Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/25

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Brown
Brown
19

sulted in some change when the union mentioned later on was accomplished. Two years afterwards he was called to Hose Street Church, Edinburgh. After labouring here for seven years, he was translated to Broughton Place Church. In 1830 he received the degree of D.D. from Jefferson College, Pennsylvania; in 1834, when his church revised its scheme of education, he was elected professor of exegetical theology; and when in 1847 his denomination by its junction with the relief body formed the United Presbyterian Church, he was moved from the junior to the senior hall.

During these years Brown wrote several works, and was actively engaged in various agitations and discussions. The chief of these was the 'voluntary controversy' (1835-43), during which he eagerly supported the separation of church and state. In Edinburgh at that time an impost called the annuity tax was levied for the support of the city ministers. This he finally refused to pay, whereupon in 1838 his goods were twice seized and sold. In connection with this he was engaged in a controversy with Robert Haldane, who replied to his 'Law of Christ respecting civil doctrine' ' (1839) by a series of letters (see Alexander Haldane), Memoirs of R. and J.A. Haldane, Lond. 1852; and Brown's Remarks on certain statements in it, Edin. 1852). A matter which affected him still more directly was the 'atonement controversy' (1840-5). It was supposed by some parties in the church that he and his colleague. Dr. Balmer, held unsound views on the nature of the atonement. Finally, in 1845, he was tried by libel before the synod at the instance of two brother divines, Drs. Hay and Marshall. While both sides agreed that only the elect could be saved, Brown was accused of holding that in a certain and, as his opponents affirmed, unscriptural and erroneous sense, Christ died for all men. The trial, which lasted four days, resulted in his honourable acquittal (Report of Proceedings in Trial by Libel of John Brown, D.D., Edin. 1845).

During the years 1848-57 Brown was chiefly engaged in producing a number of exegetical works, which were widely read in this country and America. His jubilee, after a fifty years' ministry, was celebrated in April 1856 (see Rev. J. Brown's Jubilee Services, Edin. 1856). A considerable sum of money was given to him on this occasion. This, after adding a donation of his own, he presented to the aged and infirm ministers' fund of his church. He died at Edinburgh on 13 Oct. 1858. Brown was twice married, and was survived by issue of both marriages. His eldest son was John Brown, M.D., author of 'Rab' [q. v.], who in his 'Letter to Dr. Cairns' has written the most enduring literary memorial of his father. Brown was a voluminous writer, but his works are somewhat commonplace in thought and expression, and without permanent value; yet they prove their author to have been a man of great industry and very wide and varied reading. His plan of exposition was 'to make the Bible the basis and the test of the system,' and not 'to make the system the principal and, in effect, sole means of the interpretation of the Bible' (Preface to treatise on Epistle to Galatians quoted in 'Memoir,' p. 298). He followed this method as far as circumstances permitted, and his work undoubtedly gave a healthy impetus to the study of theology in Scotland. For many years he was the most prominent figure among the members of his church. This position was partly due to his learning and ability; it was st ill more due to his nobility of character and sweetness of disposition.

Brown wrote a large number of sermons, short religious treatises, biographies, and other occasional works. Of these the chief are: 'On the Duty of Pecuniary Contribution to Religious Purposes,' a sermon before the London Missionary Society (1821); 'On Religion and the Means of its Attainment' (Edin. 1818); 'What ought the Dissenters of Scotland to do at the present crisis?' (Edin. 1840); 'Hints to Students of Divinity' (Edin. 1841); 'Comfortable AVords for Christian Parents bereaved of little Children' (Edin. 1846); 'Memorials of Rev. J. Fisher' (Edin. 1849). Brown's most important works were the following treatises: 'Expository Discourses on First Peter' (3 vols. Edin. 1848); 'Discourses and Savings of our Lord Jesus Christ' (3 vols. Edin. 1850); 'An Exposition of our Lord's Intercessory Prayer ' (Edin. 1850); 'The Resurrection of Life' (Edin. 1852); 'The Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah' (Edin. 1853); 'Expository Discourses on Galatians' (Edin. 1853); 'Discourses suited to the Lord's Supper' (1st ed. 1816, 3rd and enlarged ed. Edin. 1853); 'Parting Counsels, an exposition of the first chapter of second epistle of Peter' (Edin. 1856); 'Analytical Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans ' (Edin. 1857). After Brown's death his 'Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews,' edited by David Smith, D.D., was published in 1862 (2 vols. Edin.)

[Cairns's Memoir of John Brown, D.D., with supplementary letter by J. Brown, M.D. (Edin. 1860). A portrait is prefixed (for notice of portraits, &c., see p. 469); J. Brown, M.D., On the Death of J. Brown (Edin. 1860); W. Hunters Biggar and the House of Fleming (2nd ed. Edin.