John Smith.

Our Scottish clergy : fifty-two sketches, biographical, theological, & critical, including clergymen of all denominations online

. (page 1 of 36)
Online LibraryJohn SmithOur Scottish clergy : fifty-two sketches, biographical, theological, & critical, including clergymen of all denominations → online text (page 1 of 36)
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AuTvioK OF " Sacked Biograitiy," &.c. &c.






A VERY generally-expressed desire to have Portraits of the
Clergymen, delineated in the series of Sketches, has led to great
efforts to meet it. In making these the publishers met with
the cordial co-operation of the Clergymen whose portraits
now appear. Some of them kindly sat to painters of eminence,
well known in Glasgow, and others of them cheerfully allowed
the use of family portraits. It were folly to expect that, in
every case, successful portraits have been secured. A number
of them are unquestionable likenesses ; and, of all of them, it
may be said that they, at least, suggest the originals. No
expense has been spared to render them, as far as possible,
truthful, and in many cases parties interested have been
pleased to express their entire approbation.

Considerable change will be found in the literature of this
edition. Some sketches have been omitted and others intro-
duced, and important changes have been made upon others.
The volume, as it now appears, will be rendered more valuable


by the lapse of time. The fidehty of the sketches is now a
matter of history, and as the originals disappear from this
transitory scene, the mental, moral, and physical portraiture
of them will become more and more interesting and valuable.
We retain the originals of many of the portraits, and these
are exceedingly creditable to the artists. The difficulty was
to copy with fidelity so large an impression — extending to
several thousands ; and, despite the greatest attention, it must
be admitted that not a few beautiful originals were consider-
ably marred. If the volume is only as popular loith the
portraits as it has been loitliout them, the publishers will have
no reason to regret the cost and care bestowed on the present

Glasgow, August, 1863.


The respect in which tlic clergy, of a nation, are held may
generally be considered as an index of its true civilisation.
Not the mere civilisation of scientific improvement — not civili-
sation by tlie kindred arts of painting, sculpture, music, and
poetry — not the civilisation of secular literature however
enriched by exaltation of mind or brilliancy of fancy, but all
these superstructed on the enduring basis of Christian mora-
Hty and of Christian piety. For long years preceding the
French revolution the wTitings of Voltaire and the Encyclo-
paediaists, and the conduct of the Roman Catholic clergy
themselves, had turned the mummeries and superstitions of
the church, and the profession of the priesthood, into ridicule,
and, what is worse, had brought Christianity itself into con-
temptuous question and disrepute. Yet France was reckoned
the centre of the civilisation of the world. The list of her
celebrated men contained all that was gi'cat in science or
illustrious in literature. The abilities of her generals were



great by scientific rule, and the valour of her armies terrible
from scientific power. Her language was the language of
civiKsation, and her hterature the delight of the refined. Her
ancient aristocracy dwelt in noble palaces exquisitely adorned
with the all but breathing marble, and the canvass that seemed
as if it would every moment burst into life. France was the
grand nation of the Grand ^Monarque. She had secular civi-
lisation enough, but her priesthood were disrespected, her
people the most degraded in Europe, and from the monarch,
and the peer, to the artist, and the peasant, the nation was
one vast mass of moral corruption. The gorgeous ritual, the
imposing but hollow ceremonies of her church were, perhaps,
rated at their true value, but salvation Avas the theme of jest,
the work of Christ matter for a sneer, and the Divine glory a
fertile subject for the disproving abilities of infidel philosophers.
Yes, France was a civilised nation, scientific and immoral,
polite and corrupt, learned and atheistical.

Then came the terrible revolution, the natural and necessary
consequences of an irreligious civilisation, of a human religion
and abhorred clergy. A long enslaved people robbed of their
highest hopes, forgetful of the regeneration to which they were
called, trampled under foot alike all that was good or bad in
the national institutions. For a time the inferior clerg}^ became
popular, not from their cloth but from their acquiescence in
the early progress of the revolution ; but as the revolutionary
car rolled on they were left behind, and perished with a heroism
worthy of the first martyrs. The reign of terror, and atheism,
was established. In La Vendee alone, where the philosophy
of infidelity had not penetrated, where the ministers of a reli-
gion, superstitious as it was, commanded respect, the people
remained faithful to humanitv and morality, and horrified at the


excesses of their free and enlightened brethren rahied around
the royal standard, and ceased not their exertions till their
homes were a desert and the bones of a million human beings
lay bleaching on the fertile fields of the Bocage.

But let us not be mistaken. Superstitious respect of mini-
sters is no criterion either of civilisation or religion, else were
Spain a paragon of enlightened piety and moral excellence, and
Italy, as of old, the vanguard nation of all that is great, and
noble, and godlike in man. A blind, bigotted, uninquiring
regard for spiritual teachers is not characteristic of a religious
and enlightened people. An unquestioning reliance on the
teachings of ministers, and a determination never to see aught
wrong in the pastoral character, are the grossest superstitions,
subversive alike of man's reason, of the right of private judg-
ment and of the authority of the Scriptures. It is only when
we are satisfied, by the closest examination, of the truth of the
doctrines taught, and of the undeviating harmony of their lives
Avith their exalted office, that we can accord them our willing
respect as the rational expounders and enforcers of God's
revealed will.

In our own country civilisation and Christianity are terms
of synonymous import. The arts and sciences are the hand-
maids of religion. The recognition of " faith, hope, and
charity," is not speculation but a fact. Civilisation is not the
patron and endorser of the truths of Christianity, but Chris-
tianity is the supporter and propagator of civilisation. The
Bible is the corner stone of the social edifice, and the illumina-
tor of scientific discovery for the instruction of man.

In no country are the clergy, as a body, more esteemed
than in our own. It is because we recognise religion— not
the faith of erring sects "wide as the poles asunder" in


non-essentials, but as the religion of God, that we respect the
ministers of our faith. We see in them men called to a high
office to strew with the flowers of immortality the dreary paths
of mortal existence, to smooth the pillow of sickness and
death, by pointing to the portals of glory, which introduce the
just to a brighter and a better world. We study the book of
life for ourselves, and behold in them teachers of its hallowed
truths, and naturally and justly associate them with a mission
so diAane. Nor do we unreflectingly bestow upon them our con-
fidence. Nowhere are their lives more strictly watched, and their
shortcomings more duly noted. It is because on the whole,
considering the natm'e of humanity, that we find their profes-
sions and practice in reasonable agreement, that we esteem our
ministers as members of the noblest profession the world
knows, and as the communicators of means of happiness infinite
as the boundaries of the universe of God.

Such being the views entertained by the writers of the
" Sketches," the design of the publication is to enable ministers
and people to form a correct estimate of the present state of
the Scottish pulpit. The position of clergjmien is unfavour-
able to acquiring a comprehensive and impartial view of
ministerial talent and success. Occupied, as they generally
are, every Sabbath-day, they have but rare ojiportunities of
hearing others preach, and when at any time they may hap-
pen to hear a discourse, the preacher is too much in juxta-
position or competition with themselves to pennit that candour
which leads to truth. Of the publishing portion of ministers,
data is supplied to determine the literary standing, but from
special discourses very little can be learned of ordinary minis-
trations. In opposition to these .specially-prepared discourses,
the Sketches ha-s e been taken, without the knowledge of the


clergymen, while they were doing their ordinary work, and
though one has had less and another more than average prepa-
ration, a general average is faithfully secured. They who have
been taken when then' appearance was less favom-able than
they would have wished, will have an additional argument for
being, as seldom as possible, obliged to preach with hasty pre-
paration. As ministers have but little opportunity of judging
of the matter and manner of their contemporaries, they are
still more unfavourably situated for judging righteously re-
garding their own ministrations. Generally speaking, every
congregation consider their own minister superior, taking him
all in all, to others. Indeed, they chose him for that reason.
Facts, however, prove that this supposed excellence cannot be
absolute, though it may often be relative. Clergymen, though
not possessed of superior talent or general accomplishments, may
be the most acceptable and profitable for the congregations to
which they minister. It is far from the intention of the writers
to lower any one clergyman in the estimation of his people —
that estimation being the key to their heart and conscience.
But though there is no wish to weaken that feehng of admira-
tion and affection, which is the bond of successful teaching, it is
desirable that a clergyman should have other standards to try
himself by than the judgment of his hearers. It is to him a
small matter to be judged of any man, but in as far as opinion
may stimulate him to effort or encourage him in difficulty —
that opinion being viewed as the exponent of His mind whose
judgments are unerring and whose decisions are ultimate.
These Sketches, then, may tend to lead ministers to encoiu*age
a nobler ambition than the applause of those who, in virtue of
their relationship, can scarcely do other than respect and esteem

them even above their comparative excellence. On the one



hand, they may encourage humble talent, and, on the other,
rebuke flippant mediocrity.

Besides correcting erroneous judgments on the part of indi-
vidual clergymen and individual congregations, it is hoped the
work may tend to destroy sectional bigotry. While each sect
ought to be fully persuaded as to its pecuharities, it is desir-
able that it, at the same time, should give others credit for
equal sincerity. It is believed that the faithful delineation of
the clergymen of different sects, when that delineation refers
exclusively to their non-sectarian aspects, may tend to create
or strengthen catholicity of sentiment among all denomina-
tions. Though the writers cannot pretend to be free of all
sectarian bias, the fact that they are mixed up with all the
sects included, goes far to destroy that partiality which con-
cludes one clergyman, in virtue of his connexion, superior to

But there are still higher aims which the writers intend this
work to serve. It is not merely meant to draw Christians
closer together, but to show that they are already one. The
doctrines and the duties taught by the different clergymen ai'c
the same. The clergyman of the National Church preaches
the same gospel as the clergyman who disowns all secular con-
trol. Sectional peculiarity has been driven from the pulpit.
Preachers " teach the same thing in all the chm'ches." The
sneer of the infidel at divisions among Christians is unmerited.
Christians are one in faith, in hope, and in love.

In this volume, ministers of all the chief denominations in
the country were reported as they prosecuted their usual work;
and, among all the fifty-two Sketches, we challenge infidelity
to point out one discrepancy — one contradiction, as regards
the truths taught. Christians arc ranked under different


banners ; but they are in the service of one King, and their
different banners interfere not with their loyalty or their love.
The volume will serve to prove the unity of the Church of
God, and, as such, is calculated, at once, to rebuke infidelit}-,
to dissipate doubt, and to encourage faith.

The volume is now offered to the world in the hope that it
may be of some use both to believers and unbelievers — to
believers, by showing them that they hold the faith of all
evangelical denominations, however much these may differ in
mere forms — to unbeUevers, by convincing them that Chris-
tianity is not the mere sectional thing they supposed, but, on
the contrary, that unity dwells where external uniformity is
absent, and that the office of the pulpit is not to gratify sec-
tarian ambition, but to expound Christian duty and enforce
Christian practice.

Glasgow, Mav 12, 1848.


1. Rev. Robert Buchanan, D.D,, Free Tron Church,

Glasgow, 17—23

2. Rev. James, Barr, D.D., Established Church, St

Enoch's, Glasgow, .... 24—29

3. Rev. David King, LL.D., United Presbyterian

Church (formerly United Secession), Grey-
friars', Glasgow, . . . . . 30 — 36

4. Rev. William Anderson, United Presbyterian

Church (formerly Relief), John Street,

Glasgow, 37—44

5. The Late Rev. T. Brown, D.D., Free St John's

Church, Glasgow, 45 — 50

6. Rev. John Muir, D.D., Established Church, St

James', Glasgow, ..... 51—56

7. Rev. Ralph Wardlaw, D.D., Congregational

Church, West George Street, Glasgow, . 57 — 66

S. Rev. H. M. Macgill, United Presbyterian Church
(formerly United Secession), Montrose Street,

Glasgow, ....... 67 — 71

9. Rev. James Craik, D.D., Established Church,

St George's, Glasgow, .... 72 — 77

10. Rev. William Symington, D.D., Reformed Pres-
byterian Church, Great Hamilton Street,

Glasgow, ....... 78 — 84


11. Late Rev. A. Bennie, D.D., F.R.S.E., Established

Church, Lady Yester's, Edinburgh, . . 85—89

12. Rev. John Smyth. D.D., Free St George's

Church, Glasgow, 90—91

13. Rev. John Eadie, LL.D., United Presbyterian

Church (formerly United Secession), Cam-
bridge Street, Glasgow, .... 95 — 102

14. Rev. N. M'Leod, D.D.. Established Church,

Hope Street, Glasgow, , . . 103—107

15. Rev. William Lindsay, D.D., United Presby-

terian Church (formerly Relief), Cathedral

Street, Glasgow, 108—112

16. Rev. R. S. Candlish, D.D., Free St George's,

Edinburgh, 113—119

17. Rev. M. Willis, D.D., late of Renfield Free

Church, now of Toronto, Upper Canada, . 120—125

18. Rev. C. Popham Miles, B.A., St Jude's Episco-

pal Church, Glasgow, .... 126 — 132

19. Rev. J. S. Taylor, United Presbyterian Church

(formerly Relief), Hutchesontown, Glasgow, 133—138

20. Rev. James J. Wood, Free Church, late of Old

Greyfriars', Edinburgh, .... 139 — 144

21. Rev. Alex. Raleigh, Congregational Church,

Greenock, ...... 145—148

22. Late Rev. T. Chalmers, D.D., LL.D., & F.R.S.,

Professor of Theology, Free Church College,

Edinburgh, 149—160

23. Rev. A. 0. Beattie, M.D. & D.D., United Pres-

byterian Church (formerly United Secession),

Gordon Street, Glasgow, .... 161 — 169

24. Rev. A. Wallace, United Presbyterian Church

(formerly United Secession), Alexandria, . 170 — 175

25. Rev. David Runciman, M.A., Established

Church, St Andrew's, Glasgow, . . 176 — 181


26. Rev. Robert Gillan, Established Church, St

John's, Glasgow 182—188

27. Rev. Thomas M. Laurie, United Presbyterian

Church (formerly United Secession), Partick, 189—194

28. Late Rev. Alexander Duncan, United Presby-

terian Church (formerly United Secession),

Duke Street, Glasgow, . • . . 195—201

29. Rev. James Paterson, D.D., Baptist Chapel,

Hope Street, Glasgow, .... 202—207

30. Rev. John Arthur, Congregational Church,

Helensburgh, 208—214

31. Rev, John Macnaughtan, A.M., Free Church,

Paisley, now of Belfast, .... 215—222

32. Rev. George Jeffrey, United Presbyterian Church

(formerly United Secession), London Road,

Glasgow, 223—230

33. Rev. J. Forbes, D.D,, LL.D., Free St Paul's

Church, Glasgow, 231 - 287

34. Rev. A. S. Patterson, Hutchesontown Free

Church, Glasgow, 238—244

35. Rev. John Roxburgh, D.D., Free St John's

Church, Glasgow, 245—258

36. Rev, R, Jamieson, D,D,, Established Church, St

Paul's, Glasgow, 259—265

37. Rev. William Scott, Ebenczer Chapel, Glasgow, 266—271

38. Rev. John Brown, D.D., United Presbyterian

Church (formerly United Secession), Edin-
burgh, ....... 272—280

39 Rev. Gavin Struthers, D,D., United Presbyte-
rian Church (formerly Relief), Anderston,
Glasgow, 281—290


40. Rev. William Ramage, United Presbyterian

Church (formerly Relief), East Campbell

Street, Glasgow, 291—299

41. Rev. Matthew Leishraan, D,D., Established

Church, Govan, ..... 300—306

42. Rev. William Wood, United Presbyterian Church

(formerly Relief), Campsie, . . 307—314

43. Rev. Peter Napier, D.D., Established Church,

College, Glasgow, 315—322

44. Rev. J. Henderson, D.D., Free St Enoch's

Church, Glasgow, ..... 323 — 330

45. Late Rev. David Russell, D.D., Congregational

Church, Dundee, 331—341

46. Rev. Thomas Guthrie, Free St John's Church,

Edinburgh, 342—348

47. Rev. J. G. Lorimer, D.D., Free St David's

Church, Glasgo.\, 349—358

48. Rev. A. J. D. D'Orsey, Episcopal Church,

Anderston, Glasgow, .... 359—368

49. Late Rev. W. Kidston, D.D., United Presbyte-

rian Church (formerly United Secession),

East Campbell Street, Glasgow, . . 369—377

50. Rev. A. Watson, A.M., Established Church,

St Matthew's, Gla.sgow, .... 378—386

51. Rev. Samuel Miller, D.D., Free St Matthew's

Church, Glasgow, 337—392

5'2. Rev. John Robson, D.D., United Presbyterian
Church (formerly United Secession), Wel-
lington Street, Glasgow, .... 393—400

The Free Church Clergymen Sketched were all formerly in the Established

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Diversities of gifts are as indispensable in tlie church now
as in the eai-ly ages. One star differs from another in glory
in the moral and spiritital as well as in the natural world.
One clergyman shines brightest in the select circle of friends —
another in the pulpit before the great and devout congregation,
and a third on the platform in the presence of a promiscuous
and excited assembly. The first of these is loved for his amiable
qualities ; the second on account of his intellectual and rhe-
torical powers ; and the third for his public and patriotic s])irit.
In some rare cases we find a union of all these attractions.
Some can descend from the pulpit, where they had edified and
electrified the breathless congregation, and mingle in the family
or select circle, exhibiting all the sympathies of a friend and
brother. There they cease to thrill by the force of their
oratory, and give fiill vent to the fiow of all the social affec-
tions. In the pulpit they command respect and veneration,
and in the select circle they are loved and admired. A fcAV
there are who can extend their sympathies beyond the family



and domestic circle — beyond the love of a large congregation,
and embrace tlie welfare of the sect with which they are con-
nected — of the entire chnrch of God — of the city in which
they dwell, and of the wide extent of the hmnan family.
Now they may be seen enjoying all the quiet and all the
sweetness of chastened domestic affection — ^now they enter the
pulpit, and there speak a word in season to their various audi-
tors — now they enter the missionary arena, now they ascend
the benevolent platform, and plead mth energy and ardour
the cause of God and of suffering humanity. Now they plead
denominational interests as if there were no others — now they
advocate the rights of man, the cause of God, as if no sectional
interests existed. Now they fill with triiunph the hearts of
some religious or political faction — now they wither with their
frown the hopes of some rival denomination. There are periods
in the history of the chm'ch when the })latform and the social
circle have to be summoned to the aid of the pulpit — periods
when the clergyman must not only act his part well in the
pulpit, but when he must appear on the platform as a com-
batant, and in the family as an advocate. There have been
always some clergymen specially qualified for such exigencies.
They can delight a crowded audience as often as they preach
— they can draw out crowds as often as they appear on the
platform — and they can, from house to house, prosecute their
mission with assiduity and success. In this latter class the
clergyman, whose name heads these remarks, may be assigned
a place. In person he is above the middle size, strongly
built, and of fidl habit. The phrenologist and physiolo-
gist pronounce the head and face of the occupant of the
Free Tron Church pulpit altogether faultless. Those who
have formed their opinion of him from reading his speeches
during the time of the Vohuitaiy controversy, and who
liave not had then* vicAVS mochfied by ocular demonstra-
tion, have necessarily eiTed grievously regarding his appear-
ance. There are certain mental manifestations which every
man couples with certain physical developments. In reading
an author, his image is intuitively formed on the retina of the
mind's eye, and in general the image is just. With a crabbed,
disjointed style, we naturally associate a bilious, unhealthy con-


stitution — a stunted ill-arranged physical structure. With
large, and generally correct and comprehensive views, couched
in fierce sarcastic phrase, we associate a mind acting on the
external world through organs not altogether pleasing to the
eye. According to these principles those who never saw Dr
Buchanan, but have formed their opinions entirely from his
sayings when he was minister of the Tron Church, feel them-
selves puzzled when they enter the Free Tron. The image on
their minds is that of an Esau — rough and savage, but the reality
is meekness, bkndness — an impersonification of good nature,
and all the graces. The speeches which produced the image
were fierce, inflammatory^, withering — the person who delivered
them is mild, gentle, and benignant. Listead of the ecclesias-
tical gladiator who fulminated thunderbolts against Dissen-
terism and Voluntaryism, wc have one speaking peace, and
breathing good will to all men. The puzzle can only be dissi-
pated by a knowledge of the fact, that during the controversy
referred to, Dr Robert Buchanan was not himself. His mind,
naturally strong and ambitious, was elated by the position he
occupied as a clergyman of the Established Church. With
Dissenters he coidd not co-operate, and Volmitaries he heartily
repudiated- The platfonn and the pulpit were so contami-
nated by their presence, that the minister of the Tron zealously
eschewed them ; but years, and experience, and circumstances
have satisfied him that a minister is neither the better nor the
-worse because he belongs to a State Chm-ch ; and having abdi-
cated his charge as a clerg^anan of the National Chm'ch, he,
at the same time, abandoned all the dignity felsely associated

Online LibraryJohn SmithOur Scottish clergy : fifty-two sketches, biographical, theological, & critical, including clergymen of all denominations → online text (page 1 of 36)