a learned and faithful divine of the Church of Scotland, son of the Rev.
John Gillespie, minister at Kirkcaldy, was born January 21, 1613. At the
university he surpassed most of his fellow-students in acquirements, and
having been licensed to preach the gospel, became, about 1634, chaplain
to the Viscount Kenmure, and afterwards to the family of the earl of
Cassillis. During the time he remained with the latter, he wrote his
famous ‘Dispute against the English Popish Ceremonies, obtruded upon the
Church of Scotland,’ meaning the Episcopal innovations of Charles the
First, which was published in 1637, and prohibited by the bishops soon
after. In April 1638 he was ordained minister of Wemyss in Fife, when he
began publicly to distinguish himself by his advocacy and defence of
Presbyterianism and the Covenant. In the memorable Assembly held at
Glasgow in the ensuing November, Mr. Gillespie preached one of the daily
sermons, choosing for his text Prov. Xxi. 1. “The king’s heart is in the
hand of the Lord.” In this discourse he spoke out very boldly, and the
earl of Argyle, thinking that he had encroached too nearly on the royal
prerogative, warned the Assembly against similar language in future,
which, we are told, was taken in good part. At the General Assembly held
at Edinburgh in 1641, a call in favour of Mr. Gillespie was read from
Aberdeen; but, at his own request, he was allowed to remain at Wemyss.
On Sunday, the 12th September of that year, he preached
before the king in the Abbey church at Edinburgh.
In 1642, he
was translated by the General Assembly to Edinburgh, of which city he
continued to be one of the ministers till his death. In 1643, he was one
of the four commissioners sent from the Church of Scotland to the
Assembly of Divines at Westminster, where his knowledge, zeal, and
judgment enabled him to give essential assistance in preparing the
Catechisms, the Directory for Worship, the Confession of Faith, and
other standards of religion. On one occasion, at a meeting of the
parliament and the assembly of divines, he ably refuted a long and
elaborate speech made in favour of Erastianism by one of those present;
and that without taking notes of the arguments of his opponent. After
his return from Westminster, he was employed in most of the affairs of
the church, and in 1648 was chosen moderator of the General Assembly. He
was also one of those appointed to conduct the treaty of uniformity in
religion with England; but his last illness seized him soon after, and,
for the benefit of his health, he went with his wife to Kirkcaldy, where
he died December 16, 1648.
We learn from
Wodrow’s Analecta, that six volumes of manuscript which Mr. Gillespie
composed during his attendance at the Westminster Assembly, were extant
in 1707. He had also, while in England, prepared his Sermons for
publication, but these were suppressed in the hands of the printer,
through the jealousy of the Independents. Four days after his death the
committee of Estates testified the public sense of his great merits and
usefulness by voting to his widow and children £1,000, which was
ratified by act of parliament, June 8, 1650, but which, owing to the
confusion and distraction of the times, his family never received.
His works are:
against the English Popish Ceremonies, obtruded upon the Church of
Scotland, 1637, 4to.
between a Civilian and a Divine, concerning the present condition of the
Church of England, London, 1644, 4to. Anon.
Recrimination charged upon Mr. Goodwin, in defence of Presbyterianism.
Lond. 1644, 4to. Anon.
preached before the House of Commons, from Ezek. xliii. 11. Lond. 1644,
Resolution of a present Controversy, concerning Liberty of Conscience.
Lond. 1645, 4to.
A Discovery of
the extreme unsatisfactoriness of Mr. Colman’s piece, published under
the title of, A Brotherly Examination re-examined. Lond. 1645, 4to.
Sermon on Mal.
Iii. 2. Lond. 1645, 4to.
severity reconciled to Christian Liberty. Lond. 1645, 4to. Anon.
blossoming; or the Divine Ordinance of Church Government vindicated.
Lond. 1646, 4to.
Male Audis, or
an answer to Mr. Colman his Male Dicis. Lond. 1646, 4to.
A Treatise of
Miscellany Questions; wherein many useful Questions and Cases of
Conscience are discussed and resolved. Edin. 1649, 4to.
The Ark of the
Testament opened, in a Treatise of the Covenant of Grace. Lond. 1661,
founder of the Synod of Relief, the son of a farmer and brewer, was born
at Clearburn, in the parish of Duddingstone, near Edinburgh, in 1708.
When he was little more than twenty years of age he commenced his
studies for the ministry at the university of Edinburgh. Previous to
this period he had lost his father, and his mother having, on the origin
of the Secession, joined that body, by her advice he went to Perth to
attend the lectures of Mr. Wilson, their first professor of divinity.
Disapproving, however, of the principles on which the Secedes were
acting, he did not remain longer in that city than ten days; and
proceeding to England, he pursued his studies at the Theological Academy
in Northampton, at that time superintended by the celebrated Dr. Philip
Doddridge. He was licensed to preach the gospel October 30, 1740, by a
respectable body of English Dissenters, Dr. Doddridge presiding on the
occasion as moderator, and ordained to the work of the ministry January
22, 1741. He officiated, for a short time, as minister of a dissenting
congregation in the north of England, but returned to Scotland in March
following, and being soon after presented by Mr. Erskine to the parish
of Carnock, near Dunfermline, to which he had received a call, he was
inducted by the presbytery of Dunfermline, as if he had been a regularly
ordained minister of the church. At his admission, he objected to the
doctrine of the Confession of Faith respecting the power of the civil
magistrate in matters of religion; and was allowed to subscribe it with
an explanation of his meaning. He continued minister of Carnock for
eleven years, during all which time he was wholly attentive to his
pastoral duties, and took no conspicuous part in the discussions of the
Owing to the
grievous and unpopular operation of the law of patronage, which had
already produced the Secession, the evangelical party, though in those
days the minority in the church, lost no opportunity of protesting
against violent settlements, and of maintaining the constitutional right
of the people to have a voice in the election of their minister; and
cases occurred of whole presbyteries refusing to be instrumental in
forcing unacceptable presentees on reclaiming parishes. In 1751 Mr.
Andrew Richardson, minister of Broughton, near Biggar, was presented by
the patron to the church in Inverkeithing; and his settlement being
opposed by the parishioners, not only the presbytery of Dunfermline, but
the synod of Fife, refused to obey an order of the commission of
Assembly to proceed with his induction. In consequence of which the
Assembly of 1752 appointed the presbytery of Dunfermline to meet at
Inverkeithing, during the sitting of the Assembly, to induct Mr.
Richardson, enjoining every member to be present on the occasion, and to
report proceedings at the bar the day after. Only three members of the
presbytery attended, and that number not being sufficient to constitute
a quorum, nothing of course was done, and the Assembly proceeded to
punish the six members of the presbytery who had disobeyed their
injunctions. Notwithstanding of a representation given in by them to the
Assembly, pleading conscientious scruples as the reason why they had not
attended, the Assembly decided by vote that one of them should be
deposed in place of the whole six, while the rest should be censured and
provisionally suspended. By a majority, Mr. Gillespie was the one chosen
for deposition, and with the meekness which belonged to his character,
he heard the sentence pronounced which cast him forth of the Church of
Scotland for ever. He replied to the sentence of deposition in the
following solemn words: “Moderator, I desire to receive this sentence of
the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland with real concern, and
awful impressions of the divine conduct in it; but I rejoice that to me
it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also
to suffer for his sake.”
following Sabbath Mr. Gillespie, whose fate was universally
commiserated, preached to his people in the fields at Carnock, choosing
for his text the very appropriate declaration of St. Paul, “For
necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the
gospel.” A church having been provided for him at Dunfermline, he formed
there the first Relief congregation. Five years later Mr. Thomas Boston,
son of the author of the ‘Fourfold State,’ resigned his charge of the
parish of Oxnam, and the people of Jedburgh having built a church for
him, he became their minister in December 1757, when, quitting the
Church of Scotland, he immediately joined Mr. Gillespie. These two
ministers, with the Rev. Thomas Collier, who was admitted pastor of a
new Relief congregation at Colinsburgh in Fife, on October 22, 1761,
formed themselves, upon that occasion, into a presbytery for the
relief of the Christian people from what the great body f the
Scottish nation have all along styled “the yoke of patronage.” In 1847
the Relief Synod was joined with the United Associate Synod, and formed
one body under the name of the United Presbyterian Church. Mr. Gillespie
died January 19, 1774. He left in MS. About 800 sermons. He was the
Essay on the
Continuance of Immediate Revelations of Facts and Future Events in the
Christian Church. 1774.
Temptation. – To this and the preceding work prefaces were written by
Dr. John Erskine of Edinburgh. 1774.
Correspondence with President Edwards has been inserted in the Quarterly
Magazine, edited by Dr. Stuart, Dr. Erskine’s son-in-law.
author of ‘Consolation, and other Poems,’ eldest son of the Rev. John
Gillespie, minister of Kells in Galloway, was born in the manse of that
parish, February 18, 1776, and received the rudiments of education at
the parish school. In 1792 he went to the university of Edinburgh to
study for the church, and was appointed tutor to Mr., afterwards Sir
Alexander, Don, baronet. Having been duly licensed as a preacher, he
was, in 1801, ordained assistant and successor to his father, on whose
death, in 1806, he became sole minister of Kells. In 1805 he published
‘The Progress of Refinement, an allegorical Poem;’ and in 1815,
‘Consolation, and other Poems;’ but neither of these works evinced much
poetical genius, and their sale was but limited. In July 1825 he married
Miss Charlotte Hoggan; and soon after was seized with erysipelas, which
terminated in general inflammation, and caused his death October 15 of
that year, in the fiftieth year of his age. Besides communicating
information to the Highland Society, of which he was a zealous and
useful member, Mr. Gillespie occasionally furnished papers to various
periodicals, and among other valuable contributions to literature, he
wrote an elegant and affecting account of John Lowe, author of ‘Mary’s
Dream,’ for Cromek’s Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song.