Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

processes. It is an allegory, and not a history of a literal creation, fall, and deluge.

The last phase of the pantheistic philosophy is the recent German. The skilful elaborators were Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel,--all building, as did the Swede, on Spinoza's foundation, and, for the most part, out of his material, though not all after his fashion.

Fichte, following the idealism of Kant, developed the onesubstance into a mere phantasmal outer world. The mind creates whatever it is not, and then negates it as an illusion. The subject, the me, is every thing, and the object, the not-me, nothing.

Schelling reversed this method, and assuming the reality of the outer world ran into objective pantheism, in the identity of the me and not-me.

Hegel, dismissing both subject and object, and resolving every thing into the mere relation of being and not-being, something and nothing, matured a system of mental gymnastics which has been claimed by a few as Christianly theistic, while the majority of his pupils are open pantheists or atheists. History here, as in all pantheistic schemes, is more a chemical process than a course of intelligible, providential events. The one-substance in its first form, Hegel calls nature —God, spirit, sonl, matter,—all is nature.

In this is an eternal molecular movement; a primum mobile, tending to emanation and discrimination ; yet, uuconscious and unfree. In a second stage, spirit is eliminated and reaches consciousness,-God becoming conscious of himself as an individual, or as finited in man. The third stage is a return movement and carries the spirit from conscious freedom and personality back to the universal and unconscious impersonality. God is man, and man, so far as he nullifies the natural, is God.

“God," says Fichte, “is the moral order” of the world, and personality has no significance except in the finite. Light, thought, being, is not mine, but God's; for every thing belongs to him and is God, and what is not God is nothing.

The most remarkable character in history, the truest and most representative man of the race, by some students in this

philosophy, is resolved into a myth ; while the grandest events of his life are explained by magic or mental hallucinations. Emanation, development, flux and reflux of the one-all and all-one, this is providence, this history; and God-worship nature-worship, self-worship, all-worship, and nothing-worship —this is religion.

ART. III.-- Memoirs of the Life and Ministry of the Rev.

Thomas Raffles, D.D., LL.D. By THOMAS RAFFLES, Esq., B. A. Second edition. London: Jackson, Walford & Hod

der, 27 Paternoster Row. 1865. Pp. 515. The late Dr. Raffles, of Liverpool, was one of the lights of the English pulpit. He needs no introduction to our readers, for his fame long since reached our shores. Indeed, it was from an American college that he received his degree of Doctor of Divinity. The work before us has been accomplished by his son, who, in this memoir of his father, has shown excellent taste and feeling. It has gone through two editions in England, but as it is not likely to be reprinted among us, we propose to furnish a succinct account of its subject, derived from the book itself.

Dr. Raffles, during a large portion of his life, kept diaries, and some extracts from them we expect to give before we conclude; but our readers will find that they reveal little in regard to his inward life. What he wrote down in regard to the secret exercises of his soul, if indeed he recorded any thing touching that matter, his biographer has withheld from public gaze, and has only given us what the writer penned with a willingness that others should read. This negative excellence which the volume possesses, would, of itself, we had almost said, be enough, in these days, to make us respect it highly; for there is now very little secrecy in this world. As a genial writer once said: “ It is well understood that if a man gains a battle for his country, or writes a book for its entertainment, the penalty he must pay for it is the vulgar exposure of every emotion that he had ever written down for one near his heart, and of every treasured thought and feeling that he had recorded for his soul's good.” To write such a journal as that of the late Henry Crabb Robinson, one which shall embody instruction or information, designed either for friends or the public, is one thing; but to write a diary filled with accounts of one's secret religious experience, and of the results of the soul's self-scrutiny, intended for the writer's eye alone, is another thing, and is what should be eschewed, unless the writer could be certain, as he cannot be, that before his exit from the world he will have the opportunity, and, we may add, the grace, given him to commit all to the flames.

Thomas Raffles was born at the house of his father, Mr. William Raffles, in Princes Street, Spitalfields, London, on the 17th of May, 1788. His mother, an excellent woman, belonged to the body of Wesleyan Methodists. His religious impressions seem to have begun at an early age. He became a member of the Methodist society soon after the completion of his tenth year, and so continued until he was sent to a large boarding-school in Peckham, where he joined the Independent Church. In 1805, he entered Homerton College, an institution for the education of young men for the ministry among Congregational Dissenters, then under the care of Rev. Thomas Hill, as resident tutor, and of Rev. Dr. John Pye Smith, as theological tutor. In 1809 he was called to the church of Ham. mersmith, near London, and immediately entered upon his ministerial and pastoral duties. As a settled minister, he was from the first most abundant in his labors. One evening of each week he occupied some pulpit in London, and undertook, in addition, various week-day services. He began now to form the nucleus of the valuable library which, after many years, he accumulated, and which was especially rich in old and curious theological books. His fondness for antiquarian literature was maintained throughout his life. He delighted in poring over an old book-stall, and was familiar with every place in London where there was a chance that any thing curious might be met with. Topography was always a favorite branch of study, and he was in the habit of collecting materials for history, some of which have already been used by writers at whose disposal he placed them. Since the appearance of these memoirs, the Rev. Dr. Robert Holley, now of London, has published, in two octavo volumes, a very valuable work, entitled, “ Lancashire: its Puritanism and Nonconformity." He repeatedly refers to MSS. of Dr. Raffles, containing collections for a history of the Nonconformist Churches of Lancashire.

Dr. Raffles had been settled in Hammersmith about three years, when the Rev. Thomas Spencer, the youthful and gifted minister of Newington Chapel, Liverpool,' was drowned while bathing in the river Mersey. The congregation, thus bereaved, requested him to supply their pulpit for a few Sabbaths, which he agreed to do, without entertaining, as it would appear, the remotest idea of ever becoming their minister. His labors, however, resulted in his settlement over them, for they invited him to become the successor of Spencer, and, after seeking the path of duty with much prayer and anxiety, he consented, and began his pastorate among them in the month of April, 1812. This conspicuous position he held for very nearly fifty years; and it may be doubted whether any Nonconformist pastor in England ever occupied a more important sphere of ministerial exertion and usefulness. At the time of his retirement from his stated ministry in Great George Street Chapel, in 1861, he was the patriarch of his denomination in the county. All his seniors who had occupied prominent positions had passed away, one by one, while he still survived, honored and beloved by all at the close of a long and laborious career, which had, throughout, shed lustre upon the religious body to which he belonged.

Before the death of the Rev. Mr. Spencer his congregation had begun to erect a new chapel in Great George Street, calculated to contain two thousand people. This was finished shortly after Dr. Raffles' settlement, and on the occasion of its opening, sernions were preached by the Rev. Wm. Jay, of Bath, and the Rev. Dr. Collier, of London. There were in Liverpool many members of the Established Church of England—and a few of them survive to this day—who gratefully acknowledge the debt which they owe to the faithful ministry of Dr. Raffles within the walls of Great George Street Chapel. For, at the time of his settlement in Liverpool, the state of religion was very different from what it subsequently became.

VOL. XLII.—NO. II. 15

Owing to the want of evangelical preaching in the pulpits of the Established Church, many persons, avowedly holding the principles of that church, were in the habit of attending the ministry of Dr. Raffles.

His chapel immediately began to be crowded, and churchmembers constantly increased in numbers. And while his labors were blessed to the spiritual benefit of the hearers who composed his own charge, he was permitted to be useful to many others; for, in consequence of his popularity as a preacher, his services were constantly sought throughout the neighboring counties. And this gave him frequent opportunities of preaching the essential doctrines of Christianity to the ignorant masses, an employment in which he delighted. In looking over some parts of this volume, one almost fancies he is reading the life of an itinerant missionary.

With such frequent absences, his home duties were necessarily crowded into a briefer space, so that it would have been impossible for him to get through them had he not been an early riser and extremely methodical in all his arrangements.

He had been settled in Liverpool two years, and was but twenty-five years old, when he received an invitation to preach one of the annual sermons before the London Missionary Society. The invitation, which, after some hesitation, he accepted, came almost at the last moment for preparation, in consequence of the failure from illness of the gentleman who had been appointed to preach. It is interesting to read his own recollections of the occasion, written in old age, at the request of others. He says:

He says: “The missionary sermon was preached in the Tabernacle, Moorfields, in 1814. The cause of inissions was at that time comparatively new to our churches, and there was a freshness and a power connected with it then, of which people now can scarcely form an adequate conception. The congregation on that occasion was immense. The spacious chapel had been crowded since four o'clock in the afternoon. A sermon was preached at the same time in the chapel-yard to the multitudes who still lingered there. I cast myself on the Divine help, and went to the service with a feeling of intense anxiety. The crowd was so great, and the

« ElőzőTovább »