Monday, July 03, 2006

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

In the past we have often dealt with figures who taught at the Free Church College, Glasgow. James Denney, James Orr, Henry Drummond and Alexander Balmain Bruce were all professors there. So we thought it fitting to do a series about that institution, all the more so since it was 150 years ago that it was founded.
It had been intended at the time of the Disruption in 1843 that the Free Church, as an ‘alternative’ national church, had to have at least three colleges in order to adequately provide an educated ministry. In the first Assembly of the Free Church, Dr. David Welsh, retiring Moderator, said that three colleges would be needed, each with a staff of at least four professors. However, owing to the need to provide first of all churches and manses for the congregations of the church, the Free Church started with just one college, New College, Edinburgh. In Aberdeen and Glasgow provision was made for instruction of students by able ministers so that such students only needed one or two winters in Edinburgh to complete their course.
But, as often happens with emergency measures, the Free Church got used to having only one college and when the Aberdeen College was seriously proposed in 1845 there was serious opposition. By 1851, however, the controversy was over and the Assembly accepted that, in principle, there ought to be colleges in Glasgow and Aberdeen. It took another four years for anything to be done about a Glasgow College.

Next time, God willing, we shall see what was done.


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