AN EMINENT PREACHER.
THE REV. DR McLAREN.
During the past eighteen months Aus- tralians have had the good fortune to be visited by two of the most eminent leaders of religious thought in England. While the
Congregationalists were celebrating their jubilee Dr. Dale, of Birmingham arrived, and for several weeks by his eloquent utterances aroused the enthusiasm and warmed the hearts of those who sat under him. Twelve months later the Victorian Baptists were celebrating their jubilee, and the Rev. Alexander McLaren, B.A, D.D., of Manchester, was sent out by the English Union to assist them. After forty -three years of Christian effort in England, and reduced by a serious illness four years ago, Dr. McLaren had two motives In crossing the ocean. He came, to use his own words, 'to bear witness to Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God,' and also looked forward to the genial southern climate improving his health and reinvigorating him for further work in the cottonopolis of England. Born in Glasgow on February 11, 1826, Dr. McLaren enters his sixty-fourth year on Monday next, At the age of twenty he began his ministry in Southampton, and for twelve and a half years laboured in that important city. Then he received a call from the leading Baptist Church in Manchester, and, accepting it, he has for the past thirty and a half years worked from that centre. The doctor's eloquence drew the people, and now he has a Church of 1,500 members. A beautiful Church which cost £25,000 was erected, and every time the pastor preaches the Church, which accommodates about 1,500 people, is crowded: All classes of the com- munity attend the Church, but the doctor's influence has been exceedingly marked on the students at Rawdon College. Dr. McLaren is now regarded as one of the lead- ing pulpit orators of England. Though so advanced in years he is exceedingly vivacious, and his crisp, pointed remarks carry convic- tion with them. Professor Wilkinson re- centiy wrote in the New York Independent— 'Dr. McLaren concentrated himself upon his sermon. He seemed to tingle to his very fingers' tips with costly electric vitality. His voice was pitched sympathetically in a high key, a key in fact too high : the tension of it produced the effect of having grown to be habitual. At first it was slightly unplea- sant to the unaccustomed hearer, as implying laborious strain on the speaker's part; but the harmony between the thought and the utterance soon obliterated the sense of this, and you came at length to feel that such utterance was required by such thought. Intensity, eagerness, unintermitted instance unrelaxing grasp of his hearer, mind and conscience and will— this is the predominant note of Dr. McLaren's delivery. His voice has a quality in it that will not let you go, and even his fingers curl tensely and pre hensively as if to seize you and hold you fast. The aspect of the audience is, univer sally and continuously, well nigh as eager and intent as that of the speaker. The silence is half as eloquent as the sound.' Dr. McLaren when at home finds time to devote to literary work, principally of a religious character. He has written several valuable books. Four series of sermons and one volume of week-day addresses have been published by Messrs. McMillan & Son, the volumes being about the only Nonconfor- mist ministers' works ever published by that great firm. Besides, Dr. McLaren has had published 'A Spring Holiday in Italy,' ' A Year's Ministry,' 'Christ in the Heart,' "Life of David, as Reflected in the Psalms,' and an exposition of the Epistle to the Colossians. Then he contributes regularly to the American Sunday School Times, a periodical that has a circulation of 130,000 copies per week. The reverend doctor came to Australia at the end of October. He passed Adelaide and went direct to Melbourne, where he had a brilliant reception. For four weeks he preached and took part in the Baptist Con- ference, assisting greatly by his powerful utterances in the raising of the £25,000 required in connection with the Jubilee Fund. The continuous work told on the doctor's health, and when early in December the thermometer rose to 102° in the shade he was forced to seek a cooler clime. New Zealand was chosen, and for three weeks Dr. McLaren and his two daughters enjoyed the cool atmosphere and charming scenery of Maoriland. On the way down he touched at Sydney, where he preached to a very huge congregation, returning to Melbourne this week. Dr McLaren on Tuesday night attended at the Town Hall which was crowded to bid him fare- well. The meeting was most enthusiastic. On Thursday the doctor said good-by to Melbourne and all the many friends he had made there, and came by the express to South Australia. Dr. McLaren knew more of this colony by association before he came to Australia than of any of the other colonies. When he was only nine years of age his father left Glasgow and came to Adelaide in 1836 as first Manager of the South Australian Company. Many old colonists still remember Mr. David McLaren, after whom a wharf at Port Adelaide was named. In those pioneer days ministers were few in South Australia, and Mr. McLaren con- ducted the services. A few who listened to his sermons still survive. Dr. McLaren wished to spend several days in the city where his father lived and worked, but owing to ill-health he had to abandon what to him would have been an exceedingly interesting trip. Now he will only be able to remain for two days in Adelaide. The doctor and his daughters left the train at Aldgate and partook of the hospitality of the Hon. H. Scott, M.L.C., whom they met in New Zealand. After a few hours' stay at Mount Lofty the visitors were driven to Wootton Lea, where they are the guests of Mr. G. S. Fowler. Dr. McLaren will preach twice to-morrow. Since his illness, four years ago, he has seldom, owing to the great men- tal strain, preached twice a day. He did so in Melbourne, but was exhausted by the effort. It is only to please his friends who pleaded so urgently with him that the reverend doctor has consented to preach in the North Adelaide Baptist Church to-morrow morning and in the Flinders-street Baptist Church in the evening, for on the Monday afternoon— his birthday— he leaves by the mail steamer for home. During a conversation with one of our representatives Dr. McLaren said he had thoroughly appre- ciated his trip. ' You know,' he remarked, ' I have worked hard, and the intense heat in Melbourne completely knocked me up. I had no time to get further away from Mel- bourne than Sandhurst until I left Victoria for New Zealand. Yes, I did indeed enjoy myself there. We went from the top of New Zealand round the east coast to Dunedin, paying a visit en route to Lake Wakatipu. I have seen some beautiful scenery in Europe, but never in all my wanderings have I come across anything to compare with the marvel lous beauty of the Milford Sound. The Sounds differ from the fiords of Norway in that their rich vegetation contrasts favou rably with the monotonous, pine forests, but the Norwegian fiords have the advantage of associations and a touch of humanity which the New Zealand Sounds do not possess. I never expected to see such lovely scenery. I only preached one sermon— at Dunedin. My health would not allow me to do more. Now I feel much batter, although I am by no means so strong as I would like to be. Still the voyage to Brindisi will probably further stimulate me. 'Undoubtedly Melbourne is a marvellous city considering its age. It has a vigour which surprised me. It would not be fair to myself or to Melbourne to express any decided opinions about the place while I saw so little of Sydney, and have seen practically nothing of South Australia, that I would not presume to talk about your politics or to criticise your inititutions. But I must say that I cannot speak too highly of the universal kindness and appreciativeness of the people. I was extremely struck in Vic toria with the quick response that the audience makes to the speaker, and the quickness with which sympathy seems to be established between preacher and congrega tion. Yes, that betokens an intelligence the result of remarkably fine educational facilities. The universal diffusion of education through out the colonies makes great demands upon the Churches to see that a high standard of ministerial efficiency is maintained. That is one of the most important things the Churches have to do. The Church had to send out men not to preach threadbare platitudes, but men who could hold their own with a highly intelligent well educated people.' 'Does the Baptist Church hold its own?' ' Well, speaking for Victoria, I can say that there is any amount of vitality amongst the adherents who labour faithfully against the common foe sectarianism. The liberality of the people is as great as their wealth.' Dr. McLaren will this afternoon be glad to meet at Wootton Lea any friends who may desire to see him.