Графични страници
PDF файл

the mathematicians of this country and France, during the last century, would be highly worthy of his pen; for yet, notwithstanding the high encomiums paid to the French, and the voluminous works issuing from the Parisian press, we are inclined to think, that they have rather increased the forms, than added much to the stock of science. Our author will enable us to see this matter in the clearest point of view, as he is one of the few mathematicians of Cambridge, and when we say Cambridge we cannot add many for the rest of England, who have studied with diligence and attention the late French writers on the differential calculus, or what we more properly call fluxions."—As numbers labour in vain to attract public attention, and to obtain the approbation of critics, this author must be esteemed very fortunate indeed in having an advocate, who can so readily comprehend his most intricate researches, and who can, without delay, announce their comparative excellence to the world.'

The readers of this statement will not, we suppose, be much puzzled, to account for the eulogies bestowed on Mr. Woodhouse. We recollect but two other of our mathematical authors, who-have received un.mingled praise from the Monthly Reviewer. One of them is Mr. Professor Leslie, the critique on whose ingenious treatise on Heat was remarkably encomiastic. But this was probably the discharge of a debt of gratitude: for it is generally understood that when Mr. Leslie, dissolved his connection with the Monthly Review, on going abroad with one of the Wedgwood family, he recommended as a successor the gentleman who has since distinguished himself so highly by the want of impartiality and candour. The remaining instance, was the late Mr. Atwood, who was warmly commended, for the express purpose, it would seem, of depreciating Dr. Hutton in the comparison; and the critic afterwards acknowledged in the same Review (when speaking of the Supplement to Mr. Atwood's Dissertation on Arches) • that his former praise was misplaced, and that " if reviewers were allowed to revise their judgements he should be inclined to give a different opinion."

Mr. Hellins had published, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1802, a curious paper on the Rectification of the Hyperbola, in all cases, by means .of appropriate theorems, derived in a natural and easy manner from the properties of the curve, and of such quick convergency, as considerably facilitated the computation of hyperbolic arcs. The fair way to review this paper would have been, to compare the new serieses given by Mr. Hellins, with the serieses for the same purpose exhibited by other authors. But the Monthly Critic shifts or shuffles the business to the rectification of ellipses! Mr. Hellins chastises the arrogance of his anonymous assailant, exposes his ignoriorance and disingenuousness, refutes his falsehoods, and proves him guilty of wilful and deliberate misrepresentation. We have already extended tins article, however, much beyond our intended limits; and must therefore refer to Mr. Hellins's pamphlet, for the particulars of his defence.

These injured writers have both succeeded in demonstrating the unfairness and malignity of their judge ; and we sincerely hope the circulation of their pamphlets will be such, as topreserve their own reputation from suffering any serious damage.

With regard to the Reviewer, if he can enjoy any satisfaction, it must be from the consideration that his name and person are only probably, not demonstrably, identified". Mr. Woodhouse is a gentleman, for whose talents and acquirements as a mathematician we have high respect: we hope he will be able, by a positive and unequivocal disavowal of the articles usually ascribed to him, to show that this is not .the only kind of respect due to his character.

Lastly, these divulgations of truth should not be neglected by the proprietors of these hoary Reviews. If the cause of literature and science can be advanced, and the benefits of sound and honourable criticism demonstrated, by a Reviewer concealing some facts on which investigations rest, grossly misrepresenting others, and forming unfair combinations of particulars, for the purpose of attaching blame where it is not justly applicable; then is the critic who has excited the animadversions of Hutton, Robertson, and Hellins, admirably fitted for his employment. But if, on the contrary, Reviewers should be characterized by the strictest impartiality, if they should avoid every thing arrogant or disingenuous, and detest a wilful misrepresentation; then will the proprietors of the Monthly and Critical Reviews perceive, that in order to retain that portion of public favour which they possess, it is imperatively necessary to disclaim any farther connection with the individual, whoever he may be, that has so long persevered, with impunity, in a system of the most indefensible and unprovoked defamation". ,

Art. VII. The Fathers of the English Church, or a Selection from the Writings of the Reformers and early Protestant Divines of the Church of England. Vol. I. Containing various Tracts and Extracts from the Works of William Tindal, John Frith, Patrick Hamilton, George Joy, and Robert Barnes. With Memorials of their Lives and Writings, from Fox and Bishop Bale. 8vo. pp. xiv. 636. Price 9s. Boards, Fiatchard, Rivingtons. 1807.

()F all the illustrious periods which our history furnishes, none suggests more important reflections thantheasraof the Reformation. The history of the Christian church scarcely offers a more interesting subject of contemplation, since the time when its Divine Founder appeared among mankind. It will perhaps be worth while, in reference" to the work before us, to notice cursorily the principal features of this inestimable moral revolution, and to take a short view of its proximate causes in the characters of its immediate authors. For it is always true, that the continued agency of those means by which reformations, especially of a religious kind, were at first established, is to a certain extent necessary for their future support. And yet it is obviously the natural effect of time, with regard to all reforms, both civil and religious, to obscure the conduct and character of those who were the active instruments in producing them, as well as the mode ami order of their production.

Those who are unacquainted with the history of that period, wou.ld with difficulty believe what gross and enormous impositions were practised by the church of Rome, on the consciences and understandings of mankind. These were the result of continually increasing additions to the observances and appendages, with which mere human authority had encumbered the pure and simple religion of Christ; and were the natural offspring of the interests and fancies of men, which have the same common tendency, and operate by the same general outlines, in all ages and situations. That such abuses are not peculiar to one period pi country, nor attach themselves with greater facility to one religion than another, is e\ ident from the state of the Jews at the coming of our Saviour, when the law of Moses was overwhelmed by a corresponding load of cumbrous ceremonies, profane traditions, and perverse interpretations. The truth, as well as the importance, of this fact will appear, from a view of the causes and consequences of the two systems of corruption. In each case, the deterioration had arisen from a combination of principles; from a desire, on the part of the ruling order to advance temporal power and gratify private passions by the exercise of ecclesiastical prerogatives; and a disposition, on the part of the general body, to evade the spiritual obligations to holiness of heart and life, by a substitution of ceremonial observances.

These principles, unhappily common to human nature, are perpetual in their operation; they have been found to deface even the beginnings of reform, and when indulged have generally increased with rapidity. It is therefore of importance ever to bear in mind the firm but mild opposition, by which in this country the abuses then existing were surmounted, and the barriers which have been placed, by Our political constitution, against the erroneous system which upheld them. But the most important object of attention is, the correc-» riotl of the judgements, and the emancipation of the consciences of mankind, by the general diffusion of religious information. This revolution of public opi uion scorns to have been both essential, and effectual, to the establishment of a radical reform. The temporal encroachments of the Pope and the prelacy had long excited the indignation and resentment of our Kings; and various methods of counteraction had at different times been employed. But it is probable that these, if successful, would have gone little further than to remove the immediate evil. The spiritual oppression, although in other hands, would have remained the same, and all the abuses of doctrine and discipline would have been perpetuated, had not; opposition arisen to these also from another quarter..

Wicklilf was the first who made any spirited remonstrance against the corruptions practised in worship, and the errors which had crept into the articles of faith. He may be considered as the morning star of the reformation. Various persons continued to suffer for adhering to his opinions till the reign of Henry VIII.; when a bolder and more general attempt was made, to liberate the minds of men from the load of superstition under which they groaned.

The notice taken at the Court of Rome of Luther's vigorous, opposition to the sale of indulgences, stimulated him to a> farther exposure of its depravity. His works, being sent into this country, excited the attention of the thinking part of the nation, already, in a great measure disposed to receive and correspond to their impression. The discontent arising from the sale of indulgences had the same effect in Switzerland, and a reformation had been there set on foot by ZuingHus. The first effort of these reformers toward satislying their own minds, was to compare the popish doctrines with thescriptures; and, when they were themselves convinced, their next step was to encourage the spirit of inquiry among the people at large. In orderto facilitate this inquiry, they translated the bible, and put die rule of faith within the reach of every one who could read. The first attempt of this kind in English was made by Tindal, who printed his translation of the New Testament at Antwerp, and sent it over to England' in 1527. He also published a variety of tracts against the prevailing errors, pilgrimages, the worship of saints, relics, and images, but especially against the merit of works as a ground of justification. "These Books," says Fox, "being compiled, published, and sent over into England, it cannot be spoken what a door of light they opened to the eyes of the whole English nation, which before were many years shut up in darkness.*' Afterwards, Frith wrote on the doctrine of Pur gatory. He also first introduced in England the question of the actual presence in the Sacrament, which was not agitated here at first, owing perhaps to the books of Zuinglius and (EcoJampadius being brought over subsequent to those of l,u.hvr^

Different opinions having arisen respecting the interpretation of some of the articles in the confession of the Established Church, and the mutual bearing of the articles and liturgy on each other, it is clear that no documents of auxiliary evidence can be produced, more authentic than such as are comprised and referred to in the present work. It contains a chronological series of extracts from the writings of the first reformers, exhibiting the historical progress of those sentiments, which were ultimately modified and condensed into the public records of the English Church. It also shows, that their views of doctrine were the result of an unfeigned reception of the Gospel in their own minds, and that they were free from all interested motives in what they undertook. Their lives and doctrine will mutually illustrate each other, and prevent their being confounded with men of their own times, who joined their cause from motives less pure, or with religious views less distinct: and it will also preserve their sentiments from being identified with the tenets of men in later terms, who, adopting their general expressions, have given the sanction of their venerable names to doctrines which they virtually or expressly disavowed. »

The practical nature of these writings will make them generally useful, as they not only accurately describe that genuine Christian faith which expands itself into a life of holy obedience, but have traced the evolution of the seed into its fruits. They exhibit an actual application of the principle of love to fulfilling the law, in all relations of life. Besides, though the persecution of fire and faggot is happily over, yet the example of those who resisted it with meekness and endured it witb constancy, has still its use, while the true followers of Christ have to meet the torture of ridicule, and the weapons of calumny, more formidable and fatal to some minds than the armof the secular power. There is also another important circumstance, which the writers of that period display more clearly than is customary with those of a later date. Though the work of reformation is by many attributed wholly to the advancement of learning at the time, yet it will appear that there is a genuine and remarkable, difference between those who joined the reformed cause from mere literary motives, and such as were animated by real religious principle and sealed their testimony with their blood. Many of these men were fully sensible of the advantages of learning, and able to appreciate those advantages, as well as the great facility for diffusing it afforded by the newly discovered art of printing, which they speak of in terms of ardent gratitude;. But they knew that they were committing to this vehicle a treasure of inestimable price. We are not to involve their objects with those of the

« ПредишнаНапред »