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· Notwithstanding the coincidence of name, the learned author of the Britannia Romana, Mr. John Horsley, was no ways related to the bishop. This it is the more proper to mention, because the contrary has been asserted. That industrious and ingenious antiquary was a native of Northumberland, and was educated in Scotland, where he took the degree of master of arts, and then became the teacher of a Presbyterian congregation in the north of England.
Dr. Horsley was born in the year. 1731, and received his grammatical education partly in a private seminary, and partly at Westminster school, where he “ profited above most of his contemporaries,” particularly in the Greek language, in which his attainments were deep and solid; so that he might well say, as he did many years after, in his own strong language, “ that he was mueh at home in Greek.”
From Westminster he removed to the university of Cambridge; and in that famous seat of mathematical learning, be applied, with close assiduity, to the profoundest depths and intricacies of the science of analytics; not contenting himself with reading the best modern mathematicians, but going back to the antient geometrical writers, as Euclid, Apollonius, Archimedes, Theodosius, Diophantus, Pappus, &c.
But though this was undoubtedly his favourite-study, it was not pursued to the neglect of those branches of learning which were more necessarily connected with that sacred profession for which he was intended, and to which he had a predominant 'inclination. His theological studies, however, in a considerable degree, bore a resemblance to the line he had adopted in his mathematical researches: passing cursotily over the modern systems and disquisitions, he applied to a careful reading of the antient ecclesiastical historians, and the more early fathers of the Christian church. This was beginning at the fountain-head, and following the stream in its various course, by which means the aberrations from, and corruptions of the truth, were more accurately discerned, and precisely determined.
With a mind so strongly formed and cautiously disposed, it is not to be wondered at that on some points of Christian doctrine he should at first waver; for who, with
a single eye to the discovery of truth merely for its own sake, has ever entered deeply into theological enquiries without occasional doubt and perplexity? But though doubt will arise, it is not to be encouraged any farther than as a stimulus to urge the mind to closer and keeper enquiry. The reason why so many men become heretics and infidels, is because they cherish their first doubts, and let them become at last ruling opinions. This was not the case with Mr. Horsley; though he was perplexed by the mysteries of religion, and wished to get rid of them by supposing a figure in the Scripture phraseology, this did not satisfy him. His mode of explication he had the judgment to discern, and the candour to own was harsh and uncertain; and Butler's analogy at last cured him of looking for nothing mysterious in the true sense of a divine revelation.
After this he began to study the Platonic writers, whose acquaintance soon brought him into a right mind. But the doctrine of the Trinity appears still to have had its difficulties; and he began to waver between the Arian tenets in their original extent, and the true faith. In this state of suspense and enquiry he first opened that ma gazine of Arian arguments and authorities, quotations and perversions, Dr. Clarke's Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity. From the serious perusal of this book, which has completely unhinged the loose faith of so many theological sciolists, our student arose a firm and decided Trinitarian *.
It were well if all persons intended for the sacred function would thus previously weigh and examine the primary articles of doctrine which before their admission into that office they are obliged to subscribe. It were well also if they would give themselves more to the reading of the writings of the early fathers and ecclesiastical historians, by which course of study they would lay a sure foundation, and be guarded against numerous errors by which those minds are likely to be warped, who -confine their attention to systems and doctors of modern date. By beginning at the wrong end, and studying as a chief consequence the elucidations of Christian faith contażned in the works of divines of particular churches,
* Letters to Priestley, Letter XVII. p. 162.
it happens that we have so many sciolists in divinity, and so many wild and corrupt notions, to the injury of real religion and the violation of church unity. A famous enemy of the fathers hath been compelled, by the force of truth, to confess “ that those times which were nearest to the apostolic age, were of course the purest, and less subject to a suspicion of errors either in doctrine, manners, or discipline, it being reasonable to believe tbat 'whatever corruptions there inight be in the church, they crept in by degrees, and imperceptibly, as is usual in all other cases
If this be so, and the point can hardly be contested, it follows that those persons who would obtain a right knowlege of the faith and practice of the early Christian church, must have recourse, not to what modern writers, however well-informed and well-intentioned, may say upon the subject; but to those venerable remains of antiquity, which by the blessing of Providence have come down to us, and the authenticity of which is beyond a doubt. In ministers of Christ's church, this knowlege is indispensibly necessary; for as we cannot well allow any man to be a good Latin or Greek scholar unless he is intimately conversant in the best Roman and Attic writers of the purest periods, so nether can that person be regarded as a thoroughly qualified interpreter of pristian doctrine who is superficially acquainted with "the productions of its early expositors and defenders.
Thus much we have been tempted to say in order to recommend the course of study pursued by the eminent person of whom we are now speaking; and which course, by being tiinely adopted, enabled him at a future period to gain a brilliant victory over a confident champion of heresy.
After taking his bachelor's degree in civil law, Mr. Horsley entered into holy orders; but where and in what quality he first discharged the ministerial duties, we are not informed.
About 1768 he became private tutor to Lord Guernsey, eldest son of the Earl of Aylesford ; which young nobleman he accompanied to Oxford, and there both pupil and tutor were admitted members of Christ Church.
* Daible on the Riglit Use of the Fathers.
It was about this time that his study of the conics of Apollonius* led him particularly to a minute investigation of the books on inclinations, of which he gave the scientific world an elegant edition in quarto.
A display of such powers very naturally introduced the author into the Royal Society, of which he was elected a member; and in 1773 his merits occasioned biin to be chosen secretary, a situation for wbich no person certainly was ever better qualified. The Hon. Constantine John Phipps, a captain in the royal navy, afterwards Lord Mulgrave, having been sent on a voyage towards the north pole, on his return communicated to the Royal Society a letter containing some observations on the length of the pendulum in a high latitude, from whence be drew some conclusions respecting the figure of the earth, which drew from our author a most able and satisfactory refutation, founded on incontrovertible principles,
In 1774 the Earl of Aylesford presented him to the rectory of Albury, to which was added the same year by the Bishop of Worcester the rectory of St. Mary, Newington, in the same county. On this he took his degree of doctor of civil law at Oxford, and in the course of this year he married the daughter of a respectable merchant in the city of London.
Dr. Horsley's acquaintance was now courted by men of letters in general, as well as by those persons whose scientific pursuits were of the same description with his own. He became a member of the literary club at the Essex Head in Essex Street; and he lived on terms of familiar intimacy with the excellent founder of it, Dr. Samuel Johnson.
He had long projected a uniform and elucidated edition of the works of the immortal Newton; and having
* Apollonius of Perga, in Pamphylia, a famous mathematian, lived in the reign of Ptolemy Evergetes, that is, trom the 133d Olympiad to the 3d year of the 13th. He studied a long time at Alexandria, under the diseiples of Euclid, and composed several books, of which only those on the conic sections are extaut. The four first books were printed at Antwerp in 1655, folio: another edition, with the 5th, 6th, and 7th books, appeared at Florence in 1661. To this a commentary was added by the celebrated Borelli. Dr. Barrow published an edition at London, with the works of Archimedes, and the Spherics of Theodosius, ąt Lons don in 1675. The edition by Dr. Horsley is distinguished by its correct, ness, and the neatness and elegance of the explanation,
prepared the text and commentary, he issued proposals for the publication in 1776. This splendid work made its appearance under the royal auspices in 1779, in five elegantly printed volumes in quarto. The dedication is a master-piece of latinity, concise but forcible, sufficiently respectful and expressive, without being servile or laboured.
On this occasion Dr. Horsley was introduced to the king by the Earl of Aylesford, and had a long and literary conversation with his majesty, the particulars of which he was wont to dwell upon with peculiar pleasure many years afterwards.
In 1777 Dr. Lowth was translated from the see of Ox. ford to that of London, in consequence of the death of Bishop Terrick; and immediately he solicited it as a particular favour that Dr. Horsley would become his domestic chaplain. This flattering invitation was readily complied with; and Dr. Horsley spent a considerable portion of his time, as much at least as could be spared from his other avocations, at Fulham palace, where he cultivated with ardour the study of the Hebrew language, and was assistant to the learned prelate in preparing his incomparable version of Isaiah for the press.
As examining chaplain, he was remarkably strict, and on no occasion did he suffer rank, friendship, or partiality to bias him in in giving a wrong recommendation. Ignorance and negligence met with no favour or excuse from him; and many who came in full confidence of their own abilities, or in a reliance upon the strength of their connections, were peremptorily returned as insufficient. On one occasion a candidate of considerable rank applied with his credentials quite in a careless, self-important manner, as if he came rather to confer than to receive a benefit. The chaplain eyeing him in his usually acute way, said, “ I suppose, Sir, you have duly applied to theological authors in the course of your studies.”
Why, yes, Sir, I have lately been skimming them!". " Oh, then," said the doctor, no doubt, as that is the case, but you will favour me with the cream." pened, however, that the fopling had neither milk nor cream; and therefore he was obliged to go into the army, to the mortification of his noble relatives, who were very angry with the chaplain for what they termed excessive rigour,