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the absurd and exaggerated statements of matters of fact inte which this propensity betrays them, are truly ludicrous. All other sorts of enthusiasts of whom we have either heard or read, are, in this respect, cold and phlegmatic compared with them. In numerous extracts from the letters of Mr. Lindsey's correspondents, and of others, representations are made of numerous and rapid conversions to Socinianism, which Mr. B., from a regard to truth and decency, finds it necessary to correct and apologize for, as the effusion of well-intended, but intemperate zeal. The boast of success is almost invariably the precursor of a statement on the part of Mr. B. in which it is either repealed, or qualified; and it is but doing him justice to say, that his judgement and experience have exempted him from those illusions and deceptions of which his party have become the easy dupes. We had been confidently informed, for instance, that almost all the people of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts, were becoming Socinians, and that the ministers, with the exception of one or two, had already declared themselves; when it appears from the unimpeachable authority of Mr. Wells, himself a Socinian, and an inhabitant of that city, that there is but one professedly Unitarian chapel throughout New England, and so little sanguine is he with respect to the spread of that doctrine, that he strongly deprecates its discussion, from a conviction that it will issue in producing among the body of the people a more confirmed attachment to orthodoxy.* It is also worthy of remark, that these extravagant boasts of success are not accompanied with the slightest advertence to the moral or spiritual effects, which the Socinian doctrine produces on the character; this is a consideration, which rarely, if ever, enters into the mind of its most zealous abettors, who appear to be perfectly satisfied if they can but accomplish a change of sentiment, however inefficacious to all practical purposes. Their converts are merely proselyted to an opinion, without pretending to be converted to God; and if they are not as much injured by the change as the proselytes made by the Pharisees of old, it must be ascribed to causes totally distinct from the superior excellence of the tenets which they have embraced. They have been taught to discard the worship of Christ, and to abjure all dependence upon him as a Saviour an admirable preparation, it must be confessed, for a devout and holy life. Let the abettors of those doctrines produce, if they can, a single instance of a person, who, in consequence of embracing them, was reclaimed from a vicious to a virtuous life, from a neglect of serious piety to an exemplary discharge of its obligations and duties; and their success, to whatev
* See his Letter in the Appendix of the Memoirs.
er extent it has been realized, would suggest an argument in their favor deserving some attention. But who is ignorant that among the endless fluctuations of fashions and opinions recorded in the annals of religion, the most absurd and pernicious systems have flourished for a while; and that Arianism, for instance, which these men profess to abhor almost as much as orthodoxy, prevailed to such a degree for years, as to threaten to become the prevalent religion of Christendom.* Socinianism can boast but few converts compared with infidelity; in England, at least, they have gone hand in hand, and their progress has been simultaneous, derived from the same causes, and productive of the same effects. Shall we therefore affirm that infidelity is to be rejected with less confidence, because it possesses in reality that to which Socinianism only pretends? When we reflect on the inert and torpid character of Socinianism, it is surprising any serious expectation should be entertained of its final triumph. From innumerable passages in these Memoirs, it appears that the far greater part of those who have embraced it in the established church, have been content to retain their situation; and it is certain that of the two hundred and fifty who joined in the petition for relief in the matter of subscription, Mr. Lindsey was the only person who made any sacrifice of emolument to principle. We find both Mr. Lindsey and Mr. Belsham incessantly reproaching Unitarians with timidity, in declining the avowal of their sentiments; and the former remarking with just indignation, that amidst the multitudes that concurred in his views, there was but one member of the established church that afforded him any pecuniary aid towards defraying the necessary expenses attendant on the opening of his chapel. The avowal of Socinianism among dissenters, has rarely been followed by worldly privations; and in the church of England, where such consequences must have ensued, it has not been made. Except in the instances of Lindsey, Jebb, and a very few others, the converts to Socinianism have stooped to the meanest prevarication, and the most sacrilegious hypocrisy, rather than sacrifice their worldly emoluments and honors. Compare this with the conduct of the Puritans in the reign of Charles the Second; who, though the points at issue were comparatively trifling and insignificant, chose, to the number of two thousand, to encounter every species of obloquy rather than do violence to their conscience; and learn the difference between the heroism inspired by Christian principle, and the base and pusillanimous spirit of heresy. What an infatuation to expect that a system, which inspires its votaries with no better sentiments and feelings than are evinced by these decisive
* See the 2d Book of Sulpicius Severus, Chapter 35. "Tum hæresis Arrii prorupit totumque orbem invecto errore turbaverat."
facts, will ever become the prevailing belief; a system which, while it militates against every page of Revelation, is betrayed by the selfish timidity of its followers! The system of Socinus is a cold negation; the whole secret of it consists in thinking meanly of Christ; and what tendency such a mode of thinking can have to inspire elevation or ardor, it is not easy to comprehend. If it is calculated to relieve the conscience of a weight which the principles of orthodoxy render it difficult to shake off without complying with the conditions of the gospel, infidelity answers the same purpose still better, and possesses a still higher degree of simplicity, meaning by that term what Socinians generally mean, the total absence of mystery.
Great part of these Memoirs are occupied in giving a copious analysis of Mr. L.'s publications, which, possessing no intrinsic merit, nor having excited more than a temporary interest, it would be trifling with the patience of our readers to suppose they could derive either entertainment or instruction from seeing them abridged. Of Mr. Lindsey, considered as a writer, it is sufficient to observe, that the measure of intellect he displays, is the most ordinary, and that he was not possessed of the power, in its lowest degree, of either inventing what was rare, or embellishing what was common. He was perspicuous, because he contented himself, on all occasions, with the most common-place thoughts; he was simple, because he aspired to nothing more than to convey his meaning in intelligible terms, without the least conception of force, elegance, or harmony. Though his writings are replete with professions of unbounded liberality and candor, it is evident, from his treatment of Mr. Robinson of Cambridge, that he was indulgent only towards those who approached nearer to infidelity than himself. Nothing can be conceived more splenetic and acrimonious than his examination of that ingenious author's Plea for the Divinity of Christ,' who, in return for compliments and condescensions, which, however unworthy of the cause he was defending, were sufficient to soften a Cerberus, met with nothing but rudeness and insolence. It was truly amusing to see the imbecility of a Lindsey assuming the airs of a Warburton. Throughout the whole of that publication, he affects to consider Mr. Robinson as a mere superficial declaimer; although his friend Archdeacon Blackburne, Mr. B. informs us, always spoke of the Plea as a most able and unanswerable performance; so much for the modesty of this heretical confessor!
But it is time to leave Mr. L. to that oblivion which is the infallible destiny of him and of his works, and to proceed to make a few remarks on the narrative, and the miscellaneous strictures of his biographer. In the first place, we congratulate him on his
abatement of that tone of arrogance which so strikingly characterized his former publications; not that we ever expect him to exhibit himself in the light of an amiable or unassuming writer, which would be for the Ethiopian to change his skin; but it is with pleasure we remark less insolence and dogmatism than he has displayed on other occasions. He writes like a person who is conscious he is supporting a sinking cause; an air of despondency may be detected amidst his efforts to appear gay and cheerful. He knows perfectly well that he is celebrating the obsequies, not the triumph, of Socinianism; and from the little advantage it has derived from his former efforts, his vanity will not prevent him from suspecting that he is giving dust to dust, and ashes to ashes.
In this, as in all his former publications, he evinces a total ignorance of human nature, together with that propensity to overrate the practical effect of metaphysical theories, which almost invariably attaches to metaphysicians of an inferior order. He who invents a metaphysical system, which possesses the least claims to public regard, must have paid a profound attention to the actual constitution of human nature. He must have explored the most delicate and intricate processes of the mind, and kept a vigilant eye on the various phenomena which it presents. He is necessarily above his theory; having been conducted to it by an independent effort of thought. He has not adjusted his observations to his hypothesis, but his hypothesis to his observations. The humble disciple, the implicit admirer, proceeds too often in a directly opposite manner. All he knows of the mental constitution, in its more intricate movements, he derives from the system prepared to his hand, which he adopts with all its crudities, and confidently employs as the key which is to unlock all the recesses of nature. Having been accustomed to contemplate the human mind with a constant view to the technical arrangements to which he has devoted himself, he estimates the practical importance of metaphysical theories by what has passed in his own mind. We are fully convinced that the bulk of mankind are very little influenced by metaphysical theories, and that even in minds which are more prone to speculation, metaphysical dogmas are seldom so firmly embraced, or so deeply realized, as to be productive of important practical effects. The advocate of necessity and the champion of liberty, will in the same state of moral proficiency, act precisely the same part in similar circumstances. Mr. Belsham, however, in the plenitude of his enthusiasm for the doctrine of philosophical necessity, ascribes, without hesitation, the tuin of multitudes of young persons to their embracing the opposite tenet. It is truly surprising that he who was so quick-sighted as to perceive the tendency of the notion of liberty to promote
immoral conduct, should entertain no suspicion of a similar tendency in the doctrine of God's being the author of sin, which Mr. B. repeatedly asserts.
'The true solution of the first difficulty (says Mr. B.) whether God be the author of sin? appears to be this: that God is, strictly speaking, the author of evil; but that in the first place, he never ordains or permits evil but with a view to the production of a greater good, which could not have existed without it. And secondly, that though God is the author of evil, both natural and moral, he is not the approver of evil; he does not delight in it for its own sake; it must be the object of his aversion, and what he would never permit or endure, if the good he intends could have been accomplished without it. With respect to the justice of punishment, the best and only philosophical solution of it, is, that under the divine government all punishment is remedial. Moral evil is the disease, punishment is the process of cure, of greater or less intensity, and of longer or shorter duration, in proportion to the malignity and inveteracy of the malady, but ultimately of sovereign efficacy under the divine government, to operate a perfect cure; so that those whose vices have been the means of proving, purifying, and exalting the virtues of others, shall, in the end, share with them in their virtue and their triumph, and the impartial justice, and infinite benevolence of the Divine Being, will be made known, adored, and celebrated through the whole created universe.' pp. 323—4.
The malignant tendency of such representations as the foregoing, is so obvious, that it is quite unnecessary to point it out to our readers. How vain are all precautions against sin, if in all cases it is produced by the omnipotent power of the Deity! and what motive can remain for avoiding it, if it is certain of being ultimately crowned with happiness and glory! The distinction between producing it, and approving of it for its own sake, with which the doctrine is attempted to be palliated, is perfectly futile; for this is ascribing no more to the Deity than must in justice be ascribed to the most profligate of mankind, who never commit sin for its own sake, but purely with a view to certain advantages with which it is connected; and the difference between the two cases arises, not from any distinction in the moral character of the proceeding, but simply from the superior comprehension of view, with which the conduct of the Deity is accompanied. As the perpetration of vice is, upon this system, a calamity, not a crime, it is but fitting and necessary it should receive a compensation; and for this Mr. B. has provided, by representing the ultimate happiness of such as have been the means of purifying the virtue of others by their vices, as the effect of the impartial justice of the Deity. Persons of this description are, it seems, a species of benefactors,