmers Lectures, entitled, “The Free Church Principle: its Character and History.” It is a powerful statement and defence of the doctrine of spiritual independence as held by the Free Church; tracing its history at various periods, specially in Scotland previous to the Disruption; and in connection with that event entering into details which no survivor but himself was in a position to furnish. It is not the work of a mere ecclesiastical jurist, dealing with the question of constitutional law, though in that point of view most able and conclusive; but the treatment of the subject by one who sees its direct bearing on the interests of vital religion, as involving nothing less than the principle of Christian discipleship—the paramount authority of the Master, and the personal responsibility of every disciple in his relation to Christ and to the law of his kingdom. Published but a few months before his death, the work may be regarded as Sir Henry’s last legacy to the Church he has served so long and so well—a noble testimony to her principles, and a fitting conclusion to his life-long labours.
Sir Henry was twice married, but leaves no family. His first wife was Miss Alexina Mary Bell, daughter of Mr. George Bell, surgeon in Edinburgh. His second wife was a daughter of Mr. Murray of Murray Hall in Perthshire, and survives him. In private life Sir Henry Moncreiff was one of the most lovable of men,—engagingthe affection and confidence of his friends by his genuine warmth of heart, his perfect transparency of character, his unaffected geniality, and by a singular gentleness of nature very remarkable in one whose masculine intellect enabled him to cope with the ablest of his contemporaries. He was a true and steadfast friend, always to be relied on. Of what he was in domestic and family relations we do not venture to speak, nor to estimate how great the loss, by his removal to those with whom he was connected by the closest ties; to her especially whose assiduous care did so much to promote the comfort of his declining years. To his brethren and the Church at large the loss is incalculable. The death of Sir Henry Moncreiff, coming so soon after that of Dr. Begg, has made a deep impression. Every one is ready to ask, What will future Assemblies be wanting two men of such power and influence? “Our father, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?” A loud call, surely, to look up to Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
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REV. WILLIAM RITCHIE MONCUR, LIFF
(Died January 7, 1897)
Author: Rev. John Kennedy, Liff
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June, 1897, Obituary, p.146
Another of the heroic men of 1843 that fought a good fight for the church’s spiritual independence has passed away by the death of the Rev. W. R. Moncur, senior minister of Liff, Dundee. Mr. Moncur was born at Damside, now called New Mill, in the parish of Gask, Perthshire, on September 7, 1810. He was the eldest of a family of eleven, four of whom still survive. He was educated at Methven parish school and at Perth Academy. His father was anxious that he should be a farmer; but from his boyhood Mr. Moncur had a strong desire to be a minister, and especially a missionary to the heathen. At last his father said, “You will stay this year at the farm, and if you are as anxious at the end of the year to be a minister, I will let you go to college.” To college he accordingly went. The arts course was taken in St. Andrews. For his theological training he went to Edinburgh, where he was a student of Chalmers, with whom he was a favourite. He was a persevering and hard-working student. One proof of his desire to equip himself for his work was his carrying about some educational work in his pocket which he perused at spare moments.
When his studies were completed, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Auchterarder on October 1, 1839. It was a time when the controversy regarding the relationship of church and state in Scotland was waxing hotter, in consequence of the action of the Moderate members of Strathbogie Presbytery. In moving the suspension of the seven Strathbogie ministers who had appealed to the Court of Session, Dr. Candlish also proposed that a Committee of Commission be appointed to see that the parishes of the seven suspended ministers should not experience any want of religious instruction and pastoral care. Mr. Moncur was sent to the parish of Cairnie. Although the suspended ministers appealed to their friends in the Court of Session to interdict ministers from getting access to the people to preach the gospel, ministers and probationers went at the call of the church, in defiance of all threats. Mr. Moncur was ordained by the Presbytery of Strathbogie on January 19, 1843, to carry on the church’s work in Botriphnie. There are still a very few in Botriphnie who have a recollection of his earnest ministry and devotedness to his work. His old landlady there is still alive, and can give a vivid account of the way in which negotiations were entered into for his lodging with her, and how he charged her husband, who was a carpenter, to be sure and make the book-board of the pulpit very strong, as he sometimes got excited when preaching, and was not always conscious of the force with which he struck it. His landlady and her husband were put out of their home as soon as the lease was out. They had reason to believe that this was on account of their interest in Mr. Moncur and other Evangelical ministers. They did not suffer in their temporal interests by this, as they prospered in a farm which they got elsewhere, and returned to spend the evening of their days in Botriphnie.
In 1843 Mr. Moncur was called to the congregation at Liff which was started in connection with the Free Church. Here he laboured faithfully in the ministrations of the gospel, until growing infirmities compelled him to apply for a colleague in 1876.
On leaving Liff he went out, after some time to Tasmania. Here he married. He returned from Tasmania about the close of 1890, and in June 1893 his jubilee, as well as that of the Liff congregation was observed. On this occasion he and Mrs Moncur were presented with gifts from the congregation and he, on the other hand, presented the cogregation with a handsome communion service.
When at home again, he occasionally preached to his old flock. There was observable a manifest maturity in his piety. It was impressive to witness the old man’s earnestness and tenderness in summoning sinners to Christ. His last appearance among his old flock was at a communion occasion and those that were present will long remember his faithful and loving testimony for Christ.
Shortly after this he returned again to Tasmania But although far removed from his old flock, his letters showed very plainly that his affections were largely with them. “Though far removed,” said he in one of his last letters, “I am deeply attached to the place where I spent so many happy days. I could wish I had my ministry to begin again. I think I might turn it to better account, with the Lord’s blessing.” In another letter, written to an esteemed member of the congregation just about a month before his death, he said, “I do not wish to be burdensome to you, but would like to hear more frequently from you about the congregation , as my affection for you all is rather increasing than diminishing as the time draws near for my departure. That time did come on the seventh of January of this year. He has left behind him, among those of his congregation who still remember his ministry, a cherished memory of a good and faithful minister of Jesus Christ—one who, in his own quiet way did good service for the Free Church, and for evangelical truth and spiritual independence.
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REV. JAMES MORRISON
(Died October 23, 1878)
Author: Rev. John McDermid, Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.43
Mr. Morrison was ordained to the office of the ministry by the Reformed Presbyterian Presbytery of Dumfries, at Davington, Eskdalemuir, in the summer of 1847.
At that time the members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the districts of Eskdalemuir and Ettrick formed one pastoral charge, which continued to be the case during almost the entire period of Mr. Morrison’s ministry; and, of course, his labours were distributed between the two, which involved a great amount of travelling and exposure to every variety of weather. He was the first minister of this charge; for although it had existed from the Revolution Settlement in the form of fellowship societies, and had long enjoyed the preaching of the gospel and the dispensation of solemn ordinances under the care of the Reformed Presbytery, yet till Mr. Morrison’s settlement its members had never been favoured with a stated ministry.
From the date of his ordination till his death, it may be truly said that he laboured “in season and out of season ” to promote the spiritual good of his people; and not only of his people, but, whether pastorally related to him or not, of the whole district in the midst of which he lived.
Mr. Morrison was an accurate scholar, and stood high as a student in the philosophical classes in the University of Edinburgh, having obtained creditable prizes in several of these classes. His attainments, however,— classical and philosophical,—did not appear in his public ministrations so much as in private intercourse. But he turned them to good account in the way of stimulating and aiding the education of young men in the district, and even preparing for the university who are now occupying prominent and important places in the Church. These services, however, valuable though they were to those who were favoured with them, in a religious as well as educational respect, never interfered with the spiritual duties he owed to his flock, or his ministerial zeal and usefulness in the wide though sparsely-populated region in which his lot was cast; for never certainly was a minister more conscientious in the discharge of all his duties both in the pulpit and as a pastor. No storm of wind, or rain, or snow, whatever number of miles he had to travel, could keep him from fulfilling an engagement he had made, whether it might be a marriage, or a funeral, or a baptism, or the visitation of some sick person. Indeed, there is reason to think that it was in his resolute determination to fulfil duties of this kind, however tempestuous might be the weather, that the seeds of the disease were sown which finally brought him to his grave.
It is proper to mention, as a conspicuous feature of Mr. Morrison’s character, that he was thoroughly Catholic in his sympathies without having the slightest tendency to latitudinarianism. From the first he entered cordially into those negotiations which issued (in 1876) in effecting a union between the Free and Reformed Presbyterian Churches, and he would have been glad had this union embraced the United Presbyterian Church as well.
Personally, Mr. Morrison was a genuine and devout follower of the Saviour. As a friend, he was most true and sincere. He was characterized by great disinterestedness and self-denial, which made him ready at all times to oblige a brother in the ministry, or, at whatever sacrifice, to do service to any of his flock.
The following letter from a friend will be read with interest:—
“Mr. Morrison had been unable to discharge his pastoral duties for several months, but was in the habit of going about the house, although very infirm. For three or four days before his decease he was confined to his bed for the most part, but able to be up a little while. The last night of his life was one of severe suffering. He always retained his consciousness, and was aware that his end was near. He had everything arranged with his brother, Mr. David Morrison, beforehand, who was over from Ireland during the summer seeing him. He had been waiting for the change for months before; and when the end did come, he had nothing to do but breathe out his life and commit his spirit into the hands of his Father in heaven. He was well attended to, and nursed with care, although he had no relations of his own who could be present to watch by his dying-bed. The last night of his life he rose from his bed and began to write a letter to his brother, but he got only four lines written. He was alone at that time, which was about two o’clock in the morning. He died about nine.
“What more can I say about him, unless I give expression to my belief regarding him as a man and a minister. During the years of his sojourn among us he proved himself to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, and capable of enduring hardness. What contendings with the elements were his, what exposure to the cold, the wind, and the rain he did experience. In his numerous journeys long and often rough were the roads he had to travel; but for the moral and spiritual improvement of all classes and of all denominations he did not spare himself. And though his reward on earth was not according to his work, he had the prospect of that better reward which follows upon the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ a reward which we hope and trust that he is now enjoying.
“He was born in Laurieston, and attended school there as a boy. When he went to the university, and when he was licensed as a preacher, I do not know; but he was ordained as Reformed Presbyterian minister of Eskdalemuir and Ettrick in June 1847. He was twenty-nine years a Reformed Presbyterian minister, and the last two years of his ministry were filled up in connection with the Free Church. His age was sixty-six.”
He died at his manse at Davington, Eskdalemuir, on the 23rd October last.
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REV. JAMES MORRISON, URQUHART, ELGIN
(Died January 1, 1899)
Author: Rev. J. Calder MacPhail, D.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1899, Obituary, p.66
On the first day of this year there fell asleep at Egin a venerable man, whom those who knew him best regarded as one of the most able and faithful ministers of the Free Church. This was the Rev. James Morrison, who for more than fifty years was minister of the congregation of Urquhart, near Elgin. He was born at Auldearn on May 30, 1816. His father, Donald Morrison, was a farmer in Edinkillie—a man of high character and remarkable intelligence, who was himself the son of a father of a singularly spiritual and devoted life. His mother’s name was Catharine Fraser; and she and her mother, like Lois and Eunice, were women of “unfeigned faith.” James was the eldest of ten children—eight sons and two daughters; and if there he anything in heredity, the young Morrisons owed not a little, morally and intellectually, to those whose blood was in their veins. James was early sent to the parish school; and from there, on receiving a Seafield presentation bursary, he entered King’s College, Aberdeen. His exceptional ability enabled him to pass through his arts course with distinction, his favourite subject of study being mathematics; and in due time he entered the Aberdeen Theological Hall. When a divinity student, he was appointed to the parish school of Kiltearn, in the Presbytery of Dingwall, and he held that office until some time after he was licensed, in the end of 1841.
It may be proper to record here that, stimulated and encouraged by the example of their eldest brother, other five of the eight sons went to the university, and became as distinguished, as teachers, as James Morrison became as a preacher of the gospel. Dr. Thomas was Rector of the Free Church Training College in Glasgow, Dr. Donald is Rector of the Glasgow Academy, Dr. Alexander is Principal of the Scotch College in Melbourne, and his youngest brother, Robert, is sub-principal under him. Dr. George was Principal of the Scotch College in Geelong, and has been succeeded in that office by his own youngest son; while to his eldest son —a distinguished traveller—the British public have been indebted for some time past for the earliest intelligence they have received of what goes on in the far East. Other nephews are taking similarly high places in different walks of life.
When Mr. Morrison was schoolmaster at Kiltearn several of the Ross-shire ministers were men not only of eminent piety, but also of culture and refinement and great spiritual power. It is enough to mention the names of the two Kennedys, Mackintosh of Tain, Carment of Rosskeen, Stewart of Cromarty, and Macdonald of Ferintosh. In no part of Scotland were the ecclesiastical questions which were then agitating the country regarded with a deeper or more intelligent interest than in Easter Ross, and Mr. Morrison was in fullest sympathy with all who were contending for the spiritual independence of the church. In 1842 he went as a missionary to the parish of Denny, and continued to labour there with much acceptance till the Disruption. Immediately after that event he rendered valuable service during the summer by helping to organize into congregations such of the people as had adhered to the Free Church in the parishes of Dallas and Edinkillie, in the Presbytery of Forres.
In the month of August he was appointed to a preaching station in the parish of Urquhart, near Elgin. Under him the station soon became a ministerial charge, and on April 18, 1844, he was ordained its first minister. There were at that time no ecclesiastical buildings connected with the congregation; but he found a lodging in the house of a worthy farmer, Mr. Cruickshank of Meft, who also gave the use of his barn for the congregation to worship in; and his courtyard was the scene of Mr. Morrison’s ordination, as the barn was too small to accommodate all who had assembled that day.
The factors on many Scottish estates in those days were bitterly opposed to the Free Church, and seem to have thought that they could extinguish it by oppression. One of that class of officials made himself peculiarly offensive to the congregation at Urquhart. But fortunately for them, the greater part of the parish belonged to the Earl of Fife, and among the trustees on the Fife estates there were men of another spirit. Through the good offices of those gentlemen, and especially of General Duff, the congregation received suitable sites for all their buildings; and the petty annoyances to which they were subjected only stimulated them to greater and more cheerful exertion and self-sacrifice. In due time the necessary buildings were erected. It was like Mr. Morrison, and in keeping with the traditions of our country, that before they built the manse they should build a school to provide a good and Christian education for the young people of the parish; and Mr. Morrison soon had the satisfaction of seeing a most flourishing school beside his church, and under a master of whom he often testified that he helped more than anybody else to mould the rising generation of that time to that which was right and true in the sight of God. In all the labours involved in providing the new buildings, the minister found capable and willing coadjutors among his office-bearers and members. He was thus the better able to devote himself to careful preparation for the pulpit, and to the pastoral care of his flock, both old and young. His sermons, which were fully written out and read, were ever distinguished for their simplicity and beauty. There was never anything sensational about them. He had too deep a sense of the sacredness of the pulpit and the solemnity of his office for that. He was both a doctrinal and a practical preacher. His chief themes were the grand old truths of the doctrine of grace, and he preached these with a fullness, an earnestness, and a tenderness that were greatly blessed.
In 1846 he was appointed clerk to the Presbytery of Elgin, and ten years thereafter the Synod of Moray elected him their clerk, on the motion of Mr. Barclay of Auldearn, by whom he had been baptized forty years before. The former office he held for fifty years, and the latter for forty, and the duties of both were discharged by him with a wisdom, an efficiency, a courtesy, and a gentle, firm dignity that saved many disquiets, smoothed many troubles, and won for him the confidence, respect, and gratitude of his brethren.
In 1848 he married Miss Gillan of Elgin, a lady who was distinguished for her deep piety and wide sympathies. Mrs. Morrison died in 1893, having been predeceased by two of their children. A son and two daughters still survive. The son, who is a fruit-grower in California, is in this country at present. The daughters have lived with their father, and in his declining years have watched over him and ministered to him with a loving devotion which has been the admiration of the community.
For several years after his ordination, his labours were almost wholly confined to his own flock. But he took a deep interest in every section of the population of the parish, stood in a friendly relation to them all, and rejoiced if he could do anything to promote the temporal or spiritual well-being of any of them.
When the religious awakening of 1859-60 took place, Mr. Morrison’s own spirit was deeply stirred, and he threw himself heart and soul into that blessed movement. It was then that his remarkable gifts as an evangelist first appeared; and north, south, east, and west, from the seaboard of Moray to the heights of Braemar, his services were eagerly sought.
As he became better known, people began to wonder why a minister whom many now regarded as one of the most remarkable of Scottish preachers should be left in the comparatively small country congregation of Urquhart. Various approaches were made to him, with a view to his being called to wider spheres of labour, but he resisted them all, preferring, as he used to say, to “dwell among his own people.” He was, however, always ready to serve the church outside of his own congregation in other ways, and he visited several of the presbyteries as an Assembly deputy. He also did good service to the Presbyterian Church in England, by preaching for some weeks at a time in different congregations.
All through life Mr. Morrison was a diligent student. He specially delighted in the works of the Puritan Divines, but took a lively interest also in many recent movements in the theological world. A conservative theologian in the best sense, he was, nevertheless, always ready to welcome whatever he saw to be truth. He did not fear the light. Nor did he confine himself to theological studies. He had a love of nature and a taste for natural science. He was also an authority in archeology, and he enriched both the Elgin and the Edinburgh Museums with many archaeological specimens.
Mr. Morrison was adorned beyond most with the graces of the Spirit. He was clothed with humility as few have been. He had a heart overflowing with love. His character was one of singular transparency and simplicity. He was richly endowed with the wisdom which cometh from above. He was a man of faith, of prayer, and of undaunted courage. Always and everywhere his conduct was regulated by a supreme and loving regard to the will of Christ. Withal, he had the joy of the Lord for his strength, and this greatly helped him to make others happy. Adorned with these graces, and highly gifted intellectually, he went in and out, as an ambassador for Christ, among the humble cottages of Urquhart for more than fifty years. He did not think that too obscure a field for him to cultivate; he did not think its people unworthy of his best efforts. The words of the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians were singularly applicable to Mr. Morrison’s labours among the people of Urquhart: “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.”
Before he had completed the fiftieth year of his ministry, he had the pleasure of seeing the Rev. A. Chalmers Smith settled, with great unanimity, as junior minister in the congregation.
His ministerial jubilee was celebrated at Urquhart on April 18, 1894, by his presbytery, congregation, and friends, who presented him with several valuable tokens of their gratitude and affection. The following Whitsunday he gave up the manse to his colleague, and removed with his daughters to Elgin. There he continued to take as deep an interest as ever in the cause of Christ, and delighted to preach occasionally, and to render such other service as he was able. On Wednesday the 28th of December he had a slight attack of bronchitis, and on Sabbath the 1st of January he fell asleep, and “departed to be with Christ, which is far better.” The following Thursday his remains were carried to Urquhart, and after a service in the church, were laid to rest in the old graveyard beside the Free church where he had so long laboured.
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REV. WILLIAM MORRISON, M.A, BOHARM, BANFFSHIRE
(Died 3rd November, 1885)
Author: Rev. James Scott, D.D., Aberlour
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May 1, 1886, Biographical Notice, p.149
William Morrison was born in the year 1827 at Cullen, in Banffshire, where he received the rudiments of his early education. He belonged to a family of brothers who have risen to distinction in the fine arts or in capacity for business affairs. Conscious of good natural abilities, and of a quiet and reflective disposition, William steadfastly prepared to qualify himself for one of the learned professions. He subsequently studied at King’s College, Aberdeen, where he stood well in his classes, and obtained the degree of M.A. at the close of his curriculum.
Having come early under the power of divine grace, Mr. Morrison studied theology at the Free Church Hall under Professors James McLagan and Marcus Sachs, the former of whom was a doctor of the Holy Scriptures and not of the schools; and the latter a master not only of Hebrew, but of ancient and modern languages. After license, Mr. Morrison was invited to labour as a probationer at Boharm, which had been formed and fostered as a mission station by the late Mr. Fairweather, Botriphnie, and Mr. Patterson, elder, Mulben, whose memory is fragrant and his decease felt and mourned by the congregation. There, on the erection of the station into a sanctioned charge, he was ordained to the office of the ministry in 1859, and laboured with diligence and self denial till his death in November of last year.
Mr. Morrison possessed not only good natural powers of mind but accurate scholarship and extensive acquirements in Biblical theology and general knowledge. His preaching was solid and thoroughly evangelical, if not evangelistic; and his voice was powerful, and under deep emotion even plastic.
His congregation marked what even others remarked, that he grew in spiritual power and in devotion to his work towards the close of his ministry, when he was suddenly laid low and sank under a severe attack of pleurisy, in the vigour of his manhood and in the midst of his usefulness.
As a pastor he was so painstaking and affectionate that the Session, amongst other things, recorded in their minutes that his counsels and smiles lured them on in the right way.
After the death of the lamented Mr. McWatt of Rothes, he was appointed Clerk of the Presbytery, and discharged the duties of his office with so much competency and courtesy as to secure the complete confidence of his co-presbyters.
As a man his disposition was so sensitive that he could not needlessly set foot upon a worm, and so pacific as even to incline him to undue compromise or concession.
Mr. Morrison has left a widow and three young children to mourn the loss of one of the wisest and kindest fathers.
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REV. PATRICK T. MUIRHEAD, KIPPEN
(Died June 15, 1888, in the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness)
Author: Rev. D. D. Bannerman, Perth
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September, 1888, Obituary, p.273
Patrick T. Muirhead was the son of the Rev. Dr. Muirhead of Cramond, who held a high place in the honoured band of parish ministers who left the Scottish Establishment for conscience’ sake in 1843.
At the Convocation in November 1842, when between four and five hundred ministers of the Church of Scotland, headed by Dr. Chalmers, met in conference in Edinburgh, and pledged themselves to give up their worldly all, if needful, for the principles of the Church, an interesting incident took place. At one stage in the proceedings two deputies appeared from a large meeting of the probationers of the Church, intimating their adherence to the position adopted by the Convocation. One of the two young men who then represented the rising ministry of the Church was Mr. Patrick Muirhead.
After the Disruption, Mr. Muirhead laboured for a short time as a preacher at Logie-pert, under the oversight of Dr. (then Mr.) Nixon of Montrose, and was for nearly a year assistant to the late Dr. William Thomson of the Middle Free Church, Perth.
He was ordained as minister of the Free Church at Kippen in 1846, where for the last forty-two years he has approved himself as a most faithful and acceptable pastor. He was an efficient member of the School Board of the parish from the date of the passing of the Education Act, and interested himself in everything bearing upon the moral, spiritual, and social welfare of the people of his congregation and district.
Within a few years after his settlement in Kippen, Mr. Muirhead was chosen Clerk of the Presbytery of Dunblane, and he discharged the duties of that office with signal efficiency and success. He was thoroughly versed in ecclesiastical law and practice, and was a man of unfailing courtesy, of sound judgment, and of a calm and judicial spirit. These qualities gave him great weight among his brethren, and led to a widespread desire that he would allow himself to be nominated for the position of Clerk of the General Assembly of the Free Church, which had to be filled up at Inverness. Mr. Muirhead’s characteristic modesty made him refuse his consent to this proposal, until within two days of the election, when he yielded so far to the pressure of numerous friends as to allow his name to be mentioned in the Assembly. Members of the House were, of course, by that time very generally pledged for some one of the four other candidates. But Mr. Muirhead, who was proposed by me, and seconded by Mr. John McEwan, Edinburgh, stood third in the vote. The opinion was very generally expressed in the Assembly that had his name been earlier before the Church, he might have been elected to the office, his eminent fitness for which was admitted on all sides.
Mr. Muirhead was an able and sound theologian, well read not only in the old Latin and Puritan divines, with whose works his library was amply stored, but also in German theology and exegesis from the Reformation onwards. He was a very fair Gaelic scholar, and interested in antiquarian and literary subjects generally.
Personally, he was a man of most genial and lovable disposition, and is deeply mourned by all who had the privilege of his friendship. Mr. Muirhead was never married. He leaves a sister and other more distant relatives, as well as a most attached congregation, to mourn his loss.
In him there has passed away one of a type of Scottish minister perhaps not so often seen in Scotland as formerly. In him the manners of a Scottish gentleman of the olden school were united with high scholarly and theological attainments, and with the spirit of a minister of the gospel of Christ, who never forgot the great ends of the ministry. Every one who has the highest interests of our country at heart must desire that many such men may be raised up among us.
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REV. ALEXANDER MUNRO, GLASGOW
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 1 1869, p.112
The Rev. Alexander Munro, minister of Stockwell Church, Glasgow, died of fever on Thursday, the 25th ult.
After passing through the regular course of academic study for the ministry of the Free Church, and acting for some time as a useful official in the Free Church Offices, Mr. Munro was ordained in January 1857, as minister of the Free Gaelic congregation of Paisley. He was translated to Campbeltown in September 1858; and in August 1867 he was inducted to the pastoral charge of the congregation in Glasgow from which it has pleased God to remove him, by sudden death, in the bloom of his manhood, after a comparatively short ministerial course.
As in Paisley and Campbeltown—where his pious and earnest efforts in the cause of his heavenly Lord were crowned with much success—so in his latest sphere of professional labour he acquitted himself as a “good minister of Jesus Christ.” Impressed with a solemn sense of the responsibility of his sacred office, prompted by a glowing desire for the glory of God in the conversion of sinners and the edification of such as “believed through grace,” and encouraged by the promises, which are “all yea and amen in Christ,” he was “instant in season, out of season, and watched for souls as one who had to give an account.” Very abundant were his labours among the people of his charge; and some of his friends were of opinion that he frequently overtaxed his strength.
He regularly made studious and diligent preparation for the duties of the pulpit; and while his public prayers were characterized by the fervour of true devotion, his discourses were remarkable for soundness of doctrine, precision of thought, earnestness of appeal, and energy of utterance. Evangelical truth—in which he found nourishment and refreshment for his own soul —he proclaimed to others with characteristic force and fervour; nor did he fail to apply the doctrines of the gospel as enforcements of duty and sources of enjoyment. He excelled in pastoral visitation; a practice by which he increased his knowledge of human nature, stimulated as well as gratified his people, and promoted regularity of attendance in the house of prayer.
Regarding catechetical examination as of great practical importance, he largely employed it in dealing with the people committed to his care. Young persons were objects of his special interest and regard; and many such are likely to reflect with gratitude on his affectionate efforts to promote their intellectual and spiritual welfare. His mental constitution was robust and enriched by general knowledge, as well as elevated by religious principle. Possessing scientific tastes, and believing that literature and philosophy may be rendered tributary to religion, he occasionally delivered a lecture on some topic of popular science; but to “win souls” to Christ, and train believers for duty here, and for glory, honour, and immortality hereafter, were objects which he kept steadily in view, and at which he habitually aimed. He was eminent as a Gaelic scholar, and greatly loved the language.
He was not accustomed to express his sentiments in formal speeches in Church courts, and he was cautious in committing himself to particular views and measures in ecclesiastical affairs; but he firmly adhered to the principles of the headship of Christ and the spiritual freedom of the Church. Cheerful and affectionate in his disposition, genial in his manners, and intelligent in his conversation, he was a pleasant companion and a valuable friend. As a husband and a father, he was loving and beloved; and in his family, as in his congregation, his death has occasioned a melancholy blank.
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REV. DANIEL ROSS MUNRO, MARYBURGH, ROSS-SHIRE
(Died November 3, 1873)
Author: Rev. Malcolm Macgregor, Ferrintosh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, March 2, 1874, p.59
Mr. Munro was born in Easter Ross, but during his infancy his father and family removed to Banffshire. In his early youth, he taught a school for some years at Cornhill, in the parish of Ordiquhill, in the very heart of Strathbogie. While there, his soul yearning for spiritual food, which the cold and dead Moderatism in the parish churches around could not give him, he often walked eight or ten miles on a Sabbath morning to hear a gospel sermon from a “Seceder.” In 1835 he went to the University of Edinburgh, where he was a distinguished student. To a fair knowledge of the classical languages and Hebrew, he added a thorough knowledge of the German language, which he kept up to the last. During his college course he laboured for some years in connection with the Edinburgh City Mission, where his zeal and energy procured for him the esteem and life-long friendship of many valued Christian friends, among others, of the late Lady Colquhoun of Luss, and the Honourable Misses Charlotte and Augusta Mackenzie of Seaforth. He was licensed on the 3rd of June 1843 by the Free Church Presbytery of Edinburgh. Immediately afterwards he was invited by the Church to go to labour in Malta, but the feeble state of his health constrained him to decline. He was directed by his medical advisers, who then thought he had not long to live, to visit the now celebrated spa of Strathpeffer in Ross-shire. In the summer of 1843 he did so, and, by the blessing of God, his health was completely re-established. In 1844 he was called by the congregation of Maryburgh, at that time vacant from the translation of the late Rev. George McLeod to Lochbroom; and, at the earnest persuasion of his friends, the Honourable Misses Mackenzie of Seaforth — who were mainly instrumental in buildiug the church there, in connection with Dr. Chalmers’ Church Extension Scheme — he accepted the call. For twenty-nine years he fulfilled his ministry, amid many difficulties, with unwearied assiduity and faithfulness. His preaching was sound, impressive, and edifying, and evidently flowed from a heart aglow with love to Christ, and an intense desire for the salvation of sinners. His walk and conversation were in beautiful harmony with the doctrine he preached, and clearly evidenced to his people that his own heart and life were under the sanctifying and guiding power of the truth which he taught to them. He was a diligent and laborious pastor, and regularly visited and catechised his people at their homes once a year. His visits of sympathy and consolation to the house of sorrow and the bed of suffering and of death will never be forgotten by many while life endures. He was singularly true and transparent, “an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile.” His love to our Church and her principles was intense and strong; and while he was firm and steadfast to his own convictions, he always wished to be genial and brotherly towards those who differed from him on public questions. He took a great and lively interest in the young, the “lambs of the flock,” and in both week-day and Sabbath schools promoted, to the utmost of his power, their godly up-bringing and training. “He being dead, yet speaketh.”
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REV. DONALD MUNRO, REAY
(Died November 11, 1896)
Author: Rev. J. D. McCulloch
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1897, Obituary, p.294
The subject of this belated notice was born in the parish of Alness in 1822. During his early years he enjoyed the advantages of strictly religious home influences and training, and of a good though somewhat intermittent local education. For about three years afterwards he attended the parish school of Tain, an institution noted at the time for the efficiency of its tuition and the vigour of its discipline. There he received the thorough grounding in the ordinary subjects of public-school education so conspicuous in his conversation and life-work. Having in view a commercial career, Mr. Munro served an apprenticeship of about four years in one of the business houses of Tain. During the seven years of his residence in that town he assiduously waited on the ministry of the late Rev. C. C. Macintosh. As is well known, a great revival of religion took place in Ross-shire in the years 1840-42, and Tain shared largely in the blessing. Mr. Munro was not one to speak much of his own religious experiences, but in view of his lifelong veneration and attachment to Dr. Macintosh—of whom he would speak as “a man blessed, and blessed to many,” and to hear whom he counted “an unspeakable privilege” —and of other considerations, it cannot be doubted that it was at that time he was quickened to spiritual life and led to decide for Christ. To the same ministry also may in great measure be ascribed the full and definite views of the doctrines of grace which moulded his life and characterized his ministry.
From the commencement of his experience of commercial life a conflict was waged between the moral principles with which his mind had from childhood been imbued and some methods of doing business then in vogue, and not long after he was led into gospel light and liberty the struggle ended in victory, when, as might be expected, the urgency of conscientious convictions constrained him to quit a position which involved the alternative of refusing to act upon the instructions of his superiors, or incurring the divine displeasure by compliance.
Whether his mind was at that time directed to the work of the ministry it is impossible to say, for his first step on leaving business was to enter the Edinburgh Free Normal School, where he spent over a year qualifying for the work of a teacher. The good work begun in Tain was deepened under the ministry of Dr. Moody Stuart, in whose church he first made public profession of his surrender to Christ.
In 1847 he became teacher of Hill of Fearn Free Church School, which office he held during nine years. At this period his active service for the Free Church may be said to have begun. He loved her intelligently, and threw himself with the vigour of his young manhood and the zeal of earnest piety into all kinds of congregational work which his official position and the thorough confidence of the minister brought to his hand. Between himself and the Rev. John McDonald—a most lovable and excellent man—there sprang up an ardent, mutual attachment, destined to be lifelong.
Although he did not, in the technical sense, preach until he had all but completed his preparatory studies, he was in school and elsewhere, as opportunity offered, an evangelist. While proving himself a well-equipped, painstaking, and successful teacher of the subjects of secular education, he took full advantage of the daily Bible and Catechism lessons to expound and enforce the doctrines and claims of Christ’s love and law. His unmistakable and high-toned piety, combined with great geniality and kindness, made way for religious instruction which many of his pupils still recall with a deepening sense of indebtedness, while the passage of others through the dark valley was cheered by the truths which their “old master” taught them.
During the period of his residence at Fearn, Mr. Munro prosecuted his studies for the ministry. After the usual curriculum at the university and New College, Edinburgh, he was ordained at Reay, in 1860, as successor to the Rev. Finlay Cook, in circumstances calculated to show what manner of man he was. His predecessor was—as regards personality, spiritual life, and ministerial gifts—unique, and his influence and popularity were correspondingly great. To succeed him in the most favourable circumstances would prove an arduous undertaking, and the condition of things when Mr. Munro entered on his pastorate could not be described as encouraging. During a vacancy of two years, the efforts made to secure a successor to their much-revered minister resulted, as too frequently happens, in creating divisions and forming parties in favour of different candidates. It was in the midst of the excitement and heat caused by the prolonged contest that Mr. Munro preached, was elected by a large majority, and settled. It said much for the solidity of character, kindly feeling, and ministrations of the young minister, and for the discernment of the Christian people, that within a very short time party lines were effaced; and it became a subject of remark that among the minority who, owing to their predilections for others, opposed his settlement, were to be found some of his most attached friends and appreciative hearers. The most amicable relations continued thenceforth to be maintained between pastor and people.
Of strong physique and vigorous mind, Mr. Munro entered on his work with conscientious zeal, and shirked no duty. His preaching was distinguished by earnestness, manly grasp of his subject, and extensive acquaintance with divine truth. Slightness and superficiality were foreign to his mind and methods. To the laborious work of annually catechizing the whole of his congregation he devoted himself with evident delight. His attentions to the infirm and sick were unremitting; his efforts to advance their spiritual welfare and to minister to their physical wants, where need was, went hand in hand. Indeed, his liberality in this way, and his hospitality to all who visited the manse, seemed to many to be in excess of duty and out of proportion to means. But he placed himself and his substance at the service of his people in things temporal as well as spiritual, not unfrequently acting as the surgeon, or physician’s efficient coadjutor or substitute.
To the young especially his heart went out in great affection and solicitude, and while health continued he devoted himself to the promotion of their interests. He was never more happy than in their society; and it is pleasing to record that their response of confidence and attachment greatly cheered him in his labours, and, when his working days were over, served to alleviate the depression at times resulting from physical weakness and regret that he could no longer serve them in the gospel.
He was regular in attendance at presbytery meetings, and took a deep interest in the business. He followed the ecclesiastical movements of the time with keener insight than many supposed. To the conceptions of Free Church principles and doctrines which he had formed under the guidance of “Disruption Leaders” and “Worthies” he adhered to the last with unswerving fidelity, and deeply lamented what seemed to him a falling away from the flood-mark of purity and faithfulness to her Lord which his much-loved church had attained in her early years.
After a ministry of about twenty-seven years, his health became so seriously impaired that leave was granted by the General Assembly to call a colleague and successor, when, in 1887, he retired from the scene of his loved labours amid the profound sorrow and regret of his attached flock, and went to reside in the house of a brother-in-law in the parish of Fearn. There, in the bosom of an affectionate family, he enjoyed during the remaining years of his life the comforts and loving ministrations of a cheerful and congenial home.
Although his sufferings and weakness were frequently great, being wholly confined within doors during inclement weather, in the summer season he so far recovered as to be able occasionally to preach for brethren in the neighbourhood, and several times he revisited his charge and assisted his colleague at the communion. Such service as he could he rendered with great readiness and cordiality. He also took advantage of intervals of comparatively good health to visit aged and ailing persons in the district in which he resided, and was the means of brightening the lot of some of the Lord’s people by his counsel, sympathy, and cheerful intercourse.
When the end drew near, while deeply impressed in view of his approaching change, there were not wanting to him those strong consolations which he had so delighted to minister to others. The written word he had always relied on as the very Word of God, and in the closing scene of his pilgrimage his mind in full vigour retained its firm grasp of the divine verities, and his heart was kept in peace. To his valued friend and pastor, Mr. Macpherson, he gave, on the occasion of his last visit, assurance of his hope in the language of the Psalmist: “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Thus fitly passed away the humble and devout man of God, and the warm-hearted and faithful friend of many.
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REV. JAMES MUNRO, RUTHERGLEN
(Died November 8, 1884)
Author: Rev. William Findlay, Larkhall
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May 1, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.146
The Rev. James Munro was born at Lochwinnoch in July 1803. His student life began at a later period than is usual, commencing after he had reached the years of manhood. He attended the Arts classes in St. Andrews, prosecuting his studies with success. There, in particular, he acquired that taste for classics which remained with him till the end, and which largely contributed doubtless to that exquisite felicity of diction which characterized him as a public speaker. There too, during those years at St. Andrews, he acquired that delight in all departments of human knowledge, and that aptitude for animated conversation on all kinds of subjects, which his friends remember so well, and which lent such a charm to his society.
Before he went to St. Andrews, Mr. Munro had passed through the decisive change which lies at the threshold of the kingdom of God, and he entered on his studies there with the Christian ministry in view, resolved by the grace of God to consecrate his life to the noblest of all earthly callings. And this purpose remained unshaken. Having finished his Arts curriculum at St. Andrews, he attended the divinity classes in Edinburgh, attracted thither, we cannot doubt, by the prelections of Dr. Chalmers, who in 1828 had been transferred from the moral philosophy chair in St. Andrews to that of divinity in Edinburgh, where for almost twenty years he was destined to exercise so marvellous and blessed an influence on the young and rising ministry of Scotland, sending forth to all parts of the land, year by year, a band of young ministers who, like the subject of our sketch, had felt the holy contagion of such a teacher, and who went forth to their life-work baptized with a measure of his own lofty enthusiasm and intense earnestness,—an enthusiasm and earnestness which never left them.
Having obtained license in 1834, Mr. Munro was appointed assistant to the Rev. Dr. Smith of Lochwinnoch, where he laboured with such power and success as made him an exception to the general rule, that a prophet has no honour in his own country. In January 1836 he was unanimously called by the West congregation of Rutherglen, and soon after ordained as their first pastor. The congregation, composed chiefly of those who had felt bound in conscience to resist for about ten years, but ultimately without success, the settlement of a presentee to the parish church in Rutherglen, embraced most of the leading people in the district; and as they had learned in their local “ten years’ conflict” to understand and value spiritual independence, the great body of them adhered to the Free Church when the larger “Ten Years’ Conflict” ended in the Disruption. As might have been expected, Mr. Munro had no hesitation as to the path of duty when the day of testing came, and with hundreds of his brethren, of the noblest and best of Scotland’s sons, walked from St. Andrew’s Church to Tanfield Hall with all his heart on May 18, 1843. The buildings which the congregation had erected, and to which, it will hardly be denied, they had a moral right that was indefeasible, were not claimed by the Establishment till 1849. The beautiful new church, which replaced the other unjustly taken from them, was opened in March 1850.
There was little of outward change or striking incident in Mr. Munro’s long, laborious, faithful ministry. Frequent attempts were made to remove him to other spheres—no less than fourteen, it is believed—but all of them failed. Mr. Munro declined every invitation to leave Rutherglen, although Regent Square, London, Inverness High Church, Dumfries, as well as other places earnestly desired him to do so. He laboured abundantly in preaching for his brethren, his services being greatly prized especially on communion occasions in Glasgow, as well as in many other parts of Scotland. In 1846 he went to Montreal by request of the Colonial Committee, and ministered for some months to the Coté Street congregation there, the most important Presbyterian congregation in Canada, with singular acceptance and usefulness. In 1864 he was laid aside for four months by illness, and often for shorter periods at other times. Indeed it might be said he was never strong physically; but notwithstanding this constitutional feebleness, he did his work with indefatigable industry for more than forty years in Rutherglen. In 1878 he made an arrangement to leave the manse and the entire work to his colleague, and resided in Edinburgh till his death on November 8,1884. His last illness extended over eight weeks, and the infirmity and suffering of these closing weeks were borne with unmurmuring patience. His end was peace. He is buried where so many of the Disruption fathers are laid — beside Chalmers, and Cunningham and Guthrie, and Duff, and Fairbairn, and Hetherington, and Clason, and Tweedie, and Duncan, and many more—in the Grange Cemetery, to which a large company of attached and sorrowing friends, gathered from far and near, followed his remains, reckoning it a privilege to see his honoured dust consigned to its last earthly resting-place in sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection.
Of Mr. Munro as a man and as a friend it is difficult to speak in terms that are adequate, and that will not at the same time seem extravagant to those who did not know him. There was a singular attractiveness about his companionship and conversation,— a forgetfulness of self, a rare depth of sympathy, a wide range of topics for interesting and profitable converse, unfailing tact, ever and anon flashes of playful wit and genial humour, and yet with all this no attempt to overshadow others, but a constant desire and effort to draw forth the best of every one; above all, the unwearied aim on all occasions and in all societies to make conversation profitable in the highest sense. During the latter half of his active ministry Mr. Munro had a constant succession of missionary assistants, most of them now settled as ministers in different parts of the Church, with whom he associated on terms of closest intimacy, not only exercising toward them the most generous hospitality, but interesting himself in all that concerned them and their work, discussing freely with them all kinds of questions, especially those bearing on religion, theology, and the Word of God, imparting to them the rich treasures of a long and varied pastoral experience, and by example as well as fatherly counsel ever leading them to a more entire consecration to the Master’s work. Many of these old assistants, as well as their companions and contemporaries, will gladly testify that they owe to Mr. Munro, under God, holy impulses in their life-work, which after the lapse of many years have not yet spent their force, that his influence is still felt in their life and ministry, and that his image is imperishably enshrined in their hearts as that of one of the noblest ideals of the Christian ministry they have anywhere yet seen or hope to see during life’s pilgrimage. Nor did his interest in his assistants cease when they left Rutherglen. He followed them with his sympathies and his prayers wherever they went; they were numbered among his life-long friends, and he rejoiced from time to time to renew his fellowship with them, and to exchange, so long as he was able, ministerial services.
Mr. Munro’s preaching was of rare excellence, and unique in character— bold in conception, finished in style, enriched and embellished with great wealth of apt illustration, solemn and earnestly impressive, as befitted a message given in God’s name, and so memorable that it would be difficult to find any one who ever heard him preach, who could not recall, even after the lapse of years, something that had been said in the sermon. But Mr. Munro’s work in Rutherglen, it need hardly be said, was not confined to the pulpit. He was a diligent and laborious pastor, a frequent and most welcome visitor to the homes of his people, sympathizing with them in all their joys, and pouring the balm of consolation into their hearts in times of sorrow and bereavement. The religious instruction of the young was to him an object of unceasing solicitude. Under his skilful guidance, Rutherglen was covered with a network of district Sabbath schools, into which, so far back as a quarter of a century ago, when such organizations were much rarer than they are now, as many as one thousand children were gathered from week to week. Throughout his ministry, too, Mr. Munro took a deep and practical interest in home mission work, both personally and by means of his missionary assistants already referred to.
One other department of Christian usefulness in which Mr. Munro excelled was that of writing letters, especially letters of condolence to the bereaved. How many of the sons and daughters of affliction scattered over all parts of Scotland during these fifty years, not excepting those years of infirmity spent by him in Edinburgh when he was laid aside from active labour, have been comforted in their times of sorrow and desolation by the Lord’s servant. His precious letters at such seasons, we have reason to know, are held in store by some of them still as among the choicest of their earthly treasures.
Mr. Munro was married in 1837 to Agnes, daughter of W. Wright, Esq., Calder Park, Lochwinnoch, who survives him. The union was a singularly happy one. Their only child, a daughter, is the wife of the Rev. J. G. Cunningham of Free St. Luke’s, Edinburgh. The Rev. John Gall, translated from Liff, and inducted as Mr. Munro’s colleague and successor in 1878, has had the full charge since that time.
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REV. J. MURDOCH, PITSLIGO
(Died October 29, 1884)
Author: Rev. A. Urquhart, Old Deer
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.114
Mr. Murdoch, a son of a well-to-do burgher of Stirling, according to the testimony of the venerable Dr. Beith, “was distinguished both at school and college; the impression of him in his native town being that he took a higher place than any of the young men who took places in professional life.”
Licensed by the Presbytery of Stirling soon after the Disruption, he was sent to the Presbytery of Deer, and for a considerable time aided in supplying the congregations of Longside, St. Fergus, and Pitsligo. Early in 1845 he received a call from Pitsligo; and the brethren who then composed the Presbytery were struck and solemnized by Mr. Murdoch’s treatment of it. He declined it on the ground that he had not sufficient evidence that he had a call from Christ to the ministry. But continuing to serve in the Presbytery as a probationer, on receiving a second call from the same congregation, he saw his way to close with it; and, ordained at Pitsligo, he continued to minister there regularly and acceptably till a few years ago, when infirmities obliged him to apply for a colleague.
Mr. Murdoch’s health, never very robust, became early impaired, and throughout most of his time it was fluctuating. His preaching could not but be affected by the circumstance. He set himself a very high standard, and perhaps assiduous effort to reach it sometimes interfered with readiness of utterance. But when in fair health, his discourses testified to breadth and depth of thought, and to an intimate acquaintance with the literature of the subject he was handling. It could scarcely be otherwise, for he was a devourer of books, assimilating and retaining what he read.
His ministrations out of the pulpit were time after time interrupted; and latterly, household visitation could not be systematically pursued for any length of time. But Mr. Murdoch did as a visitor from house to house what but few of his brethren attempt: he again and again visited or offered visits to every family of the not inconsiderable village in which his church was situated. And he did this although his nervous system was weak, and the work necessarily imposed no little self-denial.
He was systematic and assiduous in the instruction of both children and youth. The congregational Sabbath school was always a large one; and for many years Mr. Murdoch spent several evenings per week in ministering to young people.
He was also eminently a son of consolation. The writer never had opportunity of hearing him dealing with persons concerned about their souls, but he has had occasion to be with him when he visited widows and children suddenly bereaved, and he cannot forget the singular tenderness with which he exhibited the consolations of the gospel.
His practice in the religious training of his own family was remarkable. No sooner was worship over in the morning than he retired with his children to his study, and what took place between him and them may be inferred from the last pencilled note from one of his sons who had gone to New Zealand in pursuit of health. In that note he confessed to a longing for a return to his mother’s petting and his father’s prayers.
As a member of Presbytery, Mr. Murdoch was not only assiduous in his attendance, but for many years he took a leading part in the conduct of its business.
He occasionally wrote articles for our leading theological magazines; and he stood so high as a theologian in the eyes of his brethren that he was twice nominated as a fit person to supply a vacancy in a professor’s chair. He had amassed an almost unique library, and his acquaintance with books was very extensive.
On the appointment of his eldest son to a very important charge in Melbourne, Mr. Murdoch determined to visit Australia with the rest of his family. He preached once, and within three days thereafter he died. His loss to the Church is heavy; but the Lord will provide.
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REV. ROBERT MURDOCH, JOHNSTONE AND WAMPHRAY
(Died May 5, 1889)
Author: Rev. James Wells, M.A., Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August, 1889, Biographical Notices, p.246
Robert Murdoch, a native of Cathcart, was trained to merchandise in Glasgow. A work of grace in Cathcart in 1862, chiefly in alliance with the Wynd Church, was the turning-point in his life. He then became a member of the Free Church, under the pastorate of his spiritual father, the Rev. Malcolm White, now of Blairgowrie; and soon developed into an influential worker. While a student he was missionary at Torrance for five years, and in the Free Barony for two years. He was the founder and first pastor of Blochairn Free Church, in which he saw not a few surprising illustrations of the power of God’s grace among the churchless. A serious attack of lung disease, of which fourteen years afterwards he died, brought him to the gates of death; yet he clung to his post till he was sternly compelled to accept a less exacting sphere. It was proposed to call him to the Free Barony, but he intimated that the work was beyond his power. Twelve years ago he became minister of Johnstone and Wamphray.
All his friends, I think, will agree with me when I say that they scarcely expect to find any man more blameless or consistent than he was. I am not sure that any other minister I know is more “believed in” and respected by all sorts of people. He owed not a little to his gentlemanly bearing, manly simplicity, and sweet temper. A woman in his neighbourhood, who owned that she was no lover of the Free Church, said to me, “The folk in a’ the kirks hereabout think that Mr. Murdoch is a’maist an angel frae heaven.” The Rev. James Brown of Glasgow, an intimate college friend, said of him at the funeral service— “He was one of the choicest spirits it has been my privilege to know. When I first met him, well-nigh twenty-five years ago, he was in the first flush of his new life. Very marked and striking had been his conversion, and, God be praised, the glow of that new life was never lost. Ever since those early days I have prized the fellowship of your beloved brother as at once a source of purest joy and most precious influence. He was pre-eminently a man of prayer, and within these very walls he was wont daily to spend a period in supplication to God, with the communion roll of the congregation open before him, remembering in turn member after member.”
Mr. Murdoch had an active, well-informed mind, an observing eye, and the happy art of using fresh and fitting illustrations. He had strong convictions, and was an evangelical of the evangelicals. As a preacher he was always intelligible, practical, and earnest. He had decided spiritual power, and was a true evangelist and winner of souls. After a conversation about incomes, he once said, “If I saw a genuine revival of religion among our folk, I would be quite content with a crust of bread and water.” His whole life was in harmony with these words. He was in complete sympathy with all that is best in modern Christian enterprise, and was specially successful among the young, to whom he gave much of his strength. His flock has, during his pastorate, supplied more students than all the other flocks of the Presbytery. Five members of it are at present studying for the ministry of the Free Church; and of those recently in its membership one is a probationer, another is a missionary in the New Hebrides, and a third is the pastor of a prominent congregation in London.
During long years of weariness and sleeplessness and disappointment, he clave to his well-loved work with rare heroism and without a murmur. His cup of sorrow was sweetened by the great kindness of his people. Near the end he quoted the words, “And they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there.” He added, “No more fear of the long, long night.”
On the first Sabbath of May he entered the sabbath of heaven. His like-minded wife and four children remain.
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REV. DONALD MURRAY, TARBAT
(Died May 9, 1899)
Author: Rev. Alexander Macdonald, Ardclach
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October, 1899, p.229
The leading events in the history of Mr. Murray are easily told. Though he had attained to the good old age of ninety-five years, yet the current of his life all along ran on smoothly and peacefully. He was born at Melbost, in the parish of Stornoway, or, more properly speaking, in the quoad sacra parish of Knock, which is a part of the civil parish of Stornoway. His early education was received by him in the parish school, and his early youth was spent in assisting his father in working his farm. Early in life he had religious impressions, which continued and deepened. He was attracted and won by the gospel more than he had ever been terrified by the law. Without passing through painful experiences of conviction of sin, his Christian character was gradually formed, and became as a light that could not be hid. He became possessed by the desire to do something to advance the cause of the Lord, and benefit his fellow-men. The first opening that presented itself to him was in connection with the Gaelic School Society—a society whose agents were selected with great care, and which did incalculable good in its day throughout the Highlands and Islands. He began to teach in the parish of Glenelg, and there he continued four years. There he had as his minister the late Rev. Dr. Beith, afterwards of Stirling. He was one of those whose sympathy Dr. Beith highly valued while passing through the painful series of bereavements in his family which he has so graphically described in the book entitled Sorrowing yet Rejoicing, and which no one can read without emotion. The mutual esteem which sprang up at that time between the minister and the young teacher continued during the long life-time of each of them. After his four years of service at Glenelg, he entered on his Arts course in the University of Edinburgh. During the summer vacations of his Arts course he accompanied the late Mr. Lilingstone of Balmacarra, in his yacht, in cruises along the West coast and among the islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides, distributing Bibles. On entering on his theological curriculum, he was appointed inspector of the schools of the Gaelic School Society, which office he continued to hold until he resigned it on his becoming an ordained minister. He was licensed to preach the gospel in 1844, and in the following year was ordained and inducted as minister of the Free Church congregation of Knock, his native parish. That position was to him a testing one. He had no manse to begin with, and was obliged to reside at Stornoway for a time. He was among his own relations and the acquaintances of his youth in the capacity of their minister. In short, he was a prophet in his own country; but yet, such was his force of character and native dignity that no one ventured to take any liberties with him, though he was humble, affable, and approachable to all. No minister and people could live and work more harmoniously together than he and his people did during the twenty-one years of his ministry among them. His shrewdness and remarkable prudence enabled him to avoid rocks on which others might meet with shipwreck. His preaching gifts, which were of a high order; his pastoral diligence, which was unremitting; his constantly even temper; and, above all, his consistent Christian life caused him to win the highest respect not only of his own congregation, but also of all the congregations of the island. It was in his congregation that the revival of 1859 in Lewis began. His hands were, from that time, full of work, and his heart was full of gladness and anxiety. One remarkable feature of that time at Knock was the number of aged people—some of them over eighty years of age—that were converted. In after years he delighted to tell about some of these people. I have in my note-books pages of his reminiscences, taken down in shorthand, from his own lips, during some of my visits to his house while he was resident at Dingwall. Some of these extend as far back as the second decade of this century, and are full of interest; but there is no part more interesting than that which refers to some of the old converts of that period. But considerations of space forbid my relating any of them here. Many middle-aged men and women, as also a goodly number of young men and women, became followers of Christ at that time, some of whom are still living as Christ’s faithful witnesses, while others have gone to eternity rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. He had always a noble band of godly office-bearers at Knock, by whom his hands were strengthened in all his work. Though some of them were older in years than himself, yet they honoured and reverenced him as a father.
During his ministry in Lewis he was clerk of presbytery, which entailed on him much additional labour. That labour was well performed; and his penmanship, as seen in the presbytery’s permanent record, might serve as a model for a writing-master.
In December 1866 he accepted a call to Tarbat, in Easter Ross. In that part of the country he continued to share the respect and the popularity which he had acquired in his native island. At communion seasons his services were in great request. Speaking of the twenty years which he had spent at Tarbat, he said himself, “My humble but imperfect services were in some measure owned of God.” On the induction of the Rev. Dugald Matheson as his colleague and successor, he went to reside at Dingwall, where he had the satisfaction of sitting under the ministry of the Rev. Murdoch McAskill, one of his own sons in the gospel. As long as his strength permitted him, he preached every Sabbath evening at Dingwall in Gaelic, in his own house, the lower rooms and the stairs of which were generally crowded with people. Latterly he removed to Edinburgh where he died. There he lived for several years, and nothing delighted him more than to be visited by old friends and acquaintances, and exercise hospitality to which he was given all his days. He continued to take a lively interest in all the affairs of the church. One of his last services, a few days before his death, was the writing of a letter, bearing on the question of union with the U.P. Church, to a conference of ministers which met at Inverness. Every one who read that letter, on its being published in the newspapers, was struck with his intelligent grasp of the situation, and the clearness and vigour with which he expressed his views.
Shortly after his induction at Knock, he was married to Miss Helen Morrison, a lady of good social position at Stornoway, and who proved herself a true helpmeet to him all her days. She predeceased him by several years. He is survived by a son and daughter—Dr. Donald R. Murray of North Leith, and Miss Murray—whose devotion to him brightened his closing years, and helped to lengthen his life. All who knew him will wish for them a large measure of the blessing of the God of their father.
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REV. JOHN MURRAY, ABDIE AND NEWBURGH
(Died 29th April, 1882)
Author: Rev W. Affleck, B.D., Auchtermuchty
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.275
During the first half of the present year Fife has lost three of its well-known and much-esteemed Disruption ministers,—the Rev. Walter Wood, Rev. Dr. Couper, and the Rev. John Murray. By those deaths a void has been made that cannot be filled, and we are reminded how rapidly we are passing into a new generation.
Mr. Murray was born in Peebles-shire in the year 1808. Having devoted himself to the Christian ministry, he prosecuted his studies in the University of Edinburgh, where he had the privilege of sitting at the feet of Dr. Chalmers. At the time he received licence he was engaged as a tutor in England, and thus it came about that he preached his first sermon in Manchester. He was afterwards employed in Home Mission work, first in Greenock, and subsequently in Leith. His first charge was the quoad sacra church of Milton of Balgonie, where he was ordained in the year 1837. Tbe following year he was translated to Dunbog, a small rural parish in the Presbytery of Cupar. True to his convictions, he came out at the Disruption, and remained a warm-hearted and liberal minded Free Churchman all his days. He became minister of the Free Church in the parishes of Abdie and Newburgh as well as Dunbog, and at the time of his death had lived and ministered forty-four years in the district.
Mr. Murray was an earnest evangelical preacher, a laborious pastor, and possessed a remarkable gift in prayer. No one could have been readier to give his brethren efficient help when called on. He diligently attended the courts and committees of the Church, and took his full share of ecclesiastical business. Ho took a special interest in the Sustentation Fund, of which he had charge for many years in his Presbytery and Synod. He also was greatly interested in the Home Mission, and for many years did much useful work in mining and other outlying districts as a deputy. His happy mingling of kindliness and earnestness made him well adapted for this work. Altogether he was one of the best known and most highly esteemed of our country ministers.
He was greatly loved and trusted by his friends, and not a few will long remember pleasant evenings spent under his hospitable roof, and in the enjoyment of his cheerful and profitable conversation.
For some years disease had been making sad inroads on his once vigorous and manly frame; but his mental faculties continued clear and unimpaired. The settlement of Mr. Williamson, a few months ago, as his colleague and successor, was a source of much comfort and thankfulness to him. But he was not long spared to enjoy the well-earned repose thus provided. True to the end to his great calling as a minister of Christ, the last time he was out of doors, and but a few days before his death, he visited an aged man to pray with him and exhort him to flee to Christ. It was evident to those around him that he was ripening for his change. On the 29th of Apri1 he passed away, and has left a widow to mourn his loss.
An interesting incident may be added, which proves that his ministry was not without fruit even from its commencement. A respectable elderly man appeared at the funeral whom no one seemed to know. It turned out he was Mr. Murray’s first communicant in his first charge at Milton of Balgonie. It had been a time of great blessing in the district, and the good that this man then got was such that when he heard of Mr. Murray’s death, he felt constrained to attend the funeral to mark the gratitude and affection he felt towards him who had been, under God, the means of bringing him to the Saviour. The seed thus sown so many yearn ago was still springing up and ripening for eternity.
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REV. J.G. MURRAY, D.D.
(Died February 16, 1881)
Author: A.G. Murray, Perth
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July 1, Biographical Notices, p.175
The subject of this sketch was born at Edinburgh on the 25th November 1820. His father, who was a burgess and freeman of Edinburgh, having died when he was but a boy of seven years of age, he was admitted to the benefits of George Heriot’s Hospital, where he very soon distinguished himself by his singular talents, having carried off every prize he competed for, including the highest honour of the institution—the silver medal. So marked were his abilities, that shortly after he entered the Edinburgh University, the house governor, Mr. Home, having been laid aside, Mr. Murray was requested by the governors to teach the classes which Mr. Home had been in the habit of conducting; a duty which, although but a youth, he discharged with credit to himself and satisfaction to the governors.
Shortly before entering the University he had informed his mother and other relatives that it was his desire to “pursue a literary course of life;” and in the autumn of 1836, while spending a holiday at a farm in Fifeshire, he had given serious thought as to what kind of literary life he should follow. In a letter to his mother, of date August 27, 1836, occurs the following passage:—
“I never had any desire to follow after surgery; my choice lay therefore betwixt the profession of a lawyer and a minister. For some time before leaving the hospital, and during nearly the whole of last session at college, I thought of turning my attention to the study of the law; but various reasons have combined to make me alter my purpose, and I have ceased to think of pursuing the wrangling contentions of the bar. My decision is in favour of the ministry; and I am inclined to devote my time and talents to the study of divinity. I have not made this choice without due consideration; and I trust it is agreeable to your wishes. I hope it will receive your approval and consent, on receiving which I shall consider my decision final. … Had room permitted I would have stated some of the considerations which induce me to look forward to the ministry.”
The cordial assent of his mother, who believed the decision to be in answer to her prayers, having been granted, he diligently, earnestly, and prayerfully prosecuted his studies, until in the spring of 1843 he was ready for license. Although not actually licensed till August, he was among the goodly number of probationers who followed the outgoing ministers in that noble procession from St. Andrew’s Church to Tanfield Hall, on the 18th day of May 1843.
Licensed in the beginning of August 1843, he preached for Dr. Charles J. Brown, his pastor, on the forenoon of the following Sabbath, in the Independent Chapel, which has since been removed to make way for the Industrial Museum; and in the afternoon to the Dean congregation, who were then worshipping in a granary. On the following Wednesday he was sent to Auchencairn, a beautiful village on a bay of the Solway, in Kirkcudbrightshire. The first two Sabbaths he preached in the open air, but before the third Sabbath a cotton mill was fitted up as a church. He threw his whole heart into the work; and at the Glasgow Assembly in the following October the charge was sanctioned, and Mr. Murray was ordained to the pastorate in January 1844. During the twenty years of his labours there, a church, two schools, and a manse were erected and cleared of debt. In 1863 he accepted a call to the Presbyterian Church in South Shields, where he laboured with much acceptance till in 1868, on the translation of the Rev. Thomas McPherson to Liverpool, he removed to Cheltenham. After labouring there for several years, he felt constrained for various reasons to resign his pastorate. Since that period he has been by no means inactive, preaching whenever opportunity occurred, delivering lectures, and engaging in other Christian work.
His memory will be gratefully cherished by very many in Auchencairn, South Shields, and Cheltenham, as well as by a large circle of friends and acquaintances throughout the country. Thoroughly Presbyterian, he was nevertheless the possessor of a large and catholic heart, and was ever ready to welcome as brethren in Christ all who loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity.
His last moments were marked with perfect peace, and he entered into the rest that remaineth for the people of God with the words of prayer on his lips.
He leaves behind him a widow, one son, and four daughters, to mourn the loss to them of a good and Christian husband and father, but feeling the consolation that he is not lost but gone before.
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REV. THOMAS MURRAY, MIDMAR
(Died September 16, 1896)
Author: Rev. James Smith, M.A., Tarland
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1896, Obituary, p.281
Mr. Murray was born in the neighbourhood of Thurso in 1821. After completing his school education he turned himself to business and spent ten years in Thurso as apprentice, journeyman, and master clothier and draper. The events preceding and following the Disruption deeply impressed him, and when comparatively advanced in life he resolved to devote himself to the ministry of the Free Church. After attending the usual arts and divinity classes at Edinburgh, he was licensed as a preacher in 1855, and very soon after he undertook the charge of the mission station at Midmar.
This congregation, formerly known as Bankhead, was one of those connected with the Burgher Synod of Original Seceders which were received into the Church of Scotland in 1839. After the decision of the Stewarton case, however, the Moderate majority in the presbytery refused to allow Mr. McGown, the minister, to take his seat; and he, along with Mr. Fergusson of Strachan, Mr. Anderson of Banchory, and an elder, after protesting, constituted themselves as the presbytery and elected commissioners to the General Assembly. That was on March 29,1843. The year after the Disruption, Mr. McGown was translated to Bervie and was succeeded by Mr. Scott Hay, formerly at Bridge of Weir, who died in 1851. Thereupon the charge was reduced to a preaching station, and as such it continued for the next six years. It was proposed at that time to suppress no less than five of the charges within the presbytery which were contributing less than £50 a year for the support of the ministry. When Midmar was reponed in 1857, the congregation immediately called Mr. Murray as their minister, and as such he continued for thirty-nine years—practically upwards of forty years.
He was, during the greater part of his life, unusually vigorous and active, both physically and mentally. He was thoroughly evangelical in his preaching, and faithful and industrious in his pastoral visitation. He also took a deep interest in public questions, and threw himself heartily into current controversies, both political and ecclesiastical. A Liberal in politics, he had in recent years withdrawn to a large extent from giving public expression to his position, which was not in harmony with the current policy of the party. He threw himself all the more heartily into church work, and on all theological and ecclesiastical questions he was in the main strictly conservative. He published numerous pamphlets on questions that were from time to time before the church. His nearest neighbour, Mr. Taylor of Cluny, preached his funeral sermon in a crowded church amid a severe storm of wind and rain; and those who knew Mr. Murray best will most heartily concur in the accuracy of his description: “As a friend he was genial and kind in disposition, thoughtful and generous in action, and transparently honest in all his dealings. In everything pertaining to the good of the community he took a sympathetic and active part, and any man suffering from injustice or wrong found from him effective aid.” Mr. Murray was twice married, and leaves a widow and four sons.
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REV. W. B. MURRAY, A.M., NEW HEBRIDES
(Died September 8, 1885)
Author: Rev. Dr. Inglis
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1886, Biographical Notice, p.20
This highly promising young missionary died at Picton, New South Wales. He belonged to St. Fergus, and was brought up under the late eminent Mr. Thomson, who left behind him the mark of his powerful ministry so distinct in that locality.
Mr. Murray took his Arts classes and his A.M. at the University of Aberdeen, and his Theology in the Free Church College there. He also attended several of the medical classes, and went for one session to Germany and studied under the celebrated Dr. Delitzsch of Leipzig. He was an excellent student, carrying off some of the highest prizes, and obtaining some of the best bursaries. While a divinity student, he also acted as a city missionary in Aberdeen for the Free Church Students’ Missionary Society. He was a student possessed of extensive, varied, and exact scholarship—fully equipped for being a successful missionary to the heathen.
When the Rev. W. Watt of Tanna was in this country, he met with Mr. Murray in Aberdeen, and enlisted his sympathies in behalf of the New Hebrides Mission. Mr. Murray was subsequently engaged in behalf of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales, by a Committee consisting of Professor Binnie, Dr. George Smith, and myself. After finishing his full curriculum, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Deer, and was ordained in Sydney by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales in March 1883.
He and Mrs. Murray sailed from London to Sydney in the end of 1882 in the screw steamer Aberdeen, a new vessel, owned by the firm of Mr. Henderson of Devanha House, Aberdeen, who was so interested in the young missionary that he remitted a third of the passage money—his full share of it. It had been arranged that they should spend three months in New South Wales before they went down to the islands, that he might preach in the leading congregations of the Church, and that they might visit in the principal districts of the colony. While thus occupied, he had to preach one Sabbath in a church a few miles out of Sydney. While going out in the morning, it came on a pouring rain, and he got himself thoroughly drenched. He preached in his wet clothes. And the result was that he caught a severe cold, which fastened down on his lungs, and from which, perhaps, being neglected, he never recovered. He possessed a fine, robust constitution. He was athletic in form, and was the very picture of health.
In the last letter I had from him he fully exculpates the climate of the New Hebrides from having in any way caused his illness. He traced it all up to that Sabbath-day’s drenching. Indeed, with the exception of South Africa, the New Hebrides is perhaps one of the most healthy of any of the foreign mission fields occupied by the Free Church, now that we know the climate and the sanitary precautions necessary to be attended to.
Mr. and Mrs. Murray went down to the Islands in 1883. By their own choice, and by the consent of the Mission Synod, they were settled on the island of Ambrim—about the middle of the group. They met with a cordial reception from the natives, and their prospects were very encouraging. He applied himself with great earnestness to the language, and was evidently making good progress; but the disease went on making insidious advances, till in September 1884, Dr. Gunn, after examining him with great care, officially recommended him to proceed in the Dayspring to Sydney for change of air and further medical advice. On reaching Sydney, his medical advisers pronounced him to be unfit to return to the mission. Everything was done for him that could be done, but without avail. Like Job, he said, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come.” His last letters breathed a dutiful submission to the will of God.
The friends of the mission in Sydney were deeply interested in him and his, and it would be wrong here not to mention the kindness shown to them by Mr. and Mrs. Goodlet of Canterbury House, Ashfield, by Sydney, the doors of whose hospitable mansion stand always open to receive the missionaries of the New Hebrides and the ministers of New South Wales. The Murrays resided with them at Ashfield, and if I mistake not, it was in Mr. Goodlet’s country house at Picton that Mr. Murray died.
Mr. Murray’s letters from the islands were original, fresh, interesting, full of information, and full of hope. He was not impulsive, and he was not sentimental; but he was animated by a noble enthusiasm, and was actuated by a high sense of duty to God. He cherished a strong feeling of responsibility to the Master, and was jealously alive to the danger of marring the Lord’s work by any failure on his part. He was modest and retiring in his manner, but true and faithful to all the obligations of Christian life and duty. He was cordially received and heartily appreciated, as he is now deeply regretted, by all the other members of the mission. The sympathies and prayers of the Church will be poured forth on behalf of his young widow and his orphan daughter, his bereaved parents and sorrowing relations. It is matter, however, of thankfulness that the station has just been taken up by his younger brother, the Rev. Charles Murray, A.M., missionary from the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. He also was a student of the University and Free Church College of Aberdeen.
“The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
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