CLARENCE ESME STUART.
THE late Mr. C. E. Stuart was youngest son of Mr. Win.
Stuart, of Tempsford Hall, Sandy, and grandson of Hon. Win. Stuart, Archbishop
of Armagh, who, like that prelates father, enjoyed the special confidence
of King George III. The Earl of Bute was direct ancestor likewise of the
present Marquis of Bute. The family descends collaterally from the old royal
house of Stuart, and C. E. Stuart was by some regarded as bearing a likeness to
Charles I. His mother was a maid-of-honour to Queen Adelaide as Duchess of
Clarence, who was his godmother; hence the name Clarence. The name Esme is one
familiar to students of modern Scottish history.
Clarence Stuart was born in 1828, the year in which Benjamin Wills Newton took a First Class in the Oxford schools, and was educated at Eton, from which he proceeded to St. Johns College, Cambridge, in accordance with the custom of his family. Here he took his degree of M.A., after gaining one of the earliest of the Tyrwhitt University Scholarships in Hebrew. For sacred study he had early conceived a special taste; the more so as, under the fostering care of a Christian mother, C. E. Stuart in his youth experienced the spiritual change by which we pass "from death unto life". He would, doubtless, in due course, have taken Orders in the Church of England, to which his family belonged, but a defect in his speech seems to have occasioned his remaining what is termed a layman.
Mr. Stuart, marrying a daughter of Colonel Cuningham, of Ayrshire, settled in READING, where for several years he interested himself in Church work of the Evangelical type, that with which his family was traditionally identified - a circumstance which found expression in the marriage of a sister to a clergyman, a direct descendant of Bishop Ridley. Amongst other forms of activity, Mr. Stuart at this period of his life promoted the operations of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He ranged himself with those friends of the Society who were opposed to the idea of its recognition of the Apocrypha in the translations made under its auspices, or in distribution of English copies containing those books. He explained his. views in a pamphlet - the reading of which would again be seasonable now in connection with the revival of public interest in the Apocrypha, promoted by the International Association of which the Bishop of Winchester is President.
About the year i86o Mr. Stuarth attention was called to the position taken by those Christians commonly called "Plymouth Brethren" (though they have consistently rejected any such title), represented in Reading by a large "gathering," amidst which ministered the late Wm. Henry Dorman, a former Congregational minister, whose connection with the "Brethren" dated from about the year 1840. In the years 1845-1848 Mr. Dorman figured as a trusted ally of the late John Nelson Darby in the formation of what has since been denominated the "Exclusive" section of Brethren, the continued unhappy effect of which his eldest son, the present Mr. W. H. Dorman, of Stafford, has endeavoured to some extent to remedy. Mr. Stuart became convinced, under the late Mr. Dormans influence, of the untenable character of his own churchmanship, and without more ado took his place, as the expression was, in the Reading fellowship, which remains today identified especially with his own name.
During the years 1864-1866, Mr. Stuarts fidelity to "J.N.D.," like that of others, was tested by Mr. Dormans uncompromising, opposition to Mr. Darbys teaching with reference to a class of sufferings of our Lord, discriminated as "non-atoning," as derived from His association with Israel. This doctrine "W. H. D." put on the same plane as that of B. W. Newton, which brought about the split in 1848. The close acquaintance, however, of C. E. Stuart with the usage of Hebrew words which came into play for any Biblical scholar having to consider such a question, aided him in determining the direction of his own sympathies in the matter. He did not follow the example of his Reading associate, who now seceded from the Darby fellowship. In i88r, when "J. N. D." lent himself to another unsettlement among Brethren, Mr. Stuart again stood with him; and in the next year, when that remarkable man passed away, the hearty voice of "C. E. S." was one raised over his interment. For three years longer Mr. Stuart remained in the company of those who had owned the special leadership of "J. N. D."
In 1885 a storm arose over some of his own views which then acquired prominence... These were deemed by many inconsistent with the traditional teaching of Brethren, especially as regarded the standing of the Children of God. In a further cleavage, which searched many hearts, some rallied to "C. E. S"., who accepted his view as a distinct advance in truth, whilst others, not prepared to commit themselves definitely to it, held that the difference of judgment manifested from this time afforded no sufficient reason for severance from "C.E.S." To the time of Mr. Stuarts death, as still, this division has remained unhealed; but he retained the confidence and support, in general, of all those who had thrown in their lot with his.
These eighteen years proved full of activity for his pen. In addition to independent books and papers issued by him, Mr. Stuart was a constant contributor to a periodical entitled "Words in Season." His earlier writings comprised a book on the Sacrifices, "Simple Papers on the Church of God" (always highly esteemed), an article on "The Atonement, as set forth in the Old Testament," his "Textual Criticism of the New Testament, for English readers," and a "Review of Robertson Smiths Lectures on the Old Testament in the Jewish Church," a paper the value of which was acknowledged by many English clergymen. In textual criticism Mr. Stuart was an adherent of the school of Tregelles rather than that of Scrivener.
Publications belonging to the two last decades of his career commenced with a pamphlet on "Christian Standing and Condition," which called forth much acrimonious discussion, culminating in a division. This, and cognate pamphlets were followed by a series of papers on Propitiation. From long familiarity with the scheme of Old Testament types, Mr. Stuart insisted upon the detailed fulfilment of the presentation of the blood of the Antitype after death, as the propitiation par excellence, against the current view that the Cross covers the whole ground of the atoning work. The line thus taken by him, although supported by several expositors, including R. Govett, tended to accentuate the differences existing between him and his old associates, who held, with such writers as Ellicott, that the Old Testament should bend to the New, and not vice versa. Then came a series of devotional expositions of the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles to the Romans and Hebrews, and the Book of Psalms, the spiritual value of the latter being acknowledged by Professor Cheyne.
Amongst the latest of his writings was a pamphlet entitled "The Critics: Shall We Follow Them?" In this case "C. E. S." did battle for traditional views of the Old Testament against the Higher Critics. Nevertheless, he kept abreast of the most recent scholarship, valuing, for example, Professor Drivers Treatise on the Hebrew Tenses." His library contained all the standard works used by modern Biblical scholars, with some rare specimens from the past, including a valuable copy .of the Complutensian Polyglot, which in his old age he presented to the library of his college. As an interpreter, Mr. Stuart must be ranked with those who adhere closely to the wording of the text of Scripture, and to belief in verbal inspiration. He heeded little extraneous sources, such as Patristic interpretation; least of all the suggestions of "modern thought." With independent judgment he held firmly the general body of "recovered" truth, ecclesiastical and prophetic, characteristic of "Brethren."
Simple in his demeanour, with imich charm of manner, he endeared himself to the poor of the flock, to whom he was "good." He delighted to share with them the light which he enjoyed. C. E. Stuart must be reckoned with those of whom itt may be said that, although dead, they yet speak.
E. E. W.
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