Page images

On Supernatural Powers.

difficult to prove,

tirely cheat and collusion, managed by the artifice of crafty and designing men. And no doubt there was a great deal of human fraud in them; so that in very many cases, we need not look for any other solution for those appearances, by which the vulgar were deluded. But yet any one, who carefully considers, what account the very best, and least credulous of ancient writers give of them, will find it very

that never any other agents but human, had any concern in them. There are some such express predictions related, as cannot wel, with any modesty be denied to have been made; nor is it so easy to account for them in the


of human artifice, as it is to show how they might, by wicked spirits, have been collected from the true Oracles of God, and then delivered as their own to gain credit to that. idolatrous worship of wicked spirits, into which by the just judgement of God, those nations were fallen which had departed from the worship of the one true God. Nor is it easy to account for what, doth Plato and Xenophon two intimate acquaintance of Socrates, so particularly and expressly relate concerning that Genius or Demon, which

gave that good man such frequent and remarkable advertisements, to restrain bim from any design whereby he was likely to fall into any mistake or danger. However, it is not necessary to my present purpose to enter so far into the controversy, as to determine the matter either

way ;

for let all that was pretended to by these Oracles be never so much a cheat, yet there must have been originally some ground of truth to build all this cheat upon," &e.

“Of works, above or against the course (or power) of nature," say's

Barrow, « I affirm, that no man can deny many such, to have been performed, without giving the lie to the most authen. tic records of history that are or have been extant; without ex. tremely disparaging the credit of mankind, without impeaching all nations and all ages, not only of extreme weakness (in credus lous assent unto regarding and relying upon such appearances ; which not only the vulgar sort, but even princes and statesmen, learned men and philosophers, everywhere have done) but of notorious baseness and dishonesty, in devising and reporting them; without indeed derogating utterly from all testimony that can be rendered to any matter of fact , and rendering it wholly insignia

Leng's Sermons at the Boyle Lecture, pp. 388. 339.

The Cards Spiritualized,

ficant; for that if we may disbelieve these reports, there is no reason we should believe any thing that is told us.

“I may adjoin to the former sorts of extraordinary actions, those (which the general opinion of mankind hath approved, and manifold testimony hath declared frequently to happen) which concern apparitions from another world" (as it were) of beings musual'; concerning spirits haunting persons and places; (these discerned by all senses, and by divers kinds of effects) of which the old world (the ancient poets and historians) did speak so much, and of which all ages have afforded several attestations very direct and plain, and having all advantages imaginable to beget credence. Concerning visions made unto persons of especial eminency and influence, (priests and prophets :) concerning presignifications of future events by dreams; concerning the power

of enchantin ments, implying the co-operation of invisible powers; concerning all sorts of intercourse and confederacy. (formal or virtual) with bad spirits; all which things he that shall affirm to be mere fiction and delusion, must thereby with exceeding immodesty and ruden ness, charge the world with extreme both vanity and malignity; many (if not all) worthy historians of much inconsiderateness of fraud, most lawgivers of great silliness and rashness, most judiçatories of high stupidity or cruelty, a vast number of witnesses, of the greatest malice or madness; all which have concurred to Assert these matters of fact."--Bar. 5. 213.



One Richard Middleton, a private soldier, attending divine service with the rest of the regiment, at a church in Glasgow, instead of pulling out a Bible, like his brother soldiers, in order to search for the text, spread a pack of cards before him. This singular behaviour did not long pass unnoticech, both by the minister and the serjeant of the company to which he belonged; the latter, in particular, commanded him to put up his cards: and on huis refusal, conducted him after divipe service before the

Barrow's Works, V. 207.

The Cards Spiritualized.

Since your

chief magistrate, tu whom he preferred a formal complaint of Richard's irreverend behaviour. “ Well, soldier,” said the magistrate," what excuse have you to offer for this strange and scandalous behaviour? If you can make any apology, or as. sign any reason for it, 'tis well; if you cannot, assure yourself that I will cause you to be severely punished.” honour is so good,” replied Richard, as to permit me to speak for myself, an't please your worship, I have been eight days upon the march, with a bare allowance of sixpence a-day, which, your honour will surely allow is hardly sufficient to maintain a man in meat, drink, washing, and other necessaries; and consequently, he may want either a bible, prayer-book, or any other book, On saying this, Richard pulled out his cards, presented one of the aces to the magistrate, and continued his address to him as follows: “ When I see an ace, may it please your honour, it reminds me that there is only one God; and when I look upon a two or a three, the former puts me in mind of the Father and Son, and the latter of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. A four calls to my remembrance the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John: a five, the five wise vir. gins who were ordered to trim their lamps, (there were ten ordered, but five, your worship may remember, were wise and five foolish;) a six, that in six days God created heaven and earth; a seven, that on the seventh day he rested from all that he had made; an eight, of the eight righteous persons preserved from the deluge, viz. Noah and his wife, with his three sons and their wives; a nine of the lepers cleansed by the Saviour ; there were ten, but one only returned to offer his tribute of thanks; and a ten, of the ten commandments.” Richard took the knave, and placed it by him; and then

passed to the queen, on which he observed as follows: this queen reminds me of the queen of Sheba, who came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; as her companion' the king, does of the great king of heaven, and of king George the Third.” “ Well," replied the magistrate

you have given me a very good description of all the cards .except the knave."

66 If
honour will not be


with me," replied Richard, “ I can give you the same satisfaction as to that, as of any card in the pack. " I will not,” said the magistrate. Well,” returned the soldier," the greatest knave I know is the serjeant who brought me before you."

" I don't

The True Rights of Man

know," replied the magistrate, “whether he is the greatest knave or not, but I am sure he is the greatest fool of the two.". The soldier then proceeded; “ When I count the number of dots in a pack of cards, there are 365; so many days are there in a year. When I count how many cards there are in a pack, I find fifty-two; so many weeks are there in a year. When I reckon how

many tricks are won by a pack of cards, I find there are thirteen; so many months there are in a year. So that this pack of cards, is both bible, almanack, and prayer-book to me.

The magistrate then called his servants, ordered them to entertain the soldier well, gave him a piece of money, and said that he was the cleverest fellow in the whole regiment.


All wise statesmen are persuaded, that the more men know of their rights, the better subjects they will become. Subjects not from necessity; but choice, are the firmest friends of

every government. The people of Great Britain are well acquainted with their natural and social rights; they understand them better than the people of any other country do; they know that they have a right to be free, not only from the capricious tyranny of any one man's will, but from the more afflicting despotism of republican factions; and it is this very knowledge which attaches them to the constitution of their country. I have no fear that the people should know too much of their rights; my fear is that they should not know them in all their relations and to their full extent. The government does not desire that men should remain in ignorance of their rights; but it both desires and requires that they should not disturb the public peace, under vain pretences; that they should make themselves acquainted not merely with the rights, but with the duties also of men in civil society. I am far from ridiculing (as some have done) the rights of man; I have long ago understood, that the poor as well as the rich, and that the rich as well as the poor, have by nature some rights which no human government can justly take from them, without their tacit or express consent; and some also, which they themselves have no power to surrender to any government. One of the principal rights of man, in a state


either of nature or of society, is a right of property in the fruits of his inchistry, ingenuity, or good fortune. Does government hold any man in ignorance of this right? so much the contrary that the

chief care of government is to declare, ascertain, modify and defend this right; . nay, it gives right, where nature gives nowe; it protects the good of an intestate; and it allows a man at his death to dispose of that property, which the law of wature would cause to revert into the common stock. Sincerely as I am attached to the liberties of mankind, I cannot but profess myself an utter enemy to that spurious philosophy, that democratic insanity which would equalize al property, and level al distinctions in civil society. Personal distinctions, arising from superior probity, learning, eloquence, skill, courage, and from every other excellency of talents, are the very blood and nerves of the body politic; they animate the whole, and invigorate every part; without them its bones would become reeds, and its marrow, water; it would presently sink into a fetid, senseless mass of corruption. Power may be used for private ends, and in op. position to the public good; rank may be improperly conferred, and insolently sustained ; riches may be wickedly acquired, and Viciously applied; but as this is neither necessarily, nor generally the case, I cannot agree with those who, in asserting the natural equality of men, spurn the instituted distinctions attending power, rank, and riches." Bishop WATSON.


Levity of behaviour is the bane of all that is good and virtuous.

Trifling is the fashion of the times; nay it seems to constis tute a part of their frame and essence : as this is the case, who would be out of the fashion? And is there any harm in trifling? There is



do not trifle with harm. There is yet a softer name for trifles-LEVITIES;—the name which I have adopted, under which the goddess Trivia presides over such a number of subjects in this country.

What can posses Lady Betty—to dress and act as if she meaned to attract the notice of a number of visitors, when her huss band, who married her for love, is particularly averse to such bea

« PreviousContinue »