Very soon the Old Paths Blog will start a series of essays by John Brown of Haddington. While this godly man is quite well known within the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, a surprising number of Reformed Christians have never heard of John Brown. This entry introduces you to the man and his ministry, to help you gain an appreciation for the upcoming online publishing of his letter on what role governments should have in the area of religion.
John Brown (1722–1787) was a Scottish minister (in what was known as the Succession Church). The Lord gave him a great gift of intellect, and after his conversion, he used that intellect to the glory of God through his teaching ministry. He was largely self-taught in languages (Greek, Hebrew and Latin) while working as a shepherd during his teen years.
John Brown is best known for his Self Interpreting Bible, a book of over two hundred thousand Scripture cross references (that’s right: 200,000+ cross-references!) that enable a reader to learn theology while reading the Bible. This is recognized by many as the best cross reference system available, and is the system that was chosen by the Trinitarian Bible Society in their latest Westminster Bible.
John Brown knew his Bible, but more importantly, he was seriously concerned about matters of the heart. How rare it is to find a man who is humble and gifted in teaching – a man who leads many to Christ in fear, trembling and rejoicing. Consider his reflections on his preaching ministry:
“… notwithstanding all my eager hunting after most part of that lawful learning which is known among the sons of men, I was led generally to preach as if I had never read a book but the Bible. And the older I grew, I more and more aimed at this, (an observation which I had made in the days of my youth, that what touched my conscience of heart was not any airy flights or well-turned phrases, but either express scriptural expressions, or what came near to them), and led me to deal much in scriptural language, or what was near it. My imagination being somewhat rank and inclined to poetic imagery when I commenced a preacher, sometimes led me into flighty thoughts or expressions. But the Lord made me ashamed of this as a real robbing of him, in order to sacrifice to my own devilish and accursed pride.”
– John Brown, A Compendious View of Natural and Revealed Religion
This is why we are excited about bringing this forthcoming work to you.