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CH A P. VI.
Note [A] p. 107.
The Calm Inquirer has informed us, that he was educated a Calvinist, in the midst of Calvinists, and fully instructed in the creeds and catechisms, and modes of worship of this “ straitest sect of our religion.”—Mr. Belsham's Reply to the Animadversions of J. P. Smith, 1805. But his horrid pictures of what he now calls Calvinism force us to believe, either that he has forgotten his former faith, or that his early Calvinism was but the inco: herent impression of instructions received with indifference, ill understood, and worse retained. It is an unhappy paradox, that one who is distinguished for the suavity of his personal intercourse, should be able to dip his pen in rancour, when he sets himself to describe the religion of his fathers, of his first and dearest associations, and of many whom he acknowledges to have been among
66 the wisest and best characters.” His pictures of Calvinism (Letters to a Lady, lett. i. Sermon on the death of Dr. Priestley, p. 2. Reply to Animadv. p. 14, 15.) are wrought up in the darkest colours of abhorrence and disdain. But I venture to affirm that every intelligent and reflecting Calvinist will protest against the admission of those pictures as in any degree just or true. They are, indeed, professedly founded on the Westminster Assembly's Catechism, and other commonly approved books; but they are constructive senses, against the equity of which we might appeal to the explications and arguments of all our best controversial writers.
Note [B] page 107.
“ At the time when this Inquiry was begun, the author was himself a firm believer in the pre-existence of Christ; and was fully persuaded that the spirit which animated the body of Christ was the eternal Logos asserted by Dr. Clarke; nor had he then altogether renounced the plausible hypothesis of Dr. T. Burnet and Dr. Doddridge, that the Son is God by the indwelling deity of the Father. He had been at that time, A. D. 1781, recently appointed to the Theological chair in Mr. Coward's Academy at Daventry, and Unitarianism being then “ the great controversy of the age,” he was dissatisfied with the slight notice taken of this controversy in Dr. Doddridge's Lectures, which was the text-book of the institution, and regarded it as an imperative professional duty to enter more fully into this important discussion, which had of late risen into increased celebrity, partly by the controversial writings of Dr. Priestley, but chiefly by the meritorious sacrifice which the venerable Theophilus Lindsey had made not many years before to the dictates of an enlightened conscience, and by the new and singular phænomenon of a flourishing congregation of Christians, avowedly Unitarian, having been formed under his auspices in Essex Street.
“Now the plan which to the author appeared most eligible for conducting the minds of his pupils on this Inquiry, was to form a collection of all the texts in the New Testament which in any way related to the person of Christ, and to arrange them under different heads, beginning with simple pre-existence, and ad. vancing through the various intermediate steps to the doctrine of the proper deity of Christ. Under each text was introduced the comment of one or more learned and approved Trinitarian, Arian, or Unitarian Expositors, in the commentator's own words, and in general without any additional, or at least doctrinal com, ment of the compiler's own, as it was his wish to leave the texts thus expounded to make their proper impression upon the minds of his pupils. Nor did he at that time entertain a doubt, that in the judgment of every serious and impartial inquirer, the result
would be a clear discernment of what he then thought the superficial texture of the Unitarian arguments, and a confirmed conviction of the pre-existence, and superior nature and dignity, if not of the proper deity, of Jesus Christ.
“ The first consequence of this mode of conducting the lectures was to himself very unexpected, and not a little painful and mortifying. Many of his pupils, and of those some of the best talents, the closest application, and the most serious dispositions, who had also been educated in all the habits and prepossessions of Trinitarian doctrine, to his great surprize became Unitarians. This, however, he was disposed to attribute to the fickleness of youth, and to the caprice of fashion. As to himself, though he was at first struck with the small number of passages which he could discover, which explicitly taught the doctrine of our Lord's pre-existence, yet, being satisfied in his own mind that they were decisive
upon the question, it was some time before the arguments of the Unitarians made any considerable impression upon his mind : and his early opinions were too deeply rooted, and too intimately associated with the whole system of his religious feelings, to be easily abandoned. But being under the necessity of reviewing the subject from year to year, and at every review finding himself obliged to give up some posts as untenable, which were once deemed impregnable, he was at last compelled, though with great reluctance, to an entire surrender of the faith in which he had been educated concerning the person of Christ, and of adopting those opinions to which he certainly had no previous attachment, and the erroneousness of which he had once flattered himself he should easily have detected. Then, at length, he regarded it as his duty to speak out: and being no longer able to fulfil the design of his appointment, he resigned his office in January 1789 into the hands of Mr. Coward's Trustees, took leave of an affectionate congregation, and of a flourishing seminary of estimable pupils, and retired with no other expectation or prospect at the time, but that of passing the remainder of life in obscurity and silence.” Calm Ing. Pref. p. v.-viii. It is a little remarkable that the retired professor should have looked for his lot in “ obscurity and silence," when his numerous and active friends were exerting themselves to give eclat to liis conversion.
Note [C] page 112.
“ Hæc si negligantur monita, scioli redduntur, non docti; vani, non solidi; animique paulatim inescantur insatiabili multa sciendi pruritu, pleni interea cælestium, spiritualium, divinarum rerum fastidio.”—“ If these admonitions are disregarded, young men will become mere sciolists, instead of truly learned; empty pretenders, instead of solid divines; and their minds will be gradually ensnared by an insatiable desire of miscellaneous knowledge, while they are filled with proud contempt for heavenly, spiritual, and divine realities."— Franckiï Manuductio ad Lect. SS. 1706, p. 11. “It is Truth, it is Heavenly Truth, we enquire after; that, on the knowledge or ignorance whereof our eternal blessedness or misery doth depend. And in a due perception thereof alone, are the faculties of our minds perfected, according to the measure which they are capable of in this life. Therein alone can the mind of man find rest, peace, and satisfaction, and, without it, must always wander in restless uncertainties and disquieting vanities. It is a notion implanted on the minds of all men, that all truth lies deep, and that there is great da culty in the attainment of it. The minds of most are imposed on by specious appearances of falsehood. Wherefore all wise men have agreed that without our utmost care and diligence in the investigation of the truth, we must be contented to walk in the shades of ignorance and error. And if it be thus in earthly things, how much more is it so in heavenly? As spiritual, supernatural, truth is incomparably to be valued above that which relates unto things natural; so it is more abstruse, and of a more difficult investigation."-Owen on Sp. Unders. ch. v.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE INTRODUCTION TO THE CALM
Apparent assumptions repelled.—Caution against evasions in argument.-On
the connection between words and ideas.-Want of argumentative equity in statements and demands.—Value of indirect and circumstantial evidence. Duty of impartiality. The Calm Inquirer's omission to inculcate a devotional spirit, as an essential assistance to the investigation of religious truth.
AFTER concisely describing the “ three principal hypotheses” which “have been maintained concerning the person of Jesus Christ,” the author of the Caim Inquiry invites his readers to observe that, “ in this inquiry, the whole burthen of
, proof lies upon those who assert the preexistence, the original dignity, and the divinity of Jesus Christ.” If no more is intended by this assertion, than to bring our controversy within the general rule, that he who advances a position in argument is bound by the laws of common sense to adduce proof of his affirmative, in case of its being questioned; we readily accede to it, and the challenge here implied is accepted : but if the observation should be understood as implying that the Unitarians are already in pos