Durham, James

, an eminent Scotch divine of the seventeenth century, the eldest son of John Durham of Easter-Powrie, esq. and descended from the ancient family of Grange Durham in the county of Angus, was born about 1622, and educated at the university of St. Andrew’s, which he left without taking a degree, as he had then no design of following any of the learned professions. When the civil wars broke out, he served in the army, with the rank of captain, but was so much affected by his narrow escape from being killed in an engagement with the English, that, encouraged by Dr. David Dickson, professor of divinity at Glasgow, he determined to devote himself to the church. With this view he went to Glasgow, studied divinity under Dr. Dickson, and in 1646 was licensed by the presbytery of Irvine to preach. In the following year he was ordained minister of the Black-friars 7 church in Glasgow, where he became one of the most popular preachers of his time. In 1650 he was chosen to succeed Dr. Dickson as professor, and about the same time attended Charles II. when in Scotland, as one of his chaplains. In 1651, when Cromwell and his army were at Glasgow, Durham preached before the usurper, and upbraided him to his face for having invaded the country. Next day Cromwell sent for him, and told him he thought he had been a wiser man than to meddle with public affairs in his sermons. Durham answered that it was not his common practice, but that he could not help laying hold of such an opportunity of expressing his sentiments in his presence. Cromwell dismissed him with a caution, but met with so many other instances of similar rebuffs from the Scotch clergy, that he thought it unadvisable to | pursue any more severe course. Durham was a man of such moderation of temper and sentiment, as to be able to conduct himself without giving much offence in those troublesome times, and gained the favour of all parties by the conscientious discharge of his pastoral duties. This character gave him unusual authority in the country where he lived; but his incessant labours both as a preacher and writer brought on a consumptive disorder, of which he died June 25, 1658, in the prime of life. He wrote, 1. “A Commentary on the Revelations.” 2. “Sermons on the liii. of Isaiah.” 3. “Sermons on the Song of Solomon.” 4. “A treatise on Scandal.” 5. “An Exposition of the Commandments:” the two latter posthumous; with some single sermons and pious tracts, which have been often reprinted. 1


Biog. Scoticana.