Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

( 176 )

REVIEW

“ Still pleased to praise, yet not afraid to blame."

Pore.

Art. I.-A Plain Statement of for bringing forwards such a work some of the most important Prin- after the appearance of Dr. Paley's ciples of Religion, as a Preser- Elements of Natural Theology, vative against Infidehty, Enthu. and View of the Evidences of Chris. siasm und Im murality. By the tianity, justly observes, that though Reo. Thomas Watson. 8vo. pp. his performance and those of the 176. Longman and Co. 1811. Doctor are nearly allied in title,

This treatise is the production and accord altogether in design; of a Dissenuing minister at Whitby the plans are totally different, in Yorkshire, who, before the the materials are no where the commencement of our Repository, same, and there is no interference rendered essential service to the in the management of the arguinterests of rational religion and ment. To this statement we can. sound morals, by iwo very excel. not but add, that while we are lent publications. The first of duly sensible of the excellence of these, which is entitled, Intima- the Doctor's labours, we consider tions and Evidences of a Future those of Mr. Watson better adapted State, dviails the proofs of that im- to the use of readers in general, portant doctrine, derived from rea- and particularly of the young and son and natural religion, and from uninformed. The design of the revelation, with that force, pere author in the work which more spicuity and simplicity, which immediately claims our notice, render it admirably calculated to “is to give a plain statement of produce impression on ingenuous some of the most important prin. and unprejudiced minds. The ciples of religion, and particu. other publication, entitled, Popu. larly those principles which may lar Evidences of Natural Religion have the most powerful influence and Christianity, possesses similar upon our conduct; and to shew recommendations in point of com- that Christianity is a system found. position with the former, and ed upon the best evidence, that it merits the encomium which it has is a rational system; that it is received in the most respectable of simple and plain, adapted to the our monthly critical works, where capacity of all those who are en. it is observed that the author dowed with common understand66 has in this treatise so collected ings; and that its great aim is to and displayed the various evidences bring in and support universal in favour of religion, that it is im. righteousness.” This design the possible to weigh them without author has executed in a manner feeling the dignity of man, and very creditable to his abilities as the importance as well as truth of a writer, intending to inculcate imChristianity.” In his Introduc. portant and valuable truths, in tion the author, wbile apologizing language likely to produce effect,

from its being plain, familiar and on the inward feelings. Without the intelligible. Throughout the whole operation of these, t is asserted, there work he also appears animated by great pains are taken, and every means

can be no vital religion ; and therefore a spirit of warm and genuine piety, employer, to excite in the converts a and by an ardent zeal for vindicat, proper degree of sensibility It is cere ing religion from those corruptions, the heart should be right before God;

tainly of the highest importance, that abuses and inconsistencies, which and Christ's religion addresses itself to have too long been substituted for our hearts, and furnishes us, at the same the plain principles and excellent time, with the best subjects for our seri. morals taught by Jesus Christ. ous thoughts and ineditations. We have Thus much we can say, without fections and provider.ce of God, particu

for the exercise of our thoughts, the persubscribing to all the opinions ad- lärly his holiness, his goodness, his love vanced by the author, (though and his mercy: we have a future state we have seldom found reason to

of rewards and punishments: we have

the admirable life and character of Jesus differ from him;) and we recom. Christ, his excellent doctrines, and mend his work as deserving the his perfect example. No subjects can perusal and encouragement of the be more interesting than these ; and well-wishers to the interests of nothing so well calculated to purify and truth and virtne ; particularly, and instructive subject of private medie

improve our natures. It will be a proper as an useful' manual to be placed tation, also to take a review, frequently, in the hands of young persons, of our own life and conduct, how far we before they have recourse to more

have performed our doties and in what extended treatises on the impor. practical use of reflections of this nature

cases we have been negligent. And chc tant subjects which it embraces. will be to correct wherever we haveerred;

The contents of this volume are and to supply where we have bein deó distributed into seven chapters,

fective Here is a pla.n path traced out which are subilivided into a variety followed.

to us, but too plain, I am afraid, to be of sections. The 1st chapter “ But this is not what is generally meant treats of the Existence and Altri. by inward feelings and vital religion ; butes of God; the 2d, of the Doc. it implies soineening dark and mysteritrine of Providence; the 3d, of and the general experience of m nkind

ous, beyond the reach of common sense, the Importance of forming worthy Christ, according tothem, must befor ned Conceptions of God, and of the within; and their labour must be to Worship of God and Prayer. The work themselves up to some fervour and

holy enthusiasm. 4th chapter discusses the subject of

endly, Withoat attempting to give Revealer Religion ; the 5th, that a formal definition of enthusiasm, I of Religious Duties, and particu. would observe, that it may be generally larly Christian Morality; the 6th, understood by referring to examples. is on Internal Feelings; and the itself in a vast variety of things, and

There is an enthusiasm which discovers 7th, on the Sanctions of the Gospel. which we look upon with approbation. That our readers may be able to A :nan becomes an enthusiast, in partiforin for themselves some idea of cular pursuits, when he becomes passionthe author's manner of writing, and ately fond of shern, and devotes the

whole of bis time and labour to their of the sentiments which he enforces, acquisition, and his enthusiasm is most we shall lay before them the whole remarkable, when there is a little ecof chap. vi, on the Internal Feel. centricity and extravagance of character ings required by Religion.

accompanying ihe pursuit. The patriot

is often an enthusiast, in the love of his ist. In the estimate of the religious country, when he is so inflamed with life, great reliance is sometimes placed the object, as to sacrifice every thing foz, VOL, VII

2 A

178

Review.- Watson's Plain Statement. its preservation ; and this is seen more from the moment they are caught, till particularly, when he embarks in un- they be completely secured. The imadertakings, sometimes wild and almost gination, when once heated, by exercises impracticable, for its holour and deli- of this nature, is never permitted to cool. verance. There is a religious enthusiasm Any suggestions, by such means and at also, pure, sublime, and animating, such times, may be produced and supwhich good men may frequently feel, ported, whilst all these inward feelings sometimes in the acts of devotion, and are nothing more than the delusions of sometimes in their meditation on the an over-heated brain. It is melancholy Supreme Being, and his infinite good to have to combat such principles, in an ness and love, and on the disinterested age, which boasts to be an age of reason : love, and admirable character of Jesus and in a country where we have the Christ.

freest exercise of this blessing. “ But, then, there is another species “ From the general principles of of religious enthusiasm, of a baser origin, Christ's religion, we can find no authorithat runs counter to common sense, that ty for such delusions ; and in the geneis not authorised by scripture; to wh ch ral mass of those, who maintain such men of weak minds are liable, which principles, we see no improvement in crafty men feign, and which interested their morals, to justify such ex ravagant men foment and encourage. It is this, pretensions. The allowing also of such which produces those wild feelings or principles is opening a wide door for expressions of feelings, which outrage every thing that is wild and extravagant, all reason and experience. Men, under and is exposing the religion of Christ to the influence of this spirit, pretend to the scorn of the unbeliever, by divestfeel, sometimes horrors most dreadful, ing it of every thing that is rational. and at other cimes joys unutterable. But Upon this system, we can find no they carry this still farther. They be- principle, either to judge of ourselves, or licve, or affect to believe, that they re- of others. The simplicity and plainness ceive, also, communications from heaven of the Christian system, are some of its and illuminations from above; and pro- distinguishing excellencies; by our fruits, ceeding to the utmost height of extrava- according to the declaration of our Lord, gance, they feel assured, that their sins are we to be known; whilst the extraare pardoned, and that their eternal vagancies produced by such feelings, happiness is secure. Now these are not should be a sufficient warning to manharmless delusions ; they ought to be kind, not to rely upon them By these combated, on account of the mischief the enthusiast supports all his pretenwhich they create, and the disgrace sions. Swedenborgh, a man of educawhich they inflict on religion.

tion and rank, under the influence of “3. There is no principle, which can be such feelings, relates with the greatest so little depended upon, as a man's in- gravity, his journey to the highest heaward feelings, and in nothing does he ven; and so infectious is such influence, expose himself so much to every kind of that he has been followed, in his religidelusion. The feelings are greatly in- ous principles, by some men of ingenuity fluenced by the animal spirits, by the and learning; and his writings, full of powers of the imagination, and by a absurdities, have been translated, and state of health and of sickness. When have had a very extensive circulation. we trust, then, to such uncertain guides, The ingenious and learned Mr. Wesley, we lay ourselves open to the arts of every in his Journals, gives many relations of impostor. How difficult is it, with people his own feelings, and of the feelings of of u cak minds to distinguish between others, sometimes manifested in trifles, the suggestions of a heated imagination, and sometimes in matters of some imworked up by the enthusiast to the high- portance, but generally containing matest pitch of ardour, and the suggestion ter and circumstances so absurd, as of the spirit of God. Weak men are should be sufficient to discountenance all easily wrought upon and deluded, and confidence in principles so wild and exthey are soon misled by the bold and travagant, confident assertions of the hypocrite or “4. The following reflections must impostor. Various mcans are employed naturally suggest themselves to every to accomplish their purpose; sometimes man of reason, who seriously considers they are to be agitated by terrors, and the whole of this proceas. at other times seduced by hopes. With “In the first place, what must be the such things they are plied incessantly, spiritual pride and presumption of those

who believe themselves to have obtained say they are borrowed; the resemblance the highest hopes that can be obtained may be purely accidental ; for the superby mortals? And from the top of that stitions of all countries are nearly related. pinnacle to which they have raised them. The historian in giving an account of selves, they look down with piiy, mingled the terr:ble ceremonies by which the with contempt, on all those they have initiated were received into their sacred left below: but in this new character mysteries, 'A mechanical operation,' there is neither charity nor humility, says he, 'was played off at proper interthe most certa:n marks of the disciples vals, during the course of the celebra. of the meek and lowly Jesus.

tion. Towards the end, the whole “ But, in the second place. what scene is terrible; all is trembling, shudmust be the condition of those, who after dering, sweat and astonishment. Strange embracing this faith, and after the most cries and howlings are uttered. Light serious application and diligence, bave succeeds darkness, various holy phantasies not been able to raise themselves to this enchant the sight. Melodious notes are high distinction ; and are too honest to heard from afar, with all the sublime put in their pretensions? Is not this symphony of the sacred hymns. The tempting many of them to feign feelings pupil now becomes free, is admitted to which they never felt, and to put on the bear a part in the sacred rites; and then appearance of joys, which they never declared a perfect man.' experienced ? And thus they surrender “ It requires a firm mind to pass their integrity to preserve their consis. through such scenes with the perfect tency. But, if in the general (enor of use of the faculties. The mind is retheir lives, we do not see more honesty, quired to be in continual exertion, by more disinterestedness, &c. than in night and by day, and upon subjects other men, we may infer, that the gifts, ofien the most horrible. The deluded which they have received, are not very converts are labouring to believe and powerful, and come from a source not adopt, what they are told they must very pure.

feel. They are forbidden to enjoy any "It is certainly, not easy to believe, of the common innocent amusements of that some of the most abandoned of society, as a relief to the distressed soul. mankind (for the more abominable they They are kept constantly on the rack, are, the fitter subjects for this experiment) and fixed on such exercises only, as are after passing, for a few days, through too powerful for weak minds. It is not these operations, should come out per- to be wondered, then, that the spirits, fectly transformed in heart and life, and from this unnatural agitation, should become angels of light. We have no- sink down in confirmed melancholy, or thing in nature that we can compare burst out in outrageous madness. Those with this. It resembles most the trans- have the best chance of escaping, who formation which the heathen poet has are the least in earnest in these opefeigned; and it has more the appearance rations. An eminent physician, in a late of magic, than an operation of rational Treatise upon Insanity, in enumerating religion. Protestanis ridicule the par. the causes of this unhappy malady, foundons, sold and purchased in the Romish ded upon principles taken from the rechurch, and the easy admission that they gister of Bedlam, from 1779 to 1787, thus gain into the gates of heaven : buć assigns 90 cases, in that period, to the this new mode surpasses every thing effects of false religion : and it is to be which that church ever invented, for observed, that this is a larger number, cheapness and expedition.

than from any other cause, excepting “Dr. Middleton, in his celebrated Let-. to sever he gives 110, and 115 to herediter from Rome, demonstrates the exact tary tendency." (pp. 145–153.) conformity between Popery and Paganism, establishing it, that modern Rome Art. 11.-Two Discourses, preachhas borrowed a great number of its religious ceremonies from that ancient

ed before the University of Cammistress of the world. But will it not bridge, on the Doctrine of surprise the Protestant world to learn, a Particular Providence, und that these wonderful transformacions are un Modern Unitarianism : with nearly a copy of the ancient Pagan mysteries, practised in Greece, and in other

Notes, referring to some recent parts of the heathen world? I will not Opinions and Publications on

[ocr errors]

180 Review.The Christian Advocate's Publication for 1811.

these Subjects. Being the Chris. professes to throw out of consition Advocate's Publication for deration (p. 7.) the cases in 1811. By George D’Oyly, which a miraculous power is exB. D. Fellow of Corpus Christi erted,” he tells us, nevertheless, College, Cambridge, and Chris, in the very same sentence, that, tian Advocate in that Universi. according to the plan of the dity. Cainbridge, Printed : Sold vine government, which is unfolded by Rivington, & Co. in London. in holy writ, “ the Deity como 8vo. pp. 86.

passes his particular purposes by By the will of the late Rev. controuling the established laws JOAN HULSE, the CHRISTIAN of nature." What then does the Advocate is required to produce Christian Advocate understand by every year a publication; which a miracle? may be an answer to cavils and

By the particular providence of objections brought against natural the Supreme Being, we mean his or revealed religion, or which may application of his own general tend to confute any new or dan. laws to his various purposes, be gerous error, either of superstition they what they may, in respect of or enthusiasm :

individuals, 10 their several ages, Hence we may fairly suppose conditions, tempers, distinctions, that the Christian Advocate will &c. and to the other unseen ends often be among divines, what the of his intelligence and goodness. Laureat usually is among poets, This statement of the case, both and will illustrate, in his own ex• explains and enforces the duty ample, the disadvantages of a man of acknowledging him in all our constrained to produce a publica. ways; and it shews that, in strict tion

every year, and to write une propriety of language, there is no der prescribed restrictions. Either such thing as chance* in the creaMr. D’Oyly has been thus affected tion. by a sense of his situation, or the Mr. D'Oyly remarks with truth University of Cambridge is singu- that larly unhappy in his acceptance “—the effect on human feelings and of the office, which has now dipt practice, caused by pressing with extreme bim in ink.”

closeness the doctrine of a particular pro

videuce, is nearly allied to that which In the discourse on a particular flows from the chilling principle of faprovidence, we meet sometimes talism.” (22.) with a confusion of ideas, and al

In his first note he produces most uniformly with a want of passages from the writings of Whitclearness and precision, which, field and Wesley, and of their refrom such a quarter, we should spective followers, which indicate bardly have expected, and which a sad abuse of the doctrine. This on a subject so delicate and im- part of his undertaking, however, porlant, are greatly to be lamented, was equally needless with the serIt would have been well if Mr. mon itself; more numerous and ! D'Oyly had defined what he meaus by a particular providence.

* Paley's reasoning in his Nalural Much of his argument is employed Theology, (549—572) is to be eran:ined, in vindicating the doctrine of pro- we conceive, in reference to these obvidence in general: and though he

servations

« AnteriorContinua »