. ANDREW GRAY AND HUGH BINNING
We have spoken of Gray and Binning as having come under the
censure of Baillie. Andrew Gray of
Glasgow had hardly passed his majority when his gracious ministry came to an
end. The memorials of that ministry had for a long time a wide circulation
among the Scottish peasantry. Edition after edition of them was issued in
little volumes that are now hard to get, for, with use, they were thumbed out
of existence. The last edition appeared in a fair-sized octave volume about a
hundred years ago.
Of the writings of Binning there were two rival 19th-century editions, so that they are more easily got than the works of Gray. Hugh Binning was remarkable for his fine gift of expression and for the ripeness of his thought. He, like Andrew Gray, was cut off in his twenties. We have mentioned that he paid some attention to his English style. This, until his time, was unusual among our Scots writers. They had begun since the early years of the 17th century to write in English, though they still preached very often in Scots. The English that they wrote was by no means free from the idiom of their everyday speech. Leighton however, and Binning took the initiative in giving special attention to the vesture of their thought. A thinker like Binning had thoughts that it was worth a man's while to clothe in worthy words.
WILLIAM GUTHRIE OF FENWICK These two young men-Gray and Binning-excelled both as doctrinal and as practical preachers. But they had among their contemporaries one that excelled even Rutherford himself in the acceptance that his teaching found among the godly of his own and later ages. This was one of Rutherford's own sons in the faith, the fruit of his teaching at St Andrews, William Guthrie of Fenwick, who has lived in the memory of subsequent generations as the author of one book. It is The Christian's Great Interest, or The Trial of a Saving Interest in Christ.
If we except The Fourfold State of Thomas Boston, we are safe in saying that no work of divinity in Scotland has had a wider circulation or has exercised a better influence than this one from William Guthrie's pen. He, too, died as a young man, for he was only 45 at his death. As a writer he is remarkable for the soundness of his judgement and the tenderness with which he deals with Christian experience. His book is one of the best-balanced, sober, and considerate of all the treasure of practical divinity that we inherit from the 17th century. It was a favourite in its own day with John Owen. It was edited with an introductory appreciation by Thomas Chalmers, and about the beginning of this century Dr Alexander Smellie issued it in a very neat and handy volume. Wodrow, the historian, was married to a granddaughter of Guthrie. So we have from his pen such a full account of the writer as we should look for from Wodrow, especially from him in his relation to Guthrie's family. It was in self-defence that Guthrie published. For, without his consent, so much of the substance of his teaching was printed professedly from his mouth; and this called for a corrective which his published work supplied. There also are in circulation seventeen of his sermons in the volume of Sermons Preached in Times of Persecution in Scotland. These, however, though professedly taken down by hearers, are at a disadvantage as they want the revision and the imprimatur of the author, and it is only fair to his memory that he should not be at the mercy of even well-meaning hearers, but that he should be estimated by what he himself thought fit to issue from the press.
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