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did not, & having in a little writing which I call Finalis Concordia, so explained the ends of Christ's death, & amongst others as an expiatorie sacrifice of suffering obedience, yt I beleive your selfe would hardly mislike it. And pray, sir, if Dr. Still: y' selfe and others may mend your opinion, why may not Socinians mend their's? For, indeed, I will not denie but that although ye Socinians doe acknowledge ye death of Xt as the slaying of the sacrifice to be offered in heaven, and the desert of sinne from thence to be gathered, yet that they doe speake too lankly & jejunely as to the immediate ends of Xt's dieing but they say not so much amisse as they who have (indeed, heretofore more than now) been always harpeing upon a rigorous legal satisfaction to vindicative justice to ye utmost farthing, & some said in Hell itselfe ; insomuch as many of their hearers, of themselves have tooke it for a gravelling question, how that doctrine could consist with God's free grace, or ye necessity of man's Holynesse; & some Irave justified Socinus his chardge, runneing into downeright antinomianisme and libertinisme.
One word or two more I must crave. I am sorry to reade what you write so truly of ye ignorance of ye people, & take speciall notice of those passages in y Apol. p. 23 & 54. But for my part I could never hope to see things goe very well with ye meaner sort of ye people, who cannot spare much time, whilest their teachers stumble at ye threshold & stifle their Catechumens at ye beginning with odde and contradictory notions about ye trinitie, instead of teacheing yTM one God ye Ffather, one Lord Jesus Xt & one Holy Spirit. They are talkeing of essence, persons, consubstantial, relative properties, communication of idioms, wch is a figure or 5th trope in rhetorique yt destroys all ye figures in logique, wch are quirkes not so fitt for parish churches as young sophis ters, whom yet at another time their tutours will teach yt disparates cannot be predicated one of another; as to say a man is an Angell, or an eagle is a lion, and can flie as an eagle but not as a Lion.
Thus they can teach their people (as I have oft heard ym,) how ye infi nite God wch spannes ye heavens, was
once himselfe but a spanne long, how God may be finite and mortall & man may be infinite & immortal: but what absurdities will not downe with men when they have been brought up in false philosophie, as a trade upon wch when they have spent their moneys; they must goe on & subscribe to all & every thing, or live in poverty & disgrace, wch few can endure. It were well if ministers would keepe themselves in chatechizeing ye people to scripture expressions, upon wch account I must needs commend D'. Worthington's Catechisme. This I have found by experience yt people doe rather out of good manners, & by a kind of implicit fayth, say as their teachers and other Divines say, than understand what they say, & are confus'd in their notions & obstructed in their progresse.
How can they teach ye people tritheisme in more proper words than many divines doe, who, not contented with scripture-doxologies, say, Now to God ye Ffather, God ye Sonne & God ye Holy Ghost, &c. I heard one minister, who in catechizeing said, ye Ffather was God, ye Sonne was God (a god, he might have said *) and ye Holy Ghost was God, and then askd a maid in church, how many Gods there were? & she said three. And, truly, what are three Divine persons so collaterally mentioned but three Gods in other words of the same signification? I have a booke of Zanchy's (whom yet Episcopius quotes, wth Basil, as not wel approveing yt collateralitie) de tribus Elohim : what's that in English but of ye three Gods? Much about ye same time, ye minister himselfe made an unhappy slip, viz. to whom with thee & God ye Holy Ghost, three Gods and one person, &c. Much about ye matter, for no doubt
* A god he might have said, speaking of ye Soune; so appellatively, as Joh. i. 1, & apart, as a person of eminent honour and power, next unto God ye. Ffather: see Tertull. adversus Praxean c. 13, Si pariter nominandi fuerint Pater Christum Dominum nominem: solum auet filius, Deum patrem appellem et Jesum tem Christum potero Deum dicere, sicut idem Apostolus, ex quibus Xtus, qui est (inquit) Deus super omnia benedictus in ævum omne. So Tertull.' some thinke better, super omnes: see Grot, in loc.
but God is a person, and so spoken of in Scripture.
In ye same p. 23, you speake of original Sinne, wch as to ye corruption of nature or vitious inclinations, should be propounded rather as a curse than a sinne; as part of Gods curse for Adams transgression & ye wickednesse of ye world, rather than so properly a sinne as our owne voluntary sinnes are. For ye cure of this, what odde doctrines doe the Lutherans & others teach their disciples, concerning the sacrement of Baptisme conferreing grace non ponentibus obicem; & therefore to all children baptized, who they say doe actually beleive and understand (all Tho: Aquinas his summes, no doubt). Possibly it may be simply lawfull to baptize infants, as it may be done: (I think ye primitive Xtians did circumcise y for a time:) but yt it is better and more seriptural, as ye 27th article sayth, F cannot subscribe: if ye subscription had been only negative, (as I have seen an Irish one,) possibly I might have been content to hold my tongue. I think I should in a matter of greater moment, when to speake would doe more hurt than good, as you very well say. I have askd some of ye old & best approved Xtians, whither when they have been tempted, whither (I say) they have felt any efficacious checque from their baptismal vow in infancie, or what their Godfathers promised for y"? and they have confessed yt they have not. What witches and ye Devil doe is not much to be regarded.
'Tis said, Act. 2, they continued in Apostles' doctrine, &c. "Till we have recovered the apostles' doctrine from all Babylonical mixtures, our Christian communion will be very lame. Some good may be done, but something will be so done as to be undone againe another time, and all our national agreements & combinations will be but conspiracies and confederacies, which must downe another time, except our magistrates and grandees would be persuaded to urge as a condition of ye publique ministry a subscription to but few articles & but in undoubted scripture expressions, with some test against Popery & complete indulgence to all reformed dissenters in things merely spiritual, where is no civil injurie, & not gra
tifie Atheists & carnal men who would undoubtedly subscribe to a hundred things more rather than loose their benefices: they will not be such fooles, as Camden sayth of ye Papists in Qu: Eliz: time, yt of 12000 benefied men not above 80 would loose their preferments & some least ye Heretiques should gett ym. Such kind of subscriptions are Honey & nutts for ye Devill. I was reading yesterday Josias Nicholas, who much inveighs agst ym, An: 1602, & Zanchy's letter to Qu: Eliz: agst y Surplice.
S', I hope you will take this my Apologie in good part. God continue you in health & prolong your life. I hope y selfe & all about you will be carefull of you. Good people_challendge a title to ye longest day of your life, & pray heartily for you: so doe I, resting, S, your most heartie friend & humble servaunt,
SIR, the Scotch faculty of Common N preface to his Examination Sense, Dr. Priestley expresses much surprise that a stanch Calvinist, like Jonathan Edwards, should believe and ably defend the doctrine of Philosophical Necessity, which he considers to be more closely allied to the creed of Socinus. I am well aware that Unitarianism and Calvinism are usually regarded as consisting of the most discordant elements, and that in the estimation of the generality, the antipodes of the opposite hemispheres are not more remote from each other, than the peculiar tenets of Calvin and Dr. Priestley. But really upon a closer view of some of their opinions, I cannot discover that their variance is altogether so irreconcileable; nor can I avoid perceiving several striking points of resemblance between the systems of these renowned polemics. Thus the Calvinist affirms that while a small portion of mankind are predestined by the unalterable decrees of heaven to eternal life, the great majority are consigned to hopeless condemnation. The Unitarian likewise (whom I suppose to entertain the doctrine of Necessity) believes that comparatively few of the human race will so far comply with the injunctions of Christianity, as to entitle them to share in its promised rewards, and
that the remainder will inevitably incur the punishment denounced against the disobedient. He will not allow, perhaps, that this distribution takes place in consequence of any arbitrary decree of the Almighty, but may contend that it arises from the necessary operation of moral causes and effects. And does not this, when traced to its source, amount to the same thing?
It was, doubtless, foreknown to the Divine mind, "from the foundation of the world," on which particular individuals among the human race these causes would produce their proper effect, and on which they would operate in vain. Nothing, according to the Necessarian scheme, could remain contingent upon future events, nothing could be left liable to alteration from unexpected occurrences. And is not this equivalent to saying that it was predetermined, in the councils of the Most High, who should persevere to the end, and who should ultimately fail,-who, in short, to adopt the phraseology of Calvinism, should be numbered with the elect or chosen few, and who with the reprobate or rejected majority? It will scarcely be denied by the Unitarian, I imagine, that those of the species who strictly conform to the conditions required in revelation, are placed in such favourable circumstances as to lead them inevitably to rectitude of conduct; and there cannot exist a doubt, that were the rest of mankind so situated as to come within the sphere of the same operative causes, their volitions would be influenced in the same manner, and we should find in the formation of their characters the same result. He then who ordains the circumstances by which rational and moral beings are invariably influenced, does in effect ordain their ultimate condition :-for what Necessarian will dispute that these preestablished antecedents and consequents follow each other with unerring certainty?
As far, therefore, as the destiny of mankind, which is to follow the termination of the present state of existence, is concerned in the argument, I acknowledge myself unable to discern any essential difference between avowed Calvinists and those Unitarians who comprehend in their creed the doctrine of Necessity. There are,
indeed, many who entertain no doubt respecting the final restitution of the whole human race to virtue and happiness, and with them the tenets of Calvin would lose much of their hideous deformity; but it is difficult to say, how those of the same party who rest their views in the ultimate annihilation of the iniquitous, (leaving the eternity of punishment out of the question,) can be said materially to differ from the Reformer of Geneva, in some of the more prominent points of his system of faith. To every effectual purpose, they appear to me virtually to admit, though they may ostensibly disavow, the doctrines of absolute decrees, of election and reprobation, of irresistible grace and final perseverance.
In the Calvinistic system, it is true that good works are not allowed to constitute either the means or the condition of salvation, as the whole is resolved into the free and irrespective. grace of God and his sovereign power; but, at the same time, it must be remembered, that though the adherents of this sect utterly deny the saving efficacy of good works, they regard them as intimately connected with a genuine vital faith, and that without them, the latter cannot properly be evidenced. On the subject of personal merit, I conceive that these two classes of Christians nearly ac cord. And to what other cause, let me ask, can the Unitarians ascribe the different conditions and destinies of mankind, but to the free bounty and sovereign will of the Supreme Arbiter of the universe? It is his pleasure that a chosen few should so shape their conduct, and so conform their volitions to the precepts and model of the Saviour, as with certainty to obtain "the inheritance of the saints in light;" and to the same uncontroulable pleasure it is surely owing that the other, and far greater portion of his rational offspring, should fail in fulfilling the conditions required, and thus forfeit every hope of possessing the proffered prize.
It is impossible, in my opinion, to reconcile the harsh and revolting tenets of Calvinism with the benevolence, and much more with the infinite benevolence of the great Parent of Nature; but I am at a loss to discover in what manner those Unitarians, who reject
the belief of final restitution, can with any consistency condemn the very sentiments which they themselves really indulge, though clothed in a different garb, and coloured in a softer
Letters from the late Rev. James
[For Letters I. and II. see Vol. XVII. pp. 591 and 735.]
Traquair Manse, Sept. 28, 1819. MY DEAR SIR,
thing but grief and dissipation; and though I have already forced my way through many an intricate labyrinth, yet a weary distance still awaits me, and my growing infirmities, while they render me less able for exertion, are continually calling upon me to quicken my pace. I do not know if I mentioned it before, but the truth is, that owing to these circumstances, and the love which I have to the cause, which I believe a good one, my conscience constantly upbraids me, whenever I am employed in any thing but that which I mention; and though this may not vindicate, it will account
ment of the affection of my heart.
cluding that my friendship is nothing but a pretence, and that the letters you receive from me, are nothing but words of course, designed to amuse you, and to while away an insipid hour. Were I called to refute this idea, I am not sure that I could bring any proof which would at all serve that purpose to any person, and yet, you may believe me, the idea would be totally unfounded. Various causes have had considerable influence, not only in effecting it, but even in excusing my silence to myself. From your last letter, I anticipated the pleasure of seeing you at Traquair Manse long before this, and of receiving more information from you in a single day, than a correspondence by writing could convey in a year; and I have always found, too, that what is thrown out in a moment of social intercourse, possesses a freshness and a raciness, if I may use these terms, which nothing that distils coldly from the pen can ever possess. I have, likewise, as I formerly told you, unhappily for
I formerly told you that I had entered upon a consideration of the doctrine of the Trinity, and that I was led to that consideration by the publication of Wardlaw's performance against Yates. From the cursory manner in which I must have mentioned this circumstance, I see from your last that you have formed an inaccurate idea of my design. My design is not to revise, and to refute in that revisal, the statements and reasonings of Wardlaw, but to accomplish a still more important and arduous work, by investigating the subject in all its different aspects and bearings; and thus to refute the doctrine, rather than any particular defender of it. In the accomplishment of this design, however, you will easily see, that the assertions of Wardlaw will not be forgotten, especially as he has attempted to furbish anew the blunted weapons of his predecessors. I have endeavoured to pay particular attention, with what success it does not belong
myself, though, perhaps, very hap-to me to say, to what may be called pily for my correspondents, plunged the metaphysical discussion of the headlong into the gulf of polemical question, whether it be possible that theology, without much prospect of the orthodox doctrine can be true? ever getting out of that "bottomless My reason for doing this, is, that if pit," which the orthodox, in the rest it can be shewn, and I flatter myself less blindness of their understanding, that I have shewn, that the orthodox if the understanding had any hand in doctrine is by no means a mystery, as it, have dug for their opponents. Need its abettors would have us to believe, I mention, too, that this is actually and as many of its opponents seem to my birth-day, when I enter upon my admit, but a plain and palpable confiftieth year, with a constitution never tradiction, and which, therefore, canrobust; but now, worn out with every not possibly be true; all attempts to prove it from Scripture must be in vain; for should Scripture be brought
Or, as in Vol. XVII. p. 427, Canta- to prove it, it could not establish it,
but overturn itself. The only writers,
with whom I am acquainted, who, to
might have exerted his power from
I received your kind present with