Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

expect to get by sinning ? Let him consider what it is to pass a day, a week, a month, in exquisite tortures, and he will soon find a less time than that we have specified sufficient to discourage him effectually from running the hazard. Suppose a wicked man talked to by the parson of the parish, who terrifies him with the dread of everlasting flames, into the resolution of amendment. You come in afterwards and bid him not mind the parson, for you know better than all of them put together, and can assure him there is no such thing as everlasting flames. “Ay!” says the man, “I am heartily glad of that, for then I may take my pleasure without fear of an after-reckoning." No, no," you say, I cannot engage for so much neither ; you must expect to smart, but it will be but for a while, only a thousand years and all will be well again.” What comfort could this give him? Must it not rather damp his spirits, and the naming so vast a length increase his terrors more than the limitation to that term abate them ?

*For both choice and evidence have their certain weight to render them complete : while below this pitch, you may increase them by adding to the weights ; but when once arrived at it, all further addition is superfluous. For in moral arithmetic, as observed before under the article of pleasure, the same rules do not hold good as in the common; nor does two and two always make four. If I hear an unlikely fact related by somebody I know little of, I shall not heed him much: if another confirms what he said, I may begin to doubt : two or three more agreeing in the same story may make me think it probable ; but if twenty persons of approved honor and veracity asserted it upon their own knowledge, I should give an unreserved assent; nor could I do more though a hundred of the same character were to come in. So were a man offered a long life of pleasure for a month's future sufferings, perhaps he might be stout enough to accept the condition : were they increased to a year, he might hesitate : but were they multiplied to a thousand years, he could not delay his choice a moment, if he had any consideration at all. Where demonstration will not convince, nor things beyond all comparison determine the choice, it proves an insensibility in the mind which no further outward application can cure. If those who hear not Moses and the Prophets would not believe, though one rose from the dead; neither would he that is not touched with a thousand years of severest punishment, be moved with an eternity. For it is plain the present wholly engrosses his imagination, he has no regard for the future : and you may as well make a blind man see by lighting up more candles, or a mortified limb, that

- Vol. l1. Pp.

has utterly lost its sensation, feel by laying on more stripes, as affect him by any future sufferings whatsoever. 422, 423.

Our author's practice of never contradicting in terms the received orthodoxy of the church has thrown some obscurity over his real sentiments respecting the trinity. Mr. Lindsey in his · Historical View,' published, in 1783, goes into this question, and adduces several passages in proof of his strict Unitarianism, though disguised a little at times under the popular phraseology adopted from an excessive desire of accommodation. It is to this that the following extraordinary note in the memoir refers.

• Soon after Mr. Tucker's death, various attempts were made by different sectaries to enlist him under their banners, particularly Mr. Lindsay, who endeavoured to show, by several partial extracts from his works, that he was inclined to the opinions of the Unitarians. A very full refutation of these misrepresentations was soon afterwards published by Thomas Kynaston, Esq. under the signature of " A Layman,” by which Mr. Tucker's religious character was completely vindicated.'— Vol. 1. p. xiv, note.

That Mr. Kynaston, whose work we have not seen, was able to vindicate Mr. Tucker's “religious character,' and that he was also able to make it appear that he had never openly impugned the doctrine of the trinity, as such; nor deserted the national worship to go over to the Unitarians, is not questioned. But we can hardly imagine it to be seriously held that the opinions advanced in The Light of Nature' are reconcilable, or were believed by their author to be reconcilable, with any form of the trinity, properly so called. The first edition, the only one to which MÎr. Lindsey had access, settled this point in our opinion ; but if any doubts remained, they must have vanished as soon as the second appeared, in which, for the first time, the suppressed chapter on the Logos, as left by the author, was restored to its place. Mr. Tucker, merely, as it would seem, to save himself from the necessity of rejecting altogether the popular language in speaking of the Deity, adopted a loose form of Sabellianism, and represented God as acting in the moral government of the world under three characters.' He is careful, however, to intimate that he is not responsible for the correctness even of this view of the subject; but presents it rather as the most plausible and consistent explanation of a doctrine held in the church. He maintains, it is true, in common with all Unitarian Christians, that Jesus partook in a peculiar manner of the divinity; but in explaining himself he does not hesitate to say, as in the following paragraph, that the peculiarity originated not in a difference of kind, but only of degree.

'From all which may be gathered that the application of the Deity to every sanctified believer was the same in kind with that to Jesus; but immensely inferior in degree, and temporary, with large intervals of disunion between. So that when we act under influence of the Spirit, still our acts have a mixture of imperfection; and in far the greater part of our acts we offend daily, being left to ourselves without any assistance ; whereas, Jesus being styled the Holy Child, we must conclude, that holiness accompanied him constantly and uninterruptedly from the cradle to the cross.' · Vol. iv. pp. 107, 108.

We can give but a single extract from the chapter on the Logos, in which he states what he supposes to have been John's object in the proem of his Gospel.

He is going to give a history of Christ's ministry upon earth : this he ushers in by a brief account, in the concise apostolic simplicity, of what occasioned his coming; which was, the original constitution of mankind established upon a plan or word, something similar to Pythagoras' oath of Jove, regulating the courses of all events which were to follow.

This word was before God, that is, God held it in contemplation before him, as we hold a paper of directions before us when we would proceed in exact conformity thereto.

Then, “ The Word was God," upon which such mighty stress has been laid to prove the divinity of Christ as a distinct Person from the Father, if read, as in the original, “God was the Word,” will appear inserted purposely to prevent the notion of a distinct actor, by declaring that God himself was the Agent proceeding to creation in pursuance of his Word; and we may presume this little sentence was thrown in for the sake of the Gentile converts, who, having been accustomed to the notion of twelve greater Gods, whom one may style the Senate, or supreme Legislature of Heaven, might have fancied St. John only reduced them to two, and by the Logos understood another God, like Minerva, the daughter and first-begotten of Jupiter.'

Vol. iv. pp. 222, 223. In the chapter on · Redemption,' he says, "This brings me to inquire, in what manner the sufferings of the Redeemer operated to our benefit : and I apprehend it to have been, not by taking off any service we were destined to perform for the universe, for this would be sacrificing the general interest to the advantage of a few ; nor by working a change in the constitution of human nature, for this would look like something of a charm and magic; nor yet by turning the purposes of God from resentment into mercy, for this would be to represent him liable to passion and mutability ; but by setting an example which might lead us into the method of performing the hardest of our services with the same tranquillity and satisfaction of mind that he did.' - Vol. 111. p. 299.

It is on practical subjects that our author is most at home. We would recommend particularly what he has said on

Vanity,' on · Divine Services,' on 'Doing all for the Glory of God, on · Education, and on Death. We have space for but one more extract, which, though taken almost at random, is sufficiently characteristic.

* Very great stress has been laid upon the duty of fasting, which being a medicine in the spiritual dispensary, the qualities and uses of it deserve to be well considered before it be prescribed. Now I conceive it operates as a damper of the spirits, and weakener of that attachment we have to the common enjoyments and engagements of life: therefore ought to be administered to such patients with whom that intention is requisite to be pursued, and in no greater measure than suffices to answer it.

* But there are various degrees of fasting ; the abstinence from all food, or from flesh-meats, for whole days together, was strongly enjoined in former times, perhaps not so much for the sake of religion, as to force men by the inconveniences of it to purchase a dispensation with their money : so that he was the best son of the Church, not who starved himself most, but who gave most largely to be excused from the obligation to starve. Such abstinence might be very advisable for your turtle eaters, city-feast hunters, and persons who live in a continual round of pleasures; but for old women and others who have frequent occasion to converse with their apothecaries, I hold it stark naught; for they have more need of something to raise their spirits than to depress them, and their scruples, despondencies, and murmurings proceed in great measure from poorness of blood or stagnation of the circulating juices, occasioned by the feeble tone of their vessels, want of exercise, or of seasonable recreation; and if they could apply with more glee to their common employments, they might return from them with better alacrity to their devotions.

'For my own part, who am of a rather melancholy temperament and cold digestion, I could never reap any benefit from fasting, though I have tried it formerly, but found it enfeeble my understanding, and make me less fit for religious exercises ; and had I continued it till this time, I believe my chapters would have dissolved into a water-gruel style, and been still more deficient than they are in a rational, cheerful strain of piety.'— Vol. iv. pp. 171, 172.

The eight volumes of the English edition are here compressed into four, without the necessity, however, of so far reducing the type, or crowding the page, as materially to injure the appearance. We are happy to learn that the enterprise of the publishers is likely to be rewarded beyond their most sanguine expectations in the rapid and extensive sale of the work. A much more important service is done to the literature of this country by putting into circulation neat, and correct, and cheap editions of the standard authors, than by following at the heels of the English press, and reprinting indiscriminately its trashy novelties.

ART. VI. The History of England. By the Right Hon.

Sir JAMES MACKINTOSH, M. P. [Lardner's Cabinet
Cyclopedia.] 2 vols. 1830, 1831.

The history of England is, on all accounts, the most interesting and the most important, which can be offered to the attention of Americans. The most interesting, not merely because it is the history of our forefathers, and holds us by that chain of sympathy, which irresistibly attracts us to all that is connected with our progenitors, but because it abounds, more than that of any other country, with events which have had an influence extended far beyond their immediate sphere, through distant regions and succeeding ages; and because it abounds with the developement of characters which deserve and command the admiration, the love, and the gratitude of mankind. England is the only country whose history exhibits the gradual and sure, though irregular, growth of a well organized system of political liberty, and in her history alone is it possible to trace the efforts, the sacrifices,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »