« ZurückWeiter »
ELGIN AND INVERNESS, . . 249| ORKNEY, . . . .
HE compilation of “ANNALS AND STATISTICS OF THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN
CHURCH" which is now issued in this goodly volume, labours under all the 16 disadvantages of posthumous publication. Its lamented author—an appre
ciative sketch of whose life and work, from the pen of his friend, the Rev. Dr Macfarlane of London, will be found in some following pages-devoted to its preparation many of his best years. He brought to his task a combination of faculty and taste and knowledge singularly adapted to its successful accomplishment. He delighted in facts; his mind was imbued with the love of denominational antiquities and memorabilia ; and he never wearied in his efforts to complete and authenticate the records which he sought to preserve from the oblivion into which many of them were rapidly falling. It was his earnest desire that his work might see the light in his own lifetime, and under his own eye ; but disabling illness overtook him while little past the mid-time of his days, and his busy brain and hand were stilled in death while yet a considerable portion of his self-appointed labours remained undone.
After Dr Mackelvie's death, the mass of MSS. which he left behind him in a more or less finished state was presented by his widow and sons to the United Presbyterian Synod. The Synod, highly appreciating the gift, and recognising its value as a Thesaurus of denominational lore, and as throwing many interesting sidelights across an important page of the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, resolved to complete a work which had so generously been placed in their hands, and to undertake its publication. A Committee was accordingly appointed, with the writer of these lines as Convener, to whom the MSS. were intrusted, with instructions to prepare them for the press, and superintend their issue. The Committee were fortunate enough to induce the Rev. WILLIAM BLAIR, M.A., of Dunblane—with whose name, after the author's own, the “ Annals” should in all coming time be associated to undertake the labour of revising all that Dr Mackelvie had left completed, and of bringing down the statistics of congregations and students to the present day. Mr Blair entered upon his work con amore; he has verified or supplemented thousands of facts and dates; and the sketches of congregations, from 1854 downwardsamounting in all to about one hundred and forty-have been written by himself. He has also supplemented the “ Lists of Students” from 1834 to 1872, and drawn up entirely the Lists of the Relief Hall from 1825 to 1847. The Committee desire to express their cordial satisfaction with the manner in which Mr Blair has discharged the trust reposed in him, and gratefully congratulate him on the result which has been attained.
In passing the sheets through the press, the Convener and Mr Blair have con. joined their efforts to secure as much accuracy as the nature of such a work, in a first edition, will permit. They have read and re-read every proof with an earnest desire to let nothing dubious slip which they had any means of certifying. They are far from supposing that some mistakes may not still be discovered, and they invite detection of these, and communications regarding them from any readers who may be able to bring special knowledge to bear on particular portions of the book. It will be remembered that the text and style and structure of the “ Annals” are Dr Mackelvie's own; and that all his editors have done has been to correct, and, to the extent already specified, to complete what he had written. This they have done with the loving care of friends, and at least without sparing time and pains to do it faithfully and well. For the occasional editorial notes, Mr Blair and the Convener are jointly responsible. The congregations will be found arranged, under Presbyteries, in chronological order, except where the order is interfered with for the sake of presenting in one group those which are situated in the same city or town.
Almost simultaneously with the work of Dr Mackelvie, another, and in some respects similar, compilation was presented to the United Presbyterian Synod. This was a body of MSS. carefully prepared by the late Rev. Dr George Brown, of Liverpool, and kindly handed over to the Church by the writer's family after his death. Dr Brown's MSS. would have been invaluable had Dr Mackelvie's not existed; as it is, they have been most useful to the editors, of Mackelvie--seldom, indeed, as supplying facts which were altogether wanting in the latter, but frequently as furnishing a ready means for their correction or verification. This acknowledgment is due to the memory of Dr Brown, whose papers are arranged in admirable method, and with singular accuracy, but the plan of whose work, being much more purely statistical than that of his fellow-worker in the same field, renders it less eligible for publication.
The Editors of Mackelvie now present his completed work to the public, impressed themselves with a sense of its value, which they hope a general verdict of approval will show to be just. They cannot doubt that a generous reception awaits the volume throughout the congregations and families of the United Presbyterian Church, and of the offshoots of Scottish Secession in other lands. “The Fathers” live before us again in these pages, and the old times come back, with all their sufferings and contendings, their noblenesses and their faults. Nor will these “Annals” be found beneath the notice of the thinker, of whatever class or party, who would get to the real complexion and meaning of the ecclesiastical history of Scotland during the period they embrace. A philosophy is to be read between the lines of such a book as this, pregnant with lessons which are as yet far from being obsolete, and which laymen and ministers, politicians and ecclesiastics, Seceders and Churchmen, have equal need to lay to heart. He who would gather up these lessons, and present them thoughtfully to the public, would do the times a useful service.
The volume has been printed with unusual care by an Edinburgh firm, whose senior partner, Mr W. H. M‘Farlane, has been anxious to do all justice to the posthumous work of an old and valued friend.
on the MSS. of the late Dr Mackelvie.
6 RICHMOND STREET, GLASGOW,
18th April 1873.
Rev. JOHN MACFARLANE, LL.D., LONDON.
WILLIAM MACKELVIE, D.D., the author of these “Annals and Statistics,"
was born in Edinburgh on the 7th March 1800. His father died when William was only nine months old, and from that time the mother and
her child became the peculiar care of Him who “relieveth the fatherless and the widow." His mother very soon thereafter removed to Leith, where he passed the days of childhood and youth. He had scarcely got the elements of a common education, when he was apprenticed to a draper in Leith. Very shortly thereafter he became the subject of religious impressions, and decided to study for the Christian ministry. Hitherto he had attended the Established Church. The importance of earnest piety dawned upon him while a scholar in one of the Leith Sabbath-schools. He now left the “Kirk," and joined the congregation of the Rev. Mr Aitchison, who was then the minister of the Kirkgate Secession Church.
How the young Mackelvie managed to get the elementary classical books and the funds necessary to his education, is not known. He was always reticent as to this portion of his early days. According to his circumstances, however, he was both a diligent and successful student. After shop-hours he had to ply the hard, but to him the pleasant, tasks of conning his rudiments, preparing his grammatical exercises, and deciphering his Greek. Few of our distinguished men have had to fight their way through more discouraging obstacles. It was a proud day for him when he matriculated in the Edinburgh University, which he did in November 1819 ; and still more elating was his becoming a student of theology at Glasgow under the late Dr Dick. Alike by the professor and the students he was esteemed for his carefully-prepared discourses and transparent integrity of character. During the five years of his theological career he supported himself by teaching Towards its close he became tutor in a private boarding-house at Dollar Academy. Some time before his license to preach, he became the travelling companion of a young gentleman, moving about with him among the counties and cities of England an arrangement which gratified his appetite for general knowledge, and supplied to some extent the lack of other means of information, if not of learning. During this peripatetic schooling he got into some public discussions, the details of which he was wont to give with genuine humour and glee.
On quitting the Hall he returned to Leith, where he passed the winter of 18261827 in diligently preparing his “trials” for license. He reached this interesting crisis on his birthday, 7th March 1827. His trial discourses were delivered before