Images de page
PDF
ePub

Edinburgh, we come to the most the traits of his character, and the important action of his life to his state of the times. desertion of the cause of the Pres. We say then in the first place, byterians, and to the speedy conse- that this change was not brought quences of this step, the high hon about in Leighton by theological ors and preferments which literally sympathies. It will not be doubted met him on his path as he was pass- that although then, as since, a reing over from the one camp to the spectable number of divines in the other. An act like this always calls English church were Calvinists in for a narrow scrutiny. It is not sentiment, a larger number, and those strange that the Scotch Presbyteri. the most eminent in station and in ans should be stern judges of Leigh- learning, accorded with the views of ton's conduct. And we are free to the Armiians. When Bishop More say, that if we had not what we ley, himself a Calvinist it is said by feel to be a true portraiture of a Burnet, although no friend to the saint of God in his works, if we non-conformists, was asked what the viewed him merely amid the god. Arminians held, his witty reply was, less crew that for twenty eight years that “they held all the best bish. tried to force episcopacy upon the oprics and deaneries in England." Scotch, and in this endeavor goaded The party under whose sway the the Cameronians into frenzy and Lambeth articles ceased to be part even into dark fanaticism, and then of the creed of the Irish Episcopal punished with the prison and with church, can not surely be suspected death that fanaticism created by of having any strong bias in favor themselves—we say if we viewed of the doctrines of election and rephim thus merely, we should want robation. Nor were the fragments more than usual evidence to be wil. of the same ecclesiastical party in ling to give him the title of a holy, Scotland disinclined to the opinions nay, even of an honest man. But of their English brethren. The we rejoice that we need not look loud reproaches of Arminianism only at the strange circumstances, which were cast against them by the "uncouth neighborhood” where the covenanters, prove thus much we find him. We rejoice to think at least, that the views of Calvin that a good Cameronian, if he had found warmer advocates in the kirk seen into the heart of Leighton, than out of it. would have recognized a follower Leighton's own theological opinof Christ full of love and kindness, ions scem not to have departed from to whom persecution was a most the type of Calvinism which was unwelcome work, and who would then prevalent in Scotland. We rather suffer than be the instrument have indeed no positive assurance, of making others suffer.

that he retained these opinions in an joice too in the belief which this unaltered form to the close of his conviction concerning Leighton's life. But it is certain that he work. character allows us to entertain ; ed upon his commentary on Peter, that in this world of limited views, which is an important document in of prejudices, of erring judgments, determining his theology, after he good is so mixed up with evil, that the left the kirk; and here his Calvin. best men are often on the worst side. ism is as manifest as in any other

But a general belief in the in- of his writings.* Nor is there the tegrity of Leighton is not enough. It is necessary to account for his * The expressions in Leighton's com. conduct, and in so doing, as we

ment on 1 Pet. iv, 6, “whole families have already said, we shall enter hand," and though the pestilence doth

swept away by the late stroke of God's somewhat at large into his opinions, not now affright you," and on chap. iii,

We re

least probability that he subsequently love; and that thus he chooseth some modified his opinions, and yet left and rejecteth others is for that great end, his earlier works as representatives justice ; but why he appointed this man of a system which he had aban. for the one and that for the other, made doned.

Peter a vessel of this mercy and Judas of A few extracts illustrative of wrath, this is even so because it seemed

good to him. This if it be harsh yet is Leighton's way of judging in re. apostolic doctrine.” spect to certain distinctive points,

And soon afterwards he will not be out of place. On the

says : second verse of the 1st of Peter, 66 The connexion of these we are now (“elect according to the foreknowls for our profit to take notice of; that effecedge of God the father,”) he says : eternal foreknowledge or election on the

tual calling, is inseparably tied to this " This foreknowledge is no other one side, and to salvation on the other than that eternal love of God, or decree

hence much joy ariseth to the believer ; of election, by which some are appointed this tie is indissoluble ; as the agents are, unto life, and being foreknown or elected

the Father, the Son, and the Spirit ; so to that end, they are predestinate to the

are election and vocation and sanctificaway to it. It is most vain to imagine a tion and justification and glory. If elecforesight of faith in men, and that God

tion, effectual calling and salvation be in the view of that faith as the condition inseparably linked together, then by any of election itself, has chosen them. God

one of them a man may lay hold upon all predestinated not because he foresaw men the rest, and may know that his hold is would be conformed to Christ, but that

sure.--He that loves may be sure that he they might be 80.-This foreknowledge

was loved first; and he that chooses God then is his eternal and unchangeable for his delight and portion may conclude

confidently, that God hath chosen him to

be one of those that shall enjoy him and 22, “this infectious disease may keep pos- be happy in him forever." session of the winter, are referred by Mr. Pearson 10 a pestilence in 1665. In

On the passage in chap. ii, 8, his comment on chap. iv, 17, Leighton “ being disobedient, whereunto also says, " let the vile enemy that hath shed they were appointed," he holds this our blood and insulted over us, rejoice in their present impunity and on men's

language :

procuring of it and pleading over it." This “This the Apostle adds for the further passage Dr. Doddridge refers to the es- satisfaction of believers in this point: cape of many who had deserved the se. how it is that so many reject Christ and verest punishments for their part in the stumble at him; telling them plainly that grand Irish rebellion, but were screened

the secret purpose of God is accomplished by the favor of some great men in the in this; God'having determined to gloreign of King Charles II. But when we rify his justice on impenitent sinners, as read this and what Leighton goes on to he shows his rich mercy on them that say,

“ though it may be that the judg; believe. Here it were easier to lead you ment begun at us is not yet ended, and into a deep than to lead you forth again. that we may yet further and that justly I will rather stand on the shore and sifind them our scourge,” we can not help lently admire it than enter into it. This feeling that by us, he means the people is certain that the thoughts of God are and kirk of Scotland, and if so, these not less just in themselves than deep and words must be understood of Cromwell unsoundable by us. His justice appears and “ the sectaries," and of the times just clear, in that man's destruction is always after the defeat of the engagers in 1648. the fruit of his own sin. But to give If the Irish rebellion had been meant, the causes of God's decrees without himself, words could not have been written after is neither agreeable with the primitive the bloody campaigns of Cromwell in being of the nature of God nor with the Ireland, in 1649–1650. Baillie in his doctrines of the Scriptures.” one hundred and eightieth letter, under date of August 23, 1648, mentions a peg- On the nature of man he says in tilence in Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edin- the ninth sermon, entitled, “ the sin. burgh. But it is certain that Leighton added to or altered his commentary after

per a rebel against God,"_" where the new church establishment was intro- are now those who so vilify grace duced, for on chap. v, 2-4, he says, and deify nature ; or shall I rather well a poor stipend and glebe [will ruin us) if the affection be upon them, as a

say, nullify grace and deify nature ? great deanery or bishopric."

Here is the best eulogy the Apostle

[ocr errors]

will bestow upon the best of na- the point whether God could simply tures, enmity against God. Nay, and absolutely pardon sin without all the sparkles of virtue and moral any price, do but trifle ; for whatgoodness in civil men and ancient ever may be supposed concerning heathen are

no better." And in that, who is there that will deny the meditation on Psalm cxxx, we that this way of the salvation of have these words : “ He who in men which God has chosen, is so the first original of the new-born full

full of stupendous mercy and so world brought all things out of noth- illustrious--that nothing can be ing, acts like himself in the regene. thought of more worthy of divine ration and restoration of mankind majesty, nothing sweeter, nothing to holiness. The Holy Spirit finds more munificent with respect to unnothing but Tohu va Bohu, noth- worthy man?" ing but what is without form and In the second place, Leighton void."

can not have left the kirk because Such were some of the points of he had any scruple in regard to the Leighton's theology-points it is ob- lawfulness of his ordination by presvious, which must characterize and byters. This would be rendered distinguish his whole system. And highly probable by what we have here we can not help calling the already found to be his theological attention of our readers to his wise system. It is a remarkable fact, moderation, and his unwillingness that a theology like Leighton's does to push his system beyond the re- not well accord with a superstitious cord of Scripture. Truth was cher- view of the church, its ministers ished in his mind principally as the and sacraments. The two may comeans of keeping up his Christian exist indeed in single cases-for graces, and of exalting him into what inconsistent notions can not the region of divine contemplation. education seemingly reconcile in He seems not to have trusted much some minds—but if they are found. to logical deductions, and to have ed on different views of the nature had absolutely none of that dispu- of man and of the chief instruments tatious spirit which is apt to be a in his salvation, as they indeed are, trait of men of the logical sort. He their tendency must be to expel one always chooses to feel rather than another. Moreover, Leighton as a to reason, to believe on divine au. man of a decidedly contemplative thority, than to prove. In regard turn, must have attached high imto the order of the divine decrees, portance to spiritual causes and lit. he

says, in his tenth theological lec- tle or none to forms. In such a ture," to say the truth, I acknowl. mind once enlightened by Chrisedge that I am astonished and great- tianity, essential godliness takes at ly at a loss, when I hear learned once its proper place in a sphere men and professors in theology talk. far above " ordinances of divine ing presumptuously about the order service and a worldly sanctuary, ” of the divine decrees, and when I unless a pernicious mysticism, uniread such things in their works.- ted with the contemplative turn as Nor is there much more sobriety or we sometimes find it, fills the mind moderation in the many notions that with its huzy atmosphere and gives are entertained, and the disputes false colors, shapes and sizes, to the that are commonly raised about re- half spiritualized objects of exterconciling these divine decrees with nal religion. But strong as Leighthe liberty and the free will of man.” ton's natural bias was towards conOn the necessity of an atonement, templation and even towards ascethe says, in the meditations on Psalm icism, we have been able to discxxx, “they who anxiously debate cover nothing of the mystical in

his character. On the passage in had raised these controversies higher, and Peter, chap. iii, 2, " the like figure brought men to stricter notions and to

maintain them with more fierceness. The whereunto baptism doth also now

English bishops did also say that by the save us,” he remarks that this or

late act of uniformity, that matter was dinance“ is in the hands of the more positively settled than it had been spirit of God, as other sacraments

before ; so that they could not legally

consecrate any but those who were acare, and as the word itself is, to cording to that constitution made first purify the conscience and to con- priests and deacons. They were positive vey grace and salvation to the soul in the point and would not dispense with by the reference which it hath to

it. Sharp stuck more at it ihan could

have been expected from a man that had and union with that which it repre. swallowed down greater matters. Leighsents. It saves by the answer of a ton did not stand much upon it; he did good conscience towards God, and not think orders given without bishops it affords that by the resurrection forins of government were not setiled by

were null and void. He thought the of Jesus Christ from the dead,". such positive laws as were unalterable, “though they (the sacraments do but only by apostolic practices, which as not save all who partake of them, best form; yet he did not think it ne

he thoughi authorized episcopacy as the yet they do really and effectually cessary to the being of a church. But save believers for whose salvation he thought every church might make they are the means, as the other such rules of ordination as they pleased, external ordinances of God do."

and that they might reordain all that

came to them from any other church, and There may have been some conceit that the reordaining a priest ordained in in Leighton's mind of some other another church imported no more but efficacy in the means of grace be- that they received him into orders accordsides that of the truth in the hands ing to their rules, and did not infer the

annulling the orders he had formerly reof the Spirit, but surely he does not ceived." here remove the sacrament in kind from the class of the other means of According to Mr. Pearson, in his grace.

Life of Leighton, this consenting to But in regard to the particular receive orders from the English point, how Leighton viewed ordina. bishops, is open to just exception. tion as a minister of the kirk, we Had they, he thinks, concurred in are not left to deductions and gen- Leighton's explanation, he would eral expressions of opinion. We have stood on solid ground in subhave his judgment in his own par. mitting to a new ordination. But ticular case detailed by one who their avowed meaning was to make knew him well, his friend, Bishop him a minister of the gospel; and Burnet. Burnet says, that,

as he outwardly acquiesced, “ his

private construction of the act could “ When the time fixed for the conse- not change his public aspect and cration of the bishops of Scotland came

character. It seemed leveled at the on, the English bishops finding that Sharp and Leighton had not episcopal foundations of presbytery, by im. ordination as priests and deacons-ihe peaching the legitimacy of all Presother two (Fairfoul and Hamilton) hav. byterian ministers, who had received is, episcopally,] they stood upon it that holy orders after episcopacy was lethey must be ordained first deacons and gally resettled in Scotland by King then priests. Sharp was very uneasy at James,” (before which time, from this, and remembered them of what had the necessity of the case, there behappened when King James bad set up ing no bishops in Scotland, the imepiscopacy. Bishop Andrews moved at that time the ordaining them as was now

perfect presbyterian ordination might proposed, but that was overruled by King be allowed according to the view of James, who thought it went too far to

the English bishops, but not afterwards the unchurching of all those who had no bishops among them. But the wards, because now it lay open to late war and the disputes during that time all within the Scotch kingdom to

[ocr errors]

make their orders valid.) " Of had he believed thus, he could never course,” he adds, as part of the ex- have been either a Presbyterian or ceptionable conduct of Leighton, “it a Leighton. But what he did exasperated the clergy who were in amounted to nothing more than this. that predicament, and also the laity. The conscience of others required who thought the honor and interest something of him which his conof their church were compromised science did not object to. They by Leighton's concession. Leighton looked on it as of immense impordid not, in this instance, sufficiently tance: he looked on it as a regulaconsider the ill impression his com- tion to preserve good order. If now pliance would produce on mankind, imperative reasons, as he thought, and how much it might weaken his bade him accept of the appointment influence, by bringing him nearer in to a bishopric, what was there wrong, public estimation than had been sup- or even unadvisable, in submitting to posed possible to the level of mere

a necessary step against which he worldly calculators."

felt no scruple? And besides, so There is an amusing simplicity far were he and the other prelates about the latter part of this extract, from following the English precewhich calls for a word or two of re- dent, that when six more were soon mark. Leighton, it seems, might after appointed, they were consecrabreak his connection with his former ted without reordination ; which was brethren of the Scotch church, and no longer a private avowal at a disjoin in a plan to overturn what was tance, but an open and voluntary dearest to their heart; but when it one, in Scotland, of what opinions came to the submitting to an act prevailed within the order itself. which might be explained as a de- Again, we can discover no per. claration that their orders were in sonal ambition, no desire for ecclevalid and might be explained other. siastical dignity, in Leighton, which wise ;-here he was to stop short, could have induced him to abandon and not let his good be evil spoken his church, or which, as an auxiliary of. As if he could have avoided to other motives, could have turned calling forth bitter feeling from the the scale in his mind. If any man's moment when he broke away from writings can testify to a mortified the kirk; or must not have looked temper raised by familiarity with like a worldly calculator, when he eternal things about earthly objects, entered into a party nearly all of and penetrated with a sense of their whom except himself were of that worthlessness, that man is Leighton. description.

And if any man, after taking a step But we can not see that any blame which may be imputed to love of is imputable to Leighton for what honor, can vindicate himself from he did at this time. If he had thought such an imputation by the entire abthat his first ordination conveyed to sence of the feeling ever afterwards, him the right from the Head of the that defense can be set up for Leighchurch to preach and administer the ton. Unless then we suppose him sacraments in any and every church, to have been seized by a passing fit with or against the rules there pre- of ambition, which, as happens in vailing, he might have been repre- novels, fell upon him just at the time hensible for allowing himself to be we need it for a theory, and had no reordained. Or if he had imagined connection with the rest of his life that a virtue had come into him by and character, we must acquit him the original laying on of hands, his of acting under the influence of this conduct, in restoring a virtue by the motive. theory inexhaustible, would have Nor can the defense be set up for been a solemn farce : though in truth him, that he left a corrupt and irre.

« PrécédentContinuer »