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President of Geological Society.
155 orderly mind, and his habits were the reflections of his intellect. All bondage and control fretted him. But with his dependent circumstances he could not escape from the lot of all who have to labour that they may live. Notwithstanding, he contrived to do an amount of extra-professional work, exceeding what is achieved by most savans who live for their science rather than by it. At the same time he was no recluse. With exalted notions of the social status to which men of science were entitled, he lived much in society. When and how the work was done was the marvel of all who knew him. In 1846, in conjunction with his old companion Lieutenant Spratt, he issued his Travels in Lycia; and in 1848, his work on The British Naked-Eyed Meduse, whilst he was already engaged, in conjunction with Mr. Henley, in preparing his large work on The British Mollusca.
In August, 1848, he married a daughter of General Sir Charles Ashworth, a change productive of much happiness, and no interruption to his unwearied labours. Within a little more than a week after the nuptial knot was tied, he and his young bride were at Llangollen, in North Wales, where the surveying staff was then at work. Nothing checked the stream of lectures, reviews, memoirs, and jeux d'esprit, that flowed from his busy brain. At the close of 1851, new work was thrown upon his shoulders. The government organized the leading surveyors into a staff of professors, and opened at Jermyn Street, what had long been wanted in England, a school of mines. For some reason or other the scheme failed. It is not easy to say why. Such schools flourish on the Continent, and the vast mining interests of England make them even more necessary to us than to our neighbours. But a British school of mines, adapted to the wants of our mining population, has yet to be established. Forbes and his colleagues lectured to very diminutive audiences; so that the machine stood still when a system of cheap scientific evening lectures was arranged at the same place, and which have been as successful as the previous attempt at a mining school had been the reverse.
In 1852, Forbes received the honour, unexampled in so young a man, of being elected to the presidency of the Geological Society of London; but before his year of office ended, Providence brought about new changes. Amid all his labours Forbes never lost sight of the dream of his youth, the chair of natural history in the University of Edinburgh. For seven long years the chance that the post would soon become vacant floated like a mirage before him; but the expected resignation of Jamieson was delayed year after year. Āt length it came, in October,
1853; but still hope was deferred. It was clogged with such conditions as created new difficulties; but in the succeeding April the death of the veteran Jamieson removed all obstacles; and Forbes, triumphantly appointed, entered upon his new duties on the 15th of May. We will not try to analyse his feelings on that proud morning, when a noble assembly gathered around his chair. A less active brain than his must have been busy with the past,—the days when he sat as a pupil on the forms before which he now stood the honoured teacher. His bold effusions in the audacious 'Maga;' the shaking heads of professors, whose lectures he neglected whilst he caricatured their faces; and, most of all, the dark day when his ignominious flight from the academic tribunal confirmed every gloomy fear that his medical teachers had entertained ;-all these must have rushed through his brain, mingling strangely with the eloquent words and deep thoughts to which he that day gave utterance. He now stood on the pinnacle of his fame. He had fought the battle of life amid untold discouragements, and some of those who had mourned over his youthful failures now stood proudly by his side in the hour of success. Bright visions of future honours must have risen up before him. His resources were now ample; his leisure all that he could wish; his fame world-wide; his position in the scientific world that of a tribune. The friends of his youth were around him, and his beloved wife and children by his side. What more was needed to fill up his cup of earthly happiness? We will not dwell on what remains to be told. A higher will than his own had issued its resistless decree. An old enemy, the Greek fever, had been scotched, not killed. Even amidst the bright beams of his radiant face might be traced darker and less hopeful signs. We remember too well the painful impression he made upon us at Liverpool, where he was the honoured chairman of the geological section of the British Association. His face had the pale and pasty look that tells of renal mischief. In the subsequent November the disease broke out with active virulence, and on the 10th of that month his spirit took its flight, leaving the world of science to mourn the loss of one of its brightest stars.
To define Edward Forbes's exact position on the roll of fame is not easy. He was, in the full sense of the word, a philosopher; his endowments rose above mere talent into the higher atmosphere of genius. Ranking far above the plodding speciesmongers, he had few superiors in the humble task of defining species. Quick in detecting the facts of nature, he was quicker still in connecting them with her laws. He constantly aimed at ascending from the special to the general, at ascertaining the
Frederick W. Robertson's Sermons.
relations subsisting between isolated phenomena, and at reveal.. ing those hidden cords that bind the universe together. But his life was little more than a seed-time. A few early ears give us some idea what the harvest would have been, had he been spared. He cherished in his breast vast conceptions, and only wanted time and leisure to give them shape. Endowed, at the same time, with the highest social qualities, he lacked nothing but years to place him on the loftiest pedestal; and if he be not ranked with the Cuviers, the Herschels, and the Faradays, the cause is to be found in his early grave.
ART. VI.--1. Sermons preached at Trinity Chapel, Brighton.
By the late Rev. FREDERICK W. ROBERTSON, M.A. First Series. Seventh Edition. London: Smith, Elder, and Co.
1860. 2. Sermons, &C., &c. Second Series. Seventh Edition. 1860. 3. Sermons, 8c., 8c. Third Series. Fifth Edition. 1860.
The volumes named at the head of this paper have broken like a new star on the world of religious letters. To the eyes of some, the light is lurid, baleful, misleading. Others see in it nothing but the gentle radiance of a soul that was too lofty to take the vulgar round of ordinary Christian thought and feeling. With one party, the writer is a heretic; with another, he is the impersonation of whatever is free, noble, and true in a servant and minister of Christ. But all are agreed, that the three series of sermons of the late Frederick W. Robertson, as recently published by his friends, are among the most original, suggestive, elegant, and stirring compositions of their class which the English press has yielded for a long while past. The attention which they have received, both within and without the pale of the Anglican Church, is surprisingly great. We doubt whether the present century has seen a body of sermons of equal bulk obtain so large a circulation in so brief a space of time. Private Christians, students of theology, divinity professors, preachers of every school, have read them with wonder, and with less or more of admiration. And if sharp-eared men do not hear too much, there are high places and low, where the voice of the pulpit is not seldom an echo of the sentiment, the thought, and even the phraseology of the accomplished man on whom death has conferred an influence greater than any he ever wielded in life.
Apart from all minute discussion of the contents of this
remarkable book, it is easy to account for the hold which it has taken on the popular mind. The nobility and feminine tenderness which mark the spirit of the writer-his impatience of conventionalities and intense love of what is true and real the boldness, not to say the adventurousness, with which he grapples with the intellectual and practical difficulties which perplex the Christian life of our times—the courage which leads him to denounce most strongly the evils on which regard for his own reputation would have kept him most scrupulously silent-the catholic charity which breathes in nearly all he says
-the keen-sighted acquaintance he shows with the labyrinths of human character and motive—the delicacy of his moral anatomy—the flashes of genius which ever and anon light up his compositions--the richness of colouring which he throws into his pictures of good and evil, whether in their working or their consequences-last, not least, his practical appeals to the reason and conscience, some of them among the most pathetic, thrilling, and tremendous we ever met with these characteristics alone, all presenting themselves on the surface of the work, suffice to explain the wide-spread and eager interest with which it has been received. At the same time, there can be no question, additional inpulse has been given to its progress through the reading circles of the country by the latitudinarian aspect of much of its teaching, and by the charge of heterodoxy, which in several quarters has been more directly or more obliquely brought against it. We heartily wish that a closer examination of its contents would enable us to pronounce an unqualified eulogium. With all their great excellencies--and of these we shall have frequent occasion to speak in the course of the following remarks--we are compelled to think that they are marked by omissions, blemishes, and errors, which seriously subtract from their value, and should be carefully noted by all who would take them as a model of Christian preaching.
One of the most striking and pervasive defects of the Sermons, is the almost entire silence which they preserve as to the office and work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men. It is not that His agency is denied. The very first discourse relates to this subject; and we could point to passages elsewhere in which the doctrine is affirmed, and even insisted on, with much emphasis and eloquence. But such teaching is the exception; for the most part, we are bound to say, we do not so much as hear that there is any Holy Ghost; or if we do, we are unable to recognise Him as in any distinctive and definable sense the personal Author of spiritual blessing. If God is to be known, it must be by the study of ourselves ; by marking the life and character Doctrinal Errors and Defects.
of Christ, who is the meeting-point of the Divine and human; and by looking through the phenomenal world around us to the glorious power and justice and love of which its constitution and history are the expression. Instinctively and by direct intuition,' if we are true to ourselves, we shall come to the knowledge of the truth. Our souls float in the immeasurable ocean of Spirit.' The element we live in mingles with our souls, and confers its nature less or more on every man.
"All that is wanted is to become conscious of the nearness of God.' Love is the condition of the revelation. Let the part of our nature which is kindred with God, be only strengthened by God's Spirit—that is regeneration. The Spirit of' Christ's consecrated life and consecrated death passing into us through love and wonder and deep enthusiasm, sanctifies us also to the truth in life and death. We do not deal unfairly by Mr. Robertson in the representation we now make. His views of the operations of the Holy Ghost, where he expresses any, are most commonly contained in language such as we have quoted. And we venture to say, without carping at particular terms, and while making all allowance for the multiform phases under which truth may present itself to different minds, that this human, idealistic, and ab intra doctrine of the Spirit's influence is as unlike that of the New Testament as the Budhist principle of salvation by merit is unlike the Christian verity of salvation by faith. The Spirit of God works in us, it is true; but, so long as we are unregenerate, He works in us from without. And conversion and sanctification are the result, not of the development of an 'embryo’ life, which He plants in the human soul from the beginning, but of grace sent down from the Lord, which convinces of sin, reveals Christ as a Saviour, and transforms the heart into the image of God. We do not forget that, with one exception, these beautiful sermons are posthumous, and were never prepared for publication by their author. We are willing to believe, that in the actual delivery of them he gave greater prominence to the agency of the Spirit, and was less obscure and mystical in treating of it, than the discourses in print might lead us to suppose. As it is, however, we greatly lament that the Scripture doctrine is seldom presented from the right point of view, and that many precious opportunities of exhibiting and enforcing it are altogether missed.
A second serious objection to the sentiment of the sermons consists in what we take to be their inadequate and unscriptural teaching on the subject of the atonement. We might complain of certain strange notions in reference to the person and relations of Christ, which are scattered up and down in them. It