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Hector MacKinnon, A Memoir
Chapter VII - Afterwards


"By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God."

SO little it is that any of us know of what a day may bring forth, that the morning after he had left us brought the accustomed pile of letters for the Minister, amongst them being one with a request for a Thanksgiving Service, from his early friend, who occupied the vacant pulpit on the Sunday following; and one from a clergyman of the Church of England beginning, "My beloved Brother." And lying beside these were the Minister's own papers, just as he had laid them down, in his sore sickness, on coming in for the last time, one at least bringing a strangely significant arrest of thought—copious notes, beautifully and clearly written as ever, on the subject of "Non-churchgoing"—what we imagine had been, or was to have been, the foundation of his last address in the Presbytery—concluding thus :-

"Reliance upon Divine sources of power
God will honour faith.
No need for despondency.
God is in His Church."

Then into the desolated home streamed the Minister's stricken people, men and women in the abandon of an overwhelming sorrow; for to all who knew him he had been as" an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert- from the tempest, . . . as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Blank despair filled every heart, as we bowed our heads in face of this crushing blow. His Session-clerk and elders, who had so nobly stood by him in his strenuous toil; his friend from Kingussic, who seemed suddenly to have grown old; his brother ministers of the neighbourhood and from the city—all seemed bowed and broken as they gathered round us in the first hours of anguish. Dr. John Watson, in his Cure of Souls, says truly that "No man in human society gathers such a harvest of kindly feeling as the shepherd of souls ; none is held in such grateful memory." So that there came to us too, in these first hours, one who had sustained long years of widowhood, in whose countenance was the soft light of much companying with the Angel of Sorrow, but in whom the long years of waiting had not dimmed the brightness of that It and certain hope"; who told us gently and firmly that just as soon as "everything was over," we must rise and come away; in whose home we found Sanctuary and " shelter in the time of storm." It was & Christ-like deed. And there must be many who with us will recall the Minister's own words, when lie preached from the text, " He staycth the roughness in the day of His east wind."

From all parts of Scotland,—to the Highlanders who had been so justly proud of him it was a sore blow, a strange reversal,—from England, and from Ireland where he was known, and later on from the colonies where he had many friends, came letters and telegrams of sympathy and appreciation, all testifying to the shock of pained surprise, and the deep sense of personal loss which were universally felt. For Hector Mackinnon was more than a preacher, he wai a good and a great man :-

"He held his place—
Held on thro' blame, and faltered not at praise.
And when he fell in whirlwind, he went down,
As when a kingly cedar, green with boughs,
Goes down with a great shout upon the hills,
And leaves a lonesome place against the sky."

"A great preacher of Jesus Christ," a friend of the poor, a father in God to countless numbers who to-day are still longing for the "touch of the vanished hand, and the sound of the voice that is still." In a volume of this size it will not be possible to publish any of the Private tributes to Mr. Mackinnon's memory; it would indeed be almost impossible to make any selection for publication, as all the letters are touchingly beautiful— a precious heritage for those who come after him. A melancholy interest attaches to some of these, as within a very short time their writers had also passed away—the Rev. J. Wallace Mann, Mr. Mackinnon's esteemed and attached friend, the neighbouring minister of Eastbank United Free Church; the Rev. Dr. Gillan, his co-presbyter; Mr. Grant, of Hylipol; and Mr. Carrick, of Newbattle.

Mr. Mackinnon's own Presbytery have recorded him as,—

A man of winning personality, of unwearied zeal, of wide sympathy, of evangelical earnestness, arid of high spiritual tone; and in consequence his influence was felt beyond his own church and country; his services being often in request at conventions for the quickening and deepening of spiritual life. His eloquence as a preacher, both in Gaelic and English, secured for him a unique position in the Highlands and Lowlands. In his own parish of Shettleston, as a faithful pastor and sympathetic friend, he was beloved by all. In Presbytery he was always helpful, and stood out as a strong advocate of everything that would tend to the good of the people. The Presbytery mourn his loss while yet in the prime of life, when giving great promise of future usefulness, and at a time when strong faith and Christian courage are so much needed in the Church. . . ."

"Mr. Mackinnon was very dear to us," wrote the secretary of the Presbytery Club, "and we miss him more than I can say. The loss which the Church has sustained by his death is very great."

The Rev. Dr. Brown, in paying a fine tribute to his memory, said," He was ever an advocate of truth and righteousness, a true comrade, and as loyal a soldier of Jesus Christ as the Church of Scotland ever had. . . ."

The Moderator of the Presbytery of the United Free Church, in which he was "as much honoured and loved as in his own," made reference—

"to the exceptional sorrow which has befallen the Church of Scotland in the death of the Rev. Hector Mackinnon, of Shettleston, suddenly cut down at the prime of his age and usefulness. He was a Brother beloved not only in his own Presbytery, but by many friends in our own and other Churches. Indeed all who knew Mr. Mackinnon esteemed him very highly for his warm evangelic fervour, his wide sympathies, and his love of the things which make for peace and union. A ministry like his enriches all the Churches. As a Presbytery we deplore his untimely removal and offer our sympathy to the Presbytery of the Church of Scotland in the great loss which they, and we, and the City have sustained. . ."

The leading bodies of almost all the other denominations, of Lodges, Associations, Committees, Boards and Unions all bore eloquent and touching testimony to the love and esteem in which he was universally held. The secretary of the Clan Mackinnon Society records that—

We have experienced this year, by the death of the Rev. Hector Mackinnon, perhaps the greatest loss sustained by the Society since its inception. We can only gauge the Toss by comparison with the influence for good he was in our midst, and that was immeasurable. His great abilities as a preacher and a speaker were known to all Highlanders, and these, combined with his vigorous personality, his frank and genial manner, his broad-mindedness and untiring zeal for any work he undertook, made him the most popular and powerful minister in the Church of Scotland. . . . His worth has been recognized, and his loss regretted by people of all classes and denominations, and while we are proud that he was a Highlander by birth, we must recognize that at heart he was a cosmopolitan. ."

The following account of the last solemn rites is taken from the Oban Times :

"The funeral of the Rev. Hector Mackinnon, minister of Shettleston Parish Church, who died on Tuesday last week after a short illness, took place on Friday last to Sandymount, Shettleston. The obsequies were marked by many tokens of the affection of his parishioners, and of the esteem in which lie was held by the whole community.

The Chief of the Clan MacKinnon (MacKinnon of MacKinnon), accompanied by his son, honoured his departed clansman by walking on foot in the procession from the church to the place of burial.

The Town Clerk of Glasgow (Mr. John Lindsay) and the representatives of Shettleston Ward on the Corporation, as well as members of Glasgow Presbytery and Shettleston School Board (of which the late minister was Chairman), were present, as were also a detachment of the 9th H.L.I. Territorials (the Glasgow Highlanders), of which regiment Mr. Mackinnon held the office of hon. chaplain; and the Company of the Boys' Brigade attached to the Parish Church.

The schools were closed, and many of the shops in the district were shut during the time of the funeral.
A short service was conducted in the manse by the Rev. William H. Rankine, Titwood, and the Rev. Norman Maclean, Park Parish.

IMPRESSIVE SERVICE

The coffin was then conveyed in a hearse to the church, where an impressive service was held. It was timed to begin at three o'clock, but long before that hour the church was filled to overflowing, and crowds lined the street outside, unable to gain admission. The coffin was borne into the church and placed in front of the pulpit by the following members of the session: Messrs. John Murdoch, William Allan, Alex. Potter, Alex. Porter, W. Cook, and Hector Maclean, Tolcross. There was present a large representation of the Glasgow Presbytery, including the clerk, the Rev. Robert Pryde.

The Moderator of the Presbytery, Rev. David Jack, Wardllawhill, presided. The Very Rev. Dr. M'Adam Muir, of the Cathedral, and the Rev. Dr. John Brown, Bellahouston, read the lessons, and the Moderator and the Rev. Norman Maclean conducted the devotional exercises.

The service concluded with the singing of "Now the labourer's task is o'er" and the benediction. To the strains of the "Dead March" in Saul, played by the organist, the coffin was carried out to the hearse, the following members of Presbytery acting as pall-bearers: The Moderator, the Rev. Dr. M'Adam Muir, the Rev. Dr. Brown, the Rev. Dr. Laidlaw, the Rev. Robert Pryde, and the Rev. Norman Maclean. The procession was then formed. The pipe band of the Glasgow Highlanders, followed by the Boys' Brigade, preceded the hearse, and to the solemn strains of the lament, " The Flowers o' the Forest," the cortege proceeded to the cemetery. A large number of carriages brought up the rear. All along the route the streets were lined with sympathetic crowds. At the grave-side the prayer was offered by the Rev. Dugald

Macfarlane, Parish of Kingussie, who also after the coffin had been lowered pronounced the benediction in Gaelic. The pipers then played " Lochaber no More." The pallbearers were: Masters Donald and Somerled Mackinnon, Sons; the Rev. D. Macfarlane, Kingussie; Mr. John Mackinnon, Tiree, brother; Captain MacEachnie, Glasgow, and Mr. Dugald Campbell, Glasgow, brothers-in-law; Mr. Adamson, Crieff, father-in-law; the Rev. Allan Munn, U.F. minister, Kirkhill, cousin; MacKinnon of MacKinnon and his son; the Rev. Dr. John Maclean, St. Columba's, Glasgow; the Rev. Norman Maclean, Park Church, Glasgow; the Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery; Mr. David Lawson, session clerk; Colonel Fleming, commanding the Glasgow Highlanders; a representative of the Tiree Association; Mr. John Murdoch, senior elder; and Captain Grey, commanding the Boys' Brigade. A large number of wreaths were sent.

MEMORIAL SERVICES
SHETTLESTON PARISH CHURCH

A funeral service for the late Rev. Hector Mackinnon, Shettleston, was held on Sunday in Shettleston Parish Church. The church was crowded, and about 400 people, who were unable to gain admission, assembled in the Church Hall, where another service was conducted.

At the service in the church the preacher was the Rev. Norman Maclean, Park Parish Church, and the lessons were read by Rev. G. E. Thomson, assistant in Shettleston Church.

At the conclusion of his sermon, which was based on Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 23, "The spirits of just men made perfect," Mr. Maclean paid a tribute to the late minister, whom he had known for thirty years. They knew what Mr. Mackinnon was as minister of Shettleston, but his power and his influence went far beyond his parish. There were all over Scotland and beyond it men and women for whom life would never be the same again because he was gone. In no place would he be mourned more deeply than in the islands of the West and throughout the Highlands. He was a great preacher in English, but he was greater in Gaelic. He was a great gift of God to his generation. The power of the man lay in this—that his heart was so big. He was interested in everything that pertained to the Kingdom of God. There never walked a truer friend than he was. He gave ungrudgingly and always, and it was because he never spared himself that he died ere the day's work was done.

SHETTLESTON PARISH HALL

The service in the hail was conducted by the Rev. Dugaid Macfarlane, Kingussie, who also gave a touching and beautiful tribute to the memory of his departed friend.

A CAMPBELTOWN TRIBUTE

As a tribute of respect to the memory of the late Rev. Hector Mackinnon, of Shettleston, who was formerly minister of the first charge at Campbcltown, the bells of the parish churches of Campbeltown were tolled on Friday during the funeral hour, while flags were at half-mast on all the shipping in the harbour.

REV. HECTOR MACKINNON'S FUNERAL

There are funerals which arouse public interest and evoke public sympathy, quite apart from the spectacular with which they may be accompanied. Hector iackinnon's funeral was of this kind. Men, women, and children crowded the streets of Shettleston, and surrounded and followed that long, mournful procession to the grave, not because they wanted to see it, but because they felt that here was the last they would see of one whom they had all learned to respect, and whom many had learned to love. It was natural and fitting that his great congregation, with its varied organized activities of workers, old and young, should be there. Fitting, too, that the Highlanders of Glasgow should be there; and only natural that the great Presbytery of Glasgow and scores of ministers of all denominations, from various parts of the country, should be there. That was to be expected. He was a beloved pastor. He was the friend of every Highlander. He was a co-worker with every minister, and had given personal service and help to not a few. But to see the grimy collier, the toiling foundry worker, the common labourer and the street loafer, with their women-folk and their children, stand to attention, reverently salute the passing bier, and with subdued and sorrowful mien whisper to one another their thoughts and feelings—that was the most eloquent testimony that this man had touched the hearts of the common people. And it meant that the common people instinctively recognize when a man of God and follower of Christ labours in their -midst. Hector Mackinnon's place in the hearts of those who knew him, and among whom he worked, was the place that the Gospel always makes for itself when it is earnestly preached and faithfully lived.

An old minister, walking behind me in the procession, declared " There has not been the like of this since Glasgow followed Norman Macleod to his grave." It was the same cause that made both these funerals the occasion of a spontaneous expression of public interest, sympathy and respect.

From The British Weekly—

Such a funeral as took place to-day has surely never before been seen in Shettleston. The large church crowded long before the time of service ; the waiting thousands outside; the tears and sobs as the procession passed on— all bore testimony to the greatness of his influence. The chief of the Mackinnon clan was there; and the pipes of the Highlanders wailed their lament. It was a stately dirge, and gave expression to the pain that throbbed in thousands of hearts. Dr. Hamilton, writing of McCheyne, says, "The death of this young, sainted servant of God did more to advance the Saviour's Kingdom than the labours of his life." May it also be so in the case of Hector Mackinnon. Looking on these gathered thousands to-day, one could not but try to account for such an immense tribute as the people paid. Several things can be truly said. He preached with great earnestness the Gospel of Redeeming Love with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven. He visited diligently, and his homely manner and kindly way ensured an open door wherever he went. He preached in churches of every denomination, and frequently at conferences and mission halls. It is pathetic to see bills in the city announcing him to preach on a special occasion on Sunday first.

Many have told us how, just as the mournful procession reached the entrance to the cemetery, the sun suddenly shone out on what had been a day of storm and cloud, " and it seemed like a prophecy when immediately a beautiful rainbow appeared encircling in its arch that sorrowing throng in the grave-yard and the mourners in the manse near by." "There has been no funeral like it since Norman Macleod's," they told us ; we had known it would be so, for the people felt the power of a life given. And to the broken-hearted mother far away the Minister's friend sent the swift message—"Our sorrowful task is done, but thousands came to witness it, forming a great and mourning company. And my best friend has been laid to rest amid remarkable scenes of public sorrow. Glasgow has been stirred to its heart, and showed it."

The time came when we found ourselves in—

"The empty aching home,
Where the silent footsteps come,
Where the unseen face looks on,
Where the hand-clasp is not felt,
Where the dearest eyes are gone,
Where the portrait on the wall
Stirs and struggles as to speak,
Where the light breath from the hail
Calls the colour to the cheek,
Where the voice breaks in the hymn
When the sunset burneth dim,
Where the late large tear will start
Frozen by the broken heart,
Where the lesson is to learn
How to live, to grieve, to yearn,
How to bear and how to bow.
Oh, the Christmas that is fled!
Lord of living and of dead,
Comfort Thou!

Do God's promises break down when we come face to face with some overwhelming crisis in life ? Is our Christian faith a reality or an illusion ? Do Christian people believe all they profess to believe about immortality, and the future life? Now and again we meet with those who, in speaking of the life after death, say with startling candour, "I don't believe that, I don't see how it can be " (as if we could limit the Almighty!) and you will find, too, that these have only said what some others were secretly thinking. In the hope that it may be used to comfort any who with us are "companions of the sorrowful way," or to strengthen any who find it hard to believe in a God who veils Himself from our mortal vision in what seem to us "thick clouds and darkness," we humbly and reverently give here what has been our experience in a supreme sorrow. In all the deep darkness and despair, the shattering, crushing heart-break of the weeks and months which followed—Re did "sit by us and moan." And, let us be honest, by us too was that cruellest of all enemies, ever ready in mockery and derision with the taunt, "Where is now your God?" "Where now is the faith and hope you so fondly cherished and clung to?" "Doth Job fear God for nought? " "Hast Thou not made an hedge about him? " It was a hard-fought fight, but the faith we wrestle for is the faith worth while.

"What can we do, o'er whom the unbeholden
Hangs in a night with which we cannot cope?
What, but look sunward and with faces golden
Speak to each other softly of a hope?"

Is it not the case with many that when one very near and dear to us is suddenly snatched away, and hidden for ever from our mortal eyes, that we, secretly, expect them to communicate with us, to make some little sign of assurance that they are not lost to us for ever ? We know that they are with Christ, and He is always with us. May we not legitimately believe that in Him and through Him we are all the while in close and constant touch with our dear ones? May we not believe that they "look down upon us at our earthly tasks even now," and that God, whom they loved and served here, still continues to make them the instruments in those ministrations of which we ourselves are the objects? We searched all the Minister's books in feverish quest for certainty, but it was in his own sermons we found that which led us back to the now illuminated words of the Master—"If it were not so I would have told you!" And there we take our stand, firmer than before ; learning more and more that it is the things of the Spirit that matter, and that God, who "sendeth the promise where He sends the pain," has wonderful things to teach those who come close enough to Him. For the rest—

"How should I tell, and how can ye receive it,
How, till He bringcth you where I have been?"

When the stricken heart finds at last no other attitude but that of "Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee," it becomes no longer difficult to believe that the loved ones who have been snatched from us in "fiery chariots of pain," are even now clothed in glorified spiritual bodies—not changed but glorified—and, with their Risen Lord, are alive for evermore, serving Him day and night.

"Still on the lips of all we question,
The finger of God's silence lies;
Will the lost hands in ours be folded?
Will the shut eyelids ever rise?
Oh, friend, no proof beyond this yearning,
This outstretch of our hearts we need
God will not mock the hope He giveth,
No love He prompts shall vainly plead.
Then let us stretch our hands in darkness,
And call our loved ones o'er and o'er;
Some day their arms will close about us,
And the old voices speak once more."

On October 23, 1913, in the presence of a large company of people from Shettleston and Glasgow, the Memorial Stone, shown on opposite page, was unveiled in Sandymount Cemetery, by Mr. Mackinnon's lifelong friend, the Rev. D. Macfarlane, of Kingussie. A short service was conducted, and, before dispersing, the company sang over the grave the hymn, which was the last Mr. Mackinnon had given out—

For all the saints who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be for ever blest. Hallelujah
From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's furthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Hallelujah!"

 

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