Biographical Sketch of the Late Reverend Alexander McLean of Puslinch


(from the Guelph Mercury newspaper

 for Friday June 17th, 1864.)







The Rev. Alex McLean was born on the island of North Uist, in March 1827.  It was his privilege to be the son of godly parents.  Naturally bold, free, and energetic, his will was not easily controlled, and for the first fifteen years of his life, while free from earthly vices, he seemed to be but little impressed with the importance of religion.  He was awakened to earnestness about his salvation through the instrumentality of a sermon preached by the Reverend Mr. Glass, of Musselburgh, on a sacramental Sabbath, when in his sixteenth year, and from that time, gave himself with characteristic energy and devotion to the work of the Lord.  His desire now was to be a minister of the gospel, and to the accomplishment of this desire, all his energies were directed until the object was accomplished.  Having finished his preparatory education, he commenced his studies at Edinburgh, and there completed his literary course and entered on that of Divinity.  While pursuing his studies, he was engaged some time in Home Mission work in the city of Glasgow.  His experience in this work was very useful to him in after life, and his discourses in the pulpit were often enriched by incidents which had come under his notice in his labours there, and many of his brethren in the ministry will remember how often his speeches in the church courts were enlivened by humorous references to what he had seen in Glasgow.






During this period, the controversy, which resulted in the disruption of the Church of Scotland, was agitating the public mind.  Mr. McLean, after due deliberation, cast in his lot with the Free Church.  His understanding had been persuaded by the common scriptural principles, which that church exhibits, and his affections were attracted by the noble stand, which her ministers had taken.  The position, thus early taken, he maintained until the day of his death.


In 1853, he came to Canada and entered Knox College, Toronto as a divinity student, where he completed his course of studies.  After the usual examinations and trials, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Toronto as a preacher of the gospel.   Within a few months, he was called to the pastoral charge of three congregations, that of, Martintown in Glengarry, Puslinch East and Puslinch West.  The claims of the three congregations were strongly presented before the Presbytery of Hamilton, but Mr. McLean himself having stated his preference for Puslinch East, was duly ordained as pastor of that congregation in 1856.






From the time of his ordination until his death, Mr. McLean laboured in his pastoral work and in the mission field with unwearied diligence and zeal.  The congregation under his own immediate charge was greatly increased under his abundant and unremitting labours, and whenever he preached he attracted attention by the substantial material of which his sermon was composed, and the fearless, outspoken earnestness with which he proclaimed the truth of God to men.  His sermons exhibited great clearness of view in reference to the sovereign grace of God, a very pungent view of the evil of sin, and high admiration for the Mediatorial excellences.  Mr. McLean was distinguished both in public and private life by a passionate love of truth.  Everything which he regarded as savouring of falsehood or hypocrisy, he looked upon with perfect scorn.  He united with this a large and liberal mind.  He was strongly attached to the principles of the Free Church of Scotland but when the question of union between the United Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of Canada was agitated, after due deliberation, he found so much common ground on which he could meet with the ministers and members of the United Presbyterian Church, that he at once took his stand upon it, and warmly advocated the union as a measure which he believed to be for the glory of God and the extension of the Saviour’s kingdom in the province.






He was a great lover of good books, and spared neither pains nor expense in gathering together a library which is not surpassed, if it is equalled, by any private theological library in the country.  His reading in theological subjects was extensive, and his information accurate.  The writings of the Reformers and of the early Puritans were his especial delight, and his habits of thought were largely influenced by his studies of the best authors.  He made large contributions to the periodicals of Canada, and was much engaged in the prevailing religious controversies.  Various letters on the subject of Romanism were collected and published by him, under the title, “The more priests, the more crime”.  The main design of this work was to expose the enormities of the anti-Christian system as the great foe, not only of human liberty but also of spiritual religion and of good morals.  He also published two able sermons on the Reformation, and at the time of his death, he was engaged in writing a more elaborate work on the subject of baptism.  In all that he wrote, he evinced an intimate acquaintance with his subjects, extensive reading, and great mental power.   Considering his labours as a minister, both in English and in Gaelic, he displayed much industry and care in the art of composition.


Mr. McLean was greatly beloved by his brother ministers.  Even when he differed with them in opinion, and said sharp things in reply to them, they honoured his straightforward and outspoken honesty.  He attracted much attention in the church courts and was always listened to with interest and attention.  Had he been spared, he must have taken a place in the front rank of the ministers of the church to which he belonged.






We must, however, draw this sketch to a close.  During last year, Mr. McLean visited his native country along with his wife and son, chiefly on account of Mrs. McLean’s state of health.  He returned from his visit greatly invigorated, and there were few ministers who gave fairer promise of a lengthened ministry.  It pleased God to order it otherwise.  Our readers are already aware of the nature of the accident, which resulted in his death.  He died in harness.  He had been engaged in conducting a prayer meeting, and in visiting a sick person on the evening of the 24th of May.  On his way home, he entered into conversation with a member of his congregation who sought his counsels, entered her house, where he remained only a few minutes, and on leaving, fell on the steps and received a fatal injury.  He lingered in great suffering for seventeen hours, and then entered his rest.  His mind during these hours was perfectly composed.  In reference to the accident, he simply said, “Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it.”  He was literally delivered from the fear of death, and while able to speak, repeated many texts of scripture designed to sustain his bereaved widow and afflicted friends.  Thus, in the very prime of life, one of the most faithful and beloved of Christian ministers has passed away from us.  His services in the cause of Christ in this land were substantial.  The doctrines, which he preached, he illustrated and upheld by a singularly consistent life, while he endeared himself to those who knew him and by his generous conduct and feelings.






The Funeral of the Late Reverend Mr. McLean



The funeral of the late esteemed pastor of the church in East Puslinch took place on Saturday last, and was attended by a large concourse of people, mostly members and adherents of the church.  Many of the inhabitants of the township belonging to other denominations, and a number from Guelph, were also present.  Shortly after 10:00 o’clock, the funeral cortege issued from the manse to the church.  Here the coffin containing the remains of the deceased was placed in front of the pulpit.  The Rev. Mr. Torrance, the senior minister present, conducted the religious services.  After singing some verses of the 103rd psalm, he read several portions of Scripture appropriate to the occasion, and offered up a most impressive prayer.  The funeral procession was then reformed, Rev. Dr. Torrance and Dr. Keating preceding, the following ministers acting as pall-bearers, Messrs. Middlemiss of Elora, Thompson of Erin, Ball of Guelph, McMecham of Berlin, McLean of Nairn, Mitchell of Esquesing, McKenzie of Doon, Murdoch of Galt, McLean of West Puslinch, and the Reverend D. McLean and other relatives following as chief mourners.  At the churchyard were gathered many females, members of the congregation, who were anxious to see the last sad rites paid to their beloved pastor and friend.  Many in the large assemblage were deeply affected, and all felt that Puslinch and district had lost no common man.  He rests in a secluded corner of the quiet churchyard, but his memory will be long cherished by his attached people and large circle of friends.





A meeting of the Presbytery of Guelph was held in East Puslinch Church on Saturday after the funeral of the late incumbent, when the Reverend R. Torrance was appointed Moderator pro tem.  Reverend Mr. Ball was appointed to preach in East Puslinch on the following Sabbath, to improve the melancholy bereavement to the congregation and declare the church vacant.  Mr. Ball was also appointed Moderator of the church session ad interim.  A committee consisting of the Reverend Messrs. Ball and Middlemiss and Mr. T. Mair, elder, was appointed to draft a minute in reference to the decease of the minister of East Puslinch, to be engrossed in the records of the Presbytery.  Arrangements having been made for supplying divine ordinances to the congregation till next stated meeting, the Presbytery then adjourned.


The funeral sermon was preached by the Reverend W. S. Ball, of Knox’s Church, Guelph, on Sunday afternoon.  The text was first 1 Corinthians, 15:54, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory”.  The sermon was of a solemn and impressive character, and was attentively listened to by a large congregation.  Subsequently, Mr. Ball announced that the Reverend Mr. Middlemiss would preach in East Puslinch Church next Sabbath, and also that there would be no Gaelic service till June 12th, when the Reverend Mr. Torrance would preside at the dispensation of the Lord’s supper.






Tribute to the Memory of the late Reverend Alexander McLean

(from the Guelph Mercury newspaper for Feb. 9, 1865.)



We have perused with interest a small pamphlet, which has just been printed at this office, containing verses in memory of the late Reverend Alexander McLean of Puslinch, to which is appended a short biographical sketch of this faithful and devoted minister, and the Presbytery’s Minute in reference to his sudden death.  It is written by Mr. John McGregor of Puslinch.  The author has given a faithful delineation of Mr. McLean’ s character, and has described in feeling and appreciative language his services to the church and to the flock committed to his care.  To the congregation of East Puslinch it will be an acceptable memento of their late pastor, and it will be read with interest by all who knew Mr. McLean.  Mr. McGregor has a large number of copies for sale, and we feel sure that it will meet with many purchasers.








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