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From the beginning to the end of Christ's atoning work, no other power is ascribed to it, nothing else is intended by it, as an appeaser of wrath, but the destroying of all that in man which comes from the devil; no other merits, or value, or infinite worth, than that of its infinite ability, and sufficiency to quicken again in all human nature that heavenly life that died in Adam.
(From The Spirit of Love.)
SPEAK, Lord, for thy servant heareth, is the only way by which any man ever did, or ever can attain divine knowledge and divine goodness. To knock at any other door but this is but like asking life of that which is itself dead, or praying to him for bread who has nothing but stones to give.
Now strange as all this may seem to the labour-learned possessor of far-fetched book-riches, yet it is saying no more, nor anything else, but that which Christ said in these words, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God. For if classic Gospellers, linguist critics, Scripture-logicians, salvation orators, able dealers in the grammatic powers of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman phrases, idioms, tropes, figures, etc. etc. can show, that by raising themselves high in these attainments, they are the very men that are sunk down from themselves into Christ's little children of the kingdom of God, then it may be also said, that he who is labouring, scheming, and fighting for all the riches he can get from both the Indies, is the very man that has left all to follow Christ, the very man that labours not for the meat that perishes.
Show me a man whose heart has no desire, or prayer in it, but to love God with his whole soul and spirit, and his neighbour as himself, and then you have shown me the man who knows Christ, and is known of Him ;—the best and wisest man in the world, in whom the first paradisical wisdom and goodness are come to life. Not a single precept in the Gospel but is the precept of his own heart, and the joy of that new-born heavenly love which is the life and light of his soul. In this man all that came from the old serpent is trod under his feet; not a spark of self, of pride, of wrath, of envy, of covetousness or worldly wisdom can have the least abode in him, because that love, which fulfilleth the whole law and the prophets, that love which is God and Christ, both in angels and men, is the love that gives birth, and life, and growth to every thing that is either thought or word or action in him. And if he has no share or part with foolish errors, cannot be tossed about with every wind of doctrine, it is because, to be always governed by this love is the same thing as to be always taught of God.
[Samuel Richardson was born in 1689, and died in 1761. He was a printer by trade, and was the author of three works : Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740); Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady (1749); and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753). ]
THE conscious and ostentatiously avowed end of Richardson's writings was moral edification ; and doubtless much of what he wrote can serve no other. In Pamela he designed to recommend virtue to young women through a series of familiar letters; and the result is a monument of vulgarity, and an outrage upon morals. Sir Charles Grandison carries no less heavy a burden of moral purpose; but the picture of the ideal man, whose sole fault is a trifling hastiness of temper, and whom fortune has endowed with vast wealth, an agreeable person, engaging manners, and everything that can make virtue easy and vice detestable--if frequently ridiculous and not seldom fatiguing, is never offensive.
But Richardson is to be reckoned in the not inconsiderable number of those artists whose practice has triumphed over their principles. In Clarissa he attempted to compose a tract to prove (apparently) that a sincere belief in religion may consist with the most unbridled profligacy; and he contrived to produce one of the masterpieces of English literature. The characters are discriminated with nicety, and sustained with consistency; of the innumerable details scarce one is irrelevant ; of the countless subtle strokes, scarce one superfluous ; for Richardson was no niggler. The conduct of the plot is a model of ingenuity and artifice; every incident contributes to the one supreme effect ; nor is any other modern tragedy so informed with the sense of the imminent inevitable. The character of Clarissa is noble and affecting. She meets her peril with courage, her ruin with dignity, and her end with cheerfulness. But it is in the portrayal of Lovelace that Richardson's genius reaches its culmination. His plottings may seem, at first sight, too elaborate, his villanies overcharged, his confidences childish. But regarded in their true proportions, they combine to produce one harmonious and triumphant whole, which at once satisfies and captivates the imagination. Among the villains of fiction Lovelace still stands lonely, inimitable, and unapproached.
Richardson has undoubtedly a stronger claim than any other writer to be considered the father of the English novel ; and in many of the essentials of his art he has never been surpassed. His convention of a correspondence between the characters is probably as good as a better, though he does nothing to help it out by inventing excuses for such an excess of letter writing. His style, at its worst, is diffuse, clumsy, and involved ; and, at its best, is no more than blunt, direct, and unaffected. When his characters are discussing the “social problems” of their day the diction is no better than the average contemporary pamphleteer's. His vocabulary is commonplace, shows no trace of selection, and is disfigured by that abuse of the current poetical phraseology into which even a Thomson was sometimes betrayed, and by force of which tears are transformed into “pearly fugitives." We are not, indeed, to look to Richardson for that nameless quality of style which is the property of a scholar and a gentleman, such as Fielding was ; for Richardson belonged to neither category. On the other hand, it would be grossly unfair to be blind to the great knack of extremely racy and idiomatic colloquial English which he displays in his dialogue; or to grudge him the merits of straightforwardness and spirit ; or to refuse to admit that at times he shows complete command over an instrument of moderate powers and compass. The effects, indeed, which he more than once achieves seem out of all proportion to the poverty of his means. Simple as these are, who that has been thrilled with righteous anger at Lovelace's triumph, or melted with compassion at Clarissa's death, will venture to deny that, twice or thrice at all events, he has turned them to the best possible account?
J. H. MILLAR.