Imatges de pÓgina

Pères sur la Trinité, contre les Tropolatres et les Socinies, par Mr. Faydit." "Réfutation du Sistême de Mr. Faydit, sur la Trinité.”

Can any of your readers say who were les Tropolutres? I have in vain examined the great French dictionaries to discover them, or the "Sistême de Mr. Faydit." For the substance of the following account of that ecclesiastic, who appears to have received the customary recompence of a Reformer, I am indebted to Nour. Dict. Hist., (1789,) III. pp. 581, 582.

L'Abbé Pierre Faydit, a native of Riom, in Auvergne, was expelled from the congregation of the Oratory, in 1671, for having published a Cartesian work, de Mente humanâ. He afterwards preached at Paris, against Innocent XI., in defence of the liberties of the Gallican Church. In 1696, he was confined at Saint Lazare, for a publication, which, according to his biographer, was Tritheistic ("il paroissoit favoriser le Trithéisme"). It was the first volume of a work entitled "Altération du Dogme Théologique par la Philosophie d' Aristote; ou fausses idées des Scholastiques sur les matières de la Religion." Unreclaimed by his restraint at St. Lazare, he was banished by the king to his native country, where he died in 1709.

Besides the work for which he was thus persecuted, Faydit published Remarks on Virgil, Homer, and the poetical style of the Holy Scripture; Télémaco-manie, a censure of Fenelon, and satirical verses on Bossuet. He also attacked the Memoirs of Tillemont. In "Dictionnaire Historique des Auteurs Ecclésiastiques," (1767,) Faydit is charged with a presumptuous attempt to render a Trinity intelligible. Il osoit donner ses idées sur ce mystère ineffable qui doit être pour nous un objet de la plus profonde adoration." This presumption is, however, charitably attributed to a distempered brain. "Il fut enfermé à St. Lazare comme un homme dont le cerveau étoit attaqué."

In reference to your correspondent's inquiry, (p. 573,) I find in Phil. Trans. for 1757, (Vol. L. Pt. I. Art. 15,) a paper, "Read Feb. 24," being "An Account of the Peat-pit, near

Newbury in Berkshire, in an extract of a letter from John Collett, M.D. to the Bishop of Ossory, F. K. S." Dr. Collett died in 1784, as appears from the following notice in the Obituary of the Gent. Mag. (L. 252).

May 12, Dr. Collett, physician at Newbury, Berks. His amiable qualities and eminence in his profession deservedly entitled him to that extensive practice which he enjoyed for a great number of years." His age is omitted.

Dr. Collett was, probably, of the family mentioned by Whiston under the year 1747, (Mem. 1753, L. 417,)


Samuel Collet," his "most intimate Christian friend," who appears to have resided "at Great Marlow," and "Governor Collet," an acquaintance of "Sir Peter King," then one of Whiston's "Council in the Court of Delegates," afterwards Lord Chancellor. From the memorandum of a conversation with my excellent friend, Dr. Toulmin, when he visited me at Bromley in 1813, I find that "Mr. James, a Presbyterian minister at Newbury," was a descendant of Governor Collet; of whom I may, probably, send you some further account.

I wish I could say more of Dr. Collett, especially to gratify your correspondent N, to whom your readers have been so frequently indebted.


[blocks in formation]


"Still pleased to praise, yet not afraid to blame."-POPE.

ART. I.-An Analytical Investigation of the Scriptural Claims of the Deril: to which is added, an Explanation of the Terms Sheol, Hades and Gehenna, as employed by the Scripture Writers: in a Series of Lectures, delivered at Portsmouth, in the Months of October, November and December, 1820,―January, February and March, 1821. By Russell Scott, Minister of the Highstreet Chapel. 8vo. pp. 670. R. Hunter, and C. Fox and Co. 14s. 1822.




"It is a singular fac diligent stu

Cogan, who was a

dent of the Scriptures, and a very cautious theologian,) "which has not been sufficiently attended to, that although the current language of the New Testament seems to intimate a general belief in the existence of mafignant spirits in the land of Judea, yet there are no instances of the practical influence of the creed. They were never worshiped; there are no marks of incantations, or the use of superstitious ceremonies, to soothe their malice; nor of any supplications to the true God for protection against them. So that, if their existence was believed, it was a mere inert opinion. And it is as singular a fact, that the perverse imaginations of numerous Christians have revived those works of darkness which the Saviour came to destroy. During many ages has the Christian Church not only believed in the existence, but in the perpetual agency of such beings. Public prayers have been composed, and are continually repeated, to be delivered from their malignancy. Credulity has compressed those mighty beings, who once dared the Omnipotent to arms,' into little irksome, mischievous imps; and has rendered them as numerous as the flies that meander in the sun. Superstition has consecrated the bells of our churches, that their undulations may keep these evil spirits at a distance from departing souls; and it expects either to drown the little immortals in holy water, or to inspire them with a kind of hydrophobia,

which makes them shudder at its approach. So obstinately perverse have been these errors, that pious and learned divines have thought it their duty to place those who disbelieve the existence of such agents, in the rank of INCORRigible Atheists. Notions like these are, in fact, the revival of Paganism in the very centre of Christianity. They are a close resemblance of the perverse idolatry of the Jews, in spite of the Monotheism peculiar to their religion and they prove that ignorance breeds dæmons, fiends, imps, as the animalcule vis; haras radious which are produced from putrefactions." *

These remarks may lessen the apprehensions with which some inquirers approach the subject of evil spirits and remove the alarm which many Christians, far superior to the multitude in their religious notions, feel at the discussion of this topic in popular discourses. The people entertain false and pernicious opinions and superstitious feelings with regard to diabolical agency. Is it not desirable that they should be well-instructed on this point, and does not even piety require that doctrines which militate against the Divine perfections should be exposed and confuted?


Some persons who may assent to the affirmative in these questions may still reply, that the best mode of removing error is the establishing of positive truth. They judge that the fortress of superstition may be more easily undermined than taken by storm. Fix, they say, in men's minds just principles with regard to the Divine Government, and the prejudices that are inconsistent with these will gradually fall away of themselves. Plausible as this plan of proceeding is, experience does not furnish many proofs of its efficacy. It is true, that they who plead for letting superstition alone, that it may die a natural death, have seen prejudice after prejudice

*Theol. Disquis. being Vol. IV. of the Work on the Passions, Note K., pp. 475, 476.

and one species of intolerance after another wither and perish; but this has not been the consequence of their own passiveness, but of the spirited and fearless labours of others, to whom they have never given more than "faint praise," whom they have never encouraged, much less assisted, and whom on any failure or extraordinary ebullition of popular dislike they have been the foremost to censure and condemn. Questions of revelation can be determined only by an appeal to revelation. The common sense, or even piety of the vulgar, cannot rise above an error while they believe that there are texts of Scripture in its favour. If their reason or piety and the Bible are at variance, they become unbelievers. It is therefore of great importance to teach the people that the true doctrines of Christianity are agreeable to the sound judgments of the human understanding, and that it is solely through the misinterpretation of the language of Holy Writ that the contrary position has been maintained.

Certain theological discussions are more delicate than others, and require to be carried on with great prudence. Amongst these we are willing to place the subject of these Lectures, on which prejudice is peculiarly irritable, owing partly, perhaps, to a suspicion that the popular doctrine is not altogether tenable. Is not this suspicion manifest also in the ludicrous associations of ideas that are general with regard to evil spirits, whose names and images, if they were seriously believed to exist and to be perpetually acting upon the soul of man, would raise only emotions of awe and terror? For this last reason, it is very difficult to debate the subject without violating decorum. But whatever call there

may be for a careful consideration of the best manner of disproving the doctrine, no justification can be set up of allowing the doctrine to work undisturbed upon the public mind, which would not be a virtual abandonment of revealed truth, as unimportant and inefficacious.

Such as do not consider themselves

"set for the defence of the gospel," must admire the courage of those who having, as they think, discovered the mind of God in the Scriptures, step forward on every proper occasion to proclaim what they know, and in this

ministry keep back none of the Divine counsel. Of this class is the author of these Lectures. Mr. Scott has been upwards of thirty-four years the pastor of the Presbyterian congregation, now avowedly Unitarian, at Portsmouth. Those that know him need not be told that during this long period he has been indefatigable and exemplary in the discharge of every ministerial duty. He has lived to see and enjoy the fruits of his labours. His congregation has of late increased numerically, and the thirst for theological information and zeal for truth have grown proportionably among its individual members. He has been thus led of necessity to preach upon controversial points, and hence these Lectures, the immediate occasion of which he shall himself explain :

"The discussion pursued in the fol lowing sheets was more a matter of necessity than of choice. The author is accustomed to comply with such requests

as are made with seriousness and deco

rum, to preach on any particular passage of Scripture immediately connected with the controverted doctrines of the gospel. About three weeks before the commencement of these Lectures, he was discoursing on the Parable of the Sower, and incidentally remarked that the wicked one did not, as was usually considered, being as the Devil is described by his refer to any such powerful, malignant advocates; and that Englishmen learned more about this supposed potent enemy of the human race, from Milton's Paradise Lost, Cruden's Concordance, the Assembly's and other Catechisms, than from the Old and New Testament.' To support this assertion, it was observed, from a late valuable and learned critic,* that the word Satan, or Devil, signifies and that no single text, or any number throughout the Scriptures an adversary,' afford any proof of the proper personality of texts, in which these words occur, or real existence of any such being as Satan, or the Devil, is generally supposed to be. Many plain, distinct passages of Scripture, and the general spirit of them all, oblige us to understand these terms figuratively, of an allegorical person, not


a real one.'

"In the course of the ensuing week,

the Author received a letter from an occasional hearer, who appeared to be very

"The Rev. John Simpson, of Bath : Essays on the Language of Scripture, Vol. I. p. 159."

much shocked at these assertions, feeling fully persuaded that much more had been advanced than could be maintained on scriptural authority, and expressing a strong desire to hear certain passages explained, if that could be done, consistently with the assertions which had been made. Agreeably to the wish of the writer, an early notice was given of the commencement of the intended discussion, when a large and attentive congregation assembled, and continued to do so during the whole course."-Advert. Pp. v. vi.

[blocks in formation]

dered devils. This fact may also be as→ certained from their Apocryphal books; for not a syllable about any such beings is to be found in the other books of the Old Testament. To translate the word dasar devil, is to mislead and deceive the mere English reader of the New-Testament Scriptures; since neither the Chaldeans, nor any other nation of antiquity, had any such being in their religious systems as that which 'Christians have been long accustomed to consider the Devil to be; nor had the Greeks or the Romans any such deity or being in

their mythology. Pluto, indeed, reigned

supreme over all the inhabitants of their infernal regions, but he was a very harmless and inoffensive being: he had nothing of the Devil in him."-Pp. 7-9.


k we do not find that the Jews ever entertained any ideas concerning a separate principle of evil, or a malignant spirit, until they returned from their cap tivity in Babylon. In the early part of that captivity, we find them adhering to the belief that Jehovah was the source of evil as well as good. This appears from Ezek iii. 20; Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die; because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered, but his blood will I require at thine hand.' During their long abode in Chaldea, however, they adopted many opinions which were not to be found in their Scriptures, and acquired many habits which were not inculcated in them, and for neither of which can those Scriptures be made answerable. The more learned men among them adopted the philosophical opinions of the Greeks, among whom they lived in Egypt and elsewhere; and then they began to introduce these Heathen notions into the Mosaic system, as may easily be ascertained from those books which are called Apocryphal, and which were written after their return from the Babylonian captivity. It was among the Chaldeans that the Jews appear to have learned to attribute certain diseases to the influence of evil spirits, or the ghosts of wicked men, and who were designated by the term (dauaves) dæmons; and which the translators of the common version have ren

The Lecturer contends that there is not the least authority from the words of Moses to represent the serpent that tempted Eve as the Devil, or as With Dr. possessed by the Devil. Conyers Middleton and Dr. Geddes, and, it might be added, Dr. Price, he considers the account of "the fall of man" an allegory. The following remarks upon its moral design are excellent:

"Whether this apologue were intended to designate the placidity of a pastoral, or the activity of an agricultural life, as the history of Cain and Abel appears to be symbolical of the transition from vegetable to animal sacrifices; or, whether its design were to shew that, under the Mosaic dispensation, no evil principle, no malignant being existed, either as the opponent of God, or the enemy of mankind, the reason for employing a serpent as one of the actors in the fable, is evident, to render more conspicuous the folly and absurdity of serpent-worship, which had become very prevalent among the Heathen nations. The Chaldeans were very much addicted to this ridicu lous worship, and to divination in connexion with it. Perhaps Lev. xx. 27, may be a reference to this kind of idolatry. There were several species of serpents held sacred by the Egyptians, among whom the Israelites had lived. Hence Moses is induced to hold up the serpent as an object of degradation, and not of religious worship. Instead of ascribing divinity to it, he represents it as the seducer of innocence, and points out, in strong terms, the inveterate enmity which subsists between this class of reptiles and the human race, as well as all the animals of the field. The serpent is evidently here introduced with a view to inspire the Israelites with a horror of such de

[ocr errors]

testable worship, with a contempt and hatred for such foolish and abominable idolatry."-Pp. 17-20.

The IInd Lect. on Job i. 6, is designed to shew that no such being as the Devil, according to the popular opinion, can be found in the Old Testament. The introduction to the dramatic book of Job is here fully examined, and the whole book is pronounced an oriental fiction, invented like our Lord's parables for the sake

of moral instruction.

"The poem, however, is beautiful and sublime; full of piety and devotion, of resignation and submission to the Almighty Ruler of the universe; and it was admirably calculated to oppose the idolatrous worship of the Sun and the Moon, which was then prevalent among the Chaldeans and Phoenicians (ch. xxxi. 26, 27). Hence it appears to me, that we are justified in considering the first two chapters as an allegorical lesson, which is explained and enforced in the poem itself, teaching that as Jehovah created the world and all its inhabitants, so all the occurrences of life are under his sole direction and at his entire disposal, without the intervention of any being whatever, to occasion or to promote what are termed the evils of life. These arise from the operation of second causes, under the appointment and controul of the great First Cause of all. So far, therefore, is this introduction from countenancing the opinion of an evil, malignant spirit acting in opposition to God, that it inculcates a doctrine the very reverse; instructing us, from the example of Job, to look to God as overruling all things for good to those who worship him in humility, who serve him with sincerity, who submit to his appointments with piety, and who acquiesce in all his dispensations with meekness and patience; that whether the Lord give, or whether he take from us, we may be always disposed to bless his name."-Pp. 40, 41.

Having gone through all the passages in the Old Testament in which the term Satan occurs, the Lecturer gives in the conclusion the following summary of the inquiry:

"From the preceding investigation it appears that there are no traces whatever to be discovered of the Devil in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, under the term Shatan, which Christian divines have assumed to be used as one of his names. We have seen that it uniformly signifies enemy, or adversary, or opponent, or accuser; and that out of the

thirty-four times, in which it is employed, fourteen are to be found in the first and second chapters of Job. As all these refer to the same point, they may be considered as one example: twenty will then remain. In five of these twenty, the term is, in the common version, rendered Satan, thereby meaning the Devil. Three of these five relate to the same persons, (Tatnai, &c.,) aud therefore may be considered as one: the other two are to be found in 1 Chron. xxi. 1, and Psalm cix. 6. Here are, then, four instances in which this term is, in the common version, applied to the Devil. In the following passages, Numbers xxii. 22; 1 Samuel xxix. 4; 2 Samuel xix. 22; 1 Kings v. 4, xi. 14, 23, 25; Psalm xxxviii. 20, lxxi. 13, cix. 4, 20, 29, it is rendered by adversaries; and in Numbers xxii. 32, to withstand; Ezra iv. 6, accusation; and in Zech. iii. 1, to resist. After this statement, can any thing more be necessary ?” Pp. 44, 45.

In Lect. III., Mr. Scott examines several detached passages in the OldTestament Scriptures, which are supposed to inculcate or imply the existence of the Devil. The text is I Kings xxii. 21, and this upon investigation is declared to be an allegorical vision. The evil spirit that troubled Saul, 1 Sam. xvi. 14, is next considered, and is regarded as nothing more than the violent workings of the several strong passions of the mind, anger, hatred, disappointment, jealousy and revenge, which produced insanity, or at least, temporary mental derangement. The explanation of two passages in the Pentateuch follows, which we shall quote:

"In Deut. xxxii. 15, we find Moses complaining that the Israelites forsook God and despised the author of their salvation: hence, he says, They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods;' i. e. by worshiping them. By their abominations they provoked him to anger (ver. 16). They sacrificed to (?) shedim, to demons; agreeably to the Septuagint, which renders the word by daiovios; indeed, it cannot mean devils, since neither the Canaanites, nor any other nation, sacrificed to or worshiped any such being as the Devil. They sacrificed unto dæmons,' says Moses, (ver. 17,) not to God; to gods whom they knew not; to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.' These were evidently the idols which were worshiped by the various nations of the Canaanites. The whole passage speaks


« AnteriorContinua »