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he, "was the last man to report a thing which he did not believe; but, like many other good men, it was his foible, in the honesty, frankness, and simplicity of his heart, to tell all he had thought or heard, and, what was still more unfortunate, to believe it all."*
On the whole, it is evident, and we suppose no candid Unitarian will deny this, that Newton always meant to be considered by the public as a Trinitarian. It is obvious from his letter to Locke, and from various occurrences in his life, that he was anxious to avoid any imputation of having departed in this respect from the prevailing belief. Still we should be very far from affirming, that he bad no doubts or misgivings on this subject; nor yet can we consider even this point as established by the loose evidence which we have examined above. Much less have we seen any reason to charge him with the hypocrisy of being a settled and confirmed disbeliever in a doctrine, which he was certainly anxious to have the public suppose he held. If there is any thing to show this, beyond the evidence which we have now examined, it has not fallen under our observation. Whatever there may be, we have no wish to see concealed or set aside. Our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, is not of a kind which can be sustained or shaken by the authority of names. When the fact is proved, we shall just as readily admit, that Newton was a Unitarian, as we now do, that Biot and La Place were disbelievers in the christian religion.
For a more particular account of the pursuits which occupied the leisure hours of Newton during the decline of life, we must refer our readers to Dr. Brewster's work. His duties at the mint demanded a large proportion of his time, but his industry did not suffer a moment to be lost; and in addition to the literary labors which we have mentioned, and various others, he made numerous minor discoveries and inventions of a scientific nature. He retained his ordinary health till his eightieth year, when he suffered an attack from which he never perfectly recovered. During his last illness, he is represented by his physician, Dr. Mead, to have retained his faculties unimpaired. His death occurred on the 20th of March, 1727, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. On the 28th his body lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber at London, whence it was removed to Westminster Abbey, where a monument was erected to his memory by his relatives, in 1731.
In his private character, Newton is said to have been mild, condescending, and benevolent. He was never married; but received every necessary attention from his niece and her husband, who resided in his house. Although retiring and contemplative in his habits, and by no means remarkable for his conversational powers,
Tracts, II. 141.
his company was prized, and his character revered and loved, by all who enjoyed his friendship.
Such was the man, of whom it has been well said that "no man ever left knowledge in a state so different from that in which be found it." Men were instructed not only in new truths, but in new methods of discovering truth; they were made acquainted with the great principle which connects together the most distant regions of space, as well as the most remote periods of duration; and which was to lead to future discoveries, far beyond what the wisest or most sanguine could anticipate. And yet after all his achievements, with the modesty and humility of a child, he felt that he had done comparatively little. "I do not know, says he, what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself with now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." To some, perhaps, such language may seem to savor of affectation. But to those who judge correctly, it will appear to be the genuine language of superior knowledge. Such is the constitution of our nature, that our capacities enlarge with our attainments. Of course, when an individual has arrived at any given point in his acquisitions, from the correspondent expansion of his powers, he sees the path to perfection lengthening out before him, and inviting him by new attractions to press farther onward. If his imagination has learned to arrange in every varied combination, all the forms of beauty which his conception can supply; it now longs to venture upon new creations, and thirsts for undiscovered fountains. If he has been employed on works of taste, till his productions have more than realized the ideal beauty of common minds; he discerns in what he has accomplished, defects invisible to other eyes; and his invention is on the stretch to discover models of more perfect symmetry, or shades of a purer loveliness. If his reason has measured the heights and depths of nature, and laid open the arcana of the universe; that reason turns unsatisfied to search for other mysteries, and addresses itself with new vigor to the task of accomplishing their solution. Thus we may suppose that Milton, after having left behind him, in the boldness of his inventions, all other minds, felt himself adequate to the production of yet more sublime and wonderful creations; and that, to the artist who produced the Belvidere Apollo or the Medicean Venus, those unrivaled specimens of taste and art seemed to fall far short of the true idea of perfect symmetry and beauty. And thus it was that Newton, after all his astonishing achievements, still saw new and untrodden fields of discovery spread out around him, and felt the possibility of unraveling yet deeper intricacies, than any he had succeeded
in unfolding. But whatever judgment he may have passed upon himself, so long as sound philosophy shall be appreciated, so long as truth shall continue to be prized, so long as intellectual superiority shall command admiration and respect-so long will the name of Newton retain its lustre-so long, in the beautiful language of Junius, in reference to Lord Chatham, "recorded honors shall gather round his monument and thicken over him!"
ART. VIII.-DR. MURDOCK'S TRANSLATION OF MOSHEIM'S ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY.
Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, ancient and modern, in four books; much corrected, enlarged, and improved, from the primary authorities. BY JOHN LAWRENCE VOS MOSHEIM, D. D. Chancellor of the University of Göttingen. A New and Literal Translation, from the original Latin, with copious additional notes, original and selected. BY JAMES MURDOCK, D. D. New-Haven: published by A. H. Maltby. 3 vols. 8vo. vol. I. pp. 256.
To give a full account of the affairs of the christian church, from its first establishment to the present time, would require talents and critical abilities of no common cast, even if the original authorities onwhom we must depend for facts, all bore one uniform testimony. There would still be a difficulty of no ordinary magnitude in the paucity of records, especially of the early ages. Here, time has swept away a great part of all that was ever written; and the fragments that remain, are scanty, and often disjointed. We have here a page, there a line, and there a letter; and the historian is left to conjecture the rest. Nor is this all. These scanty materials themselves are often nothing but a confused mass of falsehoods and contradictions, under which lies buried the little truth that remains to be discovered. This chaos he must penetrate and divide, until he reaches the nucleus, about which such a quantity of heterogeneous matter has accumulated. And it will often be his lot to find, after a laborious investigation, that it was at first nothing but the conjecture of ignorance, the dream of enthusiasm, or the misrepresentation of falsehood.
An accurate history of ecclesiastical affairs, then, must be any thing rather than a mere compilation. The historian ought every where to sustain the character of a discerning and impartial judge, as well as a diligent investigator. The ancient writers themselves must not be taken merely on trust, much less the modern. Every author should be tried, both in respect to his general character, and the accuracy of his particular statements. In the accounts transmitted to us of the early ages especially, discordant testimony meets us at almost every step, the moment we pass beyond a mere
outline of affairs. There were those at that period, who thought it no crime to fabricate the grossest falsehoods, when their object was to promote, as they professed, the cause of religion-to confute a heretic, or to convert an unbeliever. The historian must therefore expect to meet with lies as well as mistakes, and investigate accordingly.
We have adverted to these things, in order to give some slight idea of the extent and difficulty of the task imposed upon Mosheim, in the work of which Dr. Murdock has here given us a new translation. We have done it likewise to show our readers, how impossible it is, in a review like the present, to exhibit even a condensed statement of the multifarious questions and discussions, which must necessarily have entered into the composition of the work before us. Mosheim gives us only his results, and these are closely crowded upon every page. We shall not, therefore, venture upon any synopsis of the work; it is itself a synopsis, and a brief one unquestionably, of the whole subject of early church history, as it lay in the author's mind. The correctness of his facts, likewise, and the value of his authorities, are points which we shall leave untouched, for this reason, if no other, that in our country, we have not probably, in one case out of ten, the full means of proving, either that the first are false, or the other worthless. Dismissing therefore all effort at what lies beyond our reach, we shall content ourselves with giving some account of the character and spirit of the work itself, and the translation of Dr. Murdock as compared with that of Maclaine; introducing, however, a few other topics of a general nature, which may not be uninteresting to the reader.
Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History is well known, as a thoroughly critical and learned work. In its original form it was intended as a text-book for lectures on that subject, and was published in two volumes in 1737–41, under the title of "Elements of Christian History." This book was so popular, that in a short time it was out of print, and the author was strongly solicited to publish a new edition. After a considerable delay, on account of other avocations, as well as the labor of correcting the numerous imperfections which he saw in his work, he at length consented, and spent his leisure time for two years in revising and preparing it a second time for the press. He lived just long enough to complete his task, which was finished in 1755; and thus the results of a long and laborious life were secured to the world.
It may be interesting to our readers to know something of the life of one who has gained so much celebrity as an ecclesiastical historian. Dr. Mosheim was of noble birth, and relinquished the fairest prospects of success in civil employments, for a life of study
and devotion to the interests of learning and religion. He was educated at the university of Kiel, and was successively invited to the universities of Copenhagen and Helmstadt in the latter of which he filled the chair of divinity, and was made ecclesiastical counselor to the Duke of Brunswick. When the same Duke of Brunswick, afterwards George H. established the university of Göttingen on so liberal a scale, Mosheim was invited to it, among others of the most eminent men of the age, and presided over the university in the capacity of chancellor, till his death in 1755. Besides the great work before us, and others on miscellaneous subjects, he composed a large number of tracts relating to church history, and especially a full treatise on the affairs of the christian world before the time of Constantine the Great, which has been translated into English. Of this treatise, the corresponding part of his Institutes is an abridgment; the latter containing only the results of those investigations and discussions, which are more fully entered into in the former. The volume before us is enriched with frequent quotations from this work.
Of the character and learning of Mosheim, it may perhaps be considered superfluous to speak, except as they will be made apparent in the course of our criticisms on his work. We will only say, that no other witness to his character is needed, than the high and responsible trusts which he was called to fill; and respecting his learning, that in a nation of literati, while some have confessedly excelled him in particular branches of ecclesiastical history, still, as a standard work on the whole subject, his Institutes are acknowledged not to have been surpassed. And yet a period of more than seventy years has elapsed since their publication; and the field has been cultivated with all that diligence and success, for which, in matters of learning, the Germans are so celebrated.
The principles by which Mosheim was guided in selecting the materials of his history, are in the highest degree judicious. If he failed in any instance to record the truth, his error was not in the rules which guided his investigations. In preparing his work for a second edition, as he tells us in the preface, "his principal care was, to impart fidelity aud authority to the narration." For this purpose, he went to the "primary sources of information, such as the best writers of all ages, who lived in or near the times they describe; and consulted them with attention, and transcribed from them, whenever they were sufficiently concise, and at the same time, clear and nervous.' These excellent and indispensable rules for the composition of authentic history, he had not so scrupulously followed in the first edition; and the consequence was, that when the light of ancient and more correct testimony was "brought to shine on the pages of his own