« AnteriorContinuar »
farea, the miracles it performed, &c. &c. From the manner of expreffion in the above quotation, it might be thought that St. Luke had told us of fome image which had been formed in honour of his Divine Master; but as the keeneft penetration cannot poffibly perceive the smallest resemblance to any fuch thing in the place alluded to, we will fuppofe that the word whereof refers to the lady. However, if Mr. Hutchinfon is a Proteftant writer, we could have wifhed that he had added fome reflections to have guarded his readers from being mifled by thefe old tales of images, paintings, miracles, &c. of which the Roman Catholics are fond, and which they often apply to very ill purposes.
Our Author appears to have vifited these ancient places, efpecially thofe of the religious kind, whofe ftate and history he fo particularly defcribes, with much feeling and fenfibility. In his account of Alnwick abbey, a fweet, though deep retirement, he fays, on the banks of the Aln,' it is added, Solemn fituations like this, and the ruins of religious houfes, always affect my mind with a degree of languifhment. Such a feclufion, fuch a retirement, would have filled my with. The life of the ecclefiaftic is moft defirable, and feems calculated to be the happiest. No natural tendency to indolence and eafe prompts this determination; but the ferenity of a churchman's life, under the entire preclufion of all worldly concerns, affords that tranquillity of mind, fo neceffary to contemplation and study, to philofophic refearches, and divine meditation.-Without the poison of ambition, fome minds can enjoy a mediocrity with content; without an impertinent with to intermeddle with public affairs, fome men can fit within the little manfion, bufied only in pious duties and contemplations; and amidst domeftic peace, living each day, in gratitude for the enjoyment of the rural beauties of fome fylvan fcene, the plain, the mead, the grotto, and the ftream.-Call it luxury; but the busy world inceflantly rolls the heavy wheels of care too near my threshold. -I am frequently induced to adopt Horace's description: Agricolam laudat juris legumque peritus,
Sub galli cantum, confultor ubi oftia pulfat."
We shall not stay to make any reflections on this Writer's reveries, or enquire how far his fentiments may be juft; but proceed to obferve, that the account of the town of Newcastle employs upwards of fixty pages towards the end of the volume, which is finished by fome remarks to fhew, in a collected and clear point of view, the importance of Northumberland-together with an account of fome ancient customs which prevail in this county, with fuitable conjectures, &c.
We shall conclude the article by adding, that some additional heets are delivered with the fecond volume, to be bound up
with the firft; in which the Author acknowledges the affiftance he has received in this compilation; and gives the state of the churches under the Archdeaconry of Northumberland, and in Hexham peculiar jurisdiction, with the fucceffion of incum
ART. XIV. Deifm not confiftent with the Religion of Reason and Nature. By Capel Berrow, A. M. 4to. 48. Dodley. 1780.
The intention to serve the caufe of Chriffianity. But HIS work, we verily believe, was written with an howhile charity is ready to give the defign every praise it merits, impartial justice hath no praife to bestow on its execution.
Mr. Capel Berrow addreffeth this performance to a friend, who, in his wonted zeal for the caufe of Deifm, had put into our Author's hands a treatise, entitled, Deifm fairly fated and fully vindicated. The refult of his obfervations on this deiftical tract is now prefented to the public. According to Mr. Berrow's own idea of the importance and merit of his work, his • Remarks afford answers to a fuppofed non-neceffity, and in confequence the incredibility of a revealed religion." To the authenticity, therefore (fays our Author), and, of course, the authority of that repofitory of the gofpel difpenfation, the facred pages, I will, in order to avoid trefpaffing upon your time and patience, take upon me to fhew how incompatible the Deift's principles are with the boafted defign of Deifm, as ftated by its formidable patron and defender, compared with that promised plan of redemption, a future universal reftitution.'
The most judicious remark (though it is a very old and common one) in this performance, is the following: It does not appear that life and immortality were ever clearly brought to light but by the gofpel: no, not by the all-penetrating Socrates, or even the divine Plato himself. The nature and terms, however, of the redemption, the perfon by whom it was to be effected, and by whom the world is at laft to be judged, were circumftances of information in their nature not capable of being derived to men, but through the channel of revelation.
But if Socrates was confirmed in the belief of fome of these truths, yet could he make them equally apparent to others? Could he publish them to the world with that degree of confidence and AUTHORITY as did our Saviour, who, by a series of miracles, prophecies, and an unspotted conduct in life, gave fufficient evidence to the impartial, of a commiffion derived from Heaven, to declare, confirm, and establish them?"
The fuperior advantage which the Chriftian inftitution háth over Deism, chiefly confifts in the authoritative fanction which establishes and supports its doctrines and precepts. What is
called the law of nature, is vague and indeterminate in many points of duty, becaufe by it each man is allowed to be a fufficient judge of its dictates; and in general, men will judge, chiefly according to inclination and habit. It is not only defective in respect to the clear difcovery of duty, but it wants power to inforce, and motives to recommend it. The divine law is pofitive and unequivocal in its declarations. Its duties cannot be evaded by the cafuiftry of a corrupt heart. They must be obeyed; for they are enforced by an authority that cannot be flighted with impunity. Will the Deift fay, that the law by which he profeffes to be governed hath any fanction equal to that which enforces the Chriftian law? Will he not candidly, confefs, that with refpect to the clear and precife delineation of moral and religious duty, the latter hath greatly the advantage of the former? Is it not for the intereft of mankind that a revealed law fhould be eftablished; that the line of duty fhould be marked out for every man, and that all to whom it is communicated may feel their prefent and future intereft in it fo ftrongly as to be habitually aware of the confequence of violating it?
We give Mr. Berrow (we have faid) ample credit for the goodness of his intentions! Here our praise unfortunately muft ceafe! His performance is diffufe, tedious, and uninterefting. It wants force; it wants argument; it wants perfpicuity. It is dry without reasoning, and folemn without dignity. When the Author cannot aufwer, he declaims; and where he would be fpirited, he is pert.
In a word, as the book to which he replies yielded but a feeble fuccour to a bad cause, fo his own will add little credit or fupport to a good one: and as the former hath been long fince forgotten, the latter will not long be remembered.
ART. XV. Miscellaneous Obfervations on fome Points of the Controverfy between the Materialifts and their Opponents. 8vo. 2s. 6d. Payne. 1780.
HIS curious controverfy, at the head of which stands the very diftinguished name of Dr. Priestley, hath brought forward to the notice of the Public, the metaphyfical talents of many fhrewd and ingenious fpeculatifts; while at the fame time (and what elfe could be expected?) it hath generated a fwarm of idle and Alimfy difputants, whofe light and feeble powers, which fitted them tolerably well for the furface of popular declamation, totally forfook them when, in a moment of vain confidence, thefe fuperficial beings dared to plunge into the depth of metaphyfical argument. We recollect the names, of feveral of thefe adventurers, whofe precipitance was the effect
of their blindness. We have reviewed the writings of feveral, who, without even a knowledge of the common elements of the fubject, have had the temerity to undertake a difcuffion of its abftrufer points!-But they reft in peace; and the world hath forgotten where they fleep.
Among thofe whofe learning, judgment, and ingenuity have added grace to a controverfy that, in itfelf, hath little of that quality to recommend it, we here meet with an Author who is entitled to a very diftinguished poft. His obfervations are in general profound, without obfcurity; and free, without fcepticism. His language is manly and perfpicuous; and in several places animated and elegant.
It was far (fays the Author) from my intention to deliver a connected feries of arguments, or to give any thing like a general view of the controverfy; this having been done by other and abler hands.' His object is to offer mifcellaneous obferva tions on the capital points in debate between the Materialists and Spiritualifts, and to remove those prejudices which have arifen in the minds of fuperficial inquirers against the moral tendency of Dr. Hartley's fyftem; or, in other words, the abĹ folute mechanifm of the human frame, and all its faculties and affections. An unprejudiced inquirer (fays he) will recollect, that the moral qualities of man are estimated not from their fuppofed origin, but from their known effects; which effects are the fame, whether we attribute the qualities producing them to corporeal organization; to the ufe or abufe of free-will; or to any other caufe.'
Whatever our fentiments may be refpecting the doctrine of materialism, we are perfectly of the opinion of our Author, that it is illiberal to charge it with iconfequences pregnant with danger to religion and morality.' Thefe confequences are often nothing more than the chimeras of fancy; and fometimes they are fabricated by art and coloured by paffion, in order to fupply. the want of argument, and make horror take the place of con viction.
Our Author obferves, that the confequences of materialism, at least that species of it which reasonable people contend for, are of a very innocent, and, in fome cafes, of a very falutary nature, and accordingly ftand recommended in the writings of many learned and pious men.' He pays his particular refpecs to the Bishop of Carlifle, Archdeacon Blackburne, Dr. Prieft ley, and the anonymous author of the Slight Sketch of the Controverfy," for their vindication of the doctrine from the reproach of infidelity; and concludes with them, that it is the Gofpel alone that infpires us with juft and confiftent hopes of immortality.
Impartiality, nevertheless, obliges us to remark, that however well these gentlemen may have fucceeded in their attempts to rescue materialism from the invidious charges which fome of its adverfaries have, in their folly or fpite, alleged against it, yet we.much doubt whether the old mode of treating the doctrine of a future ftate, first as a principle founded on natural religion, and afterwards as an article of faith more clearly illuftrated and confirmed by divine revelation, was not the safest and most useful method of representing this important fubject. "A Chriftian (it hath been faid) ftands in no need of what are called rational arguments to establish his belief of it." We grant, he may not; though every acceffional evidence of fo momentous a doctrine is highly grateful to the mind of one who wishes it to be true. But when we fpeak of the UTILITY of those natural and moral evidences of a future state, which the writers above mentioned have rejected as infufficient proofs, we had our eye on those gentlemen who prefer reafon to revelation, and confequently would find no resource in the latter, if they were abandoned by the former, in their inquiries about futurity. We fhould be forry to fee the Deift, whofe reafon had taught him to believe in a future ftate of rewards and punishments, robbed of a conviction fo beneficial to all the purposes of moral and civil life. Natural religion is his GOD: and if that be taken away, what hath he more? Dr. Prieftley will fay-" Revealed religion is at hand, to make ample recompenfe for the lofs."-True, but-Dr. Priestley knows what we mean. This kind of reasoning may indeed be thought to favour more of policy than of truth. But is it not a strong presumption in favour of the natural evidences of a future ftate, that they are all confirmed by Revelation? "Nature (fays the religious Deift) convinces me of this great truth." "But (fays Dr. Priestley) you are convinced of it on infufficient evidence." "But is the thing itself true?" "Yes."-" Then (replies the Deift) Nature doth not deceive me."
The second section of the work before us enters very deeply into the fubject of materialism: but it is treated fo accurately, that it foon becomes easy to the attentive Reader. His obfervations on abftract and general ideas are correct, though not He is not fufficiently explicit in what he advances concerning the common fenfory. We may affirm (fays he), that to the fimpleft cafe of fenfation a certain condition or modification of the fenfory is neceffary.' This pofition is too vague and indecifive. A certain condition and modification of the fenfory,' or the brain, is a previous requifite to fenfation, and confequently of all ideas fimple and complex. But fenfation, as an effect of certain objects acting on the different organs of the human frame, feems to induce fome change on thofe parts of the brain