Thursday, May 18, 2006

Declaring the Death of Christ: James Denney. XV.

In 1915 the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland appointed James Denney to the principalship of the United Free Church College, Glasgow. But Denney's health was not good. The loss of his wife and his closest friends told heavily upon him and, combined with the pressures of his work, they wore him down. As one of the elder statesmen of the United Free Church an increasing burden of leadership fell upon Denney, a burden that was in fact too great for him to bear.
But Denney was not the sort of man who complained about things. In fact, he was the sort of man who willingly took up every task given to him and in fact volunteered for tasks. The trouble was that no-one else was willing to vounteer for the tasks, and so Denney took them up.
The strain of the First World War told on him too. He saw some of the finest students cut down in the prime of life, read reports from Flanders of the cream of the United Free Church youth slaughtered wholesale. The whole of the care of the Church fell on Denney and, after a while, he gave way under the pressure.
He was seized with illness one day in February 1917, while lecturing. Preaching at Kirkintilloch on the previous Lord's Day, he had returned in an open car, and caught a chill. The result on his weakened constitution was a total collapse.
Denney, who was due to give the prestigious Cunningham Lectures in that year, did his best to shake off his illness. He could not, and although his doctor told him he was getting better, Denney knew better. He suffered a total collapse early in June, and on June 11th 1917 James Denney, Principal and Professor of the United Free Church College, Glasgow, passed from this world into the presence of the God he had served with all his strength. He was interred in the Western Necropolis, Glasgow, on 15th June.

Next time, God willing, we shall conclude this series.



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