Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Robert M'Watt

Another Disruption worthy, ‘a good minister of Jesus Christ,’ has gone to his rest.

Mr M’Watt was born at Inverness, of religious and reputable parents, in the year 1801. He received the rudiments of his education in his native town, where he was known as an apt and lively scholar. At a very young age he entered King’s College, Aberdeen, where he not only took a full curriculum, but a good place in his classes. He afterwards studied theology at the same university, and was duly licensed to preach the gospel. But though his vivacious youth, his glowing fervour, and his evangelical preaching made a deep impression wherever he preached, he had to wait a long time for a charge.

He acted as tutor for fifteen years in the family of Altyre, where he was held in high esteem, until he was presented by the Earl of Seafield to the church in Rothes in 1839. But he had scarcely set his manse in order when he felt bound in conscience towards Christ to leave it. Conservative in politics but thoroughly evangelical in religion, and true to the ancient polity and historical tradition of the Church of Scotland, he joined in 1843 the noble Disruption host, with whose contendings he was in fullest sympathy.

For several years both before and after this event he was so instant in season and out of season, preaching generally thrice on Sabbath, and frequently in the neighbourhood all round the week, that he sowed in his elastic and vigorous frame the seeds of the debility and pain of his later years.

He was not only the assiduous pastor, and even the medical adviser of the parish of Rothes, but, as the only Disruption minister in the parish of Aberlour, he either planted or watered all the Free Church congregations of the bounds. He also acted as Clerk of the Presbytery for twenty-seven years with singular courtesy, close attention to the business of the court, and much knowledge of Church law.

Towards the close of his long and laborious life he suffered from paralysis, and had the help first of a probationer, and latterly of an assistant and successor, for some time before his death, which took place at the manse on the 27th November, 1880.

As a minister of Christ, Mr M’Watt preached not only the old Puritan theology, but the gospel of God with great fervour, faithfulness and love. And we know that he was wise in winning souls to Christ, some of whom wept over his bier and bless his memory. He was beloved not only by his own people and co-presbyters, but by the congregations of the Presbytery and the whole community, who laid him in his new tomb with reverence and regret, feeling that they had lost a father in Israel. He was not only a man of culture, of polished manners and genial gentleness, but full of faith and of the fire of devotion, a good example of the Christian gentleman. Mr M’Watt, who was unmarried, was a brother indeed to the two sisters in whose society he lived, one of whom survives him.

(Dr Scott, Aberlour, Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, June, 1881).

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