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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 N/A (Translated work)
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 N/A
Manuscript Or Edition Ed.
Size And Condition 17cm x 10.5cm
Short Title Eisempleir Shoilleir
Reference Details NLS: KK.6/2
Number Of Pages [iv], 464
Gaelic Text By Robert MacFarlan from English of John Willison (‘An t-Urramach Mr Eoin Willison’)
Illustrator N/A
Social Context This text is a Gaelic translation of Rev. John Willison’s An Example of Plain Catechising upon the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism (1737). 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. In 1704 he married Margaret Arnot. 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 Apology for the Church of Scotland Against the Accusations of Prelatists and Jacobites (1719), he vented 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 of 1733, despite agreeing with the aims of the seceders. Indeed, in one of his sermons, published in 1733 as The Church’s Danger, Willison explicitly argued the case for 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 who often criticised the established church when he believed its leaders 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 confronted 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. These include The Mother’s Catechism for the Young Child (1725: see Text 176); A Sacramental Directory (1741); The Afflicted Man’s Companion (1743); and Sacramental Meditations and Advices (1747). Willison died in Dundee in May 1750.

The translator of this work was Robert MacFarlan, who was born at an unrecorded location in Scotland in 1734, was educated at Edinburgh University, after which he moved to England and opened a school at Walthamstow in Essex. According to his biographer in the Dictionary of National Biography, ‘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 the first book of Temora in 1769. The Highland Society’s 1807 edition of the Poems of Ossian (i.e. Text 144) included a translation into Latin by MacFarlan. MacFarlan also translated George Buchanan’s De Jure Regni Apud Scotos (1579) from Latin into English. MacFarlan died in 1804, at the age of seventy, reportedly having fallen under a carriage at Hammersmith.
Contents This volume opens (p. [iii]) with a translator’s dedication ‘Unto 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 (p. [iv]) by a Preface entitled Rabhadh, in which the genesis of the translation is explained. MacFarlan states that he had determined to translate this work into Gaelic because there was no other such work available to Gaelic speakers who had no English. With the aid of the SSPCK, he was now 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. At the end of the text, on p. 464, a brief section of corrigenda is appended, under the heading Mearachd a Chlo’-bhualaidh.
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 delivered in the language of sermon and prayer, and involve vocabulary and expressions relating to each of the above topics, and to religion in general.

The first set of questions deals with God and his role as the creator of heaven and earth. The catechism opens as follows: ‘Ceist I. 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 9 reads: ‘Ceist IX. Creud is obair chruthaigh ann? \\ F[reagradh]. Is i obair an cruthaich, Dia do deanamh nan uile nithe do neimh-ni, le focal a chumhchachd [sic, for chumhachd], am feadh ’s e [sic, for sé] laithe, agus iad uile ro mhaith’ (pp. 34-35).

The next set of questions deals with original sin, includes such questions as: ‘Ceist XIV. 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[reagradh]. Na h aitheantaibh, no na reachdaibh a thug Dia do ’n duine chum a ghiulan a riaghluchadh’ (p. 56).

A number of the questions consider Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as Our Saviour, e.g.: ‘Ceist XXII. Air bhi do Chriost na Mhac do Dhia, cionnas do rinneadh é na dhuinne? \\ F[reagradh]. 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 no h Oighe, agus air a bhreith lea gidheadh as eagmhuis peacaidh’ (p. 99).

A large section of the catechism deals with the Ten Commandments, considered both collectively and individually. General questions include: ‘C’ ait’ an roibh na deich aitheanta air an tabhairt ann toiseach? \\ F[reagradh]. Air sliabh Shinai’ (pp. 213-14), and ‘Ceist XLII. Creud is suim do na deich aitheantaibh? \\ F[reagradh]. 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 are then asked concerning each commandment in turn, e.g.: ‘Ceist LIII. Cia i an treas aithne?’ (p. 246), ‘Ceist LIV. Creud ata air iarruidh san treas aithne?’ (p. 246), ‘Ceist LV. Creud ata ’n treas aithn’ ag toirmeasg?’ (p. 248), and ‘Ceist LVI. Cia e an riasan ata ceangailt’ ris an treas aithne?’ (p. 251).

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

Some questions relate to the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, e.g. ‘Ceist XCII. Creud is sacramaint ann? \\ F[reagradh]. 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 creidmhich le comharthaidh corporra so fhaicsin’ (p. 368); ‘Ceist XCIII. Cia iad sacramainte an tiomna nuaidh? \\ F[reagradh]. Is iad sacramainte an tiomna-nuaidh, baisteadh, agus suipeir an Tighearna’ (p. 371).

The last set of questions relates to prayer, and particularly to the Lord’s Prayer. There are some general questions about prayer, including: ‘Ceist XCVIII. Creud is urnaigh ann? \\ F[reagradh]. 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 are concerned specifically with the Lord’s Prayer and the meaning of the different sections of the prayer, each of which is termed an iar[r]tas ‘petition’, e.g.: ‘Ceist CI. Creud ata sinn a’ guidhe san chead iartas? \\ F[reagradh]. 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 are terms from the technical vocabulary of the Church, including: ar fear saoruidh-ne ‘our Redeemer’ (p. 102), oifig eidir-mheadhoin-earachd Chriost ‘Christ’s office as intermediary’ (p. 102), gairm eifeachdach ‘effectual calling’ (p. 148), fireanachadh ‘justification’ (p. 158), and uchd-mhacachd ‘adoption’ (p. 167).
Orthography The orthography of this volume is characteristic of the late eighteenth century. There are several areas of inconsistency, e.g. the verbal nouns of verbs with ending in -(a)ich are sometimes spelled with -ughadh and sometimes with -uchadh. This variation may reflect the translator’s familiarity with earlier standards (as in -ughadh) and more recent practices (as in -uchadh) in biblical translation. The same forms are sometimes given with -ucha or -acha endings, which may rather reflect the pressure of spoken, perhaps dialectal forms. There are also a number of misprints, some of which are noted in the section entitled Mearachd a Chlo’-bhualaidh (p. 464).
Edition First edition. A number of later editions were subsequently published, following the second edition, which appeared in 1799.
Other Sources
Further Reading Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
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