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large choir representing in ample ratio the whole body of worshipers, with leader and organist, and, as far as can be, members also, devout Christians. It may not execute the delicate passages of song so artistically as would a half dozen of thoroughly trained performers. It might, however, supply voices competent to occasional solo, duett, or quartette pieces, to which there is no objection, as subordinate parts of service, from early usage, or in the nature of service. But this is a very different thing from turning our organ galleries into operatic stages, for the insulting of God and His church with profane counterfeits of devout song. That is simply an abomination -as literal a robbery of Christ as is conceivable. The object of Christian praise is to glorify him, and not to glorify “bright, particular stars” at the organ board, or in front of it. Our congregational churches had a thousand times better let a man read prayers out of a book in their pulpits, than to tolerate such pretences to Christian song as we have all around us. A numerous, well-trained choir, leading off the assembly in its praise, supplies the best features of this service at present within reach, or perhaps at any time desirable. On the one hand, it can furnish a suitable rendering of special pieces of music when these are needed for special occasions. On the other hand, it can suppress, in its strong volume of concert harmony, any dissonance which may mingle with it from the pews.
A very feeble objection is sometimes adventured against the position now taken, and in favor of quartette singing, that as, in our congregations, the service of prayer is in the hands of a single person, so the service of praise may with the like propriety be entrusted to—not one-for we have not yet reached that so lo platform as the habitual usage; but to a very small number of singers—one to each part, that as the others are presumed to join mentally in the praying, so they may spiritually share in the giving of praise. It might as well, perhaps, be admitted that we are at fault just at this point; that it was neither the design of the institution of public prayer to confine it to the minister of the congregation, nor was it the primitive
custom of Christian assemblies. It is simply an entail upon us from the reaction of Puritanism from the natural enough, but as we see, the excessive, anxiety of those good men to be rid of every shred of prelatic perversion from which they had suffered, which banished the organ from the sanctuary, and even the Bible from not a few of their pulpits, and all spoken participation by the people from the prayers of the church. The motive was pure ; the method was undistinguishing and more than questionable. There is no reason for one man's expressing all the devotion of the congregation in the pulpit, more than one to express the praise in sacred song. It is a serious evil of our mode of worship that the bulk of the assembly is quite too passive, being simply receptive, and this only in a very partial way, and scarcely parties at all to the privileges of the hour. A brief selection of prayers to be offered audibly by the people, together with a much freer participation than is usual in the public praise of the sanctuary, would realize to us a far more true, and lively, and edifying idea of Christian worship. Experiments in this direction, when wisely made, should be received with thankfulness, instead of that cheap sneer of over-churchly tendencies which has done so much duty in weakening, not strengthening or beautifying, our hereditary ecclesia.
FREDERICK W. ROBERTSON.*
The “Life and Letters of Frederick W. Robertson” have now been before the public for some months. It is one of the few biographies which are destined to have an abiding interest and influence. The book is to be judged as it gives a picture of the man. The true matter of criticism is the man, his character, opinions, work and influence. The compiler has, in the main, done his part well. He has sketched, in wellchosen words, the incidents of Robertson's outer life, and woven in, all along, letters in which he himself reveals the changing phases of his inner life. Yet we note one serious deficiency. It is the want of a full, clear explanation of that change of opinions which was the crisis of Robertson's life and the beginning of his marked distinction as a preacher. Perhaps it was a gradual rather than a sudden change, and so hard to be detined. However that may be, it is certain that the letters of that period are few and obscure, and the biographer does but little to relieve the obscurity respecting that struggle of soul, out of which came, as through birth-pangs, the impulses and elements of power that left the impress of the man on the world. True, these are the things of a man which none knoweth “save the spirit of man which is in him." Yet it does seem that something might have been added which would throw light on this case, and bring light out of it to aid other struggling souls.
* LIFE AND LETTERS OF FREDERICK W. ROBERTSON, edited by Stepford A. Brooke. Two volumes in one. Boston: Fields, Osgood & Co. Chicago : S. C. Griggs & Co. 12mo, pp. 352 and 359.
This life-portrait, as we have it, is full of significance. We desire, in this article, to present it, in outline, for contemplation and study. Frederick W. Robertson was born in London, February 3rd, 1816. He died in Brighton, August 15th, 1853. So thirty-seven and a half years measure the time of his earthly life. His father was a captain of artillery. For five years the child lived in soldiers' quarters and breathed a military atmosphere, the influence of which was never lost. At the same time, he was favored with home influences, which molded his character by elements of virtue and piety. When the boy was five years old, his father retired on half-pay to attend to the education of his children. This was wisely conducted so as to combine the benefits of private and public instruction, the influences of home with those of school-life. Frederick's academic education was received in the New Academy, of Edinburgh, where, after two years attendance, he was graduated at the age of eighteen.
We have his picture, as a boy-broad and stout, iron in strength, a leader in athletic sports,—yet withal, thoughtful, imaginative, loving communion with nature, of which he was a close observer, fond of reading also, and full of dreamy fancies,—an acknowledged leader of his fellows, when with them,
-a willing exile for the sake of indulging his fancy. At the same time, a strong will held him to diligence in study, and a more than common aptness to learn made him “facile princeps" in his classes. In disposition, he showed a peculiar combination of qualities. He was romantic, sensitive, delicate, humble, gentle, yet practical, sensible, unselfish, brave. His mother said of him, “I never knew him tell a lie, and he would rather have lost every prize in the Academy than owe one to foreign help or to the aid of translations.” In all this the child was father to the man.
Enthusiasm for military life was born in him, and fostered through childhood and youth, as of the traditions of the family. In later life, he writes, “I was rocked and cradled to the roar of artillery. I cannot see a regiment manœuvre nor artillery in motion without a choking sensation." All his early thoughts and aims were of distinction in the army. But his father, understanding better his nature and a soldier's life, proposed the Church to him for a profession. His first response was, “Anything but that: I am not fit for it.” He was induced to try the study of law for a year, but he had no taste for that profession, and his health broke down. Then, yieiding to his inclination, his father applied for a commission in the horse-guards with fair prospect of success. The dream of his childhood seemed about to be realized. He entered with enthusiasm on studies which should prepare him to be a good officer; his soul, at the same time, full of poetic and religious sentiment. He would be “the Cornelius of his regiment." Anticipating an appointment for India, he would be the soldier-missionary. But his appointment was long delayed.
Meantime, a casual incident brought him in contact with a kindred spirit in one who read his character, and whose urgent persuasion changed the whole course of his life. Referring to this incident afterwards, Robertson says, “If I had not met a certain person, I should not have changed my profession : if I had not known a certain lady, I should not probably have met this person; if that lady had not had a delicate daughter, who was disturbed by the barking of my dog; if my dog had not barked that night, I should now have been in the Dragoons, or fertilizing the soil of India. “All is free,' that is false;
all is fated,' that is false. “All things are free and fated,' that is true.” The suggestions of this new friend, agreeing with his father's advice, he was induced to make the sacrifice and give up his cherished idea of a military life. So, he was matriculated in Brazennose College, at Oxford, and began his preparation for the Church. A fortnight after this step was taken, an army commission came for liim, but he would not retreat. It was in him to be a soldier, but his free choice responded to the call of God and he would be a soldier of the cross.
Just then Henry Newman was leading out the “ Tractarian” movement. The fervor and sincerity which marked that school attracted Robertson to it, and he was urged to join. But after a struggle of mind, the conviction prevailed that they were in error. So strong was this conviction, that he started a society for prayer and the study of the Scriptures, for the purpose of counteracting the influence of the Tractarians. His views, now, were thoroughly evangelical, leaning to moderate Calvinism. He said, referring to this period of his life, that the writings of Plato, Aristotle and Edwards “had passed like the iron atoms of the blood into his mental constitution.” He was urged by his tutors to study for honors, but declined to do so, and contented himself with passing the examination for a degree. After a subsequent course of study, he was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Winchester, July 12th, 1840, in his twenty-fourth year. For his first charge, he was appointed curate in Winchester, under a rector who held two parishes united.
The prevailing tone of his mind on entering the ministry was a tone of sadness, the effect of his vivid imagination and