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Metadata for text 178
No. words in text180835
Title Eisempleir Shoilleir Ceasnnuighe air Leabhar Aith-Ghearr nan Ceist, chum Foghlum a Thabhairt do ’n Dream ata Óg, agus Ain-eolach
Author Willison, An t-Urramach Mr Eoin
Editor N/A
Date Of Edition 1773
Date Of Language 18th c.
Publisher Eoin Reid
Place Published Edinburgh (Duneadain)
Volume N/A
Location National and academic libraries
Link Digital version created by National Library of Scotland
Download File PDF / plain text 
Geographical Origins Unknown
Register Religion, Prose
Alternative Author Name Rev. John Willison
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 17cm x 10.5cm
Short Title Eisempleir Shoilleir
Reference Details NLS: KK.6/2
Number Of Pages [2], 464
Gaelic Text By MacFarlan, Robert
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This text is a Gaelic translation of Rev. John Willison’s 1737 publication, An Example of Plain Catechising upon the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism. Willison’s work is an expanded version of the Shorter Catechism, in which each of the 107 main questions is followed by a number of ‘sub-questions’, all of which relate to the main question.

John Willison was born at Craigforth, near Stirling, in 1680. He was educated at Glasgow University, and in 1704 he married Margaret Arnott. They had five children, one of whom, David, went on to become a printer and publisher in Edinburgh, and to become the father of the portrait painter, George Willison. Willison was licensed by the Presbytery of Stirling in November 1701, and was ordained at Brechin in 1703. He encountered a certain amount of resistance from those parishioners at Brechin who had Jacobite and Episcopalian sympathies, and it was not until 1708 that the Episcopal minister (who also had the support of the local magistrates) was removed. Willison remained at Brechin until 1716, when he answered the call to Dundee South Church. He remained in Dundee until his death in 1750. In his 1719 publication, Apology for the Church of Scotland Against the Accusations of Prelatists and Jacobites, Willison aired his feelings about the way he had been treated in Brechin. Willison went on to become a major force in the Church of Scotland as an advocate of evangelicalism, and he continued to support the Church of Scotland through the secession in 1733, despite agreeing with the secessors’ motives. Indeed, in one of his sermons, published in 1733 as The Church’s Danger, Willison preached on the benefits of keeping the church together. Willison later played a part in restoring the seceders to their previous places in the Church, although he was unsuccessful in his attempts to secure the abolition of the 1712 Patronage Act. In the early 1740s, Willison travelled to Cambuslang to investigate the religious revival that was taking place due to the preaching of George Whitefield. On his journey back to Dundee, Willison himself preached a sermon at Kilsyth that brought about a religious revival.

Willison was a prolific writer, and often spoke out against the established church when he believed it to be deviating from approved practices. Willison had opposed John Glas, the minister of Tealing who, in 1725, argued for a number of changes in church practices. In 1745 Willison was opposed by members of the Jacobite army, who threatened to shoot him if he dared pray for George II, and he had to close the church for a time. Many of Willison’s writings, however, were devotional in nature, and were well known and respected during his time. Examples include The Afflicted Man’s Companion, published in 1743; A Sacramental Directory, published in 1741; Sacramental Meditations and Advices, published in 1747; and The Mother’s Catechism for the Young Child, published in 1725 (see Text 176). Willison died in Dundee in May 1750.

The translator of this work was Robert MacFarlan. MacFarlan was born in Scotland around 1773/74. He was educated at Edinburgh University, after which he moved to England and opened a school at Walthamstow in Essex. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) notes that ‘In addition, he wrote reports of the parliamentary debates during Lord North’s administration, contributed the first and fourth volumes of The History of the First Ten Years of the Reign of George III, and for a time edited the Morning Chronicle and London Packet’. MacFarlan was very keen on Ossianic poetry, and supported MacPherson’s claim that the Ossianic poems he published were genuine. MacFarlan published a Latin translation of Temora in 1769, translated from the Gaelic ‘original’, rather than from MacPherson’s English ‘translation’. In 1807, the Highland Society published three volumes of MacPherson’s Ossianic poetry with MacFarlan’s Latin translation (see Text 144). MacFarlan was also extremely interested in George Buchanan, and he translated his De Jure Regni Apud Scotos (1579) from Latin into English. MacFarlan died in 1804, at the age of seventy, having fallen under a carriage at Hammersmith.
Contents This edition of this text begins with a dedication, by the translator, to the ‘Right Honourable the Earl of Kinnoul, President of the General Court; the Rev. John Erskine, D.D. Preses of the Committee of Directors; and the other Honourable and Reverend Members of, the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge’. This is followed by a Rabhadh, or introduction by the author. The author explains that he decided to translate this work, as there was no other such work available to those Gaelic speakers who had no English, and that by the assistance of the SSPCK, he is able to sell this volume at a lower price than would otherwise have been possible. The main body of the text comprises the 107 questions of the Shorter Catechism, and the sub-questions which relate to them. Some of the sub-questions are grouped under headings within the main question.
Language The questions in this volume relate to a variety of aspects of religious belief, doctrine, and experience, from a Protestant perspective. In particular, there are questions relating to God and His role as the creator of heaven and earth; original sin; Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Our Saviour; the Ten Commandments; faith, redemption, and salvation; the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion; and prayer, particularly the Lord’s Prayer. The questions and answers are written in a religious register, and we find terminology relating to each of the above topics, and to religion in general, throughout the text.

The first set of questions deals with God and his role as the creator of heaven and earth. For example, the first question reads, ‘Creud is crioch araid do’n duine? \ Freagradh. Is crioch araid do’n duine, Dia a ghlorachadh, agus a’ mhealtain gu suthain’ (p. 1). Question IX reads ‘Creud is obair chruthaigh ann? \ F. Is i obair an cruthaich, Dia do deanamh nan uile nithe do neimh-ni, le focal a chumchachd, am feadh ’s e laithe, agus iad uile ro mhaith’ (pp. 34-35).

The next set of questions deals with original sin, and we find questions such as ‘Creud e peacadh? \ F. A se am peacadh easbhuidh aontachadh le lagh Dhe, no briseadh an lagha sin’ (p. 56), followed by the sub-question ‘Creud ata thu ciallughadh le lagh Dhe? \ F. Na h aitheantaibh, no na reachdaibh a thug Dia do ’n duine chum a ghiulan a riaghlughadh’ (p. 56).

A number of the questions look at Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Our Saviour. For example, question XXII reads ‘Air bhi do Chriost na Mhac do Dhia, cionnas do rinneadh é na dhuinne? \ F. Do rinneadh Criost Mac Dhe na dhuine, le corp fior agus anam riosunta do ghabhail chuige fein; air bhiodh dho le cumhachd an Spiorad Naoimh air a ghabhail am broinn Muire na h Oighe, agus air a bhreith lea gidheadh as eagmhuis peacaidh’ (p. 99)

A large section of the questions deals with the Ten Commandments, in general and specifically. General questions include ‘C’ ait’ an roibh na deich aitheanta air an tabhairt ann toiseach? \ F. Air sliabh Shinai’ (pp. 213-14), and ‘Creud is suim do na deich aitheantaibh? \ F. Is i is suim do na deich aitheantaibh, an Tighearna ar Dia do ghradhacha’ le ’r ’n uile chroidhe, le ’r ’n uil’ anam, le ’r ’n uile neart, agus le ’r ’n uil’ inntin, agus ar coimhearsnach a ghradhachadh mar sinn fein’ (p. 215). Specific questions relate to each commandment in turn, asking, for example, Cia i an treas aithne? (p. 246), Creud ata air iarruidh san treas aithne? (p. 246), Creud ata ’n treas aithn’ ag toirmeasg? (p. 248), and Cia e an riasan ata ceangailt’ ris an treas aithne? (p. 251).

The next set of questions relates to faith, redemption, and salvation. We find questions such as ‘Creud is creidimh ann Josa Criost ann? \ F. Creidimh ann Josa Criost, is gras slainteil e, leis an bheil sinne ga ghabhail sin, agus ’g ar sochruchadh fein air sin, ’n a aonar chum slàinte, mar ata ’s e air a thairgse dhuinne san t soisgeul’ (pp. 336-37). We also find the questions Creud is aithreachas chum na beatha ann? (p. 344) and Cionnas as coir am focal a leaghadh agus eisteachd chum ’s gu ’m bithidh se eifeachdach chum slainte? (p. 359).

Some of the questions relate to the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and we find questions such as ‘Creud is sacramaint ann? \ F. An t sacramaint, is ordugh naomh le Criost e ann am bheil Criost, agus coi’-cheangail’ nan gras, air an taisbeanadh, air an seulachadh, agus air an cur ris na reidmhich le comharthaidh corporra so fhaicsin’ (p. 368) and ‘Cia iad sacramainte an tiomna nuaidh? \ F. Is iad sacramainte an tiomna-nuaidh, baisteadh, agus suipeir an Tighearna’ (p. 371).

The last set of questions relate to prayer, and particularly to the Lord’s Prayer. There are some general questions about prayer, such as ‘Creud is urnaigh ann? \ F. Is i is urnaigh ann, tabhairt suas ar ’n athchuinge do Dhia, ag iarruidh nitheanna do reir a thoil ann ainm Chriost, ag aidmheil ar peacaidh, agus ag toirt buidheachais dh’ a air son a thiolacaibh’ (p. 405). Other questions relate specifically to the Lord’s Prayer, and deal with the meaning of the different sections of the prayer, each of which represents a ‘petition’. For example, we find ‘Creud ata sinn a’ guidhe san chead iartas? \ F. Ann san chead iartas, (eadhon, Gu naomhaichear t ainmse) ata sinn a’ guidhe, gu ma toil le Dia sinne, agus daoin’ eile a dheanamh comasach air e fein a ghloruchadh, ann s gach aon ni leis am bheil se ’g a fhoillseachadh fein dhuinn, agus gu ma toil leis gach ni a shuidheacha, agus orduchadh chum a ghloire fein’ (pp. 428-29).

Also of interest in this volume, is the doctrinal terminology. For example, we find terms such as ar fear saoruidh-ne for ‘redeemer’ (p. 102), oifig eidir-mheadhoin-earachd Chriost for ‘Christ’s intercession’ (p. 102), gairm eifeachdach for ‘effectual calling’ (p. 148), fireanachadh for ‘justification’ (p. 158), and uchd-mhacachd for ‘adoption’ (p. 167).
Orthography The orthography is typical of the late eighteenth century.
Edition First edition. A number of later editions were subsequently published, including the second edition in 1799.
Other Sources
Further Reading Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
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