Page images
PDF
EPUB

before he grounded on it an imputation, really, though undesignedly, as void of truth as of candor. Another leading principle, common to Socinians and Deists, is, Mr. Fuller says, “The nonimportance of principle itself, in order to the enjoyment of the “ divine favour.” Quoting a passage from Mr. Paine, on the acceptableness of the various modes, in which mankind have worshipped him, to the Divine Being ; he observes, “the sentiment, which this wri“ter, and all others, of his stamp, would wish to pro“pagate, is, that in all modes of religion men may be “very sincere, and that, being so, all are alike accept“ able to God. This is infidelity undisguised, yet “ this is more than Dr. Priestley has advanced in his “Differences in Religious Opinions *.” If this sentiment be infidelity undisguised; the imputation, I conceive, will fall, where Mr. Fuller does not intend it should, and would revolt with abhorrence at the suspicion of its pointing. It will fall on the apostle Peter; who, with respect to those who were not of the Jewish church and out of the covenant, declared: “Of a truth I perceive, that God is no respecter of “persons ; but in EveRY NATION, he that feareth “ him and worketh righteousness is accepted of him.” Acts, x, 34, 5. It will fall, I apprehend, on the apostle Paul ; who lays it down as an incontrovertible principle: “that as many as have sinned “ without law, shall also perish without law and

[ocr errors]

” says a late writer, “haye

“ ever personally known, “ first been enthusiasts of the Calvinistic persuasion”.” When, it hath been pertinently observed, the bow has been bent too tight, it will turn back. This, it will often do with a sudden spring, and an almost instantaneous clasticity. It has been said, that, such was the impression made on the minds of the colliers of Kingswood by “The Age of Reason,” that they sold their Bibles for sixpence : yet, from this rapid transition, Mr. Fuller, i presume, will not conclude a near afinity between Methodism and Infidelity: and that the latter is the natural offspring of the former. But Mr. Fuller conceives, that he has proved, by several arguments, the direct tendency of Socinianism to Deism of which I have taken no notice f. To cut off the ground of complaint, that his arguments on this head have been treated with neglect, I would lead you into a concise review of his Fifteenth Letter, in “The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems com“ pared :” the subject of which is “ the resemblance “ of Socinianism to Deism, and the tendency of the “ one to the other.” This he attempts to prove from the agreement of their principles, their prejudices, their spirit, and their success. “One of the most im“ portant principles in the scheme of infidelity,” he

[* Sanpho Search's “Poetical Review of Miss Hannah More's

Strictitres, p. 12, Note.] - - * s: Socinianism Indefensible, p. 27.j e

says

says, “it is well known, is THE SUfficiency of “ Hum AN REAso N. If it should prove that the same “ principle occupies a place, yea, and an equally im“ portant place in the Socinian scheme, it will follow “ that Socinianism and Deism must benearly allied.” This he considers has been generally imputed by writers of note to the Socinians. He admits, that Dr. Priestley, as to himself, denies the charge, Letter iv. to Mr. Burn, and appeals to his writings, designed to prove the insufficiency of human reason. How then, you may ask, does Mr. Fuller establish the imputation By one solitary evidence. “Mr Robinson, “whom Dr. Priestley glories in as his convert, affirms “much the same thing, and that in his ‘History of Baptism,’ a work published after he had adopt“ed the Socinian system. In answering an objec“tion brought against the Baptists as being enthu“siasts, he asks, “Were Castellio, and Servetus, “ Socinus and Crellius, enthusiasts On the con“ trary, they are taxed with attributing too much to “ reason, AND THE SUFFIcIENCY of REASON Is.

“THE Soul of THEIR System.” P. 474. Here it may be asked, why are the Socinians to be made responsible for any assertion of Mr. Robinson Why are his sentiments, and occasionally introduced, to be considered as the standard of the Socinian creed Has he ever been advanced by them to the chair of infallibility ? May he not have mistaken their creed May he not have written obscurely, or * - unguard

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

be the superstition it rejects, if it be paganism or popery, it may act in this manner. This only shows, that a just principle may be abused, and a laudable one perverted. But the abuse of it, in discarding the Calvinistic and Trinitarian systems, has no more a necessary connection with and tendency to Deism, than in rejecting any other sentiments and practices, that have been universally received. A likeness to Deism ought not, in truth and candor, to be imputed to it any more in the former, than in the latter case. Another ground, on which Mr. Fuller infers the alliance between Socinianism and Deism, is, That the success of the one, bears a proportion to that of the other, and resembles it in the most essential points *. Each, he represents, as successful amongst the same sort of people, viz. men of a speculative turn of mind; and that the same disregard of religion in general, is equally favourable to both. It is by a disregard of all religion, that men become infidels; and it is by the same means that others become Socinians f. This invidious representation is supported by quotations from Dr. Priestley and Mr. Belsham, which are given at length in another place #: Here I would observe, first, that the nature, the truth and excellence of Unitarian or other sentiments, is . not to be estimated by the temper and character of those who have been most ready to adopt them: but by their conformity to good sense and scripture. ,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The evidence, on which they rest, is independent of the dispositions of those who embrace them. In the next place, what those writers have advanced relates only to a particular class of Unitarians. Dr. Priestley speaks of many, not of all, Unitarians. Mr. Belsham refers to such as may be the first, from their minds being least attached to any set of principles, to see the absurdities of a popular superstition. Mr. Fuller applies these remarks to the body of Socinian converts : he draws a general conclusion from a particular case. Again, thirdly, “the disregard to “religion,” represented by these writers as favourable to the reception of Unitarian sentiments, must, in all fair construction, be understood not as opposed to serious piety, to a disposition to search and pray, but to such a prepossession in favour of a particular system, such a tenacious addictedness to it, as renders the mind impatient of contradiction, and bars the access of evidence. Mr. Fuller will surely grant, that such is the state of mind with many; and can he deny, that even those who are indifferent to religion, are more free from a bias in favour of a particular system, consequently more open to receive other views of things? Dr. Priestley and Mr. Belsham do not justify. this indifference to religion; they only state a fact; viz. its influence in a certain respect. Their assertions amount to this only, that even from a disregard to religion good may, and doth, in some cases, arise. The languor, as well as the

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »