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tween the will and the understanding, as between good and. truth the nature of this latter marriage was, in a meafure, fhewn in the preceding article, to which it may be expedient to add, that as good is the very effe of a thing, and truth is the existence thence derived, fo the will with man is the very effe of his life, and the understanding is the existence of life thence derived; for good, which is of the will, forms itself in the understanding, and in a certain manner renders itself visible.'
The Importance and Extent of Free Inquiry in Matters, of Religion: a Sermon preached before the Congregations of the Old and New Meeting of Proteftant Diffenters at Birmingham. By Jofeph Priestley, LL. D. F. R. S. 8vo. 1s. 6d. Johnson. THIS is a miscellaneous work; but it has one object, the great defign of Dr. Prieftly's theological writings, viz. to inculcate and defend his own particular opinions. We do not mean, by this expreffion, to caft any imputation on his labours we believe that he confiders it as the cause of truth, and that it may affift the progrefs of Chriftianity, by making its doors wider, and the altar more acceffible to those who are yet without its pale.
The Sermon on Free Enquiry is a candid and difpaffionate defence of fpeculative examinations. We meet with many paffages that we highly approve, for they are rational and liberal there are others where we hefitate; and, in fome, we think him miftaken. The fubftance of the following paragraph we have before employed as an argument; but, in our opinion, Dr. Priestley carries it too far.
If, indeed, we confine ourfelves to things that are neceffary to falvation, we may ftop whenever we please, and may even fave ourselves the trouble of any inquiry, or inveftigation at all. Becaufe nothing is abfolutely neceffary to acceptance with God, and future happiness, in fome degree, befides the confcientious practice of the moral duties of life. What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do juftice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? but, certainly, we may mislead ourfelves if we reftrict our enquiries by this rule, as, according to it, Chriftianity itfelf may be faid to be unneceffary. For do any of us think that a virtuous heathen will not be faved? Paul fays, that they who are without the law of Mofes fhall be judged without that law. They have the law of nature, and of confcience, and will be judged by that. But, notwithstanding this, he thought it a great privi lege to be a Jew, and a greater ftill, as it certainly is, to be a Chriftian
Chriftian; and there were questions relating to Chriftianity to which he thought it proper to give his own closest attention, and to invite the attention of others.'
We may allow, that a virtuous heathen who had never heard of Christ, might be faved as well as one who, after every examination that he could employ, fhould remain unconvinced of his divine miffion. But a virtuous heathen, who fhuts his ears to the voice of the Gofpel, who will neither attend to the words of the prophets, the figns and wonders which our Saviour wrought, conftantly remaining in wilful unbelief, we fhould confider in a very different light. While we allow then, with Dr. Priestley, that these speculative questions are not neceffary to falvation, we cannot conclude in the fame manner of Christianity itself, but only with the restrictions mentioned. Dr. Priestley too confiders, in the whole of this fermon, the improvements which free enquiry have introduced in too important a light. The great changes introduced by the reform. ers were not of fo much fervice in improving the speculative doctrines, as in reforming the practice of religion, teaching us to look on ceremonies and ornaments in their proper light, to expect pardon of our fins only from a fincere repentance, and a future amendment of our lives, with many fimilar alterations which will be fufficiently obvious. We do not think that the improvements, either in the form or the practice of religion, which may be deduced from the speculations of the laft fifty years, can in any refpect be compared with the reformation. The intolerant fpirit, and the gloomy severity of the old Calvinists, have been gradually refining in the milder fects of Arians, rational diffenters (for they have no proper name) and Socinians; but thefe are the effects of the alteration of manners in general, increafing knowledge, and of courfe increafing liberality.
It is properly urged, in favour of free enquiry, that no one can profess himself of any fect on principle, but after a careful examination, and a confequent conviction. The man who is blindly a diffenter, would, in different circumftances, have been with equal confidence a Papist or a Mahometan.
It will be faid, is it not poffible for the fpirit of enquiry and innovation to be carried too far? does liberty never degenerate into licentioufnefs? Admitting this, who is the proper judge in the cafe, when all are equally parties? the Papift will fay that the Proteftant has gone too far, the Calvinists will fay that the Arminians are to blame, Arminians will condemn the Arians, and the Arians the Unitarians, and even some Unitarians may condemn thofe of their body, who, differing from them in fome refpects, have not as yet got, but may hereafter, get fome other name.
In fact, there is no reason to be alarmed at all in the cafe. Truth will always have an infinite advantage over error, if free fcope be given to inquiry. It is very little advantage that any fuperiority of ability can give to the caufe of error, and can not be of long continuance; not to say that the probability muft always be, that a man of fuperior ability will difcover the truth fooner than one of inferior talents, industry, and all other qualities being equal between them.'
The fubject is embarrassed by joining enquiry with innova tion, and rendered more doubtful by giving unlimited scope to examination. Innovation fhould not, except in urgent cases, follow temporary changes of opinion. Let us fuppose, that Dr. Priestley had remained in the fame congregation, and had made innovations as often as he has told us his religious opinons have changed: the lefs informed of his congregation might have confidered truth as a flitting shadow rather than a fubftance; they might have thought the laft opinion as unstable as the former ones, and having no refting place, might have funk into a listlefs fcepticifm. Inquiry may be indulged, but innovation, except in things effential to falvation, or affecting the practical duties of religion, carefully avoided. Befides; we have before said, that it may be dangerous to allow of enquiries by people in general, or to enforce them: in fome in ftances they lead to enthusiasm; in minds of a different tendency to irreligion.
It is well obferved, that the influence of any doctrine can be ascertained only by the lives and manners of the fect in general; that speculative points, not influencing the moral conduct, fhould be mentioned with caution from the pulpit; and that those who are not verfed in fpeculative enquiries, fhould not hastily or rafhly judge thofe who are engaged in them. We differ a little from Dr. Priestley, with refpect to the fubjects which may be infifted on. He agrees in one point with a refpectable member of the established church, that it is a minister's duty to contend.'
We have confidered this Sermon at greater length, because we are on the whole much pleased with it, and it probably would have been well adapted for an introductory discourse, on the first connection of a minifter with a new congregation. We muft pafs over the reft of the pamphlet more curforily.
The next part is on the state of free enquiry in this kingdom. Dr. Priestley thinks that many circumstances are unfavourable to it; yet, that a revolution of opinions is now filently taking place, which may foon become obvious in its effects. He thinks the number of learned Unitarians increase. We
have profeffed a different opinion; but time, not reasoning, muft decide between us.
The rest of this Sermon contains anfwers to fome remarks on Socinianifm, by Mr. White, in his Sermons at the Bampton Lecture; to Mr. Howe's difcourfe on the Abufe of the talent of Difputation in Religion; and to the anonymous author of a pamphlet entitled Primitive Candor.' Thefe gentlemen must defend themfelyes, for the fubjects are too mifcellaneous to be difcuffed in the prefent article. Dr. Priefiley's obfervations on the filence of the Arians we muft preferve for its fhrewdnefs. We have endeavoured to account for it in a former article, by hinting, that we fufpect them of
filently migrating into the enemy's camp.'
⚫ I cannot conclude this preface without expreffing my furprize, that all my antagonists in this controverfy fhould be trinitarians, and that no Arian has appeared in it. It is certainly an unfavourable fymptom for them. Where is their learning or their zeal? Solomon fays there is a time to speak; but my Arian friends may think that that time is not yet come.'
And we mufi not conclude this article without apologizing to Dr. Priestley for its delay, and affuring him that accident only has occafioned it. Inattention or disrespect had no influence on our conduct.
The Duty of Contending for the Faith. A Sermon preached at the Primary Vifitation of the Moft Reverend John Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Cathedral and Metropolitical-Church, July 1. 1786. By George Horne, D. D. Dean of Canterbury. 410. 15. 6d. Robinfons.
HE dean agrees, in one point, with Dr. Priestley, that it is the duty of each profeffor, not only to give an ac count of the faith which is in him, but to contend' for that faith. His text is from Jude, v. iii. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common falvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the faints. The arms, however, which he would use, are only reafon and fair argument: he expreffes his indignation with becoming fpirit, at the employment of pains and penalties. Yet, while he objects to the fuminary arguments of an inquifition, there is fufficient dignity in his manner to call forth the atten tion of our indefatigable polemic. We are convinced that this is not the last time that we shall review the language, or the arguments of this Sermon. We have feen enough of theo
logical controverfy, to defpair of ever finding the truth in the jarring conteft. One may fay, with propriety, I am of Paul;" another, I am of Apollos;' and each may fairly affign his reafons for his belief. This, when any professor of religion is called on, or the urgency of the times requires, is not only fair and proper, it is manly and fpirited; but to found the trumpet to battle, to engage in contefts on every occafion, we cannot recommend. They who attend to fuch disputes are those who have already decided: others look on them with indifference, and that indifference will increase with the increase of the controverfy. We have already obferved, that thofe tenets and that conduct effential to falvation are written in characters too legible to be mistaken, and too obvious to be overlooked.
The fecond Sermon is a difcourfe on the Trinity in Unity.' The dean, in the manner we have juft recommended, gives the fummary of his faith on this fubject, and folemnly profeffes his belief of what he has advanced. In this respect, his candor and good fenfe deserve the utmoft refpect. The arguments, he allows, are not his own; but we may add, that they are given with advantage in point of perfpicuity, and often urged with force.
" If the doctrine of our Lord's divinity be not the doctrine of the fcriptures, and of the primitive church, it matters not how, when, or by whom, it was afterwards introduced. It fhould not have been received; it ought not to be retained. On the other hand, if it really be the doctrine of the fcriptures, and of the primitive church (as I declare before God, in the fincerity of my foul, upon the best judgment I can form, I am verily perfuaded it is)-then-all that Dr. Priestley has written, in four large volumes, concerning the Jews, and the Gnoftics, and the Ebionites, and the Nazarenes; concerning Plato, and Philo, and Juftin Martyr, and Tertullian; concerning philofophers, fathers, and heretics many and diverfe, but all Unitarians; concerning the fuppofed caution of the apoftles, and the metaphyfical and injudicious arguments and difquifitions of writers, whether ancient or modern, upon any part of the fubject; all this, with the goodly edifice raised on fuch a foundation, falls directly to pieces, vanithes into air, "And, like the bafelefs fabric of a vifion, Leaves not a wreck behind.”
As mankind are not fatisfied with the former arguments on either fide, we cannot expect that new ones will be followed by conviction. We fhall only farther advife difputants, that, if they cannot be of one mind, in one houfe, at least to keep in view the important Chriftian doctrines of benevolence, cha rity, and good-will towards men.'
VOL. LXIII. March, 1787.