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tuse evidently favouring a course of virtue, and frowning upon a course of vice) is a fact independent of all reasoning concerning the existence of God himself; and therefore ought to determine the conduct of those, who are not satisfied with respect to the proof of the being and attributes of God; and even of those who are properly Atheists, believing that nothing exists besides the world, or the univerle, of which we ourselves are a part.
" Whether there be any Author of Nature, or not, there cannot be any doubt of there being an established course of nature ; and an Atheist must believe it to be the more firmly eitablished, and fee less prospect of any change, from acknowledging no fuperior being capable of producing that change. If, therefore, the course of nature be actually in favour of virtue'-(as the Author had shewn in the preceding Letters); it must be the interest and wisdom of every human being to be virtuous. And further, if it be agreeable to the analogy of nature, independent of any consideration of the Author of it, that things are in an improving state' (as the Author had likewise before endeavoured to evince); and consequently that there is a tendency to a more exact and equal retribution; it must produce an expe&tation that this course of nature will go on to favour virtue still more: and therefore, it may be within the course of nature that men), as moral agents, should survive the grave, or be reproduced, to enjoy the full reward of virtue, or to suffer the punishments due to their vices.
• It is acknowledged that we have no idea how this can come to pass; but neither have we any knowledge how we, that is, the human species, came into being : to that, for any thing we know to the contrary, our re-production may be as much within the proper course of nature, as our original production ; and, consequently, nothing hinders but that our expectation of a more perfect state of things, and a state of more exact retribution, raised by the observation of the actual course of nature, may be fulfilled. There may, therefore, be a future state, even though there be no God at all. That is, as it is certainly, and independently of all other confiderations, our witdom to be vir: tuous in this life; it may be equally our wisdom to be virtuous with a view to a life to come. And, faint as this probability may be thought, it is however something, and must add something to the sanctions of virtue. Let not Atheifts, therefore, think themselves quite secure with respect to a future life. Things as extraordinary as this, especially upon the hypothesis of there being no God, have taken place; and therefore this, which is sufficiently analogous to the rest, may take place allo.'
In one of these Letters, the Author endeavours to explain the fallacy of some of the speculative principles, on which some real friends of religion have, in his opinion, endeavoured to support
the doctrines of a God and of a providence; and have thereby given cause of triumph to persons atheistically inclined. In another, he examines the arguments, and detects the inconsistencies, of the celebrated Author of the Systeme de la Nature; a work which has been considered as a kind of “ Bible of Atheism :' and, in the four remaining Letters, he enters upon an examination of Mr. Hume's pofthumous dialogues on natural religion ; of his essay on a particular providence and a future state; and of the influence of his opinion with respect to the nature of causation in general, as applied in support of Atheism : concluding with a general examination of the metaphysical writings of Mr. Hume; in which a succinct and regular analysis is given of such of his philosophical essays as relate to the present subject. On all these heads, as well as on the fubjects before treated of, the Reader, who may have entertained doubts concerning the fundamental doctrines of natural religion, will here meet with a satisfactory folution of these doubts, and an elucidation, at least, of the difficulties which attend the subject, from the very nature of it. It would be degrading this performance to consider it as an antidote to the poison contained in the publication which is the subject of the following article. That poison is too weak, and too inartificially cooked up, to require a medicine so powerful.
ART. III. The Antiquity and Duration of the World: By G. H.
Toulmin, M. D. 8vo. 3 s. bound. Cadell. 1780. N the course of our reviewing the preceding performance,
the laudable intent of which is to prove the being of an infinitely powerful, infinitely intelligent, and eternally existent, Cause of the universe, whose works may likewise posibly be eternal; we are reminded of the present production, which has indeed, as well as the preceding, through accident, been long overlooked. It is a work however of very different merit and tendency; the avowed drift of the Author of it, being, to use his own words, « to grant eternity to Nature:'-a being, or goddess, to whom he ascribes no moral attributes whatever ; nor does he found her power on any other basis than a set of trite obfervations, well known to every philofopher or man of reading, tending to prove that the planet which we inhabit has all the appearances, forsooth, of being older than it is generally held to be :—a fight foundation, surely, for a system of Atheism!
In this performance, in short, the defign of this Apostle of Nature is,-to use his own pompous phraseology- to thew that, on interrogating reason, the announces, without the shadow of hefitation, that the human species, and the other branches of animated nature, fluctuating in their increase and decrease, their barbarism and refinement, actually may have flourished, amid
the unceasing revolutions of nature, through endless periods of existence; ' -and afterwards, that nature must, through end. less periods of duration, have acted by laws fixed and immutable; and that the human species have had, and will have, are uniform and infinite existence. But this is not all. The drift of this declaimer will obviously appear from the following quotation alone.
« Nor is the magnificence so universal and apparent-the beautiful order and disposition of the several parts that compofe the ftupendous whole - any objection to an unbounded fucceffion of events. So far indeed from being an objection, they might undoubtedly be brought as the strongest confirmation of such a doctrine. Is it not far easier to conceive things to exist as they are, and to contain eternal order and regular disposition within themselves, than to have recourse to MORE MAGNIFICENT CAUSES, which, after all, must be allowed to be eternal, and felf-existent? Were magnificence an objection to an eternal duration of things, is it reasonable to increase that magnificence, to remove the objection? If something always has existed, or must have been eternal,- why not pay a deference to the magnificent and beautiful objects of whose existence we are certain Why not grant eternity to Nature ?
In the midst of many unmeaning, or at least misapplied, rants against superstition and vulgar prejudices, the Author more than once Ihews a wish to exhibit himself as one of the inestimable few, endued with superior abilities, who write in a rational and consistent manner, and whose clear discernment and sound understandings raise them above the ordinary level of mankind.'Looking down from these heights, he pretends to have effentially consulted the interests of the human species, by thus giving a scope to what he calls cool and liberal investigation :- but what benefits mankind can receive from a conviction that the world is eternal; and that men, animals, &c. are, and have been, from eternity, continually changing into marle and lime-stone, while these, in their turn, are, and have been, changing into men, &c.: or what harm they can incur by believing in a God, the rewarder of the virtuous, and the punisher of the wicked does not appear from any part of this illogical and declamatory performance.
Art. IV. Twelve Discourses on the Prophecies concerning the first
Establisement and subsequent History of Christianity. Preached in Lincoln's-Inn-Chapel, at the Lecture of the Right Rev. William Warburton, late Lord Bishop of Gloucester. By Lewis Bagot, LL. D. Dean of Christ Church. ' 8vo. 5 s. bound. Cadell, &c. HE first of these Discourses contains some general obseron the moral
Aections on the proper evidence of a divine revelation; and on that particularly which arises from the completion of prophecies.
Having observed, in his first discourse, that the old prophets unanimoufly affert, that the world was preparing for the introduction of a new dispensation more general and comprehensive than the Jewish, the Doctor endeavours to thew, in his second, that the doctrine of a future and more excellent dispensation is not only contained in pofitive and express predictions, but likewise necessarily implied in the very frame of the Jewish ceconomy: He then considers what are the special characters by which this dispensation is marked, and tells us that the most usual, as well as the most striking, description that occurs is, that it should be a kingdom. Accordingly, the prophet Daniel, he says, gives it a place among the other kingdoms of the world, and the essential characters of such a civil community are every where attributed to it. It is repeatedly declared to be under the government of a supreme magistrate or king; and it is figuratively shadowed by the kingdom of David and Solo non. It is represented as having a law and a people peculiar to itself; and, like other states too, it is hewn to arise from small beginnings, and to attain to its full extent by a gradual and progressive growth.
These several particulars he endeavours to illustrate in his fecond and third discourses, and then proceeds, in his fourth, to enquire concerning those marks and limitations by which the Mesah was to be known and distinguished from all other perfons. In this discourse, the Doctor sews much more zeal inan knowledge; and offers nothing new in support of what he labours hard to prove, viz. That our Saviour is the one True God, the God of Israel, whose name alone is Jehovah, the Moft High over all the earth.
The design of the fifth discourse is to shew, that the deliverance to be wrought by the Messiah was of a spiritual nature; a deliverance from the power and consequences of fin and wickedness. And here the preacher, like a true and faithful fon of the church, is a warm advocate for the doctrine of atonement, by a vicarious punishment; but he only repeats what has been often faid; and what good purpose can be answered by fuch repeticion we cannot conceive. Such doctrines appear, to us, to have no foundation in Scripture, and to be utterly repugnant to the principles of common sense. But we must not treat them with too much severity out of tenderness to our grandmothers, as the good old ladies may posibly derive great consolation from them. Perhaps too, the Doctor himself was influenced by some fuch pious motives; if so, his piety will, no doubt, be properly rewarded.
Having shewn, from the nature of the Jewish ceconomy, that It could only be appointed as preparatory to some other scheme, and that the scheme wherein it was to receive its completion was no other than the kingdom of the Messiah, the Doctor goes on, in his fixth discourse, to thew, that this kingdom must have taken its rise before the Jewish polity was at an end ; that the Gentiles were to be united with the Jews, and both together be one fold under one shepherd ; that the Meffiah's kingdom was to rise against opposition from the powers of the world, and be advanced without force by the mild methods of perfuafion and argument; and that his first appearance must have happened several years before the great Jewish war, wherein the temple and city were destroyed.
The design of the seventh discourse is to shew, that, of all the religions now obtaining upon earth, Chriftianity alone claims to be the scheme foretold by the prophets, and appeals to them for the truth of its pretensions. In the eighth, the preacher confiders what the pretensions of Christianity are, and how far they correspond with those more general characters which appear from the prophets to be essential to the new dispensation. In the ninth, he confiders the nature of Christ's kingdom; and Thews what the appearance of Christianity was, at the time of its greatest purity; unfophisticated by the arts, the ambition, and the worldly interests, of designing men.
In the tenth and eleventh discourses, the Doctor endeavours to shew, that the Apocalypse contains a comprehensive view of the Christian economy, and its various revolutions from beginning to end; that the intent and meaning of this prophetic book is beft discovered from itself; that it is its own best comment; that though it abounds more in symbols than any other book of Scripture, it contains likewise the best key for the interpretation of those symbols, wherever they occur in the word of God. He sketches out the more material changes of the Christian .church, as they appear to be represented in this prophecy; and attempts to shew an evident accomplishment of them in the history of the world. The twelfth contains a short view of what has been advanced in the preceding discourses, together with some general obfervations. The Doctor tells us, that our established church maintains, in its creeds and articles, those very doctrines which have been held forth by the mouth of the prophets since the world began, as the effential doctrines of that faith by which all men thould be saved. We should be cautious, he says, of admitting any alterations in an establishment which has, for ages, secured the TRUTH to us, amidst the repeated and violent attacks of enemies of different complexions and different denominations. He further observes, that we have, of late, been loudly called upon; that the principles of the Re. .8