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Kay's Edinburgh Portraits
The Rev. Greville Ewing


The subject of this sketch was a native of Edinburgh, where he was born in 1767. Being originally designed for a secular profession, he was, at the usual age, bound apprentice to an engraver. A strong desire, however, to be engaged in the work of the ministry, induced him, at the close of his apprenticeship, to relinquish his intended profession, and devote himself to study. He accordingly entered the University of Edinburgh, where he passed through the usual curriculum of preparatory discipline; and in the year 1792 he was licensed to preach, in connection with the National Church by the Presbytery of Hamilton. A few months after this he was ordained as colleague with Dr. Jones, to the office of minister of Lady Glenorchy's Chapel, Edinburgh. A deep interest in the cause of missions seems, at an early period of Mr. Ewing's ministry, to have occupied his mind. At that time, such enterprises were, to a great degree, novelties in this country ; and even by many who wished them well, great doubts were entertained of their ultimate success. By his exertions and writings, he contributed much to excite a strong feeling in regard to them in Edinburgh ; nor did he content himself with this, but, fired with a spirit of true disinterested zeal, he determined to devote himself to the work of preaching the gospel to the heathen. For this purpose he united with a party of friends, like-minded with himself, who had formed a plan of going out to India, and settling themselves there as teachers of Christianity to the native population. The individuals principally engaged in this undertaking, besides Mr. Ewing, were the Rev. David Bogue, D.D., of Gosport; the Rev. William Innes, then one of the ministers of Stirling, now of Edinburgh; and Robert Haldane, Esq., of Airthrey, near Stirlingóby the latter of whom the expenses of the mission were to be defrayed. Of these gentlemen, the two latter still survive. The peremptory refusal of the East India Company, after repeated applications and memorials on the subject, to permit their going out, caused the ultimate abandonment of this scheme. Mr. Ewing, however, and his associates, feeling themselves pledged to the missionary cause, and seeing no opening for going abroad, began to exert themselves for the promotion of religion at home. A periodical, under the title of The Missionary Magazine, was started in Edinburgh, of which Mr. Ewing undertook the editorship; the duties of which office he discharged in the most efficient manner for the first three years of its existence. This periodical has continued till the present day, under the successive titles of The Missionary Magazine, The Christian Herald, and The Scottish Congregational Magazine. It has, for the last forty years, been the recognised organ of the Congregational churches of Scotland. Exertions of a missionary kind were also made in different parts of Scotland, where a necessity for such appeared.

Out of these efforts ultimately arose the secession of Messrs. Ewing and Innes from the National Church; for feeling themselves hampered in their efforts among their countrymen by the restrictions which an Establishment necessarily imposes, they were ledófrom this, as well as from other considerations of a conscientious kindóto resign their respective charges, and occupy themselves in preaching the gospel without being connected with any religions denomination whatever. They very soon, however, adopted the principles of Independency, or Congregationalism; after which Mr. Ewing removed to Glasgow, where he remained till the close of his life as the pastor of a large and influential Congregational church.

In connection with his pastoral duties, Mr. Ewing for many years sustained the office of Divinity Professor to the denomination with which he was connected. In this office he was associated with Dr. "Wardlaw, the well-known author of "Lectures on the Socinian Controversy," and other valuable theological works. The department of study presided over by Mr. Ewing was that of Biblical Criticism and Church History.

Mr. Ewing was three times married. His first wife was the sister of his friend, Mr. Innes; but neither she nor his second wife, whose maiden name was Jamieson, were long spared after their marriage. His last wife, who was a daughter of the late Sir John Maxwell, of Pollock, Bart., died in the year 1828, in consequence of a melancholy accident experienced by the overturning of their carriage, while she, with her husband and a party of friends, were visiting the scenery on the banks of the Clyde, near Lanark.

After the distressing event above referred to, the health of Mr. Ewing began gradually to decline. He continued, however, to officiate both as a minister and a tutor for several years afterwards, until his growing infirmities compelled him to resign the latter office, and only occasionally to engage in the duties of the former. His death occurred on the morning of the 2nd of August, 1841, terminating a life of singular activity and usefulness in a decease no less singular for gentleness and peace. He had one childóa daughteróby his second marriage, who is now the wife of the Rev. Dr. Matheson of London.

Mr. Ewing appeared frequently before the public as an author. His principal works are:ó"Essays to the Jews," London, 1809; "An Essay on Baptism," 2nd edit., Glasgow, 1824; "A Greek Grammar, and Greek and English Lexicon," published first in 1801, again in 1812, and again in a very enlarged form, in 1827. These, and all his other writings, are marked by extensive and accurate learning, ingenuity of argument, and, where the subject is such as to admit of it, by great vigour and eloquence of composition. They have proved of eminent service to the cause of sound and literate theology.

In private life, Mr. Ewing was distinguished by that pervading courteousness and cheerfulness which form such important ingredients in the character of the perfect gentleman, as his public career was marked by all that can add dignity and influence to the Christian minister. In his younger days, his countenance is said to have been very handsome ; and even in his later years it was highly prepossessing. Kay's portrait was taken while he was minister of Lady Glenorchy's Chapel.


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