Friday, May 25, 2007

A Wanderer: Donald Fraser. IV.

Canada in the 1840s and 50s was still a pioneer colony, and the state of the Free Church there was unusual. Thus Donald Fraser was actually assured of a specific pastorate before he left for Edinburgh, and on his return he was immediately licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Toronto. A few weeks later he recieved the formal call to the pastorate of the Free Church in Cote Street, Montreal. Fraser disliked the old system of Candidature and was heartily glad that he avoided being one.
Fraser was already a member at Cote Street and he knew the people there well. That is not to say that his position was an easy one; prior to his call Cote Street had bee pastorless, and instead they had enjoyed the ministrations of visiting preachers among whom were some of the greatest preachers of Scotland. For a young man just out of seminary it was a daunting prospect. What was more, many had come to the Free Church seeking a lively ministry. Fraser hoped he would be able to introduce a settled order and the sort of systematic preaching that a supply system cannot give.
Donald Fraser was ordained pastor at Cote Street on 8th August 1851. Our illustration shows Montreal in that period. Fraser's first sermon as pastor was from 2 Corinthians 4.5, 'We preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.'
Donald Fraser found his greatest problem was the church debt. Instead of building within their means, Cote Street Free Church had borrowed over fifteen thousand dollars to build a splendid church. The result was that a great deal of the Church's income went on servicing the debt. It was actually paid off during Fraser's ministry, but it meant that he entered upon his ministry in a church burdened with debt.
Like many a young minister, Donald Fraser longed to see fruit for his labours, and when he discovered that some had been converted under his ministry he rejoiced 'with joy unspeakable' that God had used him! His ministry was greatly used also for the building up of the saints.
He had been cautioned to conserve some of his energies, since a city charge was liable to make greater demands on him than he might anticipate. Therefore he confined himself to three services, two on the Lord's Day and one in the week, and to house-to-house visiting of the flock.
It was good advice. For all manner of matters flooded in, matters which would have overwhelmed him had he not conserved some of his energies. The presbytery was small, there were many churches without ministers, and it covered a huge area. The Clerk of Presbytery died and Fraser was appointed to replace him, and so at the age of twenty-six he found himself a leader of the Free Church in Canada.

Of which more, God willing, next time.



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