Tuesday, September 18, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - XIII

Now that, at long last, he was a parish minister of sorts, David Brown put into effect what he had learned in the ten years since he had left the Divinity Hall at Aberdeen. His ministry in the Ord was quite remarkable, and the joy of his home life amazed many. How could anyone enjoy such a life of hardship? Well, the source of the Browns' joy was something worldly men have never been able to understand. They both trusted in God to provide for them, and they were not disappointed.

One of his more notable evangelical neighbours soon took notice of him - the Duchess of Gordon. She organised religious fellowship meetings at her home, Huntly Lodge, and this association helped to further remove the suspicions that had hung around the young minister since his association with Edward Irving in London. Brown soon found that he had good evangelical neighbours in the Presbytery, Mr. Grant of Banff, Mr. Reid of Portsoy and Mr. Anderson of Boyndie. The parish of his brother-in-law, Mr. Thornburn of Forglen, was in the neighbouring Presbytery of Turriff. Mr. Thornburn was a powerful preacher, an able and fearless man who would, after the disruption, be minister of the Free High Church of Inverness (where Donald Fraser was later minister). He was a man Brlown could confide in and call upon for help when needed.
David Brown continued his concern for the young people under his care. As in Dumbarton, he founded Bible classes, and he took particular care of the young communicants, personally taking the classes for such young people as sought admission to the Lord's table. He used the Westminster Shorter Catechism as his manual for instruction, and he took great care to admit none to the Lord's Table without having taken care to ask them how it was between their souls and God. And David Brown would not take a flippant answer. He was not satified, as some were, for a young man or woman to take one term's instruction in the class, but encouraged two or even three terms' attendance. Each candidate would be asked, privately, their spiritual condition, for Brown knew that admission to the Table could be incredibly damaging for a person who was not a real Christian and knew full well that he wasn't. In this way admission to the Lord's Table functioned very much as baptism would in a Baptist Church.
On one occasion a converted ploughman had completed his first term. David Brown urged him to stay for another session, but the man was reluctant. He said that his fellow-servants, who attended a 'moderate' Church, would taunt him for it. Still Brown insisted. Coming to the Lord's Table was a solemn step. At last the ploughman agreed. Meeting his minister later, he explained how he had answered his fellowservants. They had indeed tounted him, but he had answered. "What did you say to them?' the pastor asked. "I jist tauld them that ae admission at the Ord was worth ten at Beenie."
David Brown's ministry was the means of bringing a great change in the Ord. Many people, young and old, were awakened under a truly spiritual ministry, and many were turned to everlasting righteousness. Men and women who afterwards were great influences for good themselves were converted. In hindsight, this revival was a part of a wider awakening in Scotland that prepared the way for the Disruption of 1843. Mark this, it is often God's way to send revival before a crisis in the Church. Note also that revival may solve many problems, but it also brings them.

So it was for David Brown. From 1837 to 1843 he was a happy man in his ministry in the Ord. He loved the people and they loved him. Yet a great tempest was about to burst on the Church of Scotland, and david Brown could see the storm clouds approaching. A day of decision was coming, and David Brown knew that he would not be able to remain long at the Ord after the storm hit.

God willing, next time we shall see David Brown's conduct at the Disruption.



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