Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

and deviate from the plain road of reason and probability into the unlimited regions of fancy and conjecture. We will not fay of this extraordinary writer that too much learning, but probably that too much reading, not sufficiently digested, hath made him mad. Mr. L. may be very sane upon all ordinary subjects, but on the present he is wrapt into the clouds of inexplicable nonsense. The whole is a rhapsodical effusion, thal in many places borders upon blasphemy. It has no preface, nor other preamble, but simply the following Dedication :

- TO THE READER. • A spark may either wholly cease Or foon create its own increase :

And am his well-wisher,

W. LEwelyn.' An idea of Mr. L.'s talent and performance may be collected from his Introduction.

. God Aowed into his own bosom ; was at home in his own mind, and joy sprung up within himself in perfect effufion from the excellency of his being. He was his own theatre and prospect, and needed no landskip without to take his eye. He was fociable within himself, and a complete companion :' alias, good company.'

In this frantic style does Mr. L. describe the phenomena of the Mosaic creation, through a series of 195 pages ; clearly dcmonstrating the doctrine of a Trinity, the prodigious learning of the ante-diluvians, and the almost divine excellencies of Adam, near whom the Creator is declared to have

- stood arith a critical design, and heard him define and delineate the intricate and complicated works of infinite wisdom, with the same accuracy and brevity as himself would have done ; and to have declared that no difficulty could entangle him, no depth could puzzle him, no mystery could make him hang down his head, nor put him to a minute stand. His penetration was irresistible, his understanding measured all depths, and laid open all mysteries; no chain or complication of difficulties could entangle his intellects.'

Again,

• O Adam, great was thy day! how vast thy mind! there was no searching of thy understanding : THY CREATOR TRIED TO PUZZLE THEE, AND FAILED!'.

Quoufquam abutere · patientia noftra ?

Exposition

Exposition of the Epifile to the Romans, After the specimen given in the preceding article, much illumination cannot be expected from an exposition by Mr. L. of the abstruse epistle to the Romans. It is in truth such a farrago, we will not call it composition, as might be predicted. What St. Paul left obscure, Mr. L. renders completely dark ; what was difficult, becomes unintelligible. On the plainest subjects, Mr. L. has the faculty of inveloping himself in confusion: when he traverses the mysterious paths of predeftination, free-will, and the divine prescience, he is totally incomprehensible. To treat Mr. L. with a simile in his own familiar way, he is like a mole, which, though put on the plainest ground, will work its way out of sight in a moment.

. Doctrine of Baptism. In the account of baptism Mr. L. is less eccentric than in his former productions. He is occasionally sedate and even judicious. The reason may be, that it is a solemn declaration of his principles; which, it seems, his enemies had called in queftion, by afferting that in his heart he favoured the doctrine of adult immersion. From this charge he laboriously, and pero haps somewhat uncharitably, exculpates himself; affirming that he knows not any step that can be taken more effectually to secure perdition, than the practice alluded to. This is, on the whole, no mean collection of the chief arguments in behalf of pædo-baptism; and displays with some force the objections against the opposite doctrine.

MOPOH QEor. On this mysterious subject we may reasonably expect to find Mr. L. quite at home; and he begins with the extraordinary affertion, that before we can truly worship God, we must have an idea of his personal form, and let before our minds a delineated object. It would have been but a reasonable condescension, if Mr. be had imparted his idea of God's personal form, as well as his real ideas of the divine essence: for in this latter respect, he is much at variance with himself. Having in vol. į. exprely maintained the doctrine of the Trinity, and asserted. that God is one in three, and three in one ; God is truly and numerically one; and truly and numerically three, and they make one person as truly and numerically as if there existed but one only;' he observes in the present volume that,' the doctrine of Athanasius is dreadful in nature.'.

· The distance and disparity between the persons, renders the idea of personal oneness, or unity, a thing altogether inadmissible and injurious to the mind. It crouds with ill-proportioned compounds, unnatural connections, and alliances, things irreconcilable,

un parrelled,

unparalleled, diverse, out of the ways. So that the mind muftresign to a jumble of conjunctions altogether foreign to natural ideas.'

It is difficult, amidst all Mr. L.'s confessions and declarations, to ascertain exactly what is his creed. He is not an Athanasian, a Socinian, nor an Arian; and yet he is each of them by turns. He makes no scruple of demolishing his adversary; and then, like the eastern magician, transfuses his own soul into the deceased body, and exhibits the very fame appearance himself.

A Charge intended to have been delivered to the Clergy of Norwich, at the Primary Visitation of George, Lord Bishop of that

Diocese. 410. Is. Robinsons. 1791. OUR very able, intelligent, and respectable prelate, though

confined to the bed of sickness *, is unwilling to omit any opportunity of being useful, and has consequently published the Charge that he intended to deliver. His instructions to his clergy relate to the nature of God and of man, the saving principle of faith, the importance and use of the church, the obedience due to civil government, the necessity of a pure life and a holy conversation.

On each of these subjects the bishop enlarges, and displays a rational, calm, unaffected piety, much good sense, and a found judgment. In one or two points he seems to go rather farther than experience may warrant in the present times; but the awful situation in which he is placed may render this to him a mean insufficient consideration.

The first subject, the Nature of God,' leads him to an enquiry of which we shall have occasion hereafter to speak more at large; but we cannot resist transcribing his sentiments on this point : · • How often hath it been urged, that we ought not to receive the faith which the first fathers of the church, and the succeeding fathers of the reformation, have delivered to us, because we are of late years so far advanced above them in knowledge? But I have never seen the connection pointed out between any modern improvements in science, and the new doctrines of reformers in the ology. We are certainly much improved, for instance, in the art of making time.keepers, above those who lived an hundred years ago; but no man will say that we thence derive any advantage for numbering our days more wisely; or that we have any clearer ideas of eternity than we had before. An eminent artist in this way may doubt of the Apostles Creed ; but then there is no visible relation between his art and his unbelief. The conceit of superior learning has always had an ill effect upon christianity; and is * The bishop died the 17th int. since this critique was written.

frequently

felves, and upon. w.those who et e vain of our in were nevoid chriftianged as we

frequently found in those who have no great matters to value themselves upon. We may be as learned as we can make our: felves, and yet continue good christians; because true learning and true religion were never yet at variance; but the moment we are vain of our learning, we bugin to be in danger, and some folly or other is not far off.'

It is justly and properly remarked by Dr. Horne, that mathematical quantities and qualities are incommensurate; that many of the difficulties complained of result from confounding the reasoning on these very dissimilar subjects.

The Nature of Man' has been, in the bishop's opinion, equally mistaken; and if we were not dead in fin, Christ died in vain. "The saving principle of Faith' is the next object, and Dr. Horne agrees fully with Dr. Horsley, that divines have too much neglected the doctrines of religion in their preaching. Natural religion as a system is, in his opinion, a new phænomenon, a fhowy meteor, transitory, and with little fupport. The Constitution of the Church of Christ'le :ds our venerable author to some positions which we must hesitate in commending, without a little reserve. That ecclesiastical history has been corrupted by the prejudices of historians, we can eafily believe; but the necessity of secession in the episcopal of: fice, on the ground alledged by our author, would form a general principle, which on other occasions we might find inconvenient. The doctrines respecting the state are very judicious; and the remarks, in opposition to modern refiners, able and convincing. The last part, respecting the conduct of life, particularly applied to the lives and manners of the clergy, demand our fullest and most unreserved commendation. On the whole, if the event which is so much feared, and will be so generally regretted, should happen, the bishop may, with the most heartfelt happiness, reflect, that his last work has not disgraced his former ones; and that his life has been, without exception, dedicated to the glory of God, and to the promoting the best interests and the general happiness of mankind.

A Charge delivered to the Clergy of the Diocese of Llardaft, June; 1791. By R. Watson, D. D. Lord Bishop of Llandaff.

410. 15. jewed. Evans. THE substance of this Charge has been circulated in

manuscript; and from the little inaccuracies which muit necessarily attend copies made from recollcetion, it has acquired a celebrity and importance that it would not probably have otherwise attained. In the publication there is not the lealt suspicion that any thing has been foftened or altered; and our reipect for Dr. Watfon, as well as the accidental cirCRIT. REY. N. AR. (IV.) Jan. 1792.

cum

cumitances which have rendered this address important, will excuse our enlarging farther on it than we have usually done on similar works.

The liberality of Dr. Watson's sentiments are sufficiently known; and if we were to change the term, and style it a too servile complaisance to visionary refinements and innovations, we should not, in the opinion of some, employ language too harsh. In reality, Dr. Watson, with great and extensive views, seems in some instances to have yielded too far, and to have countenanced with his approbation and example, changes, which, though at first apparently harmless, may be ultimately dangerous. We have little doubt that he apprehends no danger from these submissions to popular prejudice; and thinks that, under the projected alterations, both the church and state would be fully secured. He begins with mentioning the late revolution in France, on the propriety of which he professes himself incapable of deciding. As a friend to civil freedom, he approves of it; as leading to democratic licentiousness, he hesitates : at all events, he thinks, by this struggle, the French will obtain an habeas corpus act, trial by jury, and an impartial administration of public justice. In this part, his lordship's opinions deserve our most unreserved commendation. In our situation, he remarks, there may be some things which require a reform ; but he adds, that we are a happy people, and would do well to be jealous of any violent attempts to amend either the civil or ecciefiaftical constitution. He seems, however, to doubt, in the Note, whether he who attempts to reform the rotten parts of a constitution, may not be a greater friend to it than he who wishes religiously to restrain any attempt at rcformation. In this general form the question will scarcely admit of discussion : it will be varied in its appearance by the particular circumstances of its different

parts.

The changes in the ecclesiastical constitution of France he adverts to more particularly, and observes, that the church of France is still richer than the church of England, for the revenue of the former amounts to fix millions sterling ; but that of the latter falls ihort of two: the proportion of people he supposes to be that of 8 to 24; but the true proportion should be the number of ecclesiastics. As it is, we think the church of France is not richer, for the number is (at least was) certainly more than 24 millions. The suppression of monasteries, every reslecting person will join with the bishop of Landaff in commending.

The great question, however, that of universal toleration, remains. When Dr. Watson ufes this language, we are per

fuaded

« AnteriorContinua »