Wednesday, August 22, 2007

10 Great works of Scottish Church History: IV

8. Thomas Brown: Annals of the Disruption (out of print hardcover. Illustration taken from book)
After the bravery of the Covenanters, the sufferings endured at the Disruption show how, in a free, protestant state, persecution can still claim its victims. 'Annals of the Disruption' is an account of the Disruption of 1843 not so much from the official perspective, but from the perspective of the ministers who left on that memorable day.
Our illustration shows the procession from the General Assembly in St. Andrew's Kirk, Edinburgh, on the Day of the Disruption, but that was only the beginning. The men who walked out of the Assembly in protest against government interference in the Church of Scotland left church buildings, manses and stipends to follow Christ, and they suffered greatly at the hands of landowners who would not grant a site for the Free Church congregation, at the hands of the Church of Scotland that retained buildings that had been constructed at the expense of the congregations that sat in them, and at the hands of civil courts that had sought to control the Church of Scotland. We have here heroic Christianity, not the sort of milk-and-water religion that passes for Christianity in so many places today. We have in fact a living example of Daniel 11.32, 'The people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.'

We are unable to select a single passage as an example of this work. The whole is too moving.

9. The History of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (Free Presbyterian Publications, hardcover) £7.95 from Free Presbyterian Bookroom.

The Free Church of Scotland did not remain a purely Evangelical Church for long. A desire for applause and worldly wisdom drove a number of Lowland ministers to abandon the simplicity of the Gospel and to surrender the holy, sufficient Word of God, preferring the vain philosophy of man. It was left to the heirs of John Kennedy of Dingwall to contend for the pure faith that is the inheritance of the Church of Christ. This book tells the story of a little group of seceders, forced to suffer for the testimony of Christ and the purity of the gospel. It has sometimes been said that the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland is too harsh in its discipline. Reading this book will inform the reader of WHY this discipline is kept up, as it was a breakdown of discipline that led to the fatal compromises that crippled the Free Church before 1900.
The history of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland was written by several authors between the 1930s and the 1970s. It takes the story of the largely Highland denomination from its roots in the Disruption era Free Church down to 1970. We have here the missions of the Free Presbyterian Church in Africa, and a record of faithful contending to keep the faith. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland may be narrow, but truth is narrow as well, and our present times call for this earnest contending, not for compromise.

Our extract is short, describing the reasons for the Free Church's decay in the late 19th century:
"Pride, and gaping after a name for scholarship and popularity, were the root cause which gave German rationalism such a hold in the Free Church."

And it is pride and a gaping for popularity that gives the world a foothold in the Church in all ages.



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