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The Scottish Nation

GILLESPIE, GEORGE, a learned and faithful divine of the Church of Scotland, son of the Rev. John Gillespie, minister at Kirkcaldy, was born January 21, 1613. At the university he surpassed most of his fellow-students in acquirements, and having been licensed to preach the gospel, became, about 1634, chaplain to the Viscount Kenmure, and afterwards to the family of the earl of Cassillis. During the time he remained with the latter, he wrote his famous ‘Dispute against the English Popish Ceremonies, obtruded upon the Church of Scotland,’ meaning the Episcopal innovations of Charles the First, which was published in 1637, and prohibited by the bishops soon after. In April 1638 he was ordained minister of Wemyss in Fife, when he began publicly to distinguish himself by his advocacy and defence of Presbyterianism and the Covenant. In the memorable Assembly held at Glasgow in the ensuing November, Mr. Gillespie preached one of the daily sermons, choosing for his text Prov. Xxi. 1. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.” In this discourse he spoke out very boldly, and the earl of Argyle, thinking that he had encroached too nearly on the royal prerogative, warned the Assembly against similar language in future, which, we are told, was taken in good part. At the General Assembly held at Edinburgh in 1641, a call in favour of Mr. Gillespie was read from Aberdeen; but, at his own request, he was allowed to remain at Wemyss. On Sunday, the 12th September of that year, he preached before the king in the Abbey church at Edinburgh.

      In 1642, he was translated by the General Assembly to Edinburgh, of which city he continued to be one of the ministers till his death. In 1643, he was one of the four commissioners sent from the Church of Scotland to the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, where his knowledge, zeal, and judgment enabled him to give essential assistance in preparing the Catechisms, the Directory for Worship, the Confession of Faith, and other standards of religion. On one occasion, at a meeting of the parliament and the assembly of divines, he ably refuted a long and elaborate speech made in favour of Erastianism by one of those present; and that without taking notes of the arguments of his opponent. After his return from Westminster, he was employed in most of the affairs of the church, and in 1648 was chosen moderator of the General Assembly. He was also one of those appointed to conduct the treaty of uniformity in religion with England; but his last illness seized him soon after, and, for the benefit of his health, he went with his wife to Kirkcaldy, where he died December 16, 1648.

      We learn from Wodrow’s Analecta, that six volumes of manuscript which Mr. Gillespie composed during his attendance at the Westminster Assembly, were extant in 1707. He had also, while in England, prepared his Sermons for publication, but these were suppressed in the hands of the printer, through the jealousy of the Independents. Four days after his death the committee of Estates testified the public sense of his great merits and usefulness by voting to his widow and children £1,000, which was ratified by act of parliament, June 8, 1650, but which, owing to the confusion and distraction of the times, his family never received.

      His works are:

      Dispute against the English Popish Ceremonies, obtruded upon the Church of Scotland, 1637, 4to.

      A Dialogue between a Civilian and a Divine, concerning the present condition of the Church of England, London, 1644, 4to. Anon.

      A Recrimination charged upon Mr. Goodwin, in defence of Presbyterianism. Lond. 1644, 4to. Anon.

      A Sermon preached before the House of Commons, from Ezek. xliii. 11. Lond. 1644, 4to.

      The True Resolution of a present Controversy, concerning Liberty of Conscience. Lond. 1645, 4to.

      A Discovery of the extreme unsatisfactoriness of Mr. Colman’s piece, published under the title of, A Brotherly Examination re-examined. Lond. 1645, 4to.

      Sermon on Mal. Iii. 2. Lond. 1645, 4to.

      Wholesome severity reconciled to Christian Liberty. Lond. 1645, 4to. Anon.

      Aaron’s Rod blossoming; or the Divine Ordinance of Church Government vindicated. Lond. 1646, 4to.

      Male Audis, or an answer to Mr. Colman his Male Dicis. Lond. 1646, 4to.

      A Treatise of Miscellany Questions; wherein many useful Questions and Cases of Conscience are discussed and resolved. Edin. 1649, 4to.

      The Ark of the Testament opened, in a Treatise of the Covenant of Grace. Lond. 1661, 4to.

GILLESPIE, THOMAS, The Rev., founder of the Synod of Relief, the son of a farmer and brewer, was born at Clearburn, in the parish of Duddingstone, near Edinburgh, in 1708. When he was little more than twenty years of age he commenced his studies for the ministry at the university of Edinburgh. Previous to this period he had lost his father, and his mother having, on the origin of the Secession, joined that body, by her advice he went to Perth to attend the lectures of Mr. Wilson, their first professor of divinity. Disapproving, however, of the principles on which the Secedes were acting, he did not remain longer in that city than ten days; and proceeding to England, he pursued his studies at the Theological Academy in Northampton, at that time superintended by the celebrated Dr. Philip Doddridge. He was licensed to preach the gospel October 30, 1740, by a respectable body of English Dissenters, Dr. Doddridge presiding on the occasion as moderator, and ordained to the work of the ministry January 22, 1741. He officiated, for a short time, as minister of a dissenting congregation in the north of England, but returned to Scotland in March following, and being soon after presented by Mr. Erskine to the parish of Carnock, near Dunfermline, to which he had received a call, he was inducted by the presbytery of Dunfermline, as if he had been a regularly ordained minister of the church. At his admission, he objected to the doctrine of the Confession of Faith respecting the power of the civil magistrate in matters of religion; and was allowed to subscribe it with an explanation of his meaning. He continued minister of Carnock for eleven years, during all which time he was wholly attentive to his pastoral duties, and took no conspicuous part in the discussions of the church courts.

      Owing to the grievous and unpopular operation of the law of patronage, which had already produced the Secession, the evangelical party, though in those days the minority in the church, lost no opportunity of protesting against violent settlements, and of maintaining the constitutional right of the people to have a voice in the election of their minister; and cases occurred of whole presbyteries refusing to be instrumental in forcing unacceptable presentees on reclaiming parishes. In 1751 Mr. Andrew Richardson, minister of Broughton, near Biggar, was presented by the patron to the church in Inverkeithing; and his settlement being opposed by the parishioners, not only the presbytery of Dunfermline, but the synod of Fife, refused to obey an order of the commission of Assembly to proceed with his induction. In consequence of which the Assembly of 1752 appointed the presbytery of Dunfermline to meet at Inverkeithing, during the sitting of the Assembly, to induct Mr. Richardson, enjoining every member to be present on the occasion, and to report proceedings at the bar the day after. Only three members of the presbytery attended, and that number not being sufficient to constitute a quorum, nothing of course was done, and the Assembly proceeded to punish the six members of the presbytery who had disobeyed their injunctions. Notwithstanding of a representation given in by them to the Assembly, pleading conscientious scruples as the reason why they had not attended, the Assembly decided by vote that one of them should be deposed in place of the whole six, while the rest should be censured and provisionally suspended. By a majority, Mr. Gillespie was the one chosen for deposition, and with the meekness which belonged to his character, he heard the sentence pronounced which cast him forth of the Church of Scotland for ever. He replied to the sentence of deposition in the following solemn words: “Moderator, I desire to receive this sentence of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland with real concern, and awful impressions of the divine conduct in it; but I rejoice that to me it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”

      On the following Sabbath Mr. Gillespie, whose fate was universally commiserated, preached to his people in the fields at Carnock, choosing for his text the very appropriate declaration of St. Paul, “For necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.” A church having been provided for him at Dunfermline, he formed there the first Relief congregation. Five years later Mr. Thomas Boston, son of the author of the ‘Fourfold State,’ resigned his charge of the parish of Oxnam, and the people of Jedburgh having built a church for him, he became their minister in December 1757, when, quitting the Church of Scotland, he immediately joined Mr. Gillespie. These two ministers, with the Rev. Thomas Collier, who was admitted pastor of a new Relief congregation at Colinsburgh in Fife, on October 22, 1761, formed themselves, upon that occasion, into a presbytery for the relief of the Christian people from what the great body f the Scottish nation have all along styled “the yoke of patronage.” In 1847 the Relief Synod was joined with the United Associate Synod, and formed one body under the name of the United Presbyterian Church. Mr. Gillespie died January 19, 1774. He left in MS. About 800 sermons. He was the author of,

      Essay on the Continuance of Immediate Revelations of Facts and Future Events in the Christian Church. 1774.

      Treatise on Temptation. – To this and the preceding work prefaces were written by Dr. John Erskine of Edinburgh. 1774.

      His Correspondence with President Edwards has been inserted in the Quarterly Magazine, edited by Dr. Stuart, Dr. Erskine’s son-in-law.

GILLESPIE, WILLIAM, The Rev., author of ‘Consolation, and other Poems,’ eldest son of the Rev. John Gillespie, minister of Kells in Galloway, was born in the manse of that parish, February 18, 1776, and received the rudiments of education at the parish school. In 1792 he went to the university of Edinburgh to study for the church, and was appointed tutor to Mr., afterwards Sir Alexander, Don, baronet. Having been duly licensed as a preacher, he was, in 1801, ordained assistant and successor to his father, on whose death, in 1806, he became sole minister of Kells. In 1805 he published ‘The Progress of Refinement, an allegorical Poem;’ and in 1815, ‘Consolation, and other Poems;’ but neither of these works evinced much poetical genius, and their sale was but limited. In July 1825 he married Miss Charlotte Hoggan; and soon after was seized with erysipelas, which terminated in general inflammation, and caused his death October 15 of that year, in the fiftieth year of his age. Besides communicating information to the Highland Society, of which he was a zealous and useful member, Mr. Gillespie occasionally furnished papers to various periodicals, and among other valuable contributions to literature, he wrote an elegant and affecting account of John Lowe, author of ‘Mary’s Dream,’ for Cromek’s Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song.

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