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outline of the general plan he has pursued in the present little book, and intends to pursue in the sequel.
The book consists of a series of lectures which were delivered two successive seasons to very large miscellaneous audiences on Sabbath Evenings in his own chapel in Dundee. He mentions this to explain the general style of the composition, which is not didactic or specially researching, but popular. He has gone over the salient points—the summa fastigia rerum—and striven rather to give a broad clear outline than to go into minute details, or to present the results of any new investigation of facts. Yet he trusts that few inaccuracies of much importance will be found.
His great aim throughout has been candour and catholicity of judgment. Occasionally, in condemning the acts of the stronger party, he may have erred by allowing his feelings to hurry him into extravagance. This may be in some measure excused on account of the fact that, apart from his own temperament, he is of the Covenanting and Seceding race, and much as he differs from some of their views, he glories in the relationship. He aims at being eclectic, but has yet to learn that indifferentism and eclecticism are the same thing.
While something of the perfervid blood of his country may be found in the spirit of these pages, the views of things will be found to approach those of the Broad Church School more than is yet common in Scotland. None of the men, indeed, assuming that name, does he call master, not even Arnold, the “ father of them all;" and from many of the opinions of their present leaders he considerably differs. But he largely honours the object which they seek, which is to deliver Christianity from its mummy swathings and encumbrances, to make it a power in the present instead of a mere tradition of the past, to get its kernel to survive the husk, its spirit to outsoar the letter, and to bring it more into rapport with the literature, philosophy, and progressive tendencies of the age. He feels that if “the Word of the Lord” is “to endure for ever," it must be not by its remaining apart upon some lofty eminence, and uttering its thunderous oracles, but by coming down and mingling with and seeking to colour and to consecrate the energies which are at work in the vale. He believes that it is high time for Christians to abandon many of the outposts, some of which have been driven in and others shattered, and to concentrate their energies in the defence of the citadel, the leading and central truth. And should it be said that it, too, may by and by be in danger, he replies—"No; since while the outposts are of men, the central truth in our religion is of God; and therefore it cannot be shaken, but must remain.”
There is at present in London a club newly formed, which is certainly one of the signs of the times. It is called, he understands, “The Metropolitan Club," and its object is the freest discussion of the great philosophical and religious questions of the day. It is to include representatives of all sections of thought, and a Tennyson and a Huxley, a Maurice and a Martineau, a Dean Stanley and an Archbishop Manning, are to be among its members. He hails such an institute with hope and gladness. He will be intensely disappointed if it do not issue in good, and if Scotland and its Evangelicalism do not furnish some members and thousands of sympathisers with it. It is on a much smaller scale certainly than Pope Pio Nono's new “Council of Trent;” but even as Burke's “Reflections” was a real and effectual “Reply” to the French Revolution, and a book was the means of modifying the will of a great nation; so he trusts that this select vestry of master spirits, and the works to issue from it, may be of service in checking the reaction of mediæval imposture on the one hand, and of destroying some of the beggarly elements of a doting Protestantism on the other.
DUNDEE, 5th October, 1869.
PROTESTING AND REFORMING MEN,
CROMWELL, MILTON, THE PURITANS, COVENANTERS,
FIRST SECEDERS, METHODISTS, &c.
REV. GEORGE GILFILLAN,
Author of “Bards of the Bible,” “ Night, a Poem,” &c., &c.
LONDON: ELLIOT STOCK, 62 PATERNOSTER ROW. EDINBURGH: JOHN MENZIES & CO., 2 HANOVER STREET. GLASGOW: T ADAMSON, 165 COWCADDENS STREET.
210. f. 357