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that, at such a period as the present, when the grand controversy seems to be, whether Christianity be “ a Form of godlis ness," or " the Power of God unto Salvation ;” a course of ineffectual efforts, or a state of inward liberty and holy tranquillity of soul; we should be able to adduce this very elegant English writer, as maintaining, in the most unequivocal and energetic language, that very view of piety, which so many of those who think themselves wise, have agreed to explode as enthusiastic delusion. We have no doubt, that this very consideration weighed much with Mrs. M. in her endeavour to draw attention to the devotional papers of Addison ; and we heartily accord with her, sentiments.
This observation brings us naturally to what, after all, interests us most in Mrs. M.'s volumes--her views of religion. Her former publications had put the public in full possession of her sentiments on this most momentous subject : but in such a work as the present, it might seem eligible to furnish such a set of elementary suggestions, as all together might form somewhat of an outline of religious instruction. Why Mrs. M. preferred the intermingling chapters on religion with those on more general subjects, to the classing of all that was to be said on that subject under one head, it is unnecessary to inquire. But of this we are certain, that whoever reads, with serious attention and competent judgement, the remarks on religion which occur in different parts of these volumes, (but which intelligent persons may easily trace by inspecting the table of contents,) will find as instructive a compendium of christian truths, as could readily have been brought into so narrow a compass. We admire par. ticularly in this part of the work, the unentangled simplicity with which the essential principles of vital christianity are exhibited. We observe with sincere pleasure, that, while Reviewers, of what it is not unusual to call the evangelical cast, discover no deficiency, those who are the most jealous of fanatical excess, give an unusually warm approbation. This remarkable concurrence of critics, so generally dissonant, appears to us, to be not only a gratifying, but an instructive fact : for, if it be a duty to s please all men for their good," an actual instance in which the attempt has signally succeeded, becomes peculiarly interesting; as serving to exemplify the method by which such concurrent approbation may be attained.
We have also entire satisfaction in remarking, that it has not been gained in the present instance by compromising any of the essential principles, or actual features of our divine religion. Christianity is every where represented as that which has its seat in the inmost soul; and which effects a radical change in all the moral tendencies of the mind. It is that which brings 'us, as it were, within the actual sphere of the invisible world, and renders
God, the spiritual kingdom of our Redeemer, eternity and heaven, so influentially present with us, as to become the chief concern of our minds, the ruling objects of our hearts, and the regulating principles of our whole conduct. In short, Christianity, in our author's work, is that which it is in the infallible word of God; not merely a law that commands; but a principle which animates, a relish which delights, and a love which assimilates : a new, spiritual, divine life in the soul, which neitirer the acuteness of thought, nor the severity of discipline, could obtain for us; but which the Divine Redeemer has procured for us by his death; which the Eternal Father is ready to bestow upon us, if we earnestly and perseveringly ask it ; and which the Omnipotent Spirit works in us, by that energy whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.
Such is Mrs. M.'s view of real Christianity ; to which, with the cordial, yet sober earnestness, of one who speaks alike from full conviction, and froin deep feeling, she would direct her readers ; not only for security against everlasting woe, but for solace and refreshment, under all the labours of life. In her just representation, the Religion of the Gospel is most truly what the Evangelical Prophet predicted; " a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." . Isaiah xxxii. 2. Probably, several who have perused her volumes, may not before have adverted to this happiest aspect of christian piety. That such may derive effectual instruction from the wise lessons which Providence has thus afforded them, is our hope and earnest prayer.
(To be continued.)
Art. III. The Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth. In 4 volumes
4to. By William Roscoe. Liverpool: printed by J. M'Creery; for - T. Cadell and W. Davies, Strand, London. price 61. 6s. 1805. THE celebrity which Mr. Roscoe has justly acquired, by his
Life of Lorenzo de'Medici *, called the Magnificent, will naturally excite a considerable degree of interest in the public, respecting the present work ; particularly, as it is a continuation of the memoirs of the family of the Medici, and embraces the principal events which led to the Reformation under Martin Luther. The revival of literature in the fifteenth century, was a subject well suited to the taste and ability of Mr, R. and he has done ample justice to Lorenzo de'Medici, both as the patron of the Literati, and as an elegant scholar. The translations too
of Mr. R. from several Italian sonnets, and Latin odes, together with his valuable criticisms upon them, have established his reputation as possessing a fine taste and cultivated understanding: while his patience in research, and caution in selecting documents, have placed him in the first rank of historians. Great expectations will, therefore, no doubt, be excited, respecting his “Life and Pontificate of Leo X.” Whether Mr. R. will be found as competent for the discussion of those facts and principles which led to the Reformation; and to draw the portraits of the great Martin Luther, and others, who took the lead in that glorious work; as he is to trace the windings of political intrigues, or to describe the characters of statesmen and secular ecclesiastics, may admit of doubt. We have had occasion, more than once, in perusing this elaborate performance, to question both the impartiality and candour of Mr. R. on subjects connected with Christianity. The bias of Mr. Ri's mind seems by no means favourable to what we should consider as “pure and undefiled religion;" nor does he possess much of that Christian grace“ which thinketh no evil,” where none is apparent. On some occasions, he seems to discover considerable anxiety to trace the most unexceptionable conduct, to inferior or base motives; where nothing but perverse ingenuity would perceive the shadow of blame. .
As the period of which Mr. R. treats is confessedly of the greatest interest and importance to the christian world; it might have been expected that very little difficulty would have been found in collecting materials for the Meinoirs of Leo X. But this is not the case. It will be found, by a perusal of Mr. R.'s well-written preface, that the difficulties he had to encounter were discouraging indeed ; and were he not possessed of a most persevering mind, and had not unexpected sources of information successively opened upon him, he must have relinquished his plan, or have ushered into the world a mere abortion. The Life of Leo X. has been written but twice before: once, by Paulus Jovius, (or as Mr. R. calls him, according to his Italian name, Paolo Giovio,) between two and three centuries ago; and not many years since by Monsignore Angelo Fabroni. These seem to have afforded Mr. R., on his extensive plan, but very inadequate assistance. The sources of information to which he has had recourse, are fully detailed in his preface; and it must be acknowledged that he has spared neither labour nor expence, to render his documents as ample and uniinpeachable as possible.
It would be an injustice to Mr. R. not to quote the folloming justification of himself, when he calls in question what have been hitherto considered as historical verities. .: With respect to the execution of the following work, I cannot but
be well aware, that many circumstances and characters will be found represented in a light somewhat different from that in which they have generally been viewed; and that I may probably be accused of having suffered myself to be induced by the force of prejudice or the affectation of novelty, to remove what have bitherto been considered as the landmarks of history. To imputations of this kind, I feel the inost perfect indifference. Truth alone has been my guide, and whenever she has steadily diffused her light, I have endeavoured to deliniate the objects in their real form and colour. History is the record of the experience of mankind, in their most important concerns. If it be impossible for human sagacity to estimate the consequences of a falsehood in private life; it is equally impossible to estimate the consequences of a false, or partial representation of the events of former times. The eonduct of the present is regulated by the experience of the past. The circumstances which have led the way to the prosperity or destruction of states, will lead the way to the prosperity or destruction of states in all future ages. If those in high authority be better informed than others, it is from this source that their information must be drawn; and to pollute it, is therefore to poison the only channel through which we can derive that kriowledge, which, if it can be obtained pure and unadulterated, cannot fail in tine, to purify the intellect, expand the powers, and improve the condition of the human race.”
Pref. p. xxii. - The good sense of these remarks will approve itself to every reader; and the only question is, whether Mr. R. has not sometimes suffered the force of prejudice to warp his understanding.
· We now proceed to the work itself. Chapter 1. contains an account of the political state of Europe at the birth of Giovanni Medici, afterwards Leo X.; his advancement at the age of seven years, to an ecclesiastical benefice; in the year following to an archbishopric, by the king of France; and to the college of cardinals at the age of thirteen! In this chapter will be found many striking proofs of the extreme venality and corruption of the church of Rome; and the almost total extinction of real Christianity among its dignitaries. The reflection of Mr. R. on such a child, possessing an ecclesiastical benefice, is very just.
. It would not be difficult, says he, to declaim against the corruptions of the Roman See, and the absurdity of conferring ecclesiastical preferments on a child : but in the estimation of an impartial observer, it is matter of little moment, whether such preferment be bestowed upon an infant, who is unable, or an adult, who is unwilling, to perform the duties of his office; and who, in fact, at the time of his appointment, neither intends, nor is expected, ever to bestow upon them any share of bis attention.' p. 14.
As the character and conduct of Leo X. had the principal share in producing a separation from the papal hierarchy, it may not be uninteresting to see the manner of his education; for to this is to be attributed, in a great measure, his conduct while Pope. C2
« But But whilst it may be presumed, that the subsequent honours and success of Giovanni de'Medici are to be attributed in a great degree to his early education, and to the advantages which he possessed under his paternal roof; it must be allowed, that those defects in his ecclesiastical character, which were afterwards so apparent, were probably derived from the same source. The associates of Lorenzo de'Medici were much better acquainted with the writings of the poets, and the doctrines of the ancient philosophers, than with the dogmas of the Christian faith. Of the followers of Plato, Lorenzo was at this time considered as the chief. He had himself arranged and methodized a system of theology, which inculcates opinions very different from those of the Romish church ; and in a forcible manner points out the object of adoration as one and indivisible. Hence, it is not unlikely, that the young cardinal was induced to regard with less reverence, those doctrinal points of the established creed, tho belief of which is considered as indispensable to the clerical character ; and hence he might have acquired such ideas of the Supreme Being, and of the duties of his intelligent creatures, as, in counteracting the spirit of bigotry, rendered him liable to the imputation of indifference in matters of Religion. A rigid æconomy in his household, was certainly not one of the first qualifications of Lorenzo; and the example of his father might perhaps counteract his precepts in the estimation of his son ; whose liberality in future life, too often carried to profusion, reduced him to the necessity of adopting those measures for the supplying (of) his exigencies, which gave rise to consequences of the utmost importance to the Christian world. From the splendid exhibitions which were frequently displayed in the city of Florence, he probably derived that relish for similar entertainments, which he is supposed to have carried, during his pontificate, to an indecorous, if not to a culpable excess ; whilst the freedom and indecency of the songs with which the spectacles of Florence were accompanied, of maury of which Lorenzo was himself the author, could scarcely have failed to banish, at intervals, that gravity of carriage, which the young cardinal was directed to support; and to sow those seeds of dissipation which afterwards met with a more suitable climate in the fervid atmosphere of Rome. pp. 27. 29.
In the former part of the above quotation, though the remarks of the author are directed against the dogmas of the Romish church; a captious critic would find no difficulty in pointing out an invidious comparison between the doctrine of Plato on the nature of the supreme Being, with the duties. deducible from it, and what are generally considered the orthodox doctrines on these points. That candour is connected with the belief of the former, and bigotry with the belief of the latter, is a declaration that has been often made, but which still stands in need of evidence to support it.
The second chapter contains an account of the state of literature in Rome, at the latter end of the fifteenth century: and here Mr. R. displays great ability, and an intimate acquaintance with the best writers of the period which he describes. He draws characters with a bold and masterly hand. His criticisms