James Gilmour of Mongolia

Gilmour_in_Chinese_DressOriginally from outside of Glasgow, Gilmour (1843–1891) decided to dedicate his life to bringing the gospel to the people of Mongolia. His giftedness and zeal were evident to his friends in college, and some were surprised that he would choose to work in obscurity in a physically difficult place. From his base in Peking (Beijing), Gilmour repeatedly went into Mongolia with little equipment, encouragement, few or no companions, but strong conviction:

“I have been thinking lately over some of the inducements we have to live for Christ, and to confess Him and preach Him before men, not conferring with flesh and blood. Why should we be trammelled by the opinions and customs of men? Continue reading

A Good Elder

The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk, 1891 “At the meetings of Session, his genial temper, his strong good sense, his business habits, and his familiarity with the law and practice of the church made him a model clerk.

But, it was in his relations to the congregation generally, and to the members residing in his own district in particular, that his value as an elder most strikingly appeared. He was always ready with a warm welcome to every new member, and had a kind word even for the stranger who might turn aside to worship in the New North for a single day. His presence at both services on Sabbath could be confidently reckoned on; and those who attended the prayer meeting will not soon forget the simplicity, the directness, and the fervor of his prayers. Continue reading

Mrs. Reformation

katie-luther If it is possible to binge on biographies, that is what a friend of mine spent the summer doing. Books on Luther, from The Barber Who Wanted to Pray to Bainton’s classic Here I Stand, she ploughed her way through volume after volume. There were also a couple books on Katharine Luther, Martin’s wife, that she read and passed along. Mother of the Reformation: The Amazing Life and Story of Katharine Luther is a keeper. If you are married to a pastor, professor, missionary, or extrovert, it would make an especially relevant read.

Originally published in German in 1906, Ernst Kroker’s work was republished this year (Concordia). Mark E. DeGarmeaux’s translation is easy to read but still retains an early 20th century flavour. Katharine is known because of her famous Reformer husband and she lives in his shadow in our minds. Continue reading

A Page from the Past

Lord’s day, August 25. –Preached in the forenoon from Luke xv. 3-7. There being a multitude of white people present, I made an address to them at the close of my discourse to the Indians; but could not so much as keep the [whites] orderly. Scores of them kept walking and gazing about, and behaved more indecently than any Indians I ever addressed. A view of their abusive conduct so sank my spirits, that I could scarcely go on in my work.

In the afternoon discoursed from Revelation iii.20. The Indians behaved seriously, though many others were vain. Afterwards baptized twenty-five of the Indians, fifteen adults and ten children. Most of the adults I hope are really renewed; and there was not one of them but what I entertained some hopes of in that respect… Continue reading

The Conversion of Grimshaw

The young Anglican curate William Grimshaw, a graduate of Cambridge, was unconverted, though in the ministry. Faith Cook, in William Grimshaw of Haworth narrates God’s gracious change of this man into a faithful servant of Christ (abridged here):

“…two incidents occurred at this time, both designed to lead the curate… out of his spiritual darkness. The first showed Grimshaw where his thinking was leading him astray. An itinerant preacher often passed that way and frequently rebuked Grimshaw for his legalistic views of salvation. ‘Mr. Grimshaw he would say, ‘you are a Jew. You are no believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. You are building on the sand.’ Continue reading

Maggie Paton

Maggie Paton (1841 – 1905) is one of my best friends, despite the fact that we have never met and she has been dead for more than a century. My mother gave me her Letters and Sketches from the New Hebrides just before I was married, and I have taken it with me everywhere we have lived, loaned it out to people, and read it again and again.

One of the things I love about the book is the story. Continue reading

Liberalism, Botox, and Lady Folly

“On Sunday morning, 21 May 1922, Harry Emerson Fosdick mounted the pulpit of the First Prsebyterian Church of New York to preach the most famous sermon of his career, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Described by Fosdick as a “plea for good will,” the sermon fell like a bombshell on the Presbyterian Church and set in motion a series of explosions that would rock the church until well into the next decade. Continue reading