Haldane, James Alexander
HALDANE, JAMES ALEXANDER (1768-1851), whose disinterested labours in the cause of religion have secured for his name an honourable place in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland, was the younger son of Captain James Haldane of Gleneagles, Perthshire, and was born at Dundee on July 14, 1768. Educated first at Dundee and afterwards at the High School and university of Edinburgh, he shortly after the completion of his sixteenth year entered the service for which he had been from his childhood destined, by joining the "Duke of Montrose" East India-man as a midshipman. After four voyages to India he in the summer of 1793 was nominated to the command of the "Melville Castle "; but having, during a long and unexpected detention of his ship, begun a careful study of the Bible, he came under deep religious impressions and, somewhat abruptly resolving to quit the naval profession, returned to Scotland before his ship had sailed. About the year 1796 he became acquainted with the celebrated evangelical divine, Simeon of Cambridge, in whose society he made through Scotland more than one tour, in the course of which he endeavoured by tract-distribution and other means to awaken others to somewhat of that interest in religious subjects which he himself so strongly felt. In May 1797 he preached, at Gilmerton near Edinburgh, his first sermon with a success which was considered to be very encouraging ; and during the next few years he made repeated missionary journeys, preaching wherever he could obtain hearers, and generally in the open air. Not originally disloyal to the Church of Scotland, he was gradually driven by the hostility of the Assembly and the exigencies of his position into a separatistic attitude ; in 1799 he was ordained on the principles of Independency as pastor of a large congregation in Edinburgh, to which he continued gratuitously to minister for more than fifty years ; and in 1808 he made public avowal of his conversion to Baptist views. As advancing years compelled him to withdraw from the more exhausting labours of itineracy and open-air preaching, he sought more and more to influence the discussion of current religious and theological questions by means of the press, and by numerous pamphlets took part in the controversies connected with the names of Edward Irving, Erskine of Linlathen, Campbell of Row, and others. His latest works were a treatise on the Doctrine of the Atonement (1845) and an Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians (1848). He died on the 8th of February 1851.