Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XXVI.

Rainy was beginning to settle down after the union of 1900. As the acknowledged leader of the United Free Church, he knew that his responsibilities would be great. He would have to try to hold together the new Church as he had tried to hold together the old. While the most troublesome Constitutionalists had adhered to the minority, there were still some who had gone into the union, and they were unlikely to have been tamed by it.

Almost immediately after the union the United Free Church met its first crisis. The outspoken Higher Critic Dr. George Adam Smith, Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Criticism at the United Free Church College, Glasgow, had published his Yale Lectures on preaching. Dr. Smith had chosen as his subject Modern Criticism and the Preaching of the Old Testament. Dr. Smith was not a man to shy away from controversy, and he had certainly not done so in his lectures. He had declared that the early chapters of Genesis were "formed from the raw material of Babylonian myth and legend;" that "The god of early Israel was a tribal god;" that the Israelites "did not deny the reality of other gods;" and that, the Higher Criticism "having won its war" with the older views of Scripture, "it only remained to fix the amount of the indemnity." Quite understandably the conservatives in the United Free Church were horrified. They sent up a memorial to the College Committee in 1901, calling their attention to the book. The Committee, for its part, immediately set up a meeting with Smith, where he gave them a lengthy written explanation of certain passages in the book. They decided not to proceed against Dr. Smith, saying that what was needed was discussion, not another heresy trial.
Still, the matter was discussed at the United Free Assembly in 1902. It was Rainy's responsibility to move the motion declining to institute heresy proceedings against Dr. Smith. Rainy made it very clear that this did not mean he had shifted his position since the publication of The Bible and Criticism. He thought that much of Dr. Smith's book was wrong, but what was called for was reasoned debate. James Orr seconded the motion, and the motion was carried.
Writing to a friend after the event, Rainy said: "The critics overrate the certainty of their conclusions."
The United Free Church accepted the motion. Shortly afterwards Dr. Smith went to be the Principal of Aberdeen University, and so his statements on the Old Testament were treated as no longer the United Free Church's problem.

The United Free Church's problem was in fact something else. But before we come to deal with that, we shall say something about Rainy's life and work in the period just after the Union. That, God willing, will be next time.


Monday, February 27, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XXV.

The United Free Church of Scotland had been formed in October 1900 by the union of the United Presbyterian church and the majority of the Free Church of Scotland. Both uniting Churches had taken their name and property into the United Free Church. For the United Presbyterians this was no problem, but a few Free Church ministers - twenty-seven in all - had refused to enter the union, and they were now faced with two options; either meekly surrender the name of the Free Church of Scotland, together with their meeting-houses, or claim, in court, to be the Free Church of Scotland. The minority chose the latter, putting in a claim to the Cpurt of Session declaring that they and those adhering to them represented the Free Church of Scotland and, as such, they claimed the whole land, property and funds belonging to the Free Church.
Some have criticised the minority for this. Could they not have been content with their buildings? Why did they have to claim everything when they were manifestly incapable of actually using the whole property of the Free Church? But such an objection misses the point. Just as the contest at the Disruption had not merely been about Patronage, but about the rights of the Christian people to choose their own ministers, the contest in 1900 was not really about physical property, but about something far more intangible - it was about a name. It just happened that the only way the minority could make good their claim to that name was to lay claim, in the courts, to all the property held in that name.
This was why the minority felt they could not accept the offers that had been hinted at at the last minute by the United Free Church, and the result was painful. In a counter-claim the United Free Church, unwilling to give the name of the Free Church of Scotland to the minority, claimed the Church buildings that remained in the hands of the minority of the Church. There would be no quarter until the courts had given the name of the Free Church of Scotland to one or the other. Then, and only then, could the question of who ought to have which church buildings be dealt with.
Rainy and the United Free Church felt secure. They had the second-biggest Church in the whole country, almost as big as the Church of Scotland (many U.F. Churchmen claimed that the U.F. Church was larger than the Church of Scotland). How could twenty-seven ministers possibly have their claim for a small majority of that Church's property?
So it seemed that Rainy had triumphantly reached the climax of his long career, and could look forward to spending the rest of his ministry in quiet, maybe even writing the biography of Augustine that he had been intnding to write for so long.
In 1901 he celebrated the jubilee of his ordination, and he resigned, with regret, the New College chair of Church History, which he passed on to Professor A.R. MacEwan. MacEwan had been Professor of Church History at the United Presbyterian college in Edinburgh, which had been closed and its professors distributed among the old Free Church Colleges. Rainy retained his principalship of course, and therefore his place in the councils of the United Free Church.
ainy recieved gifts and accolades from the New College, the Assembly, and the United Free High Church, where he had been a minister. Rainy was overwhelmed by so many tokens of esteem. But after the joy was to come more trouble; the United Church was not to remain at peace.
Next time, God willing, we shall see what it was that first disturbed the peace of the Union.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XXIV.

The 31st of October 1900 saw the union of the majority of the Free Church of Scotland and the whole of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, forming the United Free Church of Scotland, a huge national dissenting Presbyterian communion. As the Union Assembly began the assembled throng sang the 133rd Psalm:
Behold, how good a thing it is,
And how becoming well,
Together such as brethren are
In unity to dwell.
The oldest members of the two uniting Churches then moved and seconded the Uniting Act, and agreed on by the whole Assembly. Dr. Ross Taylor, the retiring Free Church moderator, said solemnly:
"In the presence of our Divine King and Head of the Church, and with the concurrance of me brother Moderator, I declare the Act of Union finally adopted - that the Free Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church are now one in Christ Jesus, under the designation of the United Free Church of Scotland."
The assembly and the spectators joined together in the 72nd Psalm.
After a formal greeting between the two Moderators, the Uniting Act was signed, and a huge cheer went up. This done, the first Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland was called to the chair. Only one man had ever been thought of for the role, one who "had so wisely fought and so earnestly laboured and so devoutly prayed the bring about the result we to-day witness," as Dr. Ross Taylor put it.
As Principal Rainy stepped from the room in which he had been waiting, another great cheer went up from the assembled multitude. No other man could have taken the chair, and no other man would have walked so steadily among the cheers of his brethren. Rainy's snow-white head, lifted up above the Assembly, had a patriarchal appearance. The cheering did not go to his head, but he was pleased with what he saw. The union that he had seen thwarted in 1873 had finally been brought to fruition after over a quarter of a century.
He spoke in measured tones, expressing first his thanks to the Assembly for electing him, then going on to speak of the importance of the events of that Day in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland. Two branches of the divided Scottish Church had united; he expressed his hope that there would some day arise in Scotland a still greater Church, 'United, national and free,' as his biographer put it.

The day after the Uniting Assembly was the Jubilee of the fine buildings of the New College, now the principal seminary of the United Free Church of Scotland. To commemorate the occasion a new hall had been added to the New College complex. It had been named the Rainy Hall, in honour of the longest serving principal of New College. The event, although intended to honour the College, naturally became an occasion to honour Rainy. Rainy seemed the hero of the hour. But his life was not to remain untroubled for long. There was a ghost at the banquet - the ghost of the Free Church of Scotland. In 'exile', as it were, the few men who had stayed out of the Union were planning their own future. The United Church had taken their name, their meeting-houses, everything they had. Or it had tried to. There remained still an appeal to Caesar - to the law courts.

The effects of this we shall, God willing, discuss next time.


Friday, February 24, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XXIII.

The arrangements for the union between the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland had been finalised. The date had been set for the Union Assembly, the hall booked, processions arranged. Invitations had been issued to prominent men from English Dissenting denominations; Alexander Maclaren of Manchester representing the Baptist Union, Principal Fairbairn of Oxford and Joseph Parker of London representing the Congregational Union (Both Maclaren and Fairbain were Scotsmen). But there was one problem. Rev. Murdo Mackenzie of the Free North Church, Inverness. Mr. Mackenzie was the minister of one of the most important congregations in the Highlands, and he was undecided. Only the Day would show which way Mackenzie - and the Highlands - would go.
The day of the Union came, a cold, wet October day. On the previous day the two churches had met in their own halls to adopt the Uniting Act. The vote in the United Presbyterian Synod Hall was unanimous, without even a whisper of dissent. Rainy knew that such unanimity was extremely unlikely in the Free Assembly Hall, and he was right. An attempt was made to further delay the Union, or even to prevent it at the eleventh hour, by bring forward a petition that would have required a vote to be taken on the matter in every Free Church congregation. Rainy saw this as a wrecking motion, and he resolutely opposed it. The petition was rejected, and Rainy rose to propose the formal adoption of the Uniting Act by the Assembly. He tried to say nothing controversial, nothing to sour what he saw as a deeply important moment in Scottish Church history.
Mackenzie of Inverness rose. All eyes were fixed on him. Rainy and others hoped that Mackenzie would second the Union motion, but it was not to be. Mackenzie declared that he could not accept the union. Rainy felt keen disappointment. If only Mackenzie had gone into the Union, then he would only have to deal with a few disorganised members of the 'awkward squad'. But Mackenzie had one of the largest congregations in the Highlands, and he was a man who would fight to the end to maintain the Constitutionalist claim to be the Free Church of Scotland.
There was no further debate. Neither side had anything left to say; the Assembly dispersed, never again to meet as the undivided General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. The small party of the Constitutionalists adjourned to a small room in the New College complex where they proceeded to elect a Moderator and declare themselves the Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland.

On the morning of the 31st October two processions made their way towards the Waverly Market, Edinburgh, the only space large enough to contain their combined strength. At the foot of the Mound they two processions met and merged into one. Despite the drizzle crowds lined the Edinburgh streets to watch them.
Rainy arrived late at the Assembly, only just in time to get into the Waverly Market through the crowds. Within was a carnival atmosphere, the huge space hung with banners. Seven thousand persons met together, including representatives of many evangelical denominations. Rainy waited in a side room to be called in as the first Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland.
Up on the Mound a few forlorn figures stood in the drizzle outside the locked gates of New College, declaring themselves to be the Free Church of Scotland. There was no-one to cheer them. They were destined to prove Rainy's last problem, and his final conflict.

But that, God willing, we shall look at next time.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XXII.

The Free and United Presbyterian Churches were headed for union. All that remained to be seen was if the union would be clean or messy. But 1897 gave Rainy and the United Presbyterians a pleasant interlue. It was fifty years since the union of the Relief Church and the United Secession Church had created the United Presbyterian Church, and as a matter of course the United Presbyterians were celebrating. In view of the coming union they invited Free Churchmen to the celebrations as a matter of course. Rainy was a delegate, of course, and he was invited to speak on The Relation and Duty of the Presbyterian Free Churches to Each Other. He dealt directly with the union (a move some unkindly suggested was uncharacteristically straightforward for him). He spoke glowingly of the ties that bound the Free and United Presbyterian Churches together spiritually, noting that they were both branches of "the characteristic Christianity of Scotland." Speaking of the fathers of both Churches he said:

"They had their errors. They were guilty of extravagances that cost them dear. But I think one may reflect with tears almost in one's eyes upon that wonderful battle of the Scottish Church. I know of nothing like it - the courage of it, the wonderful trust in principle. The way in which generation after generation of men spent their bodies and their goods was wonderful. We of the free Presbyterian Churches put in our claim to have a share in this inheritance of heroism, courage and self-sacrifice which belonged to Scottish Presbyterianism. Let us make good that claim."
It was the duty of the Churches that were so closely related, he said, "not to keep apart from each other." He supported union, not for ignoble ends of merely partisan churchmanship, but because he felt it would be for the good of the Church as a whole in Scotland. As the celebration of the Free Church Jubilee in 1893 had been the cause of the inauguration of the union scheme, the United Presbyterian Jubilee in 1897 moved on the motion towards union. Each Church had existed separate for fifty years. For the next fifty years they were to be joined as one - or that was the plan.
The Free Church Assembly met a month later. In it Rainy moved that the Free Church take the next step towards union. The moderate Constitutionalists added an amendment to give members of the united Church liberty to strive for the claim of "the last clause of the protest of 1843" - a restoration of the benefits of establishment. An anti-unionist amendment recieved only 27 votes. It was down on 42, but still enough to worry Rainy. There was still the legal question. If a party of the Free Church decided not to enter the union they would almost ceertainly lay claim to the title of the Free Church of Scotland, and the only way for them to do that would be to claim the property of the Free Church in court. Leading legal minds in the Union party told Rainy not to worry - the Model Trust Deed under which all Free Church property was held would not support such a claim. Others cautioned that the Model Trust Deed was still an unknown quantity. Rainy decided to go forward anyway.
The Assebly of 1899 agreed to the plan of union (although with some dissent) and sent it down to the Presbyteries to be ratified. A majority of Presbyteries agreed to the plan, and in the Assembly of 1900 the vote was 586 for union and only 29 against. The Uniting Act was passed, and arrangements were made for a Union Assembly on 31st October 1900. The world held its breath. The action of a few ministers in October would decide the fate of the Constitutional party, and the name of the Free Church of Scotland.

And we, God willing, shall be holding our breath in expectancy until next time.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XXI.

The United Presbyterians had forced Rainy's hand in 1896. The two Churches were now set on a course that would bring them into union by the last year of the 19th century. While the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland was united and cheerfully looking forward to the union, the Free Church of Scotland contained two parties, a majority who felt as the United Presbyterian did, and a large minority who distrusted the United Presbyterians (as well as the minority) who could very well cause all sorts of trouble.

Rainy came to the Assembly of 1896 full of foreboding. He had to act, and he knew that he had to welcome the United Presbyterian offer. He acted, as ever, with caution. Instead of moving that the Assembly immediately accept the United Presbyterian offer, he moved that the matter be remitted to the union committee to be considered carefully before the next Assembly. The motion was agreed on, and Rainy was relieved that the Assembly had not blow up into a full-blown debate over it. Another year would give him time to convince the Constitutionalists that union with the United Presbyterians was not selling out the principles of the Free Church.
Following the 1896 Assembly, Rainy and the 'Unionist' leaders (dubbed the 'Rainy Party' by the Free Presbyterians, who were now in the position of outsiders looking in to the Free Church) began a concerted effort to convince the Highlands that the United Presbyterians were not Arminians or doctrinaire Voluntaries. Ironically one of the things on their side was the fact that the United Presbyterian theological professors (most notably James Orr) were percieved by many in the Free Church to be more orthodox than many Free Church Professors. James Orr, after all, had defended the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, which Marcus Dods had given up!
Some of the supporters of union in the Highlands took a different view. They thought that if as little as possible was said about union, it could be brought about quietly. They did not want the Free Assembly to recieve a wheelbarrow-load of overtures opposing the union and thought this was the best way to avoid it. Looking back on this strategy later many Unionists felt that it had actually been counterproductive, giving the impression that something was being covered up. Rainy wrote to Murdo Macaskill of Dingwall to warn him:
"I understand and appreciate the motives which lead you to deprecate controversial agitation. It is quite true that stirring of waters in public renders it difficult to refrain from some measure of discussion and perhaps of collision. At the same time it is so extremely natural, after last Assembly's action, to have overtures, that I confess as yet I hardly see a way of avoiding it. But I have a great desire to respect all reasonable susceptibilities. Perhaps we may see a way through the difficulty. But meanwhile I wish to say that you, as well as we, should be considering how to make the best of what is certainly coming.We must in some shape compare ideas while there is yet time, if we are to avoid treading on each other's toes. It will not do to wait till currents form which will carry us away. We must be strong enough to grasp the situation firmly and reasonably."
But the Church as a whole, and particularly the Highlands, were not 'prepared'. Really many Highland Free Churchmen had become alienated from Edinburgh already, and there was little Rainy, or anyone else, could have done to bring them into the union.

The union was now all but inevitable. God willing, in our next post we shall observe the road to union further.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XX.

As we saw last time, while many in the Free Church of Scotland greeted the union proposals tabled by the United Free Church with rejoicing, Rainy was cautious. He knew that many who had been reluctant to leave the Free Church with the Free Presbyterian Secession in 1893 over the Declaratory Act would be far more willing to simply remain out of the proposed union. Most of these would be Highlanders, men who formed the backbone of the Free Church, and conservative men who would welcome a good reason to split off from men like Marcus Dods, Gorge Adam Smith, A.B. Bruce and Henry Drummond. To move too quickly towards union could only end in disaster. Rainy himself was firmly convinced that union was in the best interest of the Free Church, he only wanted time to convince those who were more sceptical.
In the 1895 Assembly Rainy proposed a motion recognising the Free Church's obligation in the matter but proposing co-operation between the Churches until the time for a full union came.
Others in the Free Church disagreed with Rainy. They still held to the old views of Church and State, and they knew that many -perhaps a majority- in the United Presbyterian Church were 'voluntaries', believing that it was per se wrong for the state to establish or endow any Church, no matter how pure the Church, and no matter how loose the Church-state relationship. These 'Constitutionalists' suspected that the new united Church would practically insist on Volunaryism. Either way, if the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church were to unite, the result would be a Church whose official position was Voluntary. They moved that the Assembly: "is constrained by adherence to the distinctive priciples of the Free Church, and in view of the state of feeling in the country, to regard an incorporating union with the United Presbyterian Church as impossible without the sacrifice of these principles."
Battle lines had been drawn. The anti-union motion recieved just 42 votes, but Rainy knew that the forty-two voted actually represented a sizable proportion of the Free Church membership in the Highlands. It represented not only the large congregations who were represented by the forty-two, but large numbers in other congregations whose representatives had voted with Rainy.
Rainy's motion was transmitted to the United Presbyterian Synod. The next move lay with them.
The United Presbyterian Synod of 1896 met before the Free Church Assembly. There were no divisions there. The United Presbyterian Church declared that they were more than willing to co-operate with the Free Church. They wanted union sooner rather than later, and they said so in no uncertain terms.
Rainy, who was in Oxford at the time, was taken completely by surprise. He wrote to Dr. A.R. Macewan of the United Presbyterian Church that he was "quite unprepared for it." The United Presbyterian motion had the effect of forcing Rainy's hand. Rainy was not pleased; the United Presbyterian Church had no idea of the tensions within the Free Church. A move towards union that was mis-handled and too fast might cause her to tear apart along the Highland-Lowland, Conservative-Progressive divide. The Constitutionalists were on the warpath, and while they had not seceded as they had threatened in 1893, a union was a different proposition from merely passing an act inside the Church.

Next time, God willing, we shall see how Rainy tried to bring the Free Church into the union intact.


Monday, February 20, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XIX.

Robert Rainy's life is impossible to disentangle from the history of the Free Church of Scotland. One of the first Free Church students, by 1893 he had become the supreme leader of his denomination.
In 1894 the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland recieved an overture from the United Presbyterian Church requesting that union between the two Churches be sought. Evidently the Unted Presbyterians were of the opinion that the Free Church declaratory act had cleared away the barriers to union. Rainy, who was on very good terms with the United Presbyterian leaders, moved that the Assembly "welcome" the idea and "commend the subject to the interest and prayers of the people." While other Free Church leaders were much more enthusiastic, Rainy was cautious. The Send Ten Years' Conflict had nearly split the Free Church in two, and he was very conscious that a union could still have serious consequences in the Highlands.
Rainy had already co-operated with Professor James Orr of the United Free Church earlier in the year. In the winter session of 1893-4 the Gifford Lectures in the University of Edinburgh had been given by Professor Otto Pfleiderer, one of the most advanced German modernist theologians. The Gifford foundation is a strange one, for it was established to discuss Theism on the grounds of natural religion, expressly excluding Supernatural Revelation. James Denney viewed the foundation as "a gigantic abuse,' and he had some reason to. Pfleiderer had used the lectureship to mount an all-out attack on the supernatural. Rainy was horrified. Not only could the Gifford foundation not be used to lecture for Christianity, it was being used systematically to argue against it.
Rainy had by this time established connections with the leaders in the other major Presbyterian denominations, and this time the foreign invader would be repulsed by the massed forces of Presbyterian orthodoxy. The plan was for four lectures, Professor Charteris of the Church of Scotland to take one lecture, Professor James Orr of the United Presbyterian Church to take one, and Principal Rainy and Professor Marcus Dods of the Free Church of Scotland to take one each.
In the event Professor Charteris was prevented by illness from giving his lecture, and the defence was lect to the Presbyterian dissenters. Rainy was on top form, laying out in a masterly fashion all the errors that Pfleiderer's position entailed. The German professor denied all miracle - therefore he denied that Jesus was the Son of God. Since God had planned the world on orderly lines, governed by natural law, He would not intervene in a miracle. Rainy retorted:
"Is it beyond belief that it might be in the design of God to make a worthy manifestation of Himself which should be personal?" why should not God intervene in the world? In fact, how could we know the love of God apart from His sending His Son to die for us? The power of Christianity is not only in its conception of God, it is in what God has done in history, sending His Son to die for sinners.
Professor Orr followed Rainy worthily, and to many the thought of the resolutely orthodox Orr teaching Free Church students was most appealing. The road to union had begun to be travelled.
God willing, we shall see something of that road next time.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XVIII.

In 1889 Principal Rainy travelled to Australia to represent the Free Church of Scotland at the jubilee celebration of the Australian Presbyterian Church. He left a Free Church apparently at peace. He returned to find that peace had been shattered.
Rainy knew that there were some men in the Free Church of Scotland who wanted to alter the Free Church's relationship to the Westminster Confession. Some of them, including the famous theologian James Denney, wanted to replace the Confession entirely, preferring some short statement or affirmation of faith. It was pointed out that there was no real reason why the Westmister Confession should not be replaced - after all, the WCF itself had replaced the Old Scots Confession. Had not Rainy himself said in his Delivery and Development of Christian Doctrine that it was, "not the right only, but the duty, of the Church and every branch of it, to hold confessions and subordinate standards subject to correction"? (P. 275)
But Rainy had also said, "it is not a reasonable assumption to start with, that the confession of a Church should need much or frequent alteration." (P. 276) He told those who wanted to change the Confession that they could not count on his support in the Assembly. They could in fact only expect him to organise opposition to them.
Without Rainy's support the revisionists felt weak. With Rainy's threat of opposition they felt helpless. His absence in Australia gave them the perfect opportunity. Rainy was absent from the Assembly for the first time in years. The revisionists sent in a number of 'overtures' on revision of the Confession to the Assembly.
There was a fierce debate, and the Assembly decided to appoint a commission to look into the matter. When Rainy returned he found that the commission had been appointed in his absence - he could do nothing to stop it. He also found that the Constitutionalists, those who believed that the Confession should not be changed, had accused two college Professors of heresy. This was the Dods-Bruce case, when Alexander Balmain Bruce and Marcus Dods were accused of teaching heresy in their books. To Rainy's relief the two men were wiser than Robertson Smith, and it turned out ruce's book The Kingdom of God had been misunderstood - he had been suspected of agreeing with a statement that he had quoted as incorrect (the passage was removed from all subsequent editions of the book anyhow). Dods was willing to apologise and lie low.
Rainy was a statesman. He disliked arguments and, while he himself believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, he was unwilling to brand as a heretic those who disagreed with him. He disliked change, but when circumstances forced his hand, he acted.
In 1891 the commission of Assembly reported back on the question of the Confession. They had identified three possible options: 1. Revise the Confession. This would have split the Free Church in two. 2. Leave the Confession unaltered and relax the formula of subscription to the Confession required of ministers. This was less risky, but it might have the effect of injuring Church discipline. 3. Pass a declaratory Act resering to the Free Church the right to determine which doctrines did or did not enter into the substance of the faith.
The Assembly chose the third option. In consequence two ministers, a number of students, and several thousand members left the Free Church to form the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, protesting that the Confession had really been discarded by the Free Church. Rainy was relieved that more had not gone, but he was concered that so many had.
It was 1893, the fiftieth year of the Free Church of Scotland, and twenty years on from the failed union of 1873. Time was ripe to re-start union talks.
How those talks were re-started we shall see, God willing, next time.


Friday, February 17, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XVII.

While Principal Rainy's public life was lived amongst storms, his private life was quite differen. Happily married, Rainy was blessed with loving children whom he adored, and who adored him. One of his daughters, writing to one of her sisters, wrote, "I know you read the thirteenth verse of the 103rd Psalm as I do - 'Like as my Father pitieth his children' - and that means just everything."
While some 'great men' are known in the family more by their absence than their presence, Robert Rainy loved to be among his family, and tried to make as much time to spend with them as he could. When they were little he would not only buy them toys, but he would go with the children. His sons, when they grew older, subscribed to the Boy's Own Paper, and they discovered (to their delight and amusement), that their father read the stories before they did, and then discussed the paper's contents with them. He would also read the young ladies' journals that his daughters bought so that he could talk intelligently with them about their interests.
Rainy loved reading poetry aloud both in and with his family. The boisterous lad, now grown to be a father himself, loved to engage in boisterous games with his children. His interest in the children was not feigned, adopted to please them, but it was deep and genuine. When 'Father' was away, the children would eagerly wait for his letters, knowing that he would write to them daily, telling them all the little pieces of information that they wanted to know (for example, drawing sketch maps of the houses he was staying in, and writing such comments as "a splendid house for hide-and-seek.").
The Principal did not forget his children's souls either. He warned them about the dangers of hypocrisy, writing once:
"Sometimes we try, in an artificial way, to put on what we consider the right moods. But it comes to nothing. We cannot manufacture true religion. It grows and will grow as Christ becomes clear and precious to us - and even a little of it is a very real and living thing."
To one of his daughters he wrote:
"Card-playing, on the whole, is one of those things about which I think it is good to be able to say that one does not know how to do it and does not care to learn. It saves trouble and drawing of lines that are sometimes difficult to draw."
The Rainy household was characterised by love, and all of Rainy's children would say later that they benefited greatly from their father's pastoral heart.
Rainy loved to read and to talk with friends. He also retained from his boyhood an interest in military strategy, and he read widely on the subject. Every account of a battle enthralled him.
He travelled fairly widely - it was the only way he could avoid working during his much-needed vacations. Rome, Australia, France, all recied visits, some in a private, others in a semi-official capacity. His interest in Australia was deepened in 1891 when his second daughter, Barbara, married the Rev. Professor Andrew Harper of Ormonde College, Melbourne.

While Rainy was absent from Scotland in 1889, two very important things happened in the Free Church. What they were we shall, God willing, see next time.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XVI.

The Disestablishment campaign had failed. While others went on with Disestablishment rhetoric into the 20th Century, Rainy realised that it was only a pipe-dream so long as governments needed the Church of Scotland.
Those who were in favour of a national Establishment of religion were not, however, merely triumphalist in their victory. They realised that the Free Church and the Church of Scotlnd could not afford to be bickering endlessly. In 1878 the Church of Scotland had sent to the other Presbyterian Churches a communication on the subject of union, inquiring as to the causes that presently stood in the way of that union. The Church of Scotland declared its willingness to take any steps towards reuinon "consistent with the maintainance and support of an establishment of religion." The Free Church replied, but apparently the Church of Scotland reply was lost in the mail, and what could have proved a profitable correspondencewas abruptly terminated.
Rainy had written to Lord Polwarth, a Church of Scotland elder, explaining that the great difficulty was that of the state's behaviour towards the Church of Scotland. As should have already been made clear, Rainy was a firm believer in the independence of the Church, and he was not going to lead the Free Church of Scotland into any union that would compromise that independence. Disestablishment, he said, was the only answer.
In 1886, the year after the failure of the Disestablishment movement, the Church of Scotland approached the Free Church with a new offer. Although the people of Scotland were in favour of the Establishment of the Church of Scotland, the Church of Scotland was conscious that it had a responsibility to promote unity. The offer was the same as before: Disestablishment was not an option.
Rainy, speaking in the Free Church assembly, thought that this was unfortunate. He was glad that conference was being offered, but saddened that the greatest barrier to reunion was precisely that thing that was not up for discussion. If only those matters were put open to discussion, he saw no reason why the Churches should not enter into conference.
The Church of Scotland did not accept Rainy's offer. They refused to submit, under any circmstances, to Disestablishment. There was no conference. Rainy's mind was turned away from a fruitless discussion with the Church of Scotland to the resumption of the aborted union talks with the United Presbyterian Church. But Rainy was not going to make the first move. He was in the position of one who was willing to respond to an overture from the United Presbyterians, but he was not willing to extend the hand of friendship himself.
Part of this was no doubt due to Rainy's caution. He knew that there were those in the Free Church who thought he was a schemer, and those would be prejudiced against union by the fact that he had suggested it.

In 1887 Principal Rainy was called to the chair of the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. For the benefit of those not familiar with the usages of Scottish Presbyterinism, the Moderator is the chairman of the Assembly. Not only this, but he has a peculiar dignity and precedence during his year of office. The Moderator also speaks to the Assembly from the chair. Rainy chose to speak of the changes in the Free Church. We should as Christians always be willing to learn, he told his fellow ministers, but we ought also to reember that there is nothing humble in uncertainty. The Christian religion is one of facts, and those facts had to be held firm.

So far we have spent a lot of time looking at Rainy the public man. Next time, God willing, I intend to say something about the Principal at home.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XV.

The question of the disestablishment of the Church is one that can raise nearly no enthusiasm today in England, less in Scotland, and raises only confusion in North America. Yet in the latter part of the 19th Century Disestablishment was a topic on which anyone and everyone in the United Kingdom had an opinion to share. In Wales it was loudly declared that the established Church was the Church of the gentry. The Welsh went to Chapel, only the English and the Anglified went to the Church. In England there were not wanting orators who would declare that, if a proper survey were to be taken, it would be found that most of the English went to Chapel too (although it was admitted that the majority would be very small). In Scotland, however, Disestablishment agitation took a different form. It was too plain that the Church of Scotland was still a national Church. She had recovered with astonishing speed from the effects of the Disruption, and even in the Highlands and Islands she was beginning to recover strength. To argue numbers would be very hard. It would be like England, only with the Presbyterian dissenters against the equally Presbyterian national Church.

Principal Rainy was himself in favour of Disestablishment, but he had kept clear from taking part in any sort of campaign for Disestablishment until 1881, when it began to appear that the Liberal party, which had hitherto seemed quite open to disestablishment talks in Scotland, began to express itself more cautiously on the matter. It was the opinion of James Denney that, "Rainy never does anything he can help." Rainy could not help getting involved in the campaign for disestablishment. He contacted the Prime Minister, W.E. Gladstone, expressing in the name of the Free Church his concern that the Disestablishment question was being pushed into the background. Gladstone replied in a non-commital letter, in which he said: "I had gathered from your previous communication that there was no desire in your communion to stir at the present juncture the question of Disestablishment in Scotland."
Rainy replied: "The object of my earlier letters was precisely to prepare you for a public movement which I felt to be near and which would require to be publically dealt with... I must have expressed myself unfortunately if I did not convey my anticipation that at the present juncture the question of Disestablishment would be stirred more emphatically than ever before."
Gladstone delayed. The Free Church vote alone could not keep the Liberals in power, and no Disestablishment-minded Free Churchman would think of voting Tory. In any case, he was not convinced of the need for Disestablishment.
Rainy wasconviced, not on the grounds that most men were, that of strongly-held doctrinal beliefs, but on the ground of general expediency: he thought that the reunion of Scottish Presbyterianism would be easier if the question of an established Church were to be taken out of the way.
This exposed Rainy to fire from both sides. The doctrinaire Disestablishmentarians attacked his position as unprincipled, while the Antidisestablishmentarians (haven't you always wanted to use that word too?) attacked him for (as they saw it) being a mere pragmatist. Principal Tulloch of the Church of Scotland declared in the Church of Scotland Assembly that the 'Establishment Principle' was not up for negotiation, "We must stand somewhere. We stand here."
Rainy replied, speaking in the Free Church Assembly, that he also thought that the Church ought to have a central role in the life of the nation - but that he could not restrict that to the recognition of one denomination by the government to the exclusion of all else.
In 1885 the Scottish Liberals made Disestablishment 'a plank in the platform of Scottish Liberalism'. That meant that the matter would be finally settled by Mr. Gladstone. In November 1885 Gladstone arrived in Midlothian. As an act of courtesy to Mr. Gladstone, who was having throat trouble, the Free Church granted him the use of their Assembly Hall for the meeting. It was ironic that Gladstone refused Disestablishment in his speech. His reason was not Scotland at all, but England; if the Liberals promised a vote on Scottish Disestablishment, the Tories would eagerly spread around the story that England would be next, and the Liberals would be voted out of government. What was more, the Liberals were divided on the issue, and he was not going to split his party over it. The Disestablishment cause was lost.

Rainy was not one to be disheartened easily. He took up cheerfully the alternative to Disestablishment - reunion. God willing, we shall say something about that next time.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XIV.

In a lecture given in Free St. George's, Edinburgh, Principal Rainy made a comparison of Paul and Christ that is most interesting. I therefore make no apology for inserting it here.

"We can easily mark the tie between the two; we also easily feel the difference. In both, there is goodwill to men below; in both a constant reference to One above. But in the true manhood of our Lord, we own something serener, more self-contained and sovereign. The love to His Father moves in great tides of even, perpetual flow. The love to men is a pure compassion, whose perfect goodness delights in bringing its sympathy and its help to the neediest and the worst, does so with a perfect understanding and an unreserved self-communication. When He speaks, He speaks in the language of His time and land and circumstances, but He speaks like one who addresses human nature itself, finding the way to the common mind and common heart of every land and every age and every condition. When He reasons, it is not like one who is clearing His own thoughts, but like one who turns away from the perplexity of the caviller, or who, for the perplexed inquirer, brings into view the elements of the spiritual world he was overlooking or forgetting. And with what resource - none the less His that He rejoiced to think of it as His Father's - does He confront whatever comes to Him in life! As we watch Him, there grows upon us the strongest sense of a perfect inner harmony with Himself and with His Father that lives through all changes. Finally, standing in this world, He declares the order of another and a higher world. He does it as one who knew it, who speaks what He had seen.

"We turn to Paul, and we percieve him also to be great; great thoughts, great affections, great efforts, great fruits are his. But he is not great in the manner of his Master. He goes through the world full of a noble self-censure that bows him willingly to the earth, and of a passionate gratitude that cannot speak its thanks but offers up its life. Like his Master, while he reverences the order of this world and of society as God has framed it, he is at the same time full of the relations of a world unseen. To that world unseen he already belongs; it determines for him and for all that will listen to him the whole manner of thought and life and feeling in this world; it holds him, it inspires him. But it is in the manner of faith rather than of knowledge, of earnest rather than possession. Especially, the influence that has mastered him and is the secret of his power and nobleness, has not brought him to the final harmony of his powers. It has, on the contrary, committed him to an inward conflic, a fight of faith, which he will never cease to wage till the final victory crowns him. This man knows the inward weakness and the inward disgrace of Sin. He knows forgiveness and repentance, and good hope through grace. The Lord recieved sinners and sat and ate with them; but this man was himself a sinner who was forgiven much and loved much. That was the Saviour: This, a pattern for those that should believe on Him to everlasting life."

Next time we shall, God willing, continue to look at the life of Principal Rainy. But it is well for us now to pause and to think of the life of Rainy's Saviour and ours'.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Where I am to-day

Owing to the activities of this man in London, there will be no posts here or at the Da Vinci Conversation blog to-day (if anyone ever visits either blog anyway). I shall be, God willing, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle listening to Dr. White talking to Dr. Masters' fraternal on 'Ministering Assurance'.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XIII.

When Rainy entered New College as a student in 1844, the Free Church of Scotland was Calvinist through-and-through. Dr. Cunningham taught his students the plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible, and his students believed it. By 1881 this was no longer the case. 'Inspiration' no longer meant, for many Free Church ministers, the inspiration of the very words of the original manuscripts, but a vague idea of God conveying timeless religious truth through words that might include errors of fact. The books of the Bible were radically redated, and despite Rainy's caution, the Higher Critics went their way.
As for Calvinism, it was redundant, of the past. No-one believed in a God like that any more (or so it was said). Hodge, Cunningham and Candlish were old hat. The Free Church students read German books now, and they went to Germany if they possibly could, to sit at the feet of these brilliant Germans who had discovered the true secrets of the Bible, who could tell J. from P. and E. from D., and even D2. from D. It was a new age, "a period of very great, if one should not say unexampled, unsettlement of opinion." Discussion was, Rainy stated, "environed by a haze of doubt." The result of all this was a "retrenched theology", a theology that had been shorn of much of its power. Too often it had become "a moonlight theology", explaining away the mysteries of the faith, making 'the modern mind' the touchstone for all things and perhaps forgetting that the men of the past, even of Biblical times, had minds too, and minds maybe of greater power than the 'modern mind'. The modern theology tended to start from below, from man. Really it was an anthropology, not a true theology. Its starting point was man's religious experience, and its end point was man's religious experience.
What was the answer? Rainy thought he knew it. The 'modern mind' had to be brought under the influence of a far greater mind, an eternal mind -the mind of Christ. "It will not improve our influence if we bring Christ's word mixed with copiously with the wisdom of our own mind or our fathers'." He warned.

Some men sought to listen to him. But too many of the young men in the Church thought that the Mind of Christ was to be discerned not by Bible study, but by the 'Quest for the Historical Jesus'. 'Back to Christ!' they cried. But it was a Christ of their own making, not the Christ of the Bible, or of Principal Rainy's faith. Rainy sought to warn the young men against intellectual ambition, telling them it was utterly unworthy of a servant of Jesus Christ. While some listened, others just carried on, self-decieved, too often. The need of the age, Rainy went on, was a spiritual ministry, not an intellectual one. He did not undervalue the mind, but he had learned, through the Robertson Smith case, and through his experience in the ministry, that a brilliant mind is only a curse when it is not under the authority of Christ. "Preach the Gospel", he urged students in an age when men were beginning to preach a 'social gospel' and a 'moral gospel'. The Gospel ministry is about Christ Crucified, he reminded his students, not about improved housing conditions, trade unions, or even better holidays. Preach the Gospel and all these other things will be added to you!

After all is said and done, Rainy's great passion was the Gospel. He would not compromise one inch on it. Christ had died for sinners, the Son of God had died for sinners, and He was the only salvation. Only the old-fashioned, yet ever-new teaching of penal substitution could explain three subjective elements of the believer's experience and fully satisfy them. These were:
"1. The believer's sense of obligation to Christ, who has saved us by bearing our burden and dying for our sins.
"2. The believer's attitude towards God as set upon the key of an immortal repentance, and carrying with it the acceptance of the punishment of our iniquities.
"3. The believer's conflict with sin as animated by the consciousness that his Lord has redeemed him from it."

Next time, God willing, we shall see Rainy's contrast between Paul and Jesus.


Friday, February 10, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal". XII

In 1873 Robert Smith Candlish, principal of New College Edinburgh, died. One of the chief organisers of the Disruption, Candlish had been a fiercely energetic man. His very energy had burned out his physical frame, and as the end came Dr. Rainy and Dr. Alexander Whyte were in attendance. Candlish called the two men to his bedside and said to then: "Whyte, I leave the Church to you. Rainy, I leave the College and the Assembly to your care - goodbye." He died soon after.

Rainy preached Candlish's funeral sermon. It was really a foregone conclusion when the Assembly of 1874 elected Rainy to the office of Principal of New College. The title of 'Principal' would become welded to his name as it is to no their former principal of New College. Chalmers, Cunningham and Candlish were never known as 'Principal' to the exclusion of all other titles, and their biographers would not have considered affixing 'Principal' to the name of their subject on the spines of their books. But Rainy is 'Principal Rainy'.
His inaugural address, on Evolution and Theology was simply a sign that Rainy was part of the international evangelical mainstream. In the 1870s most Evangelicals were busily finding a place in the Bible for Darwinism. Rainy was not giving up his evangelicalism by any means. Let the scientists say what they like in their sphere, he said, but once apply their methods to the Bible, and you will lose your way. Christianity is not a product of evolution, it is a creation.

We smile today at the thought that a conservative evangelical should accept Darwinism -things have certainly 'moved on' in evangelicalism(!) - but to men like Rainy their faith was not a thing affected by Darwin's theory. It consisted of two parts, personal experience and theology. Rainy had both.

The year of 1874 was also significant in that it was the year in which Rainy published his one most important work, a book entitled The Delivery and Development of Christian Doctrine. The book was really his Cunningham Lectures delivered in 1873 with a great mass of supplementary material included in the form of notes. It is my experience that the early Cunningham Lectures are always worth consulting, and Rainy's are no exception. Other Cunningham Lectures include Buchanan's Justification, Smeaton's The Holy Spirit, and Laidlaw's Bible Doctrine of Man, to give just three examples.
The question of doctrinal development was a live one, since the publication of John Henry Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, and Rainy knew it. It is an interesting exercise to read Newman, then Rainy. Turning from Newman to Rainy is like coming out of a great Gothic cathedral rendolent with incense into the open air of the Bible. Yet his book is not a mere answer to Newman, it is an original work presenting a Reformed and Evangelical view of the subject. As well as addressing Newman, Rainy examined liberal ideas of doctrinal development. His conclusion can be very simply stated: true doctrinal development is not a departure from Scripture, outgrowng it, nor is it an adding to Scripture on the pretext that it is growing out from the Bible. The error of both is to assume that the starting point is a complete knowledge of Scripture; in fact it is the measure of understanding of the post-apostolic Church. It is a growing of the whole Church into the Scriptures, understanding better the Word of God. Rainy defines Christian doctrine as "the obedience of my thoughts to the collective Scriptures", therefore the development of doctrine is "more fruitful obedience."
In his last Chapter Rainy deals with the question of creeds and Confessions of Faith. Creeds we must have, he says, yet the Church always has the right to revise her creed, either by adding new material, or by modifying existing material to take account of whatever future light may break forth out of God's word.

He was 'Principal Rainy' now. Some of the Highlanders would come to pun on that name, which is where the title of this series comes from. For Rainy was an astute 'master of Assemblies', to use another pun. To call him unprincipled was unfair. Rainy had a great guiding principle. It was 'the good of the Free Church of Scotland'. The problem was that the Free Church did not always agree with Rainy, and there was a party who rarely did.

Of the great controversy of Rainy's life, the Robertson Smith Case, we have already said all that needs to be said. But the controversy ushered in a new age in the Free Church, an age over which Principal Rainy had to preside. He had the unenviable task of keeping together a Church that was threatening to fly apart. In the end he failed. We shall, God willing, say something about Rainy's age next time.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" XI.

While the Free Church of Scotland had gone out of the Establishment in 1843, it had carried the Establishment Principle, that a state ought to support the Church, with it. But the years in enforced disestablishment led to a change in the Free Church. Younger men began to wonder why a principle that had frustrated the union between the Free and United Presbyterian Churches should be retained. They became dissenters, and a desire to disestablish the Church of Scotland began to rise in the Free Church.

In 1869 the Church of Scotland lobbied Parliament to abolish patronage, so that pastorates in the Church of Scotland should no longer be presented by landowners, but decided by the Christian people. The government passed the bill, and there were fears that some of the Free Church would now re-unite with the Establishment.
Rainy protested in the 1872 Assembly that, while the Free Church was glad to see the Establishment freed from patronage, "our controversy is with the constitution of their Church, not as fixed by them, but fixed for them." So long as parliament had granted the Church of Scotland its freedom, parliament was over the General Assembly, and so long as that was the case, union was out of the question.

But parliament was in no mood, it seemed, to grant such a freedom. The only answer, Rainy was starting to think, was Disestablishment.
Rainy contacted the Prime Minister, Mr. Gladstone. He objected, on behalf of the Free Church, to the government 'recognising' the Church of Scotland without taking into account the claims of the Free Church. Gladstone replied in a non-commital fashion. Rainy remained clear, even if patronage had been abolished, it did not follow that Spiritual independence had been restored to the Church of Scotland.

The Church of Scotland, on the passing of the bill, were overjoyed. They immediately began industriously expounding the merits of their church. Rainy and other Free Church leaders suspected that the intention was to woo Free Church people back into the 'Auld Kirk'. A pamphlet war broke out, Rainy and the Free Church leadership explaining in print to their people just why the questions of the Disruption were still open. There was no mass exodus from the Free Church, nor was the Church of Scotland moved to make any sort of apology. A few Free Church ministers moved to the Auld Kirk, and the Free Church declared there were well rid of them and went on as before.

But Disestablishment, as an issue, seemed to have come to stay. Since the government would not even look at the Free Church claim to at least a part of the national endowment of religion, it followed that the establishment of religion was unjust and unfair. What was more, from the perspective of the Disruption (and three decades as dissenters), the national establishment as it stood was sinful. Since the chances of a future government choosing to disestablish the Church of Scotland and establish the Free Church were in fact non-existent, younger Free Churchmen in particular were attracted to Disestablismentarianism.
For Rainy the attractions of disestablishment were different. The union negotiations between the Free and United Presbyterian Churches had foundered on the rock of Establishment. Once the question of establishment was removed, there would be no bar to a union that would put the Free Church on a par with the Church of Scotland at least in terms of membership.

For, despite the attempts at the Disruption to give the Free Church a truly national character, it only held such a character in certain parts of the Highlands and Islands. Elsewhere it was broadly speaking a middle-class Church that saw its first responsibilities as being towards its own members. The Free Church did not have the mentality of a national Church. Only disestablishment could ever put the ree Church in a position to eclipse the Church of Scotland.

In December 1874 Rainy made his first public speech in favour of Disestablishment. He would never change his mind on the issue.
But 1874 had seen another significant change in Rainy's life, and it is to that we shall turn, God willing, in our next post.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" X.

Principal Rainy had made a great effort to answer Dean Stanley in his first two lectures in the Music Hall (pictured), but it was the opinion of many that his last lecture in the 'tourney' was the best. In it he dealt with the religious issues that Dean Stanley had raised. Rainy stepped onto the platform with a sense of the great responsibility he bore. He was the champion of Scottish Presbyterianism. If he unhorsed the Dean, all Scotland would triumph in him. If he did not, he would be put to shame before the English, and he might put his country to shame.

"I confess that the topics whichought to be disposed of to-night are so weighty and so many that I approach them withhesitation; and cannot conceal from myself the probability that my lecture will be only too visibly overloaded and overlaid. If, then, the transitions prove sometimes abrupt, and the treatment insufficient, it is due simply to difficulties which I have been unable to overcome. I intimated that in to-night's lecture I would consider the views of the gospel and of Christianity in the light of which the history of our Scottish Churches is to be understood; without a reference to which, therefore, it cannot be estimated.
"It appears to me that the life and power of our Scottish Churches have always been dependent on two closely connected conditions. One is their theology; that which they have taught for truth on the relations of the human soul to God, on the way of salvation, and the principles of the administration of grace."
Dean Stanley had described the Scottish Theology as 'negative'. That was not true. In fact it was the fact that the Scottish Church knew what they did believe that allowed them to state so firmly what they did not believe. Scottish theology was far from being merely "a thing of negations". It was a scriptural theology, not a difficult and scholastic theology, "it is in reality simple, and grows obviously out of the scriptures." In substance it was the Reformation theology, pivoted on two points, the fall of man and the atonement of Christ. It was a theology that emphasised the Gospel teaching "ye must be born again."
'Moderatism', the theology championed by Dean Stanley, was a distorted and deffective version of this theology. It had started with an ignoring of the need for regeneration; preaching sound doctrine but forgetting to address men's need for conversion. It forgot the experimental element in true religion. As Joseph Hart wrote:
True religion’s more than notion;
Something must be known and felt.
The 'Orthodox Moderates' made religion into nothing but notion. What positive theology did they have that attracted the Dean? None. Dean Stanley liked their tone and their literary ability, that was all. "Did ever mortal trifle so with life questions?" Rainy exclaimed.

Dean Stanley had made every effort to identify some representatives of 'Moderatism' who would appeal to the Scots. The first was Robert Douglas, a Covenanter. But Douglas had been a staunch Presbyterian, calling Prelacy "that stinking weed" - hardly moderate language!
The second candidate was Robert Leighton, author of the justly famous commentary on 1 Peter. It was true that Leighton cared little for the debate on Church government, but that did not make him a Moderate, and his experimental teachings on religion were utterly un-Moderate in tone.
Principal Carstairs, author of the Revolution Settlement of 1688 was not so much a Moderate as a man who united in himself elements of Moderatism and Evangelicalism.
Dean Stanley's attempt to make Thomas Boston (see the 'Free Grace and a Free Gospel' series on this blog: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) a representative man of the Moderate age was quite incorrect, for the Moderate age had not quite begun when Tomas Boston was called to his eternal home.
But the Moderates were good, tolerant men, Dean Stanley had contended. Again, that was not true. They disliked Evangelicalism with something akin to a 'perfect hatred'. They in fact did all that they could to ruin evangelicalism. What was more, it was the Moderates who had closed the pulpits of the Scottish Churches to ministers of other Churches. Dean Stanley had praised the Moderate spirit of the Church of Scotland for opening her pulpits to Church of England men, but it was in fact the Moderates who had barred them in the first place, in 1843, while Free Church and United Presbyterian ministers had been possessed of the same rights for years!
Dean Stanley trumpeted certain things that had happened 'under the reign of the Moderates', things like the evangelisation of the Highlands, the revivals at Cambuslang and Kilsyth. Yes, but it had been the evangelicals who had been involved in those movements, not the Moderates. Moderatism had produced men of letters, historians and literary essayists, not preachers and theologians. It was a movement away from theology and religion, not simply a movement in those fields. Culture was set before truth and life, and Moderatism became opposed to the Scottish theology, and to the teaching of the need for conversion.
True, Moderatism was a lot like Dean Stanley. But like Dean Stanley's ideas, it tended to end in unbelief and a mere formal religion. As a proof of that Rainy brought forward David Hume. Stanley had referred to the "truly Christian character" of Hume, yet Hume did not believe in Christ at all! "I say that without the faith of Christ there is no true Christian character." Rainy declared.
Stanley had applauded the Scottish national poet, of course. Burns was a Moderate.
"Can no one stop the din that profanes the grave of Robert Burns? Has no one the heart to hear the 'inhabitant below,' or to understand his voice? Of all perverse destinies with which earth could perplex his fame, did it ever visit his imagination that crowds of rhetrical men would go about in never ending floods of eloquence to prove his life a great moral victory?... Shame upon them that are so destitute of love for Burns, who have so little sympathy with the pathos of his own view of his own life, so not to understand they are to let that alone!" Poor Burns had been, humanly speaking, ruined by the Moderate ministers who did not understand the trials of his soul, "wretched men, that called themselves ministers of Christ, and had not the heart to preach Him."

No, the Church should not give up the Westminster Confession or the old Scottish theology. Quite the reverse, she should rejoice in them, for it was only faithful service of Christ that would win the battle. Only a maintainence and increase of the Reformation theology and teaching on conversion could justify the existence of the Scottish Church. "Nothing else will; nothing else ought. And then how securely might we smile at the poor talk which balances culture against faith! for then how surely and how completely all things should be ours."

So Dr. Rainy closed his last lecture. Dean Stanley never replied to him. It was a conclusive victory, and Scotland feted the Free Church professor. But his next entry into controversy would not be one in which he carried the Free Church wholly with him, as the rift opened by the second Ten Years' Conflict began to grow wider. God willing, next time, we shall see what happened.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" IX.

Robert Rainy had joined combat in what would become celebrated as his 'Tourney with Dean Stanley'. In his first lecture he had broached the subject. In his second lecture he began to deal with the principles of the Covenanters, the Seceders and the Free Church.

"The vision of the Scottish Church that floats before the eye of the Dean of Westminster is a vision of the Church militant. To him it appears militant, not only in the sense of withstanding and enduring what an evil world may lay upon it, but in the sense of standing ready, with a peculiar appetite for combat, to call to a reckoning any one who may cross its path. Here he finds his main clue, as regards the question of the Church's independence." In other words, Dean Stanley thought that the Scottish Church enjoyed picking fights. The principle of the independence of the Church was, in the Dean's eyes, merely the result of the Church having fallen out with the state. This was a terrible state of affairs, for in Dean Stanley's eyes the Church ought to be "regulated by the wisdom of Parliament."

WIs the Church of God a distinct society? Indeed, is it a society? Was it meant to be such? Was it constituted as such? Was it furnished with means and institutions, whereby it could exist and be - could have a mind, express a mind, and apply its mind to society? Is it distinct from other societies, say the state?" Rainy asked. He went on to give the answer.
"It has been a prevailing conviction among Christian people that the Church of Christ was to be a society, having its own basis, its own peculiar life, its own constitution and means of action, and supplying some uses and ends not unimportant to the world."
But Dean Stanley had quite a different opinion: " according to Dean Stanley... we must take it that the Church is not so much a society, but rather a dispersion. It is the discrete aggregate of Christians, or rather of people touched more or less by Christian sentiments and influences existing in the world, or any particular country. It may, indeed, have formed itself into various organised forms of of Churches, hierarchies, and the like, to good effects and to bad, at various times. And these organisations, or some of them, have been in a sense necessary and proper. But still the best state of the Church is that it should dissolve itself as an element or flavour in the general community, and that the representation of it, as well as the regulation of it, should devolve upon the organ of the general community, i.e., the State."
Yet such a view, Rainy explained, denigrated the Church and represented it as merely a dispersion of individual 'Christians' in the broadest sense. The Scots Church had historically believed in the independence of Church and state because it had a firm and clear view of the nature and government of the Church. Dean Stanley's 'Broad Church' position, on the other hand, had no such clear views. A result of their "vague and confused views" was that they could not organise the Church and get it to work without state help. The Church of England, Rainy declared, "is clearly the worst organised Church in the world." It needed the state to keep it from flying to pieces.
"Don't come to us, who have been working our Churches these 300 years, to tell us, like the fox in the fable, that your own defects are a providential blessing which have qualified you to be the model for all mankind." Scotland was not the only country in the world where Christians had thought that the Church ought to be free from state control. Yet Dean Stanley claimed to be unable to understand the idea. Well, maybe that was the case, but should the Dean have so advertised his ignorance?
Dean Stanley had claimed that the idea of 'the independence of the Kirk' was merely an example of Scottish patriotism, revolting against a foreign attempt to dominate the Kirk. Unfortunately for the Dean, the debate had begun in Scotland, between Scotsmen. Although Stanley had tried the minimise the issues at question, they were in fact vital issues. The great question was this: who is king of the Church? Freedom might be a small matter to Dean Stanley, but Rainy thought it was centrally important. Would anyone die for the Dean's theory of Church government? Rainy thought not. On the other hand, men and women had died heroically for the spiritual independence of the Church, and "smooth insinuations about absurdity are not going to cheat us of the memories of our Scottish martyrs."
It was not enough for Dean Stanley to say that the mysterious principle that he could not really understand represented, though in a distorted manner, the "indefeasible superiority of moral over material force, of conscience over power, of right against might." This was true, but it was only a half-truth. Dean Stanley's ecclesiology was practically non-existent, he had forgotten that Christ had founded a society, not a mere dispersion of individuals. That society had rights, and one of those rights was that of self-government and independent action. What was more, Rainy took issue with the Dean's making every inhabitant of a 'Christian' society a member of the Church in full standing. Only real Christians could be that.
Dean Stanley had missed the nature of the Church, and therefore he could not understand the high principles of the Scottish Church. The Church was intended by Christ to be a society made up of his disciples, intended to win the world for Him, and to 'make disciples of all nations'. The state has temporal ends, the Church spiritual ends. The two have different domains, and each ought to respect the other's domain. If the Church invaded the state's province (as the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages did), that was tyranny; if the state invaded the Church's province, that was also tyranny.

Because he did not understand the high calling and place of the Church, Dean Stanley could not understand the Scottish debates and such occurances as the Disruption. Yet the Disruption was really quite easy to understand: " when it turned out that the terms of Establishment, in the view of the State, imported an obligation in point of duty to obey such decrees [of the state as would compel the Church courts to perform spiritual acts], the Free Church saved her honesty by renouncing the pay and privileges for which she cound not fulfil the terms."

Rainy's next point was perhaps little noticed at the time, but it indicated a definite change in his thinking. The Free Church had been founded on the principle that a national Establishment of religion was, theoretically, a good thing. While Rainy did not deny that, he observed in his lecture that Establishments generally were becoming less free. The state, controlling to a degree the purse strings of the Church, had started to covet more and more power over established Churches - and non-established Churches, even. In such a case disestablishment might be the only practical way forward, for "this modern Erastianism has for one of its principal objects and ends... that the Church's faith, through the action of the state, shall be made so latitudinarian as to leave religious sentiment perhaps, but little indeed of fixed and definite religious teaching. I believe that great forces in this country are working steadily to that result. But the considerations connected with the topic are more appropriate to my next lecture."

And with that Dr. Rainy gathered up his manuscript, and the lecture was done. The last, and potentially the most explosive lecture, was yet to come. As it is for us. God willing, a summary of it will be posted next time.


Monday, February 06, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" VIII.

The crowds in the Music Hall watched expectantly as Dr. Rainy stepped onto the platform. The craggy visage of the Free Church professor surveyed the hall, and he opened his lecture.

"When a clergyman of the Church of England comes among us to deliver to us his impressions of our Churches and of our Christianity, we owe him first of all a courteous reception. We are to presume that he came among us on a benevolent design to do us good, and we are to treat him accordingly. In that, I hope, we have not failed. And we thank him for all that was friendly, either in his criticism or in his praise. Next, however, we owe him, and we owe it to ourselves, to sift the statements which he makes and the conclusions which he implies. In the present case this duty is the more incumbent, because Dean Stanley has given us, not a version of our history only, but a version with a moral. No one, I suppose, is so blind as not to see that it is the moral rather than the story which interests the Dean. He did not come among us merely to reform our notions about our past history. He came to influence, if possible, the history of the years that are before us."
So Rainy summed up Dean Stanley's purpose. He then moved on to his own:
"I should count it an idle thing to ask you to take so much trouble merely for the purpose of showing that an Englishman has fallen into some mistakes about our antiquities or about our controversies. So ordinary and natural a circumstance could discompose no one. Still less have I come here to try to defend through thick and thin the Scots in general or my own ecclesiastical progenitors in particular. They were men, and therefore fallible and failing; they were scotsmen, and therefore when they went wrong they did it energetically, blowing a trumpet before them and defying all the world to refute them."
Yet Dr. Rainy was not willing to go as far as Dean Stanley was, nor was he willing to draw Dean Stanley's conclusions from the facts of Scottish Church history. His brief was for Scottish Presbyterianism, and to show that Presbyterianism was on the side of liberty and the rights of the people. "Prelacy and the royal supremacy [in the Church] were mixed up together. That ought never to be forgotten; each supported the other, and each made the other worse." Dean Stanley had minimised the differences between Prelacy and Presbyterianism, but Rainy was not going to let that stand. Presbyterianism stood for the independence of the Church from state interference, while Prelacy had made the Church a mere creature of the state, subject to the whims of the monarch. Prelacy had been forced on Scotland by King James VI (King James I of England). "Presbyterianism is a system for a free people that love a regulated, a self-regulating freedom; a people independent, yet patient, considerate, trusting much to the processes of discussion and consultation, and more to the promised aid of a much-forgiving and a watchful Lord. It is a system for strong Churches... It is a system for believing Churches, that are not ashamed or afraid to cherish a high ideal, and to speak of lofty aims, and to work for long and far results among all the discouragements arising from sin and folly in their own ranks and around them. It is a system for catholic Christians, who wish not merely to cherish private idiosyncracies, but to feel themselves identified with the common cause, while they cleave directly to Him whose cause it is. Our fathers felt instinctively that the changes thrust upon them threatened to supress great elements of good - not mere forms alone, but the life which those forms nourished and expressed."
Prelacy, Rainy pointed out, hangs a great deal on episcopal succession, and tends to a acramentalism that sees salvation as recieved through sacraments and not through faith in Christ. It tended to undervalue preaching, and so the revolt against Prelacy was an evangelical revolt.

Dean Stanley had spoken of the tendency of the Scots to divide on small points. It was true, Rainy admitted, that some of the divisions in the Scottish Church had been on matters which confused even many Scots of the 1870s, but that was because they cared for the Truth, and for the purity of Christ's Church. The only reason th English Establishment had not suffered any serious splits was because of a 'broad-church' mentality that was fairly careless of the Truth. The Scots, on the other hand, were 'High Church' in the best meaning of the term, for they held the very highest views of Christ's Kirk as a divine institution that ought to be kept pure.
What was more, none of the Scots Presbyterian dissenting groups ever imagined that salvation hung on believing their shibboleth, on holding their views of Church government. But Rainy could point out a number of Episcopalian authors who had taught that, unless he can present a plea of "Invincible ignorance", no man can be saved unless he holds communion with a bishop in the valid apostolic succession.
"What a gigantic superstition... a superstition certainly involving far stranger views of God, and of Christ, and of the administration of salvation in the world, than can be charges on the Church principles of the Cameronians or the Seceders, or even the Free Church itself."

So Dr. Rainy ended his first lecture. The crowds were left to mull over the lecture, and to eagerly await his second.
As we must. God willing, our next post will see how Dr. Rainy really got to grips with the Dean's lectures.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" VII.

In 1872 Dean Stanley of Westminster Abbey came to Scotland to lecture before the Philosophical Institution of Edinburgh on 'The History of the Church of Scotland'. He used the opportunity to give the Scots his reading of their religious past and his view of what their religious future should be.

In his first lecture Stanley dealt with the Celtic, medieval, and post-Reformation Episcopal Church in Scotland. While very able, he was guilty of a few factual errors - not surprisingly, since his main source of information was the novels of Sir Walter Scott. As an Anglican it was natural for the Dean to point out that the quarrel between Presbyterianism and Dioscean Episcopacy (Prelacy) in Scotland was not so deep as was thought, although his statement that the orgin of the terms 'black Prelacy' and 'true-blue Presbyterianism' was the colour gowns the different groups wore in preaching was regarded as ridiculous.

Stanley's second lecture was when he entered on his true mission. His aim was to point out that, while the Covenanters, Seceders and Free Church fathers were brave and noble people, they were all too often mistaken, fighting for points of miniscule importance. The best tradition in the Scottish Church was the Moderates, who sought a quiet life and a gentle, moral preaching that did not enter too deeply into theology. The Established Church represented that stream, and so Stanley was bound to criticise the Free Church.
The Church of Scotland, the Broad-Church dean contended, should be tied to no particular dogmas, but should be "Prepared to be whatever Scottish Christianity is prepared to become." The Westminster Confession should, in other words, be abandoned. In its place the church of Scotland ought to "Profess in its most general aspect the form of Christianity most suitable to the age or country."
This was just what anyone would have expected from a Broad Churchman, being the essence of the Broad Church position. To prove his point Dean Stanley surveyed the history of the Covenanters and the Disruption of 1843. While he paid tribute to their bravery, he lamented that the consciences of the Covenanters and the Free Churchmen of the Disruption should have been so tender as to be wounded by such intricate and unimportant matters. The true example, he told his audience, was in the tolerance and literary graces of the 'moderate' party.
The Dean further compounded his offence by referring to the "truly Christian character" of the sceptic Hume, and the "evangelical" fragments in the poetry of Burns. The Dean's conclusion was that the Scottish people should rally around a national church that would be, in the words of Rainy's biographer, "'moderate' im manners and indeterminate in ogma, and, of course, erastian in policy."
Scotland was not happy. The national press remained silent, the Episcopal Church of Scotland was most annoyed that the Dean had chosen to lay his plaudits on the Church of Scotland, not on them. The Established Church profoundly disliked being lectured by an English dean who presumed to tell them what they should do, be and think.

And of course the Free Church of Scotland was deeply offended at being told that they had suffered in contending for a mere trifle. Dr. Buchanan wrote to Rainy wishing that "Some vigorous Scottish Presbyterian would take stanley by the throat and squeeze the conceit out of the lectures." His suggestion for the job was Dr. Cains of the United Presbyterian Church. But Alexander Whyte, at the time assistant minister at Free St. George's, Edinburgh, meeting Rainy one day, said to the professor: "Do you know what they're saying, Dr. Rainy? They're saying that if Cunningham had been alive, Stanley would not wait long for his answer."
It was a not so subtle hint to Rainy, Cunningham's successor, and a few days later Rainy intimated to his class that he was going to give a few lectures to them correcting Dean Stanley's misrepresentations and errors of fact. Word soon got around, and Rainy was asked to make the lectures more public. Rainy agreed, and the Music Hall - the largest public hall in Edinburgh - was immediately engaged for the earliest possible evenings. Dean Stanley's last lecture had been on 12th January; Dr. Rainy was to lecture on the 24th, 26th and 30th of the same month.
Edinburgh eagerly awaited the Free Church professor's reply to the English dean and, on 24th January 1872, the Music Hall was packed with expectant members of the public hours before the lecture was due to start - even though the weather was dreadful.

And we shall also be left with them, expectant, until next time, when, God willing, we shall see what Rainy had to say in defence of Scottish Presbyterianism.


Friday, February 03, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" VI.

Left: The Courtyard of New College. Former Free High Church on right)

Although the Second Ten Years' Conflict made Rainy a leader within the Free Church, his primary employment was that of teaching Church History at New College, Edinburgh. His introductory lecture in the Chair was delivered on 7th November 1862, and he spoke on the study of history and the history of the Church.

"That the study of the history of the Church should occupy an important place in the training of those who are to be the teachers of Christian religion flows in the most natural and direct manner from the nature of the case. This religion was delivered and revealed to man as one adapted for man by Him who made him. But man himself was made for history... As it was assigned to man to have history for the manner in which he should manifest himself, so also history... has been the method of God in His manifestation of Himself among men. The true religion, being the religion for man, could not but be historical... Revealed religion and historical fact are indivisible."
Rainy cautioned his students about approaching history with a pre-determined idea of what that history would teach, of using their system to interpret history. History had a meaning, he contended, but to see that meaning we had to look at history only with the profound realisation that God is th director of history, and that Christ will build His Church. But human responsibility had to be reckoned with too. Calvinism is not fatalism, and history is driven, not only by social forces, but by individuals. Social forces are the constant, but man is the variable.
As a student of Augustine, Rainy was influenced by the Latin Father's The City of God, in which Augustine set out the only sensible philosophy of history. History is a tale of two cities, the city of this world, which is founded upon the love of sels, and the City of God, which is founded upon the love of God.

Rainy electrified his students, foring them with a passion for Church History. It was not his style, for that was "involved and cumbersome", apparently the result of a diet of John Owen in his own student days. But Rainy was a brilliant man, "it was the power of intellect that showed a masterly comprehension of the truth or principle under discussion. It was the power of an historic consciousness by which the past was made to clothe its dead with life, and the questions and controversies which agitated bygone centuries became luminous as we were made to recognise the same principles, the same motives, at work, and the same tendencies in operation in the Church at the present day. It was his power also of imaginitive sympathy with which he could present both sides of an argument with equal impartiality, showing how the differences arose and developed, till his hearers were at a loss to which side the balance of their judgement should incline, till he began to sum up and struck the line of cleavage, and the solution took shape in our minds." one of his students explained. "He was a personality," said another.

Professor Rainy was also always willing to help students who were having doubts and difficulties. His explanation of the orthodox doctrine of the Atonement was so brilliant that some students thought he should write a book about it! He never did. His favourite answer to a difficulty was, "did you ever take it to God in prayer?" Prayer, he felt, was the best answer for such difficulties. Share it with friends, with him, by all means, but first and foremost share it with our Heavenly Father.

Rainy's favourite subjects were Origen and Augustine. Those lectures were always packed, although his lectures were never sparsely attended. His lectures on the Church up to Augustine were later turned into a book and published under the title of The Ancient Catholic Church. I will say of it what Alexander Whyte said: "I do not know where there is anything else like it." It is a masterly book, combining a good historical sense with a deep personal religion. Just type 'Robert Rainy' in ABE Books if you are interested in buying a copy.

The principal of New College when Rainy began his labours there was Robert Smith Candlish, minister of Free St. George's Church. Candlish was getting old, and as he became more infirm, more and more of his responsibilities devolved upon Rainy .

Rainy was a Church historian, and a Scots Presbyterian. In 1872 he was to be called upon in both those capacities to 'rectify' a visitor from across the border. And that shall, God willing, be our subject next time.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" V.

On 7th November 1862 Robert Rainy delivered his inaugural lecture in the Chair of Church History at New College. His hope was that he could now devote his life to theological learning. It was not to be, for he was almost immediately swept up in a controversy that would, one way and another, affect the rest of his life, and form Rainy into the ecclesiastical leader and statesman he would later be best known as.

When the Free Church separated from the Established Church of Scotland in 1843 it claimed to be the Church of Scotland, free and reformed. In such circumstances it was natural for the Free Church to seek union with those dissenting presbyterian denominations that had split off from the Church of Scotland earlier in history, protesting the corruptions of that Church. But in ecclesiastical politics there are few things more divisive than Church union schemes. In 1852 a small body called the United Original Secession Church had united with the Free Church, but the great prize was union with the United Presbyterian Church, a large and prestigious body that had been formed out of the union of two smaller bodies.
Unions had already been consumated in Australia in which Free Church adherents and United Presbyterians had been joined in one. People in Scotland began to think that such a union would be desirable for Scotland.
In 1863 union was formally proposed by Dr. John Cairns of the United Presbyterian Church. Both Churches appointed committees to consider the proposal. Robert Rainy was appointed to the Free Church committee on union. What followed was popularly known as 'The Second Ten Years' Conflict'. It would take a whole series to describe that conflict, so this will not be a complete account. We shall instead try to sketch out Rainy's involvement in the controversy.

The committees drew up a series of points on which they felt there were real or apparent differences between the two Churches. The crucial matter, however, was that the two Churches disagreed about the relationship of Church and State. The Free Church held to the traditional Scottish presbyterian understanding, that the State ought to support the Church, although Church and state are co-ordinate authorities. The Free Presbyterians, on the other hand, contained a number of views, the most common of which was 'voluntaryism', that the Church should only be supported by the voluntary giving of her members.
The distinction was a merely academic one, of course, as both churches were in fact independent of the state. But it was an academic distinction that was very important to the Free Church testimony to be the Church of Scotland, Free.
Leading the 'Constitutionalist' side, who held that union was only possible if the United Presbyterians adopted the Free Church position, was Dr. James Begg. Begg expected a favourable outcome, and the Cameronians, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, joined in the negotiations.
But in 1866 problems began to emerge. Some people had been so caught up in the enthusiasm for union that they began to hope for a union of all the Presbyterian churches, including the establishment. That meant that the Church and state question was no longer academic, it was real. James Begg began to grow cooler towards the union, and Rainy started to think that Begg was pursuing a policy of obstruction.

On 30th May 1867 Robert Rainy was asked to move the motion recording the Assembly's judgement. The judgement was that there was no bar to union. Rainy was looking now to the future, to a greater Free Church. From his perspective the union was important because it would establish the Free Church as the largest church in Scotland, able to dictate terms to the Established Church.
James Begg moved an amendment to the motion that would have sent the union question to the people of the Church a whole - the reverse of the ususal process. Rainy declared that, "if you adopt Dr. Begg's motion the negotiations go off." Rainy's motion was carried, but Begg and his friends tabled a protest against it. From that day forth Dr. Begg and Robert Rainy would stand most often on opposing sides.

Rainy set himself to explain the union question. A natural conservative himself, he understood the fears of some of the members of the Free Church. He tried to explain that he wanted the good of the Free Church, that he was not seeking change for the sake of change. But the Free Church could not remain a fossil. She had to react to her surroundings, and the UPs were a part of that, "history is great, but Christ is greater. He is a present Lord with a present will; and the Church abides in Him."
Dr. Goold, the leader in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, was impressed. But Rainy was not primarily seeking to please the RPs, but his own people. Dr. Begg countered with an aggressive anti-union campaign, and in 1873 the plan of union was shelved. It was not abandoned, but it was postponed until a more favourable time. Of the original union committee only Rainy would survive to see that time.

Next time, God willing, we shall look at Rainy's work as Professor of Church History at New College.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Rainy wi'oot the Principal" IV.

Robert Rainy was called to the Free High Church, Edinburgh, in 1854. The Free High Church was then located in the New College complex on The Mound, on one side of the New College Quadrangle (the old Free High Church tower is the small tower on one side of New College in this photograph. Today the old Free High Church is the New College Library, as seen to the left. But in 1854 its walls resounded to the sound of psalm-singing, and of Robert Rainy's preaching.
The Free High was the third of the great Edinburgh Free Churches, but Rainy was 'diverse from' his neighbours, Dr. Guthrie of Free St. John's, and Dr. Candlish of Free St. George's. Some found Robert Rainy's preaching heavy and dry, but the intellectual weight of his preaching was suited to what was in effect the College Church. His aphorisms were celebrated and, for the benefit of our readers (we are assuming that we still have any), we supply a few:
"There are those who make progress in adjusting the practice of sin to the use and even enjoyment of religious ordinances. We may wound the conscience with sins and swear it with repentances."
"If we perish, our greatest curse will be that we must take with us for evermore - down -down to the depths of hell, the image of God."
"What Christ will be to you in time, is set forth in the bread and the wine. What He will be to you in eternity, earth has no symbols to declare."
"Our whole heart and conscience have become miserably stunned by the fall."
"The pleasure which sin gives is the lying earnest of the promises it is never to perform."
"We trust in Christ - the answer to all possible questions. Who would look further who has looked so far?"
"Judgement to come is one of those things that need only to be wisely asserted. It does not need to be proved. Conscience will do that."
"We have justified ourselves and refused to justify Thee: we have forgiven ourselves and have shrunk from being forgiven by Thee: we have added yet this to all our sin that we have approved of all our sin."
"As sure as sin strikes up against law, so sure will law in the end strike down sin.
"Men do not believe that religion could ever be pleasant - that the God who made them can make them happy."
"It was never a lie that spoke the Gospel to human needs: It is far too good to be false."

It was searching preaching that made people think about God and about Christ. He preached Christ, and therefore made up for whatever his preaching might have lacked.
Based in Edinburgh, Rainy was able to study voraciously. He developed a great love of the Church Fathers, and especially Augustine (Dr. Haykin will sympathise here). Through his life Rainy treasured a desire to write a biography of Augustine, but God intervened in providence, and it was a task that he never performed, to the regret of many, including the present writer. His general reading increased too, and he started to grapple with the problems of the Higher Criticism.

During the Free High Church ministry another, more pleasant change came into Robert Rainy's life. On December 2nd, 1857, he married Miss Susan Rolland, a young member of the Free High Church. Rainy was nearly thirty-two, his bride was twenty-two.
In 1859 Rainy first began to take an interest in the Assembly. The occasion was the 'Glasgow Students Case', in which a professor at the Free Church College Glasgow had charged some of his students with heresy. Rainy's speech was said by some to have been "the best for years delivered in the Assembly." Young Free Churchmen began to look to Rainy as a leader.

In 1861 Principal Cunningham died, and the Assembly of 1862 came to make up the loss. They appointed Robert S. Candlish to the post of Principal, and Rainy was elected to fill the post of Professor of Church History. This time Rainy accepted. His interest in the early Church had convinced him that it was in the College lecture-hall, not the pulpit, that his life's work lay.

Next time, God willing, we shall see how Rainy began that life's work.