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remained a theocracy, or sacerdotal government, down to the learned age of Ptolemy Philadelphus, when king Ergamenes of Meroé, who had imbibed enough of Greek philosophy to liberate him from cowardly superstition, but too little to teach him either humanity or good policy, massacred the collective body of priests, ministers of the golden temple, who had long and wisely governed both prince and people. Having committed this enormity, the usurper coerced by the arm of power a nation that had been immemorially governed by the mere force of opinion, 172 Before a melancholy revolution, eternally fatal to the prosperity of Meroé, that island may be considered as the subsisting model of a government, anciently very prevalent, and which, without arms, and with few corporal punishments, 113 overawed the minds of men, and concentrated their exertions, taught them to rear temples, and form sacred enclosures, haunts indeed of superstition, but seats also of industry and commerce, and which, by the labours of peace, adorned many parts of the ancient Continent with great cities, before the iron age querors and destroyers. p. 77.
(To be concluded in the next Number.)
Art. III.-A Body of Theology principally practical. In a series of Lec.
tures By Robert Fellowes, A. M. Oxon. 2 volumes, 8vo. pp. 549 and
530. Price 18s. Mawman, 1807. THE Author of this production is known to the world as a
poet, a philosopher, and a divine. His polemic writings on réligious subjects are sufficiently free from ambiguity. Bold and decided in his efforts, he aims at the entire demolition of what is sometimes termed the evangelical system. With sophistry he undermines, and then most heretically ridicules, the authority of those creeds, to which he has solemnly subscribed his unfeigned assent. In the work to which we refer, as containing the genuine exposition of his heart as well as his head, we discovered the most glaring distortion of the sentiments of others; a distortion so evidently produced for the purposes and in the manner of a caricature, that we were persuaded his “ Religion without Cant” contained, within itself, the instrument of its own confutation. When we entered therefore on the examination of a “ body of theology” proceeding from the same quarter, we had little expectation of finding it display the beautiful and just proportions of sacred truth; and
171 Diodorus, l. iii. c. 6.
172 Diodor. ibid. The kings of Meroé, like the lamas of Thibet, should seem to have been mere puppets in the hands of the priests.
According to Diodorus, they were so completely dependent on them, that at the command of the priests, they were always ready to end their lives.
173 Oute 2015 olle Gia : When a Meroite had committed any great crime, the magistrate sent to him the symbol of death ; and the guilty person retired to a private apartment, and became his own execu. tioner. Diodorus. The Jesuits in Paraguay never exercised over their yotaries such unbounded dominion.
the result of our investigation will prove that this prejudge. ment was not unreasonable.
The volumes before us contain fifty-eight lectures, the greater number of which are on topics of moral duty. In many instances the arrangement of subjects is confused and involved ; but that our readers may perceive their relations and connexions, in the system of Mr. Fellowes, we shall specify the general heads of discussion, without any further deference to the order which he has adopted.
Lectures I. and II. The Moral Government of God. III. IV. Life, a State of Probation. V. The Divine administration. VI. Necessity of the Christian Revelation. VII. Rational analogies and probabilities in favour of a future life. VIII. The Mosaic Dispensation. IX. The excellence of the Christian religion. X. XI. The Crucifixion. XII. The Resur. rection, XIII. XIV. XV. A future Judgment. XVI. XVII. The Consideration of our latter end. XVIII. XIX. Moral reformation. XX. XXI. XXII. Industry.
XXIII. The Imitation of Christ. XXIV-V. the gains and pleasures of Goodness. XXVI. The best guide of life. XXVII.–VIII. Prayer. XXIX. XXX. Thanksgiving Vol. II. Lect. XXXI. II. The love of God. XXXIII. IV. The love of our neighbour. XXXV.-VI. Charity. XXXVII: Self examination. XXXVIII. The moral Constitution of man. XXXIX. Confession. XL. Anger, Re
XLI.-II. A Pacific Disposition. XLIII.-IV. The government of the tongue. XLV. The Use and Sanctity of Oaths. XLVI. Evil speaking. XLVII. VIII. Slander. XLIX. Detraction. L. Rash Judgment. °LI. A busy, meddling disposition. LII. The subjection of the human will to the divine. LİN. IV. V. VI. Contentment. LVII. Patience. LVIII, the Constituents of happiness.
Every reflective reader will perceive, that in the developement and illustration of this assemblage of important subjects, extensive scope is afforded for useful and interesting discussion. Within its range would naturally be included, delineations of the varieties of moral character, sketches of the diversified phenomena which they exhibit, and attempts not only to analyse the principles of their combination, but to ascertain the causes which gave energy and effect to those principles. Viewing a great proportion of Mr. Fellowes's work as we should regard the essays of the Rambler or the Idler, as a collection of moral reasonings, now and then blended with metaphysical speculations, without any distinct references to the doctrinal peculiarities even of the Author's own creed, we are not unwilling to award to that proportion of the volumes, the praise of ingenious and elegant dissertation. But when we revert to the misnomer of the title-page, and recollect that “ a body of theology,” should contain a precise statement of all the religious truth which, with peculiar emphasis, is termed “ the whole counsel of God;" and consider the immensity of importance, invariably attached to that truth in the Christian re
velation, we expect not only an ample elucidation of its more prominent subjects, but such a constant reference and conformity to them in all the subsequent reasonings and deductions, as shall fully assure us from what source exclusively it derives them. Nor will the justness of this expectation be invalidated by any remarks on the diversities of religious senti
If an infallible teacher has connected the belief and influence of certain truths, with final happiness, the question, concerning what forms the first object of inquiry, paramount in its claims to every other, is easily decided : and should opposite conclusions be the result of inquiring into this subject, still whatever system of faith be adopted, it ought to constitute a part of that system, that the belief of it is an indispensable requisition. Hence the primitive teachers of the Christian religion connected with all their delineations of truth, the necessity of an immediate and cordial reception of their instructions, and enforced this obligation by views of their own responsibility, the evidence on which their statements were founded, and the undoubted authority of their divine master.
Their impressions on this subject were so deeply fixed and so well defined, that we discover the predominance of their in: fluence on subjects remotely and indirectly connected with the great design of their commission. The habitual recurrence of their thoughts and affections to a certain train of ideas, and the emotion they appear to discover when such associations are suggested, clearly indicate a decisive conviction of their importance and value. If therefore any modern instructor profess to form a systematic arrangement of the doctrines and injunctions of Jesus Christ, and of those whom he appointed to“ teach all nations," he will manifest a similar conviction, unless he be destitute of that sincerity and ardour which his office requires.
These observations have arisen from the infrequency of Mr. F.'s references to his own sentiments on subjects properly theological; not that in this case we regret such infrequency, but we deem it obviously inconsistent with any fixed principles of religious truth. It is the peculiar felicity of the Christian system, that its characterizing doctrines can be so incorporated with moral reasonings on the duty and happiness of man, as to give them an infinite accession of power and influence, and render their energy irresistibly effective, on the minds and hearts of human beings. But when a body of theology, involving an extensive series of such reasonings, is utterly devoid of this assistance, and, with the exception of a few indistinct allusions, contains little more of the system of Christianity, than is to be found in the “ morals” of Seneca or the “ offices” of Cicero, we are led to conclude either that the
author of such a theology had imbibed none of the spirit of his system, or that the system itself is opposed in its radical principles to the genius and influence of the gospel. Mr. F. in the dedication of his work (to the Duke of Grafton) has with justness commended the zeal and liberality of bis patron, in promoting, by his example and munificence, the study of the Christian revelation in its original language. Now if that revelation be “ really and essentially divine,” and if the study of it be “the most important and the most interesting which can occupy the mind of man,” we are naturally led to inquire, why is so little use made of it in “ the body of theology ?" Now and then, to be sure, we may infer that our author has somewhere or at some time seen the Christian scriptures; but the prevailing complexion of thought, which pervades the volumes before
us, clearly intimates that he has attained very little familiarity with those writings, and attaches still less authority to the maxims they inculcate or the trutles they reveal.
The moral character and government of God form the first subjects of inquiry in the system of Mr. F.; and, according to his own acknowledgement, many of his reasonings and deductions, on these important topics, are derived from the valuable writings of Butler and Barrow. We are fully disposed to admit the truth of that analogy, which the learned Bishop of Durham has traced, between the moral and the physical arrangements of the world; and also between the conclusions of natural religion, and the peculiarities of revelation. But it should not be forgotten, that the force of these analogical reasonings is mainly applicable to obviate the objections of scepticism, and establish the claims of revealed truth. Such a mode of argumentation is designed to prove, that there are similar reasons for admitting the moral as the natural government of God; and, that if certain objections affect the divine origin and authority of revelation, the very same objections apply with equal force against the deductions of pure theism ; so that there is no medium between the rejection of Christianity aid the admission of atheism itself. Mr. F., with a degree of candour unparalleled in any of his former publications, assures, us that “ he has written to enforce those weighty truths which are in
teresting to Christians of all denominations.” If this were really his intention,why does a series of lectures designed, as he informs us, among other purposes, for the use of those clerical instructors who may have no leisure or ability for original com- . position, contain so much metaphysical speculation on a sube ject, which might be more easily elucidated and solidly es. tablished by a few distinct references to the Scriptures, than by all the abstruse reasonings of all the moral philosophers put together, from the time of Plato, down to the author of the
“ Christian philosophy” himself? Had Mr. F. intended his body of theology to be a code of ethical disquisitions, founded merely on principles supposed to be ascertained by the unassisted energy of the human mind, we could have readily accounted for the sparing obtrusion of scriptural sentiments and authorities. But the fact is, that such omissions and defects are utterly inexplicable upon any principles of agreement with the decisions of revelation, or any supposition of deference to its authority
It would not, in our opinion, be difficult to prove, that all those speculations on the government of God, and the existence of a future state, which are entirely independent of the direct and indirect intimations of scripture, are destitute both of clearness and certainty in their conclusions; and that their preponderance on the side of truth is determined by so slight an inclination, that the amount of their evidence is very far from approximating to the lowest degree of moral demon. stration. But if the vast congeries of proof in favour of divine revelation fully establish its claims, why should its use be ever confined to that of an auxiliary?why should our ideas of the government of the Deity, and our hopes of a future state, be primarily referred to the supposed discoveries of reason, and the assertions of scripture viewed only as confirming those discoveries ? Yet such appears to be the process of reasoning advanced by Mr. F. and by other writers of greater authority in religious discussions.
Accurate ideas of the divine character are of peculiar importance. We ought not to view that character in its detached parts alone, but preserve, as far as our limited knowledge estends, the connexions and proportions of the whole. A material defecton this subject appears to characterize the investigations of Mr. F. .We find many speculations on the beneficence and wisdom of the Supreme Being, but little if any thing is said of his holiness and justice, his regard to the sanctions of established law, and the eternal opposition of his nature to all the forms of moral evil. Hence result those antiscriptural conceptions of the present state of human beings, which pervade every part of the volumes before us.
• Independent of the force of habit, (Mr. F. says) and the contagion of example, vice has nothing like a natural auxiliary in the mind or heart; the whole constitution of our nature contains in it the principles of an inveterate hostility to vice; while all our natural sentiments and affections are found aptly and almost spontaneously to marshal themselves under the banners of virtue, as long as they obey the supremacy of conscience.” Vol. I. pp. 33, 34.
. In the state of things in which we are placed, if there be many temp. tations to sin, there are stronger incitements to righteousness. Ifour sensual inclinations often incline us to criminal indulgencies, yet, the goodness of