Page images
PDF
EPUB

shews us the necessity of looking up to our great first Cause, and of putting our whole trust and confidence in the protection of Him on whom we are entirely dependent, who can crush us in an instant; and whose assist* ance and support we can have no right to expect, while we continue to live in the constant, open, and avowed violation of all his lawg.

We have already extended our review of this admirable work to too great a length; and we must therefore content ourselves with extracting the following passage, with which Mr. Bowles concludes his observations ;

"Difficulties and dangers, never before experienced, surround tus, and in proportion as we advance, the prospect becomes more

gloomy and discouraging. Till now it has always been possible, in the greatest perils, to conjecture the worst that was likely to happen. But should our enemy, by an overwhelming effort of his unprecedented force, or, which is much less improbable, by the far more formidable experiment of protracted warfare, be permitted to prevail against us, what imagination can conceive the horrors and the ruin which must then ensue? All thé miseries which the most unfortunate parts of Europe have suffered, since the revolutionary explosion, would be but a slight foretaste of those which, in such a case, would be in store for us. Selfishness can now no longer command the base consolation, with which those, who were capable of deriving comfort from such a thought, have hitherto been able to console themselves in the most distressing and perilous periods, and by a false reliance on which they have till this moment been lulled into a fatal apathy—that the existing order of things would certainly last their time. Still, however, according to the most enlarged, and the most favourable view, which our limited vision can form of our situation, there is abundant reason to conclude that our fate depends upon our$elves. Upon the supposition that the Ruler of the Universe is now interposing, in an especial manner, in the affairs of a sinful world---a supposition which is not only warranted by the many instances of such interposition, recorded in Holy Writ, but which seems fully authorized by the notorious profligacy, and the extraordinary events of the times---the only rational conjecture, which is suggested by a comparison of our situation with that of other countries, 'is, that because we are far less advanced than they in depravity, an opportunity is graciously afforded us to cortect, the impiety and the vices, by which we undoubtedly merit the Divine vengeance. This opportunity, with grief and shame be it said, has not yet been improved. But unless it be improved, and that speedily, it would be presumption to indulge a hope that we shall not receive the just reward of such base ingratitude, That we deserve the chastisement of Heaven, it is impossible to Vol. VI. Churchm. Mag. April, 1804.

Mm

deny

deny. That such chastisement is about to be inflicted, nay, that it is already begun, every appearance denotes. Should it fail to produce its due effect, the righteous doom of an impenitent and an incorrigible people---must, sooner or later, and God only knows how soon, attend us. What course have we then to pursue, but to endeavour, by sincere repentance, by deep humiliation, and by a thorough amendment, to conciliate the favour of that All-powerful Being, who, like an affectionate father, corrects in love, and punishes in mercy---and thus to seek, what, happily we have reason to hope we may yet obtain, the aid of an Almighty arm? Let then the awful warning which, from all sides, is now sounded in our ears, excite us to the most serious reflection---let the severe chastisement, with which we are now visited, inspire us with heart-felt compunction for the impiety and the vices, which have drawn down such judgments on our heads, and make us to loathe, and for ever to abjure, those irreligious systems and those immoral practices, which have been suffered to acquire so dreadful an ascendancy--- let us determine, with unalterable resolution, to adhere to that Holy Religion, which is given us as the rule of our faith and conduct, and as the unerring standard of our principles---let us, by means of education, render that religion an object of carly veneration and attachment, and, by thus establishing its empire in the youthful heart, secure its influence in society---then may we hope, that this night of blackness, and tempest, and horror, will be followed by a bright and glorious day---then may we hope, not merely to be preserved ourselves, but, by setting an example of reformation, to become the means of rescuing; from impending destruction, the whole civilized world; the preservation of which, depends, in all appearance, on the triumph of this country over vice, revolution, and anarchy."

Observations on the Correspondence between Mr. Adam and

Mr. Bowles, with the Correspondence subjoined: By John Bowles, Esq. pp. 48. 8vo.

UR readers will recollect, that in the short remarks

with which we introduced the Correspondence between Mr. Adams and Mr. Bowles, (Supp. Vol. V.) we observed, that the information on which Mr. Bowles relied, with respect to the late Duke of Bedford's disregard of religion, was fully competent to authorize him to make those assertions which have given offence to the friends of the Duke, as it was derived from a highly respectable

Clergyman

[ocr errors]

Clergyman of the Church of England. We abstained from considering the Correspondence at length; as we concluded that Mr. Bowles would not suffer to pass without reply a publication, which, to the superficial reader, exhibited him in an unfavourable point of view. -We say, to the superficial reader, for to the deliberate reader, who would weigh the evidence, oppose testimony to testimony, and contrast the circumstances under which the witnesses on either side respectively lay, nothing could appear more evident, than that Mr. Adam had engaged in a cause that could not be supported, though he displayed his usual talent and ingenuity, and made the best defence of which his cause was capable.

In the pamphlet before us the observations arrangę themselves under two heads: the motives which induced Mr. Bowles to censure the late Duke of Bedford, and, the authority on which he stated the facts that called for his

The introduction is highly judicious, grave and impressive:

censure.

“ Whoever addresses the public, should be able to prove himself influenced by some motive of real utility; more particu. larly is this to be expected from the writer who animadverts, in terms of censure, on the private character of others; and, most of all, when such censure is inflicted on the memory of persons deceased. The awful change, which death makes in the condition of a fellow-creature, should check that unlimited freedom of observation, to which, when living, he was properly subjected; and which operates as a most salutary restraint on the conduct of men.

But when a man is gone to his great account, he is exempt from human censure, as far as the object of censure is restraint or correction. The tomb is his sanctuary from reproach. His dust is sacred. In short, as far as his memory

is concerned, he is entitled to the benefit of tke maxi-nil de more ris nisi bonum.

“But the application of these sentiments, and the extent of this maxim, must have their limits. The privileges of the dead must not interfere with the interests of the living. The former, are indeed, withdrawn from those tribunals to which, for their own advantage, they were before amenable; but as far as their character can operate by way of example, as far as it may be made to benefit others, by alluring to virtue, or deterring from vice, is is still a fair subject of enquiry and observation. If this were not the case, all the sources of history would be dried up, and the world would be deprived of the most valuable lessons of wisdom-those which are to be learnt in the school of experience.

M m 2

* Whepes!

[ocr errors]

“ Whenever, therefore, any one présumes to arraign the chat racter of the dead, it becomes a question, on which the propriety of such a procedure materially depends, by what motive he is induced to meddle with so serious, and solemn a subject. Is it a desire to grațify spleen, or to keep alive animosities ? or is it a wish that mankind should be taught by example, rendered more impressive by being stamped with the seal of mortality, to shun the errors to which all are liable; and to pursue

the course in which virtue and honour, and happiness are to be found ? As navigators derive security from charts, that point out the rocks and shoals where former adventurers have suffered shipwreck.

*« But of all subjects, that on which the character of the dead ought to be best protected against censure, is the momentous one of Religion. This, of all subjects, even with regard to the living, is least within human cognizance; and the motive which can justify its being made the foundation of an attack upon the dead should, therefore, be most clearly and closely connected with the interests of survivors, and the welfare of society,

“ With these impressions on my mind, what impelled me to disturb the ashes of the dead? What could provoke me to cen: sure the principles or the practices of the late Duke of Bedford ? Admitting him to have been altogether inattentive, as far as man could judge, to the great concerns of religion, why should I stand forward to represent him as an irreligious character ? These questions may very properly be asked. They are asked most pointedly by the subjoined correspondence; and to answer them is the main object which I have in view in taking this public notice of that correspondence : for unless they can be answered, and that most satisfactorily, I am chargeable with an act which no man holds in greater abhoșrence I have been guilty of raking into the ashes of the dead, for the purpose of dragging forth their defects to public view,

“But important as is the consideration of my motive, and severely as, in effect, I am attacked on that very ground, yet, strange to tell, the above-mentioned publication endeavours to shut me out from all explanation of this subject. In the most unqualified manner. Mr. Adam declares, that it cannot be taken into consideration here.' From this decision, then, I ap. peal to the tribunal of the public.'.

That this decision was unbecoming the respectable character of Mr. Adam we believe none of our readers will deny. We can conceive it to have been extorted solely from a sense of the weakness of his cause. And from the degrading proposal that the statement drawn up by Mr. Adam should be published by Mr. Bowles unaccompanied by any explanation, the latter revolted with the generous indignation that must glow in the breast of a gentle.. man and a man of honor at so illiberal a demand,

rous

With respect then to the motive of Mr. Bowles' original publication---As Mr. B.justly observes;

“ The discussion which has taken place, respecting the chaTácter of the late Duke of Bedford, did not originate with me; but my observations on that subject were provoked by an eulogy-pronounced by Mr. Fox in the House of Commons-in which the above nobleman was held up as a “ great example," as a perfect model for the imitation of the present age and posterity, but in which not one word is to be found whence it can be inferred, that a regard for religion, or an attention to its duties, constituted any part of the character which drew forth such unqualified praise, An anxious desire to counteract the obvious tendeney of such a speech, and to preserve my countrymen from embracing the mischievous doctrin -that Religion is not essential to human excellence, and, indeed, to perfection of character--was the sole cause of my animadverting upon the character of the late Duke; in yielding to this motive, I expressly diselaimed all allusion to that character, except as it was brought forward, by its eulogist, to public notice; particularly with a reference to Religion, I most studiously distinguished between the character and the description, applying all my observations to the latter, and cautiously refraining from any allusion to the former, on a subject of such high importance. This principle of forbearance was strictly adhered to throughout my letter to Mr. Fox. It was not till some months afterwards, when I annexed to a new edition of that letter some observations on a sermon, preached and published by Mr. Cartwright, that I took any ngtice of the real character of the Duke, in regard to Religion : and this difference between my strictures on the speech, and my observations on the sermon, was owing to the circumstance. that the preacher spoke of the deceased nobleman from the pulpit, in a strain of panegyric, which could never be justly applied to any human being, however near perfection; and this in the presence of his fellow parishioners, who knew that a gross jnattention to religious duties was a striking feature in the character so described.

“Having thus shewn that, in reluctantly adverting to the character of the late Duke, in regard to Religion, I was impelled by no other motive than a desire to counteract the doctrine, conveyed to the public by a speech in Parliament, and by a sermon from the pulpit--that Religion is not necessary to constitute perfection of character-I will not insult the feelings of the public by à formal justification of that motive. In proportion as the above doctrine was mischievous, or which is precisely the same thing, in proportion as Religion is important, it is obvious that the mo

. tive

« PreviousContinue »