Frederick W. Robertson's entire approach to religion appears in the following discussion of why positive approaches prove more effective that strict, puritanical rules, which often turn out to be counter-productive"

'The true art of moral culture is to balance extravagant tendencies by quickening those which are languid. Growth is a safer means of producing harmony in character than repression.' How often have I felt and said this! You cannot descend to the regions of the lower nature, and wrestle with success there. You must go above and fight them, as Perseus fought the dragon that would have destroyed Andromeda, on wings in the air. The lower is subdued, not by repression, but by making it simply an instrument of the higher. No fasting, for instance, will make the soul pure; but a noble attachment will keep all baser feelings in check and ennoble them. By the bye, that is a better remedy than Cato's ; that was the very essence of St. Paul's system; that was the gospel according to him. Not repression, coercion, law — that only produces dreadful conflict. 'Ye cannot do the things ye would.' 'Walk in the spirit' ---the Higher life of loftier motives — 'and then ye will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh!' and that is true particularly as well as generally. No court-martial or provost marshal's cord would stop thieving in a regiment, or make a coward brave; but an esprit de corps and honour have done it again and again. [LI, pp. 146-47]

He concludes, "I am quite sure that is the real answer to Tractarianism and Sabbatarianism," since "those systems, 'as systems,' will not produce animals as noble even as the dog is" (157).

Related Material


Brooke, Stopford A. Life and Letters of Fred[erick]. W. Robertson, M. A., Incumbent of Trinity Chapel, Brighton, 1847-53. People's Edition. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co., 1902.

Last modified 5 December 2007