Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

tempting to justify that error as dangerous persons for them to converse with.' It is astonishing that it should not have struck so intelligent a Writer, it is astonishing that it should not strike every person who thinks upon the subject, that to allow of a latitude of interpretation is to defeat the very purpose for which the Articles were framed, the preventing of diversities of opią nion. If, notwithstanding the Articles, various and contrary opinions may be innocently holden and maintained respecting such doctrines as, the Trinity, Original Sin, the Juftification of Man, and the Inspiration of the Spirit of God, what end can be answered by requiring subscription to them? Uniformity of profeffion without uniformity of opinion is, in our view, a crafty diffimulation, inconsistent with Christian fimplicity and fincerity; and hath a tendency to weaken the principles of veracity and integrity, and to create a general indifference with respect to truth and falsehood.

Mr. Tucker proceeds to state the ground and necessity of the distinction between Esoterics and Exoterics in the following manner: Yet is this liberty, the liberty of entertaining a di, versity of opinion upon moral and religious fubjets, to be used cautiously : for speculative opinions may have an influence upon practical, and one man's speculations, though innocent and salutary to himself, may cause disquietude, and do mischief in the mind of another, who perhaps will draw inferences from them the Author never intended nor would think confequential, tending to overthrow fome established tenet, or even subversive of religion and good manners. For in every science, those who make it their business to dive into the depths of it, find a very different scene of things from those who take only fo much as is requifite for common use; and such as have bestowed much thought upon the foundations of right and wrong, discover many contrarieties and absurdities in the popular notions; as on the other hand their refinements appear unintelligible and abfurd to the generality. Therefore it behoves every man to regard not only what is rational, confiftent, and wholesome to himself, but what will continue fo when thrown into a diverfly moulded imagination : reserving the former for his private use, or for those of a similar cast, but dealing out the latter only te all comers,

Hence the so noted diftin&tion among philosophers of their esoteric and exoteric doctrines, the one to be trusted only with Adepts, the other communicated to the Vulgar: or if they did sometimes venture the former'in a mixed audience, they couched them under such enigmatical and mysterious terms that nobody could tell what to make of them without the enigmatical key. But this reserve of theirs has been commonly placed in a wrong light; as if proceeding from a yain and riggardly semper, fond of hoarding up their treasures for themselves, and thinking any worthless scrapes good enough for the Vulgar. Nor has the word Vulgar contributed a little towards encouraging this notion, as signifying with us a person of mean understanding, little knowledge or accomplishment : so that Adept is regarded as a title of honour, and Vulgar as a word of reproach.. Whereas in former times the terms were relative to some art, or science, or profeslion, respectively comprizing all who were or were not masters therein : so that the philosopher himself was among the Vulgar with regard to commerce, masonry, navigation, or other business he did not understand, and acknowledged such as were skilful in each profeflion for Adepts.'

fond

Now all this may be a good reason why authors or instructors should not throw out crude and indigested notions at random, and that they fhould endeavour to guard their sentiments or language against any perversion or abuse to which they might be otherwise liable, but can be no reason that they should not endeavour to extend the knowledge of the truth, by asserting it in the clearest light, and pointing out its connexion with the true interest and happiness of mankind; much less will it justify a philosopher or adept in confirming the yulgar or illiterate in their errors and superstitions, by talking the same language, and giving them reason to think that he is of the same opinion. The natural and almost necessary consequence of conformity to established errors and superstitions in those whom our Author terms philofophers and adepts is the prevalence of scepticism and infidelity. For çhis we may appeal to the state of things among the Greeks and Ronians before the Christian era; and also to the present state of things in France and Italy, and we fear that we might add, in our own country,

Mr. Tucker enters upon the more immediate design of the publication, by considering the attributes of Purity, Majesty, and Holiness, which he bad omitted in the former parts of his work. These being in his opinion, or according to his explanation, of the exoteric kind, rather negative of what is in man, than affirmative of any thing in God.' By Purity he underStands the intire freedom of the Divine Nature from all human frailties, affections, and pallions ; by Majesty, his being withbolden from works and objects unbecoining the dignity of his character ;' and by Holiness, ' a negation of those moral impurities whereto our nature lies liable. The chief

The chief part of a long chapter on this last perfection is an endeavour to prove that notwithstanding the doctrine advanced in two chapters of the second volume, entitled, Providence and Freewill, that the machinations and actions of men as well as all other events,' ! that every minute motion, both in the human breast and among the bodies around us, was comprized and noticed in the

plan

G4

plan of Providence, the Divine Being is not the author or ap: prover of folly and wickedness,: or in other words that the admission of evil into the system 'of'nature is not inconsistent with the perfect Holiness of its author. Here Mr. Tucker has recourse to the distinction of characters in the Divine Being which he had supposed in Chap. 18. of the fecond volume; and upon the inutility of which we made fome remark that ftill appears to us to be just *." The great principles upon which the admission of evil among the works of God is to be reconciled to his perfect' moral rectitude,' are, that his eye never terminatės upon 'evil, but regards it only as a means to work out a greater good ; that no evils “are 'admitted which will not res dound to some signal benefit of the creation ; and that the provisions which are made for the evils interspersed among his works, are made with a view to the good whereof they are necessarily productive. We have exprefled these principles nearly in the words of Mr. Tucker himself, and apprehend that they are sufficient to vindicate the moral rectitude of the Sovereign Disposer of all things, 'in the character of Creator as well as that of Governor of the Universe. In his disquisition on this subject our fagacious Author has introduced the unphilosophical distinction between doing and permitting, and justly placed it among the exoteric doctrines, which will not bear the examination of reason, especially when applied to the great first cause of all.

The next chapter is entitled, Things Providential : in which, because the chapter on Providence, in a former volume, was mostly esoteric, and scarcely applicable to common use,' he hath selected the most remarkable phenomena in the works and laws of nature, which prove intelligence, wisdom, and design in their Author.

The titles of the three remaining chapters of the fourth voInme are, Religion -- Freedom of Thought-and, Vanity. We Ihall give an account of their contents and design in the Author's own words, extracted from the summary of the whole work, which we cited before :

The title Religion prefixed to the next chapter belongs rather as a running-title to the whole remainder than to this particular chapter, which contains little more than an address to both parties ;', that is, the Bigots, and the Freethinkers,

fuggefting a prefumption that if one would always strive to find a rational construction agreeable to our natural notions in the divine oracles, and the other would consider the Facts of the evangelic history, though supposed to proceed from merely natural causes, as events extremely providential, having an ex

3

* See Monthly Review, vol. xli. p. 243.

tensive tensive beneficial influence upon mankind, the result of both would terminate in a system of fentiment and conduct very little different in fubstantials: and exhorting them to deal with one another, inot as adversaries but as persons in an amicable conference upon their common interests, for fo the issue of their conference may juftly be deemed, because the general connection throughout the universe ' being borne in mind, whoever hurts himself hurts me, therefore if I think another in a wrong way, I shall endeavour to bring him into the right by such me, thods as are likely to prevail with him ; but if I cannot do that, I fhall strive to turn his own opinions to his greatest advantage. But the work of reconcilement being a very nice businefs to manage, requiring a sober freedom and strict impartiality void of all bias or prejudice, it was needful enough for my own direction to texamine what is true freedom of thought, and wherein it differs from Bigotry on the one hand, and that called Freethinking on the other; and to take warning against every danger that might threaten our liberty of judgment; whether from scrupulous fear, obstinate attachment to old notions, fondness for novelty, secret felf-conceit, or the vanity of doing something extraordinary. This blemish of human nature creeping in fome measure upon us all, extending its influence to all our motions as well momentousias trifling, deserved a particular discussion, the drift whereof was to ascertain the difference between true and false honoue: for honour being the fource both of the brightest virtues: and most pernicious extravagancies it was attempting a good service to settle it upon its proper foun- . dation, which is the prospect of attaining things excellent in themselves, rather than that of excelling or surpassing other persons.

135 We recommend the whole of the chapter upon Vanity to the attention of our Readers. Moral writers in general have confidered emulation as a principle of action worthy to be employed by parents and teachers in the education of youth. Mr. Tucker is of opinion that the businefs of education, by a proper skill and attention, may be as effectually and more happily carried on without it. He juftly observes that self-approbation and complacency arise from the consciousness of rectitude in our conduct, and that rectitude does not consist in doing bet. ter than others, but in judging impartially upon the best lights the occasion affords, and conducting ourselves accordingly without failure or deviation. The true fenfe of honour,' fays he, ? respects only the laudableness of the deed, without reference to what is done better or worse by another : for his acting rightly takes nothing froin our rectitude, nor can his failing excuse our own.-Rectitude has nothing to do with comparison, unless where there is a choice of different actions, and then it

compares compares between things and not persons : judging of the excellence upon what the performer himself might have done, not upon

what any body else can do better or worse than him, With these just and useful sentiments we take our leave at present of this ingenious and fagacious Writer. His scheme of Chriftianity, and discourses on some practical fubjects, &c. will furnish matter for another Article.

[ocr errors]

ART. II. Travels through the interior Parts of North America, in the

Years 1766, 1767, and 1768. By J. Carver, Esq; Captain of a Company of Provincial Troops during the late War with France. Illustrated with Copper plates. 8vo. 75. 6d. Boards, Walter. 1778.

F there are, yet, among us, any of those desponding politiof our American colonies, the publication before us may poffibly afford them fome consolation ; for they will here see, that if much is loft, there is still, in America, much to be found : vast tracts of fine country, yet unsubjected to European colonization, and to the property of which, we have at least, as good pretenfions as we had to most of the provinces which have lately bidden good bye to us.

7. The right of poffeffion, founded on discovery, iseems to the generality of travellers, who are feldom adepts in cafuiftry, or law, to be a very good fort of right; and, certain it is, that, excepting a few instances of purchase from the Aborigines, it is the best kind of claim that we pretend to: and what more than the best can be expected from an honest adventurer -As to what may be lawful, either in the courts above, or the courts below,--why, as Admiral Montague. says, "A f- for law !"

With respect to Captain Carver, he has laudably discharged the duty of a good and loyal fubject to his Majesty King George the Third, by taking poffeffion, in form, for his Royal Master, of fuch of those countries into which he penetrated, as he judged would be valuable acquisitions to the crown of England : and to which, moreover, he afferts our claim of priority, from the discoveries of our first navigators to the new world.

In the Introduction to his narrative, Capt. Carver gives the following account of his motives for undertaking his Travels into the interior of North-America; and of the progress which he actually made in the execution of his plan :

• No sooner was the late war with France concluded, and peace established by the treaty of Versailles in the year 1763, chan I began to consider (having rendered my country some services during the war) how I might continue still serviceable, and contribute, as much as lay in my power, to make that vaft acquisition of territory, gained by Great Britain, in North America, advantageous to it. It appear. ed to me indispensably needful, that government should be acquainted in the first place with the true state of the dominions they were now

becemc

« AnteriorContinuar »