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law, let their sentiments be what they may, will always be under a powerful temptation to take it for granted that they are right, and that all who dissent from them are contemptible sectaries, unworthy of a candid and respectful treatment. This temptation, it is true, will not have equal effect upon all in the same community. Serious and humble characters will watch against it; and, being wise enough to know that real worth is not derived from any thing merely external, they may be superior to it. But those of another description will be very differently affected.
There is, indeed, a mixture of evil passions in all our religious affections, against which it becomes us to watch and pray. I see many things in those of my own sentiments, which I cannot approve; and possibly, others may see the same in me. And, should the Socinians pretend to the contrary, with respect to themselves, or aspire at a superiority to their neighbors, it may be more than they are able to maintain. It cannot escape the observation of thinking and impartial men, that the candour of which they so frequently boast, is pretty much confined to their own party, or those that are near akin to them. Socinians can be candid to Arians, and Arians to Socinians, and each of them to Deists; but, if Calvinists expect a share of their tenderness, let them not greatly wonder, if they be disappointed. There need not be a greater, or a more standing proof of this, than the manner in which the writings of the latter are treated in the Monthly Review.
It has been frequently observed, that, though Socinian writers plead so much for candour and esteem among professing Christians, yet, generally speaking, there is such a mixture of scornful contempt discovered towards their opponents, as renders their professions far from consistent. Mr. Lindsey very charitably accounts for our errors, by asserting, that, "the doctrine of Christ being possessed of two natures, is the fiction of ingenious men, determined, at all events, to believe Christ to be a different being from what he really was, and uniformly declared himself to be; by which fiction of theirs, they elude the plainest declarations of scripture concerning him, and will prove him to be the Most High God, in spite of his own most express and constant language to the contrary.— And, as there is no reasoning with such persons, they are to be VOL. II.
pitied, and considered as being under a debility of mind in this respect, however sensible and rational in others."* Would Mr. Lindsey wish to have this considered as a specimen of Socinian candour? If Mrs. Barbauld had been possessed of candour equal to her ingenuity, instead of supposing, that Calvinists derive their ideas of election, the atonement, future punishment, &c. from the tyranny and caprice of an eastern despot, she might have admitted, whether they were right or not, that those principles appeared to them to be taught in the Bible.†
If we may estimate the candour of Socinians, from the Spirit discovered by Mr. Robinson, in the latter part of his life, the conclusion will not be very favourable to their system. At the time when this writer professed himself a Calvinist, he could acknowledge those who differed from him, with respect to the divinity of Christ," as mistaken brethren ;" at which time, his opponents could not well complain of his being uncandid. But, when he comes to change his sentiments on that article, he treats those from whom he differs, in a very different manner; loading them with every species of abuse. Witness his treatment of Augustine ; whose conduct, previously to his conversion to Christianity, though lamented with all the tokens of penitential sorrow, and entirely forsaken in the remaining period of his life, he industriously represents to his disadvantage; calling him "a pretended saint, but an illiterate hypocrite, of wicked dispositions ;" loading his memory, and even the very country where he lived, with every opprobrious epithet that could be devised. Similar instances might be added from his Ecclesiastical Researches, in which the characters of Calvin and Beza are treated in an equally uncandid manner.§
* Catechist. Inquiry 6.
+ A friend of mine, on looking over Mrs. Barbauld's Pamphlet, in answer to Mr. Wakefield, remarks as follows: "Mrs. B. used to call Socinianism, The frigid zone of Christianity; but she is now got far north herself. She is amazingly clever: her language enchanting; but her caricature of Calvinism is abominable."
History of Baptism, p. 652.
Mr. Robinson, in his Notes on Claude, observes, Mr. Burgh, that " Whatever occurs in modern writers of History, of a narrative nature, we find to
Dr. Priestley himself, who is said to be the most candid man of his party, is seldom overloaded with this virtue, when he is dealing with Calvinists. It does not discover a very great degree of perfection in this, or even in common civility, to call those who consider its principles as pernicious, by the name of "bigots," "the bigots," &c. which he very frequently does. Nor is it to the credit of his impartiality, any more than of his candour, when weighing the moral excellence of Trinitarians and Unitarians against each other, as in a balance, to suppose "the former to have less, and the latter something more, of a real principle of religion, than they seem to have.* This looks like taking a portion out of one scale, and casting it into the other, for the purpose of making weight where it was wanting.
Dr. Priestley, in answer to Mr. Burn on the person of Christ, acquits him of "any thing base, disingenuous, immoral, or wicked ;" and, seeing Mr. Burn had not acquitted him of all such things in return, the Doctor takes occasion to boast, that his " principles, whatever they are, are more candid than those of Mr. Burn."t But, if this acknowledgment, candid as it may seem, be compared with another passage in the same performance, it will appear to less advantage. In Letter V. the Doctor goes about to account for the motives of his opponents; and if the following language do not insinuate any thing "base, immoral, or wicked," to have in
* Discourses on Various Subjects, p. 100.
+ Familiar Letters, Letter xviii.
be an inference from a system, previously assumed, without any view to the seeming truth of the fact recorded; but to the establishment of which the historian appears, through every species of misrepresentation, to have zealously directed his force. The subversion of freedom was the evident purpose of Mr. Hume, in writing the History of England. I fear we may with too much justice, affirm the subversion of Christianity to be the object of Mr. Gibbon, in writing his History of the Decline and fall of the Roman Empire,” Vol. II, pp. 147. 141. Perhaps it might, with equal propriety, be added that the subversion of what is commonly called orthodoxy, and the vindication or palliation, of every thing which, in every age, has been called by the name of heresy, where the objects of Mr. Robinson in writing his History of Baptism, and what has since been published under the title of Ecclesiastical Researches.
fluenced Mr. Burn, it may be difficult to decide what baseness, immorality, or wickedness is. "As to Mr. Burn's being willing to have a gird at me, as Falstaff says, it may easily be accounted for. He has a view to rise in his profession; and, being a man of good natural understanding and good elocution, but having had no advantage of education, or family connexions, he may think it necessary to do something, in order to make himself conspicuous; and he might suppose, he could not do better than follow the sure steps of those who had succeeded in the same chase before him." What can any person make of these two passages put together? It must appear, either that Dr. Priestley accused Mr. Burn of motives, of which, in his conscience he did not believe him to be guilty; or that he acquitted him of every thing base and wicked, not because he thought him innocent, but merely with a view to glory over him, by affecting to be under the influence of superior candour and generosity.
The manner in which Dr. Priestley treated Mr. Badcock, in his Familiar Letters to the Inhabitants of Birmingham, holding him up as an immoral character, at a time when, unless some valuable end could have been answered by it, his memory should have been at rest, is thought to be very far from either candour or benevolence. The Doctor and Mr. Badcock seem to have been, heretofore upon friendly terms, and not very widely asunder as to sentiment. Private letters pass between them; and Mr. Badcock always acknowledges Dr. Priestley his superior. But, about 1783, Mr. Badcock opposes his friend, in the Monthly Review, and is thought, by many, to have the advantage of him. After this he is said to act scandalously and dishonestly. He dies and, soon after his death, Dr. Priestley avails himself of his former correspondence, to expose his dishonesty; and, as if this were not enough, supplies from his own conjectures, what was wanting of fact, to render him completely odious to mankind.
Dr. Priestley may plead, that he has held up "the example of this unhappy man as a warning to others." So, indeed he speaks; but thinking people will suppose, that if this Zimri had not slain his master, his bones might have rested in peace. Dr. Priestley had just cause for exposing the author of a piece, signed Theodosius, in the manner he has done in those Letters. Justice to himself re
quired this; but what necessity was there for exposing Mr. Badcock? Allowing that there was sufficient evidence to support the heavy charge, wherein does this affect the merits of the cause? Does proving a man a villain answer his arguments? Is it worthy of a generous antagonist to avail himself of such methods to prejudice the public mind? Does it belong to a controvertist to write his opponent's history, after he is dead, and to hold up his character in a disadvantageous light, so as to depreciate his writings?
Whatever good opinion Socinian writers may entertain of the ability and integrity of some few individuals who differ from them, it is pretty evident that they have the candour to consider the body of their opponents as either ignorant or insincere. By the Poem which Mr. Badcock wrote in praise of Doctor Priestley, when he was, as the Doctor informs us, his "humble admirer," we may see in what light we are considered by our adversaries. Trinitarians, among the Clergy, are there represented, as "sticking fast to the Church for the sake of a living;" and those whom the writer calls orthodox, popular preachers," (which, I suppose may principally refer to Dissenters and Methodists,) are described as fools and enthusiasts; as either " staring, stamping, and damming in nonsenses;" or else, "whining out the tidings of salvation; telling their auditors that grace is cheap, and works are all an empty bubble." All this is published by Dr. Priestley, in his Twenty-second Letter to the Inhabitants of Birmingham; and that without any marks of disapprobation. Dr. Priestley himself, though he does not descend to so low and scurrilous a manner of writing as the above, yet suggests the same thing, in the Dedication of his Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity. He there praises Dr. Jebb, for his "attachment to the unadulterated principles of Christianity, how unpopular soever they may have become, through the prejudices of the weak or the interested part of mankind.”
After all, it is allowed, that Dr. Priestley is, in general, and especially when he is not dealing with a Calvinist, a fair and candid opponent: much more so than the Monthly Reviewers: who, with the late Mr. Badcock, seem to rank among his "humble admi