Thursday, September 20, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - XV

In the autumn that followed the Disruption, David Brown recieved a most unexpected letter - a call to another pastorate, not in the country, but in one of Scotland's two great cities. The people of Free St. James's Church, Glasgow, desired him to be their pastor.
Free St. James's was one of those Free Churches formed where a large part of the congregation had come out, but the old minister had stayed in. In his case, though, it was not because of cowardice but because of eccentricity. Dr. John Muir was a strong Tory and an enemy of Catholic Emancipation. He believed that Roman Catholics would necessarily work against Britain's interests. If they were granted freedom of worship and political power, then all would be over with Britain. In consequence of this, when parliament voted for Catholic Emancipation, Muir felt all was lost. There was no longer any point in trying to preserve the country, so the Disruption was a waste of time, a colossal act of folly. Britain was already ruined. As a result he stayed in while eleven of his twelve elders and a large chunk of his congregation came out (in passing we would note that pessimistic views of the future DO affect how we live now, and this proves it).
These men and women needed a pastor, and they knew David Brown through his brother Charles, who had been minister in Glasgow's Anderston Church. They had appreciated his ministry and discernment, and extended a formal call to him.

Understandably, David Brown was reluctant to leave the Ord, but he had to face the practical realities. He had a young family and no home for them. If he stayed in the Ord he was unlikely to be able to find a decent house, and while he was willing to sacrifice his own health in his Master's cause, the health of his family was another matter. It would not be fair of him to put the lives of his children at risk from bad accomodation. So he decided after much prayer that the Glasgow call was God's provision for him and for his family, and he moved to Glasgow in October 1843.
David Brown thus found himself in close poximity to his brother Charles. The proximity was a blessing to both men and to their families, for even city ministers were greatly tried by the Disruption. Of course, a congregation that included wealthy city merchants was far less affected than one of rural farmers. In a city a site for a new Church was far easier to obtain than in a country district where one man owned practically all of the land.

The revival associated with the Disruption has already been noted. It continued through the Disruption itself. The disruption ministers saw the danger of the Free Church becoming concerned solely with the issues of spiritual independence over which the Disruption took place. In an effort to prevent that, the Free Church ministers sought to preach the Gospel more earnestly, knowing that it alone is the Power of God unto salvation. The ministers and members were brethren in adversity, and the older nonconforming bodies of presbyterians came forward to help the Free church in whatever way they could. They refused to preach ecclesiastical politics. That does not mean that they did not preach sermons dealing with important issues of the day - but they did so by applying the Gospel.
David Brown was noted as an earnest, godly minister. He did not have his brother's preaching ability, but both men were eminently men of prayer. David Brown kept the cross at the forefront of all his preaching. Without the rhetorical skills of men like Dr. Guthrie of Edinburgh, Brown presented the cross in all its simplicity was Christ dying for sinners. Christ was all in his sermons, and the ministry was blessed. That is the Gospel. Let others preach what they like, 'But we preach Christ crucified'.

The Glasgow ministry was greatly blessed, and the power of God was evident in it. Many more were called into the Kingdom, and David Brown knew the seal of God on his move.
God willing, next time we shall look at David Brown in the aspect in which he is best known to us today - that of an author.



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