« PreviousContinue »
man; for if this proposition, 'whosoever will be saved,' be restrained only to those to whom it was intended, and for whom it was composed, I mean the Christians, then the anathema reaches not the heathens, who had never heard of Christ and were nothing interessed in that dispute. After all, I am far from blaming even that prefatory addition to the Creed, and as far from cavilling at the continuation of it in the Liturgy of the Church, where on the days appointed 'tis publicly read: for I suppose there is the same reason for it now in opposition to the Socinians as there was then against the Arians; the one being a heresy, which seems to have been refined out of the other; and with how much more plausibility of reason it combats our religion, with so much more caution to be avoided: and therefore the prudence of our Church is to be commended, which has interposed her authority for the recommendation of this Creed."—220. Arius, the founder of Arianism, was born in Libyaabout the middle of the third century. He taught, among other things, that the Son of God was a created being, that he was not eternal, and that he was not of the same substance as the F ather. His doctrines were condemned at the Council of Nice in the year 325, when the Nicene Creed was prepared.
224-251. Personal remarks addressed Mr. Henry Dickinson, of whom nothing is known farther than that he translated " The Critical History of the Old Testament" by Richard Simon, a priest of the Oratory in Paris, and a good Oriental scholar. Dryden says in the "Preface:" "It remains that I acquaint the reader, that the verses were written for an ingenious young gentleman, my friend, upon his translation of 'The Critical History of the Old Testament,' composed by the learned Father Simon: the verses therefore are addressed to the translator of that work, and the style of them is, what it ought to be, epistolary."—241. Junius and Tremellius were two Calvinistic divines, whose translation of the Scriptures Simon criticised.
252-275. This is an argument against tradition as a source of religious doctrine. Dryden holds the Protestant doctrine that the Scripture is the only rule of faith and practice in religion. The Roman Catholic says that "not the Bible alone, but the Bible and Tradition, both infallibly interpreted by the Church, are the right Rule of Faith. (Deharbe's "Catechism of the Catholic Religion.") If the written Scriptures, the poet argues, have not escaped "gross errors," "how can we think oral sounds have endured?"
276-281. The Romanist argues for the necessity of an interpreting Church, without which "Christian faith can have no certain ground."
282-304. The poet replies that the claim of an infallibly interpreting Church is absurd, because, while it undertakes to interpret, it is impotent to determine the genuineness of the text. He affirms the Protestant doctrine that, in the language of the Thirty-nine Articles, " Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation." In reference to this whole subject, Dryden says: "By asserting the Scripture to be the canon of our faith, I have unavoidably created to myself two sorts of enemies: the Papists, indeed, more directly, because they have kept the Scripture from us what they could, and have reserved to themselves a right of interpreting what they have delivered under the pretence of infallibility: and the Fanatics more collaterally, because they have assumed what amounts to an infallibility in the private spirit, and have detorted those texts of Scripture which are not necessary to salvation to the damnable uses of sedition, disturbance, and destruction of the civil government."
305-315. To this doctrine of the sufficiency of the Scripture, it is objected that certainly tradition should not be utterly set aside; for in that case, each sect will interpret for itself; and thus, as in the case of the Socinian, error will be disseminated. — 312. Socinian. See Webster.
316-355. In reply, the poet says that a complete system of doctrinal theology is not necessary to salvation; that single texts are to be explained in the light of the whole Word of God; and that tradition, while not a source of doctrine, is helpful in determining the true sense of the Scriptures. — 346. Pelagius was a monk who lived in Britain in the fourth century, and denied the received doctrines in respect to original sin, free will, grace, and the merit of good works.
356, 357. A second objection of the Papist, namely, that his Church, having been the medium of transmitting both Scripture and ancient tradition, "should in the last resort judge the sense."
358-397. The poet replies that, apart from assuming "to be the whole, who are but part," "the carrier's not commissioned to expound; " and that, as a matter of fact, the Bible is a gift to mankind. In lines 370-397 he further reminds the Papist of the trade the priests made of the Word of God, when they, on account of their learning and the ignorance of the laity, were the recognized interpreters of Holy Writ.
398-426. The poet points out what he conceives to be abuses to which the Scriptures were subject in the hands of the Puritans.
427-450. Some wise rules to be observed in dealing with the Scriptures.
451-456. Conclusion. Sternhold and Shadwell were contemporary with Dryden. They are satirized again in "Absalom and Achitophel," and Dryden's "Mac Flecknoe " is a severe satire exclusively devoted to Shadwell. THE QUEEN ANNE PERIOD.
ADDISON AND POPE.
OTHER PROMINENT WRITERS.
Poets. — Thomson, Young, Gay.
Novelists. — Defoe, R1chardson, F1eld1ng.
Essayists and Satirists. — Steele, Sw1ft.
THE QUEEN ANNE PERIOD.
General Survey. — It is not easy to characterize this period. Various names have been applied to it. In view of the elegant form and wide influence of literature, it has been called the Augustan age. It has been thought to resemble the nourishing period of Roman literature under Augustus, when Ovid, Horace, Cicero, and Virgil produced their immortal works.
If we consider the attention given to literary expression and the perfection of style exhibited by writers of this time, we may properly designate it as the first critical period of our literature. Prior to the beginning of the eighteenth century, our literature was creative rather than critical. The chief aim of Pope, the most representative writer of this age, was to attain correctness of form and style, which he believed had not been sufficiently regarded by previous writers.
Instead of adopting, however, either of the names indicated, it has seemed better to connect literature with the social, political, and religious conditions by which it was largely moulded, and to name the period under consideration after its representative sovereign, Queen Anne. She ascended the throne in 1702, and reigned till 1714; but