페이지 이미지



His prin

ployed all his leisure time in botanical and chemical

pursuits, accumulating a valuable library, and a rich museum of natural history. In 1652 he founded a society called “ Collegium Curiosorum naturæ,” of which he was the first president. He died at Schweinfurt, Nov. 17, 1665. He was the author of 1. 6 Schediasmata bina curiosa de lapide hæmatite et ætite,” Leipsic, 1665, 8vo, with a dissertation on the blood prefixed. 2. “ Schediasma curiosum de unicornu fossili,” Breslaw, 1666, 8vo. 3. diasma posthumum, de cæruleo et chryocolla,” Jena, 1668, 8vo.

BAXTER (ANDREW), a very ingenious metaphysician and natural philosopher, was born in 1686, or 1687, at Old Aberdeen, in Scotland, of which city his father was a merchant, and educated in king's college there. cipal employment was that of a private tutor to young gentlemen; and among other of his pupils were lord Grey, lord Blantyre, and Mr. Hay of Drummelzier. About 1724, he married the daughter of Mr. Mebane, a clergyman in the shire of Berwick. A few years after he published in 4to, “An Enquiry into the nature of the human Soul, wherein its immateriality is evinced from the principles of reason and philosophy ;" without date. In 1741, he went abroad with Mr. Hay, and resided some years at Utrecht; having there also lord Blantyre under his care. He made excursions from thence into Flanders, France, and Germany; his wife and family residing in the mean

time chiefly at Berwick upon Tweed. He returned to • Scotland in 1747, and resided till his death at Whittingham, in the shire of East Lothian. He drew up, for the use of his pupils, and his son, a piece entitled “ Matho : sive, Cosmotheoria puerilis, Dialogus. In quo prima elementa de mundi ordine et ornatu proponuntur, &c.” This was afterwards greatly enlarged, and published in English, in two volumes, 8vo. In 1750 was published, An Appendix to his Enquiry into the nature of the human Soul ;" wherein he endeavours to remove some difficulties, which had been started against his notions of the “ vis inertiæ" of matter, by Maclaurin, in his “ Account of Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophical Discoveries.” Το this piece Mr. Baxter prefixed a dedication to Mr. John Wilkes, afterwards so well known in the political world,

[ocr errors]

i Freheri Theatrum. Dict, Hist.

with whom he had commenced an acquaintance abroad. He died this year, April the 23d, after suffering for some months under a complication of disorders, of which the gout was the chief, and was buried in the family vault of Mr. Hay, at Whittingham.

The learning and abilities of Mr. Baxter are sufficiently displayed in his writings, which, however, were of much more note in the literary world during his own time, than now, He was very studious, and sometimes sat up whole nights reading and writing. His temper was cheerful, and in his manners, he appeared the gentleman as well as the scholar, but in conversation he was modest, and not apt to make much shew of the extensive knowledge of which he was possessed. In the discharge of the several social and relative duties of life, his conduct was exemplary. He had the most reverential sentiments of the Deity, of whose presence and immediate support he had always a strong impression upon his mind; and the general tenour of his life appears to have been conformable. Mr. Baxter paid a strict attention to economy, but was not parsimonious in his expences. It is known, also, that there were several occasions, on which he acted with remarkable disinterestedness; and so far was he from courting preferment, that he has repeatedly declined considerable offers of that kind which were made him, if he would have taken orders in the Church of England. His friends and correspondents were numerous and respectable; and among them are particularly mentioned Mr. Pointz, preceptor to the late duke of Cumberland, and Dr. Warburton, bishop of Gloucester. His wife, by whom he had one son and three daughters, all of whom were lately living, survived him ten years, and was buried in the church of Linlithgow, in 1760.

Mr. Baxter left many manuscripts behind him: but the only one which appears to have received his last corrections, and to be prepared for the press, is entitled · Histor, a Dialogue; in which the experiments brought by foreign philosophers, against the English estimation of the forces of moving bodies, are shewn to agree exactly with and very much to confirm that estimation.' In this piece, Mr. Leibnitz's computation is particularly considered and confuted; and an Appendix is added, concerning the contro- , versy between Dr. Clarke and Mr. Leibnitz. Several unfinished tracts, political, historical, and philosophical, but


chiefly the latter, were also lately in the possession of his family.

In 1779, the late Rev. Dr. Duncan of South Warmborough, published “The evidence of reason in proof of the Immortality of the Soul, independent on the more abstruse inquiry into the nature of matter and spirit. Collected from the MSS. of Mr. Baxter,” London, 8vo.

Bishop Warburton has characterised Mr. Baxter's treatise on the Soul, as "containing the justest and most precise notions of God and the soul, and as altogether one of the most finished of its kind," an encomium too unqualified, although it certainly discovers great metaphysical acute

The great principle on which Baxter builds his reasoning, is the vis inertie of matter. The arguments he hath founded upon this principle, and the consequences he hath drawn from it, have, in the opinion of several persons, been carried too far. Mr. Hume made some objections to Mr. Baxter's system, though without naming him, in his Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. It is probable that Mr. Baxter did not think Mr. Hume to be enough of a natural philosopher to merit particular notice; or he might not have seen Mr. Hume’s Philosophical Essays, which were first published only two years before our author's death. He had a much more formidable antagonist in Mr. Colin Maclaurin. This ingenious gentleman, in his account of sir Isaac Newton's philosophical discoveries, had started various difficulties with regard to what had been urged concerning the vis inertie of matter; and it was to remove these difficulties, and still farther to confirm his own principles, that Mr. Baxter wrote the Appendix.

In the second volume of his Enquiry, Mr. Baxter has inserted a very copious Essay on the Phänomenon of Dreaming, and what he has advanced on this subject excited much attention at the time of its first publication. He endeavoured to prove, that the scenes presented to the soul in sleep, in which there is so much variety, action, and life, nay oftentimes speech and reason, cannot be the effect of mechanism, or any cause working mechanically: And farther, that the paviáoua, or what is properly called the vision, is not the work of the soul itself. His conclusion was, that our dreams are prompted by separate immaterial beings :' that there are living beings existing separate from matter; that they act in that state ; and that

they act upon the matter of our bodies, and prompt our sleeping visions. Some observations upon this subject, and several objections to Mr. Baxter's hypothesis, may be found in Mr. David Fordyce's · Dialogues concerning Education, vol. II. p. 223—257.'

BAXTER (RICHARD), an eminent nonconformist divine, was born Nov. 12, 1615, at Rowton, near High Ercal, in Shropshire. He was unlucky as to his education, by falling into the hands of ignorant schoolmasters; neither had he the advantage of an academical education, his parents having accepted of a proposal of putting him under Mr. Wickstead, chaplain to the council of Ludlow : but this did not answer their expectation ; Mr. Wickstead was not a scholar, and consequently took little pains with his pupil; the only benefit he reaped was the use of an excellent library, with which he endeavoured to supply the place of a regular education. When he had remained in this situation about a year and a half, he returned to his father's, but immediately after, at the request of lord Newport, he taught for six months in the free-school of Wroxeter.

In 1633, Mr. Wickstead persuaded him to lay aside his studies, and to think of making his fortune at court. Mr. Wickstead, we have said, was not a scholar, nor certainly a judge of character, when he fancied he saw the materials of a courtier in Richard Baxter's mind. Baxter, however, who probably did not know what a courtier was, came to Whitehall, and was recommended to sir Henry Herbert, master of the revels, by whom he was very kindly received; but, in the space of a month, being tired of a court life, he returned to the country, where he resumed his studies, and Mr. Richard Foley of Stourbridge got him appointed master of the free-school at Dudley, with an assistant under him. During this time he imbibed many of those sentiments of piety, neither steady, nor systematic, which gave a peculiar bias to his future life and conduct, not only towards the church, but towards his brethren, the nonconformists. In 1638, he applied to the bishop of Winchester for orders, which he received, having at that time no scruples about conformity to the Church of England. The « Et cætera" oath was what first induced him to examine into this point. It was framed by the convo

Biog. Britanuica.--Tytler's Life of Kames, vol. I. p. 23.

There were

cation then sitting, and all persons were thereby enjoined to swear,

That they would never consent to the alteration of the present government of the church by archbi. shops, bishops, deans, archdeacons, &c." many persons who thought it hard to swear to the continuance of a church government which they disliked; and yet they would have concealed their thoughts, had not this oath, imposed under the penalty of expulsion, compelled them to speak. Others complained of the “ Et cætera, which they said contained they knew not what. Mr. Bax. ter studied the best books he could find upon this subject, the consequence of which was, that he utterly disliked the oath.

Before this, however, he seems to have been in some measure, prepared for dissent, and Mr. Calamy has given us an account of the means by which he first came to alter his opinions, which is too characteristic of the man to be omitted. “ Being settled at Dudley, he fell into the acquaintance of several nonconformists, whom though he judged severe and splenetic, yet he found to be both godly and honest men. They supplied him with several writings on their own side, and amongst the rest, with Ames's Fresh

Suit against Ceremonies, which he read over very dis· tinctly, comparing it with Dr. Burgess's Rejoynder. And, upon the whole, he at that time came to these conclusions: Kneeling he thought lawful, and all mere circumstances determined by the magistrate, which God in nature or scripture hath determined on only in the general. The surplice he more doubted of, but was inclined to think it lawful: and though he intended to forbear it till under necessity, yet he could not see how he could have justified the forsaking his ministry merely on that account, though he never actually wore it. About the ring in marriage he had no scruple. The cross in baptism he thought Dr. Ames had proved unlawful; and though he was not without some doubting in the point, yet because he most inclined to judge it unlawful, he never once used it. A Form of Prayer and Liturgy he judged to be lawful, and in some cases lawfully imposed. The English Liturgy in particular he judged to have much disorder and defectiveness in it, but nothing which should make the use of it in the ordinary public worship to be unlawful to them who could not do better. He sought for discipline in the Church, and saw the sad effects of its neglect; but he was

[ocr errors]
« 이전계속 »