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FREDERICK WILLIAM ROBERTSON (1816-1853)

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Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 405 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FREDERICK WILLIAM ROBERTSON (1816-1853), English divine, known as Robertson of Brighton, was born in London on the 3rd of February 1816_ The first five years of his life were passed at Leith Fort, where his father, a captain in the Royal Artillery, was then resident. The military spirit entered into his blood, and throughout life he was characterized by the; qualities of the ideal soldier. In 1821 Captain Robertson retired to Beverley, where the boy was educated. At the age of fourteen he spent a year at Tours, from which he returned to Scotland, and continued his education at the Edinburgh Academy. and university. In 1834 he was articled to a solicitor in Bury St Edmunds, but the uncongenial and sedentary employment soon broke down his health. He was anxious for a military career, and his name was placed upon the list to return to Cheltenham, but after doing duty for two months at St Ebbe's,.Oxford, he entered in August 2847 on his famous ministry at Trinity Chapel, Brighton. Here he stepped at once into the foremost rank as a preacher, and his church was thronged with thoughtful men of all classes in society and of all shades of religious belief. His fine appearance, his flexible and sympathetic voice, his manifest sincerity, the perfect lucidity and artistic symmetry of his address, and the brilliance with which he illustrated his points would have attracted hearers even had he had little to say. But he had much to say, He was not, indeed, a scientific theologian; but his in-sight into the principles of the spiritutal life was unrivalled. As his biographer says, thousands found in his sermons " a living source of impulse, a practical direction of thought, a key to many of the problems of theology, and above all a path to spiritual freedom." His closing years were full of sadness. His sensitive nature was subjected to extreme suffering, arising mainly from the opposition aroused by ' his sympathy with the revolutionary ideas of the 1848 epoch. Moreover, he was crippled by incipient: disease of the brain, which at first inflicted unconquerable lassitude and depression, and latterly agonizing pain. On the 5th of June 1853 he preached for the last time, and on the 15th of August he died. Robertson's published works include five volumes of sermons, two volumes of expository lectures, on Genesis and on the epistles to the Corinthians, a volume of miscellaneous addresses, and an Analysis of " In Memoriam." See Life and Letters by Stopford A. Brooke (1865).
End of Article: FREDERICK WILLIAM ROBERTSON (1816-1853)
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