Recently, whilst browsing in a secondhand bookshop in a seaside town in Norfolk we chanced upon a small brown hardcover volume of early 20th century date. Since we have been accused of liking "old brown books", it was worth a look. It proved to be Modern Substitutes for Christianity
by Pearson M'Adam Muir, D.D., the Baird lecture for 1909. The chapters deal with:
I. Popular Impeachments of Christianity
II. Morality Without Religion
III. The Religion of the Universe
IV. The Religion of Humanity
V. Theism Without Christ
VI. The Tribute of Criticism to Christ
Obviously such a work is of great interest, whether quite sound or not, so we purchased the book, in the process missing the bus that we had intended to take home, thus requiring us to spend another hour in the town - no great hardship really.
Only after buying the book did we discover in its pages the card illustrated above. So who was this Dr. Muir who wrote the work and sent this particular volume to its first owner?
Born on 26th January 1846, son of the parish minister (Church of Scotland) of Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire, Pearson M'Adam Muir, though a son of the manse, did not have an easy early life. His father died when he was twelve, and his widowed mother moved the Glasgow with her children. He was educated at Glasgow High School and University, and in December 1868 he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Glasgow Presbytery. He was assistant minister in the Parish of Monkton and Prestwick, and then in Stevenson. His first charge was the chapel-of-ease at Catrine, Ayrshire, where he was ordained in 1870. Two years later he was called to Polmont, Stirlingshire, and there he spent eight years before being called to Morningside Parish church, Edinburgh. It was from Morningside that he was called in 1896 to the pulpit of the High Church of Glasgow, commonly called Glasgow Cathedral. In 1910 he served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
He had married in 1871, his bride being Sophia, daughter of Rev. James Chrystal, D.D., LL.D., minister of Auchinleck. Tragically, she predeceased him, dying in February 1907. Dr. Muir was awarded his D.D. by Glasgow University in 1893.
Like many a pastor of a large and important congregation, Muir had many calls upon his time. For example, in 1895-7 and 1902-5 he was the General Assembly's lecturer on Pastoral Theology to the Scottish Universities. He gave a lecture of Samuel Rutherford in the St. Giles' Lectures for 1881-2, and in addition to Modern Substitutes for Christianity
, he was the author of a History of the Church of Scotland
(1890) and Religious Writers of England
(1898). He also contributed a chapter on 'Monuments and Inscriptions in Glasgow Cathedral' to The Book of Glasgow Cathedral
John Henderson wrote a volume on Dr M'Adam Muir's Ministry and Labours in the High church Parish 1896-1915
, which was published in 1925. We are in the process of obtaining a copy of this book, which seems to be the only biographical work dealing with Dr. Muir ever produced.
Labels: Books, Pearson M'Adam Muir