Brownlow North (1810-75) belonged to a family distinguished for Parliamentary and Church leaders. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, and lived as a carefree sportsman, soldier and country gentleman until, at the age of forty-four in 1854 he was converted to Christ as a result of a violent painful seizure while in Aberdeenshire.
In spite of many inward struggles, as the devil tried to reclaim his disciple, North began to preach and became perhaps the greatest evangelist in Scotland in the nineteenth century. His position as evangelist was recognised formally by the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 1859. An Overture came before the Assembly that year signed by sixty-eight ministers and thirty-eight elders. The Motion was heartily approved and the Moderator, William Cunningham, concluded, ‘The Church must lay herself open to consider exceptional cases, to mark God’s hand and to make a fair use and application of what He has been doing.’ Blessing continued on his preaching until the end of his life (November 1875).
North’s sermons on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which were preached to thousands in Ulster in 1859, have been reprinted by the Trust in A Great Gulf Fixed.
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