Saturday, September 30, 2006

Marcus Dods - Victorian Emergent? V.

Marcus Dods continued his career as a probationer, preaching in some churches that were "very hard to please", where a couple of hundred people sat in a chapel seated for at least a thousand. At the same time he had started writing articles for T. & T. Clark's 'North British Review', articles which he assured a friend "will appear as soon as Cunningham comes to a colon and lets anyone else get in a word." [the earler version of this post contained a sentence here which has been removed due to inaccuracy]
He even contemplated going abroad, and was asked to go to Sydney, but the fact that it was only a possible appointment made him understandably wary of going in the days when it meant a very long ocean voyage.
His first book was published in 1862, a volume of selection from Augustine entitled 'Manual of Devotion'. At the same time he writes in a letter to Marcia: "Would you ask Stevenson (in Maclaren's [bookshop]) if he thinks he could get the first series of Robertson of Brighton's sermons second-hand. I feel the want of genius just now."
But Robertson of Brighton was not exactly orthodox. Dismissed by 'Rabbi' Duncan for believing that Christ did on the cross "something or other that somehow or other had some connection or other with salvation." For a man who read Owen and Augustine, Robertson was quite a come-down!
And it was in that year that Simeon Macphail, a friend of his, began to question the doctrine of inspiration. Unfortunately the most important letter on the matter appears to have been mutilated, probably deliberately ('Early Letters of Marcus Dods', P. 232). Dods wrote: "I wish now I had spent MORE than I did upon it. I now see that what I maintained, and what Cunningham approved, was mere infallibility." (10th September 1862)
His friend's problems led Dods to study the subject. What the results were we shall see in some future post, God willing. In the meantime some of his other friends were urging him to publish his sermons on the Lord's Prayer (published as 'The Prayer that Teaches to Pray') - and Rainy, who had just been appointed to succeed Cunningham at New College, was recommending Dods for the pastorate at the Free High Church, Edinburgh. Dods thought this was a silly idea, but he was still willing to try.
And so Marcus Dods went on, hoping, praying, preaching and writing, like many another man in his position, before and since.

Of which more, God willing, next time.



Post a Comment

<< Home