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withstanding the anxiety of Mrs. Jones for the improvement of her son, and her indefatigable exertions to promote it in his early years, she had initiated him no further in the principles of our holy faith, than to teach him the Lord's Prayer and Apostles' Creed. During his residence at Harrow, at the earnest recommendation of Dr. Glasse, whose name I mention with reverence, Mr. Jones was induced to peruse a work, intitled, “ Private Thoughts on Religion,” by Bishop Beveridge, with considerable attention ; and he was particularly struck with a passage, in which the pious author argues, that a profession of Christianity merely because our countrymen profess it, without a candid enquiry and sincere conviction, would be no better reason for our faith, than the Mohammedans have for theirs. The observation readily suggested to his recollection a famous couplet in Zayre, which he did not hesitate to apply to himself:
J'eusse été près du Gange, esclave des faux dieux,
I wish for my own satisfaction, as well as that of my reader, that I were able to pronounce what impression the perusal of this work made upon the mind of Mr. Jones. It is probable, and the presumption is not advanced without reason, that it induced him to reflect with more seriousness than he had ever before entertained on the subject of religion, and to investigate the grounds on which the Old and New Testament had been received, during so many ages, as the Word of God. It is evident however, from a conversation with two of his clerical friends at Harrow at this time, when he was in his twenty-fourth year, that his belief in Christianity was not unmixed with doubts. These doubts were stated by him, in hopes of obtaining a solution of them; but being disappointed, he declared his determination to peruse the whole of the Scriptures in the original uninterruptedly, that he might be enabled to form a correct judgment ment of the connection between the two parts, and of their evidence both internal and external. The exposition of his doubts to those whom he thought qualified to solve them, was a proof of his anxiety to know the truth; and the determination which he formed in consequence of his disappointment, is no less a proof of his sincerity in the search of it. I cannot deny myself the satisfaction of anticipating the conclusion to which his investigation led, a firm belief in the authenticity and inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. *
In a Hebrew copy of the book of Hosea, I find a series of Propositions in the hand-writing of Mr. Jones, containing the sketch of a demonstration of the divine authority of the Christian Religion. These Propositions appear to have been written near the period of the preceding conversation at Harrow. They are not expressed with such accuracy or elegance, as to justify a supposition that they were intended to be made public; but as I know that he always considered the demonstration contained in them satisfactory, I exhibit them as evidence of his early conviction of the truth and completion of the prophecies respecting our Saviour.
PROPOSITION I. w
There is as much reason to believe, that the writings of Isaiah and the Hebrew Prophets, as that those of Homer and the Greek Poets, are more ancient than the time of Jesus. - .
Objection. Some men might have an interest in forging Isaiah.' - - * :
Answer. Forged writings would have been more in point. Those of Isaiah bear no marks of forgery; and the Jews themselves, who were puzzled by them, acknowledged their antiquity,
These ancient writings, especially Isaiah, allude to some great event, and to some real extraordinary person, “who was put to “death, and complained not;” &c. Isaiah, chap. liii.
The life and death of Jesus, his virtues and doctrines, though not his miracles, are as much to be believed, as the life and death of Socrates, his virtues, and his doctrine.
No person in the history of the Jews, before or after Jesus, coincides with this account, except Jesus. Therefore Jesus was the subject of their writings, which are con
sequently inspired, and he a person of an extraordinary nature, that is, the Messiah.
If this be just reasoning, we may believe his miracles, and must obey his law. If difficulties occur, and we are asked, “how they can be solved,” we may safely answer, “We do not know ;” yet we may truly be, and justly be called Christians.
To these Propositions, the following note is subjoined:—“What “must be the importance of a book,” of which it may be truly said, “if this book be not true, the religion which we profess is “false?”
Mr. Jones returned with his pupil from Harrow, in the Autumnal vacation of 1769, and availed himself of this opportunity to visit his friends at Oxford. During his residence there, he made an excursion to Forest Hill, the occasional habitation of Milton; - * - for for whose genius and learning, he early and ever entertained the highest veneration. The public will read with pleasure his own relation of what he saw and felt on this occasion, in an animated letter which he wrote to Lady Spencer.
To Lady SPENCER. • 7th Sept. 1769: The necessary trouble of correcting the first printed sheets of my history, prevented me to-day from paying a proper respect to the memory of Shakespeare, by attending his jubilee. But I was resolved to do all the honour in my power to as great a poet, and set out in the morning in company with a friend to visit a place, where Milton spent some part of his life, and where, in all probability, he composed several of his earliest productions. It is a small village situated on a pleasant hill, about three miles from Oxford, and called Forest Hill, because it formerly lay contiguous to a forest, which has since been cut down. The poet chose this place of retirement after his first marriage, and he describes the beauties of his retreat in that fine passage of his L'Allegro: Sometime walking, not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,
* # * * * *
While the ploughman, near at hand,
. . . . . Mountains, on whose barren breast,
Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes,
It was neither the proper season of the year, nor time of the day, to hear all the rural sounds, and see all the objects mentioned in this description; but, by a pleasing concurrence of circumstances, we were saluted, on our approach to the village, with the music of the mower and his scythe ; we saw the ploughman intent upon his labour, and the milkmaid returning from her country employment.
As we ascended the hill, the variety of beautiful objects, the agreeable stillness and natural simplicity of the whole scene, gave us the highest pleasure. We at length reached the spot, whence Milton undoubtedly took most of his images; it is on the top of the hill, from which there is a most extensive prospect on all sides: the distant mountains that seemed to support the clouds, the villages and turrets, partly shaded with trees of the finest verdure, and partly raised above the groves that surrounded them, the dark plains and meadows of a greyish colour, where the sheep were feeding at large, in short, the view of the streams and rivers, convinced us that there was not a single useless or idle word in the above-mentioned description, but that it was a most exact and lively representation of nature. Thus will this fine passage, which has always been admired for its elegance, receive an additional beauty from its exactness. After we had walked, with a kind of • - poetical