Imatges de pàgina

deserves to be well considered (H). The other book alluded to is that celebrated trea- . tise, intitled, The Living TEMPLE, which perhaps may be justly esteemed as his master-piece. The first part indeed was · published about the year 1676, just after his return from Ireland, in order to settle in London ; but it was not till


that he published the second part, about three years before his death. The design of the whole is to demonstrate the existence of a Deity; and to improve that notion, that a good man is the TEMPLE OF God,

The character of Mr. Howe, as an Author, and of this most learned of all his. works, is drawn with so much freedom, impartiality, and exactness, by an ingenious friend of the Editor's, who is well versed in writings of this abstract nature, that he begs leave to present it to the reader; as being much more worthy of his accep


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(H) This discourse was published in 1699, when the Author was in the 70th year of his age : which is taken notice of only to shew, how surprizing it was that his fancy and imagination should be so lively, and his intellect so strong, at that time of life. This little piece abounds with a great many beautiful thoughts, and sublime sentiments, expressed in a strong and masterly manner, upon a very curious and difficult subject; and cannot fail of being instructive and entertaining to every serious and judicious Feader.

tance, than any remarks of his own upon the subject (I.)

HAVING (1) THE LIVING TEMPLE, says he, is a work, in which its Author hath shewn a vast and almost unbounded genius; and approved himself a complete master of sound and solid reafoning. There is a penetration of thought beyond what is common, and the very substance of the most profound learning, without so much as the show. The title of it may, to some perfons, sound a little odd; and there seems indeed, in the execution of his whole design, to be fome difficulty in reducing all the materials of so large and complicated a work, to an agreement with the title, and main subject of the book : as appears by his recurring to it ever and anon, even where his discourse seems to lead him farthest from it, and to have no intimate, nor any visible connexion with it. But our Author's principal design being to lay a solid and stable foundation for an intelligible and rational religion, which consists in the fincere and entire de· votement of ourselves to the worship and service of GOD, and is therefore pertinently enough expressed in scripture by our being the Temples of the Living God, he could not do better in the execution of his purpose, than to enter upon the proof of God's existence and attributes. For his whole argument consists of two heads. First, the proof that God is, which extends thro' the first part or volume, and to the middle of the ind chapter of the second. In which he may be thought indeed to have made the porch somewhat larger, than the main building itself; since the second head, which contains the proof, and explains the manner of God's conversibleness with men, only takes up the rest of the second volume.

But the Author, who was certainly best acquainted with his own design, which was to lay the foundajions of religion stable and strong, thought it best to make himself thoroughly sure of his main point, before he proceeded to establish any thing upon it. And for this reason he spent so much time upon the proof of the Divine existence and attributes; in which


HAVING now gone through the main of this work, some parts of which could not

well he hath acquitted himself like an able metaphysician; as he hath îhown himself a moft excellent divine, in that part of his book which follows upon it. For it appears from thence, that he had as clear and comprehensive a knowledge of the true Gospel-Scheme, and as free from fancy and enthusiasm, as any writer of that age. But the former part of his book is, in my judgement, what does him the most honour; as he seems to have been no ftranger to many metaphyfical discoveries, which have since been attributed to another great genius of our nation, confessedly supe. rior to him in clearness of style and method, but who must evidently have been beholden to the reading of this very book for a great many things, which now appear, with vastly greater advantage and perfpicuity, in his own Excellent Demonstration.

It indeed surprizes me, that Dr. Clarke, who had certainly read this book, and had received considerable help from it, should give up intelligence, and consequently absolute perfection in God, as not strictly demonstrable a priori ; since, tho Mr. Howe hath not done it, but with some confusion, and mixture of the proof a posteriori ; yet he hath opened a way sufficient to have given the hint to any able writer on that subject *.

The main difference between these two great Authors is, that Mr. Howe enters, for the most part, upon his argument somewhat darkly, but generally ends it with much more perspicuity and clcarness; whereas Dr. Clarke's book is one continued chain of the most perfpicuous reasoning, from one end to the other.

MR. Howe's work hath indeed too much of the scholastic strain in it; tho he uses no terms of that fort, but what he can (or thinks he can) affix ideas to. But this must, in a great measure, be owing to the age in which he got his first knowledge of books and things; which alfo had the fame unhappy effect even d4

upon * See Vol. I. p. 180. 06. Edit. & p. 59. fol.

well be altered or abridged, without injury to the whole, which it is haped the reader


upon Cudworth himself; as also upon Stillingfeet, Baxter, and many more of that day. However this learned defect is sufficiently supplied and atoned for, by that superiority of good sense and judgement, which appears thrcughout this work.

In the whole, his arguments are very juft and conclusive, and would be proportionably clear, were it not for that unhappy perplexity and intricacy of style, which runs thro' the whole work; and which requires a mcre than common knowledge, even of the subject itself, in order to unravel it. Yet there is a majesty, together with an uncommon nervousness, strength and propriety, in his expreflions, which always pleases, when thoroughly understood ; and a latent facility ard exuberancy of thcught and conception, which discovers him, even through this veil of language, to be as great a master of his subject, as ever wrote upon it. I will not except even Dr. Clarke himself, tho so vastly beyond him in point of method and perfpicuity. He may be said rather to have laboured and exhausted his subject too much, in the former part of it. And in some places, I think him a little too particular and diffufive in exploding some absurdities, (as those of Des Cartes and Epicurus, for instance) not altogether worth the pains he bestows

upon them. He is also now and then altle 100 witty : which in a lock of this kind is the more reprehensible, as his subject is in itself grave and serious; tho the persons and the writings he mostly hath to do with, be quite of another complexion.

AFTER all, I cannot but think this book is a master-picce of learnirg and good argument, for the time when it was wrote ; few or none before this Author having shown so thorough a knowledge of this abstracted subject; not even Cudworth himself, tho he had written more largely, and in some respects much more learnedly upon it. Mr. Howe also appears to have been an excellent philosopher, and to have underliocd both die natural and moral systems


will candidly consider ; it is time to close the account of this excellent person with adding something to his character chiefly


as thoroughly, as the light, the world had then obtained, would admit of. For tho Newton and Locke were then in being, and had published some of their incomparable works; yet they were then read and understood but by few. And our author cannot be said to be posterior to either of 'em, in point of age or education ; and therefore not so to have wrote after them, as to write upon their prin: ciples. He is therefore as much an original on the fubject he handles, as they were on theirs, and seems only to coincide with them in his sentiments and ideas, from that innate greatness of soul, that strength of genius, and that nobleness and justness of thought and conception, which appears common both to him and them.

To conclude my character of this work and its author, I think that it may be juftly ranked with some of the greatest and noblest productions of the age it was wrote in, and even of our nation itself; and He with some of its greatest and sublimest genius's. He was indeed a man, confessedly superior in strength of genius, fertility of invention, solidity of judgement, depth of penetration, and in majesty and nervousness of style also (notwithstanding its other defects) to most of the writers of that age. And I find none in this age of greater refinement, that do either come up to him in these refpects, or to many others I might mention of the worthies of that day. Learning and good senfe seemed then to be tending apace towards their height and perfection amongst us: to which they soon after arrived in the persons and writings of such great men as Newton, Locke, Clarke, and others, that I might mention; who, in their several ways of writing, will continue to be the ornaments and the glory of this nation, while either learning or good sense (which seem now to be upon the decline among us) have any footing in this part of the world,

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