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The consequences of this change to him, we must consider in connection with the second volume of this work, if at all. In the present brief notice, all we design is to utter a protest against those principles and that polity which deprived the Church of the invaluable services the genius and learning of Milton could and would have rendered her, had her Protestant origin been respected and her liberal standards adhered to in his times.
Nor is the name of Milton the only one blotted from the roll-call of the Church by the black spirit of ecclesiastical and civil despotism, which found its fitting exponents and ministers in Laud and Strafford. Would that it were so! Would that it were not true, as it is, that in the struggle provoked by those born tyrants, many of the noblest sons of the English Church repudiated her walks and ways forever!
To us it appears certain, that had the mild temper and truly catholic principles of Cranmer continued to guide the counsel of the English Church; the Puritan schism would never have occurred. A few changes relating to points of discipline might have been urged and effected in England, as they afterwards were in America, but nothing more. The integrity of the Church would have been preserved and transmitted to the latest times. Her enemies would have been shorn of half their disposition, and all their power to do her evil. Even as late as the time of Laud, had the policy of Bishop Williams, the Lord-keeper, been adopted, no effective opposition could have been made to existing institutions in Church or State. It is true, the policy of the Lord-keeper originated in the head of a statesman rather than the heart of a Christian, and accordingly savored more of the wisdom of the serpent than the harmlessness of the dove. But he, at least, was wise in his generation; and smitten with more than the judicial blindness common to his race, was the Stuart who rejected his counsels and dismissed him from his presence. Williams retired to give place to Laud, who at once became the greatest power in England, unless we except, first Buckingham and then Strafford for a season. And what was the secret of this elevation, as sudden as great? It was that Charles had resolved on arbitrary gov
ernment in the State, and it was necessary to make the Church and Churchmen the tools of his despotic purposes.
James had heartily disliked Laud; was opposed to his elevation to the Episcopate. When pressed by Bishop Williams, he at last consented, saying that the Bishop would rue his request. Ominous words ! Prophetic of a policy which would destroy both Bishop and King; subversive of the throne and ruinous to the Church. Laud rose and Williams fell. Laud became not only Bishop, but Archbishop and prime favorite, because he was the most reliable as well as most devoted agent of the Court. Laud had some honesty, considerable learning, and much zeal. These were his good points. He had, however, a narrow understanding, a cold heart, pliable conscience, and bigotry enough to set up a hundred popes. Small of stature, of a rubicund countenance, undignified manner, and excitable disposition, he not only rose to the highest dignity of the English Church, but so effectually impressed his character on the times as to leave his name a synonym for a set of principles which, if powerless to preserve, have never been wanting in vigor to disturb the counsels and divide the unity of the Church.
This appeared in England, and at once. Laud and Laudlike men were the real authors of the English rebellion, and consequently of the temporary subversion and continued division of the English Church. They were so, as much and as truly as the French nobility and Court were the real authors of the French Revolution. As the vices and abuses of the Court caused the Revolution, in the sense of rendering it inevitable, so the rashness and rigor of Laud rendered revolt from the Church unavoidable. It could not be otherwise. No other result was possible, unless Englishmen had renounced their ancestral traits, and repudiated their dearly, becanse blood, bought liberties. Not that the Prelatists were wholly wrong and the Puritans wholly right. Far from it. In the end, the Puritans were no less wrong than their adversaries. They should have stood by the Church till cleared of all despotic rule and papistic policy, as did their fathers before them, They should not have allowed themselves to be driven into
schism. Nor should the defenders of Gospel truth any where. We must preserve apostolic order as well as evangelic truth. The Episcopate, Book of Common Prayer, ancient usages, and time-honored festivals—all these are inestimable blessings. A part of these things are necessary to a Church constituted on the principles of the primitive Church, and we want no other. We have no inclination to ask whether any other be possible or allowable. Enough that we have this and are not straitened. We have liberty enough, room enough, verge enough. We love to inhabit the house which hath foundations, whose rafters were laid, and whose proportions were planned by the Apostles and Apostolic men. Oh! that all of English origin would enter in and abide there. The door is open, there is room enough for all; and whether the children will return or no, we are sure the fathers would not have forsaken it if it had always been as it is this day, and in this land. One thing more, at least, is certain. As the principles and policy of Laud drove out the fathers, so will they fail to call back the children. Not to the successors of Laud, but to the children of Cranmer is consigned the task of recalling the wandering sons, and recovering the lost ground of the Church both in the Old and New World. Let such men as Bishop Tait be elevated to the Episcopate, and dissent will disappear from England, if not at once, yet gradually and surely. The Church there has every advantage. Will she be wise enough to act accord. ingly? And even here, encompassed as we are by difficulties of Laudian origin, we despair not of a final, though it may not be a speedy victory; a victory not for ourselves—not for a sect, whether prelatic or puritanic-but for the Church of Christ as predicted by prophets, built up by Apostles, and purchased by the Son of God Himself.
SERMONS.* The death of Mr. Robertson was premature. We speak in the manner of men. His life was long enough for the acquisition of various knowledge, and the formation of a character as commanding as it was Christian in its essential features. His powers matured early, and he essayed no middle flight. Had he lived longer, he would have fused his multifarious acquisitions and accomplishments, blending them with the convictions and aspirations of his Christian heart, and so we should have had as the heritage of the faithful, another example of brilliant genius consecrated to Christ and the Church. As it is, we have abundant evidence of his familiarity not merely with the general learning, but more especially with the several phases of skepticism rife in our time. Nor is there reason to doubt that in heart, he revolted from the results of infidelity in all its phases.
But his head work is not always clear, though we would not insinuate that it is often cloudy. Enough to say, that it is sometimes so. In proof of this, we refer to the sermons on Absolution and the Trinity in particular. That on Absolution is indefensible throughout. Many of the thoughts taken separately are beautiful, but put together as a theory of the office, they become brimful of error. Theologically, then, this sermon is beneath criticism, as without warrant in the Bible, Prayer-Book, or any of the standards of the Church. The substance of its teaching is, that absolution is proffered to individual men in the name of abstract humanity. This is philosophical realism applied to theology without let or hindrance. Phæton here has the presumption to drive the Sunchariot, and as usual, damages his own reputation, and exposes others to serious danger.
Far less objectionable is the sermon on the Trinity, but still an inadmissible statement of the doctrine. It is not the Trinity of the Apostles' or Nicene, or Athanasian, or any other creed known to Christendom. It approximates indeed to the
*SERMONS PREACHED IN TRINITY CHAPEL, Brighton. By the Rev. F. W. ROBERTSON, Incum. bent. 8 vols. Boston: Ticknor & Co.
heresy of Sabellius, for its fundamental position is, that the revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is so far from being incredible, we may well believe that in future ages, and other worlds, He will be known by yet other names, and sustain other relations unknown to the Christian in this world. Of course, this is mere modalism, and as such, does not recog. nize the Christian revelation of God as final; by which we mean, does not confess the distinctions of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as substantial and eternal verities, so essential to the faith of a Christian, as to admit neither of addition nor diminution.
These sermons are much read by Unitarians, and as generally admired. We are glad of it. They contain more of trnth than they are wont to hear, and can scarcely fail to give many of them an impulse in the right direction. Had Mr. Robertson been an American, it is not improbable that he would have fallen into the error of Unitarianism. If at all, it would have been before the age of reflection had reduced the spirit of doubt and denial to its proper proportions. Once committed to its defense, he might have gone on in it, as many among us do, with no real devotion to its interests, or faith in its fitness to regenerate the soul or reform the life ; yet following its doubtfal fortunes, partly from the force of habit, and partly from the inconvenience connected with changing one's church relations. Being an Englishman, and becoming early a communicant in the Church, Mr. Robertson was saved from the slough of skepticism, and would infallibly have worked his way into the pure faith of his fathers, had he lived; as in fact in heart and sympathy he did long before his decease. His love of the Saviour was ardent, his appreciation of the blessings of the Gospel were high, and his attachment to the Church undoubted. He had an affectionate heart, a fervid fancy, a glowing imagination, and an intellect both vigorous and highly cultivated. No man was more beloved by those who understood him, and few more misrepresented than he, by those who did not. In boyhood, Mr. Robertson was intended for the army, but he became a soldier of the cross. In this character he evinced all the courage of a moral hero, and we are persuaded that length of life would have led to other vir