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unto us the Scriptures " Scougal revived the expository mode of preaching, which had produced such happy effects at the auspicious sra of the Reformation, and which experience hath evinced to be most conducive to general edification. This useful practice, which in Scotland is called lecturing *, forms a stated portion of the morning service in the established church of that part of the United Kingdom; and I have often wished that the same practice had been enjoined by authority in the Church of England. Scougal was no less assiduous in catechising than in preaching. He discharged that important branch of the clerical office not in the common cursory way, which is little better than an exercise of the memory, but by instructing the young and the ignorant in the plain, impressive method of familiar and affectionate conversation. “Catechising,” to use Mr.Scougal's own words, in a sermon preached before the synod of Aberdeen, “is a necessary but painful duty. It is no small toil, to tell the same things a thousand times to some dull and ignorantpeople, whoperhaps 3. know but little when we have one. It is this laborious exercise that does sometimes tempt a minister to envy the condition of those who gain their living by the sweat
* I am informed, that the Scots clergy, in lecturing on Sundays, generally confine themselves to the New Testament, but without uniformity in the method; some giving harmonical expositions of the Evangelists, others regularly expounding the Epistles, and many commenting on detached portions or chapters, without any attention to order or method. The late Bishop of London, in his lectures on the Gospel of St. Matthew, gave a good specimen of this mode of commuticating religious instruction, which it is to be wished were generally adopted by the parochial clergy, especially where two sermons are usual. I have heard that the clergy of the Lutherau Church generally expound, one part of the Sunday, ille Gospel or the Epistle for the day. Arch. bishop Leighton's Columentary on the first Epistle of St. Peter, is an admirable suodel for an expositor of the Epistles.
of their brows, without the toil and distraction of their spirits.” " Scougal was not satisfied with performing the public duties of his functions, but, in imitation of St. Paul, he went from house to house, “testifying repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.” He availed himself of those domiciliary visits to study the various tempers and dispositions of his people; to warn the unruly; to comfort the feeble minded; to convince the gainsayers; to heal the blacksliders; and to confirm the faith and animate the hopes of those who had received Christ Jesus the Lord. “ He was deeply sensible” (I borrow the words of Dr. Gairden) “of the little sense of religion that generally appeared; and when he saw any spark of goodness, how strangely was he cheered with it ! He more valued the humble innocence, the cheerful contentment and resignation of one poor woman in that place, than all the more goodly appearances of others, having oft in his mouth indocti calum rapiunt.” His situation at Auchterless, as to external comforts, was very discouraging and trying; but he submitted with equanimity and patience to the inconveniencies of coarse fare, of a mean lodging, and a total seclusion from the enjoyments of literary society. He had learned the divine art of contentment with his lot under every disagreeable circumstance; he maintained an uniform serenity and cheerfulness of mind; and he used to say, “that as he blessed God he was not naturally melancholy, so he thought an acquired melancholy was scandalous in a clergyman.” : We now come to the last stage of this excellent man's life, a period of not more than four years, during which he filled a conspicuous and important station. The chair of divinity in King's College, Aberdeen. had been vacant since the year 1666*, for what reason I have not been able to learn; probably on account of the distracted state of the times, and the great difficulty of procuring a man of talents and temper to moderate the rage of party. Ever since the Reformation, that important office had been filled up by the votes of the clergy in the diocese of Aberdeen, which was now under the government of Mr. Scougal's father, of whom Bishop Burnet, in his History of his own Times, gives the following character:—“A man of rare temper, great piety, and prudence.” A striking contrast this to the character which the same prelate gives of the majority of the Episcopal College in Scotland at that time.
Wherever the vacant professorship became the subject of conversation, all eyes were directed to the minister of Auchterless; and when the matter came before the synod, in 1674, Mr. Scougal was elected, by the unanimous voice of that reverend and venerable body, professor of divinity, being only twentyfour years of age. Far from being elated with so flattering a mark of distinction, Scougal, in the true spirit of Ambrose and Gregory Nanzianzen, shrunk from the appointment with fear and trembling. His mind was so deeply impressed with the weight and importance of the charge, as well as with a sense of his own unworthiness, that he con
* The first professor of divinity in King's College, after the Reformation, was Dr. John Forbes, son to the fourth Protestant bishop of Aberdeen. He had studied in several Protestant universities abroad, and was a profound theologian. After filling the chair several years, with great ability, he resigned it in 1635, and was succeeded by Dr. Andrew Strachan, who died the year following, when Dr. John Forbes was re-elected, and remained till 1643, when he was ejected for refusing to sign the covenant, and was succeeded by the Rev. W. Douglas, Minister of Forgue, in Aberdeenshire; a man of the greatest name among the Covenanters, next to the celebrated Alexander Henderson. At the Restoration, however, he joined the Episcopal party, and remained in the chair of divinity until his death, in 1666.
tinued in a state of suspense until the next meeting of the synod, when, after much serious deliberation and prayer, he undertook the office. His advancement to the chair of theology, at so early an age, without a dissenting voice in the synod, and that too in a period of such turbulence and distraction, is a sufficient testimony of his unrivalled merit. Science and literature were then cultivated with more success in Aberdeen than in the other universities of Scotland. The clergy in that part of the kingdom far exceeded their brethren in the western and southern counties, in classical learning, and in every branch of theological science, more especially in the study of the fathers of the primitive church, and an acquaintance with ecclesiastical history. Many of them, and those chiefly of the episcopal persuasion, were animated by that pure and heavenly flame which glowed in the breasts of a Cyprian and a Jerome. “ Their excellency,” to use the words of Bishop Burmet, “lay in their sense of spiritual things and of the pastoral care.” . They were alive to their heavenly Master, dead to the world, and impressed with a deep sense of the value of those souls that were committed to their charge. Of this school were Forbes, Burnet, Gairden, and Scougal, men who would have done honour to the church in her purest days; and had all the synods of Scotland, at the Restoration, contained as large a portion of the good leaven as the synod of Aberdeen, in all probability episcopacy would have stood its ground. “Trojaque nunc stares—Priamique arx alta inaneres" Scougal was such a burning and shining light that no man despised his 3youth; and like the inimitable Leighton, he enjoyed the rare felicity of gaining the esteem of the zealots of all parties*. He had full credit
* “He did not confine his charity withiu a sect or party, but loved goodness wherever given him for the purity of the motives by which he was actuated in .# the professorship: no one suspected him of grasping at preferment. Neither filthy lucre, nor vanity, nor ambition, were supposed to have any share in determining his choice; and all who knew him were convinced that he undertook the important charge, to which he had been called by the public voice,
be found it, and entertained no harsh thoughts of men merely upon their differing from him in this or that opinion. He was grieved at the distractions and divisions of the church, and that religion, the bond of love, should be made so much the bone of contentions. The several sects among us lament his loss, and seem to confess that a few like him would soon heal our sehisms, and that his pious life, and meek instructions, if anything, would soon have recovered them from their errors.” Gairden's Funeral Sermon.—In a sermon, preached before the synod of Aberdeen, Scougal mentioned, with approbation, the following declaration of an eminent and holy clergyman then living, “that he would rather be instrumental in persuading one man to be serious in religion than the whole nation to be confor. mists;” that is, to have no more than the outward form without the power; “ for,” as he adds, “if a man continue a stranger to that, it is little matter whether he be Protestant or Papist, Pagan or Mahometan, or any thing else in the world; nay, the better his religion is, the more dreadful will his condemnation be." What he meant by “persuading men to be serious" is thus expressed in the same wermon, in words that ought to be engraven on the heart of every clergyman: “ The great business of our calling is to advance the divine life in the world, to frame and mould the souls of men into a conformity to God, and to superinduce the beautiful lineaments of his blessed image upon them, to enlighten their understandings, inform their judgments, rectify their wills, and order their passions, and sanctify all their affections. The world lieth in sin, and it is our work to awaken men out of that deadly sleep. Nothing below this should be our aim, we should never cease our endeavours until that gracious change be wrought in every person committed to our charge; and this is so great and wonderful a charge, that as only Omnipotence is able to produce it, so certainly
they have a mighty task who are employed as instruments in it.”
with a single eye to the glory of his divine Master and the good of his church. The theological lectures of Scougal embraced a wide field. As became a Protestant divine, he directed the attention of the students, in the first place, to the sacred oracles, as the grand furniture of a candidate for the Christian ministry. He endeavoured to obviate the chief difficulties that occur in studying the scripture system, and to vindicate them from the most weighty objections of sceptics and infidels. He gave his pupils a clear and comprehensive view of the principles of genuine Protestantism as opposed to the corruptions which Popery had engrafted upon the written word, and took especial care to guard them against the delusive artifices of the Romish priesthood to o: their proselytes in the yoke of bondage, and to deprive them of the glorious liberty of the sons of God. He read lectures on casuistical divinity; a branch of his course wherein he was truly excellent, being himself a man of a a most scrupulous and tender conscience, and having an utter abhorrence of the least deviation from the plain path of godly sincerity. His whole system of theological casuistry was briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man. He gave no quarter to the casuistical divinity of the sons of Loyola; which seemed to have been framed, not to keep men from sin, but to teach them, quam prope ad peccatum liceat accedere siné peccato". He unravelled their specious sophistry, unmasked their plausible but licentious maxims, and cautioned his pupils against all those evasive, equivocating, and accommodating arts which had rendered Jesuitism a synonimous term with falsehood and hypocrisy, and which ought not so * How near to sin they might lawfully come without sinning. This was the censure passed by Sir Thomas More, himself a zealous Papist, on the general run of Romish cowists.
much as to be named in Protestant schools of theology, In regard to the grand points of controversy between the Lutheran and Reformed churches abroad, as well as between the Episcopalians and Presbyterians at home, he manifested a truly Christian spirit of moderation and candour. While he firmly avowed his own conclusions, he forbore to fulminate, ex cathedra, against those who were of the contrary part; being aware that there were among them, men of unquestionable learning, wisdom, and piety, whose right to abound in their own sense of the holy Scriptures could not be denied, upon the original principles of the Protestant Reformation. Many of your readers will, no doubt, peruse with great satisfaction, the following passage from the pen of his reverend friend Dr. Gairden, and which I transcribe as an index of his prudence, his peaceable spirit, and his humble piety, in regard to the Predestinarian controversy. “There were no debates he was more cautious to meddle with, than those about the decrees of God, being sensible how much Christianity had suffered by men's diving into things ‘beyond their reach; secret things belonging to the Lord, and things revealed to us and to our children. But he had always a deep sense of the powerful efficacy of God's grace upon our souls; and that all our good was entirely to be ascribed to God, and all our evil unto ourselves.” The caution with which Professor Scougal trod upon such tender ground, is well worthy the imitation of all who are raised to the dignity of masters in our Israel. Christian divines should learn to exercise moderation and charity, on certain points which, in all ages, have perplexed the reason of the wisest and most inquisitive among the sons of men—points on which men of acknowledged piety have differed, in every period of the church, and will probably continue to do so till the end of time. In fact, all the controversies on the sub
jects of predestination and free-will, from the days of St. Austin down to the present moment, seem only to shew the inadequacy of the human faculties to fathom the deep things of God. It were well if all Christian divines would learn from St. Paul humbly to acquiesce in the sovereignty, the wisdom, and the justice, of the great Creator and Lord of the universe, to avoid all questions which o lead the thing formed to say to him that formed it, why hast thou. made me thus * and to oppose the following devout exclamation to the arrogance of “reasoning pride:” O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! I have always admired the caution with which the ever-memorable Melancthon handled this mysterious and incomprehensible subject”. The Augsburg Confession, which reflects so much credit on the learning, the judgment, and the prudence, of that illustrious divine, is totally silent on the article of predestination; and, in my humble opinion, it would have been well if the master builders of every other Protestant church had followed his example, although, it must be owned, that the seventeenth article of the Church of England evinces a spirit of moderation and candour on the unsathomable subject of the divine decrees, which we do not find in the systematical confessions of the Helvetic, Belgic, or Scots churches. Had the article been drawn up by Calvin, or Jerom Zanchius, there is no doubt that it
* See the article de Predestinatione, in Melancthon's Loci communes, the first protestant body of divinity that was published in Germany. This book was a powerful instrument in promoting the fundamental doctrines of the Protestant Reformation. It was regarded, during the sixteenth century, as a form of sound words, in doctrinal points, in all the theological schools of the Lutheran, or (as they used to call themselves, without deeming it arrogant) of the evangelical church.
would have worn a more rigid aspect; but the reformers of the Anglican church had been more in the habit of corresponding with Wittemberg than with Geneva; and in the conclusion of the seventeenth article, they seem to have had their eye on the following passage in the Saxonic confession of Melancthon. “Quia conscientiis in poenitentia consolationem proponimus, non addimus quaestiones de praedestinatione, seu de electione, sed deducinus omnes lectores ad verbum Dei, et jubemus ut voluntatem Dei er verbo ipsius discant. Non quaerant alias speculationes. Certissimum est praedicationem poenitentiae ad omnes homines pertinere, et accusare omnes homines, ita promissio universalis est, et omnibus offert remissionem peccatorum. In hanc universalem promissionem singuli se includant, et non indulgeant disfidentiae, sed luctentur ut assentian tur verbo Dei, et obsequantur Spiritui Sancto, et juvari se petant*.” Melancthon neverwould enter into controversy on the deep points of predestination and election, notwithstanding Calvin frequently urged him to be more explicit in his declarations. It will readily be allowed, however, by every equitable and candid person who hath studied the writings of these two burning and shining lights, that the points on which they agreed were of much higher importance than those on which they differed, or rather on which Melancthon thought it more
* The Saxonic confession was drawn up in 1551, with a view to be presented to the council of Trent. Let the reader compare the above quotation from Melancthon, with the last sentence in the seventeenth article. “Furtherinore, we must receive God's promises in such wise as they be generally set forth to us in holy Scripture; and in our doings, that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared to us in the word of God.” Other instances of coincidence, no less plain and evident, might be pointed out, on a comparison of the Augsburg and Saxonic Confessions with the thirtynine Articles. Melancthon was, beyond all question, in higher esteem with the early
expedient to be silent”. Their sentiments were perfectly in whison on the doctrines of original sin, freewill+, and justification, and whatever shades of difference there might be in their opinions respecting the decrees of God, and some points of ecclesiastical polity, there never was anysuspension of their mutual esteem. no deviation in their controversial correspondence from the royal law of love, without which, though we speak with the tongues of men and of angels, we are become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal; and without which, though we understand all mysteries and all knowledge, we are nothing. Scougal thought as the Wirtemberg Professor did, respecting the predestinarian controversy; and every humble inquirer after truth, every friend of Christian liberty and peace, must wish that our divinity chairs may always be occupied by men of their stamp. Had Gomar and Ar
fathers of the Church of England, than any other foreign divine,
* In one of Calvin's letters to Melancthon, there is the following passage: “Ac tibi omnino videndum est quidem mature, ne tibi apud posteros dedecori sit mimia taciturnitas;” alluding not only to his silence on the subject of the divine decrees, but to his caution in regard to the doctrine of the real presence, concerning which it is well known he did not altogether coincide in opinion with his master Luther.
t On the subject of free-will, take the sollowing passage from the Augsbourg confession : “De libero arbitrio ecclesiae apud nos decent quod humana voluntas habeat aliquam libertatem ad efficiendam civilem justitiam, et diligendas res rationi subjectas.” But as the same writer, namely, Melancthon, expresses himself in the Saxonic Confession; “Homo nequaquam potest se liberare a peccato et morte acterna viribus naturalibus, sed haec liberatio et conversio homiris ad Deum, et novitas spiritualis fit per Filium Dei vivificantem nos spiritu suo sancto.” I presume, that if the bishop of Lincoln had perused the writings of Luther and Melancthon with sufficient diligence, his lordship would scarcely have pressed them into his service soperemptorily as he has done.