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approve the good sense of that apology of his for giving up his favourite Homer, de Rep. 1. x. Καιτοι φιλια γε τις με και αισθως εκ παιδος εχεσα περι ομηρο απ οκώλυει λεγειν
* αλλ' 8 γαρ προ γε της αληθειας τιμητέος avre.
I am mistaken, if many will not be surprised at a very recent fact, but little known, which I have had occasion to mention, concerning the ecclesiastical authority exercised by the english bishops over the Americans, since they became independent of the civil power of this country. It will appear incredible to them, that in these enlightened times, the leading clergy should seek to put the episcopalians upon that continent, under harrows of iron, and constrain them, as far as they could, to receive the spurious creed of Athanafius, and to become shackled with other religious fetters, from which Tillotson, Hoadley, Herring, &c. would have rejoiced to have delivered others, as well as to have been delivered themselves.
Having been led to say something concerning the history of the fall, I have spoken
without reserve, and I trust, not without some proof alleged, as much as I had room for, of the non-existence of such evil beings, as the devil, Satan, and demons without end, mentioned in the scriptures. I have been informed that the apparent (a) letting loose as it were of so many of these last, at the first preaching of the gospel, was one of the principal things that contributed to make the ingenious Rouleau an unbeliever; as it seemed to him, with good reason, a thing quite out of nature, and probability. But a proper inquiry, and investigation would have shewn him,
(a) One is furprized that the learned Fortin, should have paid so little attention to this subject, and to what Mede and Sykes had remarked upon it, (for Lardner and Farmer had not then published their fentiments) as to fall into this Atrange notion of demons having a greater license than usual to afflict mankind, in the age of the apostles. One reason, says he, "for which the divine providence should suffer fpirits 'to exert their malignant powers so much at that time, might * be to give a check to Sadduceifm among the jews, and to * epicurean atheism among the gentiles, and to remove in 'some measure these two impedirnents to the gospel.' Rem. on Eccl. Hift. vol. i. p. 14. We may venture to pronounce, that no fudducee, or epicurean adicist, was ever converted by such inftrumentality, and argument.
that there was no phenomenon of the kind at that time more than at any other; and that these things being mentioned by the sacred writers is no proof of their reality. They expressed themselves on these matters agreeably to the superstition of the times and their own prejudices. And so far is their representation of things, however mistaken therein, from invalidating the sacred history, that it is a proof of its antiquity, and genuineness.
It would be no difficult task, by a few remarks interspersed, and illustrations of the feveral passages of the bible, where the word Satan, &c. is named, to enable the commonest reader to see, that divine revelation gives' no countenance to the existence of any such evil beings, or to any power but that of our benevolent creator being exercised over
And I hope this will be confidered, among many other things, in a new version of the bible, whenever it is undertaken without respeci to any great churches, or parties in religion.
Some little merit I will take to myself in one thing, because it is not my own, and I am merely concerned in it as a translator ; viz. in having produced to light the MS. of
Castellio's, published about thirty years since by Wetstein, but never noticed that I know by any one fince, in our
own or any other country. It is so very free, that the editor seemed almost afraid of exhibiting it, left he should give offence; as you will observe from his words in the margin (6), with which he introduces it. And yet the distinction that the author makes, between the several parts of the scriptures, and the different account we ought to make of each, is so just and full of good sense ; that every judicious person will approve it. I would add, that this incomparable critic
(b) Animus etiam erat, ad examen revocare, quæ S. Castellio paulo ante obitum de interpretatione scripturæ in chartas conjecerat; cum vero nec libri ad manum fint de arte hermeneutica scripti, quos cum fyftemate MS. conferrem, nec tantum otii nunc habeam, malui aliorum prius judicia experiri qui etiamfi forte aliter fentiant atque clarisfimus ille scripturæ interpres, non ægre tamen ferent, spero, qux cogitate meditatus est, a fitu et interitu vindicata, secum communicari. Saltem quod ad me attinet, malim legere scriptum viri docti et pii, meæ fententiæ oppofitum, quam scriptum hominis mali et indocti pro mea sententia editum. A tali adversario femper aliquod discimus, &c. Wetstein. N. T. vol. ii. p. 884.
will satisfy any one that is unprejudiced, that even greater liberties may be taken than Dr. Priestley or others have done, with relation to the characters and imperfect reasonings in the scriptures, without hurting the evidence for the facts of the New Tef-' tament, or weakening the foundation of our faith, which rests on the well authenticated miracles of Christ and his apostles, and his resurrection from the dead.
Of the late bishop Butler I had some little personal knowlege, not long before he was raised to the fee of Durham ; but had an opportunity of knowing more of his character from a correspondence, which he had long kept up with a friend he highly respected, and to whom he communicated himself very freely. He had great piety, but it was of a gloomy cast, and tending to superstition; which he might have caught from reading the lives of romilh saints, some of which I was the means of handing to him. He always appeared dissatisfied with the public state of things and of the world; which might originate from his views of divine