Friday, May 11, 2007

10 Great Scottish Chrstian Autobiographies. III.

6. Life of Jacob Primmer (1842- 1914), Minister of the Church of Scotland (sadly out of print)
Jacob Primmer was what is known as 'a Character'. He contended for truth in the Church of Scotland in the second half of the nineteenth century. Born in Leith in 1842, he was a babe in arms at the time of the Disruption, and his family was not much affected by it. From a humble background, Primmer was a compositor at the time that he was converted under the ministry of Brownlow North. Shortly afterwards he was called to the ministry.
Primmer was known as 'the Scottish Kensit', and like Mr. Kensit (founder of the Protestant Truth Society), he was forced to contend for the protestant character of his church. Now we feel it absurd enough that a man may, in the fact of the thirty-nine articles and homilies of the Church of England, teach Romanist doctrine such as purgatory, the intercession of Mary, transubstantiation and the like. But for a man who subscribes to the WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH to teach such things seems to us the height of ridiculousness. We value honesty in ministers, and if a man loves candles and incense, the bowings and the liftings, let him become a Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox. This is a free country, after all.
Jacob Primmer was a true son of the Church of Scotland. He contended earnestly for the faith not because he loved a fight, but because he loved his church. This book is a record of his faithful contendings.
This is his description of his Christian life:
"It was not all sunshine. I had to go on the battlefield. The devil and his followers ever since [my conversion] have fought against me. Many a bitter fight have I fought, and sorrowful hours have I spent, at times almost in despair; but Christ has been faithful to His promises. I have never been forsaken, nor have I been left alone by Him. He has always befriended me and delivered me out of innumberable perils and dangers, and to this day I praise and glorify His name for all He has done." (Pp. 12-13)

7. Memoir and Remains of Rev. Neil Cameron (1854-1932) (Free Presbyterian Publications, hardcover)
£11.00 from Free Presbyterian Bookroom
Neil Cameron was one of the Free Presbyterian 'fathers', a deeply exercised Christian man whose holy soul was troubled by the doctrinal defections in the Free Church of Scotland as Primmer's was troubled by the defections of the Church of Scotland. He had left the Church of Scotland in his youth because there was no gospel and no Christ in the preaching he heard there, and had joined himself to the Free Church. Yet there things were only a little better, and they were getting worse. Cameron records, like all Christians, that his conversion was just the beginning of his struggles. Unfortunately Cameron only wrote as far as the third chapter of his autobiography, yet the fragment that there is is one of the richest accounts of that period and full of Spiritual food for those who know and love the Truth as it is in Jesus.
Our quotations deals with Cameron's experience when, as a sinner convicted of his sin against a holy God, came almost to the point of salvation. Let them be a warning to us not to pronounce too soon on a man's spiritual state.
"When I was twenty-five years of age the words 'the sinner' came with such convincing force into my mind that I went away at once to bend my knees in private to plead for mercy and forgiveness. During the six following months I was in great distress of soul, so that everything in the world became valueless and tasteless to me. I could not walk any distance in the hills without bending my knees to plead for mercy. At last peace came to my conscience, which I thought was peace with God, so that I felt very happy now thinking I was saved. But when I went among my fellow-shepherds to attend duties connected with our work 'my goodness passed away like the morning cloud and the early dew that goeth away.' I am now convinced that the five months which succeeded the peace I felt were the most sinful part of my life." (P. 15)

8. Diary of Kenneth MacRae (1883-1964) (Banner of Truth, hardcover) £12.95 from Free Presbyterian Bookroom
If Neil Cameron's memoir is a record of one of those who left the Free Church in 1893, this is a record of the continuing Free Church after 1900. MacRae joined the 'Wee Frees' as they were known in 1910, after his conversion in 1909 in Free St. Columba's Church. From 1911 to 1964 he was a minister of the despised Free Church remnant, a burning and a shining light. This book gives a window into the heart of a minister in deep trials. It is worth its weight in gold.
Our quotation shows how many a fearful battle has been fought in a pastor's study:
"Today the Enemy well-night overwhelmed my soul and ruined all my Sabbath work. Engaged as I was upon the preparation of my sermons, he would not let me rest, but continually cast horrid and distracting thoughts into my mind, so that at last all liberty was gone and I feared that I was to be left to darkness. Guilt on the conscience at first kept me from seeking the help of the Lord, but at last, realising that I had no other refuge, in desperation I repaired unto a throne of grace. Blessed be His name, it was not in vain, for when I turned to the sermon which I was to prepare upon Isaiah 41.7, and which, because of my condition, I was almost afraid to look at, I found my bands were broken, and the very bitterness of my experience only enabled me the more feelingly to enter into the case of 'the poor and the needy'. Thus was Satan foiled and his very efforts to snare me and mar my work, were made to serve to the Lord's glory and the furtherance of what he tried to destroy." (P. 176)

Next time, God willing, we shall conclude this short series.



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