Imatges de pÓgina

minis, actuated by groveling and succeeded by a brother, a clergyman sordid opinions, have a strong ten- in the Church of England, who died dency to ascribe their own characters without issue. It devolved to a to the whole human race, and to nephew, son of another, brother of regard, as visionary, feelings of a more Mr. Burnett, who, now, possesses it. exalted description. To all such Mr. With the exception of this property, Burnett's conduct and principles, and and of moderate legacies and annuities those of a similar complexion, may to various relatives, the residue of be triumphantly opposed, and serve, his fortune was appointed by him to on the ground of experience, to vin- be applied to charitable purposes. dicate, from the imputation of being Since his death, these charitable mere theorists, those who applaud destinations have increased in value, and recommend more generous, and, and may, now, produce, altogether, therefore, better principles of action, about 7001. of annual income. They than are entertained by the herd of were, by the testator, appointed ignoble moralists.

to be applied in the following His affection for his relatives was manner. also warm and constant. His hu- 1. For the relief of the poor in the manity was expansive and vigorous, city of Aberdeen, with a preference to and particularly interested in the wants those who may be bed-rid, or may of the poor. During many years, he labour under diseases deemed incurable. appropriated one or two hours every II. For the relief of the poor residay, to the hearing of their cases, and ding on his own landed property, to their relief. In this manner, he descending to his heirs. applied more than 3001. yearly.

III. For behoof of all the poor On the return of his brother, James, within the bounds of the county and from India, about the year 1773, they synod of Aberdeen, which last conresolved to discharge their father's tains 96 parishes, a sum, not less than debts, each of them paying one half. 201. and not exceeding 501. in propora

The only exceptions, which they tion to the extent of each parish, and made, were in the case of one or two to its peculiar circumstances, is to be creditors, who had been, in the first paid annually, in rotation, till this instance, chiefly instrumental in payment has extended over all the ruining their father's credit, and then, parishes within the jurisdiction of after his failure was accomplished, the synod. When this rotation has treated him with the greatest harsh- taken place, it is to begin anew, and ness, and severity. This important circulate, in this manner, in constant fact, so honourable both to the sub- succession. The donation to each ject of this Memoir, and to his parish is to be applied, for the benefit brother, prores that strict integrity of its poor, according to the discretion and honour were inherent in the of its minister, or ministers, and family. As family-likenesses are ex- elders. hibited in the countenance; so, we IV. A sum is appropriated for the often find them in the moral and intele benefit of lunatics, or persons deprived lectual character. Those two brothers of reason. thus paid, on their father's account, V. Another portion is destined to about 7000l. or 8000). This sumn, promote inoculation among the children which, compared with

with modern of the poor. This money is, now, failures, may appear insignificant, applied in support of a Vaccine Institzewas, when the failure of Mr. Burnett, tion in Aberdeen-an improvement of sen. happened, and even at the time inoculation unknown at the time of the his debts were paid by his conscien- donor's death. tious sons, considered as of no trivial VI. A small sum is appropriated magnitude.

to the benefit of the prisoners in the The younger Burnett was never jail of Aberdeen, and, especially, to married, and, at the age of 55 years, assist in procuring, to them, the condied on the gth of November, 1784. solations and correctives of religion,

He possessed a small landed estate, by the regular performance of divine lying in Buchan, in Aberdeenshire, worship within the walls of their conand situated about 25 miles northward finement. of Aberdeen, which he inherited from VII. A small part of this general his mother.' In this property he was fand is appointed to be set apart,


Memoir relative to John Burnett, Esg. of Dens. annually, and allowed to accumulate, all is doubtful. To such, considera. for a two-fold purpose-1st; for his tions, independent of Revelation, are Two Prizes : 2dly; for an addition to necessary. To bring them to a conthe provision previously made for the viction of a Deity is of the utmost poor of Aberdeen. This accumulating consequence, and a step to a belief fund is, for ever, to be applied to its in Revelation. The considerations objects, at the end of every fortieth on the subject may be beneficial to year. The accumulation of the first all." 25 years, if not less than 16001. is From the words, last stated, it is destined for Prizes to the authors of not improbable that Mr. Burnett had the two best Essays, on the subjects been frequently in coinpany with which he prescribed, and the follow- persons who attacked Revelation, on ing Work' discusses. Three fourths Atheistical principles ; and, as, from his

are assigned to the first, and one fourth being unavoidably much engaged in I to the second in merit. Whatever business, he could not be supposed to

exceeds these sums, allotted to the have studied such subjects with philo. Prizes, is to be added to the fund for sophical accuracy, that he found the use of the poor of Aberdeen. himself perplexed to reply to their What this fuud may produce, in the distorted metaphysics. This conjecture, course of a long period of years, it is which is merely that of the writer of impossible to determine. In all pro- this Memoir, will acquire more probability, it will amount to a very large bability, when it is considered that, sum.

when Mr. Burnett must have been in His motives for founding his two the prime of life, Hr. Hume's PhiloPrizes can be collected only from the sophy, which did so much mischief terms in which the foundation of them, to the young and volatile, tvas in high and his other benevolent destinations, fashion in Scotland. To sneer at are expressed. It can hardly be religion was deemed to be genteel, doubted that he was chiefly influenced That Philosophy, as far as it relates to by the strong impression, resting on religion, and morals, has been ex, his mind, of the high importance of posed, as utterly false, by men of the the subjects proposed, and of the inost distinguished talents. Whether, benefits likely to result, to mankind, or not, religious principle be, now, from the comprehensive and able more firmly established, and more discussion of them. This appears generally diffused, than was the case chiefly from what is expressed in his in Mr. Burnett's time, I pretend Deed of Settlement, in behalf of the not to determine. The French poor of Aberdeen, and in his Provision Revolution exhibited the most ferofor the Prizes, contained in the same cious aspects of infidelity, as connected deed. To these he subjoins the fol- with politics. An alarin was, hence, lowing sentences :-" And I make the spread; and, although it be evident, above Destination, with an hearty de- to the smallest reflection, that irreligion sire to be sincerely thankful to the has a tendency to subvert the best Providence of Almighty God, for interests of society, if not to dissolve having conferred, upon me, the power it; still, no reasoning, or persuasion, to do so; and with an humble hope could have excited the terror occathat the sanie will, in some degree, sioned by this revolutionary cowulsion. be acceptable in his sight; and as Hence, greater erternal respect, at becoming a disciple, and conformable least, has been shown to religious to the precepts of the Holy Jesus, institutions ; and infidelity is, now, being intended for the relief of the generally connected with licentions distressed ; and to promote a thorough political opinions. This may probably conviction of those truths, which are procure a fair hearing to the Gospel, of the greatest consequence to mans and obtain a candid examination of kind."

its principles and tenets. To a mind, Again ; in a codicil, he adds", habituated to refer all events to the see it a great duty to be impressed with direction of Providence, it will appear the inexpressible love of the Lord that, to produce this result, was proJesus to mankind; and with a sense bably one reason for the permission of of the invaluable benefits they receive such horrible convulsions, and treby him. Some unhappily do not mendous calamities, as have charac. acknowledge Revelation, and think terized our own times. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that to be understood, which they that are men's minds have been so much unlearned and unstable wrest, as they engaged by war, and politics, whose do also the other Scriptures, unto their influence is far from being auspicious own destruction." to the cultivation of rational piety, that Mr. Burnett's scruples evinced that they have had little leisure, and, per- he was a conscientious believer, and haps, less inclination, to attend to the an anxious inquirer after truth. I great concerns of Religion. Her voice, have, already, pointed out one erronehowever, must, and will be heard, at ous conclusion which, at a certain last, if not in the calm tone of argų- period, they led him to adopt. But, ment, or in the mild and affectionate even this was sinccrely erroneous, and language of admonition, at least, in it appears that his mind, afterwards, the thunder of general calamity. embraced a juster view of the subject,

Mr. Burneti's opinion, relative to in respect to which he erred. It is the effect that the conviction of a Deity only persons of some discernment, and has in leading men 10 a l'elief of the of upright hearts, that ever entertain truth of Revelation, will appear per- religious scruples. The profligate, the fectly just to every person who under- indi fferent, the ligot, the enthusiast, stands, and reflects on the subject. and the hypocrite, never have their In fact, Infidelity and Atheism, in some minds perplexed in this manner. The form or other, are more intimately profligate and the indifferent are utterly connected than may be generally supe regardless whether the whole, or any posed. It will be found that the part of the religious system, which is greater part of modern infidels have professed, be true, or false. The bigot had, and still have, no religious prin- and the enthusiast adopt, without ciple at all. Christianity adinits, examination, any set of opinions, and establishes, and expands all the just neither entertain doubts themselves, : principles of Natural Religion, and por suffer others to entertain them, enforces them by sanctions which vo with regard to their professed creed. hunan authority conld pretend to The hypocrite pretends to believe whatenact. To reject Christianity is, there- ever is subservient to his temporal fore, to reject Natural Religion herself, interests. The honest inquier will, invested with her fairest, most en- sometimes, experience doubts, with gaging, and most venerable aspect. respect to certain points, and, ever The truth is, that by far the greater open to conviction, will be anxious to part of infidels never give themselves obtain their solution. the trouble to make any inquiry con- The preceding narrative, and the cerning religious sud-jects

. Under the quotations with which it is inimpression of certain vague, indefinite, terspersed, evince the subject of it to and hastily assumed notions, they have been a character of no ordinary discard the Christian faith, by reason stamp, in regard whether to his intelof a secret aversion from its purity lectual, or to his moral qualities. of principle, and exalted moral com- Though assiduously occupied in busiplerion.

ness, he, nevertheless, directed his The peculiar nature of Mr. Bur- mind to the most important and nieti's religious scruples has not been noblest objects that can fix the attenascertained. It is evident, however, tion of man. Though employed in that they could not relate to the funda- merchandise, and attentive to its chief mental articles of Christianity. For, aim- the acquisition of wealth-he of these he not only professes, in his expanded his heart to the most will, his firm belief, but also his deep generous and comprehensive impress sense of the incrpressible love of the sions of benevolence, and, in the Lord Jesus, and of the imahalle lene midst of an increasing fortune, was fats which mankind receive by him. That constantly mindful of the indigent ; there are difficulties in Revelation itself in the enjoyment of ease and comfort, po rational divine will deny. But, felt for the distresses of those who these affect neither the essential doc- « had none to help them."! Active trines, such as they exist in the Sacred in the discharge of the duties of his Seriptures, nor the moral precepts of Christianity. The Apostle Peter says, " that, in the Epistles of his beloved

*, 2 Pet. iii. 16. brother, Paul, are some things hard

+ Jobe xcix12.

there is no peace,

Memcir relative to John Burnett, Esq. of Dens.

443 terrestrial sphere, he raised his views the character of goodness by their easy to heaven, and, as the best preparation sacrifice of the interests of virtue and for its happiness, practised' those vir- truth. On this account, they fretues, in the completion of which this quently do more mischief than the happiness must chiefly consist; made openly profane and profligate, who are provision for the clucidation and hated, or despised, and cannot, thereextension of the fundamental principles fore, produce any effect extensively of religion, which comforts man by pernicious. The good man, as he is the prospects of eternity; and, as far styled, who, for the sake of what he as lay in his power, endeavoured to ternis peace, saying, in the words of sooth the earthly sorrows, and to supply the Prophet, Peace, peace, when the present necessities of his brethren.

is always preThe admiration of mankind is com- pared to make concessions, and to monly excited by the splendour of surreuder, to deceit, or to violence, some talent, or by the celebrity of exploit

. important cause, induces mankind, They seein to pay little regard to the misled by his specious appearances, ohjects for which the former has been to suppose that the distinction between displayed, or the latter perforined. rirtue and rice is very small, and that, Understanding, skill, and courage, eren on account of the former, no effort when mind is applauded, engross their ought to be made, and no hardship attention, while the 'will, and the endured. * affections, which are the springs of Real probity, then, enlightened by human action, are commonly over- clearness of judgment, and supported looked, or disregarded, as of no , by the energy of courage, constitutes a moinent. It is, however, the principle very uncommon character, and is, that imparts any real value to every therefore, on this ground, entitled to exertion of the human faculties, and the highest commendation. - if the original view be erroneous, or This high-toned prolity bears 'a - vicious, the whole conduct, which it stronger resemblance to genius, than

dictates must be proportionably is commonly apprehended, and oughi, vitiated, and delased. Wisdom con- on the ground on which genius is so sists in the selection of the best ends, much admired, to obtain a proporand of the adoption of the best means tionable degree of admiration. "Genius of their attainment. If the end' he is the gift of heaven, and seems to posalsurd, or wicked, all the means for sess a species of inspiration. Those, its prosecution, however effectual they therefore, who are endowed with it, may be, ought only to produce the are considered as, in some respects, deeper regret, or the stronger reproba- the favourites of the Deity ; although, tion. That Mr. Burnett's views were like other favourites, they often abuse virtuous and noble, will not be con- their pre-eminence. Exalted probity tested; nor can it be denied that he may surely, with a far better titledevised very effectual means for their title sanctioned by Scripure-refer its · çxecution. Tried, then, by this equi- origin to heaven. • It is that wisdom,

table standard, he is certainly entitled which is from above, and is first to no common portion of applause. pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy - Mankind generally admire what is to be intreated, full of mercy and good tare and unusual. Genuine probily, fruits, without partiality, and without ajid pure · benevolence, united with hypocrisy:"? It is certain that there soundness of judgment, are, 1 hesitate is, in some minds, an inherent natural not to affirin, as uncommon as genius, propensity to virtuous sewiiments and and acuteness of intellect. By probity conduct,' a certain susceptibility of I understand not merely the will, the generans, affectionate, and noble im. inclination, the desire to act a virtuous pressions, by which they are distin. part, but also the right apprehension guished from the ordinary, and morally. of what a virtuous part implies; and, groveling herd of their species. This when it has been clearly apprehended, seems to depend, in a great measure, the courage to adopt and to maintain on the peculiar con plexion of the it, without fear of detriment, or of imagination ; and this circumstance profligate ridicule. For, it often happens that those, who are called good

# Jer. vi. 14. meni, are weak, uninformed, and compliant personages, and have obtained

James ri. 17.

chiefly asserts its analogy to genius. species. This is so much the case, Some minds, even from their most that, were it not for those virtuous early years, dwell, with peculiar plea- individuals, whom divine Providence sure, on descriptions of noble characters, supporting truth and virtue, has in and image them with delight. They every age, stationed in different parts will, hence, be prompted to imitate, of the world, human corruption would and, if possible, to surpass them, in proceed with such accumulated aggrathe moral qualities which they most vation, that the condition of our admire. To such impressions the species would be desperate. It is to generality of mankind are totally the wisdom, the beneficence, and the insensible, and are wholly engrossed perseverance of such men, that the by self interest, or ignolle ambition, and world is indebted for every, salutary hug themselves in the conceit of their plan which has been adopted, and for prudence, and their policy. They can- every good institution which has ever not discover, with their feeble' eyes, been established.

Notwithstanding that region, in which the inan, who the opposition with which they have is really virtuous, dwells, and, although had to struggle, the noblest title that they were translated into it, the purity any mortal can obtain, is that of being of its atmosphere would be too keen the friend of God, and the lenefactor for their asthmatic lungs.

of mankind. There is another point of resem- Let those who pervert their power blance between genius and high prolity. for the purposes of oppressive pride, or As the former embraces objects of a lavish their wealth in dissipation, in character, raised above ordinary life; sensuality, in frivolous amusement, and .so, it cannot always stoop to the in all that degrades, the individual, minute consideration of these, and is and injures society; let such institute liable to be deceived by that low, and a fair comparison between themselves, microscópical cunning, whose attention and Mr. Burnet, and learn to ackuowis exclusively devoted to such objects. ledge that, in spite of their ostenta. The case is the same with distinguished tatious assumption, and ridiculous Probity. She can, with ditliculty, -vanity, they sink into utter insig conceive the mean and contemptible nificance, and ought to be satisfied if arts, the complete degradation of moral they are allowed to pass, with silent character, to which Improlity often contempt. As soon as their bodies descends; and she is, thus, some- are consigned to the grave, their namnes times, for a short time, deceived by are either buried in oblivion--their these ignoble and reptile devices. This most fortunate posthumous condition leads the race, who practise them, to or are mentioned with derision, or value themselves on their childish disgust. His is recorded, as that of sagacity. But, no man of genius, or the patron of exalted and salutary of real worth, will envy them their science, as the reliever of indigence, as creeping distinction.

the comforter of distress ; and will be It were much to be wished that transmitted, with undiminished apthese, and similar, considerations, had, plause, to remote posterity. To him on mankind, their due influence. If may be justly applied Pope's beautiful ihey possessed it, admiration and ap- lines, in which he describes the chaplause would not be exclusively appro- racter of the Man of Ross. priated to brilliancy of genius, or to

W. L. BROWN.. grandeur of achievement ; but, genuine moral excellence would obtain its legiti• mate share. Genius often Aatters Origin and History of Benefit of powerful and opulent Pice, or, by the Clergy, from Chitty's “ Practical display of metaphysical acumen, distorts Treatise on the Criminal Law." I. truth, and recommends error. Heroism, 667. .vulgarly so called, has deluged the earth with blood, and laid waste the


stance intervening between conhabitations of men. Moral excel- viction and judgment, is the claim lence is "the saltof the earth,'* which and allowance of the benefit of clergy, prevents the putrefaction of the human in those cases where it is by law to be

granted. It is of course claimed

immediately before judgment at the • Matt. v. 18.

assizes. This is one of the most

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