“Let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and flee from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over every unregenerate sinner. Let every one flee out of Sodom: “Escape for your lives, Look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”
You probably didn’t expect to read that as an opening paragraph to this section. This refers to the closing of Jonathan Edwards’s sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” which was preached in the United States in 1741.
In the churches of 18th and 19th century North East Scotland you may have heard similar messages being belted out from the pulpit to a cowering congregation. It would be unfair to single out Portlethen church or any of their past ministers as a “fire and brimstone” brethren however it’s probably safe to assume that their sermons were far stricter and of a less giving nature than those that are preached today.
Religion is a diverse, multi coloured and controversial subject, no matter what your beliefs are or what context you view it from. The fact is religion played a key role in settlements of all sizes throughout Scotland in those early years and was often the “glue” that kept communities together, and in that respect Portlethen was no different from any other place. So let’s summarise some ecclesiastical matters and see how they fit in with Portlethen in those early days.