Vol.XII No.I Pg.6
March 1975

Vedder, On Mclean

Robert F. Turner

We propose a series of quotes from Archibald McLean, 1733 -1812; for their inherent value, and because they demonstrate the kind of scriptural exegesis and non-sectarian thinking that fathered the Restoration movement. But first, a quote from A Short History of the Baptists by H. C. Vedder, pp. 272-3, about McLean.


The other church owes its origin to Archibald McLean, who also began his career in the Scotch church and then became a Glasite, having been at one time a member of Mr. Carmichaels church. Not long after his former pastor, he also became a convert to Baptist views, and sought baptism on personal profession of faith...

Archibald McLean almost deserves to be called the founder of the Scotch Baptist churches. He was born in 1733, received the rudiments of a classical education, from which he afterwards advanced by his own exertions to considerable learning, and became a printer at Glasgow. He had in early life been much influenced by the preaching of Whitefield, and was finally constrained himself to become a preacher. He was even more influential by pen than by voice, and his collected writings in six volumes are still a monument to his industry and solidity of mind.

His membership for a time in a Glasite or Sandeinanian church had important consequences. It was the special endeavor of that peculiar sect to return as far as possible to apostolic simplicity, and to make the churches of today an exact reproduction of those of the New Testament. From many of the Sandemanian notions McLean never freed himself, and the Baptist churches of Scotland have perpetuated not a few of these notions, such as insisting on having a plurality of elders in every church, on the weekly celebration of the Lords Supper, and the like.

Later investigations of the New Testament period have disclosed the fact, apparently not suspected by McLean and men of his time, that no single form of organization was common to all the churches of that period, and that it is unsafe to assert a practice found in a single church to be necessarily the norm for all other churches through all time.


Note — the later investigations could not claim to be of the N. T. but of that period. A plurality of elders in every church is certainly not based on practice found in a single church (see Acts 14:23; 15:2; 20:17, 28; etc.); and the partaking of the Lords Supper every first day of the week, derives from 1 Cor. 11:24-26 as well as from Acts 20:7, and more than one church is under consideration. As seen later in Vedders history (pp. 341-f.), he was not too fond of Speak Where the Bible Speaks, and Be Silent Where the Bible is Silent principles. All the more reason to investigate the writings of Archibald McLean, a pioneer in such thinking.

Beginning next month, D.V., we will publish a series of excerpts from McLeans studies in the Great Commission. Look for them!