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D. H. MacVicar


MacVicar, D.H., D.D., LL.D., Principal of the Presbyterian College, Montreal and Professor of Dogmatics, Church Government and Homiletics, was born in Dunglass, near Campbelltown, Cantyre, Scotland, on November 29th, 1831. His father, John MacVicar, a farmer in Dunglass, was a man of great physical and intellectual vigour, and was widely known and highly respected in Scotland and Canada for his ability, generosity, and sterling integrity. While diligent in business he delighted to rest in the truth of the motto of the family crest - "Dominus Providebit" - The Lord will provide. His wife, Janet MacTavish, was a person of similar character, possessed of an unusual degree of energy and executive ability. She lived to be ninety-two years old, and to see her children and children's children in positions of usefulness and influence. Dr. MacVicar was one of twelve children, and the youngest of seven sons. His parents emigrated to Canada a few years after his birth and settled near Chatham, Ontario. His early education was conducted by a private tutor, and he afterwards pursued his studies in the Toronto Academy and University. He took his Theological course in Knox College, Toronto, and for two years taught classics and other subjects in a private academy in that city, conducted by his brother, Rev. Dr. MacVicar, now Professor of Apologetics, etc., in MacMaster Hall, Toronto. In 1859 he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Toronto Presbytery. Immediately after he was offered pastoral charges in Collingwood, Erin, Bradford, Toronto, and Guelph. He accepted a unanimous call to Knox Church in the last names city. His high preaching powers and eminent gifts as a pastor has already become widely known and recognized, so that in the fall of 1860 he received a call from Coté Street Free Church, Montreal, as successor to Dr. Fraser, now of London, England. He accepted the call and was inducted into his new charge on the 30th of January, 1861. During his pastorate, which lasted for nearly eight years, the congregation attained a very high state of efficiency; the membership almost doubled, and great missionary zeal was manifested in the founding of several district Sabbath schools, two of which are to-day not only self-supporting but influential city congregations. In 1868 he was appointed Professor of Divinity in the Presbyterian College, Montreal. The work entrusted to him was in reality the founding of the institution, which existed then only in its charter. Now the seminary has extensive and costly buildings, a large and valuable library, a staff of four professors and four lecturers, with over seventy students in attendance, and it has sent out over one hundred ministers and missionaries. Its total assets amount to over a quarter of a million dollars. This bespeaks an energy and enterprise worthy of all praise. It is unnecessary to speak of Dr. MacVicar's ability as a teacher. His pre-eminent qualifications in that respect are known all over the continent, and have been felt and recognized far beyond the sphere of college work. He has long taken the deepest interest in the work of French evangelization. By overture to the Presbytery of Montreal and the Assembly, he originated the work of training French and English-speaking missionaries and ministers, and organized the Presbyterian French work, which has been so successful. He has been for many years, and is now, chairman of the Board of French Evangelization of the General Assembly. He served for many years on the Protestant Board of School Commissioners, Montreal, and his services in this connection have been invaluable to the cause of education - a fact to which the press has borne repeated testimony. At the time of the federation of the provinces of the Dominion, he took a leading part in securing the educational rights of the minority in the Province of Quebec. His public lectures and addresses, educational and theological, and his articles in reviews, are widely known. Among his educational works, his two arithmetics, primary and advanced, are standard text-books. During the session of 1871 he was lecturer on Logic in McGill University. In 1870 he received the degree of LL.D., onoris cauer, from that University, of which he is also a Fellow. In 1881 he was chosen moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the duties of which office he discharged with acknowledged firmness, courtesy and judgement. In the same year he received the diploma of membership of the Athénee Oriental of Paris; and two years later his alma mater conferred upon him the degree of D.D. He has always taken a prominent part in the work of the General Assembly, having been a member of that court every year since his ordination. He was appointed a delegate to each of the three great Presbyterian Councils which met in Edinburgh in 1877; in Philadelphia, 1880; and Belfast, 1884. In the Philadelphia meeting he read a paper on "The Catholicity of Presbyterianism"; and at Belfast he was chairman of the Committee on the admission of churches into the alliance. He has served seven years on the International Bible Lesson Committee. He is now honorary president of the Celtic Society of Montreal, and takes an active part in its transactions. On three occasions Dr. MacVicar has travelled in Great Britain and Europe, and his merits are well known and highly appreciated far beyond the borders of Canada. Some years ago he received and declined a very cordial call to become the pastor of the South Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, N.Y., at a salary of $7,000 per annum. Dr. MacVicar was married May 1st, 1860, to Eleanor, youngest daughter of Robert Goulding and Ann Bridgland, who were both born in England, and came to Toronto when it was only a village and known as Little York. Mrs. MacVicar was educated in Toronto and while she has made her home the scene of unbroken domestic happiness, she has also filled the high social position she has occupied with distinguished wisdom, dignity and success. She is the mother of five children, two daughters and three sons.


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