John Glas

1695-1773. Founder of the Glasites, or Sandemanians.* Born in Scotland, he graduated from St. Andrews, pursued theological studies at Edinburgh, and became minister of the Angus parish of Tealing in 1719. There his able preaching rapidly increased his congregation. Later, while lecturing on the Shorter Catechism, it struck him that since Christ is king of the church, power cannot be exercised over it by the state or magistrates. These views led to his final deposition in 1730; on returning to his church he found it locked against him. He continued to preach in the nearby fields; most of his congregation remained loyal to him. Soon he moved to Dundee, and later to Perth where he met Robert Sandeman, who became his son- in-law, and where he was to minister in a church built by his followers.

Glas's writings are scholarly, kindly in spirit, and devout. He took the Bible more literally than most of his day: Christians were forbidden to eat blood or to store wealth; they should practice foot-washing and the holy kiss. Creeds and catechisms he regarded as useless: it was easier to learn from the Bible itself. Attempts to enforce uniformity in the church, or to permit domination by single individuals, he looked upon as utterly wrong. Glas's meek and gentle spirit ill befitted him to become leader of the sect he had unwittingly founded, and the role was taken over by the contentious and vigorous Sandeman. In old age Glas himself became bitter and controversial, as extant correspondence plainly shows.

See H. Escott, A History of Scottish Congregationalism (1960).