Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

days warm digeftion, the falt had neither tainted nor softened the flesh, whilst the chalk had rotted and consumed that which was joined to it. Nor were the effects less of the testaceous powders of the dispensary. But egg-shels in water resisted putrefaction, and preserved the meat longer firm than plain water*.

11. To try whether the testacea would also diffolve ve, getable substances, I infused them with barley and water, and compared this mixture with another of barley and water, without the teftacea. After a long maceration by a fire, the plain water swelled the barley, became mucilaginous and four; but that with the powder kept the grain to its natural fize, tho' it softened it, made no mucilage, and remained sweet.

12. Nothing could be more unexpected than to find feafalt a haftener of putrefaction. But the fact is thus. One drachm of salt preserves two drachms of fresh beef, in two ounces of water, above 30 hours, uncorrupted, in a heat equal to that of the human body ; or, what amounts to the same, this quantity of falt keeps flesh about 20 hours longer sweet, than pure water; but half a drachm of falt does not preserve it above 2 hours longer. This experiment has been already mentioned. Now I have found, that 25 grains have little or no antiseptic virtue; and that 10, or 15, or even 20 grains manifestly both haften and heighten the corruption t. It is moreover to be remarked, that in warm infusions with these smaller quantities, the falt, instead of hardening the felh, as it does in a dry form, in brine, or even in solutions, such as our standard, it here softens and relaxes the texture of the meat, more than plain water; tho' much less than water with chalk, or the teftaceous powders.

Many inferences might be made from this experiment; but I shall only mention one. Salt, the indispensable fea. foner of animal food, has been supposed to act by an antifeptic quality, correcting the too great tendency of meats to putrefaction. But, lince it is never taken in aliment beyond the proportion of the corrupting quantities in our experiment, it would appear that falt is fubfervient to digestion, chiefly by a septic virtue; that is, by softening and resolving meats ; an action very different from what is commonly believed.

* The trial was made with a coarse powder of this substance, but not repeated.

The most putrefying quantity of salt, with this proportion of Aesh and water, is about 10 grains,

ART.

[ocr errors]

ART. XVI. Cursory Animadverfions upon a late Contro

verly concerning the MIRACULOUS POWERS, &c.
4to. Is. 6d. Payne.
N the preface to this piece, our author, who appears to

be a man of sense, learning, and moderation, makes a variety of judicious reflections on religious controversies in general, and the spirit wherewith those who are engaged in them are generally animated. He points out the mischiefs that arise to christianity from the vain wranglings of its professors, and shews that the result of mighty battles, fought by dread heroes, and faming champions of the christian faith, is often nothing else but the furnishing out spoils for an infidel bystander to triumph in. What he had casually observed in a late controversy, set on foot by the famous Dr. Middleton, concerning the miraculous powers, &c. he tells us, insensibly led him into such a train of reflection: and as the free Enquiry has given great offence, as if it tended to weaken the main evidences on which the truth of christianity depends, his design in this performance, is not to defend Dr. Middleton, or to determine positively upon the merits of the cause, but only to offer, in a cursory manner, a few plain reasons to prove, that the being of christianity is no ways concerned in the event of this Inquiry; and that the miracles of the gospel may, and must be true, though the miraculous powers afterwards may be, and, in all probability, are false.

He endeavours, in the first place, to make it appear, that no arguments can be drawn in favour of the miraculous powers, during the three first centuries, from the previous fupposition of their necessity; and then proceeds to examine what evidence there is for these miracles, deducible from the nature and circumstances of the facts themselves. After giving a fummary view of the evidence on which the miracles of the gospel and those faid to be wrought afterwards are founded, he mentions several circumstances that excite the strongest suspicion of fraud in the miraculous powers, which cannot, with any propriety, be applied to the miracles of the gospel.

After this he offers some reasons why he cannot submit to the testimony and authority of the Fathers, nor be diffuaded from believing the miraculous powers to be false, though it has been their fate to declare them true: he de

clares

clares that this disbelief and unwillingness to assent in the present case, is not grounded upon any bad opinion which he had previously conceived of the moral characters of the Fathers; being sensible that it would be unreasonable to entertain any suspicions against the goodness and integrity of persons, who had nothing to gain, but a great deal to lose, and who exposed themselves to continual perfecution, and even to martyrdom, in confirmation of the truth of what they taught.' I make no scruple, says he, to declare therefore, that they were perfectly good and honest, influenced by no unworthy motives, but entirely clear of any immoral principles whatever. This I freely own, and this, I trust, is as much as their warmest advocates could wish to have allowed in their favour. How then shall we secure this reputation to the Fathers, and still be confiftent with ourselves in rejecting their testimony ? Why, either by fupposing, that they gave their attestation to miracles without fufficient evidence of their being wrought, or that they thought there was no harm in asserting any point, which would advance the interest of religion; and were induced, upon this account, to declare the miraculous powers real, though perhaps, they either knew or suspected them to be only pretended. The former of these Thews indeed strong prejudices, and an ardent zeal for the welfare of chriftianity, which dispofed them to embrace, without examination, whatever seemed to promote so good a cause ; but amounts only to a charge of weakness and credulity, and is no impeachment of their piety and goodnefs. And the latter, say the worst of it we can, is nothing more, than a mistaken rule of acting. It is not an evil principle, which grows from a depravity of heart, and, wherever it is found, determines the man bad; but it is only a wrong maxim, a maxim grounded on true notions of morality, which may indeed betray a weakness of judgment, as well as the other, yet furnishes no objection to their integrity; and is but one instance, among a thousand, of a very honeft heart, under the conduct of a weak head.

• If it be enquired, why I suppose the fathers to have been either credulous, or influenced by any mistaken maxims of this fort; I answer to the first, that their own writings, and what we are able to collect from others concerning their characters, do plainly shew most of them to have been extremely credulous. This, I presume, is fo notorious a truth, that even their greatest admirers will not venture to deny it. And, to the second, it may be replied, that the remains also of these very fathers, the spi-, rit of the times they lived in, and indeed, the whole history of the church, do all strongly suggest to us, that the most zealous among them, whatever purity or principles they have been remarkable for, have seldom scrupled at any means, for the advancement of their religion ; and that this sort of policy, which has usually been distinguished by the name of pious frauds, has been practised in all ages of the church, by persons of undoubted character.

. Thus then stands my argument, when drawn out into its full length. I am disposed to reject the miraculous. powers as false, not only because there is no reason for their being true, but also, because they are attended with many circumstances which make them utterly incredible. And though I consider afterwards, that their credit stands upon the testimony of men whose piety and integrity cannot be questioned, and whose moral characters are in every respect unexceptionable ; yet I must persist in rejecting them, because, upon further examination, I learn, that these men were extreamly eredulous, and apt to take things upon trust; and not only so, but that it was an allowed rule of acting among them, to assert and maintain as true, any points, which would promote the cause of christianity, though they either knew or suspected them to be false.'

Whereas it is objected, that by allowing this account of the fathers to be true, the authority of the books of the new testament, which were transmitted to us through their hands, will be rendered precarious and uncertain ; our author shews that it was impossible for the primitive fathers to corrupt, suppress, or counterfeit any of the books of the new testament, had they been disposed to do it, since they were known to be the writings of those authors whose names they bear, were widely dispersed over the christian world, and established by the authority of all 'churches, before the earliest of the fathers were perhaps born, or, at leaft, become converts to the christian religion.

He concludes with shewing that the particular cause of protestantism is no more concerned in the fate of the miraculous power's, than that of christianity in general, and that therefore they may be safely disregarded, and even rejected by us. If any think otherwise, he recommends to their serious consideration, what the ingenious Mr TOLL, in his defence against Dodwell, observes in the following words : May we not reasonably presume, that if God Almighty thought fit to continue a power of working miracles in his church, he would himself also take care, to have some testimony of the exercise of this power, so authentically recorded, as to put the matter beyond all doubt and disputation with the fincere christians of after-ages? This had been agreeable to that method which he had before observed, with regard to the gospel miracles; and indeed, his not doing it in the case before us, though it is not an absolute and demonstrative proof that there were no such powers existing, yet it undeniably proves, that 'tis of no consequence to us, whether they did or not.'

ART. XVII. The Adventures of a VALET. Written by

Himself. 12mo. 2 Vol. 6s. bound. Robinson. IT Twould be some injustice to this author, not to distinguish bis performance, tho’ faulty enough, from the com

herd of Adventure-writers; for tho' neither the history, nor the characters he exhibits, are capable of affording more improvement to readers who expect to draw morality from this species of reading, than may be gather'd from the said herd, who are seldom over nice in their morality, yet the vivacity of his stile and the superiority of his language, must give him the preference, to most of his brother biographers, who to their other faults, rarely fail to join that of an intolerable dullness. If we may venture to conclude from similitude of manner, the Adventures of a Valet come from the same pen with those of Mr Loveil, and the Creole. See Review vol. 3d. p. 58. And vol. 5. p. 237.

Our Valet leads his readers through a variety of adventures, situations and fortunes. He sets out a player, next he is a beggar, then a beau, fupported by a woman of fashion and intrigue ; is discarded, languishes in jail, turns author for a subsistence; and regaining his freedom, commences valet to a foreign minister. In this character he gives us memoirs of his master, and of others in whose service he is afterwards engaged; the incidents of which consist chiefly of loose intrigue and debauchery; and in which himself is generally the principal actor --We shall give an abstract of three chapters in the 2d. vol. as a specimen of the author's talent at description, which is one of the chief criteria of a writer's abilities for works of this kind.

Our'Valet having by his misbehaviour, procured his abrupt dismission from the service of a lady, with whom he had lived on very licentious terms; and having neither

friends

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »