Principal Cairns eBook

John Cairns (Presbyterian)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 154 pages of information about Principal Cairns.

But not the least noticeable thing about him remains to be mentioned—­the persistent hopefulness of his outlook.  This became always more pronounced as he grew older.  Others, when they saw the advancing forces of evil, might tremble for the Ark of God; but he saw no occasion for trembling, and he declined to do so.  He was sure that the great struggle that was going on was bound sooner or later, and rather sooner than later, to issue in victory for the cause he loved.  And although his great knowledge of the past, and his enthusiasm for the great men who had lived in it, might have been expected to draw his eyes to it with regretful longing, he liked much better to look forward than to look back, using as he did so the words of a favourite motto; “The best is yet to be.”

All these qualities found expression in a speech he delivered on the occasion of the presentation of his portrait to the United Presbyterian Synod in May 1888.  This portrait had been subscribed for by the ministers and laymen of the Church, and painted by Mr. W.E.  Lockhart, R.S.A.  The presentation took place in a crowded house, and amid a scene of enthusiasm which no one who witnessed it can ever forget.  Principal Cairns concluded a brief address thus:  “I have now preached for forty-three years and have been a Professor of Theology for more than twenty, and I find every year how much grander the gospel of the grace of God becomes, and how much deeper, vaster, and more unsearchable the riches of Christ, which it is the function of theology to explore.  I have had in this and in other churches a band of ministerial brethren, older and younger, with whom it has been a life-long privilege to be associated; and in the professors a body of colleagues so generous and loving that greater harmony could not be conceived.  The congregations to which I have preached have far overpaid my labours; and the students whom I have taught have given me more lessons than many books.  I have been allowed many opportunities of mingling with Christians of other lands, and have learned, I trust, something more of the unity in diversity of the creed, ’I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.’  In that true Church, founded on Christ’s sacrifice and washed in His blood, cheered by its glorious memories and filled with its immortal hopes, I desire to live and die.  Life and labour cannot last long with me; but I would seek to work to the end for Christian truth, for Christian missions, and for Christian union.  Amidst so many undeserved favours, I would still thank God and take courage, and under the weight of all anxieties and failures, and the shadows of separation from loved friends, I would repeat the confession, which, by the grace of God, time only confirms:  ‘In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum.’”



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Principal Cairns from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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