Изображения страниц


dleton's name was his Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers of the Church" Not so. That work was not published till the year 1747. We will say nothing of that work, which our correspondent allows brought obloquy❞ upon him; and which, little as we accredit the claims to miraculous powers in the Church after the days of the Apostles, was written in a spirit of constructive infidelity; for an infidel impression may be made even in uttering an abstract truth, as Gibbon has abundantly shewn.

But this was not the first cause of obloquy;-rather this book was severely judged of because former publications from the same pen had caused the reader to be suspicious of the writer.

It was in the year 1729-eighteen years before the publication of the work on miracles—that Middleton put forth the Letter from Rome. And was there no charge of infidelity alleged against him during this interval? Does not our correspondent know that upon the publication of the Letter from Rome he incurred obloquy not only among Papists but among Anglicans; "because,” to use the words of the first biographer we turn to, Chalmers, "he attacked the Papist miracles with that general spirit of incredulity and levity which seemed in their opinion to condemn all miracles?" Now it was in a subsequent Edition of this work, and after he had incurred this obloquy on account of what he had written, that he published the defence which our correspondent has quoted. "In his second Edition," says Chalmers, "he endeavoured to obviate this objection by an express declaration in favour of the Jewish and Christian miracles, to which, perhaps, more credit was given now (at the time) than afterwards"-when the man was better known. The very words quoted by our correspondent are an admission,-implying more than is expressed,— that he had given offence by his "freedom of expression;" and yet our correspondent inadvertently adds, that he did not incur obloquy till eighteen years afterwards.

It is not usually just to set up supposed motives against a man's positive declarations; but the above declaration was apologetical, not being made till after charges had been urged. It happens, since we received our correspondent's paper, that in looking over the manuscript collections of Cole the antiquary, in the British Museum, for a reference to Bishop Patrick, we met with a significant remark by Cole, who knew Middleton intimately, and calls him his friend, though he says they widely differed in their opinions. The passage never having been cited, we will copy it. (It occurs in the 27th volume of Cole's MSS., page 141.) Cole says that Middleton, in the fourth Edition of his Letter from Rome, had inserted a dedication to Bishop Gouch, who, he thinks, was not well pleased with the compliment; together with a long preface in answer to the charges urged against his book; but, says Cole, "By some expressions in the beginning of this dedication, it looks as if the Doctor had some inclination to rise in his profession; and as a necessary step towards it, to re-establish himself in the good opinion of the clergy by professing publicly that he had no ill designs against religion or virtue, which (good opinion) from the tenour of some of his late writings he had utterly forfeited." Such was the conviction of those who best knew the man, respecting the disclaimer which our correspondent adduces as unsuspicious testimony. He had even thus early earned the reputation of being destitute of principle, and of sacrificing his convictions to his interest. And assuredly he wrote and did much to suggest this conclusion. Thus we find him saying, in one of his letters in 1734, Sunday is my only day of rest, but not of liberty; for I am bound to a double attendance at church to wipe off the stain of infidelity; but when I


have recovered my credit, in which I daily make progress, I may use more freedom." Was not this very much in the spirit of Voltaire, who, while writing virulently against Christianity, used to go to Mass, and to communicate regularly, in order that, if accused of infidelity, he might be able to adduce this evidence to his character? The year before, Middleton says, in a letter to Lord Hervey, "It is my misfortune to have had so early a taste of Pagan sense, as to make me very squeamish in my Christian studies." We should have thought that "Christian studies," which at the lowest involved the notion of "one living and true God" (as our first Article has it), would have distanced the good "sense" of pagan mythology, which the most learned and philosophical classical writers of Greece and Rome did not venture to reject. We call to mind, in Bishop Horne's "Thoughts on Various Subjects," appended to his Life by Jones of Nayland, a witticism of the Bishop's in relation to this notable remark of Dr. Middleton's. "The Doctor seems to have been in the case of the comet mentioned by Dr. Zach, in a paper delivered to the University of Oxford, when he was admitted to a degree there in Feb. 1786. The retardation of the comet, compared to its period, may clearly be put to the account of the attraction and perturbation he has undergone in the region of Jupiter and Saturn.'

[ocr errors]

Our allusion to one of the Anglican Articles reminds us that our correspondent might have quoted against us that Middleton had often solemnly subscribed to those Articles, which is as good testimony as the declaration in his Preface. But in what spirit did he subscribe them? We will answer in the words, not of any of his "bigotted opposers," but of his Socinian biographer and warm admirer, Dr. Towers. It will be recollected that Dr. Middleton, not long before his death (which happened in 1750), accepted a benefice (Hascomb, in Surrey), presented to him by Sir John Frederick. Dr. Towers defends his subscribing to the Anglican Articles on that occasion, by declaring that his subscription was purely political; in proof of which he quotes the following passage from a manuscript letter of Middleton's. "Though there are many things in the church which I wholly dislike, yet while I am content to acquiesce in the ill, I should be glad to taste a little of the good; and to have some amends for the ugly assent and consent which no man of sense [was he thinking of "Pagan sense" as opposed to "Christian studies?"] can approve." Such being Middleton's avowed notions of veracity, even to his old age, can our correspondent wonder that his contemporaries, when they found him, in a subsequent edition of what Gibbon calls his "agreeable Letter from Rome," asserting that he did not mean to disparage Christianity or Judaism, (as people had falsely surmised, very much to the detriment of his professional prospects,) were led to the conclusion expressed by Cole, that he had an eye to convenience rather than principle in that "ugly assent and consent" which our correspondent quotes from his Preface? Chalmers, in defending him from the charge of apostacy, adds, rather left-handedly, "But from all we have seen of his confidential correspondence, he does not appear ever to have had much to apostatize from." This, we fear, was the truth; and had it not been for his being restrained by his secular interests as a clergyman, and as librarian to the University of Cambridge, it is probable that he would have expressed himself more freely.

Our correspondent's reference to the date of 1747 as the starting point of Middleton's "obloquy," sent us back, in reply, to the year 1729; but the intervening period would have been even more in favour of our statement. In 1730 Tindal published that most mischievous deistical book, "Christianity

as old as the Creation;" to which Dr. Waterland replied in his "Vindication of Scripture." Middleton not approving of Waterland's way of vindicating Scripture, published anonymously a rebuking letter to Waterland, and a vindication of his own. Bishop Pearce replied to the anonymous writer, charging him with being an infidel in disguise. Middleton wrote a defence of his Letter; and Pearce rejoined to the same effect. Mr. Venn also reproached him with being "an apostate." Middleton being discovered to be the author, was in danger of being stripped of his academical degree, and expelled from the University. Dr. Williams, the University Orator, published some " Observations," charging him with infidelity, and declaring that his Letter ought to be burned, and himself banished; and he urges him to confess and recant. Middleton rejoined, saying, "I have nothing to recant on the occasion; nothing to confess, but the same four articles that I have already confessed; first, that the Jews borrowed some of their customs [divinely directed customs] from Egypt; secondly, that the Egyptians were possessed of arts and learning in Moses' time; thirdly, that the primitive writers, in vindicating Scripture, found it necessary sometimes to recur to allegory; fourthly, that the Scriptures are not of absolute and universal inspiration. These are the only crimes that I have been guilty of against religion; and by reducing the controversy to these four heads, and declaring my whole meaning to be comprised in them, I did in reality recant every thing else, that through heat or inadvertency had dropped from me; every thing that could be construed to a sense hurtful to Christianity."

We might also notice Middleton's controversy with Bishop Sherlock. The Bishop published, in 1749, "An Appendix to the second Dissertation, being a farther inquiry into the Mosaic account of the Fall;" addressed "to all who are offended with the history of the Fall as it stands recorded by Moses." The compilers of "The General Biographical Dictionary" remark: "Whether Dr. Middleton, who had ridiculed 'the literal history of the Fall,' considered himself as particularly aimed at, or whether he acted from other private motives of resentment, which has been asserted, we know not; but he published, the year after, a short and satirical "Examination of the Bishop of London's Discourses concerning the use and intent of Prophecy, with some ursory remarks on his late Appendix, containing a farther inquiry into the Mosaic account of the Fall."" In this publication he maintained that "The historical interpretation which his Lordship gives to the account of the Fall is absurd, and contradictory to reason: the said account cannot be considered under any other character than that of Allegory, Apologue, or Moral Fable." Middleton was doubtless actuated by both the motives above alluded to. He had been evidently glanced at as one of those who are offended with the history of the Fall as it stands recorded by Moses," and wished to defend himself; and he had also a personal pique against Sherlock, who could not in conscience or decency, even if he had wished it, have preferred a clergyman who had even by implication "denied the faith," and in this sense was 66 worse than an infidel." Middleton says, in his "Examination," that though Sherlock's discourses had been published many years, with enlargements in successive editions (the first being in 1725) he had never read them till lately, otherwise his animadversions might probably have appeared earlier. It might be so; but it was not very probable; for Sherlock and Middleton had once been in habits of intimacy; they were of the same University, and nearly of the same standing in it; Middleton had formerly described his friend as "the principal champion and ornament of Church and University;" Middleton was

a great reader: new books in that day were not overwhelmingly numerous, and Sherlock's works were much admired and extensively perused; besides which, a manuscript note, written by Whiston, the bookseller, in the first edition of the "General Biographical Dictionary," states that Bishop Sherlock told Whiston that he gave a copy of his work to Middleton at its first publication in 1725. Middleton evidently wrote with resentment; which the biographers account for by stating that Bishop Newton said that Sir Robert Walpole told him that when Middleton applied for the Mastership of the Charter-House, Sherlock and the other Bishops were against his being chosen. But we can bring this matter still nearer home to the several parties; for in Cole's Manuscripts we find a passage in which Cole relates that Middleton himself informed him, that Lord Orford (Sir R. Walpole) told Middleton that the Bishop of Salisbury (Sherlock, before his translation to London) opposed his having the Mastership of the Charter-House, because, said the Bishop, "He is no Christian." He has been elsewhere called " A Tindal in disguise."

We have mentioned these circumstances as among the floating reminiscences in our minds when we spoke as we did of Middleton; but if our correspondent, or our readers, shall think that the passage quoted from his Preface ought to be regarded as an honest declaration, and an answer in full to all objections, we cheerfully give him the benefit of the discharge.

To the Editor of the Christian Observer.

I HAVE received from an excellent pastor of a Protestant church in Germany, the following particulars respecting the Gustavus-Adolphus Institution. I felt much interested, by what I heard in a continental tour, of this Society, because I found that men of truly Evangelical principles were throwing themselves into it, and as such men are rapidly on the increase, especially in the Prussian dominions, and the northern parts of Germany, I have the best hopes that it will tend, under God's blessing, to the furtherance of the truth, as there is every prospect that it will tend to the concentration and strengthening of the Protestant body. My friend relates, as follows, the historical facts connected with the institution of this Society. At the second centennary commemoration (Nov. 6, 1832) of the death of the venerated Protestant champion, Gustavus-Adolphus, King of Sweden, (who fell on that day at the battle of Lutzen,) several friends of evangelical piety at Leipsic conceived the idea of founding a religious institution, which would be a better memorial of the day than a monument of brass or marble.* They concurred in opinion that the

*Our Swedish and German brethren may feel gratified in knowing that the name of Gustavus Adolphus, surnamed the Great, is as popular in Great Britain as among the Protestants upon the Continent. We recoil with horror from the recollection of the atrocities of "the thirty years' war;" the very mention of which evokes names-as Tilly and Pappenheim,―and deeds, as the inhuman sack of Magdeburg,-which fester in history, as if to shew the dire depths of depravity to which our fallen nature, unrestrained by Divine grace, may sink; but the memory of Gustavus relieves the awful picture; for his wisdom, selfdenial, consideration for others, magnanimity, and devout piety, shine brightly in the dark records of those dismal years. The events of his times, and particularly the persecuting spirit of the Emperor of Germany and his allies

most appropriate plan would be to found an institution for aiding churches of the Evangelical Communion, scattered in countries where the Church of Rome is dominant; (Gal. vi. 10.) and where they cannot support themselves, without help from their brethren.

towards the Protestants, gave to the life of Gustavus Adolphus a warlike aspect which at the best is painful to reflect upon; for even defensive war is an awful task for a Christian to be forced, however justifiably, to engage in; but even war elicited the exalted virtues of this remarkable man's character.

Taking up the last English biographical memoir of Gustavus Adolphus, by Lord Dover, in his "Lives of the most Eminent Sovereigns of Europe," we will quote his Lordship's account of the conduct of Gustavus at the battle of Lutzen.

"On the 5th of November Gustavus had defeated the Croatian rear-guard of Wallenstein and the same evening he appeared also on the plain of Lutzen, and drew up his army in order of battle, and then waited for daylight to commence the contest. As soon as the morning dawned, Gustavus threw himself on his knees in front of his lines, in which he was followed by the whole army. After reciting some short prayers, they sang two hymns taken from the forty-sixth and sixty-seventh Psalms; and then the king, mounting his horse, rode along the regiments. He was this day clothed in a plain cloth coat with a leather collar; the pain of an old wound making it unpleasant to him to wear a cuirass. His attendants, however, urged him to put one on, but he only answered them by saying, The Lord is my armour!' The morning was foggy; this prevented the troops from engaging till eleven o'clock; when the mist cleared away, and discovered the Duke of Friedland's army; and the village of Lutzen in flames. In front of the army of Gustavus were some deep ditches, which had been taken possession of by the infantry of Wallenstein; who had also planted artillery on their banks. In spite of these dispositions the attack of the Swedes proved irresistible, the ditches were passed, and the imperial artillery turned against its original possessors. The first brigade of Wallenstein's infantry, and the second, had been already beaten, and the third was preparing to fly; when that commander himself appeared, and in an instant rallied his troops. Now began a most furious combat, in which the soldiers engaged one another hand to hand, and the carnage was great. At length the Swedes, fatigued with their labours, gave way, and retired beyond their ditches; and the Imperialists recovered their cannon.

"Meanwhile Gustavus, at the head of his right wing, had beaten the enemies opposed to him; when he heard of the retreat of the other part of his army. He then charged Horn to follow up his victory, and set off at full gallop, followed by a few of his attendants. He passed the ditch, and directed his course to the part where his troops seemed the most pressed. As he passed rapidly along, a corporal of the Imperialists, observing that every one made way for him, said to a musqueteer near him, Take aim at that man, he must be a person of consequence.' The man fired, and broke the King's arm. In a moment, a cry of horror broke from the Swedes, The King bleeds! the King is wounded!' It is nothing,' replied Gustavus, follow me;' but overcome with pain, he was obliged to desist; and turning to Francis Albert, Duke of Saxe Lunenberg, he entreated him to lead him quietly out of the crowd. They rode away together, and proceeded towards the right wing, in order to arrive at which they were obliged to make a considerable circuit. By the way Gustavus received another ball in the back, which took away the rest of his strength. I am a dead man,' said he, with a feeble voice; leave me, and only try to save your own life.' At the same time he fell from his horse, and pierced with many wounds, expired in the hands of the Croatians, who were scouring that part of the field. While on the ground, he was asked who he was, and replied boldly, 'I am the King of Sweden, and seal with my blood the Protestant religion, and the liberties of Germany,' a sentence of almost prophetic truth. He then added, in a faultering voice, Alas, my poor Queen and as he was expiring he said, 'My God! my God! In an instant his body was stripped; so anxious were the Imperialists to have any trophies of so great an enemy. His leather collar was sent to the Emperor-a common soldier seized his sword. His ring and spurs were sold-and Schneberg, a lieutenant in the Imperial army, seized his gold chain, which is still preserved in the family of that officer at Paderborn.

[ocr errors]

"Thus perished, in the flower of his age and the zenith of his glory, the great

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »