John Kennedy of Dingwall

Rev. John Kennedy, D.D., of Dingwall

This website is dedicated to the works of Rev. John Kennedy, D.D., who was minister of the Free Church of Scotland in Dingwall (in the Scottish Highlands) from 1843 until his death in 1884.


Memoir of Rev John Kennedy, D.D., of Dingwall

This Memoir of Dr Kennedy appeared in the newspaper Inverness Courier in 1893. Mrs Kennedy regarded it as the best account of her late husband that had appeared in any form.


FEW who have a vivid recollection of the late John Kennedy will dispute the assertion that in personal character, and mental gifts, he was one of the grandest men whom the Highlands have produced. It was impossible always to agree with him. His opponents asserted that he entertained narrow and rigid views; that he was a terribly logical Calvinist; that he set up the religious type characteristic of the Highlands as the highest type, and judged all religious movements and opinions through that particular medium. It must, however, be remembered that great preachers and theologians cannot fail to be in some sense narrow. The Puritan theologian has a definite set of convictions which he believes to be of the deepest importance to the welfare of man; he considers it his duty to hold them fast and to expound them with all the force and fidelity of his nature. Mr Spurgeon was often called a narrow man, but he did a great work, and died amidst a chorus of universal admiration. At the other extreme we had Cardinal Newman whom half the religious world regarded as narrow, in spite of his towering intellect and noble character. Putting such criticism aside as inappropriate, the fact remains that Dr Kennedy of Dingwall was the king of men. He moved in a limited sphere, but he would have exercised sway in the largest. It was perhaps his misfortune to have been set early to work and to have remained all his life in one field of usefulness, though that field embraced the whole Highlands. But he felt no loss on that account. He dwelt among his own people. He was at home with them, he understood them, he loved them; and they returned his attachment with all the devotion of the Celtic nature – earnest, passionate, fervent, and charged with honest pride and chivalrous feeling.

The life of Dr Kennedy, written by his friend, Mr Auld, is a good, faithful book, but inadequate. It gives us dates, facts, diaries, letters, but it does not give us the man. Dr Kennedy was vital to his finger tips. There was something in his appearance to attract attention, even from the man in the street. He was not tall, but handsome, strongly built, supple and yet stately, the very ideal of Highland manliness. He had a large, finely shaped head which sat on his shoulders with a leonine pose. His features were pleasant, massive and firm, suggesting both strength and tenderness. When he stood up in the pulpit he had an air of command which compelled attention. His voice was mellow and powerful; sometimes a little husky but never harsh. He read well, with a fine, natural accent, free from any trace of provincialism. An English hearer listening to him as a stranger would never have fancied that he was either a Highlander or a Scotsman. His manner, his aspect, his choice of language, bore some resemblance to those of John Bright. There was in the oratory of both men the same condensed force, the same undercurrent of emotion, the same elevated tone, that enabled them to move and uplift an audience. For John Kennedy was an orator capable of moving any assembly in the world. He deserves to be named among the finest speakers of his day. It has been the privilege of the present writer to hear most of the great speakers of the time; and he has no hesitation in saying that for sheer power over an audience – power refined as well as impressive – he has heard none to surpass Dr Kennedy at his best. His sermons and addresses consisted of close, compact reasoning, fused with passion and lighted up with imagination. Circumstances placed Dr Kennedy in a corner of Scotland, but in natural gifts, especially as preacher and debater, he was the peer of any man in English speaking lands.

Dr Kennedy died in his sixty fifth year. He was born in August, 1819, and expired in April, 1884. He studied at Aberdeen, and was attending the first session of the theological classes when intimation of his father's death reached him with appalling suddenness. Previous to this John had been somewhat gay [i.e., carefree; given to pleasure-seeking] and light hearted, but the sudden shock changed the tenor of his life and turned him into an earnest man. The Disruption brought his studies to an end (he was only three sessions at the Hall), and he was settled in the Free Church at Dingwall in February, 1844, that is to say, in his twenty fifth year. We have come across a short account of the ordination. None who are mentioned as having assisted at it are now alive. In the absence of the Rev. Dr Macdonald, of Ferintosh, the services were conducted by the Rev. Mr Flyter, Alness, and the Rev. Mr Campbell, Kiltearn. Among those present were – The Rev. Mr Macdonald, Urray; Rev. Mr Campbell, Tarbat; Rev. Mr Noble, Fodderty; and Rev. Mr Kennedy, Killearnan (an elder brother of the young minister). A public dinner was held in the afternoon, at which Mr Hugh Innes Cameron, then Provost of Dingwall, presided. The embers of the non-Intrusion controversy were still glowing, but the speeches were of a tolerant character, and John Kennedy was launched on his career with many wishes for his future success.

Dr Kennedy's ministry extended over a period of forty years, most of which were spent in active service. He soon made his mark as a preacher. Careful in his preparation, he spoke without notes, and attained rare freedom and precision in the use of language, both in English and Gaelic. Late in life he began to write sermons for publication, but meritorious and powerful as they are, they do not afford an adequate exhibition of his qualities as a preacher. His written style never attained the felicity of his pulpit or platform utterances. If he had begun to use his pen in early years he would have done as well in writing as in speaking, but he lacked opportunity. He tells that on the day on which he was licensed the late Mr Stewart, of Cromarty, said to him "John, I think I know you now. Take one advice from me – don't write your sermons. Spend your time in thinking, for be assured, if you do not express clearly it will be because you have not thought sufficiently." This counsel, Dr Kennedy adds, he was constrained to follow on account of the pressure of work which came upon him at once in the busy year of the Disruption, and which did not become less as time went on until the thirty eighth year of his ministry was reached and health gave way. For a man with command of language, whose duty calls him to be a preacher or public speaker, Mr Stewart's advice was the best that could be given. To think out a subject clearly, and to have possession of it in the mind, is the sure way to speak effectively. The language, without conscious effort, becomes associated with the idea, and springs forth with lucid and burning energy under the inspiration of a sympathetic audience. The speech of a competent speaker taken down by a capable reporter always reads better than a written address. There are touches in it, striking phrases, apt illusions, flashing sentences, which can only be struck out when all the powers of the mind are in exercise under the influence of strong feeling. Many will still remember the remarkable speech which Dr Kennedy delivered at an anti-Union meeting in the Inverness Music Hall in September 1870. It roused an immense audience to the highest pitch of approval and admiration, and, being circulated in thousands, had a great effect throughout the Highlands. The following sentences may give an idea of its form and substance:–

"What is to be the gain of the sacrifice which we are asked to make? What is to be the benefit received for dropping our testimony in behalf of the crown rights of Christ as King of nations? The answer is – Union with other Churches. And what is the benefit of that Union? True, if it takes place, the united Church will be greatly larger than it is now, and if bigness be a benefit, then there will be some gain; but for the life of me, I cannot see what other benefit than this will result. If we had not love enough among us to allow us to co-operate heartily in the work of the Lord before, is it likely when we are crowded together, bristling with open questions, that we shall get on better? (Applause.) If there are matters about which we differ, let these lie as open questions between us; do not bring them in among us to be sources of irritation and difference in years to come. We have more than enough of that already. (Hear, hear.) ..... I cannot but state my persuasion that we have more need of sifting than we have of heaping – (cheers) – and I would look on a movement that had a sifting effect as more likely in these times to be in accordance with the mind of God than a movement towards the agglomeration of Churches without unity in the truth."

This speech was delivered without notes, and was published from a shorthand report. Some six months afterwards the speech, in pamphlet form, was sent home from Australia to the office of the "Courier," from whose columns it had been taken. Its power had been recognised by the leaders of a branch of the Church there, who had it reprinted and scattered throughout the Colonies. A few years afterwards, also in the Inverness Music Hall, Dr Kennedy delivered a speech which he had prepared in writing, and which he handed to the reporters at the close. This speech was, for him, ineffective, a result doubtless due in a large measure to the fact that it was written. On another occasion he delivered a remarkably fine debating speech in the Free Synod of Ross against the policy of dis-establishment. It was expressed in such clear and perfect language that the reporters assumed it to be written, and asked for the notes. They were surprised to learn that not a word of it was in writing and that the speaker had been travelling all the previous night by train in order to be present at the meeting.


The personal habits and characteristics of notable men are always interesting. Dr Kennedy, when a young man, had a practice of shutting the pulpit Bible as soon as he had given out his text. It was a peculiarity never to be seen in other ministers, who often use the pages of the Bible, legitimately enough, to conceal their manuscript notes from prying eyes in the gallery. The feeling against "reading" sermons was in those days very strong. No one could accuse Dr Kennedy of reading when the Bible lay closed upon the board before him. Yet the Highland people did not like to see the sacred volume lying shut on the pulpit desk; and, possibly out of deference to this sentiment, Dr Kennedy ultimately abandoned the habit. His attitude in the pulpit was reverent and impressive. There was nothing artificial or studied in his aspect, but he seemed to stand as an ambassador, solemn, dignified, and earnest, charged with a message from the King of Kings. In private life, though grave, he was accessible and courteous, prompt and cheerful in conversation, warm hearted and generous to any lowly friend. We remember travelling with him by train along with a humble member of his flock, to whom he described, in the most agreeable and chatty style, every place of interest between Inverness and Perth. He was lavish, perhaps too lavish, in his gifts to the poor and needy. He could not keep money or refuse assistance to persons in distress.

Though a Free Churchman of the staunchest type, a believer, it may be said, in the divine right of Presbyterianism, Dr Kennedy  readily recognised the Christian brotherhood of other Churches. At the meeting of the Evangelical Alliance in America he notes that next to the prayers of Dr Hodge, of Princeton, he enjoyed most those of the Dean of Canterbury. When in Paris in March, 1881; he was delighted with the preaching of an English Congregationalist, Mr. Hart. "I took part with him," he says, "in dispensing the Sacrament of the Supper, the other assistant being Dr Curtiss, of Boston, U.S. – an Englishman, a Scotchman, and an American associating in Paris in sanctuary service. After this I cannot be called an anti-Unionist.''  In this connection, however, the most striking thing was his friendship with Mr Spurgeon. When it was announced in 1870 that the great Baptist preacher was to open Dr Kennedy's new church in Dingwall there was much public satisfaction, not unmingled with astonishment. Mr Spurgeon's name drew together an immense crowd. The church, of course, could only accommodate a limited number; but in the evening there was a large concourse in the open air. Mr Spurgeon's earnestness and eloquence were combined with a brightness and vivacity which contributed to the charm of his preaching. At his request Dr Kennedy gave out a paraphrase to be sung, probably the first time he ever did so in his life. In course of this memorable visit Mr Spurgeon also preached at Invergordon, and had to resist other calls. To one importunate committee he wrote that as he was not made of iron or granite, he could not possibly comply with their request. In private intercourse Mr Spurgeon's wit and bonhomie delighted his entertainers. "His host and other friends," says Mr Auld, "remarked a strong similarity between him and Dr Macdonald, the Apostle of the North, even in his movements as well as in his social qualities." On his return to London, Mr Spurgeon wrote to Dr Kennedy: – "You are very kind to express the pleasure my visit gave you, but rest assured mine was quite equal to yours. It was a sunny spot in a very sunny life when I saw you and your dear wife and family, and your beloved people. I shall always look back on it with unfeigned joy, and we will even talk of it in heaven, for the  'Lord was there.' I trust and pray that you may have fully recovered the elasticity of your spirit, which is oil to the bones."

The friendship of the English and Highland preachers is easily accounted for. With the single exception of the doctrine of Baptism, they entertained precisely the same views of Scripture teaching. Different in temperament and in their ways of putting things, they nevertheless held and preached one theological system. They had passed through a similar personal experience, and had found peace through the same faith. Singularly enough, too, they were both impressed with the conviction that the religion of the day was on the downgrade. What Dr Kennedy would say if he were now alive we can only conceive; how strongly Mr Spurgeon felt and spoke many of us still remember. The tribute which Mr Spurgeon paid to his friend after his death is conveyed in a letter to Mrs Kennedy. He said that the loss to the Highlands was greater than if a hundred other men had fallen.

"True as steel and firm as a rock, he was also wonderfully tender and sympathetic. I was sorry to see him go often worn and sad, for he knew the strong consolations, and held them out to others. His lowly esteem of himself sometimes acted with his wearied body to produce gloom of soul; and I have seen him in his drear moments. ..... Dear lady, you have lost a grand husband. Say rather the Lord honoured you with a choice loan in such a man." These words express in a terse form not only the admiration of Mr Spurgeon, but the feeling universally entertained for Dr Kennedy throughout the Highlands, if not, indeed, throughout the whole of Scotland.

Dr Kennedy's books, pamphlets, speeches, and lectures all bore the impress of strong character, pronounced views, and profound convictions. We must reserve for another chapter an examination of the tenets which made him specially representative of that type of the Reformed faith which was once characteristic of Scotland, but which now lingers chiefly among the older generation of Highland people. At present we must be content with recalling some of his public lectures. In the winter of 1865 he lectured in the Inverness Music Hall on "The Renaissance of Scepticism," condemning the passion for freedom or licence of thought in dealing with the problems of Scripture. The "revolt of proud intellect against authority" was a movement of which he could not approve. A few years later he delivered in the same place a lecture in a lighter vein, entitled "Society Examined by Conic Sections." There was banter and satire in it, but it had a serious object, namely to point out defects and diseases in the social fabric. "If an individual," said Dr Kennedy, "were attired to represent society as it is, how would he appear? On his head would be a crown of gold; his shoulders would be clothed with ermine, cloth of finest texture would invest him downwards to his loins, his limbs down to his ankles would be comfortably covered; but under all his feet would be seen, naked, filthy, sore and bleeding. You could not, as you looked on him, but wish that some of the money laid out on the crown and ermine had been expended for the comfort of the feet. But neither could you resist the conviction that you would find him to be a very unmanageable being if you would urge him to a readjustment of his attire." Many who have tried experiments in modern times will subscribe to the last quoted sentence. It is much more easy to discover social ills than to prescribe remedies that will not themselves be mischievous. Dr Kennedy, in course of his examination, found most to praise in the middle ranks of society. Dr Carruthers, who was in the chair, wittily remarked that Dr Kennedy's lecture reminded him of a saying of Voltaire, that society was like a beer barrel, the dregs being at the bottom and the froth at the top, while all the good lay between! Dr Kennedy accepted the allusion in good part. He declined, however, to publish the lecture, probably because he thought he had given too free scope to his powers of sarcasm. He never meddled in politics, although he may have exercised his right of voting at an election. On one side of his nature he was strongly Conservative, on another strongly Radical. In this he resembled Dr Aird and several other Highland clergymen.

Dr Kennedy's visit to America in 1873 produced a lecture of considerable interest. He mentioned several of the distinguished men whom he had seen or heard – Dr Hodge, of Princeton; Henry Ward Beecher, Summer, the American Statesman; and the poet Longfellow. To him Dr Hodge was the chief of living theologians, and when they met the American divine more than realised his preconceptions. "I had the rare privilege," he writes, "of conversation with Dr Hodge in his own house at Princeton, but felt too abashed to make use of it, and he was too humble to attempt the kindly patronage that would have put me at my ease." Dr. Kennedy heard one of Ward Beecher's most eloquent speeches, and thus records his impressions of the man:–

"Fluent he certainly was, effective in his elocution and manner, able to stud his oration with sparkling gems of illustration, and often dropping a sparkling saying. One could not listen to him without receiving the impression of his being a very entertaining man. There was great impressiveness of manner and utterance, but it appeared to be artificial. The voice changed as it passed from grave to gay, but the underlying feeling seemed rigid as ice beneath, and a warm thrill from his oratory never touched one's feelings as one listened to him ..... He has now openly discarded from his preaching the doctrine of the Atonement, and sin as a crime and as a disease he utterly ignores. The universal fatherhood of God is his favourite theme, and his application of it can only fatally mislead the souls who submit to his teaching."

It would not have been amiss if Dr Kennedy had found time to write more largely on subjects that were neither theological nor controversial. He had the sense for style, the faculty for analysis, the power of imagination that can make a scene live.

His patriotic love for Scotland as a country, and for Ross-shire as a county, was an abiding passion of his heart. We may close this chapter of reminiscences with a sentence or two from his lecture on "The Lands We Live In." He describes the growth of intelligence, the increase of education, but along with these the crave for novelty. "The blessing of the Most High," he exclaims, "is what Scotland needs. This alone could make her truly rich. This alone can save her from her perils. This alone could have made her what she once became and secured the continuance of her prosperity. Whatever may betide her in the age next to come, I love to think of her, on some bright future day, emerging with all the nations of the earth from the darkness and the storms of antemillennial times into the brightness and the calm of many ages of blessedness, receiving on her bosom the light of heavenly favour and the dew of heavenly grace, till a verdure richer than ever clothed her shall cover her all over, and fruits of righteousness shall grow throughout all her borders, such as are befitting the very garden of the Lord."


In the present chapter we propose to look briefly at Dr Kennedy's attitude on theological and ecclesiastical questions. This, of course, is not the place to enter into anything of the nature of controversy; but Dr Kennedy possessed such a commanding and unique individuality that it is both interesting and important to understand his position. Briefly, he was a Scottish Puritan who adhered with the utmost tenacity of grasp - and his grasp was singularly powerful and tenacious - to all the tenets of the Confession of Faith as interpreted by the Evangelical party before the Disruption. He was a Calvinist, bowing down with humble head before the divine sovereignty, and seeking no philosophical or rationalistic explanations of the inscrutable. He accepted the authority of Scripture without question. To him it spoke with such plentitude of inspiration that its words carried conviction to his heart. The doctrine of a limited atonement he received as a revealed truth to be adopted in its logical completeness. His earliest objections to the negotiations for Union with the United Presbyterians arose from his belief that their Church was lax on that central subject.

Doubtless some still remember the first important speech which Dr Kennedy gave in the famous Union controversy. It was delivered in his own church at Dingwall at a meeting of the Free Synod of Ross in April, 1868. T he Rev. Mr Maceachran, then Free Church minister of Cromarty, moved a resolution recommending the reappointment of the Committee on Union. He was seconded by Dr Kennedy's brother, the Rev. Donald Kennedy, of Killearnan. Mr Maceachran, who was an eloquent and earnest minister, spoke with force and spirit; but when Dr Kennedy intervened, the contrast was remarkable. The speech which the latter delivered was one of his best efforts, though uttered in the presence of a mere handful of people. He confessed that he spoke with reluctance, and that if the overture had not been proposed he would have kept silence. But he was anxious that, if negotiations were continued between the Churches, there should be no ambiguity on the doctrine of the Atonement; and he moved a resolution to that effect. A member of the committee on the United Presbyterian side had recently  expressed views in favour of what was called the "double reference" - the theory that  the Atonement was offered in one sense for the elect and in another sense for the whole world - and Dr Kennedy would have none of this idea. "That double reference to the Atonement," he said, "he held to be a dangerous error. He could not conceive of a man maintaining that view and at the same time maintaining, clearly and firmly, the doctrine of substitution; and he could not see how one who did not hold firmly by the doctrine of substitution could hold intelligently the doctrine of an Atonement at all." Dr Kennedy's motion was seconded by the Rev. Mr Macdonald, of Fearn - one of the most kindly and simple hearted of men, but as resolute as his friend to hold fast by the old moorings. The two, however, stood alone. The other members of Synod all approved of Mr Maceachran's motion, and it was carried. Indeed, Dr Kennedy was rarely able to command a majority in his own Synod of Ross. He had, however, an unrivalled hold of the people of the Highlands, as was shown by a memorial, signed by 80,000 people, which he got up in 1882 against disestablishment. On that occasion Dr Rainy, speaking in the Assembly, said that the persons who signed it had a very great respect for Dr Kennedy, of Dingwall, and a very wholesome fear of the Pope of Rome.

At the meeting of Synod above mentioned in 1868 Dr Kennedy gave the first expression of his mind on the relation of Church and State. During the earlier portion of his ministry the subject had not attracted his attention. His time had been occupied in preaching, and he had no occasion to embark in controversy. But when the discussions on Union arose he gave earnest study to the question. "It was sometimes asked," he said, "what claim had they in their disestablished position to raise a testimony in behalf of the Established principle or of endowment? It was just because they were in a disestablished position, because they had no prospect of getting any benefit from it, that they were all the more bound to testify to its truth; because it was a thing affecting the honour of Christ, and because it was ignoble to drop a truth just when they had an opportunity of raising a self denying testimony on its side." The position which he thus adopted and stated Dr  Kennedy ever afterwards maintained with increasing confidence and decision. In his view there was no guarantee for ecclesiastical freedom and independence, apart from recognition by the State of the Church's inherent claims. It was true that in an unestablished position the Church might be left to discharge her functions undisturbed. But her rights in the eye of the law would be exactly on the same level as those of any club or society, and liable, in conceivable circumstances, to be invaded or over ridden. That was a position which Dr Kennedy could not brook. He held that the Church possessed a spiritual jurisdiction which the State was bound to recognise and respect; that in this way the freedom of the Church would be secured, and appropriate homage paid to her Divine Master. The view which Dr Kennedy cherished was the view of the ecclesiastical patriots who formerly flourished in Scotland. It has fallen for the present into the background, but it has not lost its importance. Even if the State connection is severed, as many people desire, the time may still come when the Churches will have to fight for the independence of their jurisdiction against the claims of a powerful and secularised democracy. Disestablishment furnishes no guarantee for the maintenance of spiritual independence. The most that can be said for it is that it diminishes the opportunities for friction or collision.

There were other subjects on which Dr Kennedy spoke with remarkable boldness. He was not in sympathy with the revival movements which characterised the religious activity of.the time. He believed that they wanted thoroughness. He had a marked preference for what may be called the subjective, experimental religionof his own north countrymen. He disapproved very strongly of the use of instrumental music in churches, and even of the singing of hymns in public worship, though he used them in private. He had such a keen sense of the nearness of the invisible world that he believed that the devout man might sometimes receive intimations or premonitions from an unseen source. This was a part of his faith that laid him open to criticism. Reference is made to it in an article in a recent number of "Good Words." In his book, "The Days of the Fathers in Ross shire," Dr Kennedy openly avowed his belief and defended it. He admitted that many good men received no such intimations of the will of their Father; but he held that there were others who, "by means of the written Word, under the guiding hand of the Spirit," occasionally experienced such tokens of the divine presence. Whatever may be thought of this article of faith, the candid man will admit that it required no ordinary courage to express it in the face of a generation dominated by the sense of things visible and by the conception of invariable physical law.

In these articles we have endeavoured to sketch a personality of singular force, independence, and massiveness. To many people who did not know him it may seem as if Dr Kennedy was hardly a man of modern times but rather a survival of the past. He was not in sympathy with the time spirit. His mission was to oppose much that the present generation regards as signs of progress. His staunch, uncompromising Calvinism startles men of softer or less heroic mould. The complete submission of his intellect to authority - even though it be the authority of Scripture - is an uncommon  spectacle. No one could question Dr Kennedy's intellectual strength or analytical power. Within the limits which he recognised as legitimate he could speculate with the most acute and soar with the most imaginative. But doctrines of profound import doctrines which he believed to be revealed but which he could not comprehend - he was content to receive in the spirit of a little child. He always spoke with the accent of conviction. Sometimes he spoke of opponents with a scorn which could not be excused. Sometimes he took up a subject which he had only looked at from one point of view, and therefore did not adequately handle.  Had he been born a quarter of a century later he would have treated certain subjects in a different fashion. He would probably have arrived at the same conclusions, but on the road thither he would have seen more to examine and discuss. He would have trusted less to logic and placed greater reliance on patient and skilful examination. Nevertheless, the humility of spirit, the unhesitating acceptance of revelation evinced by a man of his intellectual stature, teaches its own lesson and suggests a word or two of general application.

There is nothing new in the remark that Calvinism has moulded; some of the grandest characters in history. It has given pith and substance to the struggles for freedom of conscience. It has entered as iron into the blood. In the sixteenth century it saved the Protestant cause from extinction. In the seventeenth it inspired the New England fathers and moved the hearts of Scottish Covenanters. There must be something in this system which, in the phrase of Thomas Carlyle, corresponds with the ground plan of the universe. What is its fundamental postulate? It will be found in the doctrine which Dr Kennedy was so fond of enunciating, that of the divine sovereignty. This doctrine means that God formed the universe according to His own pleasure, and administers its affairs according to His own will; that its constitution is righteous and its administration righteous; that the gracious purposes manifest within it spring from His free volition; that the full scope of the divine scheme is beyond human comprehension; that it is man's duty not to quibble and cavil but to accept and adore. From the same doctrine it follows that divine law and divine revelation - if it be granted that the Scriptures contain them - come to us with supreme authority. The sinfulness and helplessness of man are emphasised in order that he may, by submission and self surrender, attain a freedom and strength not by nature his own. These are the primary truths which the system bearing the name of the Genevan Reformer impressed deeply on the minds of those who accepted it. It made thern feel the duty and the privilege of obedience to one Lord, and of dependence on Him alone. It made them stern, yet submissive; fearful of offending conscience, but fearless in withstanding what they deemed a usurpation of its rights. The system, doubtless, has its defects, but it furnishes a solid foundation for the building up of earnest and noble lives. In our own age science starts, In part, from the same position. Science is strong in the physical sphere, because it realises that there its function is simply to discover and formulate. It enters on no quarrel with the constitution.of things; it simply seeks to ascertain as far as may be the processes of natural law, and submit to them. In the moral and spiritual sphere, science is not so strong, because it professes to be uncertain on the subjects of conscience and revelation. Inquiry into these lofty matters would lead us too far afield. All we wish to show is that Dr Kennedy, in submitting his intellect to what he deemed adequate authority, was not acting a singular part. He may have stopped at a point which others claim to overpass; but in the end the most active and searching mind attains its limits and finds no further thoroughfare. Wisdom and piety have both humbly to satisfy themselves with the faith that there is a righteous Creator and Governor who worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will.


[1] In 1843, a group of ministers resigned from the Established Church of Scotland, along with many church members, after years of struggling to resist the imposition of "Moderate" (i.e., liberal) ministers into ministerial charges where the congregations did not agree or approve. These intrusions were being done by the wealthy landowners who would pay most of the stipends of their appointees. The "non-Intrusion"party formed the Free Church of Scotland.