Rainy, Robert (DNB12)

RAINY, ROBERT (1826–1906), Scottish divine, elder son of Harry Rainy, M.D. (d. 6 Aug. 1876), professor of forensic medicine in Glasgow University, by his wife Barbara Gordon (d. July 1854), was born at 49 Montrose Street (now the Technical College), Glasgow, on 1 Jan. 1826. On 10 Oct. 1835 he entered the Glasgow High School, where Alexander Maclaren [q. v. Suppl. II] was his schoolfellow. In October 1838 he proceeded to Glasgow University, where he graduated M.A. in April 1844. His father designed him for the medical profession ; he had been taken by his father's friend, Robert Buchanan (1802-1875) [q. v.], to the debates in the general assembly of 1841 leading to 'disruption,' and when 'disruption' came in 1843 he felt a vocation to the ministry of the Free Church ; on his father's advice he gave a year (1843-4) to medical study. In 1844 he entered the divinity haU of the Free Church New College, Edinburgh, studying under Chalmers, David Welsh [q. v.], William Cunningham [q. v.], 'rabbi' John Duncan [q. v.], and Alexander Campbell Fraser, He was at this time a member of the famous 'speculative society' at the Edinburgh University. He was licensed on 7 Nov. 1849 by the Free Church presbytery of Glasgow, and for six months had charge of a mission at Inchinnan, near Renfrew. By Elizabeth, dowager duchess of Gordon [q. v.], he was made chaplain at Huntly Lodge ; declining other caUs, he became minister of Huntly Free Church, ordained there by Strathbogie presbytery on 12 Jan. 1851. His repute was such that in 1854 he was called to Free High Church, Edinburgh, in succession to Robert Gordon [q. v.]. As he wished to remain in Huntly, his presbytery declined (12 April 1854) to sustain the call ; so did the synod ; the general assembly (22 May 1854) transferred him to Edinburgh, henceforth his home. His pastorate lasted till 1862, when he was made professor of church history in the Free Church College, delivering his inaugural lecture on 7 Nov 1862. In 1863 he received the degree of D.D. Glasgow. He became principal of the college in 1874, and retained this dignity till death, resigning his chair in 1901.

Rainy's position soon became that of the ecclesiastical statesman of his church, of whose assembly he was moderator in 1887, in 1900, and in 1905. No one since WiUiam Carstares (1649-1715) [q. v.] (not even WilUam Robertson (1721-1793) leader of the moderates) exercised so commanding an influence on the ecclesiastical life of Scotland. David Masson [q. v. Suppl. II] desciibed him as a 'national functionary.' His three lectures (Jan, 1872) in reply to Dean Stanley's four lectures on the 'History of the Church of Scotland,' given in that month at the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution (first delivered at Oxford, 1870), were not only a remarkable effort of readiness but a striking vindication of the attitude of Scottish religion. The flaw in his statesmanship was his dealing with the case (1876-81) of William Robertson Smith [q. v.] ; in this matter there was some justification for Smith's description of Rainy as 'a Jesuit' (Simpson, i. 396»). Yet of the Assembly speech (1881) by Marcus Dods [q. v. Suppl. II], in opposition to his action. Rainy said 'The finest thing I ever heard in my life' (Mackintosh, p. 77). Rainy's advocacy of the 'voluntary' policy (simply, however, as expedient in the circumstances) began in 1872, when, in criticism of the abolition of patronage (effected in 1874), he declared 'that the only solution was disestablishment.' This opened the way for a union with the United Presbyterian Church (mooted as early as 1863) ; but while Rainy rightly interpreted the feeling of the majority of his own generation, the older men and the 'highland host,' led by James Begg [q. v.] and John Kennedy [q. v.], were unprepared to surrender the principle of a state church. In 1876, after long negotiation. Rainy achieved the union of the reformed presbyterian synod with the Free Church ; the original secession synod had been incorporated with the free Church in 1852. In 1881 Rainy was made convener of the 'highland committee' of his church, a post which he ; held till death. He was hampered by unacquaintance with Gaelic, but succeeded in winning over a section of the minority opposed to the policy of union. The opposition was not so much to disestablishment as to union with a body which imperfect knowledge led them to distrust (Simpson, i. i 446). As convener. Rainy raised, between 1882 and 1893, 10,795l. for the endowment scheme promoted by his predecessor, Thomas McLauchlan [q. v.], and over 10,000l. for the erection of church buildings, mainly in the Outer Hebrides, and subsequently 7500l. for special agencies (Highland Witness, p. 1074 seq.). In 1890 he supported the motion for refusing any process of heresy against professors Marcus Dods and Alexander Balmain Bruce [q. v. Suppl. I], who were let off with a caution. ’The question at issue was the inerrancy of Scripture, which Rainy held 'under difficulties,' but would not press, if inspiration were admitted. In 1892 he succeeded in passing into law the Declaratory Act, which distinguished in the Confession of Faith between 'substance' and points open to 'diversity of opinion,' and disclaimed 'any principles inconsistent with liberty of conscience and the right of private judgment.' Union with the United Presbyterian Church was effected on 31 Oct. 1900, and Rainy was elected the first moderator of the united body. Within six weeks from the date of the union a court of session summons was served upon all the general trustees of the former Free Church and all the members of the union assembly, the pursuers contending that they alone represented the Free Church, and were entitled to all its property. While litigation was going on, a charge of heresy was brought against George Adam Smith, D.D., on the ground of his Old Testament criticism; Rainy carried a motion declining to institute any process, maintaining that it was 'a question about the respect due to facts,' and could not be 'settled ecclesiastically' (Simpson, ii. 272-3). Judgments in the courts of session were given (9 Aug. 1901; 4 July, 1902) in favour of the United Free Church. An appeal to the House of Lords was heard from 24 Nov. to 4 Dec. 1903, and reheard from 9 to 23 June 1904. Judgment was given on 1 Aug., when five peers (Halsbury, Davey, James, Robertson, and Alverstone) found there had been a breach of the Free Church constitution; two (Macnaghten and Lindley) held there had not; one (Halsbury) found definite doctrinal change on predestination; two (Davey and Robertson) held that the position of the confession had been illegally modified; two (Macnaghten and Lindley) held the contrary. The entire church property was handed over to the so-called 'Wee Frees,' the United Free Church raising an emergency fund of 150,000l.; its assembly in 1905 passed a declaration of spiritual independence. After a royal commission which reported that 'the Free Church are unable to carry out all the trusts of the property,' the Churches (Scotland) Act (11 Aug. 1905) appointed an executive commission for the allocation of the property between the two bodies. The 'Wee Frees' got a sufficient equipment; the United Free Church raised a further sum of 150,000l. to supplement the property recovered. Rainy did not live to re-enter the recovered college building. He had been operated upon for an internal disorder, and left Edinburgh on 24 Oct. 1906 for a recuperative voyage to Australia. His last sermon was at sea ou 11 Nov, He reached Melbourne on 8 Dec, and died there of lymphadenoma on 22 Dec. 1906; on 7 March 1907 he was buried in the Dean cemetery, Edinburgh. He married on 2 Dec. 1857 Susan (b. 1835; d. 30 Sept. 1905), daughter of Adam Rolland of Gask, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. In 1894 his portrait by Sir George Reid was presented to the New College, and a replica to his wife.

His eldest son, Adam Rollaud Rainy (1862-1911), M.A., M,B., and C.M.Edin., studied at Berhn and Vienna, and practised (1887-1900) as a surgeon ocuKst in London. He travelled in Austraha and New Zealand (1891), in the West Indies (1896), in Spain and Algiers (1899 and 1903). Entering on political work, he contested Ealmarnock Burghs in 1900 as a radical, gained the seat in 1906, and held it till his sudden death at North Berwick on 26 Aug. 1911. He married in 18§7 Annabella, second daughter of Hugh Matheson, D.L. of Ross-shire, who survived him with a son and two daughters.

Robert Rainy was a man of fascinating personality and infinite tact, amounting to skilled diplomacy, being 'a rare manager of men,' regarded by his students with 'peculiar veneration and affection,' and, in spite of a certain aloofness, winning by his earnestness and goodwill the warm attachment of men in all parties. In general politics he took little part, but he followed Gladstone on the home rule question. His writings were not numerous but weighty. He published : 1. 'Three Lectures on the Church of Scotland,' Edinburgh 1872 (in reply to Dean Stanley). 2. 'The Delivery and Development of Christian Doctrine,' 1874 (Cunningham Lecture, delivered 1873). 3. 'The Bible and Criticism,' 1878 (four lectures to students of the Presbyterian Church of England). 4. 'The Epistle to the Philippians,' 1893 (in the 'Expositor's Bible'). 5. 'Presbyterianism as a Form of Church Life and Work,' Cambridge, 1894. 6. 'The Ancient Catholic Church from . . . Trajan to the Fourth . . . Council,' 1902. 7. 'Sojourning with God, and other Sermons,' 1902.

He edited 'The Presbyterian' (1868-71), and made contributions to many composite collections of theological literature, including W. Wilson's 'Memorials of R. S. Candlish' (1880), F. Hastings' ' The Atonement, a Clerical Symposium' (1883), and 'The Supernatural in Christianity' (1894).

The Times, 24 Dec. 1906; Highland Witness, February 1907 (memorial number; eight portraits); R. Mackintosh, Principal Rainy, a biographical study, 1907 (two portraits); P. C. Simpson, Life, 1909, 2 vols, (eight portraits).]

A. G.