May 13: Funeral of Professor John Murray [1898-1975]

This past Friday we had a post on the death of Professor John Murray, who served with great esteem as professor of Systematic Theology at the Westminster Theological Seminary, from 1930 to 1966. Today’s post focuses on the occasion of his funeral near Ross-shire, Scotland. The following account was submitted to The Banner of Truth by K.J. MacLeay, and was later reprinted in The Presbyterian Guardian.

The Kyle of Sutherland was enveloped in mist, and the day was damp and cold, as though in sympathy with the many mourners who gathered from North, South, East and West, yea, and from across the Atlantic, to pay their last respects to the memory of Professor John Murray of Badbea, Bonar Bridge in Scotland. Some 500 people were congregated there in the historic Free Church of Creich, the church of the revered Dr. Aird, for the funeral service of this saintly scholar on Tuesday, May 13, 1975.

The impressive silence that pervaded this large representative company of ministers from all denominations and people from all walks of life, indicated their consciousness that a prince in Israel had fallen.

The service was conducted by the Rev. M. MacDonald, minister of the Creich congregation, with the assistance of Dr. David Freeman, U.S.A., Rev. John MacSween, Isle of Lewis, Rev. D. Lamont, Edinburgh and Rev. H. Cameron, Dornoch, the Praise being led by Mr. Hector MacLeod, Bonar Bridge.

The dignity and simplicity of the service, in true Reformation style, was just as Professor Murray would have desired. John Murray had gone forth from this small community to become one of the world’s leading theologians. Having finished his course and kept the faith, it now seemed fitting that the small cemetery on the shores of the Kyles of Scotland should contain the remains of this worthy servant of Christ until the day break and the shadows flee away.

At the graveside the Rev. D.B. MacLeod Lain reminded us all of the truths that Professor Murray held so dear and so ably taught and preached. He urged sinners to flee the wrath to come and seek refuge in a crucified, risen and exalted Christ, while mercy lasted.

—K.J. MacLeay, courtesy of The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, Scotland, and reproduced in The Presbyterian Guardian, Vol. 44, No. 6 (June 1975): 87.

[Note: The Kyle of Sutherland (Scottish Gaelic: An Caol Catach) is a river estuary that separates Sutherland from Ross-shire. It flows into the Dornoch Firth and is fed by the rivers Oykel, Shin, River Cassley and Carron.]

Words to Live By:
“Oh may I, as Christ’s messenger, plead with each one of you to be joined to him in the bonds of a faith and a love and a hope that can never be dissolved. Then, when He will come again, He will usher you into the possession of that salvation, which you looked for, which you waited  for, and which you longed for. And it will surpass all your expectations, because it is a salvation that is bound up with the glory of the presence of Him who was given the name that is above every name. “The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thess. 4:16-17).
–Professor John Murray, O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?p. 258.

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