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tempt; and in one of his prefaces we find the following language: 'Know, reader, that you have to do with a person who, provided his words but clearly express the sentiments of his mind, entertains a fixed and absolute disregard of all elegance and ornament of speech.' His diction is, for the most part, dry, heavy, and pointless, and his ideas are seldom brought out with powerful effect. Robert Hall entertained a decided antipathy to the writings of this celebrated divine. 'I can not think how you like Dr. Owen,' said he to the great Dr. Mason of New York. 'I can not read him with any patience. I never read a page of Dr. Owen, sir, without finding some confusion in his thoughts, either a truism or a contradiction in terms.' 'Sir, he is a Dutchman, floundering in a continent of mud.' His works afford no passages suited, as literary performances, to our purpose.
RALPH CUDWORTH, a worthy contemporary of the divines last mentioned, was the son of the rector of Aller, in Somersetshire, and was born in that town, in 1617. He had the misfortune to lose his father before he had reached the seventh year of his age; but his mother afterwards married Dr Stoughton, by whom Cudworth was brought up, and educated with every possible degree of care and attention. At the age of thirteen he was admitted pensioner of Emanuel College, Cambridge, and there remained until he had taken his master's degree; after which, being chosen fellow of his col lege, he remained attached to the university, and became a very eminent tutor. Having taken orders, he was, in 1640, presented to the rectory of North Cadbury, in Somersetshire, and soon after his literary career commenced. In 1644, Cudworth was appointed master of Clare-Hall, Cambridge, and the year following, regius professor of the Hebrew language. He now abandoned his ministerial function entirely, and henceforth applied himself exclusively to academical employments and studies. In 1651, he took the degree of doctor of divinity, and three years afterwards was chosen master of Christ's College, Cambridge, a situation in which he passed the remainder of his life, proving highly serviceable both to the university and to the church of England. His death occurred on the twenty-sixth of June, 1688, and he was buried in the chapel of the college over which he had so long presided.
Dr. Cudworth's principal work is entitled, The True Intellectual System of the Universe, and was published in 1678. It was designed as a refutation of the atheistical tenets which at that time extensively prevailed in England, and which had been so successfully inculcated by Hobbes. The argument of the work is based on the three following principles: First, that all things in the world do not float without a head and governor; but that there is a God, an omnipotent understanding being, presiding over all. Secondly, that this God being essentially good and just, there is something in its own nature immutably and eternally just and unjust; and not by arbitrary will, law, and command only. And lastly, that we are so far forth principles or masters of our own actions, as to be accountable to justice for
them, or to make us guilty and blameworthy for what we do amiss, and to deserve punishment accordingly.' From these positions it will be perceived that Dr. Cudworth maintains, first, the existence of a natural and everlasting distinction between justice and injustice; and, secondly, the freedom of the human will. In sustaining these positions, he displays a vast amount of erudition, and that rare degree of candor which prompts a controversialist to give a full statement of the opinions and arguments which he designs to refute. Besides those published, Dr. Cudworth left a number of works in manuscript, among which are, A Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality, A Treatise on Moral Good and Evil, A Treatise on Liberty and Necessity, A Treatise on the Creation of the World, and the Immortality of the Soul, A Treatise on the Learning of the Hebrews, and A Treatise on Hobbes's Notions concerning the Nature of God and the Extension, of Spirits, all of which are preserved in the British Museum. Cudworth's style is easy and perspicuous, and well adapted to philosophical disquisition, as will appear from the following specimen:
GOD, THOUGH INCOMPREHENSIBLE, NOT INCONCEIVABLE.
It doth not at all follow, because God is incomprehensible to our finite and narrow understandings, that he is utterly inconceivable by them, so that they can not frame any idea of him at all, and he may therefore be concluded to be a nonentity. For it is certain that we can not comprehend ourselves, and that we have not such an adequate and comprehensive knowledge of the essence of any substantial thing as that we can perfectly master and conquer it. It was a truth, though abused by the skeptics, akatalepton ti, something incomprehensible in the essence of the lowest substances. For even body itself, which the atheists think themselves so well acquainted with, because they can feel it with their fingers, and which is the only substance that they acknowledge either in themselves or in the universe, hath such puzzling difficulties and entanglements in the speculation of it, that they can never be able to extricate themselves from. We might instance, also, in some accidental things, as time and motion. Truth is bigger than our minds, and we are not the same with it, but have a lower participation only of the intellectual nature, and are rather apprehenders than comprehenders thereof. This is indeed one badge of our creaturely state, that we have not a perfectly comprehensive knowledge, or such as is adequate and commensurate to the essences of things; from whence we ought to be led to this acknowledgment, that there is another Perfect Mind or Understanding Being above us in the universe from which our imperfect minds were derived, and upon which they do depend. Wherefore, if we can have no idea or conception of any thing, whereof we have not a full and perfect comprehension, then can we not have an idea or conception of the nature of any substance. But though we do not comprehend all truth, as if our mind were above it, or master of it, and can not penetrate into, and look quite through the nature of every thing, yet may rational souls frame certain ideas and conceptions, of whatsoever is in the orb of being proportionate to their own nature, and sufficient for their purpose. And though we can not fully comprehend the Deity, nor exhaust the infiniteness of its perfection, yet may we have an idea of a Being absolutely perfect; such a one as is nostro modulo conformis, agreeable and proportionate to our measure and scantling; as we may approach near to a mountain, and touch it with our hands, though we can not encompass it all around, and enclasp it within our arms. Whatsoever is in its own nature
absolutely unconceivable is nothing; but not whatsoever is not fully comprehensible by our imperfect understandings.
It is true, indeed, that the Deity is more incomprehensible to us than any thing else whatsoever, which proceeds from the fullness of its being and perfection, and from the transcendency of its brightness; but for the very same reason may it be said also in some sense, that it is more knowable and conceivable than any thing. As the sun, though by reason of its excessive splendour it dazzles our weak sight, yet is it, notwithstanding, far more visible also than any of the nebulosa stella-the small misty stars. Where there is more of light there is more of visibility; so, where there is more of entity, reality, and perfection, there is more of conceptibility and cognoscibility; such a thing filling up the mind more, and acting more strongly upon it. Nevertheless, because our weak and imperfect minds are lost in the vast immensity and redundancy of the Deity, and overcome with its transcendent light and dazzling brightness, therefore hath it to us an appearance of darkness and incomprehensibility; as the unbounded expansion of light, in the clear transparent ether, hath to us the apparition of an azure obscurity; which yet is not an absolute thing in itself, but only relative to our sense, and a mere fancy in us.
The incomprehensibility of the Deity is so far from being an argument against the reality of its existence, as that it is most certain, on the contrary, that were there nothing incomprehensible to us, who are but contemptible pieces, and small atoms of the universe; were there no other being in the world but what our finite understandings could span or fathom, and encompass round about, look through and through, have a commanding view of, and perfectly conquer and subdue under them, then could there be nothing absolutely and infinitely perfect, that is, no God. * * *
And nature itself plainly intimates to us that there is some such absolutely perfect Being, which, though not inconceivable, yet is incomprehensible to our finite understandings, by certain passions, which it hath implanted in us, that otherwise would want an object to display themselves upon; namely, those of devout veneration, adoration, and admiration, together with a kind of ecstacy and pleasing horror; which, in the silent language of nature, seem to speak thus much to us, that there is some object in the world so much bigger and vaster than our minds and thoughts, that it is the very same to them that the ocean is to narrow vessels; so that when they have taken into themselves as much as they can thereof by contemplation, and filled up all their capacity, there is still an immensity of it left without, which can not enter in for want of room to receive it, and therefore must be apprehended after some other strange and more mysterious manner, namely, by their being plunged into it, and swallowed up or lost in it. To conclude, the Deity is indeed incomprehensible to our finite and imperfect understandings, but not inconceivable; and therefore there is no ground at all for this atheistic pretence to make it a nonentity.
A brief notice of L'Estrange, Ashmole, Charleton, and Evelyn-writers differing widely from those whom we have just noticed-will close our present remarks.
ROGER L'ESTRANGE was descended from an ancient and honorable family, whose seat was at Hunstonton-Hall, in the county of Norfolk, and where he was born on the seventeenth of December, 1616. He was educated at Cambridge, and having espoused the royal cause in the contest between Charles the First and his parliament, he attended that monarch, in 1639, into Scotland, and during the whole of the civil wars, adhered unwaveringly to
the interests of the king. Being captured, in 1646, by the parliamentary army, he was tried and condemned to death, and lay in prison almost four years, constantly expecting to be led forth to execution. He was, however, at length set at liberty, and lived from that time until the Restoration in almost total obscurity. From the establishment of monarchy until just before his death, L'Estrange was constantly occupied in the editing of newspapers and the writing of pamphlets, chiefly in behalf of the court, in consequence of which he at length received from James the Second, the honor of knighthood. His death occurred on the eleventh of September, 1704.
Sir Roger L'Estrange is generally considered to have been the first writer who sold his services in defence of any measure, good or bad. As a controversialist, he was bold, lively, and vigorous, but coarse, impudent, abusive, and regardless of truth. Besides his original compositions he translated various works, among which are Æsop's Fables, Seneca's Morals, Cicero's Offices, Erasmus's Colloquies, and the works of Josephus. In every thing he wrote, however, he was so anxious to accommodate his style to the taste of the common people, that few of his works could now be read with any pleasure. The class whom he addressed were only beginning to be readers, and as yet could relish only the meanest ideas, presented in the meanest language. The following remarks on ingratitude form a comparative exception to his general style:
The principal causes of ingratitude are pride and self-conceit, avarice, envy, &c. It is a familiar exclamation, 'Tis true, he did this or that for me, but it came so late, and it was so little, I had e'en as good have been without it: if he had not given it to me, he must have given it to somebody else; it was nothing out of his own pocket.' Nay, we are so ungrateful, that he that gives us all we have, if he leaves any thing to himself, we reckon that he does us an injury. It cost Julius Cæsar his life the disappointment of his unsatiable companions; and yet he reserved nothing of all that he got to himself, but the liberty of disposing it. There is no benefit so large, but malignity will still lessen it: none so narrow, which a good interpretation will not enlarge. No man shall ever be grateful that views a benefit on the wrong side, or takes a good office by the wrong handle. The avaricious man is naturally ungrateful, for he never thinks he has enough, but without considering what he has, only minds what he covets. Some pretend want of power to make a competent return, and you shall find in others a kind of graceless modesty, that makes a man ashamed of requiting an obligation, because 'tis a confession that he has received one.
Not to return one good office for another is inhuman; but to return evil for good is diabolical. There are too many even of this sort, who, the more they owe, the more they hate. There's nothing more dangerous than to oblige those people; for when they are conscious of not paying the debt, they wish the creditor out of the way. It is a mortal hatred that which arises from the shame of an abused benefit. When we are on the asking side, what a deal of cringing there is, and profession. 'Well, I shall never forget this favour, it will be an eternal obligation to me.' But, within a while the note is changed, and we hear no more words on 't, till by little and little it is all quite forgotten. So long as we stand in need of a benefit, there is nothing dearer to us; nor any thing cheaper when we have received it. And yet a man may as well refuse to deliver up a sum of money that's left him in trust, without a suit, as not to return a good office without asking; and when we have no value
any further for the benefit, we do commonly care as little for the author. People follow their interest; one man is grateful for his convenience, and another man is ungrateful for the same reason.
ELIAS ASHMOLE, founder of the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford, was born at Litchfield, in Staffordshire, on the twenty-third of May, 1617. He was educated at the grammar-school of his native place, and at the age of sixteen went to London to study law. He rose so rapidly in his profession that, in 1638, he became a solicitor in chancery, and three years afterwards was admitted an attorney of the Court of Common Pleas. Meantime, however, he so sensibly felt the defectiveness of his education that, in 1644, he entered Brazen Nose College, Oxford, and with unusual ardor applied himself, for nearly two years, to the study of natural philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy. After he left college he returned to London, and soon formed an intimacy with Sir James Moore, the famous astrologer, by whom he was induced to devote a number of years to that unprofitable science. He had now entirely abandoned all thoughts of the legal profession, and being of a very inquisitive disposition, turned his attention exclusively to antiquities, heraldry, and the collection of coins, medals, and other rarities. Ashmole's most celebrated work is entitled The Institution, Laws, and Ceremonies of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. It was published in 1672, and is regarded as a standard work on the subject of which it treats. This eminent antiquarian died at Lambeth, on the eighteenth of May, 1692, and over his remains, which were deposited in the church of Great Lambeth, was placed an elegant black marble monument.
WALTER CHARLETON, an accomplished physician and vivid describer of human character, was born at Shepton, in Somersetshire, on the second of February, 1619. His father, who was a clergyman, and an eminent scholar, prepared his son himself for college, and in 1635 entered him in Magdalen Hall, Oxford, then under the care of the celebrated Dr. Wilkins, whom we have already noticed. Charleton applied himself to medical studies immediately after he left the university, and received his doctor's degree, in 1642. He was soon after made one of the physicians in ordinary to King Charles the First; and upon the decline of that prince's affairs, he removed to London, was admitted into the college of physicians there, and entered almost immediately into extensive practice. After the Restoration he became physician to Charles the Second, and, in 1689, was chosen president of the college of physicians; but the narrowness of his circumstances compelled him soon after to retire to the island of Jersey, where he died, in 1707, at the advanced age of eighty-eight.
The works of Dr. Charleton were numerous, and embraced theology, natural history, natural philosophy, medicine, and antiquities. In the last named department he produced a treatise, in 1663, which is generally regarded as his finest literary performance, and in which he maintains the Danish origin of Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, in opposition to Inago