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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


Volume 9 Page 440
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 331 No. CCLXXXL REV. JOHN M'DONALD, OF THE GAELIC CHAPEL, CASTLE WYND, EDINBURGH. MR. M'DONALD, son of a small farmer at Rae, in Caithness, was born there on the 12th of November 1779. Having acquired the rudiments of education at the parish school, he commenced his theological studies at King's College, Aberdeen, in 1797, and was licensed to preach in 1805. For some time thereafter he was employed as a missionary in his native district ; and in 1807 was chosen successor to the Rev. Mr. M'Lachlan in the Gaelic Chapel, Edinburgh. Here he continued about six years, and was greatly esteemed by his congregation as a sound preacher and an amiable man. In July 2813 he was translated to the parish of Urquhart, where he long continued to discharge the duties of the pastoral office. In his zeal for the cause of the Gospel, Mr. M'Donald was in the habit of making occasional excursions into the adjacent parishes, onlitting no opportunity of preaching to a widely-scattered and ill-supplied people. In doing so he probably had not calculated on the danger to which he exposed himself, by exciting the displeasure of the Church. The Presbyteries of Strathbogie and Aberlour took up the matter ; but refusing to bow to their decision, or to acknowledge his error, an appeal was of course made to a higher court. The case, which was brought before the General Assembly in 1818, created an unusual interest in the public mind. After a protracted discussion, a motion to the following effect was made and carried :-- " That having considered the reference [from the Presbyteries of Strathbogie and Aberlour], the Assembly declare, as it is hereby declared, that the performance of divine service, or any part of public worship or service, by members of this Church, in meeting-houses of dissenters,' is irregular and unconstitutional, and ought on no occasion to take place, except in cases in which, from the peculiar circumstances of the parish, its minister may occasionally find it necessary for conducting the ordinaly religious instruction of his people ; and the Assembly farther declare, that the conduct of any minister of the Church, who exercises his pastoral functions iu a vagrant manner, preaching during his journeys from place to place, in the open air, in other parishes than his own, or officiating in any meeting for religious exercises, without the special invitation of the minister in whose parish it shall be held, and by whom such meeting shall be called, is disorderly, and unbecoming the character of a minister of this Church, and calculated to weaken the hands of the minister of the parish, and to injure the interests of sound religion ; and the Assembly enjoin Presbyteries to take order, that no countenance be given by ministers within their bounds to such occasional meetings, proposed to be held for divine service, or other pious purposee, as many, under the pretext of promoting religion, injure its interests, and so disturb the peace and order of the Church ; and in case such meetings take place, the Presbyteries within whose bounds they are held, are enjoined to report the same to the Assembly next ensuing." Mr. M'Donald preached in a dissenting meeting-house on one occasion, and but one, at a time when the parish church was under repair, and not even then without the consent of the parochial miniater.
Volume 9 Page 441
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