« AnteriorContinuar »
between the clear representations of the understanding then, and the obscure discoveries that it makes now, as there is between the prospect of a casement and of a key-hole.
Study was not then a duty, night-watchings were needless; the light of reason wanted not the assistance of a candle. This is the doom of fallen man, to labour in the fire, to seek truth in profundo, to exhaust his time and impair his health, and perhaps to spin out his days, and himself, into one pitiful, controverted conclusion. There was then no poring, no struggling with memory, no straining for invention : his faculties were quick and expedite; they answered without knocking, they were ready upon the first summons, there was freedom and firmness in all their operations. I confess, it is difficult for us, who date our ignorance from our first being, and were still bred up with the same infirmities about us with which we were born, to raise our thoughts and imagination to those intellectual perfections that attended our nature in the time of innocence; as it is for a peasant bred up in the obscurities of a cottage, to fancy in his mind the unseen splendors of a court. But by rating positives by their privatives, and other arts of reason, by which discourse supplies the want of the reports of sense, we may collect the excellency of the understanding then, by the glorious remainders of it now, and guess at the stateliness of the building, by the magnificence of its ruins. All those arts, rarities, and inventions, which vulgar minds gaze at, the ingenious pursue, and all admire, are but the reliques of an intellect defaced with sin and time. We admire it now, only as antiquaries do a piece of old coin, for the stamp it once bore, and not for those vanishing lineaments and disappearing draughts that remain upon it at present. And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which
are so admirable. He that is comely, when old and decrepid, surely was very beautiful when he was young. An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.
DOUBTLESS the will of man in the state of innocence had an entire freedom, a perfect equipendency and indifference to either part of the contradiction, to stand, or not to stand ; to accept, or not accept the temptation. I will grant the will of man now to be as much a slave as any one will have it, and be only free to sin; that is, instead of a liberty, to have only a licentiousness; yet certainly this is not nature, but chance. We were not born crooked; we learnt these windings and turnings of the serpent: and therefore it cannot but be a blasphemous piece of ingratitude to ascribe them to God, and to make the plague of our nature the condition of our creation.
The will was then ductile, and pliant to all the motions of right reason; it met the dictates of a clarified understanding half way. And the active informations of the intellect, filling the passive reception of the will, like form closing with matter, grew actuate into a third, and distinct perfection of practice : the understanding and will never disagreed; for the proposals of the one never thwarted the inclinations of the other. Yet neither did the will servilely attend upon the understanding, but as a favourite does upon his prince, where the service is privilege and preferment; or as Solomon's servants waited upon him, it admired its wisdom, and heard its prudent dictates and counsels, both the direction and the reward of its obedience. It is indeed the nature of this faculty to follow a superior guide, to be drawn by the intellect; but then it was drawn as a triumphant chariot, which at the same time both follows and triumphs; while it obeyed this, it commanded the other faculties. It was subordinate, not enslaved to the understanding : not as a servant to a master, but as a queen to her king, who both acknowledges a subjection, and yet retains a majesty.
* * · * * * * * * * *
Having thus surveyed the image of God in the soul of man, we are not to omit now those characters of majesty that God imprinted upon the body. He drew some traces of his image upon this also; as much as a spiritual substance could be pictured upon a corporeal. As for the sect of the Anthropomorphites, who from hence ascribe to God the figure of a man, eyes, hands, feet, and the like, they are too ridiculous to deserve a confutation. They would seem to draw this impiety from the letter of the scripture sometimes speaking of God in this manner. Absurdly; as if the mercy of scripture expressions ought to warrant the blasphemy of our opinions. And not rather show us, that God condescends to us, only to draw us to himself; and clothes himself in our likeness, only to win us to his own. The practice of the papists is much of the same nature, in their absurd and impious picturing of God Almighty : but the wonder in them is the less, since the image of a deity may be a proper object for that, which is but the image of a religion. But to the purpose : Adam was then no less glorious in his externals: he had a beautiful body, as well as an immortal soul. The whole compound was like a wellbuilt temple, stately without, and sacred within. The elements were at perfect union and agreement in his body;
and their contrary qualities served not for the dissolution of the compound, but the variety of the composure. Galen, who had no more divinity than what his physic taught him, barely upon the consideration of this so exact frame of the body, challenges any one upon an hundred years study, to find how any the least fibre, or most minute particle, might be more commodiously placed, either for the advantage of use or comeliness; his stature erect, and tending upwards to his centre; his countenance majestic and comely, with the lustre of a native beauty, that scorned the poor assistance of art, or the attempts of imitation; his body of so much quickness and agility, that it did not only contain, but also represent the soul : for we might well suppose, that where God did deposit so rich a jewel, he would suitably adorn the case. It was a fit workhouse for sprightly vivid faculties to exercise and exert themselves in. A fit tabernacle for an immortal soul, not only to dwell in, but to contemplate upon : where it might see the world without travel; it being a lesser scheme of the creation, nature contracted, a little cosmography, or map of the universe. Neither was the body then subject to distempers, to die by piecemeal, and languish under coughs, catarrhs, or consumptions. Adam knew no disease, so long as temperance from the forbidden fruit secured him. Nature was his physician; and innocence and abstinence would have kept him healthful to immortality.
FRANCIS ATTERBURY, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER.
1662—3—1731–2. FRANCIS ATTERBURY holds a conspicuous place in the political, ecclesiastical, and literary history of England. He was born at Middleton in Buckinghamshire, in 1662-3. He was admitted a King's Scholar at Westminster under Dr. Busby in 1676, and thence elected in 1680 a Student at Christ Church, Oxford, under Dr. Fell.
His application to study was intense, and he is known to have excelled in literature and even in mathematics. He remained at Oxford filling various offices at Christ Church and in the University, but an academic life was unsuited to his active and aspiring nature, and in 1691 he left the University and was ordained. He soon became distinguished as a preacher, and the controversies to which some of his sermons gave rise contributed to spread his reputation : from 1699, and for ten years after, his efforts were directed to the vindication and restoration of the rights of Convocation and to the establishment of the independent action of the Lower House, in which for a time he succeeded. He became Dean of Christ Church in 1711, and Bishop of Rochester with the Deanery of Westminster in commendam in 1713. At the Rebellion of 1715, after the accession of George the First, the tide of Atterbury's fortune began to turn. His refusal to sign the Declaration against Rebellion, and his persistent opposition to the Court and violent protests against its measures, made him the object of both fear and hatred to the Whigs. In 1722 he was committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason—a bill for his deposition and banishment passed the