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REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
The Religion of Mankind. In a work. It evidently bears the na
Series of Essays. By ROBERT ture of a levy en masse, rather than BURNSIDE, A. M. London: of a well disciplined army, ranged Seeley. 1819. 2 Vols. 8vo. in battle-array, under distinct and
orderly commanders. We sball This work bas deserved, and, but feel it necessary to allude to the for some circumstances beyond our frequent want of method and discontroul, would have received from tinctness, not only in the general us an earlier notice. It is one of arrangement of the work, but also, those religious labours in which what is more to be regarded, in our Dissenting brethren have vindi- the conduct of particular arguments cated their zeal in the cause of pure contained in it. The title itself and undefiled practical religion ; does not altogether coincide with and have exerted a highly re- our ideas of close definition ; such spectable share of industry and as the title to a work, if it pretends talent, for the promotion of the to any thing at all, should exhibit. best interests of mankind. The On our first taking up “ the Reliwork is indeed a high monument, gion of Mankind," unacquainted both of the philanthropy and per- with the author or his intentions, severance of the author; and we thought we had to wade through contains, in two very thick and some general discussion of religious closely prioted octavo volumes, principles, such as the liberalism the result of much thought, and of modern times would attribute to even profound nieditation, accumu- all mankind, under every modificalated no doubt through many years tion of religious faith, whether as of patient study and observant Deist or Christian; as worshippers converse with his fellow-creatures. of Jehovah, Jove, or Lord. Those, It is the rich out-pouring of a full however, who from Mr. Burnside's mind : and if the exuberaut tide title expect any such false liberality, occasionally overflows its banks, will be much mistaken. Neither and bears down the reader railer does the author mean to express by the mass, than the concentration by it those incorrector, inadeof its waters, it may still be madequate notions of religion, which, to answer the most valuable pur- on account of their generality, poses. The work, in fact, is a de- might, with somewhat better reapository from which the learner son, be denominated “ the religion and the teacher may equally derive of mankind." The object of Mr. important advantages ; and it will Burnside is, to shew the religion of be our object, before we conclude, mankind, not as it is, but as it to point out the use that may be ought to be, and according to the made of the stores of Mr. Buro- definition which he himself gives side, by those who are responsible, of it in his Introduction, where he under God, for the improvement of makes it mean one, or both, of the souls of others, as well as of two rather different things; name. tbeir own.
ly, either those general principles A considerable accumulation of of religion, which, wbether taught cogent practical remark, founded by reason and confirmed by revelaupon Christian principles, we con- tion, or taught by revelation and sider as constituting the merit of confirmed by reason, ought to con“the Religion of Mankind.” We stitute the religion of mankind; or are better pleased with it in this else simply. Christianity itself, but, view than as a regular and digested stripped of those point, on which , CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 241. E
pious men differ, and standing only prescribe the belief of the Scripin the nakedness of its essential tures; to the nominal Christian, principles, suited to the necessities their practice; and to the real beof all mankind. This explanation liever, the mode by which both way of his title is at least as obscure be strengthened and improved. To and indefinite as the title itself. the unbeliever he speaks of the vaNor can we think that the able rious convictions of reason and conwork to which it is prefixed need science, which are to be found in ed the adjunct of any paradoxical the world, independently of revelaor ambiguous title to give it cur- tion, and these he brings in confirrency. Such technicalities in the mation of the doctrines of Scripoutset could not, indeed, but be a ture. To such persons be says, detriment to a work embracing so in substance, So many and strong very wide a range ; being, in truth, are the opinions and feelings wbichi a Series of Essays, illustrative of you must admit, whether you admit the eolire grounds of Christian the Scriptures or not, that you have practice, and demonstrative of their no reason left for the rejection of agreement, when fully developed, revelation; more especially when an with the dictates of plain reason irrefragable body of external evi- . and common sense. All the rea
dence is offered in its support.
To sonings from daily experience, the the nominal recipient of the Scripanalogies of human life, the arts tures, be advances a step by shewof reproof, of tender expostulation ing the extent of the religion he or friendly counsel, are within the embraces, when he embraces that compass of such a work, and are of the Scriptures; a religion, inembraced with no mean felicity and deed, far purer and more extensive address, in the pages of Mr. Burn- than he could have been tauglit by side. His language, in the deve the conjectures of reason or the lopment of his ideas, is for the most dictates of natural conscience, but part clear, copious, and even per- yet in itself highly reasonable, as vous, though sometimes encumber- a whole, and most reasonably de. ed ; aud the author illustrates his manding to be consistently purmultiform subjects with a variety sued. Lastly, to the labouring and of figures and allusions often very aspiring Christian he points out agreeable and well chosen.
those methods by which his object The course of argument pur- may be most fully attained, and by sued by Mr. Burnside, required which he may make those advances more explanation than he has given in religion which, by the use of in bis introduction; and perhaps, proper methods, are alike within if he had simply devominated bis ihe reach of all mankind. work, with Mr. Locke, the Rea- These several classes will find in sonableness of Christianity, and the present useful volumes abun. then thoroughly explained the dant matter for serious meditation. grounds on which he intended 10'. We can scarcely tell to which they demonstrate its reasonableness, he more eminently apply; and if each might have helped the general ef- class would attentively weigh the fect better than by engaging bis judicious observations, the forcible reader, at the outset, in an unne-' appeals, the warm invitations, and cessary discussion of a title. His awful admonitions which they conobject seems to be three fold, in tain, none could rise from them reference to three several classes otherwise than impressed at least, of mankind; the unbeliever, or and we should hope convinced, pagan-lhe nominal Christian--and converted, or improved, by the ihe true one. He presents himself author's arguments. indiscriminately to all, clad in the That Mr. Buroside has, in fact, panoply of the Christian faith. To attempted something like an are the infidel he is not backward to rangement of his subject, with a view to meet the several classes of gion of mankind;" yet we cannot persons above described, will ap. disagree with any arrangement that pear from the foilowing passage; places this doctrine foremost; since in which also occurs something like an entire practical conviction of a a confession of the imperfection of future immortality, if rightly traced his arrangement.
out into its consequences and ap« This religion I wish to illustrate plied to the heart and conscience, and apply in a series of Essays, which,
must carry with it many of those though apparently detached, 'are yet practical effects which it is the connected with each other. The first object of Christian moralists to four are preliminary; for without the produce. establishment of the positions which In the first of these Essays, the they contain, religion could have nei- evidence of the future state is colther importance nor even existence. lected both from the “ almost uniIn a considerable number of those that versal sentiment of mankind,” which -follow, my object is to explode
the false cannot reasonably be accounted for ideas of piety which are too prevalent by collusion or imposture; and in the world. The next class of them from the sacred Scriptures (allowcontains a reply to the many plausible 'excuses that are made for the want of ing them to be true), which place personal religion. Afterwards, direc. it in various lights, and prove it tions and encouragements are given to beyond all denial. An addition those who are solicitons concerning their is there spoken of as made by the eternal welfare. The concluding ones Scriptures to the doctrine of the -are addressed to the truly pious, accordo resurrection, as surmised by natuing to the varions relations and circom.
ral reason-pamely, that there shall stances in which they may be placed.- be a resurrection of the body as Such are the general purposes of the well as of the soul; and this, again, arrangement, though it is possible that is supported by an appeal to reathe Essays may not always follow cach other iu exactorder." Vol. I. pp. vii, viii.
son and the analogy of nature. The
doctrine of a separate state is then But, it is time that we should hinted at, both as a doctrine of turn from these too protracted re- Scripture and quite agreeable to marks on the structure of the work reason and feeling. And the Esto the work itself. The first four say concludes with the various imEssays exhibit a connecied series on pressions produced on the minds one subject, properly considered as of men by a partial, as well as those fundamental to all religious prace which might be produced by a rice; namely, the reality of a fu- full, contemplation of the subject. ture state the nature of that We think tliere is a needless restate-the danger of future mi- finement in this Essay, in alluding - sery- and the attainableness of to the Scriptures rather as a book future felicity. In placing the deserving attention than as dedoctrine of a future life at the manding belief. Surely the wbole threshold of his work, Mr. Burn- weight of their testimony to a fuside follows the example of Bishop ture state depends upon their being Butler, in his Analogy: and though inspired : or at least, if we strengthit is true that the nature and attri- en the argument for their authority butes of God, and the duties of by extracting from them a doctrine man, right have been revealed which agrees with the common sense willioul a distinct reference to of mankind, we must not turn again futurity, as Bishop Warburton and and assert the agreeableness of the others bave strongly contended doctrine to common sense upon was the case in the Jewish code ; the authorityof the Sacred Volume. and though, on the other hand, a This would be arguing in a circle, future life is by no means the only without coming nearer the truth. fundamental article iu the “reli- The present and three following Essays contain a number of most universal, since the existence of a future useful, and often striking, observa. state was alınost universally admitted. tions on the future state, its joys Besides the great mass of the public and sorrows, the attainableness of in different countries, by far the greater the one, and our liability to the part, I believe, of the learned, the other. After describing a future the old opinion ; nor do I see any rea
philosophical, and the virtuous, retain state as naturally the grandest, the
son why they should depart from it. most splendid, and the most de. That a body is not necessary to the ex: lectable of all objects, and account. istence, the activity, or the capacity ing for the result, in fact, of reflect- of a spirit, either for enjoyment or ing upon it being usually languor, suffering, cannot be doubted, withont indifference, oraversion; Mr. Buru: doubting at the same time the existence side proceeds to account for a middle not only of angels good or bad, but the sort of feeling, a kind of spurious being of a God.” Vol. I. p. 9. pleasure which some persons take
Again : in this vast contemplation.
“ However insensible the soul may be “ On this ground, it is more than
contended to be of the long interval questionable whether the serenity, death, and awaking at the last day, the
elapsing between its falling asleep at courage, and even pleasure, with which
survivor on earth is fully aware of the some contemplate the life to come, and the expectation of quickly exchanging interval ; and, if be be a man of piety,
will feel both his consolation and his the present life for it, be not the effect rather of ignorance and presumption, bythe idea of pious relatives and friends
spiritual improvement much diminished, than of reason and reflection. They being after their decease so long detainsee themselves advancing towards a
ed from the bliss that awaits them. The foreign shore, without apprehension, perhaps with eager desire and even
apprehension of such a delay is adapted transport, particularly if their vessel,
to cast a gloom over the mind of the having been long violently tossed and dying saint himself. As to the wicked, dreadfully shattered, seenis almost on
it may easily be conceived that the idea the point of sinking. They think of of having their punishment so long dethe evils they shall escape, not of the ferred, however incapable they may be evils as great, if not grealer, wbich they
of enjoying the interval from upconmay have to encounter on landing
sciousness of it, will dispel a part of They fancy they shall fiud a country
the horror of their situation, since they as agreeable and advantageous as their
are glad to calch, at the least twig for own, if not far better, and that a kind protection, and to fly to the merest reception from the Ruler awaits them; sbadow for comfort.” Vol. I. pp. 10,11. when in tratb the manners and delights The animated speculations on of the new region may prove hostile the joys of heaven, in the second to their feelings, and, considering what Essay, we would gladly extract but has happened before between thein and
for their expansion : we shall also its Sovereigo, they may possibly ex. perience' a dungeon and punishment."
omit their counterpart, in the deVol. I. p. 15.
scription of the sufferings of the Two previous observations, on the lost. Both are wound up with the reality of a separate and sentient following remarks. state of the soul after death, might
“ There may be, in fine, sources of be well worthy the consideration misery, as well as of happiness, with of those who doubt the doctrine on
which we are totally unacquainted, and
which it is possible that the Deity may the grounds of certain alleged im
see it necessary hereafter to open for possibilities.
the punishment of sin. The joy of “Since all had been ignorant of a your Lord,' and, on the other hand, resurrection..the doctrine of the soul's i the wrath of God,'together with many surviving the body at death, of its con- other phrases used in the Bible, seem tinuing to exercise its power, and of to indicate that this will actually be the its retaining its sensibility in a separate case. But in speaking of the punishstate, most, before the Christian era, ment of the wicked, I have chosen to have experienced a reception almost . contine the statement chiefly to the
withboldment of good on the part of important topics, orthodox the Deity, and the want of his inter. Christian), holding that class of ference to prevent or
opinions which, we know not with The account, on this limited plan, is what propriety, has been denomisufficiently alarming; and its reasona. bleuess or credibility is less liable to be
naled moderate Calvinism; but, called io question by those who believe with a largeness of mind we should at all the existence of future misery. have expected as almost necessary With regard to those who treat the to his plan, virtually placing all idea itself as ntterly improbable and mankind within the reach of this even absurd, I must observe once salvation, as much as if no partimore, that they oppose not only the cular decree existed on the subject. Bible, but the general opinion of mankiud both in civilized and in uncivi- how exactly two sensible minds
The following passage will shew lized countries, thought the idea of a delnge that should bere meet at the same practical destroy nearly the whole human race, point, though selting out from repugnant to the Divine mercy: yet it opposite directions. Every person came to pass, natwithstanding their knows Bishop Butler to have been immense namber. It is probable, that no Calvinist. His celebrated chapthe present sufferings individuals and
ter on “ Necessity, as influencing nations, especially in some cases, would Practice,” admitting, for the sake be treated as chimeras on the same account, of argument, the doctrine of necesif they existed only in prediction, and not sity, proves that it can properly in reality.” Vol. 1. pp. 44, 45.
have no influence on a man's acThis reasoning is abundantly tions; and Mr. Burnside, when he confirmed in the Essay, which fol
comes to enumerate the sources of lows, on the danger of future misery; fear lest we lose our endeavours where, with a most successful ap- afier future felicity, has the folpeal to the analogy of human pro- lowing remarks. ceedings, the various classes of mankind are fearfully pointed out, “ Ope ground of fear is, the fact who, in spite of all arts of self. contaiued in Scripture of some being deception, may be considered as chosen and predestinated to salvation, in danger of incurring banishment while others are represented as being
no less peremptorily' ordained of old from the presence of God: and
to condemnation. Hence the appremore particularly, the hopes, de
hension of some individuals is, that rived from the mild mercies of they may possibly be in the number of the Gospel of Christ, are strong- tire" reprobate, in which case no ex. ly turned against those who use ertion or self-denial ou tbeir part could them as an encouragement to sin; avail them in the least. It is, however, and are made to appear their most as possible that they may not be of that alarming aggravation of guilt.
awful number; and why should they, The fourth Essay exhibits more
by neglecting to 'flee for refuge to the prominently the Christian system: which wonld not otherwise exist, of
hope set before them,' furnishi a proof and here Mr. Burnside seems to
that hope not being intended for them? have forgotten all his argumentative Where persons are really apprehenscruples, in 100 soou making use sive of some great evil ready to borst of the infallibility of the Scriptures, upon them, it is usual for them prompt. when he comes to prove ihe at- ly to improve to the utmost any mealainableness of future felicity, and sure of safety that may present itself, to find, that nothing can establish and not to waste their time in considerit escept the hopes of an atoning their escape.
ing how many chances there are against sacrifice and propitiated Deity:
“Another ground of discouragement a renewing Spirit, and salvation by relative to the pursuit of eternal salvagrace. These points are drawn
tion and happiness is, that the existout, if not in the most logical, yet ence of real piety originates in the in a very edifying, 'manner. The power and good pleasure of the Deity ; author shews bimself, on the above froin which fact it is iuferred, that all