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ART. I. The Light of Nature purfued. By Edward Search, Efq; Vols. IV. V. VI. and VII. The Pofthumous Work of Abraham Tucker, Efq; Published from his Manufcript as intended for the Prefs by the Author. 8vo. 18 s. Boards. Payne, &c. 1778.
HE former volumes of this comprehenfive and interefting, work were published in 1768, during the life of the Author, and were duly noticed in the course of our Review *. We muft refer our Readers to the Articles quoted at the bottom of the page, for an account of the abilities of the Writer, the plan of his work, and the manner in which it is executed. We fhall only obferve, that the fame livelinefs of imagination, the fame goodness of heart, and we might add, the fame fagacity and ingenuity in his reasonings and illuftrations [though in our opinion not so happily directed], that we noted in his former publication, are discovered in the volumes before us.
The prefent publication, according to the divifion made by the Author, which we cenfured in our account of the former part †, is called volume III, divided into four parts, and entitled, Lights of Nature and Gospel blended. The apparent intention of Mr. Tucker, in this part of his work, is to reconcile the doctrines and fervices of religion, and particularly of that religion which is profeffed and established in this country, to thofe views of human nature and of the divine government which he has given in the former parts; or to fhew that a man may adopt the principles that he has maintained, and yet continue a good Chriftian, and a found member of the Church of England. His profeffed defign is, to bring his theory reconcilable to practice'-to adapt it to general convenience, and to prove that philofophical opinions and popular notions, respecting human nature and theology, may be reconciled, fo
See vol. xli. p. 19. 112. 241, and vol. xlii. p. 8,
+ See Monthly Review, vol. xli. p. 22. VOL. LX.
as to affift and co-operate with each other, as fpringing originally from the fame root, and conducing ultimately to the fame purpose. To which end, in the first chapter, entitled, Partition of the General Rule, the great fundamental rule of conduct, which he had deduced from the probable connection of interefts throughout the creation, of labouring conftantly to increafe the common stock of happiness, by any beneficial fervice or prevention of damage in our power, is firft parted into two main branches, Prudence and Benevolence, commonly called our duty to ourselves and to our neighbour.-But fince to keep us fteady in the exercise of these two branches it is neceffary to inculcate (it fhould have been to cultivate) juft fentiments of the Supreme Being, becaufe it is by the knowledge of his attributes alone that we can difcover any thing with affurance concerning things invifible, or trace the connection of interefts,. or difcern any meafures of conduct in this world conducive to the improvement of our condition in the next; hence arifes a third branch of the fundamental rule, our duty to God. For the foundation of this duty is not the obligation of ferving God himself, of which we are utterly incapable, but because by fo doing we ferve ourselves, and one another moft effectually. This duty is fulfilled by the best exercise of our rational faculties to form the foundeft notions they are able to reach of his effence and manner of government, and then employing fuch expedients as the nature of our conftitution requires to imprefs them upon the imagination, that they may rife spontaneously. in their genuine lively colours.' We have taken this account. of the manner in which our Author introduces the confideration of the doctrines and fervices of religion, or rather in his own words, of the religion wherein we were bred up,' from the laft chapter of the prefent publication, in which he has given a fummary of the whole work. In the first chapter he juftly obferves that our temporal intereft, our intereft in the prefent ftate, is the proper rule and guide of our conduct; by our attention to which we shall not only render life agreeable, but also make the best preparation and most effectual provifion for our future existence. But then by intereft he understands the fame as happiness, including thofe three great articles, Competence, Health, and Peace. To each of these he gives a large and liberal interpretation, and includes in the laft that fatisfaction of mind which refults from a right ufe and improvement of our powers and faculties, and that happiness which arifes from the prospect of diftant good. He concludes the chapter with the following juft fentiments: Yet this idea,' the idea of the abundance and prevalence of good and happiness in the world, cannot have its full effect without religion, which alone can enfure us a fhare in the ftream of bounty that flows
copiously on all fides, and opens a much larger and richer prospect into the invifible world than this narrow earth can afford. Nevertheless care must be taken not to embrace every thing haftily that carries the appearance of religion: for many, by a injudicious earneftnefs to become religious, have filled themfelves with doubts and defpondencies, deftroyed their own peace, entertained an unfavourable opinion as well of their fellowcreatures as of the creation, and thought narrowly and unworthily of their Creator. Wherefore it is of the utmost importance, and deserves our principal attention, to cultivate just sentiments of him, and as he wants not our adoration nor our fervices, but has vouchfafed so much knowledge of himself as he judges needful, and given us religion for our benefit, we may be fure that is the trueft which tends moft to preserve our minds in a steady tenour, to draw us out of hurtful courses, and make us profitable to one another.'
In our account of the former parts of the work, we took notice, with furprife, of the prejudice which this intelligent Writer discovered in favour of the esoteric and exoteric doctrine of the ancient philofophers. The fecond chapter of the prefent publication is entitled, Efoterics and Exoterics. Mr. Tucker begins with obferving that religion, although juftly ftyled the fervice of God, because then only having the true and real value, when performed in obedience to his will, yet was not given to serve himself, but his creatures; therefore must be adapted to their needs and their natures, in order to become ferviceable to them. But human nature being very various among people and individuals according to their capacities, endowments, or cafts of imagination; their diverfity of characters requires a different management to ferve them effectually. And you may as well think of setting out a measure of cloaths that hall fit every body as of drawing up a complete fyftem of religion accommodated to the uses of all mankind.' He might have added, or of any confiderable number of individuals and the natural inference would have been that national establishments muft neceffarily fail of answering the end for which they are profeffedly appointed, the prevention of those feuds and animofities, and of that contempt of religion in general which are apt to arife from difcordant opinions and different modes of worhip. But this would not have fuited our Author's purpofe; for he goes on to obferve, that the bulk of mankind, unable to ftrike out any thing of themselves, would have no restraint upon their paffions, no love or dependance, or perhaps no thought of an invifible power governing both worlds, if they were not let into it by custom and authority: but authority and cuftom have the stronger influence the more generally they are complied with. Therefore it is expedient and neceffary to have
fome form of doctrine generally agreed to, for preferving peace and regard to futurity among the people. And the more concife and fimple this form can be contrived, the better: because more comprehenfive, as being cafier accommodated to the diverfity of characters.' We entirely agree with Mr. Tucker that the more fimple and comprehenfive the plan is upon which an establishment is formed, the more commendable and useful it is likely to be; and doubt not but that he would have agreed with us in wifhing that this was in a greater degree the character of the cftablishment in England and Scotland: Büt no eftablished form,' he goes on, C can contain the whole of every man's opinions, for unless he ftrikes out fomething of his own from what has been taught him, he will make very little proficiency in religion and the fame expreffions convey very different ideas to a number of hearers; fo that it is not to be concluded that we have all exactly the fame fentiments, becaufe we all join in the fame form of words. Mr. Tucker inftances, in the firft article of the Apoftle's Creed, the various concep tions that are formed of the Supreme Being, the different fenfes in which the epithet Almighty, or rather the Greek word Пavτοκρατωρ, is explained by Dr. Barrow, and the different ideas that we may have, under the terms Maker and Heaven. He then proceeds, Thus a perfect uniformity of fentiment is neither practicable nor needful it is enough that we agree together fo far as that we may act in concert upon the common occafions of life, and not disturb one another in our religious exercifes. Therefore, our laws have wifely provided for fuch a uniformity of profeffion as is requifite to maintain order and good harmony, and keep alive a fense of religion in all parts of the community: giving full' liberty and indulgence to any di verfity of opinions that does not tend to invalidate thofe provi fions, and unfettle the minds of the people.' How happy would it have been if our civil and ecclefiaftical fuperiors at the time of the Reformation, or at any fubfequent period, had been actuated by the liberal fentiments contained in the first fentence of this paragraph. If our present governors had thought it fufficient that we should agree together so far as that we might act in concert upon the common occafions of life, and not difturb one another in our religious exercises, neither the petitioning clergy nor diffenting minifters and schoolmasters would have applied for relief in vain. In the latter sentence of the paragraph, we apprehend that Mr. Tucker is guilty of a miftake. Surely the affent and confent required by the act of uniformity implies fomething more than uniformity of profeffion and the preface to the Thirty-nine Articles exprefsly declares that they were agreed upon in convocation, for the avoiding of the diverfities of opinions, and for the establishing
of confent touching true religion. He refumes this fubject in another chapter, entitled, Articles: in which he pleads for the utmost latitude of interpretation. We ought to prefume,' fays he, the compilers of our articles framed fuch as in their judg ment contained the foundeft fyftem of religion, and moft expe dient for inftilling falutary fentiments into the minds of the people. As they were men, they, certainly were not infallible; and in articles prepared for national ufe, there may poffibly be fomething occafional, not neceffary for the maintenance of true religion at all times, but calculated upon the condition of the prefent: if any thing of this fort fhould appear, there is a legiflature always in being who may rectify whatever, upon proper examination, might be found amifs, and accommodate what might be judged unfuitable to the temper and occafions of our
And for the manner of understanding them, this may be and has been accommodated to the current ways of thinking, by tacit confent of the people themfelves: for whoever will examine the writings of the laft century, comparing them with thofe of our cotemporaries, may perceive, that although we ftill retain the fame fet of articles, we find in them much lefs of the myfterious, the marvellous, and the magical, than our forefathers did a hundred years ago. Therefore I hope it will be allowed a lawful and honeft intention, however defectively executed, with which I go through my prefent labours; for implicit faith will not go down now-a-days; men are not easily filenced without being convinced, nor will they be made to fwallow myfteries, to them unintelligible, by the drenchinghorn of ecclefiaftical authority. It is then working in the fervice of the Church to endeavour fhowing, that without change of a fingle word in her doctrines, they may be fo expounded as to render them confiftent with the difcoveries of Reafon and Philofophy, and to bear ftanding a clofe infpection by the Light of Nature,'
As a fpecimen of Mr. Tucker's manner of interpreting the Articles, we fhall give our Readers the following paragraph:
The harfheft expreffion I can recollect, is that used in the eighteenth Article, where it is declared, that thofe are to be holden accurfed who prefume to fay, that every man thall be faved by the law or fect which he profeffeth: but why should we give the Accurfed here a larger compass than the Damnable in the oath of abjuration? or underftand any more thereby, than
that fhe,' that is, the Church, would have her members look upon it as a pernicious and fatal error to imagine the choice of one's religion a matter of indifference, to be made at pleasure lightly, or upon temporal convenience, amongst all that are current in the world; and would have them fhy of perfons at