Mccrie, Thomas, Dd

Mccrie, Thomas, D.D., a noted Scotch divine, celebrated as a write on ecclesiastical history and polemics, was born at Dunse, in Berwickshire, in November, 1772. "Dr. McCrie's parents," says his biographer, "being connected with that branch of the secession usually termed Anti-Burghers, he was brought up under... the primitive strictness of that communion... and received that thoroughly religious education, of the importance of which he was ever afterwards so strenuous an advocate, and of the success of which he was himself a striking example." After securing the rudiments of education at the parish school of his native place, he entered, in 1788, the University of Edinburgh, and in 1791 commenced his theological studies. In 1795 he was licensed to preach by the Associate Presbytery of Kelso, and he was immediately afterwards chosen pastor of a congregation of the same body in Edinburgh, where he served the following ten years, applying himself with great assiduity to the discharge of his professional duties, and occasionally publishing able pamphlets on some of the gravest and most difficult subjects of theological inquiry. The differences of opinion, and the appearance of New-Lights with peculiar doctrines quite unknown to the primitive belief of the "Secession Church," caused McCrie in 1806, with five friends, among them the celebrated Bruce, to separate from the "General Associated Synod," and to form "the Constitutional Associate Presbytery," avowing "strict adherence to the principles of the original secession." (Here compare Hist. Sketch of the Origin of the Secession

Church, by the Rev. A. Thomson, and the History of the Rise of the Relief Church, by the Rev. Gavin Struthers [Edinburgh, 1858, 12mo]). During the controversy which this change provoked he gave himself largely to the study of the Reformers, and came to admire so much his great countryman, John Knox, that he zealously applied himself to the composition of a Life of John Knox (Edinb. 1812, 8vo, and often), a masterly work, that combines the highest excellences of which biography is capable, and was by his contemporaries regarded as "a literary phenomenon." "It placed the character of the Scottish Reformer," says Jamieson (Cyclop. Rel. Biog. s.v.), "in an entirely new light, and showed him to be so widely different from the rude and illiterate demagogue he had been hitherto represented, that its appearance was hailed with patriotic pride and gratitude. It placed the name of McCrie at once in the foremost ranks of living historians. The highest literary honors were conferred on him" (compare Hetherington, Hist. Ch. of Scotland, 2:369). He received from the University of Edinburgh the honorary title of D.D., being the first Dissenter to whom that distinction was awarded; and his book, besides passing through several editions in Scotland, was translated into most of the languages of Europe. Encouraged by the success of his first literary effort, Dr. McCrie published, as the fruits of his researches regarding a later period of Scottish ecclesiastical history, the Biography of Andrew Melville, a celebrated champion of Presbyterianism in the reign of James VI of Scotland. This work, composed on the same principle of combining the memoirs of an individual with a narrative of public events (it illustrates the formation of the Kirk of Scotland, and the peculiarities of the Presbyterian establishment), evinces a vast amount of erudition and research. Critics of Anglican tendency have always been inclined to accuse McCrie of great partisan zeal and unfairness to his opponents: thus Mr. Hallam designated his writings as the products of "Presbyterian Hildebrandism." But these censures are unjust and unmerited. His impartiality and candor, and his unaffected desire to investigate the truth, to whatever conclusion it might lead, have been clearly conceded even by liberal opponents, and unmistakably impress themselves on every thoughtful reader. A writer, commenting on a later production from Dr. McCrie, in the Westminster Review (Jan. 1857), aptly says: "McCrie belongs to the higher class of writers to whose earnesestess, thoroughness, and genuine research we turn for relief from the superficial second-hand showiness of books written from a transient impulse, in order to supply only a transient need." After McCrie's formation of the "Constitutional Associate Presbytery," difficulty arose among his people respecting their Church property. The result finally was the building of a new place of worship in West Nicholson Street, and there he ministered for nearly thirty years. In 1821 he made a tour to the Continent, mainly with a view to study the Continental Reformation, and, after continuing his investigations until 1827, published the Hist. of the Ref. in Italy, and in 1829 the Hist. of the Ref. in Spain, both of which had the honor of being prominently placed in the list of the Roman Index of forbidden books, and are spoken of as "the very best accounts we possess of the protest made against Romish corruption by the races of the South — a protest not less ardent, but unhappily less persistent than that of the phlegmatic North." At the time of his death, Aug. 5, 1835, the doctor was engaged on a "Life of Calvin," which unfortunately he left uncompleted. All his completed works were published under the title of Works of the late Thomas McCrie, D.D., by his son Thomas, in 4 vols. 8vo (Edinb. 185557). They contain, besides the works already mentioned, Discourses on the Unity of the Church (1821): — Memoirs of William Veitch and George Bryson (1825): — Lectures on the Book of Esther (1838):— Vindications of Christian Faith and his Sermons (1836). See Life and Times of Thomias McCrie, D.D., by his son Thomas (Edinb. 1840, 8vo); Blackwood's Magazine, 38:429; Gentl. Magazine, 1835, pt. ii, p. 434; The Annual Biogr. and Obit. (Lond. 1836, 8vo), 20:442; Allibone, Dict. Brit. and Amer. Authors, vol. ii, s.v.; Cunningham, Hist. Studies, 1:411. (J. H. W.)

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