Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

• an affecting event revived his distress in its full force, and plunged him again into distraction and desperation.' Mrs. Unwin was attacked by the pally; and, after lingering a long time, withi faculties impaired, was at length relieved by death. During this period,“ he declined all mental and bodily exertion, and rejected all attempts at friendly consolation ; nay, he conceived his tenderest friends to be transformed into conspirators against his welfare. Expecting every hour to be his last out of endleis torments, nothing but this horrible prospect could attract his notice for an instant. He refuled, day after day, his necessary food; and imminent danger appeared of his speedy departure. But his period of mortality was extended : and means were unexpectedly afforded for his remoyal to a distant situation, where he could remain under the continual care of an amiable young kinsman [the Rev. Mr. Johnson, of East-Dereham, in Norfolk]; who, with a tenderness beyond the common limits of filial affetion, watched over the precious remnant of his life. Much of it elapsed without a probability of his restoration. His intellectual powers were fo much affected, that he was only capable of attending the most trivial sub. jects, even when willing to have his thoughts diverted from despair. Local advantages, however, the solicitous attention of affectionate friends, and the indefatigable afliduity of his only remaining companion, were at length rendered so far useful, that he was enabled to resume his literary occupations; which were always, when purlued, a considerable though partial alleviation of his distress !

" During the last year or two of his life, his health and his state of mind appeared to be as much restored, as for any equal time at any period of his long afiliations. Toward the close of the past winter [the winter of 1799] he was, however, attacked by a bodily disorder, which brought on a rapid decay. His young friend and relation, convinced that he would shortly exchange a world of infirmity and sorrow for a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, repeatedly endeavoured to cheer him with the prospect, and to assure him of the happiness that awaited him. Still he refuied to be comforted. Oh spare me, spare me! you know, you know it to be false," was his only reply. Early on the 25th of April, 1800, he sunk into a ftate of apparent insensibility, which might have been mistaken for a tranquil slumber, but that his eyes remained half open. His breath was regular, though feeble; and his countenance and animal frame were perfectly serene. In this state he continued for twelve hours; and then expired, without heaving his breath!"

Thus terminated the miserable existence of this incomparable poet, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. We always endeavoured, but in vain, to inspire him with a good opinion of his services in the cause of virtue. And when we review his sad story as thus related, though we cannot greatly esteem his chronicler, we are prompted to exclaim with the blunt but affectionate old Admiral, who bewailed his departed wife, if such folks are not received into heaven, God Almighty must fit alone.

There is a portrait of the poet by Romney, and a private engraving; both of which are extremely like him. We hope it will not be long, before the public are indulged with one or the other. though we deem it impossible, for the graver to convey all the expreslion of his wild and piercing eye, which was usually blood -fhotten.

Loures

273

Lectures on Ecclefiaficial History. By the late Duncan Campbell,

D. D. &c.

(Continued from p. 150.) I

intend, says Dr. Campbell, that the subject of the present and some

fucceeding lectures, Thall be the sacred history, the first branch of the theoretic part of the theological course, which claims the attention of the student. This is sub-divided into two parts: the first comprehends the events which preceded the Chriftian æra ; the Iccord, those which folJowed."

The object of the lecture which he begins thus, and is the first of the course, is to impress up n the minds of the students the importance of the sacred history, especially of that portion of it which records the events prior to and co-eval with, the Christian æra; and then to point out the plan by which this important itudy may të inost succettully profecuted.

To evince its importance the learned Principal observes, that many of the articles of our faith are historical, viz.

Those which relate to the creation, the fall, the deluge, the Mosaic dispensation, the premises, the incarnation of ihe Mefliah, his lite, his death, his resurrection, his ascenfion, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the mifsion of the Apofiles, and the several purposes, which, by these means; it pleased the Divine Providence to effe&uate. As therefore a confiderable portion of the Christian faith confifis in points of an historic nature, it mult be of consequence, for elucidating these, to be acquainted with those collateral events which happen to be connecied with any of them by the circumKances of time and place.”

He then shews, in a very perspicuous and satisfactory manner, that this knowledge is of importance, not only for the illustration of the Christian doctrine, but for its confirmation also; since without it we cannot judge of those means by which the Gospel was propagated by a few illiterate filhermen, in opposition to the prejudices of the Jews, the power and pride of the Romans, and the false philosophy of the Greeks.

But it may be objected, that if all this historical knowledge were necelsary to confirm our faith in the Gospel, what would be the case of the bulk of mankind, who, by reason of the time they must employ in earning a subsistence, have no leisure for such enquiries; and by reaton of the education they have received, are not in a capacity of making them?"

To this objection he returns an answer, of which we request the reader to weigh well the force, because we shall probably have occafion, during the course of this review, to appeal to it as a fufficient answer to similar objections urged against similar inquiries of little less inportance.

Such inquiries,” says Dr. Campbell, “ are not necessary to the man, who, through want of education and of time, is incapacita til for making them. These very wants, which unfit him for the study, are his great security that he shall have no occafion for it.” No. XXXIII. VOL. VIII.

U

T

[ocr errors]

To this we cordially affent, as well as to the arguments by which the learned author proves it to be the duty of every man of letters

o To enter so far at least into these inquiries as to be acquainted with both sides of the question, and to be equitable judges between the friends and the enemies of the Gospel. There is also another reason, which ought to determine those in particular who have the holy minittry in view. It is their business, and therefore in a special manner their duty, to be furnished, as n wh as possible, for removing not only their own doubts, but the doubts of other people. It is their province to support the weak, to confirm the doubting, and to reclaim the strayed. In fpiritual matters, especially, they ought to serve as eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame;" and dreadful will be their guilt, if, by wilfully fhutting their eyes, they either mislead the blind themselves, or suffer thein to be mifted by others."

Having thus evinced the importance of the study of every kind of history connected with the various dispensations of God to man, he next inquires into the manner in which it may be successfully prosecuted. Previous to this inquiry he informs his audience, that it is not his intention, on any branch of the theological science, to recommend to their perusal a multiplicity of books. For this part of his conduct he affigns four reasons, which are all ingenious and forcible; but we shall extract only the third as containing perhaps the most valuable reflecfons of the whole.

* Young people," says Dr. Campbell, “ are too apt to imagine that learning and reading are synonymous, and that a man is always the more learned, the more he has read. Nothing can be a more egregious mistake. Food is neceffary for the support of the body, and without a competency of it we could not enjoy either vigour or health ; but we should not suspect him to be over locked with wisdom, who should conclude from this concession, that the more a man eats, the more healthy and vigorous he must be. We know, from experience, that when a certain proportion is exceeded, those corporeal endowments, health and strength, are impaired by, the very means, which, if used in moderation, would have increased them. The fame thing exactly holds with reading, which is the food of the mind. The memory may be loaded and encumbered in the one case, as the stomach is in the other; and, in either case, if we take more than we can digeft, it can never turn to good account. There have been instances of such belluones librorum, such book-gluttons, as very much resembled the lean kine in Pharaoh's vision, which, when they had devoured the fat and well-favoured kine, were themselves as lean and ill-favoured as before. It is indeed neceffary that we accustom ourselves to read : but it is likewise necefsary, and much more difficult, that we accustom ourselves to refleti. There ought to be stated times for both exerciles; but to the last, particularly, our best endeavours ought frequently to be directed : and for this purpoft's, I know no better helps than to be obliged, sometimes by converfation, fometimes by composing, to express our sentiments on the subjects of which we read,"

These are judicious reflections, to which we hope every reader, and more especially every youthful reader, of our Miscellany, will pay at

tention ; for they are applicable to all clafles of literary men as well as may students of theology.

Some

may

be

Some books, however, must be read by him who would acquire an historical knowledge of the events more particularly connected with God's various dispensations to man; and the first book, which the profefTor recommends, is the Old Testament. That this book read with the greater advantage, he advises it to be divided into periods or epochs, and an abstract of the history of each epoch to be written by the student before he proceeds to the next.

“ In periods, of which an account is given by more than one of the in{pired writers, it will be proper to read the different accounts, and to compare them together, before the itudent begins to compose his intended aba ftract.”

Besides the Old Testament, he recommends the attentive perufal of Josephus in the original, and makes fome very pertinent remarks on the principles of that historians, and the credit which is due to him. When he affirmed that “the two books of the Maccabees are the only other ancient monuments of the transactions of the Jewish people, from the time of the re-building of the temple under Ezra, to its final demolition,” he surely forgot the third and fourth books of Maccabees, which are both worthy of the student's perufal. The former of these, which relates some very interesting transactions of the Jews in Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy Philopeter, has always been held in the highest veneration by the antient Christians, and is believed by the most judicious protestant critics to have been written before the first book, and to be superior in authority to the second*. The fourth book is valuable, chiefly for the view which it exhibits of Jewish philosophy, after a familiar intercourse took place between that people and the Alexandrian Greeks ; and for the elegance with which it is composedt. In the encomiums bestowed upon the Old and New Testament connected, ty Prideaux, we hrartily concur; it is one of the most valuable historical works in any language.

“ The subject of the second lecture is," as the Doctor expresses it; "some obseryations on the nature and utility of the Sarred Canon; to which he adds reflections tending to explain both the origin and character of that species of history which is denoininated ecclesiastical.”

Concerning the several books, of which the Bible, or Canon, is composed; "A number of questions naturally arise in the mind of the inquisitive ftudent. Such are the following: Who were the writers and compilers, and at what periods, in what places, and on what occafions, were the writings and compilations made? Whence arises that authority they have so generally obtained ? Has this been an immediate or a gradual confequence of their publication ? Has the Christian world been unanimous in this respect in regard to all those books, or has it been divide ., as to all or any of them? And if divided, what have been the most cogent arguments on the different fides? How, by whom, where, and when, were they collected

* See Bishop Wilson's Bible.
+ Vide Prolegomena Ed. Ton. 2. Septuagint; Interp. Ed. Grabe.

U 2

ipto

[ocr errors]

into one volume? What hath been their fate and reception since? What have been the most remarkable editions and tranflations they have undergone? What the variations occasioned by these, and what the most eminent paraphrases and commentaries they have given rise to ? Such of these queries as regard the origin of the Sacred Books, are chielly conducive for [to] confirming the truth of our religion; and such as regard their reception, good or bad, with all the consequences it hath produced, are conducive for [to] illustrating its doctrines. Those who, as defenders of revelation, have entered tire lists with its adversaries, more especially those who, like Stillingfieet, in the last age, or Lardner in the present, have applied themselves to support the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures, did always consider themselves as under a neceflity of doing something for our satisfaction, in regard to the questions of the first order. Those, on the other hand, who have affumed the character, not of the champions of religion, but of its interpreters, do commonly attach themselves more to the discussion of the questions of the second order."

Whilst the learned Lecturer admits that a great deal of information on these laft topics is to be found in the works of some of our scriptural critics, be more particularly recommends to his audience Houbigent's Prolegomena, to the different parts into which he has divided his Latin version of the Old Testament; the Prolegomena of Mill and Weiftein to their editions of the New Testament ; Father Simon's Critical History of the Old and New Testaments; and Michaelis's Introductory Lectures to the facred books of the New Testament. Of the works of Houbigent and Simon he gives very judicious and appropriate characters; but he ought to have recommended Marsh's version of Michaelis in preference to the original; for all the learning and judgment of the translator, though both are great, are no more than sufficient to counteract the pernicious influence of the author's fcepticism. We are rather surprized, that a philosopher, such as Dr. Campbell, did not, for the satisfaction of his students with regard to the first set of queries, recommend, besides Stilling fleet and Lardner, the second chapter of the second part of Hartley's Observations on Man. The metaphylical follies of that author relpecting the vibrations and vibratiuncles of the brain, have prejudiced the sober part of mankind against his works in general; but setting prejudice afide, his whole works are worth the reading, and the chapter in particular, to which we have referred, is one of the ableit vindications of the divine authority of the scriptures that are any where to be found within so narrow a compaís.

From the subject of the sacred canon our author proceeds, in the fame lecture, to the origin and character of Ecclefiaftical History, Previous to the incarnation of our Divine Redeemer, the history of the Church of God was the history of one particular people, first diftinguished by the name of the patriarch Ifrael, and afterwards by that of Judah one of his sons. In this art of the lecture we meet with fome judicious reflections on the nature of the Mosaic economy, and the pui poses which it was intended to serve; but it is needless to quate these, as they are to be found in various works which have

long

« ZurückWeiter »