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proselyting. The so-called liberal school would not be so fulsome in praise and commendation of his works if it did not regard them as a specially good lever for overturning the Orthodox system of faith. It is well for the defenders of the faith always to have reference to the interpretation which latitudinarians put upon the works they commend to the public. It is in vain to hope that the works of Robertson will carry a sufficient antidote to the errors they inculcate. Their prevailing tone and their legitimate influence are not evangelical.
These sermons, in connection with the letters which explain them, should be an admonition against a style of preaching so profusely rhetorical. As in the case of this author, so in that of such as shall attempt to preach like him, truth will be sacrificed to fancy. Imagination “is a vain thing for safety," unless held under control by the reins of reason, and by the brakes of a remorseless logic. The fascination of brilliant metaphor may easily carry unguarded preachers, as well as their hearers, beyond the bounds of what is written in the testimony of God. Rhetoric is good, if it be employed to enforce instead of concealing the truth. No better rule can be found than that of the Apostle, who said : “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power : that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” The preacher who adopts the contrary rule may succeed in securing popularity with that portion of the community that prize the sanctuary chiefly as a place of intellectual entertainment, but he will sooner or later be heard with disapprobation, or be left with disgust, by such of his congregation as “try the spirits whether they are of God.” It was so with the author of these sermons. “As his peculiar views developed themselves, many of the old congregation left the church.” Their places were rapidly filled up. This process began very soon after he went to Brighton, and seems to have continued through his whole ministry there ; for near the close of it he lamented, “That enthusiasm, and affection, and trust, and perhaps respect, towards me have cooled.” Those who frequented the house of God for the sake of worshipping him in spirit and in truth, were evidently not content with sermons in
which they were directed to "feel Christ and live him,” without having the truth of “Christ and him crucified” as the object and support of that faith, which is the essential condition to all genuine religious feeling. Could Robertson have lived, and, like Chalmers, have been converted from his errors to the truth as it is in Jesus, his preaching would have been greatly modified, his hatred of evangelical Christians would have turned to love, and his usefulness, even though confined to his own congregation, might have been “gold, silver, precious stones," instead of “wood, hay, stubble.” Unless there could have been such a radical change, he died not too soon for the spiritual welfare of his people, or for his own posthumous fame. There is indeed a fascinating power in his works, but it must be ascribed, in his own language respecting the vain, boastful, jealous, and irascible Italian artist, Cellini, to “The imaginativeness of a brain, which had in it a fibre of insanity, near which genius often lies."
ARTICLE II. .
THE ART OF NOT GROWING OLD.
We all have heard the story of the man who had a knife, which in the course of time was renewed in all its several parts, blade, rivets, handle and the rest, till at last no part of the original knife was left ; and yet its owner declared that it was the same old knife.
Looking upon the changes which occur during life in individual character, it almost seems to us that identity can be affirmed of it only as it was affirmed of that knife by its owner. as Coleridge says, “Men exist in fragments.” One change after another takes place, until little or nothing appears to be left of the original person. This is true of each department of his nature, the moral, the intellectual, the physical. We die daily, and we are renewed day by day. With each stage of life we put something off, and take some new quality on. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I
For, thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things”: I put them away and received the traits proper to manhood. Childhood's glee and careless spirit, its fresh and exuberant feelings, its ready faith and impulsiveness, these are succeeded by sober reflection, greater wariness of confidence, and a graver temperament. We do not see with the same eyes as formerly, nor feel with the same heart.
“ Whither is fled the visionary gleam ?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream ?" Time has stolen us away from what we then were, and disguised our personalities under new sets of qualities. He has wrought a trick upon us similar to that which gipsies are said sometimes to practice, who steal horses, and so artfully clip and color them as to quite change their appearance, so that they even sell them to their owners, with no suspicion on the part of the latter that they are buying their own beasts.
How much can we recognize of, our former selves in what we now are? Take from its place on the shelf the daguerreotype of yourself that was taken twenty or twenty five years ago, and you will say as Southey did :
“ I search myself in vain, and find no trace
Of what I was." Or let the mother take from her drawer of precious keepsakes that of her son, now a man, taken when he was a child. How little resemblance to the present person is discoverable in it! If all recollection of its origin and existence could be effaced, 80 that it should be regarded as some strange picture, you would not trace any likeness in it to yourself; the mother would not know it as representing her child. It might awaken in her mind a gleam of reminiscence, as a face which she had sometime seen, and excite an unaccountable feeling of tenderness in her mother heart ; but long reflection would be required ere she could recognize it. Had her child died at that time instead of living to grow up, she would recognize it quickly enough; because in that case the image preserved in her mind would remain unaltered as it then was, no insensible modification having been made in it to correspond with the slow changes of time.
This suggests a strange paradox. Death does not deprive a mother of her child so much as life does. Death rather embalms it. Years afterward the mother will think of it as still a child. The sweet face it then had, and pretty, winsome ways, it has always. Though it may have had brothers and sisters, of nearly the same age, who have lived to grow up, and who with growth, have lost every vestige of what they were when that little brother or sister died ; though beautiful sunny childhood in them has been displaced by the graver and harder features of maturity, and this might suggest a similar change in the one that was lost, she still clings to the child's image. She feels no inclination to alter it as time would have done, and as time has changed the features and characters of those who have lived. She does not attempt to fill out nature's interrupted plan, by picturing the face which those childish features would have grown to, had it lived to be a man. She could not do it if she would. Life alone can tell what sort of a man's face a child's face may become.
She therefore preserves the image as it was ; it has no growth henceforth ; and when she herself shall die and be united to the child, she thinks she shall find it unchanged. She reckons not of any celestial growth it may experience, more surprising than that of earth. Such a possibility has no practical influence upon her mind, and can not rob her of the joy of believing that she shall sometime lift it to her arms and cradle it in her hosom, as she did ere it died. And so she remains with the feelings of a young mother to the end of her days. She may live to a great age, and all her other feelings wither away, but these are nourished and kept alive by the immortal child which she secretly tends in her thoughts as of old.
It is life then and not death which bereaves parents of their children. They die to live and live to die.
“What if the death angel had spared her darling to the mother,” says an eloquent writer, "can she retain him? Impossible! The inevitable years will steal away her child as surely as any mortal discase. It is our living childreu that we lose, not the dead. doat on the infant beauty which you fold in your arms? Say farewell—you will never see it again.”
“Ah! how doth beauty like a dial hand
VOL. VI.NO. XXXIII.
The old belief in the transmigration of the soul through different bodies, is not so absurd after all. We here see something that might easily have suggested it. The soul in the course of a long life has many transmigrations. Infancy, childhood, youth, maturity and old age, each of these stages has its own body, unlike in appearance to that of any other—almost as much so as if they belonged to different persons. Indeed, we may say, without extravagance, that in the course of a long life one represents several different individuals. Imagine to yourself an old man who has descendants to the fourth generation. Suppose also, as often happens, that a family likeness exiets among them all. He sees pictured in them all the stages of his own past life. His son, now quite well advanced, whose hair is turning gray, represents what he himself was twenty five years ago. His grandson, in the flush and strength of early manhood, shows what he was fifty years ago. Lastly, the little child of that grandson brings back to him the image of his far off childhood, what he was when a laughing, happy child. Look upon this group, considering what they severally represent. A family resemblance may be traced between them all, yet with as great differences as exist among individuals between whom there is no kinship. Has not the soul of the aged patriarch inhabited various bodies. It has had no permanent abiding place, but dwelt in shifting tabernacles. And these physical changes are but types of the changes which pass over the soul! If infantile and childhood's beauty have only a vanishing existence, and die with the continuance of life, so do their innocence and faith. The most wicked and depraved were once possessors of these.
“It is strange to think,” says the writer above quoted, “that the most bronzed and hardened face that meets us on our daily walk; the face on which the world and sin have set their coarsest and most forbidding stamp, was once the face of a little child, over which fond parents doated and dreamed their dreams.
There are bitterer partings than death, and more heart-rending farewells than those we breathe over the grave.”
It was in the same vein of thought that the mother of the Wesleys said, “It is better to mourn ten children dead than one living. What parent has not had the same thoughts? If our