« VorigeDoorgaan »
" with that odd resolution I learned of Tertullian, “ Certum est, quia impoffibile eft.-I am thankful that I “ lived not in the days of miracles, &c.” Rel. Med.
Tillotson, judging that the Papifts would make an ill use of this, and scuh passages as this, in Protestant writers, was willing to pass a gentle animad. version
it. Sir Kenelm Digby, a Roman Catholic, who criticises several things in the Religio Medici, yet gives his loud approbation to these pious fallies. “ I am extremely pleased with him, when he saith, there are not impossibilities enough in religion, for an active faith, &c.” Extremely pleased, without question ; and full of hopes, that this young author might at last unreason himself into' implicit belief; and go over to a church, which would feed his hungry faith with a fufficient quantity of impoffibilities.
Tendimus in Latium!
Amongst many things, which may be mentioned in favour of Tillotson, this should not be forgotten; that of those who have passed their judg. ments upon him, there never was a son of ab. furdity who did not dislike, or a sensible reader who did not approve his writings. If a person were to offer himself a candidate for honest reputațion, what could he wish and hope more, than to share Tillotfon's fate; and to find the fame cen
surers, and the same defenders ?. Yet it hath been said of this great and good man, that his spirits were in some degree broken, and his health impaired, by the insults and calumnies of petulant adversaries. •If it be true, it is a melancholy instance of human infirmity, and a proof that a little Stoicism and Socratism is a desirable possession. To forgive enemies, though difficult to many, was easy to him, affifted as he was by good-nature, and by religion: but to despise their attacks, was a task rather too hard for his gentle temper and sensibility; so that, in this respect, and under these disadvantages, he was not a match for men, who could neither blush nor feel.
“ A man's good name, says he, is a tender thing; and a wound there sinks deep into the spirit even of a wise and good man: and the more innocent any man is in this kind, the more sensible he is of this hard usage; because he never treats others so, nor is he conscious to himself that he hath deserved it.” Vol. II. Serm. XLII.
Every thing, they say, hath two handles. When Socrates was under sentence of death, Xanthippé took on bitterly; and refusing comfort, cried, “O, my husband! what grieves me most is, that these wicked judges should treat an innocent man thus, and condemn thee unjustly, and for nothing at all.” “ Wife !” said he, “ why should that grieve thee? Hadst thou rather then, that they had condemned me juftly?”
The reverence which the Jeúvs had for their facred books, preserved those most ancient of all records, and along with them the knowledge of the Hebrew language. But the Christians, who had the same veneration for the OLD TESTAMENT, have contributed, more than the Jews themselves, to secure and to explain thoie books, as they had indeed more advantages and greater helps. The Christians in ancient times collected and preserved the Greek versions of those Scriptures, particularly that of the Septuagint, and translated the originals into Latin. They preserved copies of the works of Josephus, which were little esteemed by the Jews-but which help to confirm and explain the facred books, and cast a light upon the Jewish history: and Christian critics and commentators, such as Capel. lus, Bochart, Grotius, Le Clerc, Vitringa, and many others, have beyond measure furpassed the 5
Jewish Doctors in illustrating and defending the Holy Scriptures.
The keys of learning are the learned languages, and a grammatical and critical skill in them.
We cannot at present want Greek commentaries * on the Scriptures, being so plentiful'y supplied with English ones.
It was the study of the Scriptures which excited Christians from early times to the study of Chronology sacred and secular: and here much knowledge of biftory, and some skill in astronomy, were needful.
The New TestAMENT, being written in Greek, caused Christians to apply themselves also to the study of that most copious and beautiful language. Christianity, at first, and for a considerable time, was violently opposed and assaulted by the Jews and Gentiles. But this Evil was compensated by many Advantages : It was opposition which excited the Christians to justify their own cause, and to confute their adversaries, the Jewish Doctors, and the learned Gentiles; to expose the absurdities of Jewish traditions, the weakness of Paganism, and the imperfections and insufficiency of Philofophy.
* Thick as autumnal leaves, that frow the brooks
Milt. Par. Lost. I. 302
For this purpose Jewish and Pagan literature were necessary, and what we call Philology, or Classical Erudition: and thus the Christians became in learning superior to the Pagans; and, in point of style and composition, as good writers as they, both in Latin and in Greek.
To the Gospel then, and to those who embraced it, are due our grateful acknowledgements for the Learning that is at present in the world. The Infidels educated in Christian countries owe what Learning they have to Christianity; and act the part of those Brutes, which, when they have sucked the dam, turn about, and, (as Plato sàys to his disciple Aristotle), apodanno 2018, -Strike her. It is fit that we should be sometimes put in mind of this, for we have been strangely apt to forget it. **
As Religion hath been the chief preserver of Erudition, so erudition hath not been ungrateful to her patroness, but hath contributed largely to the support of religion. The useful expofitions of the Scriptures, the sober and sensible defences of revelation, the faithful representation of pure and undefiled Christianity; these have been the works of learned, judicious, and industrious men. The corruptions of the Gospel, the perverse interpretations and absurd senses put upon the word of God,
Some names, of great celebrity, might here be adduced: the judicious reader however can be at no loss, either to recoilect, or to forget them. They have forgotten themselves.