Ebenezer Erskine (June 22, 1680 - June 2, 1754), was a Scottish church leader, chief founder of the Secession Church (formed of dissenters from the Church of Scotland).
He is thought to have been born at Dryburgh, Berwickshire. His father, Henry Erskine, at one time minister of Cornhill, Durham, was ejected in 1662 under the Act of Uniformity, and, after several years of imprisonment, was appointed to the parish of Chirnside, Berwickshire, in 1688. After studying at the University of Edinburgh, Ebenezer became minister of Portmoak, Kinross-shire. There he remained for twenty-eight years, after which, in the autumn of 1731, he moved to the West Church, Stirling.
Some time before this, he, along with some other ministers, had been rebuked and admonished by the general assembly, for defending the doctrines contained in the Marrow of Modern Divinity (Thomas Boston). A sermon which he preached on lay patronage before the synod of Perth in 1733 furnished new accusations, and he was compelled to defend himself from rebuke by appealing to the general assembly. Here, however, the sentence of the synod was confirmed, and after many fruitless attempts to obtain a hearing, he, along with William Wilson of Perth, Alexander Moncrieff of Abernethy and James Fisher of Kinclaven, was suspended from the ministry by the commission in November of that year.
Protesting against this sentence, they constituted themselves into a separate church court, under the name of the "associate presbytery". In 1739 they were again summoned before the assembly, declined to acknowledge the authority of the church, and were deposed in the following year. Numerous people joined their communion, and they remained united till 1747, when a division took place in regard to the nature of the oath administered to burgesses. Erskine joined with the burgher section, and became their professor of theology. He continued to preach to a numerous congregation in Stirling till his death. A very popular preacher, and a man of considerable force of character, he acted throughout on principle with honesty and courage. The burgher and anti-burgher sections of the Secession Church were reunited in 1820, and in 1847 they united with the relief synod in forming the United Presbyterian Church.
Erskine's published works consist chiefly of sermons. His Life and Diary, edited by the Rev. Donald Fraser, was published in 1840. His Works were published in 1785.
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica.