theistical fictions of Greece and Rome with the pure
religion of Jesus Christ.
1 am aware that Julius Scaliger says of the hymns
and eclogues, Puerilia sunt et pleheia. Catidli vene-
reni dum vnlt asseqidy delicias lenociniis plebeias fecit.
De Poet. lib. 6. But Julius Scaliger is a literary
tyrant^ and of his arbitrary dictation it may be said,
htat pro ratidne xoliintas.
As I have given a specimen of Pi'udentius on the
subject of the Innocents, I will cite another from
Vida on the same subject. Prudentius for once,
perhaps, has the advantage.
Beatse animulae, parvuli integellulf,
Quos hausit immanissirai regis furor
Ab ubere abreptos, parentium ab sinu,
Dum perdere simul autumat, regno caveai,
Incognitura sibi aureum puellulum,
Quem nuntiabat siderum prajsentia,
Regem universis nuper ortum gentibus.
Vos vere veluti gemmula, quas primulo
Adussit albicans pruina primulas^
JEtutulffi ipso concidisiis flosculo^
Pro illo ante vobis contigit pulclire mori,
76 WINTJill EVENINGS : 10.7.
Qui pro omnium vita immolaiuliis Vfuurat ;
Beatac aniniula-, flosculi ccclestiuin.
Vida's Christiad, though founded on a most sublime
subject, is generally thought lo possess but moderate
merit. There is in it a deficiency of" fire. But the
poet was evidently awed by the grandeur of" his en-
terprise ; and his genius sun^-c under his apprehen-
sions of failure. I cite the following specimen on
the Resurrection, a theme which might inspire the
dullest of bards :
Ibunt aligcri juvcnes, crclumquc profundum
Ilorrifico sonitu iinplcbunt, atque acre recurvo
Quatuor a vcntis txcibunt undique gentes :
Judicis ad solium properabitur a;there toto :
Ipse alte effultus, montisque in vertice summo,
Arbiter effulgens circumferet era tremenda,.
Secernetque pios, dextraque in parte locabit.
There is in this, and throughout the whole poem, an
even tenor of elegant versification ; but there is too
little of the mens divinior and the i<ynea vis.
Perhaps the critics have expected too much m
this poem ; and, as it commonly happens, have, in
consequence of a disappointment of unreasonable
liope, revenged themselves by a contempt equally
Vida is less known and read in Great Britain than
the two Latin translators of the Psalms, George Bu-
chanan and Arthur Jonston. But I consider Bu-
chanan as one of the most illustrious ornaments of
Scottish literature. He was born in ].'30G, and died
in 1582. His works consist of a Dialogue Dc jure
regni apud Scotos ; the Grammatical lludiments of
Linacre, translated from English into Latin ; the
History of Scottish affairs ; a ])oetical Paraphrase of
David's Psalms ; and a collection of miscellaneous
105. OR, LUCUBRATIONS. 77
Poems. Joseph Scaliger, in a complimentary copy
of verses to Buchanan, says,
Namquc ad siipremum perducta poetica cidmea
111 te Stat, nee quo progrediatur, habet.
Imperii fuerat Romani Scotia finis ;
Romani eloquii Scotia finis erit.
He is extolled in the highest terms as an historian ;
but at present I am to consider him as the poetical
paraphrast of the Psalms.
The ninth and tenth verses of the eighteenth
Psalm are universally admired, even in the produc-
tion of Thomas Sternhold ; but as they are trite, I
should not quote them, but for the purpose of con-
trasting them with other translations.
The Lord descended from above,
And bowed the heavens high,
And underneath his feet he cast
The darkness of the sky.
On Cherubs and on Cherubim
Full royally he rode,
And on the wings of mighty winds
Came flying all abroad.
Merrick has given them thus :
Incumbent on the bending sky,
The Lord descended from on high,
And bade the darkness of the pole
Beneath his feet tremendous roll.
The cherub to his car he join'd,
And on the wings of mightiest wind,
.As down to earth his journey lay,
Resistless urged his rapid way.
Let us compare Buchanan's Translation.
Utque suum Dominum terraj demittat in orbem
Le.iiter inciinat jussum fastigia cuelum :
78 WINTER evenings: 105.
SnccL'tliint pedibiis fusca; caliginis mnbrx ;
lUe vcliens currii voliicri, cui flammcus ales
l^ora tenens levibus ventoruin adremigat alis,
Sc ciicuin furvo nebularum involvit amictii,
Praetenditque cavis piceas in nubibusundas.
This is well paraphrased ; except perhaps that
there is an unpardonable cacophony in terminating
two succeeding lines with words so similar in sound
as ales and alis. But this I confess is not the most
ikvourable specimen of Buchanan ; and I by no
means think it equals the admired sublimity of Stern-
liold, which probably was accidental.
It may not be disagreeable to present the same
passage to the reader in the words of Arthur Jon-
iEtherc depresso, solio desccndit ab alto,
Nul)ila sidcrcos implicuerc pedes.
Vcntorum volucres luimeris circumdedit alas,
Scandit et actherei flammea terga cliori.
The twenty-third Psalm is one of the most po-
The Lord my pasture shall prepare,
And feed me with a shepherd's ciire, &c.
Buchanan translates it thus :
Sicut pastor ovem me Domimis regit :
Nil decrit penitiis iiiihi.
Ppr canipi viridis mitia pabula,
Qua; vcris teneri pingit amd-nitas,
Nunc pascor ])lacidt-, nunc saturuin latiis
Fcssus mollitcr cxplico.
Purns rivus aqujc leniter ;ulstre))cns
â– Mcmbris reslituit robora langiiidis,
Et blando rccreaf foinite '.piritiis
Solis sub face lonida.
105. OR, LUCUBUATIONS. 79
I subjoin the version of Jonston:
Blandus iit iipilio, me pascit conditor orbis,
Ne mihi quid desit, providus il!e cavet.
Dat satur ut recubem pratorum in gramine molli ;
Ducit et ad rivos lene sonantis aquas.
It is to be lamented that Jonston versified all the
Psalms in the elegiac measure, however different
their subject or style. His verses are pretty and
correct ; but he does not appear to reach the sub-
Hmer strains of David's lyre. But, lest I weary my
reader with Latin citations, I will conclude with a
short extract from a poetical paraphrase of the
twenty-third Psalm by Dr. Jortin.
Me tuos inter numerare, pastor
Summe, dignaris, quibus ipse virga
Aurea doctor referaa beati
Pascimiir campis, iibi lene ridet
Florido natura decora cultu
Fonsque vitales saliente rivo
Such comparisons as these form one of the amuse-
ments of polite letters; and, though they are made
â– with ease, furnish good opportunities for the im-
provement of taste.
80 WINTEIl SVliNINCiS: 106,
On a Passage from Aristotle, tvhich Scaliger ad'
mired, as expressive of Divine Influence on the Hu'
I LATELY met with the following quotation from
Aristotle in the works of Dr, Henry More, which I
cannot but consider as remarkable.
sv Tjj oK'M, 0EO2, KUi irxv sxeivoj' y.ivsiyxpTfuJS T^'ocvta
TO EN 'HMIN' 0E1ON- AoyrJ J' asyj 'ov AOrOS,
aXAa TI KFEITTON" rt o'^v olv â– /.psirrov xai eTTia-Tr^ixrig
nrX'/jv Â©EOS; " What is the beginning of motion in
the soul ? It is evident that it is, as in the universe,
God himself, and all in Him. For it is the same
KUMEN in us, that moves al! things in some sort or
other ; and the beginning of reason is not reason, but
something which is better : but what can be better
than science, but God* ?"
This passage from Aristotle is well worth the at-
tention of every student in divinity. Scaliger, on
reading it, could not repress the warm sentiments
which it excited, but burst into the following ex-
Qlid ais, divine vir? Estne in nobis aliquid
divinum quod sit pr^estantius ipsa ratione?
An tiri ouoque noti fuerunt ipsi radii Spiri-
Tus Sancti? "What sayest thou, O thou divine
philosopher ? Is there any thing within us of a celestial
nature and more excellent than reason ? Were then
the irradiations of the Holy Ghost known to thee?"
Translated by Dr. Henry MorÂ».
106. OR, LUCUBRATIONS. 81
TO EN HMIN 0EION. < The divinity within us!'
An idea which approaches very nearly to the subHme
doctrines of the Christian religion, respecting the ex-
istence and operation of the third person in the Holy
Est Deus in nobis, agitante calesciraus illo.
There is, indeed, every reason to believe that tlie
Deity vouchsafed to bestow a considerable degree
of religious illumination on the minds of the wiser
Heathens. The soul of man, wliether Heathen or
Christian, purified and exalted by knowledge, virtue,
and benevolence, could not but be a beloved object
to the Father of all Truth, Goodness, and Mercy.
God saw that it was good, comparatively good ; and,
as the emanation of his love, indulged it with the
view of celestial truths*. But this revelation was
but partial and confined, till, in the wonderful dis-
pensation of Divine Wisdom, it seemed good to God
to send iiim who brought life and immortality to
light through the gospel.
How does the doctrine of grace taught u? by this
lieavenly instructor elevate and aggrandize humanity !
A particle of the Divinity, we learn, condescends to
* Thus the Platonists, by tradition or illumination, had ac-
quired an idea of the Trinity, 1st, la U, Â»' ayifo-, â€” 2nd, Nau; or
Asysf, â€” who was also the Anumvoyee, â€” fid, 'Vvxi ' â€” tliat is,
1st, the 0Â«e absolutely good. â€” 2d, The Mind or ^Vord, the
Maker. â€” Sd, Vu^fi the Soul or Spirit.
Seneca's words are remarkable : Quisquis formator universi
fuit, sive ille Deus est pofens omnium, sive incorporalis Ratio,
ingentium operum artifex, sive divinus spiritus, per omnia,
maxima, minima, aequali intentione diffusus. " Whoever was the
former of the universe, whether God Aljiightt, whether incor-
poreal Reason, whetiier the divine Spirit, diffused equally
through all things, the greatest and the least," he adds, "sive
Fatum." See Jortin's Discourses on the Christian Religion.
83 WINTER ErBNIXGS : )06,
unite itself most intimately with our spiritual essence;
and not only so, but our very bodies are rendered
the temples of the divine Person. These poor frail
habitations of the soul are not thought unworthy of
being made the mansions of one Person in the God-
head. Mysterious, yet comfortable and animating
truth ! And let us never incur the danger of losing
the association of this Sanctifier, Illuminator, and
Comforter, by disbelieving, with presimiptuous auda-
city, the reality of his existence, or doubting his ac-
tual operation on the minds of good men.
I know that nothing is more common than to at-
tribute all the operations of the Holy Spirit to ima-
gination and enthusiasm; and that they who at any
time have made pretensions to an}' species or degree
of influence of this supernatural kind, have been
treated, by wicked and worldly men, as well as by
proud phiiosopliers, with contempt and resentment
as fanatical impostors or foolish devotees. He who
undertakes to maintain the reality of it, is considered
by the vain and superficial pretenders to singular
wisdom, as little different from a fool or a hypocrite.
I fear however that persons thus disposed to ridicule
all idea of supernatural influence on the mind of man
by the operation of the Holy Ghost, are in a deplo-
rable condition. They seem to be among those whose
hearts are rendered insensible, and whose eyes are
darkened, because they have perversely and pre-
sumptuously refused to receive the truth as it is in
Jesus, with due faith and humility.
It is by no means inconsistent with the sublimest
philosophy, independently of religion, to believe that
the Supreme Being is able to act on the human mind
by an invisible and supernatural influence. The mojit
celebrated philosophers of antiquity have given rea-
son to conclude, that they thought a very intimate
106. OR, LUCUJBRATIOKS.' 85
connexion subsisted between the soul of man and
the essence of the Divinity : nor did it appear in the
least contradictory to nature and possibility, that he
who made both the soul and body, in a most won-
derful manner, should be able to act upon them
secretly, yet 'povoerfully, and in a manner scarcely less
wonderful than their original creation.
I must confess I cannot help considering the doc-
trine of the Holy Ghost, and its operation on the
human mind, as at once the sublimest and most com-
fortable doctrine of the Gospel.
How little happiness and perfection can I reach
by my own poor efforts ! I struggle, but am defeated;
I climb, but I fall. All u weakness, all is misery.
But the evil is not without a remedy. God Almighty
has promised to strengthen my weakness and comfort
my sorrow, by actuall}^ participating in my nature, if
I endeavour to render myself not unworthy of the
The Scripture expresses the entrance of the Holy
Ghost into the heart of man in strong and lively lan-
guage. We are born again. We are become new
creatures. Glorious advancement to felicity and per-
fection ! Here is scope for ambition. By this union
we become truly ennobled. How sordid, how mean,
how base do the distinctions on which men pride
themselves appear on the comparison ! The true
Christian, whom God has blessed with the influence
of his Holy Spirit, is the only character which de-
serves the appellation of great. All other preten-
sions to greatness appear, on comparison, childish
and ridiculous. The Palingenesia, or regenera-
tion, can alone aggrandize fallen man.
Professed wits and professed philosophers, both of
the minute species, will treat this subject with ridi-
cule. They are ready to denominate whatever \%
81- WINTER EVENINGS : 100.
atlvanced on the subject of supernatural influence,
the mere rant of enthusiasm. Abuse, however,
proves nothing but the levity or anger of him vvlio
has recourse to it. Let it be remembered by him
who feels himself disposed to deride the doctrine of
supernatural influence on the human mind, that it is
not merely the doctrine of any mortal, but of the
Holy Scriptures; and that its truth has been con-
firmed by the actual experience of many good and
pious men, whose reason was in too great a degree
of perfection to be easily deceived, and whose hearts
would not permit them to deceive others. Is it
more difficult to believe that the Spirit of God can
operate on the human soul, than that a piece of
stone or iron, where tliere is no influence or efflu-
ence visible or tangible, should be able to attract
a needle ?
It is difficult indeed to maintain this truly scrip-
tural doctrine, without incurring, in a sceptical age,
the charge of mclliodism. But if such a charge
should be brought against the writer of this paper,
he will bear it v/ith fortitude, while he denies its
justice with perfect confidence. It is, however,
hardly worth while to contend against the misap-
prehensions and misrepresentations of anonymous
ignorance and malice.
107. or, lucubkations. 85
On Carelessjiess respecting Religion.
Man has so natural a tendency to religion, that few
would be irreligious without the intervention of cir-
cumstances produced by pride and wickedness, and
operating against the natural sentiments of the hu-
man mind. The prevalence of vice, at an early age,
conduces greatly to the diffusion of infidelity ; for
when a young man has lost his innocence, and the
satisfaction of a quiet conscience, he is much dis-
posed to listen to any doctrine which pretends to
make him easy, and at the same time allows him to
be vicious. He admits doubts and scruples in this
case, which he would otherwise reject on intuition.
But it seems to be acknowledged, that young men,
in the present age, are admitted into the world, or
introduced into life, as it is called, much earlier than
at any former period. Imagining themselves men,
before they have reached maturity of judgement, they
fall into vices, which, they think, give them a manly
appearance. The next step is to justify \.\\emsit\'ves,,
if possible; and this is attempted by renouncing or
doubting the truth of Christianity.
In thus deluding themselves, they will never be at
a loss for aid, as books abound well calculated to dif-
fuse infidelity, by presenting it under the veil of wit
Writers possessed of ingenuity and taste, but, unfor-
tunately, destituteof sound wisdom and of goodness of
heart, have, in modern times, remarkably abounded ;
and as, from the agreeable dress in which their so-
phistry appears, they amuse and entertain, it is no
VOL, III. I
86 WINTER KVENIXOS: 107.
wonder that they have gained a numerous train of
readers, admirers, and votaries. Theii' writings are
particularly addressed to the rising generation ; and
what, therefore, can be expected, in process of time,
but a deluge of infidelity ?
It is particularly unfortunate, that those who read
the writings of modern philosophers, seldom inspect
those of solid divines ; that they are disgusted with
the dnlness and gravity of both style and subjects of
those who, despising tinsel and paint, have laboured
only to procure the subslance and solidity of truth.
Add to this, that a religious education among
young men of fortune and fashion is become uncom-
mon. There prevails an idea, that to teach young
men the principles of religion according to the ideas
of their grandfathers, is to confine them unfairly in
the trammels of superstition, to render their minds
narrow and contracted, and to preclude an attentiou
to things at that age tar more in character, and far
I have seen many parents anxious on the subject
of their children's education. They would spare no
expense for the acquisition of languages, dancing,
fencing, music, and every attainment which can ren-
der their sons agreeable in company, and skilful in a
profession. They wished to see them qualified as
orators, and all-accomplished as fine gentlemen ; but
they have displayed no remarkable solicitude on their
attainment of religious ideas, and have even hinted
an opinion that religion might be postponed to
a maturer period. They have not, indeed, objected
to a few formalities, such as a regular and decent
attendance at a church, or the learning of a short
catechism ; but they have not seriously and anxiously
laboured the point, like persons sincerely desirous that
it might be pursued with ardour and success.
107. OR, LUCUBRATIONS, 87
But the example of indifference in religion, ex.
bibited by a parent, must always militate strongly
against all that is taught in a school or by a private
Whoever is acquainted with the manners of our
ancestors will acknowledge, that more regard was
formerly paid to the religious instruction of children,
in high as well as in the middle and lower ranks, than
in the present times. Example, parental example,
did more than the best instruction alone can ever
The general omission of family devotion has con-
tributed as much as any cause to the diffusion of an
indifference to all religious concerns. The houses of
our nobility have chapels in them, and service used
to be performed there regularly ; but how few retain
the practice ! The example had a salutary influence
on the subordinate ranks, when almost all families of
respectable character were observed to preserve fa-
mily worship with pious constancy. Fashionable
amusements and dissipation have now scarcely left
time for it, even if the tendencies remained undi-
minished, which it were an excess of candour to
suppose. The consequence is, that not only masters
and mistresses of families, but the children and do-
mestic servants, live Irom day to day without being
reminded of their great Benefactor, and without being
warned of the approach of death, of all the evils to
which life is exposed, and the consolation under them.
The assembling at church is also neglected, as a
necessary consequence of increasing indifference ;
or, if an attendance is kept up, it is often more in
compliance with custom and decency, than from the
warm impulse of a voluntary devotion.
Religious books, both doctrinal and practical,
abound i but who will spend his leisure hours in read-
88 WINTER EVENINGS : 107.
ing them, when he is not duly impressed with the
importance of the subjects ; and when lie is more
powerfully solicited by novels and seducing publica-
tions, which flatter his vices, and, by pleasing, corrupt
From all these causes it happens that infidelity, or
an indifference scarcely less culpable and pernicious,
increases more and more ; and the inference which
the clergy and all sincere Christians must draw is,
that there is a necessity for peculiar exertion to stem
the torrent. But who is able to succeed in so vast
an enterprise ? The consolation is, that each acquits
his own conscience, b}' exerting himself to the best
of his power, and that the blessing of God frequently
gives success to causes apparently inadequate.
108. OR, LUCUBRATIOiJ*. S^
On the Concern tohich every Man has in Theology.
Every superficial talker is ready to object prejudice
against the serious professors of religion. But can
there be any prejudice equal to that of him who con-
siders theology as a matter foreign to himself, fit
only for bigoted and superannuated devotees, and
for those who, from their office and profession, find
it a source of lucre? Such an opinion is equally
narrow and malignant, and no less unphilosophical
Theology is every man's concern, and it is his
duty to study it according to his abilities and oppor-
tunities. If we are all the sons of one Father, and
all bound to do his will, it is certainly the duty of all
to endeavour to discover it. As all regard their
happiness, it is incumbent on all to seek to please
him in whom is the sole disposal of good and evil.
And though a religion is revealed, yet it requires the
attention of its professoi's to be able to receive the
revelation according to the will of the Bestower of it.
And what is this attention but the study of theology ?
Let it not be confined to the cloisters of monks, or
to the sacred profession alone, since it is ever}' man's
most important business to know as much of it as he
can ; to study it amidst his secular employments, and
to .seek consolation from it in adversity, and secu-
rity in the most prosperous state.
It will be readily allowed that every man. the Jew
and Turk as well as Christian, is concerned in what
is called y;rftrf;cfl/ divinity, by which little more is un-
derstood than moral practice. With such divinity, a
fX) WINTER evenings: 108.
man maybe a heathen, and yet a practical divine. A
great part of practical ethics he may certainly learn
without liearing of Christianity.
But I urge, that it is incumbent on every man to
know something of his religion speculatively as well
as practically. I do not mean that he should enter
into controversial points. A little learning of this
kind is a dangerous thing. " It pufFeth up, and de-
stroyeth charity." It commonly leads also to doubt,
and ends in licentious infidelity. But if he reads and
reflects at all, will he not, as a man pretending to
reason, read and reflect on that which claims to be
of the first importance ? on that which gives a peace
which the world cannot give in this state, and in the
next, life everlasting ? Let us weigh these things
duly, and not suffer the words to pass without notice
or effect from the frequency of their occurrence.
People of fortune and condition are anxious to
improve their sons in all fashionable accomplishments,
and are desirous that they should be learned in such
arts as tend to their advancement in life. The law
is studied with uncommon ardour, as opening a road
to the highest honours in civil life ; but as to divinity,
says Sir Phaeton Hunter, " leave that, Tom, to the
But both Sir Phaeton and Tom are as much con-
cerned in divinity as the parsons, so far as relates to
their own spiritual state. But, exclaims the man of
fashion and pleasure, I have no relish for these things.
And why ? Because you understand them not, and
because you have never given your mind to the con-
sideration of them. It is an old saying, Ignofi nulla
cupido, Tliere can be no wish for that of which we
know nothing. The concerns of the man of plea-
sure, which he considers uf so much importance,
his politics, his wit, hie gaming, a)>pcar nonscnsi-
108. OR, LUCUBRATIONS. 91
cal to the plain country man, who understands
them not, but who is wise, like Horace's Ofellus,
without rule, ahnormis sapiens ; wise by the dictates
of common sense, and illuminated by the light which
God has placed in his bosom, and by the sun of
Gospel revelation. .
Many others who pretend to wisdom and philoso-