Wednesday, March 08, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XXXIV.

Rainy had guided the United Free Church of Scotland through the crisis on 1904-1905, but now he had a crisis of a far more personal nature to deal with.
Mrs. Rainy had fallen ill in 1905, and it swiftly became plain that she was not going to recover. She died on 30th September 1905, and it seemed that nearly all of Scotland wanted to comfort Rainy in his loss. The funeral was made a public event, so many wanted to join Rainy in his mourning.
"I must always feel the empty place, and yet I should be most ungrateful if I did not consider that eight-and-forty years of happy life together are not given to many married couples. Also there was much of Divine gentleness in the circumstances of her last illness. It remains that I should seek to learn the lessons set for me, and I am still a very slow scholar." Rainy wrote to a friend. Writing to his son George, he said:
"It is more than a month now since your beloved mother died. Nothing can deprive me of the memory - nor the fact - of forty-eight years filled and gladdened by a great affection on both sides. Then - the love and loyalty of our children. All that has left its deep deposit in my life and has made me very rich. If now I am enabled to be alike rich towards God, how good it will be."

Rainy continued in his work for the United Free Church, working to uphold the Church as it waited for the final settlement with the Free Church property. The work went on slowly, and it was not until late in 1906 that a final list was produced. It did not fully satisfy either side - which probably meant it was more or less fair. When the United Free Assembly prepared to meet, the Commissioners in charge of the distribution of the property declared that the United Free Assembly ought to meet in the Assembly Hall. The Free assembly were to be housed in the old Free High Church. For the last time, Rainy was able to meet with his brethren in the old Assembly Hall that he knew so well. There he made his last Assembly speeches. Unknown to him, his life-work was finished then and there. Less than a month later he was taken ill, and he was forced to spend the summer in retirement.
In early October he presided over the opening lecture of the New College session. The meeting was held in the Free High Church, for New College had not yet been restored, but Rainy was upbeat. He called on the students to make this "not merely an average but a memorable session."
The news that the Citadel would be returned on the 1st January 1907 was greeted with jokes that it would make a good 81st birthday present to the Principal - but it was not to be.
Rainy sailed for Australia in early November. The voyage was good, and at first Rainy seemed to be recovering. But, in the second half of the voyage, he became steadily worse. By the time he reached Australia, he was dying.

And so, God willing, next time we shall complete this series.



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