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in the County and Diocese of Gloucester. Published by Command
I s. Bathurit.
Mr. Newton has not explained the nature of the crime which gives
-atque immania terga refolvit
Preservative from Popery. Preached at Salter's-Hall, Nov. 5,
Dr. Rees proves, by clear and convincing arguments, the certain
Hi. C. D.'s favour is received, and will be more particularly acknow. leged in our next.
Mr. Barker's Letter will find a place at the end of our next number.
*** The Plan for Recruiting the British Army, by the Hop. and Rev. James Cochrane, was noticed in the Review for October.
T H E
For FEBRU A Ř Y, 1780.
Art. I. Ledures on the universal Principles and Duties of Religion and
Morality, 6's. By the Rev. David Williams, CONCLUDED. See our lait.
E have already given an account of the nature and de
sign of the institution in Margaret-Street, and spoken our sentiments of its mcrits and utility, with impartiality and freedom :-at the same time we have attempted to do justice to the ingenuity of Mr. Williams, and have felected some passages from his Lectures, to justify the compliment which we have paid to his abilities.
The fourth Lecture, on the Knowledge of the Deity,” contains some spirited and sensible reflections on the conduct of those ' zealous Christians, whose thoughts, and passions, and tongues are earnestly employed in controversies on unesential principles,' --whom our Author compares to “ soldiers who are fighting for insignificant outworks, when the very citadel is every moment in danger of being taken.”- The absurdities (continues Mr. Williams) alleged concerning God, have been so numerous and gross, both in Heathen and Christian writers, that those persons who now lead the opinions of a great part of Europe, controvert the first principle itself, and doubt, if not dispute, whether there be a God at all. Surely then there is fome appearance of merit in stepping on this only ground of danger; and a man can hardly be justly represented as an enemy to the peace of society, and aiming at the subversion of religion, when he shews an alacrity and zeal in the defence of those principles without which there could be no religion at all: -thole principles which men of all nations and all opinions agree to be the foundation of all virtue and all happiness. Pero sons whore information and knowledge reach only to the neigh. bourhood in which they live, are wholly occupied by the transVOL. LXII.
actions of that neighbourhood. Small societies of religious persons are, in the same manner, confined by their knowledge, and they contend for principles' to no purpose, unless it be to injure and spoil their own tempers. The doctrines which dirtinguish the several sects of Christianity are not matters of notice to the present abettors of infidelity; even the truth and authenticity of Christianity they consider as a matter out of the question. 'They have, therefore, collected all their force of philosophy, of reason, wit, and humour, to be employed against the being of God. This is the present object and employment of what may be called infidelity.'
Mr. Williams is undoubtedly right in the representation which he hath given of the controversies which divide the Chrif: tian Church-Controversies of the last importance to their abettors, but totally disregarded by writers who move in another sphere of speculation. It is the error of little minds to suppose that all the world is interested in matters which principally command 'their attention ; and they are surprised when they find others ignorant of the rise and progress of disputes which they have attended to with unvaried care and solemnity. We cannot berter illustrate this remark than by relating an anecdote of a fingular kind concerning two heroes of different complexions, but of the same local and contracted sentiments.
A nobleman, well known on the turf, accidentally fell in company with a gentleman whose heart and head were chiefty occupied with some small controverfies that had lately taken place among the two sects of Methodism. The man of zeal very eagerly asked his Lordship, if he had seen Mr. Hill's Farrago? His Lordship, whose ideas ran on Newmarket, whither he was at that time bound, replied he had not-and begged the gentleman to inform him by whom Farrago was made.“Made ? - Why I told you my Lord-by Mr. Hill himself.”“ Thed he was, said my Lord ;-pray, Sir, out of what mare?”-“ Mare ? my Lord—I don't understand you.”—“ Noe understand me! faid the noble jockey. Why, is it not a horse you are talking about ?”_"A horse ! my Lord—why you are frangely out. - No, I am not talking about a horse. I am talk. ing about a book.”—“ A book?”—“ Yes, my Lord, and a most excellent one indeed, against John Wesley and universal redemption, by Mr. Rowland Hill—the GREAT Mr. Hill, my Lord; whom every body knows to be the first preacher of the age, and the fon of the first baronet in the kingdom.”-“I ask his pardon, faid his Lord thip, for not having heard either of him or his book. But I really thought you was talking about á horse for Newmarket." It is indeed of little consequence to "those persons who now lead the opinions of a great part of Europe,' whether Mr. Rowland Hill's Farrago be a horse or a
book : whether it is to ftart for the sweepstakes at Newmarket or the Tabernacle : and it is a matter of perfect indifference to them whether it wins or loses the odds. The contention is too trifling, and the success too insignificant, to excite either hope or fear for one moment. Mr. Williams juftly disdains an encounter with the minute disputants of a paltry sect. His views are higher; for his objects fall within a larger scale. Men (says he) of the first abilities in Europe are zealously employed in propagating these (viz. atheistical) principles; and they do it with a force of eloquence which would do honour to a better cause. This then is the only ground for religious contention --for here alone is to be found an enemy worthy to receive a blow from a man.'
On this liberal ground of controversy Mr. Williams is ambitious to exhibit proofs of his manhood; and he informs us, that when men of fuch talents as he had described plead the cause of Atheism and Infidelity, properly so called, the first Spirits of human nature should attend; for every thing important to the world is at stake. Laws, systems of religion, constitutions and forms of government, are trifles to those first principles by which the universe is held together; and when they are under consideration, the best talents of the world should be brought forward. -I mention this not only to justify my design, but to silence those very insignificant, though very conceited persons, to whom all subjects are clear and easy, and who are forward to give their opinions of things which they have not bestowed a single thought upon.'
In the profecution of his subject (viz. the Knowledge of the Deity) the Author observes, that we can only trace out the properties of a cause by its effects and operations. As to the region of analogy and imagination, he would advise his hearers "to go in it one step-and one step only. Let mankind (says he) suppose these great qualities (visible in the volume of God's works) - this design-this goodness- not to be scattered through the universe, but to belong to one Being who actuates it, and they will know all that can possibly he known of God. Beware of trusting your imagination one moment longer. She hath soared her utmost height, and every effort the makes will be towards the earth, and will generate error and absurdity. You are to glance only by the utmost exertion of your abilities at that Being who is incomprehensible; and you are to be satisfied with few and general ideas on so great a subject. You will then be impregnably fortified against all the attempts of infidelity; and if its votaries reproach you with the absurdity, ill character, and villany of the gods which have led enthufiafts and idolaters of all religions to deluge the world with blood, and plague and forment mankind, shew them in all nature an
altar to the unknown God; and invite them to hear the universal voice of nature acknowledging him.'
Mr. Williams is no systematical writer; and whoever should confult his Lectures for a regular arrangement of arguments, propositions, and corollaries, would find himself much disappointed. All that he advances in proof of a Deity, is comprized in a very narrow compass; and the contemplation of the subject leads him into a train of reflection that would have suited almost any other topic but that which he professes to discuss.- But great, original, geniuses, are not to be circumscribed within the narrow limits of logical mood and figure. Such daring spirits
From vulgar rules with brave disorder start,
And snatch a grace beyond the reach of art! In the fifth lecture, which is a continuation of the preceding subject, the Knowledge of the Deity, Mr. Williams delivers his fentiments on Toleration, and bestows some severe lashes on those inconfiftent Proteftants who abet it by profeffion, but discourage it by their practice. · The religious system which, at the Reformation, was substituted for Popery, continues to be taught to children, and to be enjoined on the people, under the apprehension of future damnation; and what is more effectual, with some substantial considerations of profit and loss in this world. The quantity and degree and fort of knowledge are allotted to them as duties are allotted to staves, not subject to controversy or examination. This is rendered an insult of the moft mortifying kind, by the common language and profeffion in all Protestant countries, that the rights of private judgment are sacred : that the Reformation can be defended only on the acknowledgment of those rights; that every man must be at liberty to form his own opinions, and to act upon these opinions in all things relative to religion. Where is the liberty of a man who in his earliest infancy has his mind filled with principles which require the confideration of his maturest judgment; who is enjoined to believe them, or told that he must forego the love of his parents, the attachment of his family, the respeet of his acquaintance, with the many fatisfactions and conveniences attending those circumstances ? His friends shew him the various paths which lead to usefulness, to honour, to riches, and to the indulgence and gratification of those affections which stimulate a man to activity, and without which life is not worth having. He is told, and very truly, that all these paths are not to be entered until he hath configned his understanding, and suffered himself to be inferted in the community like a wheel in the machine, the whole movement of which is governed by one invariable principle. And is this indeed liberty? How then is lavery to be defined ? Indeed Protestant govern