« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
Feeling of Dependence on God.
own strength, if he aim to convert men by his learning or eloquence, if he stand up as one who can reason well, or write well, or speak well, and can thereby vanquish the enemies of the cross, there is more hope of a fool than of him. All his power is lost, if he confide in it for subduing his hearers. He takes the attitude of a man hoping to overcome a host of his fellow men, while they are behind the barricade of an habitual, a natural, a total selfishDess, impervious to his spear, impregnable to his battle-axe; and they laugh him to scorn. They are fully set to do evil, and he is but partially inclined to do well; their name is legion, and he is but one man, possibly in some respects an inferior man, and he comes out single-handed, breathing defiance sometimes against the intellect and always against the will of a multitude, an exceeding great army, who have never yet for one moment succumbed, either to their own consciences or to God. Such an attempt is chargeable, on the Christian system, with the same fault which Cicero so often condemns on the Pagan system, with immodesty, inconsiderateness, presumption. It must therefore be powerless, for such qualities are at war with all the principles of persuasion. These principles, while they recognize an effective. ness in the pulpit, require that it be secondary to the special operation of divine grace. The power of the minister presupposes the feeling of his dependence on God, and the felt doctrine of this dependence is the chief element of his power. There is a wheel rolling within a wheel; and he who thinks himself able to transform the hearts of his people, is disabled by that very thought, while he who confesses his inability derives from that confession, if an honest and devout one, the true force of the gospel When a preacher is weak then is he strong; for then he sues for aid from heaven, and associates his words with the omnipotence of Jehovah. If he saves his power he will lose it, but if he lose his power he will save it; for when he banishes from the heart all pride and self-confidence then and then only “he is filled with all the fulness of God.” Fearing to put himself forward he lets the Deity speak for him, and men listen to him not as to an independent declaimer, but as to one who has a commission, who stands as a vicegerent, the acknowledged representative of the Head of the Church. Hiding his own effort in the effectual working of the divine Spirit, he is above the reach of criticism. Men will be disarmed of their opposition to one who is so unassuming, but will be awed down by the presence of that dread Being who dwelleth in the humble and contrite preacher. Feeling his dependence, he "does all things through Christ that strengtheneth him," and he speaks eloquently because “ it is not he that speaks, but the grace of God which is with him.” It is this felt and manifested reliance on the life-giving Spirit which transforms a bodily presence that is comparatively weak, and a speech that is relatively contemptible, and a preaching that is in one sense foolishness, "into the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation.” It is no paradox, but the soberuess of experience to say, that he who fulfils his ministry "in weakness and fear and in much trembling," clothes himself thereby" with the exceeding greatness of that power which worketh mightily" both in and by its ministers, and he who glories as a wise man will “glory in infirmity.” A self-sufficient bearing in a speaker, makes his hearers jealous and pugnacious, and so much the more stubborn in their resistance to him as he urges them in his own strength to a good life. But when he feels that he is inadequate of himself to convert them, they feel that they are wrestling with another being than himself, that his sufficiency is of God, and thus having his resources in heaven, he speaks “ with the demonstration of the Spirit and with power.” So soon as a revival of religion seems to be the work of men, it loses its dignity and becomes a mere fanatical excitement, and in a few weeks dies away like a crackling of thorns upon a cold hearth. And so soon as a sermon either appears to be, or in reality is, the unaided effort of a man, that moment it ceases to be a sermon, and degenerates into any essay or an harangue. It is the truth which exhibits power, and the truth is that we are dependent on the special interposition of the Holy One for every wise use of that power. This part of truth, this doctrine of dependence must be believed, must be felt, must be manifested by the preacher, or he will not be a preacher of the whole truth; he will keep back one essential agency, and so doing he must expect that like Ananias, who held back part of the price, he will fall down spiritually dead before the elders.
If in these particulars and in others which might be specified, a minister would be like Apollos, that “ eloquent man who mightily convinced the Jews that Jesus was the Christ,” then also like Apollos must he be "mighty in the Scriptures,” having an intellect well disciplined to understand them, not merely in their letter, but in their general scope and their connection with the principles of science. He must be a laborious and self-denying man, immersing himself in a toil from which he will rest in heaven only. It is not enough for him that he be acquainted with religious
Coleridge and his American Disciples.
doctrine ; he must be familiar with it; familiar not simply with its general principles but also with its details, with its arguments, its controversies, its remote relations. He must have such a mas. tery over its recondite problems as will give him a power of writing down upon them, instead of making an ever confused and confusing effort to write up to them. He must live in the truth as Uriel stood in the sun, and must diffuse its radiance around him in ever diverging lines. He must draw the gospel out into his life, and be an impersonation of the duties which he ab. stractly commends. He must be fascinated with his work, must watch with eagerness and patient hope for the right times and the right modes of influence, must live as a stranger in the world from which he is to keep himself unspotted and for which he is to give himself up to prayer and fasting. He must not forbear to enrich his mind, through fear that his heart will be impoverished, bat he should aim to make his intellectual wealth a mere tributary to his spirit of devotion. Above all he should never so misapprehend his nature as to neglect the cultivation of his piety through fear of weakening his mental powers, but should know that bene orasse est bene studuisse, that "greater is he who ruleth his spirit than he who taketh a city," and that a sound and healthy moral growth, as it may be a consequent, should also be and will and must be an antecedent of the most vigorous intellectual development. As the body without the spirit is dead, so the intellect without the heart is destitute of its highest life.
COLERIDGE AND HIS AMERICAN DISCIPLES.
By Rev. Noah Porter, Jr. Professor in Yale College.
The name of Coleridge is already splendid and world-renowned. Wherever English Literature is known, there Coleridge is known as a poet, critic, scholar, philosopher, and theologian. As a poet, he has not merely attained the highest fame among those with whom he has measured himself in the accustomed orbs of the poet's flight; but he has created for himself new circles in which to fly, and borne himself through them with a strength and grace, that compels applause. Indeed there are single poems of his, which for splendid yet appropriate imagery, for purity of sentiment refined almost above the attainment of the holiest mortal, for the use of language at once as hard and pol. ished as the sculptured gem and as liquid as flowing oil, and for their sustained and consistent perfection to one harmonious and strong impression, are unsurpassed by any productions of the sons of song. As a critic, Coleridge benefited his own generation, and has left his impress on English literature, by introducing to notice a class of writers who had been strangely neglected and forgotten. He has given to the study of literature a high and a peculiar interest, by showing its relations to all the noblest interests of man, and its capacity to serve in his culture for this life, and to his training for heaven. Above all, by applying pow. ers such as his, capable of creating, to the humble office of interpreting the works of others, he has left behind him critiques which are as wonderful as his own poems, and which combine the peculiar interest which pertains to two minds, the original creator and his no less gifted commentator. As a scholar, Coleridge is remarkable for the extent, the thoroughness and the variity of his studies in so many departments of human knowledge, and perhaps more than all else for the high moral aims, and the exciting, invigorating influence of his various productions. Animated by his example and labors, thousands of youthful scholars have widened their range of study, have been inspired to a more laborious and yet more cheerful diligence, have turned their studies to a genial and purifying influence upon their own souls, and have brought with willing steps, the first and the choicest fruits of their toils as an offering for the altar of God.
In respect to the merits of Coleridge as a theologian and philosopher, there is a diversity of judgment among those in whose opinion, on such subjects, men are accustomed to confide. None, it is believed, deny that force and acuteness of intellect, are displayed in his writings on these subjects. Much less, would any be so daring as to deny, that these writings have exerted a decisive and lasting influence in England and in this country. But as to whether these writings are to be sought or should be avoided, and whether their actual influence has been good or bad, opinions are various and warmly opposed to each other.
A writer who proposes to himself as a theme,“ Coleridge's Theology and Metaphysics,” may with reason consider himself
Birth and Parentage of Coleridge.
committed to a somewhat formidable undertaking. His position becomes not a little more unpleasant, when he considers the various receptions which his views must meet with, whatever they may be. of Coleridge's philosophy one party can say nothing too laudatory and good. Another party can say nothing
Another party will say nothing definite, but are content to use it when it is convenient for their party purposes. As to his influence on theology and philosophy, in the views of some, it has been wholly healthful ; in the judgment of others, altogether deleterious and deadly. Some will doubtless judge that the theme should never again be broached in a theological journal, because “ Coleridgism” has worked itself through already. Others will think that the time has not yet come, for it has not worked itself far enough to its results. Some will think that the essay comes too soon, others that it is too late, others that it had best not come at all.
One advantage however comes from this peculiar position of things in the religious and theological world. It lays upon the adventurer in this turbid and unquiet sea, the necessity of being considerate and fair, an obligation which is too rarely heeded in theological discussion. The sacredness of this obligation the writer of this essay is happy to recognize. If he shall succeed in being mindful of it, he will satisfy himself, better than he expects to satisfy the retailer of religious gossip or the prejudiced theolog. ical partizan.
To do justice to Coleridge as a philosopher, it is necessary to study Coleridge as a man. To appreciate the merits and the defects of his theological system, one needs to acquaint himself intimately, with his living and personal self, and to know both his personal and mental history. We can always understand a man's writings and opinions better, for having seen and known him Much more can we do this to better advantage if his systern seems dark or peculiar, or if its merits have been involved in sharp dispute.
Samuel Taylor Coleridgel was born at Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, Oct. 21, 1772, and died at Highgate, July 25th, 1834. His father was a clergyman of great learning and purity of mind, but of little worldly wisdom. His mother possessed an affectionate disposition, and more knowledge of the affairs of this life than
See Life of S. T. Coleridge by James Gilman, London, 1838, of which one volume only has been published. See also Recollections, etc. of S. T. Coleridge by Joseph Cottle.