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HERBERT AND HOBBES,
manded : wherefore, also, I resolved to print my book. This, how strange soever it may seem, I protest before the eternal God, is true : neither am I in any way superstitiously deceived herein, since I did not only clearly hear the voice, but in the serenest sky that ever I saw, being without all cloud, did, to my thinking, see the place from whence it came." Lord Herbert having thus received the special communication from heaven, which in the case of John and Paul he deemed impossible, sent his book to Paris to be published. It appeared in 1624.
Quarter of a century later—that is, in 1651-appeared the Leviathan,”-a treatise on the nature of a commonwealth, in which religion is referred to the will of the governor, and is declared to be a mere matter of political convenience. The production of one of the most powerful intellects which our country has ever yielded, distinguished by its marvellous symmetry and system, abounding in caustic epigrams, annihilating those affections and better elements of human nature of which the writer himself knew nothing, with frequent apparent truth ascribing the best actions to the meanest of motives, and laying the axe at the root of all religion-this work created a prodigious sensation, which outlasted the long life of its author, THOMAS HOBBES of Malmsbury.* Its irreligion, its contemptuous way of treating mankind, and its cleverness endeared it to Charles II. and his jovial courtiers ; whilst, among general readers, at first carried along by its shrewd remarks and its plain and vigorous language, many found themselves at last involved in the meshes of its sophistry, and shut up to the conclusion that men are miserable mutually-exterminating machines, with no higher power to help or pity, and with no future existence to compensate the miseries of this one.
From the dragon teeth sown by Herbert and Hobbes in England, and by Spinoza in Holland, a mighty crop grew up in the following century, and it would be dreary work to follow through its varying phases, the infidelity of Blount and Toland, Collins and Woolcot, Tindal and Morgan, Shaftesbury and Bolingbroke, David Hume, Edward Gibbon, and Thomas Paine in Britain, coinciding with the brilliant scepticism of Voltaire, and the Encyclopedists in France, and the more disastrous, because more treacherous unbelief of the Neologians in Germany. The times were favourable. Throughout the greater part of this century, there was little faith in Europe, and both in our own country and on the Continent, men were glad of such apologies for debauchery, and such opiates to their consciences as were supplied by the sentimentalism of Rousseau and the jests of Voltaire. It was the October of our modern Europe. The Reformation summer was past, and the harvest of English Puritanism and Continental Pietism had gone home to God's garner, and now the cold earth and damp air had only force sufficient for fungoid vegetation. A hot sunshine is fatal to toadstools, and so is frost : but the sunny days of faith and zeal had passed away, and the winter of war and revolution had not yet set in. Accordingly, the right of private judgment, the free discussion, the intellectual energy of the Reformation passing into the sear and yellow leaf, from the soil strewn with the honours of that noble forest nothing sprang save poisonous boleti and mould of many colours—the Phallus fætidus of Gibbon and Tom Paine, the Tremella, cold and clammy, of Hume and other life-destroying parasites.
* Born April 5, 1588 ; died Dec. 4, 1679.
But if unbelief was the form in which ungodliness then ramped and rioted, an earnest contending for the faith was the characteristic of English theology. That century was pre-eminently THE AGE OF APOLOGETICS ; and without further preface, we hasten to give a few specimens of the way in which the faith was defended by its more distinguished champions. These may be divided into two classes—the exponents of Natural Theology, and the advocates of Revealed Religion,
DR RICHARD BENTLEY.
AMONGST numberless benefactions to the cause of religion and humanity, the Hon. Robert Boyle settled by his will an annual stipend so as to secure the preaching of eight sermons every year, proving the Christian religion against notorious infidels—viz., Atheists, Deists, Pagans, Jews, and Mohammedans. The first series was delivered in 1692 by the acute, learned, and, we are sorry to add, litigious Richard Bentley.* With much of the wit of his contemporary, South, and not a little of his style, the lectures by the future Master of Trinity are the most brilliant in the three well-known folios. Even now they may be considered “light reading," and at the time when their hits at the “ Leviathan" and Hobbism could be thoroughly appreciated, they must have been exceedingly amusing
The Atomic Theory. If they will still be meddling with atoms, be hammering and squeezing understanding out of them, I would advise them to make use of their own understanding for the instance. Nothing, in my opinion, could run us down more effectually than that; for we readily allow, that if any understanding can possibly be produced by such clashing of senseless atoms, it is that of an Atheist, that hath the fairest pretensions and the best title to it. We know, it is "the fool that hath said in his heart, There is no God.” And it is no less a truth than a paradox, that there are no greater fools than atheistical wits, and none so credulous as infidels. No article of religion,
* Born at Wakefield, January 27, 1662; died at Cambridge, July 14, 1742.
though as demonstrable as the nature of the thing can admit, hath credibility enough for them. And yet these same cautious and quick-sighted gentlemen can wink and swallow down this sottish opinion about percipient atoms, which exceeds in incredibility all the fictions of Æsop's fables. For is it not every whit as likely, or more, that cocks and bulls might discourse, and hinds and panthers hold conferences about religion, as that atoms can do so ? that atoms can invent arts and sciences, can institute society and government, can make leagues and confederacies, can devise methods of peace and stratagems of war? And, moreover, the modesty of mythology deserves to be commended; the scenes there are laid at a distance : it is once upon a time, in the days of yore, and in the land of Utopia, there was a dialogue between an oak and a cedar : whereas the Atheist is so impudently silly, as to bring the farce of his atoms upon the theatre of the present age; to make dull, senseless matter transact all public and private affairs, by sea and by land, in houses of parliament, and closets of princes. Can any credulity be comparable to this ? If a man should affirm, that an ape, casually meeting with pen, ink, and paper, and falling to scribble, did happen to write exactly the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes, would an Atheist believe such a story? And yet he can easily digest as incredible as that; that the innumerable members of a human body, which, in the style of the Scripture,* “ are all written in the Book of God,” and may
admit of almost infinite variations and transpositions above the twentyfour letters of the alphabet, were at first fortuitously scribbled, and by mere accident compacted into this beautiful, and noble, and most wonderfully useful frame which we now see it carry. But this will be the argument of my next discourse, which is the second proposition drawn from the text, that the admirable structure of human bodies, whereby they are fitted
* Psalm cxxxix. 16.
to live, and move, and be vitally informed by the soul, is unquestionably the workmanship of a most wise, and powerful, and beneficent Maker: to which Almighty Creator, together with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory and majesty and power, both now and from henceforth evermore. Amen.
But, secondly, we affirm that no insect or animal did ever proceed equivocally from putrefaction, unless in miraculous cases, as in Egypt by the divine judgments, but all are generated from parents of their own kind, male and female; a discovery of that great importance that perhaps few inventions of this age can pretend to equal usefulness and merit, and which alone is sufficient (if the vices of men did not captivate their reason) to explode and exterminate rank Atheism out of the world. For if all animals be propagated by generation from parents of their own species, and there be no instance in nature of even a gnat or a mite, either now or in former ages, spontaneously produced, how came there to be such animals in being, and whence could they proceed? There is no need of much study and deliberation about it; for either they have existed eternally by infinite successions already gone and past, which is in its very notion absurd and impossible, or their origin must be ascribed to a supernatural and divine power that formed and created them. Now, to prove our assertion about the seminal production of all living creatures, that we may not repeat the reasons which we have offered before against the first mechanical formation of human bodies, which are equally valid against the spontaneous origin of the minutest insects, we appeal to observation and experiment, which carry the strongest conviction with them, and make the most sensible and lasting impressions. For, whereas it hath been the general tradition and