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Naval Records, Part I.

Nicol's Essay on the Nature and Design of Scripture Sacrifices, &c.
Nicholson's Practice of Drawing and Painting Landscape from Nature, in

Water Colours

Nineteenth Report of the Directors of the African Institution

Noble's Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures asserted

333

Richardson's Sonnets and other Poeins

Robotham's Practical German Grammar

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THE

ECLECTIC REVIEW,

FOR JANUARY, 1826.

Art. I. 1. Joannis Miltoni Angli de Doctrina Christiana Libri duo

posthumi, quos ex Schedis Manuscriptis deprompsit, et Typis Mandari primus curavit Carolus Ricardus Sumner, A.M. Bibliothecæ

Regis Præfectus. 4to. 21. 108. Cantabrigia, 1825. 2. A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, compiled from the Holy Scrip

tures alone: By John Milton. Translated from the Original, by Charles R. Sumner, M.A. Librarian and Historiographer to His Majesty, and Prebendary of Canterbury. 4to. pp. xxxviii. 716.

Price 21. 10s. London, 1825. WE have been anxious not to pronounce a hasty opinion

respecting a work, the announcement of which excited so intense an interest, and the contents of which, naturally enougb, have given universal disappointment. We are free to confess, that, in common with the public at large, we entertained expectations which now seem to ourselves unreasonable, inasmuch as they were not warranted by what was previously known of the sentiments and literary character of the illustrious Author. It is the prerogative of those master minds with whom he ranks, to awaken an enthusiasm that invests its object with ideal qualities, surrounding it, as it were, with a halo of sacred and awful associations, and enshrining it in the - most consecrated recesses of the fancy among the types of all

that is great and glorious. Viewed in this mysterious light, every noble quality is brought out into strong relief, every failing is thrown into shadow, and the voice which issues from their sepulchre has all the authority of an oracle. Who, when be names the Poet of Paradise Lost, thinks of the Author of the Tetrachordon or the Antagonist of Salmasius? The Milton of English literature, of English history, is the graceful and accomplished youth who, while gathering the flowers of classic fable beneath Italian skies, renounced all the seductions of poetry at the call of patriotism, esteeming it dishonourable to be lingering abroad, while his fellow citizens VOL, XXV. N.S.

B

were contending for their liberty at home ;-it is Milton, the stern, incorruptible republican, the more than Roman citizen, of consistency and integrity unimpeachable, amid contending partizans the patriot, the defender of the People of England, and the Secretary, not of Cromwell, but of his country ;-it is Milton, again, encompassed with dangers and with darkness, like another Edipus, greater for his fall, and richly compensated for his blindness by the clearer light which broke upon his inward sense, led forth by his daughters to utter bis last oracles in the ears of his contemporaries before he sank into the tomb,— leaving nothing like himself behind. When, from this bright idea, -the ideal Milton, however, is the true one,we turn to the pages which exhibit him as the fierce polemic or the erring theologist, we are conscious of the same sort of revulsion of feeling as is produced by passing from the lives of martyrs to the squabbles of councils, or by turning from the Socrates of Plato to the Socrates of Aristophanes.

We are naturally impatient of that discordant combination of opposite qualities,-grandeur and meanness, lofty genius and feeble judgement, heroism and littleness, wisdom and imbecility, which so perpetually presents itself in human nature, and often in the same individual. To escape from this mortifying and distasteful spectacle, we call in the aid of the poet and the artist, who, by abstracting all that is fair and beautiful from every grosser elemeut, shew us Nature in the form which she wears to fond or aspiring hearts and glowing fancies. There are some writers who delight in exhibiting the other side of Nature, which they would fain persuade us is the truer view ;-as if the representations of Butler and Voltaire were more true or just than those of Plutarch or Xenophon ! The admirable qualities which make up the character of those grand exemplars whose names illuminate the page of history, are not less real than the failings and defects by which they were alloyed; and the enthusiasm which those qualities awaken in the generous mind, is not less rational and wellgrounded, than the opposite feelings inspired by conversing with human nature in its work-day dress. And yet, the discovery of weakness or imperfection mingling itself with the nobler qualities of the character, is apt to make us resent as a delusion imposed on our minds, the first impression of admiration to which we had surrendered ourselves. The view of imperfection and incongruity is so unpleasing, that we either strive to shut our eyes to the Aaws which appear in the objects of our enthusiasm, or indemnify ourselves by bringing down the individual to our own level, thus exchanging the pleasures of admiration for the gratification of self-love.

We entreat pardon for this long exordium. We wish to prepare the reader for the freedom of the remarks which we shall have occasion to make on the work before us, which certainly is ill adapted to satisfy the expectations raised by the transcendent genius stamped on all the former works of the great Author. That it does not lower his character, that it cannot possibly tarnish his fame, is saying little. In some respects, it does the highest honour to his intellect and to his heart. Who can read the noble preface to the present Treatise without seeming to listen to the dying accents of a Sage and Saint-without recognising at every line the lofty integrity and high-toned piety of the Author of Paradise Lost? It is addressed To all the Churches of Christ, and to all who pro• fess the Christian Faith throughout the world.'

If I were to say that I had devoted myself to the study of the Christian religion, because nothing else can so effectually rescue the lives and minds of men from those two detestable curses, slavery and superstition, I should seem to have acted from a regard to my highest earthly comforts, rather than from a religious motive.

. But since it is only to the individual faith of each that the Deity has opened the way of eternal salvation, and as he requires that he who would be saved should have a personal belief of his own, I re, solved not to repose on the faith or judgement of others in matters relating to God; but, on the one hand, having taken the grounds of my faith from Divine revelation alone, and, on the other, having neglected nothing which depended on my own industry, I thought fit to scrutinize and ascertain for myself the several points of my reJigious belief, by the most careful perusal and meditation of the Holy Scriptures themselves.

• If I communicate the result of my inquiries to the world at large, if, as God is my witness, it be with a friendly and benignant feeling towards mankind, that I readily give as wide a circulation as possible to what I esteem my best and richest possession, I hope to meet with a candid reception from all parties, and that none at least will take unjust offence, even though many things should be brought to light which will at once be seen to differ from certain received opinions. I earnestly beseech all lovers of truth, not to cry out that the Church is thrown into confusion by that freedom of discussion and inquiry which is granted to the schools, and ought certainly to be refused to no believer, since we are ordered to prove all things, and since the daily progress of the light of truth is productive far less of disturbance to the Church than of illumination and edification. Nor do I see how the Church can be more disturbed by the investigation of truth, than were the Gentiles by the first promulgation of the Gospel ; since so far from recommending or imposing any thing on my own authority, it is my particular advice that every one should suspend his opinion on whatever points he may not feel himself fully satisfied, till the evidence of Scripture prevail, and persuade his reason into assent and faith. Concealment is not my object; it is to the learned I address myself; or, if it be thought that the learned are not the best umpires and judges of such things, I should at least wish to submit my opinions to men of a more mature and manly understanding, possessing a thorough knowledge of the doctrines of the Gospel, on whose judgements I should rely with far more confi. dence, than on those of novices in these matters. And whereas the greater part of those who have written most largely on these subjects have been wont to fill whole pages with explanations of their opinions, thrusting into the margin the texts in support of their doctrin e with a summary reference to the chapter and versc; I have chosen, on the contrary, to fill my pages even to redundance with quotations from Scripture, that as little as possible might be left for my own words, even when they arise from the context of revelation itself.

• For my own part, I adhere to the Holy Scriptures alone: I follow no other heresy or sect. I had not even read any of the works of heretics, so called, when the mistakes of those who are reckoned for orthodox, and their incautious handling of Scripture, first taught me to agree with their opponents whenever those opponents agreed with Scripture. If this be heresy, I confess with St. Paul, Acts xxiv. 14, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets,- to which I add, whatever is written in the New Testament. Any other judges or chief interpreters of the Christian belief, together with all implicit belief, as it is called, I, in common with the wbole Protestant Church, refuse to recognise.

• For the rest, brethren, cultivate truth with brotherly love. Judge of my present undertaking according to the admonishing of the Spirit of God—and neither adopt my sentiments, por reject them, unless every doubt has been removed from your belief by the clear testi. mony

of revelation. Finally, live in the faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Farewell.'

How, then, has it come to pass, that this great man, under the guidance of motives thus pure, and of principles so just and scriptural, should have failed to deduce from the Word of God, a form of sound doctrine ? The system of theology which is here presented to us, has been characterized as a combination of " arianism, anabaptism, latitudinarianism, quakerism, and' (in reference to the Author's opinions on polygamy) mohammedism.' No existing sect can lay claim to the honour or the shame of having engendered the theological monster, upon which is entailed the fate of all hybrids ; it will perpetuate no new variety. No future Miltonists' will arise to form an article in the catalogue of sects and opinions. As a theologist, not less than as a poet, its Author must stand alone. The Baptists disown him; the Socinians can have no

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