John Brown was born in Carpow, Scotland, in 1722. By the age of 11, he found himself orphaned. His formal education was very limited due to family circumstances. Nonetheless, he taught himself theology, using the catechisms of John Flavel and Thomas Vincent upon the Shorter Catechism. To this, he added knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, though he was forced to support himself tending sheep. During the Jacobite rebellion, in 1745, he joined a garrison of soldiers fighting for the government. Afterward, for a time, he took up the occupation of schoolmaster. In 1747, there was a breach in the Associate, or Secession, church between two parties, the Burghers and the Anti-burghers. The former allowed the taking of the oath of burgess, the latter did not. Mr. Brown threw in his lot with the Burghers and began to study for the ministry under the tutelage of Ebenezer Erskine and James Fisher. He was the first student of divinity for the Burghers. In 1750, Mr. Brown was licensed to preach. Shortly thereafter, he was called to be the minister of the small Associate congregation in Haddington, where he would remain until his death. For a time, he was engaged in an intense debate over the extent of the righteousness of Christ imparted to believers against certain views advanced by those in the Anti-burgher synod. In 1768, he was appointed professor of divinity in the Associate Burgher synod. Much of his ministry was given to writing numerous works of divinity, history, and theology. He died on June 17, 1787, and was buried in the church-yard, at Haddington.