MACLAREN, ALEXANDER (1826–1910) British Baptist pastor
Born in Glasgow, son of a businessman who was also a Baptist lay pastor, Maclaren took classes at the local university before going south to train for the ministry at Stepney (later Regents Park) College, London. A diligent student, he was awarded London University’s B.A. degree in 1845. In the following year he became pastor at Portland Chapel, Southampton, and during his twelve years there made it a well–known center of Christian witness. In 1858 he began his forty–five–year ministry at Union Chapel, Manchester. This small building had to be replaced by another that could accommodate the crowds who wanted to hear “the prince of expository preachers.” He was tireless in preparation; he maintained the habit of daily reading in the original language one chapter from each Testament. He was an evangelical sympathetic to other views. He attacked the Church of Rome while conceding it contained “true and devout souls” and maintained good relations with Roman and Anglican bishops. He warmly advocated union between Baptists and Congregationalists. Maclaren sponsored preaching stations, with a particular concern that the poor hear the gospel. Honored with doctorates from several British universities, twice president of the Baptist Union, and the first president of the Baptist World Alliance (1905), Maclaren remained a humble man. Next to Spurgeon’s, his sermons were highly regarded in Victorian England; both message and method still offer valuable lessons more than eighty years after his death. J.D.Douglas
J. D. Douglas, Philip Wesley Comfort and Donald Mitchell, Who’s Who in Christian History, Illustrated Lining Papers. (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1997, c1992).