Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Gordon, Esq., and that, under circumstances of peculiar baseness. Mr. Gordon was a writer to the Signet, and from the early connection of his own father with the movement, soon came into an excellent business, which was greatly extended when he married the daughter and heiress of Mr. Robert Haldane. For many years he moved in the first circles of society, and as he continued in membership with the Congregational Church, under the Rev. John Aikman, he was looked up to, and greatly trusted by all in fellowship with it. He appeared in every respect a wealthy, thriving man,—had a splendid house, a showy equipage, and his liberality kept pace with his seeming prosperity. When, however, apparently in the possession of ample means, and enjoying the confidence of all parties, he suddenly disappeared from Edinburgh-and whither he had fled no one knew-the cause of his flight was only ascertained when his affairs came to be examined, for he was found a defaulter to the extent of sixty thousand pounds, or three hundred thousand dollars.

What rendered his conduct singularly disgraceful was the fact that a large proportion of his defalcations were the savings of elderly persons, mostly Congregationalists and Baptists, who lodged them in his hands for investment, but which he had appropriated to his own use, paying them the interest, until his affairs became hopelessly involved.

It appeared, afterwards, that he had gone to the south of France, and settled in Bourdeaux,--and there his hypocrisy was still in exercise,-for, many years afterwards, a paragraph appeared in the papers, that "the English residents in that city now worshiped in a neat chapel, which had been built and presented to them by a Scotch gentleman, Farquhar Gordon, Esq., who had long been an inhabitant, and sympathized with his countrymen in the privations to which they had long been subjected.”

No severer trial could befall Mr. Robert Haldane, and it certainly, in some measure, brought his gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. His grandchildren, however, grew up to be a solace to him, and those of them who still survive are worthy of their relationship to him.

He died December 12th, 1842, after a short illness, aged seventy-eight years, and was buried in Glasgow Cathedral. His brother, Mr. James Alexander Haldane, survived him nine years, dying February 5th, 1851, aged eighty-three. He continued, as we have said, to the close of his long life, as actively engaged as ever. If his church diminished to a handfull, there was no diminution of his zeal and fervency. He was ever ready to coöperate in every good work, and few men went down to the grave more highly honored or more sincerely lamented.

It is a beautiful trait in both, that their affectionate intercourse never seems to have been for an instant disturbed, but a genuine love bound them together while life lasted. They were, in truth, remarkable men, and deserve to be held in lasting remembrance.

The estimation in which the public held them, respectively, was shown in their funerals. Mr. Robert Haldane died and was buried without any expression of sorrow being called forth, though few have passed away from earth leaving such a record as he left, of princely liberality in the cause of Christianity, and of labors and contributions for the upholding and confirming the faith of God's people, But his unfortunate hauteur separated him from the sympathies of his fellow men.

But when Mr. James Alexander Haldane was borne to the grave, his was in every respect a public funeral. It was felt that one of the worthiest of the inhabitants was being carried to his last resting place,—and thousands voluntarily joined the procession to testify their veneration.

An Edinburgh paper thus speaks of it: "Although intended to be strictly private, his funeral drew together a large concourse of the citizens of Edinburgh, anxious to do homage to his public character and private worth. No man was less disposed to court the applause of men, or indulge the semblance of ostentation; but the respect shown to his memory by the ministers and members of different religious communities in this city, is a noble demonstration of Christian sympathy with all that is exemplary in a long and consistent career of Christian devotedness." So strong was the hold which his life and labors had taken on the public mind.

ARTICLE II. THE PRESENT ATTITUDE OF THE
CHURCH TOWARD CRITICAL AND SCIENTIFIC
INQUIRY.

The Limits of Religious Thought Examined. In eight Lectures, delivered before the University of Oxford, in the year 1858, on the Bampton Foundation. By HENRY LONGUEVILLE MANSEL, B. D., &c., &c. First American, from the third London edition. With the Notes translated. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1859. pp. 364.

Recent Inquiries in Theology, by eminent English Churchmen; being "ESSAYS AND REVIEWS." Reprinted from the second London edition. Edited, with an Introduction, by Rev. FREDERICK H. HEDGE, D.D. Boston: Walker, Wise and Company. 1860. pp. 480.

WERE Christianity not true, divine and absolute, it would have perished, ere now, at the hands of its very friends. By damaging assumptions and suicidal concessions, the partisans of the Church have repeatedly jeopardized her interests, distorted her theology, and heaped upon her obloquy and shame.

Time was, when theologians assumed for their interpretation of the Bible an absolute infallibility on all points of science, chronology, history, and metaphysics. Then men believed, on scriptural authority, that the world was fixed; that it was the center of the universe, around which sun, moon, and stars revolved, set in the solid firmament of heaven. To doubt this was heresy. Galileo was thrown into a dungeon, and compelled formally to recant his propositions. Astronomy was branded Antichrist. Still the planet went spinning and whirling along its orbit; and Pope, Bible, and Astronomer went spinning and whirling with it; and

[ocr errors]

Christianity did not fall-but no thanks to the Pope's anathe mas, nor to the doctrine of Verbal Inspiration.

About the same time a furious controversy arose among philologists concerning the purity of the sacred text. Assuming that the very letter of the Bible was the immediate, personal work of the Holy Spirit, and presuming that the Holy Spirit would be incapable of sanctioning grammatical blunders and idiomatic expressions, Christian scholars claimed that the New Testament afforded the most finished specimens of pure Athenian Greek. So with regard to the Old Test ament, it was held that every vowel-point and accent of the Hebrew text was authentic and exact. These opinions were by some regarded as essential points of orthodoxy: on these mere questions of grammar was staked the authority of the Christian faith. But at last the Purists were constrained to yield, and to admit that the Greek of the New Testament was but a miserable dialect, as unlike the language of Thucydides and Xenophon as our low-life vernacular differs from the elegant English of Prescott or Macaulay. Corruptions were also discovered in the text of the Old Testament; and various indications made it evident that the elaboration of Hebrew manuscripts had never formed part of the office of the Holy Spirit. Still Christianity was not overthrown, although its zealous champions were discomfited and driven back from their unwarranted assumptions.

Again, more recently, Sir William Herschel, penetrating the awful depths of space, declared the existence of stars at such a distance from our system that their light, traveling at the rate of twelve millions of miles a minute, would require tens and hundreds of thousands of years to reach the earth— a fact slightly militating against the chronology of the Old Testament, according to which, in its then received interpretation, the universe had not existed six thousand years. Then Geology began to urge its wonderful discoveries, proving that the earth must have existed unknown ages-that animals and plants had lived and died through immeasurable cycles of time-facts so plainly contradictory to the received interpretation of Genesis, that many, even of the most sanguine and

liberal Christian scholars, trembled for the safety of their faith.

We are all familiar with the controversy to which these developments gave rise. The noise of the battle has not yet ceased. Looking over the field we see the partisans of the Old Interpretation occupying the same ground, and employing the same tactics, that cost them the victory in every previous battle. Again we see them dislodged from their assumed positions, as to what the Bible is, and what it teaches, and Infidelity triumphing over their discomfiture, and waiting to see the whole system of Christianity abandoned. Surely, that Christianity exists and flourishes to-day, is due to its own intrinsic truth and excellence, rather than to the needless, ill-devised, and oftentimes dishonorable expedients resorted to by its anxious supporters.

Be it understood, we allude here to those extreme positions to which one-sided theologians and scientific men have at various times repelled each other. We do not ignore that large body of Christian students of Nature and the Word of God, who recognize the mutual services of Science and Christianity. But here are, on the one hand, dabblers in Science, whose motives seem grossly infidel,-and, on the other hand, Christian men, whose motives may be very excellent, but whose methods are discreditable and damaging to the very cause which they profess to support. These are they who raise the dust and noise of conflict, who call themselves the Champions of Science, the Defenders of the Faith, who create between Science and Christianity a fictitious antagonism, who profess to represent the one side or the other in their controversial tactics, and who would link with their own fate that of the cause whose colors they assume. Thank God!— both Science and Christianity pursue their ways independent of these machinations of their partisans. The Pope puts Galileo in a dungeon, but the world moves on. The Astronomer demonstrates that the world moves, but Christianity endures.

When we consider, however, the mischief that this spirit of antagonism and partisanship has done the cause of truth;

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »