Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


(With a Portrait.) Although the name of Dr. Blair is one which would not appear amongst the lists furnished by the historian in narrating the movements of united society,—he fought no battles, discovered no unknown countries, constructed no political constitutions,-no view of the character and progress of the human mind in our own country during the last century, would be correct from which all reference to his writings should be omitted. He is one of those authors whose works constitute the literature of the age in which they live, and supply the far greater portion of society both with materials for thought, and directions how to think. His portrait, therefore, and some brief account of his life, will not be unacceptable to the readers of the Youth's Instructer.

Dr. Hugh BLAIR was born at Edinburgh, April 7th, 1718. His father was a merchant in that city, and of respectable Scotch extraction. His great-grandfather was Robert Blair, Minister of St. Andrew's, a zealous and distinguished Clergyman in the reign of Charles I. The grandson of Robert Blair, (the cousin, therefore, of Dr. Blair's father,) likewise named Robert, was Minister of Athelstonford, and the author of the well-known poem entitled The Grave.

After the usual course of grammatical study, Dr. Blair, in
Vol. VI. Second Series. c

[ocr errors]

1730, entered the University of Edinburgh, and for eleven
years devoted himself, with great assiduity, to literary and
scientific pursuits. He was accustomed to make abstracts and
digests of the principal works which he read; a plan which
he pursued not only for the purpose of fixing their contents
in his memory, but of securing a thorough acquaintance with
their subjects. It was not only by his industry, however,
that he gave promise of future eminence, but by occasional
productions, which declared that his studies, even at that
early period, were not fruitless. In 1739 he took his degree
of A.M., on which occasion he printed and defended a thesis,
De Fundamentis et Obligatione Legis Naturæ,(On the
Foundations and Obligations of the Law of Nature,) contain-
ing, in elegant Latin, a masterly discussion of the important
subject. He likewise wrote, whilst a student, “ An Essay on
the Beautiful,” which was regarded as highly creditable both
to his taste and abilities.

Having completed his academical course, he received, after
examination by the Edinburgh Presbytery, a licence to preach.
This was on the 21st of October, 1741. Not long afterwards,
being presented to the parish of Colessie, in Fifeshire, he was
ordained; and thus, September 23d, 1742, he became a
regular Minister of the Church of Scotland. He did not,
however, continue long at Colessie. A vacancy occurring in
the Canongate Church, Edinburgh, in July, 1743, he was
appointed second Minister there. In this situation he re-
mained eleven years, discharging with great fidelity and
acceptance the various duties of the pastoral office. His
discourses from the pulpit were greatly and very extensively
admired; combining, as they were believed to do, weighty
thoughts, with careful arrangement, elegant expression, and a
pleasingly impressive delivery. In 1754 he was removed to
one of the city churches; and in June, 1758, to the High
Church, Edinburgh, considered as one of the most important
ecclesiastical charges in Scotland.

Soon after this appointment he directed his attention to a
course of lectures on rhetoric, and in December, 1759, with
the approbation of the University, began to read them in the
College. The course was well attended, and a rhetoric class
was formed, and made a prominent part of the academical establishment; and in April, 1762, His Majesty, George III., was pleased to erect and endow a “ Professorship of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the University of Edinburgh,” and to appoint Dr. Blair the first Regius Professor. The lectures which he delivered, he subsequently revised for the press, and published them in 1783.

In 1777 he published a volume of Sermons; and these were so well received, that they were followed, at intervals, by three others. These soon became very popular, and took their place among the works constituting the standard literature of the country. They were deemed worthy of public reward by the King, who was always anxious to promote the interests of religion and literature; and in July, 1780, a pension of £200 per annum was conferred on the Doctor, which he enjoyed for the remainder of his life.

Dr. Blair lived to a good old age, and possessed a clear and vigorous mind to the very last. On the 24th of December, 1800, he complained of a pain in the bowels, but the symptoms were not such as to occasion any alarm till the 26th, when they became so violent as to indicate that the close of life was at hand. Continuing in the full possession of his mental faculties, he expired on the morning of the 27th, with the composure and hope of the Christian Pastor, being within three months of the completion of his eighty-third year.*


FROM BISHOP PEARSON. The Spirit of God is called holy because he is the cause of holiness in us; and therefore we acknowledge the office of the Spirit of God to consist in the sanctifying of the servants of God.

Now, this sanctification being opposed to our impurity and corruption, and answering fully to the latitude of it, whatsoever is wanting in our nature of that holiness and perfection, must be supplied by the Spirit of God. Wherefore being by nature we are totally void of all saving truth, and under an

* For some observations on Dr. Blair's Sermons, and Lectures on Rhetoric, the reader is referred to our Review department for the present month.

impossibility of knowing the will of God; being as “no man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him ; even so none knoweth the things of God, but the Spirit of God;" this “Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God,” (1 Cor. ii. 10, 11,) and revealeth them unto the sons of men ; so that thereby the darkness of their understanding is expelled, and they are enlightened with the knowledge of their God. This work of the Spirit is double : either external and general, or internal and particular. The external and general work of the Spirit, as to the whole church of God, is the revelation of the will of God, by which so much in all ages hath been propounded as was sufficient to instruct men unto eternal life. For there have been "holy Prophets ever since the world began,” (Luke i. 70,) and prophecy " came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. i. 21.) When it pleased God " in the last days to speak unto us by his Son,” (Heb. i. 2,) even that Son sent his Spirit into the Apostles, “ the Spirit of truth, that he might guide them into all truth,” “teaching them all things, and bringing all things to their remembrance, whatsoever Christ had said unto them.” (John xvi. 13 ; xiv. 26.) By this means it came to pass, that “all Scripture was given by inspiration of God,” that is, by the motion and operation of the Spirit of God; and so whatsoever is necessary for us to know and believe, was delivered by revelation. Again, the same Spirit which revealeth the object of faith generally to the universal church of God, which object is propounded externally by the church to every particular believer, doth also illuminate the understanding of such as believe, that they may receive the truth: for faith is the gift of God, not only in the object, but also in the act; Christ is not only given unto us, in whom we believe, but it is also “ given us in the behalf of Christ to believe in him ;” (Phil. i. 29;) and this gift is a gift of the Holy Ghost, working within us an assent unto that which by the word is propounded to us : by this “the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul :” (Acts xvi. 14:) by this the word preached profiteth, being “mixed with faith in them that hear it." (Heb. iv. 2.) Thus “by grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. ii. 8.) As the increase and perfection, so the original or initiation, of faith, is from the Spirit of God, not only by an external proposal in the word, but by an internal illumination in the soul : by which we are inclined to the obedience of faith, in assenting to those truths, which unto a natural and carnal man are foolishness. And thus we affirm not only the revelation of the will of God, but also the illumination of the soul of man, to be part of the office of the Spirit of God, against the old and new Pelagians.

The second part of the office of the Holy Ghost is the sanctification of man, in the regeneration and renovation of him. For our natural corruption consisting in an aversation of our wills, and a depravation of our affections, an inclination of them to the will of God is wrought within us by the Spirit of God. For “according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Tit. iii. 5.) So that “except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John iii. 5.) We are all at first defiled by the corruption of our nature, and the pollution of our sins, “but we are washed, but we are sanctified, but we are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. vi. 11.) The second part, then, of the office of the Holy Ghost is the renewing of man in all the parts and faculties of his soul.

The third part of this office is to lead, direct, and govern us in our actions and conversations, that we may actually do and perform those things which are acceptable and wellpleasing in the sight of God. “If we live in the Spirit,” quickened by his renovation, we must “walk in the Spirit," (Gal. v. 25,) following his direction, led by his manuduction. And if we " walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh :" (Gal. v, 16 :) for we are not only directed but animated and acted in those operations by the Spirit of God, “who giveth both to will and to do ;” and “as many as are thus led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. viii. 14.) Moreover, that this direction may prove

« AnteriorContinuar »