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A paper in the Theological Repository, Vol. VI. 322-331, entitled, Objections to Ordination among Dissenters," and signed A LovER or ORDER.
A paper in the same work, VI. 382—408, “ On the Scripture Doctrine of the Love of Christ," with the signature ADJUTOR.*
A Sermon on the Death of Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe, at Crediton, Devon, October 21, 1798. 8vo.
Papers, on different subjects, in the Monthly Repository, some with his own signature; and a sett, in Vols. V. and VI. "On the Temptation of Christ," signed GARON: these consist of five letters.
Query: Whether an edition of Dr. Priestley's English Grammar was not published by Mr. Bretland?
July 9, 1819. TOMO'S remarks on suicide, (p. 227,) have reminded me of two passages, which form a striking contrast, and which I quote from the original accounts. The first is iu "Observations on Wadsworth," printed about 1692, by Mr. Layton, author of "The Search after Souls," mentioned in Mon. Repos. VI. 10, 213. That author says, at p. 124,
"The present time affords a rare example of a young, rich and otherwise happy Lord, who, by a pistol bullet, took away his own life at the Bath, meerly to rid and free himself from such sharp pains of the gout and stone, as then oppressed him."
The other passage is in a "Dedication to the Public," prefixed to his "Dissertation on the unnatural Crime of Self-Murder," by Dr. Fleming, in 1778. He says,
"Near forty years ago, I had the uncommon pleasure of reconciling a gentleman, racked with the stone, to a patient endurance of his painful condition; though he had set his house in order, had formed his resoJution, and fixed on the time of dispatching himself. Which persuasion, the said gentleman acknowledged, in
⚫ I now suspect, but do not know, that the paper, in the same volume, signed Subsidianus, came from the pen of Mr. Bretland.
a letter to a worthy friend of mine, (Dr. Benjamin Avery,) was wrought in him, by a remonstrance I had drawn up against suicism, which was inserted in the Old Whig, a weekly paper."
In an appendix to this Dissertation, Dr. Fleming "points out the inequality of some of our penal laws which take away the life of man;" and has anticipated the juster views of criminal jurisprudence which are now, I hope, gaining some of the public attention. On" simple theft" he would not inflict the penalty of death, and remarks that "a neighbouring state has wisely appointed a rasphouse and other severe labours, as a far more equitable and efficacious punishment.' On forgery he observes, "If I am rightly informed, the Dutch have a far better way of punishing the criminal; for they cut off the first joint of his thumb, and thus render him for ever unable to commit another forgery. At the same time, this very maiming fixes on him a perpetual mark of disgrace; and yet leaves him opportunity of reforming himself, and of being further serviceable to society. Thus the sagacious provident Republic are not so lavish of men's lives as we are."
J. O. U.
P. S. Dr. F., in his "Ingratitude of Infidelity," 1775, p. 40, refers to "an anonymous pamphlet, entitled, The Apostles' Creed better than the Assemblie's Catechism, printed 1720, said to be by Mr. Joseph Hallet, Junior." Does any one of your readers possess this pamphlet, which might deserve a new edition?
Brief Notes on the Bible.
M Y God, my God! why hast
Thou forsaken me?" (Matt. xxvii. 46,) is the opening of the 22d Psalm.
Was it, inquired one of my children, quite consistent in the mouth of Jesus? He possessed a knowledge of his impending fate, and even declared, that to the fulfilment of his mission such a consummation indispensable; which, therefore, could be no indication that his God and. Father had forsaken him.
Whatever inconsistency, however, may be imputed to this invocation, it
is a slight, and, if the expression be allowable, a venial one, upon the hypothesis of the simple humanity of the
That he was not unappalled by the sufferings he contemplated, is evident from his prayer, that, if possible, the cup might pass from him. Though prepared to suffer and to die, it is no violent presumption that his actual sufferings might be more acute than he had anticipated, and, in a paroxysm of agony, this, perhaps convulsive, expostulation might break from him without any definite meaning. It was followed by a second cry of lamentation; and both were uttered just before his dying and more collected declaration, (John xix. 30,) 'It is finished."
He had submitted to all that it behoved him to endure, but did not sustain the extremity of suffering without the expression of such a sense of it, as was natural to a simply human being; and in words neither weighed, nor resembling any language that he had ever used, or was capable of using, in a state of mental composure.
There is nothing, therefore, stag. gering in the inconsistency which has been suggested.
But another far more important consideration is behind.
What will the orthodox say to it? Will they contend it to be possible that "God made man," or that a man, in any profoundly mystical identity with God, could have ejaculated such a sentence? That Jesus in his blended character could thus have expostulated with himself? That such a preposterous interrogation could have passed the lips of a being conscious of the divinity within him, and that God had neither forsaken, nor could forsake him?
Really, Sir, what I have thus committed to paper stares upon me in such a guise of absurdity, that I shrink from it with a sensation not to be defined; but, as our Lord and Master reasoned with the Jews upon their own principles, so are we con strained to parley with the modern Pharisees on theirs.
Upon the Unitarian hypothesis the passage is of easy explication; but, on the orthodox scheme, it involves (especially in conjunction with the
prayer in the garden) such a real and revolting inconsistency, as furnishes a problem for them, which I suspect to be of somewhat more difficult solution.
Liverpool, July 24, 1819. T is not my intention to take out of the hands of Dr. Carpenter, who is so much more able than I to do justice to the subject, the elucidation of the doctrine of the Divine Influences, to which he is invited by your Correspondent L. J. J. in the last Number of the Repository, [p. 419]. But as L. J. J. intimates [pp. 367, 368] that he does not understand how Unitarians can consistently make use of expressions, implying a belief in that doctrine, some of which he quotes from two hymn books, which have been recently compiled for the use of the Unitarian congregations in this towu, such as,
"With truth and virtue feed our souls,"
I wish to explain what I conceive to have been the views of the com. pilers, in admitting into their collections such expressions as are here alluded to. And, first, I think it may be distinctly stated that they did not mean to convey the idea, that supernatural communications from the Deity are to be expected as the result of our petitions for divine illumination, any more than when using the words of the Lord's Prayer-" Give us this day our daily bread," they would expect to receive a miraculous supply of food.
Petitions for divine aid to the mind appear to stand upon the same footing as those for every other blessing, or rather on a better. For, if we are to pray for any thing, what objects are so proper as wisdom and virtue? Other things may be good or bad according to the use we make of them, but these are always good.
In fact, your Correspondent's difficulties seem to relate to prayer in general; against which philosophical objections may, no doubt, be urged: though, perhaps, even on the principles of natural religion, they are not insuperable. But whatever force there may be in these objections, it is suffi
cient for a Christian that the duty of prayer is distinctly taught, indeed positively enjoined, in the New Tes tament, both by our Lord and his apostles, as well as recommended by their example. On this ground then, I apprehend, the compilers of the works in question are justified in admitting such expressions as imply a wish for divine aid to guide us to truth and virtue, and in believing that these pious aspirations are neither improper nor unavailing, though they may not be able to explain exactly in what manner, or to what degree, they are efficacious. And most certainly, if the compilers had struck out all such expressions, their works would not have been accommodated to the people for whose use they were designed for these compilations were not made for schools of speculative philosophy; but for congregations of Christians, who are contented to take their religion from the Scriptures, and feel no desire to be "wise above what is written."
dent himself, as affording a presumptive argument against the solidity of his views, when expressions, appa rently so congenial to the devout mind as many of those he has selected, appear objectionable. Allowing for the vividness of expression natural to poetical compositions there seem to be but few of the lines selected, of which it would not be easy to give a rational and satisfactory explanation. It appears to be understood by your Correspondent, that, in these passages, the Almighty is represented as acting by a supernatural and immediate impulse: but, surely, this is not a necessary deduction. We may sup pose the Divine Being to exercise a providence over the spiritual part of his creation, quite as ordinary, and regulated by laws quite as general, as that which we admit he exercises over the material world; and still it may be very proper, in the one case as in the other, to pass by the operation of second causes, and turn our regards solely upon the great First Cause, expressing in simple but striking language, the simple but important and undoubted truth, that God is the only Fountain of all our blessings. To make use of a common illustration-when we pray for daily bread we do not fancy that it will be supernaturally provided, without the use of labour and industry. When we speak of God as giving fruitful seasons, we include in our consideration all that series of natural causes which he has at command. So when we pray for guidance in our spiritual course, we mean, if we mean any thing, and do not content ourselves with a mere sound of words, that God would exercise his providence, in placing in our way the means of improvement, aud adapting our principles to our trials. Surely this cannot be thought irrational. For if we believe that God has actually revealed his will to us in a supernatural manner, (and all Christians do believe this,) fervently to pray that he would so order his providence, as that this holy will should be understood by us, and applied to the sanctification of our lives, cannot be shewn to be irrational or unbecoming.
Nottingham, SIR, July 13, 1819. YOUR Correspondent L. J. J. [pp. 367, 368,] has called the attention of your readers to a subject of great importance, and certainly of some difficulty: and though I have no doubt that his communication will meet with the attention it merits, from the individuals to whom he particularly addresses his remarks, I am inclined to offer a few thoughts which have occurred to myself, as calculated to satisfy the doubts which arise in the reflecting mind on this question. Some years ago I read a discourse of Dr. Priestley's, on the subject of the Divine Influence upon the Mind, with which I was far from being satisfied. It appeared to me, that with such views it would be impossible to vindicate the use of prayer, or to lay any solid foundation for the practical part of religion. I could not help thinking that in combating one error, he had fallen into another, and I was un willing to believe, that sound principles of reasoning could lead to a result evidently unfavourable to the use and efficacy of religion. Indeed, I think it must strike your Correspon
It is not necessary for the vindication of such a petition, that the person
preferring it should have a distinct conception of the means which the Almighty may adopt to fulfil it.. The prayer of Cornelius was heard, and his desire of further light on the subject of religion was satisfied, though he could have no distinct conception of the means which God would employ for that purpose. Suppose any devout Heathen of the present day to fall down and pray to the unknown God, and with a strong sense of his own ignorance to implore him to enlighten his mind with truth, could there be one found so insensible as to bring against him a charge of absurdity on that account? And if God, in the exercise of his providence, should lead him to the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is able to make men wise unto salvation, this, surely, would be no less an instance of divine grace, than if he had taught him by the ministry of heavenly angels, or by his own immediate operation had inspired him with the knowledge of his truth. So, may it not be a rational prayer of every partaker in Christian privileges, that he who knows our thoughts, and is conscious of every thing that passes in our minds, would promote the influence and superintend the efficacy of those means which he has planned for our instruction in righteousness, and our final admission to glory?
Views of this kind, it has been said, open the door to every sort of delusion. And it cannot be denied that men have often entertained extravagant and unscriptural notions respecting the Divine Influence upon the mind. But we are liable to err on either hand, by taking a confined view of this subject. On the one hand, those who maintain the doctrine of Divine Influence, generally conceive of the Almighty as acting upon the mind in an arbitrary and supernatural manner, as if he had no fixed rule of proceeding in such a case, and was in want of proper instruments to effect his purposes; and, on the other hand, those who controvert the notion of sensible impulses, sometimes go so far as to give us the impression that, in their opinion, the Almighty exercises no controul over the spiritual part of his creation, (that is, has nothing to do with the noblest part of
his works,) and that in none of the acts of his providence does he concern himself to promote the spiritual well-being of his creatures. This is to go from one dangerous extreme to another; for what can have a greater tendency to deprive religion of its influence, than such a view of things as this, which represents us as strug gling with difficulties and exposed to dangers, in relation to our most important interests, without being able to look up to that great Being, on whom all our hopes depend for help and protection? His spirit, which pervades every thing and discerns every thing, is debarred, it seems, from interposing its energies in behalf of creatures, whose infirmities expose them to constant peril, though they have before them the prospect of im mortal life and happiness.
On this supposition, too, what account can be given of the duty of prayer? For why should we be called upon to commune with that Intelligence who surrounds us, unless it comes within the scope of his providential government to bear a per sonal relation towards us, as the hearer and answerer of prayer? But a theory, which excludes the Divine Being from so large and important a part of his creation, will be found to have its origin in narrow and erroneous views of his nature and perfections. There is every reason to suppose that he has the dominion equally of the spiritual and material kingdoms. We, indeed, have no knowledge of mind except from its operations; we know little or nothing of the nature or quality of spiritual existence; and, therefore, the operations of mind do not seem to us capable of being brought under the same strict cognizance of Divine Providence as takes place in the ma terial world: but we may be sure that, with respect to God, both de partments of creation are equally and entirely known; and, if known, then guided equally to a good end, by the exercise of divine power, wisdom and goodness, in the formation and maintenance of equitable and beneficial laws. Under this idea of the exten sion of Divine Providence to every part of the creation, we ought to regard every influence which tends to the moral improvement of mankind,
as the gift of the grace and favour of God, for which we ought humbly and heartily to give him thanks, and for the continuance and extension of which we ought to pray, whatever be the instrumentality by which this good influence may have been exerted. I am aware that this whole view of the subject is exposed to objections, arising from the difficulty of reconciling the exercise of Divine Providence with the accountableness of man; but this is a difficulty which, like the origin and existence of evil, must press equally upon every theory connected with theological specula
Warwick, July 13, 1819.
N the List of Congregational Subscriptions to the Unitarian Association, (see p. 6 of the Report of the Committee,) I observe our congregation is justly mentioned; but the name of our highly-respected minister, Rev. William Field, is by some means omitted. I should not have troubled you, Sir, with a correction of this, but from the circumstance, that at this season of the year, a number of strangers from all parts of the United Kingdom, visit the neighbouring Spa of Leamington; of course, among them there are many Antitrinitarians, and this being the nearest Unitarian place of worship, (a delightful walk of two miles,) such as are desirous of paying their adorations to the one only living and true God, will most likely be at a loss unless they inquire for Mr. Field's chapel. Divine ser vice commences at eleven in the morning, and six in the evening.
J. ARMSTRONG. P.S. I mention the time from the following suggestion of your Correspondent W. Whitfield, [XIII. 305,] "You will, no doubt, be perfectly aware of the usefulness of a complete list of the Unitarian places of worship in the United Kingdom; the names of the towns in which they are to be found, alphabetically arranged; the name of the chapel, if any; the situation in each town; the name of the preacher, and the time at which the different services commence," &c.
I beg to say that, with the assist
auce of a friend, and by the constant perusal of your valuable Miscellanies, I have made out a list of about one hundred and fifty Unitarian, Arian, Presbyterian and General Baptist congregations, with the names of their respective ministers: this I shall be happy to transfer to any tract society or individuals, who may have means to acquire such further information as will enable them to furnish the Unitarian public with a correct list of their several places of worship.
July 10, 1819.
DO not find in the writings of those who have entered into the controversy concerning the authenticity of St. Paul's Epistles, that they have paid any attention to the only argument, in my opinion, which ought to have decided the question long since: 1 presume, therefore, to state what the inspired apostle has said, to lead us to the proper proof; and we, as Christians, are bound to take his sacred word. In his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, chap. iii. ver. 17, he says, The salutation by the hand of me, Paul, which is my token (seal or mark) in EVERY Epistle. THUS I WRITE. In examining the other Epistles, I can find this mark or token only in the following-1 Cor. xvi. 21: The salutation of me, Paul, with my own hand. Col. iv. 18: The salutation by the hand of me, Paul. Gal. vi. 11 : Ye see how large an Epistle I have written to you with my own hand. Philemon, ver. 19: I Paul have written it with my own hand. In this last quotation the apostle introduces his name as much as a pledge for the payment of a sum of money, as a proof of the authenticity of his epistle.
In no other letters bearing his name, do I perceive this essential mark or token, which the apostle makes use of to distinguish his own authentic writings from those which were written in his name, but without his authority: not having his hand and seal solemnly pledged for their authenticity. It was not necessary, perhaps, for the apostle to make the same solemn asseveration in his pri vate correspondence with an intimate friend and companion, such as Timothy was; but in writing to a public body of Christians, there was great