Images de page
PDF
ePub

ingenuity of the christian philofopher, a boundless field of fpeculation, whence he may derive refreshing proofs of the truths of his religion, at the same time that he indulges that disposition to enquiry and love of knowledge which are implanted for the most useful and the noblest pu poses in the human breaft. Accordingly there is no subject on which the abilities of theologians have been more happily exercifed thay on that of the connexion between the history and prophecies of the sacred scriptures, and the modern history and present state of the world.

But, however much Mr. Churton is acquainted with the scriptures, with the writings of the fathers and antient histories, he is evidently deftitute of that ftrength and fubli. mity of genius which alone is able to discover any new link in that chain which binds the past to the present, and opens hints for ftill farther discoveries. In a volume of two hundred and fixty-two pages, containing eight sermons on the prophecies, we do not discover one idea that is new. All that relates to the destruction of Jerusalem he has collected from Jofephus and other antient writers, and applied it very properly to the prophecies, which has been done a thousand times before. That there is little or nothing original in his publication, our author himself appears to be sentible.

• Treading in a beaten track, exploring a region so often defcribed and so well known, it was the preacher's with, that the reports and obfervations should, nevertheless be his own. He surveyed therefore, as it were face of the country, he collected and confi. dered the historical facts, before he inquired how others had applied them. Hence, if the account to be offered fhall in some points differ from, and in others agree with, former writers ; as such diverfity will not proceed from a spirit of innovation, fo neither will the ca incidence be the result of blind deference to respectable authority. The testimony of conviction alone can be valuable. The remark therefore, which shall appear just, will not be given up, though it may be proposed with more diffidence, when others have thought differently; nor will observations always be retrenched, because they have occurred to others before, but rather be urged with greater boldness, as being supported by those, who have with skill and ac tention considered the subject.'

In some instances he differs from authors who have depart. ed from the commonly received interpretation of scripture ; but, in general, all the benefit that the christian world reaps from our author's fermons, is, a confirmation of truths already known.

Of the performance before us the following is the most advantageous fpecimen, perhaps, that can be felected.

Within

[ocr errors]

With regard to the events by which these prophecies have been fulfilled, the foundations of the earth have been moved to produce them, and the creatures have been weapons in the hands of provi. dence. The unruly elements and the tribes of men have conipired together, and performed the commands of the Lord of all things ; nor have the blessed inhabitants of the world of spirits, been unconcerned spectators, but sustained part in the wondrous drama, and shewn themselves the ready ministers of heaven.

When the apostles were preaching the doctrine of the cross among various nations, they knew that in fo doing they were obeying the injunctions and fulfilling the predictions of Him who fent them; but no possible objection can hence be raised against the prophecies on that important article. Had they not been assured of the truth of those facts, which they every where with so much boldness asserted ; and had they not been inspired with courage, as well as commissioned from above to teach them; they never would have embarked in the perilous enterprize ; nor when they had undertaken it, could they ever have succeeded without the special aid and influence of heaven. Those that planted therefore, and those that watered, were nothing in this refpect, but God that gave the increase. He who vouchsafed to impart the prophecy, in his own good time and by his own mighty power wrought its completion.

" In most other instances, perhaps in every one where human ability might seem competent to produce the effect, the immediate agents totally ignorant or totally regardless of the voice of prophecy, were influenced by far other motives, than those of evincing its authority by fulfilling its declarations. The defolation of Judah was neither in whole nor in part occasioned by Christians. The Jews themselves brought on their calamities; the Romans were the instruments of

vengeance ; and both as well Christians, have recorded the final issue of the war; which was such as no human fagacity could foresee, no conjuncture of affairs, no traits of character in either party could lead to conjecture. Though the Jews were afraid, or to serve a purpose pretended to be afraid, left the Romans should take away their place and nation ; yet after the time when they expressed these fears as well as before, they experienced, at the hands of their generous lords, particular immunities and distinguished favours, both in Judea and in other countries.

“. To extirpate a people, or demolith a city, was contrary to the practice and lenity of the Romans in war. Their whole history affords but one or two instances of exceptions in the case. The compliment of the poet " parcere subjectis," was the more valuable, because it was juit: nor had their former humanity in this age

fora saken them. During the fiege of Jerufalem, the compassionate Titus was scarcely more solicitous to subdue the rebels, than to rescue the sufferers and save the city. The temple to the last he was resolved to preserve. But in opposition to heaven the endeavours of mor tals are ineffectual, and their wishes vain. The city and the temple were burnt with fire, and rased to their foundations : and those who survived the calamities of their country were scattered and dispersed over the face of the earth; and by a subsequent decree, while every other land faw their obstinacy and observed their afiliction, in Judea alone they were not perinitred to let their feet. The blood of the Holy One, according to the dread imprecation of their fathers, purTues to this day, the wretched posterity. Their blindness is still unremoved, their heart is itill obdurate ; therefore they are wanderers and vagabonds in the earth, living monuments of the juft but tremendous wrath of heaven, and involuntary witnesses to the truth of the scriptures and scripture prophecies.'

From sermons preached upon public occasions at Oxford, we are led in general to expect more exalted genius and a higher degree of entertainment and instruction, than can be obtained from the volume before us.

ÅRT. IX. Sentimental Memoirs. By a Lady, 2 vols. 6s.

fewed. Hookham, 1785. TH ‘HIS lady would have been justified in the observation

that domestic life is the trueít source of earthly bliss, although the had not quoted the authority of “an ingenious modern writer.” In what she has published it is her intention to “ promote that branch of human felicity which all “ must wish, which most expect, but which through mis"s takes and errors, by no means unavoidable, few are hap.

py enough to find To expose these mistakes and errors, " and to set them in such a point of light, as may seem best "c calculated to strike the attention and affect the hearts of “ those who have not yet entered upon the most interesting

engagement of life, is what has induced the author to “ to intrude herself upon the public notice; by a relation “ of circumstances so far from romantic, as to be founded, in several instances, upon facts which are evident enough

to any observer of the history of human nature.”

What this lady observes is certainly juft. The errors that lead so many young persons, especially of the female sex, to misery and ruin, are not by any means voidable. They might be avoided by education and good example; by just sentiments of true dignity and excellence ; by the contemplation of proper models of virtue in all the vicissitudes of life. A young creature left by her abandoned parents to the impulse of her own appetites and passions, is as certainly devoted to destruction as the young dove that has lost its dam before it is provided with wings to fly from the approaches of surrounding serpents. Flattery, with all the tempations that the cruelty of foul desire holds out to the heat of youthful fancy, plunges the innocent vi&tim into a sea of dissipation. The surface appears at first calm and the

ENG. REY. OCT. 1785. S

una

waters

waters tempered by the most genial heat. Cold blasts and tempefts succeed, and as wave succeeds wave, fo forrow fucceeds forrow. Innocence, modefty, a sense of honour are loft; the desire of recovering character fails with the hope } and the last horrid refuge is to associate with wretches as miserable, because as wicked as herfelf; and to learn from fomo empty libertine, perhaps, or paradoxical writer, a few argu- , ments or rather affirmations, by which she may shelter her conduct, and conceal from the rigid decisions of her own mind, all diftinctions between virtue and vice. Then pleasure, gaiety, fashion, intrigue, are considered as the whole of what is excellent or desirable in life. FIDELITY is laughed to scorn. ADULTERY, which confounds all the tender relations of husband and wife, parent and child, brother and fifter, is considered not as a vice, but as a mark of spirit.

But disease and old age foon succeed to such a life : a gloomy winter not preceded by any harvest! a miserable and haggard form, subjected to insult and diftrefs; without fortune to supply the demands of nature; without conscious virtue and animating hope to fuftain this accumulation of mifery.

We cannot therefore too warmly applaud the design of this publication. The execution is, however, lame and imperfect. The author has presented, as it were in a group, a number of virtuous characters, all of whom she makes, as The ought, happy; but without that intricacy of story or fable which leaves them for a while to bear up under misfortune, and to struggle against temptation, and which inte rests and keeps the reader in suspense, and equally surprises and delights him in the issue.

In all legitimate compositions there ought to be a beginning, a middle, and an end. In matters of demonftration there are the premises and the conclusion. In hiftory, poetry, and romance, there is a moral, or truth of a moral kind, to be illustrated. There is a narration of facts which serves to this purpose, and illustrates at the same time various characters, the manners and sentiments of each being observed in the various situations in which they are placed. We are interefted in the fortune of a people, or of a particular hero : our attention, our expectation of some event is raised; and various sentiments, emotions, and passions are excited. In the memoirs before us, the moral is the only thing to be commended. They want all the other qualities necessary at once to delight or instruct the reader.

The work abounds in memorandums and very amiable fentiments ; but these are without unity of design and artifice of composition.

It is fortunate that a numerous and respectable list of sub; scribers has bestowed on the author that reward for her good intentions which she would not probably have obtained without such friends.

Art. X. Part II. Of the Continuation of Mr. Hargrave's Edition

of Lord Coke's Commentary on Littleton. By Charles Butler, Efq; of Lincoln’s-Inn. Folio, 7s.6d. sewed. Brooke, London,

Lynch, Dublin. MR. R. HARGRAVE in a very polite address to the pur

chasers of the new edition of Coke upon Littleton, an- ' nounces the necessity of his relinquishment of the under: taking. His own words will convey best the nature of his apology,

• Numerous and severe are the facrifices, which he has heretofore made in order to accomplish the original proposals in their fullest extent. To this moment he feels the effect of those sacrifices; nor is he likely ever to conquer wholly the disadvantage already incurred from them. But it might be improper and difgusting to enter into particulars upon this head, which in its nature is too perfonal to the editor to be intereiting to others. He will therefore be content with generally declaring, that his fituation is become fuch, as to render him unequal to any longer sustaining the weight of those labours, which he has ever found incident to the work upon the extended plan of annotation adopted by him from the commencement of the edition, though certainly not belonging to it froin the very limited professions and terms originally held out to the public.' It is from personal considerations, and in his own defence, that he thus adverts to having passed the bounds of the first undertaking in the actual execution : because, as he feels himself open to censure, froin those indisposed to yield to indulgent construction, for having done less than he promised, he too plainly sees the ne: ceflity of striving to foften such censure by the recollection of his haring also done more. In truth, had he not rafhly exceeded the limits first prescribed, by wandering into the wide field of annota'tion, it is most probable, that the whole of the edition would have been finished long ago, and consequently that the editor would not now have to mortify himself by apoligizing for executing only one half of it.

This to be sure is the most favourable point of view for the editor; its tendency being to shew, that his excess of zeal 10 render the edition valuable has been one cause of his finally leaving it imperfect. If it shall be thought proper by others kindly to receive the editor's apology in this form, it will qualify his unhappiness at the painful and trying moment of separation froin a very favourite work before its advancement into maturity. Should a lefs indulgent construction be applied to the editor, it will deeply wound feelings already enough exercised; but from a consciousness of being open to some degree of exception for what rigid observers may stile the abandonment of a work long promised to be com

S 2

pleated.

« PrécédentContinuer »