Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

Copy of a Letter from Dr. Watts to the Rev. Mr. Alexander. 193 (While shouted all the Sons of God for joy) ally proved that Irenæus believed the Pronouncing all was good, th’ Almighty proper Deity of Christ. As I freSire

quently make remarks in perusing the His awful consecrating nod shall give books I read, I have taken the freedom Oi final Approbation; and his Sons, The sacred Hierarchies of Heav'n, shall sing this book : but having left boih your

to do the same thing with regard to Triumphant Hallelujahs! Man shall join;

book and these

papers

in the country, The Consummation of bis mighty works, Triumphant sing, when perfected the plan I cannot possibly send them by your Of sovereign Love-and God is 'All in Ail, friend. If you come to London this Web's Poems, p. 33. year, I should be very glad to talk

them over with you, and enter into Should this very imperfect sketch of some further disquisitions on the same the life, character and writings of the subject. late Francis Webb, Esq., be in the With regard to Irenæus, the only least degree interesting to your readers, thing I shall mention at present, is that and induce any of them, qualified for you have made it evident, beyond all the undertaking, to favour the public contradiction, that Irenæus supposed with a more particular and correct ac- the Logos, or divine nature of Christ, count of this ingenious aud excellent

to be the very yős or mind of the man, the design of this communication

Father, and in that sense to be the will be fully answered.

Father himself, as in one place you I am, Mr. Editor,

yourself express it : and this is mani. Yours most respectfully, festly the sense of Irenæus in many

THOMAS HOWE. places. There are also other passages N.B. Mr. Webb has left a widow in Irenæus wherein the logos is reprebehind him of a very advanced age, sented as the Son of God, and as a still residing at Barrington in Somerset- distinct person, or distinct conscions: shire.

mind or spirit.

Now I beg leave to inquire, 1st, A Letter of Dr. Iraits, kilherto un- Why the last of these senses, i.e. the

published, on the Deity of Christ. Son of God, nay not be interpreted Communicated by the Rev. J. into a figurative personality, and so Kentish.

be reduced to the first, as well as Birmingham, March 5th, 1816. the first of these senses, viz. the ŞIR,

vēs, be raised up to a real, proper, NHE autograph of the subjoined distinct personality, and so reduced to lineal descendant of the gentleman* to much reason for the one interpretation whom it was addressed : and I ain as for the other? I cannot but think permitted by its respectable owner to that it is much more inteliigible to reiranscribe it for your pages. It's con- present the rôs or mind of God in a tents suggest many a reflection : 1 sub- personal manner (which is very agreemit it however, without a comment, to able to the Scriptural idiom) than to the attention of your readers.

make a real, proper, distinct person In the copy the orthography varies become the vas of the Father, or the from that of the original, which other- Father binnself, as Irenæus speaks. wise is exactly followed.

2. If Ireneus cannot be reconciled Yours, &c.

to himself this way, whether the proJOHN KENTISH. posal of reconciliation which I have Cory of e Letter from Dr. Watts to offered, Dissertation 4. Sect. 7, does

the Rev. Mr. Alexander. not bid as fair for it as any thing else? Rev. Sir,

Or, in the third place, whether I return you thanks for your Essay there is any need of reconciling Ireon Irenæus, wherein you have effectu- 10 himself? For he is weak

inconsistencies omeThe Rev, John Alexander, of Stratford times, or at least to speak words with

enough to speasi
upon Avon, afterwards of Ireland, and father
of the Rev. John Alexander, of Birming-

out any ideas.
ham. A short notice of the elder Mr. A.

Now the same thing which you will be found in the Biographia Britannica, have proved, and I grant, concerning (edited by Dr. Kippis), in a commuunica- !renæus may be manifested concerntion towards the end of the article Benson ; ing several other of the primitive fawhere also is a fulier account of the soa. thers; if any inan would search into

næus

them with that diligence as you have things of God: and I think both donc into Irenæus ; and I might make these have been counted orthodoxy the very sanie remarks concerning these two hundred years. I am very them. They sometimes express them- sure that I can bring citations from selves like the Arians, sometimes like several great writers, who have been the Sabellians. Now the query is; counted very orthodox, to countenance which of their ways of speaking must and support both these explications ; be reduced to the other, and interpre. though of the scholastic account of geted by the other? I know no intelligi- neration and procession I have no idea. ble medium but what I have proposed, Dear Sir, let us not always be conDissert. 4. Sect. 7.

tont to keep these great points of our With regard to the different expli. holy religion in a mysterious darkness, cations of the doctrine of the Trinity, if it be possible to obtain ideas of what I am very much of your mind ; that is, we believe. But if there be any scripit is necessary to distinguish the doc- ture which declares this doctrine to be trine itself from the human explicati. entirely unintelligible, I will then ons. Let us but suppose a divine com- cheerfully acquiesce in the sacred demunion between the Sacred Three termination of scripture, and submit sufficient to answer the divine titles to believe propositions without ideas. and characters and honours given them in the mean time, I shall be very glad in Scripture, and a sufficient distinction to receive any hints from Mr. Alex. 20 answer their several offices, and this ander which may, give me occasion to is abundantly enough for our salva- relinquish any opinions which I have tion; though we be much at, a loss proposed : for I acknowledge I am still about any farther determination. an inquirer into truth, and ready to

Yet, amongst men of learning and learn. inquiry, methinks 'tis not enough to say You may assure yourself, Sir, in that God is an infinite spirit, which affairs that relate to your great work, we all confess, and that the Sacred and in all other Christian offices, Three are one God, which we confess

I ain, Sir, also, and yet that we cannot tell Your most obcdient servant, whether the Sacred Three be one infi

I. WATTS. nite spirit or three infinite spirits. I From the Lady Abney's, in Lime would fain come something nearer to Street, London, April 18, 1787. ideas. If we content ourselves with mere sounds without ideas, we may

Public Character of the late Rex: believe any thing: but if we seek after ideas, I think we must come to this

Joshua Toulmin, D.D. determination, viz. that the great God [From the Sermon on his death, preached is either one conscious mind or spirit,

at Plymouth, by the Rev. Israel Wors. or he is three conscious minds or spirits.

ley, and prefixed to “ Observations on Now I have such arguments against

the Presbyterian Societies of England, the latter that I cannot at present as

&c.” a duodecimo volume, just published.] sent to it. If therefore God be one

THE case of our friend, whose infinite spirit, the word and Holy Ghost must either be the same whole mixed emotions of concern and of firm and entire infinite spirit, with some

Christian hope, furnishes a striking relative distinctions, or they must be instance of the sufferings of an upright some really distinct principles in the

man in the faithful discharge of his bne infinite spirit, and as much distinct duty. as it is possible: now either of these

In order to form a proper opinion two last agrees with my way of think of the sufferings of hiinself, and of ing: perhaps both these may be joined many others who were embarked in together; and there are some places the sacred cause of integrity and of of scripture wherein the word and spi- truth, at a period when this country rit may be represented as the same en

was not prepared to do them justice or tire golhead under relative distinctions, to hearken to their inspired voices, your and other places of scripture where recollection must be carried back at they may be represented as distinct least twenty years of your lives, or perprinciples of agency in the same one haps a few inore. About that time a godhead. These are the best ideas I can yet arrive at, after all my humble • The period to which this relers, was and diligent searches into these deep the year 1792.

[ocr errors]

Public Character of the late Rev. Joshua Toulomin, D.D. violent fermentation was excited in yet a larger portion of the community many parts of this kingdom, which who wish only to remain quiet, and pártook of the character both of a poli. peaceably pursue the line they have tical and of a religious persecution. marked out for themselves, in which And it is not a little remarkable that, they may exist and breathe out, withalthough our religious views are en- out commotion, the few years which tirely detached from all political con- are allotted to them upon earth. I siderations, yet it pleased some persons scarcely feel myself authorised to give in this country to identify Unitarian- to any one of these the honourable de ism with a freedom of thinking which nomination of the righteous man. If is inconsistent with the safety of the to do the duty of an enlightened memstate. There is only one way in which ber of soriety be to be righteous--and I can conceive such a mistake to have what can be right but to do our duty originated. It is this :- The grounds in its fullest extent !-neither he who upon which we form our religious is afraid of saying what he believes to opinions are the inductions of reason be right, nor those who crouch before and the plain dictates of common sense. the great and powerful, nor those who By these we interpret the word of God. sacrifice the slightest duty for the sake And it is probable that by these also of reward, nor those who will spend we interpret the word of man; and their lives like moles or like bars, in that we are not previously disposed, as an ignoble, in a despicable privacy, all time-serving men around us are, to can possibly merit the title of the righsubmit our wills to the will of those teous man. He only can be righteous, in power, and to believe that only to whether we consider the question in an be politically true and right which inen economical, in a political, or in a rein power have imperiously announced ligious point of view, who says and for the public approbation and support. does all that he believes to be right, There cannot be a doubt that, when after that he has taken pains to inform a man dares to think freely and honest- his inind, and to imbibe the principles ly upon subjects of the very first impor- of truth and of the general welfare. tance, upon those grand questions of I believe that, not the great body of duty which connect him with his God; serious thoughtful Christians alone, and to act up to his thoughts and his but also the great body of thinking principles on these ; he will not for a people in this country, indulged, at moment hesitate to examine with free- the period to which I have alluded, an dom, and, if there is occasion for it, excessive joy upon the occasion of the to expose without ceremony, the un. French Revolution it in which they just pretensions of men in power. And saw the promise of a mighty people, therefore it may with the greater rea- shaking off the yoke of ignorance, of son be admitted, that, amongst the superstition, and of' slothfulness, about class of English dissenters who have to form a constitution in which the bcen generally known by the denomi- rights of man, but more especially, in nation of Rational Christians, there have been found very few who have interests of society, I cannot conceive wbat been inclined to flatter the vices of

men do so. All human duties are marked great men, and avow themselves the upon a scale, which distinctly points out approvers and the patrons of plans of their relative importance. Some are of government which would trench upon greater influence than others; and those of the liberties of the people, and lessen the greatest influence demand the greatest that influence which every good sub- care and the steadiest fulfilinent. And who ject has a right to enjoy in a well-ore will say that the duties of religion are of the dered society. There are some mem.

least importance? They are indeed placed here are others who are fawning and the duties of religion and the support of bers of society who are naturally timid; by some men very low in the scale ; and, mean; there are many who are anx. truth may be tampered with at pleasure, or ious to obtain the protits of civil go“ laid altogether aside. Precept is neglected fernment, or afraid of losing what they by them, and their example is hurtful:already hold, and there is, perhaps, as though the world ought to be diligently which the rights of conscience would published just before by Dr. Priestleyt be respected and honoured, and under on The Importance of Free Inquiry, the influence of which they would rise accompanied with some Reflections on from the state of degradation in which the present State of Free Inquiry in they had been long held by a race of this Country. His object in that serprinces, whose favourite maxim had mon, and in his reflections, was to been that the people were made for shew the imperious duty, and the pro. them, to the enjoyment of the rights bable consequences of, a fair and can. and liberties of intelligent moral agents, did investigation of religious truth. Nor and to a distinct view of the require- do I see how any one can at the premnents and duties of revealed religion. sent time read what he wrote near

taught the commandments of men, but it is

no matter whether or no they are informed • If those men who cloak their senti- " what the Lord their God has said unta ments, and barter their religious (principles tbera." !! for a maintenance, do not betray the best 4 Which took place in 1789.

It happened also, that about the same thirty years ago, without acknowledg. time.some of those conspicuous events ing, that he appears to have been altook place which have been, under the most endowed with a spirit of propheblessing of God, the occasion of giving, cy, and without feeling a high gratifiin later years, a more extended spread cation in the prospect which is hield to Unitarian principles. I refer par- out in his just and irresistible reasonticularly to the bold and fearless wri- ing, of the continued progress of relitings of Dr. PRIESTLEY ;-to the es- gious scriptural truth, and the acceletablishment of the Unitarian Tract So- rated advance it will make, till it has ciety in London ;-to the publication overcome all the opposition of ignoof various books and pamphlets upon rance and of interest. Unitarian principles;-to the applica- You will recollect that the riots at tion which was made to parliament by Birmingham were the ininediate efa numerous and enlightened associa. fect of this fermentation : 1 persons of Lion of clergymen for an enlargement distinguished character took the lead in of the grounds of adınission into the them, who hoped to put down the ac. Established Church,—and to the de. cused party by noise, persecution and parture, in consequence of a disap- cruelty. The cause of religious truth pointment, of several highly respecta- was assuredly paralysed by these ineable, learned, and popular men, from For, although the same cruel. the pale of the church, and an open ties were notextended beyond the town avowal, on their parts, of the princi- of Birmingham, yet the terror of them ples of their dissent from a church spread throughout England; and inany whose foundation does not, as they who were immediately connected with couceived, rest upon the prophets, the the church or the state seem to have apostles, and their great Master. “ thought it writ down in their duty":

A considerable aların was raised in to mark nut, to stigmatize, and to siconsequence of these circumstances lence all who avowed the religious amongst all the orders of society in this principles which Dr. Priestley had pub. kingdom.* It originated with the licly maintaineel.. eleroy, the motives of whose anxiety It is not surprising, that a town of we scarcely need describe. The neces- so great public importance as this, in sary connection of church and state which I have now the happiness, with each other was then loudly voci openly and without fear, to preach ferated throughout our island, and it the doctrines of the gospel to a nume, was most industriously rumoured that rous and highly respectable society, a conspiracy was formed against the should have felt this political and relichurch and state, and that the most gious shock ; nor that a nсighbouring active in this rebellion were the Uni- town, still more of a public character, tarian Dissenters.. A pretext for this and more under the influence of goassertion was readily obtained from an vernment, should have sustained the admirable sermon, which had been entire loss of an institution which the

ignorance and the bigotry of that day • Dr. Priestley's “ Letter to Mr. Pitt" deemed a profanation of Christianity and various controversies he lund with mein

and an enemy to the

government of the "bers of the establishment, and, perhaps country.lt most of all his admirable " Letters to the Inhabitants of Birmingham,” in reply to Nir. Nadar, contributed not a liitle to alarm + Preached at the end of the

year

1785. and to move the partizans of the Lstablish: # The riots took place 1791.

Il la no part of his present Majesty's

sures.

helt.

Public Character of the late Rev. Joshua Toulmin, D.D.

197

-; and

On perusing, the history of man- usual course of events. Persecution, kind, we find that such has been the of whatever kind, has chilled the ener

gies of the friends of truth, and withreign has there openly appeared, in those held many from uniting to promote it. who inmediately surround his person, a

But, in a little time, the storm has disposition to persecute on account of reli- passed over, and has left behind it the gious differences; which may fairly be as fertilizing means of vigour, of animacribed to the antipathy of his mind to every tion and of increise. thing like religious persecution. But it has Amongst the many who suffered in not been uncommon for those who served consequence of the violence of party, under him at a distance, and who were not spirit at that period, was the friend themselves aware of the purity of his mind, whose memory we are now willing to to miscouceive his wishes, and to imagine consecrate: Residing at Taunton, in that they should render a service to the Soinersetshire, he was at this time evilstate by vilifying and by injuring those who fullow a religiou ditterent from the religion intreated, reviled and persecuted ; and, of the state. It has been thought, also, that together with a highly esteemed medithey were secretly instigated by men bigh cal friend,* a man as upright and as m power. llence arose, in some parts of righteous as himself, he could seldom England, subsequent to the riots of Bir- pass through the streets without inmingham, a disposition to exclude from all sult :t-while to keep company with public works those Dissenters whom hotheaded Churchmen have marked as obnoxjous. Commissioners and other state-agents the adze in the dock-yard of have beeu known, who have actually refused it is not a little amusing to think, that the to admit to the public works any person clergy man received copies of registers from who avowed dissenting principles ; certainly dissciiting chapels and made them his ow!. through a most unaccountably mistaken And so much has this circumstance weighed idea, that, because they were not of the on their minds since that period, that DisEstablished Church, they were not the senters generally, and avowed Unitarians friends of government. In the Dock-yards amongst ihe number, have formed a sort of it is usual for the shipwrights and other habit of taking their children to receive workinen to have apprentices under them, baptism by the hand of a clergy man of the who are brought up to their work within the Establishment. If these latter have any seyard. These apprentices must be approved rious views of Unitarian principles, it may by the conunissioner, and must prodnce be questioned how they can, consistently certificates of their baptism, in order that with the principles of conscience, thus intheir age may be ascertained. In one of troduce their children into life by making a our dock-yards, in a subsequent year, all solemn mockery of a religious rite. If, to the youths were refused admittance into the them, baptism be a rite of no essential imyard who could not bring a certificate of portance, and if they think it should be disbaptism from ibe Established Church. Tliis continued, it were better to use no baptism occasioned great alarm in a town, a consi- at all, and to avow theinselves Anti-baptists. derable portion of whose population are But it it be with them a duty, or if they Dissenters. It became necessary, therefore, wish to have their children registered in a to make application to government to reme- place to which they may at any time apply dy this cruel grievance ; and Mr. William for a copy of it, it ought not to be altogether Sinith very kindly undertook to do so. Upon indifferent whether it is done in a manner a statement of the facts being made by him consistent with their Christian principles, to Lord Melville, (1801) his lordship as- or in a manner which to them must appear sured Mr. Smith that Government would ridiculous and absurd, if not impious. sanction no such partiality, and that the Dissenters are not perhaps generally commissioner should be inmediately written aware, that the regiuters of a chapel are to. He was forth with directed to allow, in legal documents: and that there is a place erery respect, the same advantages to Dis- in London (Dr. Williams's Library in Redsenters of every denomination as to the cross-street) where registers of the birth of professed members of the Establishment, Dissenters' children are kept. A copy of and charged to make no distinction amongst the register froin this deposit, although it is his Majesty's subjects on account of religious not regarded as a legal instrument, yet is opinions. But interest naturally sways in always received in our courts of law, and the minds of parents who are desirous of taken as valid evidence. puiting their children forward in the world. * Dr. Cox. Before the decision of the ministers could + " During this fiery period of perseenbe known, crowds of boys of all ages under tion he experienced unremitted insult and fourteen, flocked to the church at -, misrepresentation. At one time Paine was in order, by receiving Chrisim baptism, to burnt in efhuy before liis docr, and but for be qualified for handling the hammer and the interference and remonstrance of parti

2 D

VOL. XI.

« AnteriorContinua »