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ably fouid there, the Unitarian goes to work in a way peculiar to himself. If a stubborn text stand in his way, he weeds it out; if an obnoxious doctrine, as the incarnation, occupies whole chapters of a gospel, these chapters were not found in the copies of some ancient heretics, and, therefore, he rejects them. But the same is found in the exordium of another gospel; to be consistent, he rejects that also; types and antitypes are inverted, one part of the sacred narrative is evaporated in allegory, metaphors are set aside for their uncertainty, and facts converted into metaphor. Beings good and evil, the highest agents in the Christian system, though spoken of with every attribute and character of personality, are resolved into abstract qualities, by a process which might as well be applied to resolve the Creator himself into a mere impersonal principle of good. As applied to the object whom it is his uniform endeavour to degrade, pre-existence has no meaning, and, as applied to man, eternity is limited duration. The consent of wise and learned men, the general sense of antiquity, the faith of martyrs and confessors, only excite compassion; authority is nothing, counsels decreed nonsense, and martyrs died they knew not for what.
As rational, we should suppose, and perhaps not more perilous, is the conduct of the deist, who, applying the ordinary rules of interpretation to the sacred volume, suffers the difficulties to overbear the evidence, and rejects it in a mass. To the arbitrement of a rational and conscientious deist, however, could such an one be found, the controversy might safely be committed. We might dare to say, here is a volume of great antiquity and, according to our conceptions, of great importance, the principal subject of which is the nature and offices of one extraordinary Being, and the purpose for which he came into the world. We ask you nothing concerning the truth or authority of this volume; but we ask you to apply the ordinary rules of grammar and criticism, aided by what we know you to possess, a clear head and an unbiassed mind, and then say whether this Being is represented as having come into the world like other mortals, to have had no pre-existence, no nature but mere humanity, to have been compassed about with infirmity, and to have died for no other purpose than to afford an example of patient suffering. Are, or are not, these propositions negatived again and again both directly and by irresistible implication in this volume? What, independently of particular expressions, is the general effect and impression made upon your mind as to the conceptions entertained by the writers with respect to this Being? Does he, or does he not, stand pre-eminent and alone? Can you discern any vestige in his character of sin or error? Do you, or do you.not, discover in the minds of the writers a persuasion that the
sufferings of this Being had an end and intention entirely different from those of any other martyr? Do you, or do you not, distinctly perceive that to this same Being are ascribed attributes and characters as distinct as divinity and manhood; that he who in one situation supplicates help and deprecates pain, in another, by his own authority, raises the dead, claims an unity with God, and ascribes to himself that incommunicable and everlastingly present existence which belongs to the supreme Being alone?
To such a test we persuade ourselves that the Unitarian would not dare to appeal. He must be his own interpreter. He must, have rules of interpretation never before applied, and which he himself would apply to no other work. If it be asked, to what cause a conduct of the understanding so perverse and pernicious is to be ascribed, we answer, to a system of education, radically defective, operating upon shallow understandings and arrogant dispositions. Hence it is that we have seen one Unitarian seminary after another fall in pieces. The encouragement given to the young men to debate and wrangle on every subject, begets an extinction of all respect for superiors, and a spirit of petulance and scepticism which, aided by a superficial knowledge of most subjects, and a thorough insight into none, produces the modern Unitarian. What Gilbert Wakefield thought or felt, when, in the violence of party rage, he had transplanted himself from Cambridge to Hackney, is well known. Is this the climate, this the soil,' &c.
It is some satisfaction, amidst the chaos and confusion of intellect which pervades this bewildered work, to observe that a late nobleman of high rank, whose early life had been far from spotless, associating with Mr. Lindsey in his later days, was brought so far on his way to Christianity as to abandon his vices and acknowledge a certain Messiahship of Christ. Many of this nobleman's reflections are interesting, inasmuch as they display a mind' sincere and inquisitive, but lost in the Socinian maze. 'He discards,' says Mr. Belsham, in his cool manner, the common notionof vicarious suffering and satisfaction. He conceives that Scripture redemption consists in a deliverance from the practice and guilt of sin to be effected by sincere repentance followed by total amendment of life, to which the merciful goodness of God has vouchsafed to annex forgiveness, &c. That which propitiates, God is the forsaking of sin. If so, may not Christ, who teaches us this method of being reconciled, be fairly and properly called the propitiation of our sins? No, my lord, if your grace and we read the same Scriptures, it is the blood of Christ which cleanseth from all sin;' and it is not an attribute of blood to teach.
Still more bewildered in the hopeless work of chusing and re
jecting among the doctrines of revelation, is the American Ex-President Mr. Jefferson.
'God help the man so lost in error's endless maze!'
Among the documents in the Appendix, many of which are not únamusing, we discovered, with grief and indignation, a letter from a late Irish prelate of learning and genius, but, unhappily, of too undistinguishing liberality, inclosing £100 towards the publication of Dr. Priestley's work, but with a strict injunction that the donation should be concealed even from the writer himself. Was no portion, then, of that secrecy which was due to the living fame of the donor, due to his memory-to a memory so recent and so honoured? And are there no near relatives of that accomplished prelate, whose feelings must be wounded by so indelicate a disclosure?
One vein of paralogism runs through the whole work, in applying the texts which prove the proper manhood of Christ, to prove that he was only man; and one strain of unfairness in denominating themselves Unitarians, which we are as much as they, and the Church of England a worshipper of three gods, which they know that we disclaim. Instead of three, these fair controvertists might have imputed to us the polytheistic worship of all the thirty thousand deities of pagan Rome, or the innumerable rabble of saints adopted by Rome, which calls itself christian. On the whole it is incompatible either with our time or the limits of our work, to trace the author and his friends through all their obliquities of reasoning and all their perversions of Scripture. One specimen, however, of Mr. Belsham's honesty we cannot forbear to expose to the indignation of every scholar and every man of integrity in the kingdom. Our critic is endeavouring to shake the authority of the two evangelists, St. Matthew and St. Luke, by a chronological cavil. The direct assertion of Luke, which can, by no fair and legitimate criticism, be set aside, that our Lord had just completed his thirtieth year in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, fixes the birth of Christ at least two years after Herod's death. This single undeniable chronological fact at once invalidates the introductory narrative to Matthew and Luke.' Next follows, in a note, the following quotation from Grotius:- Agxoμas av lov tgiaxovla est, incipio jam esse tricenarius, quod non dicitur nisi post impletum annum tricessimum.' To the confusion of the writer, if he have any remains of feeling or modesty, we will now produce the entire passage. ‘[Και αυτός ην ὁ Ιησές ΩΣΕΙ ἐτῶν τριακονία agxoμevos wv.. Et ipse Jesus erat quasi incipiens esse circiter annorum triginta.] Omnino rectior videtur combinatio, si av, esse, superioribus jungamus. Neque enim recte dicitur agxopa élv
Feianola, [incipio annos triginta,] sed potius agxopas estrange, quod est, annum ago tricessimum. At agxouas av slay Igianovla est, incipio jam esse tricenarius, quod non dicitur, nisi post impletum anuuni tricessimum.' Now what smatterer in Greek, above an abecedarian of Hackney, sees not that the words are altered by Grotius for a mere grammatical purpose to which the material adverb 'was was useless? With this castration, though the true reading, as we have given it, was before his eyes, does the critic obtrude on his unwary readers the abbreviated citation of Grotius as the En jam manifesto tenetur falsarius! It is obvious that the latitude allowed by this single word is sufficient to save the chronology and the credit of the evangelist.
We conclude with assuring our readers, notwithstanding these just censures, that the work before us may be found, on perusal, both useful and amusing. Let them not startle at this assertion, It may be amusing to the practised reasoner, in some hour of indolence and repose, to detect its sophistries, the sophistries of the author, his hero, and his friends, all of the same colour and consistency, the veriest gossamer that ever floated before a purblind eye, weak and fleeting and unsubstantial. To the younger students of our universities, disciplined, as they are already, in the forms of correct ratiocination, it may of itself be useful. It was the advice to his pupils of an eminent tutor in one of these illustrious seminaries, never to take up a book of reasoning without attempting to refute it. Even in their hands, young as they are, we can trust Mr. Belsham. They have heard much of unitarianism; and, in the free intercourse of their own circles, plausible things may have been said in its defence. Their faith may have been unsettled, at least their curiosity may have been excited. Hither, then, we refer them. In this volume they have both the bane and antidote. If such, they will naturally argue, be the strength of the cause in the hands of its most renowned champion, we want no refutation but what they themselves afford. From principles never fixed, from assertions unwarranted by evidence, from conclusions unsupported by premises, from a region cold and barren, enveloped in eternal clouds and darkness, we turn, with increased confidence and joy, to the religion of our forefathers, to doctrines fixed and accurate, to the wholesome and legitimate restraint of articles, to the clear and irrefragable argumentation of Leslie and Waterland, of Butler and Horsley, but, above all, to the invigorating warmth and unclouded brightness of the Holy Scrip
ART. X. Ultime Lettere di Jacopo Ortis. Nuova Edizione. Londra, 1811.
WHEN we reflect how much our poetry has been modelled upon the Italian school, and how sedulously that language has been cultivated by the most eminent amongst our writers, it is certainly a matter of surprize that the Tuscan literature should ever have fallen, in England, from that high estimation, in which it was once deservedly held. This can only be explained by a cause which itself leaves room for explanation, namely, our present very confined acquaintance with the Italian authors. Ask an Englishman the ground of his contempt for them, and he will cite in an swer the unprofitable verbosity of their prose writers, and the effeminacy of their amatory poets. Of their higher race of lyrics he knows nothing, nor does he usually prosecute his studies far enough to learn that he might find a contrast to the first of these defects (defects, nevertheless, redeemed by great merits) in the conciseness of Davanzati and the simple severity and concentrated wisdom of Machiavel. He is ignorant, that if the charge be well founded, to which many of their poets are obnoxious, it is far from being universally true; and that the same language which is a lyre in the hands of Metastasio, becomes a trumpet in those of Dante and Alfieri. How little the latter is known in England, but by his life, (and this we have only through the medium of a translation,) is capable of proof from the small sale of a selection of his tragedies, published at Edinburgh, at a time when the foreign editions of his works were almost unattainable. Another instance of our ignorance respecting the Italian authors might be adduced in Parini. His reputation can scarcely be said to have crossed the sea, though he is peculiarly calculated to please the English taste, both from the originality of his genius, and the resemblance, which, in certain points, he exhibits to Cowper. The author of the letters before us, however, is an exception to the almost general fate of the Tuscan prose writers and poets. These, after passing through three editions in Italy, have found an English publisher in Mr. Romualdo Zotti, author of an improved edition of Veneroni's Grammar, &c. This publication has the merit of a correctness, rarely attained in a foreign press, but it is most imperfect with respect to notices of the work and its author, which are extremely confused and uncertain. We are the less disposed to pardon this deficiency, because, as the reader will hereafter be aware, the letters of Ortis derive much of their interest from the mixture of truth and falsehood which the story depicted in them contains, and yet more from the singular character and circumstances of him who composed it. We shall