Brown, James Baldwin (1820-1884) (DNB00)

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BROWN, JAMES BALDWIN, the younger (1820–1884), nonconformist divine, was the eldest son of Dr. James Baldwin Brown the elder [q. v.] Born in 1820 at King's Bench Walk, Temple, he was sent to the London University, and at the age of eighteen was amongst the recipients of the first decrees granted by that body. It was intended that Brown should follow his father's profession, and he kept his terms at the Inner Temple for that purpose. He afterwards determined to devote himself to the ministry, and became a student at Highbury College. In 1843 he accepted the charge of a congregational church at Derby, and three years later he removed to London, becoming minister of Claylands Chapel, Clapham Hoad. During his ministry here Brown was distinguished for the breadth of his theological views. When the 'Rivulet' controversy arose in connection with the Rev. T. T. Lynch and his writings, Brown protested with other nonconformists against the severe attacks made upon Mr. Lynch. He also threw himself into the controversy on the doctrine of annihilation, and published a collection of discourses on the subject in opposition to the view held by the great body of the congregationalists. In 1870 Brown removed with the greater part of his congregation to a new and more commodious church in Brixton Road, with which his name was associated until his death.

In 1878 Brown was elected to the chair of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. During his tenure of office he once more showed himself to be a fearless controversialist. A conference was held at Leicester, in which, an effort was made by certain congregational ministers holding unorthodox views to fraternise with unitarians and other advanced thinkers. Brown warmly supported the arguments of the advanced school, but the majority at the conference carried a resolution reaffirming the tenets expressed in the Congregational Declaration of Faith and Order. The enforced separation from friends on this and other occasions affected Brown keenly.

Brown was a voluminous writer, as well as an active preacher and lecturer. In 1869 he published a volume entitled 'The Divine Mvsteries.' He was also the author of: 1. 'Studies of First Principles' (1848, &c.) 2. 'Competition, the Labour Market, and Christianity' (1851). 3. 'The Divine Life in Man' (1860). 4. 'Aids to the Development of the Divine Life' (1862). 5. 'The Home Life' (1866). 6. 'The Christian Policy of Life' (1870). 7. 'Buying and Selling and getting Gain' (1871). 8. 'First Principles of Ecclesiastical Truth' (1871). 9. 'Our Morals (1876). Anihilation in the Light of the Gospel of Love' (1876); and a number of other works, sermons, and contributions to periodical literature.

For some time before his death Brown had been in feeble health, and laid aside from active work. He was contemplating a visit to Switzerland when he was struck down with apoplexy, and died on 23 June 1884. Brown's reputation as a preacher extended far beyond his own denomination. In all public movements he took a great interest, and at such crises as the Lancashire cotton famine, the American civil war, the Franco-German war, &c., his sympathies and aid went out towards the distressed and the suffering. He was of a sensitive and active temperament, taking a great delight in work. His discourses were marked by much fervour, intellectual force, and literary finish. He deeply lamented the exclusiveness of the established church, and was a warm advocate of the claims of dissenters at the universities. One of the reforms for which he had long striven was accomplished when Brown lived to see his own son take a first-class at Oxford after a brilliant university career. In culture and versatility of parts he was himself justly distinguished.

[Times, 24 June 1884; Christian World, 26 June 1884; Brixton Free Press, 28 June 1884; In Memoriam, James Baldwin Brown, by Mrs. Elizabeth Baldwin Brown (1884).]

G. B. S.