Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

ported entirely by her exertions, and she is ever ready with her fund of sensible, unassuming and natural conversation to answer the calls of those who depend much on her for their entertainment in the domestic circle. I have known another lady, blest with affluence, employing the powers of her well-exercised mind in the furtherance of projects of extensive benevolence; projects which would often have failed, had they not been executed by one early accustomed to give her time to enlightened industry, to exercise her reason, and to feed her mind with useful knowledge. Benevolent dispositions, regulated by such a judgment, and supported by motives of piety, have been productive of an immense sum of good; and I may men tion in favour of my argument, that her powers of usefulness have been much employed in teaching the poor the arts of household economy, of which this lady is a perfect mistress. Many other instances could I bring, if my limits would permit, but I trust that what I have said will convince others as well as myself, that the acquisition of knowledge does not necessarily lead to the neglect of woman's appropriate duties.

With respect to the second objection, viz., That the greatest advances which the female mind can make in knowledge must fall far short of the attainments of the other sex,-I allow that the acquirements of women can seldom equal those of men, and it is not desirable that they should. I do not wish to excite a spirit of rivalry between the sexes; I do not desire that many females should seek for fame as authors. I only wish that their powers should be so employed that they should not be obliged to seek amusements beneath them, and injurious to them. I wish them to be companions to men, instead of playthings or servants, one of which an ignorant woman must commonly be. If they are called to be wives, a sensible mind is an essential qualification for the domestic character; if they remain single, liberal pursuits are absolutely necessary to preserve them from the faults so generally attributed to that state, and so justly and inevitably, while the mind is buried in darkness.

If it be asked what kind and degree of knowledge is necessary to preserve

women from the evils mentioned as
following in the train of ignorance, I
answer that much must depend on na-
tural talent, fortune and station; but
no Englishwoman, above the lower
ranks of life, ought to be ignorant of
the Evidences and Principles of her
religious belief, of Sacred History, of
the outline at least of General History,
of the Elements of the Philosophy of
Nature, and of the Human Mind,
and to these should be added the know-
ledge of such living languages, and the
acquirement of such accomplishments,
as situation and circumstances may
direct.

*

44

1

With respect to the third objection,
viz., that the vanity so universally
ascribed to the sex is apt to be inflated
by any degree of proficiency in know-
ledge, and that women, therefore, be-
come forgetful of the subordinate sta-
tion assigned them by law, natural
and divine: the most important part
of education, the implanting of reli-
gious principles must be in part ne-
glected, if the share of knowledge
which women may appropriate, should
be suffered to inflate their vanity, or
excite feelings of pride. Christian
humility should be one of the first
requisites in female education, and till
it is attained every acquirement of
every kind will become a cause of
self-exaltation, and those accomplish-
ments which are the most rare, will
of course be looked upon with the
most self-complacency. But if the
taste for knowledge were more gene-
rally infused, and if proficiency in the
attainments I have mentioned were
more common, there would be much
less pedantry than there is at present;
for when acquirements of this kind
are no longer remarkable, they cease
to afford a subject for pride. I sup-
pose, when knowledge was rare among
men, many of those who had made
some proficiency were as pedantic as
the blue-stockings of the present
day. As the spread of information ex-
tended there was less cause for con-
ceit, and the case would be the same
with the female sex. This is a fact,
which is proved from year to year, for
female education is rapidly improving,
and the odious pedantry to which it
at first gave rise is less observable,
and will, ere long, I hope, be more a
name than a reality.
Let woman then be taught that her

"

..t A ..

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

powers of mind were given her to be improved. Let her be taught that she is to be a rational companion to those of the other sex among whom her lot in life is cast, that her proper sphere is home that there she is to provide, not only for the bodily comfort of man, but that she is to enter also into community of mind with him; that she is to strengthen him in the hour of trial; to cheer him in times of despondence; to exert herself for his improvement and her own; to encourage him in rational pursuits, both by her example and sympathy; that she is to be the participator in his happiness, the consoler of his sorrows, the support of his weakness, and his friend under all circumstances. For this purpose she must exert her own faculties, store her mind, strengthen her reason, and so far enrich her na tural powers by cultivation, as to be capable of performing the important duties which fall to her lot. Let her preserve her natural simplicity, her feminine gentleness, her perfect innocence. Let her become mistress of all the little arts, of all the important trifles, (if I may so express myself,) which render home a scene of com

fort; but let not these be made the

end instead of the means. Like our attendant planet, let her, while she is the constant companion of man, bor row sufficient light from the sun of knowledge to cheer him in his hours of darkness, and he will find that the progress she makes towards this great luminary will not interfere with the companionship she owes to him. When this is done, when woman is allowed to claim her privileges as an intellectual being, the folly, the frivolity, and all the mean vices and faults which have hitherto been the reproach of the sex, will gradually disappear. As she finds nobler objects presented to her grasp, and that her rank in the scale of being is elevated, she will engraft the vigorous qualities of the mind of man on her own blooming virtues, and insinuate into his mind those softer graces and milder beauties, which will smooth the ruggedness of his character.

Surely this is the natural state of things, and to this perfection will they arrive, if the improvement of the female mind proceeds with the same rapidity which we have now reason tó

VOL. XVIII.

M

anticipate. See what has already been done. In the present age, and in our own country, we can reckon among those who have rendered important services to society at large, as well as to their own circle of friends, the names of More, Barbauld, Hamilton, Edgeworth, Carter, Talbot, Elizabeth Smith, Chapone, Grant, Aikin and Cappe. Most of these ladies have written on the noblest subjects which can exercise the human mind, religion and morality, and have thus proved that the cultivation of the powers of the female mind is favourable instead of injurious to these important interests.

I cannot better conclude than with the hope, that these examples of what may be done may excite a noble emulation in their own sex, and in ours such a conviction of the value of the female mind, as shall overcome our long-cherished prejudices, and induce us to give our earnest endeavours to the promotion of woman's best interests.

#

4

DISCIPULUS.

I

SIR,

Feb. 3, 1823.>

ALTHOUGH I have not seen the edition of the "New Testament," which Cantabrigiensis describes, I flatter myself that I can give him some information as to the editor, "The Rev. Mr. John Lindsay,” whose name occurs more than once in a publication abounding with notices of the lives and writings of clergymen.t

The elder Mr. Bowyer's corrector of the press, was usually a nonjuring teacher; to which class of episcopalians the worthy printer himself belonged. In the Historia Typographorum, &c., we find an allusion to one of the persons so employed by him; "either," says Nichols, "Mr. John Blackburne, or Mr. John Lindsay." Among the papers that issued from the same press, during the year 1725, are enumerated "Proposals for printing by subscription, A Vindication of the Church of England and the lawful Ministry thereof, &c. Written by Francis Mason, B.D., &c., and now

Mon. Repos. XVII. 530. + Nichols' Liter, Anecd., &c. + Maittaire's.

faithfully translated from the Author's Latin Edition, with considerable Enlargements. By John Lindsay, Presbyter of the Church of England." We afterwards learn [1726], that this book was in the press, and would be published, with a curious appendix. At the conclusion of the year 1727, it was announced as on the point of appearing, but does not seem to have come out until the commencement of the ensuing year* [1728].

1

Nichols states, that "Mr. Lindsay, for many years, and till his death, officiated as minister of the Nonjuring Society in Trinity Chapel, Aldersgate Street, and is said to have been their last minister;" that he died in 1768, (June 21,) at the age of eighty-two, and was buried in Islington Churchyard. A list of this gentleman's publications, is subjoined by the editor of the Literary Anecdotes: however, it 'does not include the work after which Cantabrigiensis inquires.

+4

The epitaph on Mr. Lindsay, represents him as having studied at St. Mary Hall, in Oxford: + but I do not meet with his name in the catalogue either of the graduates of that University or of those of Cambridge.

Perhaps the preface to the "New Testament," or some of the notes, may accord with this communication, which is respectfully offered to Cantabrigiensis and your other readers. ↑ N.

SIR,

You

YOUR correspondent P. D. (XVII. 615) suggests that there is a desideratum, in the present state of parties, of a treatise on the grounds and reasons of Protestant Dissent, which would discuss the capital objections to national churches, and especially the plea for the patronage of religion by the State. The writer of the present article has thought, like your cor

* Nichols' Lit. Anecd., &c. I. 136, 137, &c. The name of "Blackburne" is otherwise spelt [Blackbourne] in pp. 285,

286.

H

respondent, that the signs of the times strongly shew the expediency of Unitarian ministers making the subjects of such a treatise their special care at the present moment; and, taking the hint from Robinson's plan of Lectures on Nonconformity, he has had for some weeks a Course of Lectures in delivery on Sunday Evenings in two neighbouring Societies, which have been attended by a large and increasing number of hearers in both places, the greater part of whom are either members of the Church of England or of other Dissenting Churches.Much has been said to him about publishing these Lectures; and if it were probable that the public would receive them with the same candour as they have been listened to by his neighbours, he would enjoy a gratifi cation in offering his aid to support the inalienable rights of conscience against the gigantic power which has risen up in the States and Empires of the world to restrain and to destroy them. In most respects the object of these Lectures is that which P. D. has stated to be most important; but they are distinguished by one strong additional feature, which the compiler of them has deemed of the very first importance; and which, at the present moment, when a large proportion of the religious public are disposed to entertain far milder feelings towards Unitarian professors, appears to him fit to be brought forward with the best prospect of success. While such a course contains views in which all Dissenters, agree, and some of the Lectures will, with little exception meet the ideas of Nonconformists at large, no opportunity need be lost of setting our views of the original simplicity of Christian teaching in a clear and just point of light; and, as History will furnish, not the ground-work alone, but the greater proportion of the materials of these Lectures, it will afford the best possible opportunity of so doing.

+"Aulæ Mariæ apud Oxonienses

olim alumni." Ib. 376.

Watkins, in his Biographical Dictionary, the comprehensiveness and general accuracy of which merit great praise, has a short article on Mr. Lindsay.

Christian Church as it is exhibited in They may begin with a view of the the Acts of the Apostles, and may be judged of by various passages in the Epistles, at that time strictly Unitarian; and may proceed to shew, partly from the Epistles themselves and still more from Ecclesiastical History, in what way those errors which bear the

Christian name found their way into the Church and there obtained a settlement, and how the monstrous power of priests and bishops accumulated, until at length mystery and arbitrary power obtained a joint and universal sway. In treating which subject the remark will have peculiar weight, that while the Antichrist, the Man of Sin, required no less than three centuries to grow up to maturity, present appearances strongly indicate that the same period will be employed, under the Divine Government, from the Reformation, to reduce his power and turn him out of the Christian Church. In treating a subject of such extensive application and high importance, the first duty of the advocate of pure Christianity will be to shew, that religion is a personal duty, which is incapable of either compulsion or restraint; and that any attempt to enforce belief may check the timid in their inquiries and may multiply knaves and hypocrites without number, but cannot lead to the conscientious profession of religion. The history of the three first centuries will shew, in what manner the professors of the Gospel were drawn away by the plausibility of science falsely so called, from the simplicity of belief which characterised the preaching of the apostles; the early schisms which divided the Church, and the gradual growth of what may well be called Pagan Christianity: and, if a comparison be drawn between the churches which then existed in their defective state, and those which are now called Christian churches under the sanction of the civil power, the greater purity even of those churches will be inanifest at the first view.

History may then lead us to that eventful period in which the authority of the Emperor of the West was called in to put a stop to the jarring interests and differences of opinion which prevailed, and were especially seen in the Church of Alexandria, a city of great wealth and power, celebrated for its learning and for its cultivation of the arts and sciences, which gave it a decisive influence over the smaller spots in which Christianity had been received. The history of that church is the history of the churches generally, until the vain and futile attempt was made by Constantine, to effect a

uniformity of belief. Together with this disastrous step, it will be our, duty to speak of the Councils, the fruits of whose noisy labours have come down to our time and signalize our own Established Church. Here we must pause, and not attempt to draw back the thick veil of ignorance and of priesteraft, which hung through successive centuries over the falselycalled Church of Christ; until our eyes are gladdened by the light of truth which again began to dawn at the Reformation. Faint indeed and feeble was its light, yet sweet its influence to the mind that long had groaned under the excessive severities, the gross impositions and the impu dent iniquity of the Papal power and its satellites. Joyfully was it hailed by every honest heart; and although it found its way into our island only through the small loop-hole which, the lust of its king had rent open, and was on that account little preferable to the darkness and bigotry of Popery, yet it was acceptable, inasmuch as it broke the charm of priestly power, and put to flight the swarm of locusts. which had spread desolation over the fair field of human industry and devoured its fruits.

24

*

We shall then be led to examine the principle upon which Establishments are necessarily formed, the strong objections against all of them alike, the fluctuating state in which the doctrines of our own remained for a long time, and the persecuting spirit of its advocates; and it will be an easy task to shew, that this principle is altogether inconsistent with the rights of conscience, calculated to extend error and superstition, to make men hypocrites or careless of every thing, discarding the authority of scripture and the language of the gospel, and setting up that of kings and priests in the place of it.

Immediately connected with this, is the formation of Creeds and Catechisms, which part of Church History. will furnish a distinct view of the encroachments which were deliberately made upon the freedom of the mind, and how men have been led to acknowledge for Scripture truth all the jargon of the Athanasian Creed; advancing by almost equally measured paces, from the test given by Peter to

[ocr errors]

2

the jailor, through the creed wrongly called the Apostles', to the larger demands of the Nicene, and thence to the mysteries of Athanasius.

After the inquirer has gone through án examination of the modes of wor ship and religious ceremonies now in use in England, and traced their origin to the of Rome, and the consideration of tythes and other revenues by which a false system of Christianity has been propped up, it will become his duty to shew, that civil power is not required to maintain the honour, the worship of God; that an established religion is inconsistent with the enjoyment of civil rights, on which it necessarily intrudes, and is fatal to the moral and mental character of man.

1

From hence he will be led by an easy transition to the character and conduct of the English Noncons., to the noble sacrifice they made to the rights of conscience, and the immense advantages that England has derived, both in the extension of its civil liberties, and in its manufacturing and commercial celebrity, from that large body of the people who have conscientiously declined uniting in the service of the Church of England.

This course might conclude with a general view of the ground we have gone over, together with those objects which are peculiar to Unitarians in their dissent from every establishment; and, having surveyed the growth of error and the gigantic forms it has assumed, it might exhibit the distinct lines of similarity between the modern Unitarian and the primitive Apostolic Church.

Whatever may be the opinion of P. D. as to confining our views to the general principle of Dissent, the writer of these lines cannot but think that error in doctrine is far more injurious than error in forms: the latter touches only the pocket, the former corrupts the mind and defiles the heart. Paley says any man may go into the Church who is not a Papist or an Anabaptist; we know that any man may be a Quaker who will conform to their exte rior rules, as any one may be a Dissenter who will contend against the Hierarchy and its impositions. But much more than this is required surely in the present day; for a full and cor

rect view of the history of Christianity, and for a clear understanding of what it has been and what it should be. I. W.

High Holborn,
Feb. 6, 1823.

SIR,

YOUR learned correspondent Mr. Cogan, papers the Monthly Repository are distinguished for cogent argument and valuable criticism, has favoured us in your last number (p. 8) with one of great interest on Ephes. iv. 32," As God for Christ's sake has forgiven you;" in which he adduces the unsuspicious authority of the orthodox and learned Valckenaer to prove, in concert with many of our best critics and divines, that when the passage is properly rendered, it conveys no such meaning as that generally attributed to it by those who believe in the doctrine of vicarious atonement. My present object is to prove, for the benefit of the common reader, that, independently of criticism, however just, and taking the passage in its present faulty form, it will be seen, if we are allowed to explain Scripture by Scripture, that it neither supports nor expresses the po pular meaning.

This form of expression occurs more than 150 times in the Old, and about 50 times in the New Testament; used by different persons, and on occasions so various as if it were proverbial, or a common mode of speech: as where God is represented as saying, that he will bestow blessings, inflict punishments, or have mercy, for "the earth's sake;"" for man's sake" “for Abraham's sake;" "for Israel's sake;" "for David's sake," "for his name's sake;" "for Zion's sake;" "for Jerusalem's sake," &c. &c. Now if we apply the terms according to the popular notion, to the different per sons, things and occasions where these occur, could any thing appear more absurd or foolish? If we come to the use of the terms in the New Testament, we find the apostles and first Christians "ready to suffer and to die for righteousness' sake;" "for the gospel's sake;" "for the word's sake;" "for the truth's sake," "for the sake of the church and of the brethren ;" and " for Christ's sake.” . Are we then to understand that they made

« AnteriorContinua »