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for any living characters whatever. But I flatter myself that, as they know me well, they will be satisfied, that all I have advanced arises from the fulness of my persuasion with respect to the fallaciousness of their principles, and my earnest desire to recommend to them a system better founded than their own.

They will be more particularly offended at my not allowing them the title of Unitarians. But for this I have given my reasons; and I respect them as good men and good Christians, which is of infinitely more value. Besides, the title of Unitarians is that which had always been given to those who have of late been called Socinians in this country, till Arianism was introduced by Mr. Whiston, Dr. Clarke, and Mr. Pierce, at a time when the old Unitarians, such as were Mr. Biddle, and Mr. Firmin, (those most respectable of men,) were almost extinct. We therefore only reclaim an old possession, and by this means get quit of a denomination from a particular person, which is never a pleasing circumstance. But let my reasons be considered, and by them I am willing to stand or fall.

There is one particular subject on which I have much enlarged in this treatise, and about which I had no intention to write at all, when I began to collect materials for it. It is the miraculous conception of Jesus, concerning which I had not at that time entertained any doubt; though I well knew that several very eminent and learned Christians, of ancient and modern times, had disbelieved it. The case was, that, in perusing the early christian writers, with a view to collect all opinions concerning Christ, I found so much on this subject, that I could not help giving particular attention to it; and it being impossible not to be struck with the absurdity of their reasoning about it, I was by degrees led to think whether any thing better could be said in proof of the fact ; and at length my collections and speculations, grew to the size that is now before the reader.

It has been my business to collect and digest facts and opinions, and it will be his to form a judgment concerning them. What I myself think of them he will easily perceive, because I have frankly acknowledged it; but that ought not to bias him. I rather wish that it may operate to awaken his suspicions, and lead him to examine what I have advanced, with the greatest rigour. To assist his judgment, I have kept nothing back that has occurred to myself, or that has been suggested by others; and in order to collect opinions with

more ease, I first published this article in the Theological Repository, as I also did that relating to the intricate business of Platonism.

I am well aware that what I have advanced on this subject will give my enemies fresh occasion for raising a clamour against me. But they cannot, with this new provocation, add to what they have already said of me. If they tax me with mean artifice, base disingenuity, gross ignorance, and the most wilful perversion of the authors I quote, there will be nothing new in it. My ears are now accustomed to these charges, and callous to them ; so that I receive them as things of course. And though I, no doubt, wish to stand better with my readers, and to pass for a fair and earnest, though fearless inquirer after truth (because I believe myself to be so), it is, from habit, no great pain to me to be considered in a different light. To my enemies, therefore, who have already calumniated me so grossly, I make no apology, and of them I ask no favour. I should sue in vain if I did.

The only article for which I acknowledge myself an advocate in this work, is the truth and antiquity of the proper Unitarian doctrine, in opposition to the Trinitarian and Arian hypotheses. And even with respect to this, I am, as I have observed before, by no means sanguine in my expectations from the effect of the most forcible arguments; the minds of many being at present greatly indisposed to receive the opinion that I contend for, in consequence of strong early prejudices in favour of a different one; prejudices which have been confirmed by much reading, thinking and conversation. Least of all can I expect to make any impression on those who are advanced in life. My chief expectations are from the young, and from posterity. And it is happy for the cause of truth, as well as other valuable purposes, that man is mortal; and that while the species continues, the individuals go off the stage.

For otherwise the whole species would soon arrive at its maximum in all improvements, as individuals now do.

In this work I find myself in a great measure, as I was well apprized, upon new ground. At least, I see reason to think that it has never been sufficiently examined by any person who has had the same general views of things that I have. Dr. Lardner, who was as much conversant with the early christian writers as perhaps any man whatever, and whose sentiments on the subject of this controversy were the same with mine, yet had another object in reading them.

Przipcovius * wrote upon this subject, but what he has advanced is very short and very imperfect.

What Zwickert did, I can only learn from bishop Bull, who had not seen all his works; but I suspect that he was not master of all the evidence that may be procured from a careful reading of ancient writers, and a comparison of the several circumstances to be collected from them. I And it certainly requires no small degree of patience, as well as judgment and sagacity, to trace the real state of the Uni. tarian Christians in early times, from the writings of their enemies only. For all their own writings are either grossly interpolated, or have perished, except the Clementines. But a candid reader will make allowance for this great disadvantage which, as the historian of the Unitarians, I have laboured under. Who is there that will pretend to collect from the Roman historians only, a complete account of the affairs of the Carthaginians, the maxims of their conduct, and the motives of their public transactions, especially in relation to those things with respect to which, we know that they mutually accused each other?

As to the learned Christians of the last age (excepting the Athanasians), they were almost all Arians, such as Dr.Whitby, Dr. Clarke, Nr.Whiston, Mr. Jackson, & Mr. Pierce, &c. În their time, it was a great thing to prove that the opinion of the perfect equality of the Son to the Father, in all divine perfections, was not the doctrine of the early ages. Those writers could not, indeed, help perceiving traces of the doctrine of the simple humanity of Christ; but taking it for granted that this was an opinion concerning him as much too low, as that of the Athanasians was too high, and

* A Polish Knight, author of the Life of F. Socinus, and a variety of treatises, which Sandius has enumerated. He died, during his exile iu Prussia, in 1670, aged 78. See Bib. Anti-Trin. pp. 123–126. Toulmin's Socinus, pp. 439–452.

+ A native of Prussia, who became a physician, and died at Amsterdam, 1678, aged 66. See the titles of his numerous works in Sandius, pp. 151–156.

| Since this was written, I have had a particular account of this work from a learned foreign correspondent, and it has not contributed to heighten my regret at not having been able to procure it. It does not appear to me, that either Mr. Zwicker, or any of the Polish Socinians, were sufficiently acquainted with Christian antiquity. (P.) See Introd. Letter to Horsley. Also an account of Bull's Primitiva et Apostolica Traditio, against Zwicker's Irenicum Trenicorum, in Biog. Brit. II. p. 704, Note. (W. W.) Bull's work was translated, in 1714,“ by a Presbyter of the church of England," with a virulent Preface, denouncing a

“ formi dable army of heretics," from Simon Magus to Socinus, &c. On the treatment of Socinians, see Tillotson and South-contrasted by Jortin. Birch, Life of Tillotson, Ed. 2, pp. 426-428.

& Rector of Rossington, who wrote in defence of Clarke's Script. Doct. He died, 1789, nged 77. See Biog. Dict. VI). pp. 842-1945, and Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes.

there being no distinguished advocates for the proper Unitarian doctrine in their time, they did not give sufficient attention to the circumstances relating to it. These circumstances it has been my business to collect and to compare ; and, situated as I am, it may be depended upon that I have done it with all the circumspection of which I am capable.

My authorities from original writers will perhaps be thought too full; but I imagined that an error on this side would be the better extreme of the two. It will frequently be found that more is contained in the reference than in the text; but this will gratify some persons who may wish to see in what manner christian writers of so early a period expressed themselves on the subjects of this work, especially as but few of my readers will bave an opportunity of seeing many of the originals. If some of my quotations should excite a smile, I hope they will not be displeased. In whatever light such passages may appear to them, they may be assured that they were written with great seriousness; and this will contribute to their forming a more perfect idea of the character and manner of that class of writers.

My classical reader must not expect the most correct style in the authors with whom I shall bring him acquainted, especially some of those who wrote in Latin; and the Greek writers abound with passages which the ablest critics have not been able to restore. In these cases I have generally given that reading which the editors have preferred, and sometimes that which I have thought the sense absolutely required. However, the meaning (which is all that I have to do with) is generally sufficiently obvious, when the grammatical construction of the words is the most difficult.

It is sometimes of great consequence to distinguish between the genuine and the spurious works of the Fathers. With respect to this, I have mostly followed Cave. But, in general, it is sufficient for my purpose, if the books I quote were written within the period to which the supposed writers belong; because all that I am concerned with, is the existence of any particular opinion in the age to which I refer it; so that, in many cases, a mistake of this kind will not affect my object. Some will think that I have done wrong in ascribing the Philosophumena to Origen ; and in quoting the treatise against Noetus, as if it was the work of Hippolytus, though in this Beausobre has done the same before me. But the former I really think bears the marks of an age as early as that of Origen, and the latter I have not quoted for any purpose in which either the writer, or the exact date of the work, is concerned.

I must also apprize my readers of another circumstance relating to my references, which is, that they will often find evidence as strongly in favour of any particular proposition under some other head, as that which they will see in the place where they will most naturally look for it. But having, as I inagined, a superfluity of evidence for every thing that I have advanced, rather than tire the reader with a multiplicity of quotations of one kind, in any one place, I contrived to introduce several of them under other heads, to which they likewise bore a relation. As to those persons, therefore, who are not satisfied with what I judge to be sufficient evidence, on any article, I would wish them to suspend their judgment till they have perused the whole work ; as it is very possible that they may be more struck with those authorities which they will find in some other place.

To give as much perspicuity as I possibly could to so complex a subject, I have given particular attention to the arrangement of this work. For this purpose I have made many divisions and sub-divisions in it. On this account it was not easy to prevent the occurrence of the same con. siderations in different places; and I took the less care to avoid it, because the views of things that are repeated are of particular importance, though never that I know of exhi. bited before, so that I wished to impress them on the mind of the reader.

Before I close this preface, I must apprize my readers, that I have introduced into this work every thing of which I could make any use, from any of the publications in my late controversy, as I there informed them that I should do They have, therefore, before them all that I have been able to bring together, as materials from which to form their own judgment. And having done my duty with respect to them, let them do the same with respect to truth and to themselves.

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