Page images

careful examination cannot fail to rectify seductive fields of fancy and original the mistake. Whatever opinions have speculation, he confined himself to the been expressed on this subject, for our- sterner and more solemn realities on selves, we cannot help thinking that his which men's present and everlasting imagination was possessed of consider- well-being is dependent. If he had able boldness and compass; and, if asso- conceived that this could be equally ciated with an intellect less powerful, or well secured by the brilliant displays a reasoning faculty less vigilant, would of fancy, or the elaborate speculations have shone with a brightness not in- of original genius, or if the exquisite ferior to that of Chrysostom or Jeremy | harmony of his mind could have perTaylor. His sound judgment, and vi- mitted the unrestrained and erratic play gorous practical understanding, whilst of any one of his faculties, we cannot admitting the companionship of imagina- doubt that he would have dazzled by tion, pruned and restrained its luxuri- the picturesqueness and magnificence ance as unadapted to the tasks to which of his fancy, and the bold and startling he had more immediately committed inventions of his originality. But the himself. In dealing with men on ques- beautiful symmetry of his mind, and tions of everlasting moment, he felt the very nature of the things which that they were not to be dazzled with the he set himself to accomplish, forbade magnificent, or amused with the fanci- this. ful, but convinced and enlightened by In acquirements, Dr. Wardlaw was the clearest demonstrations of truth. If greater than he cared to appear. He at any time he permitted himself to was no smatterer and no pretender. turn aside from the field, where he had He disliked all display; and the keen reared so many trophies of his power, inquisitiveness of his mind rendered all and snatched a brief interval of repose guess-work and superficiality on literary amid the sacred duties of his mission as questions a thing utterly impossible in * set for the defence of the gospel,” we his case. The order of his mind rencannot but think that his imagination dered accuracy indispensable. He could would spread around him the pic-wield no weapon until he had thoturesque and the beautiful, if not the roughly tested it, and would not venture gorgeous and magnificent.

to speak on any subject until he had And although, from the very com- examined and made it his own. Dimpleteness of his mind, he was incapable ness and doubt were in his estimation of indulging in that loose discursive- not merely intellectual disqualifications, ness of thought which is frequently but moral hinderances; and, therefore, dignified with the name of originality, when he spoke, as a scholar or critic, it is impossible to peruse his writings on any subject, it was out of the depth without perceiving that, had he per- and fulness of his knowledge. He was mitted himself to enter on fresh and incapable of parade of any kind, and untrodden fields of investigation, he had a feeling of honest contempt for might have astonished the world by the certain cheap and common-place modes boldness of his speculations, and com- of appearing learned. Whenever he manded the homage accorded to origi- attempted to discuss any subject, in the nal genius. He felt that it was not pulpit or through the press, the fact of strange and startling novelties that his doing so was ample proof that he really benefit mankind, however much had mastered it in all its details, litethey may excite the wondering curio- rary and philosophical. All the prosity of the multitude, or minister to the ductions of his pen, indeed, bear the mental luxury of those who seek the stamp of accurate scholarship, as well cloisters of contemplation, rather than as refined taste. His learning, although the open arena of practical usefulness ; paraded neither in his ordinary teachand therefore, turning aside from the ing nor in his published works, was unquestionably comprehensive and ac- | forcing the great verities of the Gospel, curate.

and might remain unmoved by his As a preacher, in some respects Dr. chaste and flowing eloquence : but the Wardlaw stood alone and unapproached. intelligent, the thoughtful, and the In vehemence of oratory, splendour of earnest, seeking to have the understanddeclamation, and impassioned earnest- ing illumined by the lessons of Divine ness of appeal, he has undoubtedly wisdom, and the heart melted by the been surpassed ; but in clearness, com- tenderest appeals of Divine love, would prehensiveness, force, elegant simpli- carry away deeper and more lasting eity, purity of taste, and felicity in impressions from a discourse by Dr. applying the lessons and warnings of Wardlaw, than from one by MasScripture, he had, perhaps, no equal in sillon, or Jeremy Taylor. The ear ancient or modern times. His mode of might not be so filled with the pomp treating his subject was generally text- of sound, nor might the imagination ual, and consequently his discourses be so captivated with splendid imawere distinguished by great amplitude gery, but the conscience would retain and richness of scriptural illustration. a more vivid sense of the evil of sin He felt, indeed, that the inspired volume and the beauty of holiness; and the was a fountain of living water-a mine memory would feel itself charged with of immortal wealth, which no skill could a richer deposit of saving and immortal exhaust, and compared with which the truth. His style of preaching was most splendid creations of human ge- peculiarly his own. It was the imitation nius were but tinsel or dross. His grand of no model. It was the out-growth of object was to unfold the lessons of Di- his own mind. It was indeed devoid of vine truth, and stamp them indelibly on the artifices of oratory, and the heavy the understanding and conscience of elaboration of a spurious philosophy: his hearers; and for the accomplish- but originality was to be traced in its ment of this object he brought all the calm, clear, and earnest enforcement of rich and varied powers of his mind into the doctrines of Scripture ; in its keen active play in his public ministrations. and searching scrutiny of the human His judgment surveyed and approved heart; in its noiseless flash that smoto his plan of procedure; his reasoning every “refuge of lies;" and in its unifaculty built up an argument clear, com- form persuasivenes of voice and manner. pact, and convincing ; his fancy threw To him, as justly as to any preacher of around a variety of chaste and beautiful ancient or modern times, the beautiful illustrations, which at once augmented words of the poet might be applied : the force, and illumined the design of his

“There stands the messenger of truth: discourse; his heart, throbbing with there stands

[divine, compassion for souls, breathed pathos The legate of the skies ! -- His theme and tenderness into every sentence; and His office sacred, his credentials clear. the sweetness of his voice combined By him the violated law speaks out

Its thunders; and by him, in strains as with the calm and dignified solemnity of his manner won the ear, and fixed As angels use, the Gospel whispers peace. the deep and thoughtfui attention of his He 'stablishes the strong, restores the audience. It is true that congregations,

weak, accustomed to loose and vapid declama- Reclaims the wand'rer, binds the broken tion, which touches neither the under. And, arm'a himself in panoply complete

heart, standing nor the conscience, and to Of heav'nly temper, furnishes with arms strained and sensuous accommodations Bright as his own, and trains, by ev'ry of Divine truth, which demand no exer

rule cise of thought, and minister to low of holy discipline, to glorious war, conceptions of Christianity, might fail The sacramental host of God's elect!” to appreciate his felicitous mode of en- The great power of Dr. Wardlaw as


a writer is known to all who have any his wit; but among those who were acquaintance with the theological liter- admitted to his friendship, and were ature of the present day. His writings deemed worthy of that distinction, he are voluminous, and on a variety of always appeared as one of themselves, subjects. He commenced his career, as breathing the spirit of generous franka writer, with his unanswerable work ness, and winning confidence and love on the Socinian Controversy, by which by the cheerfulness, suavity, and gentlehe spread dismay and discomfiture ness of his manners. The meanest of among the adherents of that heresy, and his flock was uniformly greeted with a closed it with his equally unanswerable benignant smile, and counselled with work “On Miracles," by which ration- an air of paternal kindness that gave alists and modern free-thinkers must him a place in all hearts, and secured feel themselves greatly perplexed and for him the effectual fervent prayer of confounded, if not put to silence. many a righteous man. In his own Throughout all his works, from first to family he shone the radiant centre of a last, there is the same clearness and tenderness and love that lighted up force; the same power of argument and every countenance, and gladdened every felicity of style; the same accuracy and heart, and diffused around him an atextent of knowledge ; the same mastery mosphere so fragrant with the power of of his subject ; the same deep earnest- religion and the sanctity of heaven, that ness of purpose, combined with scrupu- all who witnessed the serene cheerfullous exactness of statement, and eloquent ness and blended affections of his home persuasiveness of manner. His writings, dwelt fondly for ever after on its which are fraught with instruction on memory. It was indeed in the privacy the most momentous subjects that can of the domestic circle that Dr. Wardlaw oceupy the attention of mankind, and so beautifully illustrated that brightest furnish throughout some of the finest attribute of true greatness—the capasamples of - English undefiled,” cannot bility of forgetting it, or surrounding it fail to form an abiding monument of with a soft and chastened radiance, on his genius, learning, and piety. As long which the eyes of childhood may gaze as theology is a science deemed worthy undazzled, and amid which the tenof study, and wherever the English derest affections of the heart may grow language is spoken, the works of Dr. up and luxuriate. Classic antiquity Wardlaw will continue to be read and represents Phæbus as laying aside his admired.

refulgent diadem of light that Phaeton, But whilst Dr. Wardlaw for many his supposed son, might enter into his years stood prominent as a public man, presence undazzled and unawed. The mingling often times in the thickest of fiction was beautifully realized in the the fight when the interests of truth case of Dr. Wardlaw, in the privacy of and freedom were menaced, and com- home, and the circle of friendship. The manding homage and admiration wher- unassuming simplicity and gentleness ever he appeared, his native simplicity of his manners, combined with his acand the genial sweetness of his nature re-complishments, vivacity, and innocent mained unimpaired. His consciousness playfulness, made him the idol of his of superior intellectual power, and his own family, and the charm of every high standing as a preacher and author, society in which he mingled. never betrayed him into anything like But it was not simply as a preacher, haughtiness of tone or bearing, or an author, and a man of varied accomchilled the warm current of his affec- plishments, that Dr. Wardlaw stood tions. He could indeed smite and wither prominent before the world. Nor is it the mean, the worthless, and the base merely on these grounds that his name with the lightning flash of his indig- will descend with honour to the latest nant glance, or the polished missile of posterity. He was the founder, or, at all

events, the early advocate of Congrega- tainly raised and embellished the edifice. tionalism in Scotland, who threw the To him, therefore, its highest niche will prestige of his own great name around be assigned, and to his name, in the it, and above all others contributed to best and noblest sense, the honours of raise it to its present position. At the canonization will be accorded. commencement of his career Congrega- But in this brief and rapid sketch tional Dissent had no existence in Scot- of this distinguished man, we must not land, or at most was but struggling into forget to observe, that his name stands being. It was offensive to the great connected, not merely with the rise and body of the people, and was regarded spread of a denomination, but with by many of the thinking and intelligent enlarged and grander conceptions than as a perilous innovation on received had hitherto obtained of certain fundaopinions touching ecclesiastical polity mental doctrines of Divine truth. The and discipline. Its adherents were fearless, and, at the same time, devout necessarily few and without influence. and reverential manner, in which he They were looked upon with suspicion, dealt with some of the gravest quesand not unfrequently were branded tions in theological science, moulded, with epithets implying ignorance or and in many respects gave greater fanaticism. Undeterred, however, by breadth and freedom to, pulpit minisopposition, and incapable of permitting tration in Scotland, and, perhaps, in nis convictions to be warped or modi- England. His broad and magnificent fied by circumstances, he committed views of the grandeur and extent of himself to what appeared to him as the atonement, and of kindred subjects, truth on questions of church polity. stamped themselves on the creed, and But, in doing so, he evinced no asperity gave a highertone to the preaching, of the or dogmatism; he never dwelt in the great body of Christian teachers throughspirit of censoriousness on the views he out the country. Before he appeared had relinquished, nor commended those to plead the cause of truth, and, by his he had adopted in a tone of arrogance clear and eloquent exposition of great or assumption. When adverting to the principles, to scatter prejudices and opinions from which he had dissented, narrow preconceived opinions, the unior when advocating those he had em- versality of the atonement was very braced, he was uniformly distinguished generally repudiated and branded by the meekness of charity, the cour- throughout Scotland as a dangerous tesy of Christian gentleness, and the heresy. But now, among his own candour of a manly and enlightened denomination in England and Scotland, piety: and hence his views of church and even among sections of the church polity, however novel and offensive, whose formularies ignore or proscribe gained much by the spirit, as well as the views he advocated, they are by the great ability and eloquence, of pleaded for as constituting the glory their advocate. His candour and un- of the Gospel. His opinions on this compromising attachment to great prin- subject, as well as on others, were, as a ciples forbade the idea of schism, or matter of course, challenged and misneedless division, on his part, whilst his represented; and some theologians enlearning and eminence as a preacher tered the lists with him in defence commanded for his views deference and of narrow and restricted notions of the thoughtful examination. To his deno- atonement. But a glance at his work mination in Scotland his name became “On the Nature and Extent of the a tower of strength. He was seen from Atonement of Christ,” will sufficiently afar, and multitudes gathered around show how triumphantly he scattered him. If he did not project, or collect the arguments of bis opponents, and the materials of the temple of Congre-established the scriptural soundness of gational Dissent in the North, he cer- his own views. And although false opinions may still be found lingering and will henceforth continue to speak in the minds of some, it cannot be on behalf of truth and goodness with doubted that Dr. Wardlaw has done an eloquence surpassing that of his much to give amplitude and distinct living voice.

Though passed away ness to men's ideas of the grand fun- from the scene which he adorned with damental doctrine of Christianity. With his virtues, and contributed to enthis his name will be associated in lighten and improve by his splendid many lands, and for this future gene- talents, he has left an influence behind rations will hold his memory in grateful him which the flight of years will remembrance.

augment, and which, blending with And now to sum up these brief and that of other great names, will fall at imperfect notices of this great and good once as sunshine and refreshing dews man, we feel that never has a brighter around the footsteps of future generaor a purer name been added to the roll | tions. Wardlaw has ascended to his of the mighty dead. Few men have rest, and will be seen no more amongst been endowed with such rich and varied us; but his memory-sullied by no stain, gifts, and still fewer have so simply and enriched by all the associations of and uniformly devoted those gifts to eminent gifts and the noblest services, the best interests of mankind, and the will shine on through all ages, as a glory of God. His life was a beautiful light of the world. illustration of the doctrines he taught,


* Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets- I am not come

to destroy but to fulfil.”

Men's thoughts were greatly and how will it stand related to the old ? variously excited by the great prophet It was mainly to meet this feeling, and of Nazareth—from all Galilee and Ju- to supply this inquiry, that the sermon dea men were flocking to his teaching, on the mount was delivered, the central the novelty and pregnancy of which thought of which was the verse that we produced upon them the impression, not have prefixed to this paper. With one only of a teacher sent from God, but of or two exceptions on behalf of paraa great and impending revolution in the graphs incorporated by Matthew from thoughts and modes of th religious other discourses of Christ, this is strictly life. Even before his advent, men's the pivot on which the whole discourse thonghts had, with strange unanimity, turns. It declares the true character unconsciously and mysteriously gravi- and methods of the new kingdom tated towards the expectancy of some

that it was to be new, not in the sense divine prophet; a Messiah who should of superseding or destroying the old, make all things new—not only in con- but in the sense of developing and perscious want, but in positive and feverish fecting it. expectancy, he was “the desire of all It would be a surprising announcenations.” And his great, solemn words ment to most who listened to him, exencountered this expectancy, and in- pecting, as they did, some radical change creased it to an almost painful intensity, in the old constitution of things. Some and the first of all Jewish inquiries of them had expectations of a carnal was, What is the relationship of this kingdom—the Messiah was to sit on new teacher to Moses? If, as he says, the throne of his father David, and to he be come to set up a new kingdom, transcend his regal glories—they, there

« PreviousContinue »