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what you have to expect from the whole. But I sincerely join with the Dean of Canterbury in recommending the whole of it to your careful perusal, thinking such a defence of the doctrine of the Trinity to be the best refutation of it; strongly exemplifying, as it does, the wretched shifts men are reduced to, when their tenets are repugnant to common sense, and contradicted by the plain and uniform language of Scripture. Mr. Jones seems to pride himself in having mustered up “ a hundred arguments, most of them new; but he might easily have made them a thousand, and, from the manner in which they might be laid down, as likely to be convincing. Mr. Jones, however, should consider, that the strength of an army depends not on the number of sick and wounded, but only on that of the effective men in it.
Since I wrote the preceding Letters to the Dean of Canterbury, I have seen the small pamphlet so strongly recommended by him. It is entitled, “ A Preservative against the Publications dispersed by modern Socinians, in which the Impiety and Absurdity of their Principles are clearly shewn.” This Preservative, &c, contains little more than vehement exclamation against wolves in sheep's clothing, &c., representing the Socinians in the worst light, as enemies to the gospel, to God, and to their country; whose doctrines cannot fail to bring the judgments of God upon us all.
As a specimen of the sentiments and manner of this piece, I shall only select the following paragraph : “ I do not know how the wit of man, when it has got this new religion, can put it into a creed. You cannot begin in the common form, I believe; &c. You must say, I do not believe—that any thing more than the religion of human reason is necessary to professors of Christianity. I have no need of faith. I want not the grace of God. I need not be called, nor elected by the Divine favour,” &c.
“ I remember, when I was a country school-boy, I used to hear my companions talk of raising the Devil by saying the creed backwards. Such a confession as this we have now before us, seems better calculated to answer that purpose, and is certainly fitter for a necromancer than a professor of Christianity. Yet this is the favourite object, for the interests of which a clamorous party assembled, contributed, petitioned, and blotted tons of paper. For this, an unhappy gentleman” (meaning the excellent Mr. Lindsey) “ left his ministry in the Church of England, to preach up the God of Mahometans in a chamber, and calls this confessing Christ before men. For this their pamphlets are dis
persed by thousands, to turn the affections of the ignorant from the inestimable truths of the gospel, and in flame their fancies with a set of opinions which can only lead them to perdition,” &c. &c. &c.*
Surely, Gentlemen, I do not need to copy any more of such a pamphlet as this, and much less to reply to it. What must that cause be which requires such wretched misrepresentation of the principles and conduct of serious men, and such indecent and profane drollery to support it? I should not have thought it worth while to notice such publications as either of these of Mr. Jones, (for this pamphlet is also ascribed to him,) had they not been so earnestly recom. mended by so truly respectable a writer as the Dean of Canterbury. I am also informed that Mr. Jones's Catholic Doctrine was recommended as a work of consequence to the University of Oxford, by their Professor of Divinity, Dr. Bentham, who preceded Dr. Randolph.† I seriously hope that Dr. Horne himself will produce something much superior to'the publications he so lavishly commends. If not, this controversy is already at an end. I am, Gentlemen, Your very humble Servant,
J. PRIESTLEY. • Preservative, p. 16. (P.) “ Concerning this piece so 'highly commended," says Mr. Lindsey, “ I should cheerfully submit it to any ratiqual inquirer to determine, whether it does not rather tend to recommend the persons and the doctrine which the author opposés.' Lindsey's, Vindiciæ Priestleianæ, 1788, p. 49, Note.
+ Author of “ A Vindication of the Worship of the Son and Holy Ghost, against the exceptions of Mr. Theophilus Lindsey," 1775. See Sequel, p. xii. The following paragraph justly exposes the manuer in which Dr. Randolph pursued his inquiries:
“ In' vain did the learned bishop Bull strive to make the Antenicene fathers of his own Athanasian sentiment. With all his learning and labour, he could not wash them lean of the stain of Arianism, as be would call it, which their own writings have fixed indelibly upon them, and which has been seen and owned by Christians ancient and modern. Dr. Whitby, in his Disquisitiones modesta in clarissimi Bulli Defensionem Fidei Nicena, replied with great ability to all the bishop's arguments in behalf of the Athanasianism of these fathers. And I should apprehend that Dr. Raudolph, ápon reflection, can hardly satisfy himself with his manner of passing over this work, which must be in every library in Oxford, as it is to be met with commonly on the stalls in London,
“. As to this treatise of his,' says he,) i. e. Dr, Whitby's, I have it not, nor have I been able to obtain a sight of it. I believe it is out of print, and long ago buried in oblivion. But this I find, that it has been fully answered by Dr. WaterJand in his first defence of his queries.- I think that Dr. Whitby made some reply to this : but whatever he had to say has been fully answered by Dr. Waterland.'. (Vindic. pp. 100, 101.) It surely does not become the Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, thus blindfold to resign up his faith to Dr. Waterland, and to content himself with believing with the Doctor's belief, and not with his own." Ibid. pp. xv. xvi.
The Rev. Dr. PRICE,
-In hac re scilicet una
INTRODUCTORY. DEAR FRIEND, Without any view to engaging you in a controversy which you have expressed a fixed resolution to decline,* but merely from the satisfaction I feel in addressing myself to a person for whom I entertain the highest degree of esteem, and even veneration, and whose candour exceeds that of almost every other man, I choose to throw a few remarks upon your late Sermons into the form of Letlers to yourself. A great part of the satisfaction I enjoy in this life, and espe. cially that valuable portion of it which arises from my ardour
I have any) in the pursuit of truth, I owe to my intercourse with you ; an intercourse and friendship which has now been of long standing, † and which, if it be not my own fault, will never, I am persuaded, have any considerable interruption ; but, after being the source of much happiness to me here, will continue to be so for ever.
Your diffidence with respect to conclusions, which you have formed with the greatest care, and after the most deliberate inquiry, I even think excessive ; and it is the only thing, with respect to which I cannot say that I wish to resemble you ; for I would not lose the satisfaction that arises from a persuasion of having found any valuable truth, nor willingly continue longer than is necessary in a state of doubt, than which nothing is mote painful and distressing. Whether I have been too precipitate in forming my own judgment, especially with respect to the important question
See Advertisement, prefixed to Dr. Price's “ Sermons on the Christian Doc trine, as received by the different Denominations of Christians," 1787.
+ See Vol. XV. p. 441.
that will be the subject of these Letlers, is not for myself to determine. The time is fast approaching, with respect to both of us, when all uncertainty about it will be at an' end ; and when the source of our error, on whichever side it lies, will be laid open to us; and so as perhaps may be of some use to us in our farther progress in the pursuit of truth. In the mean time, the candour you express on the subject cannot but give me the greatest satisfaction. Speaking of the Socinian scheme, you say, “ It maintains all that we need be anxious about in Christianity, and, consequently, the prejudices against it have no just foundation."*
With that candour and diffidence which distinguish all your writings, and to which all your friends are witnesses in your daily conversation, you say, with respect to the doctrine concerning the person of Christ, “I can in this instance, as in most others, with much more confidence say what is not, than what is the truth. The Athanasian or Calvinistic schemes of Christianity, I reject with strong conviction. The Socinian scheme also, on the two points which chiefly distinguish it, I find myself incapable of receiving.”+ Now since you cannot say that there are more than three opinions on the subject, and two of them are absolutely inadmissible by you, I should think that nothing could prevent your embracing the third with the greatest confidence and satisfaction. Such, at least, would be my own feelings in your circumstances, and such they are with respect to the conclusions which I draw from similar premises.
Your indifference about making proselytes is perfectly agreeable to your usual candour; but this I also think exces. sive. “ I feel," you say, “ no disposition to be
no disposition to be very anxious about bringing you over to my opinion. The rage for proselytism is one of the curses of the world. I wish to make no proselytes except to candour, and charity, and honest inquiry.”
İf it be in the power of either precept or example to make such proselytes as these, you, Sir, cannot fail to have many; but in this case I must think that you exceed the just bounds of moderation. Our zeal to make proselytes ought, certainly, to be in proportion to our ideas of the importance of the truth for which we are advocates ; and it is evident, that, notwithstanding your amiable candour with respect to us Socinians, or, as we 'rather choose to call ourselves, Unitarians, you think our tenets to be of dangerous consequence, if Christianity itself be of any value; for you say, “ It appears to me, that the doctrine of Christ's simple humanity, when viewed in connexion with the scripture account of his exaltation, implies an inconsistency and improbability which falls little short of an impossibility; and, consequently, that this doctrine not only renders the Scriptures unitelligible, but Christianity itself incredible.'
• Sermons, p. 72. (P.)
1 Ibid. (P.)
+ Ibid. p. 158. (P.)
If, therefore, Christianity, and the belief of it, be of any importance, as no doubt you think them to be, you ought to wish and endeavour to make proselytes to that view of it, according to which alone you think it to be credible. I write so much as I do in defence of the opinion which you so strongly reprobate, because I see it in a very different light; not, indeed, as the only view in which Christianity is credible, (for I was a firm believer in it when I was an Arian, and even when I was an Athanasiun,) but as that according to which it is by far the most credible. I now think the Athanasian doctrine to imply a direct contradic. tion, and the Arian hypothesis to be so improbable, as that it must greatly impede the reception of Christianity, especially with philosophical, unbelievers. I. profess to write with no other view than to make proselytes; nor, indeed, do I see that there can be any other rational object in writing at all. With the greatest respect and affection, I am, dear Friend,
J. PRIESTLEY. Birmingham, March 1, 1787.
Sermons, p. 146. (P.) “ The Scriptures," it is added, “ tell us that Christ, after his resurrection, became Lord of the dead and living ; that he had all power given him in heaven and earth; that angels were made subject to him; and that he is hereafter to raise all the dead, to judge the world, and to finish the scheme of the Divine moral government with respect to this earth, by conferring eternal happiness on all the virtuous, and punishing the wicked with everlasting destruction.
“ Consider," proceeds Dr. Price,“ whether such an elevation of a mere mau is credible, or even possible. Can it be believed that a mere man could be advanced at once so high as to be above angels, and to be qualified to rule and judge this world? Does not this contradict all that we see, or can conceive of the order of God's works? Do not all beings rise gradually, one acquisition laying the foundation of another, and preparing for higher acquisitions ?" Ibid. pp. 146, 147.