New Publication by Free Presbyterian Publications
A rich insight into Highland preaching at the height of the evangelical revival has just been provided by the translation into English of sermons by the Rev Archibald Cook of Daviot.
The translation was begun by a native Gaelic-speaker from Tomatin, Miss May Dunbar, who died in 2008. The work was completed by three more Free Presbyterian Gaelic speakers. The material was further edited for publication and is now issued with the title Eternal Reality and costs £19.50 plus postage, available from the Free Presbyterian Bookroom.
Cook lived from 1788 to 1865 and was the first minister of the Free North Church in Inverness, but was well known across the north and in Glasgow for his powerful appeals to the conscience and his encouragement of weak believers. Born in Arran, he trained to be a minister in Glasgow, where he was also mentored by the famous Dr John Love of Anderston Chapel. Thousands of west Highland and Island fishermen heard him every summer in the 1820s and 1830s, when, as missionary-minister in the Bruan and Berriedale mission of the Church of Scotland in Caithness, he held Gaelic services in Wick for fishermen who visited the port during the summer months.
His experimental and searching preaching saw him called to Inverness in 1837, where a new bilingual congregation – the North Church – was created for him. A year after Cook and his congregation joined the new Free Church of Scotland in 1843, he accepted a call to Daviot a few miles to the south. It was there that the sermons in the new book were preached in Gaelic, often in the open air due to the large crowds coming to hear him. A friend in his early days of the Rev Jonathan Ranken Anderson, he later worked alongside John Macdonald of Ferintosh, ‘Big’ John Macrae of Knockbain, Gustavus Aird of Lairg and Dr John Kennedy of Dingwall.
Cook made a deep impression on the church of his day and his influence spread across Scotland. The leading American preacher and theologian, Benjamin B. Warfield, said that what made Cook’s preaching acceptable and effective was “the intense reality of the man”. His preaching was described as having the “free mercy of God” running through it “like a vein of the gold of Ophir”.