« PreviousContinue »
■tear the truth, yon would not have heard from mc: but if 1 know mr own principles,, it is far from describing them. Either I must therefore have been deficient m my statements, or the reviewer has not sufficiently attended to them. TO whatever cause the mistake is to be attributed, you will allow me, I trust, to explain myself on the subject.
I have, indeed, no controversy willi the Arminians on the sufficiency of the atdne* merit, neither had the great body of the reformers, nor the divines who met at the synod of Dort: yet ncne will say of the latter, that they had no controversy »ith the Arminians concerning the atonement, seeing it was one great object for which they were assembled. They maintained in opposition to Arminianism, Thai though tine death of Christ be a most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sins, of infinite maltte, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world; though on this ground the gospel is to be preached to all mankind indiscriminately; yet it teas i/te will of God, that Cltrist, by &ie blood of the cross, should efficaciously redeem all those, and ih^se only, xc/to were from eternity elected to salvation, and given to him by the Father. See Ada Synodi, Sess. 136, p. 250, and A View of Religions by H. Adams, London Ed. Art. CalvibJsis. The above, Sir, is expressive of my sentiments on the subject.
There is, indeed, a subject mentioned by the reviewer, in which I should have supposed I had " no controversy with the Arminians," or rather that they had none with me, uoi'with any other man. This is the forebioaledge of God. I have seldom met with an Arminian who would deny it, or pretend that the issue of things were to him uncertain. Some of their writers, who have verged towards Socinianism, I am av.are have done so; but not many. I question whether there be one in fifty of that denomination, who does not believe the doctrine of conditional election; that is, that God from eternity determined to save all those who he foresaw would believe in Christ, and persevere to the end: but this is in direct contradiction to the issue of things being unknown to God. To make the denial of fore-knowledge therefore a' character of the Arminian system, ami the avowal of it adistinguishing principle of those who oppose it, is, to say the least, very incorrect.
The great quest'.on, Sir, between Calvjnists and Arminians rcspectsthe cause of one *inner being saved rather than another. It is not whether God fore-knows who will, and who will not. believeaud be saved; but to what is faith, wherever it exists, to be ascribed; Is it to the effectual grace of God given in Christ, according to his eternal purpose; or to our improvement of grace given to us in common witli other men f This, Sir, is not a question of mere "mental science,-' but of pure revelation} and the answer to itis of nolcss magnitude than to determine whether God, or the crsfi-j ture, shall havethe gluryof theturuing pointof salvation.
I an, Sir,
-■ii i 'i ■ ■ ■ i ■—■ ■ ■ ' ■ .— ■ j i ■'
P. 1.14.1. 21. for and expresses read expressing.
For APRIL, 1807.
Art. I. The Independent Man; or an Essay on the Formation and Developernent of those Principles and Faculties of the Human Mind which constitute Moral and Intellectual Excellence. By George Ensor, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo» pp. 563. 46*. Price! I8b. Johnson. 1806.
CVS first reading the title, we understood the epithet with which it commences in a moral sense. But by Independent Man, the author simply moans, -a man born to the inheritance of sufficient property to be the entire master of bis plan of life; and the work professes to delineate a course of education and study for such a man, from his earliest infancy to an advanced period of maturity.
It may be proper to state generally, in a very few words, the kind of character which it is proposed that this man shall acquire, and the practical career through which it is presumed that he will be led. His virtue is to be of the true Roman quality, adopted for its dignity rather than sanctity, and therefore sustained by pride rather than conscience. After becoming an accomplished scholar, he is to liberalize and enlarge his views by travelling in foreign countries. By the time that he returns, he will be qualified to distinguish himr self; and the ambition ofxloing this, is to be u leading principle of his life, cherished by his instructors "during his childhood, and afterwards cultivated and stimulated by himself. The department in which he is to acquire this distinction is that of an author, a senator, or a member of the government. The practicability of all this, in any given instance, would seem to be so far assumed as to preclude the necessity of assigning any 'criterion of capacity, or of suggesting any cautions against extravagant hope and lost labour. The author may say, it must be evident from the nature of things, that he is not expecting more than one, iu several hundreds of the subjects of his plan of education, to realize any such prospects. But the humbler prospects of the vast majority of educated men of some for-tune, are so little advertedtoin the book, and the high literary Vol. III. Z
and political distinctions are so specifically and exclusively held up to view as the ultimate object and reward, that each pupil would be liable to feel some surprise and disappointment, if, after toiling through the formidable course of discipline, he did not at last find himself able to strike off a splendid literary work, or to rise to eminence in parliament, or take possession of an office in the state. And when, amidst this disappointment and surprise, the poor young 'squire returns to expostulate with Mr. Ensor, for not having dealt fairly with him, he will receive a consolation as delectable as that vouchsafed to Croesus, when he complained to the oracle which had deceived him as to the consequences of passing the river Halys. When the crest-fallen young man begins to utter his complaint, Mr. Ensor will coolly say, " Why, I never predicted your success."—" How so, Sir," answers the mortified young 'squire; "you sketched a plan, with reference to a certain object to be gained by following that plan; and I have followed it."—" Very true," replies the sly old gentleman, "but all the world knows, and I of course meant it to be understood, that such plans can do just nothing toward such an object, without genius and good fortune, which not more than one man in a thousand can without presumption ascribe or promise to himself. If you were foolish enough to fancy yourself a rare genius, or a favourite of fortune, it was not my 'business to sny a word to undeceive you."
Tile Independent Man is to ascend, by a course of severe exertions, to the honours of literature or parliamentary eloquence, or to the offices of state. The brilliance of these prospects is sufficient, no doubt, to excite all the ardour, and engross all the thoughts, of his ambitious spirit, while he is advancing to realize them. He will have thus far an object before him, and we will suppose him at length to attain it. But when he has reached the full attainment, and after a while is made to perceive that he is gradually leaving it all behind, •what object is he to have before him then? To this question the book does not enable us to reply. When no earlier part had given us information on this point, we might at least have expected to find it in the conclusion, which we will transcribe.
"I Have now taken a general view of the Education, the Morals, the Literature and the Pursuits of an Independent Man, through all the stages of infancy, youth, puberty, and manhood: as these hare been regulated, such will be the succeeding period of his existence: but as few men know how to live, few know how to grow old; no man enjoys life, but all are preparing to enjoy it: in the mean time death Approaches; then they lament that they are snatched away without pre•Wtfttian. _\Vhat are the deaths of all their friends and neighbours ?—» Each decease is a memorial from nature to the living of their mortality. What are pains and the weakness of the limbs, and the stooping of the body, and the failure of the senses ?—-To such men life is irksome, and death terrific.
* The well-educated and well-conducted h3ve different prospects and different sentiments:
"Even age itself seems privileged in them,
If age withdraws some enjoyments, it brings and confirms others. In age! Cato retired from the city to the country, and Cleanthes divided his time between the cultivation of the earth and his books :—do you in like manner, declining into the vale oi years, preserve your mind by study, and your 1x>dy by exercise.
'Thus the wise man passes through life, and it is long, for his day* were happy; years hvive weaned him from the world without impairing his affections; death he considers among the privileges of nature, an isthmus b. tween time and eternity; and in eternity, what should affright him who believes that God, the essence of goodness, pervades the universe? When existence cannot confer more on him, nature kindly administers an opiate, and the sob without sorrow follows: but his virtues survive; for they are memorialed in the hearts and understandings of the enlightened.'
The obscure allusion, in this paragraph, to eternity, will appear to mean .nothing at all, when taken in connection with this manner of mentioning "existence," in the strict and full sense of the word, we presume, and not in the sense merely of life, (for Mr. E. would think it very strange if his readers could impute to him, in any instance, a newypaper vulgarism of expression), and when taken in connection with the last clause of the last sentence, in which it appears, that all that is to survive of the Independent Man, will be that of which he will have no consciousness; his virtues will be 'I memorialed." Thus the work closes with the grand consolation and ultimate reward of a virtuous man, which amounts exactly to this, that though fie will cease to exist, other men will exist after him; a very triumphant conclusion, which exalts the felicity of a man of virtue almost to the level of Chartres, supposing Chartres to have had the same good hope of annihilation. And we have been amused in imagining in what manner that renowned personage might have addressed this man of virtue, and this author, his preceptor, if they had happened to have been his contemporaries, " So, gentlemen, I understand you are to be paragons of virtue; and, as men of sense, I dare say yon have well considered your reasons for adopting a plan -which is to include immense labours of study, ten thousand . acts of self-denial, and such a constant opposition to tho corruptions of the times as will cost you numberless mortifications. With'all due deference to a judgement, which I perceiv* the elder of you in particular has taken such learned pains to form, I must however beg leave to think I am the wisest man of the three. Not that I could wish to dissuade you from your design. No, by no means; for it will be one of the most agreeable amusements in the world, to see you toiling and sweating and drudging in the forlorn cause of virtue, and drawing on you the scorn and buffetings of all the patrons of vice, instead of seizing, like me, every variety of gratification, with a happy exemption from both self-denial and remorse. And all this you are to do and endure from the 'sublime belief (Vol. I. p. 293) that men should act well from the love of virtue; and that the satisfaction of the act is in itself an ample reward;' an excellent doctrine, gentlemen; but you will greatly add to my amusement, if you will but honestly tell me, as you proceed, how often you grumble at your hard fate, and are on the point of quarrelling with your goddess Virtue, when you set this recompence against your toils and sacrifices. It seems, however, that, at the very last day or hour of existence, (an ample space, to be sure, to enjoy your reward in) and after its termination, you will have the advantage of me, though you should not during its progress; for you look forward to ' the sob without sorrow,' and the 'memorial of your virtues in the hearts and understandings of the enlightened.' Now as to the first of these, if you mean by it the absence of the mental pains of remorse and fear, I assure you I shall be quite as little haunted as yourselves by superstition regarding the future; cud as to self-complacency in the review of life, when retribution is out of the question, I shall feel a much loftier pride in having nobly trampled on the laws of virtue, as a conqueror, fhan you can feel in having imperfectly fulfilled them, as slaves. Or, if you mean that your bodily sufferings will be light, that will be all just as it may happen. It is quite as probable as the contrary is probable, that you may pass to your exit through protracted and excruciating pains, and that I may fall asleep without a sigh. As to your virtues surviving and being memorialed in the minds of the enlightened, why, so too will my vices ; and I suppose the difference between the advantage you will gain, and the detriment I shall suffer, bjT this respective memorialing, will not be worth the cost of the naijs in our coffins. Each maggot that will help to devour ■ you, will gain a thousand times more benefit from your dead bodies, than you will gain from your surviving and memorialed virtues. And if we should all be placed in the same ground close together, and many years hence some grave-digger should toss out the earth into which we are reduced, it would be a difference of mighty importance to these clods, that the one of them was once called by a name which had continued to be