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life. During the civil war, some ingenious men began to hold weekly meetings at Oxford, for the cultivation of what was then called the new philosophy; first, as we have already observed, at the lodgings of Dr. Wilkins, and subsequently chiefly at the residence of Boyle. These scientific men, with others who afterwards joined them, were incorporated by Charles the Second, in 1662, under the title of the Royal Society. Boyle, after settling in London, in 1668, was one of the most active members, and many of his treatises originally appeared in the Society's Philosophical Transactions. His death occurred on the thirtieth of December 1691, when in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
The works of Boyle are so numerous as to occupy six thick quarto volumes. They consist chiefly in accounts of his experimental researches in chemistry and natural philosophy, particularly with respect to the mechanical properties of the air. The latter subject was one in which he felt a deep interest; and by means of the air-pump, which he invented, or at least greatly improved, about 1678, he succeeded in making many pneumatic discoveries which have thrown new light on the works of creation. Theology, likewise, being a favorite subject with him, he published various works, both in defence of Christianity, and in explanation of the benefits accruing to religion from the study of the divine attributes, as displayed in the material world. Indeed, so earnest was he in the cause of Christianity, that he not only devoted much time and money in contributing to its propagation in foreign countries, but, by a codicil in his will, made provision for the delivery of eight sermons yearly in London, by some learned divine, 'for proving the Christian religion against notorious infidels, namely atheists, theists, pagans, Jews, and Mahometans; not descending lower to any controversies that are among Christians themselves.
In 1660, Boyle was solicited by Chancellor Clarendon to adopt the clerical profession, in order that the church might have the support of those eminent abilities and virtues by which he was distinguished. Two important considerations, however, induced him not to yield to this solicitation. In the first place, he thought that he could more effectually advance religion by his writings, in the character of a layman, than if he were in the more interested position of one of the clergy-whose preaching, there was a general tendency to look upon, as the remunerated exercise of a profession. And secondly, he felt the obligations, importance, and difficulties of the pastoral care to be so great, that he wanted the confidence to undertake it; especially,' says Bishop Burnet, ' not having felt within himself an inward motion to it by the Holy Ghost.' He valued religion chiefly for its practical influence in improving the moral character of men, and had a decided aversion to controversy on abstract doctrinal points. His disapprobation of severities and persecutions on account of religious belief was very strong ; and I have seldom,' says Burnet, observed him to speak with more heat and indignation than when that came in his way.'
The works of Boyle, which possess most attraction for the general reader,
are, Considerations on the Usefulness of Experimental Philosophy; Considerations on the Style of the Holy Scriptures; A Free Discourse against Customary Swearing; Considerations about the Reconcilableness of Reason and Religion, and the Possibility of a Resurrection ; A Discourse of
Things above Reason; A Discourse of the High Veneration Man's Intellect owes to God, particularly for his Wisdom and Power; A Disquisition into the Final Causes of Natural Things ; The Christian Virtuoso, showing that by being addicted to Experimental Philosophy, a man is rather assisted than indisposed to be a good Christian; and A Treatise of Seraphic Love. Boyle also published, in 1665, Occasional Reflections on Several Subjects ; but as these were mostly written in early life, they are of comparatively little importance. His works on natural theology are still preferred to any other treatises on that subject in the whole range of English literature. His style is clear and precise ; with a tendency, however, to too great length in his sentences. The following specimen is all that the illustration of this author's style requires :
THE STUDY OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY FAVOURABLE TO RELIGION.
The first advantage that our experimental philosopher, as such, hath toward being a Christian, is, that his course of studies conduceth much to settle in his mind a firm belief of the existence, and divers of the chief attributes, of God; which belief is, in the order of things, the first principle of that natural religion which itself is pre-required to revealed religion in general, and consequently to that in particular which is embraced by Christians.
That the consideration of the vastness, beauty, and regular motions of the heavenly bodies, the excellent structure of animals and plants, besides a multitude of other phenomena of nature, and the subserviency of most of these to man, may justly induce him, as a rational creature, to conclude that this vast, beautiful, orderly, and (in a word) many ways admirable system of things, that we call the world, was framed by an author supremely powerful, wise, and good, can scarce be denied by an intelligent and unprejudiced considerer. And this is strongly confirmed by experience, which witnesseth, that in almost all ages and countries the generality of philosophers and contemplative men were persuaded of the existence of a Deity, by the consideration of the phenomena of the universe, whose fabric and conduct, they rationally concluded, could not be deservedly ascribed either to blind chance, or to any other cause than a Divine Being.
But though it be true 'that God hath not left himself without witness,' even to perfunctory considerers, by stamping upon divers of the more obvious parts of his workmanship such conspicuous impressions of his attributes, that a moderate degree of understanding and attention may suffice to make men acknowledge his being, yet I scruple not to think that assent very much inferior to the belief that the same objects are fitted to produce in a heedful and intelligent contemplator of them. For the works of God are so worthy of their author, that, besides the impresses of his wisdom and goodness that are left, as it were, upon their surfaces, there are a great many more curious and excellent tokens and effects of divine artifice in the hidden and innermost recesses of them; and these are not to be discovered by the perfunctory looks of oscitant and unskillful beholders ; but require, as well as deserve, the most attentive and prying inspection of inquisitive and well-instructed considerers. And sometimes in one creature there may be I know not how many admirable things, that escape a vulgar eye, and yet may be clearly discerned by that of a true natural
ist, who brings with him, besides a more than common curiosity and attention, a competent knowledge of anatomy, optics, cosmography, mechanics, and chemistry. But treating elsewhere purposely of this subject, it may here suffice to say, that God has couched so many things in his visible works, that the clearer light a man has, the more he may discover of their unobvious exquisiteness, and the more clearly and distinctly he may discern those qualities that lie more obvious. And the more wonderful things he discovers in the works of nature, the more auxiliary proofs he meets with to establish and enforce the argument, drawn from the universe and its parts, to evince that there is a God; which is a proposition of that vast weight and importance, that it ought to endear every thing to us that is able to confirm it, and afford us new motives to acknowledge and adore the divine Author of things.
To be told that an eye is the organ of sight, and that this is performed by that faeulty of the mind which, from its function, is called visive, will give a man but a sorry account of the instruments and manner of vision itself, or of the knowledge of that Opificer who, as the Scripture speaks, 'formed the eye.' And he that can take up with this easy theory of vision, will not think it necessary to take the pains to dissect the eyes of animals, nor study the books of mathematicians, to understand vision; and accordingly will have but mean thoughts of the contrivance of the organ, and the skill of the artificer, in comparison of the ideas that will be suggested of both of them to him that, being profoundly skilled in anatomy and optics, by their help takes asunder the several coats, humours, and muscles, of which that exquisite dioptrical instrument consists; and having separately considered the figure, size, consistence, texture, diaphaneity, or opacity, situation, and connection of each of them, and their coaptation in the whole eye, shall discover, by the help of the laws of optics, how admirably this little organ is fitted to receive the incident beams of light, and dispose them in the best manner possible for completing the lively representation of the almost infinitely various objects of sight. * * It is not by a slight survey, but by a diligent and skillful scrutiny of the works of God, that a man must be, by a rational and affective conviction, engaged to acknowledge with the prophet, that the Author of nature is 'wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.'
John Locke, the son of a gentleman in Somersetshire, was born at Wrington, near Bristol, in 1632. After having received his elementary education at Westminster school, he entered Christ Church College, Oxford, where he remained until he had taken his master's degree, in 1658. As he was designed for a physician, he commenced the study of medicine immediately after he left the university ; but after a few years of close application to preparation for that arduous profession, he found the delicacy of his constitution an obstacle in the way of successful practice, and he therefore abandoned his design. In 1664, he accompanied, in the capacity of secretary, Sir Walter Vane, who was sent by Charles the Second, as envoy to the Elector of Brandenburg, during the Dutch war. At the close of the same year Locke returned to Oxford, and soon afterwards received an offer of consideraole preferment in the Irish church, if he would consent to take orders. This, after due consideration, he declined, assigning as his reason that, “it is not enough for such places, to be in orders, and I can not think that preferment of that nature should be thrown open to a man who has never given any proof of himself, nor ever tried the pulpit.'
In 1666, Locke became acquainted with Lord Ashley, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury; and so valuable did his lordship find the medical advice and
general conversation of the philosopher, that a close and permanent friendship sprang up between them, and Locke became an inmate of his lordship's house. This brought him into the society of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Halifax, and other celebrated wits of the age, to whom his conversation was highly acceptable. The following anecdote shows the easy and familiar terms in which he stood with these noblemen. On one occasion, when several of them were at Lord Ashley's house, the party, soon after assembling, sat down to cards, so that scarcely any conversation took place. Locke, after looking on for some time, took out his note-book, and began to write in it, with great appearance of gravity and deliberation. One of the party observing this, inquired what he was writing. My lord,' he replied, 'I am endeavoring to profit as far as I am able in your company; for having waited with impatience for the honor of being in an assembly of the greatest geniuses of the age, and having at length obtained this good fortune, I thought that I could not do better than write down your conversation ; and indeed I have set down the substance of what has been said for this hour or two. A very brief specimen of what he had written was sufficient to make the objects of his irony abandon the card-table, and engage in rational discourse.
While residing with Lord Ashley, Locke superintended the education, first of his lordship's son, and subsequently of his grandson, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, who flourished as an elegant philosophical and moral writer, in the reign of Queen Anne. In 1672, when Lord Ashley received an earldom, and the office of chancellor, he gave Locke the appointment of secretary of presentations, which the philosopher enjoyed only till the following year, when his patron lost favor with the court, and was deprived of the seals. The delicate state of Locke's health induced him, in 1675, to visit France, where he resided several years, first at Montpelier, and afterwards at Paris, where he had opportunities of cultivating the acquaintance of the most eminent French literary men of the day. When Shaftsbury regained power, in 1679, he recalled Locke to England; and, on taking refuge in Holland three years afterwards, was followed thither by his friend, whose safety likewise was in jeopardy, from the connection which subsisted between them. After the death of his patron, in 1683, Locke found it necessary to prolong his stay in Holland, and even there was obliged, by the machinations of his political enemies at home, to live for upwards of a year in concealment. In 1686, however, it became safe for him to appear in public, and in the following year he instituted, at Amsterdam, a literary society, the members of which met weekly for the purpose of enjoying each other's conversation.
The revolution of 1688, finally restored Locke to his native country, to which he was conveyed by the same fleet that conveyed the princess of Orange over to England. He soon became a prominent defender of civil and religious liberty, in a succession of works which have exerted a highly beneficial influence on subsequent generations, not only in England, but also
throughout the whole civilized world. While residing in Holland, he had written, in Latin, A Letter concerning Toleration : this appeared at Gouda, in 1689, and translations of it were immediately published in Dutch, French, and English. The liberal opinions which it maintained were controverted by an Oxford writer, in reply to whom Locke successively wrote three additional Letters. In 1690, he published his celebrated Essay concerning Human Understanding, in the composition of which he had been engaged eighteen years. The style of this work is plain, clear, and expressive ; and the influence which it has exerted upon the aims and habits of philosophical inquirers, as well as upon the minds of educated men in general, has been extremely beneficial. "Few books,' says Sir James Mackintosh, have contributed more to rectify prejudice, to undermine established errors, to diffuse a just mode of thinking, to excite a fearless spirit of inquiry, and yet to contain it within the boundaries which nature has prescribed to the human understanding, than this Essay.'
In the same year that the Essay concerning Human Understanding appeared, Locke published two Treatises on Civil Government, in defence of the principles of the Revolution, the design of which was, as he himself expresses it, “to establish the throne of our great restorer, our present King William; to make good his title in the consent of the people, which, being the only one of all lawful governments, he has more fully and clearly than any prince in Christendom; and to justify to the world the people of England, whose love of their just and natural rights, with their resolution to preserve them, saved the nation when it was on the very brink of slavery and ruin. His other principal productions are Thoughts concerning Education ; The Reasonableness of Christianity; two Vindications of that work, and an admirable tract on the Conduct of the Understanding, published after the author's death. In reference to the writings of Locke, Sir James Mackintosh observes, that justly to understand their character, it is necessary to take a deliberate survey of the circumstances in which the writer was placed. “Educated among the English dissenters, during the short period of their political ascendency, he early imbibed that deep piety and ardent spirit of liberty which actuated that body of men; and he probably imbibed also in their schools the disposition to metaphysical inquiries which has everywhere accompanied the Calvinistic theology. Sects founded in the right of private judgment, naturally tend to purify themselves from intolerance, and in time learn to respect in others the freedom of thought to the exercise of which they owe their own existence. By the Independent divines, who were his instructors, our philosopher was taught those principles of religious liberty which they were the first to disclose to the world.'
Immediately after the Revolution, Locke was solicited to accept of employment in the diplomatic service, but he declined on account of ill health. In 1695, having aided government with his advice on the subject of the coin, he was appointed a member of the Board of Trade, which office, however, his want of health soon compelled him to resign. The closing years