A Christian nation

James Begg was fiercely patriotic and the idea of Scotland as a covenanted nation runs strongly through his thought and actions. Only through the maintenance of the faith of the fathers would Scotland yet flourish and this explains his continued and tenacious adherence to the principle of the establishment of the Church by the State as late as forty years after the Disruption. Begg’s vision for a just, Christian Scotland necessitated the maintenance of the Church’s prominence in national life. Unlike the liberalising party in the Free Church which came to dominance by the end of Begg’s life, he recognised that by loosing the doctrinal moorings of Scottish Presbyterianism the whole role and position of the Church in the nation would soon be eclipsed, the blessing of the Most High would be lost and the Church grievously divided and weakened.

In his own forthright and eloquent manner Dr Begg brought Christian principles successfully to bear upon the pressing social issues of his day. Begg’s philanthropy was one strand in his overall vision and it was a part of his witness and ministry which attracted much favourable comment during his lifetime. John Murdoch - a radical land reformer and journalist in the Highlands - even desired Begg to stand for Inverness-shire at the 1874 election and later hailed him as ‘one of the ablest and most enlightened social and economic reformers in Scotland’.

It is now a long time since James Begg’s contributions to social reform were made and the nation is completely different from the thoroughly-Presbyterian Scotland which he loved so dearly. Material conditions in our land today are immeasurably superior to those of Begg’s day but these blessings have been received without any real public acknowledgement of their Divine source. We have gained material prosperity as a people but have plunged ourselves into the deepest spiritual poverty. It is not difficult to suggest that had Begg’s wider religious concern for the nation been acted upon and maintained, the spiritual impoverishment and destitution of our nation in the twenty-first century would not be so all-pervasive.

Coming Events

Annual General Meeting

1 October 2011

Edinburgh, Saturday 1 October (DV). Speakers include Rev Maurice Roberts & Rev Trevor Kirkland.

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Pope Benedict XVI and the United Kingdom

A new book on the Pope’s visit to the UK called “Pope Benedict XVI and the United Kingdom” has been published by Free Presbyterian Publications.

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