On his return to London in 1818 he applied himself assiduously to the art of engraving, in which he acquired a skill that in after years became a most valuable assistant to his literary labours, and enabled him to illustrate his various humours and fancies by a profusion of quaint devices, which not only repeated to the eye the impressions of the text, but, by suggesting amusing analogies and contrasts, added considerably to the sense and effect of the work.
The chief names in this advanced theology connected with Cartesian doctrines are Ludwig Meyer, the friend and editor of Spinoza, author of a work termed Philosophia scripturae interpres (1666); Balthasar Bekker, whose World Bewitched helped to discredit the superstitious fancies about the devil; and Spinoza, whose Tractatus theologico-politicus is in some respects the classical type of rational criticism up to the present day.
It may be supposed that these crude fancies embody a dim recognition of the physical forces and objects personified under the forms of deities, and a rude attempt to account for their genesis as a natural process.
He fancies that he has tried or observed everything in human experience, and his deliberate conclusion is that nothing is worth doing.
His Christliche Dogmatik (3 vols., 1849-1852, new edition, 1870) "contains many fruitful and suggestive thoughts, which, however, are hidden under such a mass of bold figures and strange fancies, and suffer so much from want of clearness of presentation, that they did not produce any lasting effect" (Otto Pfleiderer).
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