« السابقةمتابعة »
It by the dictates of right reason and the doctrines and principles of true religion.
« Of those, who struck out a path to themselves in the regions of philosophy, without any regard to that which had been opened by ancient sages, and pursued by their followers, Cardan, Telesius, and Campanella hold, deservedly, the first rank, as they were, undoubtedly, men of superior genius, though too much addicted to the suggestions and visions of an irregular fancy. To these may be added Peter Ramus, that subtile and ingenious French philosopher, who, by attempting to fubfiitute in the place of Aristotle's logic, a method of reasoning more adapted to the use of rhetoric and the improvement of eloquence,'excited such a terrible uproar in the Gallic schools. Nor must we omit here the mention of Theophrastus Paracelsus, who, by an afliduous observation of nature, by a great number of experiments indefatigably repeated, and by applying the penetrating force of fire to discover the first principles or elements of bodies, endeavoured to caft new light and evidence on the important science of natural philosophy. As the refearches of this industrious inquirer into nature excited the admiration of all, his example was consequently followed by many; and hence arose a new sect of philosophers, who assumed the denomination of Theosophists, and who, placing little confidence in the decisions of human reason, or the efforts of speculation, attributed all to divine illumination, and repeated experience.
« This revolution in philosophy and literature, together with the spirit of emulation that animated the different sects or claffes into which the learned men of this age were divided, produced many happy effects of various kinds. It, in a more particular manner, brought into disrepute, though it could not at once utterly eradicate, that intricate, barbarous, and infipid method of teaching theology, that had universally prevailed hitherto in all the schools and pulpits of Christendom. The facred writings, which, in the preceding ages, had been either entirely neglected, or very absurdly explained, were now much more consulted and respected in the debates and writings of the Christian doctors than they had formerly been ; the sense and language of the inspired writers were more carefully studied, and more accurately unfolded; the doctrines and precepts of religion taught with more method, connexion, and perspicuity; and that dry, barren and unaffecting language, which the ancient schoolmen affected so much in their theological compositions, was wholly exploded by the wiser part of the divines of this century. It must not, however, be imagined, that this reformation of the schools was so perfect, as to leave no new improvements to be made by fucceeding ages; this, indeed, was far from being the cale. Much imperfection yet remained in the method of treating theology,
KEv. Dec. 1764.
and many things, which had great need of a correcting hand, were left untouched. It would, nevertheless, be either an instance of ingratitude, or a mark of great ignorance, to deny this age the honour of having begun what was afterwards more happily finished, and of having laid the foundations of that ftriking superiority, which the divines of succeeding ages obtained over those of ancient times.
• Nor did the improvements, which have been now mentioned, as proceeding from the restoration of letters and philosophy, extend only to the method of conveying theological instruction, but purified moreover the science of theology itself. For the true nature, genius, and design of the Chriftian religion, which even the moft learned and pious doctors of antiquity had but imperfectly comprehended, were now unfolded with evidence and precision, and drawn, like truth, from an abyss in which they had hitherto lain too much concealed. 'Tis true, the influence of error was far from being totally suppressed, and many false and absurd doctrines are still maintained and propagated in the Christian world. . But it may, nevertheless, be affirmed, that the Christian societies, whose errors, at chis day, are the most numerous and extravagant, have much less absurd and perverse notions of the nature and design of the golpel, and the duties and obligations of those that profefs it, than were entertained by those doctors of antiquity, who ruled the church with an absolute authority, and were considered as the chief oracles of theology. It may farther be observed, that the reformation contributed much to soften and civilize the manners of many nations, who, before that happy period, were sunk in the most favage stupidity, and carried the most rude and unfociable aspect. It must, indeed, be confessed, that a variety of circumstances combined to produce that lenity of character, and that milder temperature of manners, maxims, and actions, that discovered themselves gradually, and increased, from day to day, in the greatest part of the European nations after the period that Luther rendered so famous. It is, nevertheless, evident, beyond all contradiction, that the disputes concerning religion, and the accurate and rational inquiries into the doctrines and duties of Christianity, to which these disputes gave rise, had a great tendency to eradicate out of the minds of men that ferocity that had been so long nourished by the barbarous fuggestions of unmanly superstition. It is also certain, that at the very dawn of this happy revolution in the state of Christianity, and even before its falutary effe&ts were manifested in all their extent, pure religion had many sincere and fervent votaries, though they were concealed from public view by the multitudes of fanatics, with which they were furrounded on all sides.'
It is now time for us to take our leave of this judicious performance, from which readers of a!most every clats may receive both instruction and entertainment. It throws 'great' light on the history of the human mind; and those who are conversant in theological studies will derive peculiar advantages from an attentive perusal of it. The view which it gives of the various causes which, in the different ages of the Christian church, have contributed to corrupt the morals, and pollute the faith of the gospel, will shew them what are the most effectual means of promoting the cause of Christianity ; and the account which is given of the many controverfies which have been carried on with the greatest warmth and violence, in former times, about matters of very inconfiderable importance, may not only convince them of the unspeakable advantages of candor and moderation, but likewise thew them what judgment impartial posterity will probably form of the greatest part of the religious disputes of our own times.
As the generality of our Readers may be supposed to be unacquainted with the character and writings of Dr. Molheim, what Mr. Maclaine fays of him in his preface will not, we hope, be unacceptable :
i The reputation of this great man is very well known. His noble birth seemed to open to his ambition a fair path to civil promotion; but his zeal for the interests of religion, his infatiable thirst after knowledge, and more especially his predominant tafte for sacred literature, induced him to consecrate his admirable talents to the service of the church, The German universities loaded him with literary honours ; the King of Denmark invited him to settle at Copenhagen; the Duke of Brunswick called him from thence to Helmstadt, where he received the marks of distinction due to his eminent abilities. He filled, with applause, the academical chair of divinity; was honoured with the character of ecclesiastical counsellor to that respectable court ; and presided over the seminaries of learning in the dutchy of Wolfernbuttle and the principality of Blakenburg When the late king formed the design of giving an uncommon degree of luftre to the university of Gottingen, by filling it with men of the first rank in the literary world, such as a Haller, a Gelner, and a Michaelis, Dr. Mosheim was deemed worthy to appear at the head of that famous seat of learning in the quality of chancellor: and here he died, universally lamented, in the year 1755, and in the fixty-first year of his age. In depth of judgment, in extent of learning, in the powers of a noble and masculine eloquence, in purity of tafte, and in a laborious application to all the various branches of erudition and philosophy, he had certainly very few fuperiors. His Latin translation of the celebrated Dr. Cudworth's Iniellectual Syslem
of the Universe, enriched with large annotations, discovered fuch a profound acquaintance with ancient philosophy and erudition, as justly excited the admiration of the learned world. His ingenious illustrations of the sacred writings, his successful labours in the defence of Christianity, and the light he cast upon the history of religion and philosophy by his uninterrupted researches, appear in a multitude of volumes, which are deservedly placed among the most valuable treasures of sacred and profane literature, and the learned and judicious work, that is here presented to the public, will undoubtedly render his name illustrious in the records of religion and letters.'
Philosophical Transactions, giving some Account of the present Under
takings, Studies, and Labours, of the Ingenious, in many confider. able Parts of the IVorld. Vol. Liv. For the Year 1764. 4to. 12 s. 6 d. sewed. Davis and Reymers.
is the remark of some ingenious writer, that great families
verance, constantly prevail over the contrary efforts of private persons and detached individuals : especially, says he, if they observe one general rule or tenour of conduct; for, amidst the vicissitudes to which human affairs are liable, an opportunity must necessarily turn up, one time or other, favourable to their particular views. It is probably on this principle that the Royal Society persevere in their resolution, of refusing to take the trouble of rendering the Philosophical Transazions worthy of their imprimatur*. What their views can be, in this perseverance, we must own ourselves at a loss to conjecture. Surely they cannot wait for a more promising æra of hebetation, in hopes to see the whole world involved in that cloud of dullness, which with a more than cimmerian gloom fometimes invelopes Crane-Court! It is now a considerable time since we remarked that their conduct in this particular was inconfiftent with the very ends of their institution; as also the palpable absurdity of the present managers of this body taking upon them to answer for the conduct of those who may posibly be members an hundred years hence! And
yet still are we told, that it is an established rule of the society, to which they will always adhere, never to give their opinion, as a body, upon any subject, either of nature or art,
* And yet, unless they do this, we are apprehensive they may in vain endeavour to satisfy the publick, that their ufual meetings are continued for the improvement of knowiedge, and beuefit of mankind, the gieat ends of their first inficution by the royal charters, which they
ve ever lirice fieavily pursued,'
that comes before them.' But, if this is to be for ever the cafe, in what respect is the fuffrage of this publication to be preferred to that of a common magazine? The very respectable names, indeed, which we meet with so often in these volumes, afford a sufficient proof of the Society's extensive correspondence ; but it is with great regret, we so often see those names pompously prostituted to the most infignificant purposes. In a word, if the Editors of these Transactions do not take care to provide more important materials, we are afraid it will be neceffary, for the satisfaction of our Readers, that we should deviate from our proposed plan in giving an account of this publication, so far, as to refer it, for the future, to our Catalogue. This being the state of the case, we hope our Readers will not impute the small share of instruction and entertainment they may meet with, in the present article, to the Reviewers, but to the Royal Society.
PAPER6 relative to PHYSICS, NATURAL HISTORY, &c. Art. 1. Account of a Mummy inspected at Londın. By Dr. Hadley.
The mummy here spoken of, is the first article in Dr. Grew's catalogue of the rarities of the Royal Society, and was sent from their museum to the house of Dr. Hadley, in order to undergo an examination with regard to the manner in which such a curious piece of antiquity had been put together. The intention of the gentlemen making this enquiry, being to compare it with the accounts given of these preparations by ancient authors; and to see whether there were any traces left of the softer parts; and, if so, by what means they had been preserved. The examination is curious and particular, but would afford very little entertain, ment to the generality of our Readers. Art. 5. An Attempt to account for the Origin and the Formation of
the extraneous Folil, commonly called the Belemnite. By Mr. Yafhua Platt.
Mr. Platt is of opinion with Mr. Brander, who presented a paper on the same subject to the Royal Society, some years ago, that the Belemnite belongs to the testaceous part of the animal kingdom, and to the family of the Nautili; which are very commonly found recent in the eastern seas; and in their foffile ftate are frequently met with among the Belemnites, at Garfington near Oxford. Why may we not therefore expect, fays Mr. Platt, to find a recent Belemnite, as well as a recent Nautilus, if a diligent person were strictly to examine the coasts, where the Nautili are found ?-Such a discovery indeed would serve to put the arguments of our naturalists out of dispute ; which it must be owned, however, as it is, do not want for strength and plaufibility