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and in this manner, in their communications with their intimate literary friends, the letters ought, for the sake of the respectability of the writers, to be confined to those friends alone. Should there be any exception, it would be in the instance where some important principle of criticism is discussed in immediate connection with any articles of the author's own performances, so that his remarks respecting his compositions, shall become instructive lessons on the art of composition in general. But this is rarely the case in those parts of the letters before us, which are occupied with a multitude of minutiæ about the writer's own studies. We therefore think, that many of these letters convict Sir W. Forbes of utterly mistaking the proper method of recalling his departed friend, with dignity, into the public consideration.
The first publication of Dr. Beattie was a volume of juvenile poems, in a new edition of which he omitted several pieces which his biographer regrets to lose; especially a long Ode to Peace, which is inserted in the appendix to the present work. We think that Dr. Beaitie shewed more discernment in wishing to let it sink in oblivion, than Sir William in fishing it up again. The term Chaos occurs in the first stanza, and would have been a singularly appropriate title for the whole ode. It is not a description of chaos, but the very thing itself; a mass of ill-defined and enormous images; a confusion of crude elements, dashing, rumbling, howling, and fighting all in the dark.
The Minstrel is the production of a maturer age, and will always be read with delight, by persons endowed with a taste for nature, with tenderness of feeling, and elevated imagi. nation. The alledged deficiency of incident would hardly appear to us a fault, in any work so rich in refined sentiment and beautiful description.
An ample portion of the first volume is occupied with the project, the completion, the publication, and the success, of the Essay on Truth.: This is no place for an examination of the principles of that celebrated book, which, beyond all doubt, was written with the worthiest intention, and was of considerable use at the time, in exposing some of the most obvious extravagances of the sceptical philosophy, which was carried to the very limit of sense by Mr. Hume, and pushed beyond it into the most ridiculous folly, by some of his weak admirers and wicked followers, The book will be an acceptable resting place to those who are averse to the labour of abstract thinking, and an asylum to those who are terrified by the consequences sometimes seen to result from attempting to prosecute such thinking beyond the power and reach of the
human faculties. But we cannot expect that philosophers will ever be satisfied with this doctrine of common sense. They will, we think justly, assert that there is no boundary which can fairly limit and close the investigation of truth on this side the region of metaphysics. The ultimate principles must be there, whether they can be found there or not; and thither the investigation will absolutely go, in spite of every contrivance to satisfy and determine it at any nearer point. How far it shall go into that world of abstraction, before its progress shall be stopped by humility or despair, will depend on the strength of a merely philosophic mind, and on the discretion of a pious one.
The author's expectations of the success of his Essay were not sanguine, and therefore surprize heightened his satisfaction when it was received, if many of these letters do not exaggerate, with such delight, as if Christianity and true philosophy had been waiting, in the awful crisis of existence or extinction, for its appearance. It seems to have been welcomed like a convoy of provisions in a famishing garrison, by many high characters in church and state, whose exultation would really seem to betray the impression which their talents had not prevented Mr. Hume from making on their fears. The most Hattering attentions thickened upón Dr. Beattie within the circle of his personal acquaintance; and he received from Englánd many letters abounding with espressions of admiration and offers of friendship, on the strength of which he was induced to make a visit to London. At this period of the history, he is presented to us in a different point of view from that of the scholar, poet, and philosopher. We are fairly told, though with much care to qualify the homeliness of the confession, that it was needful to Dr. Beattie to cat, which we have often had occasion to be sorry that philosophers, including reviewers, should be under the necessity of doing. The means of subsistence for himself and family were confined to the small stipend of his professorship, and the emolument that might accrue from his publications; of which he received a comfortable sample and assurance in the fifty guineas paid him for his Essay on Truth, which had only cost him the labour of four years. His many generous and opulent friends in Scotland and England were aware of his circumstances, and sincerely regretted them. A comparatively small annual sum would have given a man of his moderate wants and habits, the feeling of independence; and a strong and concurrent sentiment of anxiety was awakened, in the minds of a greater number of poblemen and gentlemen than we can charge our memories with, to find out any means of
obtaining for him this advantage. They lamented the duty, imposed on them by their high rank, of expending so many thousands on their splendid establishments and their hounds
; while the illustrious defender of Truth, and their dear friend, was in danger of something bordering on indigence. But notwithstanding these unavoidable necessities of their own condi.. tion, they would have been most happy to have made some effort in his favour, had not a fatal obstacle stood in the way. That obstacle was delicacy; it might hurt his feelings to insinuate to him the offer of any thing which they themselves regarded with such a generous scorn as money. With sincere sor.. row therefore, they were reduced to wait, and see what fortune might do for him. At last Mrs. Montague, much to her shame, violated this delicacy by informing him, that she would take upon herself to mend his condition, if a slight expectation which had begun to spring up from another quarter, should fajl to be realised. This expectation was realised not long after, and his illustrious friends rejoiced in the double good fortune, that their delicacy was saved, and his purse was filled. Sir W. Forbes, one of those friends, and an opulent banker in Edinburgh, records this whole affair in the most honest simplicity of heart, just as we have done ourselves.
(To be concluded in our next Number.)
Art. II. Fifty-three Discourses, containing a connected System of doc
trinal and practical Christianity, as protessed and maintained by the Church of England, particularly adapted to the use of Families and Country Congregations. By the Rev. Edward Brackenbury, A. B. Vicar of Skendleby, Lincolnshire, &c, 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 890. Price
155. boards. Rivingtons, 1806. AMIDST the numerous, heavy, and just complaints, of the
quantity of crude theology which is heaped upon the public, we must admit that the divines of the seventeenth cen. tury produced as much as those of the present day ; but it was in a different form. Our forefathers thought it worth while to subject their pulpit discourses to the ordeal of revision, to cast them in a different mold, and to send them forth under the more instructive and durable shape of expositions, distinct treatises, or bodies of divinity. On this question we are persuaded the elder were the wiser hearls ; and that their conduct was founded on a due consideration of the difference between reading and hearing.
In a volume of sermons each discourse must have its head and tail piece, and must in many ways diverge from the true point, to accommodate itself to the weaknesses of a popular audience. "But when a course of sermons on any of the in, spired books is reduced into the form of an exposition, what is extraneous may be rejected, and the dictates of divine truth may be submitted to the Christian reader, free from all addition, but what is strictly applicable for the purposes of explanation or admonition. In the shape of a treatise on any sacred theme, the religious instructor may satisfactorily establish that one point, which will form a fulcrum for many another moral engine. Notwithstanding its antiquated form, a body of divinity also possesses numerous advantages ; it can furnish instruction on some subjects, which though use. ful are not adapted to the pulpit, and (in conformity to the figurative title) it may present every member and feature, not only in its just form and size, but also in its due place and relation, with regard to the whole frame. The title page of the volumes now before us, will account for this strain of reflection. Mr. B. professes to furnish a system of divinity in a collection of sermons; considering the obviotis diversity and incompatibility of their appropriate objects, we were not surprized to find him unsuccessful. He has rather presented us with an assortment of joints and members, than with a scientific analysis of a theological system; and has compelled us. to think much more of the butcher or the cook, than of the anatomist. With this censure, therefore, we shall lay aside all attention to the object proposed in the title page, and regard these volumes, no longer as a body of divinity, but simply as a set of sermons. Indeed the author seems to have studied, as well as preached and published, by sermons; without ever taking a comprehensive and instructive survey of the grand whole. The seriousness and fidelity of the conscientious pastor attract our esteem, but the abilities of the scribe, well instructed in the mysteries of the kingdom of beaven, never appear to claim our veneration.
The following are the subjects discussed in the work before
Vol. I. On the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, The Trinity in Unity, Of Creation in general, On the Creation of Man and his original Innocence, The Fall of Man, Providence, Original and Actual Sin, Of the new Covenant and Abrogation of the Old, The Person and Titles of the Mediator, The Testimony of Prophecy that Jesus is Christ, The Mediatorial office of Christ, Universal Redemption, The Incarnation of Christ, The Sufferings of Christ, Christ's Burial and Descent into Hell, Christ's Exaltation, Christ's Ascension and Session at the right Hand of God, Christ's coming to Judgment, The Operation and Influence of the Holy Spirit, The holy Catholic Church, and Communion of Saints, For. giveness of Sins, Resurrection of the Body, Life everlasting, Christian Vocation, Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification, Adoption.
II. Christian Liberty, Perseverance, Assurance, The Gospel the Power of Salvation, Prayer, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Christian Obedience, by
Christian Worship, Common Swearing, Sanctification of the Sabbath, The Duty of Children to Parents, Duty of Inferiors and Superiors, Duty of Servants and Masters, Murder, Adultery, Fleshly Lusts, 1 heft, False Witness and Slander, Unlawful Desires, the Use of the Law, the Curse of the Law, Christian Warfare, Satan's Temptations, and the Necessity of resisting tlien, The Christian Armour.
The sermon with which the first volume opens, on the existence and attributes of the Deity, is as respectable and useful as any in the work.
But its immerliate successor, on the Trinity in Unity, gave us pain, we acknowledge, rather than satisfaction. It is not by appeals to the formulæ of the English, or any other establishment, nor by extracts from the Athanasian creed, nor by numerous quotations from scripture heaped upon each other, without order, without illustration, without argument, that the doctrine of the Trinity is to be endeared to its friends, or defended against its enemies. We think also that Mr. B., with the best intentions, has injured the cause, injudiciously prestiming to define the modus in terms of scholastic subtilty.
Again, on the fall of man, our author toils and blunders blindly on at the subject of human liberty and the divine de crees; but without the acute discrimination and sublime ab. stiaction, necessary to reach
“ the height of this great argument, And vindicate the ways of God to man. Here our readers shall review for themselves.
• The fall of Adam, it may therefore fairly be inferred, was free and volantary, and by no means imputable to God. This deduction results from the clearest and most incontestable principles of reason and revelation. The former abundantly ratifies that consciousness of our own freedom of will, of which every rational agent is susceptible. For will such an one be bold enough to affirm, that in the commission of a crime, necessity or constraint was the only motive? Or if he should be hardy enough to avow it, who will give him credit for his ayowal? Who will believe that he did not act only in compliance with the choice of his own will? And if this be so now, when the freedom of man's will is confessedly so enslaved to sin, how much more in a state of innocence, when he enjoyed the absolute privilege of choosing good, and refusing evil ? It was not because he chose error for error's sake, or did evil for evil's sake, but he determined for himself, sinned of his own accord, and yielded to the temptation in spite of his knowledge and conviction to the contrary. Eve was not ignorant of the prohibition, she even alledged it herself, in excuse to Satan, and Adam was in the same circumstances. Thus far does the testimony of reason avail on behalf of the fall of man. The latter, or the evidence of revelation, is still more explicit: there is scarce any truth in scripture, either express or implied, more frequently inculcated, than that man was the author