Macfarlane, John (DNB00)


MACFARLANE, JOHN, LL.D. (1807–1874), Scottish divine, born in Dunfermline on 7 Feb. 1807, was third son of James Macfarlane, for forty years colleague, and afterwards successor at Queen Anne Street Church, Dunfermline, of James Husband, D.D. (d. 1821), whose daughter Grace was his wife. She died in giving birth to her ninth child when John was eight years of age. Of his brothers, James became the leading solicitor in Dunfermline, William Husband a well-known lithographer in Edinburgh, George and Wardlaw merchants in Glasgow, and Andrew, minister of Trinity U. P. Church, Greenock. John was educated at the grammar school of Dunfermline, and in his thirteenth year entered the university of Edinburgh. In 1823 he attended a session at Glasgow University, and entered the Divinity Hall of the United Secession church in 1825. He was licensed by the presbytery of Edinburgh in 1830, and was ordained in Kincardine-on-Forth in the following year. He soon became known as a popular preacher and a facile and voluminous writer. In 1832 a steeple was added to his church, and a bell introduced. An interdict to prevent the bell from being rung was served upon him at the instance of the parish minister, but it was found that the use of church bells was not an exclusive privilege of the established church. In September 1840 he was inducted into the charge of Nicolson Street U. P. Church, Glasgow. Shortly afterwards his congregation removed to a new church, called Erskine Church, in memory of two of the founders of the secession denomination. In 1842 Macfarlane received the degree of LL.D. from Glasgow University. In company with Dr. H. M, Macgill of Glasgow and others, Macfarlane promoted the cause of presbyterian church extension in England. Funds placed at the disposal of the synod for the purpose by John Henderson, esq., of Park, Glasgow, enabled Macfarlane and his associates to open presbyterian churches at Highbury and at Clapham, London, and in August 1861 Macfarlane himself was called to the latter. He was elected moderator of the united presbyterian synod in 1866 and of the English provincial synod in 1870. Under his ministry Clapham Church increased from thirty-six members to about eight hundred, and raised over 12,000l. for building purposes. Macfarlane died after a long illness in 1874.

In 1837 Macfarlane married Janet Jamieson, second daughter of the Rev. Dr. Kidston of Glasgow.

Macfarlane published, apart from sermons, lectures, and pamphlets: 1. 'The Night Lamp,' a narrative 'of the means by which spiritual darkness was dispelled from the deathbed of Agnes Maxwell Macfarlane' (written in 1832, but not published till 1851). 2. 'The Mountains of the Bible, their Scenes and their Lessons,' 1840. 3. 'Altar Light,' 1859. 4. 'Altar Zeal,' 1859. 5. 'Altar Gold,' 1859. 6. 'The Life and Times of Dr. Lawson,' the result of much labour and research, 1861. 7. 'Pulpit Echoes,' 1868. In 1837, in conjunction with Dr. McKerrow, he edited 'The Life and Correspondence of the Rev. H. Belfrage, D.D., Falkirk,' In 1838 he contributed to the 'Christian Treasury' 'Moral Views of London.' He was also the author of memoirs of Dr. Archer, Dr. Kidston, Dr. Smith, Dr. McKelvie, Dr. Baird, the Rev. John Campbell, and others, and edited a 'Condensed Commentary,' from Henry and Scott.

[Personal knowledge; Graham's Memoirs of John Macfarlane, LL.D.; Annals and Statistics of the U. P. Church.]

T. B. J.