Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, 3rd ser. 2 (1823), 309–17.
[Review of Theological Institutes, Part 1, by Richard Watson] [1/2]
Mathematics, Proof, Christianity, Biblical Authority, Metaphysics, Natural Philosophy, Natural Theology, Geology, Ancient Authorities, Miracle, Natural Law
David Hume , George Campbell
Introduces the review with observations on the deficiencies of the many existing systems of theology in English. Observes: 'Much valuable information may doubtless be derived from the Lectures of Dr. Doddridge; but their mathematical form renders their general tendency injurious, rather than otherwise; as leading inexperienced minds to subject even the most sublime discoveries of revelation to a mode of proof of which they are not legitimately capable'. Applauds Watson for his deference to the Bible, and his 'perfect inaptitude to associate its hallowing truths with philosophical refinements'. Quotes Francis Bacon (1st Viscount St Alban): 'We ought not to attempt to drawn down or submit the mysteries of God to our reason; but, on the contrary, to raise and advance our reason to the divine truth'. Includes Bacon's observation that the mixing of religion and philosophy 'undoubtedly will make an heretical religion and a fabulous philosophy'. (309) Records that the work 'contains none of those dangerous concessions on the subject of what is called natural religion, which several preceding apologists for Christianity have unhappily made'. Summarizes the argument, noting that the work 'concludes by an answer to miscellaneous objections; especially those which are deduced from the infant science of Geology'. (310) Emphasizes the importance of Watson's discussion of the lack of divine knowledge amongst the ancients, independent of the revelation to the Jews. Gives extensive extracts from Watson's account of the evidential value of miracles.
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