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The design of Mr. Toulmin seems to have been very complex, and his account of it has much the appearance of the evasion. He did not intend to give a full and minute answer: did he mean to give any answer; or only to write a piece which might pass for an answer? He meant not much more than thus and thus: Did he mean any more? If he did, he ought to have kept to the proper ground of reasoning; or, if he thought it unfair, to have proved it so.
But he had a right, he says, to choose the ground of his argument, as well as I. Doubtless, if he had chosen to write upon any subject, without professing to answer another, or wishing his performance to pass for an answer, he had but if at the outset, he propose to "enter the lists" with an opponent, and to comprehend "all that to which a reply to his performance need be directed," it is otherwise. If a Christian divine wish to write in favour of Christianity, he is at liberty to choose his ground. He may fix as Bishop Newton has, on the argument from prophecy. But if a Deist come after him, professing to "enter the list," with him, and to comprehend in his performance "all that to which a reply to the work of his opponent need be directed," he is obliged by the rules of just reasoning, either to examine the arguments of his adversary, or attempt to overturn the principle on which they rest. If, instead of trying the truth of the Christian religion by the fulfilment of prophecy, he were to fill up his pages by arguing on the improbability of miracles, or the sufficiency of the light of nature. What would Dr. Toulmin say to him? And if, in order to excuse himself, he should allege, that he did not intend, nor profess, to give a full and minute answer to his antagonist; that he meant not much more than to take an occasion from his publication, to bring forward the general question between Christians and Deists, on the necessity of a divine revelation, might he not better have held his peace? Must not judicious persons, even amongst his friends, clearly perceive that he has betrayed the cause; and, whether they choose to acknowledge it, or not, be fully convinced that if he did not wish to answer the work, he should have let it alone; or if the ground of argument were unfair, he should, have
proved it so, and not have set up another, which had no relation to it?
Thus it is, that Dr. Toulmin has shifted the ground of the argument: and what is that ground to which he gives the preference? He wished, it seems, to try "the practical efficacy of the Unitarian doctrine, by the test of scriptural fact." Are those facts, then, a proper medium for such a trial? I have been used to think, that every tree was to be tried by its own fruits, and not by those of another. Scriptural facts, such as those which Dr. Toulmin alleges, afford a proper test of the practical efficacy of scripture doctrines; and, if brought against the cause of Infidelity, would be in point. But there is no question in this case, whether scripture truth be of a practical nature, but wherein it consists? The facts to which Dr. Toulmin wishes to draw the reader's attention, prove nothing in favor of Unitarianism or Trinitarianism: for, before they can be brought to bear, the work of proof must be accomplished by other means. An attempt to establish the practical efficacy of modern Unitarianism by scriptural facts, is like producing the fruits of Palestine, in order to ascertain the soil of Taunton.
Dr. Toulmin complained of my animadverting upon particular passages in the writings of Unitarians, and suggested that I ought rather to have applied my arguments to the general, the fundamental principles of their system; "That there is one God, the Father, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ JeTo this it was answered, "The unity of God, and the humanity of Christ, then, it seems, are the principles which I ought to have attacked; that is, I ought to have attacked principles which I profess to believe, and not those which I profess to disbelieve." -"But," says Dr. T. in reply, "does he receive these priciples in the pure and simple form in which Unitarians embrace them ?""*
The Doctor ought to have expressed his fundamental principles in his own words, and not in those of scripture. Every controversial writer, who does not wish to beg the question, will do so. He ought to have said, Mr. Fuller, instead of animadverting upon particular passages in the writings of Unitarians, should have attacked
*Page 81. Note.
their first principles; That God is one person, and that Christ is merely a man. This had been fair and open: and had the objection been made in this form, I might have replied to this effect:My object was not to attack particular principles, so much as the general tendency of their religion, taken in the gross; and the passages on which I animadverted, chiefly related to this view of the subject. Yet, in the course of the work, I have certainly attempted to prove the divinity of Christ; and whatever goes to establish this doctrine, goes to demolish those leading principles which, it is said, I ought to have attacked; for, if Christ be God, he cannot be merely a man, and there must be more than one person in the Godhead. But, not contented with expressing his leading principles in his own words, Dr. Toulmin chooses scripture language for the purpose. This, I contended, was begging the question; or, taking it for granted, that the terms one God, in scripture, mean one person, and that Christ's being called a man, denotes that he was merely a man. To show the impropriety of this proceeding, I alleged, that I believed both the unity of God, and the humanity of Christ; and, therefore, ought not to be expected to oppose either of them. "But does he receive these principles," says Dr. T. "in the pure and simple form in which Unitarians embrace them?" What is this but saying, that I do not admit the Socinian gloss upon the Apostle's words? Dr. Toulmin may contend, that the scriptures express his sentiments so plainly as to need no gloss; but a gloss it manifestly is. He may call it a pure and simple form, or what he pleases; but nothing is meant by it beyond a gloss, nor proved, except the prevalence of his easy-besetting sin, that of begging the question.
To show, in a still stronger light, the unfairness of a controversial writer's attempting to shroud his opinions under the phraseology of scripture, I supposed it to have been done by a Calvinist, and asked what Dr. Toulmin would say to it in that case? I could say for example, There is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit, in whose name we are baptised. The Word was God.-Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; and could require Socinians not to animadvert upon particular passages in Calvinistic writers, but on these our leading principles. Would they admit, or ought they
to be expected to admit of these, as our leading principles? No: Dr. Toulmin has given proof that he does not, and has thereby justified me in refusing to admit the same thing on his side of the question. He will not allow that our leading principles are expressed by these passages of scripture, because they say nothing of the Father, Son, and Spirit being one God, nor of a sameness of essence, &c. &c.* Very well: neither do I allow, that his lead ing principles are expressed by the passages he has produced; for they say nothing of God's being one person, or of Christ's being merely a man. If the scriptures which I alleged, express my sentiments as fully as the passages he has produced express his, that is sufficient. My object was not to join issue in endeavoring to prove that my sentiments were expressly and fully contained in scripture-language; but to show the futility of such pretences on either side. So far from "affecting to show, that the first princi ples of the Calvinists are to be expressed in the words of scrip ture," it was manifestly my design to show, that the practice of so expressing them in controversy, was objectionable, in that it takes for granted that which requires to be proved.
It is true, as Dr. Toulmin says, that, if he, or any other person, were to offer to subscribe the passages which I have produced, as exhibiting a creed tantamount to ours, we should demur to admit it in this view. But this, instead of overturning my reasoning, confirms it, and cuts the throat of his own argument: for it is no less true, that, if I, or any other person, were to offer to subscribe the passages produced by him, as exhibiting a creed tantamount to his, he would demur to admit it in this view. Nay, more in his case, it is beyond supposition. I have actually offered to subscribe the Apostle's words, and he has actually refused to admit my subscription; alleging that I do not receive them in that pure and simple form in which Unitarians embrace them. According to his own reasoning, therefore, the words of the Apostle, by which he would express his leading principles, do not contain the whole of them, and he must have failed in his attempt to express them in scripture-language; and, consequently, the "boasted superiority" of his scheme, even in this respect, is without foundation.
Pages 5, 6. Note.
If we can believe Dr. Toulmin, however, the scriptures not only expressly declare God to be one, but one person. "This simple idea of God, that he is one single person," says he, from Mr. Lindsey," literally pervades every passage of the sacred volumes." To this I have answered, among other things, "It might have served a better purpose, if, instead of this general assertion, these gentlemen had pointed us to a single instance in which the unity of God is literally declared to be personal." And what has Dr. Toulmin said in reply? "The appeal, one would think, might be made to Mr. Fuller's own good sense. What can be more decisive instances of this, than the many passages in which the singular personal pronouns, and their correlates, are used concerning the Supreme Being; as, I, me, my, mine, &c.”* Whatever may be thought of my good sense, or of that of my opponent, I appeal to good sense itself, whether he have made good his assertion. To say nothing of his reducing it from every passage to many passages, which probably strikes out ninety-nine passages out of a hundred in the sacred volumes; if the singular personal pronouns be a literal declaration, that God is one person, the plural personal pronouns, Let us make man in OUR image, &c. must equally be a literal declaration, that he is more than one. The singular personal pronouns also, which are frequently applied to the Holy Spirit,† contain a decisive proof, yea, a literal declaration of his personality; and which inevitably draws after it the doctrine of the Trinity.
Dr. Toulmin has said much about judging the heart: (pp. 95101, Note :) but his objection does not seem to lie against judging, so much as judging Unitarians. If I affirm, what the scriptures uniformly teach, ‡ That a false and immoral system has its origin not in simple mistake, but in disaffection to God,§ this is highly presumptuous; this is judging the heart but, if Dr. Toulmin
* Page 85, Note. † John xiv. 26. xv. 26. xvi. 7—15. 1 Cor. xii. 11.
1 Thess. ii. 10, 11. 2 Pet. ii. 1. 1 John iv. 6. Jude 4.
The reader will recollect, that what is affirmed at the close of the Letters is merely hypothetical, and rests upon the supposition of Socinianism being what I had attempted to prove it, a false and immoral system.