Box 06-001 TO PROF. MCFADYEN [unsigned]
Nov 16 1909
To: Professor McFadyen [Knox College, Toronto, Ontario]
From: Knox College
Dear Prof. McFadyen,
We have learned with the greatest dismay of the probability of your being called to the Chair of Old Testament in Glasgow College. Knowing that such appointments are frequently arranged privately before any public announcement of them is made, we do not think it premature to express without delay our hearty appreciation of your invaluable services to our college church and country, and the earnest hope that you will not be induced to sever your connection with us.
The deep interest you have shown in the activities of Knox College, as well as in the work of its individual students and graduates encourages us to hope that your attachment to the college is such as would not easily be alienated. But we doubt whether your modesty permits you to realize the strength of this attachment on our part.
In the study of the Old Testament, you have not only given us a point of view, from which the light of these sacred pages break us like a new revelation of truth, but you have transmitted to us the very spirit of its great men in a way which makes them living throbbing forces in our lives and work, and leads us directly to the Eternal Source of all their power. By your unusual combination of the most thorough going critical methods1 with a rarely beautiful devotional spirit, you have convinced us of the vital importance and natural independence of these two things. In all this we are satisfied that the chief factor in your own personality, and we cannot bear to contemplate the thought of your removal from us even though your books would still be available.
You can scarcely be unaware that the younger ministers of our Church in Canada, as well as the more scholarly of the older men, look to you as their recognized leader in the newer and grander interpretation of the Old Testament and that your presence means more than that of any other one man to the progress of the new learning within the ranks of our ministry.
But we wonder if you realize the eager interest with which your books are read by the more thoughtful of our university students of all denominations who are preparing for other callings, but become interested in your writings as a result of your association with the University and the enthusiastic admiration of your own students.
Your influence in this direction must inevitably be greatly increased, when the new building brings us into still closer touch with the University. So that when we consider the steady streams of men every year going out from the University to join the ranks of the learned professions in all parts of this great new country, we do not feel that we are at all guilty of exaggeration when we say that in our opinion your departure would be nothing short of a national loss.
Your frequent expression of admiration for Prof. Geo. Adam Smith enables us to appreciate to some degree at any rate how highly you would esteem the honour of being chosen as his successor in so distinguished a chair in your own alma mater. It must be a constant delight to be within easy reach of so many men of ripe attainments in one's own and other departments as is possible in the Old Land. But we venture to hope that in your estimation, this will be more than offset by the much greater need of this country, which while as yet less fortunate in this respect, is nevertheless entering upon a period of expansion impossible to an older country. When we consider also the frequent opportunities given you of delivering special courses of lectures in the United States and the keen appreciation of your efforts on those occasions, we do not feel that we are urging you to be content with what is by any means a more restricted sphere than that which may be offered you.
Trusting that the keenness of our anxiety may excuse our apparent precipitation in making these representations and that you will relieve that anxiety by a favourable assurance in the near future, believe us, dear Prof. McFadyen.
Yours very sincerely,
1 This is referring to the "higher criticism" method of Bible study that was controversial in the church at that time.
2 This is likely the draft of a letter being prepared for Prof. McFadyen and to be signed by a group of students.