Monday, September 10, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - VII

David Brown had been hitherto unable to find a charge in the Church of Scotland. This was not unusual, in this period there were many more students than there were vacant charges, thus students often found themselves waiting for older ministers to die. One of the causes of this surplus of men licenced to preach was the number of men God had not called who studied for the ministry, another was patronage, which made it more difficult for an Evangelical preacher to get a charge. So, when he recieved a call from the National Scotch Church, Regent Square, London, to be assistant minister to their famous pastor, Rev. Edward Irving, he jumped at the chance. Brown preached his first sermon at Regent Square on 3rd January 1830 and continued in the post until 26th April 1832, two years and four months. For his first year he boarded with his friend James Nisbet the publisher, an arrangement that had many advantages.

Edward Irving, like many another pastor, had discovered the importance of a fixed routine. Thus he spent each morning in his study, and after an early lunch he took a walk and attended to his other duties, which were many. In the early 1830s Regent Square was on the edge of London, and there were open fields in which the busy pastor could walk. David Brown accompanied his senior pastor on many of these strolls, and it was there that the relationship between the two ministers developed. They talked about all manner of things, and although he was the senior, Irving was always ready to learn from his assistant. There was a child-like earnestness about Irving. He was not the prototype of the flamboyant showman minister. Irving was a PASTOR, and he took his work seriously, visiting both rich and poor. Irving made the person he was visiting feel that they were doing the pastor a great service by entertaining him. He cared for his people, and that meant David Brown saw an excellent model of a genuine pastor. Irving had himself one done Brown's job as Thomas Chalmers' assistant in Glasgow, and he found a kindred spirit in the young man from Aberdeen.

One of David Brown's jobs was visiting the various Sunday-schools connected with the Church. On visitation day many parents would be present and children would sing Psalms. On one occasion a small, sickly boy had repeated the 23rd Psalm. Next month it was reported to the school that he was dying, and Brown went to see him. He found the child in a slum-dwelling, and the mother told the young minister that her son had been talking all night. She was a Roman Catholic, and said she did not know Protestant hymns, but the boy had spoken of death's dark vale. Brown went to see the boy and found him lying on a bed of straw.
"Are you dying?" the pastor asked. The boy nodded, "Yes, sir." "Are you afraid to die?" "No, sir." Why?" "Because I am going to Jesus." "But how do you know you are going to Jesus?" "Because I love Him." David Brown always remembered that pastoral visit.

He enjoyed the ministry at Regent Square. It was what he was called to, it was what he had longed to do. But upheavals came in the church that would set David Brown in reluctant opposition to the senior pastor. God willing, we shall see what those were next time.



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