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by which an established church is to support herself under a complete toleration, “ not forwardly to set up any claims of superior purity or authority to other churches, either in respect of doctrine, worship, government, or discipline; and to maintain none, after they have been proved to be either unjust or dubious; nor lastly to assert even those that are the most indisputably just and well founded, with a disproportioned or unhallowed zeal.” It should likewise "prescribe reasonable terms both of clerical and lay communion."
In this second part, Mr. B. combats a saying of Bishop Butler, and a maxim éf Mr. Locke; but a skilful advocate, we think, would be able to defend them both. Bishop Butler conceives“ that a perfectly virtuous nation (which can only be formed upon the principles of piety) would in a course of ages, according to the ordinary progress of things, obtain the empire of the world.” Though we do not suppose that their principles would lead them to covet the dominion of other countries, we have no hesitation in saying that they would, in a century or two, change the state of the world, and diffuse their principles over every land.
Nor is it with so much reason that our author censures Mr. Locke's maxim, " that truth would certainly do well enough if she were once left to shift for herself." With the exception of America, England, and perhaps a state or two more in Europe, where shall we find the place, in which divine truth is allowed to shift for herself? In some instances, she is persecuted and banished, and it is death for her to enter. In others, she is fettered, manacled, and gagged. In short, the barbarous treatment of truth has been, and is still, the crime and misery of the world. The progress of Christianity during the first three centuries, while it confirms the philosopher's remark, is a full answer to Mr. B.'s reasoning. And we have no doubt, but that notwithstanding the unpalatableness of divine truth to the depraved heart of man, were it allowed to shift for itself and have fair play, the pure and faithful preaching of it, by zealous men, would, through the mighty energy of the Holy Ghost, render it the power of grace unto salvation to multitudes, and increase its glorious extension, till the the whole earth submitted to the empire of virtue, freedom, and happiness.
In the third part of this work, Mr. B. lays down rules for the conduct of a good citizen, particularly under any moderate government. Many useful admonitions will be found in this division, on a variety of topics. In p. 261, they are reduced to the following heads :
“ To guard against any wrong impressions he might receive from new and plausible political theories ; and to regulate his expectations by what
is obvious and practicable in the present state of human nature, and the existing circumstances of public affairs.
“ To distinguish real political evils from imaginary ones, and from those various evils which arise out of the common condition of man in this world: also, Not to aggravate or rashly oppose the first ; to dismiss the second ; and to suffer patiently the last.
“ To avoid an idle curiosity in political matters ; and still more a disposition to hunt after small or unknown grievances.
“ To beware of any unnecessary or hasty attachment, and still more of a blind devotion to any party whatever, either in politics or religion.
“ Lastly: Never forwardly to urge his public claims or pretensions, nor beyond what the common good may require; and when this, on the whole, is provided for, to rest satisfied in he quiet and faithful discharge of the duties of his present station.”
Most of the counsels here given we cordially approve; and we most earnestly wish that they were universally followed; but there are some sentiments expressed, and others implied, in which we cannot acquiesce. Circumstances frequently give a certain bias to the mind of a writer, which perverts it from the line of truth and prudence. The astonishing and disastrous events which of late have taken place in Europe, seem to have exerted some such influence on Mr. B. ; and his whole book, in consequence, is pervaded with a peculiar tinge, which appears however most strongly in this part. For example, he seems anxious to lead away the mass of the people (all but the nobility and gentry) from every kind of political conversation and discussion. "We give Mr. B. credit for the best intentions ; but his ideas are not sanctioned by the spirit of the English constitution ; nor, indeed, are they friendly to its prosperity. That an attention to politics may be carried to excess, and that it has been abused in a pernicious and intolerable degree, who is there but will readly acknowledge? But may not every thing else be abused? and has not every pursuit of business and relaxation been carried to excess? What then is the remedy? Not to rush to the opposite extreme, but to return to the right path, and pursue it steadily. The English constitution is so fraided, that the exercise of wisdom and power, by the mass of the people, is required, in the choice of men to administer some of the highest offices of legislation, government, and municipal authority. But if they were to follow Mr. B.'s advice, and neither think nor speak on any question of politics, how could they be qualified to perform this duty, a duty of the most important kind, and on which the welfare of the country so much depends. It would be of benefit to mankind for such writers as Mr. B. to keep in view, that the governors have the same depraved dispositions as the governed ; and that, as the strong hand of government
must be exerted to preserve order and peace among the people, so the people must keep their eyes upon the government, and see that it does not abridge those liberties which it professes to maintain, but accomplishes its true object, within the limits of its legitimate authority.
This is the spirit of the English constitution ; and to this we are indebted for its preservation. Of this our amiable and worthy author is himself deeply sensible ; and he acknowledges that the world has suffered far more from despotism than from anarchy, and “that sometimes by open violence, and oftener by a secret corrosion, the former has destroyed the peace and comfort of millions. It is an evil which may endnre for ages; whereas anarchical commotions, like hurricanes or earthquakes, though frequently tremendous while they continue, are of a transient
Hence of all human interests, none is niore sacred than that of rational liberty; and of all human characters, none more honourable than that of a temperate and steady advocate for the natural and just rights of mankind.”
As this is a book of Christian politics, we conceive it our duty to take notice of another fault. Mr. B.'s Christian is too much a quietist. In bearing evils with patience, and submitting to hardships with resignation, he possesses the true spirit of the Gospel ; but he is very deficient in the active parts of Christian duty. He is almost taught rather to consider evils as unavoidable, and to bow beneath their pressure, than to face them boldly, and endeavour vigorously to remove them. Under the influence of Mr. B.'s sentiments, he would retire from the wickedness of the world, and in solitude labour to preserve his integrity. Our author forgets, that the Gospel has assigned to the disciples of Jesus, the reformation of the world ; whereever they live, they are to have this object in view. It allows no man to steal his way silently and secretly to heaven : he must openly confess his Master, and diffuse the knowledge of Him to the utmost limit of his influence. As an individual, he should exert his powers to honour God; and, in conjunction with others, he should form and execute plans for the happiness of mankind. Mr. B. is afraid of Novelties; and we would reprobate, with as much severity as himself, wild, romantic schemes, and questionable alterations in political institutions; but he is cautious to an extreme, and is not sufficiently zealous for real improvements. Without any political alteration, how much moral change for the better might take place in the condition of a people! That every improvement is a novelty, is an obvious truth which such writers should constantly remember. The attempts to abolish the Slave Trade, and establish Sunday Schools, were once perfect novelties ; but they are not the less valuable on that account,
Another thing in which we differ from Mr. B., is the meaSure of influence which a government has on the character and happiness of the people. This influence he under-rates in a surprising degree ; and it is a practical error, productive of the most injurious consequences to human' virtue and felicity. Immense is the difference of the social state in England and Spain. About the time of the Reformation, any difference .which might be between them was in favour of the latter. Now, England is exalted to the summit of civilized life, while Spain is sunk into a fathomless abyss of ignorance, superstition, poverty, and distress. Had we leisure for discussion, we could shew that the difference is owing chiefly to the government, to its direct, but still more to its indirect influence.
The fourth part of this work is “On the Way to live happily under all Governments, and in all situations." The greater portion of it is occupied with a dissertation on Providence, as furnishing consolation to good men under all the miseries of the present life. Much benefit may be derived from the perusal, especially by the restless and discontented. Though the dissertation itself is rather out of place in such a treatise as Christian Politics, the author's pious design might serve as án apology: but we were astonished beyond measure to find him entering into one of the most difficult controversies in theology,—that concerning Liberty and Necessity; and bringing severe and unjust accusations against a whole body of Christians, and by name against one of the ablest and best men that modern ages have produced. As he is so free in his censures, it is not exceeding the bounds of due repect to say of our author, that though he is a very pious and sensible gentleman, he is not a profound divine ; that he did not, in this disquisition, consider before-hand quid valeant humeri ; and that though he can swim well, he has not learned to dive. If he will take the trouble to read over Jonathan Edwards on the Freedom of the Will, with care and impartiality, he will not place that wonderful man in the company of Priestley and Hobbes; and he will, at least, alter much of the controversial part of his own book on the subject of Providence.
We are sensible that the abstract and specimens we have given of Mr. Bates's work, convey but an inadequate notion of its value and attractions; but our limits forbid a more extensive examination, and our duty has required us to protest against what we deem chiefly erroneous, in a volume generally deserving of high commendation : for the subjects which it em- , braces are interesting, the discussions are sensible, the prin- ; ciples are scriptural, the spirit is most amjable, and the deductions are of much practical importance.
Art. VII. The Delusions of Hope. A Poem. Svo. pp. 53. Price 36
Cadell and Davies, 1806. This poem itself is one of the “ Delusions of Hope.” The
title fascinated us; we read the first stanza, and were determined to be pleased with it. We proceeded to the second, but in the very opening were shocked to see a sigh," hanged at its own door, and immediately afterwards “a tear," apprehend
a deserter :"
“ The quivering sigh on its red portal hung."
“ The soft tear trembling, a deserter young." Nevertheless we stified our chagrin, before it could stille our good will, and hurried onwards from line to line, from page to page, alternately deluded and disappointed, with here the shadow of a lovely conception, there the substance of a villainous conceit; here a glimmering of poetical fire, and there the murkiness of prosaic smoke; till arriving at the conclusion, with ineffable composure we shut the book, and our eyes together, and dreamed that we had been reading the finest pcem in the world.
It is not necessary to develope the plan of this little work; and a word or two on the execution will be sufficient. It is written in the stanza of Spenser, the most harmonious and varied for heroic matter in the English language. This author in many passages has employed it well, but his rhymes are frequently base, his lines feeble, and his Alexandrines insuflerably languid. It has been laid down as law in the courts of the Muses, that the Alexandrine admits no variation of the cæsural pause from being placed after the sixth syllable. If our author was aware of this law, he has totally broken it, for which indeed we blame him less than for not having broken it successfully's for we would contend, that it ought never to be violated, except when it may be “more honoured in the breach than in the observance.” In the “ Delusions of Hope,” this has not been happily accomplished, though we have Alexandrines of every possible variety of the cæsura ; and hence many of the closing lines read like a prose note at the end of the verse.
‘But we must not dwell exclusively on the faults of this poem ; it contains some brilliant thoughts and beautiful expressions ; every page is strewed with fiowers,—but they resemble flowers in embroidery, of rich and glowing colours that delight the eye, but charm 110 other sense; they breathe no fragrance, there is no dew on their leaves. The author has softened away the strength, and volatilized the spirit of his ideas; he has unquestionably, some of the gold of genius, but he has beaten too much of it inte