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to the Holy Mount; but he that has the latter, is like the same person conversing with God on the serene top of it, and shining with rays of anticipated glory. This is the last stage of human perfection, the utmost height of the ladder whereby we ascend to heaven; one step higher, is glory.
"Here then, continues he, I will build my tabernacle; for, it is good to be here. He then goes on to treat of contemplation, which he takes in a peculiar sense, as it signifies an habitual attentive study, application, and conversion of the spirit to God and his divine perfections. Of this, says he, the masters of mystic theology commonly make fifteen degrees. The first is intention of truth. The second is a retirement of all the vigor and strength of the faculties into the innermost parts of the soul. The third is spiritual silence. The fourth is rest. The fifth is union. The sixth is hearing the still voice of God. The seventh is spiritual slumber. The eighth is ecstasy. The ninth is rapture. The tenth is the corporeal appearance of Christ and the saints. The eleventh is the imaginary appearance of the same. The twelfth is the intellectual vision of God. The thirteenth is the union of God in obscurity. The fourteenth is an admirable manifestation of God. The fifteenth is a clear and intuitive vision of him, such as St. Austin and Thomas Aquinas attribute to St. Paul when he was wrapt in the third heaven. Others, continues he, reckon only seven degrees; viz. taste, desire, satiety, ebriety, security, tranquillity; but the name of the seventh, they say, is known only to God. However, he does not agree with the several Platonists, who, finding their master to define contemplation xiaq xa.1 yuipna-it; T?s fyvx.ru uworvv o-a/pal®', a solution and separation of the soul from the body, understood it literally and absolutely; yet, he says, there are exceeding great measures of abstraction in it; so great, that sometimes whether a man be in the body or out of the body, he himself can hardly tell; and consequently, the soul in these preludiums of death, these neighbourhoods of separation, must needs have higher glimpses and beatific ideas of God, than in a state void of these devotions, and consequently must love him with greater ardency. This bring? him to consider this love, which he will have to be not only intellectual, but passionate; the motion of the will being accompanied with a sensible commotion of the spirits, and an estuation of the blood: and animadverting on an argument against this opinion, it is not, says he, all the sophistry of the cold logicians that shall work me out of the belief of what I feel and know, and rob me of the sweetest entertainment of my life, the passionate love of God; whatever some men may pretend, who are strangers to all the affectionate hearts of religion, and therefore make their philosophy a plea for their indevotion, and extinguish all holy .orders with a syllogism; yea, I am firmly persuaded, that our love of God may be not only passionate, but exceeding the love of women. He endeavoured to prove this from the use of church music, and maintains, that though the beauty of God be not the same with that which we see in corporeal beings, and as it comes intellectually, cannot directly fall within the sphere of the imagination; yet it is something analogous to it, and that very analogy is enough to excite a passion: he concludes with
describing the nature and force of seraphic love, which is to love God with the utmost capacity of a mortal creature in this life; when a man, after having many degrees of abstraction from the animal life, many a profound and steady meditation upon the excellencies of God, sees such a vast ocean of beauty and perfection, that he loves him to the utmost stretch of his power. When he sits under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet to his taste. (Canticles, ii. iii.) When he consecrates and devotes himself wholly to him, and has no passion for inferior objects. When he is ravished with delights of his service, and breathes out some of his soul to him in every prayer. When he is delighted with the anthems of praise and adoration more than marrow or fatness, (Psalm cxix.) and feasts upon hallelujahs. When he melts into a calenture of devotion, and his soul breatheth out with fervent desires. When the one thing he delights in, is to converse with God in the beauty of holiness, and the one thing he desires, is to see him in heaven. This is seraphic love; and this, with contemplation, makes up that which the mystic divines style the unitive way of religion. By union, he does not understand that which is local, nor that of grace, nor yet that of charity; these two last being common to all men who, indeed, love God, but want the excellency of contemplative and mystic union: the union which these speak of, is between the faculty and the object, consisting of some habitude or operation of one towards the other. The faculties are the understanding and will, and the object God, and the operations, contemplation and love; the result of which two, in the mystic union, is thus admirably presented by Bishop Taylor in his work entitled, The Great Examination. 'It is,' says he,' a prayer of quietness and silence, and a meditation extraordinary, a discourse without variety, a vision and intuition of divine excellencies, an immediate entry into an orb of light, and a resolution of all our faculties into sweetness, affections, and gazings upon the divine beauty; and is carried on to ecstasies, raptures, suspensions, elevations, abstractions, and apprehensions beatifical.'"
The opinion of Platonists, that "there is concealed in the minds of all men a spark of the same wisdom that exists in the Supreme Being," is said by Mosheim, (Cent. xxii. § 2. part 2.) "to be the fundamental doctrine of Quakerism." All, according to their tenets, who seek to arrive at true felicity and eternal salvation, should endeavour by self-converse, contemplation, and perpetual efforts, to subdue their sensual affections, and draw forth this divine hidden flame; and those by whom this mysterious operation is accomplished, feel a divine glow of light and warmth, and hear an inward and divine voice which, at once, leads them to truth and assures them of their union with the divine being. This spiritual in-dwelling energy they call a ray of eternal wisdom; in general, they receive its impressions and commune with it in silence; but it sometimes urges them to impart its holy truths to neighbours. The spirit, then, in their language, moveth them to speak.
The mysticism of the Methodists is described no where so well as in the sermon of Mr. John Wesley, entitled " The Witness of the Spirit." He takes for his text the verse, (Rom. viii. 16.) "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." The doctrine which he professes to deduce from these words, he announces to be important. He observes, that " it the more nearly concerns the Methodists, so called, clearly to understand, explain, and defend it; because it is one grand part of the testimony which God has given them to bear to all mankind. It is by his peculiar blessing upon them in searching the scriptures, confirmed by the experience of his children, that the great evangelical truth has been recovered, which had been for many years well nigh forgotten." He then proceeds to unfold the great evangelical truth. The spirit which he first mentioned in his text is, according to the explanation which he gives of it, the spirit of God; the other spirit mentioned in it, is the testimony of one's own conscience.
"By the former, I mean," says Mr. Wesley, "an inward impression on my soul; whereby the spirit of God immediately and directly witnesseth to my spirit that I am a child of God. That Jesus Christ has loved me; has given himself for me; that all my sins are blotted out; and I, even I, am reconciled to God. But I do not," continues Mr. Wesley, "mean hereby that the spirit of God testifies this by any outward voice: no, nor always by an inward voice, although he may do this sometimes. Neither do I suppose that he always applies to the heart (though he often may) one or more texts of the scriptures: but he so works upon the soul by his immediate influence, and by strong, though inexplicable, operation, that the stormy wind and troubled waves subside, and there is a sweet calm: the heart resting as in the arms of Jesus, and the sinner being already satisfied, that God is reconciled, that all his iniquities are forgiven, and his sins covered." This inward conviction, or, in the language of the Methodists, this experience of the soul, that she is an object of divine favor, is not the result of reasoning, it is the voice of the spirit announcing its feelings antecedently to any reasoning whatsoever. "But let none," says Mr. Wesley, " presume to rest on any supposed testimony of the spirit, which is separate from the truth of it; love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance. On the other hand, let none rest on any supposed trust of the spirit without the witness." What, then, is this great evangelical truth which Mr. Wesley seems to claim exclusively for himself and his followers? In what does it differ from the general belief of all Christians, that he who loves God and keeps his commandments, that he has a consciousness of the divine favour and the joy of a good conscience.
All who turn their attention to mystical lore will peruse with pleasure Peter Poiret's Bibliotheca Mystica, 1 vol. 8vo. Amst. 1708; the preface of de Villeson to his life of St. Theresa, and the preface of the late M. Emery, the superior of the Sulpician congregation of St. Sulpice at Paris to his work entitled IS Esprit de Sainte Theresa, 1 vol. 8vo. In the Exposition de la Doctrine de Leibnitz, 1 vol. Svo. a very interesting publication, for which we are chiefly indebted to M. Emery, some passages from the letters of Leibnitz are transcribed, in which he mentions the writings of St. Theresa with esteem, and says, that "they had suggested useful reflections to him," and that "he had found some solid reflections in those of St. Catherine of Genoa." In considering the nature and operations of the intellectual powers of man, we have sometimes thought that the reciprocal action of the soul on the imagination, and of the imagination on the soul, where the senses do not interfere, has not been sufficiently considered, and that a philosophical perusal of some of the most eminent mystics would lead to useful observation on this curious subject.
Art X. The Works of Mr. John Dennis, in Two Volumes, consisting of Plays, Poems, Sfc. London, 1721.
Original Letters, Familiar and Critical, by Mr. Dennis, in Two Volumes. London, 1721.
John Dennis, the terror or the scorn of that age, which is sometimes strangely honored with the title of Augustan, has attained a lasting notoriety, to which the reviewers of our times can scarcely aspire. His name is immortalized in the Dunciad; his best essay is preserved in Johnson's Lives of the Poets; and his works yet keep their state in two substantial volumes, which are now before us. But the interest of the most poignant abuse and the severest criticism quickly perishes. We contemplate the sarcasms and the invectives which once stung into rage the irritable generation of poets, with as cold a curiosity as we look on the rusty javelins or stuffed reptiles in the glass cases of the curious. The works of Dennis will, however, assist us in forming a judgment of the criticism of his age, as compared with that of our own, and will afford us an opportunity of investigating the influences of that popular art, on literature and on the affections.
But we must not forget, that Mr. Dennis laid claims to public esteem, not only as a critic, but as a wit, a politician, and a poet. In the first and the last of these characters, he can receive but little praise. His attempts at gaiety and humour are weighty and awkward, almost without example. His poetry can only be described by negatives; it is not inharmonious, nor irregular, nor often turgid—for the author, too nice to sink into the mean, and too timid to rise into the bombastic, dwells in elaborate " decencies for ever." The climax of his admiration for Queen Mary—" Mankind extols the king—the king admires the queen"—will give a fair specimen of his architectural eulogies. He is entitled to more respect as an honest patriot. He was, indeed, a true-hearted Englishman—with the legitimate prejudices of his country—warmly attached to the principles of the Revolution, detesting the French, abominating the Italian opera, and deprecating as heartily the triumph of the Pretender, as the success of a rival's tragedy. His political treatises, though not very elegantly finished, are made of sturdy and lasting materials. He appears, from some passages in his letters, to have cherished a genuine love of nature, and to have turned, with eager delight, to her deep and quiet solitudes, for refreshment from the feverish excitements, the vexatious defeats, and the barren triumphs, of his critical career. He admired Shakespear, after the fashion of his age, as a wild irregular genius, who would have been ten times as great, had he known and copied the ancients. The following is a part of his general criticism on this subject, and is a very fair specimen of his best style:
"Shakespear was one of the greatest geniuses that the world e'er saw for the tragick stage. Tho' he lay under greater disadvantages than any of his successors, yet had he greater and more genuine beauties than the best and greatest of them. And what makes the brightest glory of his character, those beauties were entirely his own, and owing to the force of his own nature; whereas his faults were owing to his education, and to the age that he liv'd in. One may say of him as they did of Homer, that he had none to imitate, and is himself inimitable. His imaginations were often as just, as they were bold and strong. He had a natural discretion which never could have been taught him, and his judgment was strong and penetrating. He seems to have wanted nothing but time and leisure for thought, to have found out those rules of which he appears so ignorant. His characters are always drawn justly, exactly, graphically, except where he fail'd by not knowing history or the poetical art. He has, for the most part, more fairly distinguish'd them than any of his successors have done, who have falsified them, or confounded them, by making love the predominant quality in all. He had so fine a talent for touching the passions, and they are so lively in him, and so truly in nature, that they