Wednesday, May 02, 2007

10 Great Scottish Christian Biographies. 3.

8. John Kennedy: 'The Apostle of the North' (Free Presbyterian Publications) £4.50 from Free Presbyterian Bookroom
John Macdonald, the subject of this book, was a pastor and a missionary in the Highlands of Scotland. He lived in the period when 'moderatism' was dominant, and he lived to see the end of that moderatism, and the disruption of his beloved Church of Scotland. This is another heroic biography of a man who thirsted to preach Christ wherever he could, no matter what the authorities said. It is written by the able John Kennedy of Dingwall, who is always a delight to read. Kennedy was in the same tradition as Macdonald, and the sympathy is plain.
In our quotation, Kennedy reflects on Macdonald's industry:
"There was no man, in his day, whose labours in the service of the gospel abounded more than his. On Sabbath, when at home, he always delivered three sermons. Once a month he preached regularly in Inverness and in Dingwall, and for a considerable time, statedly in Invergodon. In not a few places he was invariably present on communion occasions, usually preaching every day; besides giving to ministers occasional and more limited assistance. He often went on excursions to various parts of the Highlands, preaching as he went. During three months of each years he preached, on an average, two sermons a day; and in no year of his life in Ross-shire did he preach fewer than three hundred sermons. He preached upwards of ten thousand times during the last thirty-six years of his life; and never delivered an unstudied discourse. This was not owing to his confining himself to a set of sermons which he constantly repeated; for he has left among his papers skeletons of discourses on almost every text on which a sermon could be written, besides notes of lectures [expository sermons] on the Gospels, and other parts of Scripture." (P.119)

9. David Brown: 'The Life of Rabbi Duncan'. (Free Presbyterian Publications) £6.95 from Free Presbyterian Bookroom
Dr. John 'Rabb' Duncan, eccentric Hebraist, missionary and college professr is one of the 'characters' of Scottish Church history His praise is, or ought to be, in all the churches. Duncan's life is his monument, for he left no writings other than a few sermons. The best biography of Duncan is this one by his friend David Brown. Both men had a great concern for the Jews, and show how a man need not be pre-mil to believe in the future restoration of the errant tribes of Israel.
Our quotation concerns an instance of Duncan's absence of mind. He had agreed to take the four o'clock steamer back to Glasgow with Mr. Somerville, a friend, after a week-afternoon sermon:
"The service, it was agreed, should close at twenty minutes to four at latest - twenty minutes being required to reach the ferry in time. Well, worship begins, the sermon goes on - and a striking sermon it was, from the text 'Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins' - 3.40 comes, but no signs of stopping. Mr. S. gets uneasy, whispers to me 'I must go,' glides out of the church, and hurries to the steamer. Dr. Duncan, absorbed in his sermon, and wholly unaware of Mr. Somerville's disappearance, continued to preach till four o'clock. When the service was over, he fell a-discoursing on the subject of his sermon, went away home to dinner - for I had a design to keep him with me all night - and it was only after we began to dine that his obliviousness was arrested, and then all at once he exclaimed, 'But where is Mr. Somerville?" (P. 263)

10. Patrick Carnegie Simpson: 'The Life of Principal Rainy'
We have previously dealt with Principal Rainy on this blog, and would advise our readers to review that series. Rainy was the leader of the Free Church in a period of pivotal change. Though a theological conservative himself, he allowed too much freedom to the so-called higher critics. His biographer was a great deal more 'liberal' in his theology than Rainy, but nevertheless does a fine job. The book ought to be required reading. It paints a portrait of an iron man always ready to stand for what he considered right.
Our quotation deals wit the matter of books
"He set about furnishing his library, and almost his only extravagance in life was his liking for fine copies of the Fathers and other standard works. In one of his letters he refers with his often recurring irony to his new folios:-
"'I feel sinsibly more learned ever since they came. Have you ever noticed the deceptive feeling which befools us into so delightfully foundationless a conceit of ourselves? I have felt great in casustry ever since I got Taylor's 'Ductor Dubitantium', though I have neither read it nor have any immediate intention of doing so.'" (Vol. 1. P. 136)

An excellent Rainyism to close a series on books with!!!



Blogger Reformed Renegade said...

These are great posts! I'm on a mission to read through all of these. I'm currently reading Murray's Scottish Christian Heritage which is excellent. Thanks!

2:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering where the memoirs of Thomas Halyburton would fit? Also, what about James Fraser of Brea's memoirs and life? Alexander Whyte felt Fraser's life was most noteworthy. I have been greatly blessed by Halyburton. I am definitely looking forward to reading the Knox biography and the one on John Kennedy. Many thanks for the list, very good stuff!


6:13 pm  
Blogger Highland Host said...

Halyburton and Fraser are AUTObiographies, which will, God willing, be the subject of another series of posts. Both are excellent and spiritual books (which rank above some of the books in this series), but in another category.

7:07 pm  

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