BELFRAGE, HENRY, D.D.,
an eminent clergyman of the Secession, and author of several esteemed
religious works, fourth son of the Rev. John Belfrage, minister of the first
Associate Congregation, Falkirk, was born there March 24, 1774. He was early
intended for the ministry, and received the rudiments of his education at
the parish school of his native town. In November 1786 he was sent to the
university of Edinburgh, where he distinguished himself by his diligence and
application. He afterwards studied divinity at the theological seminary of
the Associate Synod, under the able tuition of Professor Lawson of Selkirk.
In July 1793 he was licensed to the ministry by the Associate Presbytery of
Stirling and Falkirk, and on 31st August following he received
from his father’s congregation a most harmonious call to be assistant and
successor. He also received a call from Saltcoats and Lochwinnoch, but was
ordained to Falkirk, June 18, 1794, when he was little more than twenty
years of age. He was his father’s colleague for four years. His congregation
was large, and scattered over a considerable extent of country, yet every
year he paid a pastoral visit to every member of it, and also had regular
diets of catechising. He was likewise very punctual in attending the
Secession Church courts. He regularly visited the sick, and was always ready
to assist the poor. On his father’s death he inherited the estate of
Colliston in Kinross-shire, and for forty-one years he held the ministerial
office in the Secession Church at Falkirk. In the spring of 1802 his
character as an eloquent and useful preacher being established, he was
induced to visit London, to supply for a short time a congregation, then
vacant, which met in Miles Lane, when he gave great satisfaction to all who
heard him. In 1814 he commenced that series of devotional and practical
publications which entitle him to an honourable place in the list of
religious writers, and which, in a collected form, amount to 12 volumes. His
first work, published that year, consisted wholly of Sacramental Addresses.
In 1817 he published ‘Practical Discourses, intended to promote the
Happiness and Improvement of the Young.’ In 1818 he published a ‘Practical
Catechism,’ with an address to children, and some prayers; in 1821, a second
volume of Sacramental Addresses; in 1822, ‘Sketches of Life and Character
fro Scripture and from Observation;’ in 1823, his ‘Monitor to Families, or
Discourses on some of the Duties and Scenes of Domestic Life;’ also ‘A Guide
to the Lord’s Table.’ His writings procured for him, in 1824, from the
university of St. Andrews, the degree of D.D.; principally on the
recommendation of Sir Henry Moncrieff Wellwood, Bart., D.D., one of the
ministers of Edinburgh. In June 1825 he again visited London, being invited
to preach before the London Missionary Society. In 1827 he published a
series of Discourses ‘On the Duties and Consolations of the Aged.’ In
September 1828 he married Margaret, youngest daughter of Richard Gardner,
Esq., comptroller of customs, Edinburgh. In 1829 appeared his ‘Counsels for
the Sanctuary, and for Civil Life,’ which concluded the author’s series of
illustrations of Christian morality. In 1830 he published an Illustration of
the History and Doctrine of John the Baptist. In 1832 appeared his
‘Practical Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism;’ and the same
year a volume of ‘Select Essays,’ religious and moral. Among his other
publications may be mentioned the Life of Dr. Waugh of London, which went
through several editions. Besides those named, he contributed a great number
of Essays and Reviews to the Evangelical Magazine and other periodicals. He
died September 16, 1835. His Life and Correspondence, compiled by the Rev.
John M’Kerrow and the Rev. John Macfarlane, appeared in 1837. Subjoined is a
list of Dr. Belfrage’s works:
Addresses and Meditations. 1st vol. published in 1814.
Discourses, intended to promote the Happiness and Improvement of the Young.
Catechism, intended to exhibit the leading facts and principles of
Christianity, in connexion with their moral influence; to which is added an
Address to Children, and some prayers to guide the Devotions of the Young.
Addresses and Meditations; with a few Sermons interspersed. 2d vol.
published in 1821.
A Funeral Sermon,
entitled ‘The Feelings excited by Departed Worth:’ preached to Queen
Anne-street congregation, Dunfermline, at the death of the Rev. Dr. Husband.
The text is 2 Kings ii. 12. Published in 1821.
Sketches of Life
and Character, from Scripture and from Observation. 1822.
Families, or Discourses on some of the Duties and Scenes of domestic life.
A Guide to the
Lord’s Table, in the Catechetical form. To which is added an Address to
applicants for admission, and some meditations to aid their devotions. 1823.
A Sermon preached
before the London Missionary Society, on the 11th May, 1825. The
text is Isaiah ix. 6.
Discourses on the
Duties and Consolations of the Aged. Published in 1827.
Counsels for the
Sanctuary and for Civil Life. 1829.
Memoirs of the
Rev. Dr. Waugh, of Well-street, London. This is a joint production of Dr.
Belfrage and of his friend the Rev. James Hay, D.D. of Kinross. The first
edition made its appearance in 1830
A Portrait of John
the Baptist; or an Illustration of his History and Doctrine. 1830.
Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism. The first edition was
published in 1832, in one volume. a second edition, considerably enlarged,
was published in 1834, in two volumes. This is a work on which the author
bestowed considerable pains. It is replete with sound views of Scripture
truth, expressed in a pleasing form.
Select Essays on
various topics, Religious and Moral. 1832.
account of the Rev. Dr. Lawson; prefixed to a volume of the Doctor’s
discourses, ‘On the History of David,’ &c. Published in 1833.
In addition to the
above, there were found among his manuscripts, at the period of his death,
two volumes of Lectures, in a state of complete readiness for the press,
which it was his intention to publish, but increasing debility prevented him
from carrying his intention into effect. There were also two small volumes,
which he had prepared at the request of one of his publishers; the one being
a series of discourses on the parable of the Ten Virgins, and having for its
title, ‘The Visible Church in the Last Days,’ the other consisting of
discourses on the promises, and entitled, “Christian Instruction in Hope, in
Warning, and in Example.’