PROPOSE, in this volume, to give as full an account as the documents within my
reach permit, of the life of John Macmillan. Although few, comparatively, know
or care much about the subject, there are more reasons than one for undertaking
For one thing, no attempt at a complete life of this remarkable man has, so far
as I know, ever been made, if we except the brief sketch by Mr. Thomson of
Hightae in the Reformed Presbyterian Magazine. This account of Macmillan is
characteristically accurate, but it does not go into minute detail. Mr.
Thomson's investigations are embodied in the present work, while a considerable
mass of additional matter has been obtained. The notices of Macmillan in works
on Scottish Church History are very meagre. In Cunningham, for instance, he has
hardly more than one short paragraph allotted to him.
And this contains simply a discreditable piece of gossip. In these
circumstances, and considering the renewed interest taken at present in
questions of Church government and establishment, there seemed to be some room
for a detailed treatment of a career which covers so interesting a period as
that embraced between 1690 and 1750.
Again, the personality and position of Macmillan seem worthy of some degree of
consideration. He was, undoubtedly, a man of unusual force and determination. He
was the first of that group of stalwart Scotsmen, of whom it has been well
"The Macmillans, the Fairleys, the Thorburns, the Hendersons, the Rowatts, the
Symingtons, the Goolds, were not little men. Most of them were men of stature,
men of presence, even corporeally, and all preachers of the gospel and witnesses
of the truth. They were men who would have adorned and enriched any Church in
For many years he fought the battle of the Covenants alone, and he fought it on
lines of policy and wisdom. I have tried to indicate his position among the
"Suffering Remnant" by calling him "a Cameronian Apostle"; for, during the long
period of thirty-six years, he was the sole ordained minister among the
scattered congregations of the "Society" people. The name seems not unfitting,
and it receives a certain sanction from the authority of Dr. Cunningham, who
styles him the "high-priest" of the Societies. Such a designation could only be
given to one who held a very important position among his followers. On this
ground, therefore, he deserves a memorial.
A Cameronian Apostle
Being some Account of John Macmillan of Balmaghie by the Rev. H. W. B. Reid, B.
D., Balmaghie with ten illustrations (1896) (pdf)