Hugh Martin (1822-85) combined a brilliant analytical and mathematical mind with a child-like heart which rested in Christ and his atoning work, as revealed in the Scriptures. Born and brought up in Aberdeen, he gained the top prizes in mathematics at the University there, before going on to study for the ministry. He cast in his lot with those who left the Established Church at the Disruption and served at Panbride (Carnoustie) and Free Greyfriars, Edinburgh, until illness forced his retirement from the ministry at the age of 42.
Thereafter, he devoted himself, despite recurring ill health, to writing, preaching and continued involvement in church issues. In 1870 his The Atonement: in its Relations to the Covenant, the Priesthood, the Intercession of Our Lord was published (reprinted by Banner of Truth, 2013), in which he defended ‘the Catholic Doctrine of the Cross’, viewing the substitutionary nature of the atonement as being grounded in the covenant of grace. In recognition of his achievements, Edinburgh University conferred a Doctorate of Divinity on him in 1872.
Hugh Martin died in Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum in June 1885, the cause of death being given as ‘organic disease of brain for two years’, which seems to indicate that he had been in the asylum for the last two years of his life.
Sherman Isbell has described Martin’s ‘eloquent theological interpretations of Bible characters and of Christ’s Gethsemane experience’ (Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, Edinburgh, 1993), and he is remembered today for his commentary on Jonah, for his sermons The Shadow of Calvary and Christ for Us, and for his study on Simon Peter, all published by the Trust.