In no life are reflected more perfectly the spiritual conflicts of the fifth decade of the nineteenth century than in that of Frederick W. Robertson. No mind worked itself more triumphantly out of these difficulties. Descended from a family of Scottish soldiers, evangelical in piety, a student in Oxford in 1837, repelled by the Oxford Movement, he undertook his ministry under a morbid sense of responsibility. He reacted violently against his evangelicalism. He travelled abroad, read enormously, was plunged into an agony which threatened mentally to undo him. He took his charge at Brighton in 1847, still only thirty-one years old, and at once shone forth in the splendour of his genius. A martyr to disease and petty persecution, dying at thirty-seven, he yet left the impress of one of the greatest preachers whom the Church of England has produced. He left no formal literary work such as he had designed. Of his sermons we have almost none from his own manuscripts. Yet his influence is to-day almost as intense as when the sermons were delivered. It is, before all, the wealth and depth of his thought, the reality of the content of the sermons, which commands admiration. They are a classic refutation of the remark that one cannot preach theology. Out of them, even in their fragmentary state, a well-articulated system might be made. He brought to his age the living message of a man upon whom the best light of his age had shone.
Something of the same sort may be said concerning Phillips Brooks. He inherited on his father’s side the sober rationalism and the humane and secular interest of the earlier Unitarianism, on his mother’s side the intensity of evangelical pietism with the Calvinistic form of thought. The conflict of these opposing tendencies in New England was at that time so great that Brooks’s parents sought refuge with the low-church element in the Episcopal Church. Brooks’s education at Harvard College, where he took his degree in 1855, as also at Alexandria, and still more, his reading and experience, made him sympathetic with that which, in England in those years, was called the Broad Church party. He was deeply influenced by Campbell and Maurice. Later well known in England, he was the compeer of the best spirits of his generation there. Deepened by the experience of the great war, he held in succession two pulpits of large influence, dying as Bishop of Massachusetts