« VorigeDoorgaan »
Notwithstanding the quackish title which Mr. Bernard has chofen to prefix to his tranflation; he formally disavows, in an advertisement, all empirical pretenfions. Had not the Tranf lator, however, leaned a little towards quackery, he would neither have given fuch a title-page to the work, nor would there have been any neceffity, or even occafion, for this exculpatory advertisement. He feems to have formed the empirical part of his title-page on a declaration made in the preface to the work, by the celebrated M. Diderot; who there affirms that M. Bemetzrieder put his daughter above all difficulties at the harpsichord in an interval of feven or eight months;' and that the leffons he gave her are here printed almoft word for word, as he gave them.' He adds, that the pieces printed under her name at the beginning of the thirteenth dialogue, whether good or bad, are of her composition, treble, bass, and cyphers and he proceeds to fay, that every person poffeffed of this work may be affured to go farther, if application and genius be not wanting.'-Making all proper allowances for the proficiency of the daughter of a Diderot, and this certificate of a grateful father, we still muft object to Mr. Bernard's too oftentatious title-page.
Notwithstanding thefe remarks, the work itself-we mean the original-is deemed, by good judges, to be one of the best that has been written on the fubject, and the best adapted to teach accompaniment and modulation, and to impart a knowledge of compofition-though poffibly not within lefs than a twelvemonth,' except indeed to Apollo's particular favourites. Its merit is really fuch, that we wifh it had obtained the good fortune to meet with a congenial tranflator :-but, alas! they who are best qualified for the tafk, are generally above
ART. IV. The Light of Nature pursued. By Edward Search, Efq; [i. e. Mr. Tucker] concluded. See Review for February.
R. Tucker more immediately introduces his explanation of the Christian system, with fome obfervations on the diftinction between things above reafon and things contrary to reafon; and on the credibility of miracles. His remarks on both thefe fubjects are, in general, pertinent and judicious. On the latter he profeffes to have taken fome things from hints fuggefted by Dr. Adams, in his Effay on Miracles.
It is worthy of notice, that here, and in other parts of his work, he exprefsly and repeatedly difclaims all concern with the external evidences of Chriftianity, and all inquiry whether the doctrines he undertakes to explain be in reality Chriftian doctrines. It is fufficient for him that Chriftianity is the religion F of
of the country, and that the doctrines he illuftrates are part of the established fyftem. Now it must be acknowledged, that every author has a right to determine for himself whether he will take any particular fubject into confideration; but we believe that Mr. Tucker's readers will, in general, be of opinion, with us, that it would have been worthy of a philofopher and a Search, and agreeable to the plan and defign of his work, to have inquired whether the religious fyftem which he professed to explain had a just claim to that high original and authority to which it pretends, and alfo whether the doctrines upon which he endeavoured to put a rational conftruction were in reality part of that fyftem. If the Christian system be a mere human invention and inftitution, the authority of the name of Jesus, which in a chapter entitled, Chriftian Scheme, he represents as a capital and diftinguishing advantage of Chriftianity, no longer exifts. And if the doctrines ufually taught and established among us be not Chriftian doctrines, they lofe all their importance and obligation: for, according to our Author's own reafoning on the fubject, though they may be credible in themfelves, that is, not repugnant to reafon, yet they are not to be received and depended upon as true, without fome farther pofitive proof; which proof muft be, that they are part of the Chrif tian fyftem, and that the Christian fyftem is a divine revelation and institution. Mr. Tucker himself aliows, that to imagine the Christian religion to have been introduced by the natural operation of a chain of fecond causes, is incompatible with the whole tenor and fpirit of the facred writings; for they refer every where to an Almighty Power interpofing miraculously to rescue mankind from evil, and conduct them to happiness. This renders the external evidence a matter of prime confideration; for no internal evidence can prove a miraculous interpofition. The reasonableness and excellency of a doctrine may prove the wifdom and fagacity of the person who delivered it, and the circumstances of his life and death may convince us of his integrity and benevolence; but neither the one nor the other of thefe will prove that his knowledge was fupernaturally communicated, or that he acted under an immediate divine influence and authority. Upon the whole, we cannot but fufpect that our Author had some private reafons for his conduct which he did not think proper to difciofe. After reading both his prefent and his former publication, and laying together the hints which he has thrown out in different parts of his work on this fubject, we are inclined to think that he was not himself satis fied as to the truth and validity of the external evidences of Christianity, or as to the ftrength and fufficiency of any of the arguments which are brought to prove a fupernatural divine interpofition upon any occafion whatever; and therefore was dif
pofed to look upon the introduction of the Chriftian religion, as an event, highly providential indeed, in the fame fenfe in which any other event intimately connected with the more important interests of mankind, may be fo termed, but taking place in the ordinary course of things, or, as he expreffes it, by the natural operation of a chain of fecond caufes,' however inconfiftent such an opinion might be with the language and fpirit of the writings in which it is contained. In a chapter entitled, Divine Oeconomy, he has endeavoured to account for the origin and progrefs of religion in the world, including the Chriftian, without having recourfe to any fupernatural interpofition. And he always represents the philofopher and rationalist as of opinion that a provifion of caufes was made by the fupreme and univerfal Governor, in his original plan, for all events whatever, the fmall and the great, the most trifling and the most momentous; and in particular that the moral world is administered by a long complicated tiffue of fecond caufes reaching from the firft eftablishment of nature.'
Mr. Tucker gives us an explanation of fome of the principal doctrines, or as, he affects to call them, myfteries of Chriftianity, in three chapters entitled, Grace-Trinity-Redemption. And if in this part of his work he had confined himself to the inveftigation and illuftration of the true fcripture-doctrine refpecting the fubjects he has taken into confideration, he would have deferved the thanks of every rational Chriftian. But unhappily he has confounded the doctrines of Chriftianity with those of the Church of England, and feems to have thought it of as much importance to put a rational construction upon the language of the Thirty nine Articles as upon that of the New Teftament, merely because they happened to be the established religion of the country in which he lived. The fame principle led the Pagan philofophers, especially after the introduction of the Christian religion, to allegorise the ancient mythology, and would have led Mr. Tucker, in other circumftances,, to have put a rational conftruction upon the religion of Perfia or of Siam, the doctrine of tranfubftantiation, the incarnations of the God Viftnou, or any other established abfurdities. In effect, he avows the principle and its confequences, when he alleges and recommends the example of the philofophers, particularly Pythagoras and Socrates, who never openly oppofed or ridiculed 6 established doctrines or forms of worship, but ftrove to turn them to profitable uses,—and endeavoured by mythology to allegorife the Gods into the powers of nature, affections of the mind and moral virtues ;'-and when he says expressly on this fubject,
What could have been done with the Pagan theology, or the Mahometan Koran ? we must have worked hard with the transmuting procefs, and allegorised them into a doctrine never Ff3 thought
thought of by the compilers: whereas, now we need only clear away the perverfities and myftic obfcurities that have overgrown in length of time, and develope the genuine fenfe intended to be conveyed on the delivery, to produce a regular confiftent fyftem, agreeable to nature and reason.' We are intirely of opinion with Mr. Tucker, in the latter part of this paragraph, that nothing more is neceffary to fhew the reafonablenefs and excellency of the Christian religion, than to clear it from the perverse and myftical tenets by which it has been obscured and debased; but cannot help suspecting, that if he had written in Turkey he would have paid the fame compliment to the Mohammedan fyftem, and in China to that of Confucius. refpect to the example of the ancient philofophers, we fhall only observe, in addition to what we have elsewhere remarked on the fubject, that Christ and his apostles, the primitive Christians, and the firft reformers, purfued a different line of conduct; and, confequently, their fuccefs in enlightening and reforming mankind, in introducing and fpreading the true knowledge of God, and just notions of religion and morality, was beyond comparison greater than that of all the fages of antiquity.
As to Mr. Tucker's explanation of the three doctrines beforementioned, we believe it to be fuch as no unprejudiced mind can think reconcilable to the articles and liturgy of the Church of England: we are certain that it has never been held forth, even by the most latitudinarian expositors, as the doctrine which they were defigned to exprefs and establish. Grace, confidered as an effect, is an aptitude of mind for the bufinefs of religion, whether it be the difcernment of religious truths, a lively fente of the perfections and providence of God, or the performance of our duty. There is nothing in experience or human reafon to diftinguish this from that clearness of understanding and vigour of fpirit which fit us for any common bufinefs, profeffion, fcience, or enterprize, which are never now ascribed to divine interpofition, but deemed to proceed from the present state of the brain, condition of the bodily humours-or other natural caufes. Nevertheless, the greater importance of religious infpiration, juftifies us in afcribing it, though remately, through a long chain of fecond caufes, to the act and purpose of God as a providential event.'-And our Church inftructs us to afcribe it to his interpofing among fecond caufes, or, in other words, to the operation of the spirit of God, yet without idea of an immediate operation at the time of feeling the effect of the interpofition. This is the fubftance of what Mr. Tucker has advanced upon the doctrine of grace. The remainder, which is indeed the greater part of the chapter, is employed in guarding the reader against the delufive notion of perceiving the influence or immediate operation of the Holy Ghoft, and
pointing out the mifchievous confequences of fuch a fond conceit.
For the doctrine of the Trinity, Mr. Tucker wifely refers us, not to the fcriptures, but to the creeds appointed to be read in our churches. According to his explanation, the Trinity is God acting in three characters. But left we should be thought to have mifrepresented his fenfe, we will give it at length, in his Own words :
Divines, fays he, tell us that God created the matter, and gave the form of this vifible nature we behold: thus much we knew before. But they tell us likewife, that he has interpofed many times fince by miracles, prophecies, and revelations, that he united himself to one particular man, fo as to become the fame person with him from his birth, that he frequently cooperates with our endeavours to difcover truths, and perform good works we could not have done without fuch aid, that thefe operations were performed by three perfons in one God, not jointly, but each having a diftinct fhare of them: the union with manhood, and all done in virtue of that union, was the work of the Son; the affiftance afforded occafionally to men in general was the province of the Holy Spirit, and all the reft of the Father.
By thefe diftinct manners of operation God appears to act in three characters, eafily feparable from one another in our conception, but joining mutually in advancement of the general defign, and executing the principal ftrokes in the plan of providence refpecting the moral world. The Father acted in the character of King or Governor, controuling the courfes of nature and actions of fecond caufes by immediate exertions of his pow, and by his figns and wonders prepared the minds of men for reception of the benefits imparted from the other two. The Son acted in the character of a co-agent or partner, not controuling the mental or bodily powers of Jefus, but adding a force and vigour which could not have been furnished by natural caufes; fupplied what had been left deficient in the plan of providence, and rendered mankind capable of reaping advantage from the effufions of the Holy Spirit. This last acts in the character of a friend and monitor, not working with the power and majefty of a monarch, nor dwelling, infeparably, with the mind of man, but imperceptibly throwing in affiftance from time to time, as wanted, and thereby filling up the laft lines in the divine plan.'
In a fubfequent paragraph Mr. Tucker, having obferved that no two fubftances, how clofely foever placed, or in what manner foever joined, can become one, and therefore that to say that God and man united made one perfon, in the modern philofophical sense of the word, is as flat a contradiction as that