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LETTERS TO THE SUPPORTERS OF THE
could have selected. But, although you have applied to sacred subjects a
more vigorous style, and a more enerNo I.-To the Reverend THOMAS getic imagination, than are commandCHALMERS, D.D.
ed by any other preacher of your day,
have SIR, -I know no man who has less not been immeasurably surpassed in reason when a letter is brought to your own field by many illustrious him, to dread that it may contain predecessors. Your reasoning is lame something disagreeable to his feelings, and weakly, when compared with that than Dr Chalmers. You have over- of Butler and Paley. Your erudition come many disadvantages, and achieve is nothing to that of a Lardner, a Wared many triumphs ; your enemies are burton, or a Horsley. Your eloquence few, and the nature of the reproaches is jejune, when set by the side of Barwhich they pour out against you be- row, or any of the great old English trays very distinctly the meanness and preachers ; and must always seem envy from which they are sprung.- coarse, and even unnatural, to those Your friends are numerous; all of who are familiar with Massillon and them admire your genius as an author, Bossuet. Nevertheless, you are assurand venerate your zeal as a clergyman; edly a great man. Your mind is cast and not a few of them, add to all this, in an original mould. Your ardour is a sincere and ardent love of the sim- intense, and no one can resist the plicity and the kindness which form stream of your discourse, who has eithe best ornaments of your character ther heart to feel what is touching, or in private life. Your reception in the soul to comprehend what is sublime. world is such as might spoil a mind A man, situated as you are, cannot less pure and dignified than yours. fail to be the subject of much converThe flattery of women, and the vulgar, sation among those who are acquaintyou could not of course fail to despise; ed with his merits. But the “ Digito but the most dangerous of all tempta- monstrarier et dicier hic est,” are sometions, the “ Laudari a viris laudatis," times the penalty, as well as the prize, has been abundantly served up to you ; of eminence; and the same causes you have been extolled by every one which secure every exertion of your of your eminent contemporaries who virtue or your genius from neglect, has had occasion to hear you preach. cannot fail to draw upon every departYou have overcome the cold dignity ure from the one, and every misappliof Lord Castlereagh, and the reluctant cation of the other, the eye of a most scepticism of Mr Jeffrey, with equal minute and jealous scrutiny. Your ease; and you have taken a station in faults are likely to be blazoned with the eye
of your country, above what the same clamour which waits upon is, or has lately been, occupied by your excellencies; and the world, any clergyman, either of the Eng- which is in no case fond of giving too lish or of the Scottish church.
much praise, will hasten to atone for The praises which have been heap- the violence with which it has applauded upon you, have indeed, in many ed, by the bitterness with which instances, been extravagant and ab- will condemn. surd. I consider you as a man of Do not fear that I have made these strong intellect and ardent imagina- observations by way of a prelude to tion; but I believe, that both in rea- abuse. You have no admirer more son and fancy, you have, at the pre- sincere than myself. Although not sent time, many superiors; and that, personally acquainted with you, I love had you selected for the subject of and respect your character--and every your disquisitions any other topic part of it. I by no means coincide than that of religion, your labours with some extravagant positions of would have attracted much less notice the rhapsodist who praised you some than they have done. I say not this months ago in the pages of this Magaby way of disparaging your talents, zine ; but the admiration I feel for for almost every great man is calculat- you is as sincere as his can be ; and if ed to shine in one department, not in you be displeased with any part of my many; and that in which your great- address, remember, I beseech you,
that ness has been shewn, is certainly as my officiousness is only another illusworthy of respect as any which you tration of the old Greek proverb, which
that Love hates to be silent,” presence lends to pleasure its greatest sgws & piasi to ozāv. I think you cannot charm, whose absence, or coldness, possibly be the worse of being told, would be sufficient to throw a damp that in my apprehension, and in that over every exertion, and to chill the of many who admire and love you as very fountain of all our enjoyment. I do, you have lately fallen into a great We must go out of the world altogeand dangerous error. I by no means ther, if we are never to mingle in the wish to set up my voice with any thing society of the ungodly; but, say you, in like petulance or pertinacity against no moment of our intercourse with the the conduct of one entitled to so world, and the men of the world, much respect. You may have rea- should we allow ourselves entirely to sons, perhaps good ones, for what you forget that we ourselves have our treahave done. But, be assured, the world sure laid up elsewhere-far less should is
very anxious to hear them; and till we ever, by any deportment of ours, they are explained, in the eyes of all confirm the evil principles, or countegood Christians, and, I will add, of all 'nance the evil deeds, whose existence honest men, you are not what you were. we cannot but observe among those
Your conscience has already spoken. with whom we are thus, at times, com- There is no need for going about pelled to associate. On the contrary, the bush with a man of your stamp. we should take every opportunity of You are sensible that the world has letting all men see what we arereason to wonder at your conduct in we should remember, that the faith becoming a contributor to the Edin- which we possess is not a thing to be burgh Review ; and you confess, be- worn like a gala garment, and laid afore I ask you to do so, that, by as- side at pleasure for weeds less likely to suming this character, you have tar- attract attention-we should take care nished the purity of your reputation. that civility to our neighbours do not As you have committed the offence, make us forgetful or careless of the however, more frequently than once, duty which we owe to ourselves. I shall not ask your leave to tell you, If an ordinary Christian be thus at somewhat greater length, both the bound to preserve and shew his Chrisgrounds and the nature of the opinion tianity in the midst of all his occupawhich the public is likely to form in tions, it follows, I apprehend, pretty respect to every Christian Minister clearly, that a Christian author must who lends his support to the declin- lie under an obligation no less binding ing credit of that once formidable with regard to the conduct, purport, Journal.
and probable effect of all his writings. From all that I have either heard or The Bible informs us, that the Chrisread of your discourses in the pul- tian ought to consider himself as pit, if there is one thing more than city set upon a hill;" surely the saany other characteristic of you as a cred preacher, the pious author, cannot preacher, it is the zeal with which you but consider himself as occupying the are never weary of telling your audi- most prominent part of this conspicuence, that Christianity should exert an ous situation. He cannot but know, intense and pervading influence, not that it is his fate to be only over their solemn acts of devotion, of all men.” Beza wrote obscene but over their minds, even when most songs; but this was in the days of his engaged with the business and the re- youth, and he lived abundantly to recreations wherein the greater part of pent and atone for his errors. Marot every life must of necessity be spent. wished to expiate the sin of his MaTrue religion, according to the doc- drigals; and he composed, with that trine which you support with such view, his metrical version of the persuasive and commanding eloquence, Psalms. It was reserved for Dr Chalis not the dark Sybil of some Pythian mers to exhibit the apparent converse cell, consulted only on great emergen- of their conduct; and after publishing cies, surrounded with my ious va- a powerful treatise on the Historical pours, and giving utterance to enig- Evidences of Christianity, and a series matical responses. She is, or ought to of masterly sermons against Modern be, the calm and smiling attendant of Infidelity, to delight the malignant, all our steps, the tutelary angel of and startle the friendly, by coming all our wishes and hopes, the confi- forth as the prop and pillar of a Deistdential friend and guardian, whose ical Review.
seen and read
The articles which you have as taking up any number of a periodical yet contributed to the Edinburgh work, to which he had been informed Review (such of them, at least, as Dr Chalmers was a contributor. He are generally known, or suspected would never suspect, that the sentito be yours), appear to me to be by ments of those who conduct this Journo means among the most happy of nal, and the main tenor of their disa your productions. You are an orator, quisitions, could be at all at enmity to but you are nothing else.' Your style those principles and feelings of which is formed for the pulpit, and no living he already knew you to be so zealous a preacher can there compete with you. partaker, and so vigorous a defender. But it was not more absurd in Vol- If he happened to be a weak man taire to attempt an epic poem, or in (and all good Christians are by no Mr Fox to attempt a history, than it means to be expected to have strong is in you to imagine that you can gain intellects), he would much rather honour to your name by writing in the question his own eyes or understandEdinburgh Review.-But this has no- ing, than the moral or religious tendthing to do with the subject of my ad- ency of any thing which he might read dress to you. Although you had written in these so consecrated pages. The like an angel-although you had shewn sanctity of your name would shed an yourself to be more witty than Mr Jef- air of reverence over all with which it frey, more logical than Mr Brougham, should be associated ; and he would and more scientific than Mr Playfair-I never dream that treason might lurk assert, that you could have had no rea- under those banners of which you were son to pique yourself upon your laur- pleased to declare yourself the champiels. I maintain, that by writing in on. If any man is told, that some parthis Review, you are injuring the oause ticular work is supported by a person of your faith and of your Master; and of acknowledged genius, he takes it for I know, that you are incapable of con- granted that the general talent of this soling yourself for wrong done to them, work is at least respectable, and that by any gratification which your indi- the great man, for whose name he envidual vanity might receive.
tertains so much regard, would never In one of your late publicationsma stoop to be the coadjutor of a herd of work with which, by the way, I was drivellers. Are we to rely with more much more pleased than most people confidence upon the consistency of inseem to have been-you caution your tellect than upon that of principle ? readers against blaming too much the Are we to allow more license to your papistical submission to creeds, coun- Christianity than we would to the gecils, and fathers, while they themselves nius of another man? The faith which are, in all probability, the equally un- you profess, should teach you that the questioning disciples of some less ven- talents you possess must all hereafter erable authorities. Believe me, the be accounted for. If the Judge be secircle in which you yourself move, vere upon him who buries his talent above all, the audience to which you in the napkin, how, think ye, will he preach, have great need to take this, look upon that man who pawns his your admonition, into their serious treasure to be the surety of the adverconsideration. I know of no man sary ? Take heed, sir, í beseech you ; whose ipse dixit affords at this mo- you know not into what serious evils ment a more common, or a more un- the indiscretion of a momentary vanidisputed, argument, among many ex- ty may bring the character and the tensive classes of society than your usefulness of a minister of Christ.
You are the oracle of a few; It is not necessary to suppose, that but many, very many, who make no many men can be found so ignorant, man their oracle, are inclined to listen or so obtuse, as to believe that the with the utmost attention to your ad- Edinburgh Review is a Christian vice, and to follow, without much ex- work, even although Dr Chalmers amination, any path of conduct which contributes, now and then, its leading seems to have the recommendation of articles. But may not much evil be your favour.—This much is certain, done, although the infatuation should that any foreigner, a stranger to our stop very considerably short of this ? country and our popular literature, Is there no danger that they who see after a perusal of your avowed works, the difference between your avowed would think himself extremely safe in principles and those of the Journal which you befriend, may be led, by rejoiced to find genius as great as they the respect in which they hold your had before followed into evil, acting as character and judgment, to suspect, the pillar and cloud which should that this difference, great and evident conduct them into the land of security as it may be, is a matter of much less and faith. What a blow it is to all moment than they had formerly sup- their expectations, when they see that posed ? You know as well as I do, you, who talk in the pulpit as if a how natural a thing scepticism is; clever sceptic were the most dangerous with what a seductive charm it seizes pest that ever was let loose upon som upon the affections of the young, the ciety, can condescend to cater for that vain, and the inconsiderate; how it banquet, of which scoffers and infidels flatters the self-love of the ignorant, are the principal purveyors ! How can and luils to repose the inquietude of you suppose that these men will turn the slothful. You know how many from the cold blasphemies or impish there are to be found in every city, grins of the old Reviewers, with that who, even after they have recovered horror which every devout and stedfrom the delusion of youthful self- fast Christian must feel in perusing sufficiency, and learned to suspect that their writings, when they find, that, some things are too high for the in- in spite of all their grins and all their vestigation of unassisted reason, are blasphemies, those heirs of the maligyet held in fetters by the habits which nity of Gibbon and the scorn of Vol. they have acquired, and arrested at taire are aided and abetted in their the threshold of faith by the phantom impious undertakings by the sincere, of doubts which they have in vain en- the zealous, the manly intellect of deavoured to dispel. Your experience Chalmers ? What, think you, would as a clergyman has, I doubt not, made the good men of less sophisticated ages known to you many unhappy indivi- have said to the spectacle of such duals, who thus suffer, by the indeci- alarming inconsistency ? Would Milsion of many comfortless years, for the ton have patronised a miscellany confleeting satisfaction of their youthful ducted by Mr Hobbes ? Would Adpride. You have seen such men ; you dison have been the coadjutor of have pitied them ; perhaps it has not Bolingbroke or Shaftesbury? Would unfrequently been your lot to console Johnson have sent forth his essays their weary spirits, and strengthen mingled with those of Hume? I contheir shrinking resolutions. What sider you as both morally and inteleffect, think ye, will it have upon leetually very much the superior of such minds as these, to hear that you Robertson ; but I think you might lend your countenance, and the strength derive a very important lesson, from of your name and genius, to the Edin- contrasting the contempt wherewith burgh Review ?-that you are allow- his memory is loaded, with the reing your writings to go forth into the spect which infidels and Christians world, and give their influence to for- alike accord to the firm integrity of ward the success of a work, from Whitaker. * whose treacherous pages it has perhaps There is only one supposable case been their misfortune to derive not a in which I should think it justififew of those evil impressions which able, or even commendable in you, to are rendering their lives unhappy ?- be a contributor to Mr Jeffrey's Rethat you are become the patron of view. It is this. Since the moment those whom they cannot help cursing this Review was commenced, it has as the misguiders of their youth, maintained a remarkable silence with whose impious jeers have left a poison regard to one very important part of within their breasts, so foul and rank- our national literature.
Our poets, ling, that no after penitence can en- philosophers, historians, travellers, and tirely expel it,-whose derision has wits, have received abundant attenacted as a corrosive pestilence, muti- tion; but little or nothing has been lating and wasting away, within them, ever said about our divines. Two or every thing that is most generous in three volumes of sermons have indeed feeling, and most sublime in prin- been reviewed ; and these have been ciple? They had begun to reverence thus highly favoured, it would appear, you as the weight in the scale, which was likely to give to the right cause * See Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, its just preponderance. They were vol. iii.
rather on account of personal regard open and candid manner, I think you to their authors, than from any affec- might safely have quenched all your tion for the subjects of which they scruples, and set your shoulders to the treat. The reviews of these books work, infinitely to your own honour were written, indeed, with a decent and to the benefit of the Review. But air; but the most superficial observer this is not so. The Review still concannot fail to see, that, in discussing tinues to be the organ of infidelity. the literary merits of Moncrieff, Ali- The part which you play is a very son, and Morehead, the critic has humble one. You are only allowed been very careful to abstain from any to write on subjects unconnected with thing like an eulogy on that peculiar religion : while you are earnestly en." system of faith which it has been, treated to join the camp, the weapons throughout life, the chief object of all in whose use you are most skilful are these good men's endeavours to illus- maliciously kept out of your hands. trate and defend. Your own works You are rather there as a part of the have excited much more attention pageant than as one of the substantial among the literary as well as the combatants. It suits neither your Christian world, than any other reli- interest nor your reputation to maingious compositions of our day, but tain so pitiful a post. It is unworthy not one of them has ever been noticed of you to write in any book, wherein in this Review,--a circumstance which you dare not give full vent to your I attribute not to any unwillingness thoughts on that subject which you on the part of Mr Jeffrey to gratify profess to consider as of paramount and praise you, but to the intensely weight and dignity. I own that there Christian aspect and air of the writings would be some risk of ridicule in the themselves, and the difficulty, or rather attempt to render the Edinburgh ReI should say the impossibility, of as- view a defender of Christianity. But signing to you your due place among the if this be sv, if you shrink from the literary men of the time, without say- derision of the men of the world, ing something decided concerning the should you not still more shrink from topics which you have handled so well, their contemptAnd contempt, you and from which the chief inspiration may depend upon it, is the best wages of your genius seems unquestionably which some of your present coadjutors to be derived. Now I do not suppose will ever give you for all your complifor a moment, that you could stoop to follow the example of some of your In spite of every thing, you cannot brother authors, and review yourself'; avoid shewing us, who know you, that but I see nothing absurd in imagining even in your assumed character of an that you might very well review and Edinburgh Reviewer, you still preapplaud those who are employed on serve the same ardent love for Christhe same subjects, and animated with tianity which shines with a more the same hopes, which you yourself effectual splendour among the volove and cherish. Had Mr Jeffrey lumes you have published with your said to Dr Chalmers, “I cannot ven
In one eloquent passage, you ture to say a word with respect to re- even advance and maintain, with no ligion, but I pledge myself to insert ordinary vigour, the principle, that nothing in the Review which can ap- the extended influence of our religion pear hostile to it. Take you this would of itself be sufficient to remove matter entirely into your hands: you all those evils of pauperism and poorsunderstand it better than any of our rates which at present occupy so much confederacy. The want of religious of the attention of the British legislareviews is the greatest defect of our ture. This is noble, and worthy of Journal; for theological writings have you. But do not imagine that the full always formed a most important part ineaning of the writer will ever be of English literature, and even in that guessed at by the majority of those point of view alone, I am sensible that who read the passage. They are so our neglect of them is a radical error. much accustomed to see the terms of Say what you please, and do what you “ the truth,” and “our holy religion," please, with this branch of the Review. &c. coupled in this Journal with obLeave me the belles lettres and the vious taunts and gibes against the science, and take you the religion, most sacred mysteries of their faith, &c.” Hal Mr Jefrey acted in this that they take it for granted the