M'AULAY, Alexander - 1818 - 1890

Obituary Minutes of Conference 1891 Page 27

Alexander M’Aulay; who was bom at Glasgow in 1818. Though of Presbyterian parentage, Methodism must at an early period have touched the family life, Mr. M’Aulay’s father having been baptized by John Wesley. Brought up under the care of a devout and revered mother, the teaching of his childhood strongly tinctured his whole after-life. His early Scotch Presbytenanism afiected his later ecclesiastical viewer and the Puritanism of his boyhood contributed an element of strength to the robust Arminianism of his man- hood. Scotland, in its political history, and especially in its religious struggles, never failed to rouse his enthusiasm.

In March 1835 he came under Methodist influence, was deeply convinced of sin, and in the open air at midnight, in the centre of his native city, he entered into the triumphant joy of conscious salvation. He immediately commenced Evangelistic labours in the Glasgow Infirmary, visiting the sick and dying. On his twentieth birthday he left Glasgow for London, and connected himself with a Sunday-morning Class at Spitalfields. His first public address was undertaken impromptu in the open air, in defence of the faith against the Socialists of those days. His gifts thus becoming recognised, his name was placed on the Local-preachers’ Plan, and shortly afterwards he was accepted for the Ministry, and sent in 1840 to Ayr. His first seven years were spent in Scotland, where his ministry grew in power, till at Dunbar — where he never preached less than three times and often four on the Sunday, once being in the open air — it was signally owned of God, Thence to Leeds, where his name is still held in high honour, Huddersfield and Manchester. He returned to the scene of his earliest work in Spitalfields. In this neighbourhood he commenced that memorable ministry which, for the thirteen years following, he prosecuted as the Methodist apostle of the East End. Chapels, schools, congregations, societies, Ciccuits, rose to God’s word of power through his lips; and around these he gathered, as was meet, the innumerable benevolences of the Christian social life. His was a forward movement which has never been surpassed, and almost alone he inspired it. His capacity for enlisting and organizing the labour of others was remarkable, and by it he multiplied himself a hundredfold ; and to this, under Ckd, he attributed his success. After residences in Liverpool and Birmingham he returned to London; and in 1876 received from his brethren the highest honour in their gift, being appointed President of the Con- ference, and also General Secretary of the Home-Mission Department.

The peculiar circumstances of that Conference demanded the highest qualities in its President, and these he exhibited in a most marked degree; and the problem that strongly agitated our Church was most satisfactorily and harmoniously settled — settled in a manner that prompted that Thanksgiving Fund, which placed on the altar of God the largest thank-offerings ever presented by Methodism. The year of Mr. M’Aulay’s Presidency was also distinguished for the promotion of the Work of God by Conventions held in various parts of the country, which his personal presence and pecuniary contributions greatly assisted.

His official life, whether as President, General Secretary of Home Missions, Home Missionary, or Circuit minister, was the natural outcome of his personal qualities ; being characterized by caution and earnestness, by clear thinking and strong feel- ing, by evangelistic fervour and tender sympathy, by uncom- promising fidelity to conscience, by self-control, and by the fearless administration of the most difficult duties : and his work was very fruitful — spiritually and materially.

As a preacher, he specially addressed the conscience. Al- though his voice was not musical, his appeals were frequently irresistible. He habitually expected the Divine unction ; and to this he surrendered himself. Very painful domestic affliction awakened within him a pathetic regard for those who were in trouble, and gave him a peculiar aptitude in leading them to their great Healer. His converts were not only numerous, but steadfast. He demanded deep conviction of sin ; and without it, he was disposed to doubt a sound conver- sion. The * spirit of grace and of supplication’ was poured upon him to a most extraordinary degree. Few who were led by him to the throne in his public exercises will forget the near- ness of their access, and the power with which God was wont to respond to the cry of His servant. Here was his great strength. To the sick and the poor he very generously con- tributed, and tenderly ministered. To little children he was a delightful companion, and home missionaries and young ministers at his house ever found rest and spiritual re- invigoration for their work.

On his retirement from office, he set himself to realize one of the dreams of his early life. During the Anti-Slavery agitation, his spirit had been stirred with sympathy for Africans. He had offered himself for this special missionary sphere, but had been appointed to Home work. Now, when in the Providence of God all domestic ties had been severed, he resolved to visit the scenes that had filled the imagination of his young manhood. At his own expense he went to the West Indies, preaching everywhere, and everywhere the blessing of God was seen in aroused Churches and multitudes of converts.

After a visit to England, he undertook, still at his own expense, a larger evangelistic tour, and though more than seventy years of age, set out for Africa with all the ardour of youth. There he became instrumental in reviving the Churches; and was looking forward to extended service amongst the natives, when his course was unexpectedly arrested.

His Master said : ‘ It is enough ‘ ; and, after twelve days of suffering, he was called to his rest, at Somerset East, on December 1st, 1890, aged seventy-two years.

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