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is beyond the comprehension of enthusiasm to regard. But in the known character of the first teachers of Christianity, supposing it a human contrivance, there was nothing to warrant the expectation of such enlarged and enlightened policy. Whence had they so prospective a theory of improveinent, as should, though a “ stumbling-block" to some, and só foolishness" to others, possess a lasting fitness to the nature and condition of man, and transcend by its moral efficacy all other systems which the history of the world has exbibited ? " Whence had these men this wisdom ?” the divine origin of Christianity affords the only answer to these inquiries, and to the same conclusion we are brotight, by every species of proof which is submitted to our investigation
Such is the leading argument involved in all the reasonings and facts which are adduced in the discourses of Mr. P. ; and it obviously resembles that, which, (by a different train of illustrations, but proceeding upon the same principle,) has been so eloquently unfolded in the Bampton lectures for 1784. It is not yet forgotten, what impression the public mind received from those elegant discourses. The institu. tion of periodical lectures had often appeared of questionable utility, when on former occasions they had been devoted to topics of little importance: to minute points of criticism, or impalpable abstractions of nietaphysics. It was reserved for Professor White to adopt that popular mode of reasoning, which, by the statement and comparison of historical facts, should render a set of argumentative discourses instructive and interesting to the pablic. Mr. P. acknowledges himself to be a " labourer in the same department with Professor White, and is willing to think, that to those lectures his own may be considered as supplemental."(Ded. p. iv.) While the pretension of novelty, with regard to the general basis of reasoning, is thus disclaimed, we nevertheless consider these sermons as having amply and elegamıly illustrated the subjects of comparison and contrast presented to our view, and as justly intitled to our commendation. The style of thought and expression is elevated; in some instances it would have possessed greater dignity and effect, if it had been more simple and compressed. On this account the discourses appear to have too much of that academical complexion, which it is perhaps difficult to rub off when preaching“ before an University,” but which gives them an air of pedantry, compensated only by the energy of the reasonings and the clearness of the language. We are most disposed to regret the absence of those attrace tions which are necessary to render them interesting to general readers. As a series of dissertations, they are perhaps gratifying enough to the mau of mere intellect, the being of cool speculation, who can pursue a long train of proofs and reasonings, and accurately estimate their bearings and results : yet even such a reader would not have condemned Mr. P. if he had now and then illumined his arguments with the rays of fancy, or-had discovered so much of the inspiration of his subject, as to have impressed the heart while he convinced the judgement.
Having thus stated our opinion of the general merits and defects of the volume, we think that a more concise and accurate analysis of the argument and its historical illustrations cannot be presented, than what is contained in the last discourse : it is also a happy specimen of perspicuous arrangement and neat specification; and we shall therefore make no apology for the length of our quotation.
• In whatever respects the preceding discourses may have been chargeable with defect or error, I am willing to hope that the exposition of the general argument may have been deemed sufficiently accurate and perspi. cuous. By that argument the truth of Christianity has been inferred from the distinction between crafty and wise policy, between particular and general expediency. It is the part of wisdom and integrity to be guided by extensive prospects.
Craft and selfishness are directed by partial • It accordingly was shewn, that the genuine religion of Christ is of an enlarged and liberal character, wisely suited, not to the narrow interests of ambitious individuals, but to the nature and condition of mankind. It was asserted, and, I trust, proved, that the ineans which were originally employed for its propagation, are characterised by the same spirit, and are such as an enthusiast, or impostor, not only would not have chosen, but could not have devised. This argument and position were illustrated by an enquiry into the circumstances of the age in which Christianity was first promulged; into the prejudices of both the Jewish and Gentile world, and into the religious history of mankind. It was shewn that other teachers of religion, and other pretenders to the name and office of Messiah, have proposed to themselves objects, and availed themselves of nieans, which Christ refused to recognise or to adopt; but which it is presumable that he would have grasped with eagerness, if he had not been enlightened by knowledge more than human. It was shown also that, if any part of the policy of Christianity seemed to have only a temporary reference to the period of its establishment, yet it did not militate against the general principle which was advanced ; but rather, from its modified conformity to that principle, was calculated to confirm its truth.
• The argument being thus completed and explained, 1 proceeded to compare the history of the origin of Christianity with the history of those early compliances with superstition, which were afterwards introduced into the church. I attempted to pursue the progress of these first corruptions of our religion, to their cnsummation in the idolatries of Papal Rome, and then to examine the rise of Papal tyranny, and to shew the
nature and magnitude of the evils which those idolatries and that tyranny have produced. It was my next endeavour faithfully to delineate the more important features by which the society of the Jesuits was distinguished, to trace the establishment of its power, to expose the profligacy of its moral discipline, and to exhibit the bright contrast which is apparent in the character of Christ.
• But that part of the history of the Jesuit order, which connected itself most naturally with the argument before unfolded, seemed to consist in the methods resorted to by its missionaries for the propagation of Christianity in foreign countries. The policy was examined, by which their establishments in Japan, in China, in Hindostan, and in the southern continent of America, were distinguished. They were shown in some cases to have permitted accommodations to existing superstition and idolatry, which, however conducive to present, were inimical to permanent
In other instances, the conduct of these zealous ecclesiastics was seen either to warrant the supposition, or to admit the probable imputation, of having been dictated by interest or ambition : while the conduct of Christ, on the contrary, both in respect of its wisdom and its disinterestedness, was every way, and evidently unexceptionable.' Serm. ix. pp. 245~248.
From this ample recapitulation of reasonings and facts, it will be seen that the origin and progress of the Jesuitica! power occupy a large proportion of Mr. P.'s discourses. Indeed, this subject appears to have extended beyond its proper limits, and to have contracted that range of discussion which ought to have been allowed to other topics. The miniature sketch, presented in our extract, does not exhibit so clearly the disproportion of which we complain; but al idea may be formed of it, when we state, that tire of the nine serinous, and nearly thirty of the appendices, relate almost exclusively to this subject. Had Mr. Penrose confined his historical illustrations to the facts connected with the establishment of the Jesuits, he might have stated still more distinctly the comparison of their principles and plans with those of the Christian system; and at the same time preserved the unity and proportions of his design. The work might then have been intitled, “a Comparison of Jesuitisin with Primitive Christianity ;' but as it now appears, even the author's favourite subject has not scope enough for its complete developement, and the topics comprehended in the beginning of his plan lose much of that interest which would have arisen from a níore extended discussion. We regrt this circumstance more strongly, because we are persuaded that Mr. Penrose is well qualified to pursue the progress of the first corruptions of Christianity to their consummation in the idolatries of Papal Rome;' and because an ample detail of those important facts, connected either with the history of the times, or the operations of humau thought, which tended to accelerate so rapidly the progress of corruptions, would have furnished various and interesting subjects of contrast with the original purity and simplicity of the gospel of Christ. It would also, we think, have been more direct!y subservient to Mr. P.'s design, by exhibiting minutely the essential difference between the religion of Jesus in the tendency of its primitive institutions, and that immensely cumbrous system of notions and observances, which at length, by a gradual, but awful revolution of sentiment, obtained so widely in the world, and which is now as gradually, but as certainly basting to its fall.
An investigation thus conducted might naturally include an account of the Jesuitic Order, containing a statement of its most proninent points of opposition to the pure and lasting policy of the Christian religion. The opposition is now rendered so obvious, by the destruction of that order, and the detection of its long concealed principles of action, and the mighty mechanism by which its movements were directed, that the comparison becomes a contrast; and a minute detail of such a contrast, however ably and faithfully the separaté portraitures may be drawn), seenis scarcely more necessary than a comparison of Christianity with Paganism. We are however obliged to Mr. P. for his extensive collection of facts on this subject, and the numerous authorities to which he refers in his elaborate appendices.
It is with much pleasure that we commend the spirit of liberal and enlightened zeal for the interests of Christianity in general, which breathes without interruption in the dis. courses of Mr. Penrose. The precise object which he fessed to regard has prevented those decided observations, from which the particular complexion of his religious sentiments might be ascertained ; indeed, we could have wished, that a less rigid adherence to his plan had permitted some digressive remarks, which would have proved that he was not contending for a mere system of norality, but for a revelation worthy of all that variety and extent of evidence on which its important claims are so fully established. We particularly admire his candour, however, when adverting to The character of Christianity in its state of primitive simplicity; and to the practicability of its essential forms of discipline and government, in all the conditions of civil society, from comparative barbarism, to the most refined civilization*. The religion of Christ was never designed to be a merely local or provincial system : such a limitation of its influence would have been unworthy of its pretensions; and any particular form, claiming to be identified with that religion, and yet incapable of combining with some states of human society, or of operating under some kinds of civil government, would prove, by such incapacity and unsuitableners, the adventitious nature of its connexion with pure Christianity.
* Romans, i. 14.
• To speak with precision, (says Mr. P.) Christ is no legislator. Real Christianity may consist with any form of civil polity whatever. It interferes not, nor did it interfere at its first origin, either to weaken or confirm the authority of existing magistrates, unless by the indirect operation of its moral and religious doctrines. As soon as a certain establishment became necessary to its propagation, it was formed for the sake of the religion; it is manifest that the religion was not devised with reference to the establishment.' p. 85.
And again he forcibly remarks, in a strain of animated elo. quence,
• No imputation of falsehood, and none of error, is consistent with the circumstances of its origin. And in this origin we also see the promise and the means of its future greatness. We see that holy church, unshaken by the erection or fall of those frail and tottering structures which alien hands have attempted to rear beside it, advance in increasing magnitude under the effect of the same wisdom by which it was established at the beginning. We see that as the corner-stone was laid in truth, so in truth alone will its walls and towers be elevated. The superstructure will be firm, because the foundations are solid.' p. 266.
These sentiments are congenial with the independence and immutability of the Christian faith ; they are derived from the pure records of truth, and are calculated to awaken the most lively feelings of delight. The diversities of opinion and of order may undoubtedly demand a degree of attention, proportioned to their respective importance ; but that importance is only comparative, and onght to be absorbed in the grand and equalising character of «s fellow-heirs of the grace of life." Such sentiments, the influence of which forms the best practical comment on the reasonings of Mr. Penrose, and is the consommation devoutly to be wished from all our critical labours, display before us
an anis mating view of the true catholic and apostolic church, a church, not restricted within those narrow limits which hierarchical or sectarian bigotry might draw around it, but comprehending "all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” (Eph. ult.) Axt. VII. The Contrast ; Including Comparative Views of Britain, Spain
and France, in two Parts. Addressed to an English Nobleman. By Mr. Pratt, Author of Gleanings, &c., 8vo. pp. 44. price ls. Cradock and Joy.
1808. MR. Pratt's poetry reminds us of the spectral illusions of
the Fairy Morgagna, which may be ranked among the Vol. IV.