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his combinations uncouth. He fell into an age in which our language began to lofe the ftability which it had obtained in the time of Elizabeth; and was confidered by every writer as a fubject on which he might try his plastic skill, by moulding it according to his own fancy. Milton in confequence of this encroaching licence, began to introduce the Latin idiom: and Browne, though he gave lefs difturbance to our ftructures in phrafeology, yet poured in a multitude of exotick words; many, indeed, useful and fignificant, which, if rejected, must be supplied by circumlocution, fuch as commenfality for the ftate of many living at the fame table; but many fuperfluous, as a paralogical for an unreasonable doubt; and fome fo obfcure, that they conceal his meaning rather than explain it, as arthritical analogies for parts that ferve fome animals in the place of joints.
His ftyle is, indeed, a tiffue of many languages; a mixture of heterogeneous words, brought together from diftant regions, with terms originally appropriated to one art, and drawn by violence into the service of another. He muft however be confeffed to have augmented our philofophical diction; and in defence of his uncommon words and expreffions, we muft confider, that he had uncommon fentiments, and was not content to exprefs in many words that idea for which any language could fupply a fingle,
But his innovations are fometimes pleafing, and his temerities happy: he has many verba ardentia, forcible expreffions, which he would never have found, but by venturing to the utmoft verge of propriety; and flights which would never have been reached,
but by one who had very little fear of the fhame of falling.
There remains yet an objection against the writings of Browne, more formidable than the animadverfions of criticifin. There are paffages, from which fome have taken occafion to rank him among deifts, and others among atheists. It would be difficult to guess how any fuch conclufion fhould be formed, had not experience fhewn that there are two forts of men willing to enlarge the catalogue of infidels.
It has been long obferved, that an atheist has no juft reafon for endeavouring converfions; and yet none harrafs thofe minds which they can influence, with more importunity of folicitation to adopt their opinions. In proportion as they doubt the truth of their own doctrines, they are defirous to gain the atteftation of another understanding; and industriously labour to win a profelyte, and eagerly catch at the flighteft pretence to dignify their fect with a celebrated name *.
The others become friends to infidelity only by unskilful hoftility; men of rigid orthodoxy, cautious converfation, and religious afperity. Among these, it is too frequently the practice, to make in their heat conceffions to atheifm, or deifin, which their most confident advocates had never dared to claim, or to hope. A fally of levity, an idle paradox, an indecent jeft, an unfeasonable objection, are fufficient in the opinion of these men, to efface a name from the lifts of Christianity, to exclude a foul from everlasting life. Such men are fo watchful to cenfure, that they have
*Therefore no Hereticks defire to spread
Their wild opinions like these Epicures.
For fo their staggering thoughts are computed,
And other men's affent their doubt affures. DAVIES.
feldom much care to look for favourable interpretations of ambiguities, to fet the general tenor of life against single failures, or to know how foon any flip of inadventency has been expiated by forrow and retraction; but let fly their fulminations, without mercy or prudence, against flight offences or cafual temerities, against crimes never committed, or immediately repented.
The infidel knows well what he is doing. He is endeavouring to fupply, by authority, the deficiency of his arguments; and to make his caufe lefs invidious, by fhewing numbers on his fide: he will, therefore, not change his conduct, till he reforms his principles. But the zealot fhould recollect, that he is labouring, by this frequency of excommunication, against his own caufe; and voluntarily adding ftrength to the enemies of truth. It must always be the condition of a great part of mankind to reject and embrace tenets upon the authority of thofe whom they think wifer than themselves; and, therefore, the addition of every name to infidelity in fome degree invalidates that argument upon which the religion of multitudes is neceffarily founded.
Men may differ from each other in many religious retain the effentials of Chriftiaopinions, and may yet all nity; men may fometimes eagerly difpute, and yet not differ much from one another: the rigorous perfecutors of error fhould, therefore, enlighten their zeal with knowledge, and temper their orthodoxy with charity; that charity, without which orthodoxy is vain; charity that "thinketh no evil," but "hopeth all things," and endureth all things."
Whether Browne has been numbered among temners of religion, by the fury of its friends, or the artifice of its enemies, it is no difficult task to replace him among the moft zealous profeffors of Chriftianity. He may, perhaps, in the ardour of his imagination, have hazarded an expreffion, which a mind intent upon faults may interpret into herefy, if confidered apart from the reft of his difcourfe; but a phrafe is not to be opposed to volumes: there is fcarcely a writer to be found, whofe profeffion was not divinity, that has fo frequently teftified his belief of the facred writings, has appealed to them with fuch unlimited fubmiffion, or mentioned them with fuch invaried reverence.
It is, indeed, fomewhat wonderful, that he should be placed without the pale of Christianity, who declares, that "he affumes the honourable ftyle of a Chriftian," not because it is "the religion of his country," but becaufe having in his riper years and confirmed judgment feen and examined all, he finds himself obliged, by the principles of grace, and the law of "his own reafon, to embrace no other name but this:" who, to fpecify his perfuafion yet more, tells us, that "he is of the Reformed religion; of the fame belief "our Saviour taught, the apoftles diffeminated, the "fathers authorized, and the martyrs confirmed:" who, though "paradoxical in philofophy, loves in divinity "to keep the beaten road; and pleases himself that he "has no taint of herefy, fchifm, or error:" to whom, "where the Scripture is filent, the Church is a text; "where that fpeaks, 'tis but a comment;" and who ufes not "the dictates of his own reafon, but where "there is a joint filence of both: who bleffes himself, "that he lived not in the days of miracles, when faith Rr 4 "had
"had been thruft upon him; but enjoys that greater "bleffing, pronounced to all that believe and faw not." He cannot furely be charged with a defect of faith, who "believes that our Saviour was dead, and buried, "and rofe again, and defires to fee him in his glory:" and who affirms, that "this is not much to believe;" that we have reafon to owe this faith unto hiftory;" and that "they only had the advantage of a "bold and noble faith, who lived before his coming; "and upon obfcure prophecies and myftical types, "could raise a belief." Nor can contempt of the pofitive and ritual parts of religion be imputed to him, who doubts, whether a good man would refufe a poifoned eucharift; and "who would violate his own arm, rather than a church.'
The opinions of every man must be learned from himfelf: concerning his practice, it is fafeft to trust the evidence of others. Where thefe teftimonies concur, no higher degree of hiftorical certainty can be obtained; and they apparently concur to prove, that Browne was a zealous adherent to the faith of Christ, that he lived in obedience to his laws, and died in confidence of his mercy.