« AnteriorContinuar »
ously entitled our lord a mere man, and nothing but a man, and simple human nature, will not be able to digest this necessary doctrine' [of our saviour's di. vinity] ' until they humble themselves to receive in. <structions from the holy scriptures.'
Now, Sir, you yourself must know, that those whom
you here speak of, profess not only to receive instructions from scripture, but to reject the doctrine you deem 'necessary (to salvation, I suppose), for that very reason, because they receive instructions from scripture, and listen to it in opposition to those who teach for doctrines the commandments of men (Matt. xv. 9.). Either, therefore, you do not believe what they say:-and it will reflect no honour upon your candour to disbelieve the solemn and repeated assertions of men, who have never forfeited their veracity, and whose assertions indeed, on this subject, are indisputably confirmed by their labours :-or else, by receiving instructions from scripture, you must mean receiving the explanations of, and deductions from, scripture, given by yourself and your
orthodox brethren. And, in that case, I leave' every one to judge who it is that has most need of humility, the unitarian when he disputes your claim to infallibility, or you yourself when you call him an impious sadducee, for refusing to submit to it. You would, perhaps, feel the justice of this observation more forcibly, if a papist were to tell you, as any of them, with as much reason on his side as you have on your's, might tell you, that you will not be able to digest the necessary doctrine
of transubstantiation, until you humble yourself to receive instructions from the holy scriptures.*
* No class of christians have ever been more ready to submit their opinions to the authority of scripture than the unitarians, and yet nothing is more common in their adversáries than to reproach them with a proud contempt of scripture. The writers of the old Unitarian Tracts, 4to. 1691, &c. declared publicly that "they would always prefer the infinite wisdom of God be.
fore the fallible dictates of human, or angelic reason : Rom. “ iii. 4. Let God be true, and every man a liar. 1 Cor. i, 25. “ The foolishness of God is wiser than men. Hath the holy “ scripture, that is, hath God said it? They will believe, though “all men and angels contradict it.” Vol. i. Acs of Athanasius, p. 4. In vol. ii, tract i. page 1, it is also shewn, that “it is not “ true that unitarians prefer their reason before revelation." In the 2d tract of the same vol. p. 14, it is well remarked, that “ the pride of understanding is not with those whose simple faith “ is expressed in the very terms of scripture, but with those who “ rely upon human expressions, taken out of pagan philosophy, “ metaphysical arguments and abstractions, or remote conse, “ quences.”. See also this notion of the pride of unitarians, and. of their not humbling themselves to receive instructions from scripture, well rcfuted in the same volume, tract 4th. page 7.
“ And is it not intolerable presumption for men to mould and ! shape their religion according to their fancies and humours, 6 and to stuff it with an infinite number of orthodox proposi, “ tions, none of which are to be found in express terms in scrips “ture, but are only pretended to be deduced from thence by such “ imaginary consequences, from some little hints and appearances of " things ? Especially, is not this unpardonable in those men, “ who cry down reason for such a profane and carnal thing, as “must not presume to intermeddle in holy matters, and yet lay “ the foundation of their religion, and erect such glorious and “ magnificent fabrics, on nothing else but some little shews and « appearances of reason ?"
“ But the plain truth is this ; when men argue from the na. “ ture of God, and his works and providences, from the nature M4
--At the opening of this correspondence, I said that, though you had niuch to unlearn in the theory, I firmly believed you were by no means deficient in the practice of christianity. At the close of it I repeat my convictions, in spite of the drawbacks which here stare me in the face, and which proclaim aloud, that you have, for a while at least, forgotten that love of the brotherhood, and charity towards all mankind, which is the characteristic of a true christian, and have turned your back on the maxim of doing to others as you would that others should
do unto you:
For the credit of our common religion, and more especially for the credit of those who think they
“ of mankind, and those eternal notions of good and evil, and “ the essential differences of things, that is, when men argue “ from plain and undeniable principles, which have an immuta“ble and unchangeable nature, and so can bear the stress and “ weight of a just consequence, this is carnal reason ; 'but when
men argue from fancies and imaginations which have no “ stable nature, from some pretty allusions, and similitudes, and “ allegories, which have no certain shape nor form, but what “ every man's fancy gives them, this is sanétified and spiritual “ reason ; but why, I cannot imagine, unless that it so much “ resembles ghosts and shadows, which have nothing solid and « substantial in them.” SHERLOCK's Knowledge of Jesus Christ, p. 55. 8vo. 1674.
For high-church, orthodox, trinitarians, who first forge, or utter, knowing it to be forged, a creed without a word of scripture in it, and then say, if you “ do not thus think of the trinity, ic
you shall perish everlastingly;" to-censure unitarians for not humbling themselves to receive instructions from scripture, is perfectly ridiculous. This is playing the part of father Paul in the Duenna, when“ with rosy gills, round paunch, and greedy eye,” he reprimands the poor half-starved porter for gormandizing....
have so- learned Christ, as to see the simplicity of that religion, as the truth is in Jesus (Ephes. iy. 20, 21.), I hope, that among all the number of such as, on the authority of scripture, believe the holy Jesus to be a mere man, not onė, whether Socinian (if any such there be in this kingdom), or otherwise, will be found to return your hard usage and ungenerous censures : but that they will be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might, will put on the whole armour of God, and trust in that to quench every fiery dart (Ephes. vi. 10, 11. 16), and will shew themselves, on this and on every other occasion, the genuine disciples of a master · who, when he was reviled, reviled 'not again, (1 Pet. ii. 23.) Should any of them so far forget his profession' as 'to follow the example you have here set him, it would give me a worse opinion of him and his cause, than all the aspersions which you
have so liberally (though I trust, inadvertently), cast on the one and the other.*
* You probably were not aware that your censure upon Socie nians would fall' upon Sir Isaac Newton, and upon Locke, upon Chillingworth, and upon Lardner. As to Chilling worth, the writers of his life, in the new edit. of the Biographia Britannica, say ; " Mr. Whitaker, in his “ Origin of Arianism disclosed,” pages “ 482–492, has produced a number of arguments to shew, that “ Mr. Chillingworth, in the latter part of his life, became a So« cinian. We acknowledge ourselves to be convinced by Mr. “ Whitaker's testimonies and reasonings; and, therefore, retract so what we had before said upon the subject. The Socinians, “ we apprehend, will be proud to have such a name as that of “Chillingworth ranked among them.”. Farther Corrigenda - to the third volume of the Biographia ; printed and published with the 5th volume, 1793, article Chillingworth. See also the Sidney
Thus, I have examined all that has been advanced by yourself and your correspondent, in support of your rule and your interpretations, and the doctrine derived from it, at greater length, I fear, it will be thought by the reader (if any besides yourself shall read these letters), than the occasion required, All competent and mpartial judges, who will but weigh what you have written, in the balance of reason and scripture, will, of themselves, I am per, suaded, find it sufficiently wanting, without my assistance.
But though, in this point of view, my labours may not seem to be very necessary, there is another, in which every man's labours are always seasonable and useful. It is beneficial for all men, at all times, to bear testimony to what they believe, after a careful inquiry, to be the true and genuine spirit of our most holy religion. Whether the call to illustrate and recommend this best and most valuable of God's blessings, be weak or strong, it is right to obey it. Whether the impediment that obstructs its influence be great or small, it is good to remove it.
In the days of our blessed master, and of his first followers, rites and ceremonies, the invention of
papers, published by Collins, vol. ii. p. 669, where Chillingworth is mentioned as having defended the socinian cause against Lord Falkland. • Yes; any party may be proud of any one of these names ; the names of men, who, for powers of reasoning, for talents, for knowledge, for integrity, and for careful and diligent inquiry into the sense and meaning of scripture, have never been ex. ceeded in any quarter of the globe,