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Socinians, especially my friend Mr. Graham. The first theological tract of mine (which was on the doctrine of atonement) was published at the particular request and under the direction of Dr. Lardner; and he approving of the scheme which I had then formed, of giving a short view (which was all that I had then thought

of) of the progress of the corruptions of christianity, gave me a few hints with respect to it. But still I continued till after his death indisposed to the Socinian hypothesis. After this, continuing my study of the scriptures, with the help of his Letters on the Logos, I at length changed my opinion, and became what is called a Socinian; and in this I see continually more reason to acquiesce, though it was a long time before the arguments in favour of it did more than barely preponderate in my mind. For the arguments which had the principal weight with me at that time, and particularly those texts of scripture which so long retarded my change of opinion, I refer my readers to The Theological Repository, vol. iii. p. 345.

I was greatly confirmed in this doctrine after I was fully satisfied that man is of an uniform composition, and wholly mortal; and that the doctrine of a separate immaterial soul, capable of sensation and action when the body is in the grave, is a notion borrowed from heathen philosophy, and unknown to the scriptures. Of this I had for a long time a mere suspicion; but having casually mentioned it as such, and a violent outcry being raised against me on that account, I was induced to give the greatest attention to the question, to examine it in every light, and to invite the fullest discussion of it. This terminated in as full a conviction with respect to this subject as I have with respect

to any other whatever. The reasons on which that conviction is founded may be seen in my Disquisitions on Matter and Spirit, of which I have lately published a new and improved edition.

Being now fully persuaded that Christ was a man like ourselves, and consequently that his pre-existence, as well as that of other men, was a notion that had no foundation in reason or in the scriptures; and having been gradually led (in consequence of wishing to trace the principal corruptions of christianity) to give particular attention to ecclesiastical history, I could not help thinking but that (since the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ was not the doctrine of the scriptures, and therefore could not have been taught by the apostles,) there must be some traces of the rise and progress of the doctrine of the trinity, and some historical evidence that unitarianism was the general faith of christians in the apostolical age, independent of the evidence which arose from its being the doctrine of the scriptures.

In this state of mind, the reader will easily perceive that I naturally expected to find, what I was previously well persuaded was to be found; and in time I collected much more evidence than I at first expected, considering the early rise, and the long and universal spread, of what I deem to be a radical corruption of the genuine christian doctrine. This evidence I have fairly laid before the reader. He must judge of the weight of it, and also make whatever allowance he may think necessary for my particular situation and prejudices.


I am well aware that it is naturally impossible that the evidence I have produced should impress the minds of those who are Arians or Athanasians, as it will those

of Socinians; nor are men to be convinced of the proper humanity of Christ, by arguments of this kind. They must begin, as I did, with the study of the scriptures; and whatever be the result of that study, it will be impossible for them, let them discipline their minds as they will, not to be influenced in the historical inquiry, as I was, by their previous persuasion concerning the subject of it. If, however, they should be so far impressed with the historical arguments, as to think it probable that the christian church was, in a very early period, unitarian; it will, no doubt, lead them to expect that they shall find the doctrine of the scriptures, truly interpreted, to be so too.

With respect to myself, I do not know that I can do any thing more. Being persuaded, as I am, from the study of the scriptures, that Christ is properly a man, I cannot cease to think so; nor can I possibly help the influence of that persuasion in my historical researches. Let other persons write as freely on their respective hypotheses as I have done on mine; and then indifferent persons, and especially younger persons, whose minds have not acquired the stiffness of ours, who are turned fifty, may derive benefit from it.

Firm as my persuasion now is concerning the proper humanity of Christ, (a persuasion that has been the slow growth of years, and the result of much anxious and patient thinking,) I do not know that, in the course of my inquiry, I have been under the influence of prejudice more than all other men naturally are. As to reputation, a man may distinguish himself just as much by the defence of old systems, as by the erection of new ones; but I have neither formed any new systems, nor have I particularly distinguished myself in the de

fence of old ones. When I first became an Arian, and afterwards a Socinian, I was only a convert, in company with many others; and was far from having any thoughts of troubling the world with publications on the subject. This I have been led to do by a series of events, of which I had no foresight, and of which I do not see the issue.

The conclusion that I have formed, with respect to the subject of this work, and my exertions in support of it, are, however, constantly ascribed by my opponents to a force of prejudice and prepossession, so strong as to pervert my judgment in the plainest of all cases. Of this I may not be a proper judge; but analogy may be some guide to myself as well as to others in this case.

Now, what appears to have been my disposition in other similar cases? Have I been particularly attached to hypotheses in philosophy, even to my own, which always create a stronger attachment than those of other persons? On the contrary, I will venture to say that no person is generally thought to be less so; nor has it been imagined that my pursuits have been at all defeated, or injured, by any prepossession in favour of particular theories; and yet theories are as apt to mislead in philosophical as in any other subjects. I have always shown the greatest readiness to abandon any hypothesis that I have advanced, and even defended while I thought it defensible, the moment I have suspected it to be ill founded, whether the new facts that have refuted it were discovered by myself or others. My friends in general have blamed me for my extreme facility in this respect. And if I may judge of myself by my own feelings, after the closest examination that

I can give myself, I am just the same with respect to theology.

In the course of my life I have held and defended opinions very different from those which I hold at pre. sent. Now, if my obstinacy in retaining and defending opinions had been so great as my opponents repre sent it, why did it not long ago put a stop to all my changes, and fix me a Trinitarian, or an Arian? Let those who have given stronger proofs of their minds. being open to conviction than mine has been, throw the first stone at me.

I am well aware of the nature and force of that op position and obloquy to which I am exposing myself in consequence of writing my History of the Corruptions of Christianity, the most valuable, I trust, of all my publications; and especially in consequence of the pains that have been taken to magnify and expose a few inaccuracies, to which all works of a similar nature have been and ever must be subject. But I have the fullest persuasion that the real oversights in it are of the smallest magnitude, and do not at all affect any one position or argument in my work, as I hope to satisfy all candid judges; and as to mere cavil and reproach, I thank God, I am well able to bear it.

The odium I brought upon myself by maintaining the doctrines of materialism and necessity, without attempting to cover or soften terms of so frightful a sound, and without palliating any of their conse quences, was unspeakably greater than what this business can bring upon me. At the beginning of that controversy I had few, very few indeed, of my nearest friends, who were with me in the argument. They however who knew me, knew my motives, and ex

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