Haldane, James Alexander (DNB00)

HALDANE, JAMES ALEXANDER (1768–1851), religious writer, youngest and posthumous son of Captain James Haldane of Airthrey House, Stirlingshire, and Katherine, daughter of Alexander Duncan of Lundie, Forfarshire, and sister of the first Viscount Duncan, was born at Dundee on 14 July 1768. His father dying in 1768 and his mother in 1774, he was brought up under the care of his grandmother, Lady Lundie, and his uncles. After attending Dundee grammar school and the high school of Edinburgh he entered Edinburgh University in 1781, and attended the arts classes for three sessions. In 1785 he became a midshipman on board the Duke of Montrose, East Indiaman. He made four voyages in her to India and China. During the last he was second officer. An intimacy which, in conjunction with his brother Robert [q. v.], he contracted with David Bogue of Gosport [q. v.], made a deep impression on him, and in 1794 he abandoned the sea and settled in Edinburgh. He began shortly afterwards to hold religious meetings. In spite of the opposition which the then novel practice of lay preaching excited, he began in 1797 to make extensive evangelistic tours over Scotland, preaching wherever opportunity offered, often to large audiences. Encouraged by his success, in the end of 1797 he established in Edinburgh the Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home, a non-sectarian organisation chiefly intended for the promotion of itinerant preaching and tract distribution. Hitherto he had been a member of the Church of Scotland, but in January 1799, along with his brother and others, he founded a congregational church in Edinburgh, of which he was ordained pastor on 3 Feb. 1799, thus becoming the first minister of the first congregational church in Scotland. He declined to receive any salary for his services, and the entire congregational income was devoted to the support of the Society for Propagating the Gospel at Home. At first he preached in a large circus, but in 1801 his brother built him in Leith Walk a tabernacle seated for three thousand persons, and here he officiated till his death, still spending, however, much time every year in itinerant work. In 1808 he embraced baptist sentiments, and this along with other changes in his views caused a serious rupture not only in his church, but throughout the whole congregational body in Scotland, and was the occasion of much bitter controversy. He and his brother, however, still devoted themselves to the advancement of religion all over the country, and retained the confidence of good men everywhere. In 1811 he published a treatise, suggested by the dissensions which had vexed him, entitled ‘The Duty of Christian Forbearance in regard to points of Church Order.’ Its issue involved him in another controversy, the Rev. William Jones, a baptist minister in London, and others, replying to it, and Haldane publishing a rejoinder to their strictures. There was scarcely an important religious controversy in his time in which he did not take a part. Against the Walkerites he published in 1819 ‘Strictures on a publication upon Primitive Christianity by Mr. John Walker, formerly fellow of Dublin College.’ The Irvingite movement called forth a ‘Refutation of the Heretical Doctrines promulgated by the Rev. Edward Irving respecting the Person and Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ To this Henry Drummond [q. v.] published a rejoinder, to which Haldane replied. When the controversy regarding the views of Thomas Erskine of Linlathen [q. v.] and Campbell of Row was at its height, he gave expres- sion to his views in ‘Observations on Universal Pardon, the Extent of the Atonement, and Personal Assurance of Salvation.’ In 1842 appeared ‘Man's Responsibility; the Nature and Extent of the Atonement, and the Work of the Holy Spirit, in reply to Mr. Howard Hinton and the Baptist Midland Association.’ In 1843 he issued a tract on the Atonement, and in 1845 a work entitled ‘The Doctrine of the Atonement, with strictures on the recent Publications of Drs. Wardlaw and Jenkyn.’ A second edition of this appeared in 1847. Other works not of a controversial kind were: 1. ‘Journal of a Tour to the North,’ being an account of his first evangelistic journey. 2. ‘Early Instruction commended, in a Narrative of Catharine Haldane, with an Address to Parents on the importance of Religion.’ This was called forth by the death in 1801 of his little daughter at the age of six, and ran through eleven or twelve editions. 3. ‘Views of the Social Worship of the First Churches,’ published in 1805. 4. ‘The Doctrine and Duty of Self-Examination,’ being the substance of two sermons preached in 1806; he published another work on the same subject in 1830. 5. ‘An Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians,’ published in 1848. For five years he conducted ‘The Scripture Magazine,’ in which many essays from his pen appeared, including ‘Notes on Scripture,’ and in addition to the works mentioned he was the author of many tracts. He died in Edinburgh on 8 Feb. 1851.

He was twice married, first in September 1793 to the only daughter of Major Alexander Joass of Culleonard, Banffshire; and secondly in 1822 to Margaret, daughter of Dr. Daniel Rutherford, professor of botany in the university of Edinburgh; his son, Daniel Rutherford, by his second wife, is separately noticed.

[Alexander Haldane's Lives of Robert Haldane of Airthrey and of his brother, James Alexander Haldane, 1852.]

T. H.