Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

*

earthquake, seems to me the most probable cause to which the actual submarine situation of the forest we are speaking of may be ascribed. It affords a simple easy explanation of the matter; its probability is supported by numberless instances of similar events; and it is not liable to the strong objections which exist against the hypothesis of the alternate depression and elevation of the level of the ocean; an opinion, which, to be credible, requires the support of a great number of proofs, less equivocal than those which have hitherto been urged in its favour, even by the genius of a Lavoisier.'

At what period this catastrophe happened, it is not easy to ascertain. The stratum of soil, fixteen feet thick, placed above the decayed trees, seems to remove the epoch of their sinking and destruction far beyond the reach of any historical knowlege. In Cæsar's time, the level of the North Sea appears to have been the same that it is now; and, as Maritime Flanders and the opposite coast of England exactly resemble each other, both in point of elevation above the sea, and of internal structure and arrangement of their soils, these two countries must be coëval The author thinks, therefore, that

Whatever proves that Maritime Flanders has been for many ages out of the sea, must, in my opinion, prove also that the forest we are speaking of was long before that time destroyed, and buried under a stratum of soil. Now it seems proved, from historical records, carefully collected by several learned members of the Brussels Academy, that no material change has happened to the lowermost part of Maritime Flanders, during the period of the last two thousand years.'

On the whole, it appears that the event which produced this forest must have been of a very antient date: but the inroad of the sea, which uncovered the decayed trees of the islets of Sutton, was comparatively recent.

The state of the leaves, (continues this ingenious philosopher,) and of the timber, and also the tradition of the neighbouring people, concur to strengthen this suspicion. Leaves, and other delicate parts of plants, though they may be long preserved in a subterraneous situation, cannot remain uninjured, when exposed to the action of the waves and of the air. The people of the country believe that their parish church once stood on the spot where the islets now are, and was submerged by the inroads of the sea; that at very low water their ancestors could even discern its ruins; that their present church was built to supply the place of that which the waves washed away; and that even their present clock belonged to the old church.'

Some Additions to a Paper, read in 1790, on the Subject of a Child with a Double Head. By Everard Home, Esq. F. R. S.

These additions were communicated by Mr. Dent, who had an opportunity of directing particular attention to the singular subject to which they relate, and who sent over the double skull which was described in a former paper. They serve to

Correct

[ocr errors]

1

correct the mistakes of that paper*, and to supply some new observations which are of importance. It now appears, that the child was more than four years old at the time of its death; that the neck of the superior head was about four inches long, and that the upper part of it terminated in a hard, round, gristly tumour, nearly four inches in diameter; that the front teeth had cut the gums in the upper and under jaws of both heads; and that, when the child cried, the features of the superior head were not always affected; and when it smiled, they did not sympathize in that action Mr. Dent found, in preparing the. skull, that each brain was invested by its own proper covering: but the dura mater, which covered the cerebrum of the upper brain, adhered firmly to that of the lower brain; and the two brains were separate and distinct, having between them a complete partition, formed by an union of the dura matres. A number of large arteries and veins were observed to pass through this union, and thus a free communication subsisted between the blood-vessels of the two brains. This fact is important, as it explains the mode by which the upper brain received its nourishment.

To this paper are annexed two drawings, made from portraits taken by Mr. Devis, an ingenious artist, who was at Mr. Dent's house in Bengal when the child was brought there alive, to be shewn as a curiosity. These drawings are the more valuable, because they give a more faithful representation of the appearance of the double head than the former engravings, and exhibit also a striking likeness of the child's features. Re-s.

ART. V. Discourses on various Subjects, delivered in the English
Church at the Hague. By Archibald Maclaine, D. D. Member
of some Foreign Academies.
8vo. PP. 452. 7s. Boards.

Cadell jun. and Davies. 1799.

T
HE literary character of Dr. Maclaine is well known
from his valuable translation of Mosheim's Ecclesiastical
History, which has been very generally read and approved;
and several occasions have occurred since the publication of
that useful work, on which we have paid him our tribute of
respect as an original writer . As a preacher, he was held
in considerable estimation by those who constantly or oc-
casionally attended his ministry at the Hague, where he spent
the greatest part of his life, and whence he was unhappily
removed by the late revolution in Holland. He now lives, we
understand, in dignified retirement at Bath.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

The sermons contained in this volume are a specimen of the compositions which the Doctor delivered in the course of his public services; and, in this view of them, they justify the reputation which he had acquired, and claim our commendation. They are addressed to the judgment and to the heart. They serve to promote the chief end of preaching, which is the melioration of the temper and conduct; and they will be read by persons of a serious and candid disposition, however they may differ in religious sentiments, with satisfaction and profit. The subjects to which Dr. M. directs our attention are not of such a nature, (a single instance excepted,) as to afford him an opportunity of guiding us through the mazes of theological criticism or controversy. Those who recur to this collection in search of topics of this kind will be disappointed :-but they will find the more important and interesting truths and duties of religion, illustrated with a perspicuity, and enforced with an energy, which are calculated to produce the most beneficial effect. Altogether, indeed, we consider the volume as a valuable addition to our stock of practical sermons; and we recommend it to those who are accustomed to this kind of reading, as well adapted to give them impressive views of those principles and rules of conduct, and of those sources of encouragement and consolation, which demand their chief regard; and thus to advance their moral improvement and true happiness.

We shall enumerate the subjects of these discourses, and introduce some extracts, which will enable our readers to appre ciate this commendation.

The 1st and 2d discourses treat of the Rectitude and Depravity of Human Nature, Eccles. vii. 29. In inquiring how the declaration of the text, viz. that God created Man upright, is applicable to the primitive parent of the human race, the preacher observes:

The term upright signifies an exemption from all corrupt principles and all irregular propensities; and this is all that is meant by. the perfection, which is attributed to our first parents by the sacred writers. It was an exemption from moral evil, accompanied with the faculty of reason, the innate love of order, and also with kind and benevolent affections, that constituted the rectitude of man in his original state. These lines of moral character exhibited a feeble resemblance of his creator, which the sacred historian accordingly calls the image of God.

In describing the peculiar advantages of our first parent in his state of rectitude, the Doctor adds,

No spot of corruption infected his birth. No diseases, entailed on him by vicious progenitors, disordered the health of his body, or disturbed the serenity of his mind. He did not pass through the M

REV. OCT. 1799

weak

weak period of childhood, in which the sensual appetites precede the dawn of reason and are soon followed by imperious passions, before reason has arrived at maturity. And, therefore, we can easily conceive, in the first man, a just harmony, a proper balance between the various affections, faculties and powers of his compound nature. 'Nevertheless our first parent did not possess that stability of character, which arises from confirmed habits of obedience and virtue. With respect to all finite beings it is habit alone, that establishes the religious and moral character; and it is only by activity, trial and exercise, that habits are to be acquired. Natural faculties are the work of God, and divine succours are his precious gifts; but in -beings, formed for improvement and progress, the application of these faculties and succours to their conduct and actions, is their work. This requires the exertion of their free will, the true principle and cause of moral actions; for an involuntary obedience destroys the very essence of moral virtue: the will, essentially free and active, operates by motives, which are not mechanical agents, as some philosophers have strangely represented them, but reasons of conduct derived from our general desire of happiness, and our particular views of the objects which seem adapted to produce it. Accordingly, a state of trial was wisely appointed to be the first state of man, as a finite, and, consequently, imperfect being, susceptible of improvement or degradation, happiness or misery. It was in such a state, where instructions and promises enlighten and encourage-where admonitions and dangers alarm-where temptations and difficulties call forth prudent vigilance and active effort-and where, even suffering and sorrow correct moral disorder, that man was appointed to run the race for the prize of his high calling.'

1

[ocr errors]

In applying the affirmation of the text to mankind in general, the author observes that

6

Like a stately edifice, which, though struck by thunder, retaina venerable marks of what it formerly was, and might become again, if properly repaired, the human mind still exhibits manifest proofs of its high destination for virtue and happiness. It is true, we come into life in a much more disadvantageous and humiliating condition than our first parents. Sin and misery, introduced by them into the world, subjected their posterity to bodily corruption and mental disorder, and, thus, gave a strong influence to temptation, and a fatal propensity to revolt and disobedience. Nevertheless, the original principles of integrity, and the innate love of order, were never entirely effaced in the human mind. Virtue may be unpractised, and vice pursued; but where is that mind, to whose eye virtue appears odious and vice respectable?'

On this part of the subject, the author seems to have contented himself with the use of popular language, without sufficiently explaining what he means by the corruption of nature; or proving that there is, in the constitution of the human mind, previously to the influence of example and the operation of other causes, that fatal propensity' which he

mentions;

mentions; and which, in his opinion, justifies that expression of the Psalmist, when he says that we are born in sin, and conceived in iniquity.'

In the second discourse on this subject, Dr. M. describes, in a manner equally unexceptionable and impressive, those inventions which his text expresses, and their fallacious and fatal influence with respect to religious principle, moral conduct, and the pursuit of happiness.

The 3d and 4th discourses on 1 John, v. 4. illustrate the Christian's Dignity, Conflict, and Victory.

The phrase born of God, (says Dr. M.) has been notoriously abused by enthusiasts; but it has, nevertheless, a noble and important meaning. It was employed, in the Jewish theology, to represent the change that was made in the proselytes to Judaism, under the figure of a new birth or spiritual regeneration, by which they obtained the privileges of those, who, by natural birth, were the descendants of Abraham. Some of the heathen philosophers, more especially those of the Platonic school, used the expression in a nobler sense, as denoting sentiments and qualities, a character or frame of mind which bears some distant resemblance of the moral perfections of the Deity. The sacred writers of the New Testament use the expression of the text in both these senses, in a multitude of placés; and comprehend under it both the moral character and the inestimable privileges of the true Christian. They applied it both to Jews and Pagans, who, converted from their superstition and vicious propensities, embraced the gospel by an external profession, and assumed, internally, the temper and spirit of that divine religion. For, by this, they were introduced into a new scene, and were born, in some sense, into a new world; they acquired new ideas of God, of themselves, of true felicity, and ennobling views of the dignity of their nature and its future destination, which were adapted to purify their taste, their affections and desires. This important change is, in Scripture, metaphorically called a New Birth: it is, in reality, a renewal of the mind by the spirit and word of God. And this renders the metaphor beautiful and expressive.'

The 5th discourse, Matthew xxvii. 54. is intitled the Testimony of the Centurion considered. After having enlarged on the nature of this testimony, and the circumstances which attended it, the preacher directs his auditors to consider what incredulity is obliged to believe.

It is a heavier burden in this respect than you, perhaps, may imagine. The deist may boast of having disengaged his philosophi cal creed from every thing absurd and contradictory to reason; but it will be found, that, in effect, his incredulity implies a belief of the most palpable absurdities and contradictions; for it implies a belief, that a religion which ennobles and comforts man by the purest rules for his present conduct, the most elevated ideas of his future destination, and the most gracious succours for arriving at it, is either M 2

the

« ForrigeFortsæt »