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If any thing be, upon good grounds in reason, received for a divine revelation, (aš the Holy Scriptures are amongst Christians) no man ought to be regarded, who from thence pretends to maintain any doctrine contrary to the natural notions which men have of God; such as clearly contradict his holiness, or goodness, or justice, or do by plain and undeniable consequence, make God the author of sin, or the like; because the very attempt to prove any such thing out of Scripturé, does strike at the divine authority of those books. For, if they be from God, it is certaio they can contain no such thing. So that no man ought to suffer himself to be seduced into any such opinions, upon pretence that there are expressions in scripture, which seem to countenance them. For if they really did so, the consequence would not be the confirming of such opinions ; but the weakening of the authority of the scripture itsell. For jist so many arguments as any man can draw from scripture for any such opinion, so many weapons he puts into the hands of atheists against the scripture itself.
I do not speak this, as if I thought there were any ground from scripture for any such doctrine; I am very certain there is not. And if there be any particular expressions, which to prejudiced men may seem to import any such thing, every man ought to govern himself in the interpretation of such passages, by what is clear and plain, and agreeable to the main scope and tenour of the bible, and to those natural notions which men have of God, and of his perfections, For when all is done, this is one of the surest ways of reasoning in religion; and whoever guides himself, and steers by this compass, can never err much; but whoever suffers himself to be led away by the appearance of some more obscure phrases in the expressions of scripture, and the glosses of men upon them, without regard to this rule, may run into the greatest "delusions, may wander eternally, and lose himself in one mistake after another, and shall never find his way out of this endless labyrinth, but by this clue.
LINES WRITTEN FOR A YOUNG LADY'S ALBUM.
As bright a fortune wait thee, maid,
Be such the wish of some idle line!
A better wish for thee, maid, is mine.
Be the trust that is fixed on heaven alone!
A Collection of the Miscellaneous Writings of Professor Frisbie
, with some Notices of his Life and Character. By Andrews Norton ; Dexter Professor of Sacred Literature in Harvard
University. Boston: Cummings, Hilliard and Co. 1823. The influence of a superior mind over the society in which it is placed, has been felt and acknowledged in all ages ; and the desire to continue this influence, even after death has torn from us the talents and virtues which were an honour and benefit to mankind, is the first feeling that succeeds to the grief which such
a privation inflicts. The heart which glowed only with kind affections is cold, and the wisdom, which directed this goodness to the happiest results, no longer dwells on earth. Yet we cannot resign what we have so highly prized. We look for that perpetuity of the spirit, in the scenes it has once enlightened, which Brown has happily styled the true metempsychosis of the soul :when the thoughts, and feelings, and plans, that constituted the mind which lately shone in the midst of us, should still retain a portion of that immortality, wbich is essential to its essence, and spread its train of light over the darker or the brighter pages of our future history. Thus ordinary events, in the life of a distinguished man, become precious to those who knew him, and assume a moral expression and worth far superior in interest, to the most marvellous or novel incidents ; like the happy lights, which we sometimes catch on the simple landscape that daily meets our eyes, and which, to the mind of true taste, have a beauty that the rarest assemblage of natural objects does not possess. We are led by this feeling to collect the writings which genius has left behind, however small may be their number or extent, or however imperfectly they may indicate its real excellence. It is this which prompts us to gather from all, who have enjoyed any intimate intercourse with
the being we lament, a minute relation of the impression, which his conversation and conduct have left on their minds; that we may form to ourselves that intellectual portrait, so far exceeding in value those resemblances of the countenance, which are inexpressibly dear, wben the original is no more.
We owe to the existence of these feelings, the volume before us. It is an offering, bearing indeed a small proportion to the regrets and the desires by which it was demanded; but it is one of high value, for it contains all that is left of that rare combination of intellectual and moral endowments, which gave to Mr. Frisbie's mind its peculiarity and its excellence.
Those who enjoyed much of his conversation, or are so fortunate, as to have heard his lectures, will scarcely believe, that so little remains of those treasures of wisdom and eloquence, which were dispensed by him with such gracefulness and ease. Cap it be true, they will ask, that such discrimination and truth in principles, and such variety of aptness of illustration, were the spontaneous effusions of an intellect, which rarely submitted to the labour of written composition, or even of study ? Many will doubt, that more ample materials for forming a volume did not exist among Mr. Frisbie's papers, and will not admit the state of his eyes to be a circumstance, sufficient to account for this fact. The brief memoir, and the extract from a letter of a friend,
which are placed at the beginning of this volume, are all the biographical notices we shall ever be able to obtain of Mr. Frisbie's life. The Editor has long known him intimately, and could easily command every thing which remains among his papers, or in the memory of his friends and associates, that might be useful to his purpose. Short as they are, they are written with a feeling and discrimination, which will recommend them to every one. The affecting and faithful view here giver of his life and character, will secure the continuance of its influence over those who will see his face no more.
There were no unusual events in Mr. Frisbie's life ; only two circumstances appear to have had a decided influence in the direction which was given to his mind by external causes. His, was a mind on which nature sets a stamp, that no circumstances perhaps could essentially alter. The circumstances to which we allude, were the religious opinions he had imbibed from his father, and the weakness of his sight.
• These religious opinions,' says the writer of the memoir, Cacquired strength, as his character strengthened; and even early in life, formed an essential part of it. From him likewise (his father) he derived the belief of some doctřines, which his maturer reason rejected. These doctrines, however, as I have heard bim complain, retained an influence over his feelings, especially in moments of despondence, long after they had ceased to be a part of his faith. They tended to throw darkness and discomfort over his views of the character and moral government of God, and of the future condition of man.'
A man of Mr. Frisbie's clear understanding and kind affections, would, if left to his own reflections and study of the scriptures, bave formed only rational and consoling views of religion. He would have found in the instructions and the life of our blessed Saviour, a confirmation of that goodness and compassion of the great Creator towards his imperfect offspring, in testimony of which all bis works cry aloud. But in a mind disposed to piety, the religious impressions received from early education, are always permanent. They are bound to the character by associations, whose ties are almost indissoluble. In Mr. Frisbie, deep sensibility and delicacy of conscience, gave them unusual force. It is highly gratifying to those, who feel the importance of truth in religion, to find, that in the trying hour of life, when religion is the only thing that does not fail us, the faith of his more enlightened views, exerted its full influence on his soul, and that his thoughts of God and of a future life were no less delightful, than they had ever been sacred to his heart,
Jo conversing on the subject;' says the writer of the letter, he once expressed to me, in very strong terms, his dread of death; and
said, that he considered it as the effect of his early religious associations ; adding, that although these associations had long been opposed by the clearest convictions of his reason, yet he could not wholly avoid their influence on his mind. He then spoke particularly of the happiness of one of his friends, in always having cheerful and consoling views of religion and a future state. But in my last visit to him, the week before he died, I was unspeakably gratified to find, that he enjoyed the same happiness in the highest degree. Immediately on receiving me, he said, “You know what a dread of death I have had. I can now not only view it with coolness, but the prospect of the future world is delightful to me. His mind never appeared more clear and tranquil than it did, while he proceeded to speak of the world that was opening to him; and he spoke with an energy and sublimity of feeling peculiar to himself, and which no time can weaken in my memory.'
It was to the defect of eye sight, which deprived him of much enjoyment, that Mr. Frisbie was in no small degree indebted for the clearness and comprehension of his intellectual vision. His friends were always ready to read to him, and there are few standard works, in ancient or modern literature, wbich he had not perused by their aid. But we have often heard him complain of this unsatisfactory method of reading. Something in the book strikes me,' he would say, "and a thousand relations, suggested by my own associations, rise up and fill my mind with new analogies and principles, and I cease to listen to what is read. I cannot, when alone, go over the book, resting on those parts which I wish to examine. Nor even if I had a friend by me, when I am in the mood for it, should I always be able to point out the passages, I desire to read again. Thus in order to gain much knowledge from books, I have been obliged to use a strict intellectual discipline, teaching my mind to attend to the main points in a work, and reserve its own reflections and fancies in such a way, as that they should not bring confusion into the acquisitions I had made, nor be utterly lost themselves.' It was this mental discipline, which formed those valuable habits of thought, for which he was so eminent. There was something luminous, accurate, and original in his way of viewing things, which we have not observed even in minds placed equally high in the scale of intellect. It was not merely the abundance or the justness of his thoughts, but their beauty and felicity that we admired. They always seemed to start up, as if by magic, just in their right places, and in their best lights.
The misfortune of being unable to use his eyes in study, occasioned a total change in Mr. Frisbie's plan of life. He had fixed on a profession, for which he was eminently qualified, and in which he would soon have become an ornament to his country.