« PreviousContinue »
A sketch of the plan of this work was given, when the origi. nal was announced, and to this we refer our readers. We shall confine ourselves at present to some specimens of the translajion, which will enable them to judge, for themselves, of its merit, and will, at the same time, serve as a farther specimen of the original work. To shew that the juffice of God, instead of ftanding in any sort of opposition to his goodness, is rather to be considered as an important branch of it, M. Petitpierre reasons thus :
• The definition of Divine justice (that it is, goodness directed by wil dom), however true upon the whole, has the defect of being too general, and of not determining, with precision, in what the particular character of Divine justice consists, or the reasons why the goodness of God is sometimes called justice. Every act of Divine justice is, ipeleol Mact of his goodness directed by wisdom ; but every act of goodness, thus directed, cannot be called an act of justice. The gift that God made of his Son to a sinful world cannot, with propriety, be called an act of justice, though it is the highest instance of his goodness and wisdom.
" I therefore incline more to another received definition of Divine justice, which expresses with greater precision the ideas usually actached to that term. The infinite justice of God (according to this definition) confifts in his confiant and immutable will, or determination, to dispense to every one that which best corresponds with his moral state, The justice of one man towards another is the constant and habitual aill of rendering to every one that which is his due ; but as this man. ner of speaking is improper, when applied to an independent Being, we substitute another in its place, and say, that as a man is called juít, who gives to every one his due, so is the Divine Being called juft, because he dispenses to every one that which is most suitable to his moral state, throughout the whole of his existence.'
The author illustrates this idea of Divine justice, by considering the different states, circumstances, conftitutions, and characters, of moral beings, and the various methods by which goodness, in perfect union with strict rectitude and wisdom, leads them to moral improvement and final bappiness.
After having endeavoured to prove, by a critical examination of many paffages of Scripture, that our Saviour represents future punishment, as a chasisement designed for moral improvement, and that the word eternal, when applied to punishment, fignifies a long and dreadful correction ;- after having shewn, moreover, that this chastisement will be severe and terrible for the obftinate workers of iniquity, he makes the following judicious observation :
• By considering this severe justice as a branch of goodness, we set the amiable attribute of goodness in its true light, and this will prevent us from falling into the dangerous illusion of expecting nothing from Divine love but mercies and favours. We should not only consider the end, but also the means of felicity, and these will be severe upon every foul of man that doeth evil. The goodness of the
Deity is inseparable from wisdom, and, consequently, exempt from such false com pallion as arises from weakness : it is an inflexible good. ness, which, without being influenced by our erroneous fupplications, will complete its designs; and thus the sufferings that are necessary to our chief happiness are as certain, as the infinite goodness of God itself.'
In the course of his work, the Author shews frequently (and with great evidence and judgment) how truths which are misunderstood, lead to the most absurd and pernicious consequences. Among the truths so perverted in their meaning and application, we may reckon the supreme authority of God over his creatures, and his consequent right of determining their condition, and re. quiring their submission and obedience. Thus the supreme authority of God has been appealed to as a principle, which justifies the condemnation of a great (and, in some systems, the greatest) part of his creatures to endles misery. But, according to M. Petitpierre, the supreme authority of God over his creatures is his unlimited right to confer happiness on them in his own way; and be hews that the Divine authority can never be inconfiftent with goodness, because it is founded on goodness, as its proper basis. We shall give his reasoning on this subject in the words of his translator:
• If the authority of God (as is generally and justly supposed) arises from the act of creation, let us consider what there is in this act that lays a just foundation for unlimited authority. In the act of creation I can distinguish two things, the power which formed us, and the will which determined the Deity to put this power in execution. Now it is evident, that power alone cannot be the foundation of authority; the idea of power or ftrength, and that of authority or right, have no natural connexion. A Being may have sufficient power to subject me to his pleasure ; but this alone can never give him a right to my obe. dience; any real authority must be derived from another source. It is therefore in the will (which determined creation) that we are to seek for the foundation of that supreme authority, which the divine Being possefles over his creatures. Now that will, which brought us into existence, was the first act of infinite goodness; it arose from the pure principle of benevolence and love : it constituted the Creator the Parent of all, and is the pledge of that happiness, which, issuing from him, must finally complete the felicity of every intellectual nature. Ah! when I contemplate the Being of Beings, under the interesting point of view in which Creation places him; when I view him as a benevolent Creator, an eternal and gracious Father, who gave me existence that he might give me happiness, I am no more at a loss to discern the foundation of his supreme and unlimited authority: I see that his authority is the right to render me happy in the way best suited to my nature, and by the means the best adapted to that end. I then perceive the strongest and the most essential obligation on my part, to fub nit, implicitly and without reserve, to his authority. I see the folly and extravagance of ever complaining of the dispensations or laws of an infinitely wise Being, and the pre
sumption, fumption, in a weak and ignorant creature, of deciding concerning the means by which its happiness is to be procured. Woe unto him that Atriveth with his Maker?'
We Thall close our specimens of this translation, by some paragraphs from that part of the work, in which the Author proves, that the GLORY of God, instead of requiring any thing contrary to his infinite GOODNESS, is highly interesied in its eternal exercise.
In the proof of this proposition, which is fullin evidence and beautiful and pathetic in expression, M. Petitpierre shews, among other things, how the manifestation of all the Divine perfections (in which the glory of God properly and effentially confifts) is included in the display of an unchangeable, universal, and eternal goodness to all his creatures. Thus he means to refute the opinion of those theologists, who consider the glory of the Divine Fuflice as requiring the endless torments of the wicked and reprobate. After Thewing how Divine goodness shines forth pre-eminent and conspicuous in wisdom which directs, power which executes, holiness which promulgates the most perfect laws for our improvement, happiness, and justice ;-whose chastisements are designed to prepare and accomplish the destruction of fin, the great enemy of human felicity,-- he calls out, in a kind of rapture, —- What heart can conceive, what tongue can express, the praises due to such exalted glory!-When all these adorable perfections shall be fully manifested to every creature, when fin İhall be conquered, and finners hall become holy, virtuous, and happy, then their hearts, penetrated with love and gratitude, will for ever adore the Author of their existence and felicity, and the grateful homage of their thanksgiving and praise shall resound chrough the mansions of celeftial glory for ever and ever!'
It is a farther observation of the Author, that the glory of the Creator results from the perfeition of his creatures, as che honour of the workman arises from the excellence and perfection of his work.
• But (adds M. Petitpierre), on this principle, can any thing be more contrary to the glory of God, than the endless misery and ruin of the reprobate! A multitude of intelligent and immortal beings, whose nature and condition will be in eternal contradiction,-their nature fufceptible of happiness and ardently defiring it, while their everlasting portion is horrid and unremitting agony ! description must fall infinitely short of this terrible idea, but reason tells us, that it never can advance the glory of the Creator.-If we suppose that the reprobate remain for ever in an impenitent and obdurate itate, what then do we behold? a race of beings for ever deyoted to crimes and sufferings, and that, under the empire of almighty power and goodness.-- If we admit that, by their sufferings, the reprobate may be rendered capable of sincere repentance, then the supposition of their eternal misery represents penitent beings returning to God and for eyer imploring his forgiveness, but eternally rejected by the Father
of Mercies.-In whatever way, therefore, we consider the reprobate in ecernal misery, whether as obstinate finners or as penitent offenders, we cannot help considering their state, as in contradi&ion to the infinite goodness of the Divine nature, and, consequently, as absolutely impoffible.
In delightful contrast with this painful object of contemplation ftands that Infinite goodness, which will leave no being in the universe a final prey to wickedness and misery. This goodness will accomplith its work by enlightening their understanding, rectifying their will, rooting out every vicious habit, destroying every evil propensity, and employing, for this purpose, every method of gentleness or leverity, that wisdom shall deem necessary, till evil is banished from the universe, and all its intelligent inhabitants are rendered good and happy.'
From these farther specimens, our readers will be enabled to form a judgment of the spirit of this work, and the merit of the tranflation.
Art. XII. Sir Joseph Banks and the Emperor of Morocco. A Tale. By Peter Pindar, Esquire. 4to. Is. 6d. Kearsley. 1788.
. URSUING his blow, Peter aims a second stroke at the
President of the Royal Society :-For the first attack here alluded to, see our last Month's Review, p. 555.
The poet seems to have taken the hint of this satirical piece from the humorous account of Sir Nicholas Gimcrack, in the Tatler ; but in applying that character to our celebrated botanist, he seems to have run counter to all our ideas of “ the natural or moral fitness of things.”—This application, however, and this fieness, are not points for our decision.—Of the poetry, and of the pleasantry, take, reader, the following specimen :
On a Butterfly. Hunt, the hero of the piece starts the Emperor of Morocco ; and the pursuit is thus described :
• Lightly, with winnowing wing, amid the land,
His Moorish majesty in circles few!
The virtuoso did his prey pursue.
And fees in thought the monarch fix'd with pins;
Nail'd like a hawk or martyr to a post.
Like patriot Eden-fell to rise again ;
Like Phoebus courling Daphne was the chace,
But not so was the meaning of the race,
Te To hold him pris’ner in a glass for Thew,
Like Tamerlane (redoubtable his rage) Who kept poor Bajazet, his vanquish'd foe,
Just like an owl or magpie in a cage.
A countryman, who, from a lane,
Had mark'd Sir Joseph, running, tumbling, sweating, Stretching his hands and arms, like one insane,
And with those arms the air around him beating,
Speak,” roar'd the President, “ this instant-lay, “ Hait seen,-haft feen, my lad, this way,
“ The emperor of Morocco pass ?” Hob to the insect-hunter nought replied, But shook his head, and sympathifing figh'd
" Alas! « Poor Gentleman, I am sorry for ye; “ And pity much your uper flory!” Lo! down the lane alert the emp'ror flew, And struck once more Sir Joseph's hawk-like view;
And now he mounted o'er a garden wall ! In rushed Sir Joseph at the garden door, Knock'd down the gard'ner - what could man do more,
And left him as he chose to rise or sprawl. O'er peerless hyacinths our hero rush'd ; Through tulips and anemonies he puth'd,
Breaking a hundred necks at ev'ry spring : On bright carnations, bluthing on their banks, With desp’rate hoof he trod, and mow'd down ranks,
Such vast ambition urg'd to seize the king !
A sad and fatal stroke proclaim'd;
And much, indeed, the man of straw was maim'd!