Page images
PDF
EPUB

by any work of the same nature. In 1747 appeared his still popular .work, "Some Remarkable Passages in the Life of Colonel James Gardiner, who was slain by the Rebels at the Battle of Prestonpans, Sept. 21, 1745.' Gardiner was a brave Scottish officer, who had served with distinction under Marlborough, and was aide-de-camp to the Earl of Stair on his embassy to Paris. From a gay libertine life he was suddenly converted to one of the strictest piety, by what he conceived to be a supernatural interference--namely, a visible representation of Christ upon the cross, suspended in the air, amidst an unusual blaze of light, and accompanied by a declaration of the words: () sinner! did I suffer this for thee, and are these the returns?' From the period of this vision till his death, twenty-six years afterwards, Colonel Gardiner maintained the life and character of a sincere and zealous Christian, united with that of an intrepid and active officer.

Besides several single sermons and charges delivered at the ordination of some of his brethren, Dr. Doddridge published an elaborate work, the result of many years' study, entitled “The Family Expositor, containing a Version and Paraphrase of the New Testament, with Critical Notes, and a Practical Improvement of each Section.' This compendium of Scriptural knowledge was received with the greatest approbation both at home and abroad, and was translated into several languages. Doddridge continued his useful and laborious life at Northampton for many years; but his health failing, he was, in 1751, advised to remove to a warmer climate for the winter. The generosity of his friends supplied ample funds for his stay abroad, and in September of the same year he sailed from Falmouth for Lisbon. He arrived there on the 21st of October, but survived only five days, dying October 26, 1751. The solid learning, unquestioned piety, and true catholic liberality and benevolence of Dr. Doddridge, secured for him the warm respect and admiration of his contemporaries of all sects. Dr. Doddridge was author of what Johnson calls ‘one of the finest epigrams in the English language.' The subject is his family motto, Dum vivimus vivamus,' which, in its primary signification, is not very suitable to a Christian divine, but he paraphrased it thus:

'Live while you live,' the epicure would say.
•Aud seize the pleasures of the present day.
• Live while you live,' the sacred preacher cries,
And give to God each moment as it tlies.',
Lord, in my views let both united be;

I live in pleasure when I live to thee!
Happy Devotional Feelings of Doddridge.To Mrs. Doddridge, from

Northampton, October 1742. I hope, my dear, you will not be offended when I tell you that I am, what I hardly thought it possible, without a miracle, that I should have been, very easy and happy without you. My days begin, pass, and end in pleasure, and seem short because they are so delightful. It may seem strange to say it, but really so it is, 1 hardly feel that I vant anything. I often think of you, and pray for you, and bless God on your account, and please myself with the hope of many comfortable days, and weeks, and years, with you; yet I am not at all anxious about your return, or • indeed about anything else. And the reason, the great and safficient reason, is, that I have more of the presence of God with me than I remember ever to have enjoyed in any one month of my life. He enables me to live for him, and to live with him, When I awake in the morning, which is always before it is light. I address myself to him, and converse with him, speak to him while I am ligl:ting my candle and putting on my clothes, and h:ive often more delighi before I come out of my chamber, though it be hardly a quarter of an hour after my awaking, than I have enjoyed for whole days, or perhaps weeks of my life. lle meets me in iny study, in secret, in family devotions. It is pleasant to rear, pleasant to compose, pleasant to converse with my friends at home; pleasant to visit those abroad-the poor, the sick; pleasant to write letters of necessary business by which any good can be done; pleasant to go out and preach the gospel to poor souls, of which some are thirsting for it, and others dying without it; pleasant in the week-day to think how near another Sabbath is; but, oh! much, much more pleasant, to think how near eternity is, and how short the journey through this wilderness, and that it is but a step from earth to heaven.

Vindication of Religious Opinions.— Addressed, November 1742, to the

Rev. Mr. Bourne. Had the letter which I received from you so many months ago been merely an address of common friendship, I hope no hurry of business would have led me to delay so long the answer wliich civility and gratitude would in that case have required; or had it been to request any service in my power to you, sir, or to any of your family or friends, I would not willingly have neglected it so many days or hours: but when it contained

material, except an unkind insinuation that you esteemed me a dishonest man, who, out of a design to please a party, had written what he did not believe, or, as you thought fit to express yourself, had trimmed it a little with the gospel of Christ,' I thought all that was necessary, after having fully satisfisd my own conscience on that head, which, I bless God, I very easily did, was to forgive and pray for the mistaken brother who had done me the injury, ind to cudeavour to forget it, by turning my thoughts to some more pleasant, important, and useful subject. I imagined, sir, that for me to give you an assurance under my hand that I meant honestly, would signify very little, whether you did or did not already believeit; and as I had little particular to say on the doctrines to which yo!ı referred, I thought it would be of little use to send you a bare confession of my faith, and quite burdensoine to enter into a long detail and examination of arguments which have on one side and the other been so often discussed, and of which the world has of late years been so thoroughly satiated.

On this account, sir, I threw aside the beginning of a long letter, which I had prepared in answer to yours, and with it your letter itself; and I believe I may safely say, several weeks and months have passed in which I have not once recollected anything relating to this affair. But I have since been certainly informed that you, interpreting my silence as an acknowledgment of the justice of your charge, have sent copies of your letter to several of your friends, who have been industrious to propagate them far and near! This is a fact which, had it not been exce dingly well attested, I should not have believed; but as I find it too evident to le questioned, you must excuse me, sir, if I take the liberty to expostulate with you upon it, which, in present circumstances, I apprehend to be not only justice io myself, but, on the whole, kindness and respect for you.

Though it was unkind readily to entertain the suspicions you express, I do pot 80 much complain of your acquainting me with them ; but on what imaginable himane or Christian principle could you communicate such a letter, and grant copies of it? With what purpose could it be done, but with a design of aspersing my character ? und to what purpose could you desire my character to be reproached? Are you sure, sir, that I am not intending the honour of God, and the good of souls, by my various labours of one kind and another-so sure of it, that you will venture to inaintain at the bar of Christ, before the throne of God, that I was a person whom it was your duty to endeavour to discredit ? for, considering vie as a Christian, a

ministór, and a tutor, it could not be merely an indifferent action; nay, considering me as a inan, if it was not a duty, it was a crime !

I will do you the justice, sir, to suppose you have really an ill opinion of me, and believe I mean otherwise than I write; but let me ask, what reason bave you for that opinion ? Is it because you cannot think me a downright fool, and conclude that every one who is not, must be of your opinion, and is a krave if I e does not declare that he is so? or is it from anything particular which you apprehend you know • of my sentiments contrary to what my writings declare? He that scarches iny heart is witness that what I wrote on the very passage you except against, I wrote as what appeared to me most agreeable to truth, and most subservient to the purposes of His glory and the edification of my readers; aud I see no reason to alter it in a second edition, if I should reprint my Exposition, though I had infinitely rather the book should perish than advance anytling contrary to the tenor of the gospel, aud subversive to the souls of men. I guard against apprehending Christ to be a mere creature, or another God, inferior to the Father, or co-ordinate with him. And you will maintain that I believe him to be so; from whence, sir, does your evidence of that arise ? If from my writings. I apprehend it must be in consequence of some inference you draw from them, of laying any just foundation for which I am not at present aware; nor did I ever intend, I am sure, fo say or intimate anything of the kind. If from report, I must caution you against rashly believing such reports. I have heard some stories of me, echoed back from your neighbourhood, which God knows to be as false as if I had been reported to have asserted the divine authority of the Alcoran ! or to have written Hobbes's . Leviathan;' and I can account for them in no other way than by supposing, either that coming through several hands, every one inistook a little, or else that some people have such vivid dreams, that they cannot distinguish them from realities, and so report them as facts; though how to account for their propagating such reports so ze: lously, on any principles of Christianity or common humanity, especially considering how far I am from having offered them any personal injury, would amaze e, if I did not know how far party zeal debases 1.10 understandings of those who in other matters are wise and good. All I shall add with regard to such persons is, that I pray God this evil may not be laid to their charge.

I have seriously reflected with myself whence it should come that such suspicions should arise of my being in what is generally called the Arian scheme, and the chief causes I can discover are these two: my not seeing the arguments which some of my breihren have seen against it in some disputed texts, and my tenderness and regard to those who, I have reason to believe, do espous: it, and whom I dare not in conscience raise a popular cry against! Nor am I at all fond of u ging the controversy, lest it should divide churches, and drive some who are wavering, as indeed I myself once was, to an extremity to which I should be sorry to see such worthy persons, as some of them are, reduced.

Permit me, sir, on so natural an occasion, to conclude with expressing the pleaspre with which I have heard that you of late have turned your preaching from a controversial to a more practical and useful strain. I am persuaded, sir, it is a manner of using the great talents which God has given yon, which will turn to the most valuable account with respect to yourself and your llock; and if you would please to all another labour of love, by endeavouring to convince some who may be more open to the conviction from you than from others, that Christian candour does not consist in judging the hearts of their brethren, or virulently declaring against their fupposed bigotry, it would be a very important charity to them, and a favour to, reverend and dear sir, your very affectionate brother and humble servant,

P. DODDRIDGE. NATHANIEL LARDNER-DR. JAMES FOSTER-JOHN LELAND. DR. NATHANIEL LARDNER (1684–1768) produced treatises of the highest importance to the theological student. His works fill eleven octavo volumes. The chief is his Credibility of the Gospel History,' published between 1730 and 1757, in fifteen volumes, and in which proofs are brought from innumerable sources in the religious history and literature of the first five centuries in favour of the truth of Christianity: Another voluminous work, entitled 'A Large Collection of Ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian Religion,' appeared near the close of the author's life, and completed a design, which, making allowance for the interruptions occasioned by other studies and writings of less importance, occupied his attention for forty-three years.

DR. JAMES FOSTER (1697—1753) is worthy of notice among the dissenting divines as having obtained the poetical praise of Pope. He was originally an Independent, but afterwards joined the Baptists, and was one of the most popular preachers in London. He published several volumes of sermons (1720-42), Discourses on Natural Religion and Social Virtue' (1749–52), and a defence of Christianity (1731).

John LELAND (1691–1766) was pastor of a congregation of Protestant dissenters in Dublin. He wrote ‘A View of the Deistical Writers in England' (1754-56), and an elaborate work on the 'Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation.' The former is a solid and valuable treatise, and is still regarded as one of the best confutations of infidelity.

DR. FRANCIS HUTCHESON. The public taste has been almost wholly withdrawn from metaphysical pursuits, which at this time constituted a favourite study with men of letters. Ample scope was given for ingenious speculation in the inductive philosophy of the mind; and the example of a few great names, each connected with some particular theory of moral science, kept alive a zeal for such minute and often fanciful inquiries. In a higher branch of ethics, honourable service was rendered by Bishop Butler, but it was in Scotland that speculative phil. osophy obtained most favour and celebrity. After a long interval of a century and a half, DR. FRANCIS HUTCHESON (1694–1747) introduced into Scotland a taste for metaphysics, which, in the sixteenth century, had prevailed to a great extent in the northern universities. Hutcheson was a native of Ireland, but studied in the university of Glasgow for six years, after which he returned to his native country, and kept an academy in Dublin. About the year 1726 he published his ‘Inquiry into Beauty and Virtue,' and his reputation was so higlı that he was called to be professor of moral philosophy in Glasgow in the year 1723. His great work, ‘A System of Moral Philosophy, did not appear till after his death, when it was published in two volumes, quarto, by his son. The rudiments of his philosophy were borrowed from Shaftesbury, but he introduced a new term, the mora? sense, into the metaphysical vocabulary, and assigned to it a sphere of considerable importance. With him the moral sense was a capacity of perceiving moral qualities in action, which excite what he called ideas of those qualities, in the same manner as external things give us not merely pain or pleasure, but notions or ideas of hardness, form, and colour.

We agree with Dr. Brown in considering this a great error; a moral sense considered strictly and truly a sense, as much so as any of those which are the source of our direct external perceptions, and not a state or act of the understanding, seems a purely fanciful hypothesis. The ancient doctrine, that virtue consists in benevolence, was supported by Hutcheson with much acuteness; but when he asserts that even the approbation of our own conscience diminishes the merit of a benevolent action, we instinctively reject his theory as unnatural and visionary: On account of these paradoxes, Sir James Mackin. tosh charges Hutcheson with confounding the theory of moral sentiments with the criterion of moral actions, but bears testimony to the ingenuity of his views, and the elegant simplicity of his language.

DAVID HUME.

The system of Idealism, promulgated by Berkeley and the writings of. Hutcheson, led to the first literary production of David HUMEhis Treatise on Human Nature,' published in 1738. The leading doctrine of Hume is, that all the objects of our knowledge are divided into two classes_impressions and ideas. From the structure of our minds he contended that we must for ever dwell in ignorance; and thus, ' by perplexing the relations of cause and effect, he boldly aimed to introduce a universal scepticism, and to pour a more than Egyptian darkness into the whole region of morals.' The 'Treatise on Human Nature' was afterwards recast and republished under the title of An Inquiry concerning the Human Understanding;' but it still failed to attract attention. He was now, however, known as a philosophical writer by his · Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary, published in 1742; a miscellany of thoughts at once original, and calculated for popularity. The other metaphysical works of Hume are, ' An Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals,' the 'Natural History of Religion,' and 'Dialogues on Natural Religion, which were not published till after his death.

The moral system of Hume, that the virtue of actions depends wholly upon their utility, has been often combated, and is generally held to be successfully refuted by Brown. In his own day, Dr. Adam Smith thus ridiculed the doctrine. 'It seems impossible,' he says, * that the approbation of virtue should be a sentiment of the same kind with that by which we approve of a convenient and well-contrived building; or that we should have no other reason for praising a man than for that for which we commend a chest of drawers !' Hume's theory as to miracles, that there was more probability in the error of bad faith of the reporter than in any interference with the ordinary laws of nature, which the observations of scientific men shew to be unswerving, was met, to the general satisfaction of the public, by the able disquisition of Dr. George Campbell, whose leading argument in reply was, that we have equally to trust to human testimony for an account of those laws, as for a history of the trans

« EelmineJätka »