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frankly own, was greater. I had myself discovered the mis. take, and should have corrected it,* if your letters to me had never appeared. That the Patripassian notion was injuriously charged upon the Unitarians of antiquity is sufficiently shewn by Beausobre, who was himself a Trinitarian and a man of learning if ever there was one.
This charge was so common that, without any proper evidence what. ever, all the Unitarians are called Patripassians by one writer or other. Optatus even says that Ebion, the supposed father of the Ebionites, was a Patripassian,t though no early writer who mentions the Ebionites says any such thing of them.
I must, however, acknowledge that you have one just cause of triumph over me, and all the friends of free inquiry; but this also, as with respect to every other advantage which you have gained, you exult in too much, and make too great account of. The Monthly Review, which was formerly in our favour, is now completely yours.
Your Charge, which contains the highest orthodoxy, and discovers the greatest spirit of church authority of any production in this age, has been examined before that tribunal, and been honoured with an unqualified approbation. And as to your present publication, which has no less merit of the same kind, its praises, I doubt not, are already sung, or at least set to music, and the whole choir of Reviewers, who have been unaniinous in their condemnation of me, are ready to join the chorus on this occasion.
You plead your right to make the most of this your new acquisition; and in this you think yourself justified by my conduct in the publication of small and cheap pamphlets, for the purpose of disseminating my principles among the lower and poorer class of people, though, in my opinion, the two cases are very different indeed. This post, however, which we were once in possession of, you and your friends have now got, and it is not to be supposed that you will ask our leave what use to make of it; so that we must yield with as good a grace as we can, and endeavour to make ourground good elsewhere.
II. One of your curious proofs of my ignorance, and of my being entirely unqualified to write the history of early times,
• The passage is now amended, according to the author's corrections. See Vol. V. p. 50.
† “ Ut Hebion qui argumentabatur Patrem passum esse, non Filium." L. ir. p. 91. (P.)
See Món. Rev. 1783, LXIX. p. 402.
is my not being acquainted with the opinions of some modern writers, and those either difficult to procure, or such as could have been of little use to me, if I had known them, I acknowledged that I had not heard of Duniel Zwicker; I did not know what Episcopius, Petavius, or Huetius thought on a particular subject, and I had not read your great authority, Bishop Bull. " What is this,” you say, “ but to confess that you are indeed little redde in the principal writers, either on your own side of the question or the opposite? But as no man, I presume, is born with an intuitive knowledge of the opinions, or the facts, of past ages, the historian of religious corruptions, confessing himself unredde in the polemical divines, confesses ignorance of his subject."* “ You repel the imputation of plagiarism, by the most disgraceful confession of ignorance, to which foiled polemic ever was reduced.”+
Now the probability is, that my reading in polemical divi. nity is much more extensive than yours. But if it had been ten times greater than it is, I do not know whether, instead of being advantageous, it might not have been of disservice to me, in ascertaining the state of things in the early ages, to the knowledge of which these authors had no better access than myself. You yourself, I am pretty confident, have formed your opinions on these subjects chiefly from modern writers; and it has been by this means, and by the help of your fertile imagination, as I have shewn, that you have been so miserably misled as you have been.
III. You and Mr. Badcock both pride yourselves in your knowledge of the Greek language, and you insult me, and my Vindicator, for our ignorance of it. But to criticize others is the easiest road to fame. In the same way you might set yourself up even against “ a Casaubon, a Scaliger, or a Bentley,” to whom you acknowledge that you “ stand bowing at a distance:"# for the greatest scholars sometimes make great mistakes.
. Out of the number of citations that I have made, is it extraordinary that two or three, and those of no great consequence, should have been found in some degree faulty ? You and your ally have had no occasion to produce many, and, writing in controversy, would naturally be more guarded ; and yet your errors in this way far exceed mine. Concerning one of these, you say, the “ words are so very clear, that the sense was hardly to be missed at first sight, by a school-boy in the second year of Greek.”
Letters, p. 7. (P.) Tracts, pp. 91, 92. 1
(P.) Tracts. p, 203.
+ Ibid. p. 95.
Laktera, p. 58.
What, then, will be said of the man who can translate idiota, idiot, who can argue from outos as necessarily referring to a person, (for if this was not your meaning, it was impertinent to allege it at all,) and censure me for rendering oux araw TIVIT by to nothing but ? And what can you say in excuse for your learned ally translating αλλοι γαρ κατ' άλλον τροπον, others upon another plan, instead of some in one way and others in another, on which he founds the most improbable and malignant of all his accusations against me, for conceal. ment, wilful perversion, &c.? And what can you say for the apology he has made for his blunder, when he only allows that the words may be more accurately rendered as I have done; whereas, every person who is at all acquainted with Greek, must know that, in that connexion, and especially if the force of the particle gas be attended to, the phrase will not bear any other rendering? A writer who assumes so much as he has done, and who has treated my Vindicator, on the subject of Greek, with a degree of insolence that exceeds any thing that I have met with, and yet has himself blundered in this manner, ought to kiss the rod, if not, without a figure, to feel it, and take shame to himself. His friends, however, if he have any, must blush for him.
Though from the age of seventeen to twenty-seven, I believe, I read as much Greek as almost any man can be supposed to have read in the same time, and after that taught it nine years, the last six of them at Warrington, and chiefly the higher Greek classics, (for the elements of the language were not taught in that academy,) I do not pretend ever to have been properly at home in the language; I mean, so as to read it with the same ease with which it is common to read Latin or French ; (indeed I have not yet met with any man who pretended that he could do this ;) and having given less attention to that language since I have had the means of employing my time better, your Scotch correspondent may be right in observing, that I am but " very moderately skilled in Greek,”+ and at my time of life, my acquaintance with it is not likely to improve. However, such as it is, I shall make the best use that I can of it in the larger work on
* Letters, p. 15. (P.) Tracts, p. 101. † Letters, p. 182. (P.) This remark is among “ Short Strictures,—by an unknown Hand." Tracts, pp. 300, 301. Dr. Townson was the writer, according to Mr. Nichols's Lit. Anec. 1812, IV. p. 680. The Scotch Correspondent was Dr. Horsley's “ maternal uncle, Dr. Hamilton.' See Tracts, p, 161,
which I am now employed. It is possible, however, that I might make but a bad exchange of the remains of my Greek literature for yours, or that of your Scotch correspondent.
IV. You are pleased to make some apology for your haughty style, and the contemptuous airs you gave yourself, both with respect to Dissenters, and to your own inferior Clergy. To what I observed on this subject, you now say, “ It might be a sufficient, and not an unbecoming reply, to remind you that I spoke ex cathedra, and hold myself accountable for the advice which I gave, to no human judicature, except the King, the metropolitan, and my diocesan. This would indeed, be the only answer which I should condescend to give to any one for whom I retained not, under all our differences, a very considerable degree of personal esteem. But as Dr. Priestley is my adversary, in some points I could wish to set him right, and in some I desire to explain.”
A great part of this apology was, indeed, Sir, quite unnecessary, as no person can read your Charge and doubt your having delivered it ex cathedra. The inferior, the far inferior clergy, to whom it was addressed, were, I presume, fully sensible of it. The only question is, whether you ever think that you are not speaking ex cathedra? Please, however, to remember that I am not one of those to whom you have any right to speak in that manner, and that I do not hold myself accountable to any metropolitan, or diocesan, or even to the King, or any person or potentate on earth, in matters of religion. Also while I have “ credit enough to collect,” or to find,“ a congregation,” + I shall preach, without applying to your church, or the Church of Rome, for Holy Orders ; and I shall think my conventicle as reputable a place for preaching as any of your churches; though you think it arrogant in me to make the comparison between them.
V. I can hardly believe that I am living in the close of the eighteenth century, when I read what you say in this publication concerning the dignity and the power of the priesthood, derived by regular succession” from the apostles, and of course through the Popes, and find that you seriously disallow of my authority to exercise the sacred function, &c. As a curiosity, in the year 1784, I am
• Letters, p. 158. (P.) Tracts, pp. 275, 276. + Letters, p. 171. (P.) Tracts, p. 293.
| Letters, p. 169. (P.) - the arrogance," says Dr. Horsley, “ with which you presume to set your conventicles upon a footing with our own churches." Tracts, p. 291. See supra, p. 114.
tempted to give my reader a pretty long extract from
your work, on this subject. After enumerating the mischiefs that you say you have seen in your own country, in the course of your own life, you add, “ When I consider that the root of all those evils has been the prevalency of a principle, of which you seem disposed to be an advocate, that every man who hath credit enough to collect a congregation has a right, over which the magistrate cannot without tyranny exercise controul, to celebrate divine worship, according to his own form, and to propagate his own opinions; I am inclined to be jealous of a principle which hath proved, I had almost said, so ruinous; and I lean the more to the opinion, that the commission of a ministry, perpetuated by regular succession, is something more than a dream of cloystered gownmen, or a tale imposed upon the vulgar, to serve the ends of avarice and ambition. For, whatever confusion human folly may admit, a divine insti. tution must have within itself a provision for harmony and order. And, upon these principles, though I wish that all indulgence should be shewn to tender consciences, and will ever be an advocate for the largest toleration, that may be consistent with political wisdom, being indeed persuaded, that the restraints of human laws must be used with the greatest gentleness and moderation to be rendered means of strengthening the bonds of Christian peace and amity; yet I could wish to plant a principle of severe restraint in the consciences of men. I could wish that the importance of the ministerial office were considered ; that the practice of antiquity were regarded; and that it might not seem a matter of perfect indifference to the laity, to what house of worship they resort. I cannot admit that every assembly of and virtuous men, in which grave and virtuous men take upon them to officiate, is to be dignified with the appellation of a church," &c. *
That these doctrines, which will justify all the violence of the Church of Rome, and which condemn the Reformation, should be maintained by a Protestant divine at this day is rather extraordinary. I can almost fancy that the dial of Ahaz has once more gone back, and brought us to the time of Dr. Sacheverel, if not that of Archbishop Laud. But were I, in my turn, to make an enumeration of the complicated mischiefs that have arisen both to the cause of Chris. tianity and the peace of society, from church establishments,
• Letters, pp. 170, 171. (P.) Tracts, pp, 292, 293.