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made at all probable. Indeed, Sir, we see no occasion to have recourse to an arm of flesh, in this contest. We have a certain prospect of victory by the mere force of argument, and without any risk whatever. I can appeal to the uniform tenor of all my writings, and especially my Address to Protestant Dissenters as such, * if I have not always inculcated the most peaceable methods of promoting reformation, and have not even gone farther to recommend the patient suffering of wrong than most other writers.
I must produce another passage from your Sermons, relating to the intolerance of Unitarians.
ci Let us only suppose," you say, “ that the direction of ecclesiastical matters in this kingdom, should pass into the hands of those persons who regard the doctrine of the Trinity as involving in it an absurdity equal to that of Transubstantiation, and as being the grand obstacle to the conversion of Jews, Mahometans, and Deists; who deem the worship of Christ to be gross idolatry, and high treason against the majesty of the one supreme God; must not the new Unitarian church, with its confession and services, be so constituted, as utterly, and for ever, to exclude us from becoming members of it? Most undoubtedly, and of necessity it must. • An Unitarian people, we are told, ' will not long be satisfied with a Trinitarian establishment. Indeed I suppose they will not. They will endeavour to overturn it, and it is our business to prevent them from so doing.”
Now, Sir, had you given more attention to the nature of the case, you could never have apprehended any danger to yourself, or to any Trinitarians, from an Unitarian liturgy, because it would contain nothing offensive to you, nothing in which you could not heartily join; whereas, we are absolutely excluded from joining in your worship, by your Trinitarian forms. While you acknowledge one God (which you always profess to do,) you may surely address your prayers to that one God, calling him, as you are authorized to do in the Scriptures, the Maker of heaven and earth; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; the one true God, as our Saviour calls him; the great being who sent him, who raised him from the dead, and who gave him glory. For it is to this God that all Unitarians pray; and to a being of this description you Trinitarians may also pray, so long as you can accommodate to your notions this scripture language, and suppose Jesus Christ himself, and the Holy Spirit, to be in any manner included in this definition, or description, of the one true God. This is a mental process of your own, with which yourselves only are concerned, and in which we have nothing to do. If you can, by any means, accommodate such language as that above-mentioned to your peculiar sentiments, in reading the Scriptures, in which it perpetually occurs, you may do the same in our forms of worship.
* “ By a Dissenter.” 1769. See Vol. I. Memoirs, 97. + Sermons, p. 4. (P.) Works, VI. pp. 63, 64.
We can now join in using the Lord's Prayer, and in almost all the service of the church of England, except the Litany; so that there is very little that is offensive to an Unitarian in the whole of your afternoon service. Remove, therefore, only your subscriptions to articles of faith, and reform your morning service after the model of that in the afternoon, and I believe you will remove the greatest of our objections. We are not, I assure you, so fond of schism as to stand out for trifles; but do not compel, or tempt us, to pay supreme worship to a fellow-creature, to a man like ourselves; who, though highly honoured by God for his virtue and obedience, was so far from considering himself as God, that, with the most genuine humility, he always ascribed every thing that he said or did to his father that sent him, and worshipped him with the same deep reverence that he inculcated upon all his followers.
If, Sir, you would, without prejudice, look into Mr. Lindsey's Reformed Liturgy, you would soon be satisfied, that there is nothing in it but what you yourself could join in, with much devotion and advantage. Read, if you please, my own Forms of devotion for Unitarian Societies, and I am confident you will find nothing in them offensive to yourself, except the prayer for Easter Sunday; and to accommodate you, and other Trinitarians, I shall have no objection to the omission of it. I will go much farther than you are disposed to do, for the sake of a peaceable accommodation,
But I do not expect or hope for any thing of an intermediate kind. Your system is so complex, and involves such an unnatural connexion of things ecclesiastical with things civil, that though you might know where to begin a reforination, you will never be able to agree among yourselves where to stop. It must, therefore, be done in a manner in which the leading persons in the church and state will not be the primary agents. When this will be effected, or by whom, I do not pretend to form any conjecture. This is not my business, but a much easier and plainer task, viz. to investigate and to propagate that truth which in God's own way, and his own time, cannot fail to bring about all that I wish ; when a pure Unitarian worship will be universally adopted, and with universal consent. In the mean time, do not you and your brethren fear where no fear is, or alarm others with apprehensions of our into. lerance, which, if you seriously reflect, you cannot really entertain yourselves.
I the less wonder at your not readily supposing that we would content ourselves with the mere force of truth, when I see that, notwithstanding your profession of universal toleration, you cannot help intimating, that you think there is some reason for that alliance of church and state, of which, as Christians, you ought to be ashamed. In these very Sermons you more than insinuate the propriety, if not the policy, of penal laws in matters of religion ; when you say, concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, that " it requires and demands the support of every state wishing to enjoy the favour and protection of that God, who for such gracious purposes hath revealed it.”* For how is a state, as such, to support any particular doctrine, but by civil rewards and punishments? The civil power has no other method of supporting any thing. These are its proper arms, which alone it can employ to effect all its purposes. The doctrine of Transubstantiation is supported in the same manner. Like the doctrine of the Trinity, it requires and demands such support. Happily, Unitarianism neither requires nor demands it, any more than Christianity itself did for the space of three hundred years. Nay, they both are able to make their way in spite of all the opposition that your present supporters and protectors, the powers of this world, can give to them.
I should think, Sir, that a man of your good sense could not but see that any mode of religion is in a very unnatural and awkward predicament, which requires and demands any civil support, because it throws itself under the protection, and is, of course, at the mercy of a power which may equally promote truth or falsehood, Christianity, Mahometanism, or Paganism. For if the civil power, as such, has a right to establish any one mode of religion, it must have the same right to establish any other.
If this great business be left to the discretion of our civil governors, it must also be left to their indiscretion. And what judges can you suppose such persons as constitute our two Houses of Parliament to be of these matters? Yet I am willing to think they may be as able theologians as those who have the ordering of these things in other countries.
* Sermons, p. 47. (P.) Works, VI. p. 97.
Would you trust the Members of our Parliament with the choice of your physician, or allow them to prescribe the mode of treatment of you, if your life was in danger ; or would you think of appealing to them with respect to the truth of a theory in philosophy? And yet I think them as likely to decide justly in a case of medicine or philosophy, as with respect to religion.
I am, &c.
Of some particular Arguments for the Doctrine of the Trinity.
Rev. Sir, I wisu not to enter into the discussion of any particular arguments for the doctrine of the Trinity at this time, reserving myself till the publication of your large work; and for the execution of this I am willing to give you as much time as you request, * since you say you wish (and in this I sincerely join you)“ to execute the work with care and attention ;” as we shall then, I doubt not, see all that can be urged in support of your opinions. But there are a few things that it may not be improper to apprize you of beforehand; and you may take or neglect the hints I shall give, as you shall see reason.
“ All disputation concerning the manner of the distinction, the manner of the union, the manner of the generation, and the manner of the procession, is needless and fruitless. Needless, because, if we have divine authority for the fact, it sufficeth. That is all we are concerned to know. Fruitless, because it is a disputation without ideas. After a long, tedious, intricate, and perplexed controversy, we find ourselves—just where we were--totally in the dark. Such has been the case respecting this, and other questions. God is pleased to reveal the fact; man insists upon apprehending the mode. In his present state he cannot apprehend it. He, therefore, denies the fact, and commences unbeliever.”+
Now, Sir, you must know, that all this that you say
P. 32. (P.) See supra, p. 329. † Sermons, p. 42, Note. (P.) Works, VI. p. 92.
respecting the doctrine of the Trinity is continually said by the Catholics, in defence of the doctrine of Transubstantiation. As a Protestant, you yourself must allege, that every real fact has some mode or manner of being what it is, and every true proposition must be understood in some sense or other; and therefore, that if every conceivable mode or manner of a fact imply an impossibility, and every sense of a proposition imply an absurdity, the doctrine itself is untrue, and therefore that it cannot be taught in the Scriptures, if they teach nothing but truth. You, consequently, explain those passages of Scripture which are urged in support of the doctrine of Transubstantiation, in a manner different from the Catholics, who hold that doctrine; and if the literal sense will not answer your purpose, you very properly and sensibly have recourse to a figurative one, which is all that we are charged with doing, with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity.
We say that every possible definition of that doctrine implies an absurdity; and that the fact of the Trinity in Unity must exist in some manner or other, but that every conceivable mode or manner implies an impossibility, and therefore the existence of the thing itself must be impossible also; and consequently, that if it was necessary to interpret a few texts which you think teach that doctrine, in the same or a similar manner, to that which you use with respect to those that are supposed to teach the doctrine of Transubstantiation, we should be authorized to do it.
We do not wonder that sensible Trinitarians are averse to all discussion of the mode of subsistence of three persons in one undivided essence; because they have found that every attempt to define this subject has only tended to expose it to ridicule; but, notwithstanding this, no Trinitarian who imagines that he can explain this mysterious doctrine, ever fails to propose his explanation, knowing the great advantage it would be to his argument, if he could hit upon any thing of this kind that would be unexceptionable. Witness the incredible number of illustrations of this doctrine among the ancients, and also among the moderns, and especially the last most curious one of Dr. Horsley ; though last not least. Nay, in boldness of thought, he has gone beyond any of his predecessors, maintaining that the production of the Son was the necessary consequence of the Father's contemplating his own perfections. Athanasius himself would have stood amazed at the sublimity of the idea. Could you yourself, Sir, imagine that you had hit upon any new and happy mode