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You have one Letter, No. XI. in which you profess to compare the “Systems in their influence to “ promote the love of Christ:” as I have not, with respect to the other divisions of your work, entered into a minute and particular discussion of your reasoning, or examination of your quotations, neither shall I do it here. But I would lay before you and our readers, what I have already offered on the nature and grounds of the love of Christ, in a paper, published several years since, in “The Theological Reposi“tory”;” and which, I conceive, will forma suitable
appendix to these letters. But before I drop my pen, I request your attention to one passage, and the only one in your work, where my name occurs. You bring a charge of pride against the Socinians; and among other proofs of it is what you call their “spouting extravagant compliments “on one another.” At the bottom of the page you say, “See Mr. Toulmin's Sermon, for Mr. Robinson.” Whether the eulogium I passed on Mr. Robinson were extravagant or not, the reader, who is conversant with his works, and has perused the memoirs of him lately published, will determine t. But
* Vol. vi. p. 284,
If I stand, here, corrected. Mr. Fuller's sensure, I perceive, did not, as he observes, refer to an encomium bestowed on Mr. Robinson, but to an eulogium on Mr. Dyer, who has since appeared as bis biographer. But the sentiments expressed above concerning Mr,
But I totally disavow the motive, to which you insinuate my compliments to his memory is to be imputed; viz. a pride in overrating and extolling his abilities and character, because they reflected honour on the sentiments, which, before his death, it was supposed he had embraced. My respect for Mr. Robinson, I must inform you, commenced with the first knowledge I had of his character. This was years before his death, and before the change of his sentiments. The correspondence I had with him began about the year 1775. It originated with myself, and commenced with some mark of the respect due to his character, and of the friendship for which his circumstances then called, which it was happily in my power, at that time, to render to him; when he was, by principle and intimacy, connected with the particular baptists. My regard for Mr. Robinson did not ebb and flow with the fluctuation of his opinions: but was governed by the permanent qualities of the man, the friend of liberty and piety, who had sacrificed much for conscience. I may speak the more boldly on this head, because I have given other proofs of my readiness to own and praise worth, wherever found, in the various additions I have made, as often as great and excellent characters of any party or creed came before me, in my new edition of Mr. Neal’s “History of the Puritans.” . Your imputation, therefore, has not done mejustice. But you did not know me, except as a Socinian, and a Socinian biographer: this character you might think incompatible with that of the fair and candid historian. When you are convinced, that I have also appeared in that character, you will, I would persuade myself, should an opportunity offer, be ready to own it, and to retract your reflections. But I dwell, too much on this trifling circumstance, which does not materially affect your argument or my own. : I leave
Mr. Robinson hawe, now, provoked Mr. Fuller's animadversions.
on this occasion he adds: “I may remark, however, from Dr. “ Toulmin's account of his regard for Mr. Robinson, that he pays “but little respect to the apostolic manner of regarding persons,
“ viz. for the truth's sake that dwelleth in them.' Truth had no “ share in Dr. Toulmin's regard; but the love of liberty was substi“tuted in its place as a companion for piety.” Socinianism Indefens, p. 34. On the candor and liberality of this remark I shall not pronounce : but I would observe, that the logical justness of it may be denied. Hath piety, hath a zeal for liberty against all human inventions and impositions in religion, hath the sacrifice of interest for the sake of conscience no connection with truth 2 Is not the approbation bestowed upon these traits of character expressive of a regard for truth P Or is an attachment founded on an agreement in doctrinal sentiments the only, and decisive, expression of it May we not even for the truth’s sake feel respect and affection. for those, who according to our own views hold speculative errors, when they shew dispositions of mind, that are favourable to the discovery and profession of truth, and act from integrity and conscience when Nathaniel was in a great mistake, and betrayed even considerable prejudices against the claims of Christ, Jesus looked on him with high regard, and bestowed on him a fine and generous encomium, celebrating him as a pattern of truth and sincerity of heart. There may be truth in the heart, when there are errors in
the head, and for this truth's sake a man may be justly entitled to
our warm regards.] hi llS
I leave your work, my remarks, and the questions between us, to the candid and intelligent reader.
To him I recommend the following excellent sentiments from Dr. Lardner: “Truth in things of reli“gion is not a matter of indifference. Every virtu“ ous mind must be desirous to know it. But no “, speculative belief, without practice, is saving, or “will give a man real worth and excellence. The “knowledge that puffeth up is vainand insignificant. “To knowledge there should be added humility, “gratitude to God who has afforded us means and “ opportunities of knowledge; a modest sense of
our remaining ignorance and imperfection; a diffidence and apprehensiveness, that though we see “ some things with great evidence, and are firmly “ persuaded of their truth, nevertheless many of our “judgments of things may be false and erroneous.
“We should likewise be cauticus of judging
others. Some who have less knowledge, may “ have more virtue. God alone knows the hearts
“ of men, and all their circumstances ; and is there-
fore the only judge what errors are criminal, and “how farmen fall short of improving the advantages “ afforded them, or act up to the light that has been, “ given them *.” With
* Lardner's Works, 8vo, b. x, page 633, or, Two Schemes of a Trinity considered, &c. in Four Sermons, p. 71. -
[Mr. Fuller expresseth his approbation of some of the above sentiments from Dr. Lardner, and grants that we should be cautious in - - - - - - - - - judging
With every good wish that success may attend all your just and scriptural attempts to promote practi
I am, . . . . -
Your humble Servant.
judging of others. But, as if unwilling to relinquish the right he has assumed of judging Socinians, he contends, that, “if it be pre“sumptuous to judge of others by their words and actions, I have writ“ten presumptuously in affirming, that the number of sincere, con“scientious persons, attentive to the cultivation of pious affections, “Hath borne a small proportion to those who have been nominal So“cinians and Calvinists: and that it is presumption in me to complain, “as I have p. 39. of the want of candour and justice in him.” Socinianism Indefen. p. 35, 6–On this point it might be sufficient to leave the impartial reader to decide between us. If I am justly chargeable with presumption, or through inadvertence have fallen into it, I could wish the sentences that prove it cancelled. But I would observe, that I am not, at present, convinced, that this is the fact. As to the latter case, in which Mr. Fuller is disposed to impute it to me, if he examine the passage more accurately he will perceive, that my charge against him is founded on his not maintaining, in similar cases, the same rule of judging : on his discrediting the Unitarian doctrine on account of its inefficacy, when he would not, I am confident, on the ground of unsuccessalness, have cast the like" imputations on the first preachers of christianity.—In the former instance, the argument points to a general, cstensible fact, not to speculative assertions,— In neither case doth the censure go further than to overt-acts. Overt-acts, and not the heart, are open to human inspection, and in judging of them, we may err through ignorance of some circumstances, or be rash through prejudice. The heart is amenable at a higher tribunal. On overt-acts were grounded the censures of Peter and Paul against Simon and Elymas: which examples Mr. Fuller appears to consider, as justifying the strain of his own writings. The former of these men tendered money to pur