Page images

detail and numerical calculations, which are necessary in the application of the formulas. Lagrange succeeded Euler in the direction of the academy at Berlin, and he resided there till the death of Frederick, soon after which, in the year 1787, he was invited by the French minister to accept an appointment at Paris, where he remained till his decease, in 1813. For several years after his return to Paris, he was affected with a melancholy depression of spirits, or apathy, which made him wholly inattentive to mathematical pursuits ; he said his enthusiasm was extinct; and, for two years after his Mécanique Analytique had been printed, his curiosity had not been sufficiently excited to cut open the leaves and look at his printed copy. A mind like Lagrange's could not, however, be unoccupied. The discoveries that had been inade in chemistry, and the new nomenclature, attracted his attention ; he studied that science, which had formerly appeared obscure, and was surprised to find it, to use his own expression, as easy as algebra ; he attended also to other branches of science, to literature, and to metaphysics. The revolution, which soon after took place, again excited him, and renewed his zeal for his former pursuits; and, in the few last years of his life, he appeared with all the energy of his best days. He was a great admirer of the talents and writings of Newton, but remarked, that Newton must be considered as very fortunate, in being born at a time, when an opportunity was given him to explain the system of the world ; a good fortune, added he, with an air of chagrin, that one does not meet with every day. He recommended the writings of Euler to students as models, without seeming to be aware, that nothing better could be offered for their imitation than some of his own works.

The discoveries of Laplace, who now takes the lead in mathematical acquirements, have been very numerous and important; several of them have already been mentioned. It would extend too far the limits of this review to attempt to analyse, or give a particular account of his great work, the Mécanique Céleste, in which all his improvements are embodied with those of the eminent men, who preceded him ; the whole formmg a complete and beautiful system of all that is now known in physical astronomy. Those, who take pleasure in the abstruse investigation of modern analysis, may there VOL. XX.NO. 47.


find it applied, with great elegance, to the demonstration of all the principles of dynamics, to the figures and motions of the planetary bodies, satellites, and comets, and to the effects of their mutual attractions. The theorems and principles contained in this work have been explained by Laplace, in as popular a manner as the nature of the subject would admit, in his Exposition du Système du Monde, which has gone through five editions, with numerous improvements. Whoever will make himself master of these works, will have no need to seek in other sources for anything relative to the principles of physical astronomy, or the application of those principles to the system of the world.

ART. V.- Letters on the Gospels. By Miss HANNAH Adams.

13mo. pp. 216. Cambridge. Hilliard & Metcalf. 1824. The author of these letters has long been known to the public, as a successful writer on theological subjects, and as having rendered essential service to religion, by the productions of her pen. Her Views of Religions, or, as she denominates it in the last edition, her Dictionary of all Religions and Religious Denominations, has been a popular work from the time of its first publication. It has passed through four editions, the last of which is enlarged and greatly improved. It was published in England, with a preface and additions, by Mr Andrew Fuller; and also in another form by Mr Thomas Williams, who likewise made alterations. To both these editors, Miss Adams acknowledges herself indebted, for some of the improvements of her fourth edition. This work is the best manual with which we are acquainted, for giving information respecting the religious views now entertained by Christians, and such as have prevailed in different ages, since the origin of Christianity. It has the peculiar merit of the strictest candor and impartiality; and so completely has the author divested herself of all individual prepossessions, that it may be doubted whether, from a single passage in the whole work, her own religious sentiments can be inferred. This freedom from personal bias, in exhibiting the views of others, especially on topics rarely touched without calling out private opinion, inspires confidence in her statements, as well as respect for her judgment and christian charity.

The public is also indebted to Miss Adams for a History of the Jews, from the Destruction of Jerusalem to the Nineteenth Century. This is a judicious and well arranged compilation from the best authors, and brings to the knowledge of the reader, all the important incidents in the history of that remarkable people, from the destruction of their city, down to recent times. It speaks of the persecủtion suffered by the Jews, their religious ceremonies and tenets, their various conditions as a people, and their steadfastness in adhering, under every vicissitude of fortune, to their national pecuJiarities.

Miss Adams's Summary History of New England has been commended for its accuracy, and the perspicuity of its style.

The reputation, which she has acquired by the above works, will not suffer by her Letters on the Gospels. She professes to have written them for the improvement of the young, and to this end they are exceedingly well adapted. Every one knows, that throughout the writings of the Evangelists, perpetual allusions are made to the customs of the times, local circumstances, the religion of the Jews, and habits of thinking peculiar to the age ; and that, without a knowledge of these particulars, the meaning of Scripture is, in many parts, obscure and uncertain. Had facts of this sort always been sought out and carefully studied, by those who have undertaken to interpret the Scriptures, the world might have been spared a thousand absurdities, which have gone abroad in the garb of commentaries and annotations, and the substance of religion might have been profited by the labor and ingenuity, that have been wasted on its unreal forms. In her first letter, Miss Adams has the following just remarks; While attentively perusing the New Testament, always bear in mind that the Gospel was first preached to the Jews, in Judea, and that the Evangelists and Apostles, with the exception, perhaps, of St Luke, were all of the Hebrew nation. Much of the

peculiar beauty of the inspired writings cannot be perceived, unless the history, condition, and character of the Jews have become objects of your attention, not only during the period of the Mosaic dispensation, as recorded in the Old Testament, but at the time of our Lord's appearance. It is also important to understand the frequent allusions in the New Testament to their opinions, habits, manners, and ceremonies. A view of the darkness and depravity which prevailed in the world, both among the Jews and Gentiles, at the period when our Saviour appeared upon earth, will enable you to appreciate more justly the divine excellence of the christian dispensation. To supply the means for making these acquisitions, and arriving at a clear understanding of the New Testament, is the special purpose of the author.

She begins with a general description of the state of the world, at the time our Saviour appeared, in regard to the government, learning, philosophy, superstitions, and objects of worship among the Gentile nations, and also the civil and religious condition of the Jews, the sects and parties into which they were divided, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and those whose opinions were tinctured with the Oriental philosophy. She next proceeds to a short geographical sketch of the Holy Land, and of the principal cities, villages, mountains, and other places, that are made famous in the history of our Lord. This is followed by a brief history of Jerusalem since that time. Several letters are then devoted to the discourse of our Saviour, in which the numerous allusions to the opinions and habits of the Jews are pointed out, and aptly explained. This part is highly interesting, and is calculated to lend important aids to the young student of the Gospels, as well as to instruct the more practised reader of the Scriptures, who has not turned his thoughts to these subjects. The miracles next come under notice. This head might have been enlarged upon to advantage, but as far as the author goes she speaks to the purpose, and throws light on several texts of Scripture. The parables engage more of her attention, and she explains in a very happy manner, and by numerous illustrations, this beautiful mode of conveying instruction, so successfully practised by our Saviour. Some of the more important parables, such as those of the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the rich man, the marriage supper, and the pharisee and publican, are separately considered, and the meaning of their particular parts deduced from the circumstances under which they were delivered. A series of miscellaneous letters embraces an account of the funeral rites of the Jews, the character of Herod and of Pilate, the prophecies of our Lord, and the forms of salutation in the East. The whole is concluded with a body of questions, adapted to the leading topics of each letter, and designed for the use of instructers in examining the progress of their pupils, or to refresh the reader's own recollection.

Such is an imperfect outline of this little volume. It will be seen, that its subjects are important ; they are treated in so direct and familiar a manner, as to be brought down to the entire comprehension of every mind. Considering the cheapness of the volume, the agreeable manner in which it is written, and the numerous illustrations of Scripture which it contains, it may safely be recommended as claiming a place in the library of every family, where there are young minds to be instructed, and older ones that love to read the Scriptures with a clear sense of their meaning and force.

In this place we are tempted to add a few words on a point, which the perusal of these letters has brought strongly to mind. It is the argument, which the success of the christian religion at its origin affords in favor of its divinity and truth ; not that there is anything new in this argument, but that the examination of the topics above enumerated presents it in an imposing light. The success of the christian religion, in the first age

of its growth, becomes a matter of surprise, when we look at the obstacles with which it had to contend, the means by which these obstacles were encountered, and the fact that these means were effectual.

As to the obstacles, which opposed the introduction of christianity, they were formidable beyond what can now easily be imagined. They existed in the customs, opinions, prejudices, and perverseness of the Jews, to whom it was first preached, and in the spiritual darkness, and moral degradation of the Gentiles. The Jews had early received the books of Moses as of divine authority, and the writings of the Prophets were considered no less the word of God. It is certain, that the descendants of Abraham separated themselves at a very early period from the rest of the world, were governed by laws essentially different from other nations, and became distinguished by modes of life, and habits of thinking, feeling, and acting, peculiar to themselves. The demon

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »