THE LATE REV. DR ANDREW THOMSON. (2)
from The Scotsman, llth February 1901
At the forenoon service in Broughton Place United Free
Church yesterday, and in. presence of one of the largest congregations that
ever assembled in the building, the Rev. Dr John Smith alluded as follows to
the death of the Rev. Dr Thomson; - "We meet today under a real sense of
bereavement. God has been pleased, after a short illness at the end, to call,
our father, Dr Thomson, home. For several years he has been unable to occupy
this pulpit or even to join with us in the worship of the sanctuary. But he
lives in the heart of this people. His ministry is a cherished memory. He has
put his mould upon many lives that for counsel and action are living forces in
our midst. His noble figure and expressive countenance will retain their
freshness on the tablets of our remembrance when many another image has been
erased. His career was so prolonged, extending to two generations of the lives
of men; he filled so large a place in our congregational activities, and
touched at so many points the history of our Church and current evangelical
movements, that we cannot hurriedly or in short space adequately illustrate the
various sides of his character, or read the lessons of his finished life. Next
Lord's Day I hope to be able to at least cover the ground and furnish food for
meditation and thanksgiving.
Today, however, we may give a moment's play to natural feeling - For thirty years past there was no rnore generally esteemed citizen in Edinburgh than Dr Andrew Thomson. And yet those who knew him by public repute saw but a part of his worth. He was a true man, of simple tastes, happy in his home, discovering the genuine goodness of an inauspicious kindly nature, in free converse and happy reminiscence. As he grew older the fact became more apparent that ever that he was utterly unspoiled by the world. The eagerness and ambitions bred in the strain and stress of life were only surface traits, and the natural piety which bound him to his boyhood's past, and the spiritual piety whioh linked him to Heaven and God, formed the living core of his being. And when, after the two great strokes of his life, the death of his gifted son and then in swift succession of his wife, clouds began to gather, and he was withdrawn from active usefulness to the calm waiting of age and the narrow compass of his room, the graciousneas of his manner, the kind note of appreciation in his speech took on finer beauty. I never heard from him a querilous tone or saw a sign of irritation. The last time I visited him before the end I was touched with the tenderness of his spirit. He was so grateful for a small service, and when prayer was suggested he spoke out of a depth of desire which made my heart glad.
For sixteen years I served with him as a son in the Gospel. We were in many respects different men. Our convictions on many points did not coalesce. But he exercised toleration and I reverence, and it is a great joy to mo that no harsh or unpleasant word on either side disturbed our friendship, that our trust and love one for the other only grew, and that at the end I was by to watch the laboured breathing quiet down, faintly come and go, and then without a sigh, simply cease.Life's turmoil was over, its weariness at an end, and almost within sight of his eighty-eighth birthday he passed from out the circle, of our earth-bound life to "where beyond these voices there is peace."
How the old landmarks are being removed! The mournful
drapery with which this church is invested.marks our recent grief for our
beloved Queen. And now a closer and more intimate sorrow finds suitable outward
expression in this funereal gloom. In all the great events of his life, Dr
Thomson closely followed his Sovereign The year of her accession was the year
of his ordination. Similarly, their jubilees and diamond jubilees synchronised,
and now he follows her - and the age of which she was the ornament, to the
tomb. Thus to the last sand do eras run to an end. And over the shadows of
vanished past, a new day, with new hopes and needs and duties, flows
incessantly in. We are of that new time, and must meet with fresh weapons
emergencies as they arise. But those who advance furthest see most clearly that
the future is rooted in the past, and cherish with truest reverence the memory
of every pure life and valiant witness and self-denying service by which we
have been borne thus far to our goal.
At the close of. the forenoon service in North Morningside Church yesterday, the Rev. Dr. Mair referred at some length to the late Rev. Dr Thomson. After giving a sketch of his life, Dr Mair went on to say that Dr Thomson was possessed of excellent natural abilities, and was in a high degree a man of well-balanced, all-round mind. He could do many things, and do them all well. He was widely read in the theological literature and history of our Church and country. He was a preacher of a high class, intensely evangelical with regard to matter, elegant in style, dignified and impressive in his manner of delivery. He was also a faithful pastor and an able and sagacious administrator. He took a special interest in foreign missions, in the Evangelical Alliance, and in the Sabbath questipn. He was a loyal minister of the United Presbytcnsn Church, and took a large and active part in the public affairs of the denomination. He was always ready to represent the Church on public occasions, and fearlessly to stand up in its defence when required by circumstance. He was at the same time a public spirited citizen, taking an active interest in the welfare of his fellow-citizens and in the benevolent institutions of our city, and was for several years a Govenor of the Heriot Trust and a manager of the Royal Infirmary. In the midst of all his work as a faithful minister and pastor he found leisure to publish quite a number of volumes, which were invariably well received.
His long ministry extended over the whole reign of the late Queen, beginning and terminating about two weeks later, and though exposed throughout his sixty-three years of service to "the fierce light which, beats" upon a city pulpit, he lived and died with a character of unsullied honour. As the minister of what was in some respects the premier United Presbyterian Church in ths city, as a man of high personal ability, culture, and character, and as a churchman and citizen of public spirit and excellent service he was entitled to warm and grateful remembrance at their hand.
The Scotsman, llth February 1901
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