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LETTER TO JOHN CAIRNS, D.D.
'I praised the dead which are already dead, more than the living which are yet alive.'
'As he was of the Pauline type of mind, his Christianity ran into the same mould. A strong, intense, and vehement nature, with masculine intellect and unyielding will, he accepted the Bible in its literal simplicity as an absolute revelation, and then showed the strength of his character in subjugating his whole being to this decisive influence, and in projecting the same convictions into other minds. He was a believer in the sense of the old Puritans, and, amid the doubt and scepticism of the nineteenth century, held as firmly as any of them by the doctrines of atonement and grace. He had most of the idiosyncrasy of Baxter, though not without the contemplation of Howe. The doctrines of Calvinism, mitigated but not renounced, and received simply as dictates of Heaven, without any effort or hope to bridge over their inscrutable depths by philosophical theories, he translated into a fervent, humble, and resolutely active life.
'There was a fountain of tenderness in his nature as well as a sweep of impetuous indignation; and the one drawn out, and the other controlled by his Christian faith, made him at once a philanthropist and a reformer, and both in the highest departments of human interest. The union of these ardent elements, and of a highly devotional temperament, not untouched with melancholy, with the patience of the scholar, and the sobriety of the critic, formed the singularity and almost the anomaly of his personal character. These contrasts were tempered by the discipline of experience; and his life, both as a man and a Christian, seemed to become more rich, genial, and harmonious as it approached its close.'-DR. CAIRNS.
LETTER TO JOHN CAIRNS, D. D.
23 RUTLAND STREET, 15th August 1860. DEAR FRIEND,-When, at the urgent request of his trustees and family, and in accordance with what I believe was his own wish, you undertook my father's Memoir, it was in a measure on the understanding that I would furnish you with some domestic and personal details. This I hoped to have done, but was unable.
Though convinced more than ever how little my hand is needed, I will now endeavour to fulfil my promise. Before doing so, however, you must permit me to express our deep gratitude to you for this crowning proof of your regard for him.
'Without whose life we had not been ;'
to whom for many years you habitually wrote as 'My father,' and one of whose best blessings, when
he was 'such an one as Paul the aged,' was to know that you were to him 'mine own son in the gospel.'
With regard to the manner in which you have done this last kindness to the dead, I can say nothing more expressive of our feelings, and, I am sure, nothing more gratifying to you, than that the record you have given of my father's life, and of the series of great public questions in which he took part, is done in the way which would have been most pleasing to himself that which, with his passionate love of truth and liberty, his relish for concentrated, just thought and expression, and his love of being loved, he would have most desired, in any one speaking of him, after he was gone. He would, I doubt not, say, as one said to a great painter, on looking at his portrait, 'It is certainly like, but it is much betterlooking;' and you might well reply, as did the painter, 'It is the truth, told lovingly'—and all the more true that it is so told. You have, indeed, been enabled to speak the truth, or as the Greek has it, ἀληθευεῖν ἐν ἀγάπη—to truth it in love.
I have over and over again sat down to try and do what I promised and wished-to give some faint expression of my father's life; not of what he did or said or wrote-not even of what he was as a man of God and a public teacher; but what he was in his essential nature-what he would have been had he
been anything else than what he was, or had lived a thousand years ago.
Sometimes I have this so vividly in my mind that I think I have only to sit down and write it off, and do it to the quick. 'The idea of his life,' what he was as a whole, what was his self, all his days, would, -to go on with words which not time or custom can ever wither or make stale,
Into my study of imagination;
And every lovely organ of his life
Would come apparelled in more precious habit
More moving delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of my soul,
as if the sacredness of death and the bloom of eternity were on it; or as you may have seen in an untroubled lake, the heaven reflected with its clouds, brighter, purer, more exquisite than itself; but when you try to put this into words, to detain yourself over it, it is by this very act disturbed, broken and bedimmed, and soon vanishes away, as would the imaged heavens in the lake, if a pebble were cast into it, or a breath of wind stirred its face. The very anxiety to transfer it, as it looked out of the clear darkness of the past, makes the image grow dim and disappear.
Every one whose thoughts are not seldom with the dead, must have felt both these conditions; how, in