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the word of God, be treated in any other light, than as a convenient mask, or an insulting sneer?
modesty and moderation, as by their learning and their talents. Yet, that it may be the more plainly discerned, how remote the spirit of Socinianism has been at all times, from the reverence due to the authority of Scripture, 1 here subjoin, in the words of two of their early writers, specimens of the treatment, which the sacred volume commonly receives at their hand.-Faustus Socinus, after pronouncing with sufficient decision against the received doctrine of the Atonement, proceeds to say, “ Ego quidem, etiamsi non semel, sed sæpe id in sacris monimentis scriptum ertaret; non idcirco tamen ita rem prorsus se habere crederem.” Socin. Opera, tom. ii. p. 204.-And with like determina. tion, Smalcius affirms of the Incarnation ;
66 Credimus, etiamsi non semel atque iterum, sed satis crebro et disertissime scriptum extaret Deum esse hominem factum, multo satius esse, quia hæc res sit absurda, et sanæ rationi plane contraria, et in Deum blasphema, modum aliquem dicendi comminisci, quo ista de Deo dici possint, quam ista simpliciter ita ut verba sonant intelligere.” (Homil. viii. ad cap. 1. Joh.)-Thus it appears from these instances, joined to those which have been adduced above, to those which have been noticed at the end of Number I. and to others of the like nature which might be multiplied from writers of the Socinian School without end ; that the most explicit, and precise, and emphatical language, announcing the doctrines which the philosophy of that school condemns, would, to its disciples,, be words of no meaning; and the Scripture which adopted such language, but an idle fable. Non persuadebis etiamsi persuaseris, is the true motto of the Unitarian. And, the reader, I trust, will not think that I have drawn too stroog conclusions upon this subject in the three last pages of the first number, when he finds the proof of what is there advanced strengthening so powerfully as we proceed.
It might be a matter of more than curious speculation, to frame a Bible, according to the modifications of the Unitarian Commentators. The world would then see, after all the due amhputations and amendments, to what their respect for the sacred text amounts. Indeed it is somewhat strange, that men so zealous to enlighten and improve the world, have not, long before this, blessed it with so vast a treasure. Can it be, that they think the execution of such a work, would impair their claim to the name of Christians ? Or is it rather, that even the Bible so formed, must soon yield to another more perfect, as the still encreasing flood of light poured in new knowledge? That the latter is perhaps the true cause, may be inferred, as well from the known magnanimity of those writers, which cannot be supposed to have stooped to the former consideration, as from Dr. Priestley's own declarations. In his Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever (Part 2. p. 33–35.) he informs us, that he was once “ a Calvinist, and that of the straitest sect.” Afterwards, he adds, he “ became an high Arian, next a low Arian, and then a Socinian, and in a little time a Socinian of the lowest kind, in which Christ is considered as a mere man, the son of Joseph and Mary, and naturally as fallible and peccable as Moses or any other Prophet.” And after all, he tells us (Def. of Unit. for 1787. p. 111.) that he “ does not
know, when his creed will be fixed.” Mr. Belsham having set out and ended at the same point .with Dr. Priestley; it is not improbable that he has gone through the same revolution : and that he, and others who have enjoyed the same progressive illumination, would equally with Doctor Priestley still contend for the freedom of an unsettled creed, is not perhaps too violent a presumption. Now, as every step, in such an indefinite progress, must induce a corresponding change of canon, it is not wonderful that they whose creed is in a perpetual state of variation, and whose Bible must be, like their almanack, suited only to a particular season, should not have attempted any fixed standard * of the Sacred Word.
NO. XV.-ON THE HEATHEN NOTIONS OF MERIT
ENTERTAINED BY UNITARIAN WRITERS.
PAGE 18. (P)-A writer, whom I cannot name but with respect,—to the beauties of whose composition, no one that possesses taste or feeling, can be insensible,-speaking of Dr. Price, in her captivating defence of public worship against Mr. Wakefield, (to which publication I have already referred the reader in a preceding number,) uses this extraordinary language: “When a man like Dr. Price is about to resign his soul into the hands of his maker, he ought to do it not only with a reliance on his mercy, but his justice.” (Mrs. Barbauld's Remarks on Mr. Wakefields Enquiry, p. 72.) In the same stile, do Unitarian writers, in general, express themselves on this subject, representing good works as giving a claim of right to the divine acceptance.
* Since the date of the above observation in the last edition of this work, a Testament has been published by the Unitarians, under the title of An Improved Version of the New Testament. Of this Improved Version, some notice has been already taken in the preceding pages, and more shall be said hereafter.
Indeed the manner, in which some Socinians of the new school, speak of their virtues, their merits, and their title to the rewards of a happy immortality, is such as might lead us to suppose ourselves carried back to the days of the old heathen schools of the Stoics, and receiving lessons not from the followers of the humble Jesus, but from the disciples of the arrogant, and mag, niloquent; Chrysippus, Seneca, or Epictetus, When Chrysippus tells us, that “ as it is proper. for Jupiter to glory in himself, and in his own life, and to think and speak magnificently pf himself, as living in a manner that deserves to be highly spoken of; so these things are becoming all good men, as being in nothing exceeded by Jupiter:" (Plut. De Stoic. Repugn. Oper, tom, ii. p. 1038. ed. Xyl.); when Seneca
nounces, that “ a good man differs only in time from God” (De Provid. cap. 1.); that “ there is one thing, in which the wise man excels God, that God is wise by the benefit of nature, not by his own choice” (Epist. 53.); and that “it is shameful to importune the Gods in prayer, since a man's happiness is entirely in his own power,” (Epist. 31.): and when Epictetus, (Drisc. lib. iv. cap. 10.) represents the dying man making his address to God, in a strain of self-confidence, without the least acknowledgment of any one failure or neglect of duty; so that, as Miss Carter with a becoming piety remarks, it is such an address, “ as camot without shocking arrogance, be uttered by any one born to die;" -when, I say, we hear such language from the ancient Stoic, what do we hear, but the sentiments of the philosophising Christian of the present day and on casting an eye into the works of Priestley, Lindsey, Evanson, Wakefield, Belsham, and the other Unitarian writers, do we not instantly recognize that proud, and independent, and I had almost said heaven-defying, self-reliance, which had once distinguisheck the haughty disciple of the Stoa: