Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Wanderer: Donald Fraser. X.

In the summer of 1869 Donald Fraser paid a visit to his old flock at Montreal, in Canada. The people there welcomed their former pastor with great kindness, and his greatest pleasure was being able to stay with his sister Jane. It was a short and uneventful visit, but one that held a dear place in Fraser's heart. There was the place where he had first preached the Gospel, the congregation that he had helped to build up, and the building he had helped to wipe out the debt upon. More than that, there were precious souls he had been the instrument of winning to Christ.
Fraser was happy at the Free High Church, Inverness. He had recieved a call to the prestigious pulpit of Free St. John's Church, Edinburgh (the building is now Free St. Columba's) after the retirement of Dr. Guthrie, but he had turned it down. In 1868, however, he recieved a call to go further afield, to leave the Free Church of Scotland for the young English Presbyterian Church. He was asked to pastor the congregation at Marylebone in London. Fraser knew Marylebone, and he felt a definite pull towards the English Church, but finally he thought it better to stay in Inverness. However the Marylebone session was not easily put off. On his return from Canada Fraser once more found a call to London, and this time Fraser felt more inclined to accept. A conversation with Mr. Oswald Dykes (later Dr.), who was considering a call to London's other great presbyterian Church, Regent Square, helped to decide things. Oswald Dykes said that he would accept the call to Regent Square if Fraser would go to Marylebone. Fraser accepted.
Fraser was beginning to become unhappy with events in the Free Church of Scotland, and this contributed to his decision to leave Scotland once more. He saw an 'ignoble sectarian temper' (as he put it) beginning to emerge, a temper that wished ill to the Church of Scotland and was jealous of the reform of that body, lest she should render the grounds of separation from her less obvious. He did not support disestablishment, but nor did he fully sympathise with James Begg and the Constitutionalists. In the small English Presbyterian Church he saw a body that was relatively free of this 'sectarian temper'. And so, once again, Donald Fraser decided to become a voluntary exile from his own land.
The Free Presbytery of Inverness, however, refused to let Fraser go! Fraser insisted that he felt he was called to London by God, and at last he was allowed to leave Inverness in January 1870 to take up the pastorate at Marylebone, where he would spend the rest of his ministry.

God willing, we shall begin to look at that ministry next time.



Post a Comment

<< Home