Blaikie's Biography
Of ANDREW GRAY we may safely say, that never in the history of our country did a man of his years make so deep a mark. He was the youngest son of Sir Andrew Gray of Crichie, and brother of the first Lord Gray; and his wife was a daughter of Baillie of Jerviswood. He tells that, when a boy, in going one day between Edinburgh and Leith, he observed a poor beggar go into a field, and, behind a great stone, pour out his heart in prayer. The boy was greatly struck by the earnestness and fervour of the beggar. "There," he said to himself, "is a most miserable creature, in the most destitute of all conditions, while I have everything I need, and yet I never made such an acknowledgment of my mercies as that poor creature who does not lie under one-tenth of my obligations." He was but nineteen years of age when he was ordained a minister of Glasgow, and his life closed in 1650, little more than two years after.
Nor was his career the mere flash of a meteor, for he left a record of very substantial work. His knowledge of Christian experience was wonderfully extensive and minute; he knew well the joys and troubles, the helps and hindrances, the temptations and the delusions of the Christian life. He had a remarkable power of probing the conscience; as James Durham remarked, he could make men's hair stand on end. He laid down a high standard of practical religion; he would be called at the present day an exacting preacher. He not only called n Christians to mortify their lusts and resist temptation, but he urged them likewise to beware of all that insensibly lowered their tone, diminished their spiritual strength, and thus made them less able to resist temptation. It is a clear sign of spiritual earnestness when one is not satisfied to know that in certain courses there is no positive sin, but must see that they do not weaken one's spiritual force, that they do not dispose one to a habit of careless self-indulgence. It is because earnest Christians look carefully to this, that they are often misunderstood by the world, and are supposed to denounce harmless things as sinful, when all that they mean is, that they have found such things spiritually relaxing, tending not to brace but to weaken their moral and spiritual fibre.
We remark of Gray as of Binning, that he severed himself in a great degree from the cumbrous forms and methods which had come to be associated with orthodor preaching. In the letters of Robert Baillie, Gray, Binning, and Robert Leighton are spoken of with a considerable spice of bitterness on account of their "new guise of preaching, contemning the ordinary way of expounding and dividing a text, of raising doctrines and uses. Gray is said to run out in a discourse on some common head, in a high, romancing, unscriptural style, tickling the ear for the present, and moving the affections in some, but leaving little or nought to the memory or understanding."
If we had not had Mr. Gray's sermons to guide our judgment, this criticism of Baillie's would have been damaging to his memory. Thoroughly puritan in his theology, Gray had the courage to speak with more natural freedom and natural life than many of his contemporaries; thus bringing on him the censure of the worshippers of use and wont. The ordinary Covenanter pulpit had acquired a formal set, which many supposed essential & faithful preaching. Gray was like many young men of our own time who are repelled by the three-headed division of a sermon. But in forming for himself a more natural channel, he took care, as all young preachers ought, to be not less scriptural or less solid than his predecessors were; amid often, at the close of his sermons, in warning sinners and exhorting them to accept the offer of Christ, he rises into a strait of impassioned appeal that has been rarely equalled in any age.

(from 'Lectures on the Church of Scotland', p. 103.


Home | Sermons | Links | Literature | Letter | Photos