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express the author's peculiar sentiment : for if this were the constant and universal practice of chriftians, what could it be built upon, but such principles as are held by the defenders of this blessed trinity? I think I could easily, produce a great deal more from the most ancient writers ; but I have exceeded the bounds of a letter already : I shall therefore break off, when I have added, that it is my most earnest desire that God would lead us, and all his people, into all truth. I am, Your affeEtionate Friend and Servant,
Pardon my surmize, that you did not first ground
your notions on the holy scriptures: I think it is not without foundation, for while I liv'd near you, no man studied the scriptures more, and no .man freer from those apprehensions. This makes me judge that somewhat else gave the first turn, which, in my judgment, was not sufficient.
But observe that the same Mr. Peirce had before shewed himself to me as a like zealous Alba. nafian in the year 1706. For when he perused my Ejay on the Revelation in MS, and found that I had in general affirmed, that our Saviour did not know fome divine mysteries, and particularly the time for the day of judgment, till after his death and resurrection, in a plain way, without the addition of the usual words in bis Human Nature, he would have no nay, but I must add those words: which I then did, by his over persuasion, against my own judgment. But since I have seen full reason to omit them, as he did himself afterward. Even somewhat after this time, he was so stanch an Atbanahan, that when at my recommendation he had read over that ancient and eminent book, No
vatian D. Trinitate, and acknowledged, it favoured the same Eusebians or Unitarians, yet did he hold fast his Athanafian doctrine still. However, when the fame Mr. Peirce came to London, foon after I had published my four volumes, which was in 1711; he met me, accidentally, at Mr. Bateman's, the bookseller's shop, in Pater-nofter-row. I asked him whether he was reading my volumes? he confessed he was not; and began to make some excuses why he was not bound to read them. Upon this I spoke with great vehemence to him; “ That a per" son of his learning, and acquaintance with me, “ while I had published things of such great conse
quence, would never be able to answer his refufal 66 to read them to God and his own conscience." This moved him. He bought my books immediately, and read them, and was convinced by them to become an Unitarian, or Eusebian, as I was, and was persecuted for the same by the Dissenters, as I was by the church of England afterward.
In the year 1709, I printed Sermons and Esays upon several Subjects. (1.) On the penitent thief. (2.) The peculiar excellency of the christian reli
gion. (3.) The antiquity of the christian covenant.
[ which two last give, I think, more light to fome disputes now on foot about Moses's law, and his omission of the sanctions of the rewards and punishments of the next world, in his legislation, than all that has been of late written
upon that argument.] (4.) Against the sleep of the foul. (5.) Charity-schools recommended. This is the
fame fermon that was preached at Trinity-Church, January 25th, 1704-5, but now reprinted with the addition of a particular account of our charityschools in Cambridge, of which already.
(6.) Upon the several ascensions of Christ. [Re
printed and enlarged.] (7.) Upon the brethren and sisters of Christ. (8.) Reason and philosophy no enemies to faith. (9.) On the restoration of the Jews. (10.) Advice for the study of divinity: with
directions for the choice of a small theological library.
N. B. When I first wrote the 8th discourse here set down, I passed by Atherston, a market-town in Warwickshire, where I stayed all night, with a very valuable friend of mine, Mr. Shaw, who was then a schoolmaster there ; and whose worthy son was lately his successor. I left the paper with him for his perusal, that we might discourse of it in the morning: when he came to me, with a good deal of surprize, that I therein had declared I did not believe the proper eternity of hell torments: which he said was a subject he had written upon, for the satisfaction of a neighbouring gentleman, who made the doctrine of their eternity an almost insuperable argument against the chriftian religion. But my friend, said I, you wrote for that doctrine, I believe, because you thought it was contained in the New Testament ; he confessed it was so; but Sir, said I, suppose I can shew you that this doctrine is not contained in the New Testament, will not that alter the case? he confess'd it would : upon which we got Dr. Hammond's Difcourse for that Eternity, with a Greek New Testament, and the Septuagint for the Old Testament : when, in about two hours time, I demonstrated to him, that the words used about the duration of those torments in the New Testament, all over the Septuagint, whence the language of the New Testament was taken, did no where mean a proper eternity : which he conferred before I left him ; and acknowledged that I had given him a freedom
of thought in that matter, which he had not before. Of all which matters, fee my own larger pamphlet upon that subject; of which hereafter. I also once talked with him about the Athanafian doctrine of the Trinity, and its absurdity: he told me he had not ventured to think upon that subject ; and whether he afterward ventured to do it, I do not know. He was a very considerable man; and had he not been depressed by his confinement to the paftoral care, in two small neighbouring villages, Badgly and Baxterly, where I used sometimes to preach for him, together with the business of a school; I always thought him capable of being a considerable man in the learned world.
N. B. When the roth discourse, or Directions for the Study of Divinity, came to be perused by Mr. Hallet, a diffenter, who kept an academy at Exeter, he was prodigiously pleased with them, and, with the highest compliments, desired some farther directions in that matter ; but he withal cautioned me not to direct my answer to himself; for, as he intimated to me, “ if it were known that he kept
correspondence with me, he should be ruined.” Such, it seems, was the zeal of our diffenting brethren at that time at Exeter : (of which my old friend Mr. Peirce partook plentifully afterward.) However, I having kept a copy of my Reply, I shall give it the reader presently, for his own instruction, as it was then written; tho' some few things might be still corrected and improved. (11.) To these 10 was added at first Incerti Au&toris
de regula Veritatis, five Fidei : Vulgo Novatiani de Trinitate Liber. But since my learned friend Mr. Jackson published, 1728, this excellent treatise, with very large and useful notes, while my edition had no notes at all; I desire this may be omitted in all future editions.
Camb. May 1, 1710.
time ago, yet have I not been at full lei. sure to answer it till now, I am very glad that any of my books have given you, or any other honest christian, any light and satisfaction in your facred enquiries. As I fully and thankfully own the goodness of God to me in blessing my studies, so far as any of his facred truths are illustrated by them; so do I heartily desire that all other well dif posed persons, would themselves go to the same fountains that I have recommended, and correct any occasional errors and mistakes I may have fallen into in matters of such importance. The ancient christian doctrine is plainly the same which the body of the christian church, even fo low as the fourth century, maintained againft the Albanafian heresy; and which the Athanafans would needs call Arian: without any other just occasion for such a title, but that she would not defert any christian truths, because Arius and his particular followers asserted them ; nor would she peremptorily condemn the Arians, strictly fo called, for some novel expressions, which yet she did not approve nor justify, because she was not fully satisfy'd of their being false. As to the method of your studies, Varenius's Geography will be very proper to be read for the doctrine of the sphere, and other things, before you come to my Astronomy. After which, bishop Beveridge's Chronology will be proper. After which, archbishop Ujher's Chronology and Annals come in order, with my own Chronology of the Old Testament, and Harmony of the Evangelists. For geography, get the best fcripture maps by you, particularly that in Lamy, and travel along the same all the way; and then alone read the descriptions, and search for the testimonies,