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[The following eloquent character of Grotius is from · A Discourse on the Study of the Law of Nature and Nations ; introductory to a course of lectures on tbat science,' by Sir James Mackintosh published in the year 1800.
It is connect. ed with a criticism of his works on the laws of war and peace. It is almost unnecessary to say that the theological writings of Grotius, particularly his commentaries, still retain a bigh degree of value.]
“So great is the uncertainty of posthumous reputation, and 80 liable is the fame of even the greatest ined to be obscured by those new fashions of thinking and writing, which succeed each other so rapidly among polished nations, that Grotius, who filled so large a space in the eye of his contemporaries, is now perbaps known to some of my readers only by name. Yet if we fully estimate both his endowments and his virtuęs, we may justly consider him as one of the most memorable men who have done honour to modern times. He combined the discharge of the most important duties of active and public life with the attainment of that exact and various learning which is generally the portion only of the recluse student. He was distinguished as an advocate and a magistrale, and he composed the most valuable works of the law of his own country; he was almost equally celebrated as an historian, an orator, a poet, and a divine; a disinterested statesman, a philosophical lawyer, a patriot who united moderation with firmness, and a theologian, who was taught candour by his learning. With singular merit and singular felicity he preserved a life so blameless, that in times of the most furious civil and religious faction, the sagacity of fierce and acute adversaries was vainly exerted to discover a stain upon his character. It was bis fate to be exposed to the severest tests of human virtue ; but snch was the bappy temperature of his mind, that he was too firm to be subdued by adversity, and too mild and honest to be provoked to violence by injustice. Amidst all the hard trials and galling vexations of a turbulent political life, he never once deserted his friends when they were unfortunate, nor insulted his enemies when they were weak. Unmerited exile did not damp his patriotism ; the bitterness of controversy did not extinguish bis charity. He was just, even to his persecutors, and faithful to his ungrateful couptry.”
[The following is an extract from one of the works of the celebrated Dr. Courayer ; who though born a Roman Catholic, and distinguished by genius and learning, that would bave secured him valuable ecclesiastical preferment, was led in the course of his inquiries to opinions contrary to the church of Rome, and took refuge in England from the obloquy and persecution, which he found to be the consequence of bis dissents There he found distinguished patrons and friends; was highly esteemed for his virtues and talents, and particularly by bis instructive, entertaining, and inoffensive manner of conversation, obtained a cordial welcome in the houses of some of the first families of the kingdom. He was honoured with the friendship of Queen Caroline, who bestowed upon him a liberal pension.
hough he never formally renounced the communion of the church of Rome, yet he disapproved of many of its opinions and superstitions. He died in Oct. 1776, at the advanced age of 95; and towards the close of his life be wrote and subscribed with his own band “A declaration of his last sentiments on the different doctrines of religion ;" which from a writer of such celebrity and on a subject so important bas excited the curiosity of the learned, and will be found interesting to every serious inquirer in religion. As the work is rare in this country, we shall, as we have opportunity, present some extracts.]
“On the point of appearing before God, both to fulfil the duty of sincerity, and to furnish all, into whose hands this writing may fall, with a testimony, which every person living owes to truth; urged moreover by my conscience to declare my thoughts on the doctrines of christianity, and the differences, which divide christian societies, I proceed to do it with that simplicity, wbich becomes integrity in the near view of death.
“1. I firmly believe, that there is a God. Atheism appears to me a sentiment as pernicious as it is unreasonable. Equally contrary to the light of nature, the purity of manners, and the good of society. It is the interest of the whole world to proscribe a doctrine founded only on blindness and corruption. It is making too bad a use of liberty and reason to employ them both in declaring a truth, which all nature announces, against which the heart struggles in vain, to abandon itself to its pas. sions with less scruple and remorse.
“I believe not only that there is a God, but moreover that there is but One: and while I ascribe to God the glory of all good, I believe I can bave recourse only to the will of man, for the discovery of the origin of moral evil.
“ The more I have studied the gospel, the more worthy it has appeared to me of approbation, and the more worthy of being adhered to. Nothing is so pure, as the worship it proposes; nothing so exact as the rules it prescribes ; nothing so holy as the life it enjoins ; nothing so noble as the recompense it leads us to hope for ; nothing is so proper to render men and societies bappy, since by subduing our passions to reason and religion, it takes away the source of our miseries by taking away the source of our disorders. It supposes all natural truths and destroys none. It reforms all vices, and conducts to the practice of all virtues. It re-establishes in the minds of men those ideas of justice, of charity, of temperance, of modesty, and of piety, which the author of nature had formed in us, and which sin had destroyed. Nothing is so true, as that which is said by St. Paul, that Jesus Christ hath made all things new; and by a kind of second creation hath rendered us again capable of righteousness and true holiness. The gospel is a new mission, in which religion is no more confined within the limits of a people, or a province; and in which all men, having the same Creator, are recalled without distinction to the same laws and to the same bopes. It is a new worship, in which we are taught that there is no other, which is agreeable to Him, but that which is in spirit and in truth. It is a new morality, which does not confine itself to the repressing those outward actions, which are sinful, but teaches us to dry up the sources of evil actions in condemning even evil thoughts and desires. It ope rates upon us by new hopes and new fears; and it is no more the expectation of temporal good or the fear of temporal evil, by which we are excited to practise virtue and to avoid vice. Whatever is confined to the present life only appears unworthy of us : and man, better instructed in the grandeur of liis origin and of his end, cherishes no thoughts but those which relate to eternity, for which he perceives that his soul was destined.”
(As some inquiry bas lately been made with respect to the person and character of Mary Magdalene, who is mentioned in the gospels as one of the earliest disciples of our Lord, it may be useful to adduce a few extracts from a letter, written by tbe candid and learned Dr. Lardner to Jonas Hanway, Esq. in 1758, the object of which was to redeem her memory from a common but most injarious imputation, and to assign the reasons, why houses for the reception of penitent women, who bad been disorderly in their lives, should not, as was then proposed by that zealous pbilanthropist, be called Magdalen houses. We give only an abstract of ihe whole, which may be read with
profit both for the particular object, for which it was written, and for the scriptural knowledge it exhibits.]
“ There has been much discourse about erecting a house for the reception of penitent women, who bave been disorderly in their lives: and it has been proposed by some, that they should be called Magdalen houses. But as that denomination is disliked by others, besides myself, I have taken the liberty to address you upon the subject.”
I presume, it may be owing to a supposition, that the fine story, recorded in the seventh chapter of St. Luke's Gospel of the gracious reception, our Lord gave to a woman, there called a sinner, relates to Mary Magdalene : and this bas been a common opinion. Nevertheless I cannot Ibink, that she is the person there meant.
“One reason here offers from the history itself, at verse 27., where she is said to be a woman in the city, in which our Lord then was : which according to most barmonizers of the gospel was either Capernaum or Nain; whereas there can be no reason to believe, that Mary Magdalene resided at either of those places. Says Dr. Macknight," she is called the Magdalene or Magdalite, probably from Magdala, the place of her nativity, a town situated sonewbere beside the lake.”
A passage at the beginning of St. Luke's gospel deserves particular attention : which therefore shall be here recited. “Aud it came to pass afterwards, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been bealed of evil spirits and infirmities ; Mary, called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and many others which ministered to him of their substance.” Luke viii, 1-3.
This text affords many reasons for thinking, that Mary Magdalene is not the woman intended in the preceding chapter. In the first place, it hence appears, tbat Mary Magdalene was a woman of quality ; but it is very uncommon for such to deserve the character, given ch. vii. 37. "a woman in the city, which was a sinner.” Dr. Macknight argues to the like purpose. “ Mary Magdalene seems rather to have been a woman of high station and opulent fortune, being mentioped by Si. Luke, even before Joanna, the wife of so great a man as Herod's steward ; and when the other evangelisis bare occasion to mention our Lord's female followers, they commonly assign the first place to Mary Magdalene.
Grotius speaks to the like purpose, and also thinks, that it was at her expense chiefly, that the spices were prepared for embalming the body of Jesus. To wbich I would add, that the
to her age.
precedence, just taken notice of, may have been partly owing
Secondly, in the text we are considering, Mary Magdalene is mentioned with other women, who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. And of her it is said, “out of whom went seven devils.” She was therefore one of those, who are sometimes called demoniacs, and had been possessed, as we gene. rally say, by evil spirits. Now though we cannot with certainty conclude what was her particular affection, whether a distempered frame of mind, or epilepsy, or something else, it appears to me very evident, that some natural, not moral distemper is intended.
Thirdly, in this text Mary Magdalene is mentioned with divers other honourable women, who attended our Lord in his journies, and who ministered to him of their substance. But it may be justly questioned, whether our Lord would have allowed of that, if Mary's conduct had been disreputable in the former part of her life. For though he received such an one as a penitent, and assured her of the forgiveness of her sins, it would not be easily reconciled with the rules of prudence to admit such a person to a stated attendance. This argument has affected the minds of many learned men.
Nor can it be imagined, that any women of distinction and good credit, would admit into their company one, who had been under the reproach of a disorderly life. By St. Matthew they are mentioned thus. “ Mauy women were there, beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him; among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. See also Mark xv. 40. 7. Luke xxiv. 10. John xix. 25. All these must bave been women of an unblemished character, and so far was there from being any exception to Mary Magdalene, that she is several times mentioned as the most honourable, and placed first of all.
Jerom says, “ They provided, for our Lord's accommodation in his food and garments; and possibly Mary Magdalene is mentioned the first, because she presided in the direction of the affairs, which were under their care.
When they accompanied our Lord in any of his journies, they may have followed at a distance, and in a separate band. And, as may be well supposed, they bad some female servants of their own.
But the woman called a sinner, was absolutely excluded from having any part in that company. When she came into the room, where our Lord was, and gave proofs of repentance, he graciously and openly received her as a penitent. “He said unto her," thy sins, which are many, are forgiven ; New Series-vol. I.