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metaphysically correct, and when consequently they are not only of a bad species, but also bad of their species.
Our meaning will be grievously misconceived, if it shall be supposed, that we would dissuade men from the full exertion of their intellect in "dividing the word of truth;" and hardly less so, if we shall be understood to enjoin a total abstinence from philosophical speculations, properly so called, on religious subjects. Such speculations may be useful, in the same manner as discourses on the evidences of Christianity are highly useful, to repel sceptical objection, or assist the weakness of a sincere but hesitating mind. But for the production of the latter effect, there is another and an indispensable requisite, we mean that contentedness of the understanding (if it may be so called), that submission to the will of the Eternal Being, that reposing upon his own merciful declarations and promises, that humility, in short that practical devotion, with which a fondness for metaphysical theology is not inconsistent, but to which it does by no means invariably lead.
Here we may express our dissent from Mr. Smith, when he asserts, that "whatever consequences we discover by plain and fair reasoning from sound premises, (whether the process of reasoning be long or short, abstruse or self-evident, difficult or easy,) are as really truths, and are as obligatory on our faith and obedience, as the clear scriptural positions from which they are deduced." Not only is this canon liable to misapplication (for in "long" and espe pecially in difficult" processes of reasoning, the danger of mistake increases in joint proportion to the length and the difficulty); but we presume it to be fundamentally untrue, in cases, at least, where the matters reasoned about, are above reason. We have always understood that the majority of moderate Calvinists, avowedly stop short of some positions which yet are, to all apCHRIST. OBSERVER, No. 51.
pearance, legitimately deducible from the tenets which they profess. Mr. Smith himself allows, that in moral science, an hypothesis is not necessarily false, because "it is liable to unanswerable objections.” "Unanswerable objections" are, we apprehend, such as are deduced "by plain and fair reasoning from sound premises;" for if the premises be false, or the reasoning fallacious, the objections, that is, the inferences, cannot be unanswerable; and ifinferences so deduced are not to be regarded, then it follows, that we may,
by plain and fair reasoning," deduce certain consequences from sound premises, which yet are not "obligatory on our faith and obedience."
Neither can, we approve of the manner in which this author speaks, when he seems to suppose that the moral attributes of the Deity could never have been fully displayed, unless sin had entered the world. Now that sin has entered the world, an occasion has certainly been offered for the further display of the character of God, partly through the contrast between sin and infinite holiness, partly through the pardon of sin by infinite mercy. But we know so little of the modes in which Infinite Wisdom can display his attributes, or, which is the same thing, can
impress a clear idea and a lively admiration of them on the hearts of his creatures, that it seems as indefensible on this ground, as it is on many other grounds unsafe, and we will add, mischievous, to argue for the necessity, or even the expediency of the existence of sin.
Still less can we acquiesce in such position as this of Dr. Williams; Either the happiness of the creature is not the chief end of creation, or the permission of sin is an act of injustice. Even supposing (which we are inclined to doubt) that the reasoning which leads us to this dilemma is, "plain and fair," yet who can af firm that a little more knowledge than is allowed to us in this imper fect state, might not supply us with
an alternative? We wish too that Dr. Williams, while maintaining the doctrine of predestination, had been more explicit in affirming (what we have no doubt he believes) the real willingness of God to receive, without exception, every individual descendant of Adam into his favour, on the terms of the new covenant. Those who hold the doctrine in question, should surely never inculcate it, without thus guarding it against one of the worst abuses of which it is capable*.
*The preceding sheet was printed off before we perceived that we had expressed ourselves, at p. 177, col. 2, in language which may be construed into an admission of the truth of the doctrine maintained by
Dr. Williams, as it respects the necessary tendency of all created nature to nihility. In a popular sense, indeed, it may per
haps be said (though the proposition will
be found to fill the car rather than the mind') that what sprang out of nothing at
the pleasure of another, must again become nothing when left to itself; and, for the sake of shortening the discussion, we were willing to concede thus much. We must at the same time confess that we do not quite understand the position that created beings tend to nihility: and we leave it to our readers to judge whether there be much more meaning in saying that "what is tends not to be," than in saying that "what is not tends to be;" or, in other words, whether a tendency to annihilation in that which exists, be at all more conceivable, than a tendency to become existent in that which exists not.
REVIEW OF REVIEWS, &c. &c.
REVIEW OF FOSTER'S ESSAYS. A PASSAGE in our review of Foster's Essays (No. for February, p. 113) has been objected to as liable to misconception and abuse. The passage is this: "This letter closes with some severe but just strictures on the great body of evangelical authors." Such a sweeping and indiscriminate censure, it is said with great justice, ought not to have been passed on a large and most valuable body of men, without a very distinct specification of the particular grounds of the censure. Feeling the full force of this remark, we are anxious to embrace the first opportunity of obviating the effect of our incaution, by inserting the whole of the strictures in question, as they appear in Mr. Foster's work. They are as follows:
"I now advance a step further, and ob serve, that the large quantity of bad writing, (bad in a more comprehensive sense than in reference to the dialect alone), under which the evangelical theology has been buried, has contributed to render its principles less welcome to persons of accomplished mental habits.-Recollect, I am not undertaking to justify their feelings, but merely explaining them.
"The proofs of an intellect superior in some small degree at least to the common
level, accompanied by a moderate share of elegance and of correctness, are requisite to even the lowest form of what can be
deemed good writing by cultivated and cri
tical readers. It must have either these combined qualities, or an extraordinary measure of one of them: superlatively strong sense will denominate a performance excellent, or at least able, writing, in the absence of all the graces, and notwithstanding a considerable degree of incorrectness. Below this pitch of single or of combined quality, a book cannot in a literary view please, though its subject were the most interesting upon earth; and for acceptance, therefore, the subject is unfortunate in coming to those persons in that book: a disgusting cup will seem to spoil the finest element which can be conveyed in it, though that were the nectar of im
"Now, in this view, I suppose it will be acknowledged, that the evangelical cause has not on the whole been happy in its prodigious list of authors. A number of them have displayed a high order of excellence; but one regrets, as to a much greater number, that they did not revere the dignity of their religion too much to beset and suffocate it with superfluous offerings. To you I do not need to expatiate on the character of the collective Christian library, It will have been obvious to you that a great many books form the perfect vulgar of pious authorship, an assemblage of the most subordinate materials that can be called
thought, in language too grovelling to be called style. Now only suppose a man who has been conversant and enchanted with the works of eloquence, refined taste, or strong reason, to become an enquirer after evangelical truth, and in the outset to meet with a number of books of this class: in what light would the religion of Christ inevitably appear to him, if he did not find some happier delineations of it?
"There is another large class of Christian books which bear the marks of learning, correctness, and a disciplined understanding, and by a general propriety leave but little to be censured, but which display no invention, no prominence of thought, nor living vigour of expression: all is flat and dry as a plain of sand. It is perhaps the fifteen hundredth iteration of commonplaces, the listless attention to which is hardly an action of the mind; you seem to understand it all, and mechanically assent, while you are thinking of something else. Surrounded by a rich immeasurable world of possible varieties of reflection and illustration, the author seems doomed to tread over again the narrow space of ground long since trodden to dust, and in all his movements appears clothed in sheets of lead.
"There is a smaller class that might be called mock-eloquent writers. These saw the effect of brilliant language in those works of eloquence and poetry where it was dictated and animated by energy of thought, and wished, perhaps very justly, that Christianity might not want any of the recommendations, except vice, that have assisted to make the paganism of ancient and modern genius so fascinating to persons of polished and literary taste. But unfortunately they forgot that eloquence resides essentially in the thought, and that no language can make that eloquent which will not be so in the plainest words that could clearly express the sense. Or probably they sincerely mistook their own thoughts for vigorous and sublime, as soon as they had clad them in that gaudy verbosity with which it was easy, after having read verse enough, to invest the most common and spiritless conceptions. But what is the effect? Real eloquence strikes on your mind with irresistible force, and leaves you not the possibility of asking or thinking whether it be eloquence; but the sounding sentences of these writers excite you first to a doubtful attention to a language that seems threatening to move or astonish you, without actually doing it; from this you proceed to a curious observance of the manner in which it is managed; and end, not long after, in flat disgust. It is somewhat like
the case of a false alarm of thunder, where a sober man, that is not apt to startle at sounds, looks out to see whether it be not the rumbling of a cart.
"A principal device in the fabrication of this style is, to multiply epithets, dry epithets, laid on the outside, and into which noue of the vitality of the sentiment is found to circulate. You may amuse your
self by taking a great number of the words out of each page, and finding that the sense is neither more nor less for your having cleared the composition of these epithets of chalk, of various colours, with which the tame thoughts had submitted to be rubbed over in order to be made fine.
"Under the denomination of mock-eloquence may also be placed the mode of writing which endeavours to excite the passions, not by presenting striking ideas of the object of passion, but by the appearance of an emphatical enunciation of the writer's own feelings concerning it. You are not made to perceive how the thing itself has the most interesting claims on your heart; but you are required to be affected in mere sympathy with the author, who attempts your feelings by frequent exclamations, and perhaps by an incessant application to his fellow-mortals, or to their Redeemer, of all the appellations and epithets of passion, and sometimes of a kind of passion not appropriate to the object. To this last great Object especially such forms of expression are occasionally applied, as must revolt a man, who feels that be cannot meet the same being at once on terms of adoration and of caressing equality.
"It would be going beyond my purpose, to carry my remarks from the literary merits, to the moral and theological characteristics, of Christian books; else a very strange account could be given of the injuries which the Gospel has suffered from its friends. You might often meet with a systematic writer, in whose hands the whole wealth and variety and magnificence of revelation shrink into a meagre list of doctrinal points, and who will let no verse in the bible say a syllable till it has placed itself under one of them. You may meet with a Christian polemic who seems to value the arguments for evangelical truth as an assassin values his dagger, and for the same reason; with a descanter on the invisible world who makes you think of a popish cathedral, and from the vulgarity of whose illuminations you are excessively glad to escape into the solemn twilight of faith; or with a grim zealot for a theory of the Divine Attributes which seems to delight in representing the Deity as a dreadful king
of furies, whose dominion is overshadowed with vengeance, whose music is the yell of victims, and whose angels are transformed into a legion of fiery dragons.
"It is quite unnecessary to say that the list of excellent Christian writers would be very considerable. But as to the vast mass of books that would, by the consenting adjudgment of almost all men of liberal cultivation, remain after this deduction, one cannot help deploring the effect which they must have had on unknown thousands of readers. It would scem beyond all dispute or question that books which, though even asserting the essential truths of Christianity, yet utterly preclude the full impression of its character, which exhibit its claims on admiration and affection with insipid feebleness of sentiment, or which cramp its simple majesty into an artificial form at once distorted and mean, must be seriously prejudicial to the influence of this sacred subject, though it be admitted that many of them have sometimes imparted a measure of instruction and a measure of consolation. This they might do, and yet convey very contracted and inadequate ideas of the subject at the same time. There
are a great many of them into which an intelligent Christian cannot look without rejoicing that they were not the books, or not alone the books, from which he received his impressions of the glory of his religion. There are many which nothing would induce him, even though he do not materially differ from them in the leading articles of his belief, to put into the hands of an inquiring young person; which he would be sorry and ashamed to see on the table of an infidel; and some of which he regrets to think may still contribute to keep down the standard of religious taste, if I may so express it, among the public instructors of mankind. On the whole, it would appear, that a profound yeneration for Christianity would induce the wish that, after a judicious selection of books had been made, the Christians also had their Caliph Omar, and their general Amrou. (p. 173–183.)
These strictures, the reader will recollect, are applicable, not to the ma jority of evangelical authors of any particular religious communion, but to the majority of the collective body of evangelical authors of all denominations.
LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL INTELLIGENCE, &c. &c.
PREPARING for the Press:-A History of the Isle of Man; in 2 vols. 8vo.; by Mr. M. LEE: A new edition of HARMER'S Observations on divers Pussages of Scripture :—An improved edition of PLANTA'S History of the Helvetic Confederacy:-A Life of Lord Nelson, with splendid Illustrations of the most remarkable Engagements in which his Lordship was distinguished; to be published by Mr. BowYER, of Pall Mall, under royal Patronage:-The Life and Writings of the late Rev. WM. GRIMSHAW, Vicar of Haworth; by Mr. MYLES, Author of the Chronological History of the Methodists:An Almanack of Health; by Dr. BEDDOES: -The Stranger in Ireland, being an Account of Travels in that Country; in 1 vol. 4to. with elegant engravings; by Mr. Carr.
In the Press:-A second volume of Sermons, by the Rev. EDWARD COOPER:Sermons preached at the Lecture, founded by the Hon. ROBERT BOYLE; by the Rev. Mr. VAN MILDERT:-A Treatise on Trigonometry; by Mr. BONNYCASTLE:-The Geographical Selector; consisting of Maps, Charts, and Plans of the principal Cities,
Harbours, Forts, &c. in the World; accompanied by Historical and Geographical IIlustrations; the engravings by Mr. LUFFMAN; the literary department by T. HARRAL, Esq.-The second volume of Memoirs of the Queen of France; by her Fosterbrother M. WEBBER; with superior engravings:-Memoirs of the Rise and Progress of the Royal Navy, from the Reign of Henry VII. to the present Time; 4to. by Mr. DERRICK, of the Navy Office:-The Proverbs of Ali, with a Latin Translation and Notes, by CORNELIUS VAN WAENER; edited by Mr. MOUSLEY, of Baliol College; in 4to. at the Clarendon Press:-A Fourney through the Countries of Mysore, Cannara, and Malabar; by FRANCIS BUCHANAN, M.. D. under the Orders of Marquis Wellesley; published under the Authority and Patronage of the East India Directors; in 3 vols. 4to. with a Map and Plates:-Letters written during a Tour through the Batavian Republic and Part of France, with an Account of the State of the English imprisoned at Verdun; in 2 vols. 8vo. by JAMES FORBES, Esq. F. A. S. :-Chironomia; or, A Treatise on Rhetorical Delivery; with above 150 figures; in one large 4to. vol. ;
by the Rev. GILBERT AUSTEN, M. A. of Woodville, near Dublin :-A Popular Re-, futation of the Objections against the Cotopox, by W. BLAIR, Esq.
East India College.
The plan of this establishment comprehends a SCHOOL, into which boys may be admitted at an early age; and a COLLEGE, for the reception of Students at the age of 15, to remain till they are 18. As the School will be rendered introductory to the Cellege, those who shall have passed through both Institutions will enjoy the advantage of a uniform system of education, begun in early youth, and continued till their departure for the duties of their public stations. The College is exclusively appropriated to persons designed for the civil service of the Company abroad; the school will be open to the public at large.
The Rev. M. H. LUSCOMBE, M. A. is appointed Head Master of the School; to whom each sel olar is to pay 70 guineas per annum; which sum will include Classical Instruction, French, Writing, Arithmetic, Mathematics, Drawing, and Dancing.
The College is to be under the direction and authority of a Principal and several Professors, according to the following arrangement.-Principal; the Rev. SAM. HENLEY, D.D.—Professors of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy; Rev. B. BRIDGE, M. A. and Rev. W. DEALTRY, M. A.Professors of Humanity and Philology; Rev. E. LEWTON, M. A. and J. H. BATTEN, Esq. M. A.-Professor of History and Politicul Oeconomy; Rev. T. R. MALTHUS, M. A.-Professor of General Polity and the Laws of England; E. CHRISTIAN, Esq. M. A.-Professor of Oriental Literature; To the ColJ. GILCHRIST, Esq. LL. D. lege will be attached a French Master, a Drawing Master, a Fencing Master, and The annual other proper Instructors. charge to the students in the College will be 100 guineas.
The Principal is entrusted with the moral and religious instruction of the students, and the more immediate superintendence of their conduct; and will preach, in conjunction with such Professors as are in Holy Orders, in the College Chapel, and perform the other offices of the Established Church.
comprising, 1. Instruction in the Elements
The College year is divided into Two
This plan may be expected eventually to produce happy effects on the concerns of the Company in the East. The education of persons destined to fill the impor tant offices of Magistrates, Ambassadors, Provincial Governors, &c. should certainly be conducted on some such comprehensive plan as the foregoing. The cultivation and improvement of their intellectual powers should be accompanied with such a course of moral discipline, as may tend to excite, and confirm in them habits of application, prudence, forethought, integrity, and justice. And to render such a system of edu cation fully efficient, it is essential that it be founded on the basis, and conducted under the sanction, and in strict conformity with the spirit, of our holy religion. Proceeding on these principles, it may reasonably be expected that this Institution, under the favour of Providence, will be productive, among other happy effects, of a be nign and enlightened policy towards the native subjects of British India, tending at once to improve their social and civil condition, and to diffuse throughout the Eastern hemisphere the blessed influence of Christian truth.
The Lectures of the Professors are arranged under four heads: I. Oriental Literature; comprising, 1. Instruction in the Rudiments of the Oriental Languages, especially the Hindostanee and Persian; 2. Lectures to illustrate the History, Customs, and Manners of the People of India: —II. Muthematics and Natural Philosophy ; The Foreign Literary Intelligence is unavoidably postponed.