« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
manner, to record the deep sense of the obligation which I feel. At a time of life, and in circumstances in which I can now hope to do little in what has occupied so many hours of my life, and filled up the interstices of professional pursuits, I may be permitted to hope, that these Essays, most of them the productions of earlier years, may be made useful, especially to those who are to occupy the places of men who are soon to pass away.
Philadelphia, Dec. 14, 1854.
CONTENTS OF VOL. I.
THE WORKS OF LORD Bacon. Four vols. fol. London: 1730... 123
ESSAYS AND REVIEWS.
[CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR, 1830.]
The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the
Constitution and Course of Nature. By JOSEPH BUTLER, LL.D.
In directing the attention of our readers to the great work whose title we have placed at the head of this article, we suppose that we are rendering an acceptable service chiefly to one class. The ministers of religion, we presume, need not our humble recommendation of a treatise so well known as Butler's Analogy. It will not be improper, however, to suggest that even our clerical readers may be less familiar than they should be with a work which saps all foundations of unbelief; and may, perhaps, have less faithfully carried out the principles of the Analogy, and interwoven them less into their theological system, than might reasonably have been expected. Butler already begins to put on the venerable air of antiquity. He belongs, in the character of his writings at least, to the men of another age. He is abstruse, profound, dry, and, to minds indisposed to thought, is often wearisome and disgusting. Even in clerical estimation, then, his work may sometimes be numbered among those repulsive monuments of
ancient wisdom which men of this age pass by indiscriminately, as belonging to times of barbarous strength and unpolished warfare.
But our design in bringing Butler more distinctly before the public eye has respect primarily to another class of our readers. In an age pre-eminently distinguished for the shortlived productions of the imagination; when reviewers feel themselves bound to serve up to the public taste, rather the desserts and confectionaries of the literary world, than the sound and wholesome fare of other times; when, in many places, it is even deemed stupid and old-fashioned to notice an ancient book, or to speak of the wisdom of our fathers, we desire to do what may lie in our power to stay the headlong propensities of the times, and recall the public mind to the records of past wisdom. We have no blind predilection for the principles of other days. We bow down before no opinion because it is ancient. We even feel and believe, that in all the momentous questions pertaining to morals, politics, science, and religion, we are greatly in advance of past ages; and our hearts expand with joy at the prospect of still greater simplicity and clearness in the statement and defence of the cardinal doctrines of the Reformation. Most of the monuments of past wisdom we believe capable of improvement in these respects. Thus we regard the works of Luther, Calvin, Beza, and Owen. We look on them as vast repositories of learning, piety and genius. In the great doctrines which these works were intended to support we do firmly believe. Still, though we love to linger in the society of such men, and though our humble intellect bows before them, as in the presence of transcendent genius, yet we feel that in some things their views were darkened by the habits of thinking of a less cultivated age than this; that their philosophy was often wrong, while the doctrines which they attempted to defend by it were correct; and that even they would have hailed, on many topics,