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Jubilee History of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church of Carlton
The Closing Years of Mr. McEachran’s Pastorate


On Mr. Irwin's departure, the congregation found itself with a debt of ;665o upon its shoulders. The exodus of people from the colony in search of better fields was still going on. Several members of the Session and Board of Management, and a number of others in the congregation, were of necessity- compelled to join the stream of emigrants, amongst them being Mr. Ewen Henderson, one of the founders of the congregation, who had been a member of the Board of Management for forty years, and of the Session for a quarter of a century. He is still alive in his new home in the West. Some time previously the Session had also lost, through his removal from the district, another member, who had served thereon for twenty-five years, viz., Mr. John Waugh, who, with his family, had rendered the church many services. Old members were also dying one by one, and no new people were coming to fill their places, so the prospect for minister and people was none too encouraging.

Mr. McEachran, however, settled down resolutely to the work before him, and being blessed with good health, and with his preaching powers undiminished, he successfully guided the congregation's destinies single-handed. He had now long passed his silver jubilee with his people, on which occasion a handsome illuminated address had been presented to him, and the people were still greatly attached to him.

An assistant was engaged during portion of 1896 at a salary at the rate of £100 a year, and the duties of this position were well fulfilled by Mr. R. W. MacLean, B.A., a theological student, now the Rev. R. W. MacLean, M.A., of Mia Mia.

From October, 1896, till his resignation, in December, 1902, Mr. McEachran, however, carried on the whole work alone. The congregation, at first, could only afford to pay him a stipend of £300 a year, but this was raised, after a while, to £350. The debt was also gradually reduced, and at the time of his retirement only amounted to £180, whilst the property had been also completely sewered at a cost of £112. The congregation, although a small one to that of former days, kept well together, and minister and people worked very harmoniously with one another.

At the time of his ministerial jubilee, with the aid of old members and friends, the people showed their love and loyalty to their minister by presenting him with a gift of £230, at a meeting held on 27th March, 1900, in the Church, which was well filled on the occasion. The Presbytery and Congregation also presented addresses of congratulation, and many speakers bore eloquent testimony to the life-long work of :-he aged ambassador for Christ. Nearly three years of happy pastoral work followed this event, a deaconess (Miss Mac Donald), whose salary was kindly provided by a leading business man in Melbourne, helping latterly; but the labour was getting too much for one well up in the seventies, and towards the end of 1901 Mr. McEachran asked to be relieved of his charge. This his people would not hear of, and he consented to stay on for another year. When this time had elapsed, the resignation was again pressed, and at length accepted.

On the last Sabbath of 1902, Mr. McEachran preached his last sermons as pastor of the congregation, many old friends coming from great distances to hear him on the occasion. At the evening service on that day he said: "It is now thirty-four years, a fortnight ago, since I preached the first sermon as minister of the church, although I had preached once or twice previously. There are a few present now who were here then. 1 am deeply conscious of my shortcomings, but I ever thank God in His mercy for blessing me to preach the gospel. I have striven to preach unto you the unsearchable riches of Christ. I have made it my business to preach the Word. I have not preached to you the speculations of men, but the testimony of God. I have studied hard great books, but all with the object of thoroughly understanding the Bible, that so I might present the teaching of the Bible to you. I have sought ever to consider the Word from the law and the testimony; I have preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified ; I have preached repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. I have not shunned to declare to you the true counsels of God. I have taken you through large parts of the Bible, Sabbath after Sabbath, that nothing profitable to you might be kept back. I have set before you God's great promises and precepts, and notwithstanding my many shortcomings, you will bear me witness that I have not trifled, but have given myself wholly to my work. I have tried the words, `In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.' Blessed are they that so work! To be instant in season and out of season. I attach great importance to the being instant out of season, as well as in season ; for what is said out of season takes hold of men; they are taken by surprise, when what is said in season is passed over and disregarded. I have ever striven to do my ministry among you, so that I may be free from the blood of all men. I have striven to speak to every man I met, and to present Christ to them, and, with all humility, I may say God has given me not a few souls as my hire. In addition to those added from year to year, He has given us three times of special blessing; first, when Dr. Somerville was here, 6o new members being added during two years; secondly, the two years after our own John McNeil preached here there were added some 50 or 60; and last year, after the Simultaneous Mission, were added 20

"And now, my dear friends-I am speaking to my own people, deeply sensitive of all the kindness and forbearance that you have shown to me these long years - I commend you to God and the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified ; and for all who have not already come to Christ, I pray that you may delay no longer, and for all I pray that God will give you a pastor after His own heart, who will Feed you with knowledge and understanding, and win many souls as one who must give account. I will preach about as God will give me opportunity, and my prayer is that God will keep me to the end, so that when the end comes I may be able you say, `I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.'"

Well might the aged pastor look back over his long ministry and rejoice in the fruits God had given him. Not man k, ministers can boast of the number of young men who first partook of the Lord's Supper at St. Andrew's, under Mr. Mc Eachran, and afterwards became ministers of the gospel. "Our own John MacNeil," the evangelist, whose name is tenderly remembered all over Australia, was one of his spiritual sons, as were also the Rev. James Jackson (Geelong), the late Rev. W. H. Scott (Kyneton), the Rev. H. S. Buntine (New South Wales), the Rev. J. J. Spalding, B.A. (Ararat), the Rev. Alex. McNeilage (Penshurst), the Rev. D. McDougall (Morn-ington), the Rev. W. H. Cooper, M.A., B.D. (West Hawthorn), the Rev. Mathew Hart (St. John's, Ballarat), and Rev. George Baird (Numurkah). Mr. McEachran's own son, the late Mr. P. A. McEachran, M.A., was also a student for the ministry. The following clergymen have also been connected with St. Andrew's congregation during Mr. Mc Eachran's long pastorate, viz.: Rev. W. Thomson (Camperdown), Rev. Lithgow Tait, B.A. (Kyneton), Rev. Dr. Daniel MacDonald (missionary, New Hebrides, and once Moderator of the Victorian General Assembly), Rev. S. McMeckan (Edenhope), Rev. J. Millar Smith (Daylesford), Rev. R. Welsh (late of Deniliquin), Rev. R. W. Rock (Northcote), Rev. J. G. Davies, M.A. (Caulfield), the late Rev. Mr. Howe, of Lismore, and the Rev. Mr. Gillespie (Grangemouth, Scotland). Mr. McEachran and his congregation have thus just cause to be proud of the large number of preachers of the Word who have come forth from St. Andrew's. In addition to the above, it may be mentioned that the Rev. Finlay McQueen, of Skipton, was a boy of the congregation in the old Gaelic days, whilst Principal Harper, D.D., was also a Sabbath School scholar during the sixties. The Revs. Hume Robertson, B.A. (Castlemaine), and W. J. Murray (Lancefield), and the late Rev. Lieut. Stanley Reid, B.A., were also Sabbath School boys at one time, and amongst others the Revs. J. MacKenzie, B.A., B.D. (Colac), and A. Irving Davidson, M.A. (Noorat), have been Sabbath School teachers. Professor Rentoul, D.D., was also for a number of years a member of the Congregation.

In addition to these workers, former members of St. Andrew's church are to be found in almost every congregation in the colony, - and in many places they hold prominent positions, acknowledging that the reason why they have attained such is on account of the training which they received at St. Andrew's. Mr. Archibald Jackson, the Secretary of the Sunday School Union, was at one time a scholar in the Sabbath School.

The valuable work done by Mr. McEachran may be easily seen from what has been written, and as he has been remembered by the Church at large by the handsome likeness placed in the Assembly Hall, so his name deserves to be writ large in this history, and ever to be remembered by the congregation. In recognition of all his services, the congregation, on his retirement, resolved that a handsome token of his worth should be given him. An enthusiastic committee took up the task of raising a testimonial fund. The people gave liberally, and outside friends largely helped. Even from Cromarty contributions came, the Rev. A. J. MacNicol, the present minister there, in a letter to the secretary of the movement, which was forwarded along with the contributions, stating that his Kirk Session were in hearty agreement with him "in the desire to give an opportunity to those who remembered the good times of old to contribute to the testimonial." On behalf of his people he expresed their deep regard for the man who to many was only a name, and their best wishes for the years to come, for "the fragrance of his service lingers in this quiet corner of the vineyard, and proves a source of blessing to us to-day." This was truly a noble testimony to one who had left the place thirty-five years before.

The result of the exertions of the Testimonial Committee was that they were able to present Mr. McEachran with a cheque for £513 2s. 9d., enclosed in a handsome purse, at a very large meeting held in the Church on 7th May, 1903, when addresses were delivered by the Right Rev. the Moderator of the General Assembly (Rev. Andrew Hardie), the Hon. James Balfour, M.L.C., and others. His people rejoice to see that their venerable former pastor is still able to go about, and that his preaching powers are undiminished, that he is well received wherever he goes, and they sincerely hope and pray that God will long spare him in His service.

"But like the palm-tree flourishing,
Shall be the righteous one;
He shall like to the cedar grow
That is in Lebanon.

"Those that within the house of God
Are planted by His grace;
They shall grow up, and flourish all
In our God's holy place.

"And in old age, when others fade,
They fruit forth still shall bring;
They shall be fat, and full of sap,
And aye be flourishing."


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