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“ Miss Hannah's heels are greasy, let me say;
“ Miss Hannah's heels are very stiff indeed: “ Her form is rather fitted for the dray,
“ Than on NewMARKET turf to shew a speed.”
IN the History of Mr. FANTOM she endeavours to ridicule and render philosophy contemptible., She does not give him a uniform bad character; she allows him some excellencies, but these excellencies she makes vices. Narrowness of mind, ignorance, bigotry, priestcraft, public good, the love of mankind, and, strange to tell, benevolence, are all equally vices. She describes Fantom as “ desirous of seeing himself at the “ head of a society of his own formation and pro“selytism; the supreme object of a philosopher's « ambition!” This character is well illustrated, indeed, in her own conduct of Sunday-schools. — Whatever Fantom began with, he was sure in his conversation to end with a “ pert squib at the bi“ ble, a vapid jest on the clergy, the miseries of “ superstition, and the blessings of philosophy.” Whatever mischief false notions of political philosophy may have done, the lamentable effects of superstition in all ages of the world have been grievously felt; and the direful effects of Mrs. More's late proceedings at Blagdon and elsewhere, her underhand and subtle means to propagate and maintain a non-descript system of fa
natical mysticism, are a proof that this story was written with some view.
I will not do her the injustice to say that she appears to have no regard for religion. On the contrary, she makes great professions ; but her religion, if in reality she has any, is far from rational; it is not the religion of the bible. She is a woman of understanding and knowledge; and, therefore, there is room to suspect, that, on account of her subtle, pragmatical character, religion in her is craft and cunning, otherwise, with her information, her religion would appear more rational, and therefore more scriptural.
Under the character of Trueman, she has a quarrel with NATURE, which he personified. But is not God personified in the scriptures and in our daily speech? Although his necessary existence excludes all relation to one place more than another, and that he is equally present every where, still that and every other attribute, except his moral, are altogether incomprehensible to us; and our personification of nature, or of God, is because our faculties are too imperfect and finite to conceive or reason concerning the Supreme Being. From our daily and constant observation, and the latest improvements in natural knowledge, we are convinced that the energy and power constantly and regularly exerted in every part of the universe, is necessary for the support and cohesion of the parts of matter, and that this energy, this law of matter, this law of the universe, this law of nature, is God, in the heavens above, and in the earth
beneath, in all imaginable worlds, and in all imaginable space. In this kind of reasoning, the mind of man, from obvious and manifest appear· ances, rests perfectly satisfied in that one con
scious, intelligent nature, which pervades the entire system. This view of this amazing attribute, instead of being a point of mere speculation, is, indeed, one of the most pleasing and useful thoughts that can enter the soul of man. The scriptures, indeed, represent him as dwelling in heaven, preparing his throne, and displaying his glory, but these expressions do not mean that his presence is confined to any one place, for that is impossible ; and they relate only to particular emanations of his glory.
What can we learn concerning God, but his attributes? Is it possible for us, finite beings, to comprehend or conceive any idea of God or his existence. We see him in his works only and his providence. Nature and God are synonymous terms. “ Doth not nature herself teach,” said the Apostle, “ Behold I go forward, but he is not “ there; and backward, but I cannot perceive “ him: on the left hand where he doth work, but “ I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the “ right hand that I cannot see him.” We cannot conceive of the Deity without personification, and though the bible ascribeth to him eyes, hands, &c. on account of the imperfection not only of human language, but of the human intellect, it is inconsistent with genuine piety to consider the Deity as stationary or local, for he is every where,
by any personification. But Hannah has a quarrel with nature, for nature, some time or other, seems to have led her a merry dance, and played her some tricks.
This convenient and polite Mr. Fantom, who says any thing she bids him, as obediently as any of her nine parsons, proposes to “ do away all the “ religions, and put an end to all the wars in the “ world.” In this part of her story, she has not shewn much ingenious invention; for the termination of war, which would be a loss to Hannah, is no natural consequence of the extinction of religion. If Mr. Fantom could put an end to war, he certainly would be the best friend of mankind the world ever yet saw ; but that we do not expect, nor do we think non-descriptism will accelerate the advent of that blessed day. The lady's Somerset disciples, by her direction, promise war at Blagdan, for at least ten years to come...
Mr. Trueman, however, whom she makes her favourite character, proposeth to re-christianize the world. This event is devoutly to be wished for, but will system-mongers suffer that to be done? Will Hannah herself give her vote for the abolition of the athanasian creed to begin with ? No! for the neglect of reading it was an heinous of'fence in Mr. Bere. Will she agree that the scriptures only shall be the rule of faith, without enforcing by pains and penalties, a human construction and addition ? Among all the reforms she has not forgot the hụman heart. The part she acted in the Blagdon Controversy, is a strong proof how necessary this reform is at Cowslip-Green and its neighbourhood; and the proposal is a lamentable proof how much easier it is for the lady to preach, than to practise.
Every excellence is to be met with in the character of Trueman, and almost every vice in that of Fantom the philosopher. Philosopher here, is a misnomer; and every effort is made, in the true bloody spirit, and in the spirit of the time when she wrote that execrable performance (a performance calculated to continue those measures pretended to be the salvation of the country ; but in reality, as all wise men foresaw, its ruin) to assist in deluging the world with blood, by rendering philosophy, which in spite of all that can be said to the contrary, has done as much to civilize mankind as christianity herself, disreputable, and in its stead, to superinduce an age of darkness and superstition; to renew scenes similar to those in France, not indeed in the name of philosophy and rights of man, or of woman, but in the “ name of “ the Lord,” the“ grand-scheme,” the “pure gos“pel.” The same spirit, in the same infuriate heart, would soon light the faggot in Smithfield, had not the spirit of genuine philosophy enlightened this land, and law protected the establishment, and a legal toleration sheltered those who ingenuously dissent from the church. In this piece, there is more art and subtlety than can be seen with half an eye. It is an effort to restore the reign of supersti