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The Completion of the Article on Dr. Southwood Smith's Illustrations of the Divine

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Art. I, The Principles of Christian Evidence illustrated, by an Ex

amination of Arguments subversive of Natural Theology and the Internal Evidence of Christianity, advanced by Dr. T. Chalıners, in his “ Evidence and Authority of the Christian Revelation.” By Duncan Mearns, D.D. Professor of Theology, King's College and

University, Aberdeen. 12mo. Price 5s. 1818. TP works of pure science be excepted, there will be found but I a comparatively small portion of didactic writing devoted entirely to illustrate or establish truth. From the time that writing first became the vehicle of instruction, innumerable forms of error have prevailed among men. Their minds bave. been imbued with opinions, absurd or pernicious. It has, therefore, been necessary for those persons who, by patient

investigation, felicity of genius, or the signal favour of 'Provi· depce, may have acquired an uncominon knowledge of universal truth, to expend their efforts chiefly in exposing error and prejudices. They have been obliged to turn their light on the spectres and illusions spread over the regions of thought, and infesting human life. The most essential service which they could render to their fellows, has been, sometimes, to bring into contempt and reprobation, a system of mischievous absurdities, that may have acquired a dangerous ascendency over the human mind-as when the author of the Provincial Letters over. whelmed the pernicious casuistry of the Jesuits; at other times, to refute a fundamental error, which being generally adopted in speculation, may have been replete with disastrous consequences --- as when Reid shewed the fallacy of the supposition, that perception and other functions of the intellect are performed by the intervention of ideas; at others, again to establish a general principle of great practical utility, the reception of which a host of inveterate prejudices may have obstructed-as when Locke proved that every person ought to be tolerated in the practice of bis religion. In effecting such objects, there must

Vol. X. N.S.



be produced a great mass of writing, which, when it has accomplished its purpose, a man may read and not receive any accession of clearness to his views, any stability to his convictions, or any energy to his sentiments.

It is, however, impossible to conceive of any limits to the accu. mulation of this sort of writing; but in the present state of haman nature, the production of it is of immense utility. As 10 good is unmixed, light, in men of the first order of intellect, is blended with darkness, correct views with misapprehensions. The powers of illustration and persuasion, which qualify them to inform, raise, and delight our minds, enable them successfully to insinuate their mistakes, and procure a kind of homage to the most unreasonable opinions. There is a magic in the taste, genius, and eloquence, with which they embellish the least tenable positions, that confounds and overpowers common an. derstandings. While, therefore, the sum of human errors, is lessened, on the one band, by inquiry and reflection, it receives, on the other, continual additions from the unfounded assumptions and fancies of great men. Exploded doctrines are revived in a rather different form, or new modes of erroneous speculation are brought into vogue. To purify truth from the contaminations wbich it thus suffers from the best gifted of men, to detect and expose unfounded imaginations which the authority and influence of rare talents may bave diffused, is a task, which, though it may require much merely temporary writing, can never be safely neglected. · A service of this nature has, if we mistake not, been performed by Dr. Mearns, in the present little work. The treatise on the Evidence and Authority of the Christian Revelation, attracted, on its first appearance, a considerable degree of attention ; and, in consequence of the extraordinary celebrity which the author bas subsequently acquired, chiefly by his brilliant Discourses on the Modern Astronomy, it has been very generally read. Through out this volume there breathes an earnest piety, and a profound reverence for holy writ; while, froso the tone of confidence which the Author maintains, in all bis affirmations and reasonings, together with his very dazzling eloquence, it is more adapted than any other defence of Christianity, written in English, to produce, il not a stable conviction, at least a strong impression on the popular mind. Dr. Chalmers chose to deviate from the line of argument usually pursued by the advocates of Christianity. He rejected the principles of natural theology, as beyond the cogoizance of human faculties, and the internal evidence of Christianity, as presumption. By this means, he conceived the argument (from • miracles) might be made to assume a more powerful and imto pressive aspect,' while it would preclude all objections to the principles contained in the Christian record. Although this

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