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• It is beyond all doubt, that Simon was in the class of those philosophers, who not only maintained the eternity of matter, but also the existence of an evil being, who presided and thus fhared the empire of the universe with the supreme and benef
And as there was a good deal of variety in the sentiments of the different members of this sect, it is more than probable that Simon embraced the opinion of thofe who held that matter, moved, from eternity, by an intrinsic and necessary activity, had by its innate force produced, at a certain period of time, from its own substance, the evil principle which now exercises dominion over it, with all his numerous train of attendants. From this pernicious doctrine, the other errors attributed to him concerning fate, the indifference of human actions, the impurity of the human body, the power of magia, and such like extravagancies, fow naturally as from their true and genuine source [y]. But this odious magician still proceeded to more shocking degrees of enormity in his monstrous fictions ; for he pretended, that in his person resided the greatest and most powerful of the divine eons; that another æon of the female sex, the mother of all buman souls, dwelt in the person of his mistress Helena , and that he came, by the command of God, upon earth to abolish the empire of those that had formed this material world, and to deliver Helena from their power and dominion."
Our Author concludes his history of the firft century with a fuort account of the Nicolaitans and of Cerinthus.-As to the Nazarenes and Ebionites, though they are generally placed among the sects of the apostolic age, yet they really belong, he fays, to the second century, which was the earliest period of heir existence as a sect.
many occafions, prefer the marvellous to the truth, as favourable to a fyftem of religion, or rather fuperftition, which truth and reason loudly difown.)
'li] The dissertation of Horbius, concerning Simon the magician, which was published not long ago, in the Biblioth. Hereficlogica of Voigtius, tom. i. par. III. p. 511. seems preferable to any thing else upon that subject, though it be a juvenile performance, and not suffisciently finished. He follows the steps of his master Thomasius, who, with admirable penetration, discovered the true source of that multitude of errors, with which the Gnostics, and particularly Simon, were so dismally polluted. Voigtius, in the place above cited, p. 567. gives a lift of the other authors, who have made any mention of this impostor.
.  Some very learned men have given an allegorical explication of what the ancient writers say concerning Helena the mistress of this magician, and imagine that by the name Helena is signified either master, or Dirit. But nothing is more easy than to thew upon what flight foundations this opinion is built."
Baron ATKYNS’s Reports of Cases in Chancery. 107 Before we conclude this first part of the article, it will be proper to acquaint our Readers, that the references to the original notes of the Author are included in crotchets only, and those to the additional ones of the Translator in parentheses, with a crotchet at the beginning and end of each respective note. [To be continued.]
Reports of Cafes argued and determined in the High Court of Chan
cery, in the Time of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke. Collected and methodized by John Tracy Atkyns, of Lincoln's Inn, Esq; Curfitor Baron of the Exchequer. With Notes and References, and three Tables ; one of the several Titles with their Divisions, another of the Names of the Cases, and a third of the principal Matters. Vol. I. Folio. Il. 11s. 6d. Worall, &c.
of justice were considered as the dicta sapientum, and were deservedly held in esteem and reverence, certain persons of approved knowlege, experience, and accuracy, were authorized to collect the 'reports of the several cases argued and determined in the courts of law. To the labours of these able and diligent reporters we are indebted for those awful volumes called the Year Books, which contain a fund of knowlege that few modern lawyers have the courage, or ability to explore, and which they therefore affect to flight. But however they may be contemned by the ignorant and the indolent, they will never lose their value with those who know how to prefer the solid and weighty decisions of men thoroughly skilled in their profession, to the fimfy and fluctuating adjudications of more modern and superficial lawyers.
In the language of former times, judges were often complimented with the appellation of grave and fad men. cestors were not so rehned as to deem a gravity and decorum of character, a mark of a narrow and contracted mind. It was not become the fashion to prefer men to the seat of judgment on the score of their genius and vivacity, but on account of their knowlege and experience. Judges were selected out of those who were distinguished by long pra&tice for their abilities at the bar, before they rose to the bench. It was not enough that they had figured in the national council, and that they could boast a Aippancy of tongue to support or perplex an administration. As they were not promoted to the seat of judgment by any kind of parliamentary influence, neither, when feated there,
were they biassed by any party principles. In the early days of which we are speaking, they did not, on one hand, Itrain the law by rigid constructions, to favour ministerial oppression ; nor on the other did they loosen the ties of government by partial interpretations, in order to forward the designs of factious oppofition: neither yet did they affect a brutal independance, and growl and snarl, sometimes on one side, sometimes on another, as caprice or ill-humour directed them.
The judges of those times were not industrious to contravert in one court, the principles laid down in another; they were rather studious to preserve an uniformity of decision, than which nothing is more conducive to the security and welfare of the subject : for it is sometimes, perhaps, of little consequence what the law is, provided that, such as it is, it be well known and invariably pursued : and we may justly say, that mifera ef servitus ubi jus est vagum aut incognitumn.
Nothing therefore can be more inconfiderate than the affectation of totally disregarding precedents as so many servile shackles. The greatest lawyers have ever held them in most esteem : and there are many instances where such have declared that they thought themselves bound by former adjudications, though if the cafe before them had been of a new impression, they would have inclined to a contrary opinion.
In this view, our report-books, if well digested, may be considered as so many monuments of the wisdom of former times. But it must be confessed that many of later date, are rather repofitories of error. Indeed some of them are more properly common-place books than 'reports: as they contain little more than the bare judgment of the court; or, if they hazard a state of the case, it is too often imperfectly or erroneously reported.
With regard, however, to the volume now before us, it is but justice to acknowlege, that the cases are very fully and accurately stated. The reader here may enter into the true grounds on which the several determinations are founded, as the able Reporter has not only in general preserved the arguments of the council on both sides, but likewise the reasoning of the chancellor: and it is no small recommendation of these decrees, when we consider that they are the decisions of a judge, who, whatever the world may conclude, as to his political character, will, as a lawyer, ever be ranked among the ornaments of the profession.
The cases in this volume are ranged in an alphabetical series, which, as the Reporter observes in his preface, by including the whole that relates to each separate branch, prevents the Reader from being confounded by itepping abruptly from one head of equity to another.
Of a work of this kind, a general account is all that can be expected. Particular extracts and observations, on fuch dry subjects, would be very uninteresting to most of our Readers. But as a specimen of our Reporter's performance, we will give an abstract of Lord Hardwicke's decree in the famous cafe of Mr, Spencer, in which he was assisted by several of the judges. The report of this case alone takes up 55 pages of this volume, and is, in substance, thus :
In 1738 Mr. Spencer applied to Sir Abraham Janssen, and borrowed of him goool, on bond, conditioned for the payment of 10,000l. soon after the death of the Dutchess of Marlborough, in case he should survive her, not otherwise. The dutchers died in 1744; and on Sir Abraham's delivering up the above bond to be cancelled, Mr, Spencer executed a new bond, in the penalty of 20,000 l. conditioned for payment of 10,000). with interest; and at the same time executed a warrant of Attorney, impowering the defender to enter up a judgment against him for the penalty, which was done accordingly.
Some time after Mr. Spencer died, leaving the residue of his estate, after payment of his debts and legacies, to his son; and his executors brought a bill to be relieved against the defendant's demand, as an unconscionable demand, and an usurious contract. After many learned arguments of some of the most eminent council at the bar, and hearing the opinions of the chief justices, the master of the rolls, &c. the lord chancellor pronounced the decree, of which the following is an abstract:
Lord Chancellor : “ Before I proceed, it is proper to mention, that Lord Chief-Justice Willes, being ill, has furnished me with his reasons by letter, and authorized me to say, he concurs in opinion with me in the three points that are made in the cause.
In the next place, the able assistance I have had in this cause, makes my task much easier, and unless the novelty of the case called upon me to give my reasons, I might very well be excused from saying any thing on a subject, which has been fo fully and learnedly discussed already; and if I could have foreseen on what points this matter would have turned, should have spared the learned judges their trouble.
The first point, Whether the firft bond is void in law, by virtue of the statutes of ufury?
The second point, If it is valid in law, whether it is contrary to conscience, and relievable upon any head or principle of equity.
The third point is, Whether the new security given by Mr. Spencer after the death of the Dutchess of Marlborough, amounts to a confirmation, and is fufficient to bar the plaintiffs of relief? I 3
The first is a mere question of law, on the constru&ion of the statutes, and therefore to be considered exactly in the same light, as in a court of common law, and as if an action had been brought on the bond.
My lords the judges are very clear in their opinion, the bond was not ufurious; and if I had been doubtful myself in this point, I should have thought notwithstanding, I was as much bound by their judgment now, as if I sent it to be tried at law.
But I have no doubt at all of this contract’s being out of the statutes of usury, and do not intend to go through the authorities on this head, as they have been fully observed upon already : it is a plain wager, and not within the statutes, because no loan.
The counsel for the plaintiffs, by way of objection, laid great stress on dictums of judges, that particular care mult be taken there is no communication for the loan of money ; therefore fay they, this being originally an agreement for borrowing on one part, and lending on the other, is usurious.
A very good answer has been already given to this, that the real and subítantial foundation of the agreement must be con• fidered, and not mere expresions only; but I will add to it, that loans upon a real and fair contingency cannot be said to be usurious, any more than in the case of bottomree-bonds.
And the very stating of the fact, on the purchasing of an annuity, or on the sale of goods, will prove the observation.
A man may purchase an annuity, on as low terms as he can; but if he lets out at first with borrowing a sum of money, and then turns it into the shape of an annuity afterwards, this is a Thift, and an evasion to avoid the statutes,
It is lawful likewise for a man to sell his goods as dear as he can, in a fair way of sale ; but if A. applies to B. to lend money, and offers to allow more than the legal interest, and B, says, No! I will not agree to your proposal on these terms, but I will give you such a quantity of goods, and you shall pay ine so much at a future time for them, beyond the price I now fix, and then charges an extravagant profit; this is a shift to get more than the legal interest, and is ufurious.
On the second hend, I shall follow the prudent example of Mr. Justice Burnet, by not giving any direct opinion, but at the same time, the arguments in this cause have made it necelsary to say something.
No wife and good man will assert such bargains deserve encouragement, for as they are productive of prodigality on the one hand, fo do they beget extortion on the other; want and ava. rice always generating one another, and these contracts may be truly faid to be vitia temporis,