We think it not unlikely that the sermon has been toned down a good deal before publication, in anticipation of severe criticism. Some passages which were very effective when delivered, hate probably been modified so as to bring them more thoroughly within the limits of severe good taste. We think Mr. Caird has deserved the honours done him by royalty; and we willingly accord him his meed, as a man of no small force of intellect, of great power of illustration by happy analogies, of sincere piety, and of much earnestness to do good. He is still young—we believe considerably under forty—and much may be expected of him.
But we have rambled on into an unduly long gossip about Scotch preaching, and must abruptly conclude. We confess that it would please us to see, especially in the pulpits of our country churches, a little infusion of its warmth, rejecting anything of its extravagance.
Concerning future years.
Does it ever come across you, my friend, with something of a start, that things cannot always go on in your lot as they are going now? Does not a sudden thought sometimes flash upon you, a hasty, vivid glimpse, of what you will be long hereafter, if you are spared in this world? Our common way is too much to think that things will always go on as they are going. Not that we clearly think so: not that we ever put that opinion in a definite shape, and avow to ourselves that we hold it: but we live very much under that vague, general impression. We can hardly help it. When a man of middle age inherits a pretty country seat, and makes up his mind that he cannot yet afford to give up business and go to live at it, but concludes that in six or eight years he will be able with justice to his children to do so, do you think he brings plainly before him the changes which must be wrought on himself and those around him by these years? I do not speak of the greatest change of all, which may come to any of us so very soon: I do not think of what may be done by unlooked-for accident: I think merely of what must be done by the passing on of time. I think of possible changes in taste and feeling, of possible loss of liking for that mode of life. I think of lungs that will play less freely, and of limbs that will suggest shortened walks, and dissuade from climbing hills. I think how the children will have outgrown daisy-chains, or even got beyond the season of climbing trees. The middle-aged man enjoys the prospect of the time when he shall go to his country house; and the vague, undefined belief surrounds him, like an atmosphere, that he and his children, his views and likings, will be then just such as they are now. He cannot bring it home to him at how many points change will be cutting into him, and hedging him in, and paring him down. And we all live very much under that vague impression. Yet it is in many ways good for us to feel that we are going on—passing from the things which surround us—advancing into the undefined future, into the unknown land. And I think that sometimes we all have vivid flashes of such a conviction. I dare say, my friend, you have seen an old man, frail, soured, and shabby, and you have thought, with a start, Perhaps there is Myself of Future Years.