Page images

and powerful efficacy, I call upon the churches of Christ formed in Judea and Samaria, I call upon the converts at Corinth and Athens, and I say unto them, “ Ye are our epistle, known and read of all men; “ye are manifestly declared to be th epistle of “ Christ, written not with ink, but with the spirit “ of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in “ the fleshy tables of the heart.” Whatever may be the state of piety among modern Unitalians, whether their congregations abound in conversions of the profane to a life of holiness or not, it is plain, that the defect doth not arise from the nature of their leading and discriminating principles; because the first christian churches were formed upon those principles. But the preaching of them was not, in the first instance, always successful. You are not to be informed, Sir, that at Antioch the Jews “spake against those things which were spoken “ by Paul :” that at Thessalonica, many “Jews “ believed not :” that at Athens, “ some,” whom the apostle addressed, “believed not;” and others postponed the consideration of the subject to another time. Yet, you would not construe this unsuccessfulness to the discredit of the doctrine preached. We may complain, then, that the conclusion you draw against our system, from the inefficacy of our doctrine, is neither candidly nor justly drawn. I will venture to assert, that, in some degree, our unsuccessfulness is to be imputed to the conduct of E 3 those

those, who, instead of refuting our doctrine by plain scripture and sound argument, give representations of it that are invidious, raise prejudices against it, and prevent its having a fair hearing. The treatment we meet with, is a just ground for complaint and remonstrance. Our “congregations” are spoken of as “gradually dwindling away, and generally falling “into decay *.” Our principles are described as having nothing in them, comparatively speaking, “ to alarm the conscience, or interest the heartt.” Our sincerity, zeal, and devotion are placed on a footing with that of Saul, the persecutor and enemy of Christ; and it is more than intimated, that a species of devotion may obtain to a high degree, consistently enough with the worst principles; and that the gospel had no worse enemies, than the devout and honourable among the Jews t. After we are held up in these lights, from the pulpit and the press, it is then urged against us, by way of argument and reproach, that our preaching is without effect. The most that, under such circumstances, so unfavourable to its reception, can be expected is, that a few will hear it, and that a few will be built up in faith and holiness and the love of God $.

- Your

* Page 54. + Page 54. ; Page 10.

[š Because Mr. Fuller's words are quoted in the above paragraph, he remarks: “It is rather singular, that those facts which I alleged “ to have existed at the time I wrote, should be attributed in any - “degree

Your representations of our principles, besides being thus invidious, are not properly direc ed, nor to

“ degree to Me.” “Socinianism Indefensible,” p. 22. Had this been the case, it would have been not only singular, but absurd. The language of Mr. Fuller was adopted, because it had a tendency to produce, in future, the effect, to which I refer; by leaving on the minds of others the most unfavourable impressions with regard to Unitarians : and because similar language has often been held concerning them, both from the press and the pulpit. Mr. Fuller himself, though he is not to be charged with producing facts, which “existed before he wrote,” would have felt little inducement, little stimulus to have drawn up and committed to the press, his representations of the Socinian system, and of those who embrace it, had he not designed to have influenced the opinion of his readers; had he not promised himself, that a regard would be paid to what he wrote: so as to raise a strong disapprobation, if not an abhorrence, of the sentiments, against which he took up his pen. It is an ancient, and hath, in many, many instances, been, through all ages, an effectual way of opposing any principles, and those who embraced them, to create an odium against them. Mr. Fuller complains, “ that “Preachers, Writers, and Reviewers, of every description, have “ thought themselves at liberty to inveigh against the ‘gloomy, li“ centious and blasphemous doctrines of Calvin;' and yet,” he says, “we have experienced very little, if any injury from these represen“tations.” P. 22, 23. It is easy to assign reasons for this, nd for the different effect in the former and latter case. It is well known, that they who are attached to Calvinistic sentiments are scarcely ever

induced to attend the preachers, from whom any such invidious representations of Calvinism might be apprehended : nor are they disposed to read the treatises which are directed against their opinions: and indeed are dissuaded and deterred from the perusal of them ; as pieces which would shake their faith, unhinge their minds, and draw them into dangerous errors.-Even when such representations obtain a hearing, they have a great influence to overcome : an

E 4 - influence,

to the point. Instead of applying your arguments to the general, the fundamental principles of our system, that there is on E GoD the Father, and one mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus : you only bring forward particular positions, scattered through the works or discourses of several eminent persons, known and able advocates of the Unitarian faith, which have no immediate and direct connexion with the first principles of it. These positions may, or may not be true, and the truth of the great doctrines of the unity of God, and the humanity of Christ, remain, in either case, unaffected by it *. Yet these positions, the speculations


influence, which disinterestedness, the prevailing love of truth, and repeated attention and reflection only can overcome : the influence of long received, established and popular principles; the influence of authority and power; the influence of education and early attachment. Any system may well support itself against obloquy, aided by such a combination of influences in its favour : and against accusations, that either are not heard, or, if heard, are rejected without inquiry into the truth of them. Invidious representations of Unitarianism have the popular mind on their side; and are echoed back by the popular voice. As soon as they are displayed, the effect is produced.]

[* On this passage Mr. Fuller remarks; “ The unity of God “ and the humanity of Christ, then, it seems, are the principles “ which I ought to have attacked : that is to say, I ought to have “attacked principles which I profess to believe, and not those which “I profess to disbelieve.” “Socinianism Indefensible,” p. 14. Certainly Mr. Fuller would be expected, when writing against the opinions

of intelligent individuals, are collected together, and exhibited as the essential principles of the creed of Unitarians, as the credenda of the whole party. This mode of attack appears to me to be neither fair, nor conclusive. Your using, Sir, the term, SocINIANs, has also a natural tendency to affect our reputation and usefulness. It is a term of reproach, and we object to it on every ground. It doth not truly express our principles; for the opinions of modern Unitarians differ materially from those of Socinians; and they

opinions of any body of men, to have animadverted on their specific, discriminating sentiments: and not to have brought forward, as their opinions, assertions, which have no peculiar, necessary connection with them : which do not enter into their common creed ; which may be admitted, or discarded, and the leading opinions of the party remain the same. But Mr. Fuller, it seems, agrees with the Socinians, admitting with them the unity of God and the humanity of Christ. But does he receive these principles, in the pure, simple form in which Unitarians embrace them 2 Hath he not incorporated other principles with them, which, in the view of Unitarians, are incompatible with them Doth he not contend for those incorporations as essential and fundamental doctrines of christianity? Notwithstanding the avowal of his belief in the divine unity, in the passage above, he owns, p. 24, that he does not consider that unity as personal, and consequently does not hold the same tenet with the Unitarians. It was then mere evasion, or trifling, to plead that he could not attack their leading sentiment without impeaching his own principles. He appears, in another instance also to involve himself in contradictions, while he disclaims “a division in the divine nature,” and yet “pleads for a personal distinction in it.” P. 24. what can mark a more clear, definite division, than distinct personalities with their

Peculiar attributes, I can not understand.]
E 5 choose

« PreviousContinue »