An eminent Scottish theologian and controversialist; born at Hamilton, Oct. 2, 1805; died in Edinburgh, Dec. 14, 1861. He studied at Edinburgh under Dr. Chalmers and others. He was licensed as a preacher in 1838; settled as a minister in Greenock in 1830; translated to Trinity College Church, Edinburgh, in 1834; appointed professor in the New College in 1843, and principal (in succession to Dr, Chalmers) in 1847. From his student days his great capacity for theological learning and singular controversial power were apparent. He threw himself with great energy into the strife in the Church of Scotland, which began to become earnest about the time of his settlement in Edinburgh. Both his ecclesiastical learning and his debating power found a splendid field, as the strife advanced, in conflict with such learned men as Lord Medwyn and Sir William Hamilton. In the General Assembly his speeches were singularly weighty and telling. To his combativeness he added a simple, childlike nature, a warm heart, and a blunt, honest manner; so that, while his foes spoke of him with dread and horror, his friends were devotedly attached to him. As a professor he had a remarkable power of inspiring his students with confidence in himself, and enthusiasm for their studies. When appointed professor, he was requested by the General Assembly to go to America and make himself acquainted with the methods of study pursued there. Among other friendships thus formed was one of unusual warmth and sympathy for Dr. Hodge of Princeton. In theology Dr. Cunningham was a thorough Calvinist.
[by W. G. Blaikie from Schaff-Herzog 1891 edition]