Wednesday, October 03, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - XXII

Although his first responsibility, one that he took extremely seriously, was that of a Professor in the Free Church College, David Brown also took his part in wider work. He was on good terms with such evangelical gentry and aristocracy as Mr. Gordon of Parkhill, the Earl of Kintore, Lord Haddo (later the Earl of Aberdeen) and Mr. Brownlow North. Dr. Brown was extremely close to Lord Haddo, and often took part in evangelistic work ledby these men. To see a peer of the realm standing in the open air and proclaiming the eternal Gospel must have been an astounding sight in those days, when there were so many who, to slightly paraphrase Cowper, wore a coronet and prayed, and indeed, in some cases even preached! David Brown was often a guest at Lord Aberdeen's residence at Haddo House (pictured).

A part of Christian work in any country where the Gospel has been long established is societies. We have known deacons to despair of their ministers' involvement with societies, but these things have their places. David Brown was particularly involved in the work of the National Bible Society of Scotland. As principal of a theological college, he was well placed to direct the work of the Aberdeen auxiliary of the society, sending Bibles to parts of Scotland that needed them, and providing Bibles for missionaries.
He was also one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance. As a minister in London, he had seen the great variety of evangelicalism in Britain, but also its essential doctrinal unity, and the idea a union of individual evangelical Christians from many denominations appealed to him. He took a deep and active interest in the Alliance, and at one meeting, held in Ryde in 1886, he presented a paper on the subject of modern scepticism. He took on in it practically every form of theological error known in the United Kingdom and abroad. He did not spare the so-called higher criticism and its work in subverting faith in the reliability of Scripture. It so loved, he noted, to pronounce on cases that it could not really say anything about with any degree of certainty (this obnoxious characteristic was noted by other orthodox men such as Kennedy of Dingwall). Despite the popularity of Dean Farrar's writings and preaching, and his position, David Brown did not spare Farrar's false views on the atonement and expressed his utter anhorrence of Farrar's universalism. And of course he upheld the primacy of preaching, as a theological professor should.
Not that Brown had no concern for unity. He certainly did. But he had a far higher concern for truth.
And he was involved in the 'Alliance of Reformed Churches throughout the world, holding the Presbyterian system' (to give the full name of the body. It was to him a means of meeting foreign presbyterian theologians and sharing information. Unlike some younger Scottish theologians and ministers of the period, there was nothing parochial about David Brown. His name, thanks to the commentary, was well-known, and it enabled him to have fellowship with some of the great Calvinistic theologians of the time.

God willing, next time we shall see David Brown's limited overseas work.



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