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ble pertinacity and strength of purpose. This was his deep sentiment of veneration for whatever he deemed intrinsically worthy of reverence. In numberless instances during his life, did he resign his own will to that of others, whom he respected for superiority of age, station, or goodness. Sometimes indeed he seems to have been carried too far by this sentiment, -as when for example he tells us that he buried his belief in materialism in his father's grave. His father had always been distressed by this opinion of his son, yet his death probably did not suggest any new arguments to convert him. He very likely sacrificed this speculation from respect to his memory, as the ancients laid their treasures on the funeral pile of those whom they revered. Robert Hall's sentiment of reverence was most conspicuous howver in his religious character, producing the most profound humility and submission to God's will, and laying his heart prostrate in devotion.
Such were the features of Robert Hall's mind, - such some of the main tendencies of his character. They are seen from first to last in constant operation; in opposition, but not contradiction. But though always existing, they were by no means all equally active during every part of his life. The longing for freedom, the struggle for independence, and the unwillingness to resign an opinion of his own mind, are much more perceptible in the early part of his career. This indeed might have been expected from the operation of those universal laws, under whose control all minds are formed and unfolded.
Nature has made youth the season of free impulse, and age the period of cautious self-direction. In Hall's case, outward circumstances of situation combined with the guidance of nature to produce the same result. His youth fell in a period when the enthusiasm for freedom was swaying all the ardent minds of civilized Europe. The impulse communicated by our own revolutionary struggle had been rapidly transmitted through the heart of Europe. The heroism of the age had found an object for which to contend. Freedom was the watch-word of every generous mind. At the bare sound, the blood beat faster through the veins of thousands. Hall fully felt this influence. His strong sympathies were moved, he threw himself into the arena, satisfied to fight by the side of noble spirits for the sake of liberty,
satisfied of the justice of the cause which was linked with such lofty and stirring sentiments. The principles of freedom and toleration were expounded, argued, and triumphantly maintained by the exertion of his powerful reason, and his efforts were admired and felt by all.
But who does not remember the mighty reaction of public feeling, which the horrors of the French revolution, and the tyrannical sway of Napoleon produced in great Britain. The more zealous friends of liberty were silenced, — the moderate friends changed parties. The tory adıninistration under Pitt acquired an influence which nothing could take from them. This crisis of public opinion was also a crisis in Robert Hall's mind. From this period the restraining sentiments appear to have the command. We find him henceforth less ardent, but more earnest, less aspiring, but more devoted, - less a champion of freedom, more an advocate of law. His public efforts from this period were directed to the support of the parties in the state which he had previously opposed. He sets forth the opposite side of truth to that for which he pleaded in his youth.
Now if this had been all, no one could complain, or accuse him of inconsistency. The principles of his maturity did not contradict those of his youth, but were rather their supplement and completion. No one can blame the young man for not seeing every thing. Let him state what he sees, and when the sphere of his vision is enlarged by experience and growth, let him also communicate to us his new discoveries. But if while seeing but a part, he thinks that he sees all, and acts arrogantly on that assumption toward those whose vision is more acute than his own, we justly condemn his presumption while noting his deficiency.
Such, in a degree, we think to have been the case with Robert Hall. In stating and defending abstract principles, few men surpassed him in clearness and strength. But his mind failed in applying them to particular cases. What could be stated in distinct propositions, and so reasoned about, he understood. He wanted that imagination which is the best assistant of the understanding, enabling it to grasp the sentiments as well as the opinions involved in and Aowing from a principle. He could not distinguish the thousand delicate shades of truth and falsehood which in practice blend the colors which theory has separated. He should not
therefore have been a partisan, for he could never understand the dispute, or do justice to the merits of the parties. But his sympathies were too warm to suffer him to confine himself to the exposition of principles, — he wished to deal with men and things, - he became a partisan, attacked with bitterness, and rebuked with asperity men clear-sighted than himself. And thus he became really inconsistent; for the men and party who were at one time the object of his satire, were at another zealously defended.
We are thus brought to the conclusion that while part of the charge of inconsistency must be ascribed to the inability of the common mind to understand greatness, another part rests on actual and defensible grounds.
Nevertheless Robert Hall was a great and a good man, and his efforts in the cause of truth and religion were crowned with success.
The influence he exerted on the religious world was wide, deep, and strongly marked. He nobly filled that post of duty which God has assigned to every man whose mind has been greatly endowed by Nature or liberalized by culture, the post of a mediator between contending parties. To the bigoted religionist and narrow zealot, he made it apparent that a sound intellect could exist in connexion with a warm heart, knowledge with zeal, cultivation and taste and extended knowledge with a warm piety and a complete devotion to the will of God. And to the skeptical man of education and refinement, who is so ready to sneer at devotion and piety, he proved that religion might be the loftiest theme to the loftiest mind. The expressions of feeling which in others they had considered hypocritical, came from his lips as living realities. The truths which had become trite by the familiar use of the common mind, received new power and grace from his earnest enthusiasm. To the religious world his works must long be a treasure.
ART. II. — Opóvnua toŨ Ilveýuatos; or, the Grace and Duty
of being Spiritually Minded, declared and practically improved. By John Owen, D. D., sometime ViceChancellor of the University of Oxford. Abridged, by EBENEZER PORTER, D. D., President of the Theological Seminary, Andover. Boston: Peirce & Parker. 1833. 12mo.
A good book of practical piety is at all times profitable and pleasant to a mind of any seriousness, but never more grateful, perhaps, than when it is taken up after the mind has been engaged, either as agent or spectator, in the warfare of conflicting doctrines and opinions. It comes like the news of peace. It refreshes the spirits like the soft evening of a glaring day; like shade and silence after heat, noise, and dust; or as we trust that heaven will refresh them after the pilgrimage of this sandy life. We say not a word against the usefulness of discussion, not a word to imply that we are not aware of the advantages, the very necessity of controversy. The warfare must be accomplished. We stand at our post, and shall not forsake it. While there are mighty errors in the field, we must go out against them. While we see great truths opposed and slighted, we must maintain and support them. While we think the dangers of opposition and contention to be far less than those of ignorance and apathy and slavery, we shall not scruple to oppose false doctrines and contend for the pure faith. But we know and feel and have always said, that there are some things, and those the best things, about which all Christians are substantially agreed. We rejoice at every confirmation which we receive of the fact, that upon the most vital, spiritual, practical truths all Christians meet together. We rejoice to be assured that there is, after all, a bond between those who bear the same name, which unites them all under Christ, their living head. We enjoy the feeling of brotherhood, the certainty that there exist the foundations of a universal Christian connexion, placed so deep and strong in the nature of our common faith, as to be out of the reach of the most violent commotions, which have disturbed or can disturb the peace of the church.
Such has been the character of our sentiments on the perusal of this treatise of Owen's, in its new, and, as we think, improved form. It was written by an orthodox ViceChancellor of the University of Oxford, and is abridged by an Orthodox President of the Seminary at Andover; and yet we sincerely recommend it to our friends and readers, in the belief that the study of it can only do them good; in the hope that it may invigorate and assist their efforts after spiritual mindedness, and without a fear that it will make them at all more Orthodox than we would wish them to be. The book shows, in fact, that when a healthy, practical mind becomes thoroughly engaged on the subject of lifegiving, practical religion, its Orthodoxy must, for the time, be laid aside and forgotten. There are a few sentences in this work which refer to doctrines as true, wbich in our view are not true, but their effect is swallowed up and neutralized by the effect of the whole. We do not mind them.
The plan pursued by Dr. Porter in his abridgment, is thus described in the “ Editor's Preface."
“ As to the work which is now offered to the public, it is proper to say, that, in common with others who have read his writings, I have long entertained a high veneration for Dr. Owen, as conspicuous among the Christian luminaries of his age. His work on the Hebrews I have always esteemed as of great value for the justness of its doctrinal views, and its decided spirit of evangelical piety, though the thoughts
too much subdivided and amplified for the profitable perusal of most readers. When I took
his work on Spiritual Mindedness, it was in pursuance of the plan above mentioned, of reading some part of such a book daily, for my own benefit. I had proceeded but a few pages, when I found it rich in matter, discriminating, instructive, and weighty in sentiment; but so pleonastic in phraseology, that it was impossible to read it with the interest which I had anticipated. As an experiment, however, I pursued the reading, a few pages at a time, blotting out with my pen words and clauses which obscured the sense, or rendered the expression of it more feeble. In this way
I soon became satisfied, that without the alteration of a single sentiment, and with scarcely any change of words, except by omission, the book might be rendered far more useful to all descriptions of readers. To illus. trate this remark, I subjoin here a specimen of the process adopted as to abridgement. The sentences below are given
- N. S. VOL. X. NO. J. 2