Page images
PDF
EPUB

“tendency of one to the other.” This also appears to me a solecism: it implies inconsistency and absurdity. It implies, that to receive the divine mission of Jesus has a resemblance to considering him as a deceiver: that to take him as my master, the resurrection and the life, has a tendency to the rejection of him : that to learn of him is to deny him : that to profess to obey him resembles disobedience : and that to hope for the mercy of God in him will lead me to cast off this hope. It is a singular circumstance, that a resemblance and affinity to Deism should be ascribed to the creed of those, among whom have arisen the most able critics in the scriptures, and the most eminent advocates for divine revelation. Socinus himself wrote a piece entitled, “An Argument for the authority of the “Holy Scriptures;” which a bishop of the church of England recommended to his clergy, as a valuable performance” : and which a divine of that church translated into English f. Lardner spent his life, and fortune, in part, in investigating and proving “The “Credibility of the Gospel.” Lowman, Forster, and Duchal, were Unitarians : so were Locke, and Sir Isaac Newton. These two not only defended revelation, but studied and explained the scriptures. The Polish brethren are among the commentators of the first reputation. Among authors of the present day, no one hath written so much on the evidences of christianity, as hath Dr. Priestley. I will add, from what I know of those whom you style Socinians, and with whom you do not pretend to have any extensive acquaintance t; “that amidst all the vi“cissitudes of life, the great principles of the gospel “are the ground of their consolation and hope. “There are no men to whom the glad tidings of eter“nal life are more desirable, or who look forward “with more stedfastness and joy to that period, when “this mortality shall be exchanged for immortality $.”

against Socinians, culled the passages for his animadversions. See Mr. Lindsey's Apology, ch. iii. and Dr. Priestley’s Letters to the Inhabitants of Birmingham, Lett. xvii. Yet, as if the matter had not been even attempted, Mr. Fuller calls on Mr. Lindsey, as well as myself (1), to point out one single passage, in which the unity of God, is literally declared to be personal. His readers, I am convinced, if they wish impartially to seek the truth, would do well. to read carefully, for themselves, the writers whose discussions on this subject he has overlooked.]

[(1) See my Discourse preached at Tiverton, July 5, 1797, entitled “The Injustice of glassing Unitarians with Deists and Infi“dels,” p. 24.] - . . . . . . . . . * : perfor

You, Sir, attempt to prove the relation of Socinianism to Deism, from an agreement in some instan

* Bishop Smallbrooke's Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of St, David's, 1728, p. 34.

+ Mr. Edward Coombe.

* Page 319.

§ Remarks on the Bishop of Lincoln's Charge, p. 20. - CeSa

ces. So the primitive christians were charged by . their idolatrous neighbours with Atheism, because with Atheists they worshipped not their Gods". There must, in general, be some principles in common between persons whose sentiments, in many essential points, are remote from each other. Under a variety, of opinions, and a great difference of judgment on some points, there will be a resemblance in other points between creatures endowed with the same powers and passions. For instance, if, as you say, “Socinians are continually boasting of their success, “ and of the great increase of their numbers; and so “ are also the Deists f :” I am apt to think, that this point of resemblance may be carried further, even to Mr. Fuller ; for the manner, in which he speaks of “hundreds of ministers,” and “hundreds of con“gregations, t” that furnish proofs of the efficacy of the Calvinistic system, may be thought to bear a great agreement with the strains of triumph, which he ascribes to Deists and Socinians. But I cannot think, that there is in his sentiments, or in his mind, any particular tendency which will lead him to the camp of either. The general tenor of your book and your mode of arguing remind me, Sir, of a piece published in

* Butlet's History of the Establishment of Christianity.

+ Page 314, 15. # Page 27. the

the last century, entitled: “PURIt ANIsME the no“ther ; SINNE the daughter : or, a treatise wherein “is demonstrated from twenty, several doctrines “ and positions of puritanisme ; that the faith and “religion of the puritans, doth forcibly induce its “professors to the perpetrating of SINNE, and doth “warrant the committing of the same.” I could wish the piece in your hands, and to see what remarks you would offer on the candor of the imputation, or the conclusiveness of the argument. The same remarks, I am inclined to think, would supply an answer to the general tenor of your own treatise.

But you “have been told, that it is very common “for those who go over to Infidelity, to pass through “Socinianism in their way. If this be the case,” you add, “it is no more than may be expected “according to the natural course of things ".” A similar remark, if I mistake not, I have seen made on the side of Popery against the reformation, that Protestantism was the pass to Infidelity t. Fact may be admitted in several instances to verify it, in both cases; and the same general answer offers to each. With respect to those who have been educated in Popery, or in Calvinism, the doctrines of religion have come to them before the proofs of the truth of christianity; and with a mixture of explications and inferences peculiar to each scheme. “The effect “ which too frequently follows, from christianity “ being psesented in this form, is,” as an excellent writer observes, “that, when any articles, which “ appear as parts of it, contradict the apprehension “ of the persons to whom it is proposed, men of rash “ and confident tempers hastily and indiscriminately “ reject the whole *.” Or if they do make a stop, and pause at some intermediate stage, having never felt a foundation, by studying the credibility of the gospel; and having probably rejected, with precipitance and haste, the principles of education, they are more easily led away by new difficulties and objections, affecting not particular doctrines but the truth of revelation. The blame or reflection doth not lie on the sentiments, which they may, for afi intermediate space, hold; but on their not having preserved, nor been taught to preserve the separation between cvidences and doctrines; nor having been accustomed to investigate and ascertain the former distinctly and independently of the latter.

* Page 319. [+ “But what does this prove 7" asks Mr. Fuller. “The ques“tion is, Is such a charge capable of being supported 2 A few solf“tary individuals might doubtless be produced.” Number is in this case, of no consequence, to the conclusiveness of the argument, The question is simply this; will Mr. Fuller, will any one, because some have passed from Popery through Protestantism to Infidelity, admit this to be a just medium to prove Protestantism an erroneous system 2 Neither can Unitarianism be proved to be an erroneous scheme, or to have a natural and direct tendency to Deism, by similar facts.] - admitted,

*

[ocr errors]

* Pley's Evidences of Christianity, b. ii. p. 39, 8vo, edition.

Yout

« PreviousContinue »