Imatges de pàgina

connection between morality and Religion, would not have been remedied by an oligarchic, a monarchical, or a mixed constitution ; a far more extensive change was needed : knowledge, which the Greeks, with all their learning, had pot; and motives to which they were strangers. There is a marked difference between the contests of the Oligarchal and Democratical parties in the Grecian Republics, and those of the Patricians and Plebeians at Rome. The Plebeians, if we may trust the narrative of Livy, strongly resembled our own populace, and are neither injuriously nor unfaithfully represented by our great Dramatist in his Coriolanus, and Julius Cæsar. Yet some wise critic has censured him for attributing the coarse manners of our own citizens to the citizens of Rome. To whatever lengths the Democratic ambition may finally bave gone in that conquering city, there is no doubt that the first demands of the Plebeians were just, and the pride and oppression of the Patricians intolerable. The Roman mob were far more vulgar and tasteless ; but at the same time they were less tyranically bloody, and less unreasonable than the lower Greeks. The Roman Polytheism seems to have afforded more aid to morality than that of Greece. The domestic virtues were in more esteem. The condition of females was more respectable; and, on the whole, there was probably more common sense in the Roman than the Grecian character. Perhaps, after all, we should judge too harshly of human nature, were we to decide on the characters of nations by those public acts which is the task of an Historian to record. No country ever was, or can be governed by numerical majorities. The real directors of the public must always be few, not often the best onder any state; under a popular constitution generally the most ambitious, and the least scrupulous. The decisions of mobs and popular meetings are not the fairest test of the dispositions of the individuals composing them. A multitude has no conscience, no sense of responsibility; for the act of all is the crime of no one. We should not therefore infer that the Greeks were así unprincipled in private as in national transactions, or that à people of taste so refined, and sensibility so keen, were as devoid of bumanity as some of their proceedings would induce us to imagine. The best virtues of human nature are not matter of record ; and often the best men die and leave no memorial bebind them. The havoc of the storm is marked and remembered, while the healing operation of nature passes unnoticed, and known only by eilects too gradual to be generally observed.

Arr. VI. The Testimonies of Nature, Reason, and Revelation

respecting a future Judgment, plainly summed up; in four Discourses, preached before the University of Cambridge in May, 1827. By the Rev. John Lonsdale, M.A. Assistant Preacher at the Temple, and late Fellow of King's College,

Cambridge. 8vo. 80 pp. Rivingtons. 1821. The subject which Mr. Lonsdale has selected for these Discourses, is inexhaustible in itself, and in its powers of awakening our attention, and interesting our feelings. The mightiest minds which have yet undertaken to discuss it, have been unable to fathom all its mysteries; and the most eloquent preachers have but taintly and inadequately illustrated its glories and its terrors. Although the arguments, by which our faith in the doctrine of a future judgment may be confirmed, and the inferences which may be drawn from it for the regulation of our practice, have been stated by Isaac Barrow, with all the acuteness and penetration of his comprehensive intellect; still he has left ample materials either untouched, or only in part employed, upon which the noblest faculties of our reason may be usefully exerted. Nor will the orator find, that, even the eloquent copiousness of Jeremy Taylor's celebrated sermons on this awful subject, has anticipated him in every topic, which it will suggest, of power to arouse the master feelings of our nature, and enlist our hopes and fears in the service of true religion. It must then be a strange fastidiousbess, which will turn away with indifference from the labours of men confessedly able, because, in chusing this for the subject of their arguments or exhortations, they have taken their position on ground, which has been already often and powerfully occupied. Many indeed are the illustrious labourers who have preceded them in its cultivation; but the soil is not impoverished, and every one who digs in it shall find a treasure, fully equal to reward the greatest degree of industry and ability, which he may be able to exert.

Mr. Lonsdale is not an every day thinker or writer; and if he has chosen what some may call a trite subject, he has not been contented with illustrating it by merely stringing together the common places of divinity. If bis arguments are not entirely original in themselves, be has rendered them his own by his manner of treating them ; and while the common reader will find the important doctrine of a future judgment placed before bin, in a point of view which to him may perhaps be novel; the student of a higher class will be gratified, by recognizing Mr. Lonsdale as his fellow-labourer, in those deeper mines of theological science, which have been opened by our most learned divines; and will allow him all the merit of having fitted their pure bullion for the purposes of currency, by the impress of his own simple and perspicuous language.

În bis two first sermons, Mr. Lonsdale brings forward the testimony afforded by nature and reason, in support of the doctrine of a future judgment: considering first, the internal evidence in its favour given by our sense of free agency, and by the suggestions of conscience; and then, that external proof contained in the actual state of the moral world, as it is a scene of trial, and to a certain extent a scene of justice also. In his brief observations on free agency, Mr. Lonsdale purposely avoids the course of those, who have entangled themselves in the endless mazes of metaphysical discussion ; and contents himself with appealing to the common sense and daily experience of every sober and dispassionate man, for an answer to this one plain question; whether he does not know and feel himself to be so far practically free, as to be accountable for his actions, and capable of praise or dispraise, reward or punishment, for them? The conclusion then from this palpable certainty is, that man, thus virtually accountable, is destined, either here or hereafter, to be called to an account. A conclusion which cannot be evaded, but by supposing, in opposition to the plainest dictates of reason, that God, who in the natural world has adapted means to their ends with admirable propriety, has, in the constitution of the moral world, acted otherwise, and fitted man for being a responsible agent, with no intention of ever calling him to judgnient Appealing in the same way to the universal feeling, experience, and confession of mankind for the existence of conscience; Mr. Lonsdale brings it forward as a witness to the vital truth wbich he is considering, not the less real, because its natural influence over human conduct may be weakened, or for a time wholly interrupted; nor the less valuable, because it may sometimes judge according to a wrong rule, or be blinded by prejudice and passion, or perverted by a false philosophy :

The conclusion from the nature and operations of conscience, is thus ably drawn :

“ Is it not then highly probable, that one great end, for which the feelings in question have been interwoven with the very frame of our minds, is to keep up in us a constant sense of our moral responsibility ? Can it be supposed, consistently with a due regard to the divine attributes, that God has so dealt with us, as that we should be perpetually tormented with apprehensions which have no solid foundation, and compelled to pass sentences upon ourselves which shall not finally be ratified ? It is a remarkable circumstance in the records of pagan philosophy, that the poet who beautified the sect, that was otherwise inferior to the rest *, having painted the avenging power of Conscience in vivid colours, saw how naturally this conclusion followed; how commonly in fact it had been drawn, and how greatly it had tended to produce a general expectation of future punishments. But then he was compelled at the same time, in defiance of reason and probability, to pronounce it all a dream and a delusion; that he might be consistent with himself in the maintenance of that miserable system, built upon the ruins of God's moral sovereignty, which he had undertaken to recommend to the world to

“ But far be it from us, my brethren, who have no such scheme of folly and impiety to uphold, far be it from us to imagine, that the God of truth deceives us with false hopes and visionary fears. Looking up, through the medium of an honest and well-informed conscience, to its great Author and Employer, let us rest assured, that the judgments passed upon us now by his deputy, will one day be confirmed by Himself: whether to our infinite good, or evil, must depend, under his grace and mercy, upon ourselves.” P. 16.

In the second discourse Mr. Lonsdale shews, how the external state of the moral world confirms the testimony borne by our own hearts to the doctrine of a future retribution.

He remarks, that the more seriously and accurately men examine into their present condition, the more they will be convinced that they are in a state of trial: of trial, as he properly distinguishes, with reference, not to a future existence, for that would be to beg the question, but to this very world in which we live, and in which all our present business lies. Having established this point, and shewn the light which it throws on the momentous subject under his notice; be illustrates it further, by placing before us the moral world, according to its present constitution, as a scene of justice to a certain extent; and shewing us that the scheme of distributive justice which it exhibits, while it is sufficient to prove that God loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity, that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him, and an executor of wrath upon all the workers of evil, contains also in its incompleteness and imperfection a strong proof, that the judgment wbich is begun in this world, shall be perfected in the next.

“ By the retributive system which we see even now established, God declares himself to be a judge: by its imperfection, he teaches us, that he suspends his arm, and defers the fulness and consummation of his justice.” P. 33.

* • Lucretius, as characterized by Bacon." * + See Lucret. III, 1021-1036."

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minds of all men ;' and has been universally acknowledged in all nations, ages, and religions.' He will naturally therefore be led to conclude, that he is in no way indebted to Christianity for the inculcation of it. But let him enquire a little further, and he may be somewhat startled, to find another of these philosophers *, not inferior in celebrity to the former, exerting his utmost endeavours to explode this very same doctrine : representing it as a mere human invention, the joint offspring of policy, and superstition, and nothing less than an impious arraignment of the justice of the Deity, in his present government of the world. Perplexed by these contradictory judgments, coming from equally high authorities, what course shall the free enquirer take? Shall he reject Bolingbroke for Her. bert, or Herbert for Bolingbroke? Will not the bewildered and thirsty sceptic turn in disgust from these broken cisterns, and hasten back to that fountain of living waters, which in an evil hour he was tempted to forsake +? Will be not say of his blind guides, in the language of the prophet, The wise men are ashamed, they are dis. mayed and taken : lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them I ?" P. 48.

Having thus established the necessity of a revelation for the confirmation of our belief, and the correction of our opinions respecting this great truth ; in his concluding discourse Mr. Lonsdale contemplates bis subject, as it is represented in the page of Inspiration : where the picture which Natural Religion had sketched with vo feeble hand, has been finished by Revelation, and filled up with circumstances of unparalleled interest, and grandeur; and clothed with such glowing colours

arrest the attention of the most cursory observer. The following extract will be sufficient to afford our reader an opportunity of judging of the ability with which this portion of the subject has been treated.

“ I come now, in the last place, to not the least striking feature in this most striking subject, the character of Him who is to be the Judge in the tremendous solemnity before us : upon which however I am compelled to speak with much greater brevity, than is agrecable either to the magnitude of the thing itself, or to my original design. That He who appeared once on the theatre of this world, as our Prophet, and our Example; our Law-giver, and our King ; and above all, as our Priest, and our Sacrifice ; that this same Jesus shall again appear personally as our Judge, is a truth, which the Gospel exhibits to us, written in such characters of light, that he may run that readeth it. And I suppose that no man, consulting the Scriptures in the simplicity of an unprejudiced understanding, ever called it into question for a moment. How then must such a man be startled, when he finds it argued, that, 'when Christ * “ Lord Bolingbroke. See Leland. Vol. II. 262, 243, 4, and 604, &c.” + « Jer. ii. 13."

“ Jer. viii. 9."

as may


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