The History of Leith

March 21, 2012

THE CHURCH TOWER. (South Leith Church 1910

When you came into the Church this morning you
entered by the Tower door. The present square tower
was built there 62 years ago ; before that time there was
a steeple, built in 1615, and rebuilt in 1674. Some say
that a Church spire is necessary to satisfy the eye, that it
sensibly elevates the mind. The poet whom I have
already quoted invites us to stand with him :—
” Watching, with upward eye, the tall tower grow,
And mount, at every step, with living wiles
Instinct—to rouse the heart and lead the will,
By a bright ladder to the world above.”
In South Leith we have not a spire pointing as with silent
finger to the sky and stars, but we have a strong tower
that speaks to us of the solid virtues necessary to the life
that now is. Throughout the centuries since 1483, when
the Church was built, generations of our forefathers have
halted at the door on the Sundays to read (or have read
for them) the notices there—notices that in our own day
deal with civil proclamations, with military affairs, with
taxes and such like. And we have in this a suggestion
of the close alliance which has subsisted in Scotland
between Church and State for many centuries, yea, for
long years before the Reformation. I do not speak at
any length to you of the great advantages to Church and
to people of such a concordat; hut I may say briefly,
that it secures the liberties of the Church ; it recognizes
the sole and exclusive right of the Lord Jesus to give
laws to His own people, and the right of Christ to rule
over all the nations of the earth, and the obligations
under which they lie to countenance in every way His
cause. Many things are possible in a nation which
recognizes Christ as King of Kings and Lord of nations,
which could not otherwise be consistently or logically
claimed, as, for instance, the claim that the laws of the
realm shall be Christian, that the Sovereign shall profess
the Christian faith, that the Lord’s Day shall be protected,
that provision shall be made for religious instruction in
State-aided schools, and for religious ordinances in the
Army and Navy and Territorial forces. All these are
great national privileges and blessings, and these are
days to cherish them. This is not the day when one
should countenance anything that even seems to secularise
national life. The hour is come when the Churches in
Scotland who profess the same faith should seek the best
means of maintaining and promoting the interests and
ascendency of the Church of Christ in Scotland and for
Think what this Church of Leith, consecrate to the
honour of God’s great name, a temple shadowy with
remembrances of the majestic past, has been to generations
of men and women, who have participated here in
the sacred mysteries of our religion, who have been fitted
for their duty, whether it led them
” In tall ships richly built and ribbed with brass
To put a girdle round about the world,”
or to engage in the homelier tasks on shore, and who have
been comforted, and upheld in the midst of life’s
perplexities and conflicts ! What this Church has been
to our ancestors and to us, equipping them and us to
act with greater zeal and thoroughness, so has the Church
of our fathers, with its nee tamen consumebatur as the
motto of its undying vigour, been to this land we all love
so well. It has been the great Christian social force that
has built up, and sustained in its grandeur, this little nation
of ours, which has exercised in* the progress of civilization
a world-wide influence incommensurate with its size.

source-South Leith Church

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