Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

reason, and implicitly to submit to, the determination of others, hath been the occasion of all theim postures in religion amongst Pagans, Mahometans, and Christians of every denomination. For they would all persuade us that it is a compliment to Almighty God to renounce and give up the use of that faculty with which he hath dignified us, whereby alone we can distinguish truth from error, and conduct ourselves as he would have us, And to whom are we to give it up? Why every sect and every enthusiast lays claim to this compliment, and they severally affert, with the highest confidence, that they alone are deputed by him to receive it; and they tell us, that we are in the greatest danger indeed, if we yield it up to any other but theinfelves. But I think a man very ill deserves the character of a rational creature, if he gives it up to any of thein at all. God hath given it to every man for his own use. But these designing people would make their own use both of him and it.'

In the second section he fhews how the Greek wotds Quora and Trosaris, efence and substance, came unhappily to be translated from philofophy into christian theology ; what infinite confufions they have occasioned in the christian church, and how and when the Latin words, fubftantia, came to be substituted for the former, and perfona for the latter.

« The Greek philosophers, in their metaphysical treatises, frequently made use of the words TTOSCO 15. and Quord; but as they could not form different ideas of them, they used them promiscuously for each other, which was still the occafion of much wrangling amongft them. But the first time these words were publicly offered among the Christians, to explain their doétrine, was in the year 270, at the second council of Antioch, in which Paulus Samofatenus, bishop of that fee, was deposed, for saying, that Jesus Christ was the creature of God the father, Some of that council then proposed, and amongst the rest Paul himself, that Jesus Christ should by their decree be acknowledged as Ouorotov, of the fame substance or effence with the Father. This occasioned much altercation amongst the bishops, but it was at last carried in the negative, and this word was rejected as productive of endless disputes.

-Neither in the council of Nice, nor at any time before, had there any proposal been made to acknowledge the consubftantiality of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son. On the contrary, several bishops who subscribed the Nicene Creed, and particularly the great Eusebius, bishop of Cesarea, after this expressly calls the Holy Ghost one of the creatures that were made by the Son. But Athanafius, that he might complete his trinity, was the first who ever afferted that the Holy Ghoft was of the same substance with the Father and Son, and

introduced

introduced the phrases of lesed ovold one effence, T.PSIS UTOSOLIS tbree fubftances, which strange language gave great offence even to many of his own party.

* From the year 325, when he argued fo ftrenuously in the council of Nice for the Homooufian doctrine, he had seen how violently this doctrine had been opposed, and that many who wished him well, ftill disliked the nice di ction which he had invented of (Mia Oufia) one essence, and (Freis Hypoftafeis) three substances in the Trinity. He therefore now either thought it prudent, or found himself compelled, to give up at laft, in his own city of Alexandria, his own favourite notion, or rather his own favourite words, for notion neither he nor any body else could have of his distinction; and here in this council, in the year 362, it was determined that they who say there are three hypoftafes, or substances in the Trinity, are of the fame opinion with those who say there is but one, because they take the same word in different senses. And now the Latins being likewise ashamed of the words, hitherto commonly used by them to express this doctrine in their language, una effentia de tres fubftantiae, thought fit to change the stile, and in imitation of their friends at Alexandria, to say there was but una fubftantia, one substance, and tres personal, three persons in the Deity; and so the word effentia lost its place intirely, and the word fibe ftantia was put in its stead; and the word persona introduced in the place of subftantia; and fo these words have been used in the Latin theology ever since. But whether they convey any clearer idea than the former to any other man I know not.

Sure I am they are equally obscure to me. Indeed many learned men, who were interested in the point, have employed their utmost fubtilty in giving new meanings to the word perfon, in order to reconcile the world to it, in a divine sense. But all they have faid about it may be reduced to these two meanings, either that it fignifies a distinct intelligent being, or some certain mode, quality, or manner of acting in such a Being. But either of these significations applied to the divine nature in the economy of our redemption involves in it such inextricable difficulties, and is attended with such consequences, makes it irreconcileable to human reason.'

The author concludes this enquiry with observiog, that whaever reads the Greek and Latin fathers, and systems of.divinity, will find that ouora sometimes signifies elence and sometimes fubftance, and that utros acis sometimes signifies substance, and sometimes perfon, just according to the fcheme or fyftem of divinity which the author has adopted,

In the third section he traces the rise and progress of creeds and confessions of faith, from the first ages of the church to the Reformation,

2 he

. The next subject of his enquiry is orthodoxy. This, fag's he, is an uncertain and fluctuating thing. To-day it confiits in one set of principles, to-morrow in another. At Rome it is wrapped up in myitery: in Brirain it is now set forth as the ob ject of common sense and reason. Were the words orthodoxy, heterodoxy, and heresy employed, as they ought, in diftinguishing virtue from vice, and good from evil, they would admit of no variation, and be for ever taken in the same sense. But as they are used to denote opinions concerning the most incomprehensible subjects, no wonder that their meaning should be fo often mistaken, and occasion so many endless and bitter disputes.

In the explication of the words catholic church he takes notice of the strange absurdity of the Romanifts in calling their party the Roman catholic church; as if any particular member could be the universal, or the whole body of the christian church. And having observed that universal benevolence is the distinguishing characteristic of our religion, he concludes, that the inore any inan is a Roman, the less he is a catholic.

Under the article concerning fubfcription the reader will find, that this writer is no friend to established confeflions and systems of divinity. Upon passing the act of parliament in queen Elizabeth's reign to oblige the clergy to subscribe the thirty-nine articles, many serious good men refused to comply with it, and these were called Puritans, who foon became a very consider able

part of the nation, and every body knows what followed. But, says he, what may seem quite astonishing is, that these very Puritans who refused to subscribe these articles of the church of England, mould, when they became the dominant party, in their afsembly of divines, compose and frame another fet of articles much more exceptionable, and declare them as the standard of orthodoxy to be subscribed by all who should be adınitted to the sacred ministry. And this is called the Westminster confeffion of faith, as it was composed there, and is now the form which all the clergy of Scotland are obliged by law to subscribe.

In the following section he censures the unbounded licentiousness which the popes and inquisitors of heretical pravity have taken with the acts of councils, the works of the fathers, and many other books in their Indices Expurgatorii.

In his Miscellaneous Reflections the author informs us, that he is one of the established clergy; who, by reading and thinking particularly on the Free and Candid Disquisitions, have been convinced that there are many things in our present church establishment which might, by our returning to the original standard of the scripture, be altered for the better ; and that he has here presumed to mention fome of them, which he takes

to

to be of the highest importance; from a persuasion that this becomes his character as a lover and a preacher of truth, and that he is authorized by the conviction of his own mind, and by the liberty of his country. I have, says this conscientious man, already lost confiderable preferments by refusing to subscribe the thirty-nine articles again, to qualify myself for great things whịch , a most powerful and generous patron has offered me. And to whom now can I fly !--) do hereby declare, that I will not attach myself to any party or faction in religion, unless that may be called a party which is truly catholic, by declaring a love to all. The honeftum is my philofophy: and love to God and man is my religion.'

VIII. An Esay on the Learning of Shakespeare : addressed to Joseph

Cradock, 'Esq. By Richard Farmer, M. A. Fellow of Emmanuel-college, Cambridge, and of the Society of Antiquaries, London. 8vo. Price I s. Cadell.

ΤΗ

HE public is much indebted to this writer for his ingem

nious researches into a subject which has long amused the critics. Mr. Farmer cannot be refused the merit of having recovered to the present age, many curious particulars which illustrate his principal proposition, viz. thar Shakespeare was really deftitute of what is generally understood by the word learning. Though we have already profeffed ourselves of a contrary opinion, (See vol. XX p. 331.) yet we shall lay before our readers, not only a candid, but a favourable view of this author's arguments

His first authority is the opinion of Mr. Johnson, which we omit, because we have already fully canvassed that gentleman's merit as an editor of Shakespeare. 'The testimonies of Ben Jonson, Drayton the countryman and acquaintance of Shakespeare, and one Digges, who was a wit of the town before that bard left the stage, are next adduced ; and then Mr. Farmer mentions the authorities of Suckling, Denham, Milton, and Dryden, who all favour his opinion.

Notwithstanding this, we are inclined to believe, that those authors never meant to say positively, that Shakespeare was entirely illiterate; at least, that they never imagined their words would be understood in that sense. The greatest friends of Shakespeare have been willing to acknowledge, that his acquisitions in learning were undeserving notice, when compared to the great, comprehensive, and intuitive genius with which nature eridowed him. One might almost undertake to prove, upon Mr. Farmer's principles, that Locke was no more of a

scholar

scholar than Shakespeare, for Locke fhewed as inconsiderable an extent of learning in his philosophy, as Shakespeare in his poetry. We should however deem that man very rafh and adventurous, who should dare to pronounce Mr. Locke was no scholar, merely because all the books he had occasion to make use of (which, by the bye, were very few) in his excellent efsays, were in his time translated into English. Several modern writers have, with fome appearance of reason, maintained that Mr. Pope understood neither Latin nor Greek ; and indeed; to confess the truth, it is almost certain, that his critical knowledge of those languages was neither so universal nor extensive, as to enable him to translate Homer, or imitate Horace; yet he succeeded in both.

Mr. Farmer, (after 'quoting Fuller, who says that Shakespeare's learning was very little) proceeds as follows:

• One of the first and most vehement assectors of the learn: ing of Shakespeare, was the editor of his poems, the wellknown Mr. Gildon; and his steps were most punctually followed by a subsequent labourer in the fame department, Dr. Sewel.

* Mr. Pope supposed " little ground for the common opinion of his want of learning :" once indeed he made a proper distinction between learning and languages; as I would be understood to do in my title-page ; but unfortunately he forgot it in the course of his disquisition, and endeavoured to persuade himself that Shakespeare's acquaintance with the ancients, might be actually proved by the fame medium as Jonson’s.

• Mr. Theobald is “very unwilling to allow him fo poor a scholar, as many have laboured to represent him;" and yet is " cautious of declaring too positively on the other side the question.”

• Dr. Warburton hath exposed the futility of fome arguments from fuffe&ted imitations; and yet offers others, if I mistake not, as easily refuted.

Mr. Upton wonders “ with what kind of reasoning any one could be so far imposed upon, as to imagine that Shakespeare had no learning ;” and lashes with much zeal and satisi faction “, the pride and pertness of dunces, who under such a name would gladly shelter their own idleness and ignorance."

• Like the learned knight, at every anomaly in grammar of metre,

*H' hath hard words ready to shew why,

And tell what rule he did it by." • How would the old bard have been astonished to have found, that he had very skilfully given the trochaic dimeter

brachy

« AnteriorContinua »