I am still, two years later, working through all of the pictures that I took of documents in the Glasite archive at the University of Dundee. I am slowly consolidating photos of books and other documents, curating them, and uploading them to the Glasite Digital Archive in a secure, private collection, since these documents are still under British copyright.
However, I wanted to share a picture of one artifact that I found at the archive. In all of my readings about the Glasites, I have never come across a description of John Glas being a charismatic leader. However, it is hard to imagine him surviving his defrocking from the Church of Scotland with his congregation intact, and then his ability to found congregations all over Scotland, without him being a charismatic leader of some magnitude. Especially considering that some of his main tenants: Christian non-participation in government, and pacifism, were very much outside the mainstream, then and now.
While at the archive, I discovered a locket that the staff was unaware of. I opened it up, and found that it contained a picture of John Glas. It also features two latin phrases, “crux christi nostra salus,” which translates “The cross of Christ, our salvation,” and “Ita pro nobis,” which translates “So for us.”
This little artifact lends credence to the idea that John Glas was much, much more than simply a reformer of what he saw as first century Christian doctrines. Glas was a charismatic leader, loved by his followers, and immortalized in writing and in pictures.
I have just uploaded the collected Works of Mr. Archibald McLean to the Glasite Digital Archive. All six volumes are available for reading and/or download via our new exhibit.
Additionally, I’ve also uploaded Volume 2 of the Miscellaneous Works of Archibald McLean to the archive as well.
I’ve just posted John Thomas Hornsby’s 1936 dissertation on John Glas, completed at the University of Edinburg, to the Glasite Digital Archive.
The dissertation is interesting in that it traces the influence of Glas onto other groups, including the the Scotch Baptists, the Old Scots Independents, the Inghamites, Haldanites, Walkerites, and the Disciples of Christ of the Stone-Campbell Movement.
John Walker, in addition to having convictions against the carrying of arms by Christians and the sinfulness of taking oaths, held a disdain for the joining together of Church and State under the rule of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Walker, like Glas and Sandeman, rejected the fusion of Church and State, and had no use for the intervention of government into the church, or the church into the government. In a longer essay on religious establishments made by human governments, Walker not only bemoaned this fusion, but he also took a potshot at English King James VI, who not only oppressed Walker’s own people (and who, through the Union of the Crowns, was declared King of both England and Ireland), but who famously declared that without bishops, there could be no King: a clear rejection of both Presbyterianism (which the Glasites originated from), and Congregationalism (the Glasite polity).
The writings of the earliest fathers (as they are called) of the Church prove, what a rapid progress this defection made after the death of the Apostles. But it was not till the Roman empire ceased to be professedly heath, and Constantine assumed the name of Christian, that its malignity became fully developed ; and that connection took place between Church and State, which completely secularized the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Then indeed the flood of corruption rapidly swept before it almost every vestige of scriptural Christianity. Then the sword of human power was considered as the great means of promoting their satanic religion. Then appeared the awful spectacle of different factions, under the name of Christian, employing that sword against each other, as they successively climbed to political greatness on the stepping-stone of their several systems. Then were introduced into the house of God the civil pains and penalties of exile, fines, imprisonment, and death ; with the worldly prizes of riches and honor, and political advancement, to tempt the ambition of carnal religionists. Then advanced with hasty strides the assumptions of priestly authority and hierarchical dominion, originating that stupid and wicked cry of—NO BISHOP, NO KING—which continued current to the present day ; till at length what they called the Altar overtopped the Throne, and the popes of Rome, under the blasphemous claim of deriving their authority by lineal succession from the Apostle Peter, and acting as the Viceregents of Christ,—were enabled to establish themselves in universal sovereignty over the very monarchs who had aided their rise, and conferred kingdoms or deposed kings at pleasure ; while Christendom was overspread with a uniformity of idolatrous superstition and impious mummery, presented to the besotted nations as the religion of Jesus Christ….
In many instances the kings of the earth, who had groaned under the yoke of the Roman pontiff, were glad to patronize the Reformation, as opposed to that domineering power. And alas ! the reformers generally fell into the snare of their patronage ; and in order to avail themselves of the protection and aids of human power, abandoned the principle that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world ; continued that coalition between Church and State, which is essentially inconsistent with scriptural Christianity; and this proved their new Churches to be the genuine progeny of that great whore, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and who is described as the Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth (Rev. xvii. 5.) Hence, in Churches bearing the name of Christian and of Protestant, the awful spectacle was still exhibited of temporal pains and penalties introduced to enforce obedience to their mandates ; acts of human legislature establishing their religious creeds, and ordering their religious observances ; with several carnal inducement held out to allure conformity, and all the worldly aids of pageantry and pomp to excite superstitious reverence.
To this State-religion the continued existence of the race of Clergy was essential. And accordingly they continued,—a class of pretended agents between God and the people, tricked out int he trappings and claims of the Jewish priesthood ;—of that priesthood which had its termination and absolute abolition in Him, who is the great High Priest over the House of God, on the completion of whose work the shadows which had prefigured him passed away… A man appointed by worldly rulers to what is called the episcopal function, after some ceremonies have been gone through with him by others similarly appointed, is supposed to be transformed into a—successor to the Apostles in the government of the Church of Christ !
William Burton, ed., “Thoughts on Religious Establishments; with a Brief Sketch of Ecclesiastical History.,” inEssays and Correspondence Chiefly On Scriptural Subjects by the Late John Walker, Some Time a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and a Clergyman in the Establishment (Dublin: E. Madden, & R.M. Tims, 1838), 336-38, accessed August 8, 2014. You can find this pericope and its larger context, along with the full works of John Walker, at the Glasite Digital Archive. http://www.glasite.org/archive/items/show/107.
John Walker, Fellow of Trinity College and founder of the “Walkerites,” a Glasite sect in Dublin, Ireland, was asked by a “Mr. P. C——-.” about his position regarding the carrying of weapons by Christians. Unlike many of current conversations regarding Christians, weapons, and the use of violence, Walker’s statement is nuanced. His political theology is clear: Christians are not allowed to swear oaths, nor are they allowed to carry arms or serve as soldiers or executioners. True to his primitivist, restorationist heritage, he stays close to the text of the New Testament. However, at the end of his exposition of scripture, he can’t seem to resist inserting a small statement of his personal leanings, independent of his religious beliefs, about the carrying of weapons or the use of violence.
I must despatch (sic) very briefly two remaining topics which you propose. You ask whether I am “decidedly against a disciple’s bearing arms in every case.” If I mistake not, I wrote my mind upon that subject lately to my brother, J. L————, whom, I hope, you will soon known, if you do not already. The substance of what I can reply to the question, is this. I cannot conceive a disciple walking in the truth, and taking upon him the profession of arms. Indeed, in this country, that is put blessedly beyond controversy, as no man can become a solider without being attested, or sworn before a magistrate, i.e. without directly violating the express command of Christ. But a man who is in the army—(or who is a public hangman)—may be called to the knowledge of the truth : and in that case I find myself without warrant in the word for dealing with him as an offender against the law of Christ, even though he continue in the profession of arms ;—while I should, without hesitation, urge him, on the grounds of Christian expediency, to quite it if he can. I find a military officer at Caesarea received as a disciple by an apostle, and no intimation given of any injection to him to lay aside the use of arms. As to the abstract question, whether I would, in any case, think myself justified in resorting to the private use of arms—(even so far as the taking away of life)—in self-defense,—I am not fond of debating it. I think disciples may peacefully look to their heavenly father, never to place them in any such circumstances as alone could justify it. But if pressed for an opinion on the abstract question, I must frankly say that I can contemplate cases in which I think that I would, without an scruple, shoot a ruffian, and consider myself in doing so, only as the executioner of the laws: just on the same ground as — if I were in the office of Sheriff—I might be legally bound to hang a criminal with my own hands. But really I should rather decline arguing the point, if any though differently from me : and I do not conceive that a difference of theory on such a question could bar our Christian fellowship for a moment, till it came into practice.
William Burton, ed., Essays and Correspondence Chiefly On Scriptural Subjects by the Late John Walker, Some Time a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and a Clergyman in the Establishment (Dublin: E. Madden, & R.M. Tims, 1838), 385-86. You can find this pericope and its larger context, along with the full works of John Walker, at the Glasite Digital Archive. http://www.glasite.org/archive/items/show/108.
I am behind again. I have been traveling almost non-stop the last several days, and haven’t had a lot of opportunities to publish to the blog.
On Day 12, I took the train from Edinburgh to Cardiff, Wales. It was a very long trip, and by the time I arrived, I was quite exhausted. I spent the evening reading about Sandemanians in Wales.
Christmas Evans was a one-eyed Baptist minister who served the poor congregants throughout Wales for 49 years. For about 10 of those years, Christmas Evans was a Sandemanian. He was converted to the Sandemanians on the Island of Anglesey off the coast of Wales, where he had been assigned to minister to all of the Baptists on the island. He and many other Baptists became Sandemanians, in part, it seems, in defense of their strict Calvinist beliefs. When Methodists arrived on the island, Evans attacked them, attempting to defend Calvinist soteriology against Wesleyan Arminianism. Evans became one of the most well known free church ministers in the history of Wales non-conformity.
Day 13 was my birthday. I spent it touring the Cardiff area, visiting the Cardiff Castle, and enjoying this beautiful city. Later in the day, I took the train to London, and promptly went to bed.
Day 14 I spent in London, discovering the city. London is the place where the most famous of Sandemanians, Michael Faraday, was a member. Faraday was an important enough person in the social and political circles in London that he has his own memorial in Westminster Abbey. However, because of his supposedly unorthodox Sandemanian beliefs, he was denied burial in the Abbey and was instead buried in the Highgate Cemetery in London. I did not have time to visit Highgate on this day, but I hope to do so before I leave the UK.
I found the following poem about the Sandemanians in London:
THE SANDEMANIAN MEETING-HOUSE IN HIGHBURY QUADRANT
On roaring iron down the Holloway Road
The red trams and the brown trams pour,
And little each yellow-faced jolted load
Knows of the fast-shut grained oak door.
From Canonbury, Dalston and Mildmay Park
The old North London shoots in a train
To the long black platform, gaslit and dark,
Oh Highbury Station once and again.
Steam or electric, little they care,
Yellow brick terrace or terra-cotta hall,
White-wood sweet shop or silent square,
That the LORD OF THE SCRIPTURES IS LORD OF ALL.
Away from the barks and the shouts and the greetings,
Psalm-singing over and love-lunch done,
Listening to the Bible in their room for meetings,
Old Sandemanians are hidden from the sun.
After getting up and changing accommodations (I had the very unfortunate luck of staying somewhere that was hosting multiple bachelor parties and hardly slept) , I set off in search of the old Glasite Meeting House of Barony Street in Edinburgh. Once I arrived, I found it locked up. I called the number to the property manager and got no answer, so I was unfortunately not able to go inside and take a look, which was a major disappointment.
Photos of the Glasite Meeting House
I then set off to locate the graves of James Alexander Haldane and Archibald McLean. While James Haldane needs no introduction on this blog, Archibald McLean might. He is not the same Archibald McLean that was a leader of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Upper Canada, President of Bethany College and the chief executive of the Ameican Christian Missionary Society. The Scottish Archibald McLean was a Sandemanian. However, McLean left the Sandemanians after a while after becoming convinced that believer’s baptis by immersion for the remission of sins was the intent of the New Testament. McLean started a new sect, very similar to the Sandemanians, called the Scotch Baptists. The Scotch Baptists practiced adult immersion, celebrated the ord’s Supper weekly, and generally closely resembled modern day Stone-Campbell Churches. That said, I was unable to find McLean’s grave. He is buried in the same cemetery as James Haldane, but after over an hour of looking, I was unable to locate his grave.
James Haldane’s grave, however, I was able to find with the help of Scott Harp’s website. James is buried in a family plot with multiple family members. His own grave itself was unmarked, but the entire family pot was marked as “the burying ground of James Alex. Haldane”.
Photos of the gravesite of James Haldane:
This is my last day in the archive. I photographed over 700 documents today alone. It was a busy and interesting day.
Right after I started working this morning, I heard someone ask for me by name. Carol Kinghorn, who had commented on my itinerary, saw my posts that I was in Dundee and came down to the University to meet me, and also to do some of her own genealogical research on her Father’s side of the family, the Sandemans. She showed me her family tree, with the connection to Robert Sandeman and John Glas, and we had a lovely conversation about the impact and legacy of the Glasites on Protestantism. While I was talking to Carol, she asked me if I had been to the former Glasite Church in Dundee. I had not know that it existed! I had done some research to see if I could find other old Glasite buildings in existence besides the Glasite Hall in Edinburgh, but had had no luck. Carol gave me directions to it, and I walked down to it over my lunch break.
The Former Glasite Builidng here in Dundee, is now, ironically, owned by the Church of Scotland. The building itself was built right next door to a Church of Scotland perish, and I must wonder if the Glasites didn’t have a sense of humor in selecting the site for their building. I was able to go inside and look around a little bit. It is a two story structure, somewhat round. A staff member of the church guided me upstairs to see the actual church meeting room, but when we arrived we found a meeting in progress so we weren’t able to go in. I took a few photos of the outside however, and was happy to be able to see this historic building at all
This evening I take the train to Edinburgh, where I will locate the grave of James Haldane, and visit the Glasite Meeting Hall.
I’ve spent the last three days working 8 hours days in the archive at the University of Dundee. In the three days that I have been there, I have photographed well over 2,000 pages of documents relating to the Glasite/Sandemanian Churches. It has been in many ways exhausting work, standing up, then sitting down, bending over documents, strategically placing leather and cloth weights on pages to keep them down while trying to obstruct as little of the text as possible.
Almost all of the documents in the Dundee archives are handwritten, and many are hard to decipher. Additionally, almost all of the documents are unpublished, which means that under U.K. copyright laws, I can make a copy for research, but I cannot provide these copies to others. That means that the documents that I am obtaining at Dundee will not be available via the Glasite Digital Archive. This is a shame, but a legal necessity. However, since I am able to make copies of the documents and bring them with me, it means that I can do research in the more comfortable confines of my own home or the library using digital copies of the text. I already see the potential for several articles from the data that I have collected. I am also spending tomorrow in the archive, continuing to take photos and document texts and artifacts.
There are so many different items related to the Glasites in the archive that it is utterly impossible for me to capture them all in the short time I have here in Dundee. I am categorically skipping items from the mid to late 20th Century, and focusing on the 1700 – 1800’s. I had to make the decision early as well to skip many of the sermon and exhortation books, in favor of actual records, letter collections, and written manuscript collections. There remains a large treasure trove of sermon and exhortation texts that were meticulously recorded by members of the congregations using shorthand, and then written out in long hand. The theological content of these documents is rich, but I just don’t have the time. They will have to wait until I can return, or until another researcher comes to comb them for content.
One insight that I have gained from this is that the Glasites were sticklers for record keeping. The archive has, I believe, about 100 service books, recording the bible verses read, members missing from services, and visitors from other congregations for every week of a given year. I’ve photographed a couple of books that consistently note visitors from other congregations, because, as a case of disfellowship against the famous Glasite scientist Michael Faraday shows, the Glasites did not tolerate members missing worship.
Also, today, I visited the grave of John Glas. Glas is buried in the Howff Cemetery, which is the middle of downtown Dundee. I have read about Glas since I was 15 years old, which makes twenty years of reading about, wondering about, and being curious John Glas this year. It was surreal to finally be able to visit his grave and walk in the areas that he trod.
Stay tuned for some discoveries from the archive that I’ll post later.