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satisfaction about it, I think this is making use of our reason in matters of faith.
“ 2. We have no difference with them about the use of our reason as to the true sense of revelation. We never say that men are bound to believe upon the bare sound of words, without examining the sense of them. We allow all the best and most reasonable ways of attaining to it, by copies, languages, versions, comparing of places, and especially the sense of the Christian church in the best and purest ages, nearest the apostolical times, and expressed in solemn and public acts. By these rules of reason we are willing to proceed, and not by any late and uncertain methods of interpreting scripture.
“ 3. We differ not with them about the right use of the faculties which God hath given to us, for right understanding such matters as are offered to our assent. For it is to no purpose to require them to believe, who cannot use the faculties which are necessary in order to it.
“ 4. We differ not with them about rejecting some matters proposed to our belief, which are contradictory to the principles of sense and reason. It is no great argument of some men's reason, whatever they pretend, to talk against admitting seeming contradictions in religion. For who can hinder seeming contradictions, which arise from
the shallowness of men's capacities, and not from the repugnancy of things. And who can help men's understandings ?—But where there is evident proof of a contradiction to the principles of sense and reason, we are very far from owning any such thing to be an article of faith."*
Stilling fleet's Vind. of the Doctrine of the Trinity, chap. x. JVorks, vol. iii. p. 519.
CHA P. III.
Note [A] page 32. No writer can be more prompt to appeal to the original text than the author of the Calm Inquiry; and for this, when reason and truth warrant the appeal, let him be commended. But a case happens in which the error of the authorized version affords a semblance of support to the Unitarian cause: and then he can argue from the very inaccuracy of the translation, with as comfortable a confidence as could be felt by the most illiterate of those lay-preachers, upon whom, on another occasion, he has poured unsparing contempt. (See A Letter to Lord Sidmouth, by the Rev. Thomas Belsham: 1811.) This case is one in which, with a view to neutralize the passage, “ In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” (Col. ii. 9.) he brings an alleged instance of the application of similar language to Christians generally: “ In the Epistle to the Ephesians, chap. iii. 19, the apostle prays that they may be filled with all the fulness of God, i. e. with knowledge of the divine will, and conformity to the divine image." p. 252. But the apostle's expression is, “ that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God;" suggesting the sublime conception of an approximation to the supreme perfection, which is begun by religion now, and shall be ever growing in the holiness and bliss of the future state; while the infinity of distance must for ever remain between Deity and the creature. This palpable error is retained in the text of the “ Improved Version," and the true rendering is barely mentioned in a note, with this vapid and silly interpretation,—“ i. e. that ye may be admitted into the Christian church.” As if the community of Ephesian Christians, which had flourished so many years in full organization (Acts, xx.) and eminent stability (Eph. i. 13-15.), was not yet to be regarded as a part of the Christian church !
Note [B] p. 36. The remembrance of our own past errors and frailties, and the consciousness of so much ignorance and sinfulness as still infest our minds, should be an humiliating and effectual preservative from rash censures and damnatory comminations of those whom we deem in error, but whose integrity and purity of life entitle them to our respect and love. The more intimately we become acquainted with ourselves and with the waywardness of our nature, the more we shall see reason to acquiesce in the observations of the great American divine who was not less distinguished for the clearness of his views of divine truth and the force of his reasonings in its defence, than for his humility, benevolence, and piety.—“How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God's Spirit may so influence some men's hearts, that their practice in this regard may be contrary to their own principles; or how far that error into which they may have been led by education, or by the cunning sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the prevailing disposition of their hearts, and contrary to their practice; or how far some may seem to maintain a doctrine contrary to this gospel-doctrine
who really do not, but only express themselves differently from others, or seem to oppose it through their misunderstanding of our expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our real sentiments are the same in the main ; or may seem to differ more than they do, by using terms that are without a precisely fixed and determinate meaning; or to be wide in their sentiments from this doctrine, for want of a distinct understanding of it, whose hearts, at the same time, entirely agree with it, and if once it were clearly explained to their understandings, would immediately close with it and embrace it :- how far these things may be, I will not determine ; but I am fully persuaded that great allowances are to be made on these and the like accounts, in innumerable instances; though it is manifest that the teaching and propagating contrary doctrines and schemes, is of a pernicious and fatal tendency." President Edwards, on Justif. by Faith ; in his Works, vol. vi..p. 341. VOL. I.
ON THE ERRORS AND FAULTS, IN RELATION TO THIS CON
TROVERSY, ATTRIBUTABLE TO UNITARIAN WRITERS.
Rash and ill-founded criticism.---Illogical inferences.-Hasty generalizing.
Assumption of an extreme simplicity in the system of revealed doctrine.Irrational demands as to the kind of evidence, and a want of equitable regard to that which exists.-Denial of the complete inspiration of the apostolic writings.
THERE are delinquencies as to argumentative justice to be found in the writings of Socinian and Unitarian advocates. We should guard ourselves against them, as well as against the failures of the orthodox.
If the one party has appeared backward to critical inquiry, and prone to confide in authorized versions and received readings of the scriptures, the other has often shewn a propensity to unfounded suspicion, and to rash alteration of the translation or of the text. This is a more dangerous extreme than the other: it is less favourable to reverence for the sacred word, it tempts critical vanity, it fosters the pride of learning or of half learning, and it often and manifestly proceeds from a wish to dictate the result. It was one of Mr. Porson's canons of criticism, not to