Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
letters is, that clear and “intuitive” as he was, he had not always understood what he condemned.  He was especially satisfied with a view of Baptism which he thought rose above both extremes and took in the truth of both while it avoided their errors.  But is it too much to say that a man who, not in the heat of rhetoric, but when preparing candidates for Confirmation, and piquing himself on his freedom from all prejudice, deliberately describes the common Church view of Baptism as implying a “magical” change, and actually illustrates what he means by the stories of magical changes in the Arabian Nights—­who knowing, or able to read, all that has been said by divines on the subject from the days of Augustine, yet commits himself to the assertion that this is in fact what they hold and teach—­is it too much to say that such a man, whatever may be his other gifts, has forfeited all claim to be considered capable of writing and expressing himself with accuracy, truth, and distinctness on theological questions?  And if theological questions are to be dealt with, ought they not to be dealt with accurately, and not loosely?

But we have lingered too long over these volumes.  They are very instructive, sometimes very elevating, almost always very touching.  The life which they describe greatly wanted discipline, self-restraint, and the wise and manly fear of overrating one’s own novelties.  But we see in it a life consecrated to duty, fulfilled with much pain and self-sacrifice, and adorned by warm and deep affections, by vigour and refinement of thought, and earnest love for truth and purity.  No one can help feeling his profound and awful sense of things unseen, though in the philosophy by which he sought to connect things seen and things unseen, we cannot say that we can have much confidence.  We have only one concluding remark to make, and that is not on him but on his biographer.  An exaggerated tone, as we have said, seems to us to pervade the book.  There is what seems to us an unhealthy attempt to create in the reader an impression of the exceptional severity of the sufferings of Mr. Robertson’s life, of his loneliness, of his persecutions.  But in this point much may fairly be pardoned to the affection of a friend.  What, however, we can less excuse is the want of good feeling with which Mr. Brooke, in his account of Mr. Robertson’s last days, allows himself to give an ex parte, account of a dispute between Mr. Robertson and the Vicar of Brighton, about the appointment of a curate, and not simply to insinuate, but distinctly declare that this dispute with its result was the fatal stroke which, in his state of ill-health, hastened his death.  We say nothing about the rights of the story, for we never heard anything of them but what Mr. Brooke tells us.  But there is an appearance of vindictiveness in putting it on record with this particular aspect which nothing in the story itself seems to us to justify.  In describing Mr. Robertson’s departure from Cheltenham, Mr. Brooke has plainly thought right to use much reticence.  He would have done well to have used the same reticence about these quarrels at Brighton.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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