Moncrieff, Sir Henry, Bart, Dd
Moncrieff, Sir Henry, Bart., D.D.
a Scottish divine, son of the Rev. Sir William Moncrieff, was born in Blackford, Perthshire, February 6, 1750. After receiving an elementary education in his native place, he repaired to the University of Glasgow for the purpose of fitting himself for the pulpit. In the midst of his collegiate course he had the misfortune to lose his father. The patrons of the charge thus left vacant, moved by a strong affection for Sir William, and a confidence in the more than ordinary talent displayed by his son, reserved the pastorate for "Sir Harry," as he was familiarly called. He repaired to Edinburgh, and there entered upon a theological course, which he completed in August 1771; was then ordained a minister of the Church of Scotland, and installed as successor to his father. His talents were too remarkable to allow of his remaining long in this humble position, and the attention he attracted soon caused him to be called to Edinburgh, where, in 1775, he became the officiating minister of St. Cuthbert's, the largest parochial charge in the Scottish capital. Though the numerical strength of his parish prevented him from coming into frequent personal contact with all, still he seems to have been dearly beloved as a pastor and friend. He had a commanding appearance, was gifted with a powerfully argumentative oratory, and was zealous as well as learned. In the pulpit his style was characterized by force more than by elegance. Avoiding flights of fancy and displays of rhetorical talent, he used his cultured intellectual strength to make truth strike the heart rather than please the brain. In his time the moderate party held the majority in the Scottish Church, but his hatred of intolerance and love of freedom led him to take a stand with the liberal and evangelical party, while his natural independence of character made his position one of boldness and prominence. The deliberations of the General Assembly, which met yearly at Edinburgh, were of a mixed political and religious nature. In these meetings Sir Harry took an active part, and his talents as a debater soon ranked him among the ablest of Scotland's platform orators. In 1785 he was unanimously chosen as moderator of the Assembly, an honor which was conferred on him several times thereafter. In these religious discussions he showed great abhorrence of everything savoring of bigotry or intolerance, and was ever ready to listen to and engage in any argument which aimed at the discovery of truth. Yet his religious beliefs were tenaciously adhered to and boldly advocated. Politically also he was active, and, to use his own expression, as "a Whig of 1688." He earnestly opposed all civil disabilities for religious creeds, and heartily supported "the constitution as founded upon the rock of lawful resistance by the patriots of the first James and Charles's time, and as finally purified by those of the Revolution." Indeed, it has been truly said that "in him Scotland found a warm-hearted lover of mankind, a strong advocate of political and religious freedom, and a zealous party leader." He continued to labor in this wide field of usefulness as pastor of St.
Cuthbert's and leader of the liberal party until the time of his death, June 14, 1827. In the latter part of his life he adopted the additional surname of WELLWOOD; but he is better known as " Sir Harry," he being in his day the only man of noble rank who ministered in the Church of Scotland. He published several treatises concerning the ecclesiastical discussions of his time, also Discourses on the Evidences of the Jewish and Christian Revelations (1815), and an Account of the Life and Writings of Dr, John Erskine (1818). His Sermons, with a memoir by his son, have also been published in three volumes (1829-31). "Those who read these sermons," says a critic in the Edinb. Rev. (6:112), "will never be disturbed with the author's admiration of himself or his misconception of the subject; nor will their impatience be excited by anything puerile, declamatory, verbose, or inaccurate. They will find everywhere indications of a vigorous and independent understanding; and, though they may not always be gratified with flights of fancy or graces of composition, they can scarcely fail to be attracted by the unaffected: expression of goodness and sincerity which runs through the whole publication." See Edinb. Rev. 47:242; Encyclop. Britannica, s.v.; Chambers, Biog. Dict. of Emninent Scotsmen, 4:456; Blackwood's Magazine, 22:530; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v. (H.W.T.)