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rally brings up after it the great doctrines of the atonement and the incarnation."
To these uncouth assertions, expressed in language utterly unintelligible, and equally unwarranted by Scripture or reason, I shall make '
no particular reply. He that can receive them let him receive them. I shall only observe, in general, that if I should profess myself an opponent of the doctrine of the miraculous conception, I could not wish for a fuller refutation of it, than your being able to prove that these very absurd doctrines do, as you say, necessarily depend upon it. I shall add, that if Christ had so extraordinary a communication with God, in consequence of his having no father, what must have been the case with Adam, who had neither father nor mother?
When you shall see what I have advanced on this subject in the fourth volume of my History of early Opinions concerning Christ, you will be better qualified to write about it than you were at the time of composing this Sermon. This History you ironically call my GREAT WORK, printing it twice in capitals.t This work, which is now before the public, and may be in your hands, you are welcome to treat ironically or seriously as you please. I But you will lead many
of your readers to conclude that 'I had myself called it a great work, whereas I do not recollect that I have any where called it more than a large work, which does not imply so much vanity as you ascribe to me. If that work should stand its ground against the fierce attacks of the Archdeacon of St. Alban's, the learned Professor of Arabic at Oxford, the more learned Mr. Howes of Norwich, and the other learned orthodox divines at home and abroad, whose animadversions it openly challenges, it may deserve a more honourable epithet than I have yet given it. At present it is only a candidate for the approbation of those who are proper judges of its merit. is
I am, &c. Sermon, p. 13. (P.) Tracts, p. $23. + Remarks, p. 12. (P.) Tracts, pp. 338, 399.
| Dr. Horsley made the election which might have been easily anticipated; por could the Bishop of St. David's forget the wrongs offered, by Dr. Priestley's Strictures, to the self-importance of the Archdeacon of St. Alban's. His lordship, therefore, collecting his Tracts in 1789, has finished the character of his controversial spirit, in the parting words, at the conclusion of his Preface. There, indeed, he sufficiently proves that Horsleian, rather than 'Wurburtonian, should, in future, be the description of polemic insolence. : The Bishop, also, now reclining on the soft couch of preserment, prudently resolved to remain utterly ignorant of the contents of four volumes, fraught, as the very litle imports, willi pernicious heretical theology:" a resolution well suited to the otium cum dignitate of a Lord-Bishop. See Tracts, 1789, pp. xii. xiii.
Miscellaneous Articles. Rev. Sir, Were I disposed to indulge myself in noticing all the strange positions and inconclusive reasonings with which your Remarks abound, I should make a much larger work than I fear my readers would care to look through. Having, therefore, abundantly refuted every thing on which you yourself pretend to lay the most stress, I shall be very short in my remarks on other things, to which, however, you strongly solicit
my attention. I. As to my construction of the passage in Athanasius, we are sufficiently come to an issue. 'I am fully satisfied with what I have advanced in support of it, and have nothing to add ; and, contemptuously as you treat it, * I should not feel myself disposed to distrust it on that account, even if I had not the concurrence of such names as Beausobre and Dr. Lardner in my favour. I do not know that you can produce the name of any writer whatever in favour of your interpretation.
II. With respect to the passages from Chrysostom, you will find in my larger work, (if you should condescend to look into such a quantity of unfinished literature,) that your construction of his meaning is contradicted by himself. You yourself, however, acknowledge all that I want, when you say, “ the apostles taught first what was easiest to be learned, and went on to higher points, as the minds of their catechumens became able to bear them.”+ For, in reality, it makes no difference from whatever motive it was that the apostles did not choose to teach the doctrine of Christ's Divinity, or of the Trinity. If Christians were not taught those doctrines, they could not know them, and consequently they must have been Unitarians, till they were instructed in them; and this, as all the fathers say, was not till the publication of the gospel of John.
The learned and judicious Mr. Basnage, though a Trinitarian, very frankly acknowledges that Christ found the Jews in utter ignorance of the divinity of their Messiah, that his object was, " to accustom them insensibly to a mystery so much above their reason, and foreseeing that the church
Remarks. n. 89
Thects. n. 8.57
would revolt against it.” Chrysostom, he says, has succeeded in maintaining this. *
III. You are pleased to ridicule my Logic,t “as confounding being, substance, and substratum," and you find me “unapprized of that great principle, without which a logician will handle his tools but awkwardly, that the genus cannot be predicated of the specific differences."I cannot tell where you learned this curious logic, with which I acknowledge I am utterly unacquainted ; and I imagine it is equally unknown to common sense. For, according to it, since men are divided into Whites and Blacks, &c. &c., and the Whites may be subdivided into those of Europe and Asia, &c., and the Blacks into the Negroes of Africa, and other distinct species in other parts of the world, it would follow, that it cannot with propriety be said of any particular Whites or Blacks, that they are men, and it would be still less proper to say that they are animals or creatures, and least of all that they are beings, that is, that they have any existence at all. However, it is unusually modest in you, to allow that even great men have fallen into the same error with myself, in supposing “ that Being is an universal genus, under which all other genera rank as species. I am content to class with these great men, “greater,” as you say, than myself.
IV. I am particularly amused with your account of the Dissenters in this country, with whom it may be presumed that I am better acquainted than you are. And yet, in contradiction to what I asserted,|| and to what I am confident every Dissenting minister, of any denomination whatever, will acknowledge to be true, you largely maintain that Calvinism is almost extinguished among us. However, I the
• Hist. des Juifs, L. v. Ch. ix. Sect. iii. (P.).
† Remarks, p. 13. (P.) “The GREAT WORK," says Dr. Horsley,“ will probably abound in new specimens of the proficiency which he" (Dr. Priestley) " has made in Logic, under the tuition of the great Locke.” Tracts, p. 339. 1 Ibid. pp. 339, 340. $ Ibid. p. 340.
Supra, pp. 173, 174. Remarks, p. 63. (P.) « 1 now pass," says Dr. Horsley, " to the third fact, which I have taken upon me to establish; the decline of Calvinism, amounting almost to a total extinction of it, among our English Dissenters; who, no long time since, were generally Calvinists." Tracts, p. 387. See ibid. pp. 387-304.
On the republication of his Remarks in 1789, Dr. Horsley, notices “a pamphlet, entitled, . The Calvinism of the Protestant Dissenters asserted: in a Letter to the Archdeacon of St. Aban's. By Samuel Palmer, (sce supra, p. 276, Note,] Pastor of the Independent Congregation at Hackney, 1786.'” Mr. Palmer having alleged the notorious fact, “ that a great body of Calvinists concurred in the application to Parliament upon a general principle of liberty, disliking any interference of the magistrate, in religious matters," Dr. Horsley replies,
“ If the fact be as Mr. Palmer states it, I can only lament that a republican prin. ciple should so strongly bave infected so respectable a branch of the Christian Church, as the Calvinists are in my estimation. I believe. however, that the truth
less wonder at your ignorance of ancient sects when you so peremptorily decide with respect to modern ones, arguing on the most fallacious principles, and neglecting, or despising, the surest and the most easily accessible sources of information. I sincerely wish that the rational Dissenters were inore numerous than they are ; but the smallness of their number, compared to that of the Calvinistic Dissenters, is a clear proof of the truth of my general maxim, that great bodies do not soon change their opinions ; and that maxim affords the strongest presumption that the body of Christians, having, according to the acknowledgment of all the fathers, been at first Unitarians, could not soon become Trinitarians. Accordingly, there are the clearest indications that, in fact, they continued to be Unitarians for several centuries.
V. You have taken great but unnecessary pains to prove that the places in which Mr. Lindsey and myself officiate are properly conventicles, * because we who preach in them are not authorized by law. It is a matter of little consequence by what name they are called, since, even in the worst and most obnoxious sense of the term, as places unauthorized by law, the apostles generally preached in conventicles.
I should think, however, that if, by any accident, an unauthorized Dissenting minister, like myself, should preach in a parish church, it would not, on that account, becoine a conventicle, and require reconsecration. And if not, neither does the building in which I officiate, being licensed according to law, and therefore in itself no conventiele, become one in consequence of my preaching in it.
VI. You have a whole chaptert on “ the general spirit" of my “ controversial writings," I in which you take much pains to exhibit me as a man whose designs are hostile to my country, and who has no pretension to the character of “a good Christian and a good subject.”] I rejoice that I am reproached on this account, as I am conscious that it is unmerited, and shall only observe, that the same things, and on the very same grounds, were said of Luther, and may be said of any man who shall endeavour to reform any thing that he finds established in the country in which he is born. For it is impossible that any man should wish for a new and better state of things, without wishing for an alteration of the old and worse'state ; and if he may on this account be denominated an enemy to the country in which that old and worst state prevails, a physician must, on the same principle, be deemed the enemy of his patient, whose disorders he wishes to cure, and especially if, in order to it, he has recourse to unpleasing remedies.
is, and is pretty notorious, that Calvinism is gone among the Dissenters of the present times; though, for what reason I presume not to say, the Dissenting Teachers dislike to be told of its extinction.” Ibid. pp. 396, 397.
• Remarks, p. 72. (P.) Tracts, pp. 394, 395. † The sixth. Ibid. pp. 402—411.
1 Commencing with Dr. Priestley's “ • View of the Principles and Conduct of the Protestant Dissenters, with respect to the Civil and Ecclesiastical Constitution of England,' a paniphlet first published in the year 1769." Ibid. pp. 402, 403.
• As the analyzer of elastic Auids, he" (Dr. Priestley) “ will be long remembered: but he sometiines seems to claim respect as a Good CHRISTIAN, and a Good SUBJECT. The goodness of his Christianity, and his merit as a subject, are topics upon which it may be indiscreet for the encomiast of Dr. Priestley to enlarge." Tracts, pp. 409, 410.
At the same time that you profess the greatest moderation, you cannot conceal your secret wishes for the interference of some aid from a foreign quarter. You say, indeed, “ Whatever Dr. Priestley may affect to think of the intolerance of churchınen in general, or of the Archdeacon of St. Alban's in particular; a churchman lives not in the present age so weak, who would not in policy, if not in love, discourage rather than promote any thing that might be called a persecution of the Unitarian blasphemy, in the person of Dr. Priestley, or of any of his admirers. A churchman lives not so weak as not to know, that persecution is the hotbed in which nonsense and impiety have ever thrived." I wish, Sir, I could persuade myself that this was true. For there certainly are some very weak churchmen, who, having less confidence in the force of argument than you have, may be alarmed too soon, and cry, The church is in danger; in which case you would yourself think the interference of civil power very proper.
Confiding, however, in the good sense and moderation of my countrymen in general, though not in that of the clergy in particular, I shall persist in using that liberty which the laws ought to give me.
Unitarianism has flourished very well, as you allow, in persecution. Let the experiment be fairly made, and we shall see whether it will not flourish as well in that state of perfect freedom which the generous tem per of the times gives us.
In a spirit very different from the general professions quoted above, you cannot forbear to insinuate that my designs are truly alarming to the State, and say, “ If Dr. Priestley ever should attempt to execute the smallest part of what he would now be understood to threaten ; it may
• Remarks, p. 82. (P.) Tracts, p. 406.