LEIGHTON, ROBERT, Archbishop of Glasgow, was b. in Edinburgh, or, as others think, in London, in the year 1611. He entered the university of the former city in 1627. took his degree of M.A. in 1631, and afterwards proceeded to France. Here he resided with some relatives at Douay, and formed the acquaintance of several Roman Catholic students, whose Christian virtues confirmed the natural charity of his spirit. Leighton, indeed, could never have been a bigot. Gentle, tender, and pious from his earliest years, he shrank from all violence and intolerance; but his intercourse with men whose opinions were so different from his own, convinced his reason of the folly and sin fulness of "thinking too rigidly of doctrine." Returning to Scotland, he was appointed, in 1641. to the parish of Newbattle, near Edinburgh; but he was not militant enough to please his fierce co-presbyters. They appeared to him, who had studied far more deeply than any Sc,otchman of his time the various ecclesiastical polities of Christendom, trucu lent about trifles. According to bishop Burnet, "he soon came to dislike their cove mint, particularly their imposing it, and their fury against all who differed from them. He found they were not capable of large thoughts; theirs were narrow as their tempers were sour; so he grew weary of mixing with them." Yet we cannot altogether approve the facility with which he fraternized with the party that had inflicted such horrid cruelties on his excellent father, Dr. Alexander Leighton, in 1630, for merely publishing a book in favor of Presbyterianism. In 1652 he resigned his charge, and in the following year was elected principal of the university of Edinburgh, a dignity which he retained for ten years. Earnest, spiritual, and utterly free from all selfish ambition, lie labored with out ceasing for the welfare of the students. After the restoration of Charles II., Leigh ton, who had long separated himself from the Presbyterian party, was, after much reluc tance, induced to accept a bishopric. He chose Dunblane, because it was small and poor.
Unfortunately for his peace, the men with whom lie was now allied were even more intolerant and unscrupulous than the Presbyterians. The despotic measures of Sharpe and Lauderdale sickened him. Twice he proceeded to London (in 1665 and 1669) to implore the king to adopt a milder course—on the former of these occasions declaring "that he could not concur in planting of the Christian religion itself in such a manner, much less a form of government." Yothing was really done. though much was promised, and Leighton had to endure the misery of seeing an ecclesiastical system which he believed to be intrinsically the best, perverted to the worst of purposes, and himself the accom plice of the worst of men. In 1670, on the resignation of Dr. Alexander Burnet, he was made archbishop of Glasgow; an office which he accepted only on the condition that he should be assisted in Ids attempts to carry out a liberal measure for " the comprehension of the Presbyterhms." His efforts, however, were all in vain; the high-handed tyranny of his colleagues was renewed, and Leighton felt that he must resign, which he did in 1673. After a short residence in Edinburgh, he went to live with his sister at Broadhurst, in Sussex, where he spent; thejest of his days manitd, tleyo,,t0 chiefly to works, of religion. He died June 25, 1684. Leighton's best works (lie published nothing during his lifetime) are to be found in an edition published at London (4 vols., 1825). All his writ ings are pervaded by a spirit at once lofty and evangelical. The truths of Christianity are set forth in the spirit of Plato. It was this that recommended them so much to Coleridge, whose Aids to Reflection are only commentaries ou the teaching of the saintly archbishop.