John Pastor Glas
The Story of John Pastor Glas
The religious sect known in Scottish ecclesiastical history as the Glasites, was founded by the Rev. John Glas, Minister of the Parish of Tealing. He was a son of the manse, born in Auchtermuchty in 1695. His father was called to Kinclaven, where John received his first schooling. He went on to the grammar school in Perth, where he apparently acquired great proficiency in Latin and Greek!
After studying philosophy and theology at St. Andrew’s and Edinburgh Universities, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Perth, and soon afterwards, in 1719, he was ordained Minister of Tealing. In 1721 he married Catherine Black, the eldest daughter of a Perth minister. The marriage was a happy and certainly, a prolific one. They had no less than 15 children - all of whom predeceased him, as did his wife, who died of tuberculosis in 1749, 24 years before him. Glas was by all accounts, a most kind-hearted man, very fond of children, a most humane man, with not a trace of fanaticism or bigotry. He was something of a scholar, too, but with no streak of pedantry or conceit, but with a most engaging share of a quality perhaps not so wide spread amongst the ministry of that age - the common touch.
He had a tremendous sympathy with the poor, for the ordinary folk of the parish, and would not take a penny from the wealthy admirers who sent him money. It was all shared out to the needy of the parish. When warned by his father that he would meet bitter opposition to his views and his attempts to restore the original worship and order of the New Testament Church, he retorted, that if he could get but a dozen shepherds at the foot of “Seidla’ Hill” to consort with him in the love of truth, he would be happy:
The basis of his theology was that he would under no circumstances accept the control in any form of state over Church. His convictions were that the Church of Christ was a spiritual fellowship, and had no relation with the kingdom of the world.
Another of his tenets was that a magistrate had no right to punish a man for heresy.
His preaching caused him to be suspended and deposed by the first Presbytery of Dundee, and later a similar action was implemented by the Synod of Angus and Mearns.
Some 12 years later this was rescinded, but he was no longer to be a minister of the Church of Scotland He was subsequently made an honorary burgess of the City of Dundee.
History records that by the doctrines of John Glas, many people were influenced in many places of Scotland, England, Wales, indeed, in London and America, but nevertheless, the Glasite Church died because of hardness of discipline.
John Glass died on the 2nd November 1773, aged 78, and was buried in the Howff in Dundee. His tombstone reads:
“His character in the Churches of Christ, is well known and will outlive all monumental inscriptions”.