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his combinations uncouth. He fell into an age in which our language began to lose the stability which it had obtained in the time of Elizabeth; and was considered by every writer as a subject on which he might try his plastic skill, by moulding it according to his own fancy. Milton in consequence of this encroaching licence, began to introduce the Latin idiom: and Browne, though he gave less disturbance to our structures in phraseology, yet poured in a multitude of exotick words; many, indeed, useful and significant, which, if rejected, must be supplied by circumlocution, such as commensality for the state of many living at the same table; but many superfluous, as a paralogical for an unreasonable doubt; and some so obscure, that they conceal his meaning rather than explain it, as arthritical analogies for parts
that serve some animals in the place of joints.
His style is, indeed, a tissue of many languages ; a mixture of heterogeneous words, brought together from diftant regions, with terms originally appropriated to one art, and drawn by violence into the service of another. He must however be confeffed to have augmented our philosophical diction; and in defence of his uncominon words and expressions, we must consider, that he had uncommon sentiments, and was not content to express in many words that idea for which any language could supply a single
But his innovations are sometimes pleasing, and his temerities happy: he has many verba ardentia, forcible expressions, which he would never have found, but by venturing to the utmost verge of propriety ; and flights which would never have been reached,
but by one who had very little fear of the shame of falling.
There remains yet an objection against the writings of Browne, more formidable than the animadversions of criticism. There are passages, from which some have taken occasion to rank him among deifts, and others among atheists. It would be difficult to guess how any such conclusion should be formed, had not experience shewn that there are two forts of men willing to enlarge the catalogue of infidels.
It has been long observed, that an atheist has no just reason for endeavouring conversions; and yet none harrass those minds which they can influence, with more importunity of solicitation to adopt their opinions. In proportion as they doubt the truth of their own doctrines, they are desirous to gain the attestation of another understanding; and industriously labour to win a proselyte, and eagerly catch at the slightest pretence to dignify their feet with a celebrated name *.
The others become friends to infidelity only by unskilful hostility; men of rigid orthodoxy, cautious conversation, and religious asperity. Among these, it is too frequently the practice, to make in their heat concessions to atheism, or deifin, which their most confident advocates had never dared to claim, or to hope. A fally of levity, an idle paradox, an indecent jest, an unfeasonable objection, are sufficient in the opinion of these men, to efface a name from the lists of Christianity, to exclude a soul from everlasting life. Such men are so watchful to censure, that they have
* Therefore no Hereticks desire to spread
feldom much care to look for favourable interpretations of ambiguities, to set the general tenor of life against single failures, or to know how soon any slip of inadventency has been expiated by forrow and retraction; but let fly their fulminations, without mercy or prudence, against flight offences or casual temerities, against crimes never committed, or immediately repented.
The infidel knows well what he is doing. He is endeavouring to supply, by authority, the deficiency of his arguments; and to make his cause lefs invidious, by fhewing numbers on his side: he will, therefore, not change his conduct, till he reforms his principles. But the zealot should recollect, that he is labouring, by this frequency of excommunication, against his own cause; and voluntarily adding strength to the enemies of truth. It must always be the condition of a great part of mankind to reject and embrace tenets upon the authority of those whom they think wiser than themselves; and, therefore, the addition of every name to infidelity in fome degree invalidates that are gument upon which the religion of multitudes is necellarily founded. Men may
differ from each other in many religious opinions, and yet all may retain tlre essentials of Christianity; men may sometimes eagerly dispute, and yet not differ much from one another : the rigorous perfecutors of error fhould, therefore, enlighten their zeal with knowledge, and temper their orthodoxy with charity; that charity, without which orthodoxy is vain; charity that “ thinketh no evil,” but “hopeth all things," and “ endureth all things.”
Whether Browne has been numbered among the contemners of religion, by the fury of its friends, or the artifice of its enemies, ie is no difficult task to replace him among the inost zealous professors of Christianity. He may, perhaps, in the ardour of his imagination, have hazarded an expression, which a mind intent upon faults may interpret into heresy, if confidered apart from the rest of his discourfe; but a phrase is not to be opposed to volumes : there is scarcely a writer to be found, whose profession was not divinity, that has fo frequently testified his belief of the sacred writings, has appealed to them with such unlimited fubmission, or mentioned them with such invaried reverence.
It is, indeed, somewhat wonderful, that he should be placed without the pale of Christianity, who declares, that “he assumes the honourable style of a Christian,” not because it is “the religion of his country,” but because “ having in his riper years and confirmed “ judgment seen and examined all, he finds himself
obliged, by the principles of grace, and the law of “ his own reason, to embrace no other name but this :" who, to fpecify his persuasion yet more, tells us, that “he is of the Reformed religion; of the same belief
our Saviour taught, the apostles disseminated, the “ fathers authorized, and the martyrs confirmed :" who, though“ paradoxical in philosophy, loves in divinity “ to keep the beaten road; and pleases himself that he “ has no taint of heresy, schism, or error:” to whom, “ where the Scripture is filent, the Church is a text; “ where that speaks, 'tis but a comment;” and who uses not “ the dictates of his own reason, but where “there is a joint silence of both: who blesses himself, " that he lived not in the days of miracles, when faith
" had been thrust upon him; but enjoys that greater “ blessing, pronounced to all that believe and saw not.” He cannot surely be charged with a defect of faith, who “ believes that our Saviour was dead, and buried, “ and rose again, and desires to see him in his glory;" and who affirms, that “ this is not much to believe;" that “ we have reason to owe this faith unto hif“tory;" and that “ they only had the advantage of a “ bold and noble faith, who lived before his coming; “ and upon obscure prophecies and mystical types, “ could raise a belief.” Nor can contempt of the positive and ritual parts of religion be imputed to him, who doubts, whether a good man would refuse a poi. foned eucharift; and “ who would violate his own
arm, rather than a church.”
The opinions of every man must be learned from himfelf: concerning his practice, it is safest to trust the evidence of others. Where these testimonies concur, no higher degree of historical certainty can be obtained; and they apparently concur to prove, that Browne was a zealous adherent to the faith of Christ, that he lived in obedience to his laws, and died in confidence of his mercy.