Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'This One Thing I Do.' John Brown of Broughton Place. - VIII

Although John Brown was the minister of a rural Church in deepest Lanarkshire, he did not allow his location in Biggar to blind him to the needs of the wider world. Support of missionary societies was a subject dear to his heart.
Now we are of the opinion that missionary societies are not churches and ought not to act like them. The society is there to help the Churches, not to constrain them, and certainly not to govern them. Having said that, we are sure that these societies, in their place, are instruments of a great deal of good.
The first decades of the 1800s were hardly decades in which the cause of world missions was expanding rapidly, but it WAS expanding. The societies supported by the Burgher Secession Church at Biggar are fairly typical of the period, the Baptist Missionary Society's Serampore Mission, the Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews, the Edinburgh Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society, all causes that any Scottish evangelical of the period would support.
Another scheme of his was a manse library, owned by the congregation and kept for the use of succeeding ministers of the congregation. The plan was to build up a well-stocked theological library for the use of ministers of limited means. Congregational libraries we feel to be an excellent use of Church funds when those libraries are stocked with good, sound books. Of course if a library is stocked with the latest paperback bestsellers on having 'Your Best Life Now' and suchlike, it is worse than useless, but stocked with such books as (dare we say it) the writings of John Brown, good Christian biographies, a bit of Calvin and such like volumes, a congregational library is a blessing to the church that owns it.
But John Brown's most important connection with the printed word was just beginning - we refer to his career as an author. 1814



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