Shedd on Coleridge: part 2

Shedd compared Coleridge to Calvin in his estimate of Coleridge as theological voice: ‘No divine, not even Calvin himself, ever expressed himself more decidedly than this author, in respect to such points as the divinity of Christ, the depth and totality of man’s apostasy, and the utter bondage and helplessness of the fallen will…’ Coleridge’s Confession of Faith, which Shedd traces back to 1816, expressed the personality and tri-unity of God, the free and guilty fall of man, the redemption of man by the incarnation and death of the Son, and the regeneration of the human soul by the Holy Spirit.

Although Coleridge appeared to misunderstand the doctrine of justification, Shedd believed that Coleridge’s other doctrinal expressions were thorough. Yet, Shedd noted that Coleridge was not the author of a system of theology or philosophy. Coleridge was a guide to method in theological inquiry. His was an aphoristic style of theological reflection. It encouraged depth, breadth, and certainty of opinion. Christianity could not be discovered by human reason, but it was in accordance with human reason. Divine revelation was divine reason.

Shedd went on to discuss Coleridge on the Trinity, sin, redemption, and inspiration. The defects of Coleridge on these last two subjects 'originated not so much from a moral as from a speculative source.'

Subsequent posts will survey Shedd's account of Coleridge on each of these four doctrines.

W.G.T. Shedd, Literary Essays (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1878), pp310-314, 342.



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