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Preaching in Edinburgh-The Free Church-Dr. ChalmersA Specimen of his Preaching-The Secret of his Eloquence.
EDINBURGH has ever been distinguished for its preachers. In former times the classic Blair, the fervid Walker, the impassioned Logan, the judicious Erskine, the learned Jamieson, the exquisite Alison, the candid Wellwood and the energetic Thomson delighted and instructed all classes of the community. To these have succeeded a host of learned and truly eloquent men, some of whom are members of "the Kirk," others of the Episcopal communion, and others of the various bodies of Presbyterian "Seceders," Congregationalists and Baptists. Among the clergymen of the Free Church, Dr. Chalmers of course is "facile princeps;" Dr. Candlish, in effectiveness and popularity probably stands next, while Drs. Cunningham, Bruce, Gordon and Buchanan, the Rev. James Begg, and one or two others form a cluster of influential and eloquent preachers. Among the Congregationalists, Rev. William L. Alexander is the most learned and polished. He has written ably on the Tractarian controversy and on the connection of the Old and New Testaments, and recently received a pressing invitation to become associated with Dr. Wardlaw of Glasgow, as assistant pastor and Pro
fessor of Theology. He is a fine looking man, being some six feet high, with expressive features, dark penetrating eyes, and massive black hair, clustering over a fair and lofty forehead. His manner is dignified and agreeable, but not particularly impassioned.
Among the "seceding" Presbyterians, Dr. John Brown, minister of Broughton Place, and one of the Professors of Theology in the United Secession Church, the Rev. Dr. Johnstone and the Rev. James Robertson of the same communion are among the most effective preachers in Scotland. The Baptists are justly proud of the learned and polished Christopher Anderson, author of an able work on the "Domestic Constitution," and an elaborate "History of the English Bible"--the Rev. William Innes, one of the most amiable and pious of men, and the Rev. Jonathan Watson, whose earnest practical discourses are well appreciated by his intelligent audience. Mr. Innes at one time was a minister of the established Church, with a large salary and an agreeable situation, but abandoned it for conscience' sake, as he could not approve of the union of Church and State, nor of. some of the peculiarities of Presbyterianism. His pious, consistent course, and liberal, catholic spirit, have won for him the admiration of all denominations of Christians.
Bishop Terrot of the Episcopal Church is somewhat high in his church notions, but is regarded as an amiable and learned man, while the Rev. Messrs. Craig and Drummond of the same church,
are able and influential preachers. Among those who adhere to "the Kirk" as it was, the Rev. Dr. Muir is one of the most accomplished, and the Rev. Dr. Lee, of the University, the most learned and influential.
Taken as a whole, the Edinburgh clergy are fair representatives of the Scottish preachers generally. Those therefore who wish to form a just estimate of the spirit and power of the pulpit in Scotland, have only to hear them repeatedly, in their respective places of worship. They hold doctrinal views somewhat diverse, though essentially one, adopt different styles of preaching, and in certain aspects different styles of life. Yet they. manifestly belong to the same great family, and preach the same glorious gospel. They are remarkably distinguished for their strong common sense, laborious habits, pious spirit and practical usefulness. Occasionally they come into keen polemical strife; but it amounts to little more than a gladiatorial exhibition, or rather a light skirmishing, without malice prepense, or much evil result. Generally speaking, they are not pre-eminently distinguished for their learning, though certainly well informed, and devoted to the great work of their ministry. They are more practical than speculative, more devout than critical, more useful than renowned. They live in the hearts of their flocks, and the results of their labors may be seen in the integrity, good order and industry of the people. It is not our purpose to say much on the subject of the recent "break" in the Scottish church, in which, as the members of the "Free Church" assert, the suprem
acy of Jesus Christ is concerned. The intrusion by lay patrons, of unpopular ministers upon the churches, is certainly a vicious practice, and ought to be abolished. But this is only a fragment of a greater and more vital question, pertaining to the spirituality and authority of Christ's church, which must be settled one of these days. The Free Church movement has developed much fine enthusiasm, and no small amount of self-denial; and the results will doubtless be favorable to the progress of spiritual freeedom; but this is only a single wave of a mighty and ever increasing tide, which is destined to sweep, not over Scotland alone, but over the world. In this place, however, we cannot refrain from expressing our conviction that this division in the Presbyterian ranks is not properly a schism or a heresy. It breaks up an existing organization, but affinity remains. The doctrines and discipline of the two churches are essentially the same. The one may be purer and stronger than the other, but they are members of the same family, professedly cherish the same spirit, and aim at the accomplishment of the same ends. This, too, may be said of nearly all the other sects; so that in Scotland, there is more real unity among Christians than there is in Papal Rome. The latter is one, only as a mountain of ice, in which all impurities are congealed, is one. The unity of the former is like that of the thousand streams which rush from the Alpine heights, proceeding, as they do, from a common source, and finally meeting and blending in a common ocean.
But enough of general speculation and description. Dr. Chalmers is to preach at Dr. Candlish's church, so let us go to hear him. He has lost something of his early vigor, but retains enough of it to make him the most interesting preacher in Scotland or the world. Let us make haste, or we shall fail of obtaining a seat. Already the house is filled with an expectant congregation. The Doctor comes in, and all is hushed. He is dressed in gown and bands, and presents a striking and venerable appearance. His serious, earnest aspect well befits his high office. He is of the middle height, thick set and brawny, but not corpulent. His face is rather broad, with high cheek bones, pale, and as it were care-worn, but well formed and expressive. His eyes are of a leaden color, rather dull when in a state of repose, but flashing with a half-smothered fire when fairly roused. His nose is broad and lion-like, his mouth, one of the most expressive parts of his countenance, firm, a little compressed and stern, indicating courage and energy, while his forehead is ample and high, as one might naturally suppose, covered with thin, straggling grey hair. He reads a psalm in a dry, guttural voice-reads a few verses of Scripture, without much energy or apparent feeling, and then offers a brief, simple, earnest, and striking prayer. By the way, the Doctor's prayers are among his most interesting exercises. He is always simple, direct, reverent, and occasionally quite original and striking. You feel while joining in his devotions, that a man of genius and piety is