Monday, June 15, 2009

It's a Small Reformed World After All

Within Reformed and Presbyterian circles, family ties and ecclesiastical connections are often frequent and intertwined. The following are not household names to most, although they constitute some of the brightest lights among the universe of Christian minds and hearts, and certainly among the galaxy of 19th century Reformed and Presbyterian divines from Scotland.

William Henry Goold (1815-1897) was a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland (RPCS) until, as the moderator of the majority RPCS Synod, he helped to effect union between that group (which had divided with the smaller branch of the RPCS over the issue of voting and the oath of allegiance) and the Free Church of Scotland (FCS) in 1876 and became moderator of the FCS in 1877. He is most famous for editing the Works of John Owen. He served on a 'Council of Publication,' along with James Begg, Thomas Smith and others, which edited and republished Puritan works, include those of Richard Sibbes and Thomas Goodwin, William Gouge's Commentary on Hebrews, Samuel Smith on Psalm 1, Richard Gilpin's Treatise of Satan's Temptations, etc. Goold also edited some British editions of works by A.A. Hodge and served as editor of The Reformed Presbyterian Magazine, as well as professor of divinity in the RPCS. His father was William Goold (1776-1844), also an RPCS minister. His sister was Janet Helen Goold.

In 1840, the elder William Goold performed the wedding ceremony for his daughter Janet who married George Smeaton (1814-1889), who started his ministerial career in the Church of Scotland but became one of the "Disruption Worthies" who founded the FCS, as well as a highly regarded professor of exegetical theology at New College in Edinburgh, and author of notable works on the Holy Spirit (The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, 1882); the Atonement (The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by Christ Himself, 1868, and The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught by the Apostles, 1870) and the Establishment Principle (National Christianity and Scriptural Union, 1871; The Scottish Theory of Ecclesiastical Establishments, 1875; and the preface to 1871 edition of Thomas M'Crie the Elder's Statement of the Difference). George Smeaton was reckoned by James MacGregor "to possess 'the best constituted theological intellect in Christendom'" (Ian Hamilton in Nigel M. de S. Cameron, ed., Dictionary of Scottish Church History & Theology, p. 779) and W.J. Grier describes him as "the most eminent scholar of the set of young men who with [Robert Murray] McCheyne and the Bonars [Horatius and Andrew] sat at the feet of [Thomas] Chalmers."

In 1846, the younger (William H.) Goold married Margaret Spiers Symington, daughter of William Symington (1795-1862), also an RPCS minister and author of On the Atonement and Intercession of Jesus Christ (1834) and Messiah the Prince (1839), perhaps the most famous treatise written on the Mediatorial Kingship of Jesus Christ, as well as a biographical sketch of Stephen Charnock. The William H. Goold family had nine children altogether, one of whom was named George Smeaton Goold (1854-1940).

William H. Goold, George Smeaton (Goold's brother-in-law), William Symington (Goold's father-in-law) and Andrew Symington (1785-1853, brother of William Symington and an RPCS minister as well as the professor of divinity whose seat was succeeded by William H. Goold) are all pictured together in the famous portrait of the 1843 Disruption Assembly created by David Octavius Hill, who pioneered the newly-invented art of photography by taking pictures of all the ministers present at the 1843 signing of the Act of Separation and using them to create a composite portrait which was completed in 1866. Goold and the Symingtons were present as RPCS representatives to witness the historic event.

William H. Goold, William Symington and Andrew Symington also each contributed to the 1841 Lectures on the Principles of the Second Reformation (Goold on Patronage; WS on Public Vows and the British Covenants; AS on the Headship of Christ over the Nations, as well as the Introduction).

All in all, the Goold-Smeaton-Symington connections constitute a notable example of "It's a small, Reformed world after all."

No comments:

Post a Comment