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were given, I shall take the liberty to make a pretty large quotation from what I advanced concerning it in the very first of my controversial tracts, viz. “ Considerations on Dif. ferences of Opinion among Christians," addressed to Mr. Venn, and I do it the rather, as that pamphlet has now been long out of print, and having fully answered its purpose, will hardly ever be reprinted.* A small part of it was quoted before.f
• Very few of the actions of men have, I believe, one sim. ple cause. We are generally influenced by a variety of motives in whatever we do. It therefore behoves us the more carefully to distinguish the influences to which we are subject, and under which we really act.-When persons expressly avow the motives of their conduct, not to acquiesce in their declarations has the appearance of questioning their veracity ; because it is taken for granted, that every man must know the principles of his own conduct. But the human mind is so complex a thing, that there is great room for self-deception, especially in cases where the passions and affections are strong, and when they occasion similar emotions, as well as produce similar effects. In this case a bye. stander may be a better judge than a man's self. A zeal for our opinions, and a zeal for our party, on the advancement of which our own personal reputation and influence depend, are necessarily connected, and reciprocally promote one an. other. For the same reason, a dislike of opinions has an affinity with the dislike of those who hold them, as men who are embarked in an interest opposite to ours, and whose credit and authority obstruct our own. Also, all the emotions of mind that are excited by the same objects, how different soever they be originally, by frequent association mix to. gether, so that the parts of that complex feeling which results from their union are no longer distinguishable. When two persons who have had frequent intercourse have been a long time at variance, and the subjects of their contentions have been numerous, can either of them analyze the sudden emo. tions they will feel upon an unexpected meeting?
“ We often begin to act with one motive, but, as we pro. ceed, we come insensibly within the influence of others ; so that in some cases the habit shall continue, though the original motive should cease to have any influence at all ; and yet it may be impossible to say in what part of this pro
• The Considerations were, however, annexed in 1790 to the Familiar Letters. + In Vol. XVIII.
gress the influence of one motive ceased, and that of another began ; the change of principle and character having been insensible, and altogether imperceptible.
" The application of this doctrine may be made both by those who are provoked at others for holding opinions which they think damnable, and by those who laugh at them for opinions which they think-ridiculous. In many cases, I am satisfied, that the pure love of truth is, on both sides, absorbed in passions of a very different nature. I could overlook every thing in a man who meant nothing but to inform me of any thing that he thought me ignorant of; but they who have that pretence in their mouths only, when it is far from their hearts, though they may deceive themselves as well as others, are by no means entitled to so favourable a reception.
" It behoves us, however, carefully to distinguish between this latent insincerity, under the influence of which men deceive themselves, and that direct prevarication with which those who are engaged in debate are too ready to charge one another, as if their adversaries knowingly opposed or concealed the truth. This last is a crime of so heinous a nature, that I should be very unwilling to impute it to any person whatever. For a man voluntarily to undertake the defence of what he thinks to be error, and knowingly to pervert the Scriptures, in order to make them favour his purpose, argues the heart to be so totally void of all principle of rectitude; it is such an insult upon the God of truth, and such a contempt of his judgments, that I think human nature could never be so depraved as to be capable of it, and that no situation in human life could supply a sufficient temptation for such conduct. There are such well-known instances of the force of prejudice, that I had rather ascribe any opinion, how absurd soever, in any man, how intelligent soever in other respects, to wrong judgment, than to a bad heart. I can hardly imagine any case in which the chance would not be in favour of the former.
“ If these remarks be just, with what caution should we censure any person with respect to a point of inere speculation! How should I be affected at the day of judgment, to be convinced of the integrity, and perhaps the right judgment also, of an adversary whom I should have treated in an illiberal and insulting manner !” *
Whether you, my Lord, will allow the truth of these ob.
would not be in area be just, with what caufinere specula
servations, I cannot tell. You certainly have not acted upon them, either with respect to the excellent Origen or myself. But I have not copied the above for the use of your Lord. ship; considering you to be a person to whom some of them are so far applicable, that I do not expect the least benefit from the fairest and justest representation of any thing connected with this controversy; and yet without thinking so ill of you as you profess to do of me.
That your Lordship is in this state of mind, destitute of what I call perfect ingenuousness, is evident from the turn that you have given to a passage in my Sermon, to which I had referred you, in answer to your charge of gross illibera. lity. I there speak in the highest terms that I could of the good understanding and the sincerity both of many Catholics and members of the Church of England, “ even those who are sensible of the corruptions and errors of the system in which they are entangled, and yet have not been able to break their chains.” Of this you say, It is “ a long passage, in which he professes to hold the Church of England in no less estimation than the Church of Rome,”* which I might have done without thinking well of either of them. This I cannot call a fair and ingenuous conduct, because it gives your readers (many of whom, I believe, never read any thing of mine) a false idea of what I write. Besides, I said nothing directly about the two churches of England or of Rome, but of the members of them ; being openly hostile to the systems, but friendly to their adherents.
I am, &c.
od understandin he Church of and errors of been able to
LETTER III. Of the Charge of borrowing from Zwicker. My LORD, Though my rule in controversy is by no means your Lordship’s above-mentioned, viz. “ to strike without remorse at whatever in your adversary you find to be vulnerable, in order to destroy his character and credit ;" I must, now that I am upon the subject of latent disingenuousness, produce an instance which has much the appearance of it in your Lordship’s conduct to me.
You charged me with having “ produced few, if any, arguments,--but what are to be found in the writings either of
• Tracts, p. 295, Note. (P.) See Vol. XVIII. pp. 540, 541.
Zuicker, or Episcopius.”* From this it might naturally be concluded, that you had compared my arguments with those of those two writers, and had found them to be the same; which implies that you had seen and perused their works. I entertained no doubt of it myself; and taking it for granted that your Lordship had the work of Zwicker, or had access to it, (and it being a book that I had never seen, and could not by any means procure,) I desired a common friend to apply to you for it. Your answers, which were different at different times, convinced him that you had never seen the book at all. It has since been sent to me by a learned foreign correspondent, and I find Zwicker's views of the state of opinions in early times to be so different from mine, that I am confident, if you had ever seen his work, you had never read it: for if you had, you could never have asserted that I had borrowed froin him at all.
Zwicker says, that Justin Martyr, besides availing himself of his Platonic principles, derived his notion of a Trinity from the spurious verses of Orpheus, which he supposes to have been written by some disciple of Simon Magus.t He also makes Simon Magus the parent of the Praxeans, Patri. passians, and Sabellians. I Now these opinions are fundamentally different from mine. I suppose Justin Martyr to have borrowed from nothing besides his Platonism; and he was so far from being friendly to Gnosticism, which was the offspring of the school of Simon Magus, that he wrote a treatise against it. And I consider the Praxeans, Patri. passians, and Sabellians, as no other than philosophical Unitarians.
Except these opinions, there is nothing of much consequence in the work of Zwicker besides a proof, very much detailed for so small a treatise as his is, of the Christian fathers before the Council of Nice not having believed the equality of the Son to the Father; and this, if I had read nothing of antiquity myself, I might have borrowed from Dr. Clarke, and twenty other writers, as well as Zwicker.
I submit it to the reader, therefore, whether your Lord. ship appears to have been perfectly ingenuous, in saying that I had borrowed from Zwicker, or whether you did not advance this charge at random, without any more knowledge of Zwicker's work than you got from Bishop Bull.
While I am on the subject of Zwicker, I shall observe • Tracts, p. 9. (P.) + Irenicum Irenicorum, p. 16. (P.) See Vol. XVIII. p. 116, Note t.
Irenicum Irenicorum, p. 17. P.)
that he had no doubt but that, in the passage of Jerome, the true sense of which has been debated between us, the writer meant to assert the identity of the Ebionites and Nazarenes, with respect to every thing of importance.* .
Zwicker also makes a good observation, on the manner in which Austin introduces his account of the Ebionites, imme. diately after that of the Nazarenes, which is, “ Ebionæi Christum etiam tantummodo hominem ducunt.” (s The Ebionites also suppose Christ to be a mere man.") As if it implied that the Nazarenes thought the same, though he had not expressly asserted as much in his account of them, the word etiam intimating as much. I am inclined to think that Austin had written this in the account of the Naza. renes, but that the clause is now lost. I cannot else account for the insertion of etiam, also, in the next sentence.
I am, &c.
LETTER IV. Of the damnatory Clause in the Athanasian Creed. My Lord, So ready is your Lordship to charge me with the grossest ignorance, that you most egregiously expose your own, or, which is worse, your disposition to cavil, when you say, “ Dr. Priestley is, I believe, the only writer who ever confounded two things so totally distinct as an anathema and an article of faith, which he conceives the damnatory clause” (in the Athanasian Creed) “ to be.”+
The idle punctilio on which this remark of your Lord. ship's turns, relates to the acts of those councils in which it was the custom to make a creed, and then to annex anathemas to it. But this Creed of Athanasius is no act of any council. You neither know who composed it, when it made its first appearance, or how it came into the public offices of the church. From the structure of it, it is evi. dently a mere creed, containing nothing besides propositions, which were apprehended by the composer to be entitled to the firmest faith ; and that this damnatory clause in question is one of those propositions, is evident both from the form and the place of it.
It is not only introduced both at the beginning and at the end of the creed, but, as if that was not sufficient, it has a place in the middle likewise, thus: “ Whosoever will be
* Irenicum Irenicorum, p. 114.
+ Tracts, p. 287, Note. (P.)