Dr. Arnold’s Theological Opinions -- By: Benjamin Tappan, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 015:57 (Jan 1858)
Article: Dr. Arnold’s Theological Opinions
Author: Benjamin Tappan, Jr.


Dr. Arnold’s Theological Opinions

Rev. Benjamin Tappan, Jr

The late Dr. Thomas Arnold, of Rugby, was no professed Theological teacher. For nine years only of his life was he a parochial minister: and then much of his time was given to instructing a limited number of boys, who were under his charge. When he went from Laleham to Rugby, assuming the headship of one of England’s great public schools, of course a great pressure of care and labor came upon him. He preached in the school-chapel every Sabbath afternoon: but his discourses were very short, usually written after the morning service. He interested himself in a variety of things: the general subject of education; political affairs; questions of reform, both civil and ecclesiastical. He studied history with great enthusiasm; published an edition of Thucydides, with notes and dissertations; wrote at length upon the early Roman history; and a year before his death received the appointment of Regius Professor of History at Oxford, and gave his first course of lectures.

But his earnest mind found time, nevertheless, for much

thought upon theological subjects. They were the subjects which really interested him more than any others. He wrote upon them not a little. His discourses at Rugby, short and hasty as they were, embodied results to which he had not come in a moment; and many of them strike one who reads them now, as eminently fresh and suggestive. The prefaces and appendixes to some of his volumes develop certain of his ideas more elaborately. He wrote some special dissertations upon points of great theological interest. As his mind, so his pen, was more or less constantly active in this direction.

Conceded by all to be one of the most remarkable men of his time, his theological opinions are certainly worthy of notice. We always like to know the thoughts of such a mind as his—so earnest, so independent, so indignantly casting aside all trick and artifice; at the same time so reverential towards God, so full of love to Christ, of goodwill to man. He has been denied to be, in the strict sense of the word, a profound thinker; to have the large roundabout sense, which the greatest men have had. This, perhaps, would be the general verdict in regard to him. But it is not profound thinkers only that instruct us. Men of quick vision sometimes help our slower sight. Men of intense moral earnestness sometimes kindle our minds. It is well to learn how truth appears to them, as well as to men of the more speculative cast. Dr. Arnold would doubtless, in some cases, have arrived at sounder results, if he had engaged in more thorough research. The power of nice metaphysical analysis would sometimes have been of great service to him. As a Bibl...

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