Robert Fleming the elder

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Robert Fleming the elder (1630 – 25 July 1694) was a Scottish Presbyterian Minister. Following the Restoration of King Charles II, he declined to accept bishops in the Kirk. He was therefore ejected as Minister at Cambuslang.

Life[edit]

He was born at St Bathens, near Dunbar, the son of the Minister of Yester Parish Church, James Fleming, whose first wife (not Robert’s mother) had been Martha Knox, eldest daughter of John Knox. Robert was educated first at Edinburgh University, where he excelled at the sacred languages, then at St Andrews University where he studied Calvinist Theology under Samuel Rutherford. When he was only 20 he had joined the Covenanting army under David Leslie at The Battle of Dunbar (1650).

Following the defeat and execution of King Charles I, and the conquest of Scotland, by the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell, Fleming was called to be Minister of Cambuslang, when only 24. He remained there until the Restoration, when King Charles II re-established episcopacy in the Church of Scotland. Fleming declined to accept this and in 1673 was summoned to explain himself at the Privy Council in Edinburgh. He did not appear but was later apprehended and imprisoned in Edinburgh Tollbooth. He was later liberated and made his way to London. From there he was called to become the Minister of the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

While in the Netherlands, Fleming was accused, but cleared, of plotting with the enemies of the King (by that time, the Roman Catholic King James II and VII). Later, after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 he visited London. Following an illness, he died there on 25 July 1694. (Though there is some indication, in The Second Statistical Account of Scotland, that he had been restored to Cambuslang, and died there.)

Publications by Robert Fleming, Senior[edit]

Robert Fleming was renowned as a preacher and wrote a number of Calvinist theological books.

  • Fulfilling of the Scripture, or An essay shewing the exact accomplishment of the Word of God in his works of providence, performed & to be performed. : For confirming the beleevers [sic], and convincing the atheists of the present time: containing in the… (1671)
  • Faithfulness of God considered and cleared in the great events of his word, or, A second part of The fulfilling of the Scripture : where its convincing and near approach before mens eyes, with some clear discovery thereof in the work and conduct of providence… (1674)
  • Scripture truth confirmed and cleared by some great appearances of God for his church under the New Testament : held forth with some special remarks thereon. From her first rise & planting amongst the nations, and that blessed recovery of late from Antichrist… (1678)
  • Church wounded and rent by a spirit of division, held forth in a short account of some sad differences hath been of late in the Church of Scotland, with the occasion, grounds, and too evident product thereof whose wounds are bleeding to this day. (1681)
  • Confirming worke of religion: in its necessity and use briefly held forth; that each Christian may have a proper ballast of his own, of the grounds and reasons of his faith… (1685)
  • Confirming work of religion, or, Its great things made plain, by their primary evidences and demonstrations: whereby the meanest in the church may soon be made to render a solid and rational account of their faith (1693)
  • Present aspect of our times, and of the extraordinary conjunction of things therein. : In a rational view and prospect of the same; as it respects the publick hazard and safety of Brittain in this day. Licensed November 29. 1693. (1694)

Family[edit]

Fleming's son Robert Fleming the younger succeeded him as Minister of the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam. He too became a noted Calvinist theologian, and was author of The Rise and Fall of the Papacy.

Sources[edit]

  • Howie, John Biographia Scoticana J Dick & Co Edinburgh (1828)
  • Thomson, Thomas (ed.) The Rise and Fall of Papacy (1701) by The Rev Robert Fleming Jnr, Minister of the Gospel London, edited with a memoir of the author. John Johnstone Edinburgh (1849)
  • Porter, Wm Henry Cambuslang and its Ministers (in Mitchell Library - Glasgow Collection, reference GC941.433 CAM 188520 Box 952
  • Scott, Hew Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae V4: The Succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation Edinburgh (1922)
  • Wilson, James Alexander OBE, MD A History of Cambuslang: a Clydesdale parish. Jackson Wylie & Co Glasgow (1929)