Friday, September 14, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown XI

David Brown found his long search for a pastorate difficult, yet he wasenabled to see that it was for good, "Were I as sure that all is right with myself as I am that the Judge of all the earth will do rightly, I should feel more easy. However I have abundant reason to be thankful, and one benefit which I may sensibly derive from the trials I experience, is a power to speak to others in like circumstances, which I find becomes more manifest to myself the more deeply I myself am afflicted," he wrote.

He had another blessing in his brother Charles. The two had a great affection for each other, as only brothers can, and they encouraged one another. Each had a high appreciation of the other's gifts, and Charles was certain that God had a great purpose in his brother's life. He felt deeply David's afflictions and was a pastor to him as the pastor at Dumbarton could not be. What a blessing a brother after the flesh who is a brother in Christ can be to a tried Christian! Thank God for such brothers! Humanly speaking, David Brown would have found his time at Dumbarton far more difficult had it not been for Charles, who was an excellent pastor. His book on 'The Ministry', available from the Banner of Truth Trust, should b e required reading for all theological students.

At last David Brown left Dumbarton. He left it a better place, and he left as a man who had virtually had to be sole pastor, even though he was officially only the assistant minister! This was one of the great faults of the Church of Scotland of those days. Not so great as it was in the Church of England then, but still serious. The ministry is a holy calling, not a profession, still less a sinecure. The minister who neglects his work heaps up condemnation to himself. Brown's senior minister at Dumbarton neglected parish visitation, preaching, and in general every one of his duties, preferring to spend his time with the local gentry. One service a week was enough for the people in his opinion. Let us thank God if we are spared such a dull and formal 'ministry'.
It was 1836, ten years after his graduation from Aberdeen Divinity Hall, when David Brown was finally ordained the first pastor of a country chapel in the district called the Ord. The Ord is a barren district six miles south-west of Banff, a bare, desolate area. The church was a chapel-of-ease, not a parish Church. This meant that David Brown had a lower status than parish ministers, and a lower salary. In fact it seemed a wretched place for a man to start his ministry, but David Brown felt the call of God to that uninviting place, and he was ordained there on 17th November 1836. His candidate days were over at last, and now he would be 'Broon o' the Ord'.

God willing, next time we shall see what ministry in that neglected district meant to David Brown and his young family.



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