Thursday, August 31, 2006

George Lawson of Selkirk. VII: The Pastor of Pastors

When John Brown of Haddington died in 1787 the Synod’s choice for a successor fell on Brown’s old student, Lawson of Selkirk. It was a good choice, since Lawson was a kindred spirit to Brown. John Cairns wrote of Lawson: “So wonderful was his memory that he could nearly have reproduced the English Bible, on which he habitually lectured [old Scots term for expository preaching, H.H.] to his congregation with the book shut. He had also by heart large portions both of Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, as well as of the classics. He had studied the Fathers more as a divine of the seventeenth century that of the eighteenth, and his range of information in modern divinity and Church history was equally extensive.” (Cairns, ‘Memoir of John Brown, D.D.’ P. 33. Quoted by David Woodside, ‘The Soul of a Scottish Church’ (Edinburgh, United Free Church, no date) P. 131). Since Lawson would have to teach every single subject this was just as well!
Selkirk now became a town with a noted college. Every year the good people of the Secession Church put up divinity students in their spare rooms, and the Secession Church became a class-room. Once the church heating broke down and Lawson was forced to use his manse for the classes, a terrible thing as there was no single room large enough. Students sat in several rooms and the professor stood in the hall and lectured. We are not told what Mrs. Lawson and the children thought of that!
Students were also required to preach on week-nights in Lawson’s church (thus giving him more time to prepare for lectures), and as a result they were something of an extension of the Selkirk Secession Church ‘family’. While there must have been several drawbacks to this one-man professoriate this was one of the advantages, as Church and college were joined so closely.
Lawson’s students remembered their time at Selkirk with affection, both the lovely market town and the brilliant, loveable professor, whom they affectionately called ‘the Doctor’ (he had been granted a D.D. from Aberdeen).

Of which more, God willing, next time.



Blogger Alexandrina said...

Would anyone know the whereabouts of George Lawson's parish records?

My family were attendees at his kirk and he officiated at their marriages etc however the records have vanished. Not is the usual Selkirk Parish records etc obviously.

Are the records held at NAS?


5:19 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home