Slike strani

empty space, and did not confider that though space might be without matter, yet matter being extended, could not be without space.

Few books have been perused by me with greater pleasure than his Improvement of the Mind, of which the radical principles may indeed be found in Locke's Conduct of the Understanding, but they are fo expanded and ramified by Watts, as to confer upen him the merit of a work in the highest degree ufeful and pleafing. Whoever has the care of inftructing others, may be charged with › deficience in his duty if this book is not recommended.

I have mentioned his treatifes of Theology as distinct from his other productions; but the truth is, that whatever he took in hand was, by his inceffant folicitude for fouls, converted to Theology. As piety predominated in his mind, it is diffufed over his works: under his direction it may be truly faid, Theologia Philofophia ancillatur, philofophy is fubfervient to evangelical inftruction; it is difficult to read a page without learning, or at least wishing, to be better. The attention

is caught by indirect inftruction, and he that fat down only to reafon is on a fudden compelled to pray.

It was therefore with great propriety that, in 1728, he received from Edinburgh and Aberdeen an unfolicited diploma, by which he became a Doctor of Divinity. Academical honours would have more value, if they were always bestowed with equal judgement.

He continued many years to study and to preach, and to do good by his inftruction and example; till at laft the infirmities of age difabled him from the more laborious part of his minifterial functions, and, being no longer capable of publick duty, he offered to remit the falary appendant to it; but his congregation would not accept the refignation,

By degrees his weakness increased, and at laft confined him to his chamber and his bed; where he was worn gradually away without pain, till he expired Nov. 25, 1748, in the feventy-fifth year of his age.


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Few men have left behind fuch purity of character, or fuch monuments of laborious piety. He has provided inftruction for all ages, from those who are lifping their first leffons, to the enlightened readers of Malbranche and Locke; he has left neither corporeal nor fpiritual nature unexamined; he has taught the art of reasoning, and the science of the ftars.

His character, therefore, must be formed from the multiplicity and diversity of his attainments, rather than from any fingle performance; for it would not be safe to claim for him the highest rank in any single denomination of literary dignity; yet perhaps there was nothing in which he would not have excelled, if he had not divided his powers to different pursuits.

As a poet, had he been only a poet, he would probably have ftood high among the authors with whom he is now affociated. For his judgement was exact, and he noted beauties and faults with very nice discernment; his imagination, as the Dacian Battle proves,

proves, was vigorous and active, and the ftores of knowledge were large by which his fancy was to be fupplied. His ear was well-tuned, and his diction was elegant and copious. But his devotional poetry is, like that of others, unfatisfactory. The paucity of its topicks enforces perpetual repetition, and the fanctity of the matter rejects the ornaments of figurative diction. It is fufficient for Watts to have done better than others what no man has done well.

His poems on other fubjects feldom rife higher than might be expected from the amufements of a Man of Letters, and have different degrees of value as they are more or lefs laboured, or as the occafion was more or lefs favourable to invention.

He writes too often without regular meafures, and too often in blank verfe; the rhymes are not always fufficiently correfpondent. He is particularly unhappy in coining names expreffive of characters. His lines are commonly fmooth and eafy, and his thoughts always religiously pure; but who is there that, to fo much piety and innocence,


does not wish for a greater measure of spritelinefs and vigour? He is at least one of the few poets with whom youth and ignorance may be safely pleased; and happy will be that reader whose mind is difpofed by his verfes, or his profe, to imitate him in all but his non-conformity, to copy his benevolence to man, and his reverence to God.

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