Frederick William Robertson

1816-1853. Anglican preacher. Educated at Edinburgh and Oxford universities, he became incumbent of Trinity Chapel, Brighton, where in the six years before his death he established a reputation as preacher equal to that of any man in the nineteenth century, Newman not excluded. Robertson was a Celt with all the fire of his race, but he was also apparently subject to fits of depression. He began as an Evangelical, but the practice of some of those professing this view of Christianity during his first curacy at Cheltenham did much to drive him from any sympathy with them. Nonetheless, he brought Evangelical passion to his beliefs and his preaching.

Robertson's fame coincided with the rise of Christian Socialism* under F.D. Maurice,* and his views were closely allied with those of the movement. He was, indeed, variously accused of being a socialist and a rationalist, and he certainly had a social gospel to preach, but he was not a socialist in the secular political sense of the term. Nor was he a rationalist. He would perhaps have been considered to approach the modernism of the early twentieth century, with his moral equations of biblical phenomena, characters, and events. He sought to interpret in the light of man's actual experience; the Virgin, for instance, epitomized the adoration of womanly purity. This is what points to Robertson's strength. He was a great psychological preacher, understanding the motivations of those characters who formed his subjects and relating these to the motivations of his hearers. His style-and all he left is notes-is simple, direct, forceful, a mirror of the feverish energy and wholehearted dedication which he brought to his task. His Sermons were published in 1906.

See also H. Henson, Robertson of Brighton, (1916).