« PreviousContinue »
Dr. Priestley, when he published courteous effort to reclaim the pseudohis great work, in two volumes, enti- believer met with no success. The tled The Corruptions of Christianity, obnoxious passages of his History of sent the Historian
copy, begging the Decline and Fall of the Roman his perusal of it, and inviting him to Empire remained unrectified, and he the examination of Revealed Religion. sunk still deeper into the mire of Enraged at the present, he indignantly infidelity. refused to enter the lists, and took Now mark the attempts to recover lis revenge by consigning over the Lord Byron. They indeed were of intrepid, but honest, Divine to, the a more private nature, but equally notice of the civil and ecclesiastical unavailing, and Joth attended with a constitutions of his country; pointing nearly similar treatment. to two passages in his works, at one These statements are drawn from of which he said, “the priest,” and authentic sources, and shall be tranat the other, “the magistrate, may scribed with scarcely any note or comtremble.” This was cowardly, and ment. They speak for themselves, savoured of the blackest malignity. * and will, I trust, generate an useful But Dr. Watson, the late Bishop of impression upon the minds of the Llandaff, met with better treatinent. rising generation.* R. C. DALLAS, He addressed an able series of letters Esq., has just published Recollections to Mr. Gibbon, entitled An Apolog: of the Life of Lord Byron from the for Christianity, most strangely con- Year 1808 to the End of 1814, in sidering the Historian as a believer, which the following expostulatory letwho had incautiously expressed him- ter occurs, addressed to his Lordship self on the subject. This was grati. respecting his infidelity: fying to his vanity, and accordingly a "I compare such philosophers as very complimentary letter was return- you and Hume and Gibbon (I have ed the Prelate on the presentation of put you into company that you are a copy of his work.t But, alas ! this not ashamed of) to mariners wrecked
at sea, buffetting the waves for life, * The first of these obnoxious passages wards land, where, meeting with rug
and at last carried by a current tosimply predicted the fall of all antichristian establishments, and the other, aw. ged and perpendicular rocks, they fully portentous to the infidel and worldly ecclesiastic, runs thus, concluding with a well as agreeable, than they can possibly prayer for the arrival of the Millennium, do by exhibiting a single combat in the in which the devout of every denomina- amphitheatre of controversy." Bishop tion might join throughout Christendom: Hurd did not like the Apology for Chris. “ It is nothing but the alliance of the tianity-not savouring of the scurrility kingdom of Christ with the kingdoms of of the Warburtonian school - saying of this world, (an alliance which our Lord it, “ It was well enough, if the author expressly disclaimed,) that supports the was in earnest." But there could be no grossest corruptions of Christianity; and doubt of Dr. Watsou's sincerity. His perhaps we must wait for the fall of the treating his opponent as a believer, was civil powers before this most unnatural the only exceptionable circumstance alliance be broken. Calamitous, no doubt, every thing else did equal credit to his will that time be. But what convulsions head and heart. in the political world ought to be a sub- The writer bere begs leave to recomject of lamentation if it be attended with mend to his young friends two excellent so desirable an event ? May the kingdom of little manuals --Lectures on Natural and God and of Christ (that which I conceive Revealed Religion, by the Rev. Lawrence intended in the Lord's Prayer) truly and Holden, of Tenterden; and Illustrations fully come, though all the kingdonis of of the Evidences of Christianity, by Mrs. the world be removed in order to make Maria Hack, of 'Chichester. There is way for it!”
also an anonymous pamphlet well worth † Waving the discussion of the sub- perusal, entitled An Address to Deists, ject, he artfully remarks in the note, said to have been written by the Rev. “Mr. Gibbon entirely coincides in opi. Mr. Grosser, Particular Baptist Minister nion with Dr. Watson, that as their dif. at Maidstone. See a late number of the ferent sentiments on a very important New Evangelicul Magazine, where its point of history are now submitted to merits were duly appreciated; whilst by ihe public, they both may employ their the Old Baptist Magazine it had the time in a manner much more useful as honour of being reprobated.
decide that it is impossible to land, of conviction. It is, to return to my and, though some of their companions metaphor, the beuch on which we may point out a firm beuch, exclaim, 'De- fiud a footing, and be able to look luded things! there can be no beach around us; on which beach I trust I unless you can melt down these tre- shall one day or other see you taking mendous rocks. No! our ship is your stand." I bave done—and pray wrecked, and to the bottom we must observe that I have kept my word : go! All we have to do is to sivim on I have not entered on metaphysics till fate overwhelms us! You do not on the subject of Revelation. I have deny the depravity of the human race. merely staied the erroneous proceedWell, that is one step gained : it is ing of Freethinking philosophy, and, allowing we are cast array; it is, figu- on the other hand, the natural and ratively, our shipureck. Behold us, rational proceeding of the mind in the then, all scattered upon the ocean, inquiry after truih. The conviction and all anxious to be saved-all, at must, and I am confident will, be the least, willing to be on terra firma- operation of your own mind.” the Humes, the Gibbons, the Vol. Mr. Dallas then adds, “ Lord By. taires, as well as the Newtons, the RON noticed, indeed, what I had writ. Lockes, the Johnsons, &c. The lat- ten, but in a very discouraging mana ter make for the beach ; the former ner. He would have nothing to do exhaust their strength about the rocks, with the subject. We should all yo and sink, declaring them insurmount- down together, lie said; ‘so,' quoting able. The incarnation of a Deity— St. Paul, 'Let us eat and drink, for vicarious atonement - the innocent to-morrow we die'! He felt satisfied suffering for the guilty-the seeming with his creed, for it was better to inconsistencies of the Old Testament sleep than to wake. Such were the and the discrepancies of the New, &c. opinions which occasionally manifest&c.—are rocks which I am free to ed themselves in this unhappy young own are not easily melted down; but inan, and which gave me a degree of I may be certain that they may be pain proportioned to the affection I viewed from a point on the beach in could not but feel for him; while iny less deterring forms, - lifting their hopes of his ultimately breaking from heads into the clouds indeed, yet add- the trammels of infidelity, which were ing sublimity to the prospect of the never relinquished, received from time shore on which we have landed, and to time fresh exciteinent from soine by no means impeding our progress expressions that appeared to me to upon it. In less metaphorical lan- have an opposite tendency.” guage, my Lord, it appears to me At a later period, LORD BYRON that Freethinkers are generally more was addressed respecting his infidelity eager to strengthen their objections by another gentleman, who has furthan solicitous for conviction, and nished us with the correspondence, prefer wandering into forced infer- attached to a second edition, just ences to pursuing the evidence of published, of an interesting little vofacts — so contrary to the example lume entitled, Thoughts chiefly degiven to us in all judicial investiga- signed as a Preparative or Persuasive gations, where testimony precedes rea- to Private Decotion, by John Shepsoning, and is the ground of it. The pard. This communication is of a corruption of human nature being singular and impressive nature, and self-evident, it is very natural to in- shall be transcribed. It exhibits bis quire the cause of that corruption, Lordship in a more favourable light, and as natural to hope that there may and reflects some degree of honour be a remedy for it. The cause and on his memory. the remedy have been stated. How
“ To the Right Hon. Lord Byron, are we to ascertain the truth of them?
Pisa. Not by arguing mathematically, but by first examining the proofs adduced,
“ Frome, Somerset, Nov. 21, 1821. and if they are satisfactory, to use
My Lord, our reasoning powers, as far as they
“ More than two
years since a will go, to clear away the difficulties lovely and beloved wite was taken that attend them. 'Í'his is the only froin me by lingering disease, after a inode of investigating with any hope very short union. She possessed unvarying gentleness and fortitude, and which, deprived of the grand fountain a piety so retiring, as rarely to dis- of good, (a deep conviction of inborn close itself in words, but so influential sin, and firm belief in the efficacy of as to produce uniform benevolence Christ's death for the salvation of of conduct. In the last hour of life, those who trust in him and really seek after a farewell look on a lately born to serve him,) would soon dry up, and and only infant, for whom she had leave us as barren of every virtue as evinced inexpressible affection, her before. last whispers were—God's happiness! “ Hastings, July 31, 1814.' God's happiness! Since the second anniversary of her decease, I have read “ There is nothing, my Lord, in some papers which no one had seen this extract which in a literary sense during her life, and which contain her can at all interest you; but it may most secret thoughts. I am induced perhaps appear to you worthy of reto communicate to your Lordship a flection, how deep and expansive a passage from these papers, which, concern for the happiness of others there is no doubt, refers to yourself, the Christian faith can awaken in the as I have more than once heard the midst of youth and prosperity. Here writer mention your agility on the is nothing poetical and splendid, as in rocks at Hastings:
the expostulatory homage of M. De. “ Prayer.
lamartine ; but here is the sublime,
my Lord; for this intercession was “O my God! I take encourage- offered on your account to the Sument from the assurance of thy word preme Source of happiness. It sprang to pray to thee in behalf of one for from a faith more confirmed than that whom I have lately been much inte- of the French poet, and from a charested. May the person to whom I rity which, in combination with faith, allude (and who is now, we fear, as shewed its power unimpaired amidst much distinguished for his neglect of the langours and pains of approaching thee as for the transcendant talents dissolution! I will hope that a prayer, thou hast bestowed upon him) be which I am sure was deeply sincere, awakened to a sense of his own dan- may not be always unavailing. It ger, and led to seek that peace of would add no ing, my Lord, to the mind in a proper sense of religion fame with which your genius bas surwhich he has found this world's enjoy- rounded you, for an unknown and ments unable to procure! Do thou obscure individual to express his adgrant that his future example may be miration of it. I had rather be numproductive of far more extensive be- bered with those who wish and pray nefit than his past conduct and wri. that wisdom from above and peace tings have been of evil; and may the and joy may enter such a mind!” sun of righteousness, which we trust will at some future period arise on
The Ansurer. him, be bright in proportion to the darkness of those clouds which guilt
Pisa, December 8, 1821. has raised around him, and the balm which it bestows healing and soothing “ I have received your letter.-I in proportion to the keenness of that need not say that the extract which it agony which the punishment of his contains bas affected me, because it vices has inflicted upon him. May would imply a want of all feeling to the hope that the sincerity of iny own have read it with indifference. Though efforts for the attainment of holiness, I am not quite sure that it was inand the approval of my own love to tended for ine, yet the date, the place the great Author of religion, will ren- where it was written, with some other der this prayer, and every other for circumstances which you mention, the welfare of mankind, more effica- render the allusion probable. But for cious, cheer me in the path of duty; whomsoever it was meant, I have read but let me not forget that while we it with all the pleasure which can are permitted to animate ourselves to arise from so melancholy a topic. ! exertion by every innocent motive, say pleasure, because your brief and these are but the lesser streains which simple picture of the life and deinay serve to increase the current, but mcanor of the excellent person whom,
I trust, that you will again meet, can- the honour to be your obliged and not be contemplated without the ad- obedient servant, miration due to her virtues and her
“BYRON. pure and unpretending piety. Her
“P.S. I do not know that I am last moments were particularly strik
addressing a clergyman, but I preing; and I do not know that in the course of reading the story of man- by the mistake (if it is one) on the
sume that you will not be affronted kind, and still less in my observations address of this letter. One who has upon the existing portion, I ever met with any thing so unostentatiously doctrines of religion, will excuse the
so well explained and deeply felt the beautiful! Indisputably, the firm be- error which led me to believe him ils lievers in the gospel have a great minister.” advantage over all others, for this simple reason, that if true, they will
Upon this characteristically intehave their reward hereafter, and if resting epistle of Lord Byron, Mr. there be no hereafter, they can be but Sheppard makes several appropriate with the infidel in his eternal sleep, reflections ; for which I refer to his having bad the assistance of an exalt- work ; whilst the following paragraph ed hope through life, without disap. is deserving transcription, being fraught pointment, since (at the worst for with the divine spirit of charity : "11them) 'out of nothing—nothing can tercessions I cannot doubt had long arise,' not even sorrow! But a man's been anxiously offered on his behall, creed does not depend upon himself. at least by relatives, and some of these Who can say, I will believe this, that, in the blessed spirit of Christian foror the other, and least of all that giveness ; others, as the preceding which he least can comprehend? I pages affectingly shew, by one un have, however, observed, that those known to him, from the pure promptwho have begun life with extreme ings of a Christian solicitude for his faith, have in the end greatly narrowed welfare, enhanced by his fine gifts it, as Chillingworth, Clarke, (who end- and high responsibility. Till the heaed as an Arian,) Bayle and Gibbon, venly records of Christian charity (once a Catholic,) and some others;
shall be at last unrolled, we know not while, on the other hand, nothing is what more and similar petitions may more common than for the early have been poured from hearts that sceptic to end in a firm belief like responded to bis genius and deplored Maupertuis and Henry Kirke White.
its aberrations !
Nor can any proBut my business is to acknowledge nounce till after the judgment is set your letter, and not to make a disser- and the books are opened, that these tation. I am obliged to you for your
were ultimately and altogether usegood wishes, and more than obliged
less." by the extract from the papers of the
It may not be unworthy of obserbeloved object whose qualities you vation, that Lord Byron had in the have so well described in a few words. original manuscript of his Childe I can assure you that all the faine Harold's Pilgrimage this offensive that ever cheated humanity into higher stanza respecting a future state of notions of its own iinportance, would beingnever weigh in my mind against the “ Frown not upon me, churlish priest! pure and pious interest which a vir- that I tuous being may be pleased to take
Look pot for life where life may never in my welfare. In this point of view, I am no sneerer at thy phantasy;
beI would not exchange the the deceased in my behalf for the
Thou pitiest me, alas! I envy thcc. united glory of Homer, Cæsar and Napoleon, could such be accumulated
Mr. Sheppard is the author of two upon a living head. Do me at least
other volumes-"A Tour in 1816 through the justice to suppose that
France and Switzerland, with incidental
Reflections on Religion;" and also “ An Video meliora proboque,
Enquiry on the Duty of Christians re
specting War," with reference to the Peace however the deteriora sequor may have Societies ;-hoib marked by good sense been applied to my conduct. I have aud an unaffected piety.
Thou bold discoverer in an unkuown sea But when the milder beams of mercy Of happy isles and happier tenants play, there,
He melts, and throws bis cumbrous cloak I ask thee not to prove-a Sadducee
away; Still dream of Paradise thou kuow'st Lightnings and thunder proclaim the Alnot where,
mighty's style, then disappear; And lov'st too well to bid thine erring The stiller sound succeeds—and God is brother share !"
there!” Mr. Dallas, his friend, however, ex- The unholy infliction of “pains and postulated with his Lordship on its penalties” oily serves to stir up the extreme sceptical tendency; when evil passions-deafening us with the inelting into a softer mood, he sent clamours of a perverse and obdurate the subsequent lines to be inserted in infidelity! Ever since the blessed era its stead, inarked by a peculiar pathos of the Reformation, truth, emanating and beauty :
from the Sacred Scriptures, is dis“ Yet if, as holiest men have deem'd closing her unrivalled beauties, and, there be,
chasing away every cloud which hath A land of souls beyond that sable obscured her effulgence, will at length shore,
hold an undivided empire throughout To shame the doctrine of the Sadducee,
the world. And sophists, madly vain, of dubious But on this important subject I lore:
have already borne my humble testiHow sweet it were in concert to adore mony, at the close of the article on With those who made our mortal la. Deism in the last, or 14th, edition of bours light,
my Sketch of the Denominations.To hear each voice we fear'd to hear no The paragraph having had the honour
more; Behold each mighty shade revealed 10
of being read in court at the trial of sight;
the unhappy and deluded Carlile, now The Bactrian Samian sage, and ALL
immured in the dungeons of Dorcheswho taught the right !"
ter, may form no improper conclu
sion. “ Though the pernicious tenSuch, indeed, are the endearing dency of infidelity is to be reprobated, hopes, such the transcendant pros- yet the prosecution of Deists is altopects of a blissful immortality! Nuch gether contrary to the genius of Chrisbath been advanced respecting the tianity. It extends the evil deprecated, manner after which unbelievers should and affords a miserable specimen of be treated in their rejection of Chris- the spirit by which we are actuated. tianity. I have no hesitation in de- See an interesting correspondence, afclaring, that mild but firm expostula- fixed to Kippis's Life of Dr. Lardner, tion is the alone method suggested by between the Bishop of Chichester and reason and sanctioned by revelation. Dr. Lardner, who thus writes with For, every man to give a reuson of the his usual good sense and liberality: hope that is in him with meekness and Your Lordship freely declares Wolfear, is the apostolic injunction; and luston ought not to be punished for My kingdom is not of this world, is being an infidel, nor for writing at all the declaration of the Saviour of man- against the Christian religion, which kind. — Reproach irritates, violence appears to me a noble declaration ! confounds ; both are alike hostile to If the governors of the Church and rational conviction. Pious Herbert, civil magistrates had all along acted the brother of Lord Herbert, the father up to this principle, I think the Chrisand the best of English Deists, hath tian religion had been before now thus sweetly sung in strains never to nearly universal. But I have supposed be forgotten
it to be a consequence from this sen
timent, that if men have an allowance “ Fear frightens minds, whilst love, like
to write against the Christian religion, heat, Exhales the soul sublime to seek her na. there must also be considerable indultive seat.
gence as to the manner likewise. This To threat the stubborn sinner oft is hard, has appeared to me a part of that Wrapp'd in his crimes, against the storm meekness and forbearance which the prepared.
Christian religion obliges us to, who