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tation of the included fluid. On this occafion he makes the following very fingular obfervation: I know not, fays he, whether any fenfible degree of heat would be produced by the light of the moon reflected from feveral concave mirrors, their foci being made to unite on the bulb of a thermometer of a Aattened form, and painted black:-for poffibly the moon may tranfmit cold to us, rather than heat, as we thall explain hereafter.' This ftrange propofition furpaffes our comprehenfion, and we shall wait with fome impatience for the ingenious Author's promised explanation of it.
The Author next confiders refraction, and proposes to conftruct burning lenfes of great power, by fixing two of the aforefaid concave glaffes together, and filling the cavity between them with water. He executed this fcheme, making use of the two mirrors of 37 inches diameter abovementioned: but unfortunately, in the very firft trial, one of them broke; probably in confequence of the weight of the water, or of its dilatation by the heat of the fun. He computes that the heat in its focus, at the diftance of five feet and a half, would have been double to that in the focus of the great burning lens at the Palais Royal. M. Berniere has, we are told, lately undertaken to conftruct some of these water-lenfes, for the ufe of the Royal Academy of Sciences.
The laft and greatest improvement proposed by the Author, in the construction of burning lenfes, cannot perhaps be intelligibly described without figures. It is founded on the advantage that may be derived from diminishing the great loss of light that is fuftained by the rays paffing through the middle part of a lens of a large diameter and fhort focus, on account of the great thickness of the glafs in that part. This lofs of light is found by the Author to be very confiderable, and he proposes to remedy it by conftructing a kind of compound graduated lens (lentille à échelons) confifting of three parts, all ground to the fame radius; or, in other words, composed of two circular zones or bands, furrounding a central or middle part, which is only one inch thick at its centre: whereas an entire lens of the fame diameter, and a portion of the fame sphere, would have been three inches thick in that part. According to the Author's computation, the heat in the focus of a lens of this kind, of three feet in diameter, will be about four times greater than that produced by any burning glafs that is yet known. He ftrongly recommends the execution of this fcheme, and adds, that by adapting a heliometer to this inftrument, all the operations of chemistry may be performed in its focus, as commodiously as in the furnace of an elaboratory; elsewhere obferving, that by means of this inftrument, or by uniting the
foci of different concaves, effects may be produced of which at present we have not any idea.
The work is terminated by a memoir on the Accidental Colours,' first observed by the Author. We have, on fome former occafions*, referred to this paper, which was first published in the Memoirs of the Paris Academy for the year 1743, and is here reprinted with fome fmall additions.
See M. Review, vol. xlii. May 1776, page 399, and the Appendix to our 45th volume, page 527.
L'Influence de la Religione Chrétienne fur le bonheur de la Société Civile, démontrée en cinque Sermons, par feu M. Laget, Pafteur de l'Eglife de Generve. Avec des Notes Hiftoriques.-The Influence of the Christian Religion on the Welfare of civil Society; in five Ser mons, by the late M. Laget, &c. with historical Notes. dvo, Amfterdam. 1774.
HAT Chriftianity, in its native purity and fimplicity, as T contained in the New
to promote the happiness of fociety, will appear with the clearest and fulleft evidence to every one who has carefully attended to the genius and fpirit of it. When debased and corrupted, indeed, by fuperftition, by the systems and doctrines of fallible men, it has too often proved the occafion of ftrife and animofity, of diforder and confufion, and of the moft dreadful public calamities. This, however, can never be charged, without manifeft injustice, upon the Chriftian religion, which is the most benevolent fyftem that ever appeared among men which breathes love and charity in every precept; which has an obvious tendency to check and reftrain every malevolent and irregular paffion to ftrengthen and establish every benevolent, every virtuous principle; to exalt and perfect our reasonable natures; and to promote peace and good-will among men. The corruptions of Chriftianity, which are ftill great and many, ought to excite all its fincere friends to endeavour, by every method that reafon and prudence can fuggeft, to remove every obftacle to its progress, and, notwithstanding any difficulties and disappointments they may meet with from bigotted ambitious priests, or worldly politicians, fteadily to persevere, and never to quit the glorious caufe, not doubting, but that fooner or later, their endeavours will be crowned with fuccefs. If ever the clouds and mifts, which, at prefent, obfcure the genuine luftre of Chriftianity, fhould be scattered, then will the happy effects of the gospel be clearly seen, and religion will appear, with irresistible evidence, to be the wisdom of God,-our highest honour, and our higheft intereft.
But, leaving general reflections, we now proceed to the fermons before us, which contain many juft and pertinent obfervations on a very important fubject; a fubject, indeed, which well deferves a more accurate and ample difcuffion than our Author has given it. He pleads the caufe of Christianity with a generous warmth and liberality of fentiment; he appears to be well acquainted with ancient and modern hiftory, to have carefully ftudied the genius and spirit of the Chriftian religion, and has thrown out many hints that may be of great use to those who are defirous of entering more fully into the fubject. From what he has faid, we fee how much more he was capable of faying, and only regret that he has confined himself within fuch narrow limits as thofe of five fhort fermons.
The words from which he difcourfes are the following:Matth. xii. 18.-Behold, my fervant whom I have chofen; my be loved, in whom my foul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon bim, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles,
In his firft difcourfe from thefe words he fhews, that the gofpel, confidered in its fundamental maxims, has strengthened the foundations of political focieties, by making the divine law the bafis on which the obedience of the fubject is founded, by raising fubmiffion to the laws of fociety to the rank of the firit and most facred duties of confcience. Under this head he applies very naturally what Rouffeau fays of religion, in his dif courfe fur l'inégalité des conditions. It was neceffary, for the public tranquillity, that the divine will fhould interpofe in order to give a facred and inviolable character to fovereign authority. Had religion done no other fervice to mankind than this, it was a fufficient reafon for their cherishing and adopting it.'
1 When the gospel, fays our Author, eftablishes laws that are equally binding upon rulers and their subjects, upon the great and the little, laws facred, permanent, irrevocable, fuperior to every human power, does it not oppofe a ftrong barrier to ufurpation, cruelty, oppreffion, and tyranny? And is it not, confequently, the fource of the most happy freedom? It is thus that religion whofe yoke is eafy and whofe burthen is light, forming the national character, diffufes its amiable and benign influence over all the parts of the administration of a ftate to moderate its rigour, and to ftrengthen its foundations.
Our modern governments, fays Rouleau in his Emile, vol. iii. are certainly indebted to Christianity for their most solid authority; and to it is likewife owing that their revolutions are less frequent: nay, it has rendered them lefs cruel and fanguinary, as appears plainly by comparing them with ancient go
Montefquieu too, in his Spirit of Laws, b. xxiv. ch. 3. says, -It is the Chriftian religion, which, notwithstanding the ex
tent of empire and the badnefs of the climate, has prevented defpotifm from being established in Ethiopia, and which has carried the manners and the laws of Europe into the heart of Africa..
Such is the excellence of the Chriftian religion, confidered in this view, that Rouffeau himself cries out, "Chose admirable! la religion Chrétienne, qui ne femble avoir d'objet que la félicité de l'autre vie, fait encore notre bonheur dans celle-ci."
Our Author farther obferves, in his firft difcourfe, that when we look into the hiftory of mankind, we find a great variety of plans and fyftems in regard to the fundamental principle of focieties, civil or religious. Some have alleged that zeal for religion; others, that the love of our country; and some, that a blind and unlimited obedience, is the first of all duties. It is the gospel alone, however, we are told, which fixes the law of charity as the univerfal principle, as the primum mobile, as what alone gives vigour and energy to all the fprings of fociety. This diftinguishing excellence of the Chriftian fcheme M. Laget illuftrates in a very beautiful manner, and concludes his first sermon with obferving, that the gofpel infpires the love of our country, and establishes the true foundations of this love.
Having fhewn, in his firft difcourfe, the bleffings which the gofpel has conferred upon mankind, by establishing the grand principles of liberty, fociability, wife fubordination, and univerfal benevolence, he proceeds, in his fecond, to consider another eminent service which it has done to fociety, namely, its giv ing the fanction of divine laws to focial virtues, or, in other words, transforming into divine laws, binding upon confcience, thofe focial virtues, which were formerly confidered merely as the opinions of philofophers, as maxims of the schools, to be obferved or neglected as every one pleafed. The whole of what he advances upon this fubject well deferves to be attentively confidered.
In his third difcourfe, he fhews the happy influence of the Christian religion upon the welfare of fociety by its laws concerning marriage, and by its facilitating and extending the operations of commerce. These are curious and interesting topics, and, to persons of serious and contemplative difpofitions, may afford ftriking proofs of the excellency of that fyftem of religion, from which are derived fo many and fo great advantages.
The fourth difcourfe is, indeed, an excellent one, and will ftrike the generality of readers more than any of the reft. M. Laget endeavours to prove in it, that the gofpel has abolifhed civil flavery among Chriftians, and, confequently, reftored to the greatest part of the human fpecies that liberty wherewith God hath made all men free.
Before the days of our Saviour, M. Laget fays, flavery prevailed among all the nations on earth without distinction, from weft to east, and from fouth to north. The human race was divided into two claffes, mafters and flaves. The flaves belonged to the master, in the fame manner as the trees or cattle of his field. Subject to the most extenfive and abfolute authority that can be imagined, these poor wretches had neither property, nor time, nor life, nor honour, nor religion, nor, in a word, any thing they could call their own. Every thing depended upon the will of a defpot, whofe character was frequently more contemptible than that of any of his flaves, but to the exercise of whofe power neither the government nor the laws had originally prescribed any bounds. And here it ought carefully to be obferved, that this unhappy clafs of men was by far the most numerous; it comprehended, for a long time, almoft two thirds of the human fpecies. This is the least that can be faid, fince by an account that was taken in a fingle republic of Greece, there were at most thirty thousand citizens, whereas the number of flaves amounted to four hundred thoufand. What then must have been the number of them in Italy, in Afia, and in all thofe countries where luxury prevailed? One mafter had fometimes twenty thousand flaves. man who has the leaft acquaintance with hiftory, cannot but Now every know to what horrid and barbarous treatment this fo very confiderable a part of the human fpecies was expofed. The very - mention of the cruelties that were exercised towards thofe unhappy victims of barbarity, must indeed fhock every mind that has the leaft tincture of humanity.
The cuftom of expofing old, ufelefs, or fick flaves, in an ifland of the Tiber, there to ftarve, appears to have been pretty common in Rome; and it is eafy to imagine what others would practife, when it was the profeffed maxim of the elder Cato, as Plutarch informs us, to fell his fuperannuated laves for any price, rather than maintain what he esteemed an ufelefs burthen. Nothing was fo common in all trials, even of civil caufes, as to call for the evidence of flaves, which was always extorted by the most exquisite torments. Demofthenes fays, that where it was poffible to produce, for the fame fact, either freemen or flaves as witneffes, the judges always preferred the torturing of Alaves, as a more certain evidence.—
Those horrid barbarities, thofe enormous cruelties, our Author fays, and what he fays well deferves to be remembered, were committed openly in the ages of philofophy, by philofophers themfelves, and amongst the most civilized nations.Such was the lot of two thirds of the human fpecies, when this boafted philofophy was the fole oracle of the world.
APP. Rev. Vol. li.