1902 Encyclopedia > John Erskine

John Erskine
Scottish cleric

JOHN ERSKINE, D.D. (1721-1803), son of the above [EBENEZER ERSKINE], a minister of the Church of Scotland, was born on the 2d June 1721. It was his early desire to enter the church; and although, in deference to his father's wish, he studied law for a time after completing his course in arts at the university of Edinburgh, he was eventually permitted to follow his own inclination. He was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Dunblane in 1743 ; and in May of the following year he was ordained minister of the important parish of Kirkintilloch, near Glasgow. In 1753 he was translated to Culross, in Fifeshire, from which he was removed in 1758 to the New Greyfriars Church in Edin-burgh. In 1767 this was exchanged for the collegiate charge of the Old Greyfriars Church, where he became the colleague of Principal Robertson, the historian. Here he remained until his death, which took place on January 19, 1803. His writings consist chiefly of numerous controversial pamphlets on theological subjects, and their contents make it a matter of regret that he did not publish something which was the result of more extended labour. He carried on an extensive correspondence with many distinguished men in England, on the Continent, and in America. His sermons are clear, vigorous expositions of a moderate Calvin-ism, in which metaphysical argument and practical morality are happily blended. In church politics he was the leader of the evangelical party; but his high character and the benignity of his disposition secured for him the esteem of his opponents and the friendship of their leader, his colleague Dr Robertson. There is an excellent Life of Erskine by Sir H. Moncrieff Welwood (Edin. 1818), the appendix to which contains a complete list of his numerous writings.

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