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‘The St Andrews Seven’ – A Review by Donald Mackay

Category Book Reviews
Date November 6, 2015

A review by Donald Mackay of The St Andrews Seven: The finest flowering of missionary zeal in Scottish history by Stuart Piggin and John Roxborogh.1

This is a reprint of a book that first appeared in 1985. A Korean edition was published in 2002.

The claim implicit in the subtitle of the book is not exaggerated: neither, in the reviewer’s opinion, is the assertion made in the preface that, once the reader has reached the halfway stage, he or she will not be able to put the book down.

The story is of a profound movement of the Spirit that began in the 1820s with the appointment of Thomas Chalmers to the chair of moral philosophy in the University of St Andrews. Chalmers’ fame as a thinker and orator drew many to his lectures, but no less significant was his enthusiasm for missionary endeavour, which was swiftly transmitted to his students. Among these were the subjects of the book – six remarkably gifted young men who, with Chalmers himself, make up ‘the St Andrews Seven’ of the title.

The first half of the book is largely taken up with tracing the early life and spiritual development of each of the Seven – a fascinating study, reflecting the burgeoning spirituality that found expression in the Disruption of 1843. What is particularly striking is the way in which an enthusiasm for foreign missions was transmuted, in the experience of each of the six students, into a conviction that they personally must answer the call and become missionaries to India. This is the theme of the book’s second half, leading to an assessment of the impact they made on the Indian subcontinent and of the lasting legacy of their endeavours. Christian education formed a vital part of their evangelistic thrust – not a fashionable model today, but a matter of considerable interest to a Church that supports educational establishments in South America, South Africa and India.

The authors, both from Australasia and both apparently still flourishing, do not shrink from expressing in the book their own appraisal of the biographees and of the values they espoused. They are to be congratulated on a vivid and eminently readable work.

Notes

    • Cover image for the St. Andrews Seven

      The St Andrews Seven

      the finest flowering of Missionary Zeal in Scottish History

      by  Stuart Piggin, John Roxborogh


      price £6.50

      Description

      A review by Donald Mackay of The St Andrews Seven: The finest flowering of missionary zeal in Scottish history by Stuart Piggin and John Roxborogh.1 This is a reprint of a book that first appeared in 1985. A Korean edition was published in 2002. The claim implicit in the subtitle of the book is not […]

From The Record, the monthly magazine of the Free Church of Scotland, October 2015.

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