« AnteriorContinuar »
Without entering fully into the investigation of this subject, we may venture to remark, that two causes seem to have concurred to produce this state of feeling among the more cultivated and intelligent class of religious professors. The first is, the injudicious manner in which many, whose zeal has not been duly regulated by knowledge, have written upon the subject; and the second, what may, for want of a better term, be calle the rationalizing system, which prevails among many of the above-mentioned class of characters. A very different order of of beings from the Halls and the Hopkinses, the Owens and the Baxters, of a former age, have undertaken, in modern times, to display the interior of the Christian's character; to describe his conflicts and supports, his trials and deliverances, his sorrows and his joys. By these religion has not unfrequently been grievously caricatured, and occasion has been given to the common adversary to triumph or to blaspheme.
The impressions and operations of genuine piety upon the mind, have sometimes been strangely blended with the visionary flights of a perturbed and heated imagination; and this heterogeneous mixture of good and evil, has been exhibited to the public as constituting Christian experience. The consequence has been, that many persons, disgusted with what is fallacious, and, strictly speaking, fanatical, have rejected that also which is true and scriptural, and have alike discredited the whole. Nor is it less evident, that the habit acquired by highly intellectual characters, of exercising their judgement alone in the pursuit and investigation of every kind of truth, has a natural tendency to produce the result of which we speak, even in persons of reputed piety. They are imperceptibly led to the conclusion, that religion is chiefly, if not exclusively, a matter of the understanding, and that it has little to do with the affections. They pronounce all that humbler Christians say about their feelings,' religious cant; and too hastily judge, that the varying, and frequently sudden emotions of mental depression, or of spiritual comfort, of which they speak, are either hypocritical or illusive. We are happy to find in the treatise of Dr. Colquhoun on "Spiritual Comfort," a work that is exempt from those injudicious statements to which we have adverted, and which is calculated, by its solidity and sobriety, to decrease the force of prejudice, and to silence gainsayers. Its theology is completely that of the old school, in regard both to the systematic arrangement of its contents, and the technical style in which it is written. Seldom have we seen a tract that reminded us more forcibly of the writings of some of our nonconformist divines. This will not, probably, be considered as a circumstance of recommendation by those whose taste is formed on the superficial essay of the
modern school; but we freely confess, it is no ordinary excellence in a work of this description.
In the following extract, the Author of this treatise has, in a plain but perspicuous manner, stated the object of his work, and described the persons for whose benefit it was written, and on this account we have been induced to select it, as enabling the reader to judge of the character and of the execution of the whole.
The persons for whose use this Treatise is more immediately intended, are they, who have, by the Holy Spirit, been convinced of the guilt, malignity, and demerit, of the sin which dwelleth in them, as well as of the iniquities that are committed by them: who have also been convinced of the utter insufficiency of their own righteous, ness, for their justification in the sight of God, and who have been enabled to embrace Jesus Christ, as their righteousness and strength. All of this description are earnestly desirous of advancing in holiness; but many of them seem to be far from being duly sensible of the high importance of spiritual consolation, to the love and practice of holiness. They are soon apprehensive of danger, if they feel iniquities prevailing against them; but they yield, without alarm, to that dejection of spirit, which is often occasioned, either by inward conflicts or outward trials; not considering, that disquietude of soul paves the way for despondency, and despondency for utter despair; all which are, in a high degree, injurious to the spiritual welfare of the soul. Trouble of mind, especially when it proceeds the length of despondency, strengthens the unbelief and enmity of the heart against God; and so disqualifies the Christian for performing acceptably, the duties incumbent upon him. Although God doth not suffer any of his children, ever to fall into the horrible gulf of absolute despair, yet some of them have brought themselves to the very brink of it; so as greatly to dishonour their holy profession, to injure their own souls, and to hurt the souls of many around them, who are always too ready to impute their dejection of spirit to the holy religion which they profess. Thus, they often discourage the hearts of some, who are seeking Jesus; and strengthen the prejudices of others, who are enemies to him.
The sovereign antidote to that sinful and grievous distemper of mind, is the spiritual and holy consolation, which is offered and promised in the gospel. Much of the sacred Volume was written for this end, that the saints might be comforted, and that they, "through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope." God, in the exceeding riches of his grace, hath given in his word, and confirmed by his oath, many great and precious promises; in order that all "who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before them." might not only have consolation, but strong consolation. He hath spoken in his holiness, on purpose that they might rejoice; that they might be so filled with all joy and peace in believing,' as to serve him with gladness; and thereby, to recommend faith and holiness to all around them.' p. 1-2.
By describing with minuteness and scriptural accuracy, the sources, qualities, and degrees of spiritual comfort,' as distinguished from the joy of the hypocrite and of the self-deceiver, the Author has accomplished a task which will be highly acceptabl to those of his readers, who are desirous of ascertaining the sincerity of their religion; and may prove useful to some who have been misled by the false raptures of the mind.' By pointing out the way in which, for the most part, Christians lose their spiritual comfort, and the unhappy consequences which frequently result from the loss of their former consolations, he has indirectly furnished them with the most powerful incentives to unremitting vigilance, to habitual devotion, and to ornamental piety. By judiciously distinguishing between those mental depressions which arise from constitutional maladies, and those which are purely religious, by defining the sym o.us and degrees of religious melancholy, and by suggesting the most probable means of cure, he has acted the part of a skilful spiritual physician, and has vindicated religion from the fals accusations and calumnies of its enemies. And, finally, by directing Christians to the certain means of obtaining the restoration, increase, and establishment of their spiritual comfort, he has aimed at co-operating with his Divine Master in the delightful employment of healing the broken in heart, and binding up their wounds
The many despicable attempts made by the opponents of Christianity, to charge upon religion, so replete with Divine consolatios, the gloom and mental depressions with which some of its sincere professors have been affected, and which are clearly attributable to physical causes, have rendered it in employment not unworthy a Christian Divine, to en leavour to wipe off the reproach, and to prove, by the most convincing evidence, that such a system of religious belief can never either produce or cherish this morbid state of feeling, but, on the contrary, that it is the best, and, in many cases, the only eifi ctual remedy for what is frequently, though rather incorrectly styled, religious melancholy. When it is boldly affirmed, by the enemies of truth and piety, that the darkness which shrouded, and the mental sorrows which imbittered the last days of the revered author of the "Task," were occasioned by the gloomy doctrines of bis creed,' and the austerities of his religious 'associates,' it is desirable not only that this specific charge should be disproved, but that it should be demonstrated-a demonstration by no means difficult-that those very doctrines which they caluniate, when rightly understood, open the purest sources of consolation; and that the devotional habits, which they pronounce austere, are capable of yielding the most refined and exquisite enjoyment. Such a conviction, we conVOL. II. N. S. Y
ceive, the work before us is eminently calculated to produce on an impartial and unprejustic d mind; though it may not be foun su in ly argumentative to m.et the objections, or bear down the calumnies of determined adversaries and old blasphemers There are, we doubt not, many Christians, whose feelings w led them to peruse these pages with much b nefit to themselves, and with corresponding sentiments of gratitude to the benevolent Author.
Art. VIII. 1. The Miscellaneous Papers of John Smeaton, Civ i Engineer, &c. F.R S. Comprising his Communications to the Royal Society printed in the Philosophical Transactions, forming a 4th Volume to his Reports 4to. pp. viii 208. with 12 plates. Price Il. 11s. 6d. London. Long an and Co. 814.
2. Recherches Expérimentales sur l'Eau et le Vent. Considérés comme Forces Motrices applicables aux Moulins et autres Machines à mouvement circulaire, &c. Suivies d'Expériences sur la transmission du Mouvement et la Collision des Corps.. Par M J. Smeaton, de la Société Royale de ondres. Ouvrage traduit de l'\nglais, et précédé d'une Introduction Par M P. S Girard, Ingénieur en Chef des Ponts et haussées, Directeur du Canal du l'Ourcq et des Eaux de Paris, Membre de l'Institut d Egypte, &c. 4to. pp. xxviii. 104. avec 5 planches Paris Courcier. London. Dulau and Co. 1810.
SMEATON was an excellent civil engineer, and had a very
happy knack at devising and making experiments; but he was defective in habits of abstraction, and had far too limited an acquaintance with mathematics, to allow of his attaining. eminence as a natural philosopher. It happened, therefore, that when he was called into action in the line of his profession, he generally succeeded; while, on the other hand, wh. n he sat down to speculate in his closet, and to give a digest of his thoughts on paper, he frequently failed. This, indeed, is almost an inevitable consequence of the structure of the human mind, and the organization of society. Scarcely any man is so circumstanced as to share his time equally between the pursuits of active life, and those of the contem, lave or investigating philosopher; it therefore happens either that habits of business, of habits of meditation, obtain an undue ascendency, and that a character is produced of limited powers fitted only for particular exertions Let it not, then, be imagined that we mean to complain because we cannot class Smeaton with Newton, an 1 Leibnitz, and Dalen bert; it would P equally unreason vote to regret, that Newton cannot be classe ith Arkwright and ɔrindley. They have all contributed either to the extension of human knowledge, or to the multiplication of human comforts
and advantages; yet, certainly, in different ways, and doubtless, we may add, to augment the aggregate of good.
With wise intent
The hand of nature, on peculiar minds,
It would be unfair to regard the volume before us as an object of minute criticism. Many of the papers it contains, were published more than forty years ago. They are well known to all who are moderately acquainted with the inventions and discoveries of the last century; so that the principal necessity for the publication of the present volume, seems to arise from the circumstance of the papers they comprise being scattered through several volumes of the Philosophical Transactions, often diffi cult of attainment, and always expensive in the purchase
The Reports of this excellent engineer were published a few years ago, in three quarto volumes and the miscellaneous papers are now collected into a fourth, which, with the well known ccount of the Eddystone Light-house, will constitute a compl te and uniform edition of his works. The papers now brought together amount to eightee, of which we need do little more than express the titles, as below.
1. A letter from Mr Smeaton to Mr. John Ellicott, F.R.S. con. cerning some improvements made by himself in the air-pump.
2. A description of an engine for raising water by fire, invented by Mr De oura.
3 n account of some experiments upon a machine for measuring the way of a ship at sea.
4 An account of some improvements of the mariner's compass. '5 An experimental enquiry concerning the natural powers of water and wind to turn mills and other machines, depending on a circular motion.
6. An experimental examination of the quantity and proportion of mechanic power necessary to be employed, in giving different de-. grees of velocity to heavy bodies from a state of rest.
7 New fundamental experiments upon the collision of bodies. 8 A description of a new tackle or combination of pulleys. '9 A discourse concerning the menstrual parallax arising from the mutual gravitation of the earth and moon, and its influence on the observation of the sun and planets.
10. A description of a new method of observing the heavenly bodies out of the meridian.
11. An observation of a solar eclipse, June 4th, 1769, at Austhorpe
12 An account of the right ascension and declination of Mer cury out of the meridian, near his greatest elongation, September, 1786, made by Mr. Smeaton, with an equatorial micrometer of his