HIS theological views were
gradually expanding into a more spiritual and living apprehension of the
purpose of God in Christ. The character of God as a Father had always been
the central article of his creed, but there were wider applications of it
into which his keen sympathies were constantly leading him. The subject of
the atonement of Christ much engrossed his thoughts, and although he had
been long familiar with the views held on that subject by his cousin, Dr.
J. Macleod Campbell, he now found in them new meaning and adopted them
more fully. "As far as it goes, his teaching seems to shed a light on the
nature of Christ's sufferings, which cannot pass away, because springing
out of the eternal nature of things." He may afterwards have diverged, in
regard to some minor points, from what Campbell taught him, but he
certainly never recurred to the conception of the sufferings of our Lord
as penal, or to those notions of the nature of salvation which it
involves. Feeling that fresh light had been shed on the purpose of God in
Christ he advanced hopefully into new regions of thought.
From his Journal:—
"April 20, Sunday.—I am
confined to the house by bronchitis, and enjoy deeply and thankfully this
blessed calm, this holy rest. What a gift from God is this holy day! I
thank God that during these last few years I enjoy the pulpit more and
more, and find it a rest to my spirit in proportion as I seek in the bonds
of Christ's love to do good, and to make others partakers of the rest in
Him. I have been seldom in life so exercised in spirit as during the
Sundays which preceded the communion and on the communion Sunday itself,
in preaching on the Atonement, according to the view taken of it by my
beloved John Campbell. As far as I am capable of knowing myself, I can
declare before Him who knows me truly, that I sought by earnest prayer,
patient reading, and meditation, to know God's revealed will with
reference to Christ's work. It has been a subject which has more or less
occupied my thoughts for years, and I never allowed myself, I think, to be
carried away by mere outward authority, but sought to see it and so to
possess it; for seeing (spiritually) is believing. I therefore always
preached what I saw and believed; and I never did see the truth as John
Campbell sees it until lately. I believed, and still believe, that what
Jesus did as an atoning Saviour, He did for all, because God commands all
men to believe in Him as their Saviour, and because He necessarily desires
all men to be saved, i.e., to be holy like Himself. But what I never could
see was the philosophy of the atonement, or that element in Christ's work
which constituted the atonement. The usual method of explaining it
(commonly called 'the Battle of the Attributes'), as penal suffering from
God's wrath, and so satisfying divine justice, I could not contradict, but
could not see and rejoice in as true. So I was disposed to allow the whole
thing to remain a mystery—a fact, revealed as the ground of certain
blessings which I felt I needed and thankfully received, but without any
necessary connection being seen between what Christ did and what I
received. But, thank God, this . is dawning on me, and what I see now can
never, I think, be taken from me, for conscience has its (moral)
mathematics as well as the reason."
He was at this time engaged in preparing the "
Old Lieutenant," for republication in a separate form. He was quite aware
of the defective structure of the story, but he was certainly disappointed
when some of the reviews, whose criticisms he most respected, failed to
discover its aim and to recognize in its characters portraits from real
life. Indeed, so disheartened was he by the reception of his first serious
attempt in the domain of fiction, that, for a while, he was resolved it
should be the last.
To J. M. Ludlow, Esq. :—
should like you to do with my 'Old Lieutenant' would be—(1) to correct the
Scotch or Scotticisms, for I never was taught English; (2) to draw your
pen through any sentence or expression you think better out than in. As
for the ' 'igh hart,' it must remain in nubibus, as 'low hart' is my line.
I know I am getting into a fearful mess among the critics for publishing
"I know the book
has no art in its plot, for alas ! I had to write it from month to month,
always thinking the next month would end it. It is besides absurd to write
a story, as I intentionally did, for the preaching in it, instead of
preaching by it. But I know the characters are genuine, and true to
nature, for they were all as living beings who possessed me, and there is
not one that does not stand on his own legs as real flesh and blood. I
deny with my whole soul and strength that the teaching is unhealthy. It is
not true that whatever man asks for in prayer he gets in the form in which
he asks it. The reviewer does not trust in God as I do. I mean by this, a
trust in God for whatever God gives. He seems to think that it is trust
for some specific blessing. And what did poor Ned ever get, except his
wife? I tried to picture a lad neither a muff nor a Methodist—a good,
honest fellow, trained up sensibly and living honestly, and as any young
man may live, and as many do. But nowadays, it seems, young men must be
either blackguards, or perfect saints. I will maintain that it is a
picture of real life, though not perhaps of London life, with its spasms.
And the critic says I don't know the sea! I wish I met him on some deck.
The funny tiling is that the Examiner of Sea Captains in Liverpool was so
astonished at my knowledge of the sea that he begged to know how I got it,
or if a seaman had written the sea parts for me. If I know anything, I
know about a ship."
To the Rev. W. F. Stevenson :—
"October 20, 1862.
am pretty well convinced, from the reviews received to-day of ' Old
Lieutenant' in the London Review and Spectator, that I am not able, to be
of use in that line. The book is killed and buried for ever, though
self-love makes me think it cannot be so bad as they make it. I shall, in
the meantime, get what good I can to my own spirit by the reviews, and
learn to seek quiet and peace more in that still region of labour before
God which earth cannot disturb."
The Queen had now come to Scotland for the
first time since the death of the Prince Consort, and Dr. Macleod was
summoned to Balmoral. He had been profoundly moved by the death of the
Prince, whom he had regarded as "an ideal of all that is pure, truthful,
unselfish, and wise;" and from the confidence with which he had been
honoured by his Sovereign, he was able deeply to sympathize with her in
his journals contain many interesting accounts of his different visits at
Court and to members of the Royal family, it is in harmony with the
reticence he always observed to give only such extracts as may indicate
the confidence reposed in him, and the loyalty of his services.
He ever recognised the grave responsibility
which these duties entailed. "When I think how the character of princes
affects the history of the world, and how that character may possibly be
affected by what I say, and by the spirit in which I speak and act, I feel
the work laid upon me to be very solemn."
"Your Royal Highness knows," he said to a
younger member of the family, whom he was endeavouring to comfort after
the death of the Prince, "that I am here as a pastor, and that it is only
as a pastor I am permitted to address you. But as I wish you to thank me
when we meet before God, so would I address you now."
"I am never tempted," he writes, "to conceal
any conviction from the Queen, for I feel she sympathizes with what is
true, and likes the speaker to utter the truth exactly as he believes it."
From his Journal :—
"May 8, 1862.—
commanded by the Queen to visit at Balmoral from Saturday till Tuesday.
"Few things could be more trying to me than,
in present circumstances, to meet my afflicted Sovereign face to face. But
God, who calls me, will aid me. My hope is in Him, and He will not put me
to shame. May He guide me to speak to her fitting truth as to an immortal
being, a sister in humanity, a Queen with heavy, heavy trials to endure,
and such duties to perform ! May I be kept in a right spirit, loving,
peaceful, truthful, wise, and sympathizing, carrying the burden of her who
is my sister in Christ and my Sovereign. Father! Speak by me!"
To Mrs. Macleod :—
"Balmoral, May 12, 1862.
"You will return thanks with me to our Father
in Heaven for His mercy and goodness in having hitherto most surely guided
me during this time which I felt to be a most solemn and important era in
my life. All has passed well—that is to say, God enabled me to speak in
private and in public to the Queen in such a way as seemed to me to be
truth, the truth in God's sight: that which I believed she needed, though
I felt it would be very trying to her spirit to receive it. And what fills
me with deepest thanksgiving is, that she has received it, and written to
me such a kind tender letter of thanks for it, which shall be treasured in
my heart while I live.
"Prince Alfred sent for me last night to see
him before going away. Thank God I spoke fully and frankly to him—we were
alone—of his difficulties, temptations, and of his father's example; what
the nation expected of him; how, if he did God's will, good and able men
would rally round him; how, if he became selfish, a selfish set of
flatterers would truckle to him and ruin him, while caring only for
themselves. He thanked me for all I said, and wished me to travel with him
to-day to Aberdeen, but the Queen wishes to see me again. I am so thankful
to have the Duke of Argyll and my dear friend Lady Augusta Bruce here. The
Duchess of Athole also—a most delightful, real woman."
From his Journal :—
"May 14th.—Let me, if possible, recall some of
the incidents of these few days at Balmoral, which in after years I may
read with interest, when memory grows dim.....
"After dinner I was summoned unexpectedly to
the Queen's room. She was alone. She met me, and with an unutterably sad
expression which filled my eyes with tears, at once began to speak about
the Prince. It is impossible for me to recall distinctly the sequence or
substance of that long conversation. She spoke of his excellencies—his
love, his cheerfulness, how he was everything to her; how all now on earth
seemed dead to her. She said she never shut her eyes to trial, but liked
to look them in the face; how she would never shrink from duty, but that
all was at present done mechanically; that her highest ideas of purity and
love were obtained from him, and that God could not be displeased with her
love. But there was nothing morbid in her grief. I spoke freely to her
about all I felt regarding him—the love of the nation and their sympathy;
and took every opportunity of bringing before her the reality of God's
love and sympathy, her noble calling as a Queen, the value of her life to
the nation, the blessedness of prayer.
"Sunday, the whole
household, Queen, and Royal Family were assembled at 10.15. A temporary
pulpit was erected. I began with a short prayer, then read Job xxiii.,
Psalm xlii., beginning and end of John xiv. and end of Revelations vii.
After the Lord's Prayer I expounded Hebrews xii. 1-12, and concluded with
prayer. The whole service was less than an hour. I then at 12 preached at
Crathie on 'All things are ours.' In the evening at Crathie on 'Awake thou
that sleepest.' The household attended both services.
"On Monday I had another long interview with
the Queen. She was much more like her old self—cheerful, and full of talk
about persons and things. She of course spoke of the Prince. She said that
he always believed he was to die soon, and that he often told her that he
had never any fear of death.
"I saw also the Princesses Alice and Helena;
each by herself.
words of mine can express the deep sympathy I have for these mourners.
From my soul I shall ever pray for them that God would make them His own
a drive we had on Monday up to the falls of the Garbhalt! The great pines,
the mossy flooring of the woods, the pure streams, the herds of deer, the
awful purple of the hills, the white snow on their tops, the enamelled
grass so characteristic of this season, the marvellous lights? Oh what a
glorious revelation of God. I returned yesterday full of praise.
"The more I learn about the Prince Consort,
the more I agree with what the Queen said to me about him on Monday, that
he really did not seem to comprehend a selfish character, or what
selfishness was.' And on whatever day his public life is revealed to the
world, I feel certain this will be recognized.
"Dr. Becker, to whom I was complaining of
Humboldt's treatment of the Prince, told me that the only thing the Prince
said or wrote about it to him was, 'I am sorry for poor Humboldt.' He felt
that such things injured one whom he so much loved and admired."
At the end of May, accompanied by Mrs. Macleod
and his brother Donald, he took a six weeks tour in Italy, crossing Mont
Cenis to Turin, and thence by Genoa and the Riviera to Florence, Bologna,
Venice, Milan, and the Italian Lakes, and returning home by Courmayeur,
the Great St. Bernard and Basle. His impressions of Italy were afterwards
recorded in Good Words. ["Rambling Notes of a Ramble in Italy."— Good
Words, 1862. ]
"Florence, June 3, 1862.
"It would take months of patient study to get
even a general idea of the glories of art in Florence; we have not a
shadow of an idea in Scotland of what art is. In this respect it is a
barbarous country; yet, in a better respect, it is as heaven to this. I
wish you saw Popery here to loathe it.
"I preached last Sunday. Protestantism hardly
exists. Little is doing or can be done. God alone can help this wretched
country. How I know not, nor can see. All is beautiful and grand, but man
and his morals."
his Father and Mother :—
"Lake Maggiore, Sunday, June 15.
"The two places I enjoyed most were Venice and
two days rest at Bellaggio, on the Lake of Como. The beauty is really
inconceivable. For wild and majestic grandeur I admire our own Highlands
most, but for surpassing and majestic beauty, this.
"I preached in the Heckla steamer to the Jack
Tars on Sunday last. Campsie men and Glasgow men were on board. It was a
pleasant day. The glory of Venice cannot be imagined.
"Baveno, Sunday evening.—We crossed the lake
to-day, and have had a nice service. I read the Liturgy and preached. We
had a delightful walk through the vineyards, and enjoyed the snowy Alps in
Strahan, Esq.:— "Monastery of the Great St. Bernard, June 21, 1862.
"Ere I bid farewell to the world, I wish to
bid farewell to thee. I have resolved to join the Brothers of St. Bernard.
All is arranged. I find that they never heard of Presbyterianism, Free, or
U. P. Kirk; know nothing even of Dr.------or Dr.------, and have kept up
service here, helping the poor and needy, for 800 years. I find I can live
here for nothing, never preach, but only chant Latin prayers; that they
never attend public meetings, never go to Exeter Hall, nor to a General
Assembly, but attend to the big dogs and the travellers of all nations. In
short, it is the very place for me, and I have craved admission, and hope
to be received to-night. I shall be known henceforth as Frater Flemingus.
(I think I owe it to the Captain to adopt his name.) My wife goes to a
nunnery; I leave my children to your care—3½ to you and 3½ to Isbister.
Farewell, best of men and of publishers ! Farewell, Isbister, best of men
and of smokers. Farewell, Good Words ! Farewell, the world and all its
vanities!------ I was interrupted at this point by a procession of monks,
who came to strip me of my worldly garments, and to prescribe the vows.
Before changing garments, I enquired about the vows. Judge of my amazement
in finding I must renounce cigars for ever! I pause------
"P.S.—2 a.m., 22nd.—The monks won't give in.
The weather is fearfully cold. No fires in the cells. The dogs are mangy.
"3 a.m.—I am half-dead with cold. I shan't lie
in the morgue. I repent!
"6 a.m.—Off for London! Hurrah! "
To Mrs. Macleod :—
"August 18, 1862. "I had a delightful visit
from Stanley. He is a noble specimen of the Christian gentleman and
scholar. When I come into close contact with such, men as he, John
Campbell, Erskine, Scott, Maurice, Davies, Ludlow, Hughes, I feel how I
could enjoy heaven with them. Whether it is my defect or theirs I know
not, but the narrow, exclusive, hard hyper-Calvinistic schools repel me,
and make me nervously unhappy. I cry to God daily for humility to love
all, and to feel that I am saved as a sinner who, as such, must have
disgusted the angels. Our pride is devilish, and when I know how much
better many of those who repel me are than I am, or even have been, I am
ashamed of my pride, and that I cannot clasp them to my heart. I should
despair, unless I believed that Jesus Christ can and will deliver me, and
give me to enjoy the unspeakable heaven of being a humble, meek child
without my knowing it, but simply being it, loving it, so that by the
supernatural I may become natural, for sin in every form is so unnatural.
"I never had a happier day than yesterday. I
preached on the first two parables of the fifteenth chapter of Luke, and
felt so strong and happy in preaching. The highest conceivable enjoyment
is to preach, even in a small degree, in sympathy with Christ—to feel that
He is with us, to speak what you know is right, and in the right spirit of
good-will and unselfish love. I believe that God will help our India
Mission, and bless us as a congregation by somehow connecting us with this
"I have the
most intense desire to spend the next ten years of my life, it these are
given me, more earnestly than I have ever done. At sixty I shall be unfit
for active work. Whatever I can write for the good of my fellow-men must
be done in this time. It is a glorious gift, and by the help of the
Almighty I may yet overcome the bad habits of sloth and want of method "
To the Rev. W. F. Stevenson :— "October 1,
your delightful volume. ["Praying and Working."] No Presbyterian has
written before in such a catholic spirit; and this I feel to be a great
want of our Church. We ignore sixteen centuries almost; we dig deeper and
deeper the trenches,—which genial Nature was kindly filling up with sweet
flowers,—to keep up the old division lines, instead of building bridges to
connect us as far as possible with the Church Catholic. Judaical
separation won't do, far less Pharisaical. The only separation which is
good is that of greater praying and working, which, like true love, is at
once the most separating and most uniting element. The ' Stand back, I am
holier than thou,' must be exchanged for the ' Come near, for I am holier
than thou through grace, which is thine as well as mine, and mine too for
thee.' God bless your book!"
From his Journal :—
"Nov. 3.—I this day begin my winter's work. I
am persuaded that God is shutting me up in His providence to a deeper,
inner mission in my own spirit and in my parish. What I am longing to
obtain is more of the glory and blessedness of love and humility. Humility
towards God and man would be heaven. I have been greatly quickened to aim
at this by Vinet's noble sermon on 'Submitting one to another,' and '
Lifting up holy hands.' There is no sermon-writer who masters me as he
does—so searching, so faithful, so discriminating and holy. I feel now
that the rest of my life will be nobly spent if I can only, by the
constant help of Almighty grace, seek daily to go out of myself in love to
God and man, showing it by patience, silence, sympathy, forbearance—the
esteeming others better than myself—honouring them, submitting to them,
being nobody, and my brother all-in-all to me.
" My proposed work will be:—
" Regular visitation of the sick and aged, and weekly visits of
" Careful preparation of lectures, sermons, and prayers.
" Thursday evening prayer meetings.
" Weekly district meetings.
" Visit the Workhouse and, if possible, the Hospital.
" With God's help, I should like to rise at half-past five. Spend
half-an-hour at least in devotion. Write till 9. Keep Friday and Saturday
exclusively for pulpit.
"Wednesday night, district; Thursday, 7 to 8,
people in vestry; 8, meeting. Monday, sick and sorrowing. Tuesday and
"Tuesday, Nov. 25.—My beloved father died this
morning, between one and two, in his seventy-ninth year. We have lost as
loving a father as ever blessed a family.
"God has called him, and spared my beloved
writing anything about his death."
"26th April, 1863.—Having the first quiet
Sunday evening since January 1, I wish to go back in my Journal, and to
record a few events which I would like to remember in detail.
"I had been out of town, and returned home on
Monday. Having much to do, I sat down to work. It was a close, foggy
night. Just as I was settled to my writing, I remembered that I had not
seen my dear father since Friday. Anxious to save time I went out as I
was, intending to spend only a few minutes with him. But I found my mother
out, an event which had not happened, I presume, for years. So I stayed a
long time, and to cheer him talked over old Morven stories. He had been
dull all day, but I did cheer him so that I never saw him more happy. We
parted at ten. My door-bell rang about one a.m., and a message was brought
to my bed that he was dying. In a few minutes, another. I hurried down—he
was dead ! I went to his room, and there he lay as he had died—asleep! I
did not weep, nor did I feel the least excited. The Lord knows how this
was; but so it was. I felt less a great deal than I had often done in
visiting the poorest, even strangers, in time of distress. . . . . There
he lay, with that noble head and white hair—but why describe it?
"In all my life I never saw such a glorious
face in death. He lay for a week in that coffin, pure and sweet as marble.
The red was in his lips, and there was a nobleness, a grandeur, a dignity,
about that face and head, which were fascinating. I can describe the
feeling they created by no other word.
"The remarkable things on the day of the
public funeral were the number of Highland women, old and young, who
struggled with obvious difficulty in keeping up with the hearse until it
reached the Barony, where we parted from the general company, and went to
dear old Campsie. There the spectacle was very remarkable. It was
twenty-five years since he had left that parish, and yet in a town of two
thousand every shop was shut spontaneously. There we laid him and returned
to my beloved mother.
"Since then the house, which for twenty-five
years has been the centre of such love and life, has been emptied, and a
great chapter has been closed We all intensely realise it."
His experience in the management of an
enormous parish had convinced him that, however well it may be
administered, the Poor Law necessarily entails moral and social
consequences, which, if not counteracted, must seriously affect the
well-being of the community. He believed it was worse than a mistake to
place the deserving poor on the same level with the idle and disreputable,
and thus destroy that self-respect which is the best safeguard against
pauperism. The substitution of statutory rates for the exercise of
Christian charity, must, 'in his opinion, ultimately demoralise both rich
and poor. The gulf
which was every day becoming wider between class and class, between the
brother who was "increased with goods," in the West End, and the brother
"who had need," in the East End of the City, appeared to him one of the
gravest problems with which the Church had to deal, and how to create "
bridges" across the gulf became for a while the absorbing topic of his
reflections. An article which appeared in Good Words, from the pen of his
friend the Rev. W. F. Stevenson, on the practical application at
Elberfeldt of Dr. Chalmers' plan for relieving the poor, struck him so
much that he determined to see for himself what the writer described. He
accordingly made a brief excursion to Germany in the month of February,
accompanied by Mr. Stevenson, the Rev. Adolph Saphir, and his brother
Donald, and after visiting Pastor Fliedner's Deaconess Institution, at
Kaiserswerth, spent two days at Elberfeldt. [An account of this journey
was given in Good Words, "Up the Rhine in White, by Four Friends." Each of
the travellers contributed a portion ; Stevenson describing Kaiserswerth
and Elberfeldt, Saphir a visit to Dr. Lange at Bonn, Dr. Macleod the
Carnival at Cologne, and his brother the Rhine scenery in winter.] On his
return to Glasgow he gave a lecture "On East and West," to an influential
audience in the Corporation Galleries; and as the season was too near an
end for gaining any practical result, he intimated his intention to repeat
it next winter, and to follow it up by a discourse on "Bridges," in which
he would propose a remedy for the evils he had described. This intention
he was unable to accomplish, [The unaccountable disappearance of his first
lecture was, in the midst of the busy winter, one of the chief hindrances
to his resuming the subject.] and a paper in Good Words afterwards
published in a separate form, ["How can we best Relieve our Deserving
Poor?" Strahan, 1807.] alone remains to indicate the direction in which
his thoughts were then turned.
From his Journal:
"March, 1863.—On my return from Germany I went
to Windsor. I reached there Monday night, but did not see the Queen. I
made the acquaintance of the Dean of Windsor (Wellesley, nephew of the
Duke), one of those noble specimens of the pious Christian gentleman which
is characteristic of the English Church above all others. Next day I
walked with Lady Augusta to the Mausoleum to meet the Queen. She was
accompanied by the Princess Alice. She had the key, and opened it herself,
undoing the bolts, and alone we entered and stood in silence besides
Marochetti's beautiful statue of the Prince. I was very much overcome. She
was calm and quiet.
"We parted at the entrance, and I accompanied Lady Augusta to Frog-Eaore,
and the tomb of the Duchess of Kent. She, the Duchess, must have been a
most unselfish, devoted mother. All the tender things Lady Augusta said
about her were quite in keeping with what I had before heard.
"I had a private interview at night with the
Queen. She is so true, so genuine, I wonder not at her sorrow. To me it is
quite natural, and has not a bit of morbid feeling in it. It but expresses
the greatest loss that a sovereign and wife could sustain.
"Next day I went through Windsor, which is the
beau ideal of a royal residence. There are some grand pictures in it, and
also a number of poor ones. Except the royal apartments in the Kremlin,
these are the finest in Europe.
"I returned home and went back to the marriage
on the 10th of March. I was in full court dress, but found I could have
gone in gown and bands. Why describe what has been given in full detail? I
got beside Kingsley Stanley, Birch, and in a famous place. Being in front
of the royal pair we saw better than any, except the clergy. It was a
gorgeous sight, yet somehow did not excite me. I suppose I am past this.
"Two things struck me much. One was the whole
of the royal princesses weeping, though concealing their tears with their
bouquets, as they saw their brother, who was to them but their 'Bertie'
and their dear father's son, standing alone waiting for his bride. The
other was the Queen's expression as she raised her eyes to heaven, while
her husband's Chorale was sung. She seemed to be with him alone before the
throne of God."
Rev. A. Clerk, LL.D.:—
"Even you have little idea of the overwhelming
business which has been laid on me by Providence. I am able to keep peace
at the heart, but with extreme difficulty; for it is so vexing to be able
to do nothing well which is attempted, and to leave so much utterly
marriage was, of course, a splendid affair. I could not help smiling at
your idea of my requiring much grace to return to my work ! I returned
with quiet thanksgiving ; for, believe me, spectacles of that sort don't
even excite me. They interest me much ; but a day in Glen Nevis would
unfit me much more for the Glasgow closes. I hope in summer to have the
joy of visiting King Ben and his Queen, the Glen."
To the Rev. W. F. STEVENSON :—
"March 16, 1863. "I gave my lecture 'On East
and West' on Monday to a great audience, but from want of time I could say
little about Elberfeldt, so I mean to open next winter's course with a
lecture on ' Bridges,' or how to connect East and West. To this end I mean
to work during summer, collecting facts about such practical efforts in
other places as may be suitable for this city."
From his Journal : —
"Tuesday, May 25th.—I returned last night from
Balmoral. The weather magnificent. I was in singularly dull spirits.
"I saw the Queen on Sunday night, and had a
long and very confidential talk with her.
"I feel she wishes me to utter, as I do,
anything, which in my soul I feel to be true, and according to God's will.
She has a reasoning, searching mind, anxious to get at the root and the
reality of things, and abhors all shams, whether in word or deed.
"Truly I need a higher wisdom than my own to
use the great talent God has given me to speak the truth in wisdom, and in
love without fear of man."
"I record a specimen of my boy's theology :—
"J. 'Auntie, what prayer shall I say? Shall I
say, "When I lay me down to sleep, angels will me keep?"'
"A. 'Yes; say that.'
"J. 'Mamma says that good angels keep good
"A. 'Shall I leave the
candle burning? Are you frightened?'
"J. 'Yes—no—yes; leave it
"A. ' What are you
"A. 'Think you, dear, about the good angels.
"J. 'Can they kill rats?'"
As it was thought desirable to send deputies
from the Church to visit the stations which the Committee of the Jewish
Mission was establishing in the Levant, Dr. Macleod and his friend Dr.
Macduff volunteered their services for this duty, and offered to fulfil it
at their own cost. They resolved, however, not to go except the General
Assembly was perfectly unanimous in its decision. This condition not
having been fulfilled, they gave up all thoughts of the expedition.
To Dr. Macduff :—
''All will go well, I hope, in the Assembly.
We do not go, of course; but I hope enough sense and generosity will be
found as to let us off with grace. Fear not! you and I shall come well out
of this business."
The opposition to Good Words, which he had anticipated from a section of
the religious world, and of which some faint murmurs had already reached
him, at last broke out with a violence for which he was certainly not
prepared. The Record newspaper published a series of criticisms of the
magazine, especially referring to the contributions of Principal Tulloch,
Dr. Lee, Dr. Caird, and Dr. Macleod, which, besides wrath and bitterness,
displayed so much deliberate dishonesty, that he was utterly shocked by
the revelation it gave of the spirit reigning in the narrower circle of
the "Evangelical" world. The maledictions of the Record, reprinted in the
form of a pamphlet, and widely circulated in England and Scotland, were
caught up and re-echoed by kindred organs throughout the country, and had
the effect of making the editor of the offending periodical an object of
suspicion to many whose good-will he valued. A ludicrous anti-climax was
reached in the Controversy when the Presbytery of Strathbogie gravely "overtured
" the General Assembly of the Free Church to take Good Words into its
consideration. If Dr. Macleod was indignant under this treatment, he was
still more grieved and ashamed. He never, however, lost the confidence of
the healthier "Evangelical" party in all Churches, and an able exposure of
the spiteful character of the criticisms in the Record which appeared in
the Patriot, did much even to remove the suspicions under which he lay
with the weaker brethren.
From his Journal :—
"A series of reviews on Good Words have
appeared in the Record newspaper. What gives these furious attacks any
interest to me is the evidence which they afford of the state of a section
of the Evangelical Church which sets itself up as the perfection of '
. . . I was quite aware of the risk I should run from the narrow-school of
perfectly conscientious people, weak albeit and ignorant of the big world,
and of the necessities of the times, and of what might be done for
Christ's cause and kingdom by wiser and broader means.
"I had tried the very same experiment in the
old Edinburgh Christian Magazine for ten years. It never paid: its
circulation was about four thousand. But I held on till the publishers,
who had little capital and less enterprise, gave it up in despair. But
while I met constant opposition from the weaker brethren, I held on with
the hope of emancipating cheap religious literature from the narrowness
and weakness to which it had come. Good Words has now risen to a
circulation of one hundred and ten thousand monthly, while we print one
hundred and twenty thousand. Thus the experiment has so far succeeded. I
resolved to publish the names of contributors, so that each man would feel
he was responsible for his own share of the work only, while I was
responsible for the whole. Until this moment it has been welcomed, but the
Record has opened fire—Strahan told me it was to do so. The articles
afford frightful evidence of the low state to which Pharisaical '
Evangelicalism' has come. They have been ably answered in a series of
articles in the Patriot. I don't know, nor suspect by whom. An attempt is
being made to get Good Words rejected by Tract Societies, the Pure
Literary Society, &c. It is incomprehensible to me that, at a time when
the very citadel of truth is attacked, these men are not thankful for such
a sincere and hearty defence, Strahan writes me that since the attack he
has sold more than ever. But this is a secondary consideration. My own
belief is that the magazine will for a time be injured. So many thousands
of well-intentioned people are slaves to religious papers (among the worst
in existence), and to their weak-headed ' Evangelical' pastors, as much as
any Papists to their church or priesthood ; and so many men are terrified
to be held up as 'unevangelical,' that I don't think they are as yet
prepared for a magazine which shall honestly represent the various
subjects, besides 'religion,' which in point of fact so occupy the
thoughts of good men.
" The ' world' is that which is ' not of the
Father.' The so-called ' Evangelical party'—for, thank God, they are but a
small clique—are becoming the worshippers of mere Shibboleths—phrases. The
shortest road to be considered religious is to adhere to the creed in
words, and to keep up a cant vocabulary. Let two men appear in a certain
circle of society of London, and let one man speak of ' the Lord's
people,' ' a man of God,' ' a great work going on of revival,' &c, and
another speak of 'good Christian people,' 'good man,' 'good doing,' the
first man is dubbed godly, and the other man at least doubtful, and all
from phrases! The one man's sins, misrepresentations, uncharitableness,
are put down to the frailties of 'a man of God;' the other man's
excellencies to vain appearances. The evil of the one is accounted for,
the good of the other denied or suspected. This is horrible.
"In like manner, though a man believes, as I
do, with his whole soul the doctrines of Scripture, yet woe to him unless
he believes the precise philosophy, or the systematic form of those
doctrines held by the clique ! It is not enough that you believe in
Christ's life and death as an atonement, as revealing God's love, as that
without which there is no pardon for sin, as that by which we are
reconciled to God. They will tell you that you deny the atonement unless
you believe that Christ on the cross endured the punishment which was due
to each sinner of the elect for whom He died; which, thank God, I don't
believe, as I know He died for the whole world. They never seem to be
aware of the difficulties connected with the philosophy of the atonement:
what it was, how Christ bore our sins, how this stands connected with
pardon, or man's spiritual life. And so as regards every other doctrine: a
man may believe in the corruption of human nature, and to the extent that
it requires the supernatural power of God's Holy Spirit to renew us and
make us holy—but Anathema! unless you believe that you are damned for
Adam's sin, and that a man has to be passive as a stone till God, on what
principle we know not, acts on him. It is not enough to believe that sin
is cursed, and that so long as a sinner remains in this world or anywhere
loving sin, he is in hell. But you must believe in literal fire and
brimstone: a lake of fire, into which infants even may be cast, or you are
not 'Evangelical!' In vain you vow that you submit to Christ's teaching,
that whatever He says you believe, that you submit to it, and are sure
that ultimately reason and conscience will rejoice in it. Anathema !
unless you see A B C to be Christ's teaching, the proof of which is, that
not the Pope nor the Church, but that we, the ' Evangelical Church,' the
Record, or Dr. This or Dr. That, think so, say so, and curse every man who
thinks or says differently.
"Along with all this fury in defending 'the
faith' (forsooth!) 'once delivered to the saints' (as if Abraham were a
Recordite), there is such a spirit of hatred and gross dishonesty
manifested that it has driven more away from real Christianity than all
the rationalists who have ever written. God helping me, I will continue
Good Words as I have begun. If good men will cast me out of their hearts,
I feel most deeply the loss, but I must carry this cross. It is my daily
prayer to be guided in it for the glory of my Redeemer, and I wish each
number to have such a testimony for Him in it as that I shall be able to
put it under my pillow when I die.
"I was threatened in London that unless I gave
up Stanley and Kingsley I should be 'crushed!' What a wretched hypocrite I
would be if I practically declared that I did not think these men worthy
of writing beside me! Only think of it, Editor! Strahan and I agreed to
let Good Words perish, perish a hundred times, before we would play such a
false part as this. ______ or ______ accepted as Christ's friend, and
Arthur Stanley rejected as His enemy ! It might make the devils laugh and
angels weep ! Good Words may perish, but I will never save it by such
sacrifices of principle as this.
"I believe the warfare begun by that miserable
Record—which I have abhorred ever since it wrote about dear Arnold—will
end in the question, how far the truly pious Church of Christ in this
country is to be ruled by a small synagogue of Pharisees and good old
women, including men not a few. We shall see.
"Yet I go this week to the Evangelical
Alliance! Yes I do. I have received much spiritual good from its meetings.
I won't be driven off by the Record. But I shall see of what spirit it is
now, and will continue in it or leave it as I find it right.
"My Father, forgive my keen feeling if I do
injustice to the weakest child of God; help me to be humble and meek, but
courageous and sincere. Amen."
"May 25.—The Alliance meeting has convinced me
that all mind, all grasp, all power arising from love guided by sound
judgment has ceased to characterise it. It has become the type of
exclusion rather than inclusion, and 'terrified for the adversaries,' it
is shrinking into a small cell. I will leave it. The Alliance should
include all who acknowledge the supreme authority of the Lord Jesus and
that of the Holy Scripture.
"Dear Sir Culling is dead. He has joined the
true Alliance, and no man will be more at home in Heaven."
The following letter, written in answer to a
respectful remonstrance from one of the Professors in the University of
Edinburgh, was printed for private circulation.
"Glasgow, June, 1863.
"I thank you for your note; because I feel
assured that you meant it kindly.
"I can hardly express to you the pain, and, I
must add, the surprise, with which I received the objections to Good Words
which it contains, from one for whose character and culture I entertain
such high respect. Perhaps I feel this the more at this time, when I have
been made the object of a most unrighteous and untruthful attack by the
Record newspaper. . . . I would feel pained to discover even a shadow of
such a publication falling for a moment over any portion of the
Evangelical Church in Scotland.
"Certain criticisms in the last meeting of the
Free Church Assembly make me write thus, although I do not mean to take
further notice of that popular demonstration.
"But let me endeavour to obviate, or at least
modify, the difficulties which you are pleased so kindly to express in
your letter regarding Good Words.
"There is, first of all, the objection which
you call the Sabbath reading question. You fear, as I understand it, that
young persons may be tempted to read the 'secular' articles of Good Words
on Sunday, and that 'the fine tone' which we have so long associated, and,
very properly, with Sabbath reading may thereby be deteriorated. Now, Good
Words is not specially intended, as too many Christian periodicals, I
think are, to furnish nourishment for the young chiefly, but rather to
give solid meat for intelligent men and women. But if any members of a
Christian family are compelled to endure such severe and dry exercises on
the Sunday as would make them long for even the scientific articles in
Good Words, or, what is still more common, if they are so ill-trained as
to read what parental authority has forbidden, let me ask, in such a case,
why not lock up Good Words? The poorest family have generally a press, or
a chest of drawers, where this mechanical process can be achieved. It
surely must be acknowledged that the periodical, so far as its mere
'secular' element is concerned, may be admitted as a respectable and
worthy visitor of a Christian family on at least six days of the week? If
so, why not take the visitor by the throat, say at 11.55 on Saturday
night, just at the moment when he is being transformed into the character
of a dangerous intruder, and then incarcerate him till he becomes once
more respectable at 12.05 on Monday morning? Or, if it is found that the
villain may escape on Sunday, that John and James have become so attached
to him that they are disposed to pick the lock of his prison and let him
out, might it not be prudent, in such a case, to adopt the old orthodox
Popish fashion of burning him as a heretic?—with the condition only, for
the great advantage of the publishers, that a new copy shall be purchased
every Monday morning! Even in this case, and in spite of all those
holocausts, Good Words would still be ' worth much and cost little.'
But then, my dear----------, you must consider
how to dispose of all your other 'secular' literature upon the first day
of the week. What of your other secular books and 'secular' periodicals'!
and, what is a still more difficult question, how are you to dispose of
all your secular conversation, if science be secular? What, for example,
are you to do with the secular sun, moon, and stars 1 Are you to look at
them? If you do so, are you to think about them? If you think about them,
are you to speak about them? If you speak about them, are you to do so
scientifically—that is, according to truth? For, if so, you thereby
immediately tread upon dangerous ground. You may be led into a talk on
Astronomy, and may thus become as bad as Professor----------, who, as you
inform me, declared from the chair of the Royal Society that he had read
an article on Astronomy in Good Words on a Sunday evening. Your theory
carried to this extent is hard to practise in consistency with the most
holy idea of the Sunday. But that is not my look-out. 'Let each man be
fully persuaded in his own mind.'—'To him that esteemeth anything to be
unclean, to him it is unclean.' It is enough for my defence that lock and
key can enable any man to dispose of Good Words, if he finds his family
tempted, from want of principle or self-control, to read some of those
articles which, I admit, are not intended for the Sunday, but for the
other days of the week. Pray, my friend, do not suppose that I am speaking
lightly of the Sunday, or of its becoming exercises. I will yield to no
man living in my profound thankfulness for the Lord's Day and all its
sacred influences: nor do I wish, God forbid ! to weaken them, but to
strengthen them. I am merely indulging in a little banter with reference
to what appears to me to be a wrong application of principles, on which we
all agree, to the condemnation of Good Words.
"As to the objection about the mixture of
secular and sacred in Good Words, which is involved in 'the Sabbath
reading question,' what can I say? Ought I to leave out the sacred? Would
the magazine thereby become more Christian? You seem to object to its
title, as a magazine for all the week. Will it become good if I leave out
that title, or construct another, suggesting that it is a magazine for all
the week except the Sunday? Would either this change in its title, or the
withdrawal of its 'religious' contents make it really more religious, and,
therefore, more worthy of the support of Evangelical men? I have no
sympathy with these objections. Either of us must have a way of looking at
the matter which the other cannot understand.
"Your other objection is worthy, however, of a
more lengthened and serious reply. I quite sympathize with those who may
urge it:—I mean the fact of writers belonging to different schools in
theology, and different departments in literature, such as Mr. Trollope,
Professor Kingsley, and Dr. Stanley, writing in the same journal with
other men of acknowledged 'Evangelical' sentiments. Now, whether the plan
or idea be right or wrong, of a religious magazine which shall include
among its writers men of all parties and Churches, or occupying different
walks in literature, I beg to assure you that I alone am responsible for
it. It was not suggested to me by the publishers or by others, but was
made a condition by myself before accepting the editorship of the
magazine. Moreover, I can very sincerely say, that it was not conceived or
adopted without most grave, mature, and prayerful consideration. I say
prayerful, not as a mere phrase, but as expressing a real fact. I admit
also that I have been from the first alive to the possible offence this
plan might give to some good and thoroughly sincere men who had been
accustomed to associate with what was called 'Evangelical literature' a
different and narrower idea.
"... I believed, that if our cheap religious
publications were to exercise real influence upon our intelligent
mechanics, much more upon that immense mass which occupies the middle
ground between the 'Recordite' Church party on the one side, and the
indifferent and sceptical on the other, popular Christian periodical
literature must be made, within, of course, certain-limits, much wider,
truer, more manly, and more human—i.e., more really Christian in its
sympathies than it had hitherto been. With these convictions naturally and
soberly formed, I resolved to make the experiment and to face all its
rule has been to obtain assistance from the best men in every church and
party I can find able and willing to write for me on such subjects as all
men may read with interest or with profit. This rule is limited by one
principle only, which has ever guided me, and that is, never to accept the
contributions of any writer, male or female, however talented, who is
known to be anti-Christian in creed or life. No infidel, no immoral man or
woman, no one whom I could not receive, in so far as character is
concerned, into my family, will ever be permitted to write in the pages of
Good Words. Nay more, what they write must be in harmony at least with the
essentials of the Christian faith, and with its morals. But, short of
this, I hold that he who is not against Christ is for Him—for Him more
especially when the author, whoever he be, is willing to write side by
side with men who preach the Gospel out-and-out. And, therefore, I have no
hesitation in saying to you, that I believe every person who has written
in Good Words publicly professes his faith in Jesus Christ, and maintains
a character not inconsistent with that profession.
"As to the fear you express of persons being
thus induced to read Kings-ley or Stanley, no person, I believe, who has
not read them already, will be inclined to do so merely by reading Good
Words. But I presume that most people who read general literature are
already acquainted with their writings. Yet I begin to think that these
are condemned by many who have never read them, but have received from
others, equally ignorant, a vague impression of something horrible about
them, they know not what. I am not aware of anything they have ever
written which should necessitate their being excommunicated from the pages
of Christian periodical literature. Anyhow, I have little faith in an
Index Expurgatorius being wise or efficient among people of ordinary
education and intelligence. For once that it makes a young man pious, in a
hundred cases it makes him either ignorant, false, or sceptical. To know
both sides is, I think, the only safeguard for men who may feel called
upon to study the present phases of religious thought. Good Words,
however, gives them but the good side.
"What then has been the practical result of my
editorial plan? It is this: that I defy any man to select a number in
which there has not been again and again repeated a full statement of
Gospel truth, and that too without any one article, or even any passage in
any number contradicting it, but every article being, at least, in harmony
with it. No doubt yon may pick out here and there once in a year, and out
of a hundred articles, some sentence which may have crept in through
inadvertency, and which might have been perhaps better left out. And in a
few articles also of a more strictly religious character there may be the
omission of doctrines which we might wish had been in, or more fully
stated. But the Magazine must be judged of as a whole, and by the general
tendency of all its articles, and the impressions which it is likely to
make upon any truthful, honest, fair man. Let me say it with all
reverence, that there are books and epistles in the Scriptures themselves
which could be proved defective, doubtful, and liable to be misunderstood,
if the same principles of carping Colenso criticism are applied to them as
those which have been applied by the Record to Good Words.
"... I must presume that you, my dear Sir, are
neither acquainted personally with Kingsley nor Stanley, and that you have
not read their works with care. Writing hurriedly, as you have done, you
may have accepted without mature reflection the application of the verses
from 2 Cor. vi. 15, 16, first suggested by the Record. But were I, who
have the honour and privilege of knowing these men—while differing, as I
have said, very decidedly from many of their views—to indulge such a
thought regarding our relative position, I should loathe myself as a
Pharisee of the Pharisees, and despise myself as the meanest hypocrite on
earth. I have great personal respect for the characters of Trollope,
Kingsley, and Stanley, as well as admiration of their genius, though they
occupy very different walks in literature. I have the privilege of knowing
Dr. Stanley more intimately than the others, and I am glad to have even
this opportunity of expressing to you my profound conviction that he has a
fear of God, a love for Christ and for his fellow-men, a sense of honour,
truth, and justice, such as I should rejoice to believe were even
seriously aimed at by the conductors of the Record. The passage you
hastily apply to such a man as Stanley—I feel assured, without the full
meaning I attach to it—was, nevertheless, coolly written and printed in
the Record, and applied also to myself, Lee, Tulloch, Caird, and has been
transferred to the separate publication of its so-called criticisms on
Good Words. As to the application of the more harmless and peaceful image
from Deuteronomy which you quote:—'Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an
ass together,' I shall, with confidence, leave your own good taste to make
it, if you can suppose Arthur Stanley and the 'Chelsea Pensioner' writing
together in Good Words.
"... But whatever may become of Good Words, I
am grieved to see the tendency, on the part of some good men in the
Evangelical Church, to cast away from their heart and sympathies in such a
crisis as the present, the cordial aid which men most devoted to Christ
and His kingdom are willing to afford to the cause which all have at
heart, the very moment they refuse in some one point, to shape their
plans, or even their phrases, to the stereotyped form which some small
party have sanctioned, as being the only type of 'evangelicism.' They are
too apt to be governed by the mere letter and words, instead of looking
into the spirit and realities of things, and thus unconsciously accept the
well-known advice given in Faust to a student by one whom I need not name,
but who is, I suspect, not ignorant of many of the private conspiracies
against good men in the office of the Record.
"' Im ganzen—haltet euch an Worte!
Dann geht ihr durch die sich're Pforte
Zum Tempel der Gewissheit ein.' . , .
* * * * *
'Mit Worten lasst sich trefflich streiten,
Mit Worten ein System bereiten,
An Worte, lasst sich trefflich glauben,
Von einem Wort lasst sich kein Iota rauben.'
"With a good conscience towards God and man, I
therefore crave as a Christian brother pastor, seeking to aid his Master's
work, the sympathy of the good men of all parties, and of all Churches—for
Good Words belongs to all. If this is denied me, by even a few, on those
few be the responsibility of weakening my hands and my efforts. Profoundly
convinced, however, of a higher sympathy, I shall go on as I have begun,
with a firm, clear purpose, and a peaceful, courageous heart. As I have
sung long ago, I sing now, and hope to do so till my voice is silent—
"'Trust no party, church, or faction,
Trust no leaders in the fight;
But in every word and action,
Trust in God, and do the right!
'Some will hate thee, some will love thee,
Some will flatter, some will slight.
Cease from man, and look above thee,
Trust in God, and do the right!' "
From the Rev. A. P. Stanley, Professor of
Ecclesiastical History :—
"Christ Church, Oxford, June 13, 1863. "For my
part I would at once relieve you of my presence in Good Words, but I
consider the principle which you advocate in your letter to be so good,
that I shall be sorry to do so. 'The ox and ass' must plough together in
the Christian dispensation, though they were forbidden to do so in the
late Canon Kisgsley :—
"Cambridge, Saturday Night.
"I have sent off my copy. If anything in it
seems to you not fit for your readers, you are to strike your pen through
it without fear.
can trust utterly your liberality and good sense. I am old enough to know,
with Hesiod, that half is sometimes better than the whole. I have full
means in England of speaking my whole mind as often as I wish. It is for
you to decide how much thereof can be spoken without offence to your
70,000 readers. So do what you like with the paper.
"I should say this to very few editors upon
earth, but I say it to you as a matter of course."
To A. Strahan, Esq. :—
"Let us be very careful, not to admit through
oversight one sentence which ought to pain a Christian, however weak he
may be. In one word, let us honestly, sincerely, humbly, truthfully do
what is right, and dare the devil whether he comes as an infidel or a
"We have an
immense talent given us, let us use it well.
"I have no doubt Good Words will be injured,
but it will perish before I truckle to any party."
To the Same :—
"I have read Number 1 of the Record; but the
louder the wind pipes, and the gurlier the sea gets from that quarter, the
more calm, steadfast I feel to steer right on by the compass of a good
conscience, by the old chart, the Bible.
"Thank God, I have you as my first mate, and
not some Quaker. I know you won't flinch in a gale of wind, nor will I,
take my word for it!
"I don't mean to take any notice at present, although I would like to
speak out on the whole subject of religious periodical literature as it
was and is—what is good in it and what is bad, what its duties are and its
shortcomings. I think this will do much good to the religious atmosphere.
It is very close at present. In the meantime I shall act on my old motto,
' Trust in God and do the right,'"
In the same year in which he was attacked by
the Record, he had an opportunity of showing how little ground there was
for the most serious of the charges brought against him as editor. He had
asked a celebrated novelist, a personal friend, for whose charactor and
opinions he ever retained unqualified respect, to write the tale for the
following year. But when the story was submitted to him, he saw that it
was not suitable for the Magazine. There was, of course, nothing morally
wrong in its tone, but as all its "religious" people were drawn of a type
which justly deserved the lash of the satirist, he felt that to publish it
in Good Words would be to lend the sanction of its conductors to what he
had long considered the injustice of modern novelists in ignoring healthy
Christianity. A friendly correspondence followed, [The novelist who is
referred to above thus writes :—"I need not say that Dr. Macleod's
rejection of the story never for a moment interfered with our friendship.
It certainly raised my opinion of the man."] from which it appeared that
the editor and his friend had misunderstood each other; but so determined
was Dr. Macleod and his publishers not to compromise the character of Good
Words, that the forfeit of £500 was paid and the story declined.
"N.B.—This letter will keep cold till you are
at peace with all the world, with a pipe well filled, and drawing well.
Head it then, or a bit each day for a month.
"Glasgow, June 11, 1863.
"... You are not wrong; nor have you wronged
me or my publishers in any way. I frankly admit this. But neither am I
wrong. This, 'by your leave,' I assert. The fact is that I misunderstood
you and you me, though I more than you have been the cause of the
"What I tried to explain and wished you to see when we met here was, the
peculiar place which Good Words aimed at occupying in the field of cheap
Christian literature. I have always endeavoured to avoid, on the one hand,
the exclusively narrow religious ground—narrow in its choice of subjects
and in its manner of treating them—hitherto occupied by our religious
periodicals; and, on the other hand, to avoid altogether whatever was
antagonistic to the truths and spirit of Christianity, and also as much as
possible whatever was calculated to offend the prejudices, far more the
sincere convictions and feelings, of fair and reasonable 'Evangelical'
men. Within these extremes it seemed to me that a sufficiently extensive
field existed, in which any novelist might roam and find an endless
variety of life and manners to describe with profit to all, and without
giving offence to any. This problem which I wished to solve did not and
does not seem to me a very difficult one, unless for very one-sided
'Evangelical' or anti-'Evangelical' writers. At all events, being a
clergyman as well as an editor—the one from deepest convictions, though
the other, I fear, is from the deepest mistake—I could not be else than
sensitive lest anything should appear in Good Words out of harmony with my
convictions and my profession. Well, then, was I wrong in assuming that
you were an honest believer in revealed Christian truth? I was not. Was I
wrong in believing and hoping that there were many truly Christian aspects
of life, as well as the canting and humbug ones, with which you heartily
sympathized, and which you were able and disposed to delineate? I was not.
"Perhaps I had no ground for hoping that you
would give me a different kind of story from those you had hitherto
published. If so, forgive me this wrong. Possibly the wish was father to
the thought. But the thought did not imply that any of your former novels
had been false either to your own world within or to the big world
without—false to truth or to nature. It assumed only that you could with
your whole heart produce another novel which, instead of showing up what
was weak, false, disgusting in professing Christians, might also bring
out, as has never yet been done, what Christianity as a living power
derived from faith in a living Saviour, and working in and through living
men and women, does, has done, and will do, what no other known power can
accomplish in the world, for the good of the individual or mankind. If no
such power exists, neither Christ nor Christianity exists; and if it does,
I must confess that most of our great novelists are, to say the least of
it, marvellously modest in acknowledging it. The weaknesses, snares,
hypocrisies, gloom of some species of professing Christians are all
described and magnified; but what of the genuine, heaven-born Christian
element? Why, when one reads of the good men in most novels, it can hardly
be discovered where they got their goodness; but let a parson, a deacon, a
Church member be introduced, and at once we guess where they have had
their badness from—they were professing Christians.
"Now all this, and much more, was the
substance of my sermon to you.
"Now, my good------, you have been in my
humble opinion guilty of committing this fault, or, as you might say,
praiseworthy in doing this good, in your story. You hit right and left;
give a wipe here, a sneer there, and thrust a nasty prong into another
place; cast a gloom over Dorcas societies, and a glory over balls lasting
till four in the morning. In short, it is the old story. The shadow over
the Church is broad and deep, and over every other spot sunshine reigns.
That is the general impression which the story gives, so far as it goes.
There is nothing, of course, bad or vicious in it— that could not be from
you—but quite enough, and that without any necessity from your head or
heart, to keep Good Words and its editor in boiling water until either or
both were boiled to death. I feel pretty certain that you either do not
comprehend my difficulties, or laugh in pity at my bigotry. But I cannot
"You do me,
however, wrong in thinking, as you seem to do, that apart from the
structure of your story, and merely because of your name, I have
sacrificed you to the Record, and to the cry it and its followers have
raised against you as well as against me. My only pain is that the Record
will suppose that its attack has bullied me into the rejection of your
"I know well
that my position is difficult, and that too because I do not write to
please both parties, but simply because I wish to produce, if possible, a
magazine which, though too wide for the 'Evangelicals' and too narrow for
the anti-'Evangelicals,' and therefore disliked by both cliques, may
nevertheless rally round it in the long run the sympathies of all who
occupy the middle ground of a decided, sincere, and manly Evangelical
M. Ludlow, Esq. :—
really cannot ascertain anything reliable about the election of librarian.
"In summer the College is dead, the professors
fled—no one but waiters or seagulls know whither. For aught I know, the
books are off too, to wash their bindings, or to purge themselves of their
errors. The very porters have vanished, or locked themselves up. I believe
the animals in the museum are gone to their native haunts. The clock is
stopped. The spiders have grown to a fearful size in the class-rooms.
Hebrew roots have developed into trees; divinity has perished.. Who knows
your friend in that desert? I went to inquire about him, and fled in
terror from the grave of the dead sciences."
The letter which follows refers to a
bereavement which had overtaken his uncle, the minister of Morven, and
which had left him peculiarly desolate and lonely in the old home of
Fiunary. Norman was preparing for a short tour on the Continent when the
sad news reached him. He at once gave up his promised holiday abroad and
went to Morven.
Mrs. Macleod: —
"Fiunary, June 27, 1863.
"It is blowing and raining outside, the Sound
looks cold and dreary, and within there is a dead wife and a husband who
would rejoice if he were laid beside her.
"Everything here seems dead—the hills, rocks,
and sea—all are but things; the persons who were their life have gone, and
there are few even to speak of the old familiar faces. Verily a man's life
can be found in God only. Peace we can have—it must be; happiness may be.
"Monday, 6th July.—Yesterday was a holy day.
Without it was one of surpassing splendour; within, of holy peace. I
preached. There was a large congregation of the living, but almost as
large of the dead, or rather the Church above and below were visibly
present to my spirit, so that we verily seemed, 'whether alive or asleep,
to live together with Him,' and to be all partaking the communion of His
Body and Blood—eating of the living Bread. The old Manse family—father,
grandfather and grandmother, aunts and uncles, down to dear
Margaret—seemed to be all present, and I never enjoyed more peace, and
never was my heart so full.
"The scene in the churchyard was perfect, as I
sat at the old cross and gazed on the sea, calm as the sea of glass, with
scattered sails and blue hills, and the silence broken by no footfall on
the green grass, but by the distant voice of the preacher or the sound of
psalms; with the lark overhead singing in joy, or the lambs bleating among
the hills, or the passing hum of the bee, busy and contented. Life was
over all, and in spite of death, I think a breath of God's own life
revived dear John's heart.
"I send you a number of the Christian Observer
on Good Words.
too kind to me. I thank God it has lifted off the burthen of dislike I was
beginning to feel to the 'Evangelical' party in England, as if there was
no justice, mercy, or truth in them. The Record, I see, does but
misrepresent them all.
"I feel deeply the kind advice he gives, and
sympathize, as you know, with it. They don't know how I have fought 'the
world' for the Church, and what I have kept out. But I accept with thanks
help me to know and do His will, and to have kind thoughts of all men."
From his Journal :—
"Early in October I went to fulfil engagements
in England. Preached in Liverpool, London, Stockport, and Ashton, and
collected for the different objects, in all £1,087. Spent a day at Bolton
Abbey—a glorious day,— delighted with the scenery, and made glad by human
------, M.P. for------, was angry because I preached for Nonconformists !
The Church of England won't let me preach in her pulpits, and out of
respect for the Church he thinks I should preach for no one else!
"I think it not only allowable, but right, in
the Stockport Sunday schools, to teach reading, writing, and music to the
poor, who are obliged to work all the week, and who can go nowhere else.
What I object to is—?, that well-to-do children should be thus taught; 2,
that arithmetic should be taught on Sunday.
"I like the Nonconformists for their
liberality ; but I am more and more convinced that a country must have
many Churches to express and feed different minds, and that the
Establishment is a huge blessing along with Dissent.
"October, Saturday.—Went to Balmoral—found
Gladstone had gone. Found the old hearty and happy friends. Preached in
the morning on 'Peace not happiness,' and in the church on 'The Gadarene
you think?' said little Princess Beatrice to me. 'I am an aunt, Dr.
Macleod, yet my nephew William (of Prussia) won't do what I bid him! Both
he and Elizabeth refused to shut the door! Is that not naughty?' I never
saw truer, or more natural, healthy children. God bless them!
"Monday.—Lady Augusta, Dr. Jenner, and I,
drove to Garbhalt. At night I read Burns and ' Old Mortality' aloud to the
Court. The Royal Family were not present. General Gray is quite up to the
"Tuesday.—Drove to Aberdeen to the inauguration of the Prince Consort's
"Here let me
go back to impress on my memory the glorious Monday at Garbhalt. The day
was delicious. The river was full, and of that dark-brown, mossy hue which
forms such a fine contrast of colour to the foam of the stream and the
green banks. The view of the woods, the valley, Inver-cauld, and the
mountains, was superb. The forests were coloured with every shade, from
the deep green of the pines and firs, to the golden tints of the deciduous
trees. Masses of sombre shadow, broken by masses of light, intermingled
over the brown hills and broad valley, while the distant hills and clouds
met in glorious confusion. It was a day to be had in remembrance.
"I was asked Friday fortnight to go to
Inverary to meet the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia. I did so, and
returned Saturday. It was a happy visit.
"The Monday following I went to visit Prince
Alfred at Holyrood, and staid till Wednesday. The Crown Prince and
Princess there. I think the Crown Prince a simple, frank, unaffected, and
"We had an evening party,
and they left on Tuesday night at ten.
"We have had a small
newspaper-letter controversy about the Established Church becoming
Episcopalian. Nonsense ! We must hold fast by our own past, and from this
national root grow up in adaptation to the necessities of the times in all
things non-essential, and from their nature variable. But such a union is
impossible ! The Free Church speaks of uniting with the United
Presbyterian. It will be a queer evolution in history, utterly
inexplicable on any principle save that of Church ambition.
"They will cease to exist the moment they
join. They will have lost all, the U. P.'s gained all, and we much. Our
strength must be in the width of our sympathies—in our national
inclusiveness, not exclusiveness.
"An amusing, silly, yet not unimportant event
has occurred in relation to Good Words. The Free Presbytery of Strathbogie
has overtured the General Assembly of the Free Church against it. Against
a 6d. periodical, with which they have nothing to do ! This is to me very
interesting as a social phenomenon. Oh, my God, help me to be charitable!
Help me to be weak to the weak, to be silent about them, and to do Thy
27th.—Thank God, my working-man's church is in a fair way of being
finished. I have realised £1,700, and I feel assured God will give me the
taken ground for a school and a church at Parkhead. All in faith that God
will provide the money for both.
"The working-men's services have been carried
on since November! and never were better attended. Thank God!
"But I have been two years trying to get up a
working man's church. There are noble exceptions; but I have found
shocking illustrations of the spirit of greed among the wealthy.
"The sun of life is setting. Let me work, and
rest in soul.
"Thackeray is dead, a most kind-hearted man. Macnab told me that he had
him in charge coming home from Calcutta, and that the day after he parted
from him in London, the boy returned, and throwing his arms about his
neck, burst into tears, from sheer affection in meeting his friend again.
He said he never knew a more loving boy. Thackeray was in Weimar the year
before I was there. We had a long talk about the old place and people. I
felt he had a genuine heart.
"Delivered again my lecture on East and West
in Glasgow. I think God is giving me a great work to do in Glasgow for the
poor. It must and will be done by some one, why not me? I am nothing
except as an instrument, and God can make use of me.
"D.V., let this be my word for '64."