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Mr. Belsham goes so far as to say, (Review, &c. p. 227,) that his « Creed is as får removed from that of Socinus, as it is from the peculiar doctrines of Mr. Wilberforce.” Indeed, to do Socinus justice, it must be admitted, that the Creed of the Unitarian differs materially from his. He had not reached the acme of modern Hlumination. He had not sufficient penetration, to discern the various mistakes in the application of Scripture, and the numerous errors in reasoning, committed by the Evangelists and Apostles, which have been detected and dragged, to light, by the sagacious Unitarian. He had not discovered, that Christ was the human offspring of Joseph and Mary. He had not divested our Lord, of his regal, as well as his sacerdotal character, and reduced him to the condition of a mere Prophet. He had weakly imagined, that by virtue of his regal office, Christ possessed the power of delivering his people from the punishment of their sins. But Doctor Priestley has rectified this error. In his Hist. of Cor. (vol. i. p. 272.) he expressly points out the difference between himself and Socinus, on this head. “It immediately follows," he says,
« from his (Socinus's) prineiples, that Christ being only a man, though ever so innocent, his death could not, in any proper sense of the word, atone for the sins of other men. He was, however, far from abandoning the doctrine of Redemption, in the Scripture sense of the word, that is, of our deliverance from the guilt of sin, by his Gospel, as promoting repentance and reformation; and from the punishment due to sin, by his power of giving eternal life to all that obey him. But indeed, if God himself freely forgives the sins of men, upon repentance, there could be no occasion, properly speaking, for any thing farther being done, to avert the punishment with which they had been threatened.”
This passage, whilst it marks the distinction between the Socinian and the Unitarian, fully opens up the scheme of the latter. But on this system, it
be curious to enquire, in what light the death of our blessed Lord is represented. Dr. Priestley (Theol. Rep. vol. i. p. 39.) gives us this information. -" Christ being a man, who suffered and died in the best of causes, there is nothing so very different in the occasion and manner of his death, from that of others who suffered and died after him in the same cause of Christianity, but that their sufferings and death may be considered in the same light with his.”—This extraordinary assertion exactly agrees with what is recorded of Soloinon Eccles, a great preacher and prophet of the Quakers; who expressly declares, " that the blood of Christ was no more than the blood of any other Sainţ.” (Leslie's works, fol, vol. ii, p. 195.)
Thus strangely do the philosophy of Doctor Priestley, and the fanaticism of the Quaker, concur with that, which both would pronounce to be the gross absurdity of Popery. For if the death of Christ be viewed in the same light, with the death of any other martyr, the invocation of the Popish Saints may appear a consequence not so revolting to Christian piety. That the lines of error, in their manifold directions, should sometimes intersect, if not for a certain length of way coincide, is not however matter of surprise.
But, the death of Christ being treated in this manner, by Doctor Priestley and his Unitarian followers, one is naturally led to enquire what their notions are of his state, subsequent to his resurrection. Mr. Belsham (Review, &c. p. 74.) gives us satisfaction on this head. The Unitarians, he says, here entirely differ from the Socinians: for that the latter hold the “ unscriptural and most incredible notion, that since his resurrection he has been advanced to the government of the Universe: but a consistent Unitarian, acknowledging Jesus as a man in all respects like to his brethren, regards his kingdom as entirely of a spiritual nature.” We are not, however, to suppose our blessed Lord altogether banished from existence; for this gentleman admits again, (p. 85) that he is “ now alive” somewhere," and without doubt employed in offices the most honourable and benevolent;" in such, of course, as any of his brother-men, to whom he is above described as in all respects similar, might be engaged. On this, and other such wild blasphemies of this sect, as represented by Mr. Belsham, see the Appendix.
NO. XII.-ON THE CORRUPTION OF MAN'S NATU
PAGE 14. (m) They who may wish to see this subject extensively treated, will find it amply discussed, in Leland's work on the Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation. In Mr. Wilberforce's PRACTICAL VIEW also, we meet with a description of the state of unassisted nature, distinguished 'not less, unhappily, by its truth, than by its eloquence.
After a forcible enumeration of the gross vices, into which the heathen world, both ancient and modern, had been sunk; and this not only amongst the illiterate and the vulgar, but also amongst the learned and the refined, even to the decent Virgil and the philosophic Cicero; he proceeds, in the following animated tone, to examine the state of morals among those who have been visited by the lights of the Gospel.
“ But,” says he, “ you give up the heathen nations as indefensible; and wish rather to form your estimate of man, from a view of countries,
which have been blessed with the light of reve lation. True it is, and with joy let us record the concession, Christianity has set the general tone of morals: much higher than it was ever found in the pagan world. She has every where improved the character, and multiplied the comforts of society ; particularly to the poor and the weak, whom from the beginning she professed to take under her special patronage. Like her divine Author, “who sends his rain on the evil and on the good," she showers down unnumber ed blessings on thousands who profit from her bounty, while they forget or deny her power, and set at nought her authority. Yet, even in this more favoured situation, we shall discover too many lamentable proofs of the depravity of man. Nay, this depravity will now become even more apparent and less deniable. For what bars does it not now overleap? Over what motives is it not now victorious ? Consider well the superior light and advantages which we enjoy, and then appreciate the superior obligations which are imposed on us. . Consider well,” &c.
“ Yet in spite of all our knowledge, thus powerfully enforced and pressed home upon us, how little has been our progress in virtue? It has been by no means such as to prevent the adoption, in our days, of various maxims of antiquity, which when well considered, too clearly establish the depravity of man." Having adduced