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which (in an Appendix written after his having feen Mr. Crawford's publication, while his own performance was at the press), he praises the work of a man, who, in point of time, had anticipated him in the publication of a capital discovery; and had thereby robbed him of a part, at least, of the glory which he expected to derive from it.
Such instances are rare among philosophers; and, in the prefent case, are sufficient to cover a greater mulitude of fins (againft philosophy) than are to be met with in this perform
ART. VIII The Evidence of Reajin in Proof of the Immortality of the Soul, independent on the more abAruse Inquiry into the Nature of Matter and Spirit. Collecied from the Manuscripts of Mr. Baxter, Author of the Inquiry into ihe Nature of the human soul, and of Matho. To which is pressed, a Letter from the Editor to the Rev. Dr.
Priestley. 8vo. 7 5. bound. Cadell. 1779. THOSE who are acquainted with, and admire, the meta
physical writings of the late Mr. Baxter, will think the world much obliged to Dr. Duncan for the present publication ; and for rescuing from oblivion the papers which he left behind him : in which he had collected together such proofs of the immortality of the human soul, as were independent on the metaphysical subtleries concerning its essence, its materiality or immateriality. In a prefatory letter, addressed to Dr. Priestley by the editor, the latter gives an account of the circumstances by which he was enabled, and induced, to preserve these remains of a respectable writer, and to methodile and arrange them in such a manner as to render them fit for the inspection of the public.
Upon the rise of the late controversy concerning the materi. ality of the soul, Dr. Duncan conceived a defice of offering his sentiments on the subject. He wilhed, however, to see the public attention diverted from a metaphysical dispute, which, in the opinion of fome, threatened great mischief to the moral world; though, in the judgment of others equally well intentioned, no prejudice was likely to ensue, either to religion or morals, from such a controversy; of which scarce one in twenty of those, who, at this day, pass for learned men, have ever properly considered the first principles.'-In short, he studied to place in a clear and striking light, the arguments which natural reason suggests in proof of a life to come, from the faculties of the human mind; from the moral law, written by the finger of God in the heart of man, and the voice of conscience, enforcing our observance of it; from the relation in which we stand to the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the universe; from his known perfections, in short; considered respectively to the present state of his intelligent subjects upon earth.”
While he was engaged in preparing for the press, a treatise composed on this plan, Alexander Baxter, Elg; of Odiham, Hants, the worthy son of the late Mr. Baxter, was pleased to put into his hands a collection of manuscripts upon the fame subject, written, at different times, by his late father.-- This fortunate incident,' says the Editor, has enabled me to profecute my design, with a prospect of better success, by arranging and digesting his arguments into a form somewhat more regular and conclufive than bis last lingering illness had permitted him to do himself.'
The intention of the late Mr. Baxter to publish the papers which Dr. Duncan has here collected and methodised, appears from the following passage, contained in a letter annexed to the end of this work, written about fix weeks before bis death (which happened in March 1750), and addressed to John Wilkes, Esq.
“ I own, if it had been the will of heaven, I would have gladly lived, till I had put in order the second part of the Inquiry, Thewing the immortality of the human soul: but infinite wisdom cannot be mistaken in calling me sooner. Our blindness makes us form wishes. I have left seven or eight manuScript books, where all the materials I have been collecting, for near thirty years, are put down, without any order, in the book that came next to hand, in the place or circumstances I was in at the time. — There are a great many miscellaneous subjects in philosophy, of a very serious nature, few of them ever conlidered before, as I know of. But (as I hinted above) a short time of separate existence, will make every good man look with pity on the deepest refearches we make here, and which we are ape to be vain of."
From the Editor's address to the reader, it appears, that no part of these writings, except that which constitutes the first section of this performance, was esteemed fit for the public inspection, in its original form; and that throughout all the rest, it was found indispensably necessary to cast anew many passages, to lop redundancies in some, and to fupply deficiencies in others, He elsewhere observes, and with some justice, that the style and manner, though retouched throughout, where it was most requisite, may probably still appear to many readers rather uncouth and dry; and that to these, a lighter work, in a more fashionable garb, and less replete with folid sense, might have been more entertaining. It is unhappily,' he observes, in that more acceptable form, that such readers commonly receive the poison, against which the proper antidote is here administered without disguise, or specious colouring.'
After having given this history of the origin, &c. of the present publication, we shall confine ourselves to the forming a
short summary of its contents; after premising, that the arguments contained in it are not of the metaphysical and abstracted kind, but are founded chiefly on observations more level to common apprehension, or which come home to men's bosoms. Af. ter proving the existence of a first caute, infinite in goodness, wisdom, and all other perfections, the Author proceeds to thew that, if the human soul were mortal, our existence would be • a thing without design, irrelative, incomplete :'—that the immortality of the soul is indicated by the natural affections of man, or by the nature of his rational pleasures, and by that of the infinitely rational being who is the Author of the soul :that, on the supposition of the soul's mortality, many things confessedly unreasonable to be practised become reasonable, because consistent with the present nature and constitution of man; and, on the other hand, the perfection and improvement of reason becomes irrational, on the fame supposition :-- that man, by the nature and constitution of his body, and in every
condition of life, is susceptible of more pain than pleasure; and that therefore, on the hypothesis of the mortality of the soul, we are brought into being, to be inevitably miserable while we exift, and then fink back into nothing ;-a proposition that contradicts that fundamental truth, the existence of an infinitely good being that the fuppofition of the mortality of the foul is lubversive of morality, or incompatible with the right rule of action :--and that the prepoffeffion that we shall always exist, or always continue conscious of our existence, is inseparable from the constitution of human nature; this belief influencing, more or less, the sentiments and actions of all men, even those not excepted who affect to maintain the negative *.
These are the principal topics, delivered nearly in the Author's own language, that are, very copiously, discussed in this performance; which carries the most convincing internal evidence of its being the production of the ingenious and worthy Author of the Enquiry into the Nature of the human soul; to which
On this head, the Editor takes notice of the remarkable incon, fiftency between two passages, extracted from a late work of a cele. braced biliorian.---"Several tribes have been discovered in America," lays the celebrated Dr. R bertion, « which have no idea whatever of a Supreme Being, and no rites of religious worthip.” (Hift of America, B. IV. p. 381.] • Let the reflecting reader compare this with the following passage from the same elegant writer, and judge of their confiltency. “ We can trace this opinion (of the immortaliry of the loul) írom one extremity of America to the other; in some regions, more faint and obscure, in others, more perfectly develope ed, but nowhere unknown. The most uncivilised of its savage tribes do not apprehend death as the extinction of being. All hope for a cuiure and more happy face."--Ibid. p. 387.
the present publication forms an excellent, though perhaps rather too bulky an appendix.
ART. IX. Elays Moral and Literary. By the Rev. Mr. Knox,
Matter of Tunbridge School, and late Fellow of St. John's Col. lege, Oxford. Vol. II. Small 8vo. 3 s. 6 d. sewed. Dilly, 1779. Tis, perhaps, a proof of his modesty, that this ingenious and
agreeable writer has not aspired to an higher rank in the scale of Authorship, than Esay-writing, in its present exhausted ftate, can possibly raise him to. The first volume + of Elays moral and literary, displayed a justness of thinking and an elegance of expression, which we wished to see directed to the elucidation of some particular and interesting subject, instead of being scattered over many. To reclaim one acre from the waste, and to bring it under cultivation, is of greater utility than to bestow the same portion of toil on ninety and nine that are already manured by art and industry.-On subjects that lie level to common observation (and to these the Essayist is chiefly confined), what is left us in this late age but to repeat what has been often repeated, and to exprets that which has been expressed a thousand times before? The skill, indeed, of placing received truths in new lights, and of clothing them in sprightly and graceful language, implies a secondary kind of merit which ought not to be undervalued. And this skill and this merit some celebrated writings of the periodical form have aimed at and have attained: but even here the hope of success is daily leffening; and with all the praise that is due to Mr. Knox's Erlays, we may be allowed to fufpect, that had they been published periodically, i. e, SEPARATELY, they would have attracted no great share of the public notice. If, however, in the second volume of this Gentleman's detached performances, now before us, his readers be not much enlightened by any discoveries of what is new, nor much enlivened by any uncommon turns given to what is known, they may at least reap an innocent pleasure from the perusal of just sentiments, clothed in polished language.
The subjects discussed in this volume are the following:
On Essay Writing. Clallical Education vindicated. Strictures on Modern Ethics. On the Retirement of a Country Town. On Epiftolary Writers. On the Happiness of Domestic Life. On the Merits of Cowley as a Poet. Letters the Source of Consolation. On Oriental Poetry, particularly that of Isaiah. On the Principles of Conversation. On the Grave and Gay Philosophy. On the Pleasures of a Garden. The Story
+ For an account of Mr. Knox's firit volume, see our Review, vol. lviii. p. 136. The Author's name was not then printed with his work,
of a Student. On Satire and Satirists. On Preaching, and Sermon Writers. On Logic and Metaphysics. On Latin Verse as an Exercise at Schools. On Novel Reading. On Monumental Inscriptions. On the Character of Atticus. On Biography. On Hospitality, and the little Civilities of Life. On the Merits of Illustrious Birth. On Lord Chançellor Bacon. On the Professions. On Simplicity of Style in Prosaic Composition. On Affectation of the Character of Sporlf
On some of the Minor English Poets. On the Necesiity of Attention to Things as well as Books. On the Amusement of Music. On the choice of Books. On the Influence of Fashion. On Female Literature. On Parental Indulgence. On the ill Effects of proving by Argument Truths already admitted. On Affectation of Female Learning. On Speculative Criticism, and on Genius. On the Superior Value of Solid Accomplishments. On the Propriety of adorning Life by some laudable Exertion,
These Efsays take in so large a compass of discussion, and the subjects of them lie so wide of each other, that it is no easy matter to ascertain their separate merits, and utterly impossible to enter into them with minuteness. We shall just observe, that those of a moral caft evidently flow from a heart warmly attached to the interests of society and the cause of virtue. The fixth Essay, in particular, · On the Happiness of domestic Life,' cannot fail of impressing the Readers with an amiable prejudice in favour of its Author, and with a consequent belief that he is in private life what Pope describes Mr. Gay to have been,
“ Of manners gentle, of affections mild.” The sentiments contained in it are certainly not new; but can we expect novelty on this subject? or would it be for the honour of human nature that novelty thould be found on a theme like this?
In Essay VIII. we are presented with a series of reflections which may serve as a comment on an elegant passage in the Preface to this volume. Mr. Knox there tells us, that 'in what. ever manner his book shall be received, he will not think the time loft that was spent in composing it, since it was passed at least innocently, and furnifhed a sweet relief in those moments of sorrow which are occasionally the lot of all who feel and think, and from which he has not been exempted.' The arguments by which he proves · Letters the source of Confolation' will readily recommend themselves to men of taste and sensibility. The superiority which the pursuits of literature enjoy over those of interest or ambition, is a favourite topic with the fons of learning. In Javishing all their eloquence upon it, they fometimes forget that they make themselves judges in their own cause; and that in the sentence they pronounce, pride and vanity will be suspected