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these Writers. Part 1. By N. Nilbett, M. A. 8vo. Pp. 146. 2s.6d. Johnson.
Dr. Edwards, after Mr. Gibbon, has stated a difficulty respea. ing Christianity, which he laments has bitherto remained without any satisfactory solution. It is, that, in consequence of our Lord's prediction that the generation then existing thould not be totally extinguilhed, till it had witnessed his second appearance, it was universally believed, in the time of the apostles, that the end of the world and the kingdom of heaven were at hand: bot that the records of history do not authorize us to conclude, that the predi&ion has yet been accomplished. Mr. Nisbett, a very intelligent and candid critic on scripture, here undertakes to obviate this objection. The method which he pursues for this purpose is, to prove that the prediction (which was repeatedly made during our Saviour's miniItry, and the supposed failure of which was never noticed either by the disappointed friends, or by the enemies, of Chriftianity,) referred solely to the establishment of his religion after the deitruction of Jerusalem, an was completely fulfilled in that event. The several expressions, in which the coming of Christ is described, so exactly agree with the language in which the prophet Daniel described the Messiah's kingdom, and were so well calculated to support the spirits of the apostles under the prospect of their approaching trial, that Mr.Nisbett apprehends that they cannot with propriety be referred to a more distant event. The entire 24th chapter of Matthew, with the 25th as far as the 31st verse, he confiders as one continued prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem exclufively of the day of judgment. This interpretation is supported with much ingenuity, and, we are of opinion, is very satisfactorily fewn to be the
only interpretation, which will relieve the embarrassment arising from the fuppofition that they have a double reference to two remote and diffiinilar events. Mr. N. then proceeds to confirm his hypothesis, by thewing its agreement with other passages of scripture relative to the subject.
To give a full statement of the realoning in this work, would necessarily require us to copy a course of critical observations much too extenfive for our plan : but we recommend the work to the dili. gent attention of every inquirer after theological truth; and par. ticularly to those who may have been disposed to think that the seal interests of Christianity would be more effentially promoted by conceding this objection to the adversary, than by vainly attempt. ing to remove it.' Art. 41. An Address 1o Dr. Prieftley, containing Desaltory Ob
fervations on the general Inutility of religious Controversies, and on fome Affertions of the Doctor's, .contained in his Letters to Mr. Burke. By William Pettman, Svo. pp. 66. 25. Law. 1792.
The late Mr. John Wesley, toward the close of his life, made the following public declaration : “ In my younger days I was fond of controversy, but I have now lived long enough in the world to kaow better, than to quarrel or dispute with any man about religion.” The writer of the pamphlet before us mentions this decla. ration with applause; and he remarks that such a concesion, from a man who had employed much of his time in controversial, writing, must have proceeded from a conviction of its general inutility. To maintain this point is the chief object of the present publication ; and if nothing is to be considered, but the ill effect which religious disputation commonly produces on the temper of the combatants, much may be urged in favour of the author's pofition. There may be some reason to complain that the animosity, excited by the present theological controversy, has led the advocates for Unitarianism to cast illiberal censures and reflections on the Trinitarians; and this pamphlet itself affords proofs, if such were wanting, that Trinitarians, in their turn, can be acrimonious:--but, after all, what is this but an inconvenience necessarily resulting from that free inquiry, which, we make no scruple to assert, noswithstanding all that bigotry or priestcraft has ever advanced to the contrary, is the only road to knowlege. If, indeed, our author's assertion be admitted, that, whether the Unitarians or Trinitarians be wrong is a point which can never be determined by controversy,' it is very certain that it can never be determined at all; and then, unquestionably, the sooner the dispute is laid aside, the better :--but it is equally evident that, on all questions which lie within the compass of human investigation, the best way to detect error, and to discover troth, is to encoorage and exercise freedom of debate. We disapprove, as heartily as does this writer, the practice of treating with ridicole or contempt the party whose opinions we oppose: but we cannot think that ihe world would be benefited by that blind acquiescence in present fyftems, which the entire dismiffion of religious controversy supposes. Art. 42. Jesus Cbrift the only God. Being a Defence of that funda
* See Review, New Series, vol. iv. p. 116.
mental Doctrine of the Christian Religion, against Arianism and Socinianism. Addressed to the Rev. Dr. Priestley. With some Observations on his Letters to the Members of the New Church, signified by the New Jerusalem in the Revelations. By J. Bellamy. Svo. pp. 119: Sibly, Goswell-treet. 1792.
Mr. Bellamy is a disciple of Swedenborg, whom he asserts to have been a divinely inspired writer, and to whom he confesses himself indebted for all his knowlege of the scriptures. It will not be thought surprising, that the disciple partakes of the mystical obscurity of the master; nor, till the teachers of this new mystery chose to express themselves in language more accommodated to the common conceptions of mankind, will it be expected that unenlightened reviewers, who are accustomed to judge of books by the ordi. nary rules of criticism, should be able to communicate to their una enlightened readers any very clear idea of the nacure and merit of their writings.
While Mr. Bellamy is going over the historical ground of the rise and progress of Socinianism, he is sufficiently inrelligible: but as soon as he enters the Swedenborgian regions, he loses himself in a thick fog of mystical notions, into which we scarcely dare APP. Rev. VOL.VIII,
venture to follow him. His creed (we give it in his own words,) js, that there is one God, who is Jehovah in homan form, being love, wisdom, and life itself; chat this divine love, is cailed the FATHER; being the iç hauft principle of the eternal, hidden, unmanifefted Deity; the ele; origin of all essences ! unknown that of which Angels and men can form no idea! unsearchable ! incomprehensible!
• Divine Wilcom, called the Son, being the exterior of the divine love, or Father, the manifestation or ourgoings of the io most principle, the Father, in all bi, glorious attributes of light, lise, glory, power, goodness, communicable and incommunicable; the index of the interior of the Deity, and the essence of all beings; in which cwo were contained in power, the ultimate form or exiftence, called the Divine heman. No:y when the Lord (by whom I mean the divine human) made himself visible in human form, which was, when he affuined the human parure, he brought over his divine human a covering, colled the maternal human, or a body like our own, so that 'the divine human, (which was eternal and infinie) dwelt in the maternal human, which was finite, as the foul dwells in the body.
* At the resurrection, he cast off all materiality, the maternal humar, or material body, which he bad from the virgin, and the divine human, by its conjunction with the maternal human, appeared glorified in its ultimate form, being that of man.
• Therefore, it is evident, that when this eflux of power, which jp its primæval fate was the embryo of the divine human, affumed the human nature, and by temptation.combats, and victories, bad performed the grand work of redemption, he returned in a perfect visible form, where he was before eternally in power ; which now is the visible and most exterior of Deity.'
I his fystem, Mr. Bellamy says, 'is easily comprehended and explained ; there is nothing intricate or mysterious in it.' It may be fo to the illuminated ; to us, we own, it is totally unintelligiblé.
On the subject of Christ's second coming, we are informed, that when the Scriptures teach, that the Son of Man shall come in the clouds of heaven with the power and glory of God, we are not to imagine that they speak of a visible appearance to the material eye, nor of the clouds and sky over our heads: but that by earth in Scripture is meant the church ; by sun, moon, and'ftars, are meant crariiy, faith, and the knowlege of the internal sense of the word; that by the sun being darkened, the moon curned into blood, the ftars falling, carthquakes, &c. is fignified the end of that church which is deftitute of charity, faith, and heavenly knowlege. When the wall of the New Jerusalem is said to be 144, or twelve times twelve cubits in height, we are to understand that the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem are united in goodness and truth; for the , number twelve, wherever it is used in the Bible, signifies à complete state of goodness and truth, charity and faith. This, and much more of the fame kind, Mr. Bellamy teaches the brethren of the New Jerusalem, concerning the sense of Scripture according to the science of correspondences, which is the key to open the door of the
sacred temple of the word of God. Before the Swedenborgian commentary on Scripture can be of any u e to the benighted world, this wonderful frience of correfondences mut be intelligibly explain. ed, and a New Jerusalem dictionary, with a clear exhibition of the principles on which it is formed, must be published. Till then, we must be contented to conse's our total ignorance of the nature of Baron Swedenborg's spiritual world. Art. 43. A candid and impartial Reply to the Rev. Dr. Priestley's
Letters, addressed by himn to the Members of the New Jerufalem. In which his Objections are fairly confidered, and the Doctrines contained in the theological Writings of the Hon. Emanuel Sivedenborg vindicated from Reason and Scripture. By J. Proud, N. H. M. 8vo. pp. 82 15. 60. Scaicherd and Co.
It is impossible for Dr. Priestley himself to make a more explicit appeal to reason and scripture, shan is here made, in general terms, by Mr. Proud, one of the ministers of the New Jerusalem church. In the preface, he professes great respect for Dr. Priestley's. learning, ability, and character; and he calls on all Chriftians to make a candid, impartial, and scriptoral judgment on the point in dispuse; to accede to truth wherever they find is; and, at all events,'to exercise muiual candour and charity. Neverthele!s, we do not find that he strictly adheres to the principles of reason, and to the di&tates of common understanding, in the sequel.
On the question of Swedenborg's divine mission, Mr. Proud is of opinion, that neither miracles nor prophelies are necessary to authenticate a pretension of this kind, but that it is sufficiently established on the divine truth of God. The proper and fole divinity of Christ he endeavours to establish by numerous quotations from scripture. To vindicate the peculiar doctrine of the Sweden borgians conceroing the second coming of Christ, which they suppose to be already pait, Mr. P has recourse to the spiritual interpretation of the scriptures, according to the sure rule of the science of correSpondences. By an equal knowlege of this science, it is aflerted, that any two, or twenty persons, will interpret any given part of the bible exactly alike, as to sense and substance. As we know nothing of the principles of this science, nor consequently of Mr. Proud's method of interpreting scripture, it is impollible chat we should judge of the propriety of the Swedenborgian tentiments; and we mušt still content ourselves with the old rule, of understanding fcripture in a literal sense, where there is not evident reason for the contrary; and of interpreting that which is figurative and obscure by what is clear and express.
From want of the necessary previous information, we cannot follow Mr. Proud through his explanation of his mafter's doctrine;
and can only therefore give it as a general opinion, that, as far as 'we are able to underltand the subject, we see little prospect that the Sweden borgians and Unitarians will meet on common ground; the one party making their uliimate appeal to reason, the other reiting their faith on 'visionary fights of imagination, and on myftical interpretations of scripture. Rr2
Art. 44. Three Discourses delivered in Argyle Chapel, Bath, zoch
Jan. 1791. 1. By the Rev. William Jay; 11. By the Rev. Cornelius Winter ; IIl. By the Rev. John Adams. 8vo. Pp. 116. 1s.6d. Matthews.
Though not expressly told, we conclude that these discourses formed part of an ordination service: the first supplied the place of what has been generally termed a confeffion of faith; the second is a charge; the third, and in our opinion the best part of the performance, is addressed more directly to the people. The whole is in. troduced with a preface written by Mr. Jay, who expreffes a reluctance to publish what he had before delivered; which, he says, nothing has conquered, but the consideration that the remainder of the pamphlet would otherwise have been withheld from the public. While reading his (extempore) harangue, we were almost inclined to say, whatever dislike this gentleman may have to an appearance in print, be has not so much objection to talking : fince, though 1.00 very long, and generally well expressed, it contains declama. tory observations which, at such a reason, could not be necessary, however suitable they might be on some other occafions. His faith is of the Calvinistical kind, to his choice of which we have no right to object; for although it becomes no man to dogmarize on topics that are and must be disputable, yet every one is at liberty to embrace those opinions which, in his view, on imparcial inquiry, ap. proach nearelt to the truth : but when this writer infinuates, that no other doctrines can advance the interests of piety and virtue, which some passages seem to imply, attentive observers will certainly deem him rather too confident. Art. 45. Conversations on Chriftian Idolatry, in the Year 1791.
Published by Theophilus Lindsey, M. A. 8vo. Pp. 169. 35. sewed. Johnson. 1792.
It is much to be regretted that religious controversy cannot be conduced without the interchange of harsh censure, and opprobrious appellations. If those who have departed from the orchodox faith complain of illiberality when they are branded with the names of heretics and infidels ; the orthodox, who, while they profess their faith in the Trinity, acknowlege but one God, think the Unitarians in their turn illiberal, in charging with idolatry those who worship the divine nature in Chrift. Mr. Lindsey, in whose productions mildness and benevolence are prominent features, seems to have written this pamphlet chiefly with the defign of removing the un. favourable impression which this charge may have made on the minds of Trinitarians. He undertakes to thew, that the application of the term idolatry to those who worship Chrift, is no violation of candour, înce idolatry among Chriftians, leading to no immoral practices, may be an innocent error. Though he seems to question ihe innocence of those who, believing Jesus Christ to be a creature, join with others in the worship of him as the supreme God; he allows, with respect to those who believe Christ to be God, and worthip him as such, that though they perform an idolatrous worship, in paying religious homage to one who is in fact a mere man, yer,