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A curtain hung 'twixt earth and sky,
And myriad forms, in the moonbeam pale,
And spirits are flitting on shadowless wings;
And sounds are hushed into murmurings;
And each low gale, as it wanders by,
Seems fraught with the breath of a young heart's sigh;
And beautiful things are all gliding about,
And all that is fair-save the fairest is out!
Awake my love!-'tis love's own hour!
His spirit is breathed upon every flower;
His oracles lie all around,
In every sight, and on every sound;
And over heaven and earth is thrown
A spell of beauty-like thine own!' pp. 81-83.
Art. XII. A Narrative of the Conversion and Death of Count Stru ensee, formerly Prime-Minister of Denmark. By Dr. Munter. Translated from the German in 1774, by the Rev. Dr. Wedderborn. With an Introduction and Notes. By Thomas Rennell, B.D. F.R.S. Vicar of Kensington, &c. 8vo. Price 8s. 1824.
HE history of the accomplished and profligate Count Struensee, up to the period of his apprehension and imprisonment, together with the fact of his execution, must be well-known to our readers; but few among them are, perhaps, aware that, like Lord Rochester, whom he resembled in his life, he died a believer and a penitent. The present volume is a re-publication of a scarce book, written by the clergyman ap pointed to visit the Count during his imprisonment, and giving an account of the conversations which were the means of bis conversion. Mr. Rennell, the Editor, enjoins upon his readers to bear in mind, that this is no high-wrought tale of instan⚫taneous conversion, nor was it written for the sake of serving Many fanatical purpose, or of producing effect; an intimation not unnecessary, perhaps, considering that the class of readers whom it was wished to conciliate, would stumble at the very word conversion..
It has not,' he adds, even the peculiar solemnity and eloquence to recommend it, which we find in Bishop Burnet's account of the death-bed of Rochester. It is a plain and simple diary of the occur rences which took place at each interview, which Munter regularly recorded after leaving the Count.'
Dr. Munter had a task of no ordinary delicacy, of which he
appears to have acquitted himself with equal prudence and ability. At the first interview, the Count received him with a sour and gloomy countenance, in the attitude of a man who was prepared to receive many severe reproaches, with a silence that shewed contempt.' His benevolent visiter succeeded, however, in gaining his confidence so far as to obtain from him the following declaration of his infidel creed.
It was true, he was very far from being a Christian, though he acknowledged and adored a Supreme Being, and believed that the world and mankind had their origin from God. He could never persuade himself, that man consisted of two substances. He looked upon himself and all other men as mere machines: he had borrowed this system, not from de la Mettrie, whose book he had never read, but had formed it by his own meditation. It was God that first animated this human machine; but, as soon as its motion ceased, that is, when man died, there was no more for him either to hope or fear. He did not deny that man was endowed with some power of liberty, but his free actions were determined only by his sensations. Therefore, man's actions could be accounted moral, only as far they related to society. Every thing that man could do, was in itself indifferent. God did not concern himself about our actions, and if their consequences were in man's power, and he could prevent their being hurtful to society, nobody had a right to reproach him about them. He added, he must own that he was sorry for some of his actions, and, in particular, that he had drawn others into his misfortunes but he feared no bad consequences or punishments after this life. He could not see, why such punishments were necessary to satisfy the justice of God, even though he allowed that God regarded our actions. Man was punished already enough in this world for his transgressions. He himself was certainly not happy during the time of his greatest prosperity. He had, at least during the last months of it, to struggle with many disagreeable passions. One of his principal objections against Christianity, was, that it was not universal. If it were really a divine revelation, it absolutely should have been given to all mankind.' pp. 10, 11.
Such are the vague, gratuitous assumptions which form the creed of the credulous sceptic; the result, as Mr. Rennell justly remarks, not of investigation, but of indolence, not of knowledge, but of ignorance. Struensee frankly confessed, at the second interview, that his views were nothing more than a 'philosophical hypothesis; but his mind was not composed or serene enough, he alleged, in his present situation, to examine his principles: it was now too late.' He consented, however, to read a volume of religious meditations, which his Visiter left with him. The perusal of this book seems to have made a very favourable impression. Oh, I hope now,' he exclaimed at the next interview,' and wish for immortality.' Dr. Munter,
satisfied with this concession, judiciously desisted from prosecuting the philosophical argument. I was afraid,' he says, that these speculative truths might detain us too long, and mislead us to various researches which are but little adapted to make the heart better.' He now endeavoured to convince the Count, that, in that future life which he hoped and wished for, he could not promise himself an agreeable fate; that even according to his own principle, he would be unable to account for his actions at the bar of God. Perceiving that he was not by any means so much grieved at thinking he had offended God and made himself miserable, as that he had entailed ruin on his friends, Dr. Munter laid hold on this sensation,' and endeavoured to support and increase it. I hoped,' he says, his pain might by degrees become more general, and extend itself over his other crimes.' The Editor's remarks on this point in the narrative are highly judicious.
This view of Munter is quite correct and worthy of attention. All attempts to eradicate confirmed infidelity by abstract argument alone will be fruitless. A sceptic has seldom any objection to enter into discussions respecting the nature, the immateriality, the immortality of the soul, or such sort of subjects, as they give him ample scope for the display of his sophistry and ingenuity. And even if by an able opponent he should be utterly defeated, he is still as far removed from conviction as ever. His pride, the very enemy whom it is our object to subdue, is flattered and increased by the contest. If infidelity proceeds ultimately from corruption of the heart, the heart must be the object of attack; otherwise, the understanding, influenced as it always is in such cases by the passions, will never have free play, nor come to an unbiassed determination. Some good feeling which yet remains, must be awakened and brought into action. Such was the course pursued by Munter in the case before us. He touched the heart of Struensee upon one of the few good points which yet remained his affection for his friends; and we see the beneficial result.'
Struensee was evidently much softened by this interview. Touched by Dr. Munter's reference to his friends, he burst into tears, and owned that he found himself in this respect very culpable, asking if the Dr. did not think that God would forgive him on the ground of such philosophical repentance.' He was answered:
"According to my notions of repentance, I can give you no hopes. I know but one way to receive God's pardon, and that is, not by a philosophical, but a Christian repentance. I cannot yet produce the reasons why I am obliged to think so; but if you reflect on God's mercy, in which you trust, you will find that it is this very mercy which makes it necessary for him to be just, and to shew his
aversion to moral evil. Such mercy as that of God, which cannot degenerate into weakness, must no doubt be very terrible to him who has offended against it.”
On Dr. Munter's expressing his hope that the Count would even yet, upon good grounds, think himself pardoned by God, and be able to die with comfort and hope, the unhappy man with a deep-fetched sigh exclaimed, (the first accents of genuine prayer, probably, his lips had ever uttered,) May God grant it. His visiter took advantage of it, to urge the necessity of prayer, at first in indirect terms, reminding him that favours are not forced upon any body,' and that it was natural for him to look out for the greatest that could be bestowed upon him. On his urging this point, the Count asked, whether a hearty wish addressed to God was not prayer. The Dr. assented. It was not the time to represent, that in order to prove that it came from the heart, and partook of the character of prayer, it must be followed up by the reiterated expression of devout desire.
At the next interview, the Count recurred to the idea, that it was now too late to beg for God's mercy, and that perhaps he sought it, in his present situation, only out of necessity. He expressed an anxiety that the book which Dr. Munter had lent him, should be read by some of his infidel friends.
At the seventh conference, these hopeful symptoms having been followed by the most ingenuous confessions of his past crimes, Dr. Munter drew from his pocket a letter from Struensee's father, which he had had for some days in his pocket. This letter is one of the most touching and admirable specimens of piety, tenderness, and fidelity we ever met with. The Count was entirely subdued by it. We cannot pursue the details of the successive conferences. He declared at this interview, that he already frequently prayed.
Dr. Munter was introduced to the Count, March 1, 1772. On the 28th of April, their last conference (the 38th) was interrupted by the entrance of the officer who came to convey him to the place of execution. His faithful and benevolent friend attended him to the last, received his dying confession of faith, and was in the act of directing his mind to the Saviour, when the ax fell. Appended to the narrative, is a paper drawn up by Struensee himself, giving an account of his conversion.
We have no room for further remarks on this highly interesting volume; and the respected Editor is gone beyond the reach of our acknowledgements.
COMPLAINTS have reached us from some esteemed correspondents respecting the article on Hinton's Life of Hinton, in our September Number. It has been thought that the suaviter in modo was not sufficiently united to the fortiter in re, in handling the abettors of strict communion. As this opinion has been expressed · by some of our Baptist friends who unite in our sentiments and principles on this point, we owe it, perhaps, to them, to offer a few words in explanation.
We beg to state in the first place, that had we not considered the subject as forced upon our notice by the passage referred to in the volume under review, and the disingenuous use which had been elsewhere made of it, we should gladly have declined touching on so delicate a point; and we hope to gain credit for this reluctance when it is recollected, that Mr. Hall's masterly Reply to Mr. Kinghorn has been suffered, perhaps unjustifiably, to remain unnoticed in our Review. It was assuredly from no idea that any thing could be added to the force and persuasiveness of his arguments, that the few cursory remarks were thrown out which the subject seemed to call for. Will it be contended that we ought to have carried our for bearance so far as still to have maintained a total silence; since to touch a morbid part, however gently, must inevitably give pain? We believe that no mode of expression, how ingenious soever, could render our propositions palatable in certain quarters; but we much regret if they have assumed a form unnecessarily offensive.
The Reviewer describes the tenet in question as assigning to schism a place among the articles of faith. In this assertion, he was not conscious of either originality or extravagance. Mr. Hall has said much the same thing, though he has said it better. If they