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increase of non-academic clergy which now marks the English Church, and by which so many of the district incumbencies have been supplied, pervaded by men as studious, as well-equipped, as earnest, and as devoted, there would be no need to complain of the neglect of literature, or of an inefficient ministry. The times require men of sound judgment, well-informed, evangelical, and zealous ministers in all Christian Churches. And for moulding and directing such, the Life of Edward Bickersteth is one of the most instructive and impressive examples. Happy is the Church which is adorned with a clergy of such grace and usefulness. Happy the parish where such a burning and shining light sheds his influ
Happy is the minister whose piety is so serene, whose character is so godly, whose home is so Christian, and whose labours are so fruitful, as those of EDWARD BICKERSTETH.
Preaching, administering in every work
THE REV. DR. JOHN BROWN, OF EDINBURGH.
PASTOR AND PROFESSOR OF EXEGETICAL THEOLOGY.
SAINTLY ancestry is the noblest pedigree, and
the most valuable influence for good that can
enhance a heritage. Just as the natural likeness of the departed is reproduced in successive generations, so is the spiritual. Grace, though not directly communicable from sire to son, has often found its channel in Christian nurture, and parental training has been amply rewarded in the blooming piety of a child. The godly can trace their earthly genealogy further back than the worldling. The seed of the righteous really possess the earth. They often also adorn the Church, and from age to age keep the memorial and illustrate the virtues of the honoured dead.
The family of John Brown, of Haddington, have done this in an eminent degree. They have kept alive the lamp of the sanctuary for several generations. They have been “burning and shining lights." The three John Browns who have brought the succession down to our own day, were holy and useful men in the Church. The first has a name familiar as a household word, by reason of his self-interpreting Bible and the religious books he wrote. The second was a man of less intellectual
calibre, but of devoted piety and considerable learning, who burned and shone as a minister and author in a rural parish in Scotland. The third passed away a few years ago, but his life has recently been given to the world. He was born in the parish of Whitburn, on July 12, 1784 He was early dedicated to the Lord by the faith and prayer of his godly parents, and seems to have been sanctified from infancy.
Nature and grace developed together-one of the most beautiful features of home piety. All he saw in the lives and habits of his parents, all he learned from their instruction, presented religion in its loveliest and most impressive aspect. opening faculties received it, and his forming character was moulded by it. When fourteen years of age, he took his place at the Lord's table as a confessed disciple, much to the joy of his father, and in answer to the prayers of his mother, who did not live to behold it.
Mr. Brown received a good education at home, and in neighbouring schools, so that he was able to enter the University of Edinburgh in his thirteenth year. He pursued the study of theology under the Rev. Dr. Lawson in Selkirk—the Christian Socrates, as he was called, —who presided over the Divinity Hall of the Secession Church, to which the Browns all belonged.* During this period he taught a school with much appreciation, and thus spared the small stipend of his father the expenses of his collegiate course. In the academical circle much interest was taken in him from his ancestral
* The Life of Dr. Lawson has just been published, though he has slept with his fathers for fifty years. The Rev. Dr. Macfarlane, now of London, has written it, and has sketched with great eloquence and ability the Life and Times of Dr. Lawson. His pictures of the Hall and the students at Selkirk preserve the memory of an interesting epoch in the. Secession Church.
ties; and Dr. Lawson at one time recognised the young man's exercises to be “full of good Scripture matters as a leaf of his grandfather's Dictionary;" and at another feared lest “ he came short, people would say how much better he would have turned out had he studied under his grandfather.”
Well skilled in Puritan theology, and highly cultivated in modern literature, John Brown the third came forth from student life to the pulpit with most respectable attainments. He was fitted to carry forward the excellences of the first of his name, with all the advantage of a higher culture and adaptation to his age. He received his licence to preach on the 12th January 1805, and after a very short probation was called both to Stirling and to Biggar. The competing calls came up to the Synod for decision, and Biggar was assigned to Mr. Brown.
In the town of Biggar, in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, he laboured for seventeen years, and was a faithful minister over an affectionate people. He was eminently a student of the Scriptures, and prepared his discourses with great care. He made his pulpit his “throne,” as the saintly Herbert counsels his country Parson, and devoted his best powers to occupy it well. “ He accustomed himself," says Dr. Cairns, "from the beginning to make everything as perfect as possible, and almost never rewrote his discourses before delivery. He never permitted himself to extemporize, even when addressing the most casual audience.” His peculiar forte was exegesis, and he cultivated this in his usual studies, so as to lay the foundation for his future eminence in that department. In these days people did not weary, though their minis
ters continued year after year upon the same book of Scripture. Indeed, preachers so often gave whole bodies of divinity upon one verse, that it was quite an eventoccurring only once a quarter—to hear a new text. The following entry in Dr. Brown's journal will indicate his laborious and thorough work: “Began to lecture John's Gospel, June or July, 1807. Concluded it October 1813,-six years and three months. During the same time delivered a hundred and six lectures on the first forty-one chapters of Isaiah, making in all two hundred and twenty-seven lectures."
Though a close student, Mr. Brown did not neglect his flock. Pastoral visitation from house to house took up much of his time, as his people were scattered. District gatherings for catechizing were also regularly held. He thus “rightly divided the word of truth," and endeared himself to all his flock, who greatly increased under his care.
One of the interesting features of his early labours was the missionary spirit with which he sought to imbue his people. That period was the birth-day of modern missionary societies, and Mr. Brown entered so warmly into their evangelistic enterprises as to raise congregational collections to aid them. His zeal in this cause soon attracted public attention, and we find the Secession minister of Biggar preaching the annual sermon in one metropolis for the Edinburgh Missionary Society in 1816, and for the London Missionary Society in 1821, in imperial London.
In 1807 he entered into the marriage relation, and found a congenial partner. But in 1816 he was bereaved of his wife. He felt his loss deeply then, and throughout all the time he remained at Biggar.