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“ age the same as those of Socinians? With what “face can Dr. Toulmin take it for granted that “they were, or even go about to prove it as a medi“um of establishing the practical efficacy of modern “ Unitarianism *}” To this I answer; that I have not taken for granted the principles, on which I argue. I have assumed nothing. . nave as much appealed to my authorities, as Mr. utter himself, when he animadverts on the assertions of Dr. Priestley, Mr. Belsham, and Mr. Lir 'oy. I have placed the passages, to which I as , ..., before the reader. Nay, I have the advantage of Mr. Fuller, with respect to my authorities. The writings of those gentlemen, whom he quotes, are very probably not within the reach of those who peruse his tract; and they must depend on his accuracy, as well as fidelity, in quoting them. My authorities are in every one's hands. I appeal to the preaching of the apostles. I quote their express declarations. To those declarations, which awakened their hearers to enquire, “men and brethren, what “shall we do to be saved ” To that preaching, which converted the world to Jesus, have I appealed. Since it is confidently asserted, that “Socinian” writers can not so much as pretend, that their doctrine has been used to convert profligate sinners to the love of God and holiness: I bring forward, from
the acts of the apostles, instances of thousands, who were so converted by sermons, in which it doth not appear from the records of the historian, that any other principle was advanced to produce the effect, than such sentiments concerning God and his Christ, as are avowed and maintained by those, who are now called Socinians, from Socinus; who was eminent for his zeal and labours in restoring the primitive christian doctrine, after human explanations had been, for many ages, so blended with it, that it was not only obscured but in a manner lost. I do not pretend to say, that the apostolic doctrine bore the name of Unitarian; or that it was then spoken of and described under this term. But that the principles, which now bear that name, were the leading, essential principles, inculcated in the preaching of the apostles, and the sole subjects of their sermons, I do aver; and, following the history of the apostles, from chapter to chapter, producing declarations, which contain the same identical propositions, that form the creed, called, in modern language, Unitarian, I have demonstrated the point, as far as facts can demonstrate a position. Mr. Fuller misrepresents me, when he says *, that, “instead of “meeting the enquiry on grounds of moral tenden“cy, I have substituted in its place observations on “ the meaning of scripture testimony.”—I have
produced the testimonies themselves. They wanted no explanations. They are plain and explicit in themselves. My observations did not go to criticize and to interpret: but only to point out where the force of the testimony lieth : not to put a meaning on the preaching of the apostles, but to direct the attention of the reader to their simple declarations. All that Mr. Fuller himself hath advanced against the conclusion I have drawn from the facts alleged, consists in suppositions only, or in distinguishing betweeen the acts and the principles of the apostles, or in his interpretation of the terms, Son of God, Prince of life, &c. * But he doth not, he could not bring forward any express declarations concerning original sin, the deity of Christ, or the atonement, from the sermons in the Acts. Should the appeal be made from the Acts of the Apostles to the Epistles, addressed to various churches; as exhibiting, in certain passages, the Trinitarian and Calvinistic doctrines, though it be admitted those passages are justly quoted with this view, no censure can properly fall on me for omitting them. For the Epistles were written to those, who were already christians; to those in whom faith and repentance had, previously, originated. Those compositions, therefore, are not to the point, if we wish to show, what principles produced faith and repentance. To discover this we must turn to the discourses, by
which men were converted to God, and to the faith of the gospel. Not but I am satisfied, that the Epistles do not contain the Trinitarian or Calvinistic system. There may be passages in them, which may be considered as affording a plausible ground for the opinions, of which these systems consist: but these passages, when examined in their connection, when explained according to the rules of fair interpretation, and not quoted by sound merely, speak, I am convinced, neither the Calvinistic, nor the Trinitarian creed. They relate to the degenerate manners of the age, to the election of the Gentiles into the church, to the influence of the death of Christ in a moral view, or as the means of bringing men to God and breaking down the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, and to the dignity of Christ, as the head of his church, and the great medium of the divine mercy, and agent of the new, moral, and spiritual creation. The Calvinistic and Trinitarian schemes I consider, as interpretations put on passages, which simply express these sentiments. It is remarkable, that the large paragraph in the 5th of the Romans, which expressly represents the consequences of the sin of Adam, and expatiates on this point, is silent about innate depravity; limits these consequences to that death we all die, when this present life is extinguished; and is directed, not to show the necessity of repentance and faith, but to illustrate the eatent of the divine grace in the gospel. This is the main point, which the author has in view. The whole discourse arose, not from the utility or necessity of discussing the subject with regard to any practical influence, but from the peculiar state of things in the christian church at that time, when the Jews would have enforced on the 'Gentile converts a submission to the law of Moses, in order to an admission to the blessings of the christian covenant. The apostle vindicates the rights of the Gentiles, by displaying, in contrast with the partial effects of Adam's sin, the universal mercy of Ged, abounding to the remission of many offences, and to the gift of eternal life, and extending its grace unto all men.—These remarks might be illustrated by reference to this and other passages, at length: but this would carry us into too wide a field of discourse.—These hints may serve as a key to the serious, candid, and impartial perusal of the aposto
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lical epistles. I would add, here, with respect to one principle, on which great stress is laid by Mr. Fuller and others, viz. human depravity, meaning by that term, I apprehend, hereditary depravity; and for which some few passages are adduced from the epistles: it is very remarkable, that our Lord Jesus never insists upon such a principle—Never insists upon it, did I say — The expression is too feeble. So far from it, he inculcates human innocence in the earliest period of - life.