Cumming, John (DNB00)

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CUMMING, JOHN (1807–1881), divine, was born in the parish of Fintray, Aberdeenshire, 10 Nov. 1807. He was educated at the Aberdeen grammar school, and in 1822 became a student at the university. He showed ‘brilliant promise,’ and graduated M.A. in 1827. He then studied in the Divinity Hall, and during vacations acted as a private tutor. He was licensed to preach 3 May 1832 by the Aberdeen presbytery. Soon afterwards, while acting as tutor in Kensington, he was invited to preach in the National Scottish Church at Crown Court, Covent Garden. On 18 Aug. 1832 he received a call from the church. In 1833 he married Elizabeth, daughter of James Nicholson, one of the elders. The church was then very small and inconvenient, and the minister's income not over 200l. His preaching soon attracted a larger congregation; and in 1847 the church was rebuilt at a cost of 5,000l. It was opened in 1848, with sittings for a thousand persons. The income from pew rents reached 1,500l.; but Cumming refused to receive more than 900l., the remainder paying off the debt incurred for rebuilding. He afterwards raised funds by which schools in Little Russell Street were added in 1849; and ragged schools, with a church, in Brewer's Court in 1855. Cumming took an active part in a great number of philanthropic movements, and was a popular preacher. Cumming was prominent as a controversialist. He opposed the seceders, who ultimately formed the Free church, in many pamphlets and lectures. He declined several invitations to accept important charges in Scotland, vacated through that event. In 1839 he had a public discussion at Hammersmith, in which he defended protestant doctrine against Daniel French, a Roman catholic barrister. The published report went through many editions. He took part in the Maynooth controversy of 1845; he lectured on the same subject for the Protestant Reformation Society in 1849; he presided at meetings to protest against the ‘papal aggression’ of 1850; and had a correspondence with Cardinal Wiseman upon the ‘persecuting clause’ of the archiepiscopal oath. A testimonial was presented to him, to which the Duke of Norfolk subscribed. In 1853 the Wiseman controversy was revived, and a meeting was held at Exeter Hall, which the cardinal was invited to attend. Cumming became most widely known by his writings on the interpretations of prophecy, holding that the ‘last vial’ of the Apocalypse was to be poured out from 1848 to 1867. In 1863 he lectured against Bishop Colenso. In 1868, when the Œcumenical Council was summoned by Pius IX, Cum- ming took occasion of a passage in the apostolic letter to ask whether he might attend. The pope explained, through Archbishop (now Cardinal) Manning, that his presence was not admissible.

Cumming relieved his hard labours in the pulpit and with the pen by brief holidays and a weekly excursion to a cottage near Tunbridge Wells. Here he amused himself with bee-keeping. His letters to the ‘Times,’ signed a ‘Beemaster,’ attracted much notice, and were the basis of a work called ‘Bee-keeping,’ published in 1864.

In 1876 Cumming's health began to decline, and on 21 July 1879 he sent in his resignation. A sum of 3,000l. was raised by his admirers, which brought an annuity of 300l. His wife died 1 Sept. 1879. His mind was already weakened, and he died 5 July 1881. He was buried at Kensal Green. He received the honorary degree of D.D. from Edinburgh in 1844. A list of more than a hundred publications of various kinds is given in Cumming's life.

Among them are: 1. ‘Lectures for the Times, or an Exposition of Tridentine and Tractarian Popery,’ 1844. 2. ‘Is Christianity from God?’ a manual of christian evidence, 1847 (11 editions). 3. ‘Apocalyptic Sketches’ (3 series), 1848–50. 4. ‘Prophetic Studies, or Lectures on the Book of Daniel,’ 1850. 5. ‘Signs of the Times, or Present, Past, and Future,’ 1854. 6. ‘The Great Tribulation, or Things coming on the Earth,’ 1859. 7. ‘Popular Lectures on the “Essays and Reviews,”’ 1861. 8. ‘The Millennial Rest, or the World as it will be,’ 1862. 9. ‘Moses Right, and Bishop Colenso Wrong,’ 1863. 10. ‘Driftwood, Seawood, and Fallen Leaves,’ 2 vols. of essays, 1863. 11. ‘The Destiny of the Nations,’ 1864. 12. ‘Ritualism the Highway to Rome,’ 1867. 13. ‘The Sounding of the Last Trumpet, or the Last Woe,’ 1867. 14. ‘The Seventh Vial, or the Time of Trouble Begun,’ 1870. 15. ‘The Fall of Babylon, foreshadowed in her Teachings, in History, and in Prophecy,’ 1870.

[In Memoriam, the Rev. John Cumming, D.D., F.R.S.E. (printed for private distribution), n. d.]