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Metadata for text 131
No. words in text23347
Title Daoine air an Comhairleachadh an aghaidh bhi Deanamh Croin orra fhein. Searmoin, a Thugadh Seachad an’ Inerpheafaran aig an am an do Bhris an Galar d’an Goirear an Colera Mach sa Bhaile
Author Domhnullach, Eoin
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1832
Date Of Language 1800-1849
Publisher Daibhidh Aitcinn
Place Published Inverness
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Geographical Origins Caithness
Register Religion, Prose
Alternative Author Name MacDonald, John (Ferintosh)
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 21cm x 13.5cm
Short Title Daoine air an Comhairleachadh
Reference Details EUL, Sp. Coll.: MackinnonColl.P.35/11
Number Of Pages 64
Gaelic Text By N/A
Illustrator N/A
Social Context The information in this section was taken from Rev. Iain D. Campbell’s article, ‘Rev John MacDonald, Ferintosh (1779-1849)’, which can be viewed on the Banner of Truth website ( and on the Back Free Church website ( Further information about John MacDonald can be found in Rev. John Kennedy’s book, Apostle of the North.

Of his birth and upbringing, Campbell states that ‘John MacDonald was born in Reay, Caithness, in November 1779, the son of a leading Christian, celebrated in one of his Gaelic compositions. The schoolmaster of Reay, recognising the intellectual potential of his young student, encouraged him in his learning, with the result that MacDonald went to Aberdeen University where he studied mathematics.’ It appears that MacDonald’s conversion was aided by his fondness for the works of President Edwards, and Campbell notes that ‘I think it can be demonstrated that much of the material in MacDonald’s hymns bears more than a passing resemblance to Edwards’ Religious Affections’.

In 1805, MacDonald received a licence from the Presbytery of Caithness. That same year, he toured the Highlands, ‘researching the Homeric like poetry of an ancient writer named Ossian’, and preaching in various places along the way. MacDonald was ordained in Berriedale, in Caithness, in 1806, and it was there that he married his first wife. MacDonald stayed in Berriedale for a year, before moving to the Gaelic Church in Edinburgh at the request of the SSPCK. MacDonald was kept busy in Edinburgh, preaching in different areas, and ‘he had an experience of fresh anointing and Holy Spirit baptism’ there also. It was partly due to his experiences in Edinburgh that MacDonald became known as ‘a preacher of powerful doctrine and earnest delivery’.

In 1813, MacDonald was called to Ferintosh, in the parish of Urquhart, as the successor of Charles Calder, and from there he preached far and wide, throughout the Highlands. It was from this travelling and evangelizing that he became known as the ‘apostle of the north’. MacDonald’s first communion services at Ferintosh, held outside, unfortunately coincided with the death of his wife. ‘MacDonald refused to allow the death of his wife to interfere with the commemoration of the death of the Saviour.’ MacDonald had three children with his first wife, and seven with his second wife, whom he married in 1818. His eldest son, also John, became a minister, and worked as a missionary in Calcutta. Sadly for him, MacDonald outlived his son, who died in 1847. In his daily life, MacDonald kept a very strict schedule, allotting himself eight hours a day each for family and parochial affairs, for private study and prayer, and for sleeping.

MacDonald made four trips to St. Kilda during his ministry, and he successfully converted the islanders to a life in the service of God. More information about MacDonald’s time in St. Kilda can be found in Campbell’s article and in Kennedy’s book. MacDonald also went on several trips outwith Scotland. In 1823 he was invited to speak in London by the London Missionary Society, and in 1827 he visited Ireland and preached to congregations of Protestants and Catholics. Campbell declares that he was so zealous about preaching that ‘If it was at all possible, MacDonald would not decline an invitation to preach the Gospel.’ It was said that he preached at least 300 sermons a year, which amounted to over ten thousand sermons during his last 36 years, and that he ‘never delivered an unstudied discourse.’ MacDonald’s widespread preaching was brought to the attention of the General Assembly in 1817, with the result that MacDonald was banned from preaching in any parish other than his own. In this instance, MacDonald complied with the Church. In 1843, however, he left the Established Church during the Disruption. In 1845, MacDonald became Moderator of the Free Church Assembly. He died in 1847.

See also Marbhrainn, A Rinneadh Air Diadhairibh Urramach, Nach Maireann: Agus Dàn Spioradail Eile by the same author (i.e. Text 118).

The English version of introduction to this volume states (p. 3) that ‘The following discourse (founded on the words of Paul addressed to the Philippian jailor, “Do thyself no harm.” Acts xvi. 28.) was delivered at Dingwall, in the month of August last, when the cholera had broken out in the town’. The author was apparently not overly keen to publish the sermon, but ‘yielded to the wishes of severals who heard the disco[u]rse’, and in particular to the wishes of the Committee of the Dingwall Board of Health, who thought it would help prevent the spread of cholera, and also remove many of the ‘absurd prejudices’ which were so detrimental to the people (p. 3).
Contents There is a Roimh-Radh in Gaelic on p. 4, and an English version of this appears, untitled, on the previous page. The Searmoin itself begins on p. 5. The sermon is based on ‘Gniomh. xvi. 28.—Agus ghlaodh Pòl le guth àrd, ag radh, Na dean cron sam bith ort fein’ (p. 5).
Language In this sermon, MacDonald preaches on the meaning of the passage with particular reference to the cholera situation in the area. To begin with, he focuses on three ways in which people harm themselves. These are summarised towards the end of this section: ‘Mar so chuir mi fa ’ur comhair tri doighean gu h-àraid anns am bheil daoine deanamh croin orra fein, d’a thaobh an cuirp, no am beatha aimsireil. Anns a cheud ait, le bhi a’ cumail o’n chorp na nithe a tha feumail air a shon. San dara ait, le bhi a toirt dha tuille’s a tha feumail. Agus anns an treas ait, le bhi a’ deanamh dearmaid, ann an la na h-easlaint’, air na meadhonaibh a dh’ullaich Dia, agus a dh’ fheudadh a bhi feumail chum ar ’n aisig gu Slainte; maille ri cuid do na leisgeulaibh a tha aig iomadh an aghaidh nam meadhona sin a chleachdamh, agus na barailean cunnartach anns am bheil iomadh a gabhail fasgaidh, aig an dearbh àm anns am bheil iad, gu soilleir, a’ deanamh croin orra fein’ (p. 30-31). He continues in the same vein: ‘Tha iad lionmhor, tha eagal orm, a tha milleadh an cuirp agus a’ deanamh dochainn d’an Slainte le droch chaidreadh air iomadh doigh, maille ri geòcaireachd, stròghalachd, agus misge; agus mar sin a tha na’n luchd-moirt orra fein’ (p. 31).

Under the second heading MacDonald focuses particularly on alcohol abuse: ‘O, ’s gràineil an sealladh, duine fo mhisge! duine g’a dheanamh fein na dheamhan ’s na bhruid an’ aon uair!—Tha an deoch laidir sin a tha gnàichte feadh na duch[a]-sa, ris an abair sin[n] an t-uisge beatha, teanndaidh gu ’bhi do chuid na uisge-bàis. Feudaidh beagan deth a bhi feumail, agus gu h-àraid aig uairibh, ach an uair a tha e air a ghabhail ann ar [sic, for ann am] neo-mheasarrachd, tha e gun teagamh a’ deanamh calla’ (p. 17).

Under the third heading MacDonald talks at length about those people who do not believe in the worth of doctors, believing instead that their lives lie in the lap of God. He condemns those who say, for example: “Och se làmh an Tighearn a th’ ann; agus ni esan an ni a chuir e roimhe. Earbaidh sinn as fein, agus cha bhi sinn aig dragh ri Leighichean no cungaidhean leighis.” (p. 26) With this we may compare the following: “Och, thug sin an Doctoir g ’a fhaicinn, agus mar d’rinn e call, cha d’rinn e feum sam bith dha, cha robh e ceart riabh an deigh an ni a thug e dha.” (p. 24) It is truer to say, MacDonald argues, that doctors are in fact God’s gift to us: Tha iad air an orduchadh leis, agus bheannaich e gu tric an saothair. Tha iad a faighil foghluim iomchuidh airson na dreuchd anns am bheil iad (p. 22). He then proceeds to describe how people can contribute to their own salvation: Cuimhnich gur e lamh an Tighearn a bha ann, an uair a thainig a chloich-mheallan nuas air an Eiphit, ach an robh sin ag radh nach b’e dleasdanas nan Eiphiteach teicheadh a dh’ionnsuidh an tighean? (p. 27). In the same vein he asks: Ciod a shaoileadh tu do’n duine a thuiteadh san uisge, agus nach deanamh dìchioll gu faighinn gu tír (p. 29). His point here is that they themselves had a hand in what has befallen them: Nach eil do lamhsa ann mar an ceudna? Nach e lamh do chiontsa a tharring lamh fheirge-se a nuas ort (p. 26).

MacDonald considers next the ways in which people harm their soul. This occurs when they act sinfully, and also when they reject God’s help, which is present in the Gospel and equally, when they are physically sick, through the agency of doctors. He specifies three ways in which people harm their souls: (1) le a bhi a’ dol air aghairt agus a’ buanachadh anns a pheacadh (p. 48); (2) [le bhi] beo ann am mi-churam mu’n timchioll (p. 52); and (3) le bhi diultadh na slainte, agus, an rathaid leighis a dh’ullaich Dia air an son (p. 55). He stresses the importance of the soul: Tha againn ri chuimhneachadh gam bheil an t-anam luachmhor; ni’s luachmhoire gu mor na an corp: ni’s luachmhoire na an saoghal, Oir ciod an tairbhe, arsa Criosd, a tha ann do dhuine, ged chosnadh e a an saoghal uile agus anam fein a chall? (p. 41). He discusses also the dangers of neglecting the soulNach eil iadsan uile, a tha diultadh Chriosd agus na slainte tha ri fhaotainn annsan, a’ deanamh croin orra fein san t-seadh is cuidromaich: nach eil iad nan luchd moirt air an anmaibh? (p. 57). In the same vein: O, cia lionmhor iad air an cuir Plaigh a Cholera eagal, air nach do chuir plaigh a pheacaidh fathast eagal (p. 44). MacDonald also sends out a warning about the outcome of neglecting the soul: Tha iad dol do Ifirinn na’n suain, gun churam, gun eagal, roi’n chunnart, gun fhios a bhi aca ciod e a tha rompa, gus an duisgear iad ann an lasraichibh siorruidh! (p. 52).

MacDonald identifies the influence of the devil in the neglect of body and soul, e.g.: Tha iomadh mar so, a’ gabhail an leisgeil fein: agus gun teagamh, tha làmh aig an àrd-eascaraid, a tha na namhad araon do’n anam is do’n chorp, anns a chùis (p. 22); Chuir an diabhol a chloidhe—se sin, am peacadh, an inneal mharbhaidh a th’aige-se—an sàs ann ar nadur, agus thug e lot bàis dhuinn, ann an leasraidh a cheud Adhaimh (p. 43).

When MacDonald turns to the cholera outbreak he describes it as a plague sent by God to punish sinners: ‘Tha a phlaigh air briseadh mach! Aidichamaid lamh an Tighearn innte; agus tuigeamaid ciod a tha am freasdal gruamach so a’ radh ruinn. Is plaigh neo-ghnaichte i. Cha ’n eil thairis air cuig bliadhna deug o thaisbean si i fein ann an dùchaibh an àird an Ear. Shiubhail i o’n uair sin air a chuid mhor do’n Roinn-Eorpa, agus thainig i faidheireadh do’ionnsuidh nan rioghachdasa: seadh, faidheireadh, mar g’am biodh i aindeonach air Breatuinn fhiosrachadh, a chionn na th’ aig an Tighearn innte, agus na tha e air a dheanamh air a shon leatha. Ach tha e coslach g’an do bhuadhaich peacanna Bhreatuinn os ceann a maitheis, agus uime sin tharruing i a bhuile orra fein’ (p. 36-37). He likens the plague to a speal, agus cha ’ne an corran, calling it a plaigh sgaoilteach and a plaigh chraiteach (p. 37). MacDonald relates the cholera outbreak to sin on a number of occasions, e.g. O, cia lionmhor iad air an cuir Plaigh a Cholera eagal, air nach do chuir plaigh a’ pheacaidh fathast eagal (p. 44), and notes that drunkards are the most likely to be hit by this plague: do thaobh a ghalair chràitich sin a leig Dia nis a mach ’nar measg, tha làn dearbhachd againn, o thuath ’s o dheas, gur h-iad na misgearan do na h-uile seòrsa sluaigh a tha air an glacadh leis, is buailtich dha (p. 17).

MacDonald frequently quotes from the Bible, e.g. ‘Is fior gu’m bheil an corp, do b[h]righ iomadh laigse is euslainte d’ am bheil e buailteach, aig uairibh na eallach do’n anam ann an gnothchaibh spioradail, air chor ’s gu’m feud e bhi air a radh mu’n chreideach, aig àmaibh, gu bheil an Spiorad gun amharas togarach, ach a ta ’n fheoil anmhunn (Luc. xxvi. 41)’ (p. 10); ‘Cheannaicheadh le luach sibh, ars’ an t-Abstol, uime sin thugaibh gloir do Dhia le ur cuirp agus le ur spiorad as le Dia (1 Cor. vi 19, 20)’ (p. 10).

The text of the sermon is modelled on oral delivery, and MacDonald frequently addresses his readers as though they were his audience. The religious register and evangelical style of preaching are evident in many of the passages quoted above, and in phrases such as ann am briathraibh a bhonn-teagaisg (p. 12) and Chruthaich Dia na h-uile beo chreutair ma’n cuairt dhuinn, durragan na talmhainn, iasga a chuain, eunlaith an adhair, agus beathaiche ceathar-chosach na machrach (p. 12).
Orthography The orthography is typical of the early to mid nineteenth century. MacDonald’s own usage may be reflected in his use of -amh in place of standard -adh in g’an cleachdamh fein (p. 5) and is iomadh a dheanamh e (p. 6); compare his use of -adh for standard -amh in gun teagadh (p. 17). Also of interest is his use of aid for iad (p. 8); a faighil for a faighinn (p. 22); and no in place of standard na, e.g. in gur fearr leo … no an deoch a thoirt thairis (p. 18); his dropping of the final vowel in a number of words such as ait (e.g. p. 30) and ’san ùin (p. 13); and his tendency to elide the unstressed /ǝ/ of a’ (with verbal nouns) and a- (with adverbs) before words beginning with consonants, e.g. Tha iad dol (p. 52), air briseadh mach (p. 36).

Vocabulary of interest includes coiseard (p. 53), which a footnote explains as cois-eideadh [cf. Dwelly, s.v. caisbheart]; and leighich, which a footnote explains as leigh, mar theirear ann an earranaibh do’n Ghaidhealtachd (p. 18).
Edition First edition. A second edition was published in Dingwall, which contained an additional preface by Rev. Dr. John Kennedy of Dingwall. The preface is dated 1878. The orthography is basically the same as that of the first edition, but there are a number of corrections and minor alterations, and some new irregularities.
Other Sources
Further Reading Kennedy, John, Apostle of the North: the Life and Labours of the Rev. John MacDonald … of Ferintosh, 1932.
Campbell, Iain D., ‘Rev John MacDonald, Ferintosh (1779-1849)’, retrieved from
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