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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Rev. Hugh Black, D.D.


THE Rev. Dr. Hugh Black, professor of practical theology in Union Theological Seminary, New York, was born in Rothsay, Scotland, March 26, 1868. He received his early education in Rothsay Academy, and entering Glasgow University in 1883 was graduated in 1887, receiving the degree of M.A. In the fall of 1887 he began studying divinity in the Free Church College, Glasgow, where he completed the four years’ course. He began his ministry as assistant to the Rev. Dr. Ross Taylor, Glasgow, and after a few months’ work was called to the newly organized Sherwood Free Church, Paisley, and was ordained in 1891. He soon impressed the community as a man of rare pulpit force; and after five years of successful and fruitful pastorate, he yielded reluctantly, in 1896, to several overtures made to him by the St. George’s Free Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh, to become associate minister with the Rev. Dr. Alexander Whyte. The pulpit of Drs. Candlish and Whyte, which for scores of years has been the leading church in Scotland, gave larger scope to his preaching; his name became widely known, and invitations poured in upon him to preach on special occasions in London and other large cities.

In 1905, Dr. Black was invited to deliver a course of lectures on the art of preaching to the students of Union Theological Seminary, New York. At the request of friends, he also preached in some of the most important churches in New York, with great appreciation. Shortly after he returned to Edinburgh, a movement was begun to get Dr. Black to accept a professorship in Union Theological Seminary. In 1906, after tcn years ministry in Edinburgh, he acepted the professorship of practical theology in that institution. In the winter and spring of each year, Dr. Black gives several weeks of his time to universities and colleges throughout the country.

Dr. Black ranks among the greatest preachers of our times. His discourses are original, brilliant and suggestive. He infuses into his sermons his strong personality and appeals to the intellect and the emotions. He is in great demand, and has refused many calls from the leading churches in the United States and Great Britain. In declining an urgent call to the pulpit of the City Temple, London, England, in the summer of .1915, Dr. Black wrote: " In the present situation the pull of my heart to the old country is almost irresistible. I long to serve Great Britain in her day of distress. So keenly do I feel this that it almost constitutes a temptation. Yet, with it all, I cannot find assurance that duty should impel me to accept."

In 1908 he received the honorary degree of D.D. from Yale University; in 1911 from Princeton; and in 1911 from the University of Glasgow.

Many of Dr. Black’s sermons have been collected into books, and these and his other published writings have reached the homes and hearts of many who have not been privileged to hear him. His writings are marked by simple directness, deep sympathy and understanding of human nature and aspirations. He has published: The Dream of Youth, 1894; Friendship, 1898; Culture and Restraint, 1900; Work, 1902; The Practice of Self Culture, 1904; Listening to God (Edinburgh Sermons), 1906; Christ Sacrifice of Love, 1907; The Gift of Influence (University Sermons, 1908) ; Comfort, 1910; Happiness, 1911; Three Dreams, 1912; According to My Gospel (Montclair Sermons), 1914; The Open Door, 1914; and The New World, 1915.

Dr. Black is of striking physical appearance and of a genial and pleasing personality. One is impressed with his modesty and his retiring disposition, and on fuller acquaintance with his kindness, sociability and capacity for friendship. Through his work in the United States he has won many friends and the affection of the American people. Scotsmen are proud of so worthy a representative. His teaching and writings have won him a high reputation, but the pulpit is his throne. His humility and simplicity in prayer and deep reverence to God and intensity in preaching are his marked qualities.

Dr. Black married, June 28, 1898, Miss Margaret Edith Kerr, youngest daughter of Mr. Robert Kerr, of Paisley, Scotland, and they have two sons and two daughters. His home is in Montclair, N. J.; his address, Union Theological Seminary, New York City.


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