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Mighty Mother” have not transpired. The line which stands at present thus,
“Well purg'd; and worthy Withers, Quarles, and Brome,"
appeared in a surreptitious edition as follows:
“Now all the suffering brotherhood retire,
And ’scape the martyrdom of jakes and fire;
Dr. Watts remonstrated with the author; and his name with that of Wesley's was deprived of the undesirable distinction. “I never offended Mr. Pope,” he observed, “but have always expressed my admiration of his superior genius. I only wished to see that genius employed more in the cause of religion, and always thought it capable of doing it great credit among the gay or the more witty part of mankind, who have generally despised it, because it hath not always been so fortunate as to meet with advocates of such exalted abilities as Mr. Pope possesses, and who were capable of turning the finest exertions of wit and genius in its favour.” This remonstrance had its desired effect, and the writer no longer sat in the seat of the Dunces. The elder Wesley's name was probably omitted owing to the interposition of his son Samuel, who corresponded with Pope, and was highly esteemed by him. The above information was derived by Mr. Nichols from the Rer. Mr. Lamb of Dorchester, who received it from Mr. Price, Dr. Watts's colleague.*
In February, 1729, the diligence of Watts was again apparent in the publication of a “Caveat against Infidelity, or the danger of apostacy from the Christian faith.” The materials of this treatise were collected in the year 1722, and designed as an antidote to the loose and dangerous sentiments then propagated by the enemies of truth. The writer contents him
Nichols, vol. v. 218, 219.
self with assuming a defensive attitude; his object being to guard the friends of religion, and not to assail the advocates of infidelity. Hence, he does not prominently introduce the evidences of the Christian faith, but notices the specious and sophistical opinions by which it is often indirectly impugned: he does not contend with the confirmed unbeliever, but reasons with the doubting Christian. The volume is divided into five sections: On the necessary Articles of Christianity — Considerations to prove the Doctrine — Various Queries and Objections of the Deists answered – General Exhortations to Christians - Preservatives against Apostacy from the Faith of the Gospel. The value of this volume has been deteriorated by the luminous defences of more modern divines; it cannot either be compared with the learned efforts of many of the writer's brethren in the ministry; yet still to the particular class to which it was directed, the foundation of whose faith had been shaken but not destroyed, it was calculated to be useful. The deistical controversy was much agitated at the commencement of the eighteenth century; and the dissenters sent forth a goodly host of combatants into the field. Collins, Tindal, Woolston, Morgan, and Dodwell, appeared on the side of infidelity; and Leland, Chandler, Lardner, Browne, Reynolds, and Doddridge, for the cause of truth. The adversaries of religion in that day, excepting a few persons of learning and ingenuity, were, however, widely different to those who are now found in the ranks of infidelity: they were “men of wit and pleasure about town,” imposing upon the ignorant and unwary by flippant declamation and shallow philosophy. Some divines of the establishment were for checking their career by the aid of the civil magistrate; but against the prosecution of Woolston the dissenting ministers strongly though ineffectually protested. Whatever evils might be enumerated as the consequence of freedom of religious discussion; far greater might be advanced resulting from the exercise of a spiritual despotism. Truth is too potent to court the aid of
civil enactments and penal laws, to skulk from the fair field of debate behind the magisterial chair, and contend with its thousand foes by incarceration and fine, instead of by calm and deliberate inquiry. The deistical controversy of the last century was a signal benefit to the cause which was assailed; it has enriched our theology, illustrated the resources we command, shown the strength of those foundations upon which our hopes repose, and unveiled Christianity to the confusion of the sceptic, exhibiting the majesty of truth and reflecting the benignity of heaven.
The next work that comes under our notice is entitled “ The Doctrine of the Passions explained and improved; or, a brief and comprehensive scheme of the natural affections of mankind, and an account of their names, nature, appearances, effects, and different uses in human life.” The character of the treatise may be gathered from this full and descriptive title - the writer investigates the nature of the mental affections -- their general design and use -- the circumstances that most powerfully influence them; as, natural constitution, climate, season, employment, health or sickness -- and some admirable rules for their government and regulation are proposed at the close. Descartes divides the primary passions into six --admiration, love, hatred, desire, joy, and sorrow by no means an accurate distribution: Dr. Watts, who has evidently well studied his treatise, divides them into threeadmiration, love, and hatred-minutely examining their sereral modifications and derivatives. The subject has a most important practical bearing upon man in his social, civil, and personal relations; and the work in question deserves the serious and attentive perusal of every one anxious to perform his part aright upon the great theatre of public life, within the range of immediate neighbourhood, and in the privacy of the domestic circle. The happiness of individuals has often been infringed, and the comfort of families sacrificed, where one mind has undergone no proper training — where the early
ebullitions of passion have met with no check — the capricious will encountered 'no rein - and the character left to grow up and be confirmed in its native wildness and instability. Το be proficient, however, in the art of self-government, Dr. Watts well knew that the aids of religion are indispensable; that divine grace alone can implant a permanent and enlightened moral principle; a principle of guidance and control, “ the spirit of power and of a sound inind,” achieving the mastery of self, and conquering the appetites and propensities of carnal nature. It is when the gospel comes not in word only to the ear, but in power to the heart, that the axe is laid to the root of the tree, instead of pruning a few of its excrescences; the display of unhallowed tempers is then succeeded by the attractive beauty of boliness; and the every-day actions of life are ordered by the calm decisions of the judgment, and not by the sudden impulses of unbridled feeling.
The Doctrine of the Passions originally appeared in outline, as an introduction to the “Discourses on the Love of God, and the use and abuse of the passions in religion.” Both subjects appearing to the author capable of considerable expansion, he enlarged his plan, and the contents of the volume were amplified into two separate treatises. The latter work arose from the declining state of eligion, and the growing deadness of the churches to its vital influence: it was designed to vindicate the affectionate Christian, to reprove the formalist, and to show that the gospel, as Cudworth remarks, is not merely “a letter without us, but a quickening spirit within us." Dr. Watts was an attentive observer of the signs of the times; not only did the spiritual prosperity of his own people lie Dear his heart, but his expansive charity led to a lively concern for the improvement of others; and he could not witness symptoms of degeneracy, without attempting to correct the evil and avert the calamity. The excitement produced by the political changes of the seventeenth century, had a powerful and, in many instances, an unfortunate influence upon various religious
“Still as thy gentle numbers flow,
Melodious and divine,
The deathless chorus join :
“To our far shore the sound shall roll,
As Philomela* sung,
Th' eternal tune prolong."
The only production of this year was a third volume of Sermons, which appeared, March 25th, designed for the sabbath-evening worship in families. At that period the majority of the dissenting meeting-houses were only open in the morning and afternoon; the evening was generally devoted to catechetical exercises and domestic instruction.. In the fifth edition of the Sermons, the three volumes in 12mo. were reduced into two in 8vo. and the prefaces were abridged and united. Several of the discourses in the last collection, are beautiful meditations upon the right improvement of the death of friends and kindred, originally addressed to the mourning family of Mrs. Abney, and largely amplified when delivered from the pulpit.
It was at this period that the dissenting ministers in the metropolis formed themselves into a voluntary association, in order to promote the interests of their body. They had frequently united to preserve their religious liberties from the aggressions of arbitrary power, and in their collective capacity on various occasions had addressed the throne; but no society had been regularly formed for the purpose of mutual advice and co-operation. A meeting of the three denominations was accordingly held at the George, in Ironmonger Lane, July 11, 1727, the Rev. Mr. Boyce in the chair, when several resolutions were passed, which formed into a body all approved min
* Mrs. Rowe.