Free Church of Scotland Ministers (1843-1900): Obituaries Y

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(Died May 21, 1869)
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, August 2, 1869, p.182

This faithful servant of Christ, who for five-and-twenty years was minister of Free St. Andrew’s, Kilmarnock, died at Kilmarnock, on Friday 21st May, after a severe and protracted illness. He was born at Stewarton, in Ayrshire, where he received the elements of education; and having early resolved to devote himself to the ministry, he, with the view of prosecuting his studies, removed first to Glasgow, and thereafter to Edinburgh; his career in both places being marked by painstaking laboriousness and plodding perseverance, rather than by brilliancy or outstanding eminence. On the completion of his curriculum, arrangements were made, in the ordinary way, for his being proposed in the Presbytery of Irvine to be taken on trial for license. But involved as that Presbytery at the time was in the thick of the conflict which the Stewarton Case awakened, and in consequence of the keenness of the controversy then waging in that court on the question of the right of quoad sacra ministers and elders to sit and vote, entailing two or three meetings at which no business was done, so as to prevent a disruption in the Presbytery, the actual proposal to take Mr. Young on trial was necessarily and unavoidably delayed.

However, at a meeting of Presbytery, held on 21st March 1843, it appeared that, owing to the resolute determination of both parties to maintain their respective positions, a collision was inevitable; and so it proved, for on that day, and as a sort of prelude to the memorable Disruption of the following May, there occurred the now famous disruption in the Presbytery of Irvine, which happened in this fashion. After the meeting was constituted by Mr. (now Dr.) Norman Macleod, then minister of Loudoun, and moderator at the time, and on the clerk inquiring whether he was to call the names of the quoad sacra ministers and elders, or only the names of the ministers and elders of original parishes, the moderator replied, that they were bound to obey the Interlocutor of the Court of Session, and that in the event of its being insisted on to call the roll as it stood, it would become the painful duty of those who held the same sentiments as himself to leave the meeting and constitute a Presbytery elsewhere. It was then moved and seconded, that the roll as fixed by the General Assembly be now called; whereupon the moderator, Mr. Norman Macleod, declared in his own name, and in the name of all who adhered to him, that they could not in conscience remain members of the court, and that they would retire and constitute a Presbytery in another place. Before they could close the meeting however with prayer, a new moderator and clerk were proposed; on which Mr. Macleod rose, and, with his followers, left the meeting. The minority remained as the Presbytery of Irvine.

It was after all the excitement and agitation of such a scene, and on the very day of it, that Mr. Young, who had resolved, in the face of great local influence, to adhere to the minority, was proposed to be taken on trial for license, the Presbytery agreeing to make a representation to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr as to the cause of delay in sending out the requisite circular letters. And the Synod having granted leave to take him on trial, he appeared accordingly at the second meeting of the Free Presbytery of Irvine, and having delivered his discourses, was licensed to preach the gospel on the 4th of July 1843. After rendering important service within the bounds of his own Presbytery during the intervening months, he, on the translation of Mr. Brodie, then minister of Free St. Andrew’s, Kilmarnock, to Shandon, was unanimously called to the pastorate of that congregation; and after being ordained thereto in June 1844, he continued in that charge till his death, a period of twenty-five years. His pulpit appearances, the result throughout of prayerful, honest, and laborious study and preparation, were uniformly solid, earnest, and affectionate, though seldom entitled to be characterized as eloquent or sparkling, in the ordinary sense of the terms. The truth himself had early received in the love of it, he preached effectively, and always “as a dying man to dying men.” His manner was solemn and impressive. He gathered round him and consolidated a large and deeply attached congregation, who mourn his loss and miss his labours now. His pastoral visitations, which were constant and sustained, were highly prized, while by the bedside of the sick and dying, though ever gentle, almost tender, he proved himself fully alive to the responsibilities such a position entails. About a year ago, and while on his way to Dunblane for a few weeks’ rest from labour, he was seized suddenly with the illness which culminated in his death. And thus, when rising into influence in the town of Kilmarnock, and in his own presbytery; when the results of his long ministerial experience were fast helping him up to the position of a man of mark in his day and generation, he was cut down, and called up higher. Mr. Young was twice married; a son by his first marriage, and his widow, survive him. In his removal, another link which bound the existing generation to that of other years, when the Lord for us wrought great things and very wonderful, has been broken.

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(Died, September 3, 1887)
Author: Rev. George Steven, M.A.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.116

Alexander Yule was born in Huntly on January 20, 1851, and was the second son of Mr. Yule, one of the elders in the Free Church there, a man highly respected throughout the whole district.

Alexander was sent to the Free Church school, and at once became both the schoolmate and companion of Mr. Thomson, late of St. Fergus, Mr. Hastings of Kinneff, and Mr. Archibald of Hankow. He seems to have been a quick, bright boy, and to have kept his own against such competitors. In one of the snowball fights, however, which were common then he received an injury to his left eye, rendering it almost totally blind, and in some way affecting his whole health, which had never been robust, and which now and then during the rest of his life gave way under the strain of hard work.

In the year 1860 he went to Aberdeen University, and studied very diligently, though without special distinction. Indeed his mind was often pre-occupied with religious questions. He was distressed about his own spiritual state, and would take no rest. But his college companion, Mr. Cumming, now of Grangemouth Free Church, was of the greatest service to him in his perplexity. Later in his course, and in consequence perhaps of his studies, he encountered other difficulties quite as disquieting. But in spite of all, and always, he was the same in spirit, gentle, kind, and tender of conscience.

At the end of his university course Mr. Yule was feeling the arguments against his becoming a minister so strong that he wrote a letter to his father explaining his position, and asking permission to turn to business, or at least to wait. There was no help for it, and for two years therefore his studies were arrested; and although friends reasoned with him about his action, they did so without result. Two events, however, altered the whole aspect of matters. A revival broke out in Huntly which quickened Mr. Yule’s faith, and brought back again in full force the desire to give his life to the service of Christ. The other event was the death of his father. They had been very closely attached to each other, and the sorrow of this separation did undoubtedly strengthen his new resolution.

Accordingly, in November 1872, he entered the New College, Edinburgh, with his old schoolmate, Mr. Peter Thomson, as fellow-student and companion. I remember them well as they used to walk together and sit together in all the classes, and always in the front seat. They were both voluminous note-takers, Thomson writing the lectures verbatim in shorthand, and Yule panting after him in longhand. The consequence of this diligence was that Mr. Yule took prizes wherever prizes could be taken, and was counted one of the promising scholars of his year. But his diligence was excelled by his seriousness of mind and his piety. There was the freshness of a young convert in his talk, and a determination to frown down everything that had even the appearance of frivolity. Upon the minds of some of his fellow-students indeed he left the impression of austerity, which was anything but characteristic. As the days wore on, and his knowledge and experience deepened, he became one of the most genial of companions. At the opening of our third year he took the Hamilton Scholarship, and in the following year entered for the Muir Scholarship in Semitic, a subject he was fond of to the close of life.

Mr. Yule was licensed by the Presbytery of Strathbogie in 1876, and began work by preaching for a short time in Peebles, then in Busby, and then in Inverurie, during the absence of Mr. Minto on the Continent. Wherever he went, friends gathered about him who were taken with his kindliness, his downright honesty of purpose, and withal his playfulness and humour, which never left a sting behind. While he was at Inverurie, the charge at Blairdaff fell vacant, and Mr. Yule was elected, and on the 25th January 1877 was ordained minister there. Throughout the ten years that followed, there was scarcely a break in his ministrations, for he rarely took a holiday, and as he then thought, never needed one. He became greatly attached to his congregation, sometimes saying that he thought, taking all things together, there was not a more desirable flock in the Free Church. And so, too, the congregation became attached to him, especially the children and the very old. Every one liked him for his geniality and kindness. The frank expression of his convictions sometimes brought him an enemy; but such enemies soon came again to love one who never himself retained enmity, and who was, in case of need, as ready to help a foe as a friend. As time brought a fuller knowledge of the burdens of life and a richer experience of God, Mr. Yule’s preaching deepened in spirituality. After many a winding, he came back to the old way, the simple offer of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ. And the necessity of preaching this he pressed often upon the attention of his friends who visited him.

Latterly his health had been somewhat undermined, and when it was low, in the spring of 1886, he caught cold, which was neglected until it took firm hold of him. He was confined to bed in the month of July, and although now and then he rallied somewhat, he never was able to leave the house again. During fourteen months he lingered, tended night and day by his only sister, and in September 1887 he passed away, to the deep sorrow of all who knew him.

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(Died December 21, 1894)
Author: Rev. John Buchan, Glasgow
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1895, Obituary, p.70

Mr. Yule was born at Mellowlees, near Kelso, in the years immediately preceding the Disruption, where his family are still held in high respect in the district. He got the usual education of a country boy at the parish school in the village of Smailholm. It is a very beautiful countryside, and has also an interest as connected with the boyhood of Sir Walter Scott. The old tower of Smailholm forms the scene of one of his finest ballads. But it was the natural scenery, rather than the legendary or historical associations, that influenced the subject of our sketch. To the day of his death he had a quiet enjoyment in nature, and often have I heard him speak of the sunsets on the Pentlands, which are seen to great advantage on the road above his manse. Indeed in the summer his study was frequently in a fir-wood, where, free from all interruption, he would walk to and fro, mentally composing his sermon from beginning to end, which he afterwards committed to paper.

His first serious impressions he used to ascribe to the earnest addresses of the late Mr. Steel of Broughton, who one winter held evangelistic meetings in the schoolhouse at Smailholm. These impressions were deepened by intercourse with his sister, a very spiritually-minded woman. He had a very distinct experience, which gave in after years a point to his preaching, so that on the way of salvation he uttered no uncertain sound.

My acquaintance with Mr. Yule began in the year 1865. We were both students from southern counties, and this, to begin with, was a point of union, which the same calling in prospect and congeniality of sentiment helped to strengthen. He possessed in large measure the kindliness of the Scot. During his first college session his companion in lodgings fell into consumption, and Mr. Yule, in the goodness of his heart, tended him like a very brother, till the invalid had to be removed to his own home. While pursuing his studies he became for a time missionary to the late Mr. Fraser of St. Bernard’s, Edinburgh, and thus had a glimpse into the sins and sorrows of the city. After license he occupied the pulpit at Abington for a winter, in the absence of the minister, who had gone to recruit. Here he won the affection of many, and I have reason to know Mr. Logan had the highest respect for him and his work. He preached also for some time at Dunkeld, and taught a Bible class with much acceptance, receiving on leaving a token of their appreciation.

It was a great pleasure to Mr. Yule’s friends when he was called to be colleague and successor to Mr. Duncan of Temple, where he was ordained on March 20, 1878. Mr. Duncan did not long survive, dying in the December of the following year. For sixteen years Mr. Yule laboured in this quiet spot with patient industry. I have known many men of greater gifts, though intellectually he was above the average; I never knew one of a better heart. His gentleness of manner had a wonderful charm in it, and with all his placidity, he could be as firm as a rock when occasion demanded. Transparently truthful and straightforward, one outstanding trait in his character was his conscientious fidelity to his work. If a large congregation has its anxieties, a very small one has them of a different kind. It is a great strain, despising all temptations to ease, to prepare carefully for a few sheep in the wilderness, to do one’s best Sabbath after Sabbath for a small audience; but our brother did this. We doubt not that he has received his Master’s “Well done: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

The large attendance of his brethren at the funeral testified to the affection of his co-presbyters, and his open hand and kindly heart will long be missed in the district. His place of rest is close to the old chapel of the Knights Templar, from which the parish takes its name. Mr. Yule had a great love for evangelistic work, though his limited sphere gave little opportunity for its gratification. Of his interest in foreign missions he has left a substantial token. He was married four months before his death.

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