Obrazy na stronie

dicates the religion. It gives the we find the following striking comGospel this title to general accepta- parison of the pretensions of Chris. tion, that man cannot do withoui ita tianity and Deism. It shews us, that, however other

“Can a Deist,” he asks, "arrive at his consystems might be suited to angels, victions by any thing like the following graor to ideal men, or to solitary philo- dation? Christianity contains a professed resophers, or to dry moralists, to a velation of the will of God: Deism leaves me perfectly happy or perfectly virtue in perfect darkness as to his will : therefore, ous world, this alone is suited to I preser Deism. Christianity exhibits palpa. man as he is. Are we reasonable ble, obvious, and simple criteria of the nature creatures ? this satisfies the reason:

of virtue and vice : Deism envelopes the na--are we immortal creatures? this tare of virtue and rice in the greatest doubt points to immortality: are we fear. Christianity furnishes the strongest possible

and perplexity: therefore I prefer Deism. ful? ibis encourages us: are we pre motives for virtuous conduct, and the most sumptuous ? this checks us: are we, forcible reasons for abstaining from vicious weaks this proffers us strength: are conduct: Deism appeals only to some vague. we guilty ? this gives us pardon: are notions relative to the fitness of things, or to we wandering? this brings us back moral beauty, or to expediency, which makes to God, the “Shepherd of our souls." a man's own sentiments and feelings, howIt is in this point of view, then, that ever fluctuating, lis ultimate guide : therewe esteem the work of Dr. Gregory fore, I prefer Deisny. Cliristianity often peculiarly valuable. We are con

reforms profligate and vicious men: Deisin vinced this manner of reasoning sets

necer: therefore I prefer Deism. Christi. Christianity, as it were, in the

anity often prompts men to schemes of the

very focus of vision: that this alone places them to execute those schemes: Deism scarce

most extensive philanthropy, and compels it before us in that character in ly ever devises any, suel scheines : therefore wbich it is calculated, not merely to, i prefer Deisn. Christianity imparts princonvince the judgment, but to touch ciples ihal support men under all the trials the heart; in which alone, not only and vicissitudes of life: Deism can have reis its “report” likely to be credited, course to no such principles: therefore I prebut its " arm” to be felt. Religion ser Deisin. Christianity assures me of eterappears here released as it were from nal existence beyond thic grave; 'and that if her abstract form, and personified, it is not to me an eternal portion of felicity, for the benefit of man, as his guide, it will be my own fault : Deism leaves me his comforter, and his friend. She perfectly ignorant, let my conduct here be

what it may, whether I shall live beyond the appears here, not as some theolo

grave or not; whether such existence, if there gians would represent her, like the be any, will be limited or infiniļe, happy or gods of Epicurus, cold, selfish, un- miserable: therelore I prefer Deism. Chris connected with and uninterested tianity will support me under the languish. in man; but, like her Master, teach- ments of a sick-bed, and in the prospect of ing on the mount, standing at the death, with the 'sure and certain hope that well, presiding at the feast, giving death is only a short though dark passage eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, into an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and health to the diseased in body and which fadeth not away, reserved in herand soul.

ven,', for God's people : Deism will then Having made these general ob- leave me sinking in an ocean of gloomy apservations upon works on the evi- prehonsion, without one support, in trembling dence of religion, and these specific of terrors is about to seize ine; but whether

expectation, that the icy hand of the king remarks upon the work of Dr. Gre

to convey me to heaven, to hell, or to a gory, we shall proceed to supply state of annihilation, I know not : therefore I our readers with a general account prefer No, my friend, it is imposof the book before us, with some sible that any man in his senses can, after particular extracts, and with a few tracing this contrast, say, deliberately and additional comments of our own. sincerely, therefore I prefer Deism." Vol. i.

His first chapter is on the folly p. 10. and absurdity of Deism ; in which The « Confession of Faith," by

a Deist, which follows, page 12, stances, that a variable space shall be contiis well worthy of altention, but is nually augmenting, and yet never become too long to extract.

equal to a certain finite quantity: yet they Chapter II. is on the " Necessity

frequently make transformations with great of Revelation ;” and it is inferred sions to which no definite ideas can be alo

facility and neatness, by means of expressatisfactorily from the painful doubts tached. Can we, for example, obtain any to which man is exposed without it; clear comprehension, or indeed any notion from the want of authority in any at all, of the value of a power whose expohuman teacher, either to enforce vent is an acknowledged imaginary quanhis creed upon ourselves, or to en- tity, as IV-1? Can we, in like mannet, obable us to enforce it upon others; (ain any distinct idea of a series constituted from the inefficacy of human laws, of an infinite number of terms? In each either to inculcate a religion, or to case, the answer, I am convinced, must be in do without it. The third chapter the negative. Yet the science, in which is designed to shew the absurdities these and numerous other incomprehensibles of the wisest beathens upon the because of its incomparable superiority to

occur, is called Mathesis, the Discipline; topics of religion and morals, and is other studies in evidence and certains, and, one of the most compact and satis- therefore, its singular adaptation 10 discifactory summaries we remember to pline the mind. And this, notwithstanding have seen.- Chapter IV. is on the these mysteries (for are they not such?) is Probability of Mysteries in a reveal the science, says the eloquent and profound ed Religion ; and here the scientific Dr. Barrow, · which eftectually exercises, skill of the author, to which we have not vainly deludes, nor vexatiously torments, referred, bas elicited some new il- studious minds with obscure subtieties, per: Justration of the usual propositions plexed difficulties, or contentious disquisiupon this subject, of which we shall tions; which overcomes without opposition, give our readers a specimen.

triumphs without puipp, corupels withoyt

force, and rules absolutely without any loss “ But perhaps I may be told, that al- of liberty; which does not privately overthough things which are incomprehensible reach a weak faith, but openly assaults an occur iu our physical and mixed inquiries, armed reason, obtains a total victory, and they have no place in “pure mathematics, puts on inevitable chains.'"-Vol. i. p. 68. where all is not only demonstrable, but ia. Chapters V. VI. and VII. are telligible.' This, again, is an assertion on the “ Authenticity of the Scripwhich I cannot admit; and for the denial of tures," on " Prophecy ;" on " Miwbich I shall beg leave to produce my sex- racles. In the first of these, we Bons, as this will, I apprehend, make still more in favour of my general argument. following observation, due originally

were a good deal struck with the Now, here it is known that geometricians can demonstrate that there are curves which to Sir Isaac Newton. approach continually to some fixed right line, "There is, besides, a circumstance relating without the possibility of ever meeting it.

to the Gospels, which deserves pariicular Such, for example, are hyperbulas, which notice in this place. St. Piatthew and St. continually approach towards their asymp- John were apostles ; and therefore, since totes, but cannot possibly meet them, unless ļhey accompanied Christ, must have this an assignable finite space can become equal local memory of his journeyings and mirato nothing. Such, again, are coneboids, cles. St. Mark was a Jew of Judea, and a which coutingully approach to their direc- friend of St. Peter's; and therefore may trices, yet can never meet them, unless a either have had this local memory bimself, certain point can be both beyond and in or have written chietly from St. Peter, who contact with a given line at the same mo- had. But St. Luke, being a proselyte of ment. Mathematicians can also denuen- Antioch, nur copyerted perhaps till several strate that an infinite space may, by its rota- years after Chrisis resurrection, and receive tion, generate a solid of finite capacity; as is ing his accounts from several eye-witnesses, the case with the solid førived by the rota- as he says himself, could have nu regard to tion of a logarithmic curve of infinite length that order of time which a local memory upon its axis, or that formed by the totatiou, would suggest. Let us trg, now, how the

of an A pollonian hyperbola upon its asymp. Gospels answer to these positions. Matthew's, • totei. They cau also show, in numerous ina aben, appears to be in exact order of time, CHRIST. OBSERV, No. 129.

4 F

and to be a regulator to Mark's and Luke's, do not turn up even at distant periods. This showing Mark's to be nearly so, but Luke's computation, however, is independent of the to have little or no regard to the order of consideration of time. Let it then be recoltime in his account of Christ's ministry. lected farther, that if any one of the speciJohn's Gospel is like Matthew's, in order of fied circunstances happen, it may be the day time; but as he wrote after all the other after the delivery of the prophecy, or at any Evangelists, and with a view only of record. period from that time to the end of the ing some remarkable particulars, such as world; this will so indefinitely augment the Christ's actions before he lett Judea » go to probability against the contemporaneous OCpreach in Galilee, bis disputes with the currence of merely these fisty circumstances, Jews of Jerusalem, and his discourses to the that it surpasses the power of numbers to erapostles at his last supper, there was less op- press correctly the immense improbability of portunity for the Evangelist's local memory its taking place. Be it remembered also, lo show itself. However, his recording what that in this calculation I have assumed the passed before Christ's going into Galilee hypothesis most favourable to adversaries of might be in part from this cause; as Mat- prophecy, and the most unfavonrable possithew's omission of it was probably from his ble to the well-being of the world, and the want of this lucal memory. For it appears, happiness of its inhabitants; namely, the that Matthew resided in Galilee, and that he hypothesis that every thing is fortuitous; was not converted till some time after and it will be seen how my argument is Christ's going thither to preach. Now this strengthened by restoring things to their prosuitableness of the four Gospels to their re- per state.” Vol.i. pp. 151–153. puted authors, in a circumstance of so subtle and recluse a nature, is quite inconsistent

Letters VIII, IX, X, XI, with with the supposition of fiction or forgery," which the first volume closes, are on Vol. i. p. 98.

the "Resurrection of Christ;" the ra. In the 6th chapter our readers pid Diffusion of Christianity, and the will be struck with the following ture Morality and Theology;" on the

Purity and Excellence of the Scripextract:

“ Suppose, that instead of the Spirit of Inspiration of Scripture, and on the prophecy breathing more or less in every Objections commonlybrought against book of Scripture, predicting events relative

it. Of these chapters we have little to a great variety of general topics, and de- to say, but that there is much to apJivering, besides, almost innumerable charac- plaud and scarcely any thing to teristics of the Messiah, all meeting in the condemn. The answers to objecperson of Jesus,—there had been only ten tions in the last chapter are both enmen, in ancient times, who pretended to be tertaining and convincing. We give prophets, each of whom exhibited only five

one as a sample. independent criteria, as to place, government, concomitant events, doctrine taught, effects

“ Before I quit this part of our subject, of doctrine, character, sufferings, or death; you will expect me to notice the absurd story the meeting of all which, in one person, of Jonah in the whale's belly.' It could should prove the reality of their calling as

not be a whale that swallowed the prophet, prophets, and of his mission in the character says every objector, for whales are not found they have assigned him: suppose, morcover,

in the Mediterranean, and they have not that all events were left to chance merely, swallows capable of receiving a man. Supand we were to compute, from the principles pose we admit that to be the case (though employed by mathematicians in the investi. whales are sometimes found in the Meditergation of such subjects, the probability of ranean, and, indeed, thrown on the Italian these bfty independent circumstances hap- shores), still the difficulty is not insurmountpening at all; assume that there is, accord- able. It might be replied, that the same ing to the technical phrase, an equal chance God wlio preserved the prophet alive within for the happening or the failure of any of the the fist:, could have enlarged the swallow of specified particulars; then the probability the whale so as to absorb him; yet on against the concurrence of all the particulars the present occasion, there is no necessity in any way, is that of the 50th power of 8 to for our infringing upon the judicious maxima unity; that is, the probability is greater than of Horace 1125900000000000 to 1, or greater than • Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice eleven hundred and twenty-five millions of

nodus, millions to one, that all these circumstanses: a 5* The word xitos in Greek, and, Hebrev

scholars inform us, the analogous word nily, appearing at the door, lave filled ihe tanim, may signify any large fish. The learn- whole field of vision. Have you improved ed authors of the Universal History say, such seasons for fixing those maxims, and • The word here used signifies no more á establishing those practical conclusions, which whale than any other large fish that has fius;' may produce an habitual sobriety of mind, and there is one commonly known in the when things appear under a different aspect? Mediterraneau by the name of the carcha- - You have sometimes found, instead of a rias, or lamia, of the bigoess of a whale, but reluctance to pray, a powerful impulse to that with such a large throat and belly, as 10 be exercise, so that you felt as if you could o able to swallow the largest man whole. There nothing else. Have you always complied was one of this kind caught, within these with these motions, and suffered nothing t thirty years, on the coast of Portugal, in the claims of absolute necessity to divert whose throat, when stretched out, a man from pouring out your hearts at a throne of could stand upright. Conformably with grace? The Spirit is said to make interthis, M. Pluche, speaking of the shark, says, cession’ for saints, with · groanings' which • It has a very long gullet, and in the belly cannot be uttered :' when you have felt of it are sometimes found the bodies of men those ineffable longings after God, bave you half eaten, nay, sometimes whole and entire.' indulged them to the utmost? Have you These extracts may suffice to show that the spread every sail, launched forth into the deep story of Jonah and the whale is not so of the Divine perfections and promises, and pregnant with absurdity as many of those possessed yourselves as much as possible of who scoff, where they ought to admire, will the fulness of God? There are moments endeavour to persuade you." Vol.i. p. 299. when the conscieoce of a good njan is more

Having so copiously extracted tender, has a nicer and more discriminating from the first volume, we must leave touch than usual ; the evil of sin in general, our readers to form a more intimate

and of his own in particular, appears in a acquaintance with the second from more pure and piercing light. · Have you the work itself, giving them a mere

availed yourselves of such seasons as these table of its contents. Letter XII.

for searching into the chambers of imagery,'

and, while you detected greater and greater (the first in this volume) is a gene- abominations, been at pains to bring them ral view of Christian doctrines; the

out and slay them before the Lord? Have thirteenth, on the depravity of hu- such visitations affected something towards man nature, which is copious and the mortification of sin? Or have they been convincing; the fourteenth and fif- suffered to expire in mere ineffectual resolateenth, on the atonement and divi. tions?" Vol. ii. p. 171. nity of Christ; the sixteenth, on conversion; the seventeenth, an ad

After the opening observations, mirable creatise on Divine influence;

and these copious extracts from the the eighteenth, nineteenth, twen

work of Dr. Gregory, we shall detieth, twenty-first, and twenty-se- tain our readers only with a very cond, are respectively, on “ Justifi

few observations. cation by Faith," on “ Providence,"

If there are any of these letters to on the “ Resurrection of the Body," which we should venture to give a on “ Eternal Existence after Death,”

pre-eminence, it is to those on and a summary of “ Christian Du.

« Mysteries in Religion,” and on ties." There is a single extract

the Influences of the Spirit.” And, from this volume which we shall

on the contrary, if there is any one not withhold from our readers': it is which satisfies us less than the rest, a part of a letter on the work of it is that on the "Resurrection of the the Spirit,by Mr. Hall of Leicester, Body.” Dr. Gregory is a diligent wbich we are glad of any opportu

and successful searcher for analonity of introducing to our readers. gies ; but whalever be the aid lent “ Permit me to suggest two or three heads

by any logical reasoning to the evia of inquiry. You have sometimes felt a pe. dences of religion, we are of opiculiar seriousless of mind : the delusive glare nion, both that its general power of worldly objects has faded away, or become may be over-estimated, and that its dim before your eyes, and death and eter- force on this particular point is less than on most others. When we that it does not accomplish what it say that the power of argument by probably was not meant to accomanalogy may be over-estimated, we plish: for, before the partial dissimean its independent power, and its inilarity of revelation and nature can power upon sceptical minds. We be alleged against the former, it are disposed to think, that, although must be proved that they were demany Christians have been con- signed to be altogether alike: and, firmed in their belief, few have been before any failure in the argument first convinced by it; that, although hy analogy can be construed into a excellent as a prop, it is weak as a refutation of Christianity, it must be foundation. The devout believer, she'wn, that the pretensions of Chrisit is true, feels the most exquisite tianity were ever designed to be pleasure in tracing the sune mind rested upon the completeness of this through all the movements of grace argument. The search for analo. and nature: and as the different gies will gratify the curious, will sciences assist to decipher eacle delight the pious, may convince the other, all the obscure parts in the wavering, will establish the devout, one often lying bare in the other, will perplex the sceptic, but, we fear, and a common principle running will not very often convince him, through all; so religion and nature The amount of Dr. Gregory's error are reciprocal interpreters; and the upon this point appears to as to be, man familiar with both, will often that he has for a moment employed borrow a ray from one to illuminate that lamp, which was meant to light the other. But this is widely dif- a part of our path, to light the ferent from resting the whole, or the whole. main, proof of religion upon analogy. There are some other slight inRevelation and nature are not so accuracies, which we deem it unnemuch alike, but there will be often cessary to notice. Dr. Gregory is a point at which the analogy fails ; probably aware, that he is both ocand there, of course, if the inquirer casionally a coiner of words, and depend exclusively on analogy, sometimes diverts the current coia scepticism will begin. And if this from the ordinary course of trade. consequence be generally to be ap- Scientific readers are rather more prehended under such circuin. apt than others, to be betrayed into stances, we believe it is especially this fault: for in science, every to be feared when the argument new theorist takes a licence to inby analogy is applied to the doc- vent and employ, and makes others, trine of the resurrection. It is diffi. if he can, employ his own nomencult to read Butler without catching clature ; like our first parent, to call something of the oonfidence in this animals and substances before him, mode of reasoning felt by himself, and give them a name. But all such and justified, to a great extent at licence in theology and literature is least, by the powerful deinonstra- inadmissible. Here, philosophers tions of his own work. But we be. must consent to be common men, lieve, that few cautious and scrupu. and to einploy the vernacular JanJous readers of the “ Analogy,” ever guage of their country. If, inderead the part on the resurrection of pendent of a more scanty use of the body, without feeling that the technical language, we may venture system was there strained beyond its to suggest any improvement of style powers, was incapable of sustaining to the author, it would be that of the whole of the burden laid upon simplification. There is a style of it. To say this, is in no sense 10 eloquerice peculiar to works of ratiodisparage the confirmatory power of cination, of which we have rare, but the argument. Nor is it any sort of exquisite specimens in the offices of insult to a mode of reasoning, to say Tully, in the works of Hume, and,

« PoprzedniaDalej »