The members of the Scottish Reformation Society in Lewis (Western Isles) hosted an instructive and inspiring lecture on Dr William Symington on Friday 19th February 2021.
The speaker, Rev Stephen Steele (Stranraer RP Church), not being able to travel to Stornoway because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, delivered the lecture by Zoom. This of course was not ideal but it had the decided advantage of enabling anyone, anywhere, to access the meeting and benefit from it as it was being given. The lecture was recorded and can be found on YouTube.
Dr Symington was presented to us as one of the most distinguished ministers of the RP Church of Scotland. Being born in 1795 he served his Saviour with untiring zeal and commitment until his death in 1862.
Mr Steele gave us an illuminating biographical sketch of Symington’s life which included ministry in Stranraer (1819-1839) and ministry in Great Hamilton Street congregation in Glasgow (1839-1862). We were told that such was the reputation of Symington, even before he was ordained, that between four to five thousand people attended his Ordination service!
A moving incident, related by Mr Steele, drew our attention to the intense grief which affected Symington when a stone sun-dial in the front garden fell on his six-year old son Robert as he was playing with other children. Robert lived for a short time, during which we were informed, he gave his mother the assurance that his trust was in Christ and his home was in heaven. During the thirty-six hours between Robert’s accident and death his godly father wrote 16 pages in his journal expressing his intense emotion and his earnest wrestlings with the Lord.
Not only were we told that William Symington was an outstanding preacher and dedicated pastor, but that he was also a gifted theologian and author. His two most famous books, currently in print, are ‘Messiah the Prince: On the Mediatorial Dominion of Christ’ and ‘On the Atonement and Intercession of Jesus Christ’. Having listened to this outstanding lecture by Mr Steele I have been drawn again to read these remarkable volumes that came for the pen of this celebrated Covenanter.
All who listened to the lecture were encouraged by what God did through this faithful servant and were encouraged to pray that the Lord would raise up a new generation of preachers to make Christ known in the Scottish nation that is covenanted to Him!
Robert L W McCollum, Professor of Church History at RP Theological College, Belfast