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of LIBERTY, to the ingenious author of the Essays on TasTe, and on GENUS.
Sermons on the late General Fast, Feb. 27, 1778, continued :
See our last Number. XIII. At Peckham, in Surry. By R. Jones. 8vo. 6d. Dily.
Good sense, rational piety, and a juit conception of the true character of the times, are the distinguishing marks of this discourie. Chat the author is a disenter, will be apparent to all who Thall peruse his fermon. He has a glance or two at che (supposed) imperfections in the form for the day ;- at the supineness of men who accept any t'ing for a prayer to God, which their superiors give them ; - and at fpiritual cignities, &c. all of which might, perhaps, have been spared, without injury to the composition. xiv. In a Country Church, on the Fait Days, Dec. 13, 1776, and Feb. 27, 1778. 4to.
White. In this anonymou sermon, the author, in common with other Fastday preachers, in fills much on divine judgments, or public punishments by providential afflictions; but wherefore it is that he has withheld his name, with that of the place where his discourse was delivered, may be matter of speculation to some of his readers. Perhaps it is a prudential omislion, on acconnt of some gentle strictures on
as well as the finaller finners of this country; but be this as it may, we, from certain signs and tokens infer, that he is not wholly unwilling to let the public understand that they are obliged, for the preient performance, to the learned Archdeacon of St. Albans.
+++ Ruricola has been written to, according to his direction ; but no answer having been received, it is feared the letter may, by. some accident, have been wrong delivered. lis conftitution, -the extent, and spirit of which our ancestors well understood and felt: but there are too many of their descendants who fæem neither to feel nor comprehend them. Let us, however, be careful, while we combat the doctrines maintained by the advocates for the revolted colinies, leit in difputing tbeir rights, we give up
• The following censure is paffed on certain public measures :“Wherefore then should the people of this nation be confident of the di. vine protection? are they not rather led to consider the reluctance of the colonies to the supremacy of the British legislature as a just retribution for the abolition of the King's fupremacy in a very great part of his Majesty's dominions in North America! in the eye of impartial justice may not their open and avowed rebellion, their bold and insolent declaration of independency, be the natural and gradual refult of the manly resistance of a free people suffering under the iron rod of oppression, and bereft of their conftitutional rights ? and what if consequences may very soon, perhaps at this very time, be produced in the Eat, worn out under oppreliions, and almost exhausted by rapine, as unexpected and important to this nation as those which have lately Sprung up in the Weitern world!"
Art. I. Letters to the Rev. Dr.Worthington, in Answer to his late
Publication, intitled, “ An impartial Enquiry into the Case of
Gospel Demoniacs *, was written with so illiberal a spirit; and was in other respects so defe&tive, that, at first, we apprehended it would not be deemed worthy of an answer. It should feem, however, that there were some things advanced in it which deserved to be considered ; and Mr. Farmer, it appears, thought that certain parts of the subject were capable of farther and fuller illustration. These circumstances have given rise to the present performance, which abounds with the fame acuteness of reasoning, and the fame accuracy and extent of learning, that were displayed by this Writer in his Esay on the Deo moniacs of the Netv Teftament.
The letters are fix in number ; and the first of them is principally employed in exposing Dr. Worthington's ungenerous treatment of the advocates for the antidemoniac system. In the second letter, Mr. Farmer enters upon the main question, and examines the arguments which the Doctor hath alleged, from the writings of the Heathens, from the writings of the Jews, from the language of Christ and his apostles, and from the sentiments of the primitive Christians, in favour of his own notion of pofseffing demons. These arguments are shewn to be groundless, the importance of determining the opinion of the ancients concerning poflessing demons is maintained ; and our Author vindicates himself from the absurd reproach of seeming to have a great tenderness, and even a great veneration for these · demons. Dr. Worthington is pleased to tell the world, that
Vid. Review, Nov. 1777.
Mr. Farmer hath made Mort work with the devil and his angels; and hath done more than all the exorcists put together ever pretended to: that he hath laid the devil, and all other evil spirits; banished them out of the world, and in a manner destroyed their very existence. To this Mr. Farmer replies : " There inay be much wit, but indeed, Sir, there is no truth in this Janguage. I have never denied ; nor could I, without great absurdity, take upon me to deny, the existence of evil spirits originally of a rank superior to mankind. And, as we are ignorant of the laws of the spiritual world, it would be great presumption to take upon us to determine the sphere of their operation. That they have no dominion over the natural world, which is governed by fixed and invariable laws, is a truth attested in the ampleft manner by reason, by revelation, and by our own experience. But the question is, whether poffeffions are referred to fallen angels, or to human spirits. To say they are referred to the latter, is by no means to banish the former out of the world. I do not remember, that Mede, or Sykes, or Lardner, were ever charged with, or even suspected of, what you impute to me, and what you might, upon the same grounds, have imputed to them.'
In the third letter, Dr. Worthington's explication of demoniacal poffeffion is considered ; from which it appears that he hath no conception of its real nature, nor hath pointed out those peculiar symptoms, on which the ancients founded their belief of
Hence Mr. Farmer takes occafion to state the true notion of pofleffing demons, and to thew upon what ground it was that demoniacs were anciently distinguished from the diseafed, and even from lunatics. When posseffions were distinguished from diseases; by the latter, the ancients meant such diseases as afe fect only the body, or imply some disorder in the corporeal fyftem: while the former suppofed an alienation of mind, such as did not proceed from any disorder in the corporeal fyftem, but from the immediate presence and agency of a demon. As to the distinction made between pofseflions and lunatics, there is no difficulty in accounting for it. By demoniacs, fuch as emphatically so called, and without any farther description, the ancients always meant madmen, or poflefled madmen. By lunatics they meant epileptics. The latter denomination ex. pressed the peculiar symptoms of their disorder : the former was given them, because the paroxysms and periods of it were fupposed to be regulated by the moon.
Mr. Farmer, in his fourth letter, comes to Dr. Worthington's principal argument in favour of the reality of demoniacal porfeflions, which is, that possessions and dispossessions are attested as facts in the New Testament. As this is the argument which the Doctor hath moft laboured, and on which many others lay.
the greatest stress, our Author examines it with peculiar attention : and, in the course of his reasoning upon the subject, he Thews, first, that the possession and dispossession of demons, as explained by Dr. Worthington, even supposing them to be real facts, are not, in their own nature, objects of lense; and therefore cannot be supported by the testimony of sense : secondly, that the reality of poffessions and dispossessions neither was, nor could fitly be, established by the authority of Christ and his apostles, considered as inspired and infallible persons: and, thirdly, that the language of the New Testament, relative to possessions, did always imply certain outward and sensible fymptoms and effects; was used principally to express those symptoms and effects; and commonly without any other intention. Having stated these things in a very distinct and able manner, and having offered some peculiar reasons for believing that posfessions in the New Testament denote only madness, without any reference to the cause from which it might proceed, Mr. Farmer goes on to shew farther, in the fourth place, that the Evangelists might describe the disorder and cure of demoniacs in the popular language, that is, by possessions and dispossessions, without making themselves answerable for the hypothesis on which this language was originally founded. In support of this opinion, it is alleged, first, that it is customary with all forts of persons, to speak on many subjects in the popular language, though admitted to have been originally grounded on a false philosophy; and, secondly, that it is certain, in fact, that the sacred writers do, in several instances, adopt the popular language, though grounded on opinions now known to be erroneous, without any design of establishing the truth of those opinions. Part of what our ingenious Writer hath here advanced, we shall lay before our Readers :
• It was generally supposed by the ancients, that the earth was placed in the centre of the universe ; and that the sun, the planets, and the fixt ftars, did all move round the terraqueous globe in twenty-four hours. On the other hand, the true system of the world supposes the diurnal and annual motions of the earth, while the fun rests in the centre of the planets that surround him. Never. theless, in direct contradiction to this system, the sacred writers af. sert both the immobility of the earth, and the motion of the sun. God laid the foundations of the earth, that it foould not be moved for
The sun rifetb; and goeth down, and haseth to obe place where be arose: he cometh fortb out of his chamber, bis going forub is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it. Many other expresfions in scripture relative to the sun, contradict the doctrine of modern philosophers.
• Accordingly when this doctrine was published, or rather republished, to the world by Copernicus, and confirmed by others, it provoked the rage of bigotry as much as the antidemoniac fyftem Ee 2
can do. Twice was the famous Galilei charged with heresy, and committed to the prison of the holy office, for maintaining that the earth was not, and that the sun was, in the centre of the world and for contradicting the scriptures by both these propofitions. Pope Liban the Eighth, at who:e instigation the Copernican tenets were condemned by the inquisition, mighi argue in some such manner as you have done in reference to poffeffions. “ Galilei,” might his holiness say, “ makes the facred writers both deny what is true, and affirm what is falle; which is the fouleft indignity that could be of, fered them. The Saviour of the world himself allerts it as a fact, tbat God causeib his fun to rije. This fact is confirmed by the testimony of sense, as well as by the authority of an infallible teacher. But Ga. lilei withftands i his plain declaration of a fail; and, in flat contra. diction to Christ, says, God does not cause the fun to rise. Now, if Christ repreenis God as doing, what he does only in phew, I do not know how he cculd be vindicated, if he were accufed of being no more than a juggling impostor. If he was mistaken in this instance, how Thall we know when we may give him credit? His credit, and that of all the prophets, mult be held facred and inviclable, for the sake of the great truths they deliver ; and which, if impaired in some repeats, will be exposed to the like treatment in others.
Now, Sir, return a juít answer to this reasoning of the Pope against Galilei, and you will thereby refu:e your own reasoning against the author of the Essay. It might, with much reason, I apa prehend, be replied to his holiness, “ that the prophets of God never received, nor professed to have received, any fupernatural inftruction on any points of philosophy ;. at least, not on those points, on which they express themfelves in conformity to erroneous sylems of it : and, confequently, that our judgment on such subjects is not to be determined by their modes of speaking. Nor have these divine. messengers profe[edly taught any erroneous principles of philosophy; not even as their own private opinion, though many incidental expreslions are accommodated to that false philosophy which prevailed in their time.” Now, this, we have seen, is precisely the case with respect to poffeffion. It is not included in the fupernatural inftruction of the first founders of Christianity. Accordingly, they never teach it as a doctrine ; nor do they affert it as their own private opinion, though they adopt the vulgar language concerning it.
• It might be replied farther to Pope Urban, • that the sacred writers had just the same reason, as all other persons had, for uling technical terms, without making themselves answerable for the falle opinions that first gave rise to them.” Why do Proteftants, who have no faith in Popish saints, as well as Papists who have, fill affirm concerning any one, that he has St. Anthony's fire; or that he has St. Vitus's dance? Why do even those phyticians who deny the influence of the moon over the distemper called lunacy, nevertheless, affirm concerning certain patients, that they are lunatic? Why do those who laugh at the notion of the incubus or night mare being an intelligent agent, as well as Dr. Worthington, who very gravely defends it, itiil use the terms to express a bodily indispoßtion? Wherefore, to this very day, do astronomers, that have adopted the syitem of Copernicus, speak of the sun as rising, setting, and moving Be.