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Art. I. The Light of Nature pursued. By Edward Search, Esq;
Vols. IV. V. VI. and VII. The Posthumous Work of Abraham
work were published in 1768, during the life of the Author, and were duly noticed in the course of our Review *. We muft refer our Readers to the Articles quoted at the bottom of the page, for an account of the abilities of the Writer, the plan of his work, and the manner in which it is executed. We fhall only observe, that the same liveliness of imagination, the fame goodness of heart; and we might add, the fame fagacity and ingenuity in his reasonings and illustrations (though in our opinion not so happily directed}; that we noted in his former publication, are discovered in the volumes before us.
The present publication, according to the division made by the Author, which we censured in our account of the former part t, is called volume III. divided into four parts, and entitled, Lights of Nature and Gospel blended. The apparent intention of Mr. Tucker, in this part of his work, is to reconcile the doctrines and services of religion, and particularly of that religion which is professed and eitablished in this country, to those views of human nature and of the divine government which he has given in the former parts; or to thew that a man may adopt the principles that he has maintained, and yet continue a good Christian, and a found member of the Church of England. His professed design is, to bring his theory reconcilable to practice'--to adapt it to general convenience, and to prove that philosophical opinions and popular notions, respecting human nature and theology,' may be reconciled, so
See vol. xli. p. 19. 112, 241. and vol. xlii. p. 8, + See Monthly Review, vol. xli. Po 22. Voli LX,
as to affift and co-operate with each other, as springing originally from the same root, and conducing ultimately to the same purpose. To which end, in the first chapter, entitled, Partition of the General Rule, the great fundamental rule of conduct, which he had deduced from the probable connection of interests throughout the creation, of labouring constantly to increase the common stock of happiness, by any beneficial service or prevention of damage in our power, is first parted into two main branches, Prudence and Benevolence, commonly called our duty to ourselves and to our neighbour. -But since to keep us steady in the exercise of these two branches it is necessary to inculcate (it should have been to cultivate) juft sentiments of the Supreme Being, because it is by the knowledge of his attributes alone that we can discover any thing with afsurance concerning things invisible, or trace the connection of interests, or discern any measures of conduct in this world conducive to the improvement of our condition in the next; hence arises a third branch of the fundamental rule, our duty to God. For the foundation of this duty is not the obligation of serving God himself, of which we are utterly incapable, but because by fo doing we serve ourselves, and one another moft effectually. This duty is fulfilled by the best exercise of our rational facul-! ties to form the soundest notions they are able to reach of his essence and manner of government, and then emplaying such expedients as the nature of our conftitution requires to imprefs. them upon the imagination, that they may rise spontaneously in their genuine lively colours.' We have taken this account. of the manner in which our Author introduces the confideration of the doctrines and services of religion, or rather in his own words, of 'the religion wherein we were bred up,' from the last chapter of the present publication, in which he has given a fummary of the whole work. In the first chapter he juftly observes that our temporal intereft, our interest in the present state, is the proper rule and guide of our conduct; by our attention to which we shall not only render life agreeable, but also make the best preparation and most effectual provision for our future existence. But then by intereft he understands the fame as happiness, including those three great articles, Competence, Health, and Peace. To each of these he gives a large and liberal interpretation, and includes in the last that satisface tion of mind which results from a right use and improvement. of our powers and faculties, and that happiness which arises from the prospect of distant good. He concludes the chapter with the following just sentiments : 'Yet this idea,' the idea of the abundance and prevalence of good and happiness in the world, cannot have its full effect without religion, which alone can ensure us a fare in the stream of bounty that flows
copioudy on all fides, and opens a much larger and richer proIpect into the invisible world than this narrow earth can afford. Nevertheless care must be taken not to embrace every thing hastily that carries the appearance of religion : for many, by ai injudicious earneftness to become religious, have filled themselves with doubts and despondencies, destroyed their own peace, entertained an unfavourable opinion as well of their fellowcreatures as of the creation, and thought narrowly and unworthily of their Creator. Wherefore it is of the utmost importance, and deserves our principal attention, to cultivate just sentiments of him, and as he wants not our adoration nor our services, but bas vouchsafed fo much knowledge of himself as he judges needful, and given us religion for our benefit, we may be sure that is the truest which tends most to preserve our minds in a steady tenour, to draw us out of hurtful courses, and make us profitable to one another.'
In our account of the former parts of the work, we took notice, with surprise, of the prejudice which this intelligent Writer discovered in favour of the esoteric and exoteric doctrine of the ancient philosophers. The second chapter of the present publication is entitled, Esoterics and Exoterics. Mr. Tucker begins with observing that religion, although juftly styled the service of God, because then only having the true and real value, when performed in obedience to his will, yet was not given to serve himself, but his creatures; therefore muft be adapted to their needs and their natures, in order to become serviceable to them. But human nature being very various among people and individuals according to their capacities, endowments, or cafts of imagination; their diversity of characters requires a different management to serve them effectually. And you may as well think of setting out a measure of cloaths that Ihall fit every body as of drawing up a complete system of religion accommodated to the uses of all mankind.' He might have added, or of any considerable number of individuals : and the natural inference would have been that national establishments muft necessarily fail of answering the end for which they are professedly appointed, the prevention of those feuds and animofities, and of that contempt of religion in general which are apt to arise from discordant opinions and different modes of worlaip. But this would not have suited our Author's purpose; for he goes on to observe, that the bulk of mankind, unable to strike out any thing of themselves, would have no restraint upon their passions, no love or dependance, or perhaps no thought of an invisible power governing both worlds, if they were not let into it by custom and authority : but authority and culom have the stronger influence the more generally they are complied with. Therefore it is expedient and necessary to have
some form of doctrine generally agreed to, for preserving peace and à regard to futurity among the people. And the more con cise and simple this form can be contrived, the better : because more comprehenfive, as being easier accommodated to the diversity of characters.' We entirely agree with Mr. Tucker that the more fimple and comprehenfive the plan is upon which an establishment is formed; the more commendable and usefut it is likely to be; and doubt not but that he would have agreed with us in' withing that this was in a greater degree the character of the establishment in England and Scotland: : ! But no established form,' he goes on, can contain the whole of every man's opinions, for unless he Atrikes out something of his own from what has been taught him, he will make very little proficiency in religion: and the fame expreffions convey very different ideas to a number of hearers; foʻthat it is not to be concluded that we have all exactly the same sentiments, because we all join in the same form of words. Mr. Tucker instances, in the first article of the Apostle's Creed, the various conceptions that are formed of the Supreme Being, the different senses in which the epithet Almighty, or rather the Greek word love Toxpa two, is explained by Dr. Barrow, and the different ideas ihat we may have, under the terms Maker and Heaven. He then proceeds, “Thus a perfect uniformity of sentiment is neither practicable nor needful: it is enough that we agree together fo far as that we may act in concert upon the common occasions of life, and not disturb one another in our religious 'exercises. Therefore, our laws have wisely provided for such a uniformity of profeffion as is requisite to maintain order and good harmony, and keep alive'á'fense of religion in all parts of the community: giving full' liberty and indulgence to any diversity of opinions that does not tend to invalidate those provifions, and unlettle the minds of the people.' How happy would it have been if our civil and ecclesiastical fuperiors at the time of the Reformation, or at any subsequent period, had been actuated by the liberal sentiments contained in the first sentence of this paragraph. If our present governors had thought it sufficient that we should agree together so far as that we might act in concert upon the common occasions of life, and not disturb one another in our religious exercises, neither the petitioning clergy nor dissenting ministers and schoolmasters would have applied for relief in vain. In the latter sentence of the paragraph, we apprehend that Mr. Tucker is guilty of a mistake. Surely the affent and confent required by the act of uniformity implies something more than uniformity of profesfion: and the preface to the Thirty-nine Articles expressly declares that they were agreed upon in convocation, for the avoiding of the diversities of opinions, and for the establishing
of consent touching true religion. He resumes xhis subject in another chapter, entitled, Articles: in which he pleads for the utmost, latitude of interpretation. We ought to prefume, says he, the compilers of our articles framed such as in their judgment contained the soundest system of religion, and most
expedient for instilling falutary sentiments into the minds of the people. As they were men, they certainly were not infallible; and in articles prepared for pational use, there may poffibly be Something occasional, not necessary for the maintenance of true religion at all times, but calculated upon the condition of the present; if any thing of this sort hould appear, chere is a legislature always in being who may rectify whatever, upon proper examination, might be found amifs, and accommodate what might be judged unsuitable to the temper and occafions of our times.
And for the manner of understanding them, this may be and has been accommodated to the current ways of thinking, by tacit confent of the people themselves : for whoever will examine the writings of the last century, comparing theni with those of our cotemporaries, may perceive, that although we still retain the same fet of articles, we find in them much less of the mysterious
, the marvellous, and the magical, than our forefathers did a hundred years ago. Therefore I hope it will be allowed a lawful
' and honest intention, however defectively.executed, with which I go through my present labours; for implicit faith will not go down now-a-days; men are not easily filenced without being convinced, nor will they be made to swallow mysteries, to them, unintelligible, by the drenchings horn of ecclesiastical authority. It is then working in the service of the Church to endeavour showing, that without change of a single word in her doctrines, they may be so expounded as to render them consistent with the discoveries of Reason and Philosophy, and to bear standing a close inspection by the Light
As a specimen of Mr. Tucker's manner of interpreting the Articles, we shall give our Readers the following paragraph : The harshest expression I can recollet, is that used in the eighteenth Article, where it is declared, that those are to be holden accursed who presume to say, that every man ihall be saved by the law or feet which he profefleth :. but why should we give the Açcursed here a larger compass than the Damnable in the oath of abjuration? or understand any more thereby, than
that she, that is, the Church, would have her members look upon it as a pernicious and fatal error to imagine the choice of one's religion a matter of indifference, to be made at pleasure lightly, or upon temporal convenience, amongst all that are current in the world, and would have them shy of persons at