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TRINITY CHAPEL, BRIGHTON,
FROM August 15, 1847, TO August 15, 1858,
A FEW months after Mr. Robertson had entered on his ministry at Trinity Chapel, Brighton, he announced his intention of taking one of the Books of Scripture as the subject of Expository Lectures for the Sunday afternoons. This form of address, he said, gave him greater freedom, both in subject and style, than that of the sermon, with its critical or historical division of some text arbitrarily taken as a prefix. He intended, therefore, to devote each Sunday morning to the sermon; and in the afternoon to go regularly through each chapter of the Book selected, including in his exposition all the topics contained therein.
On this plan he commenced with the First and Second Books of Samuel. In the exposition of these Books many subjects came under review which would not have found a place in an ordinary sermon. He was expounding Hebrew national life, and, incidentally, the experiences of particular individuals of that nation, in all of which he discerned lessons for the English people, and for the men and women who sat before him. Thus it occurred that topics of national policy, so far as bearing on individuals, -questions of social lifeof morals, as they are connected with every-day life, arose naturally, and were treated with unshrinking faithfulness. The period (1848) was one of great political and social excitement, and these Lectures may emphatically be said to have been preaching to the times.”
Some people were startled at the introduction of what they called “ secular subjects” into the pulpit ; but the Lecturer, in all his ministrations, refused to recognize the distinction so drawn. He said that the whole life of a Christian was sacred,
that common everyday duties, whether of a trade or a profession, or the minuter details of a woman's household life, were the arenas in which trial and temptation arose ; and that, therefore, it became the Christian minister's duty to enter into this familiar working life with his people, and help them to understand its meaning, its trials, and its compensations.
It were, perhaps, out of place here to say how greatly the congregation valued this mode of teaching, although it may be properly observed that it was at this period that his marvellous influence with the working classes commenced.
Subsequently, Mr. Robertson selected the Acts of the Apostles, and the Book of Genesis, for his afternoon expositions ; after which he commenced those Lectures on the Epistles to the Corinthians, of which this volume is but a very imperfect transcript. The Epistles to the Corinthians were selected by him, because they afforded the largest scope for the consideration of a great variety of questions in Christian casuistry, which he thought it important to be rightly understood. It will be seen that these Lectures were generally expository of the whole range of Christian principles. They are less a scheme of doctrine than Mr. Robertson's view of St. Paul's ideas on all the subjects included in his Epistles to the Church at Corinth.