Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

But peerage cannot plead privilege at the bar of criticism;" we fhall therefore give fome traits of our Author's pencil, applied to the more deformed and faulty part of his Lordship's picture.

What moft offends us in these letters is, the immorality with which they are replete. As a moralift, indeed, he affects to recommend virtue and good faith; but he is quite out of his element on this subject, and seems to have known no more of the effence, the power, the peaceful, and happy effects of virtue, than of what is doing in the moon, or any of the remoter planets and the whole perfection he requires of his fon is the very reverse not only of Chriftian duty, but of true philosophy. He confiders moral virtue and honour as paflable qualities, and of fome name and reputation in the world; and as fuch he recommends them to his fon; but of the effential purity, the immutable nature, and eternal obligations of virtue, he had no conception; or, if he had, he prefcribes practices, which he allows not strictly juftifiable; and avowedly indulges a violation of laws, both divine and human, in favour of your paffions, where you may efcape the cenfure, by not contradicting the fashion and opinion of the world.'

What indeed are the horrid maxims by which his Lordship proposes to regulate the conduct of his fon, in a variety of inftances, but flagrant illuftrations and proofs of the justice of this charge! It has been often remarked, that the most profligate parents have paid fome refpect to virtue, in the inftructions which they have delivered to their children, and in the wishes they have formed concerning them; but his Lordship is a parent, who feems to reverse the order of nature, and to counteract the usual practice even of the most ignorant and degenerate; and who is defirous of initiating his fon into the theory of vice, and of rendering him fyftematically licentious and wicked.

Thus a common proftitute is forbidden, as what is dangerous and difgraceful; and keeping is condemned as what both the Indies could not fupport: but an intrigue with a whore of quality, married or unmarried, is a gallantry not forbidden; but proposed and inculcated by the father to his fon, as what, befides other advantages, is not difcreditable in the opinion of the world.

• Lord Chesterfield's notions of poor human nature are fuch, and his virtue of fo eafy and pliant a temper, that its very effence may seem to confift in its verfatility, and conformity to the manners of those with whom you converfe. Alcibiades's character, abandoned as it was, is, I think, propofed in this refpect, as an example for his fon's imitation; and a court, according to his Lordship, the grand fcene of fimulation and diffimulation,

fimulation, is the proper foil for the growth, the display and expansion of virtue.

A fhame upon that policy, which makes no diftinction between prudence and artifice; between benevolence and flattery; between complacency and compliment; between wisdom and craft; between the modeft referve of the man, and the profeffed diffimulation of the courtier; which excludes fincerity and friendship, true philofophy, true virtue, and true religion!"

Lord Chesterfield's views in the folicitude which he once and again expreffes for the improvement of his fon reflect no great honour on his character: It is not for Britain, for its laws or liberties; but for Mr. Stanhope's graces, perfections, figure, and fortune, that our patrician is concerned. The whole plan of his education is directed and calculated to make a great, not a good man; a fhining, not an useful character,-or only useful to himself, or to the Public, only for the fake of that self. To this end he recommends to him the femblance more than the fubftance of virtue; artificial manners, polite addrefs, and all the fuperficial graces that might attract the regard and confidence of those he converfed with.'

We have been afstonished, that a writer of his Lordship's rank and liberal turn of mind fhould defcend to the vulgar practice of railing at the women: It is certain that his Lordship's taste and reading had not led him to an acquaintance with the hiftory of those ladies whofe beauty was the least of their perfections-whofe virgin fanctity or conjugal fidelity has done, and ftill does honour, to human nature;-whofe graces have contributed to the order and ornament, the peace and happinefs of domeftic life; whofe councils have informed princes, whose wisdom has directed the reins of empire, whofe prowels has conducted armies, fought battles, and defended kingdoms, -whofe zeal and fincerity for the cause of God, and his truth, have inspired them with the courage to brave danger and death, and to embrace the rack and the flames.'

Lord Chesterfield's calumny against the whole female world is the more illiberal, unjuft, and inexcufable, as he beheld, with his own eyes, a living example of the foremost of her fex, in rank and dignity, ftill more confpicuous and elevated by the purity, the luftre, the majesty of her virtues *.

His four volumes (proceeds our Author) may be intitled, An entire Code of Hypocrify and Diffimulation; containing the fineffe, the artifice, the craft, the virtue, or the femblance of virtue, with all the external accomplishments neceflary to form

p. 225.

Queen Caroline, of whom he gives an amiable character, vol. iv. the

[ocr errors]

the character of the complete courtier.' Turning to the ancients, he prefents us with the following ftriking contraft: The virtue of the ancients was a fublime and fplendid form, a beauty that captivated, and was made to captivate all hearts, -a divinity that challenged univerfal homage. The Roman virtue, in particular, was of a robuft and mafculine form, affected exercife more than eafe, and vigour more than delicacy. It confifted in refifting pleasure and pain, in conquering paffion, in embracing or honouring honeft poverty, in defpifing riches and nominal honours ;-in an obftinate adherence to truth and duty, in oppofition to every terror or temptation. Roman virtue, the primitive, genuine, Roman virtue, the parent of liberty, of empire and glory, was undone by the graces and delicacies recommended by Lord Chesterfield; and degenerated to a fribble, fhuddering at every blaft, and bending to every ruder affault from domeftic tyranny and foreign invafion.'

Our Author's remarks on the high compliments which Lord Chefterfield pays to Voltaire, particularly in his account of the hiftory of Lewis XIV. would furnish many ufeful extracts; but we muft omit thefe as well as other parts of this laudable performance, and haften to bring this Article to a close.

After contrafting the principles and maxims inculcated in thefe Letters with the virtue taught and recommended by Heathen philofophers, and with the more fublime principles and rules of conduct which Chriflianity affords us, Mr. H. draws to a conclufion, in a strain of varied addrefs which muft roufe and captivate every heart that is endowed with any degree of virtuous fenfibility. We are forry that our limits will not allow us to make any farther tranfcript. We lay afide the book with regret; but not without bearing our teftimony to its merit, and cordially wishing that the Author's benevolent defign may be anfwered; that it may prevent the infection of licentious principles and manners, and promote the caufe of virtue and humanity. Some readers may probably confider the Author as too diffuse and declamatory a writer; but they must be very faftidious critics who, all circumftances allowed, cenfure the prefent performance on this account, derive no benefit from it themfelves, or obftruct its influence on others.

ART. V. Twelve Sermons on the Prophecies concerning the Chriftian Church: and, in particular, concerning the Church of Papal Rome. Preached in Lincoln's Inn Chapel, at the Lecture of the Right Rev. William Warburton, Lord Bishop of Gloucefter. By Samuel Hallifax, D. D. Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majefty. 8vo. 5 s. fewed. Cadell. 1775.

N account of this lecture, and of the excellent introductory fermons preached by Dr. Hurd, will be found in the forty-fixth volume of our Review, pag. 393 and 484. REV. July 1776.

A

pag.

I he

The prefent performance opens with a difcourfe intitled, the truth of revealed religion, in general, and of the christian, in particular, proved from prophecy. Among other remarks, the following paffage is ingenious, and worthy of felection.

Doctor Hallifax, having taken notice of the connection between the religion of Mofes and that of Jefus, the former confidered as an introduction to the latter, proceeds to add:

There being then this dependency between the two religions, it is reasonable to fuppofe that, previous to fuch an important change of the œconomy, fome intimations should be given of its approach. And yet to have done this in a way that would have led the Jews to look with irreverence on a fyllem, under which not only themselves, but their pofterity were to live, would have been little agreeable to our notions of the divine wisdom. A method was, therefore, to be invented, which, while it kept the people fincerely addicted to the law, fhould difpofe them, when the time was come, for the reception of a better covenant that should be established on better promifes. Now the spirit of prophecy, together with the language in which that prophecy was conveyed, fully accomplished both these purposes. By a contrivance, only to be fuggefted by divine prescience, the fame expreffions, which, in their primary and literal meaning, were used to denote the fortunes and deliverances of the Jews, for the prefent confolation of that people, were fo ordered, as, in a fecondary and figurative fenfe, to adumbrate the fufferings and victories of the Meffiah, for the future inftruction of the church of Chrift. Had no expedient of this fort been employed, we should have wanted one proof of the connection between the Mofaic and chriftian religions; on the other hand, had the nature of the Meffiah's kingdom been plainly defcribed, the defign of the national feparation would have been defeated. But when fpiritual bleffings were promifed, under the veil of temporal, and in terms familiar to the carnal expectations of the Jews; a proper degree of respect for the old fyftem was preferved, at the fame time that matters were gradually ripening for the introduction of the new and the fhadow of good things held forth obfcurely in the law, prepared them to look forward to that happier day, when the very image itself fhould be prefented, in full fplendor, and diftinctly defined by the gospel.'

The double fenfe of prophecy which it feems neceffary to admit, in order to the juft and full explication of fome parts of fcripture, is certainly attended with difficulty. The view given of it in the above paffage, may perhaps fomewhat alleviate that difficulty, and not be unacceptable to our readers.

The three fermons next in order, relate to the book of Daniel, and its prophecies, under thefe titles, the authority of the book, the four empires, Antiochus Epiphanes, and Antichrift. Thefe fubjects are fometimes dry, and not the most easy or pleasant for pulpit difcuffion, requiring clofer attention than can well be given by an auditory. We doubt not but they will be read by many with fatisfaction and improvement. The only

8.

view

view of them which our plan will admit, may be taken from the conclufion, where we have fome reflections arifing from the = whole.

Firft, It appears, that the objection originally stated by Porphyry, and revived by Collins, again the authenticity of the book of Daniel, on account of the clearness of its predictions, as far as the times of Antiochus Epiphanes, and their obfcurity beyond that period, is both irrational and falfe. For befide that it becomes not us to determine, how far, or with what degrees, whether of light or fhade, the Author of prophecy ought to communicate the knowledge of futurity; the fact itself, alleged in the objection, is untrue: the feveral occurrences concerning the Roman Empire, all of which refer to times below the age of Antiochus, being foretold as plainly as thofe which relate to the Perfian or Macedonian kingdoms, fo far as the prophetical intimations are already accomplished: and for the reft, they have no greater ambiguity than any other prediction yet unfulfilled; of which the completion alone will afford the best and justest interpretation.

A

Secondly, The opinion of Grotius, and of the catholic writers, who would explain the whole eleventh chapter of Daniel of the hiftory of Antiochus Epiphanes, and will allow no part of it to have the moft diftant respect to the affairs of the Romans, is without foundation. For not only the circumstances of Antiochus' life are utterly irreconcileable with fuch an opinion,-but the series of events themfelves enumerated here, which reaches from the reign of Cyrus quite down to the confummation of all things, at the day of judgment, forbids us to admit of fo vaft a chafin as is interpofed between the times of Antiochus and the end of the world; without the smallest notice taken of that great people, which figures in fo diftinguished a manner among the nations of mankind. A chain of prophecy, fo broken and disjointed as this, is incompatible with all our ideas of continuity and integrity, which are in equity to be prefumed in a divine revelation; and, in the inftance before us, is not more repugnant to fober criticism, than it is contrary to hiftoric truth.

Thirdly, From what was formerly obferved of the reafon, why the four empires, whofe revolutions are recorded in the book of Daniel, were particularly felected to conftitute the fubject of facred prophecy, we may difcern whence it was, that the life and actions of Antiochus Epiphanes were thought worthy to be fo minutely recorded. He it was, who was fore-ordained to be the inftrument of chaftifement to the people of God, during the latter times of the Grecian monarchy; under whom the Jews were to be reduced to the very crifis of their fate, and on the point of being either utterly exterminated, or compelled to ferve other Gods, wood and ftere, in direc violation of their law. When therefore this calamity arrived ;~ what else could have been effectual to preferve them from defpair, or excite them to a vigorous application to the means of detence and fafety, than the feasonable reflection that the fame prophet, who had forewarned them of this diftrefs, had been careful alfo to announce

A regard to God's chofen people Ifrael, and the religion of his fon.

Dz

their

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »