Binning, Hugh (DNB00)

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BINNING, HUGH (1627–1653), Scotch divine, was son of John Binning of Dalvenan, Ayrshire, by Margaret M'Kell, daughter of Matthew M'Kell (or M'Kail), the parish clergyman of Bothwell, Lanarkshire, and sister to Hugh M'Kail, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and uncle to one of the youthful martyrs of Scotland—Hugh M'Kail, who was hanged at Edinburgh on 22 Dec. 1666, for his alleged participation in the rising at Pentland. Binning was born at Dalvenan in 1627. His father had a considerable inherited landed estate, and Hugh was given a liberal education. He easily outstripped his schoolfellows of twice and thrice his years, and in his thirteenth and fourteenth years his gravity and piety were recognised with a kind of awe by all. Before his fourteenth year he proceeded to the university of Glasgow, entering himself for philosophy. The professors were startled by his premature learning a view to serve God in the holy ministry.' James Dalrymple (afterwards Lord Stair), who had been his professor of philosophy, having resigned in 1647, Binning was induced to become a candidate for the chair. All members of the universities in the kingdom who had 'a mind to the profession of philosophy' were invited to 'sist' themselves before the Senatus and 'compete for the preferment.' The principal of the university (Dr. Strang) had his candidate, and strenuous efforts were put forth to carry him, mainly on the ground that the candidate was a 'citizen's son,' and subsidiarily 'of competent learning,' and of 'more years.' An extempore disputation between the two candidates was suggested; thereupon Binning's rival withdrew, and left him to be unanimously elected before he was a brilliant course of lectures, and tried to rescue philosophy in Scotland from the 'barbarous terms and unintelligible jargon of the and having obtained license as a minister of the Gospel, he received a call to the parish of Govan near Glasgow on 25 Oct. 1649. On 8 Jan. following he was ordained at Govan, and resigned his professorship in the following year. Soon after he married Mary (sometimes erroneously given as Barbara), daughter of the Rev. James Simpson, parish minister of Airth (Stirlingshire), who has been wrongly been described as an Irish minister. He still carried on his philosophical and other studies, but was duly attentive to his sermons and pastoral duties. Wherever he was announced as a preacher, vast crowds assembled. When in 1651 the unhappy division took place in the church into resolutioners and protesters, he sided with the latter. He then wrote and published his 'Treatise on Christian Love' as an Eirenicon. He played a prominent part in the historical dispute before Cromwell at Glasgow (April 1661) between the independents and presbyterians. His learning, theological knowledge, and eloquent fervour bore down all opposition. The Protector was astonished, and, finding his party (of the independents) nonplussed, is said to have asked the name 'of that learned and bold young man,' and, when told it was Mr. Hugh Binning, to have replied, ' He hath bound well indeed, but' (putting his hand on his sword) 'this will loose all again.' Subsequently he still more publicly vindicated the church's from Deuteronomy xxxii. 4-6. He died of consumption in September 1663, when only in his twenty-seventh year. Patrick Gillespie — no common judge — pronounced him 'philologus, philosophus, et theologus eximius.' James Durham said 'There was no speaking after Mr. Binning.' The following are his chief books: 1. 'The common Principles of the Christian Religion clearly proved and singularly improved, or a Practical Catechism wherein some of the most concerning Foundations of our Faith are solidly laid down, and that Doctrine which is according to Godliness is sweetly yet pungently pressed home and most satisfyiugly handled,' Glasgow, 1669. 2. 'The Sinner's Sanctuary, being xl. Sermons upon the Eighth Chapter of Romans from the first verse to the sixteenth,' Edinburgh, 1670. 3. 'Fellowship with God, being xxviii. Sermons on the First Epistle of John c. i. and ii. w. 1,2,3,' Edinburgh, 1671. 4. 'Heart Humiliation, or Miscellany Sermons, preached upon choice Texts at several Solemn Occasions,' Edinburgh, 1671. 6. 'An Useful Case of Conscience . , . 1693.' 6. 'A Treatise of Christian Love on John xiii. 36,' 1661, but only 1743 ed. (Glasgow) now known. 7. 'Several Sermons upon the most important Subjects of Practical Helicon,' Glasgow, 1760. The best collective edition of the works is that by Dr. Leishman, a successor at Govan, in one large volume (imperial 8vo), 3rd ed. 1861. Various of these books were translated into Dutch.

Binning's widow was afterwards married to the Rev. James Gordon, presbyterian minister of Comber, co. Down, Ireland. She died at Paisley in 1694. Binning's only son John inherited the family estate of Dulvenan on the death of his grandfather; but having been engaged in the afifair of Bothwell Bridge in 1679, he was attainted and his property forfeited. But in 1690 forfeiture and fines and attainder were rescinded by parliament, with little advantage nevertheless to him, through the roguery of one Mackenzie, who claimed to have advanced money on the estate far beyond its value. There are pathetic glimpses of the younger Binning in the 'proceedings' of the assembly of the church of Scotland in 1704, when he sued for the assembly's approval of an edition of his father's works. The assembly recommended ' every minister within the kingdom to take a double of the same book, or to subscribe for the same.' The last application he made for procuring aid was in 1717.

[Scott's Fasti, ii. 67-8; Minutes Univ. Glasg.; Wodrow's Analecta; Reid's Presbyterianism of rights as against the invasion of the state, Ireland, i.; Edin. Christian Instructor, xxii. Acts of Assembly; New Statistical Account, vi.; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Scots Worthies, i. 205-10, ed. Macgavin, 1837.]

A. B. G.