« ZurückWeiter »
dinner. At seven, I gave her a night-draught, which she took with eagerness, and said, she would not take anything more to-night, but go to sleep. Presently she said, " Nancy, kiss me.” Nancy kissed her, and Patty. Reclining her head on the pillow, she added, “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit," and without a struggle, a sigh, a groan, or any unpleasant appearance, fell asleep! Oh! Mrs. T. the picture is in my mind. I shall never lose it!
“ Turn, hopeless thought, turn, turn from her;
Thought repelled, resenting rallies, and wakes all my woc." Julia was the beauty and pride of my family. She was straight as an arrow, five feet ten inches high. A dark eye, like fire, and an oval visage, full of sensibility and sweetness. A complexion like the lily tinged with the blush of the rose. She had a fund of sterling wit, and a wise, grave reason that directed its use.
No suspicions invaded her serene bosom, during a gradual decline of three years ; on the contrary, often would she exclaim, “ His tender mercies are over all his works! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right ?” She had felicity enough to enjoy, and to communicate, and her sisters, who always waited on her, said, Father, Julia is an angel!” My heart! my aching heart! She was an angel. Ah! too true! She had wings, and flew away. Do, dear Mrs. T., forgive me.
It eases my grief to write to you—
“ As on some lonely building's top
Tlie sparrow tells her moan ;
I sit and grieve alone.” I am not offended with the good Father in heaven. I have no fears about the lovely spirit of the departed. But will the great Being be angry with me for perceiving, when my family assemble, that David's place is empty? How wonderful are God's ways! My mother at ninety, with a complexion and a vivacity proper to seventeen, goes into mourning for seventeen, decrepid, departed, decayed !' There is an exquisite tenderness about this letter; it may
not be all everybody could wish; but it is the natural overflow of a father's heart, calm and submissive, without pretentiousness to a higher heroism than the subjection of his will to the will of God, and every way preferable to the marble stoicism of John Foster's letter on the death of his son. This sorrow was amongst the list of blessings infinite, which Robinson, like many of us whose “hearts have bled,' have placed amongst the foremost. Evidently, it was good for Robinson thus to be afflicted. About a year after. Julia's death’he writes thus to a friend :-Oh, how good God is to me, and I, with all these advantages, how unprofitable to him! Best of Beings, my Father and my God! Thy perfections are the base of my hopes. In thee I live, in thee I move, in thee I have my being! To thee, and to thee alone, be all the glory!'
Soon after this, he himself was removed; his heart was sore broken; by easy stages he set out from Cambridge to fulfil an engagement at
Dr.Priestley's chapel, Birmingham, from which place he never returned. We make no speculations about matters that lie beyond our range of vision. While speaking in animadversion of much in Robinson's career, we must distinctly avow our conviction that Robinson was driven out of his own denomination by its narrow-minded bigotry and ignorance, and that he took refuge with 'Socinians' more because he sympathized with them as a 'persecuted sect,' than because his mind reflected their theological tenets. He was succeeded at Cambridge by * Robert Hall,' « a person,' Mr Dyer patronizingly assures us, 'of very respectable talents.*
As Robinson's entire works are not very commonly to be found in ministerial libraries, we shall bring these papers to a close by giving a few extracts from two of his sermons, as illustrative of the characteristics to which we have alluded. In his justly celebrated discourse on the History and Mystery of Good Friday,' he says:
• On these just principles I take up Good Friday where I find it, as part of the established religion of my country, and I modestly inquire the authority that made it so.
• A few old women refer me to the fourth verse of the twelfth chapter of Acts for the word Easter, and I return the compliment by referring them to their grandsons at school, who say, St. Luke wrote passover. I could, were I inclined to revenge, be even with these old ladies, by telling the tale of Lady Easter, Ashtar, or Ashtaroth, a Sidonian toad; but I am too busy and too placid now, and I take my leave of this goddess, and also of the godly translator, wlio profaned a Jewish fast by nicknaming it after a pagan prostitute, and laid the blame on innocent St. Luke.'-Vol. ii. p. 153.
Following this smart little fusillade, he opens the following fierce broadside, in which are some very wholesome truths, forcibly put. Robinson was a man greatly in advance of his times; his idea of men being kept 'in perpetual employ' is far sounder in morals and in political economy than the sentimentalism of the present day, that is everlastingly maudling about the working classes, and their need of relaxation, cheap trips, and various little goes' of amusement at other people's expense. To such an extent is this carried in some of our manufacturing districts, especially in Manchester, that the' working classes,' that is, the men and women who have less to do, and are better off by far than small tradesmen, junior clerks, governesses, dressmakers, et hoc omne genus, most thoroughly believe that they have a right to all religious, educational, and other social advantages, for nothing. Practical Communists, the so-called working classes' are being quietly educated into habits the most inimical to a healthy national development of that reliant greatness which made our fathers what they were,' giants in those days, simply because they did for themselves what we now tell the people we will do for them.
• But the people derive great advantages from festivals. Good God, is religion magic! What people derive advantages from festivals? They who never attend them? It is notorions the poor are not to be found at church on Easter and
* Mr. Dyer is an odd specimen of a biographer. In another place he tells us that one of Robinson's friends was 'the Rev. J. C. Unwin, who after wards became tutor to the children of Cowper, the ingenious author of the “Task.”'
Whitsun holidays. Inquire for the London populace at Greenwich, and for the country poor at the sign of the Cross Keys. To say they might reap benefits, and they ought to pay for the liberty, is equal to saying, the sober populace might get drunk at the Dog and Duck, and they ought to pay the reckoning of those who do. Whatever advantages they derive from church holidays, many of their neighbours derive great disadvantages from their sinking 50s. annually to support them. This poor fellow should pay 30s. a year rent for his cottage, but the landlord never gets it; yet he would thank him to pay his rent by ten days' work for him. He can pay no rates to the parish, nor any taxes to Government; yet were he allowed to earn 50s. a year more than he does, he could pay both and save money to buy a pig or a bullock, or firing too. He owes something to the doctor for physic, and something to the shop for food, debts contracted in lyings-in and illness: he can pay none of these driblets; yet he could pay all, were he allowed to earn 50s. a year more, and to deposit it for payment of debts in his master's hands.
• Moreover, he got drunk on the feast of the Epiphany, which he, a heathen, called Twelfth Night, set up a score at the ale-house, rolled in the dirt, spoiled his clothes, lost his hat, fought with Sam Stride, who sent himn a lawyer's letter, for which he paid 68, 8d., besides a guinea to Stride to make it up; and on the s.ime night he gave Blue Bridget ls. 7d. for the liberty of leaving a bastard to the parish ; magistrates were tormented with warrants and oaths and depositions; peaceable subjects with the interruptions of riot and debauchery; the whole business of the parish stood still, and the industrious were obliged to pay, out of their honest gains, the whole expense at last.
* What! it will be said, would you keep these people in eternal employment, and allow them no holidays? I would keep them in perpetual employ. Six days they should labour and do all they have to do, the seventh being the Sabbath of the Lord their God; the clergy should so perform divine service, as to engage them voluntarily to choose to till a religious assembly; their children should be catechised, and rational and agreeable pains should be taken to instil the great principles of religion into them; they should be taught a practice of piety, and a course of virtue ; religion should be unmasked and exposed in its own beauty to their view; at present it appears to them an unmeaning encumbrance of expensive forms. Their infants are questioned and sprinkled ; their wives pay Is, and are churched ; they are generally funny at a wedding, and feel no expense but the ring ; they eat cross buns on Good Friday; they are merry at Easter and mad at Christmas; they pay small tithes through life, and are buried in form when they die; and they call this the Christian religion, in the best constituted church in the world, and abuse all who think otherwise as knaves and fools, ignorant of God and disloyal to the king! As to holidays, let the poor take as many as they can afford, and their masters can spare. Far be it from us to wish to abridge their liberty, or diminish their little enjoyment of life; but let us not make religion of their gambols, nor enrol their pastimes among the laws of Jesus Christ.'– Vol. ii. pp. 172-175.
With one more extract we conclude. Robinson had been annoyed by the behaviour of some undergraduates in his chapel, and accordingly he victimized, very calmly and thoroughly, his young gentlemen,' in a wonderful sermon, « On a becoming Behaviour in Religious Assemblies;' from which we select two passages :
‘On a becoming behaviour in religious assemblies. When a young gentleman caine first to college, finding no amusement in books, manuscripts, experiments, or any of the riches of literature, he must be amused by the oddities of Cambridge, among which old Hussey, the Presbyterian parson (as the cant of that day was), always numbered.
• Away a posse went to meeting, and in defiance of statutes and proctors, they would publish all along the streets they were going to have a little fun with the preacher. Arrived at the house they would bang the doors, stalk up the aisles,
fling themselves on the sides of the pews; just come from country schools, many of them from charity schools, they thought to give themselves airs were the marks of goud breeiling. One with a lack lustre eye, with a vacant countenance, and a harmless heart, would toss and twirl and play with his cap, and then tired with that amusement would walk off. A second with a brazen brow and an iron sinew, if the minister mentioned a word which was not in his school dictionary, would swear he never heard such a word in his life.
• A third, who thought he must act some part, would laugh, and for want of discernment to know where, would often laugh when he ought to have blushed. A fourth, with eyes full of adultery (I use St. Peter's language), would stand on tip toe, stare at all the ladies in the meeting, and sometimes, lost to all decency, would peep under the women's bats. Do you wonder, my brethren! that there have been instances of the good women's losing all Christian patience, and before the whole assembly slapping their faces! Ought that young gentleman to complain, who one day mistaking an old for a young woman was knocked down by the old lady for his impertinence? These were the glorious virtues of academic politeness at that time of day, Whether the modern practice of hunting for the preacher as astronomers hunt for Jupiter's moons with magnifying glasses were then in use, I cannot tell. If it were I should think nothing would justify it, for if students' eyes be worn down with hard night-reading and writing, they should remember that they come to divine worship rather to hear than to see; besides, if spectatum veniunt (they come to see) be allowed, spectentur ut ipsi (they come to be seen) ought not to be refused, and would not that have been, think you, a very edifying sight! Some hundreds of people worshipping God by spying one another's features through glasses, the preacher in his turn spying them all!'—Vol. ii. p. 253.
• Let us never dissemble nor be ungrateful. We derive an advantage from even such as these ; an advantage great enough to induce us to waive every power, which college rules, university statutes, and the laws of the land give us over such culprits. It is never necessary for Dissenting ministers in this town to teach their people reasons of dissent. Why should you puzzle yourselves, my brethren, with reading or hearing long dissertations on church discipline? Why compare the established hierarchy with the apostolic simplicity? Why trace this subject through the writings of your Owens and Godwins and Wattses and Doddridges? Behold a more popular way. Look at these members-members, yea, ministers of the Established Church. These are thy gods, O Israel! Behold your reasons of dissent held up in your places of worship to public view in characters of brass! engraren with the pen of iron in the rock for ever!'--Vol. ii. p. 265.
Here we close an already too extended article. The writing of it has been an exceedingly pleasant task, and as we lay down the pen, we earnestly entreat our readers to procure a complete copy of Robinson's works, six vols. 8vo, if they can; and having procured them, all that we have said in their praise or dispraise a perusal will certainly justify. There are very few books in which are such masculine vigour, such pure English, and such wondrous acquaintance with Scripture ; very few books of its kind, in which are such learning, genius, and wit combined, notwithstanding the levity and approaches to profanity we have emphatically deplored.
W. 6. 3.
The Paw Abolished but not Destroyed.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law; I am not come to destroy.'Christ, Matt. y. 17.
Having abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances.'— Paul, Eph. ii. 15. DISCREPANCY and contradiction are words familiar enough to any one who has ever opened a book of biblical criticism and hermeneutics, whether written from a hostile or friendly point of view. Every thoughtful reader of the Bible, too, has met with what at least seem to be discrepancies, and has been puzzled to reconcile and explain them. The infidel has made the most of these. They bave saved him much trouble, and furnished him with some of his most plausible arguments. But really the infidel has nothing to boast of, and the Christian has nothing to fear, from the discovery of all the discrepancies and contradictions that can be found in the Bible. It has been said that the Bible is the most contradictory book in the world. In a sense we believe this, and thank God for it. These contradictions, as they are called, are to our minds strong proofs of its divine origin, and among the most valuable of the elements that distinguish the Bible. Men can seldom write that which is even seemingly contradictory, without writing what is false; God alone can so discern the essential unity of propositions which seem to exclude each other, and which we cannot reconcile, as to teach us the highest truth under the form of seeming contradictions. Contradictions, even in appearance, are what men are generally most careful to avoid, hence they are seldom, if ever, found in creeds. The consequence of this, however, is not that these creeds embody the whole truth, but that they are contracted, one-sided, or false. The contradictions of the Bible are frequently appealed to as valuable evidence that the writings are genuine, and that there was no collusion between the authors. We admit the force of this, though it is not an argument that a believer in plenary or verbal inspiration can honestly employ. But they have a value far greater than this. They are there because either they must be there, or the truths revealed in the Bible could never be taught at all. In these seeming contradictions we perceive God's method of conveying infinite truths to finite minds. The truth, revealed by Christ, must at first be presented in parts; it cannot, in words at least, be placed before the mind as a whole. These parts at first sight appear to forbid any attempt to unite them. God sees their union, though a finite mind at the outset can only discover their distinction. We also shall see their union when as the result of believing study we look at them from the same point of view as God; but not till then. If this be true, we were right in saying that the discovery of these contradictions gives to an infidel nothing to boast of, but rather furnishes a striking proof that the Bible is of God, and reveals the highest of all