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fuch ambiguous terms, as leave ample room, in cafe of being preffed by an adverfary, for evafion and fubterfuge.
If it be afked, what is the harm of fupporting oppofite religions? He answers, in one word, univerfal irreligion. His manner of proving this is extremely curious: hear part of what he fays: The opinions of the people are, and muft be, founded more on authority than reafon. Their parents, their teachers, their governors, in a great meafure determine for them, what they are to believe, and what to practise. The fame doctrines uniformly taught, the fame rites conftantly performed, make fuch an impreffion on their minds, that they hefitate as little in admitting the articles of their faith, as in receiving the moft eftablifhed maxims of common life: and, whilft they want the advantages of reflexion and ftudy, they are at the fame time free from the uneafinefs and the mifchief of difpute and doubt,
I would not be thought to prefer an implicit faith to a rational determination. I only deny the ufe of reafon to the bulk of mankind, on religious fubjects, because they cannot use it : because many of them want capacity, moft of them opportunity, to think and judge for themselves. They must be content, in all ordinary, cafes, with that religion which chance has thrown in their way; because they can do no better.-Nothing is clearer, than; that the uniform appearance of religion is the caufe of its general and eafy reception. Deftroy this uniformity, and you cannot but introduce doubt and perplexity into the minds of the people.'
Now, though it be true that the opinions of the people are, in reality, founded more on authority than reafon, it by no means follows that they must be fo; that the bulk of mankind cannot use their reafon on religious fubjects; and that they want capacity to think and judge for themselves. The great practical truths of religion are fo plain and eafy that he who runs may read them. To fuppofe the contrary, were to fuppofe that the all-wife and gracious Author of our nature has endowed us with capacities fully fufficient for all the purpofes of the prefent life, but in our most important concerns, in what relates to our everlafting welfare, has formed us incapable of thinking and judging for ourselves. But this is far from being the cafe; the evidences for all the great truths, whether of natural or revealed religion, that are neceffary to be believed in order to our acceptance with God, are fo clear and obvious, that a man of plain understanding and common fenfe is capable of compre hending them, and reafoning upon them. Religion, indeed, when reprefented in its native colours, and original fimplicity, nadulterated with metaphyfical refinements, and the fubtleties
of fchool-divinity, is one of the plaineft things in the world, and would, we doubt not, make its way to the undestandings and to the hearts of the bulk of mankind, were it not rendered unintelligible by human mixtures and additions, which have debased it into an abftrufe, and intricate fcience, introduced doubts and perplexities into the minds of men, and given rie to malignant zeal, and all its complicated and horrid confequences. Who the men are that have been moft induftrious in adulterating and debafing religion, and have thereby prevented, in a great meafure, its efficacy, and contributed to the fpreading of infidelity, might very eafily be fhewn, were this a proper place for it.
But fuppofing the truth of what Dr. Balguy urges in regard to the incapacity of the bulk of mankind for reafoning on reli gious fubjects, does it follow that univerfal irreligion would be the confequence of the magistrate's fupporting oppofite religions, or is this confiftent with what he fays in favour of toleration? Wherever toleration takes place, that uniform appearance of religion, which the Doctor lays fo much ftrefs upon, is destroyed, and yet experience fhews that univerfal irreligion is not the confequence..
The following paffage we cannot avoid inferting. Our Readers will make the proper reflections upon it: If it fhould be thought that I am here offering a defence of Popery, it would only be too candid an interpretation. I mean to defend every established religion under heaven. The least defenfible, cannot be worse than downright Atheism. Reftraints, though mifapplied, are ftill reftraints, and it is better to act wrong on a principle of confcience, than to have no confcience at all.-In general, we may fafely affert, that religion, even false religion, is the great bond of human fociety: that every civilized na. tion, in every age, has feen and felt the benefit of it, under all the mistakes and corruptions which have overfpread the world and that contradictory religions, equally favoured by the magiftrate (if it were poffible for fo abfurd a conftitution to remain for any confiderable time in any country) must of neceffity defroy all religious principle, and end in the ruin of the ftate itself.'
In the further profecution of his fubject, the Doctor main. tains feveral pofitions which deferve a full and diftinct confideration but this is not our province. Among other extraordinary things, he tells us, that fubfcription to the fcriptures is abfolutely nothing; that it is confiftent with every imaginable abfurdity and mifchief; and is not even free from the imalleft of thefe objections, which, with fo much tragical declamation, have been preffed and inculcated upon the ear of the public.Strange language this from the mouth of a Proteftant divine!
He concludes his Charge in the following manner : whatever light this fubject is viewed, it will evidently appear, that fame articles of religion (I speak of human articles) must be prescribed by public authority. Indeed our adverfaries themfelves are willing to afford any further proof of their abhorrence of the Antichriftian power and spirit of Popery, which the legislature fhall think proper to require. The misfortune is, that, in making this conceffion, they give up their pretended principles, and discover their true. They will allow, it feems, the magiftrate to exclude fome forms of religion from his protection and favour: but they must determine what forms are fit to be excluded; and they wish to exclude none but Popery.-Perhaps, if this were granted them, we might foon find the number of Popish doctrines confiderably increafed. For, after all, the tenets of the church of Rome are neither all true, nor all falfe: and the magiftrate fhould be well advised, when he attempts to make a diftinction between them. If he fhall ever think fit to confult thefe modern reformers, I know not whether the Trinitarian doctrine, for instance, will be efteemed by them Catholic or Proteftant. I fufpect they will not be quite content, that the followers of Athanafius fhould remain minifters of the Englith church. I can fcarce think they will chufe to be joined with them in the care of the fame congregations. I am confident they may most of them be brought to endure the requifition of a fubfcription to this capital article. God the Father is the only true God. He who can lay his hand on his heart, and folemnly deny the truth of this fuggeftion; he who is content to leave to others the fame liberty which he claims for himself; must be allowed at leaft to be a confiftent oppofer: and, however we may difpute the truth of his opinions, we cannot rea fonably diftruft the fincerity of his profeffions, or question the integrity of his conduct.'
The fufpicions and fuggeftions contained in this concluding paragraph of the Doctor's Charge, whatever may have been his intentions, will, we are perfuaded, create no prejudice in the mind of any candid and impartial Reader, against the cause or character of the Petitioning Clergy; nor will the Petitioners ever be afraid or afhamed, we hope, to declare publicly, that they acknowledge no other God but God the Father, that God whom our blefled Saviour calls his FATHER and his GOD.
To conclude, we cannot help obferving that, with whatever contempt the Petitioning Clergy may have been treated by many of their brethren in the higher orders of the Church, the caufe of truth and Proteftant Chriftianity is much indebted to them. If they have afked too much, as perhaps they have, it fhould be remembered that there was no difpofition nor inclination in the bench to grant any thing. Every one who has turned his attention
tention to this fubject must know, that the most respectful and earneft application has, within these few years, been made to the Bishops, in regard to a further reformation of our ecclefiaftical conftitution. Had fuch application been attended to in fuch a manner as many of the wifeft and beft men this country can boaft of think it deferved, the petition of the Clergy, we have reason to think, would never have been prefented to Parliament. Some of the Bishops, in confequence of the public attention excited by the petition, and the refpect fhewn it by many perfons of diftinguished abilities and integrity in the Houfe of Commons, have declared that fomething must be done. There is no reason to think that fuch a declaration would have been made had it not been for the Petitioning Clergy; and if any alterations are made for the better, whoever may take the merit of it, it will be obvious, to the moft fuperficial obferver, to whom the merit is due. This much, as friends to Chriftianity and the cause of religious liberty, we thought it incumbent upon us to fay in favour of the Petitioners.
ART. VII. Mifcellanea Sacra: Containing an Abstract of the Scripture-History of the Apoitles, in a new Method. With four critical Effays: I. On the Witnefs of the Holy Spirit. II. On the Distinction between the Apostles, Elders, and Brethren. III. On the Time when Paul and Barnabas became Apoftles. IV. On the Apoftolical Decree. To which is added, an Effay on the Difpenfations of God to Mankind, as revealed in Scripture: Together with a Differtation on Hebrews xii. 22-25. Now first published. A new Edition, with large Additions and Corrections. 8vo. 3 Vols. 15 s. bound. White.
Correspondent having obferved that we occafionally take notice of new editions of fuch books as are confiderable for their learning, or their utility to the public, especially, when they have received any material additions or improvements, expreffes his furprize that we have overlooked a muchimproved edition of Lord Barrington's Mifcellanea Sacra, &c. but he thinks it is not too late for us to gratify the curiofity of many of our Readers, with respect to a publication of fo much eminence among the lovers of facred literature.
We are entirely of our Correfpondent's opinion, concerning the merit and importance of Lord B.'s writings; and we fhould, no doubt, have noticed, in courfe, the new edition of them (the date of which, in the title-page, is 1770) had we observed it to have been advertised.-We have now procured a copy; and we find that fome of the tracts are very greatly enlarged; and that a new map of St. Paul's travels is given, according to Mr. Bryant's hypothefis with regard to the island of Melite, as well as to the commonly received opinion; that on a compa
rative view of both, the preference may be given to that which feems beft entitled to it.
In looking over the contents of thefe learned theological vo lumes, we could not avoid being firuck with the almoft fingu lar circumftance of the rank and ftation of the Writer. To fee a Nobleman dedicating a confiderable portion of his time, and attention, to fuch jericus and important ftudies as thofe which employed the retired hours of Lord B. is a phænomenon which feldom appears in the higher circles of human life: where, for one Bacon, or Shaftefoury, or Clarendon, or Barrington, how many Rochefters, Buckinghams, Baltimores, and ********'s 1. It is, therefore, with pleafure that we pay our tribute of refpect to the memory of the noble Author of the Mifcellanea Sacra: and we are the rather induced to embrace the prefent occafion of introducing his Lordship's writings to the notice of fuch of our Readers who are not already acquainted with them, as the first edition was published feveral years before the commencement of our Review.
The Editor of the prefent impreffion very properly obferves, in his prefixed advertisement, that the high opinion entertained of the Mifcellanea Sacra, by the learned of all denominations, and the fcarcity of the firft edition, would be fufficient reafons for a fecond; even if the work had not received fuch improvement from the Author, as adds new force to his arguments, and elucidation to his criticifms.'
Lord Barrington (the Advertifer informs us) employed the interval between the publication of his work in 1725, and his death in 1734, in reviewing, correcting, and enlarging it.' We are farther told that the additions, which bear no fmall proportion to the original work, are now faithfully given to the world from an interleaved copy, written in the Author's own hand.'
To the pieces formerly printed there is now added a tract, entitled, A Differtation on Heb. xii. 22-25. in which, fays the Editor, it is believed there will be difcovered the fame critical fagacity, and the fame accurate knowledge of fcripture, which fo peculiarly characterize the other writings of this Author.' As this tract was, never publifhed before, we thall add a word or two concerning it.
The paffage of fcripture which occurs in the four verses above referred to, is, as Lord B. remarks, one of the most difficult in the New Teftament; and there is fcarce any on which com
As the laft intended noble Lord may live to repent his follies, we forbear to brand his name,
We fuppofe the Editor to be the prefent Bishop of Llandaff, fon to the noble Author.