"And now, sir, if you please, we shall go to the Greyfriars church, to hear our historian of Scotland, of the Continent, and of America."
They were disappointed--he did not preach that morning.--"Never mind," said the counsellor, "I have a moment's patience, and we shall do very well."
The colleague of Dr. Robertson ascended the pulpit. [*This was the celebrated Dr. Rescan, a distinguished clergyman. and a most excellent man. ] His external appearance was not prepossessing. A remarkably fair complexion, strangely contrasted with a black wig without a grain of powder; a narrow chest and a stooping posture; hands which, placed like props on either side of the pulpit, seemed necessary rather to support the person than to assist the gesticulation of the preacher,--no gown, not even that of Geneva, a tumbled band, and a gesture which seemed scarce voluntary, were the first circumstances which struck a stranger. "The preacher seems a very ungainly person," whispered Mannering to his new friend.
"Never fear; he's the son of an excellent Scottish lawyer [*The father of Dr. Erskine was an eminent lawyer, and his Institutes of the Law of Scotland are to this day the text-hook of students of that science.]--he'll show blood, I'll warrant him."
The learned counsellor predicted truly. A lecture was delivered, fraught with new, striking, and entertaining views of Scripture history--a sermon, in which the Calvinism of the Kirk of Scotland was ably supported, yet made the basis of a sound system of practical morals, which should neither shelter the sinner under the cloak of speculative faith or of peculiarity of opinion, nor leave him loose to the waves of unbelief and schism. Something there was of an antiquated turn of argument and metaphor, but it only served to give zest and peculiarity to the style of elocution. The sermon was not read--a scrap of paper containing the heads of the discourse was occasionally referred to, and the enunciation, which at first seemed imperfect and embarrassed, became, as the preacher warmed in his progress, animated and distinct, and although the discourse could not be quoted as a correct specimen of pulpit eloquence, yet Mannering had seldom heard so much learning, metaphysical acuteness, and energy of argument, brought into the service of Christianity.
"Such," he said, going out of the church, "must have been the preachers, to whose uncaring minds, and acute, though sometimes rudely exercised talents, we own the Reformation."
"And yet that reverend gentleman," said Pleydell, "whom I love for his father's sake and his own, has nothing of the sour or pharisaical pride which has been imputed to some of the early fathers of the Calvinistic Kirk of Scotland. His colleague and he differ, and head different parties in the kirk, about particular points of church discipline; but without for a moment losing personal regard or respect for each other, or suffering malignity to interfere in an opposition, steady, constant, and apparently conscientious on both sides."
"And you, Mr. Pleydell, what do you think of their points of difference?"