Sidor som bilder

When you

have sufficiency, both of eye-sight and of day-light, to discern the lustre of genius, and the improvements which your equally profound and refined researches have added to the stock of philosophic knowledge.

9. Nervous (and, I think, irrefragable) as Mr. Edwards's treatise is ; you still are much too sanguine in asserting that the Calvinists “boast of it, as the strongest bulwark of their own gloomy faith.” We never boasted of it, under any such character. We have, in my apprehension, some hundreds of “ bulwarks,” no less

strong" than this American one, whose towers I concur with you in deservedly admiring. Exclusively of which numerous bulwarks, we have a citadel (the Bible,) against which, no weapon can possibly prevail. I pass over your favourite epithet “gloomy," which you so repeatedly prefix to Calvinistic “ faith." have attended, as minutely, to the philosophy of Scripture-vision, as you have to that of animal optics; you will perceive the district of Calvin to be, not a Cimmerian region, but a very land of Goshen.

10. You think proper, sir, to suppose, that “ zealous Calvinists will be supprised to hear” (it is well we are not deaf and blind too)" you so full and earnest in the recommendation of Mr. Edwards's book.” I much question, whether their wonder will mount to prise.” There are so many weaknesses, contradictions, and inconsistencies, in philosophers, as well as in ordinary men, that few people, who know much of the world, and of human nature, will be greatly “ surprised” at any thing.

11. You, however, are of a different opinion. Perhaps, because“ zealous Calvinists,” like moles and bats, live in a thick and perpetual gloom, with hardly a single ray of truth, or of common sense, to gild their midnight

surscare us.

darkness. People, in so melancholy a situation, are, doubtlessly, very apt to take fright. If your charity will not pour day-light on our gloomy abodes, it would at least be compassionate in you, to mitigate the woeful “surprise,” with which you think your treatise calculated to impress us.

No! You will no more deign to alleviate our "surprise,” than to dissipate our gloom. It is rather cruel, though, first to shut us up in the dark ; and, then, to

It seems, we “must still continue to wonder.” Wherefore? Because “It would be to no purpose for you to explain, to” the zealous Calvinists, “ Why they ought not to wonder at the matter. What I should say on that subject,” adds the high and mighty doctor, “would not be intelligible to them.” Inexpressibly candid and polite! The plain English of the compliment is this :

Every zealous Calvinist is a fool; or a dunce, at best. I will therefore waste no time on such incurable

All my philosophic apparatus itself would not afford them a gleam of knowledge : nor all my consummate skill in language and in reasoning make them comprehend the lowest of my sublime ideas. I therefore leave them, to stumble en, in their impenetrable gloom : and to knock their blockish heads against tables, doors, walls, and posts, amid the tremor of their surprise.

Our case is pitiable indeed. But why will not the illuminated and illuminating doctor direct a few of his rays, by way of experiment, toward our dark and dreary habitations ? Be honest, good sir : and fairly tell us, that your reason, for huddling the matter up, and for not de. scending to particulars, was not our stupidity, but your fear of the consequences that would result to yourself,


had you gone to the bottom of the subject, and unfolded all that was in your heart. To screen yourself, you affect to give us over, as incurable, before you have so much as tried what you can make of us. If you set about it, who can tell, but, stupid as we are, some of us may recover our sight and sense, and be emancipated from our gloom and from our surprise together ? Electricity, under you auspices, may work miracles.

However lightly 1 may, occasionally, have expressed myself; I assure you, on the word of an honest man, that I have the honour to be, with seriousness and truth,

Reverend sir,

your admirer,

and' very humble servant,

Augustus Montague Toplady.

P. S. On reviewing this letter, I deem myself obliged, in some measure, to apologize for that vein of freedom, into which, the supreme and insulting contempt, you express of the Calvinists, has, untarily, betrayed me. Your last-quoted paragraph, sir, appears to carry an implication of extreme prejudice, and of sov. ereign pride. Nothing can be more supercilious, more rude, and more unjust, than the letter and the spirit of that would passage.

I would willingly, if I were able, frame an excuse for you :. by supposing, that it escaped you, volante calamo; and that it is to be imputed, not so much to malice, to haughtiness, or even to your unacquaintedness with the people you traduce; as to the hurry and precipitation, with which your treatise was appearently written.

Believe me to be, sir,

most respectfully, your's.


Knightsbridge, January 20, 1778. I AM much your debtor sir, for your late polite favour from Calne: but, especially, for the obliging present of your Disquisitions eoncerning Matter and Spirit ; and of the appendix, concerning Necessity. I have read them, with great attention: and, as you condescend to request my opinion of those ingenious pieces ; you shall have it, with the most transparent unreserve.

I need not say any thing, as to the article of necessity : because you well know. that I have the hononr to coincicie, almost entirely, with your own view of that great subject. Permit me, however, to ask, en passant, in blat part of any printed work of mine, I'“ seem to think that the torments of hell will not be eternal ?” You yourself, dear sir, I doubt not, will, on a calm review, be the first to condemn your own temerity, in having puticly advanced a conjecture totally unwarranted on my part: and I am equally disposed to believe, that this will be the last liberty of the kind, which you will venture to take either with me, or with any other man. You must be sensible, that not a word, on the nature or the duration of future punishment, ever past between you and me, either in writing, or in personal converse. Consequently, you must be entirely unaquainted with my ideas of that awful subject : and, as such, unqualified to advance the insinuation, of which I have such just reason to complain. With regard to your

“ Disquisitious,” &c. I would observe,

1. That I can subscribe to no more than to one moirty of them. I still consider materialism, as equally abird in itself, and atheistical in its tendency.

Lut, 2. The perusal of your book gave me no surpris:?; because I have, for a considerable time past, viewed you as a secret materialist : whose favourite princi. ple, like the workings of a subterranious fire, would, at last, I reak forth into open birth.

3. Nor has this publication lessened, in the smallest

degree, my respect and esteem for its author. You have a right, to think for your self ; and to publish the result of your thoughts, to the world. If my own brother was of a different judgment, as to this point, I should set him down for an enemy to the indefeasible prerogatives of human nature.

4. I revere and admire real probity where ever I see it. Artifice, duplicity, and disguise, I cannot away with. Transparency is, in my opinion, the first and the most valuable of all social virtues. Let a man's principles be black as hell, it matters not to me, so he have but integrity to appear exactly what he is. Give me the person, whom I can hold up, as I can a piece of chrystal, and see through him. For this, among many other excellencies, I regard and admire Dr. Priestley.

5. I must acknowledge, sir, that, in the foregoing part of your “ Disquisitions," you throw no small quantity of light on the nature of matter at large. My apprehensions, concering visible substance, are, in several important respects, corrected and improved, by your masterly observations on that subject. I wish you had stopt at matter, which you evidently do understand, and better, perpaps, than any other philosopher on earth; and not meddled with spirit, whose acquaintance, it is very plain, you have not cultivated with equal assiduity.

6. Bishop Berkeley tells me, that I am all spirit, without a single particle of matter belonging to me. Dr. Priestley, on the other head, contends, that I am all body, untenanted and unanimated by any immaterial substance within. But these two theories together, and what will be the product ? That my sum total, and that of every other man, amounts to just nothing at all, I have neither body, nor soul. I have no sort of existence whatever. -Here it may be alledged, " That the two systems cannot be thrown together, as being totally incompatible.” I answer : Why may not bishop Berkeley's word go as far as Dr. Priestley's; and the doctor's as far as the bishop's ? Though, when all is done, the best way, in my opinion, is, to cease from both, and to believe reither.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »