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MEMOIR OF DR. ANDREW THOMSON.
Of the doctrines which Dr. Thomson taught, and the character which he sustained, Dr. Chalmers has furnished a copious outline, in his funeral sermon on the occasion of his death.
First, then, in briefest definition, his was the olden theology of Scotland. A thoroughly devoted son of the church, he was, through life, the firm, the unflinching advocate of its articles, and its formularies, and its rights, and the whole polity of its constitution and discipline. His creed he derived by inheritance from the fathers of the Scottish Reformation, not, however, as based on human authority, but as based and upholden on the authority of Scripture alone. Its two great articles are—justification, only by the righteousness of Christ-sanctification, only by that Spirit which Christ is commissioned to bestow : the one derived to the believer by faith; the other derived by faith too, because obtained and realized in the exercise of believing prayer."
As an indirect apology for any thing that may appear intolerant in Dr. Thomson's character, Dr. Chalmers in the above sermon has introduced, among others, the following ingenious observations.
“ Justice is a determinate virtue; and why ?-because the precise line which separates it from its opposite, admits of being drawn with rigid and arithmetical precision; and he who transgresses this line, by the minutest fraction, is clearly and distinctly chargeable with injustice. Generosity again is an indeterminate virtue ; and why?-because there is no such definite line of separation between this virtue, and its counterpart vice, as that. you could pass by instant transition from it to its opposite. It is not then with a determinate, as with an indeterminate virtue. You cannot tamper with it, even to the extent of the humblest fraction, without making an entire sacrifice. This will at once prepare you to understand, what I have taken the liberty of terming a characteristic of his theology, whose general character, I have described as being the theology of the church of Scotland. The peculiarity lay in this, that, present him with a measure, and he, of all other men, saw at once, and with the force of instant discernment, the principle that was imbodied in it. And did that principle belong to the class of the determinate, he furthermore saw, with every sound moralist before him, that he could not recede, by one inch or hair-breadth, from the assertion of it, without making a virtual surrender of the whole.”
The truth of the above sentiments, taken in the abstract, no friend to christianity can justly doubt. It is, however, equally clear, that in many cases an application of the doctrine thus inculcated, will be attended with danger, and will sometimes involve the most pernicious consequences. That man only has nothing to fear, who can securely take his seat in the chair of infallibility:
Of Dr. Thomson's mental energies, of his acute reasoning powers, and the vast comprehensiveness of his mind, many of his speeches, now on record, will furnish some illustrious examples. On one occasion, at the Dumfriesshire Bible Society, in bringing charges against the managers, of the British and Foreign Bible Society, when the question of the Apocrypha was agitated in many parts of the united kingdom, he spoke nearly three hours, was heard in solemn silence with the deepest interest, and, at the conclusion, was saluted with thunders of applause. In this luminous display of argumentative eloquence, the vigilance with which he had observed the proceedings of the society, the consequences which he dragged into public notice, and the ardent jealousy with which he watched over the pure and unadulterated word of God, are all equally
apparent. It was electrifying to those who heard his voice, and it will long be preserved as a monument of fearless intrepidity.
In Dr. Thomson, the enslaved negroes always found an able advocate and a genuine friend. To slavery, in all its forms, he was a decided enemy. In gradual emancipation he perceived the perpetuity of servitude ; and contended, that as a resolution to liberate the African in any form, and at any time, was an acknowledgment of injustice in their compulsive detention, so procrastination would inevitably involve the pernicious principle of " doing evil that good might come.” But on this melancholy subject all argument seems to have lost its influence. The slave-holder, encased in armour of more than “close-hammer'd steel,” is invulnerable to every thing besides interest and passion; and to him, humanity, justice, and reason, have thus far been compelled to plead in vain.
But it is not merely in suffering the prolongation of the slave-trade, and of slavery, that the ways of heaven appear “ dark and intricate.” In the prime of life, in the zenith of his usefulness, secure in the confidence of a host of friends, and while floating on a tide of well-earned popularity, the subject of this memoir was called by the mandate of the Almighty to terminate his labours, and give an account of his stewardship. The death of this highly talented man was both sudden and unexpected ; and when the awful event occurred, it created a sensation in Edinburgh which the lapse of many years will not obliterate from the minds of the inhabitants. 1
On the 9th of February 1831, having attended a meeting of the Presbytery, and, with his usual acuteness, taken an active part in the business of the day, he returned homeward about five o'clock, expecting the company of some friends to dine with him. Apparently in excellent health, he walked towards his house conversing on the affairs of the presbytery with his friends, until they parted at his own door in Melville-street. He had not, however, time to enter, for, when on the threshold, the hand of death arrested him, and he sunk to the ground in a state of insensibility, and never spoke again. · On being borne into his house by some persons who were passing, medical aid was instantly procured, but every effort was unavailing. The vital spark had for ever fed, and, as the melancholy tidings were quickly circulated, all ranks of people felt the shock, and the whole city seemed enveloped in a solemn gloom.
His funeral was most numerously and respectably attended. The highest functionaries of the city honoured the procession with their presence. “Never,” says an eye-witness, was there such an assemblage of attendants on any funeral procession in this city before; and never such a concourse of spectators of any such procession. Nor would it be easy to say, whether the grief and sobbing of the two thousand attendants on his bier, were not equalled by the solemn stillness, and heaving sighs, and dropping tears of the ten thousand spectators by whom the streets were lined, and the windows crowded, and the very house-tops clothed wherever the procession moved along.”
Among the religious denominations, every one was forward to pay à. justly deserved tribute of respect to his memory. Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Secession church, Cameronians, Quakers, Independents, Methodists, and Baptists, mingled in the mournful throng. Even those who had differed from him in sentiment, and occasionally opposed his measures, lost sight of local distinctions, and participated in the general grief. At the time of the funeral, all the shops were shut, in the streets through which the procession passed. His remains were interred in a grave at St. John's Chapel.
MEMOIR OF DR. ANDREW THOMSON.
- Dr. Thomson has left a widow and seven children, five of whom are daughters; and, we are sorry to learn, without having made for themi that provision which their rank in life might justly require. The liberality of his surviving friends has however, we understand, been exerted with laudable success in supplying the deficiency. About £7000 had been subscribed shortly after his remains were committed to the tomb, and an augmentation was reasonably anticipated. In addition to the above, the following letter, which we presume is genuine, will be perused with pleasure by every lover of humanity and intellectual worth.
“We have just seen a private letter, written by a Scottish gentleman now in London, which conveys the truly pleasing intelligence, that Lord Chancellor Brougham waited upon his Majesty, and intimated to himno doubt in the most dutiful and impressive manner-the heavy loss which the religious world generally, and the Church of Scotland in particular, had sustained by the early, unlooked for, and lamented death of her greatest champion since the time of John Knox. As the Lord Chancellor was the personal friend of Dr. Thomson, had studied under the same professors, debated in the same college halls, mingled in the same amusements, and shared the same hospitalities of the same friendly roof--not a doubt can exist that the portrait he drew of him was faithful to the life; and, such was the impression made on the royal mind, that his Majesty immediately, in his own plain and unaffected manner, expressed a wish that something should be done for the widow of so good and great a man. With the royal sanction so strikingly in its favour, this object was speedily accomplished, and we understand the necessary steps have been taken for securing Mrs. Thomson a pension of 150l. per annum for life. It is farther said, that Dr. Thomson's eldest son is about to be appointed, through the same influence, professor of music in the University of London, a situation for which he is eminently qualified.”—Dumfries Courier.
The following is a list of Dr. Thomson's works :
Sermons on Various Subjects. 8vo. Sermons on Infidelity. Post 8vo. Lectures on Portions of the Psalms. Lectures Expository and Practical on Select Portions of Scripture. The Doctrine of Universal Pardon considered and Refuted, in a Series of Sermons, with Notes critical and expository, 2d edition. The Sin and Danger of being Lovers of Pleasure more than Lovers of God, stated and illustrated in two Discourses, 3d edition. On Hearing the Word. The Young warned against the Enticements of Sinners. An Address, to Christian Parents on the Religious Education of their Children, 3d edition. A Collection, in Prose and Verse, for the use of Schools, 3d edition; and other School Books. Catechism on the Sacrament, and for the Young. Various Speeches in Assembly-On the Apocryphal Controversy, and against Slavery. A Sermon on the Death of Sir Henry Moncreiff, 5th edition. Various single Sermons. Numerous articles in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, &c.
Of this highly esteemed and deeply regretted minister of the gospel, we shall conclude this memoir, with an extract from an extended and able delineation of his character, by the Rev. D. M‘Crie, inserted at large in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor for February, 1831.
“Great as Dr. Thomson's popularity was, and few men in his sphere of life ever rose so high in popular favour, he was not exposed to the wo denounced against those of whom all men speak well.' He had his detractors and enemies, who waited for his halting, and were prepared to magnify and blazon his faults. Of him it may be said, as of another Christian patriot, no man ever loved or hated him moderately. This was
the inevitable consequence of his great talents, and the rough contests in which he was involved. His generous spirit raised him above the indulgence of envy and every jealous feeling, but it made him less tolerant of those who displayed these mean vices. When convinced of the justice of a cause, and satisfied of its magnitude, he threw his whole soul into it, summoned all his powers to its defence, and assailed its adversaries, not only with strong arguments, but with sharp, pointed, and poignant sarcasm; but, unless he perceived insincerity, malignity, or perverseness, his own feelings were too acute and too just to permit him gratuitously to wound those of others.
“ That his zeal was always reined by prudence; that his ardour of mind never hurried him to a precipitate conclusion, or led him to magnify the subject in debate; that his mind was never warped by party feeling; and that he never indulged the love of victory, or sought to humble a teazing or pragmatic adversary-are positions which his true friends will not maintain. But his ablest opponents will admit, that in all the great questions in which he distinguished himself, he acted conscientiously; that he was an open, manly, and honourable adversary; and that, though he was sometimes intemperate, he was never disingenuous. Dr. Thomson was by constitution a reformer; he felt a strong sympathy with those great men who, in a former age, won renown, by assailing the hydra of error, and, of civil and religious tyranny; and his character partook of theirs. In particular, he bore no inconsiderable resemblance to Luther, both in excellencies and defects; his leonine nobleness and potency, his masculine eloquence, his facetiousness and pleasantry, the fondness which he shewed for the fascinating charms of music, and the irritability and vehemence which he occasionally exhibited ; to which some will add the necessity which this imposed on him to make retractations, which, while they threw a partial shade over his fame, taught his admirers the needful lesson, that he was a man subject to like passions and infirmities with others.
“ But the fact is, though hitherto known to few, and the time is now come for revealing it, that some of those effusions which were most objectionable, and exposed him to the greatest obloquy, were neither composed by Dr. Thomson, nor seen by him, until they were published to the world ; and that in one instance, which has been the cause of the most unsparing abuse, he paid the expenses of a prosecution, and submitted to make a public apology, for an offence of which he was innocent as the child unborn, rather than give up the name of the friend who was morally responsible for the deed ;-an example of generous self-devotion which has few parallels.
“ To his other talents, Dr. Thomson added a singular capacity for business, which not only qualified him for taking an active part in Church courts, but rendered him highly useful to those public charities of which the clergy of Edinburgh are officially managers, and to the different voluntary societies with which he was connected. This caused unceasing demands on his time and exertions, which, joined to his other labours, were sufficient to wear out the most robust constitution, and he , at last sunk under their weight.
“ In private life, Dr. Thomson was every thing that is amiable and engaging. He was mild, and gentle, and cheerful ; deeply tender and acutely sensitive in his strongest affections; most faithful and true in his attachments of friendship, kind-hearted and indulgent to all with whom he had intercourse. But it was around his own family hearth, and in the circle of his intimate acquaintances, that Dr. Thomson was delightful.
ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
In him the lion and the lamb may be said to have met together. It was equally natural in him to play with a 'child, and to enter the lists with a veteran polemic. He could be gay without levity, and grave without moroseness. His frank and bland manners, the equable flow of his cheerfulness and good humour, and the information which he possessed on almost every subject, made his company to be courted by persons of all classes. He could mix with men of the world without compromising his principles, or lowering his character as a minister of the gospel; and his presence was enough to repress any thing which had the semblance of irreligion.
" His firmness to principle, when he thought principle involved, whatsoever of the appearance of severity it may have presented to those who saw him only as a public character, had no taint of harshness in his private life; and, unbending as he certainly was in principle, he never failed to receive with kindness what was addressed to his reason in the spirit of friendship. It may indeed be said with truth, that, great as were his public merits, and deplorable the public loss in his death, to those who had the happiness to live with him in habits of intimacy, the deepest and the bitterest feeling still is, in the separation from a man who possessed so many of the finest and most amiable sensibilities of the human heart. Bits The loss of such a man, and at such a time, is incalculable. His example and spirit had a wholesome and refreshing, an exhilarating and elevating, influence on the society in which he moved : and even the agitation which he produced, when he was in his stormy moods, was salutary, like the hurricane, (his own favourite image, and the last which he employed in public,) purifying the moral atmosphere, and freeing it from the selfishness, and duplicity, and time-serving, with which it was overcharged."
ON THE NATURE AND INFLUENCE OF THE of his affection was placed around his
hearth; and finally, centered in himself ;
but the christian's motive of action is love A Christian is the highest style of man." Young. to God. This raises him from inferior
objects, and teaches obedience and regard WHATEVER regards the permanent hap- for the Being who created and preserves piness of man, inerits his serious attention; all things. He holds every thing else in and experience has shewn that happiness subordination, knowing that he cannot springs from a purer source than riches or better promote the welfare of himself or worldly distinctions. It is universally con- of his fellow-beings, than by acting in fessed to arise from the peaceful harmony accordance to the will of Him who moves of the mind, where inordinate and sinful the whole intricate machine of human affections are restrained, and the love that affairs. By this love he is constrained to rules and guides, is fixed on an object that forego all selfish gratifications, feeling demands spiritual homage on account of assured that the glory of God and the transcendent goodness and power. Thus happiness of man are inseparably woven systems after systems have been modelled together. by successive philosophers, and all that Among the heathens, virtue often dereason unassisted by revelation could sug- pended upon the customs and habits of a gest, has been at times inculcated. Yet it nation, since what was exteemed vicious in must be confessed that heathen philosophy, one country was countenanced in another, with all its advantages, and they were
so that the laws of a kingdom in many many, was in some points very deficient. respects were its standard of virtue. He, This may be accounted for when we ex- therefore, who abstained from openly amine the principles upon which they seve- breaking these laws, was considered uninrally proceeded.
peachable, and claimed for himself, if he The love of the virtuous heathen was at all believed in a paradise hereafter, á fixed on his country; the contracted circle well-earned immortality. But christianity