the Youngest puritan

(Late Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow)

The following is a selection from the sermons of the Rev. Andrew Gray, the illustrious young divine of the Church of Scotland, who finished his course in this world at the early age of 22 years, in the year 1656. From his infancy, Gray had studied the Scriptures; and, like another young Samson, the Spirit of God began very early to move him; there being such a delightful solemnity in his early conversation, that what Gregory Nazianzen once said of the great Bazil might well be applied to him -" That he held forth learning beyond his age, and fixedness of manners beyond his learning."
As an earthen vessel, being thus filled with heavenly treasure, he was quickly licensed to preach, and soon after received a call to be minister of the Outer High Church of Glasgow, although he had hardly arrived at the twentieth year of his age, and was, therefore, considerably below that appointed by the constitution of the church, except in extraordinary eases.
No sooner had this young servant of Christ entered into his Master's vineyard than the people from all quarters flocked to attend his sermons. It was their constant emulation who should be most under the refreshing drops of his ministry, in so much that as he and his learned colleague, Mr. Durham, were one time walking together, Mr. Durham, observing the multitude thronging into that church where Mr. Gray was to preach, and only very few going into the church in which he was to preach, said to him, "Brother, I perceive you are to have a thronged church today." To which he answered, "Truly, brother, they are fools to leave you and come to me." Mr. Durham replied, "Not so, dear brother, for none can receive such honour and success in his ministry, except it be given him from heaven. I rejoice that Christ is preached and that His Kingdom aud interest are gaining ground; for I am content to be anything or nothing, that Christ may be all in all."
Gray had a remarkably singular gift in preaching. His mode of address was animated and rapturous, and well adapted to affect the hearts of his hearers. His contemporary, Durham, observed that many times he caused the very hairs of their heads to stand on end. He had so learned Christ, and being a man of a most zealous temper, the great bent of his spirit was to make people know their dangerous state by nature and to persuade them to believe, and lay hold of the great salvation.
His doctrine was clear and perspicuous; his reproofs weighty; and his exhortations very powerful. Although according to the manner of the age in which he lived, they may seem deficient in connexion and correctness of style, yet these are more than counter-balanced by the pleasing variety and excellence of the truths they contain. Like the grateful odours of a profusion of flowers, or the delightful harmony of concordant sounds, they never fail to impart happiness to the renewed soul.
By these singular gifts, he was looked upon as a burning and a shining light in the church. He was, however, permitted to remain about two years only, the Spirit of the Lord, as it were, lighting up a lamp into a sudden blaze, that was not to remain long in the church. In reference to this in a preface to some of his sermons, it is very pertinently observed, "How awakening, convincing, and reproving, the example of this very young minister might be to many ministers of the gospel who have been long in the vineyard, but come far short of his labours and progress! God thinks fit, now and then, to raise up a child to reprove the sloth and negligence of many thousands of advanced years; and shows that He can perfect His own praise out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.
It has been said that Andrew Gray often longed for the twenty-second year of his age, having had a presentiment that he was then to rest from his labours, and by a perpetual jubilee, enjoy his blessed Master for ever. Certain it is, that in his sermons we often find him ardently praying for the time when he might enter upon the possession of the heavenly inheritance, prepared for him before the foundation of the world.
The time was now drawing nigh when the Lord was about to accomplish what his soul had most anxiously longed for. Having caught a fever, he was for several days in great bodily suffering, but his mind was in a state of great quietude and serenity. Thus in a short time, he was permitted to pass by death to the Author of life - his soul taking flight at the early age of twenty-two, into the arms of his Saviour whom he had served so faithfully in his day and generation.
Though he died young, he was old in grace, having done much for God in a short time. It is to be regretted that his dying words were not recorded, but in a short and excellent letter, sent by him a little before his death, he shows that he was most sensible of his own case and condition.
It would seem there was scarcely ever a sermon that this youth preached but was written and preserved as a precious relict of him. He had been so admired and followed by serious Christians, far and near, that any who could write shorthand were greedy to catch every word which dropped from his lips. His sermons show that he understood rightly how to divide the word of truth, to separate between the precious and the vile, the converted and the unconverted, the sincere and the hypocrite, and to give each of them their proper share. His expressions are well adapted to affect the hearts of his hearers, especially such as believe the gospel.
Though these sermons are neither so exact, nor so full as doubtless they would, have been if they had come from the author's own pen, yet we dare say, they were studied with prayer, preached with power, and backed with success; so also, if you read them with consideration, meditate with prayer, and practice with diligence, you shall neither find your time nor pains ill-bestowed. You shall have cause to bless the Lord for this, among other helps that He has given for making you meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

The above are extracts from Gray's life in the Scots Worthies, and from the prefaces to his sermons published in 1789 and 1792. These sermons are re-printed in the hope that the Lord will acknowledge them as in former days to the saving of immortal souls, and to the establishing of His people in the truth which is after godliness.
Gisborne, N.Z., 1961.

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