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ministers of religion, he avows bis conviction, that their mode,

ration ought to cover the sticklers amongst ourselves for American episcopacy, with contrition and confusion.' He adds :

• By virtue of my office in the University, I am a minister of the Society for propagating the Gospel in foreign parts; but ever since my appointment to the Professorship of Divinity, I have resolutely refused contributing any thing towards the support of the society, because I always believed that its missionaries were more zealous in proselyting Dissenters to episcopacy than in converting Heathens to Christianity. This conduct of mine has been considered as exceeding strange, and has given great offence; but I had rather offend all the dignitaries of the church for ever, than act contrary to my decided judgement for an hour, and your book will now inform them that my reasons for not subscribing were well founded. Whenever I consider how much the Church of Christ has been polluted by the ambition of its ministers, how much the great ends of civil society have been perverted by a lust of domination in its rulers, it makes me regret the low condition of humanity, and excites a longing for some other existence, where the petty passions incident to our nature will be done away; where truth, and honesty, and charity, and all the virtues which either a philosopher or a christian can set any value upon, shall be practised with less disadvantage.

In 1773, Dr. Watson married the eldest daughter of Edward Wilson, Esq. of Dallum Tower, in Westinoreland. The day after his marriage, he set off to take possession of a sinecure rectory in North Wales, procured for him by the Duke of Grafton, out of consideration of his being ill provided for, as he had hitherto no preferment but his professorship. This sinecure, through the unsolicited attention of the same nobleman, Dr. Watson exchanged, on his return to Cambridge, for a prebend in the church of Ely.

• At the time the Duke did me this favour, we thought differently on politics. I had made no scruple of every where declaring, that I looked upon the American war as unjust in its commencement, and that its conclusion would be unfavourable to this kingdom, and his Grace did not abandon the administration till October, 1775.'

Subsequently to this period, an intimacy amounting to friendship, took place between the Duke and Dr. Watson, which was terminated only by the death of his Grace. An acknowledged difference of sentiment between them, on both political and religious subjects, had no effect, remarks the Doctor, ' to deaden the

activity of personal attachment.'

· I never attempted, either to encourage or to discourage his profession of Unitarian principles, for I was happy to see a person of his rank, professing with intelligence and with sincerity, Christian prin, ciples. If any one thinks that an Unitarian is not a Christian, I plainly say, without being myself an Unitarian, that I think otherwise,


We cannot but admire the frankness of this avowal. Before we discuss the legitimacy of what will be termed his candour, we shall advert to another instance in which it was still more remarkably displayed, towards a man whom he could not regard as a Christian, -Mr. Gibbon. It is well known that the liberal and gentlemanly manner in which Dr. Watson, in his Apology for Christianity, treated the infidel historian, so far displeased some of the doughty polemics of the time, as to draw from them expressions of real or affected suspicion of bis sincerity. Bishop Hurd said, ' It was well enough, if the Author was in earnest.' Mr. Gibbon acknowledged the copy of that work sent to him by the Author, in a strain of great politeness; deprecating the prolongation of a single combat in the amphitheatre of controversy, on the ground that, as their different sentiinents on

a very important point of history,' were now submitted to the public, they might employ their time in a manner much more useful as well as agreeable. Dr. Watson's reply to this note, sigoifies his ready acceptance of Mr. Gibbon's polite invitation to a personal acquaintance.--Afterwards, when, in 1779, Mr. Gibbon published his answer to his various antagonists, distinguishing our Apologist by treatment singularly courteous, Dr. Watson thought himself called upon to write to bis friendly antagonist in the following terms.

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“ It will give me the greatest pleasure to have an opportunity of becoming better acquainted with Mr. Gibbon; I beg he would accept my sincere thanks for the too favourable manner in which he has spoken of a performance which derives its chief merit from the elegance and importance of the work it attempts to oppose.

« I have no hope of a future existence except that which is grounded on the truth of Christianity; I wish not to be deprived of this hope: but I should be an apostate from the mild principles of the religion I profess, if I could be actuated with the least animosity against those who do not think with me upon this, of all other the most important subject. I beg your pardon for this declaration of my belief, but my temper is naturally open, and it ought assuredly to be without disguise to a man whom I wish no longer to look upon as an antagonist, but a friend.


“ R. Watson."" Most of our readers will concur in opinion with His Majesty, who, on its publication in Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, in 1796, spoke of it to Dr. Watson at a levee, as being an odd letter.' There is certainly- some appearance of inconsistency with the plain sincerity of our Author's character, to say nothing of what might seem required by professional propriety, in the extreme tone of self-denying deference with which be ascribes the merit of his defence of Christianity, against the malignant attacks of an

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unbeliever, chiefly to the clegance of the work in which that attack was contained ; as well as in the unnecessary modesty with which be speaks of his defence as an attempt to oppose him; as if the issue of the contest was doubtful. One might almost have mistaken for sarcasın, the style of his apologizing for his declaration of belief in a revealed future state, were it not for the reason the Doctor himself assigns for introducing it. He told His Majesty, on his repeating ihe remark we have quoted, that he had frequently met with respectable men, who cherisbed an

expectation of a future state, though they rejected Christianity • as an imposture, and that he thought his publicly declaring

that he was of a contrary opinion, might perhaps induce Mr. • Gibbon, and other such men, to make a deeper investigation

into the truth of religion than they had hitherto dove.' llis • Majesty,' adds the Doctor, expressed himself perfectly • satisfied, both with my opinion, and with my motive for men• tioning it to Mr. Gibbon. We do not doubt, that so far as Dr. Watson was conscious of his own motives, this ingenious defence of his letter was also an honest one; but as it does not give us all the satisfaction which His Majesty is said to have expressed, we are led to believe that the Doctor acted, as people most coinmonly do, under the influence of mixed motives, and under no very definite impression, perhaps, of his real design. We think that he was too shrewd an observer of human nature, deliberately to entertain so chimerical an expectation, as that the effect he wished to produce on the mind of Mr. Gibbon, would be at all promoted by his own vague and impotent declaration of a con

trary opinion;' and we venture to surmise, that in the course of seventeen years which elapsed between his writing this "odd' letter, and his being called upon to give this explanation of it, there was room for undesigned inaceuracy of recollection to creep in, and obscure to himself the grounds of his conduct ini this particnlar. We could almost imagine we perceived in bis referring so particularly to the conversation at the levee, the marks of a more than usual anxiety to set himself right with the public, on a point on wbich he felt he had laid himself open to just suspicion. Nothing, bowever, could be inore illiberal iban to found upon this letter a charge of secret indifference to the cause of Christianity, as if he was willing to surrender in private, the sentiments of which he had been, in bis public capacity, the dignified and efficient advocate. Up to the point at which he

Uy was decided in his own religious belief, we have no doubt he was unshaken in his conviction of its truth, and sincere in all that he professed to feel as to its importance ; nor would his character have gained any thing in our estination, by bis displaying the dogmatism of a bigot, and the intolerance of a partisan.

The candour manifested by Dr. Watson, we regard as a felse,

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an illegitimate candour, although not less lonourable on that account to his feelings as a man, inasmuch as it resulted from an essential defect in his religious sentiments, and a consequent radical error in his conclusions. It is evident from the whole of his writings, that he considered the reception of Christianity as wholly unconnected with the state of the heart, and that he placed belief wholly in opinion ; consequently, he was ready to imagine that faith and scepticism are but the results of different degrees of knowledge, or opposite modes of reasoning; nothing being more natural to creatures of so imperfect faculties, the subjects of so in any chance biass.s from passion, interest, and prejudice, nothing more unavoidable than mistake. The habits gendered by academical disputations, would dispose him to regard every point which might be disputed, as doubtful, and to view the contest for truth as an intellectual game. his opinion, that the most uodecided men on doubtful points,

are those often who have bestowed most time in the inves• tigation of them, whether the points respect divinity, juris· prudence, or polity;'-and what may not men regard as doubtful points ? According to this notion; the obligations to believe may be brought into an extremely narrow compass; they diminish, ia fact, in proportion as the mind becomes acquainted with the objections which constitute the sources of doubt; and the obedience of faith is a duty in inverse proportion to our knowledge.

He who examines only one side of a question, (remarks his Lordship,) and gives his judgement, gives it improperly, though he may be on the right side. But he who examines both sides, and after examination gives his assent to neither, may surely be pardoned this suspeusion of judgement, for it is safer to continue in doubt than to decide amiss.'

This sounds like a truism; and it is difficult to strip such assertions of the appearance of axiomatic wisdom, which conceals their fallacy. The comparative degrees of safety attaching to two states of mind, neither of which is safe, it might puzzle a logician to determine. In practical inatters, a predicament is easily conceivable, which should render a pertinacious hesitancy less rational and less safe than decision any way; but with regard to the embracing of Christianity, a state of continued doubt is, in some respects, less sale than a wrong decision, inasmuch as it is often more hopeless. A wrong decision may originate in ignorance, in levity of character, in the se duction of the passions, or the force of example; and the intluence of these causes being suspended, conscience may be awakened to do its office, and the unbeliever may become a convert; but the sceptie is, in general, a person who more deliberately rejects the whole apprehended evidence of the truth, as insuficient to content his reason, and this from a disinclination to believe.


He is one whom all the accumulated force of the solemn considerations connected with the truth, is inadequate to rouse from the neutrality of indifference. A man decides amiss, generally, it may be allowed, from a bad motive; a man continues to doubt, from the absence of motive, or because the appropriate motives have lost their power. It is easy to perceive, that while the former may be the most malignant form of unbelief, the latter is likely to prove the most incurable.

If doubt and unbelief were really as involuntary as they are taken for granted to be, by those who regard them as equally consistent with sincerity of mind, it would be difficult to account for belief being enjoined as an act of moral obedience. Au action so involuntary, could not be a moral duty. Nor would the faith which the Gospel enjoins, if it had related simply to the understanding, have been, as a mere exercise of reason, susceptible of the character of religious obedience. The moral obligation to believe, appears to have been put quite out of the question, by our Professor, in contending for the innocence or safety of doubt, alike on points of divinity and politics. This obligation does not arise put of the reasonableness of belief, for it may be reasonable to believe many things which I am under no obligation to believe. That there is such a city as Pekin, or that there are volcanoes in the Moon, it is higbly reasonable, but it is not my duty, to believe, inasıpuch as these are not facts, the denial of which implies an irreligious disposition ; they do not rest upon Divine testimony. Again, the obligation to believe does not ab. solutely depend on the high degree of evidence by which the truth is attested; this only renders unbelief more or less irrational, but does not affect the claims of that authority which commands us to believe. Different truths, from their very nature, are sus ceptible only of certain kinds and certain degrees of evidence; and it is notorious that the same degree and kind of evidence, operate very differently on men of equal attainments, but dissimilar character. The Divide command-to believe, is the appropriate evidence of certain truths, and to men of pious minds, it has the force of sufficient evidence. The evidence that belief is in any particular instance enjoined by the Divine command, or, in other words, that the truth to be believed, is the matter of Revelation, may sometimes be of so indeterminate a degree, as to preclude certainty; but to suppose that there can be room for doubt as to any essential point, is to impeach the sufficiency of Revelation itself. The objections which form the pretence for doubt in matters of religion, seldom, however, respect so much the clearness of the evidence, as the nature of the thing which is the substance of the doctrine, and the clearness with which it is owned that it seems to be revealed, is, in the mind of the sceptic, the chief difficulty which be

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