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Surely it exceeds all the possible comprehension of a finite understanding; and yet, is it not an object of belief? Doth not the mind acquiesce in the truth of this first principle of the Deity? It cannot comprehend it; but justly concludes that the thing is real, and submits with faith and reverence. Mr.Williams himself allows that a person may believe in the miraculous birth of our Saviour, in the miracles which he wrought, his resurrection from the dead, and his ascenfion into heaven, without committing himself to the refuge of mystery and absurdity; for he grants that a person may consider them as standing on the fame ground of evidence as the actions of an Alexander or a Cæsar, to be believed on the credit of historians, who had no interest to deceive, and because the things related were poflible and even probable.' 'In this case (fays our Author) what is there in believing Christianity more than believing any historical fact which we clearly comprehend, and has nothing in it that we should deem impossible ?' We are glad that Mr. Williams hath condescended to make this concession to the faith of Christians. And yet they will tell him that they do not underftand, nor can they comprehend the miraculous conception of a virgin-nor the ascension of a body into heaven, though they firmly believe, i. e, assent to, the truth and reality of these facts, on the testimony of credible historians. Nothing more than this modest affent of the mind is required by divine revelation when it relates facts which human reason cannot account for, and of the mode of their operation it can form no poffible idea.
As Mr. Williams hath divested Faith of all merit, he also considers what hath been called a previous disposition to admit certain principles, as a thing of no value. No plausible argument (says he hath been left on the fide of uncharitableness and bigotry, but that which makes a right faith to be the consequence of being well and properly disposed. It is very true that a man may dispose himself, i.e. he may warp and bias, bis mind so as to make any doctrine or principle fuit it. But all kinds of pre-disposition and pre-arrangement are injuries to the judgment.'
But though Mr. Williams speaks thus scornfully of a predisposed habit of mind, yet he allows of its beneficent influence in the following Lecture on the Fear of God. "I need not (says he) be at any great pains, to those who are well-disposed, in snewing the effects of this principle on the general conduct of a man's life,' The atheistic libertine might here retort his own language, and, by the most mortifying of all arguments, the argumentum ad hominem, easily prove that a well-disposed, but a mere paffible term, for a biassed and prejudiced mind; and that all kinds of pre-disposition, &c. are injuries to the judgment.'
The great principle and duties of Christianity, though founded on the best reason, yet owe much of their support and influence to a virtuous disposition of mind. A good man would with them to be true, and a bad man would be interested in seeing them proved to be false. Both, it is certain, are under fome bias. But Christianity is not the less rational because the prepoffeffions of virtue are on its fide, and those of vice at eter, nal enmity with it.
In the ninth lecture, on Universal Religion,' our Author makes an apology for the name of Deift, with which,' he informs us, he had been reproached by ignorance.' He afsures us, however, that fo far from diniking this noblest of all appellations, he felt no other regret than that he was not worthy of it. I could,' says he, look up to Jupiter and Apollo, to Mars“ and Venus, to Moses, Christ, and Mahomed, and not even from my errors and faults be afraid to wear their names : but to be called after the name appropriated to that perfectly wise and perfectly good Being, who animates and blesses the universe, seems to call for a character of understanding and virtue, which is alarming; and though I could rejoice in deserving, I should be very cautious in affuming it.' We need make no comment on this passage: but cannot avoid observing, that for the indecency of the allusion, and the artful malignity of the insinuation, it hath scarcely been paralleled since the days of Julian the Apoftate.
The lectures on Universal Toleration contain little that is worthy of particular notice. The Author rings his changes so often on liberty and free enquiry, that by repetition his sentiments become tiresome, and in their commonness lose their influence. His compositions, in general, bear the marks of great haste; and these two lectures, in particular, seem to prove that he wanted much to get to the conclufion. Indeed, we seldom observe any beginning or middle in Mr. Williams's productions. He appears to be always somewhere or other about the end. This arises from a want of a regular systematic plan; or a logical correctness and economy of thought.
The following reflections on persons who pride themselves in having souls made of sentiment, are very just, though they might have been introduced as well in any other part of his work, as where we chance to find them. Try a sentimental man, or a sentimental woman, on any of the subjects which they are diffolving or even dying upon, when reading fome quaint tale, and you will find them wholly destitute of the genuine and useful principles of nature; not in the situation of persons who want to be induced to act juftly and virtuously; but incapable of good impreffions. There are no brutes on earth so unfeeling as these dissolving, dying people; nor any perfons so incapable of virtue as those who waste their whole lives in reading tales of the virtues of other people. Look on a modern mother, whose time is spent in reading histories and novels, and enervating her own constitution and that of her children by the effects of sentiments. Look back into antiquity, and see the virtuous matrons of Greece and Rome, fulfilling their duties with an active and amiable dignity; teaching their children to think and act so as to contribute largely to the public happiness, and you will see the difference between real and pretended knowledge.'
Our modern fentimentalists are indeed very poor creatures ! All their effufions, and all their feelings, are seldom any thing better than evidences of paralytic affections. Though they melt, and languilh, and die, on the soft pillow of sentimental tenderness, yet when their charity is tried, their exquisite sensations vanish in a moment, and benevolence is only a pretty word, that begins in fancy and ends in found!
Our Author's aversion to those sentimental beings, leads him to renew bis satire on them, in his second lecture on Modesty; in which, after drawing an admirable and truly characteristic picture of vanity, he observes, that when religion had credit enough to serve as a cloke to infirmities and vices, the vain man was always religious, and covered his pretences with it. But now, an undefinable and unintelligible matter called SENTIMENT, is the substitute. All that we know of what is commonly called Sentiment, is, that it supplies the place of wisdom and virtue ; and is a rule of life which every man and woman keeps in some elegant recess of the mind; that it vibrates like a musical instrument, and all the events of life play upon it: but being totally different in different persons, it admits of that wonderful mixture of wisdom and folly, virtue and vice, which we see around us. There is no virtue refined enough for its regard: and no vice which it will not admit of. In short, by setting aside the use of investigation, reason, education, habit, and reflection,-Sentiment becomes the very principle of proAigacy; and,' by its ineffable and fupernatural emotions, renders the mind abandoned and worthleis.
• Here therefore, if any where, vanity must have a chance of success. As sentimental virtues exist only in tales, letters, and conversation, where the imagination is at liberty to invent, and no more judgment is requisite than to preserve probability, one would think a vain man, who is essentially a liar, muft find his account in this sentimental commerce. He does— so as to impofe longer upon men in this way than in any other. The
strong propensities which are formed in good minds by the social virtues, dispose men to admire all appearances of them; and to be easily imposed on by pretensions to extraordinary degrees of them. They are only persons of mature judgments and understandings who iteadily disbelieve supernatural efforts, and suspect all progidies, and all wonders. Sentimental friends are like friends in masques, who pass on each other for angels; but when time, ardour, and the irresistible desire of mutual intercourse, bring on a discovery, and pull off the covering, hardly any thing can equal the disappointment; they Ay from each other with horrid deteftation, and nothing can exceed the pancour and malignity of those separated, sentimental friends. Indeed, there is not a virtue of importarice to society, that can Jong exist or remain uninjured, when associated with vanity. Truth, both as a quality of the mind, and as a social virtue, is the first obstacle it must remove. Justice it can have no idea of, because it feeks its own gratification at all events, and benevolence is eradicated by selfishness.'
We would gladly transcribe more from this masterly, discourse: but we have already proceeded to our utmost limits in the extracts which we have made from these volumes ; and muft conclude our remarks by observing, that the moral lectures contain many valuable observations; and that however we dilapprove of his theological principles, we cannot help acknowJedging the elegance and spirit of the Writer.
Art. II. Arobacologia : or, Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Anti
quity. Published by the Society of Antiquaries of London.
Vol. V. il. is. Boards. Whire, &c. 1779. THIS Jearned body hath already favoured the world with
several curious and entertaining publications. The present volume consists of forty-four numbers ; some account of which we fall lay before our readers, according to our usual method.
The book now before us opens wich, Observations on the History of St. George, the Patron Saint of England. The anniverfary of this reputed saint, is the day appointed by statute for electing the officers of this respectable fociety; it seemed, therefore, very pertinent, that a dillertation should be exhibited on the subject, especially, as some evil-minded persons had advanced pofitions tending to the annihilation of this faint. Mr. Pegge, well known in this line of erudition, generously stands up in defence of St. George, in opposition to Dr. Petringal, and the late Mr. Byrom. Dr. Pettingal, about the year 1760, wrote a Differtation on the original of the Equestrian Figure on the George, &c. in which he concludes, that there are no sufficient grounds to believe there ever was [and was there ever
such an infidel as Dr. P.?] such a person as St. George; and he farther labours to prove, that the insignia of our most noble English Order, the George and Garter, are to be resolved into an emblematical, or rather a telesmatical apparatus. Mr. Pegge acknowledges the ingenuity and crudition with which this is attempted; but he endeavours to shew that there is sufficient evidence to induce a belief both of the reality of the personal existence of St. George, and of his martyrdom, which is all that he contends for ; as to the story about the Dragon, &c. it may go, for what he cares, to the old Dragon himself.
Mr. Byrom *, the other infidel adversary, for whose memory Mr. Pegge expresses the highest regard, has delivered, as usual, his sentiments on the subject, in a metrical garb. He insinuates, that the institution of the Most Noble Order of the Garter was at first founded in error and mistake, and that, since that time, we have all been involved in a misnomer. He apprehends, that the names of Gregory and George have been confounded, that Pope Gregory the Great, who fent Augustine, the monk, to convert the Anglo-Saxons, was received as their patron, as the Irish have St. Patrick, the Scotch St. Andrew, &c. but that, in a course of years, the name was corrupted into George. Mr. Pegge appears to have sufficiently confuted this hypothetis; he acknowledges, that St. George is only to be regarded as a military faint; and he imagines, that the English, during the time of their crusades in the East, heard much of his fame, and brought accounts of him to England, where he was at length selected by our King Edward the Third, as the patron of the Noble Order. On the whole, Mr. Pegge assumes, that whether St. George be a real or an imaginary saint, he, and not St. Gregory, was undoubtedly underltood at the time of the institution, as likewise ever since, to be the patron of the Order of the Garter.
In the first number of the fourth volume of this work, Mr. Strange attacked an opinion which had prevailed, that few traces of Roman antiquities are to be met with in the principality of Wales. Having before examined Brecknockihire t, he now proceeds to give an account of some remains of Roman and other antiquities in Monmouthshire, which, though not ftri&tly in Wales, adjoins to the former county. His dissertation is long, but ingenious and learned, though rather dry and uninteresting to the generality of readers, who will be wearied in attending to etymologies and conjectures concerning ancient places; but the true antiquary views these things with a differ
• For an account of Byrom's Miscellanies, Vide Review for Oa. 1773, p. 24. † Vide Review for Oa. 1777, p. 260.