Friday, July 14, 2006

Glasgow's School of the Prophets: The Free Church College. III

The Assembly of 1856 had decided that the Free Church College, Glasgow, should open for students in November of that year. For that to be possible, however, it was necessary for them to appoint professors. The principal's office ame first, and it was decided that the best man for the job was Dr. Patrick Fairbairn. Dr. Fairbairn is not unknown to those who study the Reformed theology (which we are persuaded is also the Biblical). His The Interpretation of Prophecy in the handsome hardcover edition published by the Banner of Truth graces the shelves of many a Reformed man, Dr. Peter Masters republishes Fairbairn's Ezekiel, and his Typology is to be seen on the shelves of the Tabernacle Bookshop. No less a man than Dr. James White has greeted with joy the republication of Fairbairn's Hermeneutical Manual (under the title Opening Scripture). In short, Fairbairn is Sound. A brilliant man, he ministered for a long time in Orkney, teaching himself Hebrew in the long winter nights.
Fairbairn's Chair in the College was New Testament Language and Literature. His Hermeneutical Manual gives an insight as to his teaching methods.
For the Chair of Church History the Assembly chose James Gibson, then a minister in Glasgow, and for the Chair of Old Testament James M'Cosh, then of Belfast. While Fairbairn and Gibson accepted the appointments, McCosh declined. Later he was to become President of Princeton University. This meant that the college, intended to be second after New College, Edinburgh, would have to start with only two professors and interim provision for the teaching of Hebrew.
Meanwhile, on 18th August 1856, the foundation stone of the Free Church College, Glasgow, was laid by Rev. Thomas M'Crie the Younger, son of the biographer of John Knox and author of the Sketches of Scottish Church History (Republished by Free Presbyterian Publications as The Story of the Scottish Church), who was Moderator of the Assembly that year. In his address he spoke of the College as "an institution which promises to be a centre of illumination to the country at large."

God willing, next time we shall look at the Commencement of the College



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