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to reply to it”. I freely own, that I wished, that this expectation had ere now been answered. It appears to me, that your arguments do not carry that incontrovertible weight, which in the opinion of many they possess : and no one can doubt, that the gentlemen, on passages in whose writings many of your reflections are grounded, are every way equal to the contest, if thay saw fit to enter the lists with you. As they have not done it, I presume, they think it sufficient to leave the candid reader to judge between you and them. But their silence does not bind others to a like reserve. Another may engage in the controversy, which
* “Let no one, who like Mr. Robinson, is disposed to exchange “Christianity for Socinianism, say that he has accurately and ma“turely weighed the arguments on both sides, till he has read this “work: i.e. Mr. Fu L L E R's Calvinistic and Socinian Schemes Com“pared. It is a work which, at least, demands a reply. The “author is one, with whom it will be no disparagement to Dr. “PRI Est LEY himself, or any of his renowned champions to “take up the gauntlet. Indeed, if they do not enter the lists “with him, the public will be led to conclude, that their religion “has received a wound from which it will not easily recover. ** Mr. Fu L L E R 's arguments are very little ad hominem, but almost “all ad doctrinam. These arguments are ingenious and solid; and “it seems incumbent, I say, on Dr. PRI Est LEY or some of his “friends to reply, though the task may not be quite so easy and “pleasant as that of writing funeral eulogies on Mr. Robinson.” Brief Reflections on the Eloquence of the Pulpit; by the Rev. John Garnino, Rector of Brailsford, in the County of Derby ; and Curate of St. Mary Magdalen, Taunton. P. 33, Note. *
they they decline: and, thinking that it may serve the cause of scriptural truth and christian candor, the person who now addresses you will follow the impulse of his mind, to offer some thoughts on your publication.
But that my purpose may not be mistaken, I would, here, premise, that a minute reply to your arguments is not intended: nor is it my design to follow you from chapter to chapter, and paragraph to paragraph. I shall confine myself to one point, but that a point which I think of the most essential moment, and decisive as to “the moral tendency,” or practical influence of one of the two schemes, which you review.
You observe, that “there are two methods of * reasoning, which may be used in ascertaining “ the moral tendency of principles. The first is “ by comparing the principles themselves with the “ nature of true holiness, and the agreement or “ disagreement of the one with the other. The “ second by referring to plain and acknowledged “ facts; judging of the nature of causes by their “ effects *.”
On this last ground, Sir, would I now stand up an advocate for the tendency and efficacy, in a practical view, of the sentiments which you oppose as Socinian tenets. But, let it be, here, remembered, that I mean not to canvass the truth or falsehood of those assertions which you produce from the writings of Dr. Priestley, Mr. Lindsey, Mr. Belsham, and others; nor te examine either the accuracy of your quotations, or the justness of your conclusions. The principles, the moral tendency of which I purpose to consider, are not the particular assertions of any individual author, nor any incidental sentiments any one may have connected with the avowal or defence of them. In this I may, perhaps, appear to depart from the topics you discuss ; it may be so : but I am confident, that I shall come to the main point, which is the scheme itself, though I pass by passages scattered up and down in the writings of its known advocates, and taken in a detached form, out
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of the connexion in which they originally stand. The fundamental principles of those whom you choose to call SocINIANs are, that “there is but “ on E God, the sole former, supporter, and “ governor of the universe, the oNLY proper object “ of religious worship; and that there is but one “ mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ “Jesus, who was commissioned by God to instruct “men in their duty, and to reveal the doctrine of a
“ future life.”
These are the principles which they consider as forming the primitive system of the christian doctrine. On these proper Unitarian principles, they conceive the cause of true religion and virtue may be
be most effectually promoted: and that these plain, unadulterated truths of christianity, when fairly taught and inculcated, are of themselves sufficient to form the minds of those who embrace them, to that true dignity and excellence of character, to which the gospel was intended to elevate them.*. That they are so, is the point which I affirm, and shall endeavour to establish. If I can establish it by clear, decisive evidence, it will supersede the examination of that comparison into which you so fully enter, and of all the particulars into which your elaborate performance branches out. We think it, Sir, a just ground of boast over our fellow-christians who hold different tenets from us, that we can express our fundamental opinions in the words of scripturet. “To us there is but one “GoD,
* Declaration of the London Unitarian Society.
[+ Mr. Fuller affects to show, by way of animadversion, that the first principles, amongst the Calvinists, are to be expressed in the words of scripture: thus, That there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost, in whose name we are baptized—the word was God–Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. He supposes, that it would be replied to this statement, “that I do not deny any one of these pro“ positions, but the sense put upon these passages by the Calvinists: “that it is not scripture, but the glosses upon it, that I oppose(1).” I should make this reply: and, considering the purpose for which these passages are now produced, I will make this further reply A namely, That the discriminating sentiments, for which the Calvinists
(1) Socinianism Indefensible, p. 15.
B 3 are
“ GoD, the FATHER, of whom are all things, and “we in Him ; and on E LoRD Jesus Christ, by “whom are all things, and we by Him:” 1 Cor. viii. 6. “There is on E GoD, and one Mediator “ between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus:” 1 Tim. ii. 3. And so, we think it a most material and propitious circumstance in the vindication of our sentiments, that we can appeal to scripture facts
are strenuous advocates, are not expressed in these passages. They do not assert, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God; they say nothing about a sameness of essence and equality of power: they say nothing of an infinite satisfaction and a vicarious atonement. And, in particular, there is in the sentence, the word was God, an ambiguity; out of several interpretations, which offer to ascertain and limit the meaning, the Trinitarian is one only. Will Mr Fuller aver that these scriptural propositions fully express his opinions 2 were 1, or any one, to offer to subscribe to these passages, as exhibiting a creed tantamount to his own, would he not demur to admit them in this view P Would he not be ready to require some other declarations concerning the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the godhead; the sense in which we understand the terms “word” and “God”; and the manner of the operation of Christ's death? Would he allow that a declaration made in these scriptural sentences came up to a profession of the whole truth, with respect to the first principles embraced by Calvinists 2–If so, he fails in this attempt to express them in scriptural language. Either the most pertinent passages of scripture, for his purpose, did not offer to his recollection: or the scriptures do not furnish a language and propositions adequate to it, and that reach it. So that I still maintain, that the Unitarians have, in this instance, the superiority over their fellow-christians, the Trinitarians. They find their fundamental opinions fully and explicitly expressed in the very words of scripture.]