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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 9


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Since the last edition of my Lectures appeared, Dean Stanley has published his. The text bears the marks of a good deal of minute adjustment, intended, apparently, to fortify the Lectures against the criticisms which have proceeded from various quarters. Some of the points to which I have adverted have become less salient, or are stated more cautiously, in the Dean's printed version of them. The angles, generally, have been somewhat rounded off. In substance, however, the points I touched on are still maintained by the Dean. I have, therefore, not felt called upon to make alterations upon any of my own statements in the present edition, but have left them as they were. In one instance only, I have gathered from the Dean's volume, that a statement in his Lectures, erroneously reported in the newspapers, had led me into remarks which were irrelevant. I have therefore deleted the passage. It stood near the beginning of my Third Lecture, and referred to the negative character of the Confession. The Dean's remarks, as it appears, were not meant to apply to our Confession, commonly so called, but to the National Covenant, sometimes called the "Negative Confession," because it contains a detailed protest against a series of Romish errors. I will not waste time in debating the merits of "negatives," which simply represented the attitude of the Scottish Church and State as on their defence against Romanism. All that I could say on the subject has been anticipated by Mr. Taylor Innes, in an article in the March number of the Contemporary Review.

I do not think it necessary to burden these Lectures with a fresh specification of all the points in which I think the Dean has been misled as regards the view to be taken of particular facts or features of our history. I may say, however, that I have been struck, even more than before, with the method of implied argument, by which he leads up to his panegyric on Moderatism. He finds in many eminent men moderation, that is, the disposition to a considerate and large-minded estimate of things, and a calm and kindly temper. Such cases are treated as the prophecies and precursors of Moderatism, and the men who manifested this disposition are ranked as the spiritual progenitors of the Moderates. Now, every truly eminent man has in him (in a greater degree or a less) a notable power of appreciating persons from whom he differs, and doing justice to tendencies with page 98 which he does not wholly comply, or which he feels it his duty to oppose. The noisy personages who are incapable of doing so are the mere lumber of all Churches and parties; and they were certainly as numerous in the (so-called) Moderate ranks as anywhere else. But the whole value of the true moderation which good and great men have shown, depends on its being the attendant of strong positive convictions, and pronounced active tendencies. When it tempers these leading qualities, moderation is an excellent thing. On the contrary, when it begins to be worshipped for its own sake, and is allowed to lead the thinking and the life, it is the sure token of poverty; and it intensifies the poverty from which it springs. So it was with the Moderates; and therefore they presently became bitter and fanatical in their moderation.

The only passage in Dr. Stanley's published Lectures in which (though without naming me) he adverts explicitly to a statement of mine, is in page 140. Here he sets against my account of the Moderates the testimony, as he says, of "the venerable biographer of the leader of the popular party of that age," viz., Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood, in his Life of Erskine; "the cordial and generous tribute of one whose very name is a guarantee for strictness of life and faith." He cites as follows:—"The names of such men as Cuming and Wishart, and Walker and Dick, and Robertson and Blair, are embalmed, with the name of Erskine, in the hearts of all who have learned in any measure how to value whatever has been most respectable in our Zion. God grant that while their memory is yet fresh in the mind, the men who fill their places in the world may catch a portion of their spirit! God grant that while they, like Elijah of old, may be dropping their mantle on the earth, their spirit also, like that of the prophet, may yet remain to bless the children of men."

Here is enough, one would think, to extinguish Dr. Rainy! After all, however, it is only the Dean's concluding misfortune. These are not the words of Sir Henry Moncreiff at all. They are part of a sermon, by Dr. Inglis—that is to say, by a very decided Moderate. See passage as cited from Life of Erskine, p. 481, and compare p. 396.

I may add, however, that I should be sorry to dispute the claim of many Moderates to figure, in Dr. Inglis' language, among "the respectabilities of Zion."

Lorimer and Gillies, Printers, Clyde Street, Edinburgr.