ALEXANDER LEIGHTON, Archbishop of Glasgow, 1670-4,
has been termed the Scottish Fenelon; and he was also known among
his contemporaries by the honourable designation of
The Good Bishop. He was good in the
largest and noblest sense of the epithet. He was good in the
sense of being benevolent. The world has not been blessed with many
finer copies of Him who was Love incarnate, and who went about doing
good. Good-doing was emphatically the work of Leighton’s life, and
delight of his heart. Bishop Burnet declared that, during a strict
intimacy of many years, he never saw him for any moment in any
other temper than that in which he would wish to live and die.
In the troublous times in which he lived, contentions
about different modes of Church government, and similar matters, were
then at their height; but it was Leighton’s great aim to win souls to
Christ, and not to make them proselytes of a party. His brethren were
ill-pleased with his silence on these matters, and in a synod he was
publicly reprimanded for not "preaching up to the times."
"Who," he asked, "does preach up to the times?"
The reply was:-
"All the brethren do so."
"Then," said Leighton, "if all the brethren have
preached up the times, you may surely suffer one poor brother to preach
up Christ Jesus and Eternity." And on another occasion he said:—
"I would rather convince a man that he has a soul to
save, and induce him to live up to that belief, than bring him over to
my opinion in whatever else beside."