Page images

sublime thoughts in such plain language that any one of the humblest capacity can understand him.”

Like Herbert's Country Parson, he “dipped and seasoned all his words and sentences in his heart before they came into his mouth,” and according to the standard by which the same quaint writer would try the qualification of the pastor, he knew “which grass would bane and which not.” He was apt to teach, and such was the matter and manner of his preaching that at a certain period in his ministry his congregation was perhaps the most intelligent, as to religious things,—the truths and doctrines of the Bible,—that could be found in the State.

As a theologian he was orthodox and able. Whatever diversity of opinion there may be as to his views on some minor points, and whatever may be said of his predilections, especially of later years, for the study of prophecy; it will be allowed that his own testimony is to be taken as the best evidence we can have of what he really held and taught as a teacher of theology. He says, in a letter to a friend, so late as 1853, “the doctrines taught in this Seminary are the doctrines which were held by Edwards, Dwight and Spring.” He was a decided Calvinist. It is true he adopted some of the peculiarities of Hopkins' system, and for this reason the term Hopkinsian was applied to him, and that too, in some cases, by way of reproach and contempt. But that he was sound in all the fundamental doctrines of a mild Calvinism is beyond all doubt. And what rendered him a safe as well as an able theologian, was the fact that he derived his theological views, not from any human system, but from the Bible. A “thus saith the Lord," was worth more to him than the opinions or reasonings of commentators and divines. He was not afraid to bring his own views to the most rigid tests of divine truth, nor was he willing to mo dify or alter them, or adopt the views of others, unless there were strong and satisfactory reasons for it in the clear and explicit teachings of the Word of God. His theological lectures

-those he was accustomed to read before his classes—of which a large portion was destroyed in the fire which consumed his dwelling, March 1856, gave abundant evidence of careful preparation; of close thinking; of a large acquaintance with polemic divinity, and an accurate and extensive knowledge of the Scriptures. They were written in a style wholly destitute of ornament and somewhat loose, but nevertheless clear and strong. They have neither the systematic arrangement of Dwight, nor the easy, fluent style of Woods, nor the learning of Knapp. But they have this superior excellence, that they seem to be drawn from the Word of God, free from all taint of rationalism and eschewing all philosophical refinements, all metaphysical abstractions, all “ handling of the Word of God deceitfully." Truth was his object and he sought to attain it, in the love of it, by a simple, manly, prayerful searching of the Scriptures.

As a pastor Dr. A. was justly considered as in almost every respect a model worthy of all imitation. Not only in the pulpit, but at the fireside, in the sick chamber, at the bed of death, no human presence was so much desired, by his people, as his. A mind well stored with the Word of God and a heart whose sympathies were tender and strong, made him a fit counsellor and a warmly attached friend. His regard for the spiritual welfare of his people; his untiring devotion to the interests of the Church ; his faithful and able instructions in the pulpit and elsewhere; his godly example; his self-denying labors ; his disinterested benevolence—have been excelled by few and show him to have been a true shepherd. And such he was ; for he fed the Church of God over which the Holy Ghost had made him an overseer; he was an example to the flock; was apt to teach ; no striker; given to hospitality ; patient; not covetous.

In his ecclesiastical relations he was a leading man. His influence in Presbytery and Synod was always seen and felt. The devotion, zeal and ability with which he consecrated himself to the cause of Christ, commanded the love and respect of his brethren wherever he was known, but especially of his coPresbyters of the Synod of Tennessee, and gave great weight to his opinions on any subject affecting the interests and the welfare of Zion. At the time of the unhappy division which rent in twain the Presbyterian Church, he did not wait to see how others would act. He took no counsel of mere policy or convenience. He would hear of no compromise whatever, when he felt that a question of right and justice was involved. He said to himself, “If all the world.go with the exscinding party there is one man who will not. I will go alone, rather than in company with any ecclesiastical body, whose proceedings I can no more countenance or endorse, than I can endorse or countenance the Roman Catholic Inquisition.” His soul burned with righteous indignation whenever he spoke or heard of those acts of 1837 and 1838 which involved a virtual abrogation of the Constitution of the Church, and whose tendency was to sap the very foundations on which the safety and peace of the Church depended. He could find no language strong enough to express his profound regret that men could be found in the Presbyterian Church, who could trample the Constitution under foot and inflict such gross injustice and wrong on their brethren. To his firmness and decision at this crisis ; to his unyielding attachment to the Constitution; to his prompt espousal of the cause of his injured brethren, may be attributed much of the stability and growth and present influence of our Church in the South and West.

We have thus glanced hastily at the life and character of one whom God raised up for a great and good work, and sustained him in it until it was accomplished. With singular steadfastness he kept his eye fixed on that which at the outset of his ministry he had proposed to himself as the only object worth living for; as the highest end at which he could aim; as the most blessed result he could desire for himself and othersthe glory of God. The hosannas of the multitude had no charms for his ear; the fires of ambition were never kindled in his breast; the meanest of human passions, envy, found no place in his heart; the fear of man had no power to control his thoughts and actions. With singleness of purpose; forgetful of self; intent on doing good, he devoted himself and all God gave him, to the service of his Master. With compassionate yearnings for the salvation of souls; with consuming zeal for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom; he labored and suffered that he might win souls to Christ, and enlarge the borders of Zion.

And when at last he lay down to die, the ruling passion was strong in death. “The last time I saw him,” writes one who was his pupil, "he was on his death-bed. His bodily strength

VOL. VI.-14

had failed, and his mind was almost gone. As I sat hy his bed-side, he fixed his eyes earnestly on me for a few moments, and then repeated the following lines:

I long to see the seasons come,

When sinners shall come flocking home. After repeating these lines, he asked me if some one had not used those words. I answered, “Yes.' The tears started in his eyes, as he remarked, “Every thing that does not in some way fall in with the sentiment of these words, is chilling to my. spirit, and I cannot endure it.'

“It then seemed to me that I had, in these few words, a fair epitome of Dr. Anderson's life and character.”



The Church has long realized, in some good degree, the importance of a careful discrimination in the presentation of the great truths and doctrines of Revelation. As the territories of truth and error are contiguous, and as every Christian grace has its counterfeit, we rightfully demand that the minister of Christ should be able, clearly, to apprehend moral distinctions, and plainly to express them. Loose and illogical statements of saving truth, on the part of a professed teacher of religion, no one will countenance. A cloud of vagueness must never rest upon the instructions of the pulpit. One great end that we seek to attain by a careful theological training of our candidates for the ministry, is the capacity of presenting every great doctrine of Revelation in its proper relations, and with strict logical accuracy. Indeed, in the practical forgetfulness of this important principle, both the Arminian and Unitarian heresies in this country are regarded by many as having taken their rise. “At the time of the revival under Whitefield

and Tennent, some of the nominally Calvinistic ministers, destitute themselves of accurate and definite views, gave but defective and cloudy instructions in their preaching. The people consequently soon lost nearly all discriminating knowledge; orthodox terms sounded in their ears, while error was getting lodgment in their minds; until at length, after the writings of Whitby and Taylor had been industriously circulated, Arminianism boldly entered the pulpit. Then the public instructions becoming still more loose, the people were soon ready, without any deep shudder, to hear the denial of Christ's divinity.”

But while the Church may thus feel the importance on the part of her ministry of a careful discrimination as to doctrine; it may, we think, be questioned whether sufficient regard is had to the same careful discrimination as to character. If they heed the importance of the inspired declaration, “Hold fast the form of sound words,” it admits at least of a query, whether they are equally mindful of the exhortation, “And of some have compassion, making a difference, and others, save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.”

The long, and we may almost add, exclusive scholastic training of our ministry, doubtless conduces to this forgetfulness. The well-furnished minister of Christ is, in intellectual stature, necessarily raised above the multitude around him. By the very nature of the case, he moves in a higher region, and breathes a different atmosphere. With them he has indeed many emotions, tastes, habits, ideas, in common, but likewise many others to which they are strangers.

And the more perfect his education the further removed is he. The more entire his mastery of the various intellectual subjects which have come before bim, the more delicate his emotions, the richer his imagination, the less necessarily he will have in common. And thus there is danger that the minister will come to be out of sympathy with common men-unwilling if not incapacitated for adapting himself to their varied and peculiar circumstances.

Some of the ancient philosophers and learned men, Greek and Roman, looked with the most perfect contempt on the ignorant multitudes of their countrymen. The vilest epithets

« PreviousContinue »