The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42
"Hast any philosophy in thee, shepherd?"
What Solon is he to talk of "philosophical grasp and outlook" who has proved himself so unfitted to examine even his own words? He has shown himself to be a man of narrowly circumscribed critical ability, and yet he affects to be able to decide on the philosophic merits of a volume whose contents he has never carefully studied! Although he has omitted the first item of man's "highest duty," the examination of the subject, he takes fast hold of the latter part, and "speaks freely what he thinks" about it. But as for philosophy, I doubt if ever he has had an introduction to it yet. I hope he does not consider that philosophy means "love of sophistry." If, however, he does, let me correct him and put him right, for it means "love of prudence." This is the philosophy Mr Stout wants, and never did he show it more than in his lecture on "Inspiration. Prudence would have suggested to him the wisdom of first inquiring (a) Is there a plan evident in the construction of the Bible? (b) If so, what is that plan? and after having worked out his examination of these queries, he would have been better able to have given an answer. He would have discovered (c) that the Bible was never intended for a universal history; (d) that it was meant to record God's dealings with, at first, a selected portion of the race; (e) then to record his message and overtures to the whole family of man. This is the plan evident throughout, but Mr Stout was not sufficiently philosophical to follow it up. The historical portion of the Bible only contains so much history as is required to carry out its plan. It introduces neither more nor less, than is necessary to complete its purpose; which very fact gives it the highest character for philosophical grasp and outlook. Mr Stout is well acquainted with Hallam's "Constitutional History of England." Will he say it lacks philosophical grasp, because it merely takes a narrow strip of the nation's history, and ignores all the "more interesting parts of history—the record of the rise and development of the morals, the industry, the intelligence, and wealth of the nation?" He knows better. Hallam had one end in view, and he only used those events in history which aided his purpose, and we claim for him a decidedly philosophical treatment of this subject. Many histories of philosophy have been written, which also, according to Mr Stout, lack the most interesting events in the lives and times of the men whose labours are chronicled. This does not, however, deprive them of the character of truly philosophical productions, but the very opposite. It shows the clear conception of plan and carefully followed design. Hence, I claim that I have shown Mr Stout to lack "philosophical grasp" in his want of method.