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Plato banished Homer from his republic, and that Pythagoras, in one of his extridmundane adventures, suw both Homer and Hesiod doing penance in hell, and hung up there for examples, to be bleached and purified from the grossness and pollution of their ideas.
The first of these allegorisers, as we learn from Laertins, was Anaxagoras, who, with his friend Metrodorus, turned Homer's mythology into a system of ethics. Next came Hereclides Ponticus, and of the same fables made as good a system of physics. And last of all, when the necessity becaine more pressing, Proclus undertook to shew that all Homer's fables were no other than physical, ethical and moral allegories. DR. ROBERT LOWTH-DR. C. MIDDLETON-REV. W. LAW-DR. ISAAC
WATTS, &C. DR. ROBERT LOWTH, second son of Dr. William Lowth, was born at Buriton, in Hampshire, in 1710. He entered the church, and became successively bishop of St. David's, Oxford, and London; he died in 1787. The works of Lowth display both genius and learning. They consist of . Prelections on Hebrew Poetry (1753), a ‘Life of William of Wykeham’ (1758), a · Short Introduction to English Grammar,' and a Translation of Isaiah' (1778). The last is the greatest of his productions. The spirit of eastern poetry is rendered with fidelity, elegance, and sublimity; and the work is an inestimable contribution to biblical criticism and learning, as well as illustrative of the exalted strains of the divine muse.
DR. CONYERS MIDDLETON, distinguished for his “Life of Cicero,' mixed freely and eagerly in the religious controversies of the times. One writer, Dr. Matthew Tindal (1657–1733), served as a firebrand to the clergy. Tindal had embraced popery in the reign of James II. but afterwards renounced it. Being thus, as Drummond the poet said of Ben Jonson, of either religion, as versed in both,' he set himself to write on theology, and published “The Rights of the Christian Church Asserted,' and 'Christianity as Old as the Creation. The latter had a decided deistical tendency, and was answered by several divines, as Dr. Conybeare, Dr. Foster, and Dr. Waterland. Middleton now joined in the argument, and wrote remarks on Dr. Waterland's manner of vindicating Scripture against Tindal, which only increased the confusion by adding to the elements of discord. He also published (1747) * A Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers of the Church,' which was answered by several of the High-Church clergy. These treatises have now fallen into oblivion. They were perhaps useful in preventing religious truths from stagnating in that lukewarm age; but in adverting to them, we are reminded of the fine saying of Hall; “While Protestants attended more to the points on which they differed than those on which they agreed, while more zeal was employed in settling ceremonies and defending subtleties than in enforcing plain revealed truths, the lovely fruits of peace and charity perished under the storms of controversy,'
A permanent service was rendered to the cause of Christianity by the writings of the Rev. WILLIAM LAW (1686-1761), author of a still popular work, 'A Serious Call to a Holy Life’(1729), which, happen
ing to fall into the hands of Dr. Johnson at college, gave him the first occasion of thinking in carnest of religion after he became capable of rational inquiry.' Law was a Jacobite nonconformist: he was tutor to the father of Gibbon the historian, and the latter has commemorated his wit and scholarship, while also noticing the gloom and mysticism which characterise some of Law's writings.
The two elementary works of DR. ISAAC WATTS—his ‘Logic, or the Riglit Use of Reason,’ published in 1724, and his •Improvement of the Mind'-a supplement to the former-were both designed to advance the interests of religion, and are well adapted to the purpose. Various theological treatises
were also written by Watts. Of the other theological and devotional productions of the established clergy of this age, there is only room to notice a few of the best. The dissertations of Bishop Newton on various parts of the Bible (1754-58); the 'Lectures on the English Church Catechism,' by Archbishop Secker; Bishop Law's 'Considerations on the Theory of Religion,' and his ‘Reflections on the Life and Character of Christ,' are all works of standard excellence. The labours of Dr. Kennicot, in the collation of various manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, are also worthy of being here mentioned as an eminent service to sacred literature. He commenced his researches about 1753, and continued them till his death, in 1783. The Hebrew Bible of Dr. Kennicot, with the various readings of manuscripts, appeared in 1776.
DR. JOHN JORTIN (1698–1770), a prebendary of St. Paul's, and archdeacon of London, was early distinguished as a scholar and an independent theologian. His 'Remarks upon Ecclesiastical History,' published at intervals between 1751 and 1754 with an addition of two more volumes after his death, have been greatly admired and he wrote 'Six Dissertations upon various Subjects' (1755), which evince his classical taste and acquirements. His other works are a ‘Life of Erasmus, 1758 ; 'Remarks upon the Works of Erasmus, ' 1760 ; and several tracts, philological, critical, and miscellaneous. Seven volumes of his 'Sermons' were published after his decease.
DR. RICHARD HURD (1720-1808), a friend and disciple of Warburton, was author of an ‘Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies' (1772), being the substance of twelve discourses delivered at Cambridge. Hurd was a man of taste and learning, author of a commentary on Horace, and editor of Cowley's works. He rose to enjoy high church preferment, and died bishop of Worcester, after having declined the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury.
DR. GEORGE HORNE (1780–1792) was another divine whose talents and Icarning raised him to the bench of bishops. He wrote various works, the most important of which is a ‘Commentary on the Book of Psalms,' which appeared in 1776 in two volumes quarto. It is still
a text-book with theological students and divines, and unites exten. sive erudition with fervent piety.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD-JOHN AND CHARLES WESLEY. Connected with the English establishment, yet ultimately separating from it, were those two remarkable men, Whitefield and Wesley. Both were highly useful in their day and generation, and they enjoyed a popularity rarely attained by divines. GEORGE WHITEFIELD was born in Gloucester in 1714. He took orders, and preached in London with astonishing success. He made several voyages to America, where he was equally popular. Whitefield adopted the Calvinistic doctrines, and preached them with incessant activity, and an eloquence unparalleled in its effects. As a popular orator, he was passionate and vehement, wielding his audiences almost at will; and so fascinating in his style and manner, that Hume the historian said he was worth travelling twenty miles to hear. He died in Newbury, New England, in 1770. His writings are tame and commonplace, and his admirers regretted that he should have injured his fame by resorting to publication.
JOHN WESLEY was more learned, and in all respects better fitted to become the leader and founder of a sect. His father was rector of Epworth, in Lincolnshire, where John was born in 1703. educated at Oxford, where he and his brother Charles, and a few other students, lived in a regular system of pious study and discipline, whence they were denominated Methodists. After officiating a short time as curate to his father, the young enthusiast set off as a missionary to Georgia, where he remained about two years. Shortly after his return in 1738, he commenced field-preaching, occasionally travelling through every part of Great Britain and Ireland, where he established congregations of Methodists. Thousands flocked to his standard.
The grand doctrine of Wesley was universal redemption, as contradistinguished from the Calvinistic doctrine of particular redemption, and his proselytes were, by the act of conversion, made regenerate men. The methodists also received lay converts as preachers, who, by their itinerant ministrations and unquenchable enthusiasm, contributed materially to the extension of their societies. Wesley continued writing, preaching, and travelling, till he was eighty-eight years of age; his apostolic earnestness and venerable appearance procured for him everywhere profound respect. He had preached about forty thousand sermons, and travelled three hundred thousand miles. His highly useful and laborious career was terminated on the 2d of March 1791. His body lay in a kind of state in his chapel at London the day previous to his interment, dressed in his clerical habit, with gown, cassock, and band; the old clerical cap on his head, a Bible in one hand, and a white handkerchief in the other. The funeral ser. vice was read by one of his old preachers. “When he came to that part of the service, " forasmuch as it hath pleased God to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother,” his voice changed, and he substituted the word father; and the feeling with which he did this was such, that the congregation, who were shedding silent tears, burst at once into loud weeping. At the time of Wesley's death, the number of Methodists in Europe, America, and the West India Islands, was 80,000 : they are now above a million-three hundred thousand of which are in Great Britain and Ireland. The writings and jour-nais of Wesley are very voluminous, and have been published in sixteen volumes (London, 1809). CHARLES WESLEY (1708–1788) joined with his brother in publishing, in 1738, a 'Collection of Psalms and Hymns, some of which are among the most striking and beautiful in the language.
HERVEY-ERSKINE-WEBSTER. The Rev. JAMES HERVEY (1714-1758) was a popular writer on reigious subjects. His “Meditations on the Tombs, on a Flower-garden,' &c. had an extraordinary sale, and the author is said to have received £700 for the copyright of the first part of his work—which sum he distributed in charity. Hervey was also author of "Theron and Aspasio, or a Series of Letters and Dialogues on the most important Subjects;' Remarks on Lord Bolingbroke's Letters on History;' Eleven Letters to the Rev. John Wesley, in answer to his Remarks on Theron and Aspasio,' &c. After his death, collections of his letters and sermons were printed, and these, with his works, are comprised in six volumes octavo. When Johnson, on one occasion, ridiculed Hervey's Meditations,’ Boswell could not join in this treatment of the admired volume. 'I am not an impartial judge,” he says, ‘for Hervey's “ Mediations” engaged my affections in my early years. This apology may be pleaded by many readers, for the "Meditations' are written in a ffowery, ornate style, which captivates the young and persons of immature taste. The inflated description and overstrained pathos with which the work abounds render it distasteful-almost Iudicrous—to critical readers; but Hervey was good man, whose works have soothed many an invalid and mourner, and quickened the efforts of benevolence and piety. He was rector of WestonFavell, near Northampton, and was most exemplary in the discharge of his pastoral duties.
The Rev. EBENEZER ERSKINE (1680–1754) and his youngest brother, the Rev. RALPH ERSKINE (1685–1752), are both divines celebrated in the annals of the Scottish Church, but more remarkable for their personal influence and preaching than as contributors to our theological literature. The first was founder of the Secession Church, having isolated himself from the establishment in consequence of disagreement with the leaders of the General Assembly respecting the
* Southey's Life of Wesley.
law of patronage and other ecclesiastical matters. Mr. Erskine and three other clergymen abjured the authority of the Assembly, and held aloof from it for several years; and in 1740 they were formally severed from the Established Church by a judicial act of the Assembly. His congregation, however, adhered to him; other minister3 also withdrew from the church, and the seceders took the name of Burghers. In this body differences also arose, and it became divided into two sections—Burghers and Anti-burghers. A collection of Erskine's 'Sermons,' extending to five volumes, printed 1762–176, lias been published.-Ralph Erskine was minister of Dunfermline from 1711 to 1737, when, having joined the secession with his brother and the other ministers, he withdrew from the establishment. Ralph Erskine was a copious writer on religious subjects. Flis sermons are numerous, and his ‘Gospel Sonnets,' published in 1760, fill two large volumes. These works are devotional, not poetical, and are not of a nature to be subjected to literary criticism.
DR. ALEXANDER WEBSTER (1707-1784), minister of the Tolbooth Church in Edinburgh, has the merit of originating the Ministers' Widows' Fund—a benevolent scheme sanctioned by parliament-and also of carrying out the first attempt at a census in Scotland. ACcording to the returns obtained by Webster in 1755, Scotland had a population of 1,265,380. In 1798, a more careful and regular series of returns, obtained from the clergy by Sir John Sinclair, made the amount of the population 1,526,492. On the occasion of Whitefield's famous visit to Scotland in 1741, Webster acted a conspicuous part. On his journey to Ralph Erskine at Dunfermline, Whitefield
met and entertained at Edinburgh by Webster and some of his brethren; and learning from them the state of church prejudices and parties, he refused to connect himself with any particular sect. "The spiritual tempest,' says Mr. Burton in his . History of Scotland,' was worked up to its wildest climax when, in an encampment of tents on the hill-side at Cambuslang, Whitefield, at the head of a band of clergy, held, day after day, a festival which might be called awful, but scarcely solemn, among a multitude calculated by contemporary writers to amount to 30,000 people. The Secession ministers imputed the whole to sorcery
and the devil, and a fast was appointed as a penitence for these sins of the land. Dr. Webster, on the other hand, wrote a pamphlet ascribing the conversions alleged to have been made by Whitefield to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Political agitation followed this religious fervour: the Stuart insurrection of 1745 broke out, and Webster lent all his energies and influence to the cause of the royalists. After the victory of Culloden he was appointed to preach the thanksgiving sermen, and this discourse, with a few other of his sermons, was printed. He is said also to have written several patriotic songs to animate the loyalty of his countrymen, and one amatory lyric on the