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the sciences should not be allowed to inter-strain this propensity in the palpit, where the fere with each other obstructively, it is also high matters of salvation are addressed to a multitrue, and it is well to be remembered, that tude of individuals, who bring before the minister the several functions of public instruction every possible variety of taste and of črpacity; and should observe their proper limits ; — the palpit are tran-ferred to the press, to detach from professor of philosophy not attempting to them a peculiarity by which their whole texture preach from the chair; while the preacher may be pervaded, and thus to free them from should abstain from addressing to a promis- what may be counted by many to be the blemish cuous Sunday audience the themes of ab- of a very great and characteristic deformity." stract science. But we are willing to grant to Chalmers an exceptional liberty, inasmuch When we find this great man in the pulas his powerful and impetuous mind, filled pit, we find him in his place -- we find him with vivid conceptions of momentous where his mission, as related to his country, truths, pursued its course, whether in the and to his times, makes itself the most conchair or the pulpit, with an earnestness spicuous. Chalmers was the man —every which gave uniformity to his style, and to intelligent hearer felt it with force, and every his manner of treating all subjects --regard- such reader of his Discourses must feel it in less almost of time, place, or of convention- measure — he was the man – why should al modes.
we hesitate in saying it? — who was “sent In adverting, as we have done, once and from above” to revive, to restore, and to again, to Chalmers' redundant and overload- re-establish the Christianity of Scotland. He ed style, it would be unfair to omit mention- had, in ample measure, the natural powers ing the fact that he was himself conscious of and the visible aspect he had the form, this prevailing fault. At least he had, at a the force, the vehemence, the earnestness, later period of his course, become conscious the boldness, and the majesty which befits a of it; although to effect a retrenchment man who, without presumption, demands to when he was sending his compositions to the be listened to, and who can always compress was a task to which he dared not ad- mand the attention which he challenges. dress himself. He would not, we think, He was a man whom none could contemn have succeeded in his endeavour, even if he whom none could affect to turn away from, had made it. But justice to his memory de- as if he were a fanatic, or a demagogue, or a mands that we should here place in the read. caterer for popular applause. He seized er's view the author's own apology for him- upon the principal subjects of the Christian self as a writer. The following passage oc- ministry -- he did battle with those univercurs in the Preface to the volumes of -- sally prevalent illusions, those fallacies, and CONGREGATIONAL SERMONS.—“The anxious en are springing up always and everywhere
those various modes of self-deception which forcement of a few great lessons on the part of a writer, generally proceeds from his desire to from the ground of human nature, such as it effect a full and adequate conveyance, into the is, and which show nearly the same front in mind of another, of some tratbs which have filled all countries and in all ages, bis own miod by a sense of their importance; and Chalmers, as a preacher, was a great in offering these volumes to the public, the author preacher in this sense that (for the most is far from beiog insensible to the literary defects part) he occupied himself with First Truths, that from this cause may be charged upon them. and treated them with a boldness, and a He knows, in particular, that throughout these Discourses there is a frequent recurrence of the force, and a largeness of apprehension same ideas, though generally expressed in differ- which were in keeping with their intrinsic ent language, and with some new speciality, either importance. To be great upon small matin its bearing or in its illustration. And he fur- ters is bombast; to be small upon great ther knows, that the habit of expatiating on one matters is imbecility; but to be great upon topic may be indulged to such a length as to sati- the greatest themes is that sort of fitness ate the reader, and that to a degree far beyond his which the human mind recognises always, forbearance. And yet if a writer be conscious, that to gain a reception for his favourite doctrines; and which the conscience bows to, whether he must combat with certain elements of opposi- willingly or unwillingly, and to which even tion in the taste, or the pride, or the indolence of the most contumacious dare not openly opthose whom he is addressing, this will only serve pose themselves. Such a preacher was to make bim the more importanate, and so to be- Chalmers; and on this ground it is safe to tray bim still farther into the fault of redandancy: claim for him the benefit of a decisively adIf the lesson he is urging be of an intellectual character, he will labour to bring it home as nearly
vantageous comparison with two distinas possible to the understanding. If it be a moral guished men — men whom he admired, and lesson, he will labour to bring it home as nearly whom, to some extent, he followed - men as possible to the heart. li is difficult, and it as much his superiors in structure of mind, were hard to say how far it would be right to re- as greatly inferior to him when the three are VOL. XXVI.
thought of as Heaven's messengers to the such an occasion :- In fact, no one nerved world and to the Church. Every reader himself for the struggle of getting in where will know that we are thinking of Hall and he preached with any such thought as that of Foster,
'coming out another man. That affectionate reverence with which we Chalmers' admiration of John Foster is think of Chalmers would quite forbid our well known-it was an admiration of that bringing forward any one of the discourses sort which may be taken to indicate the relaincluded in these three volumes, with the tive position of any two minds on the scale intent of placing it side by side with the best of intellectual endowments. He could not of Robert Hall's .discourses. We refuse to for a moment think of taking Hall as his exdo this:- a reader gifted with correct taste emplar, yet he might think so as to Foster, and right feeling too, would resent an en- albeit Foster, as a profound and original deavour so ungenerous and superfluous. It thinker, was greatly Hall's superior; but is enough to say that, while the one compo- between Foster's mind and that of Chalmers sition may be read and pondered, and relish there was one ostensible or apparent analoed in every sentence, and may be read again gy, for there was the cumulative tendency in with undiminished zest, the other composi- both; but this tendency in the one mind tion too often tempts the impatient reader to was, as to its products, the heaping up of jump from page to page, and is rarely taken opulence, while that of the other (do not let up a second time in the way of an intellect- us be misunderstood) was the filling a large ual indulgence. Grant all this ; but what was space with few materials. But now, if these the upshot of the ministrations of these two two men are to be measured, one against the accomplished men? Here again, but on the other, either as masters in the great world other side, we will stop sport of carrying an of mind and of moral life, or as Christian invidious comparison too far. Robert Hall, teachers, Chalmers moves as a bright and it is true, occupied himself with the highest burning light in a high sphere, where the themes in the circle of Christain teaching; fickering melancholic lamp of Foster's overand he treated these themes — need we say shadowed spirit could make no appearanceit? with a graceful majesty, exquisitely would be quite dimmed. Foster ministered fitting them. What could be looked for to the religious intellectuality, to the mental that was not actually found in the best of luxuriousness of a class of minds, many this orator's discourses? One went far to arithmetically; but they were not the masses. hear him; one risked ribs and life, almost, Chalmers held in his grasp almost the entire to obtain a sitting or a standing in the meet- mind of Scotland (not now to speak of any ing-house where he was to preach ; one list- wider influence) and he so moved and so ened to him breathless, or breathed only as moulded that mind as to issue it forth anew, if by permission at the measured pauses of other than it was when he addressed himself his periods. At the conclusion of each head to his task, and greatly amended. of discourse one looked round to exchange Some time ago, (North British Review, nods of delight with friends in the adjoining No. XXXIII.) when reviewing Dr. Hanna's pews, or in the farthest corner of the distant four volumes, we expressed the belief that gallery. “What a treat have we had this Chalmers' printed Discourses would live in morning!” This accomplished preacher won our religious literature-that they will conin his day, and he deserved, a splendid repu- tinue to be inquired for and read in time to tation — a reputation perhaps unmatched in come. We do not hesitate to affirm again récent times. Nor should it be doubted the same belief. They are memorials of an that, in the long years of his ministration as epoch in the religious history of Scotland; the pastor of a congregation, he well fulfilled they stand as principal materials in that his part, and “gathered some fruit unto life history: and more than this, they are emeternal.” Hall's sermons will always be bodiments of fervent evangelic doctrine, free, sought after as classics in religious literature : bold, uncompromising, unflinching, and yet but is not this nearly the sum of the account exempt from fanatical vehemence (a rare exthat can be given of him as a preacher of the cellence among fervent and emphatic reliGospel? He made little or no appreciable gious writings) and quite exempt from sourimpression, either theological or spiritual, ness, moroseness, narrowness, and sectarian upon the English religious mind : he brought exclusiveness. The body of these discourses about no crisis - he introduced no new era. contain, moreover, more than a few, they As to the effect of his sermons upon the con contain many passages of great beauty as science of the individual hearer --- let us be well as power, and which (especially if seindulged for a moment in so speaking - it lected as notable excerpta) a reader even of would have been quite a contre-temps, to the most fastidious tasté will peruse with have undergone a change for the better on pleasure, and great advantage.
It is true, that if these volumes of Con.ble for entering upon a criticism of the gregational Sermons were just now put into recent philosophic Christianism; but it is a our hands for review, being the work of a place, as we think, and we shall use it acliving preacher, we should think it our duty, cordingly, for setting forth in its fundamental while acknowledging their high merit, to principle, Chalmers' Christianity, as convey. take exception, not merely at those blem- ing implicitly a protest against these unsubishes which are their characteristics; but stantial parhelion gospels. also at a somewhat reckless mode of reason. In expressing, as we do, the hope that ing where an important point is to be car. Chalmers' Discourses, and especially that ried; and we should also remark the seem- these Lectures on the Epistle to the Romans, ing want of biblical critical knowledge, indi- may long hold their place in the esteem of eated by the habit of using texts in a con- the Christian laity, and be regarded also as ventional way, which a well-informed reader models of biblical interpretation, by the risof his Greek Testament must wholly disal. ing ministry, we must be understood as low. Unexplorative as was Chalmers' mind, doing so on the ground of a principle of and habitually reverential as were his reli- biblical interpretation, which we consider to ous feelings, he took up and accredited as he be at once definitely ascertainable, and clear found them, certain stereotyped expositions of any such ambiguities as would render it of Scripture, which expositions disappear at nugatory, or slenderly available in practice. the mere touch of the modern exegetical What then is this guiding principle ? or othmethod. But to what purpose now would erwise to put the question-What is it that it be to enter upon any such small criticism ? is tacitly assumed as unquestionable by this None whatever. Chalmers' pulpit exercises, expositor, and which he takes for granted as as they are presented to us in these volumes, between himself and his hearers or readers ? and in a volume of the Posthumous Works, In answering this question, let us shut off all are superior to criticism. Comforting would grounds of exception ;--that is to say, let be the belief, if indeed we could confidently us exclude those exegetical principles in adentertain it, that this same mould of evan- vancing which we should ask leave to differ gelie doctrine, with its clearness, its firm from Chalmers; as, for instance, when, as in texture, its breadth, its fervour, and its emi- the closing chapters of the Essay on the nently practical tendency, would hold its Christian Evidences, he propounds his belief place in Scotland (and elsewhere) as a model as to the inspiration of the canonical writof Christian preaching and teaching. Gladly ings: we think his assumptions in this case would we believe that these Discourses would are quite untenable ; in truth, that they beyet, through a course of future years, and come unintelligible when they are brought to indeed until Scotland shall listen to another bear upon the facts, such as they are ; or Chalmers, stand as a bulwark, resisting the rather, when these facts are brought to bear inroads of a dreamy pseudo-philosophie upon those assumptions. We think, morechristianized sentimentalism, which in affect-over, that a belief so crude and so impractiing to render “Pauline notions” into the cable would at once have been abandoned by graceful equivalents of " modern thought," a mind as free and as large as was that of gives us a philosophy which philosophers Chalmers, if only there had been placed bemay well scoff at, and a theology which bib- fore him the alternative of a consistent and lical theologians ought to denounce as little integral DOCTRINE OF INSPIRATION, which, better than a covered atheism.
while it should save the authority, of Holy LECTURES ON THE EPISTLE TO THE RO- Scripture in the most absolute manner, WANS.— We must again make reference to a should allow scope for, and should invite the former article—the one above mentioned freest methods of historical criticism. He (vol. xvii. p. 219) as conveying briefly, but had no such saving doctrine within his view ;with deliberate conviction, our opinion of and therefore, conservative as he was in temthe high merits of this Exposition. It is per, and reverential too, and moreover, as a our part now to say that further acquaint- theologian, more of the Scotch than of the ance with it has confirmed and enhanced that English school, he went over bodily to what opinion. Yet this is not all. Chalmers' he thought the safer side; not staying to adLectures on the Epistle to the Romans have, just difficulties in the rear, or to square his in the years that have run out since they belief with the stern realities of criticism. were delivered, acquired a new relative po- All this ground of difference we set off, sition, regarded as exponents of a form of therefore, as well as several other matters in Christian belief from which several highly relation to which, if the book before us were accomplished writers have been, and are still the work of a living author, we might think labouring to disengage the religious mind ourselves bound to take exception, or to of this country. This is not a place suita- make a protest. But further, although Chal
mers does in various instances give his reader God—to be at once the Saviour of the world, the benefit of his own acquaintance with the and its Sovereign Teacher. Greek text, yet, as we think, he might well To this writing, therefore, supposing that have done this more frequently than he did; I read and interpret it in the sense intended and also with a more precise regard had to by the writer, there attaches, in my view, the much advanced practices of modern bib- the sanction and the caution conveyed in lical criticism-and especially to historical the words—" See that ye refuse not," or criticism. And again, to take another step fail to listen to,“ him that speaketh from forward, we imagine ourselves to discern, in heaven.” It is in this persuasion, then, that certain of his doctrinal interpretations, the I give myself to the perusal of the Epistle too binding influence of the national confes before me. I hold myself bound to gather sion. There is a theological straitness from thence my religious belief, and to be go. the entanglements of which English church- verned by its precepts (rightly understood, men, who are bound only to their Thirty- in the spirit of them.) If thus I am gonine Articles, feel, or believe themselves to verned in temper and in conduct, it is well ; be happily exempt.
-but if, wilfully, or from negligence, I fail These several grounds of difference, more to do so, it will go ill with me, here and or less important as they may be, and open hereafter. to discussion as they are, being allowed for, On this ground we have before us what is then we are at one with Chalmers on the perfectly coherent and intelligible, and what vital question of the authority of the canoni- is practically available on all those occasions cal writings, in matters both of moral con- of the Christian life when a sure support is duct, and of religious belief. Or, instead of the most needed ;-—when the conscience is taking this wider range implied in the term-troubled, when the understanding has come the Canonical Writings, we may confine our under a cloud, and especially on those trythoughts just now to that portion of them ing occasions when perplexity attaches to which is before us—namely, Paul's Epistle our path - morally considered. Differ as to the Romans; and, to give the greater we might from an expositor such as Chalprecision to our averments, let us state the mers, we can imagine no shadow of differcase as it touches the religious belief, and the ence to come between him and ourselves on behaviour of the individual man; even of this ground. We need to know authentievery one who professes himself to be, in cally the mind and will of Him with whom any intelligible sense-a Christian. If I call we have to do; and we look to Holy Scripmyself a Christian, I must believe that ture that we may know it. Christianity is, in a sense peculiar to itself, a But is it so, at this time, that all who conveyance of religious and moral truth from“ profess and call themselves Christins, God to man; and if it be so thought of, then thus think, and thus acknowledge themselves this system must be held to differ essentially to owe submission to the Apostolical Episfrom any of those other (real or supposed) tles ? Far from it there are those, and leadings of the Human Mind toward Truth they are not Unitarians—for they assure us and Virtue, of which sages, and the founders that they are not; on the contrary, they call of ancient religious systems, may have been themselves orthodox, who admit no such the instruments. In a word, I must believe obligation as this. How can they do so, that the heavenly descent of the Christian for modern modes of thought” refuse to doctrine was attested by the accompaniment conform themselves either to “ Jewish” or of supernatural events; or to put my belief to “Pauline notions ?" Besides, if the into the fewest words, I believe that Christ Pauline Epistles are to be regarded as exhidied, and that he rose from the dead. But biting the spiritual life in its highest and its then I believe that those principles, and normal state, then does it include certain those precepts which are peculiar to the extreme modes of feeling which (so we are Christian system, and which stand out as assured) no calm and well-disciplined mind characteristic of it, were, by the explicit at this time can imagine itself to pass into, authority, and (in whatever method) under or could even wish to realize. This being the sovereign guidance of Christ, consigned the case, something must be done for the to writings, even to the Gospels and the relief of those who, resolved as they are, Epistles of the New Testament Canon. from whatever motives, to remain within Further, after taking due pains to convince the Christian pale, cannot tolerate or listen myself that among these, the Epistle of Paul to-say, an expositor of one of these episto the Romans is entitled to hold a place, I tles who takes the ground that is here taken must believe that it conveys the mind of by Chalmers. What, then, can be done to Him whom I regard as having been sent of meet the difficulty?' We apprehend no
thing; or nothing which will bear looking that every imaginable hypothesis which may into.
be put together for serving a purpose of this It is alleged that, in the course of a twenty sort, will bring us round, by a more or less years' ministry among heathen nations, bar- circuitous route, to the same point ;-the barous and civilized, the religious opinions issue of all being this-that the canonical of Paul underwent many changes; or that writings have, in the process, been stripped they were so much moderated as that, at of every claim to our regard, beyond that the time of writing the Epistles to the which may still attach to them as records of Thessalonians, he had held articles of belief the opinions of a remote age. which, at the time of writing his later epis But even if space and the fitness of the tles, he had seen reason to discard. If this occasion did allow of our engaging in an arwere granted, then the consequence, if we gument of the kind here specified, there are to take up this hypothesis as our guide would be room to put the previous quesin understanding these writings, is this, that tion, and to ask--At whose challenge is it we are free to choose, nay, we must make a that we are required to debate this question choice between the earlier Pauline belief at all, between Scriptural authority and its and the later: we must do so if we propose, formidable antithesis - Modern Thought? in any way, to gather our notions of aposto- An answer to this question is to be obtained lic Christianity from the New Testament. by submitting Modern Thought itself to But to which of these Christianities shall we some analysis :- What, then, are its elegive the preference? The later-dated theo mnents, and whence has it come? How old logy may be that of a matured mind—its is it? and who are the men that give it their early extravagances and its exaggerations support? To dismiss the last of these quehaving been corrected by a more enlarged ries first, we must say that, as we are not knowledge of the world. But, in fact, it intending to enter upon criticisms foreign to may be the earlier-dated theology that is our subject, we abstain froin introducing the very truth-even a bright and unim- names, and shall simply express the wish, paired impression of the heaven-given origi- that those who believe themselves to have nal! This pristine Gospel, perhaps, in the reached a position much in advance of that course of many toils, sufferings, perils, and occupied by their educated contemporaries, mental depressions, may have lost its sharp- and who designate themselves, and each ness and its lustre. What we have before other, as “the most advanced thinkers of the us, therefore, is an evenly balanced alterna- age,” would be content to speak of them. tive; and if we are free to choose the one selves, individually, and not of any others, of these theologies, and to reject the other, when they assure us, that no man who is then are we not free also to reject both? If not encased in obsolete prejudices, will now A. B. may take the first, and may refuse the attempt to defend such and such positions, second; and if C. D. may elect the second, Let these "advanced thinkers” be content and may disallow the first, how can we re- to say-if indeed anything so nugatory be fuse to F. N. the liberty to spurn as well worth the saying that none of those who the first as the second? And if this be think precisely as they do, think any otherdone, then it is certain that the Pauline wise! If they would condescend to look Epistles must henceforth go to their place about them, they might convince themselves among other curious remains of ancient reli- that men who are every way their equals in gious literature: they are indeed singular power of mind, in freedom and independcompositions, which the philosopher and the ence of spirit, and in accomplishments, do historian will think themselves bound just profess, and are well prepared to maintain to look into, if not to peruse with care. those principles and doctrines which them
As far as the east is from the west, so far selves have so inconsiderately rejected. is any hypothesis of this sort remote from How old is Modern Thought?- a few the principle assumed, and so religiously ad. years only:-we think ten years—in this hered to, in the Lectures before us. But are country, will include the time within which there not exegetical theories of an intermedi. this peculiar tendency and feeling has disate kind, by aid of which we may effect tinctly shown its characteristics. But some sort of coalescence between the apos- whence has it come, and what is it? tolic writings, and modern thought?” We Modern Thought, regarded as the opposite answer there are several such theories, and and the antagonist of an unexceptive subeach is apparently available for saving our mission to the authority of Holy Scripture Christian consistency on the one hand, and is, as we think, the indication, and it is the our philosophic integrity on the other. Yet measure too, of that silent progress which if this were the place for attempting such a Christianity has very lately made in emtask, we might undertake to demonstrate bracing and in surrounding the educated