John Angus MacLeod was born in Kyles Scalpay, on the island of Harris, on 20 October 1908, the eldest of a family of six children, four boys and two girls. The family attended the Free Presbyterian Church in Tarbert on Sabbath mornings and went to the Mission House in Kyles for the evening service. The evening services were usually conducted by two elders, Edward Morrison and John MacInnes, to both of whom John Angus was very much attached.
Two of his brothers became sea captains. After John Angus left school he was employed in various ways, but he felt drawn to the sea and went to Glasgow to begin a sea-faring life, which lasted for over three years. During this time he sailed around, and saw much of, the world. On one of these journeys he acted as quartermaster on a boat sailing from Glasgow to South America. On another trip, he had a narrow escape when painting the side of a ship in a harbour in Sweden. He fell into the sea and went down to the bottom, but came straight up again and his life was spared. He gave up the sea when he was about 22, and joined the City of Glasgow Police on 10 March 1931. He was a police constable until he retired on 10 March 1963. Afterwards he acted as a security officer with two different firms.
On 15 November 1935 he was joined in marriage to Miss Chirsty Ann MacKenzie, a native of South Lochs, Isle of Lewis. There were two children of the marriage, Gordon and Jean Ann, both of whom are left to mourn the loss of their father. Their mother died in 1983.
Despite his many travels and his narrow escape from death, he remained spiritually dead, although attending church regularly. This changed, however, when a sermon, preached by the late Rev D J Matheson, was blessed to awaken him to a true sense of his sins. The text was: “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear, your hands are full of blood” (Is 1:15). He came to the liberty of the gospel in seeing himself “as a sinner, and that Christ was inviting me to come to Him”. A passage from the same chapter in Isaiah was made helpful to him at this time: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool” (v 18). There could be no doubt in the minds of all who heard his public prayers, that Christ was precious to him as the One who declared Himself to be the way, the truth and the life.
In November 1955 he became a communicant in the Glasgow congregation. He was ordained and inducted as a deacon in 1956, and in 1962 he was elected an elder. The duties connected with these offices he carried out faithfully, having due respect to his ordination vows. He was especially good at visiting the sick and infirm, and even when, latterly, he was confined to the house, he made good use of his telephone to continue his enquiries for the welfare of those in whom he took so great an interest.
A prominent feature of his Christian profession was his strong Protestant convictions. He would certainly agree with the view of Robert Trail when he says, “To hate Popery spiritually, as it is a gross corruption of true Christianity, is only to be found with the elect of God” (vol 2, page 4). He quotes two passages of Scripture in support of this view, Revelation 13:8: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [that is, the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, and Revelation 17:8: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world”.
These passages of the Word of God raise very serious doubts with regard to the spiritual condition of those professed evangelicals who co-operate with Roman Catholics. John Angus was very distressed at the bold advances Popery was making in our beloved land. He was indeed one of whom it could be said that they sigh and cry for the abominations done in the land.
Although of a robust constitution, John Angus had pneumonia three times in his life and this left a definite weakness in his chest. As old age began to overtake him, various other afflictions prevented him from getting out to the public means of grace, but he was wonderfully reconciled to his condition, and his mind continued to be quite clear and active. He enjoyed reading, and talking of spiritual matters. Last October, however, his old trouble, pneumonia, began to flare up again. Although he lingered on for some time, he gradually became weaker, and, in his own home on 6 January 2001, he passed away to his eternal rest. He was then 92 years of age.
It was a wonderful provision for him that his daughter, Jean Ann, was able to look after him so well in his last years. His grandson, James, was also a great comfort to him. To them, and his son, Gordon, and his sister, Mrs Boyd, we extend our sincere sympathy. Although they have an empty place in their hearts and in their homes, they have the great consolation of knowing that the one taken from them has now entered the “rest that remaineth to the people of God” (Heb 4:9).
“Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men” (Ps 12:1).
(Rev) Donald MacLean