John Brown 1
John Brown was born in 1722 in the village of
Carpow in the Parish of Abernethy, Perthshire. His parents were rich in
faith and full of humble godly giving.
To quote from John Brown’s Bible:
”Among the class from which John sprang, his name and Bible have long
been, and still continue to be a household word and work; the family
Bible in our cottage homes has been and is ‘The Self-Interpreting Bible
of Brown’ and thus through many years has his name been spoken and
treasured among the lowly and devout.”
His parents, being poor, could only give John a limited education, just
covering the ‘3Rs’. He later said “his greatest gift was to be born
into a family that took care of his Christian instruction”.
When he was eleven his father died and soon after his mother also. He
was then brought up by an aged shepherd named John Ogilvie. When at
school he learned the catechisms of Vincent, Flavel and the Westminster
When the old shepherd retired John entered the service of a local
farmer. While tending the sheep it gave him the opportunity to read and
learn. The knowledge he gained in Latin, Greek and Hebrew left far
behind all those who had the benefit of regular instruction.
Though there were many who revered his great knowledge, there were also
many who thought he must be in league with the devil. Unfounded as this
allegation was , it caused John great distress. He said “the reproach
was exceedingly distressing to me”. He turned to God as his shield from
the unmerited rejection of men.
About the age of eight, before he was excluded, he entered with the
crowd The Church of Abernethy (for at that time only those intending to
eat the Lord’s Supper were allowed in). He heard the Minister speak in
such a sweet and delightful manner it captivated his young heart and
later made him think children should never be excluded on such
Towards the end of his life he often observed that
during his early period he experienced more clear and delightful
discoveries of ‘divine truth’ than he ever afterwards enjoyed on earth.
Soon after his parents died he had four attacks of fever and again when
he was nineteen he seized with a fever which laid him low and filled him
with agonising terrors of being deserted by God.
In 1748 he became a teacher and due to his dedication eight or nine of
his students became ministers. Such was his own ardour in the pursuit
of divinity that in one evening after school he learned fifteen chapters
His great thirst for learning meant that frequently he had no more than
four hours’ sleep a night and this accounted for his poor health in
In 1750, after regular study of divinity, he became licensed to be a
preacher. Both Haddington and Stow wanted him for their minister and he
chose Haddington but he often preached at Stow to make up for their
disappointment. His small congregation would enable him to spend a
great proportion of his time in the week to study. He would rise in the
summer between 4 and 5 am and in the winter at 6 am and except for time
spent in family worship or public duty, would closely apply himself to
study till 8 pm every evening.
3 Star attraction
In 2013 St Mary's Church has again been awarded the
prestigious 3 star award by the Scottish Tourist Board. The scheme focuses on the welcome, hospitality, service and
presentation of visitor attractions.