Ebenezer Erskine (22 June 1680 – 2 June 1754) was a Scottish minister whose actions led to the establishment of the Secession Church (formed by dissenters from the Church of Scotland).
|Born||22 June 1680|
|Died||2 June 1754(aged 73)|
|Education||University of Edinburgh|
|Tradition or movement||(1) Church of Scotland|
(2) Associate Presbytery/ Secession Church
(3) Burgher Seceder
Ebenezer's father, Henry Erskine, served as minister at Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland, but was ejected in 1662 under the Act of Uniformity and imprisoned for several years. Ebenezer and his brother Ralph were both born during this difficult period in their father's life. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 Henry was appointed to the parish of Chirnside, Berwickshire.
In 1703, after studying at the University of Edinburgh, Ebenezer was ordained as minister of Portmoak, on the edges of Loch Leven in Kinross-shire. A year later, he married Alison Turpie. They remained in Portmoak for 28 years, until, in the autumn of 1731, he moved to the West Church in Stirling.
At the General Assembly of 1722, a group of men including Ebenezer had been rebuked and admonished for defending the doctrines contained in the book The Marrow of Modern Divinity. In 1733, a sermon he preached on lay patronage at the Synod of Perth led to new accusations being levelled against him. He was compelled to defend himself from rebuke by appealing to the General Assembly, but the Assembly supported his accusers. After fruitless attempts to obtain a hearing, he, along with William Wilson of Perth, Alexander Moncrieff of Abernethy and James Fisher of Kinclaven, was suspended from the ministry by the Commission of Assembly in November of that year.
In protest against this sentence, the suspended ministers constituted themselves as a separate church court, under the name the "Associate Presbytery". In 1739 they were summoned to appear before the General Assembly, but did not attend because they did not acknowledge its authority. They were deposed by the Church of Scotland the following year.
In the following years a large number of people joined their communion. The Associate Presbytery remained united until 1747, when a division took place over how the church should respond to a new oath required of all burgesses. Erskine joined with the "burgher" section, becoming their professor of theology. He continued to preach to a large and influential congregation in Stirling until his death. He was a very popular preacher and a man of considerable force of character. He was noted for acting on principle with honesty and courage. In 1820 the burgher and anti-burgher sections of the Secession Church were reunited, followed, in 1847 by their union with the relief synod as the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
The majority of Erskine's published works are sermons. His Life and Diary (edited by the Rev. Donald Fraser) was published in 1840. His Works were published in 1785.
In the United States, part of the Associate Presbyterian Church united with most of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1782, forming the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. This denomination, which continues today, operates Erskine College and Seminary in Due West, South Carolina.
His teachings are also popular in the Dutch Reformed Church.
His son-in-law Rev Robert Fisher (died 1775), married to his daughter Jean, was a minister in Glasgow.
Erskine was a Free Gardener. He was Initiated in the Dunfermline Lodge of Free Gardeners in 1722 the same year as his patron, John Leslie, 8th Earl of Rothes.
It is worthy of note that after he became a Free Gardener his sermons began to include numerous horticultural allusions.
- ^ Fraser 1831.
- ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 754.
- ^ Thomson & Struthers 1858, p. 538.
- ^ Chisholm 1911, pp. 754–755.
- ^ a b c Chisholm 1911, p. 755.
- ^ Cooper 2005.
- Blaikie, William Garden (1889). "Fisher, James". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 19. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Carlyle, Edward Irving (1900). "Wilson, William (1690-1741)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 62. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 754–755. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. .
- Cooper, Robert (2005). Freemasons, Templars & Gardeners. Melbourne Belmont, Victoria: Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council, Rowick Printers. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-9578256-2-5. OCLC 879603408.
- Fraser, Donald (1831). The life and diary of the Reverend Ebenezer Erskine, A.M. : of Stirling, father of the secession church, to which is prefixed a memoir of his father, the Rev. Henry Erskine, of Chirnside. Edinburgh: W. Oliphant. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
- Gordon, Alexander (1889). "Erskine, Ebenezer". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 17. London: Smith, Elder & Co. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Gordon, Alexander (1889). "Erskine, Ralph". In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 17. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Harper, James; Eadie, John; Lindsay, William (1849). Lives of Ebenezer Erskine, William Wilson, and Thomas Gillespie, Fathers of the United Presbyterian Church. Edinburgh: A. Fullarton & Co.
- Johnstone, Thomas Boston (1894). "Moncrieff, Alexander". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 38. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- MacEwen, A.R. (1900). The Erskines (Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine). Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier.
- McCrie, C. G. (1893). The Free Church of Scotland : her ancestry, her claims, and her conflicts. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. pp. 59-60. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
- McKerrow, John (1839a). History of the Secession Church. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Son. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- McKerrow, John (1839b). History of the Secession Church. Vol. 2. Edinburgh: William Oliphant and Son. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Scott, Hew (1923). Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae; the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the reformation. Vol. 4. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. pp. 328-329. Retrieved 8 July 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Small, Robert (1904a). History of the congregations of the United Presbyterian Church, from 1733 to 1900. Vol. 1. Edinburgh: David M. Small. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Small, Robert (1904b). History of the congregations of the United Presbyterian Church, from 1733 to 1900. Vol. 2. Edinburgh: David M. Small. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Thomson, Andrew; Struthers, Gavin (1858). Historical sketch of the origin of the Secession Church and the History of the rise of the Relief Church. Edinburgh and London: A. Fullerton and Co. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Young, David; Brown, John (1849). Memorials of Alexander Moncrieff, M.A., and James Fisher, fathers of the United Presbyterian Church. Edinburgh: A. Fullarton.