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and when he understands what they meant, he may rest assured, that meaning is consistent with the will of God, is divine infallible truth. The testimony of men who spoke and wrote by the spirit of God, is the testimony of God himself; and the testimony of the God of Truth is the strongest, and most indubitable of all demonstration.

“ The above view of the apostolic inspiration will likewise enable us, as I apprehend, to understand the apostle Paul, in the seventh chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, where in some verses he seems to speak as if he were not inspired, and in others as if he were. Concerning some things, he saith, “ But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment:". (ver. 6,) and again, “ I have no commandment of the Lord ; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful." (ver. 25.) The subject of which the apostle here delivers his opinion, was a matter of Christian prudence, in which the Corinthians had desired his advice. But it was not a part of religious sentiment or practice; it was not a branch of Christian doctrine or duty, but merely a casuistical question of prudence, with relation to the distress which persecution then occasioned. Paul therefore, agreeably to their request, gives them his opinion as a faithful man: but he guards them against supposing, that he was under divine inspiration in that opinion, lest their consciences should be shackled, and leaves them at liberty to follow his advice or not, as they might find convenient. Yet he intimates that he had “ the Spirit of the Lord" as a Christian teacher ; that he had not said any thing contrary to his will; and that the opinion which he gave was, on the whole, advisable “ in the present distress.” But the apostle's declaration, that as to this particular matter, he spoke “ by permission, and not of commandment," strongly implies, that in other things, in things really of a religious nature, he did speak by commandment from the Lord. Accordingly, in the same chapter, when he had occasion to speak of what was matter of moral duty, he immediately claimed to be under divine direction in what he wrote. “ And unto the married I command, yet not I but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.” (1 Cor. vii. 10.) This would be a breach of one of the chief

obligations of morality, and therefore Paul interdicts it under the divine authority. Respecting indifferent things, he gave his judgment as a wise and faithful friend; but respecting the things of religion, he spake and wrote as an apostle of Jesus Christ, under the direction and guidance of his spirit.”-Parry's Inquiry, p. 26-30.

4. Dr. Priestly assumes, and elsewhere strongly urges, that the fact of a scriptural writer's arguing and reasoning is at variance with the supposition of his being inspired by God. Against the validity of this assumption it might appear sufficient to adduce the fact that arguings and reasonings entered largely into the discourses of Jesus Christ himself. See as examples, Matt. xi. 25_-28; xxii. 41-45; John vii. 23; viii. 17-19, 42; x. 34-38. But the strongest proof of this would little avail to one who scrupled not to hint that Jesus was not exempted from false reasonings, to allow that he might be mistaken in his use and applications of scripture, and plainly to assert that, when Christ is said to have had no sin, we must restrict the meaning of the expression to his being free from “overt acts of iniquity, something that all the world would condemn as base and wrong." All this and more of the same kind was written and published by Dr. Priestley, under the signature of Pamphilus, in his Theol. Rep. vol. iv. p. 435, &c.—Jesus said, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE

WORLD:

HE THAT FOLLOWETH ME SHALL

NOT

WALK

IN

DARKNESS, BUT SHALL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE. But, o thou man of Nazareth, after eighteen centuries a greater than thou has arisen, who, though an admirer of thy virtues and believer in thy mission, has discovered that to follow thee implicitly would lead him into mistake; and who at length has proclaimed thine imperfections, detected thine errors, and convicted thee of ignorance and sin !

.To this deadly point of impiety could the influence of Unitarianism freeze down the understanding and the heart of a man so estimable, on many accounts, as Dr. Priestley was! We may

therefore fear that it would have made no impression on a mind so prepossessed, to be reminded that, even in those parts of the scriptures which are delivered in the person of God himself, reasonings and arguings are occasionally introduced: as in Isa. i. 18; xvii. 10; xl. 28-30; Jer. ii. 9–10; Ezek. xviii. 23—30, and other places. It is an opinion quite unauthorized by any declaration of scripture, or by the reason of the thing, that revelation should be confined to the style of axioms and imperative prescriptions. It would appear the more probable expectation that the Author of revelation would address his inspired dictates to all the faculties of the human mind, and that he would excite the judgment to a becoming exercise of its powers, as well as enforce his commands on the will and the conscience.

5. The kind of interpretation which Dr. P. employs on 2 Tim. ii. 16, is that which would nullify all the certainty and the use of language. It seems to me not too much to say, that, if such criticism be admitted, all hopes of discovering the meaning of authors are at an end.

A recent Unitarian writer has expressed himself with much more truth and sobriety, on this subject. I quote his words with pleasure, and general, though not absolute, acquiescence. The reference to 2 Pet. iii. 16. does not bear the broad construction which he has put upon it. Peter does not assert that in the writings of Paul (which, be it observed, he definitely classes with the known and received “scriptures") the dvovóntá riva, things or words difficult to be understood, occur frequently, or as a general character of his compositions ; but only in reference to a particular class of subjects (év ois, not év åīs), namely, those which concern“ the day of the Lord, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat events of a mysterious character, and which, according to a known principle in the construction of prophecy, must be obscure, till illustrated by the accomplishment. Besides, it is manifest that the indocility and instability of those who distorted the doctrines of Paul, are represented as characteristic of a depraved state of mind: so that it is very incorrect to represent the “ liableness to be greatly mistaken” which arose from a eriminál backwardness to understand, and a disposition to pervert, as if they attached to persons not so prejudiced, lived in the same age, and spoke the same language."

“ The Apostles did, indeed, affirm that they received their

“ who

commission from Christ, and, that they were instructed by him and by the holy spirit what was Christian doctrine: but this was a very different thing from asserting, that every word they spoke or wrote in the discharge of their commission, was dictated to them by inspiration. Admit the former, and Unitarians do admit it as well as other Christians, and the authority of the Apostolic writings is sufficiently established; and the appeal to that authority, on every question of Christian doctrine, is made decisive. Yet, on this hypothesis, it is fair to ask, may not the Apostles, as well as other men, have conveyed their meaning in such terms as to make it diffieult to ascertain at all times what they did mean? Undoubtedly they may: and Peter being judge, it is certain that the Apostle of the Gentiles, whose Epistles form so large a part of the New Testament Canon, did write things difficult to understand, and liable to be greatly mistaken even by men who lived in the same age and spoke the same language as himself. It is, therefore, in vain to contend that the interpretation, which would first, or generally occur to the most simple and unlearned readers, must be the true interpretation of his meaning. The same labour and rules of criticism must be applied to some parts of the sacred writings, and especially to the epistolary, for very obvious reasons, which are applied to other ancient writings, in order to arrive at the true interpretation.”

Monthly Repository, October 1817. p. 596,

CHAP. V.

ON

THE MORAL STATE OF THE MIND AND AFFECTIONS IN

RELATION TO THE PRESENT INQUIRY.

Hazard of intemperate passions in controversy, especially on theological sub

jects.—Common prejudices against divine truth.--Prejudices to which persons of reading and speculation are peculiarly liable.--Why some persons eminent in letters or in science have been inclined, or attached to Unitarianism.How far that system is congenial with the essential dispositions and duties of practical religion.---Worldly amusements.-Observance of the Lord's day. -Effect of Unitarianism on Christian communities.-Instance in the church of Geneva.--Favourably regarded by M. d'Alembert and other distinguished infidels.-Voltaire.---Franklin.- Jefferson.-Degrading conceptions of God the basis of the worst errors.—Unitarians chargeable with entertaining such conceptions.--Comparison of their assertions with those of the Bible, Necessity, in order to successful inquiry, of humility and a devotional spirit.

It is not the prosecution of theological controversy alone that has excited the hateful passions of the human heart: The wordy dialectics of the middle ages, and the controversies, philosophical and critical, political and historical, which have been agitated in our own times, furnish more than sufficient proof that, in any sort of contest, men can arouse each others' feelings to rancour, and can employ all the unworthy arts of aiming at the mere victory.

But frequently in religious questions there is more to interest the susceptible tempers of men than is to be found in other disquisitions; and

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