Monday, October 08, 2007

'Through Many Trials' David Brown - XXV.

David Brown was, as we hope our readers are by now aware, the very reverse of an ivory tower theologian. He was practical, approachable, and deeply involved with the religious and secular life of the city in which he lived, and the life of the local Church. He was also passionate about preaching, as every minister ought to be. Not only did he urge on his students the absolute necessity of an earnest ministry (he agreed completely with his brother's sentiments set forth in the book recently republished by the Banner of Truth Trust), but he also preached as often as he possibly could. It was to him the highest task to preach Christ, and it was a labour of love in the highest possible sense, love to Christ who had saved him, love to the saints whom Christ had died for as well, and love to perishing sinners. All of his sermons concluded with an appeal urging sinners to come to Christ for salvation. Often he would preach single sermons, but sometimes he preached for several weeks at a time in one Church, in 1859 preaching at the Braemar Free Church as supply while the pastor was in America (the pulpit pictured above is in the building that replaced the wooden structure Brown preached in). His preaching was both doctrinal and experimental, it was the old Scots Calvinism, the doctrine of Knox and of Rutherford and Boston, without any false mixture of German heresy.
In 1892, at the age of eighty-nine, he preached the funeral sermon of one of our past subjects, Rev. Donald Fraser, at Inverness. Fraser had been a close friend of Brown's, despite some doctrinal disagreements between the two in later years, and although it was a cold, snowy February, he gladly complied. David Brown travelled to Inverness through the snow and preached with great power on a subject dear to our hearts, the penitent thief and the Lord of glory on the cross. How fitting and right it was, at the funeral of one who had done great things for God and for the Church, to come back to the great truth that none but Jesus can do helpless sinners good! Donald Fraser would certainly have approved of the topic, he was not the sort of man who wanted to point to himself, but to Jesus crucified.
Late in life, after the accident that laid him low, Brown had fewer opportunities and less strength. Still, he preached as often as he could, and when he could no longer preach full sermons he spoke shorter messages at the communion table. And when he could no longer do that, he pronounced the benediction. He did what he could. His biographer compares him to John Knox, serving the Lord 'with his glad heart and dying hand'. Oh, what a blessed life he had! Let the preacher read these words and be humbled. THIS was preaching as one never sure to preach again, and emphatically as a dying man to dying men!

Mrs. Cousins' poem says 'With mercy and with judgemement my web of time He wove', and that is true of all believers. God willing, next time we shall see an incident in David Brown's life that illustrates this.



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