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HE following obfervations were in part written before the public was informed, that the Rev. Dr. Priestley was the author of the Appeal, and fome other tracts which are taken notice of in this effay. My defign being folely to examine fentiments, without any respect to the perfons who efpouse them, I have chofen to continue the ftyle I had begun to make use of, and to speak of the author as yet unknown. I could not take the fame method of avoiding the appearance of perfonal reflection in examining Mr. Graham's letters, because his name was prefixed to them at their first publication: But the freedom used in my remarks upon them is defigned to extend no farther than to the writings themselves. I think it a fhame for any, who profess themselves candid inquirers after truth, to entertain the least malevolence towards those whose opinions A 2
* See a Sermon preached on occafion of his refigning the charge of a congregation of Proteftant Diffenters in Leeds.
they are oppofing, and I am fure that such conduct is contrary to the spirit of christianity.
I have used the term Socinian, to distinguish those who deny the doctrine of atonement, both as it prevents the neceffity of tedious circumlocution, and as it is adopted by the writers whose works I am examining.†
I have informed the reader in the course of this work, in what fenfe I use the principal terms belonging to this controversy; and, as as far as I know, I have ufed them according to their most common acceptation. When I fpeak of repentance or faith as being the condition of pardon, I mean no more by this mode of expreffion than to affert, that the pardon of fin, confidered as the tranfgreffion of the moral law, is never obtained without repentance and faith, and that it is always granted to the repenting and believing finner. When I call the death of Chrift the confideration of our forgiveness, it will be fufficient for my argument if the term confideration be conftrued to imply no more than " fomething neceffary in order "to the pardon of fin;" but I would not be understood to mean, that the death of Chrift is not the condition of pardon in a higher sense than our faith and repentance are. I have generally preferred the term confideration to that of condition, in fpeaking of the relation which
† Familiar Illuftration, p. 64. And Mr. Graham's Letters, p. 75. Note.
the death of Chrift bears to our forgiveness, as more readily admitting and suggesting the idea of worth or compenfation; but I have not strictly adhered to this diftinction.
I have ftudied to avoid entering upon any queftion which did not immediately affect the fubject in debate, and to express my arguments as concisely as I could without being unintelligible. I do not mean to enter upon a full difcuffion of all that refpects the doctrine of atonement; my design is only to prove that it is a doctrine of divine revelation. Much might be faid, and that of confiderable importance, upon this fubject, which I have wholly omitted; contenting myself with a brief, and yet, I hope, fufficient answer to the principal objections made against the doctrine I have attempted to defend. What I have written is from a full perfuafion of the truth and importance of this doctrine; but I fhall be ready, I truft, to correct any errors I may have fallen into, when they are pointed out to me.
I wish the reader every fpiritual bleffing that is offered to finners through Jesus Christ, who is made of God to all that believe wisdom, and righteousness, and fanctification, and redemption.