« ПретходнаНастави »
The second part is biographic throughout: and in each of the Books into which it is divided, the working of the individual Christian life is intended to be
represented. In the first of these, as I would have it specially noted, this life is manifested in the case of persons not extremely remarkable in an intellectual point of view, and who received their belief in the Christian Revelation in the natural way in which an accepted form of religion is transmitted from generation to generation, not through argument and unaffected by intellectual doubt: in the second, it is exhibited in the case of minds which will be allowed to belong to a high order, and in which the Christian faith became finally the pillar of character, only after having been more or less rocked in the wind of doubt. The first may meet the floating notion that Christianity is powerless with the popular mind : the second, that it has lost its grasp on thinkers.
In the First Book of the Second Part, I treat also, though not, as I have said, exclusively, of the manifestation of Christianity in social life. In order to unite this endeavor with the general biographic plan of the work, it was necessary that the men selected should be more or less representative of public movements or characteristics. They are so : yet I have not been able to attain here a symmetry to yield me satisfaction. I must beg the reader, however, to remark, that I refer only incidentally to what is strictly the national lifethat which one nation has as distinguished from another—and that my object is the general structure of
the internal social economy. A man in private life may well enough represent or introduce a phase of this.
It was my idea and endeavor to represent the whole life of each individual of whom I spoke. I think that Mr. Carlyle has demonstrated, that a biography can be given in the compass of a review article : his essay on Burns I consider, in the full signification of the term, one of the most perfect biographies I ever looked into : and the highest success at which I aimed, in a literary point of view, was the introduction into Christian biography of certain of the methods of him whom I believe to be the greatest biographic writer that ever lived. My failure has been only not so complete as to hide itself from my own eyes.
My relation to Mr. Carlyle is twofold. The influence exerted by him upon my style and modes of thought is as powerful as my mind was capable of receiving : yet my dissent from his opinions is thorough and total. I believe that, without a grand rectification, his views must be pernicious in their every influence; when Christianity gives them this rectification, I think they convey important lessons to Christian men and Christian churches. Whether the streams that flow from that fountain are to spread bliss or bale, depends upon whether there can be put into it a branch from the Christian vine : and this, since no better has attempted it, I endeavor to do.
Let it not be thought, however, that the following pages contain nothing but argument. Argument, indeed, does not very much abound. I endeavor to let facts speak. In delineating the Christian life, moreover, one can never even approach truthfulness, if he regards only one aspect of character: Christianity, by hypothesis, makes all things new.
The book is popular in the sense that I desired its style to be such as would please all readers : but I must beg to state that, in the first part, I endeavor to lay the foundation on the deepest and most stable ground.
I have throughout abstained from quotation of book and page. The facts I state in connection with each man of whom I treat, are what might have been embraced in a pretty long review article. I state my obligations to the authors of the several biographic works I have consulted : and it will be no unimportant result, if my essay should lead to a wider and more practical use of the valuable and varied materials afforded by our now rich literature of Christian biography; from such a reservoir, streams might be led off to water many a particular field, and cause many a particular crop to grow. In
my first chapter, and in the first of the Second Part, I speak occasionally with a decision and succinctness which may seem somewhat assuming. I must excuse myself by saying, that I have almost entirely given results, and that I did not rashly satisfy myself of their soundness. I may mention that, in defining the nature of happiness, I do not mean to assert that the theory of Sir William Hamilton is identical with that of Butler, but only that they can be shown to harmonize.