Infomotions, Inc.Observations on heresy and orthodoxy by Joseph Blanco White. / White, Joseph Blanco, 1775-1841

Author: White, Joseph Blanco, 1775-1841
Title: Observations on heresy and orthodoxy by Joseph Blanco White.
Publisher: London : British and Foreign Unitarian Association, 1877.
Tag(s): unitarian churches apologetic works; heresy; orthodoxy; christ; gospel; testament; scriptures; joseph blanco; new testament; orthodox; blanco white; christian; jesus; christianity
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Rights: GNU General Public License
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Identifier: a614077100whituoft
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Nunquam autom invenietur (quod quseritur) si content! fuerimus inventis. 
Pranterea qui alium sequitur, nihil inveuit, immo nee quoerit. Quid ergo ? nou 
Ibo per prionun vestigia? ego vero utar via veteri : sed si propiorem planiorem- 
que invenero, hanc inuniam. Qui ante nos ista moverunt, non domini nostri, sed 
duces sunt. Patet omnibus veritas, nondum est occupata : multum ex ilia etiam 
futuris relictum est. SENECA, Ep. 33. 

Reprinted from the Second Edition, 


From the Christian Teacher, 1841, 








The British and Foreign Unitarian Association, in accordance with its 
First Rule, gives publicity to works calculated "to promote Unitarian 
Christianity by the diffusion of biblical, theological and literary knowledge, 
or topics connected with it," but does not hold itself responsible for every 
statement, opinion or expression of the writers. 



From the CHRISTIAN TEACHER, 1841. 

THE love of Truth is the highest form of the love of 
God. The religious affections may mislead, or they may 
arise from causes of a physical nature ; but a pure devo- 
tion to Truth is the submission of all that is in Man to 
the eternal Source of Thought, the sublime reliance of 
the Soul, unbribed by interest or passion, upon whatever 
it believes to have proceeded from that infinite Intelli- 
gence who is the Fountain of our spirits. There is no 
sin-render to God so complete as that which is made by 
him who worships the Father in spirit and in truth, 
whose God is Reality, who uses no artificial means to 
keep up fluctuating and fluttering feelings that have no 
basis in his Reason, but casts all idols out of his heart, 
and, like Abraham stripped of his household gods, goes 
forth in faith to meet the untried future, knowing only 
that the great God has shewn him of his spirit, and that 
to trust in Truth is to take refuge with the Father of 

The love of God in the form of the love of Truth 
a 2 


ensures the most genuine products of the devotional 
spirit ; the hope of progress, which is the root of all 
true humility ; the practical fidelity of the conscience ; 
and, what results from these, the trusting and childlike 
quiet of the heart. Christ himself has connected the 
sentiment of Immortality, of indefinite progress for the 
soul, with the worship that identifies God with Truth : 
" Whosoever shall drink of this water, it shall be in him 
a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Im- 
mortality necessarily suggests ideas of Progress ; and to 
love and obey the Truth are the only means by which 
our feeble Keason can approach to the Thoughts of God. 
These, too, are the sources of fidelity in temptation, of 
sublime peace in life and death. Who steers his course 
so direct towards arduous Duty as he who believes that 
he has no safe guide but Principle, and, when this is 
clear, puts away from him, as false and unfilial, all de- 
ceitful reasonings about uncertain consequences, and 

that in following a moral Truth he is commit 
himself to the Love of an All-wise God? Who in the 
hour of agitation or death is so free from alarm of soul, 
as he whose peace with Heaven depends not on the 
vehemence of his belief in abstract propositions, or the 
chauce temperature of unstable feelings, but mi tin* >in- 
v with which his inward 1 fco a <j>iritunl 

? Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose Comforter nnl 
God was tin- Spirit of Truth, and wh< described 
mission in the world, witness to the Truth that 

he knew," is the one example of perfect fidelity in difli- 


cult duty, and of heavenly peace of soul in all tim es of 
trial In the midst of a religion of prescription, and of 
authority, and of ritual, and of enthusiasm, and of all 
other substitutes for the inner communion of the soul 
with God, he alone, who trusted to the Truth to make 
him free, was established on the Rock, and could meet 
every crisis of his life with the strength of one supported 
by God " Not iny will, but thine, be done," and close 
his martyr death with the childlike trust, " Father, into 
thy hands I commend my spirit." 

Whosoever has not the spirit of Christ is none of his. 
And there is no spirit so worthy to be called " the spirit 
of Christ" as this practical trust, this committal of our- 
selves to the convictions of our Reason and the monitions 
of our Conscience, identifying them with God who is 
their Source. There are causes connected with the indi- 
vidual mind, and altogether independent of the undue 
influences of society, that render unfailing devotion to 
Truth the most arduous form of the true worship of God, 
causes arising out of the infirmities and even the ten- 
derness of our nature, the surrender of the mind to the 
prejudices of education ; the natural sloth of the intel- 
lect ; and the lingering residency of the affections amid 
the sentiments and images where faith first found a home. 
And society which, alas! is but collective man, with 
all the faults of the individual reduced to system and 
sanctioned by numbers society lashes us in the direc- 
tion of the very tendencies which it ought to restrain, 
and adds the whole weight of its bribes and terrors to 


the difficulties which our own souls present in the spi- 
ritual work of seeking and worshipping God under the 
form of Truth. That tyranny of the imagination which 
in spiritual things fastens upon the mature mind the 
images of childhood ; that sloth of the intellect which 
falls away from the toil of conceiving God, and forfeits 
its filial inheritance of growing access to the Parent 
Light ; and that contraction of the affections which clings 
to the familiar and the known without inquiring whether 
it is the true, and the pure, and the holy, and the lovely, 
these, which are in reality the infirmities of our nature, 
society has exalted into religious virtues of the highest 
order, and lent itself to the pernicious work of consecrat- 
ing our weaknesses before God, by punishing as impiety, 
to the utmost of its power, every attempt to gain new 
light on the subject of Eeligion, to draw deeper water 
from the wells of Christ, and to think freshly of the 
Almighty. So totally has that portion of society which 
deems itself eminently Christian given up all thoiu 
of improvement in the knowledge of Religion, that tho 
very supposition that there is anything to be added to 
their knowledge of God and of Christ is, in their eyes, a 
heresy. This is the radical evil of all dogmatic systems, 
that they sanctify the natural sloth and stagnation of our 
spiritual powers, and that they designedly excite the 
persecution of society against the man who reverently 
lifts his soul to the infinite God, and professes a faith in 
the possibility of new communications from His unex- 
hausted Truth. 


It is indeed most painfully descriptive of the state of 
Krligion in this country, that an act so simple as the 
honest expression of opinion should, by artificial difficul- 
ties, l>p elevated into a rare virtue, that in this respect 
it should still be with the servant as with his Lord, 
and that fidelity to conscience, though not actually led 
to the cross, should yet have its more refined and linger- 
ing martyrdom. It would seem to be the most natural 
of moral occurrences, and certainly not marked with any 
extraordinary merit, that a man should speak as he felt, 
and having in simplicity sought the Truth, should in 
simplicity declare what he had found. But the sectarian 
spirit in society, the spirit of Churches under every form, 
has subjected to the severest temptations that simple 
honesty which would otherwise be a matter of course, 
the unprompted expression of the soul ; so that the 
reverence for Truth which meets unmoved the frowns 
and seductions of that spirit, and pays its single obedi- 
ence to inward conviction, deserves to be signalized, for 
it is rare indeed. Christians, while they profess a great 
regard for the truth of Christianity, have shewn very 
little regard for the only Christian truth a man can know 
anything of truth to himself ; and while they pray that 
he may be led into the Truth, they surround his path 
with every temptation to become a deceiver. AVhy was 
that venerable Confessor for no less he was whose 
worn remains were lately committed to the peaceful 
grave in Liverpool, in the presence of a few, who came to 
honour Truth in a Christian man, and to supply, as far 


as may be, with silent Reverence, the place of long 
familiar Love, why was he, in his own pathetic words, 
in feebleness, in sickness, and in sorrow, " made a beggar 
for kindness "1 In the name of Christian humanity, 
what was there in the mere circumstance of his having 
adopted some of our opinions, to place him exclusively 
within the range of our personal intercourse, and to 
make him a dependent on our sympathies ? We think 
these questions ought to be put, and answered by those 
whom they concern.* Why came he to Liverpool in the 
last stage of worn life to make his home with strangers ? 
Why was he, with that noble heart so formed to love, 
and where he loved to instruct and bless, an almost 
solitary man, over whose head whole days and weeks 
passed in which he had no happiness but what he drew 
from Conscience, and only not alone because his Father 
was with him? Why should that which it was his 
Christian duty to do, be visited with such cruel penalties ? 
Why should a change in his views of objective Truth, 

* The writer of these notices would be doing great injustice to the 
friends of ULANCO WHITE who belong to the Church of England, if he 
produced the impression that their affections were alienated from him by 
his religious opinion*. He has reason to know that their friendship and 
love, and generous care for him, never ceased. He would be understood 
therefore only to speak of the necessities of system, as manifested in the 
facts of Mr. White's change of condition, and separation from former 
friends. These necessities individuals cannot consistently set aside, so 
long as they are identified with the system called Orthodoxy, which limits 
Salvation to those who agree in certain opinions. He rejoices, however, to 
believe that, in this case, there were individuals who wouM forcibly have 
set aside everything but the dictates of inextinguishable love for a revered 


necessitate a change in all the circumstances of his life, 
and in all the daily friendships of his heart? Is this 
the way in which Christians express their reverence for 
Truth, by cruelty punishing every honest expression of 
it ? We speak not of individuals, but of the Spirit of 
Systems. But this is the retributive stab which the 
dogmatism of the intellect inflicts upon the heart. 
Whoever erects himself into a Judge of saving truth, 
withers his own affections for all who refuse his tribunal. 
Those who presume to know God's judgments will act 
accordingly. They will not love those whom God does 
not love. And this is the social spirit of Orthodoxy ! 

And that these are feelings which we do not impute to 
him, but which actually embittered every day and hour 
of the last years of his life, we can produce most affect- 
ing evidence. It appears from his Journal, that on one 
occasion he attended in that humble burying-ground 
where now some of the most honoured of the earth 
repose, brought there by the same desire to pay respect 
to humanity which lately led others to his own grave. 
We will extract the record of his feelings on that occa- 
sion : it will make him known better than the descrip- 
tions of another. 

"Liverpool, January 18, 1837. 

" I am just returned from seeing a Unitarian minister* who 
lived near me laid in his grave. This is the only funeral 
which I have attended during my long residence in England : 
but 1 iVan-d there would be few present, and I wished to 

* The Rev. Mr. Perry. 


shew this mark of respect to the deceased, as well as to my 
new religious connection. I could not prevent my tears falling 
while the coffin was let down. There is indeed much in my 
sensibility which is nervous ; yet a mind so stored with baffled 
affections and regrets as mine, may be excused for its weak- 
ness. My efforts to suppress external marks of feeling are 
indeed very great, but not equal to the intended object. My 
tear, however, was not for the deceased personally, with whom 
I was not at all intimate ; it was for humanity suffering, 
struggling, aspiring, daily perishing and renewed humanity. 
As to the grave, and the descent of the coffin, and the strange 
noise of the sliding ropes these things raise no melancholy 
feelings within me. I know not how soon I shall be laid 
in that same ground for I have desired in my will to be 
buried in Renshaw Street Chapel and the thought of my 
last home came vividly before me. No ! it is not death that 
moves me ; but the contemplation of the rough path, and the 
darkened mental atmosphere, which the human passions and 
interests, disguised as religion, oblige us to tread and cross 
on our way to the grave. What uncharitable, nay, what 
barbarous feelings, under the name of religions fears, would 
the view of the good and, I believe, long-tried man whom we 
committed to the ground, have raised in the bosom of many 
otherwise kind-hearted persons whom I know ! "\Vha,t shock 
would my own presence have given to a multitude of ortho- 
dox persons, who, but for my secession from the Church, 
would proclaim themselves my attached friends ! Is there 
no hope that the notion of Orthodoxy that most deadly 
moral poison for the heart shall be well subdued, if not 
totally conquered, in this country ?" 

And this was not the first time that this spirit had 
cast him, alone and friendless, upon the wide world ; 


his whole life was one continued struggle for Conscience' 
sukr. and slow and weary was the obstructed way by 
which he forced himself forwards from light to light, 
honoured and cherished by each party in turn, as long 
as they conld boast themselves of his name, or make 
use of his reputation, but cast out (reluctantly indeed, 
and only under the necessities of system, but still cast 
out) as soon as, having become familiar with the ground 
they occupied, he saw that it was not co-extensive 
with the Truth of God, and attempted to enlarge its 
boundaries. We use his own words in the preface to 
his latest work : 

"Convinced that it is my duty publicly to dissent from 
some doctrines upon which the Orthodox seem to consider 
themselves as incapable of mistake, (else they would not treat 
those that deny them as guilty of something worse than an 
error of judgment,) I perceived the necessity, and submitted 
to the pain, of quitting the domestic society of a family, whose 
members shewed me an affection seldom bestowed but upon 
a near relative, and whom I love with all the tenderness and 
warmth of a heart which nature has not made either cold or 
insensible to kindness. 

"It is not my intention to court the sympathy of the 
public on the score of what I have had to endure on this 
occasion. I will not complain ; though this is certainly the 
/ time that ORTHODOXY has reduced me to the alter- 
native of dissembling, or renouncing my best external means 
of happiness. But I humbly thank God that the love of 
honosty and veracity which He implanted in my soul, has 
been strengthened, constantly and visibly, from the moment 
that, following its impulse, I quitted my native country. 


From that time to the present a period of five-and-twenty 
years* every day seems to have made rae more and more 
obedient to the principle, not to deceive either by word or 
deed. To countenance externally the profession of what 
int< rualiy I am convinced to be injurious to the preservation 
and proper spread of Christ's true gospel, would be a conduct 
deserving bitter remorse and utter gelf-eontempt" Heresy 
and Ortlwdozy. 

It has been said that there is no sight on which the 
Divine eye rests with such full love as that of a good 
man struggling with difficulties, a true mind seeking 
light We shall aim to present this spectacle as it wits 
with a regard for reality, which here, indeed, we are 
under no temptation to violate ; for in this case, reality 
itself will require the deepest colours of the heart. 

JOSEPH BLANCO WHITE, by birth and education, and, 
for a time, by earnest faith and clerical profession, was a 
Boraan Catholic. Of Irish descent, but a Spaniard 1 >y 
two generations, he was born in Seville, unfortunately 
for him, the most bigoted and ascetic town in Spain ; 
and there, from his tenderest years, he was subjected 
to that monastic discipline, that awful influence over 
the senses and the imagination, by which the Roman 
-'jlic Church usurps the infant mind. The only 
ol'jtci af his parental education was "to make him 
religious in tlx-ir own sense of the word, and in perfect 
deference to th" Priest who directed the conscience of 
the family/ 

* Written in 1305. 


"Of the excellence of my parents' hearts," he says-, "of 
their benevolence, their sincere piety, it is impossible to 
sjn-icl--, ti> highly. Their misfortune and ray own, as i'ar as 
my happiness depended on their influence* was their implicit 
obedience to the system of religion in which they lived and 
died. In accordance with what that system established as 
Christian perfection, they endeavoured to bring- me up consis- 
tently with the models pro-posed by the Church of Rome. By 
keeping me from the company of other children, they imagined 
they could preserve my mind and heart from every conta- 
mination. They thus made me a solitary being during my 
childhood. I vrell recollect how I looked on the children of 
the poor who were playing in the streets, and envied their 
happiness in being allowed to associate with their equals. 
The theoretical part of my religious education was confined 
to the knowledge of the catechism, with theological expla- 
nations in the jargon of school divinity. In such explana- 
tions of mysteries I certainly became an adept for my age. 
The practical part consisted in a perpetual round of devo- 
tional practices, of which I still preserve the most painful 
recollection. I absolutely dreaded the approach of Sunday. 
Early in the morning of that formidable day I was made to 
go with my father to the Dominican Convent, where his 
confessor resided ; afterwards we went to the Cathedral, 
where I had to stand or kneel for hours. Many times did I 
faint through exhaustion, but nothing could save me from a 
similar infliction on the succeeding Sunday. The day ended 
in visiting the wards of a crowded and pestilential hospital, 
where my father, for many years, spent two or three hours of 
the evening in rendering to the sick every kind of service, 
not excluding the most menial and revolting." 

These ascetic practices produced their natural effect 


on a child of excessive sensibility: he was wretched, 
but he was a spiritual captive, helpless iu the hands of 
his directors. At the risk of dwelling too long on these 
early influences, which in the mysterious providence of 
God did not destroy, perhaps irritated into life, the seeds 
of the after freedom of his mind, we must add his own 
most instructive account of his first confession, for the 
sake of the light it throws on the natural elements and 
susceptibilities of his character. 

" The effects of confession upon young minds are, generally, 
unfavourable to their future peace and virtue. It was to 
that practice I owed the first taste of remorse, while yet my 
soul was in a state of infant purity. My fancy had been 
strongly impressed with the awful conditions of the peniten- 
tial law, and the word sacrilege had made me shudder on 
being told that the act of concealing any thought or action, 
the rightfulness of which I suspected, would make me guilty 
of that worst of crimes, and greatly increase my danger of 
everlasting torments. My parents had in this case done no 
more than their duty according to the rules of their Church. 
But though they had succeeded in raising my fear of hell, 
this was, on the other hand, too feeble to overcome a childish 
bash fnl ness, which made the- disclosure of a harmless trifle 
an effort above my strength. 

" The appointed day came at last when I was to wait on 
the confessor. Now wavering, now determined not to be 
guilty of sacrilege, I knelt before the priest, leaving, however, 
in my list of sins, the last place to the hideous offence I 
believe it was a petty larceny committed on a young bml. 
when I came to the dreaded point, shame and confusion 
fell upon me, and the accusation stuck in my throat The 


imaginary guilt of this silence haunted my mind for four 
, "aihi'ring horrors at every successive confession, and 
rising into an appalling spectre when, at the age of twelve, I 
\\as takt'ii to receive the sacrament. In this miserable state 
I continued till, with the advance of reason, I plucked, at 
fourteen, courage enough to unburthen my conscience by a 
general confession of the past. And let it not be supposed 
that mine is a singular case, arising either from morbid 
feeling or the nature of my early education. Few, indeed, 
among the many penitents I have examined, have escaped the 
evils of a similar state ; for what bashfulness does in children, 
is often in after life the immediate effect of that shame by 
which fallen frailty clings still to wounded virtue. The 
necessity of confession, seen at a distance, is lighter than a 
feather in the balance of desire ; while at a subsequent period 
it becomes a punishment on delicacy an instrument to 
blunt the moral sense, by multiplying the subjects of remorse, 
and directing its greatest terrors against imaginary crimes." 
DoUadcts Letters, p. 77. 

There was not originally any strong impulse in his 
own nature leading him to become a Priest, but in a 
country where only the clerical profession have access 
to more than the elements of learning, his insatiable 
desire for intellectual pursuits, after a vain attempt to 
apply himself to commercial life, forced him into the 
Priesthood. Yet, though by nature full of devotional 
sensibility, and easily brought under the dominion of 
mere feelings, he was not made for a devotee, a religious 
slave ; and even in the boy, Reason disturbed the supre- 
macy of blind Faith, and his earliest years of prepara- 
tion, with the irrevocable vows of the Priesthood in the 


distance, were embittered by some faint visitings of that 
fuller light which afterwards arose upon his soul. These 
doubts and disturbances he suppressed, or they were 
suppressed for him, by the usual contrivances of an 
Authoritative Religion ; by ascetic practices, by voluntary 
efforts to reduce himself under the dominion of enthu- 
siastic feelings, and by studiously inflaming the affec- 
tions and the imagination to the extinction of the reason. 
For a time these artificial means prevailed ; knowing 
nothing of Religion under any other form, reared in 
this hot-bed of Roman Catholicism, and stimulated by 
his parents in every way that could subdue an affec- 
tionate heart, he at last took the vows of a Priest. 

" No language," he says, " can do justice to my own feel- 
in^s at the ceremony of ordination, the performance of the 
first mass, and during the interval which elapsed between 
this fever of enthusiasm and the cold scepticism that soon 
followed it. For some months previous to the awful cere- 
mony 1 voluntarily secluded myself from the world, making 
: uiling and meditation the sole employment of my 
tinu-. Ti. Wvf of Saint Ignatius (ascetic practices of 

the most violent kind), which immediately preceded the day 
linatiMii, filled my heart with what appeared to me a 
settled distaste for every worldly pleasure. \Vhm the conse- 
crating rites had been performed when my hands had i 
anointed the sacred vesture, at first folded on my shoul 
let drop around me by the hands of the bishop the sublime 
hyini: ill-Creating Spirit Uttered in .solemn Mr.nn>, and 

the power of restoring sinners to innocence conferred upon 
me when at length raised to the dignity of a 'fell 
with God,' the bishop addressed me in the name of the 


Saviour : linn rt'.irth I call you not servant . . . but I have 
railed you friend ;' I truly felt as if, freed from the material 
part of my being, I belonged to a higher rank of existence. . . . 
hi vain did I exert myself to check exuberance of feelings at 
my iirst mass. My tears bedewed the corporals on which, 
with the eyes of faith, I beheld the disguised lover of mankind 
whom I had drawn from heaven to my hands. These are 
dreams, indeed, the illusions of an over-heated fancy; but 
dreams they are which some of the noblest minds have dreamt 
through life without waking dreams which, while passing 
vividly before the mental eye, must entirely wrap up the soul 
of every one who is neither more nor less than a man." 
J)Mt<lus Lt'tt* /v, p. ]_':. 

" To exercise the privileges of his office for the benefit 
of his fellow-creatures," was now the exclusive purpose 
of his life, and he neglected no means that the Church 
appointed for keeping his mind within its power. But 
tlu: crisis came at last. He has related it himself: 

" When I examine the state of my mind previous to my 
rejecting the Christian faith, I cannot recollect anything in 
it but what is in perfect accordance with that form of religion 
in which I was educated. I revered the Scriptures as the 
Word of God ; but was also persuaded that, without a living, 
infallible interpreter, the Bible was a dead letter, which could 
not convey its meaning with any certainty. I grounded 
therefore my Christian faith upon the infallibility of the 
Church. No Roman Catholic pretends to a better foundation. 
'I believe whatever the Holy Mother Church holds and 
believes,' is the compendious creed of every member of the 
]\<>man communion. Had my doubts affected any particular 
doctrine, I should have clung to the decisions of a Church 



which claims exemption from errors, but my first doubts 
attacked the very basis of Catholicism. I believe that the 
reasoning which shook my faith is not new in the vast field 
of theological controversy. But I protest that, if such be the 
case, the coincidence adds weight to the argument ; for I am 
{x'll'e.ctly certain that it was the spontaneous suggestion of 
my own mind. I thought within myself that the certainty 
of the Roman Catholic faith had no better ground than a 
fallacy of that kind which is called reasoning in a circle ; for 
1 lelieved the infallibility of the Church because the Scrip- 
ture said she was infallible; while I had no better proof 
that the Scripture said so, than the assertion of the Church 
that she could not mistake the Scripture. In vain did I 
endeavour to evade the force of this argument; indeed, I 
still believe it unanswerable. Was, then, Christianity nothing 
but a groundless fabric, the world supported by the elephant, 
the elephant standing on the tortoise ? Such was the con- 
to which I was led by a system which impresses the 
mind with the obscurity and insufficiency of the written 
Word of God. Why should I consult the Scriptures ( My 
only choice was between revelation explained by the Church 
of Rome, and no revelation. Catholics who live in Protestant 
countries may, in spite of the direct tendencies of their sys- 
tems, practically perceive the unreal nature of this dilemma. 
But wherever the religion of Rome reigns, there is but one 
step between it and complete infidelity." .... 

"Ten yearn of my life did I past* in this hot and 
fever, this ague of the heart, without a hope, without a 
of that cordial which cheers the very soul of those who 
sacrilice their desires to their duty under the blessed influence 
of Krli -i-.n. . . Ten years, the best of my life, were passed 
in this insufferable state, when the approach of Buonaparte's 
troop* to Seville enabled me to quit Spain, without exciting 


suspicion as to the real motive ton; me, for ever, from 
e\vr\ tiling 1 loved. I was too well aware of the firmness of 
my resolution, not to endure the most jigoni/ing pain when I 
irrevocably crossed tlie threshold of my father's house, and 
when his bending figure disappeared from my eyes, at the 
first winding of the (luadal([iiivei-, down which I sailed. 
Heaven knows that time has not had power to heal the 
wounds which this separation inflicted on my heart; but 
such was the misery of my mental slavery, that not a shadow 
of regret for my determination to expatriate myself has ever 
exasperated the evils inseparable from the violent step by 
which I obtained my freedom." Poor Man's Preservative; 
anil Internal AV/W, //,v, pp. 9 11. 

His temporary unbelief in Christianity was only the 
necessary result of the view, imprinted by education, 
which identified Revelation with Roman Catholicism. 
AY hen he came to this country he saw Christianity under 
other Conns, not open, as he conceived, to the objections 
that were fatal to Romanism, and his devotional ten- 
dencies, which had never descried him, and had always 
sought a rest, rejoiced to be again under spiritual alle- 
giance to Christ. \Yhat could be more natural than that 
the Church of England, that great opponent, in profes- 
sion, to the radical errors of Popery, should receive the 
first acknowledgments of his reviving faith? It was 
not the doctrines which are considered orthodox that 
had made him doubt of Christianity; but the perse- 
cuting spirit of Popery, which he had supposed to be 
identical with Christianity, and the theory of Chuivh 
Infallibility. He did not then perceive, what he per- 



ceived afterwards, that the Church of England stood in 
fact upon the same foundations, though the ground is 
Munrwliat disguised, that it regards Christianity 
intended to reveal a system of doctrines, belief in which 
is necessary for salvation, whilst it provides no autho- 
rized Judge upon questions of faith, to make it certain 
that its own system of doctrines gives infallibly the con- 
tents of the Revelation. As long as he believed all the 
principal doctrines of the Church of England, he was 
not led to examine this essential weakness in its foun- 
dations ; but the moment his study of the Scriptures 
had shaken his faith in the superstructure, he saw at 
once that it was an imperfect imitation of the Church of 
Rome, demanding, like it, the infallible Truth, but, un- 
like it, not providing the supposed infallible Judge. 
This is admirably explained by himself: 

"Abhorrence of the persecuting spirit which mad 
renounce my native country is, perhaps, the most active sen- 
timent of my heart. It was natural, therefore, that as soon 
as I became acquainted with the most powerful antagonist 
which Popery had ever met, I should cling to it with my 
vhulo heart. The Church of England was to me what I con- 
.. i lights must have been to a Christian slave 
\vhi had eseuped fn>m tin- prisons of Algiers into one of the 
< Mder's galleys. A long experience must have been necessary, 
I.. .tli to myself and the subject of my illustration, to mar 

<-ive that neither of our places of refuge was the dwelling 
of the full liberty we sought But having originally exa- 
mined the Church of Knglaml in its unquestionable character 
of a most powerful opponent of the encroachments of Rome, 


my ryits were too dazzled to perceive the essential defec-t 
her constitution and the narrowness of her toleration, till tin- 
(political) events of the your 1821) disabused me, not without 
ivMstance and pain on my part." Preface, to Heresy ami 

lit- was a convert too remarkable not to be received 
with distinguished favour by the Church of England. 
II'- ruse into rapid celebrity, his writings enjoyed a 
popularity rarely accorded to works chiefly theological, 
the University of Oxford, " in consideration," as it then 
declared, "of his eminent talents and learning, of his 
exemplary conduct, and of those able and well-timed 
publications by which he powerfully exposed the errors 
and corruptions of the Church of Kome," conferred on 
him the degree of Master of Arts by Diploma, and if 
he had not made a solemn resolution, as a test of his 
sincerity, never to accept preferment, it is certain that 
the highest honours were open to him in this country, 
as they had previously been in Spain. 

It is impossible here to trace at length the long 
process by which his mind came to the conclusion, that 
the doctrines of Orthodoxy were not scriptural. That 
process is recorded by himself, and will, I trust, ere 
long see the light.* It was a conclusion that he resisted 
as long as with honesty he could. Influenced by his 
aHt-ctions, and by his desire for assimilation with those 
he loved, he tried every means to keep himself righ- 

* See "The Life of Joseph Blanco White," &c. Edited by John Hamil- 
ton Thorn. 3 vola 1845. 


teously within the Church of England, as he had before 
tried to keep himself righteously within the Church of 
Rome. This struggle between his affections and the 
more advanced views of his mind was the source of some 
of the severest sufferings of his life. He was not a man 
to follow the cold light of the understanding, unstopped 
by the thought of what connections it might loosen, what 
sympathies it might destroy. Those only who saw him 
intimately could believe with what wonderful humility 
so vast a mind made the attempt to conform himself to 
the desires of those he loved. In a life of nearly seventy 
years he took two steps, both of them in the same direc- 
tion, and the interval was filled up by his affections 
contending against the light that was forcing him away 
from those to whom his heart still clung. But neither 
was he a man to make these attempts for ever; enough 
that he paid the tribute to Christian love as long as 
honestly he could; as soon as the failure of all siu-h 
attempts was manifest, lie was prepared to take up his 
cross, and follow Christian Truth. The affections never 
w.-re intended to make man a deceiver; and if Chris- 
tian truth requires painful separations, let those answer 
tor it who create the necessity. 

It would be an insult to his simple and unworldly 
nature to dwell upon so poor a thin*:, as heightening 
his sacrifice, as that from an Archbishop's palace* he 
went forth, a lonely man, to omtentrd obscurity and 

* H had resided with Dr. Whately from the time of his appointment 
to the Archbishopric of Dublin. 


neglect. That the worldly diH'rivnces cost him a struggle, 
is a thought that will not even occur to any one who 
knew him. These were not the vulgar elements over 
which his true soul triumphed. No; it was the dis- 
turbance of friendship and affection that alone made his 
heart sink, and that, not so much for his own suffer- 
ings, as for the deeply-rooted and widely-spread religious 
evils that exact so many bleeding sacrifices. Though 
he never dissembled on religious subjects, yet "he could 
not conceal from himself that his horror of losing the 
affections of those whose hearts had been drawn closely 
to his own, had more than once enabled his feelings to 
disturb his judgment." Arid this was the noble victory 
In* achieved over himself. We find the following entry 
in his private journal, when he saw that no longer could 
he truthfully surrender himself to these forced sym- 

" Sincerely, though inconsiderately, and under the influence 
of unsuspected Popish prejudices favourable to the English 
Establishment, did I join myself to that Church. For more 
than twenty years have I struggled within myself against the 
Crowing objections which, in the course of uninterrupted 
theological studies, I found against her doctrines. But old 
ami infirm as I am, and strongly tempted by the affections of 
those with whom I live in the closest habits of friendship, 
not to break openly with a Church with which they are so 
identified as to have lost their choice of keeping an Unitarian 
as an inmate I feel it my bounden duty to shew, by my 
sufferings, to the world, how injurious to the cause of religion, 
of Christian charity and of hnninnitii itself, that Church 


in must be which makes such sacrifices to the love of 
truth unavoidable to me ; and imposes on them the duty of 
acting towards an unoffending friend a friend whose promise 
of not attempting to proselyte they would certainly trust 
with the reluctant severity which their intimate connection 
with the Church Establishment demands. For the sake of 
opening the eyes of people to the evils of this kind of ortho- 
doxy, I trust in Heaven I should have fortitude enough to go 
to the stake." 

Two days after this record, the step is taken, and he 
lands an utter stranger on the quays of Liverpool, as 
the nearest spot to the friends he had left which the 
sense of duty permitted. Then, when the high resolve 
of faithful conscience had achieved the deed of Duty, the 
exhausted heart, no longer called to act, felt more than 
the bitterness of death. There is something most sad, 
but unspeakably noble, in the first feelings committed 
to his private diary in that town, the temporary sink- 
ing of the spirit when the sacrifice was made, and the 
excitement of high courage no longer needed : 

"Liverpool, January 10, 1835. 

" My whole life has not had moments so bitter as those 
which I have experienced within the last half-hour. 
hau>tc.l by the inconveniences of the sea passage last night, 
I hid inv-'if down and fell asleep for a short time. I aw- .lo- 
in that distracted state which a sudd'-n transition from \ 
t< place frequently occasions. Now every painful circiuu- 

of my present situation crowded upon me, so tl 
could not bear up agai muuish of my heart. The 

whole of what had passed through my mind with such 
*istihle power respecting my duty, appeared like a delusion 


;i dream, with my present misery for all its reality. In this 
I had to write a few lines to those 1 have left, and I 
thought my heart would break. How entirely must I cast 
myself on God's mercy for support ! Has not some martyr, 
when already bound to the stake, been tried by the awful 
impression that he had been brought there by a delusion 1 ? 
Was there not something of this horrible idea in Christ's 
mind, when, having deliberately gone to the garden * which 
Judas knew,' he thought three successive times he might 
possibly have overrated the necessity of drinking the cup 
which he had now close to his lips? may his fortitude 
encourage me, and his spirit strengthen me ! How much 
indeed do I want it !" 

But the true spirit is never long without the encou- 
raging sense of God's presence. Angels came to Christ 
in that garden. And the promise of his Father to those 
who love him and keep his word, was not here unfulfilled. 
They came to him and made their abode with him, and 
never afterwards left him, even for a moment. I find 
the following entry made the next day : 

" I am relieved from that mental distress which oppressed 
me. All my hopes of usefulness have revived. My sense 
of duty is again attended with courage to perform it. My 
heart is full of gratitude to God, the Father of my Lord Jesus 
Christ, for this support in my utmost need. Blessed be his 
name !" 

The rest of his days, a period of more than six years, 
were spent in Liverpool, during which time his bodily 
weakness and ill health obliged him to lead a purely 
mental life, incessantly devoted to the highest depart- 
ments of Thought, rejoicing, whenever an interval of 


strength permitted, in his mental freedom, and in the 
firmer faith into which his soul rose, when his reason was 
relieved from the difficulties that had so long clouded 
his views of God and Christ. 

In his private journal there is the following entry, 
on August 17, 1835: 

" At no period of my life have I enjoyed moments of purer 
happiness than during the present. As soon as that agitating 
struggle . . . was at an end, I began to reap the reward of my 
determination. I am of course subject to attacks of that 
dejecting and distracting indigestion which has the power to 
cast a veil of darkness over nature. But I have learnt to 
distinguish between reality and this peculiar delusion. I 
wait till the cloud has glided off, and am all the while certain 
that sunshine is behind it. But never before had I perceived 
what happiness may be bestowed on man through the mere 
activity of his soul. I had to-day relieved the uneasiness 
and pain to which I am subject ; had dressed myself, and, as 
has been my custom for some time past, had opened my 
window and seated myself in view of the heavens, to collect 
my miml for the daily trilmte of adoration to my Maker. 
The mere act of directing my mind to Him, in the presence 
of his glorious works, filled me with an inexpressible, though 
'til ami rational delight I said to myself, What a 
glorious gilt ronxious existence is in itself! Heaven must 
essentially consist in the absence of whatever disturbs the 
quiet enjoyment <>i that consciousness, in the intimate con- 
viction of the presence of God." 

He has recorded the fact that from the time of his 
acting upon his last convictions, his living faith in God 
and Christ, and his consolations in Religion, were daily 


gaining strength. He had never been in any Dissenting 
place of worship, and having been always told that In- 
rould never bear the coarseness of other Dissenters, and 
the absence of all real devotion with Unitarians, he 
was for a time "afraid that he should be obliged to 
follow Milton's example, and abstain from public wor- 
ship." He came, however, and saw for himself; and for 
the sake of those in the Church (of whom he thought 
there were many) who may suppress their doubts by the 
question, "But wbere shall we go?" his experience ought 
to be made known. These are his words : 

" Oh that it were possible that some of my friends would 
'come and see;' how much their unjust prejudices would be 
softened ! The Unitarian worship stands on ground which 
all Christians hold as sacred. "What strikes me most of all 
is, the reality, the true connection with life, which this worship 
possesses. All that I had practised before, seemed to be in 
a region scarcely within view. It was something which I 
forced myself to go through because I had persuaded myself 
that it would be good for the soul ; yet, like an unintel- 
ligible and partly revolting charm, it only fatigued, but did 
not touch the mind, except here and there when the prayer 
descended from the clouds of theology, and did not adopt the 
slavish language of Eastern devotion. But here the whole 
worship is a part of my real life. ' I pi-ay with my spirit ; 
I pray with my understanding also.' May 1 not say, that 
suffering every hour from the bleeding wounds of my heart 
those wounds that even my friends touch roughly I have 
been already rewarded for acting in conformity with prin- 
ciple 1 I believe my faith in Christ is stronger it has 
more reality it is more a part of my beiug not detached, 


loose, an appendage, hanging on, and almost in the way of 
real life hut, like an articulated limb, adding strength to the 
whole of my moral being." 

He had the strongest sense of the importance of social 
worship as the purest means of keeping alive in the heart 
spiritual sentiments of God and of humanity ; and, when- 
ever his great bodily sufferings permitted, he never omit- 
ted an opportunity of seeking these connections with his 
fellow-men. Not many weeks before his death, he sent 
for the writer of these notices, early on Sunday morning 
and having for days together suffered anguish which 
cannot be described, he said with tears, which he was 
too feeble to restrain, " I wish you to ask for me the 
prayers of your congregation ; I do not doubt the good- 
it my ( ;<>(], nor do I believe that He overlooks me, 
or requires intercession ; but my soul longs for religion ^ 
sympathy, and I wish to feel that I am not separated 
from my fellow-christians, nor deprived of the consola- 
tions I have always found from social prayer." 

The last result of his religious inquiries was the iirn 
laith in the spirit of Christianity as the divine guidi- and 
light of in* n together with the absolute rejection of 
everything of a dogmatic or external nature, as essential 
to the salvation of the soul. And the only correct inn 
required to be passed on his latest published writing 
bring them into more entire conformity with his last 
views of Religion, would be to strike out traces of a 
ventional language, clinging to him from former habit v 
which seemed to recognize other essentials of Christianity 


than the true allegiance of the soul to the spirit of the 
Christ, He had no toleration for the theological habit 
Ming snares for faith ; and Christianity was to him 
tht- religion of life, the acceptance by the heart and 
soul df the moral and spiritual Christ, independently of 
nil (/iH/nia* irhatwiwer. He regarded as decidedly opposed 
to the direct purpose of the Christian mission, the com- 
mon view that any speculative views are necessary to 
salvation. Many of his latest religious connection will 
diirer from him in his views of the essence of Christian- 
ity ; but he revolted from all orthodoxies, wherever they 
might appear ; and having emancipated himself from 
older and more imposing authorities, he was not likely 
to yield himself up to Unitarian standards. Never was 
there a heart more full of moral love for Christ. Never 
was there a Disciple who more truly understood that 

He may justly be regarded as the most distinguished 
convert Uriitarianism ever had, a convert all the more 
honoured for the consistency with which he has taken 
successive steps in the direction of the same fundamental 
principles ; but we should very much mistake him if we 
deemed him one of a class, or that the word Unitarian- 
ism, as expressive of a sect, exactly describes and com- 
passes his mind. He had taken up Unitarian views from 
a new position, and therefore we should expect him to 
carry into them new lights. In truth, it may be signally 
useful to observe what modification our views undergo 
when taken up by minds trained in other schools, and 


removed from some of our narrowing and partial influ- 
ences. We are all in danger of exclusiveness, of the. 
bigotry of maintaining that a subject has no sides, no 
points of view, except those our little experience has 
presented to ourselves. We think too much in masses. 
There is too little of individual investigation and indi- 
vidual opinion. With most men, to determine what sect 
they belong to, gives you their whole confession of faith. 
When you know that they are Churchmen, or Indepen- 
dents, or Baptists, or Unitarians, you know all that is to 
be known about them. There is nothing to distinguish 
the individual from the class. Thus every little party 
lives within its own set of influences, and there is no- 
thing to lead them to a new point of view. We ought 
to be alive therefore, with the expectation of new light, 
whenever a fresh mind looks upon our work from the 
vantage-ground of another position than our own. Cer- 
tainly our \ K \\- can be perfected only by taking them 
from every side ; and since that is impossible to any <f 
us singly, each individual must be invited to throw his 
own rxpmence into the common stock of Truth, and out 
of the whole the view may be completed. We r< 
Mr. White's ] VP spirit too much to claim hii. 

a partisan. Would to God that his catholic mind was 
claimed, as it ought to be, by the whole Church of ( 'In ist : 
He had the most ival and constantly operative belief 
in a guiding and prutrrtinu' I'i\ idcnee, who cares for 
the individual, and shapes the course of events so j; 
tall in with the improvement or the happiness of t 


who seek the leadings of His Spirit. And this faitli in 
a tiod intimately present to the individual is especially 
deserving of mention in a mind of so philosophical a 
character, and that would have revolted from the gross 
human conceptions of special interferences. He derived 
this helief in a Providence never absent ftjgm the indivi- 
dual, ami which was the source to him of unfailing con- 
solation, from the spiritual faith of Christ, that God was 
a Spirit, and that the soul which sought Him was ever 
the sanctuary of the Deity. The last words he was 
heard to utter on the subject of Providence, a few nights 
before his death, were these, "that whatever might be 
the difficulties in the course of this our life, yet in the 
very direction of those difficulties there were circum- 
stances that were more than compensations for any suf- 
ferings that Duty and Principle might bring, and that 
though he had never doubted of Providence, he had seen 
this in his own case more clearly than any treatise had 
ever presented it to him." He had not much patience 
with those philosophical pretensions that aspired to 
clear the subject of Providence of all mysteries. To 
comprehend, in this full measure, the ways of God, he 
thought was nothing less than an attempt to define the 
infinite, to know the Omniscient. He was in the habit 
of saying, " Man must turn to the light within him, aided 
by its developments in Christ, the highest, the purest, 
the best guide he knows. He must follow that light ; 
he must sacrifice his selfish will to the duties which. 
Conscience points out, and, forgetting the dark mystery 


of his existence, use that existence, so that if it depended 
upon him exclusively, the universe would be free from 
evil. Any conduct but this is madness." He believed 
that the material views of God which exist in the com- 
mon mind were the greatest obstructions to true Reli- 
gion, and the real supports of prevailing systems. He 
nourished his own soul on the sublime words of Christ 
to the woman of Samaria: "God is a Spirit: and they 
\vho worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." 
This was his view of the spiritual God : 

' Whenever the ideas of wisdom, order, love, blend together 
into an imageless conception, and that conception draws the 
soul into the Infinite, in an act of longing love after the eter- 
nal Source of our being, how pure, how tranquil, how confi- 
dent is the adoration which the soul performs ! Tears indeed 
suffuse the eyes for the longing itself reminds us of a state 
of suffering, of evil, and of struggle ; but the mind turns back 
to the business and the pains of life full of filial confidence, 
without a thought about acts of propitiation, about practical 
measures of safety against the wrath of the Idol-God of the 
multitude. It i'r-ls assured that life itself under a conscien- 
tious faithfulness to Reason, is the only acceptable s< 
whirh the true, the spiritual God expects from his creatures. 
This is true Faith." 

For a time, after his arrival in Liverpool, he was sup- 
ported by the first feelings of complete mental freedom, 
and by the thought that, by his continued \\ritin_ 
Religion, lie might be useful to mankind ; but \\ hen 
inn-rasing langour and pain took this hope from him, 
ami nothing was left but a life of solitary meditation, an 


earnest desire for death came upon him, to be taken 
away from this world, in which his part was finished, 
lit- had no fear of death. He had no fear of anything 
that was of God's ordaining. And yet he did not approve 
of those definite views of the precise nature of the future 
existence which some regard as the only source of effec- 
tual support. He thought that this partook of a material 
enthusiasm, and proceeded from a want of perfect trust. 
His feeling was, tlutt he could trust a friend though he 
knew not exactly where he was leading him, and that if 
so, he could have no fears with his God. At the com- 
mencement of the last crisis of his illness, when his own 
impression was that he would not survive the day, he 
spoke almost in these words his latest convictions of 
Religion : 

" In the midst of my suffering, all the leading thoughts are 
present with me. I am weak, and therefore my fading!* over- 
power me. I have contributed my mite to the liberty of 
mankind. It is cast into God's treasury. I stand upon a rock. 
God's providence is carried on by the struggles of Reason 
against the passions. I have no doubts. I came from God, 
and I go to Him. There must be an infinite Source of the 
rationality which we know to be in us, and who will receive 
us to Himself." 

For nearly three months he may be said to have been 
in a dying state, through sufferings which even those 
who witnessed could but faintly know, and with a pa- 
tience whose amount God alone can compute. An idea 
of the weakness, of the condition of absolute dependence 



to which he was reduced, is faithfully conveyed in tho 
words of one of his friends, " that even the tear which 
the expression of sympathy, or the heart's silent prayer 
drew from him, had to be wiped away by the hand of 
another." This image, properly taken from the higher 
forms of life, will picture the helplessness that cannot 
be described. To the necessities of' such a condition he 
submitted himself with the gentleness, the humility of a 
child ; but it was with the dignity of a child of God, 
who can receive no degradation from his Father's hands. 
With something of the unassailable greatness of Christ. 
when struck by a rude hand, he endured, as coming from 
God, with perfect simplicity, what without that feeling 
would have been humiliation worse than death. His 
filial faith was that singleness of vision which makes the 
whole being full of light. It was in fact the eye of his 
soul ; he had no other way of looking upon life. It 
seemed to belong to the very essence of his being, and 
not to be liable to the disturbances that proceed from 
the instabilities of feeling. And all pain, all sorrow, has 
but a passing time ; whilst where there is a spirit living 
and shining through them, the resulting fruits of instruc- 
tion, the weight of glory, remain and are eternal. The 
suffering, the long probation, was one of the things that 
are seen and are tem.poral ; himself, the noble spirit is 
with the unseen and eternal. The long watch is closed. 
Tht! chamber of death, which his presence made a spi- 
ritual temple, is silent now ; and "the light which was 
with us for a while" is withdrawn into the heavens. 


Among the last words that he had strength distinctly to 
utter were : " God to me is Jesus, and Jesus is God, of 
course not in the sense of divines/' " When the hour 
.shall come, my soul will be concentrated in the feeling, 

My God, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'" A few 
hours before death, to the friend who was watching by 
him in the early morning, he said with a firm voice, 
" Now I die." The long struggle ended so peacefully 
that the moment of death was not apparent. He died 
on the 20th of May, 1841, at Greenbank, near Liverpool, 
in the house of Mr. Rathbone. 

We have not spoken of his writings ; of his vast intel- 
lectual power ; of his ripe knowledge ; of his imagination, 
so bold and easy, yet ever so instructive and wonderfully 
t rue ; nor of his extraordinary command, the most per- 
fect ever acquired by a foreigner, over all the resources 
of our language ; these will manifest themselves : we 
have preferred to speak of what were the daily sources 
of his mental life and peace, of his affections, of his 
noble simplicity, of the infinite value he attached to 
that sympathy which the world cannot buy, of his 
views of man's discipline, of his childlike rest on God. 
That the struggle between his affections for those who 
could not retain him in communion, and his yet higher 
love for the God of Truth and Light, was the source of 
his chief mental sufferings, and indeed the key to the 
character of his mind, is apparent even from his very 
latest writings. The following truly sublime prayer is 

one of his last compositions : 

. -2 


" thou great Being, who from the dawn of my reason 
didst reveal thyself within my heart, to Thee I may venture 
to speak humbly but freely, in the sanctuary of my soul. It 
is there that I obtain the nearest approach to Thee : there 
alone I know Thee face to face, not in the figure of a man, 
not in the coloured shadows of imagination, but in the truly 
spiritual character of Knowledge, Power, Will, Consciousness. 
Thou hast identified me with Thee ; and yet infinitude lies 
between us. Thus mysteriously united and distinct, a mere 
thought undraws the spiritual veil of the oracle to which 
Thou hast consecrated me a Priest ; I am instantly conscious 
of thy presence. No fire or thunder, no smoke weltering in 
the flames, no sound of the trumpet from the summit of a 
blazing mountain, can so surely attest that nearness. Thy 
* still small voice' penetrates my very essence, and I reverence 
Thee from the mysterious centre where my Being and my 
Nothingness unite. How great, how little I am ! less than 
dust and ashes ; nobler than the morning star by my powers 
of Thought, though not a breath of life is properly my own, 
yet I can confidently pour the workings of my heart into thy 
infinite bosom ; nay, those spiritual workings which I call 
mine seem to proceed from Thee. What, if in passing 
through me they become subject to obscurity and distortion \ 
1 will every moment refer them back to the eternal, immu- 
table Light which is their source, and much of the distortion 
will cease. 

" Nor shall I be deterred because other men tell me that 
these very thoughts are grievous offences in thy si^ht. 
exert my mind under a vehement desire that my thoughts 
may conform with Thine, is the only form of worship in my 
power not unworthy of Thee. Eternal Spirit ! I am thy child : 
t*> trace and to increase in myself a likeness to my Father, is 
bliss unspeakable. This is v.-hai 1 would purchase with ten 


thousand lives : this is that which I have but one way to 
accomplish : a way which Thou didst shew to one, who in 
spite of many imperfections did ardently love Thee, and was 
frequently taught by Thee : I must, ' with open face behold- 
ing as in a glass the glory of the Lord, be changed into the 
same image from glory to glory, as from the Spirit of the 
Lord.' Strange ! that I am invited to approach thy glory 
with open face, and yet my fellow-creatures would abash me 
\vhcn I frankly manifest my thoughts to them! Oh! there 
are spots on this earth, on which were I to declare to men 
what I do not endeavour to disguise before Thee, my life 
would fall a sacrifice to their indignation. Alas ! this weight 
of misery which crushes me while I am slowly and painfully 
recording the thoughts I now address directly to Thee, what 
is it but the result of the treatment I have received from my 
fellow-christians, my fellow-countrymen, my own flesh, my 
dear friends ? They thought Thee too remiss in avenging my 
freedom. Let them, however, be zealous for Thee in the 
manner most opposed to thy dealings with me. Thy internal 
blessings (may I not say external too ?) have been multiplied 
in proportion as I have gained confidence to let my soul appear 
before Thee, without attempting to disguise myself from my- 
self ; in proportion as I became practically convinced that a 
lie can under no circumstances be agreeable to Thee, that man 
cannot serve Thee with a lip.. What I do at this moment is 
the natural and unsought-for result of the growth of my reve- 
n-ntial openness towards Thee. It is delightful to open my 
heart before Thee, Eternal Being ! Men will not bear to 
hear me ; a very few who may have undergone the fiery pre- 
paration through which I have passed, may fearfully listen ; 
and for those I record my meditations. But the madness of 
the mass of zealots is such, that they will not bear another 
man to differ from them. Their pride is fired up at such 


boldness. 'Think like myself or I will make you sufl 
the whole extent of my power.' In spite, God ! of thy 
visible conduct, in spite of that divine forbearance with which 
Thou treatest them when they most differ from thy best 
known attributes, they- proclaim to the world that Thou art 
the most jealous and intolerant of Beings : that Thou wouldst 
turn thy hot anger against every one who doth not punish 
those within his reach whom he chooses to call thine enemy. 
I shall be to them a blasphemer. Ah ! who blasphemes but 
he who calls Thee (0 Fountain of Goodness !) jealous ? No, 
Father ! Thou wilt not be jealous of such a worm as Man. 
Thou wouldst not be jealous if there existed a Lucifer, Son of 
the Morning, to be something like a rival to Thee ! Thy 
goodness would conquer him by Love." 

One word more is due, not indeed to man but, to God 
who knoweth the heart. Neither our veneration, nor 
our love, must make us forget the perfection that God 
requires. The best men, especially, must be tried by 
those holy standards to which their very virtues shew 
their own humanity might aspire. If, then, in that 
noble life there were any of the errors of our human 
frailty, though they left no stains upon the soul, though 
they had their source in no evil feeling, though their 
traces could not be found, yet for erring man we claim 
no perfection except such as contrition and humility of 
soul may give, and whilst we bless our God for the 
goodness and greatness which we felt and knew, we 
leave it to Omniscient Mercy to reckon the deductions. 

We rejoice to say there are memoirs, and materials of 
biography, in which many noble truths are worthily 


ilted, and from which many an instructive 1<- 
may be gallic re* I. The.-,e indeed will ill supply tin* 
living light which is extinguished amongst us. A stan- 
dard-bearer is fallen in our Israel ; and the wisest, the 
noblest, the. tenderest mind amongst us, is with us no 
mure. How poor seems now the love we paid him ' 
H<\v strange seems now our neglect to feed our lumps 
at that lull light! But lately, and the amplest know- 
ledge, the kindest and mightiest aids that one mind can 
give another, were within the reach of any one of us, and 
now the opportunity is gone, and we are left to ourselves. 
Will the warning never reach our hearts: "Yet a little 
while and the light is with you : walk while ye have 
the light, lest the darkness come upon you"? 

Mr. White was interred on Monday, the twenty-fourth 
of May, in the burying-ground attached to Renshuw- 
Street Chapel, Liverpool.* 

The following Address was delivered on the occasion 
by the Rev. James Martineau. 


It is finished. Another term of probation has expired 
Behold, a mortal rests ; a friend is gone ; a spirit retires 
behind the veil ; the lonely takes his shelter within the 

* A Monument, with his portrait in baa-relief, was placed in the Chajel 
by the late Mr. Rathbone, one of whose family he was for the last three 
months of life. J. H. T., 1877. 


upper family of God. How still and peaceful is this 
moment, when the long straggle of life resigns its victim, 
and that deserted frame lies there in silent answer to the 
sufferer's prayer, "O Lord, how long?" The throb of 
pain is felt no more ; the weight of weariness is lifted 
off ; the tension of the tortured will is quite relaxed : 
and of this we will speak with thanksgiving, though 
else it were sad that the patient light of those looks is 
quenched, and the accents of that venerable voice have 
ceased. Not often indeed can the grave bereave the 
world of such a priceless treasure as this : no common 
soul dwelt within that lifeless form : a vast knowledge, 
a rare wisdom, a rich experience, a devout trust, are 
plunged into the unfathomable night, and hidden from 
our eyes : yet here is death a thing divine, " a secret 
place of the Most High," full of mildest protection, a 
cool " shadow of the Almighty " to the fevered and 
afflicted mind. Physical anguish extorts from us here 
a confession, true also in a sublime moral sense, that it 
is more awful to live than to die. How, indeed, can we 
stand here, in the presence of that poor dust, how per- 
ceive the fresh light and breath of morning, and the stir 
of labour, and the looks of living men, and all the eddies 
of our life-stream, flowing and whirling around it in 
vain, without owning that to be is deeper and more 
solemn than not to be ; to be awake with our Free-will, 
than to sleep beneath Necessity ; to be ordered on to 
this mighty theatre of wonder and of duty, than to be 
-iimmoned from it, where the wicked cease from t 


bling, and the weary are at rest. Ours truly is the fearful 
lot, to whom remains the unfinished race, the untouched 
burthen, the yet fierce temptations of life, its ambushed 
conflicts, and its doubtful victory. On us too, as on the. 
faithful who have gone before, may God have pity in 
niir day; and number us with those whose peace is 
sealed, whose rest is sure ! 

Meanwhile, it is a weighty moment when we bid 
adieu to a mind like that which now waves to us the 
mortal farewell. But for the dear prisoner himself, 
emancipated now, we might begrudge that higher world, 
rich already with the accumulated spoils of earth, this 
new treasure from our sphere, where such spirits are all 
too few ; and complain of that law of spiritual attraction, 
by which holy things gather themselves together in this 
universe of God : so that to them who have much, yet 
more is given, and from those who have little, is taken 
away even that which they have. For in the fall of this 
life, it is not any solitary mourner, not any domestic 
group, not any province or any sect, but an era of the 
church and the world, one of whose lights is extin- 
guished, one of whose choice spiritual forces is spent. 
We part from one who has not simply passed through his 
allotted portion of time, but who has truly lived ; sharing 
its most vivid existence, and in contact with its most 
brilliant points, and himself impressing a new form on 
some of its highest interests ; who had gathered most of 
its wisdom, and experienced all its severities ; who con- 
secrated himself to the pure service of Truth, and the 


untiring quest of the living God, with the singleness of 
a great purpose and the dignity of a high faith ; and in 
his fidelity to this vow, passed from exile to honour, and 
from honour back into neglect, with the courage of a 
martyr and the simplicity of Christ. His part is over ; 
his work remains. The meditations of wisdom, and the 
sanctities of conscience cannot perish under the provi- 
dence of God ; and he has left us many a deep and sacn-d 
thought, many an image from his own true soul, lor 
which the world will be happier yet, and the pure light 
of devout and Christian reason, wherein he lived, op n 
over us a deeper heaven than the storm-clouds of fear 
and superstition now permit us to behold. While the 
labours of his mind still survive, to share the noble strife 
through which all things great and good must pass to 
their triumph in this world, he is gone where no error 
can mislead, no falsehood prevail, no tempest of deluded 

'ii beat upon the good. 

Our departed friend here lays down a life of thought 
and su/ering, rather than of action. Such a life we in- 
stinctively conceive to be in spiritual sympathy with 
heaven ; and the belief attests the natural feeling of all 
men, that, tin* inward spirit has a divine ascendancy over 
tin- outward forms of existence. We part from one who 
dwelt indeed within our days, but was not limited to 
tlifir range; who had collected the thoughts of every 
age, and lived in communion with all genei \ the 

wise. Belonging to no time, he comes before our con- 
ceptions as ripe for eternity : the wisdom from above 

JOSK1M! I'.LANW Will xliii 

but return honu> when it goes thither. He has but 
joined the great and holy with whom he has long been 
familiar, and entered the mild converse with immortals, 
long studied in exile here. He is gone to that Messiah 
whose mind he so well understood, and so simply obeyed ; 
gone to the closer embrace of that Infinite Spirit, within 
whose Fatherhood he reposed like a suffering and trust- 
ful child. And though his mortal remains rest not in 
the tombs of his fathers, but in a foreign clime ; yet all 
lands are near alike to heaven, and the pure spirit is 
nowhere alien in the universe of God. Let us, then, 
consign these relics with faith and reverence to the earth ; 
in hope to meet their departed spirit, when we shall 
have crossed the gulf of silence, and reached the sphere 
where doubts shall be resolved, and the mystic secret 
opened, and the tears of mortal grief for ever wiped 



Night and Death. 

Mysterious Night ! when our first Parent knew 
Thee, from Report divine, and heard thy 
Did he not tremble for this lovely Frame, 

This glorious Canopy of Light and Blue ? 

Yet 'neath a Curtain of translucent Dew, 

Bathed in the rays of the great setting Flame, 
Hesperus with the Host of Heaven came, 

And lo ! Creation widened in Man's view. 

Who could have thought such Darkness lay concealed 
Within thy beams, Sun ! or who could find, 

Whilst Fly, and Leaf, and Insect stood revealed, 
That to such Countless Orbs thou mad'st us blind ! 

Why do we, then, shun Death with anxious Strife? 

If Li^ht ran thus <1< -cive, wherefore not Life? 






IF, when the work to which I now have the honour 
of prefixing your name first appeared, I had possessed 
my present full knowledge of you, I should not have to 
regret that the token of respect and esteem I now offer 
you has not the attraction of novelty to recommend it 
Yet I can enjoy the satisfaction that, since a second 
edition of this work has long been called for, I am not. 
attaching your name to an ephemeral pamphlet, I do 
not feel, however, the slightest touch of vanity in allud- 
ing to the favour hitherto shewn to this small treatise ; 
for, being perfectly aware of the cause of my success, I 
cannot be proud of it. 

I know that the only advantage I possess in treating 
the subject of Heresy and Orthodoxy, is my own long 
and painful experience in religious matters ; an expe- 
rience which has been obtained on the indispensable 


condition of all progress the commission of mistakes, 
and the painful operation of retrieving them. 

Another excuse for the liberty I take in this dedi- 
cation is, that but for you, my Unitarian friends of 
Liverpool, this second edition would have been delayed 
for an indefinite period. It was my desire that the re- 
appearance of this work should not take place till after 
my death an event which, as it must be known to most, 
if not all of you, has been more or less immediately 
expected during a distressing illness, which will soon l>c 
of two years' continuance. In the expectation of my 
final deliverance from suffering, I finished, on the 27th 
of October, 1837, the revisal of a copy which I commit- 
ted to the hands of a dear friend, one of your Gospel 
Ministers. In those faithful hands it would have re- 
mained, together with my Autobiography a work which 
must be posthumous had it not been for the strange 
attack which certain clergymen of this town, urged by 
the bitter zeal inseparable from the notion of Ortlnul 
thought it, no doubt, their duty to make upon all Uni- 
tarians. A challenge appeared in the journals of Li 
pool, in which it was declared that we are out of tin- 
pale of Christianity ; that our thtdn^Kal opinions must 
be the result of gross ignorance or dishonesty- 
of both; with many other insults, couched in the lan- 
guage of professional sanctity. Thus 1'nitari 


devoted, to the utmost extent of the accusers' influence 
and weight, to the mixed execration and contempt of 
the public. 

The nature and practical consequences of an enthusi- 
astic sense of personal infallibility are too familiar to me 
that I should feel more than a transient pang whenever 
a fresh instance of this kind of persecution presents 
itself. I confess that the proclamation of the Liverpool 
crusade had no other effect when it reached my secluded 
sick chamber : my first wish was, that the spiritual 
champions should have the field to themselves ; that 
they might enjoy their imaginary triumph among a 
crowd of predetermined admirers, an audience ready to 
subscribe to whatever their preachers might be willing 
to assert. I was sure that, in similar cases, the whole 
travail of the mountain will end in a declamatory repe- 
tition of arguments which have been thousands of times 
proposed, and as many times answered. I felt confident 
that none of the Unitarians who have taken pains to 
examine their own religious principles could be taken 
by surprise ; that the clear and rational doctrines to 
which they have been long accustomed, would not be 
shaken by the dizzy mysticisms or the hollow meta- 
physics of our adversaries. 

Our religious ministers, however, judging more deli- 
berately and maturely than iny circumstances demanded 



of me, resolved to accept the challenge, though, with 
great good taste, they declined the proposed exhibition 
of controversial pugilism upon a platform. 

With the general result of this determination I believe 
you may be highly satisfied On our side, productions 
have appeared, which, though written on the spur of the 
moment, shew a vitality of intellect, a logical power, an 
acquaintance with the philosophy of mankind (the only 
sound basis of theological knowledge), a familiarity with 
early ecclesiastical history, a power of eloquence, a dig- 
nity, an unflinching honesty, a command of temper 
under insults, which may justly make us proud of our 
leading religious instructors. There may be no accession 
to our numbers : converts to Unitarianism are not easily 
made; for Unitarianism must be the result of matim* 
reflection, deliberate study, and strength above all, 
that trust in a deliberate judgment which constitutes 
strength of character : proselytes only flock where the 
mass of mankind will always rush to the various forms 
of religion which excite the imagination, appeal to the 
selfish passion of fear, and chime with the vulgar im- 
pressions concerning spiritual things, which are almost 
universally made the ground of infant education. I in 
tarianism does not court proselytes ; on the contrary, if 
any persons suffering incurably from that mental weak- 
ness which requires the support of a Priesthood should 


union" us, 1 am sure that all true Unitarians would 

O * 

In- most j^lud to see them occupying their natural station 
at the feet of their proper Gamaliels. 

Having had time to reflect on the character of the 
Sermons which, to judge from the noise and pomp of 
their first announcement, were intended to crush Uni- 
tarianism for ever, I cannot but be convinced that they 
have done more for our peculiar belief than even the 
admirable answers with which they have been met. I 
do not intend to write a review of that heterogeneous 
collection, both because such a review would require a 
large volume, and because the individual compositions 
cannot be classed so as to admit of a general estimate. 
Some are full of tricks unworthy of the place whence 
they were delivered ; others are miserably weak, but re- 
spectable ; in one or two there appears a steady and not 
uninformed mind, which is betrayed by and sinks under 
an untenable proposition ! Only one is intended to 
dazzle by a display of Greek criticism ; but it happens 
to be quite irrelevant to the question. It has so tho- 
roughly the air of an old self-inflicted Long- Vacation 
task, that 1 am strongly tempted to think that the 
Liverpool crusade may have been got up for the purpose 
of giving an air of seasonableness to a lucubration which 
had been born totally after its time that is, about 
thirty years later than the actual state of things might 


have excused it. With Unitarianisrn in general it cer- 
tainly has nothing to do, however at a former period 
it might have affected the scholarship and tenets of the 
late Mr. Belsham. English Unitarians must smile at 
the obstinacy with which the "Improved Version" has 
been identified with them and their opinions. The 
preposterous character of this identification I can prove 
in my own case. It is about twenty years since, being 
full of doubts on the doctrines of the Trinity, I examined 
the "Improved Version," was dissatisfied with it, and 
put it aside. But a daily study of the original New 
Testament, continued for a long period, ended in making 
me a Unitarian, and completed my mental emancipation. 
I thank God for it. 

I repeat my conviction that the Unitarians, not only 
in this town, but wherever the controversial Sermons, 
and more especially the Letters of the challengers, may 
be read, must eventually gain by this otherwise odious 
contest. Through the warning impression which the 
narrow and unsocial spirit of Orthodoxy will make upon 
them, they will perceive the necessity of utterly eradi- 
cating whatever remnants of that spirit may lie disguised 
in their hearts. There are many who profess Unitarian- 
ism under the false notion that the rejection of the 
doctrines concerning the Trinity is the last legitimate 
result of that mental impulse which led their ancestors 


to tin- I'nitariun system. Great intolerance may lurk 
uhdrr tliis mistake. The rejection of the Trinity is but 
one of the more advanced consequences of the Protestant 
principle the asserted right of private judgment with- 
out which the Reformation would be only an impious 
rebellion. Whoever among us shall say, " We have done 
i-nough ; we must not look beyond the point at which 
our predecessors stopped," renounces every title to 
mental freedom, and cannot consistently remain out of 
a regularly articled Church ; nay, he is bound to join 
I will not say, the only true Church, but the only Church 
which is a Church truly, the only Church which really 
answers to the fundamental point of the deceitful theory. 
All other Churches are lame imitations of the Roman 
Catholic Church : that most surprising instance of per- 
fect consistency in error. Let us not be deceived : any 
church or congregation whatever, whose members believe 
that Christianity necessarily consists in the admission of 
certain facts or doctrines as immediately received from 
Hod, and in no degree partaking of human uncertainty, 
any one who makes eternal happiness depend upon 
the unhesitating acceptance of something called revela- 
tion, and as such miraculously exempted from every one 
of those grounds of doubt which are inseparable from 
historical narratives and inferential doctrines, any one 
who believes this, is rationally bound to seek fora living 


oracle ; for without such a supernatural judge his system 
of saving faith is a mere fallacy. 

The common plague of the Christian world is the 
wish to find a source of absolute certainty ; in a word, 
Orthodoxy. There cannot he peace among Christians 
till the hollowness of all pretensions to supernatural 
certainty shall be fully exposed. Unitarians are cer- 
tainly the nearest to a full insight into that pernicious 
mistake ; but although the premises of the desired con- 
clusion are almost self-evident, I cannot feel confident 
that the conclusion itself is general amongst us. It is, 
I conceive, opposed by a confused notion that the admis- 
sion of the fact, that neither the authenticity of the 
Scriptures, nor the purity of the text, nor much less the 
sense of difficult passages, can be known beyond all 
doubt, leads necessarily to the rejection of Christianity. 
If this were true, the dreaded consequence would be 
inevitable. In vain have divines exerted their ingenuity 
to invent a theory for the transmission of divine truth 
to man, in which the first link of the chain let down 
from heaven to earth should be free from man's weak- 
ness. In every such attempt they have closed their 
eyes to the facts 1st, that a divine revelation made in 
human language must contract all the imperfections of 
that vehicle that when the word of God passes through 
the words of man, it must necessarily borome human : 


2nd, that all historical attestation is subject to the doubts 
from which human witnesses and human documents 
cannot be exempt. The probabilities may be high in 
their favour ; but they cannofe rise above the rank of 
probabilities. In vain are we referred to miracles con- 
tained in books ; for the probability of the miracles 
depends upon the probable authenticity of the books, 
and the probable sufficiency of the witnesses. Unless 
the books themselves had the perpetual power of per- 
forming miracles, their testimony, however valuable, 
must be human. These are the established laws of 
God ; such is the nature which God has given to testi- 
mony, and to the minds which testimony has to influ- 
ence. Divines have seldom or never examined these 
laws attentively ; and hence the mistake of applying the 
supernatural remedy against doubt, in the wrong place. 
In my work on Heresy and Orthodoxy, I have con- 
ducted my argument in total independence from the 
question on Infallibility and Inspiration. I have exa- 
mined the New Testament in the usual light, and have 
shewn that it does not make Christianity depend on 
Orthodoxy. I have even noticed one or two of the 
incidental passages which, interpreted according to the 
deep-rooted intolerant habits of Christians, seem to 
demand a profession of articles of faith. In strict con- 
formity with the true rules of intorprotation, I should 


not have gone into these details. If a creed were of the 
essence of Christianity, such an important fact would 
not be consigned to one or two straggling allusions. I 
say the same of that Inspiration which is made the 
ground of infallibility in the writers of the Old and the 
New Testament. If these were PACTS, they would be 
the very basis of the religion of the Christ ; and, as such, 
would stand prominent, clear, unquestionable. Such 
things could not be left to INFERENCE, much less to in- 
cidental allusions. Whoever wishes to escape from the 
meshes of the minute and hair-splitting interpretation 
which prevails in England, must fully imbibe the spirit 
of the principle I have just laid down. Those miserable 
battles of texts against texts, so common in English 
controversy, make theology almost ridiculous. 

As I am not acquainted with any popular book upon 
this most important subject of Orthodoxy and its rival, 
Heresy, I have thought it advisable to enable all in- 
quirers into religious truth, and especially you, my 
Liverpool friends, whose peace of mind has been as- 
sailed by a zeal not according to judgment, to make use 
of the results of my long meditations and my dear-bought 
experience concerning the source of this hot and ungo- 
vernable intolerance. Nothing but a heartfelt desire 
of being serviceable to the cause of religious freedom 
could have induced me, in my present deplorable state 


of health, to undertake the labour of a second revision, 
during which I have considerably corrected and enlarged 
the present treatise. May God prosper my endeavours ! 
Accept, in conclusion, the friendly offering of my 
exertions, and charitably excuse the many faults to 
which extreme bodily weakness exposes me. I shall, 
at all events, enjoy the satisfaction of having publicly 
and solemnly attested the high respect and esteem which 
I feel for you in a body, and the gratitude and affection 
with which I regard several Unitarians of Liverpool, 
with whom it is my great happiness to have established 
a personal friendship. 

I am, 
My highly respected Friends, 

Your Servant and Brother, 

Liverpool, March 29M, 1839. 

P.S. As the date of the preceding letter may appear 
inconsistent with the collective judgment I have ex- 
pressed in it, of the discourses both of our friends and 
adversaries (for many of them were published at a sub- 
sequent period), I am bound to explain this fact It 
should be known that my corrected copy was sent to 
London for publication at the beginning of last April ; 
but, without any fault of mine, the printing has been 


delayed many months. This unexpected delay having, 
however, given me the opportunity of seeing both the 
series of the contending Lectures, I have altered the 
passage in which I stated my judgment only concerning 
that portion which had appeared by the end of last 
March. J. B. W. 

Liverpool, October llth, 1839. 


THE publication of the following Letters has been 
prepared by a most painful sacrifice of happiness on the 
part of the writer. Convinced that it is my duty pub- 
licly to dissent from some doctrines upon which the 
Orthodox seem to consider themselves as incapable of 
mistake (else they would not treat those that deny them 
as guilty of something worse than an error of judgment), 
I perceived the necessity and submitted to the pain of 
quitting the domestic society of a family, whose mem- 
bers shewed me an affection seldom bestowed but upon 
a near relative, and whom I love with all the tenderness 
and warmth of a heart which nature has not made either 
cold or insensible to kindness. 

It is not my intention to court the sympathy of the 
public on the score of what I have had to endure on this 
occasion. I will .not complain ; though this is certainly 
the second time that ORTHODOXY has reduced me to the 
alternative of dissembling, or renouncing my best ex- 
ternal means of happiness. But I humbly thank God, 
that the love of honesty and veracity which He im- 
planted in my soul has been strengthened, constantly 
and visibly, from the moment that, following its impulsr, 


I quitted my native country. From that time to the 
present, a period of five-and -twenty years, every day 
seems to have made me more and more obedient to the 
principle, not to deceive either by word or deed. To coun- 
tenance externally the profession of what internally I am 
convinced to be injurious to the preservation and further 
spread of Christ's true Gospel, would be a conduct de- 
serving bitter remorse and utter self-contempt. 

It has been urged by persons whom I believe inca- 
pable of recommending dissimulation, and who have 
besides expressly acknowledged to me the duty of obey- 
ing conscience, that the step I had resolved to take 
would destroy what, in the language of partial affection, 
they called my former usefulness. I can easily explain 
to myself this suggestion, from the nature of that reli- 
gious belief which, being chiefly or in a great degree 
supported by fear of a great sin, supposed to be attached 
to certain heresies (as they are called), prevents even the 
ablest men from going through a free and impartial 
examination of those subjects. As if it were incredible 
that any reasonable man could give his assent to such 
theological views, my excellent and kind advisers seem 
to have believed me under some mental delusion ; else 
they would not have urged motives which ought not t- 
have the least weight against conviction. 

Unconscious, however, as I am of anything like delu- 
sion, but, on the contrary, enjoying the full and C 

faction which an evidence, long resisted by mere 
FEELING, is apt to produce when the mind honestly sur- 


renders itself to its power, I feel no anxiety about con- 
sequences. I commit my past services in the cause of 
Truth (whatever they may be) to the care of that Provi- 
dence, which, if in fact I have been useful, must have 
mi ployed me, though an humble instrument. Of conse- 
<l unices we are very incompetent judges: on principles 
alone can we depend with confidence and certainty. If 
the consideration of usefulness could be allowed in my 
case, SPAIN, my native country, would long, long since, 
have had my services. But dissembling, whether in 
deference to Transubstantiation or the Athanasian Creed, 
is equally hateful to me. 

Yet, why any real good of which I may have been the 
occasion should be destroyed by a fresh proof of my love 
of honesty and fair dealing, is what I cannot conceive. 
If anything could invalidate or weaken the force of my 
testimony in regard to the corruptions of Popery, it 
would be my SILENCE in favour of what I deem other 
corruptions. The great Chillingworth would have added 
weight to his unrivalled works if he had not permitted 
his subscription to the Thirty- nine Articles to remain in 
full force, when neither his judgment could approve of 
it, nor his natural honesty conceal his change. As to 
myself, I have not enjoyed any of the temporal advan- 
t.i^es of Orthodoxy ; and it is well attested that, at a 
time when I might conscientiously have taken prefer- 
ment, I solemnly resolved never to accept it. But, 
having subscribed to the Articles for the mere purpose 
of qualifying myself for the occasional performance of 


clerical duties, I feel bound modestly to recall that sub- 
scription before my death, and to declare that I am 
satisfactorily convinced not only that the DOCTRINI 
THE TRINITY is not scriptural, but also that the whol^ 
Patristical theology, which makes up the greatest part 
of the Thirty-nine Articles, consists of groundless specu- 
lations which could never have obtained currency ainoiiir 
Christians without the aid of a false philosophy. I pr>- 
fess Christianity as a UNITARIAN; acknowledging < )M: 
GOD IN ONE PERSON, and Jesus of Nazareth as my guide 
to his Father and my Father, his God and my God. 

In announcing such changes of views, it is usual to 
state how they have taken place. To describe, however, 
the circumstances of my case fully, would require a work 
much larger than the tract which affords me the oppor- 
tunity of making my sentiments known. Such an un- 
dertaking is quite beyond my present strength. Ho\v 
long, how earnestly, and I may add (for who except < lol 
can know it better than myself?) how conscientiously, I 
have examined the whole Patristical theology, of which 
the Articles of the Church of England are a summary, 
will be known, in detail, when the SKETCH OF MY MINI* 
IN KNGLAND may happen to see the light. Out of resj 
however, to such persons as may take an interest in the 
subject, I will mention (1) That my doubts of Un- 
truth of the established views began with the systematic 
and devout study of the Scriptures which I under 
in 1814, when, free from the literary engagements which 
in the service of England as well as of my native country 

.ACE. Ixiii 

huil occupied me during the four preceding years, I re- 
moved to Oxford, for the exclusive purpose of devoting 
m \ self to theology. In the year 1818 (as it may be dis- 
tinctly proved by the journals I kept at that time, and 
\vhich are still in my possession), I arrived at the Uni- 
tarian view of Christianity ; but the perfect obscurity in 
which I was living, and the consideration that I had not 
then published anything, except in Spanish, appeared to 
me a sufficient ground for not making a public avowal 
of my conviction. (2) Having, till about 1824, con- 
tinued in that state, and, in spite of difficulties resulting 
from the notion of Orthodoxy, faithfully attached to 
Christianity, a revival of my early mental habits and of 
those devotional sentiments which are inseparably con- 
nected with the idea of intellectual surrender to some 
church, induced me again to acquiesce in the established 
doctrines not from conviction, not by the discovery of 
sounder proofs than those which I had found insuffi- 
cient, but chiefly by the power of that sympathy which 
tends to assimilation with those we love and respect. 
To an excess of that tendency, opposed by the unyield- 
ing temper of my understanding, I trace some of my 
most severe moral sufferings. Nevertheless, I have 
muse to rejoice when I consider that since my present 
ronvictions have had to struggle for many years against 
that weakness of my heart, since they have triumphed 
over it, not only in the most perfect absence of all 
acquaintance with any Unitarians, but while I was sur- 
rounded by the most devout believers in the divinity of 


Christ the reasons which have moved me cannot have 
derived any assistance from personal affection and par- 
tiality. But to proceed : not long after my strong attach- 
ment to many orthodox and highly religious persons had 
roused and given full sway to my deeply-seated habits 
of attachment to a church (habits which, when it is 
remembered that from the age of fourteen I belonged to 
the most compact and best-organized body of clergy 
which ever existed, must be found quite natural), my 
reason resumed its operations against the system which 
I had thus wilfully re-embraced ; and my mental anxiety, 
growing every day more intolerable, brought on the most 
severe aggravation of my long and painful disease that I 
ever experienced. 

I had not yet at that time settled to my entire satis- 
faction the important point which forms the subject of 
the following Letters. I had long been convinced that 
most of the questions which so hopelessly divide the 
Church of Christ are not essential to Christianity. I 
knew that the distinction between essential and non- 
essential articles of faith must be arbitrary, since there 
is no certain rule to distinguish them. But I had not 
fully made the application of the fact the absence of a 
rule not subject to rational doubt nor found, as I did 
soon after, that the absence of a rule of dogmatic faith is 
in perfect conformity with the tenour and spirit of tin- 
New Testament. As I had not yet obtained this convic- 
tion, and was not indifferent about my duty to God, I 
could not but feel distressed, when, still under a remnant 

PRE1 l.XV 

of those early impressions of identity between saving 
faith and riyht opinion*, I found my Orthodoxy crum- 
bling to dust, day by day. I may add, with perfect 
truth, that my distress was increased by my real attach- 
ment to the Church of England, from which I feared I 
should find it necessary to separate myself. Nor is it 
difficult to explain the source of that attachment. 

Abhorrence of the persecuting spirit which made me 
renounce my native country is, perhaps, the most active 
sentiment of my heart. It was natural, therefore, that as 
soon as I became acquainted with the most powerful 
antagonist which Popery had ever met, I should cling 
to it with my whole heart The Church of England was 
to me what I conceive the Maltese knights must have 
been to a Christian slave who had escaped from the 
prisons of Algiers into one of the Order's galleys. A 
long experience must have been necessary, both to 
myself and the subject of my illustration, to make us 
perceive that neither of our places of refuge was the 
dwelling of the full liberty we sought. But having 
originally examined the Church of England in its un- 
questionable character of a most powerful opponent of 
the encroachments of Home, my eyes were too dazzled 
to perceive the essential defects of her constitution and 
the narrowness of her toleration, till the events of the 
yi-ar 1829 disabused me, not without resistance and 
pain on my part. 

The last fact I shall state is, that in my anxiety to 
avoid a separation from the Church by the deliberate 


surrender of my mind to my old Unitarian convictions, 
I took refuge in a modification of the Sabellian theory, 
and availed myself of the moral unity which I believe 
to exist between God the Father and Christ, joined to 
the consideration that Christ is called in the New Testa- 
ment the Image of God, and addressed my prayers to 
God as appearing in that image. I left nothing untried 
to cultivate and encourage this feeling by devotional 
means. But such efforts of mere feeling (and I confess 
with shame their frequency on my part for the sake of 
what seemed most religious) were always vain and fruit- 
less. Sooner or later my reason has not only frustrated, 
but punished them. In the last-mentioned instance, the 
devout contrivance would not bear examination. Sabel- 
lianism is only Unitarianism disguised in words ; and 
as for the worship of an image in its absence, the idea is 
most unsatisfactory. In this state, however, I passed 
five or six years ; but the return to the clear and definite 
Unitarianism in which I had formerly been, was as easy 
as it was natural. An almost accidental (if the result 
had been to make me a Trinitarian, most people would 
call it providential) correspondence with a gentleman 
(then personally unknown to me, and whom subse- 
quently I have seen but once) who had some years aim 
resigned his preferment to profess himself a Unitarian, 
took place during part of last summer and part of ih 
ensuing winter.* This was the occasion of my becoming 

* The gentleman whose correspondence with me daring the last months 
of my residence in Dublin, at the end of 1834, moved me to declare myself 

run Ixvii 

aware of tlio flimsincss of the veil wliich had long some- 
what concealed from me the real state of my religious 
belief. This flimsy veil once torn, I had no diilicult 
ia of theology to examine: they had all been 
settled before. Whether I was to continue apparently a 
member of the Establishment, was a point on which I 
could not hesitate a moment. For the greatest part of 
more than twenty years, I had employed all my powers 
in a manner hardly justifiable except on enthusiastic 
principles, with the object of continuing in the Church. 
My only excuse for this must be found in the religious 
habits which I deeply imbibed in youth. I do not 
lutely reproach myself for having so long indulged 
the disinterested sympathies which made me linger in 
connection with the Church, when my understanding 
had fully rejected her principal doctrines : at all events, 
I derive from that fact the satisfaction of being assured 
that, far from having embraced Unitarianism in haste, 
the only fault of wliich I cannot clear myself is that of 
reluctance and dilatoriness to follow my conviction in 
its favour. 

As the long and close friendship which I have had 
with many distinguished members of the clergy is gene- 
rally known, I must add, in justice to them all, that 
their inlluence over me has uniformly acted against the 
meiit of the views I profess. Without exception, 

a Unitarian, is the Rev. George Armstrong, now a Unitarian minister in 
!. I had the satisfaction of seeing him once more since the publica- 
tion of this Preface. Xote written in March, 

Ixviii PREFACE. 

all and every one of them are, to my knowledge, con- 
scientious believers in the divinity of Christ. It might 
be supposed that I had discussed with those nearest to 
me the subjects which so long and so fully have occu- 
pied iny mind. But it is not so. It may be a fault in 
me, but I have always disliked consultation as a means 
of deciding questions respecting which all, whatever can 
be said for either side, is within the reach of every one. 
Discussion upon such points appears to me the most 
unlikely method of satisfying oneself. Argumentative 
discussion on the divinity of Christ is particularly apt 
to allure the mind into the snares of verbal criticism 
concerning individual passages. That subject, on the 
contrary, should be settled by means of the coll. 
impression conveyed by the writings of the New Testa- 
ment ; preceded, however, by a careful examination of 
the preconceived notions by which education has pre- 
pared us all to attach the orthodox meaning to certain 
leading words and phrases of Scripture. This is the 
great difficulty. "We are brought up under the most 
deliberate party prejudices, sanctioned by the most awful 
spiritual fears. Unless, therefore, our first care is to 
examine the real worth of those be unassisted 

reading of the Scriptures must mislead us. To refer a 
Trinitarian in doubt to the Scriptures : is, indeed, 

a great air of candour ; but if the person thus 
that supreme but mute authority has been most assidu- 
ously taught to understand it only in one sense, and 
kept in perfect ignorance of all that has and may be 


said to prove that sense erroneous, his mental associa- 
tions leave him no choice : it is like inviting a man to 
venture his all upon dice which have heen previously 

ed, and shaming him, on the score of impartiality, 
from listening to those who engage to shew him where 
the trick lies. Nevertheless, in my own case, I solemnly 
declare that I employed no Unitarian works to counter- 
balance the prejudices of my education. I never read 
any defence of Unitarianism, till, in 1818, the study of 
the New Testament alone had made me a Unitarian. 

I trust I may still venture to add a few words respect- 
ing what I have experienced and observed since I fairly 
and honestly began to act in full conformity with my 
conviction. Having never before been in any Dissenting 
place of worship whatever, and conceiving from what I 
had heard that the absence of a regular Liturgy in all, 
and that of real devotion in those of Unitarians, made 
them quite offensive to persons accustomed to the 
Church service, I strongly feared I should be obliged to 
follow Milton's example, and abstain from public wor- 
ship. Wishing, however, to satisfy myself by personal 

i vat ion, I went, soon after my arrival in this town 
of Liverpool, to one of the Unitarian chapels. The effect 
which the service produced upon me was recorded in 
my private journal as soon as 1 returned to my lodgings ; 
hut the passage is too long to be inserted here. Suttiee 
it to declare, as 1 do in the most solemn manner, that I 
never enjoyed a more devout and sublime impression 
than 1 received there. My almost constantly repeated 


attendance has not weakened the effect of the truly 
sublime Unitarian worship with which I have become 
acquainted. I have since attended divine worship in 
another chapel of the same denomination ; and the 
original impression has been confirmed. Sunday, which, 
owing to the constant struggle of my mind at church, 
and the frequent internal rejection of passages in the 
Liturgy, was formerly to me a day of pain and suffering, 
is now one of enjoyment. The admirable combination 
of beautiful hymns with prayers no less beautiful, and 
a sermon in which I have hitherto never failed to find 
instruction and support to my religious feelings, all con- 
tribute to make me enjoy the service of the Lord's-* lav. 
I must add, that I have never joined congregations in 
which attention and devotion were more visible in all, 
including the numerous charity children who attend the 
service. It is a great misfortune that the spirit of 
Orthodoxy stands like " a great gulf fixed " betv 
Churchmen and Unitarians. Could impartial good men 
" come and see," though they might remain attached to 
their opinions, they would be certainly delivered from a 
multitude of most uncharitable prejudices. 

I conclude by protesting against the supposition that 
the following little work is intended as a defence of 
Unitarianism. In it I certainly make use of my Unita- 
rian views for argument and illustration ; but I do that 
incidentally, and almost exclusively, in the last L< 
Unitariauism is not in want of any new defence : nor 
would I waste my time in entering upon a quo.- 

I'HKK.M i:. 

through which every one may find his way, provided In; 
chooses to examine candidly what is already within the 
reach !' every one: I shall not, therefore, consider my- 
self bound to answer any anti-Unitarian observations 
which may be directed against me. I do not fear that 
my declining a controversy, for which my constant ill 
health particularly unfits me, may injure the cause of 
I'liituriunism. I beg leave to refer any champion of 
Orthodoxy who may be inclined to stand in defence of 
the Athaiiasian doctrine, to try what he can do against 
the works already in existence. I particularly refer con- 
troversial divines to " A VINDICATION OF UNITARIANISM, 
and SEQUEL," by the Eev. James Yates ; and to the 
recent work of Professor Norton, of Cambridge, U. S., 


J. B. W. 

, June 20, 1835. 




You desire to have a compendious history of Heresy, 
and of the various means which have been employed by 
Christians to prevent it. Since, a few years ago. I un- 
dertook to write a history of the Inquisition, I have 
never lost sight of that subject. My daily reading has 

rally had some reference to it; and there are copious 
notes among my papers which attest how earnestly I 
have wished to accomplish the intended work. Were 
it not a historical task, and, consequently, one which 
demands research, I believe that, in spite of a broken 
constitution, I should not have found it (as has hitherto 
happened) totally above my power. But an old man, 

ly confined to his room, cannot by dint of industry 
and perseverance supply the want of an extensive library 
<>f reference; and, as I see no immediate probability of 
n -moving this difficulty, I much fear that either my 
remaining mental activity, or my life, will be at an end 
lietore I can write my intended History of the Inquisi- 

Yet I am extremely anxious not to drop into my grave 
without imparting to my fellow-christians what I con- 



sider the most important part of the proposed work. I 
am convinced, that in vain should I accumulate narra- 
tives of horrors perpetrated by the various authorities to 
which we may, collectively, give the name of Inquisition, 
unless I defined the object against which their efforts 
have been directed. The awful realities of those efforts 
crowd upon my mind the moment that the name Inqui- 
sition is uttered; yet one full half of my subject assumes 
the character of a shadow every time I attempt to place 
it before me. What is Heresy ? I well know the sufferings 
which this word has occasioned to millions of indivi- 
duals who gloried in the name of Christians. I know 
that among the sources of bitter anguish which have 
sprung up in the Christian world, as distinguished from 
the ancient and from the still unchristianized societies, 
none can contend with Heresy. But when I ask, What 
is Heresy ? I find no one who can give me a satisfactory 
answer. Can it be, then, that the torrents of tears and 
blood which have been shed on account of heresy have 
been occasioned by a phantom, a mental shadow, a mere 
mist of the mind ? 

Many, I suspect, will consider this question as totally 
unconnected with a history of the Inquisition, chiefly 
intended for the use of Protestants. Among such readers 
not one can be found ignorant of the meaning of heresy, 
as punished by that tribunal. " What (it will be said) 
is this speculative question to us ? Let us have i 
from which we may derive a clear and vivid idea of the 
excesses and horrors into which Roman Catholic bigotry 
is able to betray even sincerely pious men of that com- 

Now, if I could acquiesce in this wish, I should be 


u \v>rs> than useless work. I cannot add 
any in'\v honors to those which, in connection with the 
Inquisition, both the pen and the graver have already 
laid before the public. We certainly have reason to be 
Ljlad that such records have not been lost. But the bare 
iv petition of pictures so shocking and heart-rending is 
by no means instructive, and may be, in many cases, 
injurious. While dwelling upon the cruelties of the 
Inquisitors, such Christians as still consider it a moral 
duty to oppose heresy by the infliction of some kind and 
degree of suffering, are apt to exult in their own enlight- 
ened Christianity, and feel more and more confident that, 
by the mere diminution of punishment, the act of perse- 
cuting religious error may be changed into an act of 
charity. But be it far from me to cherish such a delu- 
sion among Protestants, by casting unnecessary odium 
upon the Catholics. Yet such must be the effect of a 
history of the Inquisition which does not begin by set- 
tling the notions of Heresy and Orthodoxy. The Protest- 
ant's sympathy for those who have suffered in defence 
of his own opinions, or rather for opposing those he 
detests, may easily prove pernicious to both his intellect 
and heart. Sympathy, when originating in the interests 
of a cause with which we are identified, may become 
gross and passionate selfishness. The usual disguise of 
this perverted feeling is love of Christian truth. The 
generality of Protestants are satisfied when they tell 
you that they abhor the Church of Rome, because she 
opposes Christian truth by persecution. But these Pro- 
testants ought to remember, that it was in defence of 
Christian truth that the Inquisitors lighted up their 



I foresee the inevitable result of what I have said. 
I know that the number of Protestants who will be 
shocked by this representation of the Inquisition is 
extremely great. On reading it, the brain of many well- 
meaning persons will be instantly seized with a feverish 
confusion, which, if encouraged by circumstances, would 
lead them to renew the old Smithfield scenes on the man 
who, calling himself a Protestant, has the boldness to 
assert that the Inquisition had Christian truth for its 
object. But let us consider what is that which men 
understand by Christian truth when they accuse others 
of heretical error ; in other words, what is that which 
the Catholics have thought it their duty to defend by 
severe punishments, and man}- or most of the Protestants 
by penalties or privations less revolting ? 

My fancy sets before me the immense variety of ex- 
pressions by which, when these lines are laid before the 
public, the countenances of my readers will shew their 
disapprobation of the question which I have just now 
proposed. " What ! are Christians to be asked by one 
who professes Christianity, what is meant by Chris- 
tian truth ? Does this writer mean to insinuate that 
Christian truth has no real existence ?" 

Still, I must insist upon having an answer to my 
question. For, seeing Christians shedding each others' 
blood during many centuries, and, even at this day, 
ready to draw the sword in favour of opposite doctrines 
to which the various parties, respectively, give the name 
of Christian truth, I have a strong ground to believe that 
there is some grievous error concealed in those two words. 
Nor is this at all surprising. The more obvious and 
plain the leading terms of some questions appear, the 


ber the danger of their being used by the disputants 
in various and even opposite senses, without the least 
suspicion of inaccuracy ; for nothing appears more free 
from obscurity than words of indefinite meaning when 
they become familiar. 

AY hut do divines understand by Christian truth ? The 
answer, at first, appears obvious. " Christian truth (it 
will be said) is what Christ and his apostles knew and 
taught concerning salvation under the gospel." Thus 
far we find no difficulty ; but (let me ask again) where 
does this exist as an object external to our minds ? The 
answer appears no less obvious than the former: "In 
the Bible." Still I must ask, Is the MATERIAL Bible 
the Christian truth about which Christians dispute ; 
" No (it will be readily said) ; not the MATERIAL Bible, 
but the SENSE of the Bible." Now (I beg to know) is 
the SENSE of the Bible an object external to our minds ? 
Does any sense of the Bible, accessible to man, exist any- 
where but in the mind of each man who receives it from 
the words he reads? The Divine Mind certainly knows 
in what sense those words were used ; but as we cannot 
compare our mental impressions with that model and 
original of all truth, it is clear that by the sense of the 
Bible we must mean our own sense of its meaning. 
AYhen, therefore, any man declares his intention to 
defend Christian truth, he only expresses his determina- 
tion to defend his own notions, as produced by the words 
of the Bible. No other Christian truth exists for us 
in our present state. 

I feel confident that what I have now stated is a fact* 
which every reflecting person may ascertain beyond 
doubt by looking into his own mind : yet I know that 


few will attempt the mental examination necessary for 
the acknowledgment of this fact. A storm of feeling 
will rise at the view of the preceding argument, and 
impassioned questions, whether Christianity is a dream 
whether Christ could leave us in such a state of un- 
certainty whether there is no difference between truth 
and error, with many others more directly pointed at 
myself, will bring the inquiry to the end of all theo- 
logical questions abuse, hatred, and (were it not for 
the protection, alas ! of the great and powerful mul- 
titude who, "caring not for these things," take, never- 
theless, more interest in the public peace than Gallio) 
severe bodily suffering, and perhaps death. 

The mental fad which I have stated is, nevertheless, 
as unchangeable as the intellectual laws to which God 
has subjected mankind ; as fixed as the means employed 
by God himself to address his revelation to us. The 
Christian truth which man can make an object of 
defence, is an impression which exists in his own mind : 
it is his own Christian truth which he wilfully identifies 
with the Christian truth which is known to the Divine 
Mind. That each individual is bound to hold that Chris- 
tian truth which he conscientiously believes to have 
found ; that it is the great moral duty of every man to 
prepare himself conscientiously for the undisturbed re- 
ception of the impression which he is to revere and 
to follow as Christian truth, I cannot doubt at all. I 
acknowledge also the duty of every man to assist others 
(without intrusion), as much as it may be in his power, 
in receiving a mental impression similar to that which 
he venerates as Christian truth. But it is at this point 
that a fierce contest arises ; and the reason is this : certain 


men wish to force all others to reverence (at least exter- 
. m>t the mental impression, the sense, which each 
:ves from the Bible -not the conviction at which 
rack has arrived but the impression and conviction of 
some theological sect or church. The Christian truth 
of some privileged leaders (it is contended by every 
church respectively) should be recognized as Christian 
truth by all the world : in more accurate, because more 
^irntific language, Christian parties of the most dif- 
at characters have for eighteen centuries agreed only 
in this that the subjective Christian truth of certain 
men should, by compulsion, be made the objective Chris- 
tian truth to all the world: i.e. that the sense which the 
Scriptures did at some time or other convey, or still 
convey, to such and such men, should be acknowledged 
as identical with that sense which was in the rnind of 
the writers of the Bible the true sense which is known 
to the Divine Mind. 

Opposition to these various standards of Christian 
truth, with those who respectively adopt them, is 

The question of Inquisition or no Inquisition, among 

-tians, is identical with this : Has Christ, or have 

his apostles, declared that the mental impression of any 

man or men, in regard to Christian truth, shall be 

received by all as the only real Christian truth ?* 

* In a history of the INQUISITION, I would not use that word in any dther 
i ut that of an authority employing means of compulsion in defence 
of Christianity in general, and of the doctrines considered by some denomi- 
nation of Christians as exclusively those of Christ and his apostles. But 
in a work chiefly intended to shew that the spirit of the Roman Catholic 
Inquisition exists wherever the notion prevails that Orthodoxy and Saving 
r.iith are identical, I think I may be allowed to apply the name of Inqui- 


That this might have been done, that Christ might 
have commanded that his followers should pay the same 
reverence to what some men declared to be Christian 
truth, as if he himself attested it, is not only conceivable, 
but appears also, at first sight, a thing antecedently 
probable : and it is, indeed, this antecedent probability, 
considered in itself and without due attention to the 
multitude of facts that contradict it, which is the true 
basis of POPERY. This very natural delusion is the 
main foundation of the Church of Rome ; this is the 
obstacle which stopped the progress of the Reformation 
almost at once ; this is the secret power which, at dif- 
ferent periods and in various places, seems to make the 
Reformation recede, and restore the ground to Popery. 
Protestantism, if established on the basis of ORTHO- 
DOXY, i.e. the belief of a Rule of Faith different from 
individual conviction, must be annihilated between UN- 
BELIEF and CATHOLICISM. By this supposition, by lay- 

sition to all the means used among Christians to prevent or check that 
perfect liberty of scriptural interpretation which, in my opinion, and 
according to the Protettant principle, belongs to every disciple of Christ. 
In this sense it appears to me unquestionable, that, if Christ had established 
some authority to which individuals should bow, all that class of Christians 
whose duty in such a case would be to conform, must be under some sort 
of Inquisition. Those who conceived themselves charged with the preser- 
vation of Orthodoxy would be bound to watch over the opinions of the 
rest ; while all such as had humbly submitted themselves to the appointed 
authority, would, in conformity with the tendencies of human nature, act 
as spies against the liberty of their bolder brethren. Is nothing of thU 
kind to be found in this politically free country ? Is there no moral Inqui- 
sition in great Britain and Ireland? Who knows but these Letters may 
act as a TEST ? 

" A sprightly academic was one day making some free observations upon 
the canons before an eminent sage of the law : ' Beware, young man, ' says 
the prudent counsellor of the holy office, ' and remember that there are 
starving aawell as burning Inquisitions."' Tfw Confeuional. 


m_ r this treacherous foundation, Protestantism not only 

exposes itself to inevitable ruin, but places Christianity 

fon the host of its opposers. If there 

must be an external or objective rule of faith, besides the 

;s of the Bible ; if the mass of Christians must 
submit to the decisions of another authority, by what- 
\vi name it may be described^-Pope, Council, Church, 

v mere the Church of Rome can fear no rival. You 
may raise doubts against its supremacy ; you may fill 
volumes with interpretations and various readings of the 
writings which attest the early and almost universal 
recognition of Rome as the centre of Christian unity ; 
but how very few minds, if inclined to that degree of 
superstition which, in most cases, attends what is called 

jus character, will not be overpowered by the pre- 
eminence of Rome in the Christian world ! 

" Doubts and objections (the Roman Catholic will 

are inseparable from the most important truths. 
But, if a judge of controversies is to be acknowledged 

most Protestants confess), what prudent man will 

ate between one so distinguished and eminent as 
ours, and those whom the Reformation set up? You 
blame us for grounding our Christian certainty on the 
We fact of the divine appointment of Rome to 
K- the head of the Christian world ; but can this uncer- 
tainty be compared with that which lies at the very 
foundations of your churches? A few divines meet, 
aiul draw up a list of theological propositions ; the 

,ir power takes them under its protection ; ejects 
the clergy who will not submit to them; fences the 
Articles, for a long period, with penalties and civil disa- 
bilities, and makes them the rule of Christian faith FOR 


EVER.* This is what you call the judgment of the 
Church, which to oppose is HERESY. It is Heresy now 
to dissent from the Thirty-nine Articles ; but there was 
(it seems) a happy moment when the notions of a few 
individuals could be set up, without Heresy, against the 
judgment of a well-defined and well-constituted church, 
to which all Christians except HERETICS had for ages 
submitted their private views on Christianity." 

"Settle your disputes (says the unbeliever, on the 
other hand), and then I will listen to your arguments 
in defence of Christianity. Both of you, Romanists and 
Protestants, offer me salvation on condition that I em- 
brace the Christian faith. You offer me a sovereign 
remedy, which is to preserve me alive in happiness 
through all eternity ; but I hear you accusing each other 
of recommending to the world, not a remedy but a 
poison; a poison, indeed, which, instead of securing 
eternal happiness, must add bitterness to eternal pun- 
ishment. You both agree that it is of the essence of 
Christianity to accept certain doctrines concerning the 
manner in which the Divine Nature exists ; the moral 
and intellectual condition in which man was created ; 
our present degradation through the misconduct of our 

* I was not aware how recently and distinctly Parliament had decreed 
that the faith of the Church of England and Ireland shall remain f<> 
what the former Acts of the Legislature made it. But in No. CXX1I. of 
the Edinburgh Review, p. 606, I found the following extract from the Act 
of Union of England and Ireland. By the fifth article of the Act of Union, 
it is ruled, "That the Churches of England and Ireland, as now by law 
ished, shall be united into one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be 
called the United Church of England and Ireland ; and the doctrine, wor- 
ship, discipline, and government of the said United Church shall be, and 
shall remain in full force FOR EVIR, as the same are now by lai. 


first parents ; the nature of sin, and the impossibility of 
its I'rin^ pardoned except by pain inflicted on an inn<>- 
-on ; the existence or non-existence of living 
representatives of Christ and his apostles ; a church 
which enjoys, collectively, some extraordinary privileges 
in regard to the visible and the invisible world ; the 
-nee of Christ among us by means of transubstan- 
tiation, or the denial of such presence: all this, and 
much more, some of you declare to be contained in, and 
others to be opposed to, the Scriptures ; and even here 
there is a fierce contention as to whether those Scriptures 
embrace the whole of that Christianity which is necessary 
for salvation, or whether tradition is to fill up a certain 
gap. I am, therefore, at a loss how to account for the 
invitation you give me. To me (the unbeliever might 
continue) it is quite evident, that the ablest opponents 
of Christianity never discovered a more convincing argu- 
ment against EEVELATION in general, than that which 
inevitably arises from your own statements, and from 
the controversies of your churches. God (you both 
agree), pitying mankind, has disregarded the natural 
laws fixed by himself, and for a space of four thousand 
years and more has multiplied miracles for the purpose 
"f acquainting men with the means of obtaining salva- 
tion, and avoiding eternal death, eternal death signifying 
almost universally, among you, unending torments. But 
wht.-n I turn to examine the result of this (as you deem 
it) rn iraculous and all-wise plan, I find it. absolutely incom- 
plete ; for the whole Christian world has been eighteen 
centuries in a perpetual warfare (not without great 
shedding of blood), because Christians cannot settle 
what is that faith which alone can save us. Have YOU 


not thus demonstrated that the revelation of which you 
boast cannot be from God? Do you believe, do you 
wish me to believe, that, when God had decreed to make 
a saving truth known to the world, he failed of that 
object, or wished to make Eevelation a snare ?" 

That abundance of declamation may be used against 
this reasoning, no one acquainted with controversial 
books will doubt ; but I cannot conceive how it may be 
met by a satisfactory answer. If saving faith implies 
ORTHODOXY, i.e. acquiescence in a certain collection of 
abstract deductions from the Scriptures as logically true, 
or properly inferred from tl>e language of Scripture, and 
no higher and more certain means to attain this object 
have been given by God to men than their individual 
logical powers ; the discovery of saving faith has an 
infinite number of chances against it, in respect to each 
individual : to use more definite language, the chance of 
success in the search after saving faith, is as one to the 
number of sects and subdivisions of sects which now 
divide, and may still further subdivide, the Christian 
world. Could this be the plan of the All-wise and All- 
good for the salvation of his creatures ? Could such a 
communication be called a IVEVELATION ? AVhat would 
it have revealed unless it were the melancholy fact, that 
the lovers of truth among mankind could be rendered 
still more unsettled, restless, and unhappy, than they 
were under the reign of pagan philosophy .' 

You would, then, make us Papists," will be the 
indignant retort. If any one becomes a Papist in con- 
sequence of my observations, the blame must be div 
(though not in equal shares) between those Protestant 
divines who cherish the true root of Popery in the sup- 


:ty of Orthodoxy, and the delusion of such 
as can U'licvv that the difficulty against Christianity 
which arises from that supposition, is avoided by setting 
up an nifaUillc church, without a clear and unquestion- 

appointment of it by God. The share of blame, 

which must fall to the Protestant divines who 

allow the snare of Orthodoxy to lie before the feet of the 

laity, must be by far the greater. Within the reach, 

:iey are, of mental freedom, and surrounded by the 

ivsults of free inquiry in other branches of knowledge, 

ought long since to have been struck by the mass 
of difficulties which the increase of knowledge accumu- 
lates, day after day, against Christianity, when it is 
identified with any of the scholastic theories which are 
-m bodied in the existing CONFESSIONS or FAITH.* 

But no deep study of meditation is required in order 
to be convinced that the necessity of Orthodoxy for sal- 
vation is no part of the gospel of Christ. We need only 
notice the plain fact, that we have no revealed rule 
by which to ascertain, with moral certainty, which doc- 
trines are right and which are wrong. As nothing 
relating to revelation can be more certainly known than 

We may talk, then, of the sufficiency of the Scriptures as we please ; 
but while the laws establishing subscription to human formularies remain, 
the voice of the Articles shall alone be heard : the ignorance and super- 
o of mankind shall for awhile preserve the shadow of religion in our 
land, but its substance shall be nowhere found. Improvements in .<* 
and the arts shall at length disclose the astonishing absurdity of our 
d faith. The Scriptures shall be disbelieved, because their genuim 
simplicity and excellence are concealed by designing men from h 
view; the Articles shall be disbelieved, because they are held forth to it.'' 
Dr. John Jebb, Letters on Subscription, Letter III. 

I give the concluding part of the quotation in italics, to caJl the atten- 
tion of the reader to the uncontrived coincidence of the passage in tb 


the absence of such a rule, it must be evident to all who 
believe that the gospel is the means appointed by God 
for our spiritual happiness, that SALVATION cannot de- 
pend on ORTHODOXY. The gospel cannot consist in 
abstract doctrines, about which men of equal abilities, 
virtue, and sincerity are, and have always been, divided. 
Once establish this principle, and the objection which, 
on the supposition of Orthodoxy, irresistibly opposes 
revelation, is instantly rendered powerless. 

" To what, then (it will be asked), is SAVING FAITH 
reduced if it does not consist in ORTHODOXY, or the 
belief of right doctrines ?" rl answer, to an act which 
does not depend on the fallible understanding of man, 
but on his WILL, assisted by the ever-ready grace of 
God. Since orthodox belief, without a divinely ap- 
pointed judge to sanction it, is a matter of the greatest 
uncertainty, it is inconceivable that it should have been 
made the condition of eternal happiness by a merciful 
God. Eternal happiness must be independent of the 
innumerable and inculpable errors and weaknesses of 
the human understanding, when it employs itself upon 
things which, by the confession of those who propose 
them to be believed, are utterly inconceivable. The pro- 
mises of the gospel must have been attached to a MORAL, 
not to a LOGICAL act. It must be an act in which to 
fail is blamable ; the failure must be, not a mistake, but 
a sin. We cannot suppose SAVING FAITH to have its 
foundation in the understanding, without implying that 
God has made the chances of men's salvation commen- 
surate with the strength of their intellectual powers, as 
well as with their opportunities of training those powers, 
and of assisting them by means of acquired knowledge 


-apposition perfectly untenable : for, putting aside 
tin* important consideration, that no moral responsibility 
lie on the intellect as a faculty, we know, by 
repeat.-. 1 experience, that men of the highest mental 
re opposed on points which most Christians 
d . m essential. The only consistent theory of saving 
faith, as depending on doctrines, is that which contends 
lor the existence of a divinely appointed judge. Could 
that appointment be proved, the acquiescence in the 
-ions of the infallible judge would be a moral act. 
, therefore, the non-existence of such a judge places 
us in a dilemma, that either Christianity is an imperfect 
work, or that saving faith does not consist in Ortho- 
doxy, every sincere believer in the gospel, whose mental 
courage is not weakened by superstition, must unhesi- 
tatingly conclude, that no error on abstract doctrines 
can be HERESY, in the sense of a wrong belief which 
endangers the soul.* 

Happily the question, whether there exists a divinely 
appointed judge of Orthodoxy, is one which may be 
solved without profound learning or a prolonged dis- 
cussion. The non-existence of a judge divinely ap- 
pointed to remove doubts, becomes a certainty the 
moment that the appointment itself is proved to be 
doubtful. We cannot, without either folly or impiety, 
suppose that God would attempt to remove one uncer- 
tainty by another. The existence of a divinely appointed 
judge of doubtful points is fully disproved the moment 
that any obscurity appears in the supposed commission. 

All Catholics, and most Protestants, will probably 
unite in the reply, that absolute certainty is inconsistent 

* See note at the end. 


with our present state of existence. To this I answer, 
that, in regard to the appointment of any means to re- 
move uncertainty, the All-wise Being could not want 
resources to produce in us the highest degree of moral 
confidence of which we are capable. But how short of 
that point fall the proofs which the Catholics give us 
of the appointment of their infallible judge ! How ex- 
tremely feeble are the attempts of those Protestants who 
wish to find a church somewhere, which, though liable 
to error, is nevertheless to settle our doubts, as if it 
were infallible ! Yet such things are seriously proposed 
by men of talents and learning ! How can we be sur- 
prised to find that a great portion of the most intelli- 
gent part of the world turns away with pity or disgust 
from theological writers ? 

But to return to our principal subject : These la- 
mentable attempts to find a rule of Orthodoxy arise 
from the false notion, that the union of Christians into 
a moral body must depend on unity of doctrine. And 
here I wish it to be observed, that, if such unity had 
been intended by Providence, it might have been at- 
tained with the highest degree of moral certaint; 
means of such an appointment as that which took place 
in the old dispensation in regard to the Jewish priest- 
hood. Such method of producing unity of doctrine is 
not only conceivable, but obvious ; and, indeed, to none 
so obvious as to the Founder of Christianity and his 
immediate disciples, as Jews by birth and education. 
It is not necessary, in this place, to appeal to the super- 
natural wisdom of Christ and his apostles. Even na-n 
of no uncommon capacity could not, in their circum- 
stances, have overlooked the means employed by M 


to give UNITY to the Jewish theocracy. A solemn con- 
secration of a POPE, and of a certain number of BISHOPS 
as distinct from PRIESTS ; a formulary for keeping up a 
legitimate succession, and a few rules for the external 
i-ondir -us by which Christians might, at all times, 
know both whom they were to follow as their infallible 
guides, and in what circumstances those guides should 
n<idered in a state of supernatural enlightenment, 
would have reduced the question of Heresy and Ortho- 
doxy to a decree of simplicity fully adapted to the prac- 
tical purpose of DOCTRINAL UNITY. Since, therefore, the 
true means of producing and perpetuating that unity 
were so obvious, and since those supposed to have been 
appointed have, on the contrary, proved wholly ineffec- 
tual, we must inevitably conclude that doctrinal unity 
was not intended by Christ. To assert that such unity 
was desired by him, and that he nevertheless overlooked 
the obvious means by which his object might have been 
accomplished, is to make him inferior to any man of 
common penetration. The FAITH, therefore, proclaimed 
in the New Testament, cannot be ORTHODOXY ; the 
Heresy deprecated in a few places of that collection of 
writings, cannot be LOGICAL ERROR.* 

* That the word heresy was used by St. Paul in the sense of practical 
dissension, can hardly be doubted. The only writer in the New Testament 
who uses that word besides St. Paul is the author of the 2nd Epistle attri- 
buted to Peter, a document whose authenticity is more than suspected by 
of the best and most pious critics. In this latter passage alone it 
seems to mean false doctrine. But as the notion of practical dissension 
necessarily embraces the notion of opinion (sense, in Latin placitum), and 
it is clear that the divisions and disturbances, which may be expressed by 
the word dissension, cannot take place without the dissenting parties 
.ing each other with error, the two notions have very iiaturallv been 
mixed up together. 


But if ORTHODOXY cannot be the principle of union 
among Christians, upon what are men to agree in order 
to belong to the CONVOCATION,* or people of Christ ? I 
believe that the Apostle Paul has said enough to answer 
this question. When, by using the word anathema, he 
rejects from his spiritual society even an angel from 
heaven, were it possible that such a being should u preach 
another gospel," he lays down the only principle, with- 
out which there can be no communion among Chris- 
tians. Unhappily the word GOSPEL, like the word Faith, 
is constantly understood as expressing a certain number 
. of dogmatical articles. Owing to this perversion of the 
original meaning, these very passages of Paul are con- 
ceived to support the long-established notion that- Ortho- 
doxy is the -only condition of Christian communion ; 
and want of it, a sufficient cause for anatliema. I have, 
however, already proved, that Orthodoxy, without a 
supreme judge of religious opinions, is a phantom ; and 
since it is -demonstrable that no such judge has been 
appointed, it clearly follows that the Apostle Paul, by 
the name of gospel, -could not mean a string of dogmatic 
assertions. It is necessary, therefore, to ascend to the 
original signification of the word gospel, if we are not to 
misunderstand the reason of the anathema pronoun- .1 

* It is very difficult to discard from the mind the wrong associations 
which the English word CHURCH attaches to the notion expressed by the 
original word ^mcX7;<Ti'a, in Latin eccksia. If church, as some f 
legists believe, comes from a Teutonic root (kirk) of the same signification 
as the Latin circus and the English circle, its signification might origi- 
nally have been similar to that of eccUfia. in consequence of the same 
mental process which made corona, a crown, a ring, express a coi 
multitude ; vulgi stante corona ; but nothing is more remote from the 
ideas raised in the inind by the word church, than this. < 
seems to approach the nearest to the original signification 


.ul. Let such as wish to vise above the clouds of 
il prejudice, remember that the whole mystery 
is described by the expression of "glad, 
tidings." Sad, not glad tidings, indeed, would have been 
preaching, if they had announced a salva- 
tion depending on Orthodoxy, for (as I have said before) 
it would have been salvation depending on chance. But 
i lion, promised on condition of a change of mind 
from the love of sin to the love of God (which is repent- 
ance] ; on a surrender of the individual will to the will 
of God, according to the view of that divine will which 
is obtained by trust in Christ's example and teaching, 
which is faith; a pardon of sins independent of harassing 
religious practices, sacrifices, and ascetic privations 
these were " glad tidings of great joy," indeed, to all who, 
caring for their souls, felt bewildered between atheism 
ami superstition.* 

As this gospel was, and must always be, the very 
essence of Christianity, to deny it, or (what amounts to 
the same) to substitute another in its place, must, for 
ever, be contradictory of the denomination C^RISTIAS. 
Now it is well known that those who had deceived 
Paul's Galatian converts taught the necessity of circum- 
cision for that salvation which the gospel promised to 
repentance. Nothing, therefore, could be more natural, 
nothing more directly flowing from the commission he 
had received, than to declare his abhorrence of those 
who practically abolished the very gospel which it was 

* "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rie 
from the dead the third day : and that repentance and remission of yin.-i 
should be preached in hi* name among all nations." Luke xxiv. 4ti, 47. 
This is the commission given to the apostles by Jesus himself. 



the dearest object of his life to spread. The gospel, in 
fact, being one single announcement, warranted by 
Christ, namely, remission of sins upon repentance, and 
eternal life to those who embrace these "glad tidings ;" 
to promise these same things on any other condition 
is an endeavour to render the true gospel useless to 

Similar to this is the principle which the Apostle John 
applies to some of the Gnostics; Paul pronounces ana- 
thema on any one who should preach another gospel, 
which, as he declares, "is not another," i.e. is no gospel, 
no glad tidings at all.* John, proceeding on the same 
principle, applied the name of ANTICHRIST to any one 
who denies that Jesus is the Christ. It is, besides, of 
importance for the right understanding of some such 
expressions of St. John, to know that, of the Gnostics, 
who, from the notion of the natural impurity of all 
matter, denied that the Messiah had a body, a consider- 
able number embraced also the practical error, that it 
was the duty of those who aspired to perfection to give 
up the body to all kinds of impurity, out of cont( 
for the evil principle, the author (as they believed) of 
the material part of the universe. That even the common 
civilities of life should not be interchanged by Christians 
with such practical Autinomians, is perfectly consistent 
with a total absence of orthodox intolerance. f 1 

Such as I have just described it, was the UNITY OF 
THE FAITH among the truly apostolic Christians. Ix-t 

* It is hardly necessary to observe that, by sayiDg "which is not 
another," Paul intended to say, which is not a gospel. He could certainly 
not mean that it was the same. 

t See note at the end. 


us never forget that FAITH means TRUST, and we shall 
readily perceive that the unity of trust, in regard to 
spiritual safety, must have been UNITY OF FAITH. The 
; 'Lance, therefore, of the "good tidings," namely, 
iv.mission of sins upon, repentance, and eternal life by 
trust in Christ as the moral KING promised to the Jews, 
to deliver them from the condemnation of the law, and 
to the Gentiles, as their "light" and their "Saviour," 
who was to rescue them from vice and the darkness of 
idolatry, the acceptance of this gospel was all that the 
apostles and their assistant messengers of salvation 
demanded. But as this belief was a living principle, 
bearing in itself that peculiar spirit or influence which 
Christ had promised to his sincere followers,* it would 
naturally extend its activity to all the mental faculties, 
and make them converge their powers to that centre of 
the soul's new life. Studies of all kinds, especially the 
study of the Scriptures, would be carried on within the 
powerful attraction of the great truth, Jesus of Naza- 
reth is the Son of God, the Saviour or great benefactor 
of mankind: happiness, here and hereafter, depends 
upon trust in his promises, and faithfulness to his pre- 
cepts. When, therefore, a point of contact between the 
one essential principle of Christianity, and any other 
result of reflection or experience, offered itself to view, 
it would be greedily seized for the purpose of confirming 
or illustrating that principle. Some of these views 
would have a real foundation in the one original truth 
of Christianity ; some would be plausible or fanciful 

* This is true in & MORAL sense. The notion of a physical, yet super- 
natural SPIRIT, I had already discarded when I published this book. See 
note at the end. (Note written in October, 1837.) 


deductions, but harmless ; others would be false, and 
perhaps dangerous, to that great truth, if followed up too 
closely and too logically; Yet all this was deemed con- 
sistent with the profession of real Christianity. Such 
is, indeed, Paul's view of the subject, as any one will 
find who shall study with an unprejudiced mind the 
third chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians. 

No one acquainted with that scriptural document 
will deny that "the envying, strife, and divisions" the 
HERESIES, in the scriptural sense of the word which 
agitated the Christian society at Corinth, had their 
source in the peculiarities of the additional doctrines 
by which different teachers wished to distinguish them- 
selves. It follows, therefore, that Paul had such doc- 
trines in view, while he was earnestly urging his Corin- 
thian " children in Christ" to put aside these sources of 
discord. Let us now attentively consider the man nor 
in which Paul treats these differences of DOCTRINE, llr 
certainly does not (as subsequent theologians) appeal 
to some supreme tribunal in the church ; he does not 
urge his own inspiration, and the consequent duty of 
taking his words as divine oracles on all occasions ; he 
does not (as many at present would expect) claim to 
himself the right and authority of stopping the mouth 
of those teachers. His words throw the clearest light 
on my subject. I insert them, with such transient 
] paraphrases as, I trust, the context will support. I only 
beg you not to forget that the point which the apostle 
had to settle was, the practical question of variety of 
doctrine in the church of Corinth. 

"According to the grace of God which is giv<-n to 
me (he says) as a wise master-builder, I have lai<l 


foundation, and another buildeth thereon, But let c - 

herd how he buildeth thereupon ; for other foun- 

11 can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus 

Dm-:. Now if any man (St. Paul proceeds) build upon 

tliis foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, 

i']c. every man's work shall be made manifest; for the 

) shall declare it ; because it (the work thus 

by men) shall be revealed by fire (by close and 

hing examination^ arising from the vehement con- 

of Christians), and the fire shall try every man's 

work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, Avhich 

he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward (in the 

-tance he shall have given to the gospel, and in God's 

approbation : secondary views in conformity with the 

foundation will stand). If any man's work shall be 

burned, he shall suffer loss (additional doctrines, which 

must perish like stubble and wood by fire, will be a loss, 

a fine or penalty, to the injudicious preacher) ; but he 

himself (if he has not given up the foundation, Jesus 

Christ, or betrayed it for another) will be saved (will be 

acquitted notwithstanding his errors), yet so as by fire r 

(with difficulty and the loss of his labour).* 

If such be the true meaning of this, to many obscure, 

* I had originally followed what I believe is the general notion, that, by 
frt, the apostle meant persecution. But taking for my guide the clear 
ion that TIME would be the great instrument in removing the fiilsr 
:s which philosophical teachers were then mixing with the foundation 
of the gospel, I feel pretty certain that the jire, which is figuratively added 
a* the more proximate instrument of the separation, must have an analogy 
to time in regard to the predicted effect. But if time can bring about 
the separation of error which has been mixed up with truth, it is because 
it allows sufficient space for discussion and the struggle of contending 
views. Persecution (which is the common signification given tojire) could 
not produce that effect ; on the contrary, it generally confirms the errors 
of the persecuted. 


to others delusive, passage (and I believe the interpreta- 
tion here given cannot easily be shaken), the question 
of Orthodoxy, with all its practical difficulties, is at an 
end. And here let me observe, that the coincidence of 
my preceding argument with this remarkable passage 
was not at all prepared by my taking a clue from the 
passage itself. The inquiry which I have been pursuing 
began by the examination of a negative fact a kind 
which is ascertained with more certainty than the POSI- 
TIVE. I searched for the appointment of a judge of 
ORTHODOXY. A direct and definite appointment was 
not found ; and this is enough to establish that NEGA- 
TIVE FACT beyond doubt. This step enabled me to 
conclude that ORTHODOXY and SAVJNG FAITH must be 
two different things ; else the salvation of sincere men 
would have been made to depend on means attended 
with the greatest uncertainty. As a well-grounded con- 
viction of the truth of Christianity did not permit me, 
from this seeming deficiency in its plan, to conclude 
against the divine origin of the gospel, I proceeded to 
examine what is left, after excluding all those theologi- 
cal questions on which the most learned as well as most 
pious persons are divided ; all questions, I mean, which 
cannot be settled without a judge of orthodoxy; and I 
found this belief or trust in THE CHRIST, the moral 
king and instructor of mankind. This is the only point 
(besides practical precepts) which admits of no doubt 
among those who receive the testimony of the N*'\v 
Testament: this is the only preaching of Christ's im- 
mediate disciples which requires no unerring interpreter. 
I concluded, therefore, that this belief, this accept .'in < 
of the Christ as a moral Lord and Master, is the only 
condition of being a CHRISTIAN. I was led besides, by 


Considerations, to the persuasion, that oilier 
views, more or less connected with this surrender of the 
individual will to the will of God, as we l^now it through 
the teaching and example of Christ himself that con- 
jectures about the nature of the Christ himself, and 
respecting the manner of the Divine existence that 
notions relating to our future state, and theories innu- 
merable on the world of spirits and our relations with 
it would at all times, but especially immediately after 
the publication of the gospel, when the human mind was 
full of the most visionary systems of philosophy, attach 
themselves to the great and fundamental truth of Chris- 
tianity. Considering, however, that the gospel might 
co-exist with errors which did not directly oppose its 
influence on the will of man (else the gospel could not 
have been preached till mankind had been completely 
enlightened by philosophy and science), I felt no doubt 
that it was the intention of Providence that secondary or 
Collateral religious views should have free course among 
Christians, leaving such views to the operation of time, 
which would finally discover their proper value. Having 
gone through this mental process, it occurred to me, 
that, without at all intending it, or having previously 
thought of the above passage of St. Paul, I had said in 
other words exactly what the apostle had stated in ex- 
- 1 OILS and metaphors not so familiar to our minds. 
I had. indeed, frequently dwelt upon that passage ; but 
its meaning remained always enveloped in a mist, till, ;is 
it were, by the innate attraction of truth to truth, the 
result of my thoughts on Orthodoxy and these remark- 
able words of Paul ran, like two kindred drops, into 
each other, forming in my mind a clear, full, and defi- 
nite notion. This cannot be the effect of chance. 



NOTHING weighs so heavily upon my mind, when 
engaged on theological subjects, as the constant fear of 
being misunderstood, and the habitual conviction that 
no care on my part can possibly avert that danger. A 
most distinguished writer on the theory of morals (Sir 
James Mackintosh) complains in a striking manner of 
the almost insuperable difficulty which popular language 
presents to the philosopher who undertakes to throw 
light on the subject of man considered as a moral,, 
responsible, and improvable agent. Yet that obstacle, 
in philosophy, appears reduced to the dimensions of a 
molehill, when compared with the mountain which the 
popular language of theology, and the prejudices inse- 
parably connected with it, cast up in the way of any 
man who, in the examination of Christianity, ventures 
to leave the beaten path of scholasticism. The most 
important words of the New Testament have not only 
received an indelible false stamp from the hands of the 
old schoolmen, but those words having, since the Refor- 
mation, become common property in the language of 
the country, are, as it were, thickly incrusted with the 
most vague, incorrect, and vulgar notions. Thus the 

m:i:i:sY AND ORTHODOXY. 27 

word faith (for instance), which, at the hands of the 
Humanist divines, had been nearly deprived of its ori- 
: meaning, trust, which is directly and most exclu- 
sively conveyed by Trunks, is still further perverted, by 
mou usage among Protestants, to signify an enthu- 
ic ardour in asserting what they can neither prove 
\ press to themselves in definite terms. The faith 
preached by the Roman Catholics as the only way to 
salvation, is an act of mental obedience to the Catholic 
Church, that infallible judge which they suppose to exist 
somewhere. The faith of many Protestants is an act of 
passionate asseveration grounded only upon the feelings 
of each individual, and rendered unalterable by the 
stubbornness with which they close their eyes, that they 
may not see any reason to waver. 

Now, under such circumstances, can misunderstand- 
ing be avoided ? The investigation of truth, as in theory 
it is universally acknowledged, demands perfect compo- 
sure of mind, and the absence of all disturbing passions. 
But is it possible for a writer who does not flatter popular 
notions in divinity, to obtain many readers in that state 
of mind ? Can a man who calls upon people, urging their 
duty to examine their religious notions, and to take 
the necessary trouble for separating truth from error, 
avoid giving offence? No. The strongest tendency of 
the human mind, in respect to religion, is to save itself 
trouble, either by embracing a superstitious and indis- 
criminate system of belief, or by dismissing the subject 
as totally unworthy of attention. Nearly hopeless, how- 
ever, as this latter state of mind must appear to the 
theological writer, it is in reality preferable to that of 
the impassioned believer. The most frequent cause of 


unbelief, which I have observed in this country, is 
disgust; produced, on the one hand, by misrepresenta- 
tions of Christianity which defy reason and common 
sense ; and, on the other, by a morbid enthusiasm, which 
may be, and frequently is, combined with the ambi- 
tion and selfishness of minds of the lowest description. 
Now, if a theological writer succeeds in removing from 
himself the suspicion of his belonging to either of those 
classes, there are honest and upright men who, in spite 
of their prejudices against Christianity, will listen to 
him with temper and candour. Not so the impassioned 
believer : in his case, the great difficulty is to prevent 
him from taking his own hasty inferences for your 
statements. The direct opposite of the proposition which 
you wish to modify and explain, is instantly assumed 
as your meaning. If you endeavour, for instance, to 
ascertain with any degree of precision the notion of 
INSPIRATION, you are, without appeal, reckoned among 
those who consider the sacred writers as men of the 
common stamp, which belonged to their original station 
in life. If you venture to suggest the probability of 
some one interpolation in the Bible, you are no longer 
believed when you assert the general and substantial 
genuineness of the whole. I cannot but fear, therefore, 
that in consequence of what I have said respecting the 
simple condition demanded by the apostles for admission 
into the society of Christians, I shall be accused of 
having reduced the gospel to an empty name. But 
whatever may be the injustice of others towards mo, I 
feel assured that you, at all events, will candidly hear 
me to the end ; allowing me, besides, to endeavour, by 
insisting upon the arguments already adduced, to set 


them in a clearer light, and thus prevent, as much as 
I am able, the misunderstandings which, more for the 
sake of Christian truth than for my own, I confess that 
I greatly dread. I shall, therefore, say a few words of 
I'xplanation relative to that part of my former letter 
where I spoke of the original terms of admission into 
church. I shall, in the next place, add some other 
considerations which confirm my view : but I must pre- 
viously remind you of the nature of the argument con- 
tained in that letter. 

You must have frequently observed the hopelessness 
if the attempts which are constantly made to establish 
various points of Christian doctrine by logical argu- 
ments founded on detached texts of Scripture. You 
must have seen regular collections of passages, selected 
with the utmost patience, and arranged into classes 
with great ingenuity. Of this kind of theological works 
I do not remember any one more complete than that by 
which Dr. Samuel Clarke wished to prove his notions of 
the Trinity. But similar instances are not unfrequent : 
in fact, most works on controversial divinity are at- 
tempts of the same kind to draw some abstract pro- 
] Motion as the unquestionable result of the various 
expressions of Scripture upon the given subject. You 
'ainiot but have observed, moreover, how short all such 
attempts fall of the intended object ; how very seldom 
any one is convinced by such works, unless, by a pre- 
disposition of the will, he reads them in order fully to 
become or to continue of the same opinion. 

I do not mean (and here is an instance of the con- 
stant call for explanation) that the Scriptures, especial!} 
those of the New Testament, are incapable of convey! DL; 


a clear and definite sense upon any subject. My obser- 
vations are confined to the metaphysical points upon 
which the most pious and most learned Christians are 
divided ; those points, in fact, which relate to the 
nature and modes of existence of the Deity, the supposed 
multiplicity of his personality, and the laws according 
to which he operates upon the human soul, and its 
principal faculties, intellect, and will. In order that I 
may protect myself against the cavils to which an im- 
perfect enumeration of such subjects might expose me, 
I need only say, that I speak of the topics directly 
connected with these letters ; those, namely, upon which 
the Christian world is divided into ORTHODOX, and 
HETERODOX. Upon such notions of God and his moral 
character whiqh are both conceivable by man and mo- 
rally useful to him ; upon our relations to our heavenly 
Father, and to his Son, his great messenger ; upon our 
mutual duties in this state of discipline, the New Tes- 
tament is clear. The proof of that clearness is found 
in the agreement of Christians in all times and places. 
The ravings of enthusiasm, and the systematic profli- 
gacy of a certain kind of hypocrites, who now and then 
have ventured to question the sense of the Scriptures on 
such subjects, do no more prove their obscurity, than 
the existence of a few human monsters proves an un- 
certainty in the first moral dictates of our conscience. 
Absolute certainty, certainty which the passions may 
not obscure, cannot exist where the will is concerned. 

Now, my argument against the necessity of Ortho- 
doxy, i.e. the necessity of taking the right side (as it is 
known to God) on any one of the points of doctrine 
which divide the Christian world, depends entirely 


upon the unquestionable fact, that whichever view 
here are arguments in favour of the other 
strung enough to convince men most able to investigate, 
and most desirous to find the truth. I must not, how- 
be understood to assert that, in my opinion, the 
probability on both sides of all such questions is equal 
Speaking for myself, I must declare that the evidence in 
favour of excluding such theories as that of the Trinity 
in Unity, on the ground that they form no part of the 
New Testament, is sufficient to produce moral certainty. 
]>ut I grant from my own experience at one period of 
my life, that, under certain habits of mind, produced 
by the usual catechetical and scholastic instruction, and 

ted by that deep-seated and almost general persua- 
sion that all spiritual danger lies on the side of be- 
lieving what is plain, and all the advantages on the side 
of asserting what is unintelligible and repugnant to 

>n I grant that even the Athanasiau Creed may 
appear as an essential part of the Christian doctrine. 
Having stated the case of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy 
in a manner which gives every possible advantage to 
those who call themselves exclusively Orthodox, I only 
wish you to place the fact laid before you in juxta- 
position with the intent and purpose of the Christian 
iv \vlation : I require nothing more for my argument. 

If saving faith and acceptance of one particular side 
of the questions agitated between the divines of various 
Christian denominations are identical things, the means 
of salvation must be as uncertain as the chance of choos- 
ing the right side of those questions. Here we are 
placed in the dilemma of creating for ourselves some 
such rule of Orthodoxy as that of the Roman Catholics 


a process which removes doubt only one step, and 
ultimately increases it ;* or rejecting Christianity as 
an imperfect and partial system. What man, therefore, 
who is thoroughly convinced of the truth of the gospel, 
will not instantly see the plain and only way out of this 
difficulty i.e. the rejection of the gratuitous hypothesis 
of Orthodoxy ? This negative argument, the proof which 
arises from the total absence of an authority sufficient to 
remove the uncertainty (such as I have explained it) in 
which the Scriptures leave the disputed points, is 6f a 
nature to satisfy any unprejudiced mind, provided it is 
not in thraldom to superstitious fear. It is not like 
positive proofs derived from various texts, where one 
expression modifies another, where one metaphor must 
be brought into agreement with another metaphor, and 
the reading of one manuscript must be staked against 
other readings. Here the whole question depends upon 
the absence of some rule, not exposed to uncertainty, by 
which the uncertainty in the sense of the Scriptures, 
experienced by multitudes of Christians, may be en- 
tirely removed. Probability is of no avail. If the. pro- 
posed method of removing uncertainty may be reasonably 
questioned ; if the authority which claims the right of 
decision cannot shew a divine appointment, clear, posi- 
tive, distinct in every respect, it only increases the evil 
which it was intended to remedy ; for it adds a fresh 
difficulty to those which, on the supposition of the neces- 
sity of Orthodoxy, stand, like an impenetrable phalanx, 
at the very entrance of the way of salvation. Hence 
the inevitable conclusion, that to be right upon any ot 

* Less hard 'tis not to err ourselves, than know 

If our forefathers erred or no. COWLKT. AND OKTHODOXY. .*{:; 

the points so long disputed among Christians cannot 
he a v condition of saving faith ; else God would 

have, demanded from us what he evidently lias not given 
us the means to attain. And let it not be forgotten, 
that tin- distinction between ESSENTIALS and NON-ESSEN- 
TIALS is perfectly arbitrary, and does not remove the 
diiliculty: for by what certain rule can we divide the 
disputed doctrines into those two classes? I repeat it 
with the most heartfelt confidence : a just and merciful 
God, when making the greatest display of his love to 
mankind, by allowing his beloved Son to die in confir- 
mation of his divine mission, and for the purpose of 
endearing to us himself, and his proclamation of peace 
with (lod by repentance God, the author and fountain 
of the blessings prepared for all mankind in his gospel, 
must not be supposed to have made them dependent 
on doctrines so intricate, so incapable of being proposed 
in clear and uncontradictory language, so entirely un- 
connected with the sources of moral certainty. How 
could the Father of mercies have bound up the benefits 
of Christianity within the complicated folds of Orthodoxy, 
and denied us a clue to solve those riddles ? It is almost 
childish to answer, that we have the Scriptures for that 
purpose; for, owing to that very notion of Orthodoxy, 
the Scriptures themselves are, upon those points, the 

Upon this immovable foundation I established the 
conclusion, that the only indispensable condition of 
being in the >'-/>>/ of salntlion. through the gospel, must 
be that which remains after the removal of all the doc- 
trines which have been constantly disputed between the 
Orthodox and the Heterodox. And what can that be? 



Exactly that which we find proposed by the apostles : 
repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; i.e. change 
the habitual direction of your will from sin to holi 
and TRUST the Lord Jesus Christ as your guide to 
ritual safety, as your surety for the hope of et< 

If, retorting my own argument, it should be said 
that questions may also be raised upon the meaning of 
these words, I shall request the objector to mark this 
important difference between such possible cavil and the 
prominent difficulties of Orthodoxy. This call of the 
gospel is addressed to the WILL of every individual, 
under the direction of his CONSCIENCE. The conscience 
itself may indeed be perverted by the will, and the re- 
sult may be (as we know to our sorrow) a rejection of 
God's merciful invitation. But this is of the very essence 
of all offers made to a moral agent as such; moral au 
cannot exist without the power of doing what is morally 
wrong. RIGHT and WRONG, however, in such ma! 
do not depend on anything eternal to man, but on the 
object and direction of his WILL. Between this choice 
and that of propositions which full under the /. 
judgment, there is an immense d; Tin- i; 

which alone can enable the judgment to be right in 
asserting or denying one thing or not 

within us. We must search abroad in the uni\ 
and, after the most anxious inquiry, may be unal 
give a judgment which is not opposed by rectify. V. 
the judgment relates to the int.-rjuvt.-ition <f u 
(which is invari.iMy the 0886 in all questions on tin; 
sense of Scripture), the search is still muro dii'icult 
* Se Note. 


In matters of experience we frequently have the object 
of our examination at hand ; but in respect to the sense 
which the authors of the sacred books wished to convey, 
it is dear that the only fad on which our right judg- 
ment depends the connection of the writer's ideas with 
his expressions is entirely out of our reach. All therer 
fore that remains is conjecture. We are obliged to take 
that for the sense of the writer which, when we have 
endeavoured to the best of our power to impress our 
minds with the character, purpose, and peculiar style of 
the person whose writings we have before us, appears to 
us most likely to have been his meaning. But in regard 
to moral good and evil, the rectitude of the conscience 
does not depend on anything external to the individual-^ 
that domain over which it reigns by the appointment 
of the Supreme Intelligence, whose representative it is. 
To the individual, the voice of his conscience is the 
voice of God, and there is no appeal from its decision to 
a higher tribunal. The great duty of the WILL is to obey 
it ; and the highest degree of perfection at which the 
WILL can arrive is a state of settled independence from 
all other powers and influences. It is very true that the 
moral perceptions, the moral sense, or moral taste (as it 
might well be called) of the conscience, is susceptible of 
many degrees of quickness and perfection ; and, indeed, 
the moral government of God, as far as we Jtnow it, is 
only a method of training the conscience, and, by means 
of the conscience, the will of man. For this great pur- 
pose, no trial or discipline is of a higher and more powerful 
nature than the offer of the gospel. When men are 
called upon to repent, or change their will from the 
indulgence of the selfish passions to the habitual deter- 



mination of embracing that which, on every occasion, the 
conscience shall approve as BEST, they cannot answer 
with any show of reason that they are not able to un- 
derstand what is proposed to them. There is no hard- 
ship or injustice in proposing to men that they renounce 
a vicious life, because the abstract notions of vice and 
virtue are primitive, and not only do not require, but 
do not admit of explanation. The man who really and 
truly wishes to be virtuous, is already in the posses- 
sion of virtue is JUSTIFIED from that moment. There 
is nothing like this in regard to abstract and objective 
Truth : the most ardent wish to attain it, is no pledge 
of our possessing it. Thus it is that Christianity, un- 
adulterated Christianity, is found in perfect harmony 
with the nature of our moral being. And observe how 
the announcement which exclusively constitutes the 
gospel, contains not only the simple and infallible method 
of being justified, or becoming virtuous, but also that of 
improving that incipient moral state, and carrying it to 
the utmost degree of perfection of which human infirmity 
is capable) under the peculiar circumstances of each 
individual. The natural question, How am I to proceed, 
and what am I to expect when I have given up the 
pursuit of selfish gratification ? is answered by means of 
the doctrines and character of Jesus, as both are known 
by the report of his life, which is already spread over a 
great part of the world, and which (were it unobstn; 
by the theories of Orthodoxy) would soon cover the earth 
as the waters cover the sea. In the Christ we have a 
model of human virtue which every conscience, under 
the indispensable preparation of repentance (exactly in 
the order of things which the gospel proposes), must 

l!!i:i:sv AND ORTHODOXY. 37 

approve. and \vliicli every WII^L, subject to conscience, 
must embrace. How can this gospel bo said to lie 
under doubts and dilliculties similar in tin- slijj 
decree to those of the Orthodox doctrines? With what 
colour of reason can this heavenly call upon mankind 
be compared with the theological requisition to believe 
abstract statements concerning a person with two na- 
tures, and a nature with three personalities, which still 
remains one God? a guilt incurred by proxy, and a jus- 
tification or state of virtue by a similar substitution? 
Offer the true gospel, present the moral image of the 
Christ to the ignorant, or even to savages, in whom the 
seeds of morality are beginning to be developed, and 
you will find hearts eager to receive him ; but go through 
the world with your Orthodox creeds in hand, and the 
intelligent among the uneducated classes will stare, and 
the educated will turn away with disdain. It is in 
vain to expect a diffusion of the gospel, approaching 
in any degree to what the Scriptures would make us 
expect, so long as missionaries imbued with the essen^- 
tial importance of the Orthodox doctrines attempt the 
work of announcing Jesus to the heathen. The only 
missionaries who seem to make a real progress are the 
Moravians, who, though still burdened with the Con- 
fession of Augsburg in their formularies, appear to per- 
ceive the necessity of laying it aside while they publish 
the message of salvation. 

Strong, however, as my expressions may seem, I do 
not intend to blame the numerous and highly respect- 
able class of Christians who, having had the prejudices 
of Orthodoxy not only transmitted to them by inherit- 
ance, but inculcated also by a laborious process of edu- 


cation, and bound up with every public and personal 
interest of their lives, stand up for that system with all 
the zeal which Christianity itself would rightly demand. 
I entreat them, however, to consider how perfectly in- 
consistent it is with the essential principle of Protest- 
antism to assume a superiority over others in respect 
to the interpretation of Scripture. If any one is con- 
vinced that the Athanasian Trinity is proclaimed in the 
Bible, let him teach and expound it to the utmost of his 
power ; but let him claim no dominion over the faith 
of others, and much less assume the power of excom- 
municating, and denying the name of Christian to any 
one who receives the Christ as his Lord and Master. 
Let him remember that the instruction contained in 
the New Testament has not been addressed to some 
particular Christians in order that they may expound, 
digest, and distribute it, in a modified state, to others : 
the Scripture is addressed to all, without distinction: 

Dark inuendoes are heard every day relative to a sup- 
posed responsibility of the understanding. Such asser- 
tions are, however, thrown out devoid of all proof, and, 
indeed, are totally incapable of any. As well might 
people declaim on the responsibility of the eyes, and 
the moral duty of seeing certain figures and colours in 
certain places, though the visual organ, straining itself 
to blindness, should see nothing but vacuity in that 
direction, or objects perfectly different from those which 
the moral optician was describing as perfectly visible.* 

* Who that once has beard the anecdote of the HOLT HAIR, can avoid 
being reminded of it in connection with this topic T Among the most 
valuable relics of an ancient monastery was one of the identical hairs 
which the Roman soldiers had torn from the head of Christ This hair 


It cannot be too often repeated, that the only responsible 
part of man is his WILL. The will is, indeed, liable to 
blame for neglecting or misusing the external as well 
as the internal means of right perception ; but it is 
JM -rfeetly unreasonable to make it answerable for the 
! >t i otis themselves. It would be rcal> not theological 
blasphemy (which generally means evil speaking of 
theological opinions), to say that God would doom any 
of his rational creatures to eternal misery because, 
though he had tried, he could not understand the plain 
demonstration of the truth, that the three angles of any 
triangle are equal to two right ones. Yet to perceive 
that truth seems to be in the power even of the most 
moderate understanding. What then should we say of 
the assertion, that God dooms to everlasting perdition 
every one whose reason rejects the Athanasian Creed? 
Reason itself, that highest faculty of the human soul, 
whose inalienable privilege is to decide between right 

was shewn to the public on a certain festival. The devout people looked 
through a glass into a golden box where the hair should be seen. But when 
the existeriCe of such things is once fully established by faith, the keepers 
of the treasure take no further pains to facilitate the belief. To place a 
hair, or even a whole lock, in the box was not difficult. It happened, 
however, that for many years the box had contained no such thing. A 
rather too curious and prying Christian, having deposited his oblation of 
money on the salver that lay upon the table, behind which a priest in his 
stole was shewing the relic, kept his eye close to the glass for a consider- 
able time. " I can see no hair, father" (whispered he in the ear of the 
monk). "No wonder, my son (answered the priest in the same tone of 
voice), for I have shewn it these twenty years, and have never been able 
to see it." How many who shew the wonders of Orthodoxy might truly 
give a similar answer ! Yet it is most probable that if the monk and the 
devotee's dialogue had been overheard, both would have been sent to the 
Inquisition, to be punished for their visual weakness, and to learn to see 
better in future. 


and wrong, truth and deception, is, not the subject, hut 
the fountain of all moral duty. The WELL alone has 
duties to perform. t One of them is to employ the 
UNDERSTANDING (the faculty that prepares the infor- 
mation required for the decision of reason) under a 
habitual love of divine truth, i.e. of the correspondence 
of our conceptions with the existences of God's material 
and spiritual universe. It is the moral duty of the 
WILL to use the understanding as a MIRROR,* courting 
in every direction, and by every means in man's power, 
the rays of divine truth ; and endeavouring, by in- 
dustry, disinterestedness, and sincerity, to remove the 
soiling breath of the passions and desires, which so 
frequently distort those rays, and make them diverge 
from the mind. 

But, above all, the great moral duty of the will, in 
relation to the conclusions of reason, is VERACITY. The 
impressions which every individual receives, the re- 
flected truths which, after proper examination, are found 
to be permanent on the mind, should be sacred to 
VERACITY. I need not add that this duty is peculiarly 
incumbent on the Christian respecting the religious 
truths which he finds in the Scriptures. But excuse 
me if I repeat, that, in order to prepare ourselves for 
the performance of this duty, we should remove from 
the mind every superstitious fear, which, when exi> 
there, must prevent those writings from conveying an 
unperverted sense. We hear loud and incessant decla- 
mations against the pride and presumption which are 

* "For now we see as by means of a mirror, in hints." This trans- 
lation seems to me to remove the obscurity which the established Tension 
leares on this interesting passage. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 


iM'lirv.'il to intrrft-iv whenever any one rejects the inter- 
piv tat inns of the Orthodox party. But what passion 
can be compared with the servile fear of many Chris- 
tians as to its power of paralyzing the intellectual 
faculties, and preventing the exercise of a manly judg- 
ment? Can a trembling soul which sees the gulf of 
di-M ruction gaping before it during the examination 
of some contested point ; can any one who from the 
cradle has been made to see every danger on the side 
of believing what is plain, rational, and consistent, and 
all imaginable safety in embracing what is most repug- 
nant to common sense and the first laws of reason ; 
can a mind in this state of weakness and trepidation 
avoid the temptation to close its eyes against the truth, 
and "speak wickedly for God and talk deceitful for 
Him"? It would be, indeed, not only useless, but in 
many cases cruel, to urge any powerful considerations 
which might disturb the helpless slaves, or rather vic- 
tims, of an education essentially intolerant ; but every 
man who has courage to think, and loves truth more 
than he fears obloquy and insult, is bound to caution 
all those who, possessing a mental character of the 
same stamp, may not yet be aware of its value, against 
the dangers which threaten if it be not fully developed. 
It is to such persons that I address my warnings : 
let them beware of superstitious fear in the investiga- 
tion of religious truth ; let them encourage in their 
souls a habitual attention to the duty of VERACITY, and 
read the Scriptures with a firm determination of not 
deceiving themselves, for the sake of a false internal 
peace with early prejudices ; and, still more, of not con- 


cealing from others whatever impressions may have 
assumed a clear and prominent character during the 
examination of the sacred writings. Since subjective 
religious truth, i.e. the impressions which the Scriptures 
leave on each individual, have not been made by God a 
matter of OBEDIENCE to any authorized judge of truth ; 
since the meaning of the Scriptures has been left un- 
limited by the judgment of any external authority ; it 
must be supposed that it is the intention of Providence 
that the Scriptures be studied, in common, by all those 
who acknowledge their authority ; and, if such be the 
purpose of the Divine Mind, it must be a duty of all 
Christians not to deceive each other as to the results of 
their respective perceptions of the sense of the Scrip- 
tures. To act otherwise^ must be a sin of FALSEHOOD : 
it must be "holding the truth in unrighteousness" (or 
translating more literally, " in injustice ;" for what in- 
justice can exceed that which is done to mankind when 
any one casts into the common treasury of intellectual 
experience, as his own TRUTH, as the real impression 
on his mind, that which is entirely unlike that impres- 
sion ? Such a deliberate LIE, in relation to the Scrip- 
tures, must be hateful in the eyes of God. He knows 
our weakness of judgment, and our consequent liability 
to error; but what can plead our excuse before Him 
when we wilfully corrupt and deface the only unques- 
tionable TRUTH we possess the reality of our conscious- 
ness ? It cannot be our duty to be right in our ii 
pretation of the Scriptures, because God has not given 
us the means to understand them with moral certainty, 
except as to their general and practicnl objects ; but we 


are bound to be VERACIOUS, to state candidly what we 
because in regard to this we are fully conscious 

whether we speak the TRUTH 01 a LIE. 

From faithfulness to the duty of VERACITY, the Chris- 
tian world ini^ht finally derive the inestimable advan- 
of knowing what is the most general, most distinct, 
and most lasting impression made by the Scriptures on 
the wlttrfiir intellect of those to whom they are collec- 
tircl// addressed. That impression, if gathered from the 
free and unbiassed examination of the most intelligent 
portion of the Christian world, might properly be called 
the natural sense of the Scriptures. In what depart- 
ment of knowledge do we see, or could a civilized nation 
endure, the method which is followed in regard to reli- 
gion ? I have, indeed, heard and read of some attempts to 
perpetuate, by means of oaths, some particular theory of 
medicine, which at some time or other was considered 
to have arrived at a perfection above all possibility of 
improvement. I am aware that the pupils of the school 
of Hippocrates vowed to the gods never to perform or 
recommend the operation of lithotomy ; and I recollect 
to have seen, many years ago, in a book written against 
the use of the Jesuits' Bark, a sentence of excommuni- 
cation which a high ecclesiastical authority (I have an 
idea that it was the Pope) had fulminated against any 
practitioner of medicine that prescribed it. Similar 
attempts to stop the progress of knowledge, just at the 
point where the stoppage suited the vanity, the indo- 
lence, and interest of some powerful body of men, have 
been frequent ; but they have been gradually swept off 
by the progress of civilization. Yet the same method of 
keeping down all Christians to the measure of a certain 


standard, continues to this day in the fullest vigour. 
The physician who, in order to please some great and 
powerful association of medical men, should be found 
reporting cases contrary to the impression of his mind, 
would justly be ranked with the lowest and most odious 
individuals of our species. He who, upon receiving 
his medical diploma, should solemnly engage never to 
depart from a curative system upon which the pro- 
fessors of the faculty had been fiercely contending for 
many ages, would be said to betray the interests of 
humanity. Why ? Because it is well known that the 
only security we possess against the perpetuation of 
error, the only means for its final separation from truth, 
with which it always mixes itself more or less, is free 
discussion between unbiassed minds. But it has been 
decided otherwise in regard to religion. The BIBLE, 
that book in which all Christians " think they possess 
the means of eternal life," but about which experience 
has also forced Protestants, at least, to agree, that, like 
the simples employed in healing the body, it is exposed 
to great mismanagement ; the Bible, concerning which 
such furious contentions have taken place the Bible 
alone must be applied according to privileged systems. 
Though the difficulty of establishing the sense of the 
Bible on subjects about which Christians have destroyed 
Christians without mercy, is attested by the blood of 
the victims, and the chances of error in the decisions 
which constitute the established orthodoxies may be 
calculated by the frenzy of the passions which attended 
those decisions nevertheless, those systems must be 
perpetuated by the engagement of passions still more 
dangerous to truth and veracity than the pride and 


resentment which carried heretics to the stake. That 
the Roman Catholics, who have persuaded themselves 
that, hv a perpetual miracle, no error was at any time 
permitted to form part of their Church's creed, should 
fence that creed with everything that can secure to it 
the awe and the attachment of both the clergy and the 
laity, is perfectly natural and intelligible. But that 
Protestants should continue to imitate the same conduct 
and practice, in respect to creeds, to interpretations of 
Scripture, in which all acknowledge that there may be 
errors, is one of the strangest inconsistencies which 
the history of civilized nations attests. In the mean 
time, and by the direct influence of this system, divi- 
sions, which time and reflection might heal, are rendered 
perpetual and incurable. Under these artificial secu- 
rities, under these regular combinations of men, thus 
solemnly bound not to depart from a certain view of 
Scripture, no gradual approach to a brotherly conformity 
can be made. The general sense of Christians cannot 
be progressively ascertained by the transition of one 
body of men into another. If any one ventures to 
examine the points in question, he is obliged to weigh 
his doubts in secret, as if he were meditating a crime. 
To doubt any of the principal doctrines which are used 
as the colours of these compactly organized and dis- 
ciplined bodies, is to meditate desertion ; to deny their 
truth, is not a change of opinion as in other disputed 
matters it is joining the ranks of the most detested 
rebels. Under such circumstances, can there be a pos- 
sibility of finally rendering the Scriptures what they 
should be the bond of union among those who bear 
the name of Christians ? 


Alas ! were it not for the baneful power of ORTHO- 
BOXY of that pretended duty of agreeing with the 
doctrines which, at some earlier or later period, became 
the nucleus, the bond of a church party we might long 
since have learned, by the united and freely compared 
experience of the Christian world, either what is the 
most natural sense of Scripture on the disputed doc- 
trines, or (what is more probable) a general conviction 
might have been established, that the field of meta- 
physical speculation has been left free, in order that 
individuals may indulge their peculiar intellectual ten- 
dencies, provided they do not interfere with the opposite 
tendencies of others. But what we now possess is not 
the intellectual experience of the millions of Christians 
\vho, in the course of many centuries, have joined the 
various standards of belief: their assent has never been 
free and unbiassed at least, we have strong reasons 
to suspect its freedom. The Christian world has been 
divided into proselyting parties, who, assisted by secular 
power, and frequently using or threatening violence, 
have recruited their ranks and prevented desertion by 
means totally unconnected with free and deliberate con- 
viction. If, perchance, a certain number of individuals 
have really and fully coincided with the standard of 
faith adopted by their church, the early prepossessions 
in which they have been brought up, the spiritual 
terrors of heresy which have been deeply impressed on 
their minds (not to mention attractions and trammels 
of another kind), take away more than half the value of 
their testimony. We have, indeed, no reason to doubt 
the sincerity of individuals from general surmises. 15 m 
though we highly respect the attainments and venerate 


tin 1 virtues of many who have been and are still solemnly 
l)oiiiil to support thu peculiar interpretations and doc- 
trines .if sonic particular church which definitely limits 
^ense of Scripture by articles, instead of qualifying 
sense of those articles by the sense which the sub- 
tinds, or may find, in Scripture, we cannot 
Mer the impression which the Scripture has left on 
their minds as an experimental instance of the natural 
or mental result of those books. The experiment, 
like many of those attested in the history of alchemy, 
has lieen made in a vessel not at all free from substances 
which ought not to have been there. 

The tree and unprejudiced mind dwells with delight 
on the image of the universal church or convocation of 
Christ, as it would naturally have grown " into the ful- 
ness of the body" of its glorious Founder, had not its 
growth been disturbed and distorted by the intolerant 
pride of ORTHODOXY. United by the acknowledgment 
of Jesus of Nazareth as our King, appointed by his 
Father to reign over his moral kingdom, till every tribe 
and nation shall confess that he is Lord, "to the glory 
of the Father ;" agreed in the confession that, for every 
purpose >f well-grounded hope connected with the future, 
and of all spiritual instruction required for the present 
life, he is "one with the Father;" professing to take 
his will and example as the rule and the pattern of 
their individual conduct ; and confident in the promise 
he gave them of an eternal divine assistance to en- 
lighten each upright conscience and strengthen each 
honest heart in the progressive attainment of moral 
conformity with his Master, so that he may be one with 


him, as Jesus and his Father are one;* adopting charity, 
i.e. mutual love and kindness, as the distinguishing 
sign and common bond of the Christian society; ki-i-p- 
ing Christ's declaration, that " his kingdom is not of 
this world," as a strong barrier against the mixture 
of temporal interests with the spiritual concerns of the 
Christian community; under such circumstances, Chris- 
tianity might have spread (as indeed it was intended 
to do, and as we have reason to hope that it will, in 
spite of obstacles) as a bond of fraternal love between 
the nations of the earth ; as a preservative against 
the fears of superstition, which still embitter the soul 
of man in every region under heaven, and poison his 
best natural tendencies ; as the support of one common 
hope of happiness in a future world ; banishing from 
among the rational inhabitants of the earth the notion 
that ceremonies, sacrifices, and priestly interference, are 
necessary to please that great and good God, of whom 
the highest and truest thing that can be said, in human 
language, is, that he is a SPIRIT, and that he delights in 
those who worship him in .S////-/7 and in truth; chc: 
ing the growth and full development of the faculties 
which distinguish us from the brutes ; in a word, 
spreading and perfecting CIVILIZATION to the utmost 
limits of the inhabitable earth. 

And what (let me earnestly and solemnly ask) lias 
hitherto turned this view into a mocking dream a 
dream which deludes by images which are the \ 
reverse of the sad realities which surround us? OR- 
THODOXY ; the notion that the eternal happiness or 
misery of individuals is intimately connected with the 
acceptance or rejection of a most obscure system of 

John xvii. 11, 21. 


metaphysics ; a system perplexing in the extreme to 
who are best acquainted with its formerly tech- 
nical, now obsolete language, and perfectly unintelli- 
gible to the rest of the Christian world ; a system 
which, to say the least, seems to contradict the simplest 
and most primitive notions of the human mind con- 
cerning the unity, the justice, and the goodness of the 
Supreme Being ; a system which, if it be contained in 
the Scripture, has been laid under so thick and impene- 
trable a veil, that thousands who have sought to dis- 
cover it, with the most eager desire of finding it, whose 
happiness in this world would have been greatly in- 
creased by that discovery, and who, at all events, would 
have escaped much misery had they been able to attest 
it, even on grounds of probability sufficient to s acquit 
themselves before their own conscience, have been com- 
pelled by truth to confess that they cannot see it. Yet 
Orthodoxy declares this very system identical with 
Christianity with that gospel which was " preached 
to the poor" and " revealed unto babes :" such a system, 
we are told, is that faith which " except every one keq) 
whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish ever- 

By the influence of this Orthodoxy the world has been 
placed in a worse condition, for peace and mutual love, 
than it was before the gospel. Neighbouring tribes 
might, in ancient times, make their gods the pretext 
for indulging mutual jealousy. But the comprehensive 
religion of the Romans, though inexorable when a 
foreign system threatened to loosen the bonds of their 
political body (which, as experience proved, was the 
decided tendency of Christianity organized by Bishops 



into a political body, foreign to that under whose laws 
they lived), constantly bestowed protection on the reli- 
gions of the conquered countries, and prevented, by this 
means, all attacks on each other. But observe the 
effects of Christianity identified with Orthodoxy. The 
earth reeks still from the torrents of blood which have 
been shed in the name of the gospel. And the error is 
plausible. It is true that the SPIRIT of the gospel itself 
opposes it ; but it is of the very nature of Orthodoxy to 
direct the attention, not to the SPIRIT but to the letter ; 
and the LETTER of the New Testament contains no 
express declaration against preventing heterodoxy by 
the infliction of punishment. That Jesus did not allow 
the two disciples to command fire from heaven against 
the Samaritans who would not receive him, is an ex- 
ample that might protect the unconverted heathen from 
Christian zealots ; that he would not pray for twelve 
legions of angels to save him out of the hands of his 
enemies, only proves that "the cup he had to drink 
could not pass away from him." Yet, if the bond of 
his kingdom is Orthodoxy ; if the eternal life of the 
subjects of that kingdom depends on the purity of their 
creed, and heresy murders their souls, there is nothing 
in the New Testament that opposes the use of effectual 
measures to counteract evils of that magnitude. The 
argument, that if death is the fit punishment for the 
murderer of the body, much more must it be deserved 
by him who murders the soul, has the force of demon- 
stration for every orthodox people on the face of tin- 
earth. So it has acted among the orthodox of the most 
opposite parties ; and so it would act at this moment, 
even among Protestants, if a stanch orthodox cl 


were supported by a stanch orthodox people. The 
horrors of the Inquisition do not belong to Rome by 
jiny : y connection between their Catholic tenets 

and their cruelty. If Roman Catholics have been pro- 
minent in the vast field of religious persecution, it is 
because they are in the same degree prominent in the 
belief of their exclusive Orthodoxy. 

Nor could it be otherwise ; for that mistaken Chris- 
tianity which proclaims abstract creeds as the only sure 
pledges of eternal happiness in heaven, has the power 
of combining sincerity and tranquillity of conscience 
with the indulgence of the two most powerful passions 
fear and angry pride. An ancient idolater who saw 
the object of his worship despised, would feel the insult 
as personal ; but the mere act of neglecting his favourite 
altar for another, would not give him the slightest 
offence. He believed that certain practices and obla- 
tions were preferable to others in regard to his individual 
happiness, just as in Roman Catholic countries different 
persons choose the patronage of different saints, without 
a shadow of uneasiness arising from the various views 
and tastes of the devotees. But the Orthodox, of what- 
ever denomination or creed he may be, cannot endure 
varieties of creed : and, indeed, it is not in the nature of 
tilings that he should. Every man's salvation, accord- 
ing to his view of the subject, depends upon unhesi- 
tating assent to certain propositions, of such a very 
abstract nature, so inconsistent with the most certain 
principles of human Reason, that even when they have 
been most assiduously forced upon the infant mind, 
they very frequently drop off, in spite of the most 
sincere efforts of the same mind in its maturity. Fear 



and sympathy are generally the guardians to whom the 
orthodox creed is entrusted. Its preservation depends, 
therefore, much more upon external impressions than 
upon conviction. Now, a man who should believe that 
his salvation was connected with his assent to a series of 
geometrical theorems which he had once demonstrated, 
would not be irritated by the disbelief of his neighbours. 
But the disbelief of others has an irresistible effect on 
the mind, when Eeason is uneasy. The WILL, in the 
cases to which I allude, is invariably found to have 
encroached on the province of the UNDERSTANDING, and 
forced it to be silent. This powerful faculty, however, 
has submitted reluctantly; and will struggle for mastery 
at the approach of another intellect which enjoys its 
freedom, or at least does not drag chains so oppressive 
and galling. But since, according to the Orthodox, every 
doubt thus raised by sympathy, endangers his own sal- 
vation, how can his fears allow him to be tolerant? 
How shall he be able to endure the presence of the 
tempter? He must regard him with feelings similar to 
those which a direct emissary of Satan would raise. 

I must, however, hasten to conclude this letter, leaving 
you to enlarge and unfold the hints already given, as 
well as those with which I shall close it 

You have only to cast a wide and comprehensive 
glance over the New Testament, to be convinced that 
the spiritual (i.e. mental) stamp of the gospel is LIBERTY. 
Christ is not only a SAVIOUR from SIN, but from SUPER- 
STITION a word that properly embraces all religions 
which make ceremonies and a priesthood essential to 
spiritual safety. I do not exclude the Jewish religion. 
As far as it was established and sanctioned by God, it 


intrude*! for a people who, " owing to the hardness of 
their heart," requireda moral system of education strongly 
mixed with the very faults to which they were nationally 
inclined a most delicate process for the final attain- 
ment of good, which man has not knowledge enough to 
conduct, and which the infinite wisdom of God alone 

conduct without the danger of fortifying and in- 
the evil which, by a partial and temporary 
sanction, is to be finally extirpated. Christ came to 
deliver the world from that evil; "to deliver us from 
the yoke of the law," and from every yoke of a similar 
nature. But observe the earliest attempt to corrupt, 
and indeed, according to St. Paul, to nullify the gospel.* 
Hear the voice of the first inventors of DAMNATORY OR- 
THdDoxv.-f- "Andcertain men who camedown froinJudea, 
taught the brethren (and said), Except ye be circum- 

* "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall 
profit you nothing." Gal. v. 2. The gospel, the glad tidings of deliver- 
ance, would, of course, be contradicted by the resumption of ceremonies as 
necessary to salvation. 

t The declaration in Mark xvi. 16 (if the passage from ver. 9 to the 
end be genuine, which there is good reason to doubt), has been supposed 
to contain the principle of damnatory Orthodoxy ; but, certainly, without 
foundation* The safety or salvation which the gospel promises is, as I 
have shewn before, attached to REPENTANCE (expressed by baptism or 
immersion, which signifies a moral death to past sinful courses, and a 
resurrection, or new life, to virtue), and the acceptance of the Christ 
as our moral guide. Condemnation, t. e. CENSURE (with the extent of its 
effects, I am not at present concerned), is declared to be incurred by those 
who, having had a sufficient attestation of the truth of the gospel, never- 
theless ivjeet it, and remain unrepentant. This is very different from the 
.1 Orthodoxy which dooms to eternal punishment such as will 
maintain their mental liberty against it. Matt. x. 14, 15, condemns the 
bigoted and disingenuous spirit which refuses so much as to entertain, to 
give a bearing to, persons who by fair and reasonable means wish to 
call our attention to views of religious subjects differing from our own. 


cised after the manner of Moses, YE CANNOT BE SAVED."* 
These men understood the method of keeping up the 
religious dependence of the laity on the priesthood. 
FEAR is the very essence of superstition-)-, and super- 
stition the chain by which the priest secures the people 
to himself. Hence, in all ages, the constant re-echoing 
of the words, ye cannot be saved : except ye be under the 
Pope, ye cannot be saved : except ye believe the Atha- 
nasian Creed, ye cannot be saved : except ye believe that 
the first sin of the first man utterly corrupted human 
nature, ye cannot be saved : except ye believe in predes- 
tination and imputed righteousness, ye cannot be saved.^ 
How different was the language of the apostle Paul ! 
How perfectly independent of such conditions was the 
salvation which he preached as " glad tidings." " Stand 
fast ... in the LIBERTY wherewith Christ hath made you 
free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bond- 
age/^ To demand either ceremonies, with the Jews ; 
or notifications, with the Ascetics ; or belief in meta- 
physical theories, with the Theosophists|| (three classes 
of men who " came in privily to spy out the Christians' 

It is, in fact, a pointed declaration against the intolerant Jeicish Orthodoxy. 
Let it be observed, besides, that the apostles had no complicated meta- 
physical creed to propose. Their message was, "The kingdom of heaven," 
i. e. the moral reign of God through the Messiah, " is at hand." 

* Acts xv. 

f- Antruaiftovia ; or, as literally as it can be rendered, fear of the in- 
visible powers. 

See note to page 34, at the end. The true sense of the original would 
not suit the purpose of intimidation in the degree required by corporate 
Orthodoxy ; else the true translation of these and similar passages would 
only convey the idea of not being right, of not being on the path of moral 

Gal. v. 1. II See Coloss. ii. 

:i:3Y AND ORTHODOXY. :>~> 

liberty,"* and to induce them to add to the gospel the 
vic\\ > of their respective parties); to make salvation 
ad on anything external or internal, except that 
I'aith, that trust in the truths announced and sanctioned 
by Christ which shews itself in holiness of life, was, 
in Paul's eyes, to destroy the gospel. Even the Apostle 
James, who (whatever the blindness produced by a 
groundless theory of inspiration may obstinately assert) 
opposed Paul's too broad and too declamatory state- 
ments of justification by faith alone even James was 
full of the leading notion that Christianity is " the law 
of liberty." But let us hear Paul again : " Where the 
spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."-}- Orthodoxy has 
so blinded Christians, that many, I fear, will be ready 
to consider the application of this passage as a mere 
accommodation of the word liberty to my subject. I 
have, indeed, frequently remarked how seldom divines 
dwell upon this part of the Second Epistle to the Co- 
rinthians; how constantly they pass over that most 
significant sentence "Who also hath made us able 
ministers of the New Testament ; NOT OP THE LETTER, 


SPIRIT GIVETII LIFE." But is it not clear that, according 
to Paul, the New Testament or covenant, through Christ, 
has no LETTER? That it does not consist in words to 
be explained, in order to reach some abstruse sense as 
the substance of that covenant? The VAIL which re- 
mained " untaken away," in the reading of the Old Tes- 
tament, " by the Jews," the "vail which is done away in 
Christ," the " vail" of the " letter that killeth," the cloud 

* Gal. ii. 4, compared with Coloss. ii. f 2 Cor. iii. 17. 


of WORDS which was afterwards made indispensable for 
salvation, remains, alas ! upon the hearts of most Chris- 
tians to this hour. It is, I am convinced, this r> 
faith, this "letter that killeth," which ruins Christianity 
amongst us ; which inspires most denominations of Chris- 
tians with aversion, suspicion, and jealousy towards 
those who do not receive the letter of their creeds and 
articles ; which makes the attempt to spread the gospel 
among the heathens an object of mockery in the eyes 
of many, who cannot but ridicule the idea of preaching 
abroad what is yet unsettled at home. Would heaven 
that Christians had their own "vail" of orthodox words 
taken away from their minds ; that, limiting Orthodoxy 
to the acceptance of the Christ as the SPIRIT* (" the Lord 
is that Spirit" says St. Paul), i.e. the meaning, the end 
of all revelation, would not allow a new letter, consisting 
of abstract doctrines, to involve their minds in a " vail," 
which obstructs the view of the gospel, even more than 
the old letter which kept the Jews in bondage. Happy 
indeed would it be for the best interests of mankind, if 

* That Trvfvpa, in opposition to ypa/i/xa, can mean spirit only in the 
sense which contrasts with letter, seems too clear to require proof. Yet, 
if I am not much mistaken, Trvtvpa is, by some, understood in this 
passage in a mystical sense, as if conveying the notion that Christ is the 
spirit, the internal power which animates, strengthens, and enlightens 
the true believers; a sense, in my opinion, totally inconsistent with the 
context. According to Paul, in this place, the Christ is the end, TO rt\oc, 
the final object of "that which is abolished," namely, the letter of the law; 
consequently he is the thing meant, the spirit of that letter. Upon this 
is grounded Paul's assertion, that whoever should turn towards Christ, i.e. 
the spirit or meaning of the letter of the Mosaic law, would have the 
"vail" which blinded the Jews taken away from his mind. Wherever 
that meaning, tliat spirit of the Z/orrf, that true knowledge of the end of 
revelation, which centres in the Messiah, prevails, taking possession of the 
heart and mind, there is liberty. 


all who glory in the name of Christians would turn 
away from the clouds of words that divide them into 
hostile parties ; making the Christ, the Son of God, 
their point of union, and giving the right hand of fellow- 
ship to every one who, by obedience to the will of God, 
ire know it through our moral Lord and Master, 
shews that he loves him in sincerity. Then would the 
church of Christ be UNIVERSAL indeed: then would the 
spirit of the Lord be truly among us, and with it would 
appear spiritual LIBERTY attended by peace and charity : 
then might we hope to gain over many of those who, 
shocked by our present wrangliugs, turn away from 
him whom we misrepresent as the Founder of an unin- 
telligible religion. 

I conclude with an observation upon which, ever since 
it occurred to me, my mind has dwelt with unabated inte- 
rest. I wish you to observe the connection of the notions 
si'iuiT and LIBERTY which appears in many parts of 
the New Testament, and especially in the passage on 
which I have made these remarks. But most parti- 
cularly do I wish to draw your attention to that sen- 
tence (to me the most sublime that ever was expressed 
in human language) which the Christ addressed to the 
Samaritan woman. When that right-minded, though 
frail, creature shewed her eager desire for religious in- 
struction, especially on the long-pending controversy 
between her own nation and the Jews, what was the 
answer^ Does Jesus describe any new modification of 
the usual systems of religion ? Does he speak of a new 
priesthood, of a new doctrine, of a new sacrifice? Far 
from it. "The hour conieth (he says in regard to the 
Messiah's kingdom) and now is, when the true wor- 


shippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" 
TRUTH, in this passage, evidently means reality, in con- 
tradistinction to emblems; the worship of the heart, in 
opposition to the worship of ceremonies ; the direct 
worship of the soul, not that which requires the inter- 
position of a priesthood. But mark the reason given : 
GOD is A SPIRIT. To the Eternal Mind (such is the 
reasoning implied), to that Eternal Being who is the 
Father of Spirits, the only acceptable worship must be 
that which is truly spiritual. Figures and ceremonies 
must cease ; for they are shadows, and he loves reali- 
ties. The only sacrifice he demands is that of the 
individual will to his Supreme Will. This is the rea- 
sonable service of faith peculiar to Christianity. But 
the mind, which is both the altar and the priest of this 
sublime and pure sacrifice, should not be degraded by 
a subjection to words, which are mere figures, more 
oppressive and enslaving than that of the Jews to the 
ceremonial law. The spirit of the Christ has set the 
spirit of the true worshipper completely free from such 
fetters. The Christian worshipper should worship in 
TRUTH ; and nothing is true to the human mind but 
what carries conviction to the Eeason : another man's 
truth is error to him who does not see it as true. To 
offer up such borrowed truth a truth which the indi- 
vidual Reason rejects is to lay a falsehood before God's 
throne as an offering. Such, in most cases, are the 
offerings of Orthodoxy. 



]x my first Letter I defined Heresy, "an opposition 
to the various standards of Christian faith which men 
not only adopt for themselves, but also think binding 
on all others." This was the result of the reasoning 
which preceded the definition ; and I consider it proved 
by that reasoning. I have, nevertheless, employed a 
great part of that first Letter, and the whole of the 
second, in confirming the accuracy of that analytical 
conclusion. But I am not yet satisfied that I have done 
enough. The difficulty of uprooting a prejudice which 
was almost undisturbed during, at least, fourteen cen- 
turies before the Reformation ; a prejudice which the 
Reformers themselves, for the most part, confirmed ; a 
prejudice which is instilled into the opening mind with 
the first rudiments of education ; a prejudice, in fine, 
which in this country has become so disguised that it 
exists in full vigour side by side with the most active 
spirit of political freedom the difficulty of uprooting 
such a prejudice is greater than anyone can conceive, 
who has not traced the minute ramifications by means 
of which it keeps its hold on men possessing the best 
qualities of mind and heait. 


Do not lose sight, I again request you, of the leading 
principle which from the beginning I have laid before 
you. Heresy, in the sense which the different parties 
who call themselves Orthodox have given to that word, 
cannot be conceived unless it be proved that Christ 
established some perpetual authority an authority to 
be kept in existence by an unquestionably legitimate 
succession whose duty and privilege it is to declare 
what doctrines are true. If no such authority exists, 
if the Scriptures are addressed to the Keason and the 
Understanding, not of a privileged class, but of every 
individual who wishes to follow the Christ ; if there 
is no divinely-appointed judge to decide between the 
various mental impressions, i.e. the various meanings 
which the Scriptures convey to different minds Heresy 
is a word which expresses only the anger of one Chris- 
tian against another. It is only in this light that a 
history of the Inquisition can be read without nourish- 
ing in ourselves an inquisitorial spirit. Excuse this 
repetition : the truth, in circumstances like those of my 
subject, glides off the mind as a paradox, unless it be 
repeatedly brought in contact with it, to be gradually, 
as it were, absorbed, and incorporated with the rest of 
our knowledge. 

The same process should be adopted in regard to im- 
portant passages of Scripture which, for many years, 
have been constantly presented to the mind in connection 
with established doctrines. Language being a collection 
of arbitrary signs and words, having no meaning but 
that which is given to them by the mental habits of 
those who use them, any word, and still more any 
tence (for words in combination are particularly sul 


to a variety of shades of meaning), if habitually repeated 
in connection with certain notions, will appear to reject 
all <>th<-r significations, as it were, by a natural power. 
The identical texts which opposite parties of Christians 
so decidedly assert to convey naturally and obviously 
notions which destroy each other, are (considering the* 
sincerity with which those assertions are generally 
made) striking instances of the unlimited power of asso- 
ciation over language. The controversialists stare, in 
unfeigned surprise, at what each conceives to be the 
glaring absurdity and perverseness of his opponent. The 
ill-subdued flames of equally genuine zeal make the 
blood boil in their veins when they observe that such 
plain words as body and blood, for instance, are not 
taken in their obvious sense ; forgetting that in arbitrary 
signs, especially when they may be used figuratively, 
that sense alone can be obvious which use has rendered 
familiar.* For persons who belong to the same age 
and country, and who, by education arid habits, have 
been placed in a sort of mental contact with the gene- 
rations of their not very remote forefathers, the language 
of those ancestors may, in many cases, properly be said 
to have an obvious meaning. But in the very ancient 
languages, especially of the Eastern nations, there is 
hardly any expression which can have an obvious 
meaning for us. The habits of the Jews in Jesus's 
time, for instance, were so totally different from ours, 

* At all events, that sense cannot be obviout which would not stand 
before or present itself readily, and without delay. If we heard a person, 
holding some bread in his hands, say, This is my body, the literal sense 
would by no means come foremost into our minds : it would not stand before 
tw, or be obvious. This observation may be applied in very different 
ways, according to circumstances. 


the mass of each individual's ideas was so dissimilar to 
that which will be found in a corresponding class of 
people among us, that the phrases which would convey 
a clear meaning to a child in those times, may now be 
grossly misunderstood by the ablest men. We have but 
one method of avoiding great mistakes in the perusal 
of such writings as those of the New Testament. The 
reader should make himself, as much as possible, a con- 
temporary of the writers, by an intimate acquaintance 
with their language, their learning, their modes of think- 
ing, and their habits. In this manner will he be able 
to understand the general import of those documents, 
especially in connection with practical subjects of morals ; 
morals I say, not limiting the word to external con- 
duct, but extending it to the discipline of the will and 
affections. In regard to this, the notions of mankind 
are so coincident, that they may be conveyed even by 
the slightest hints.* But in respect to philosophical 
or speculative ideas, especially in relation to the in- 
visible world, far from expecting that the sense of 
those writers should be obvious, a sober and unpn 'ju 
mind will be prepared to meet with great obscurity. 
All that we have a right to expect is a probable sense, 
disclosed by the light which the clearer passages 
over the more obscure. But even this probaliili: 
greatly diminished by the habits of mind whici. 
sedulously cherished in children, and which grow 
them into manhood. The notions which some 

* It is owing to ibis that Homer's poems are easily understood, so far. 
at least, as to create a deep interest. The words of tbat patriarch of 
have a living interpreter in every human heart. The same happens in 
regard to many portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. 


writers conceived and published when knowledge was 

rce among Christians the notions which, in 

.it times, a clergy who took for their mental 

iruiile a deceitful verbal philosophy, reduced into a logical 

in, with nothing but empty speculation for its 
Ljroiiiul these notions digested into catechisms, whose 
expressions have been incorporated with every vernacular 
tongue, are now so attached, by mental association, to 

in passages of Scripture, that it is very difficult to 
separata them, even when the understanding is tho- 
roughly convinced that they could not be thus associated 
in the minds of the original teachers of Christianity. 

That you may completely overcome such habits, allow 
me to recommend the re-perusal of such passages in 
the Xew Testament as speak of the SPIRIT in opposition 
to the LETTER, and of Christian LIBERTY in contrast 
with Jewish BONDAGE, examining them in the light of 
the principle which I have developed in the two pre- 
ceding Letters. Examine, I beg you, whether, if the 
common notions of HERESY and ORTHODOXY were true, 
the law of Moses would be so decidedly interior to the 
gospel as the Apostle Paul represents it ; or whether, 
on the contrary, if, while our salvation depended on our 
right choice of theological opinions, and on the legitimate 
use of SACRAMENTS (as some practices are called, without 
the least ground or authority), we had been left in 

t uncertainty as to the truth of the opinions and 

divine appointment of the ministers of the sacra- 
ments, we should not be in an infinitely lower condition 
than the Jews. Under the supposed necessity of ein- 
l>rae'iii!4 certain dogmas and receiving certain sacraments 
x tho latter, of course at the hands of lajitimate ministers), 


as conditions of salvation, our Christian LIBERTY ought 
rather to be called the Christian anarchy. It would be 
such liberty as that which sailors would enjoy upon a 
coast abounding in sunken rocks, when every lighthouse, 
and buoy, and signal, had been removed ; or rather, 
when every family who lived in the neighbourhood had 
been allowed to set up lights, and to float buoys, accord- 
ing to their respective notions of the safe and the 
dangerous parts of those seas ; and to distribute con- 
tradictory charts of soundings, which each family had 
tried with lines of some three feet in length. 

The New Testament is, indeed, deprived of its very 
life on the usual supposition that Orthodoxy is identical 
with, or constitutes an essential part of, saving faith. 
That passage, in particular, which I paraphrased at the 
end of my second Letter, becomes a collection of empty 
sounds, if we admit that supposition. There is, indeed, 
but one sense in which it expresses a definite notion, 
in conformity with the meaning of the word Gospel 
(i.e. glad tidings), and presents a real contrast between 
the new and the old dispensation. Permit me to call 
again your attention to the third chapter of the second 
Epistle to the Corinthians, taking it up at the beginning 
till we come to that passage which I explained in my 
second Letter. But I wish to make one observation as 
an introduction to the exposition of the passage. 

Had one of the principal offices of the apostles been, 
that of establishing such a VERBAL rule of faith as would 
have been indispensable for the existence of an associa- 
tion of men who were to depend on Orthodoxy for union 
in this world and for salvation in the next, the delivery 
of that RULE would certainly have been their most 


mi and public act. If, to settle the question con- 

leference which Gentile proselytes owed to 

the law of Moses (so long as the Mosaic polity existed), 

ih.' apostlrs issued a formal decree, preceded by a 

mature and public deliberation, how can it be imagined 

that they would have omitted to publish some such 

creed as that which was afterwards attril^ited to them, 

if they had been persuaded by inspiration that an accept- 

of such articles was necessary to the attainment of 

ial happiness ? Both the appearance of the pretended 

d of the Apostles, about the time when the notion 

of articular Orthodoxy as identical with saving faith 

in to be general, and the non-existence of a real 

itles' Creed before that period, combine to prove 

invlVagably the un-apostolic character of that notion. 

But in the passage to which I again call your atten- 
tion, we have a more direct and positive proof that Paul's 
vi.-ws were quite opposite to the notion in question. 
His apostolic authority having been disputed at Corinth, 
and again recognized in consequence of the effect pro- 
d by the first of his Epistles addressed to that 
Christian community, and of the exertions of his faithful 
friend Titus ; this second Letter contains, as it might be 
t-xpected, numerous observations on the legitimacy of his 
apostleship. Most, however, of these observations are 
rather attributable to bursts of feeling, which the writer 
is desirous to check, than to a deliberate intention of 
recommending himself to the Corinthians. At that 
point of the Letter which, according to our arbitrary 
divisions of the text, we call the beginning of the third 
chapter, the writer suspects that he is addressing his 
reconciled Corinthian converts in the tone of self-com- 



mendation. He accordingly checks himself, though not 
without hinting at the mean arts of his rivals, who used, 
it seems, to procure commendatory letters to the various 
Christian assemblages, among whose members they were 
anxious to gain popularity. Paul, remembering this 
unworthy method of canvassing for the favour of those 
whom, with t so much labour, he had "begotten to 
Christ/' expresses a well-grounded confidence that he 
himself was above the necessity of procuring recom- 
mendations to his own spiritual children. "Others (I 
express his meaning) may want letters introducing them 
to your favour; but in yourselves I have a LETTER 
which much exceeds all other such writings in value. 
The world may read in YOU one of my clearest titles to 
the apostleship of which some interested and envious 
men would deprive me. You, Corinthians, appear before 
the world as an epistle of Christ, in my favour. You 
are a letter, written, not with ink, but with the spirit of 
the living God ; not in tables of stone, like those which 
attested the mission of Moses, but in the fleshly tables 
of the heart, whereupon we, the apostles of Christ, are 
commissioned to engrave the law of the Spirit." 

As soon, however, as the idea of a contrast between 
the old and the new dispensation arises in the apostle's 
mind, he seizes it with his usual eagerness, and gives 
his readers a lesson on which Christians cannot dwell 
too long or too intensely. " God (I continue to give the 
meaning of Paul's words) has made us ministers of the 
new covenant, under a character entirely opposite to that 
of the mission of Moses. The law which Moses was 
sent to proclaim and establish was LITERAL : that which 
we are publishing to the world has no LETTER : it i 


law of PRiNriri.i : ; and herein consists the superiority 
of the gospel above the law. A literal law is a burden 
which deadens the human mind; a spiritual law, on the 
contrary, adds activity and power, especially under the 
influence of that spirit of life which we have received, 
and of which we, the original preachers of the gospel, 
have been appointed ministers. This is our title to the 
authority we claim of bearing witness to Christ, as his 
peculiar messengers, and to the honour due to that office. 
For if Moses received honour from God, though he was 
the minister of a literal law, from which the people 
subject to it could expect nothing but a constant sense 
of transgression, and the blame (the condemnation) of 
tin- law which they broke, how much more must our 
ministry be entitled to glory and honour, whose office 
is to proclaim a covenant which does not depend on 
VERBAL or LITERAL statutes, but which, announcing the 
spirit of the Lord Jesus, which is a spirit of LIBERTY, 
invites mankind to cast off the yoke of statutes and 
ordinances of all kinds relating to religion, and thus to 
be free from all sin and the fear of sin ! a freedom 
which the most religious observers of the law of Moses, 
even when totally devoted to the fulfilment of the con- 
ditions of the Mosaic covenant, could not attain." 

If this be the reasoning contained in the passage 
before us (as I trust you will find it upon due consider- 
ation, especially in connection with the portion of the 
same chapter which I explained in my second Letter), 
what can be more plain and direct than the inference, 
that the apostle Paul considered the gospel as being 
subject to no LITERAL conditions, to demand no obe- 
dience tO LITERAL PRECEPTS? Now, I ask, IS this 



LIBERTY consistent with the pretended law of Ortho- 
doxy ? Can any obedience be more burdened with 
verbal precepts and limitations than the dogmatic faith 
on which the various parties, called churches, will have 
salvation to depend? Precepts laid upon the mental 
faculties LITERAL, VERBAL directions to the under- 
standing, compelling Reason to admit certain propo- 
sitions as true, in spite of the total indefiuiteness of 
the impressions conveyed by the words, in opposition 
to previously established principles, and under the abso- 
lute necessity of taking the most inadequate material 
figures for the objects which they are said to represent 
such precepts are infinitely more burdensome than tin- 
whole Levitical law. The laws of sacrifice, of external 
purity,, and of difference of meats, were definite and 
intelligible. The man who submitted to them was 
morally a slave ; but he might know how far lie had 
succeeded in the fulfilment of his ceremonial task. JJut 
if the most important part of the gospel (as it is repre- 
sented) consisted of intellectual PRECEPTS, proposit 
directing Christians, upon pain of damnation, " how they 
are to think" (as the Athanasian Creed tells us*) upon 
things beyond all the power of thought, we should be 
"of all men most miserable." We might well envy the 
condition of the Jew, who, though loaded with prec- 
could know with certainty whether he obeyed or failed. 
But how can we, when we embrace one particular Or- 
thodoxy, be sure that we have not chosen a belief 
very opposite of that which the metaphysical rule of 
right thinking, on what is beyond the pale of reason, 

* Whosoever will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity. A than. 

Hi:i:r.sY AND ORTHODOX V. 69 

ided? Tin- .lew (to mention one out of a multi- 
tude of instances) well knew the composition of the 
i i'ii t ion; but what prophet can quiet men's 
s'Tiipli-s as to the ingredients of a creed that shall con- 
tain neither more nor less than the true metaphysical 
deductions which may be drawn from the letter of the 
( )ld and the Xew Testament ? The letter that killeth is 
declared by Paul not to belong to his ministry: could 
he, then, have been the minister of a dogmatic faith of 
that double-edged sword which for so many centuries 
i> supposed to have been killing souls aye, and bodies 
too to right and left? Could he preach the accurs- 
ing, the anathematizing gospel of Councils, Popes, and 
Synods, Catholic and Protestant, ancient and modern? 
Can any mortal calculate the millions of millions of 
souls which must at this moment be irrevocably sunk in 
everlasting perdition, if the LETTER of the various Ortho- 
doxies has been allowed to kill according to the wishes 
of their respective supporters ? if heresy be " a sin unto 

But let us suppose, for a moment (though I fear to 
weaken the impression of this argument), that St. Paul 
and his fellow-labourers, the other apostles, immediate 
disciples of Christ, had preached a dogmatic faith, the 
genuineness of which was to be proved by its con- 
formity with some LETTER, i.e. some declaration in 
writing. Where did that declaration exist? When did 
the apostles deliver it to the Christian world as the rule 
of its faith throughout all future ages? The law of 
Moses, because it depended upon the letter of the law, 
Mas solemnly delivered to the people of Israel, to be 
preserved and transmitted by means of authenticated 


documents ; but when was anything of this kind per- 
formed by the apostles, much less by Christ himself? 

Nothing is more difficult, when we treat of events 
which took place at a very distant period, than to divest 
ourselves of our modern notions, and never to lose sight 
of the then existing circumstances. We are so accus- 
tomed to see the Old and New Testament bound together, 
and to regard that collection as an individual book, 
written for the express purpose of establishing Chris- 
tianity, that I fear many will be misled, in the present 
question, by the notion that St. Paul must have referred 
his converts to their BIBLE. That he referred the Jews 
to the Old Testament for predictions of the Messiah, i e. 
for the conformity of the character described in those 
books with the character of Jesus of Nazareth, is cer- 
tain ; but we do not find that he recommended the same 
search to the Gentiles. Such a search, considering the 
difficulty and expense of obtaining manuscripts in those 
days, must have been impracticable to by far the greater 
part of the Gentile converts, even when we take in such 
as had learned to read, and could understand the trans- 
lation of the Septuagint. If the Christian society at 
Corinth, a wealthy, refined, and learned city, contained 
not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, 
not many noble,* how few, capable of instruction by 
reading, must have been found among the semi-bar- 
barian countries of Asia Minor, Phrygia, Cappadocia, 
Galatia, Pontus in a word, all the country except a few 
Greek cities ! 

Now, in regard to the New Testament, we must not 

1 Cor. i. 2o. 


forget that the writings to which we give that name 
did not exist, as a collection, for a considerable time after 
tin 1 puhlieation of Christianity : in fact, the CAUSE of 
their la-ing made up into a collection was the great in- 
crease of converts to the religion of Jesus. We must 
also remember, that when our present New Testament 
was collected, there was not one of the apostles alive who 
could authoritatively deliver it as the verbal rule of faith 
to the Christian world. But suppose the collection known 
to the apostle John. He lived a long time at Ephesus, 
where the wildest notions on religion were afloat. He 
met with a most violent opposition, and was excommimi- 
< \ited by Diotrephes, who probably justified his conduct 
to the church by accusing John of some essential error.* 
His first two Epistles are full of complaints against 
that class of Gnostics who denied the reality of Christ's 
person. What could be more natural, in such circum- 
stances, than to appeal to, and fully explain, the nature 
of the RULE which, from that time till the end of things, 
was to settle controversies of faith in the universal 
church ? But it is remarkable that not only does not 
John refer to any such rule, but, even when he was not 
received by a church, he does not assert his right to be 
acknowledged as a supreme judge of disputed questions. 
Nay, in a part of his first Epistle where he expressly 
cautions his disciples against men whom he calls ANTI- 
CHRISTS, men who had gone out from among St. John's 
society of Christians, and who, in the orthodox sense of 
the word, might properly be called HERETICS, the apostle 

* "I wrote unto the church ; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have tb 
pre-eminence among them, rcceiveth us not" 3 John v. 9. This letter 
of John is one of the apostolic writings which has been lost. 


appeals to what ? To his own inspiration ? To some 
fixed standard of faith ? No such thing. He refers to 


have an unction (he says) from the Holy One, and ye 
know all things. I have not written unto you because 
ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and 

that no lie is of the truth Let that therefore abide 

in you which ye have HEARD (no written documents 
mentioned) from the beginning. . . . These (things) have 
I written unto you concerning them that seduce you 
(no worse heretics in the modern sense could be de- 
scribed) ; but the anointing which ye have received of 
him abideth in you : and ye need not that any man teach 
you."* Can any one conceive that this address was 
made under the persuasion that Jesus had intended to 
secure his gospel, and the benefits arising from it, by a 
RULE of logical and metaphysical Orthodoxy ? I leave 
the answer to the common sense and conscience of every 
unperverted mind. 

I have now stated some of the plainest fads which 
are attested in the New Testament ; and they fully 
oppose the notion, that the collection to which we give 
that name was prepared with a view to the controversies 
which have divided the church from the first days of 
Christianity to this moment. This being true in regard 
to the New Testament, who can think that the Hebrew 
Scriptures were appointed for that purpose ? 

I trust I need not remind you that the Roman Catholic 
evasion the supposition of a perpetual, living, and in- 
fallible judge of the Scriptures has been totally demo- 
lished by the Protestant writers. The very existence 

* l John ii. 


of such a flimsy theory is a superabundant proof of the 
ureat trutli for which I have been contending; for since 
the nrcosit y of such a living jud^e arises from the notion 
that Christian faith necessarily implies ORTHODOXY, the 
evident non-existence of such a judge proves the falsity 
>f the notion, upon the admittance of which the judge 
me* absolutely necessary. God, we certainly know, 
would not make anything necessary for salvation, unless 
lie had put that tiling within the reach of every sincere 
inquirer after it. SAVING FAITH is, therefore, not ORTHO- 
DOXY. I know no proposition in divinity of which I feel 
more assured. 

I request you now to fix an undivided attention on 
the inevitable consequence of the truth which I have 
established. If no living authority has been divinely 
established to explain the Scriptures on disputed points, 
is it not clear that those writings have been addressed 
equally to all men, in order that every one may en- 
deavour to make out their sense by comparing different 
passages, and trying the explanations which he hears 
from others by the general SPIRIT of those Scriptures ? 
In other words, is it not evident that God has left the 
sense of the Scriptures, as far as that sense is of practical 
importance, free to every sincere Christian, and entirely 
to the judgment of his REASON? Can any other judge 
le proved to exist? The answer is placed beyond all 
doubt. The independence of human reason from all 
responsibility, except that which man feels in his inmost 
soul to the Eternal Fountain of that reason, is demon- 

It is said, that God has promised his Spirit to those 
who ask for it. This is perfectly true. It is a truth 


well known to all honest men who have examined the 
only spiritual world accessible to man the world within 
us. Hear the memorable words of Seneca, words not 
unworthy to stand side by side with the best passages 
of St. Paul : Sacer intra nos spiritus sedet, malorum bono- 
rumque nostrorum observator et custos ; hie, prout a nobis 
tradatus est, ita nos ipse tractat* It is this universal 
Law, this fact of God's moral world, which the writers 
of the New Testament exhibit more or less under a 
clothing of that supernaturalism in which the Jews of 
that age and country saw all things. But the gift of 
the SPIRIT, that unction of which St. John speaks-f 
(probably in allusion to the anointment of the Hebrew 
priests, the interpreters of the old Law), was not in- 
tended as a check, but as a GUIDE { to the rational mind 
of man. The Divine Spirit of TRUTH has been promised 
to sincere Christians (I firmly believe it is promised to 
all honest men) to guide them in all that concerns their 
moral safety. The two SPIRITS the Spirit (i. e. the mind, 
so we may call it without irreverence) of God, and the 
spirit of man, though infinitely apart from each other in 
their nature, are clearly represented by Paul as analogous 
(I might say akin) to each other. Nor could it be 

* Ad Ludl. "A holy spirit has his seat within us, watching what in 
us is evil, and guarding what is good. He treats us as we have treated 

t In the passage of his 1st Epistle, quoted before. 

"He will guide you into all the truth," namely, of the simple 

" Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities : for we know not 
what we should pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession 
for us (with sighs not expressed in words) ;" i.e. the divine impulse after 
holiness which is in us, makes us sigh for what we cannot express ; but 
God, who gives us that Spirit, knows what it is we wish for. 


otherwise, since the one is the fountain-head <>f reason, 

the other a derived stream. Let us not, however, be 

misled ly taking reason in the sense of some of its 

- or manifestations. By REASON in its highest 

6 in that sense which Paul seems to convey when 
hi- speaks of that spirit of man which the Spirit of God 
iid will) wliich the Divine intelligence sympa- 
thizes we should understand that part of human nature, 
that multiform {'acuity, which constitutes man a RATIONAL 
being.* It is to this spirit of man i.e. to his RATION- 
ALITY, as opposed to everything which he has in com- 
mon with brutes (a collective notion which St. Paul calls 
the FLESH) that the Spirit of Christ, or that Spirit of 
God which is eminently in the Christ, is promised as a 
guide whenever the human will shall desire its influence. 
Yet the character in which this guide acts must un- 
questionably be that of REASON. Whatever theories may 
be conceived in regard to the manner of inspiration 
visions, voices, internal impulses the reason of the 
individual must be convinced of its reality, else it could 
not be distinguished from insanity. Everything not 

'liable, either in itself or by virtue of the ground 
upon which we accept it, is absurd. KEVELATION can 
have no authority for a rational being till REASON has 
recognized it as such. 

To REASON, therefore, every Christian must address 
himself, in order to prove all things, and hold fast that 
which is good. Paul, who gave to his converts this highly 
rational direction, must have been perfectly aware of 

* " The consideration I shall have of it (Reason) here ... is as it stands 
for a faculty in man that faculty whereby man is supposed to be dis- 
tinguished from beasts, and wherein it ia evident that he surpasses them. " 
Locke on the tinman Uiidcrttandiny, b. 4, c. xvii. 


the inalienable rights which the Supreme Source of the 
intellectual faculties has conferred upon human reason. 
He never speaks in the tone of an oracle to which reason 
must bow without examining its claims. " I speak as 
to wise men; judge ye what I say."* From the bold 
assumption of oracular infallibility, and the attempt to 
strike awe into the minds of those they address, the 
writings of Christ's apostles are perfectly free. That 
sort of language is characteristic of the pretenders to 
inspiration. Such is the tone constantly assumed by 
Mahornet. "There is no doubt in this book," is the first 
declaratory sentence in the Koran.f 

There are no attempts in the New Testament to para- 
lyze the reason of man. Throughout that collection of 
writings, the Spirit of God, as it manifests itself in the 
Christ and his apostles, appears with the tone and cha- 
racter of a friend, a helper which feels for, and identifies 
itself with, the spirit of man. Every one is cam 
invited, not indeed to quench his own spirit, but to 
exert its powers so as not to quench in himself the mild 
flame of the Spirit of God. 

God dwells in every man by that direct ray of divine 
light called reason (I speak of the highest part of reason), 
as in his temple. This indwelling of the Deity, this 
presence of the Supreme Reason, may be truly asserted 
of all mankind. The Logos, the Divine Reason (of wlm-li, 
in regard to religion, Jesus is the human representative), 
is the "true light, which lighteth every man that conu-th 
into the world."* But it is the peculiar power of Chris- 
tianity the religion of the Christ, which is the suine as 
the Logos, which again is the same as the Divim- Wisdom 

* 1 Cor. x. 15. f Sale's Koran, c. ii. J John i. 9. 


or [intelligence not only to remove the impurities which 

are that ray of divine li.u'ht, hut also to enhir^r- the 

eapacitv of the human mind, so as to make it more fit, 

by that moral purity which in Scripture language is 

1 sanctifiration, to be the dwelling of that rational 

ami ///// ]. rest -net- which in figurative language is called 

the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, God himself.* 

The invitations of the gospel are all addressed to the 
intelligent, moral part of man to his practical reason. 
rider what I say (is St. Paul's language to Timothy), 
and the Lord give thee understanding in all things."-)- 
The word here used hy the apostle, <i/<m (synesis), ex- 
es the highest, the essential faculty of the spirit of 
man. ]>y that faculty must the free, the accountable 
agent, Man, be ultimately guided, whatever assistance, 
/. . whatever increase of rationality, he may receive from 
the Fountain of reason; otherwise he would not be a 
five a^cntf 

May the time soon arrive when the notion of a natu- 
ral opposition between REASON and REVELATION shall be 
exploded \ The "carnal mind, which is enmity against 
Clod,'' is not REASON, but its very opposite. It is the 
animal part of man. When this animal part, with its 

* "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit 
of God dwelleth in you ?" 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17. This is a sublime truth, 
in which trui philosophy coincides with the spirit of the New Testament. 
That St. Paul understood by God, or his Spirit, the ruttmntl part of man, 
th:it part f us which partakes of the Divine nature, seems to me clear 
from the conclusion which the writer draws against encouraging the mere 
unimiil pn>i>fiiMties. "If any man (he concludes) defile the temple of 
God, him shall God destroy." No argument is so powerful against animal 
degradation as that which arises from our rationality. 

li Tim. ii. 7. See note at the end. 


blind appetites, has, by a determination of the will, 
been submitted to the law of the SPIRIT (which is the 
law of pure, divine REASON, the law of the Logos or 
Christ) when it has been placed under the law of Chris- 
tian motives, of Christian filial love to God, as we know 
him through the Christ that moment our SPIRIT, our 
superior or mental portion, which is properly ourselves, 
begins the process of identification with the Spirit of God, 
that assisting power which "helps our infirmities: 
from that moment we are in the way of safety, we are 
SAVING OURSELVES, <ro>{o/Aei/oi (soozomenot). If, neverthe- 
less, our reason, though sincerely placed by our will 
under the guidance of the Spirit of God, still rejects 
tenets which other Christians declare to be necessary to 
salvation if our SPIRIT cannot be " fully persuaded" 
that such doctrines are contained in the Scriptures we 
need not be alarmed at the clamour of the Orthodox, for 
unquestionably they have not been appointed to be our 

I will conclude with one of the many passages in 
St. Paul's Epistles which would place the intellectual 
or spiritual liberty of Christians beyond doubt, were it 
not for the thick mist which the established theologi<-;il 
prejudices have cast over the Scriptures. The words 
which I am about to quote relate to a question con- 
sidered as of vital importance in St. Paul's time. The 
observance or non-observance of the Law in connection 
with the hopes of salvation given by the gospel, 
then an essential point in controversy. I ardently j 
that Christians of all denominations may imbibe tli.- 
spirit of St. Paul's advices relating to that question, ;m<l 
apply it to our present divisions. "Him that is \\ 


in the faith receive, but not to doubtful disputations . . . 
AVliM art thou that judgcst another man's servant? .... 
Hut \vliy dost thou jud^f thy brother? or why dost thou 

; imiurht thy brother? for we shall all stand before 
the judgment-scat of Christ ... so then every one of us 
shall uive an account of himself to God. Let us not there- 

iuilifc one anotlier any more ; but judge this rattier, that 
no in <in put a stumbling-block, or an occasion to fall, in 
/<Yx brothers way!'* How many, alas ! are daily made 
to fall away from the Christ by the stumbling-block of 

* Rom. xiv. 



THE word Heresy, among Christians, is derived from 
the New Testament* If we consult the nine pass 
in which atpeo-is (hairesis) is used by the sacred wii 
and the only one in which a hereticf is mentioned, we 
shall find the word in question representing various 
notions, all of which have a common basis namely, the 
idea of dissension occasioned by individual choice. All 

* The word a'iptmg appears not unfrequently in the classical Greek 
writers, meaning a philosophical school or sect. Plutarch, whose style, 
owing to the period when he wrote (he died in an advanced old age about 
A. D. 140), may be used as a commentary on the style of the writers of 
the New Testament, uses the word in question in a sense well worthy of 
attention. At the beginning of the same Life to which I have made refer- 
ence in a note, he says of both Timoleon and jEmilius Paul us, that they 
were men o?; povov TA11 Al'I'K'^KiMN, aXX<i Km ra?c n'/xaiC AyaOalc 
o/ioiwg Ktxpijutvuv iwl TO. Trpay/mra. The Langhornes give virtues for 
"aipt(T<riv," and translate, rather loosely, " men famous not only for their 
virtues but for their success." The true meaning is, that they were men 
who brought to the management of affairs not only excellent PRINCIPLES, 
but also great good luck. Here " aipioHTiv" means the result of choice and 

f Acts v. 17, xv. 5, xxiv. 6, 14, xxvi. 5, xxriii. 22 ; 1 Cor. xi 
Gal. v. 20 ; 2 Peter ii. 1. The word aipirucbc (haireticos) IB found only 
in Tit. iii. 10. 

Hi i;i.>V AND ORTollDnXV. -SI 

such unions as we call, in some cases sects, in other 
parties, were or mi^ht he named cameras (haireseis). That 
name did not necessarily imply reproach, nor the main- 
tenance of erroneous doctrines as a hond of the union. 
The iirst connection of the word heresy with reproach, 
in the language of the Apostle Paul, arises from the 
notion of practical discord and dissension. Paul, indeed, 
the words divisions and heresies as equivalent. "I 
hear he says to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xi. 18 and 19) 
that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe 
it ; for there must be also heresies among you."* This 
Bense of the word had not become quite obsolete even at 
so late a period as the fifth century. Chrysostom, in 
the beginning of that century, and Theodoret, in the 
middle of it, explained the passage of St. Paul, just 
quoted, as one in which dissensions, not dogmatic errors, 

deprecated by the apostle, f 

But the abuse which finally reduced the word heresy 
to the signification of damnable error, began at a very 
early period. The age in which Christianity appeared 
was one of metaphysical speculation. Those who, like 
the learned, pious, and philosophical Neander, have 
attentively studied whatever documents, both of oriental 
and occidental literature, are preserved relative to that 

* The addition also of rat may appear, at first sight, to establish an 
important distinction between divisions and heresies, but the context 
shews the contrary. The only distinction which it admits is, perhaps, that 
of accidental <lis.sensions(<rx<r/*T'a, schismata), and permanent or regularly 
formed parties (atpevtif). 

f Lardner quotes the following words from Suicer, under the word 
Aipri : Diximus vocem a\ptonQ hactertia sign ificati one sumi, 1 Cor. xi. 19. 
Ill- tamen dissimulandum non est, veteres non intelligere doctrinam ortho- 
dtiviiv; contrariam, aed coutentiones, &c. Lardner, VoL IV. p. 506, edition 
in 5 vola. 



period, have discovered the clearest proofs of an uni- 
versal excitement, a vehement longing for disclosures 
concerning the moral nature of man, his hopes and his 
fears (inasmuch as these transcend the narrow limits of 
this life), which, more or less, pervaded all classes of 
men in all civilized countries. This mental restlessness 
was not confined to the East. Rome itself exhibited 
the same ferment of mind in the rage for foreign mys- 
teries and initiations, which invited to that capital 
crowds of priests from the most distant parts of the 
empire. The senate, at an earlier period, and the em- 
perors, at that of which I am speaking, were often 
alarmed by this spirit : and no deep reading in the 
works of the first, second, and third centuries is required 
to be acquainted with the fact, that the Mathematici, i.e. 
professors of divination by means of numbers, charms, 
and astrology, obtained a most powerful influence at 
Home, for which they not unfrequently paid dearly in 
banishment and other punishments. 

The ardent imaginations of the Eastern people were, 
however, the most apprppriate receptacle for every spe- 
culative extravagance. From a remote period, various 
systems of theological doctrines had existed among the 
orientals, which, under different shapes and modifications, 
iiuiy still be recognized as descended from a common 
origin, and may be traced back to the regions of the 
Indus and Ganges. Even the Jews, who, from the 
nature of their religious and political constitution, might 
have been supposed to be out of the reach of everything 
which did not originate in Moses, could not escape the 
general infection. But the captivity which the m;i 
the nation underwent in Assyria, brought the Jew.- into 

HFKKSY AND ( >KTH< t[><>\ V. M 

a close contact with the learned Chaldean^, who at 
Bahvlon cultivated a branch of one of the principal 
stems of Indian philosophy. From Babylon, therefore, 
w.i- derived that doctrine, afterwards called the Cabbala, 
on the knowledge of which some Rabbis of our Saviour's 
time built their highest claims to celebrity. It is true 
that there were essential differences between what we 
may call the mystic systems of the Jews and those of 
other Kastem nations. Yet the Eastern Gnosis, as well 
as the traditional science of the Rabbis, had this im- 
portant character in common that the adepts in both 
boasted of their being in possession of secret and mys- 
terious traditions, which, carrying conviction in them- 
selves, scorned argumentative proof; and by means of 
which, not only were the secrets of creation and the source 
of and moral evil disclosed, but men were put in 
possession of several ultra-mundane facts, and of fixed 
laws connected with those facts, by means of which the 
initiated were enabled to perform the greatest wonders 
within the limits of this lowest of all the departments 
of creation, which has been allotted to mankind. 

In such a state of things, it was most natural that the 
appearance of so very extraordinary a person as Jesus 
of Nazareth, the accounts of whose life abound in mira- 
cles, whose birth was narrated with circumstances which 
made it appear a physical effect of causes beyond the 
limits of this material world; who was reported to speak 
of himself as having come down from a sphere of exist- 
ence raised tar above this of ours, where sin, and pain, 
an.l death, bear rule; on the appearance of such a 
tea. her, followed by the preaching and the reported 
miracles of his immediate disciples, it was most natural 



that the attention of all the speculatists of the age should 
be turned to Christianity, and that, finding it infinitely 
better grounded than their own baseless systems, they 
should endeavour to use it as a foundation for those 
systems. You must have observed how the great phy- 
sical discoveries of our times have been seized upon 
by various classes of theorists, in the common hope that 
every one should find in oxygen, galvanism, magnetism, 
or whatever new agent had come to view, the vnv 
corner-stone of his respective theory. At a time when 
the human mind worked entirely upon itself, and philo- 
sophers were universally agreed in giving external or 
objective existence to whatever their minds conceived 
as necessary in other words, which will probably be 
more familiar to you at a time when philosophy con- 
sisted in an unbounded system of Realism, which to 
every idea of the mind gave an independent existence 
in the universe, nothing could be more acceptable, than 
a tangible point, a standing-place, upon which those 
mighty fabrics of the imagination, those theosophical 
systems, which were vended about as mysteries of UK- 
highest interest and value to man, might repose. Thus 
it happened in regard to the Gospel. Christianity had 
been published only a very few years, when all the 
mystic and speculative sects in Syria commenced a s< 
of efforts to incorporate the Gospel with their own tel 
and to graft their peculiar notions on the young and 
vigorous stock whose branches they could not but JMT- 
ceive were about to spread far and wide. Although tin- 
writers in the New Testament do not mention tin- naim: 
of any philosophical sect, except the Pharisees and Sad- 
ducees, it is clear to those acquainted with the let: 


MI philosophy, that the notions from which I'.uil 
specially apprehended a danger to the simplicity of 
the (Jospd, belonged to those mystic systems which, 
in some instances combined with Judaism, in others 
directly opposing it, were widely diffused, soon after, 
under the n;ime of Gnosis. 

But no warnings were sufficient to prevent a rapid 
growth of the evil which that apostle feared and opposed. 
.Men whose resources for wealth and distinction lay in 
the admiration of the multitude, saw a most favourable 
Opportunity of rising id the world by availing themselvr 
of the ardour with which the primitive converts had 
embraced the Gospel. Vain babblers, pretending to a 
deep and extensive knowledge of the invisible world, 
Hocked to the infant Christian communities; and such 
was their power over the ignorant and simple minds 
which made up the great majority of those societies, 
that the founders of them found it difficult to maintain 
their own authority against them. Paul's distressing 
difficulties at Corinth are too vividly and feelingly de- 
scnbed in his two Epistles to the church of that great 
city, to require assistance from another pen. But no 
tolerably well-instructed reader of the New Testament 
can doubt that Paul's rivals belonged to the class of 
. I udeo- philosophical speculatists. Paul's express deter- 
mination to lay down all claim to that kind of knowledge 
which our version denominates wisdom (o-o^ia, sophia), 
and to confine his teaching to the doctrine of "Jesus 
Christ, and him crucified," clearly points out by contrast 
what kind of preaching had seduced the minds of his 
converts. It is true that the apostle mentions the names 


of James, Cephas, and Apollos, men who seem to have 
been guiltless of the spirit of party which made use of 
their names to oppose the authority of Paul. That the 
persons thus named were not really leaders of those 
divisions, is proved by the appearance of Paul's own 
name as the watchword of a party. Even the name of 
Christ was, we find, used for a similar purpose. Th<- 
fact seems to have been, that when various intruders 
undertook to reduce the Gospel to a philosophical system, 
each of them pretended to build his own speculations on 
the peculiar views sometimes real, sometimes supposed 
of the persons whose names they adopted as a party 

Besides the many remarkable passages of the two 
Epistles to the Corinthians, in which Paul's renunciation 
of all scientific teaching pointedly marks, in his rivals, 
a dangerous affectation of deep philosophy, there is u 
circumstance in the notices preserved concerning Apollos 
which is strongly confirmatory of my view, that tin- 
attempts of various teachers to theorize on Christianity 
was the chief source of Paul's anxiety. It is on record* 
that Apollos was a native of Alexandria, the great seat 
of speculative philosophy at that period. This fact alone 
would be a fairground for conjecturing that he belonged 
to the numerous class of Alexandrian Jews who, like 
1'hilo, united the study of the Old Testament with tin- 
idealistic and mystic system which was taught in the 
schools of that great city. But this conjecture will grow 
almost into certainty when the word which in the KM- 
giish version is translated eloquent, shall be expressed by 

* Acts xviii. 24. 

IIKKI-SV \M> nm'llol' N7 

ed, which gives the true 861186 "f AoyicK (luyius) in 
that passage.* 

In the public disputations with the Jews, Apollos 
must have found it necessary to employ all the subtle 
tirs of tiif Alexandrian school in defence of Christianity. 
He may at a subsequent period have been checked by 
Paul in the use uf weapons which, though of service in 
dialectic contests, would be eventually injurious to the 
simplicity of the Christian system. But vain and light- 
minded Christians would naturally be allured by the 
public triumph of the Alexandrian, to imitate, and (as 
second-rate minds will always do) to exaggerate Apol- 
los's manner and method. As we have the most power- 
ful reasons to believe that Apollos himself was not 
actually at the head of an anti-Paulistic party, but 
remained in close friendship with the apostle, we may 
safely conclude that his name was adopted for the 
purpose of expressing the nature of the system which 
his imitators professed to follow. In a similar manner 
we must conceive that the names of James (who, as the 
local president of the congregation of Jerusalem, could 
not reside at Corinth) and of Cephas (who, as the 
apostle of the circumcision, is not likely to have ever 

* Neander, from whose instructive and interesting history of the 
apostolic age Pjlunzmnj unit faitmng <lcr ('/trist lichen Kirche (lurch die 
A}itel I borrow this romark, observes that the peculiar service ren- 
dered by Apollos to the Christians was that of confuting the Jews in 
public disputations M'TOI'WC; yp ro 'Iovdaioi StaKaTi]\t-/x^ TO an 
ahility which depends much rather on dialectics and metaphysics than on 
eloqueiK-e. Neuuder confirms the above-given signification of Xoytog by 
two passages, one of Josephus, de Bello Jud. vi. c. v. 3, a.nd another 
of Philo, de Vita Mosis, i. 5. Josephus uses the word Xoytoi in opposi- 
tion to ISiCJTai. Three words of Philo are enough to shew that he agrees 
ia the same signification : Aiyvirriw 01 \6yioi. 


been in Greece) were taken by other portions of the 
Corinthian church, under the guidance of teachers who 
respectively pretended to follow the views which they 
described as peculiar to each of those distinguished 

When once the notion that an essential part of Chris- 
tianity consists in a system of speculative doctrines 
began to take root, it must have made a very rapid 
progress. A Christian teacher, full of the true spirit 
and power which Jesus promised for the purpose of 
announcing the simple and sublime truth of salvation 
through him, might easily employ a long life in an- 
nouncing these "good tidings" to a world morally sink- 
ing under the double pressure of vice and superstition. 
But the case of a nominal Christian preacher is quite 
different. In both ancient and modern times, the son mi - 
ing brass and tinkling cymbals among the Christian 
teachers have deeply felt the necessity of abstract the- 
ories to raise and maintain their personal importance. 
The heathen priesthoods were indispensable to heathen 
nations, on the ground that priests alone possessed the 
mysterious knowledge of the numerous and intricate 
performances by which the gods were rendered propi- 
tious. But Christ had appointed no priesUwod. Never- 
theless, there soon arose a notion that the presidents and 
directors of Christian congregations must be equivalent 
to the priests of other religions. But here, again, the 
absence of complicated ceremonies left this class of men 
without an office so peculiar to them as to make them 
indispensable to the unofficial part of the community. 
How, then, could the ambitious and worldly-minded 
rest aatistied in such a position ? We know that they 


di'l not. Tin- supposed necessity of both mysterious 
doctrines and mysterious ceremonies was soon set 
b\ ( 'In-Mian touchers of that class of which Paul, .lames, 
and -John, complain in their writings. The materials for 
sii'-h speculations were already present in great abun- 
dance. The ( )ld Testament, on the one hand, bad become 
tor a very great part of the Jewish nation, and especially 
for the Alexandrian Jews, a collection of allegories; 
numerous theories about a long series of incorporeal 
emanations from God, were, on the other hand, the 
favourite subject of the then prevalent philosophy. In 
these circumstances it was, that speculations about the 
nature of the Christ had their origin. I shall here in- 
troduce to your notice only one instance of these specu- 
lative corruptions, as a specimen of a numerous class of 
errors which infested Christianity during the first three 

One of the earliest heresies (I shall now use that word 
in the ecclesiastical acceptation) was that of the Ebion- 
-Jewish converts to Christianity ; forming a sect 
whose name offers an insurmountable difficulty to the 
ecclesiastical historian, since it is impossible to ascertain 
whether that appellation is derived from a Hebrew word 
which signifies a pauper, or from the founder of the 
sect. The former derivation is, however, more probable 
than the other. The information which we have about 
the doctrines of the Ebionites comes through Epiphanius, 
a bishop of the fifth century, a man of the most bigoted, 
narrow, arid passionate mind. But in comparing what 
lie Bays of these heretics with what is known of tin 
aneient Jewish Gnostics, considerable light is derived, 
and the substance of their views may be reduced to this. 


The aim of all Gnostic systems was simply to account 
for the existence of evil, without implicating the moral 
character of God. By a very absurd, yet too natural, 
blunder, all the Gnostics conceived that this might be 
accomplished by means of a system of emanations from 
God, which should place all imperfections at a very 
great distance from him. Hence the chain of genera- 
tions of worlds, which they conceived as having for its 
lowest link man and this earth, was almost interminable. 
The immediate emanations from God were, of course, the 
highest and most perfect. As to the origin of the evil 
which had mixed itself with the more remote emana- 
tions, the Gnostics were divided. Some conceived an 
eternal and self-existent power of evil and darkness, 
which, having seduced some of the beings descended 
from God, succeeded in corrupting his creation. Others 
explained the imperfection and consequent evil of tin- 
lower parts of the universe as a natural degeneracy, 
originating in their distance from the supreme and all- 
perfect Being. 

Among the Jewish Gnostics, who generally incor- 
porated their theosophical systems with their national 
Scriptures, there were many, as the Ebionites, who 
asserted the existence of what may be called a MHPI-.I. 
MAN, a most perfect being, very nearly or immediately 
descended from God, who was the TYPE of perfect man- 
kind. This SPIRITUAL MAN was originally united with 
Adam, but was forced to separate himself from our fiist 
parent on account of his sin. Desirous, however, of 
recovering our fallen race, the model man appeared 
united to the most holy men mentioned in the Old 
Testament. Finally, he fully possessed the person of 


nvtli ; and having controlled every action 
of his life, din-din^ them all to the purpose of collecting 
therl.rt nut of the world, deserted him on the cross. The 
kingdom, however, of this model man, according to ihoc 
dreamers, will be a glorious one; and the true followers 
of Je8Q will be the happy members of it, in the high 
UN which peculiarly belong to thut pure emanation 
of the Divine nature. 

You are probably astonished at the absurdity as well 
as the capriciousness of such a system, and will not 
easily account for the fact of its having a succession of 
followers for about four centuries. Such, however, is 
the power of whatever exists in the minds of men, as 
the groundwork of what may be called their philoso- 
phical notions. The highest state of intellectual refine- 
ment is necessary to prevent such notions from mixing 
with everything which the mind subsequently receives. 
I believe that, some generations after us, people will feel 
an astonishment similar to yours, upon learning the 
intimate connection which, in our days, is allowed to 
exist between what most Christians conceive to be saving 
faith and the scholastic notions of past ages. The no- 
tions of substance, of properties or attributes, of natures, 
of persons, of matter, of form, and many others which 
at present constitute so very important a part of the 
orthodox doctrines, were they not so familiar to our ears 
and minds, would not appear less strange than the model 
man and the emanations of the Gnostics. But the 
notions of these emanations, before the appearance of 
Christianity, existed in many a mind as a sublime part 
of science ; they were a branch of the philosophy of that 
age, and as such they attached themselves to the Gospel. 


as soon as the Christians most unwisely allowed that 
the revelation of God through Jesus was in any way 
directed to inform mankind concerning the nature of the 
Deity and his modes of existence ; the manner in which 
he might unite himself with an individual of the human 
species, and act in that individual without destroying 
his personality, his human will, and his human nature. 
When the necessity of any such kind of faith was 
admitted, there was no possibility of escaping philoso- 
phical corruptions, and their long train 6f evils. Divines 
found themselves compelled to choose some philosophical 
language, and some philosophical views, among those 
which were in existence: the dominant church party, on 
the other hand, was induced to raise some other philo- 
sophy to the dignity of Orthodoxy, degrading and per- 
secuting all other theories as damnable heresies. 

There existed but one method of avoiding these evils : 
to avoid the philosophy of those ages ; never to make 
any philosophical theory whatever a part of the Chris- 
tian doctrine. Such was the method recommended by 
Paul ; but this method would ill accord with the ambi- 
tion, the love of power and wealth, which, even in the 
time of the apostles (as we know from I 'mil's t> 
inony*), broke out among the leaders of Christian 
churches. Let me again invite your attention, for a 
few moments, to the Gospel, without Orthodoxy, that 
you may see how utterly unfit it is for the purpose of 
worldly-minded men. 

The Gospel, without Orthodoxy, is an invitation to 
the whole of mankind, without distinction of -few or 

* WofJu6t>Tun> iropiofibv tlvtu TTJV tvoifinav ; supposing that yodlintSJi 
it an income. 1st Tim. vi. 5. 


(ientile, <lave or freeman, to acknowledge ,|,-MI 
xareth as their only guide in matters concerning their 
souU ; l r.Mvive him as the only person whom they 
ma\ trust in regard ID the conditions of obtaining Hie 
pardon of moral oilenees and the promise of happiness 
in a future life. This invitation was originally made 
iv ( 'lirist himself, carried on by his immediate disciples. 
and intended to be continued till the end of the world, 
through the zeal and activity of a succession of believers 
in the ( 'lirist. The New Testament was (we may reason- 
ably suppose, for as it was not authoritatively delivered, 
but spontaneously collected, we have no other ground 
for the assertion) intended by Providence to perpetuate 
some historical facts concerning Christ and his apostles, 
as also some doctrines and moral admonitions. The 
propagation of these documents has been left to the 
care of Christians ; but no AUTHORITY has been bestowed 
on any human being to interpret these books to others. 
We find, in various parts of those books, a promise of 
individual guidance, by means of a secret influence 
called the SPIRIT OF CHRIST.* Of this influence it is 
said, that it will guide the believers into all the TRUTH : 
and, since the design of Christ's mission was the spiritual 
safety or SALVATION of his followers, that truth must be 
such a portion of the infinite truth which exists in God, 
as is necessary for the salvation or spiritual safety of each 
hnlirittmtl. We have, indeed, no authority to assert that, 
in such an immense variety of character and circum- 
stances as we observe among mankind, the same iden- 
tical notions and convictions are necessary in all to 
produce that salutary state of moral feeling, that con- 

* See note at the end. 


formity of the human will to the will of God (as it is 
made known to us by the Christ), which seems to be 
the essence of the Christian faith demanded in the New 
Testament. Under these circumstances, we may fairly 
compare Christianity to a moral SCHOOL opened for all 
mankind. The indispensable condition for admission, 
is the reception of the Christ as supreme MASTER con- 
cerning everything connected with religion. "Whoever 
professes this acceptance of Christ, is a Christian. The 
person thus admitted to learn, must use his best en- 
deavours, in the first place, to obtain by prayer (the 
essence of which is sincere desire fx^) an< ^ purity of 
life the invisible guidance of the Christ or the Spirit of 
God : he should, in the second place, study the records 
called the New Testament, not as an infallible oracle, 
which they are evidently not, but as documents which, 
in spite of the human imperfections of their writers, 
breathe the purest Gospel spirit, and must always stand, 
if not as a divinely-appointed rule of everything a Chris- 
tian must believe, certainly as a firm barrier against a 
total degeneracy of Christianity under any circumstances 
whatever. But every member of this spiritual school 
should remember that he is only a DISCIPLE, like all the 
rest : the school has only one MASTER,* the Christ ; and 
to him, under God, are the pupils accountable for tin -ir 

If any one asks me where it is that we are to find the 
Christ, our Leader and Master, I will answer (although 
at present I cannot do proper justice to what I have to 
say), the Christ "is with us to the end of the world. ' 

* One is your Master, even (the) Christ. Matt, xxiii. ver. 8 and In. 
6 Xpurroc, in both places. 


The man -It-Mis, the highest representative of the Reason 
or Ln^os of (Jod, cannot have a corporeal omnipresence : 
but tht- r///-/.s7, or, in other words, the Divine Reason, is 
within every man, in the shape of conscience, or that moral-intellectual faculty which the ancients 
(ailed the Leader* Tin- spirit of the Christ, which was 
without measure in Jesus, will never be absent from 
any man who, according to his knowledge and circum- 
stance, will cultivate that spirit after the example of the 
^reat Prophet of Nazareth. But could such a system 
a fiord the least advantage to men who wished for rule 
over others? Impossible. Establish, however, the ne- 
:ty of ORTHODOXY; make Christianity consist, not 
in sincere, internal subjection of the mind to God, but 
in the acceptance of some particular abstract views 
views not relative to our affections and conduct, but to 
the nature of things in the invisible world, and chiefly to 
the nature of God himself; allow SECONDARY TEACHERS, 
whose decisions you are to follow either as an infallible 
rule or as an authority which, though not infallible, it is 
morally wrong to reject ; and you will instantly perceive 
the immense power which these teachers will have over 
all who put themselves under them. It is true that 
these men will have a great number of rivals; but in 
proportion to their multitude and the uncertainty of 
thi'ir claims, will be the arbitrary value which those 
who expect to be saved by acquiescence in orthodox 
opinions must bestow on that standard which they 
choose for themselves. Now, since ORTHODOXY is a 
title to power, it must act upon the human mind just 


as any other instrument of ambition. Since ORTHO- 
DOXY is the bond which unites large bodies of men 
under the guides of that ORTHODOXY ; and HETERO- 
DOXY, or HERESY, raises antagonist bodies, under rulers 
who are thus made dangerous rivals of the Orthodox ; 
such a principle of union and opposition must act like 
opposite and rival patriotisms: yet with this important 
difference, that one patriotism may allow a certain sym- 
pathy with another ; but this feeling cannot exist be- 
tween two creeds. Orthodoxy is exclusive, and cannot 
grant the existence of another : its essential character 
is the determination to bring the whole of mankind 
under its own dominion. Men organized into a body 
as professors of Orthodoxy, will resist and avenge, to 
the full extent of their power, every attempt to dissolve 
the vital principle of their UNION. 

But, like any other political body, an ORTHODOX church 
will readily perceive that nothing unites bodies of men 
so strongly as opposition to others. A state of warfare, 
especiall} 7 with neighbours, makes patriotism a violent 
passion, and consolidates the union of those who fight 
under its banners. Hence the fact, which every pa- 
ecclesiastical history attests, that condemnation of others 
is the very soul of Orthodoxy. No ORTHODOX man is satis- 
fied that he believes his own doctrine unless he condemns 
from his heart every one who dissents from him. To 
prove the truth of this assertion beyond doubt, I have 
only to refer to the acts of every council and synod which 
has been celebrated in the Christian world. Every kind 
of ORTHODOXY, in fact, essentially supposes a HETERODOX Y 
in the sense of a wrong and damnable system. But hnv 
you may observe the steps by whichDissEUT was gradually 

lir.KKSY AND ORTlloDo.X 1 .. 97 

iiiade a crime, and how it was identified with practical 
DI8S1 the HI:I:I:SV which the Apostle 1'au.l justly 

deprecates. I be^ you to remark the original and ety- 
mological meaning of Heterodoxy. That word only ex- 

IIFFERENGE of doctrine. Like the word Hi.! 
its original and essential notion is DIFFERENCE. It must, 
therefore, he acknowledged thai at the period when those 
two word>. Hi.iMsv and HKTKKODOXY, began to be used 
by Christians, the notion that difference of doctrine is 
inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity, was not 
common and established. 

P>ut the fact, of which those very ancient ecclesias- 
tical words still bear traces, may be positively and his- 
torically confirmed. The earliest Christian writer from 
whose ] H -n we have what may properly be called a 
collection of literary works, is Justin the Martyr. The 
publication of his principal writings took place about 
A.D. 140. One of his most important works is a Dia- 
logue, in which he introduces a Jew, under the name of 
Trypho, with whom Justin discusses, at great length, the 
claims of Christianity to be considered as a divine re- 
velation. With the merits of that work we have at 
present nothing to do: I only mention it to prove the 
hat so late as the middle of the second century, 
persons who, professing that Christ had no higher nature 
than that of a man, received him nevertheless as the 
Messiah, were not supposed to have lost their baptismal 
claims to the name and privilege of Christians. This 
fact dearly appears in Justin's Dialogue. In answer to 
the repeated objections of the Jew against the doctrine 
which supposes the existence of more than one Divine 
'ii, Justin says, that even if Christians could not 


prove that the being who appeared as Jesus of Nazareth 
had not existed before he was born in the world as a 
man, they would only be convicted of a mistake ; and 
adds, that this question should be entirely separated 
from that of Jesus being the CHRIST the MESSIAH. 
" For (I translate the most important part of the pas- 
sage) there are (I said), my friends,* some of us (literally 
some of our sort) who, confessing him to be Christ, yet 
declare him to be a man descended from men. With 
these persons I do not agree ; nor would most of those 
who believe with me say what those persons say."')' Here 
we find the original tone of mind which the apostles had 
endeavoured to produce among Christians in respect to 
abstract doctrines. The point to which Justin alludes 
is one which most divines among us consider as the very 
essence of Christian faith. Justin himself, with almost 
all his contemporary Christians of Gentile extraction, 
believed that Christ had existed, in a nature approaching 
to the divine, before he became man. But, instead of 
flinging curses and anathemas at the Nazarenes or the 

* Trypho is represented in the Dialogue as attended by some com- 

f Kai yap tioi Tivff, at 0i\ot, t\tyov t airo row ij/wrlpou yevoi/c, .... 
fivai dvQpwjrov di t dvOpdj-jratv ytvopfvov diroQatvofnvoi, olg ov OVVTI- 
Of^iai, ovff dv irXiloroi ravra /iot doZdaavrff, tliroitv. (Dial. 48, ' 
Bishop Bull contends that instead of ij/zcrspow, we ought to read v/^r 
But, besides that there is not the least authority from manuscripts for this 
change, Justin's protest, that he does not agree with the people he mentions, 
shews that, without that protest, he might be supposed to agree with them, 
since he had described them as "some of us." Had he spoken of Jews, 
there would have been no need of this caution. Justin's argument de- 
pends entirely on the concession, that the divinity, or rather the super- 
human and godlike nature of Christ, is not the point for which he con- 
tended as essential to Christianity, but only his being the promised 


Kluonites (it is not quite certain to which of these primi- 
tive rnitarians he alludes), he modestly expresses his 
lit from them, without, however, questioning their 
( 'hint ianit v. No doctrine concerning the nature of things, 
cit In -rin (lod or in man, was as yet supposed to be a part 
<>f the Gospel. The surrender of the will to the will of 
(in.l through the Christ, the hope of salvation under his 
guidance such were, in the opinion of the best Chris- 
tians, down to the middle of the second century, the 
only conditions of Christian fellowship. 

This tolerant and charitable temper had, indeed, nearly 
disappeared about one hundred years after Justin ; but 
it uas not absolutely extinct. The pious, the learned, 
though mystical and fanciful Origen,* has recorded his 
regret at the intolerance which was already prevalent 
in his time. In allusion to the Ebionites, a Christian 
sect of whose real character and doctrines (as it con- 
stantly happens in ecclesiastical history) we can know 
nothing with certainty, except that, to the Orthodox 
party, they were an object of the most violent and un- 
ju.tlified abuse, Origen has a remarkable passage. Hav- 
ing related the affecting history of the blind man near 
Jericho, who, in spite of the threatenings of the multi- 
tude, persevered in his prayer for sight till he obtained 
that boon from Jesus, Origen compares the Ebionite 
Unitarians to the blind man, and the Gentile Christians 
(who were then approaching to the notions to which the 
Council of Nice, supported by imperial power, gave 
ascendency) to the multitude who would not allow the 
blind to implore the mercy of the Saviour. "Never- 

* Flourished about A.D. 230. 
H 2 


theless (says Origen), although the multitudes command 
him to be silent, he cries much the more, because he 
believed in Jesus, though he believed in him rather 
humanly,* and in a loud voice says to him, 'Jesus, 
thou Son of David, have mercy on me/" In this truly 
modest and tolerant spirit were the Ebionites of his 
time treated by the profoundly learned, excellent, and 
cruelly persecuted Origen. " How different (observes the 
pious TRINITARIAN Neander, marking his own words for 
emphasis), how totally different many things would have 
been if men had, in this spirit of love and liberty, 
allowed free course to the grace of the Saviour over 
all who call upon him ; if they had considered the 
various points of view of the Christian progress towards 
the ripeness of manhood in the faith ; and had not de- 
termined to reduce by force the various kinds of minds 
to one and the same measure !"t 

But a totally opposite spirit had already obtained 
ascendency among Christians. The presidents of con- 
gregations who had monopolized the title of Bishops, 
formerly common to all Presbyters, were now fully 
aware of the importance of establishing the exclusive 
claims of one party, against all others, to be considered 

tV 7Tl TOV 'll)00VV, dvOpti>7TlK(tlTfpOV $t TTHTTflHttV. It Is 

this identical notion, that to believe Christ's nature to be only human, 
is to form a low conception of him it is this explaining the Scriptures 
according to sentiment, which has made, in all ages, the Athanasian in- 
terpretation so popular. The whole passage of Origen is to be found in 
his Commentary on Matthew, Part xvi. Vol. III. pp. 773 and 774. Paris, 
ed. Delante. (Migne, Vol. III. p. 1413.) 

t Neander, Geschichte, Vol. I. Part ii. page 408. He adds, that Origen 
was aware of the fact that the Ebionites, whose prejudices were tho- 
roughly Jewish, condemned the Apostle Paul as a corrupter of the gospel. 
Yet Origen did not reject those men as necessarily unchristian ! 


>le possessors and distributors of genuine Chris- 
tianity. Forming a united body, upon the plan of the 
political confederacies of the Greeks, the majority of the 
Christian Bishops became a most tyrannical aristocracy, 
love of power and of gain combined with their very 
narrow-mindedness, ignorance, and intolerance, 
in transforming those passions which, for the sake of 
distinction from the animal appetites, might well be 
called the SPIRITUAL PASSIONS, into the highest and 
most important virtues. ORTHODOXY, i.e. the spurious 
philosophical notions which this confederacy had adopted 
in connection with the Gospel, was made essential to 
Christianity. Whoever did not hold the same views, 
was declared an enemy of Christ and religion ; and as 
the confederacy extended itself over the face of the 
Roman empire, the unfortunate being who incurred the 
condemnation of his Bishop in some obscure town of a 
semi-barbarous corner of the Roman territory, was re- 
gularly hunted down by all the orthodox associates, till, 
as it actually happened to multitudes in later times, he 
was forced either to submit, or to take refuge among the 
barbarous nations, who in such cases were always found 
more charitable and humane than the Christian clergy. 
Thus ORTHODOXY converted the religion of love and 
charity into a source of some of the worst evils which 
have oppressed mankind, and which even the rapid pro- 
gress of knowledge in our own days seems still unable 
totally to subdue. 


" Je vous applaudis fort lorsque vous voulez que la foi soit fondle en 
raison ; sans cela, pourquoi pr6fe"rerions-nous la Bible a I 1 Alcoran ou aux 
anciens livres des Bramines ? Aussi nos theologians et autrea savans 
hommes 1'ont-ils reconnu, et c'est ce qui nous a fait avoir de si beaux 
ouvrages de la verite de la religion Chretienne, et tant de belles preuves 
qu'on a raises en avant contre les pai'ens et autres mecreans anciens et 
modernes. Aussi les personnes sages out toujours tenu pour suspects ceux 
qui ont pretendu qu'il ne fallait point se mettre en peine des raisons et 
preuves quand il s'agit de croire ; chose impossible, en effet, d mains que 
eroire signifie reciter ou rip&er et laisser passer sans fen mettre en peine, 
eomme font Men des gens, et comme c'est mSme le caractere de quelque* 
nations plus que d 'autres" Leibnitz, Nouveaux Essais (I. iv. c. 17) : 
quoted by Victor Cousin, Hist, de la Philosophic, T. II. p. 474. 


THE notion of Orthodoxy, among Protestants, like 
some hotly hunted debtors, has been obliged to leave its 
pursuers at fault, by crossing into another jurisdictional 
district. Orthodoxy, finding itself unsafe in the domai MS 
of argument, flies towards those of moral sentiment ; 
and just at the moment when it might be expected to 
surrender, it turns sharply round, and bodily charges 
REASON with SIN. This is an alarming change. Before 
this moral discovery, we exerted our reason to the utmost 
of our power, confident that we had no spiritual daii^-r 
to fear : now, most unfortunately, we are made to suspect 


thill our sin may In* great in proportion to tin- power of 
our aix-umt-nts. What, indeed, in common language, we 
jail I'Kii'K, is usually connected with pwn-r ; and the 
of the hitler is, for most people, a pretty strong 
presumption of the presence of the former. It must 
therefore happen, that when reason is accused of pride, 
the charge will appear already more than half-substan- 
1, if reason has been too hard for the opponents. 
Power of any kind, unless it can reward and punish to 
lain degree, is not an enviable possession. I have no 
doubt that if a sin, to be called PRIDE OF SIGHT, had been 
as necessary to some influential class as the PRIDE OF 
REASON is to the orthodox parties all over the world, 
every sharp-sighted man, who wished to live in peace 
and avoid the scandal of discovering things which his 
neighbours either could not or would not see, would now 
be obliged to wear spectacles. 

PRIDE OF REASON ! What can it be ? I confess that, 
having for a long time been honestly endeavouring to 
find out the exact meaning of that phrase, as applied in 
theological controversy, I have not yet quite deciphered 
it. It might be expected that those who use it would 
explain it ; but they will not take that trouble. I shall 
therefore be obliged to try what I can do in making out 
what they mean. 

PRIDE is a vice : no one who uses that word doubts 
it. But what does it consist in? Few stop to ascertain 
that point. I go, in the first place, to Cruden's Concord- 
ance, a book remarkable for definitions or descriptions ot 
important words frequently used in the Scriptures, and 
am disappointed to find none. But, fortunately, Dr. 
Jolwsoii gives no loss than seven meanings of the word. 


Out of this number, however, only two, as implying 
something wrong, can be of service in my present inquiry: 

1st. "Inordinate and unreasonable self-esteem." 

2nd. " Insolence, rude treatment of others ; insolent- 

We will, if you please, treasure up these two expla- 
nations of the great lexicographer. 

I have laid it down as unquestionable, that pride 
means a vice; and I find a proof of the unfavourable 
signification of the word in the established phrase, honest 
pride. If pride did not essentially signify something 
wrong and vicious, it would not be necessary to qualify 
it, in certain cases, by means of the addition, honest. 
The existence of such a phrase as the one last mentioned,, 
clearly shews that there is a human sentiment which 
has no proper name in English (I do not recollect any 
modern language that possesses it), and which is ex- 
pressed by that of a vice, modified by another word 
which signifies something virtuous. What, then, is that 
sentiment ? What do we mean by honest pride ? I be- 
lieve these words signify consciousness of worth, or dignity 
of mind, free from presumption above others. There is 
nothing vicious in this feeling ; on the contrary, it is 
acknowledged (except by those extravagant ascetics 
who make a sense of degradation essential to Chris- 
tianity) to be the purest natural source and support of a 
virtuous conduct.* How is it, then, that pride, which 

* Self-respect, a feeling which become* honett pride when it is insulted, 
and has to assert its rights against the unfeelingness or injustice of others, 
is respect for the voice of Reason, which every sincere and honest man 
considers as the voice of God, always ready to speak when reverently con- 
sulted within the sanctuary of our CONSCIENCE. 


nsider some of its significations, as splendour. 
di^'iiitv") seems, originally, not to have expressed any- 
thing inordinate, has been so universally and irrevocably 
li\ed to signify excess? I think I can explain this fact. 
r l'h- //i of every individual has a natural rival in 

thai of every other. Hence the invidiousness of self- 
("mnientlation. Every one knows, by constant experi- 
ence, what a rare combination of circumstances must 
take place, and with what a delicate hand those circum- 
stances must be managed, in order to make self-commen- 
(latinn endurable. As words are not the only signs of 
what passes in the mind, the habitual sense of personal 
win-th and respectability is universally perceived through 
the whole manner of the person who has it. This per- 
reption is quickened by the self-esteem of the observer; 
and as the self-esteem of each person may be said to 
occupy a certain space, it invariably limits that to which 
others would gladly extend their own. Though this 
language is, of course, figurative, every one who has 
attentively observed mankind will grant that there are 
individuals who have a most real though inexplicable 
power of making others shrink into very limited dimen- 
sions. Those who possess that power must naturally 
become objects of a very general dislike. Besides, it 
seldom happens that two men, being placed in constant 
juxta-position, do not, in a certain degree, crowd each 
other. Sometimes they find themselves obliged to part 
company ; but more frequently they mould, shape, and 
pnck the two self-esteems, like travellers in a narrow car- 
riage. But in this process, as well as in that of the 
illustration, the allotment of space is never equal; and 


the weak and sensitive will always be compelled to 
shrink more and more, and fret secretly at the bulky 
and unyielding dimensions of his neighbour. 

It is, therefore, evident that every self-esteem is a claim, 
and sometimes a power, over all others ; and claims (of 
powers we need not speak) however just, especially if 
they are incessant, are seldom or never ackuowle' 
without a certain degree of displeasure. Add to this 
natural feeling, which good men subdue, one which, as 
(in a variable degree) it is perfectly just, no man should 
endeavour to destroy in himself, or he would lower his 
character to that of a slave I speak of a proper watch- 
fulness against the encroachments, the inordinate claims, 
of other men's self-esteem. There must consequently 
exist an almost general uneasiness on this subject. Great 
love and pure friendship will certainly remove this state 
of watchfulness and constant suspicion. But those two 
blessings are rare. Society proceeds, however, pretty 
smoothly by the practical good sense which teaches its 
more refined members (though these are the class \vi 
self-esteem is most sensitive) how to avoid clashing with 
each other. In fact, fashionable refinement may be deti n< < 1 , 
the art of condensing our self-esteem within ourselves, 
and shewing it just enough to have it understood that 
we will not give much more room for the self-esteem <>!' 

And here we have the answer to the question why 
pride, in its unfavourable sense, has an established verbal 
sign in all languages, while they want a proper nam 
the virtuous feeling of which pride is an excess. In the 
daily difficulty of social life above described, in this 

III:I:KSV AM METHOD >\v. l<>7 

perpetual jealousy, this unavoidable rivalry, every one 
stan. U continually in the character of judye and pnrtif. 
Partiality in judging other men's self-esteem is, then - 
loiv, almost unavoidable; consequently we are very 
seldom in want of the name of the virtue, except to 
apply it to ourselves, and then we scarcely dare use it 
The word, therefore, which originally in all languages had 
probably a favourable signification, becomes inevitably, 
in the course of time, a name for the excess which every 
man finds in all others.* 

It must now be evident that all I have said of pride 
must apply to that word when combined with the 
word reason. As that phrase is invariably used to convey 
reproach, we may proceed in our examination by substi- 
tuting for the word pride Dr. Johnson's first definition, 
with such changes only as grammar absolutely requires in 
the combination. Pride of REASON will, therefore, be an 
immoderate esteem of one's own reason. A man who values 
his own reason immoderately, or beyond the proper 
measure, is guilty of pride of reason. Our next step in 
the inquiry must be to find the proper measure beyond 
which we ought not to esteem our reason. Here the 
analogy of the first definition may guide us. We may 
justly be charged with excess of self -esteem when we 
invade the proper self-esteem of others. In the same 
manner, a man is to be blamed for PRIDE OF REASON wlt< H 
Uie value he sets upon his own share of tJiat gift induces h im 
t Invade the sliare of another man. This is an inw*di- 
nate esteem of reason as he possesses it individually. 

* The Germans still preserve the word stolz in a favourable sense,- 
though it is frequently used for Ucbermuth, shewing the general tendency. 
See K rug's Lexikon, under Hochmuth. 


I do not see what valid objection can be made to this 
statement. I am aware that the phrase, pride of reason, 
is not unfrequently employed to express something like 
a rebellion of reason against God, the supreme Fountain 
of Eeason. But the idea is too absurd to deserve a 
moment's attention. Any one who could oppose his 
own reason to the Infinite Source of mind and intelli- 
gence, would be a madman. Such an intention has 
never crossed the mind of any man in his senses. Every 
man knows more or less, as it were instinctively, that 
when he speaks of his own reason, he wishes to express 
nothing but his perception of one and the same universal 
reason, peculiar to no individual, but supreme over all. 
This is God.* The source of the notion which supposes 
this resistance of the human reason to God, lies in the 
gross mistake of imagining that any revelation from God 

* Ftnllon, Existence de Dieu, prem. part, chap, iv., de la Raison de 
Fffomme : 

"A la verite, ma raison est en moi ; car il faut que je rentre sans 
cesse en moi-meme pour la trouver: raais la raison superieure qui me 
corrige dans le besoin, et qne je consulte, n'est point a moi, et elle ne 
fait point partie de moi-m6me. . . . Ainsi, ce qui parait le plus a nous 
et etre le fond de nous-memes, je veux dire notre raison, est ce qui nous 
est le moins propre et qu'on doit croire le plus emprunte. Nous recevons 
sans cesse et a tout moment nne raison superieure a nous, comme nous 
respirons sans cesse 1'air qui est un corps Stranger, ou comme nous voyons 
sans cesse tous les objects voisins de nous & la lumiere du soleil, dont lea 
rayons sont des corps etrangers a nos yeux.f ... II y a une ecole interieure 
ou Thomme recoit ce qu'il ne peut ni se donner ni attrendre des autres 
hommes, qui vivent d'emprunt comme lui. . . Ou est-elle cette raison par- 
faite qui est si pres de moi et si differente de moi ? . . . . Ou est-elle cette 
raison supreme? N'est elle pas le Dieu que je cherche!" Quoted by 
Courin, ubi sup. p. 479, note. Independently of controversy, I am per- 
suaded that Xoyoc, in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, is the Supreme 
Reason personified by a figure of speech. 

t See note to this page at the end. 


t for a rational being like man, except through 
that partial perception of the supreme reason which 
individuals enjoy in various decrees. This is what \\v 
call nnr reason. Among that class of Christians who 
t hers of deliberately opposing their own reason 
to the revelations of God, there cannot be one who has 
ever considered that when he himself receives anything 
.-vealed in Scripture, he is only following the dictates 
of his reason. He may believe (as is not unfrequently 
the case) the greatest absurdities ; he may embrace what, 
upon any other subject, he would reject as a palpable 
contradiction ; nevertheless, he does all this because he 
tinds some more general reason for sacrificing his reason 
on these particulars. He grounds that more general 
reason on God, the eternal Source of reason ; and he 
does well But he should, at the same time, perceive 
that he is not sacrificing his own reason to God, a sacri- 
fice which to the supreme reason would be abominable, 
but an inferior and partial judgment of his own reason 
for the sake of another which appears to him more 
sound and comprehensive. Exactly the same is the 
case of every sincere man who rejects what others em- 
brace as God's word. He does not deny that word; 
he only denies either the testimony or the judgment of 
other men. It cannot, indeed, be conceived that any 
man in his sound mind, believing that any, even the 
most incomprehensible mystery, has been actually com- 
municated by God to man, nevertheless refuses to 
acknowledge it, accusing God either of error or false- 
hood. This is impossible. To believe in God, and at 
the same time to make his reason inferior to human 
reason, is a contradiction which cannot lay hold on our 


mind. Human reason has never opposed the divine and 
supreme reason, knowing that it did so : it is only the 
human will, that, in spite of reason, has the power, and 
indeed a very decided propensity, to oppose the will of 
God. No man who understands what he says, will 
talk of reason's rebellion against God. But let us re- 
turn to our subject. 

Having found that pride of reason is an aggression 
upon other men's reason, arising from an over-estimate 
of the worth of the aggressor's own, we may now pro- 
ceed in our inquiry, Who are justly chargeable with 
pride of reason ? Is it those who, having examined the 
Scriptures, propose their own collective sense of those 
books to the acceptance of others, but blame them not 
for rejecting it? or those who positively assert that 
their own sense of the Scriptures is the only one which 
an honest man, not under diabolical delusion, can find 
there ? The answer is so plain, that a child who could 
understand the terms of the question might give it. 
And yet experience has taught me that there is no 
chance of unravelling the confused ideas which prevent 
many a well-meaning Christian from perceiving that 
the charge of pride of reason falls upon the Orthodox. 
Their own sense of the Scriptures (such is the dizzy 
whirl which their excited feelings produce) must be the 
word of God, because THEY cannot find another. My 
sense of the Scripture (for instance) must, on the con- 
trary, be a damnable error, because it is the work of rny 
reason, which opposes the Word of God, i.e. THEIR s 
of the Scriptures : hence the conclusion that I am guilty 
of pride of reason. " Kenounce that pride (they say), 
and you will see in the Scriptures what we propose to 

HKKF.SV AMi ( M.TIH'I .< >\ V. Ill 

you :" which is to say, Surrender your reason to ours, and 
yini irill <i</m' u'ith US. 

I have already, incidentally, illustrated the theological 
notion ^\' jH-iile of reason by what (if the same interests. 
internal and external, which occasion this clamour against 
11 were involved) would certainly have been called 
the i>r'nlf of sight. Allow me to dwell, once more, on 
the nature of that very considerable vice. Pride of *////// 
would be defined, an inordinate value set on the indivi- 
dual's power of vision. The most approved and meri- 
torious method to avoid this criminal excess would be, 
to put out one's eyes. The person who had performed 
this noble act of self-denial should be entitled to de- 
clare, uncontradicted, that he never before had seen so 
well. He should, in consequence of the superiority of 
this new sight, be chosen leader of other men who still 
kept those delusive organs, the eyes* The sacrifice of 
the eyes would be offered up as a testimony of reverence 
to the Creator of Light, as that of reason is now con- 
sidered an appropriate tribute to the Fountain of it. 
(){' two men who looked, apparently with the same in- 
tensity, at a remote and indistinct object, he who asserted 
that he saw even the minutest parts, and denied the 
possibility that any good and honest person could differ 
from himself in the description, should be declared 
' > possess the virtue of humbleness of sight : he, 
on the contrary, who confessed that his eyes could not 
discover what the other man said he saw, but granted 
that he might be allowed to enjoy his view without 

* II est vrai que de notre temps une personne de la plus grande e"16- 
vution tlisnit, qu'en articles de foi, il fallait se crever les yeux pour voir 
flair. Ai iiiiix Essait, quoted by Victor Cousin. 


blame, should be charged with pride of sight in a most 
offensive degree. Though both were exerting their 
power of vision under the light of the same sun, and 
had their eyes equally open, the latter should be accused 
of despising and hating the light of heaven, and be 
strongly suspected of winking: if this could not be 
proved externally, it should be firmly believed that he 
had an internal power of paralyzing his optic nerve, 
and making himself stone-blind. The happy observer 
of such parts of the remote object as he in the sau it- 
breath declared to be invisible* should earnestly call 
upon the other, as if he would save him from death and 
infamy, to renounce his pride of sight, and agree to see 
the same things which he (the adviser) had, in his ^ivat 
humility of vision, firmly determined to discover. Such 
should be the moral law of the PRIDE OF SIGHT. 

I confess to you, my dear friend, that, when combat- 
ing such pitiable delusions as occur at every step in 
theological controversy, I have often felt a despondency 
which tempted me to throw away the pen, never to 
employ it again upon such subjects. Nothing, indeed, 
but my deep felt conviction of the enormous evils which 
intolerance, in this its last disguise, is producing in the 
world, has supported my determination to oppose it 
to my last breath. Among the hopeless cases of that 
fever of religious feeling which creates a lamentaMi' 
confusion of thought upon these subjects, there may In- 
patients who possess natural candour and intellectual 
strength sufficient to extricate them, I do not say from 

* Thus the Deity is declared to be incomprehensible in the minutest 
description of hia mode of being that ever was attempted in human 


the ,10,-trinc* of Orthodoxy, for that is to me a minor 
point, hut from tin 1 mischievous error of taking their 
own sense of Scripture for the word of God itself; and 
from the 1-Mt'nt tally intolerant belief that any man who 
opposes that sense is betrayed by his pride of reason 
into rehrllion against God. 

Will any candid and reasonable man deny that articles 
ligion, or creeds, are only explanations of Scripture ? 
I ask, are these explanations the work of reason, or 
ilt of inspiration? My question is addressed 
exclusively to Protestants; for it is their inconsistent 
and contradictory intolerance which I am opposing. 
That of the Jioman Catholics must be opposed by dis- 
proving the inspiration of their authoritative expounder 
whether the Church, or the Pope, or both. But the 
Protestants have no alternative : either they must admit 
that the exposition of the Scriptures given in their 
respective creeds is a work of reason, or they must 
embrace the Popish principle of infallibility. That kind 
of unauthoritative tradition to which some Protestant 
writers had fondly clung,* especially in the Church of 
England, makes not the least difference. To ascertain 
that tradition, is a work of reason assisted by learning ; 
and the most successful search of the views and opi- 
nions of ancient days in some churches, can give to 
the result no higher character than that of a very ques- 
tionable historical probability. But if, in the formation 
of all creeds whatever, the reason of the framers, as 
employed in finding the sense of Scripture, is the ultimate 

* See a Discourse on Unauthoritative Tradition ; a very able work 
of Dr. Hawkins, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford. 



support, the real foundation upon which their articles 
stand, what instance of pride of reason can be more 
glaring than that of attributing some kind of guilt to 
the rejection of that purely human commentary on the 
Bible? Whether few or many men combined for the 
purpose of passing the work of their reason for the only 
true sense of the Scripture, thus encroaching upon the 
rights of other men's reason, can make no difference, 
unless it be that of aggravating their guilt. If many 
combine to do an unjust and illegal act, they are guilty, 
not only of the individual wrong committed, but add 
to it that of conspiracy. Let all the bishops and priests 
in the world unite to awe other men's reason into sub- 
mission to the inferences which the council (as such 
assemblies have been called) suppose they have drawn 
from the Scripture ; their multitude only shews that 
the pride of THEIR reason is attended by a consciousness 
of its weakness. Reason does not derive strength from 
crowds. The reason of the most obscure individual, b 
it but true reason, is sufficient to subdue the world, if 
fairly left to take its course. 

It is remarkable that Christians are accused of pride 
of reason in proportion as their view of Christianity 
contains fewer doctrines of inference than that of the 
accusers. Compare the creed of the Trinitarian with 
that of the Unitarian. The former may be true, and 
the latter erroneous, though I adhere to the latter ; but, 
unquestionably, the Trinitarian creed is nearly made 
up of inferences it is almost entirely a work of reason, 
though, in my opinion, sadly misapplied. Why, then, 
is the Unitarian accused of pride of reason when he 


only employs it to slu-\v that, the Trinitarian has nut 
any sound reason to inferences? Which of 
the two is guilty of encroaching upon another man's 
r/y/' Is it not he who claims for his int'er- 

s -the work of his own reason an authority uhove 
human mt.wn 4 

Is it not, however, to inferences alone (the work of 

lineal reason that the Trinitarian creed owes its exist- 

and. more than its existence, its popularity? My 

rvation has shewn me, and that of every competent 

judge will find, that the strongest hold which that creed 

n the minds of its supporters, consists in preconceived 

ies concerning the nature of God and of sin, and of 
some mwnsiti/ which places the Divine Nature in a state 
of difficulty in regard to the pardon of sin. The work of 
saving the race of man from a most horrible fate depends 
(according to this theory) not only on a very mysterious 
method of overcoming the difficulty which prevents 
pardon by an act of mercy on repentance, but also on 
the acknowledgment of the mystery by the sinner. The 
remedy prepared by the wisdom of God is (according to 
this theory) totally powerless, unless we believe a certain 
explanation of the manner in which it acts. Now, people 
who cordially embrace this view very naturally work 
themselves into a state of the most agonizing excite- 
ment: for if the whole world is to perish because it 
does not know how the saving remedy acts, or because 
its activity is explained in a wrong way, benevolent 
men, who think themselves in possession of that im- 
portant secret, must burn with zeal to spread it, and with 
indignation against those who propagate an explanation 
which deprives the remedy of all its power. " Believing," 

I 2 


says an orthodox writer,* though a dissenter from the 
Orthodoxy of the Church of England, " the doctrine (of 
the divinity of Christ) to comprehend within itself the 
hopes of a guilty and perishing world, while I would 
contend meekly, I must be pardoned if at the same time 
I contend earnestly." It is this preconceived theory (one 
of the strangest that was ever founded on reasonings 
a priori) that guides most Christians in the exposition 
of the New Testament, and even in that of many pas- 
sages of the Hebrew Scriptures. The notion that sin 
could not be pardoned unless a person equal to God 
suffered for it, is the deeply-coloured glass through which 
the Orthodox read the Scriptures. I do not blame them 
for this extraordinary conception. What I earnestly 
wish is, that their religious fears may allow them to 
perceive that this theory of redemption is made up of 
preconceived notions and inferences. Even if that theory 
were true, it would be unquestionably a work of r<> 
working by inference. Can, then, the attempt to make 
it the very soul of the Gospel be acquitted of the charge 
which is constantly in the mouth of the Orthodox ? Are 
they not guilty of the pride of reason ? 

But here the Orthodox (I mean the man who consi< i 
all that dissent from him necessarily in error) esc; 
again into the mist of ideas which hovers alway 
hund in the field of theological controversy. That the 
multitude will follow him into the darkness is natural 
and certain. Keluctance to believe what is din 
against the first principles of reason, appears to 
mass of unthinking Christians as intellect ual pride. 

* Mr. Wardlaw, quoted by the Rev. Mr. Yates in bis Vindicate 
Unitarianism, p. 41, American edit. 

Ill 'i;i:sY AND ORTHOI" I 17 

lint'ss to believe wliut cannot even bo propounded 
in uncont radirtory words, is the purest faith. Cmi.i- 
dering tliis popular feeling, it' two views of Christianity, 
tlu* Athana>ian ami the rnitarian, arc bronchi before 
that mass of Christians who have been assiduously 
taught that the efficacy of faith (as it is vulgarly sup- 
po;rd of medicines) is proved by the oilensivnirss of 
what is to be believed, nobody can doubt to which they 
will give the preference. The Unitarian creed will be 
ted, upon the ground that it raises no dislike or 
reluctance; the other will be embraced, because it pro- 
duces the expected effect of faith. Credo quia imposs-ihi/i: 
The plain Christian who entertains these notions (and 
those who are educated according to the Orthodox system 
rtain them in proportion to their want of intellectual 
activity) cannot fail to discover the clearest proofs of 
jtrii/i- of reason in a view of Christianity which does not 
bewilder him ; for if it were not the work of that^r/V< 
(h" will say), how could it be so agreeable to reason so 

We f 

I would, however, earnestly recommend to persons of 
this description to examine whether, in point of rcuson- 
ultli', the New Testament (take it all in all) is not 
more in agreement with reason, with the plain Unitarian 
statement, than with the complicated creeds of the Or- 
thodox churches? I do not speak of three or four texts 
i<'.\( hiding the evident interpolations, which, curiously 
enough, are all on the Trinitarian side) ; for those texts 
owing to our early imbibed notions, create at first sight 
some perplexity : I speak f the tone of instruction 
which prevails in those writings. Let the impartial 
inquirer observe the absence of all metaphysical specu 


lation in the Gospels, and compare it with abundance 
of scholastic philosophy in the Orthodox confessions. 
Let him remark, that the New Testament presupposes 
no previous knowledge in the persons whom the authors 
addressed ; for those holy men well knew that they 
were sent principally to preach the Gospel to the poor 
and uneducated. On the other hand, let him reflect on 
the mass of strange ideas which are necessary as a pre- 
paration in order to understand the mere statements of 
the Athanasian Creed, the Confession of Augsburg, or 
the Thirty-nine Articles in a word, the whole of the 
patristico-scholastic theology which is taught in this 
country. Allow me to make a brief enumeration of the 
previous notions which, if the New Testament were 
intended to convey the Orthodox system of divinity, it 
would necessarily presume to exist in every person to 
whom it is addressed by Providence. Under the name 
of Orthodox, I embrace both Arminians and Calvinists, 
because both are allowed admission into the Church of 
England ; and the latter claim the privilege of Ortho- 
doxy, I believe exclusively, in the Kirk of Scotland. 

To be prepared for the established and orthodox sense 
of the New Testament, young minds must be accus- 
tomed to form to themselves the idea of a Creator 
God the Father ; an infinitely powerful Being, whose 
prominent attribute is severity ; who created mankind, 
according to some divines knowing, according to others 
predetermining, that by far the greater part of all the 
future generations of men should, after a short mortal 
life, be eternally alive in torments. The opening mind 
must also be accustomed to consider it reasonable and 
just that, because the first parent of mankind disobeyed 


a precept of God concerning a certain fruit which he 
was not to taste, all his descendants to the remotest 
posterity should not only suffer diseases and death, but 
l>c horn also yu.ttty of sin, objects of ivrath to God, 
nn Tally degraded, and very far or totally removed from 
rectitude. Another elementary notion, not unlike this, 
must be instilled into the young mind in respect to 
Divine equity. The child must learn that since by Adam's 
sin all his posterity were doomed to spiritual death 
(which he must understand in the sense of eternal life in 

ry), God the Father could not consistently with his 
justice pardon them, unless some one suffered in their 
stead. He therefore doomed his only-begotten Son, a 
perfectly innocent being, equal to himself, to death. 
The child might be inclined to expect that, as Adam's 
sin involved all mankind in ruin, independently of their 
will, this remedy by its intrinsic power would also save 
ALL MEN, and finally lead them to happiness. But he 
must be checked in this bold use of his reason, and 
taught to believe that the infinite remedy prepared by 
God falls widely short of the extent of the evil pro- 
duced by man's original disobedience. 

Another previous notion of great importance, if the 
child is to find the Orthodox system in the New Testa- 
ment, is that of an unity which is not unity ; for he will 
certainly read repeated assertions in the Bible that God 
is ONE ; yet by one he must understand three infinite 
Minds, all equally God, and nevertheless not making up 
three Gods. To proceed: the understanding has original 
and indestructible laws, which begin to direct it at a very 
early age, especially if called into activity by instruction. 
A quick child, though not acquainted with logic, will 


very soon be practically aware of one of the first prin- 
ciples of thought that, namely, which rejects the asser- 
tion that one thing substantially conceived, is another 
thing conceived in the same manner. He will perceive 
the absurdity of saying that Edward is John, or the 
horse is the cow* As the young pupil must be prepared 
to infer from the New Testament that a perfect man is 
perfect God, he must be carefully instructed to discard 
the mental principle which would represent this as a 
contradiction, of the same kind as it would be to say 
that there may be a triangle which is also a circle ; 
perfect gold which is perfect silver ; a perfect horse 
which is a perfect eagle, &c. &c. : or (which is commonly 
the case) must be imperceptibly led to consider the 
word God as expressing a quality, or an aggregate of 
qualities, which .may be predicated of more than one, 
as the name of a species ; just as we say John is man, 
Peter is man, Andrew is man. This latter notion is a 
necessary result of placing the mind between the two 
logically contradictory assertions, there is but one God, 
and there are three who are God. And so it is that, 
with the exception of a few who in this country ;ti< 
still acquainted with that ingeniously perverse system of 
words by means of which the truly scholastic Trinitarians 
(such as Bishop Bull and Waterland, who had accu- 
rately studied the fathers and schoolmen) appear to 
evade the logical contradictions with which the doctrine 
of the Trinity abounds all, as I have observed for 
many years, take the word God, in regard to J su 
the name of a species, and more frequently of a dignity. 

* Res de Re prcedicari non potest : Abelard's celebrated principle, by 
which he confuted the Realists. 


This appears in the method very frequently used to 
prove the divinity of Jesus, by a collodion of pa- 
in which (us the writers imagine) all the jittribut' 
l)city aiv predicated of him. The whole, indeed, of 
their language implies something conferred upon the 
liiunan nature of Jesus; and so far they are proceed- 
ing n a truly scriptural principle; for Jesus himself 
has declared that everything he possesses has been 
to him. Thus these very pious, but not very 
laical men, establish quite the opposite of what they 
intend to prove. Deity communicated is a contradictory 
idea to that of proper Deity. Many, indeed, among the 
Trinitarians, if they understood themselves, would per- 
ceive that they only differ in language from some Uni- 
tarians ; for I am convinced that many individuals of 
this denomination would give to Jesus the name of God 
in the sense of the /lii/hcxf diynity ever conferred upon an 
individual of the human bpecies, if the example of Jesus 
himself did not teach them that there is a danger in 
such a stretch of language, and that it has a tendency 
directly opposed to the important belief in the Divine 
Unity. It is worthy of attention, that when Jesus was 
about to be stoned for having used language which the 
Jews took to mean equality with God, though lie asserted 
that the application, in an improper sense, of the name 
to men was not blasphemy, he still would not claim 
it for himself, but used the denomination, Son of (Itnl. in 
tlie Jewish sense of Messiah, the anointed or sanctified 

oi Cod* 

* See John x. 2936. It has been observed by one of the mo>t 
powerful writers in the English language (Archbishop Whately), in answer 
to those who assert that when our Saviour said to Pilate, "My kingdom is 


It is not to be expected, however, that in the process 
of instilling the necessary previous notions which the 
New Testament would require in order to convey the 
orthodox sense, this collateral mistake of supposing that 
the idea of God can be attributed to another being, as 
a conferred dignity, should be carefully opposed. The 
assistance of that notion in keeping up the popularity 
of Trinitarian ism is too evident not to be instinctively 
treated with lenity, even by the very few who in this 
country are aware of its theological inaccuracy. The 
body of orthodox Christians are entirely supported in 
their profession of the Divinity of Jesus by the feeling 
that to deny it is to degrade the Saviour. To deprive 
of his Deity the most amiable as well as most venerable 
person ever known to the world, appears in the light of 
the greatest ingratitude. It is this feeling that erases 
from the mind whatever impression the voice of Reason, 
supported by the Scriptures, may have made in favour 
of that supreme religious truth, the Unity of God.* 
The Father (let every one ask his own consciousness as 

not of this world," he only alluded to the then present state of his kingdom, 
that such a view attributes to Christ a most unworthy mental reservation. 
Apply the same remark to Christ's answer to the Jews, and if he knew 
that he was God, and intended that such a belief should, at a future time, 
be made a fundamental doctrine of his religion, his answer would be such 
an evasion as every man who loves and reveres Jesus of Nazareth would 
not on any account attribute to him. 

* In the interminable confusion of primitive ideas and language upon 
which the common acceptance of the Trinitarian doctrine reposes, people do 
not perceive a most simple, and in itself obvious truth, which might allay 
this fear of degrading Jesus. If Jesus be God, he must be that one God 
for whose exclusive honour the Unitarian contends. Jesus, in that case, 
can neither be degraded nor offended. But if he be not God, the danger 
of offending both the Father and him is one which a pious mind should 
not overlook. 


well us his observation), the Father among us is not 
<in object of affection: in regard to his incommunicable 
honour, the mass of Christians have no quick or deli- 
cate feeling. And is it possible to avoid this direct 
ill of the descriptions which divines give of the 
Supreme God? Is he not represented as ready to 
destroy the world as a consuming fire, that would readily 
devour us, if it had not spent its wrath upon the Son ?* 
The consequence of this teaching is visible everywhere: 
the SON is preferred to the Father; to that Father 
whom Christ worshipped and loved ; to that Father, for 
whose glory he lived and died ; to that Father, to do 
whose will was his meat and drink. Yet Christians are 
now satisfied that the most certain way to secure the 
salvation proclaimed by Christ is to neglect "God our 
Saviour," and place his Son, not at God's "right hand," 
but occupying God's throne. A single step in the same 
< ourse of feeling, assisted externally by circumstances, 
may land a child thus instructed upon the notion of a 
still milder and more accessible sort of deity the Virgin 
Moffter of God so strong is the tendency of mankind to 
worship gods like unto themselves. 

I believe I have omitted many of the notions which 
regularly prepare the minds of every rising generation, 
that they may not be struck with the difference between 

* " Have you informed him (said an anxious divine to the mother of 
a dying boy) that God, without Christ, is a consuming, devouring fire F' 
I" I 'mi the acceptance of this view by the child depended his salvation, 
ling to this Christian instructor. To what kind of heads and tempers 
will Christianity be confined in the course of a few generations, if it have 
such men for its publishers and ministers ? I relate the above fact upon 
unquestionable authority. It took place in Dublin not long ago. 


the simplicity of the New Testament and the abstru>e 
and fanciful philosophy of the established theological 
systems. But what I have laid before you is more than 
sufficient to shew that the rashness (if not the pride) of 
Reason is all on the side of the Orthodox. We 
nevertheless, assured with the greatest confidence, that 
the entire system, of which I have given you a few 
cimens, is so plainly contained in the New Testament, 
that he that runs may read it. 

It has cost me no small trouble to avoid in what 1 
have been writing, even the most slight appearance of 
satire ; yet such is the nature of everything which con- 
tradicts the first principles of Reason, that if you di 
it of the mysterious language in which the mind 
been accustomed to revere it, no care whatever can piv- 
vent the revulsion of feeling which the naked absurdity 
will produce. It is exactly like what I have seen in 
Spain in regard to the most revered objects. The mira- 
culous image of the Virgin Mary, for whose honour t hi- 
kings of Spain maintain, at the expense of the country, 
a body of dignified clergy, has its splendid dress chan 
once a year, behind a large thick veil; because even the 
blindest enthusiasts are aware that if the w>oden ti aim- 
covered with canvas which lies underneath the g-ms and 
brocade were to be seen, public adoration might in a 
short time end in general laughter. 

But as it is the invariable custom of idol-guardians 
to interpret everything .said of the idol as if it were in 
tended against the object which (though perha] 
in itself) it misrepresents and distorts, so we see the 
I'm mere and supporters of fanciful inferences from the 


Scriptures constantly identifying those inference, not 
only with the Scriptures, but with God himself. If any 
one treats the contradictions of the Athanasiaii Creed as 
he would any others expressed in language (for contra- 
diction* cannot exist except in language}, he is directly 
accused of irnpiety. He is told that he is treating the 
most sacred things irreverently; as if the observations 
applied to the objects, and not to the language which 
misrepresents those objects. It is in this manner that 
a Roman Catholic multitude would say that you were 
laughing at Mary the Mother of God, if they observed 
you casting a look of disgust and pity at the clumsy 
wooden frame, with varnished head and hands, before 
which the attendant priests are obliged to kneel, holding 
lighted wax candles. In like manner, the metaphysical 
inferences which the Reason of the Orthodox has (as they 
imagine) collected from the Bible, are most positively 
identified with the WORD OF GOD. How, then, can we 
be surprised at the readiness with which the unthinking 
multitudes of all ranks seize the notion that the Uni- 
tarians set up their Reason above the word of God, and 
by the most guilty and impious intellectual pride refuse 
their assent to all divine MYSTERIES? 

Admirably as this subject of Mystery has been treated 
by some enlightened and truly philosophical divines,* 
I cannot help thinking that there is still a very essential 
mistake to be removed concerning it. "There are mys- 
teries in everything around us," is constantly and em- 
phatically repeated. But I do not remember to have 
seen it observed anywhere, that the application of this 

* See, especially, Yate*' Vindication of Unitarian ism, c. iv. part i. 


fact, as an antecedent reason for believing in the mys- 
teries of Orthodox divinity, is a fallacy. In respect to 
the demanded submission, there is no similarity between 
the mysteries which surround us in nature and those 
concerning which the Christian world has been in agi- 
tation for about eighteen centuries. The mysteries of 
nature stand before us, a matter of indubitable experi- 
ence. We see all bodies drawn towards the centre of 
the earth ; and the fact forces itself upon the credence 
of every individual, though we are in the dark as to the 
cause of gravitation. We see the effects of electricity and 
galvanism, though we are unable to trace those effects 
higher up in the chain of causes and effects. The cause 
in all such cases is mysterious ; but the facts are so per- 
manent, that we can reduce them to general laws. But, 
in the name of common sense, I ask, do the mysteries 
of the Trinity and Original Sin stand before us in the 
same manner? Do they even stand (as they easily 
might) in express terms in the Scriptures? When &fact 
which may be verified as often as we please presents 
itself in nature, Reason is never tempted to raise the 
least objection. The mind wonders, but, far from re- 
sisting the evidence, rejoices in the contemplation of the 
object. Reason (it is true) begins a search in order to 
explain the mystery by means of some more general 
agency already known; but if it fails to find it, it does 
not deny the fact which it cannot explain. But how can 
men of no common talents allow themselves so to be 
led away by the vulgar error of divines, as to make 
the submission of reason to the mysterious facts of 
perience a ground to demand a similar submission to 


which arise from certain explanations of lan- 
guage { Does the supposed mystery stand before us as a 
fact, as one of the mysteries of visible nature? By n<> 
means. Our whole theological fact is reduced to the 
presence of certain arbitrary marks, or characters, repre- 
senting vocal sounds, which, in their turn, were used in 
a language now dead, to represent objects for the most 
part material and universally within man's knowledge, 
which are now supposed to express figuratively some- 
thing spiritual, and quite beyond the knowledge and 
comprehension of man. Upon this fad alone the ortho- 
dox divines build their contradictory statements ; and 
when they have raised their mighty structure of words 
which destroy each other's sense, they tell us that it is a 
mystery; and that, as we believe the mysteries of Nature, 
so must we surrender our understanding to the mysteries 
of their own creation. How can any man of sense be 
entangled in such a miserable fallacy? The existence 
of the pretended mysteries is the very question which 
divides the Christian world. Our observation cannot 
go beyond the words which some divines declare to 
assert the existence of the mystery. Renounce the 
human exposition from which the mystery arises, and it 
totally disappears. Does anything like this happen with 
the mysteries of nature? The mysteries of the Divine 
essence are not, cannot be, before our eyes; they are not, 
cannot be, even verbally in the Scriptures ; for words 
are not able to express anything above the ideas of the 
human mind. What we find in the Scriptures are ex- 
pressions couched in the language of men ; consequently 
we must expect that' they be significant. But divines 


contend that they signify what men cannot understand. 
They go further, and in contradictory language they tell 
you that they have laid before you what the Scripture 
contains ; and when you answer that contradictory lan- 
guage is no language at all, they accuse you of pride of 
Reason. In a word, they themselves make the myste; 
and then want you to submit, as if those mysteries 
stood before you in the character of independent and 
unquestionable facts. 

I cannot too earnestly beg your constant attention to 
the great difference between mysteries to be explained 
and mysteries to be proved. Eeason submits to the 
former, because the existence of the mysterious fact is 
unquestionable ; but when called upon to submit to the 
latter, because forsooth they also are mysteries, it turns 
away in disgust. The mysteries to which the reason 
of the Unitarian objects are not mysteries proved, are 
not even mysteries positively stated in divinely autho- 
rized language, but mysteries conjectured to lie con- 
cealed in that language: they are not unfrequently n 
contradictions which no rational language can be sup- 
posed to contain. If God, through his accredited mes- 
sengers, had said, "The language in which I ai 
address you about myself is, when tried by the invari- 
able laws of the mind, contradictoiy to itself, yet I com- 
maiid you to repeat it, and say that you believe the 
mysteries it envelops ;" if such a command could be 
satixftn-ttn-tly proved, reason would have no right t<. 
ivfuae it; but when the Gospel is addressed to u.s in that 
-ame language by means of which we understand 
other, we may well conceive that 'it was intended to be 


understood ; when it is called a Revelation, we must 
expect to find it really a disclosure; something that will 
convoy a clear sense to our minds ; not downright con- 
tradictions not mysterious words, which, like the ABRA- 
CADABRA of the Gnostics, is to save us from evil by the 
.sound and shape of its letters. 

The position of the orthodox Protestants who, having 
renounced only fragments of Popery, cherish its main 
root in their hearts, is to me exceedingly curious, though 
lamentable. What an awkward defence against Tran- 
substantiation must a Trinitarian make who accuses the 
Unitarian of pride of Reason because he will not admit 
that the Athanasian Creed is virtually contained in the 
New Testament! I can imagine the cry of triumph 
which would be raised if a few manuscripts of high an- 
tiquity were to be discovered in some corner of the East 
containing the passage on the three heavenly witnesses. 
And yet such testimony could not be compared either in 
point of unanimity or positive assertion with the words, 
This is my body This is my blood. I do not believe 
either transubstantiation or the real presence ; but, wish- 
ing to be just and impartial, I must declare that the 
Protestant clamours against the pi*ide of Reason place 
the opponents of those Catholic doctrines completely in 
the power of their adversaries. Let us imagine a short 

CATHOLIC. Why do you not believe what Christ 
declares in the most positive and clear words ? 

PROTESTANT. Because the expressions, taken in a 
literal sense, are absurd. 

CATHOLIC. Are they more absurd than the proposi- 


tion, Three is One, and One is Three ? a proposition which 
you (agreeing with us) consider as the very foundation 
of the "Catholic verity;" though nothing like those 
words is found in the genuine portions of the New 
Testament. Do you not consider, besides, that the 
word absurd does not properly apply to physical facts? 
That one substance be changed into another, implies no 
absurdity; but that three distinct persons, each of whom 
is God, should be ONE God, is certainly ABSURD TO us. 

PROTESTANT. Transubstantiation, certainly, does not 
sound so absurd as the statement of the Trinity ; but 
then, on the other hand, we have the testimony of our 
senses against it. 

CATHOLIC. The senses, my friend, have nothing to 
do in the present case, for the substantial qualities of 
bread and wine remain working upon the senses: the 
substance alone is changed. Surely, you do not object 
to this kind of philosophy, for it is just that which 
saves us from contradictions in the statement of the 

PROTESTANT. But can you suppose that Christ, ad- 
dressing plain men, who never had dreamt of sin-h 
philosophy, would so depend upon its influence a 
expect that, without any further explanation, they would 
understand that the bread and wine had been chan 
into his own body and blood? 

CATHOLIC. Do you not, in the same manner, bcl : 
that, although there is no direct assertion, no words 
about Trinity in Unity, which can be compared to " 7 
is my body, This is my blood," Christ loft it to be infen< ,1 
from scattered passages, by the assistance of philoso- 


phicul speculations about Nature, Substance, Persons 
Mutital-in-being,* &G. &c. ? 

PROTESTANT. My reason submits in the one case 
and resists in the other. 

CATHOLIC. Are you not guilty of pride the PRIDE 
OF REASON ? Do you not reject the clearest declara- 
tion that language can be conceived to make, because it 
offends your PRIDE ? 

But I must conclude this Letter, and, with it, the 
subject. The whole system of theology contained in the 
Articles of the various Protestant Churches is purely 
a work of Reason, though, unfortunately, misemployed. 
Those Articles are Logical Inferences; and Inferences are, 
unquestionably, the work of Reason. Even the theory 
of the verbal inspiration of the writings from which such 
int<Tences are supposed to be drawn, could not, if granted, 
raise the inferential work above its human character, or 
warrant it against error. This being a proposition which 
no candid and intelligent man will deny, I will leave 
you to judge between those who doom to eternal per- 
dition every one who denies the accuracy of those 
inferences, and those who, with my humble self, con- 
tend that eternal happiness cannot depend on the right 
choice of such opinions. Which of these two classes is 
justly charged with PRIDE OF REASON? If you still 
doubt, read, I request, any of the numerous works of 
Orthodox Divines, Churchmen and Dissenters, and settle 
with yourself to whom Dr. Johnson's definition does 
properly apply. Remember that the second signification 

* I do not know A better way of translating that important word Cir- 
cumincetsio, or going round into one another, which is of so great import- 
ance in erery ireatitt on the Trinity. 



of PRIDE is, "insolence, rude treatment of others, in- 
solent exultation." If, however, you have none of those 
works at hand, wait a short time ; and the Orthodox 
reviews of these Letters will perfectly answer the 

* This prediction, as far as my knowledge of Reviews extends, has not 
yet been fulfilled. I have seen only one review of this work, in the British 
Critic, and a more friendly critique it is impossible to conceive. If this 
note should reach the author of that article, about whom I have not even 
a conjecture, I beg him to accept my most hearty thanks. 

J. B. W. 

Liverpool, March 30tb, 1839. 



On the origin of the, article before the word CHRIST. 

(Postscript to Letter L, page 25.) 

I HAVE in various passages added the article to the 
word Christ : the view from which this alteration arises 
had not fully opened itself before my mind when these 
Letters were published. The importance, however, of 
that view appears to me so great, that I propose to state 
it at full length, if my incessant sufferings should allow 
me to write a continuation to the present work. That I 
will earnestly strive to accomplish that task, I have no 
doubt. But in the mean time, I beg my readers to 
observe, that the practice of joining the words Jesus and 
Christ, as if they were one name, cannot be primitive. 
There can, indeed, exist little doubt that the original 
practice must have been that of writing the Christ, and 
Jesus the Christ. The great question between the dis- 
ciples of Jesus of Nazareth and the Jews was, whether 
the title of Messiah should be given to that individual ; 
whether Jesus was the Messiah, i.e. the Christ. Few, I 
believe, do not know that both Christ and Messiah mean 
the same thing, namely, the Anointed, i.e. the King. 


Now, it is unquestionable that, about the time when 
Jesus presented himself in public, preaching the ap- 
proach of THE KINGDOM, namely, the moral kingdom 
of the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed, the notions 
which people attached to those words were extremely 
various. In conformity with these various notions of 
the Messiahship would the followers of Jesus form 
their notions of his dignity, knowledge, power, and 
other qualities. This, I conceive, was the primitive 
source of the varieties of Christians, which appear con- 
temporaneously with the earliest propagation of the 
Gospel. All who before the birth of Jesus were joined 
in a kind of religious fellowship, of which the uniting 
principle was the expectation of a moral, not a warlike 
Christ, and had reduced their internal religion to an 
enlightened morality and a spiritual worship, would 
naturally profess themselves disciples of Jesus as soon 
as they heard of his preaching, and perceived its con- 
formity with their own views. To me it appears very 
probable that the name Christian existed before Jesus, 
and that the reason why the disciples began to be called 
Christians at Antioch was, that many who already called 
themselves so, joined the disciples of the apostles. But 
I cannot at present develop the important consequences 
which I find to flow from this view ; I only beg the 
candid reader to accustom himself to remember that 
Christ is a name of office, and consequently that the 
article must be understood before it, even where the 
text does not exhibit it. How is it- possible that 
early Christians should be guilty of such a solecism 
as that of using the words Jesus Christ as a name and 
>urnarae, just as if, employing two perfect equivalents, 


we writ .Inskua King? Let the reader divest 

himself of that impression, and he will be prepared to 
distinguish between the man Jesus and the various 
attributes of his office attributes which were conceived 
in a great variety of aspects, according to the previous 
notions which the primitive Jewish Christians had of 
the Christ or Messiah. Thus some light may be thrown 
upon the dark history of the early Christian theology ; 
thus the phantom of a uniform Tradition of Doctrine will 
lc finally chased away. 

I cannot at present undertake the labour of examining 
(Jriesbach's various readings, in order to find how fre- 
quent are the traces of a second-hand addition of the 
word Jesus to the word Christ ; but if it should be proved, 
as I am convinced it may, that the Christ, the Messiah, 
the Logos, are metaphorical expressions or verbal sym- 
bols of the only God in the manifestations of his supreme 
Keason, it will not be difficult to shew that many of 
the high-sounding passages usually applied to prove the 
Divinity of the man Jesus, were originally used in re- 
gard to the abstract Christ, the Messiah, i.e. of God 
himself, conceived as the Logos, or his supreme Keason, 
which is himself, as he manifests his nature in the crea- 
tion and government of the world. To make this ab- 
straction of the human mind a self-subsisting Person, is a 
monstrous materialization of a figure of language, which 
could not have entered the minds even of the Rabbins, 
among whom St. Paul learnt his Messianic phraseology. 
Still more absurd it is to crush into one the imaginary 
personality of the Christ of the Palestinian Jews (which 
is the same as the Logos of the Jews who lived in Egypt), 
and the personality of the man Jesus. I conclude by 


requesting such readers as have not studied the writings 
of the Alexandrian Jews, called the Apocrypha, those of 
Philo, and such works as disclose the doctrines prevalent 
in the Rabbinical schools, not' to take the hints I have 
thrown out as mere paradoxes. March 20th, 1839. 

After writing what precedes, I submitted to the labour 
of examining in a few books of the New Testament how 
many passages, where the Greek article is found before 
Xpwrros, have been translated in the established Version 
without its English equivalent. The result of my exami- 
nation is as follows: 

In Matthew, the article appears 11 times : in English only 3. 
In Mark, 5 2. 

In Luke, 10 3. 

In John, 17 9. 

and twice that instead of the. 
In Acts, 14 not once ; 

that is once used. 
In Romans, 12 not once. 

I have a strong suspicion that the English translators 
saw too frequently the Greek original through the Latin 
Version, with which they were familiar: the Latin lan- 
guage having no article, they were often led into the 
omission of it in English. What confirms me in this 
conjecture is the occasional use of tftat; for where the 
Latin translator thought it necessary to make Christ 
ernphatical, he would use ille Christus, //////// Christum. 
I'.ut this only by the way. March 29th, 1839. 





TRINITARIANS, &c. &c., mentioned in the Preface of tin 
present Work* 

PROFESSOR NORTON, after mentioning that, in 1819, 
he had published a tract, to which he had given the 
title which is now prefixed to the work from which the 
following Extracts are taken, proceeds to say : 

" I have said, ' I resumed the task ;' and the expres- 
sion is appropriate ; for the discussion is one in which 
no scholar or intellectual man can, at the present day, 
engage with alacrity. To the great body of enlightened 
individuals in all countries, to the generality of those 
who, on every subject but theology, are the guides of 
public opinion, it would be as incongruous to address 
an argument against the Trinity as an argument against 
Transubstantiation, or the imputation of Adam's sin, or 
the supremacy of the Pope, or the divine right of kings. 
These doctrines, once subjects of fierce contention, are 
all, in their view, equally obsolete. To disprove the 

* The work of Professor Norton being still scarce in this country, I 
gladly avail myself of this opportunity of giving a few specimens, taken 
somewhat in connection with a few of the topics in the preceding little work, 
and of expressing my very high sense of the ability and learning displayed 
in that (according to my judgment) perfectly triumphant refutation of the 
established or orthodox doctrines on the Nature of God and the Person of 

[I am very glad that this valuable work of Professor Norton is now known 
to a great number, among such as do not think it a Christian duty to close 
their eyes against everything that clashes with their established Ortho- 
doxy. April 2nd, 1839.] 


Trinity will appear to many of whom I speak a labour 
as idle and unprofitable as the confutation of any other 
of those antiquated errors ; and to engage in the task 
may seem to imply a theologian's ignorance of the 
opinions of the world, and the preposterous and un- 
timely zeal of a recluse student, believing that the 
dogmas of his books still rule the minds of men. It 
would be difficult to find a recognition of the existence 
of this doctrine in any work of the present day of 
established reputation, not professedly theological. All 
mention of it is, by common consent, excluded from 
the departments of polite literature, moral science, and 
natural religion ; and from discussions, written or oral, 
not purely sectarian, intended to affect men's belief or 
conduct. Should an allusion to it occur in any such 
production, it would be regarded as a trait of fanati- 
cism, or as discovering a mere secular respect for some 
particular church. It is scarcely adverted to, except 
in works professedly theological ; and theology, the 
noblest and most important branch of philosophy, has 
been brought into disrepute, so far, at least, as it treats 
of the doctrines of revealed religion, by a multitude of 
writers, who have seized upon this branch of it as their 
peculiar province, and who have been anything but 

" Why, then, argue against a doctrine which, among 
intelligent men, has fallen into neglect and disbelief? I 
answer, that the neglect and disbelief of this docti 
and of other doctrines of like character, has extended 
to Christianity itself. It is from the public professions 
of nations calling themselves Christian, from the e 
blished creeds and liturgies of different churches or 


sects, and from the writings of those who have 
reputed Orthodox in their day, that most men derive 
their notions of Christianity. But the treaties of Euro- 
pean nations still begin with a solemn appeal to the 
' Most Holy Trinity;' the doctrine is still the professed 
laith of every established church, and, as far as I know, 
of every sect which makes a creed its bond of com- 
munion: and if any one should recur to books, he 
would find it presented as an all-important distinction 
of Christianity by far the larger portion of divines. It 
is, in consequence, viewed by most men, more or less 
distinctly, as a part of Christianity. In connection 
with other doctrines, as false and more pernicious, it has 
been moulded into systems of religious belief, which 
have been publicly and solemnly substituted in the place 
of true religion. These systems have counteracted the 
whole evidence of divine revelation. The proof of the 
most important fact in the history of mankind, that the 
truths of religion have been left to be doubtfully and 
dimly discerned, but have been made known to us by 
God himself, has been overborne and rendered ineffec- 
tual by the nature of the doctrines ascribed to God. 
Hence it is that, in many parts of Europe, scarcely an 
intelligent and well-informed Christian is left. It has 
seemed as idle to inquire into the evidence of those 
systems which passed under the name of Christianity, 
as into the proof of the incarnations of Vishnu, or the 
divine mission of Mahomet. Nothing of the true cha- 
racter of our religion, nothing attesting its descent from 
heaven, was to be discovered amid the corruptions of 
the prevailing faith. On the contrary, they were so 
marked with falsehood and fraud, they so clearly dis- 


covered the baseness of their earthly. origin, that, 
imposed upon men as the peculiar doctrines of Chris- 
tianity, those who regarded them as such were fairly 
relieved from the necessity of inquiring whether they 
had been taught by God. The internal evidence of 
Christianity was annihilated ; and all other evidence is 
wasted when applied to prove that such doctrines have 
been revealed from heaven/' Preface, pp. i vii. 

"The doctrine (of the proper divinity of Christ) 

is proved to be false, because it is evident from the Scrip- 
tures thai none of those effects were produced which would 
necessarily have resulted from its first annunciation by 
Christ, and its subsequent communication by- his Ap<> 
The disciples of our Saviour must, at some period, have 
considered him merely as a man. Before he commenced 
his ministry, his relations and fellow- townsmen certainly 
regarded him as nothing more than a man. 'Is not this 
the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James 
and Joseph, and of Judas and Simon? And are not his 
sisters here with us?'* At some particular period, tho 
communication must have been made by our Saviour to 
his disciples, that he was not a mere man, but that lie 
was, properly speaking and in the highest sense, (1ml 
himself. The doctrines with which we are contending, 
and other doctrines of a similar character, hav< 
obscured and confused the whole of Christianity, that 

* Mark vi. 3. "I have retained the words 'brothers' and 'sisters, 
used in the common version, not thinking it important, in the connection 
in which the passage is quoted, to make any change in this rendering ; 
but the relationship intended I believe to be that of cousins." 


its hisfnriral facts appear to be regarded by many 
vly in tin* light of real occurrences. But we ?/w// 
carry ourselves back in imagination to the time when 
Christ was mi earth, and place ourselves in the situation 
of the tirst believers. Let us reflect for a moment on 
what would be the state of our feelings, if some one with 
whom we had associated as a mail, were to declare to us 
that he was really God himself. If his character and 
works had been such as to command any attention to 
such an assertion, still through what an agony of incre- 
dulity, and doubt, and amazement, and consternation, 
must the mind pass, before it could settle down into a 
conviction of the truth of his declaration ! And when 
convinced of its truth, with what unspeakable astonish- 
ment should we be overwhelmed ! With what extreme 
awe, and entire prostration of every faculty, should we 
approach and contemplate such a being ; if indeed man, 
in his present tenement of clay, could endure such inter- 
course with his Maker ! With what a strong and unre- 
laxing grasp would the idea seize upon our minds ! How 
continually would it be expressed in the most forcible 
language, whenever we had occasion to speak of him ! 
What a deep and indelible colouring would it give to 
every thought and sentiment in the remotest degree con- 
nected with an agent so mysterious and so awful ! But 
we perceive nothing of this state of mind in the disciples 
of our Saviour, but much that gives evidence of a very 
different state of mind. One may read over the first 
three Evangelists ; and it must be by a more than or- 
dinary exercise of ingenuity if he discover what may 
pass for an argument, that either the writers, or the 
numerous individuals of whom they speak, regarded our 


Saviour as their Maker and God, or that he ever 
sumed that character Throughout the New Testa- 
ment we find nothing which implies that such a most 
extraordinary change of feeling ever took place in the 
disciples of Christ, as must have been produced by the 
communication that their Master was God himself upon 
earth. Nowhere do we find the expression of those 
irresistible and absorbing sentiments which must have 
possessed their minds under the conviction of this fact. 
With this conviction, in what terms, for instance, would 
they have spoken of his crucifixion, and of the circum- 
stances with which it was attended? The power of 
language would have sunk under them in the attempt 
to express their feelings : their words, when they ap- 
proached the subject, would have been little more than 
a thrilling cry of horror and indignation. On this sub- 
ject they did, indeed, feel most deeply ; but can we 
think that St. Peter regarded his Master as God incarnate, 
when he thus addressed the Jews by whom Christ had 
just been crucified ? 'Ye men of Israel, hear these woi <!> : 
Jesus of Nazareth, proved to you TO BE A MAN FROM GOD, 
by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by 
him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know, him, 
delivered up to you in conformity to the fixed will and 
foreknowledge of God, ye have crucified and slain by 
the hands of the heathen. Him has God raised to life/ 
Ads ii. 22 '2 k 

"But what has been stated are not the only conse- 
quences which must have followed from the communi- 
cation of the doctrine in question. It cannot be denied 
by those who hold the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, 
that, however satisfactorily it may be explained, and 


ho\\v\vr well it may be reconciled with that funda- 
mental principle of religion to which the Jews w. i 
strongly attached the doctrine of the Unity of God- 
yet it does, or may, at first sight, appear somewhat 
inconsistent with it. From the time of the Jew wh< i- 
represented by Justin Martyr as disputing with him, 
about the middle of the second century, to the present 
period, it has always been regarded by the unbelieving 
Jews witli ahhorrence. They have considered the Chris- 
tians as no better than idolaters ; as denying the first 
truth of religion. But the unbelieving Jews, in the time 
of the Apostles, opposed Christianity with the utmost 
bitterness and passion; they sought on every side for 
objections to it. There was much in its character to 
which the believing Jews could hardly be reconciled. 
The Epistles are full of statements, explanations, and 
controversy, relating to questions having their origin in 
Jewish prejudices and passions. With regard, however, 
to this doctrine, which, if it had been taught, the be- 
lieving Jews must have received with the utmost diffi- 
culty, and to which the unbelieving Jews would have 
manifested the most determined opposition with regard 
to this doctrine, there is no trace of any controversy. But 
if it had ever been taught, it must have been the main 
point of attack and defence between those who assailed 
and those who supported Christianity. There is nothing 
ever said in its explanation ; but it must have required, 
fur more than any other doctrine, to be explained, illus- 
trated, and enforced ; for it appears not only irreconcilable 
with the Unity of God, but equally so with that of the 
humanity of our Saviour; and yet both these doctrines, 
it seems, were to be maintained in connection with it. 


It must have been necessary, therefore, to state it as 
clearly as possible, to exhibit it in its relations, and 
carefully to guard against the misapprehensions to which 
it is so liable on every side. Especially must care have 
been taken to prevent the gross mistakes into which tlu 
Gentile converts from polytheism were likely to fall. 
Yet, so far from any such clearness of statement and 
fulness of explanation, the whole language of the New 
Testament in relation to this subject, is (as I have before 
said) a series of enigmas, upon the supposition of its truth. 
The doctrine, then, is never defended in the New Testa- 
ment, though unquestionably it would have been the 
main object of attack, and the main difficulty in the 
Christian system. It is never explained, though no doc- 
trine could have been so much in need of explanation. 
On the contrary, upon the supposition of its truth, the 
Apostles express themselves in such a manner, that, if 
it had been their purpose to darken and perplex the 
subject, they could not have done it more effectually. 
And, still more, this doctrine is never insisted upon as a 
necessary article of faith ; though it is now represented 
by its defenders as lying at the foundation of Chris- 
tianity. With a few exceptions, the passages in which 
it is imagined to be taught are introduced incidentally, 
the attention of the writer being principally directed to 
some other topic, and can be regarded only as accidental 
notices of it. It appears, then, that while other questions 
of far less difficulty (for instance, the circumcision of the 
Gentile converts) were subjects of such doubts and con- 
troversy that even the authority of the Apostles was 
barely sulHrH-nt to establish the truth, this doctrine, so 
extraordinary, so obnoxious, and so hard to be under- 


was introduced in Silence, and received without 

hesitation di>likr, opposition, or misapprehension There 
;uv not nianv propositions to be proved or disproved 
mcidv l>y moral rvidnue wliich are more incredible.'* 
Ib. pp. 374-0. 


"Supposing the doctrines maintained by Trinitarians 
to be capable of proo the state of the case between 
them and their opponents would be this : They quote 
certain texts, and explain them in a sense which, as 
they believe, supports their opinions. We maintain 
that the words were intended to express a very different 
meaning. How is the question to be decided? We do 
not deny that there are certain expressions in these 
texts which, nakedly considered, will bear a Trinitarian 
sense ; how is it then to be ascertained whether this 
.-use or some other was intended by the writer? 

"In order to answer this question, it is necessary 
to enter into some explanation concerning the nature 
of language and the principles of interpretation. The 
art oi interpretation derives its origin from the intrinsic 
ambiguity of language. What I mean to expivss by this 
term is the tact, that a very large portion of sentences. 
considered in themselves, that is, if regard be had m 
to the words of which they are coi/ij><wtl, are capable of 
expressing not one meaning only, but two or more dif- 
ferent meanings ; or (to state this fact in other 

* This consideration, .-in re it presented itself to me, long before I saw 
it thus luminously developed \<\ 1'rok.ssor Norton, carried full coiivietiuu 
to my mind. ,1. ft. \\ . 



that in very many cases, the same sentence, like the 
same single word, may be used to express various and 
often very different senses. Now in a great part of 
what we find written concerning the interpretation of 
language, and in a large portion of the specimens of 
criticism which we meet with, especially upon the Scrip- 
tures, this fundamental truth, this fact which lies at the 
very bottom of the art of interpretation, has either been 
overlooked, or not regarded in its relations and conse- 
quences. It may be illustrated by a single example. 
John thus addresses the Christians to whom he was 
writing, in his first Epistle, ii. 20 ' Ye have an anointing 
from the Holy One, and know all things.' 

"If we consider these words in themselves merely, 
we shall perceive how uncertain is their signification, 
and how many different meanings they may be used to 
express. The first clause, ' Ye have an anointing from 
the Holy One/ may signify, 

" 1. Through the favour of God, ye have become Chris- 
tians or believers in Christ ; anointing being a ceremony 
of consecration, and Christians being considered as con- 
secrated and set apart from the rest of mankind. 

"2. Or it may mean, Ye have been truly sanctified 
in Jieart and life ; a figure borrowed from outward con- 
secration being used to denote inward holiness. 

" 3. Or, Ye have been endued with miraculous powers ; 
consecrated as prophets and teachers in the Christian 

"4 Or, Ye have been well instructed in the truths of 
Christianity. (See Wetsteins Notes on this passage, and 
on 1st Tim. iv. 7.) 

" I forbear to mention other meanings which the word 


ii<>inttit<i mi^ht be used to express. These are suHirirnt 
lor our purpose. 

"Tlit- trim Holy One, in such a relation as it holds 
to the other words in the present sentence, may denote 
iither God, or Christ, or some other being. 

" Ye know all things, literally expresses the meaning, 
//> have tJie attribute of omniscience. Beside this mean- 
ing, it may signify, ye are fully acquainted with all ttie 
nh/trts of human knowledge; or, ye know every truth con- 
nected with Christianity ; or, ye have all the knowledge 
necessary to form your faith and direct ywwr conduct; or 
the proposition may require some other limitation ; for 
nil fhinys is one of those terms the meaning of which 
is continually to be restrained and modified by a regard 
to the subject present to the mind of the writer. 

"This statement may afford some imperfect notion 
of the various senses which the words before us may 
be used to express, and of the uncertainty that must 
exist about their meaning when they are regarded 
without reference to those considerations by which it 
ought to be determined. I say, imperfect, because we 
have ' really kept one very important consideration in 
mind, that they were written by an Apostle to a Chris- 
tian community. Putting this out of view, it would 
not be easy to fix the limit of their possible meanings. 
It must be remembered that this passage has been 
adduced merely by way of illustration ; and that, if it 
were necessary, an indefinite number of similar exam- 
ples might be quoted." Ib. pp. 90 92. 



It is absolutely necessary to stop in this selection, 
by doing violence to the feeling of delight and admi- 
ration which invites the selector to proceed, as he 
turns page after page. Let no sincere Christian deceive 
himself into a persuasion that he has done justice to 
the question between the Unitarians and the Ortho- 
dox till he has impartially studied Professor Norton's 
REASONS. This praise, however, is not meant to be 
exclusive: on the contrary, I am of opinion that in 
many cases it would be difficult to decide whether that 
work, or Mr. Yates's VINDICATION, mentioned in my 
Preface, would be preferable. 


Passages of Scripture which have been alleged to prove th> 
former Existence of an Apostolical Creed, explained. 

MANY of my readers will require no apology for a 
rather long quotation from the CONFESSIONAL of Arch- 
deacon Blackburne ; a book which is now seldom in 
the hands Of theological students, though the abili'y 
and learning it displays against the abuse of ecclc- 
tical power will at all times deserve the pi 
lover of spiritual freedom. I shall take also the lil> 
of inserting the paragraph which leads to the subject of 
this Appendix. 

" I cannot leave this view of the connection between 
these two prelates, TUlotson and Burnct, without a short 
reflection on thes.- trimming methods in matters of reli- 

I'ENDIX. I I-!) 

gion. WhiMi were they over known to succeed^ And 
where were they ever known to conciliate the mind 
of any one of those unreasonable- /ealots to whose 
humour they were accommodated { We ot' this -fiif- 
ration* have lived to sec 1 how greatly Archbishop Til- 
Intxon was mistaken, in thinking to win over the high 
churchmen of those days by his healing expedients. 
His gentle, lenitive spirit was to their bigotry what 
uil is to the lire. Bishop Burnet's friendship for the 
Arclibishop carried him into these measures, contrary 
to his natural bent, and in mere complaisance to the 
Archbishop's apprehensions of a storm, which he 
dreaded above all other things. And I remember to 
have heard some old men rejoice, that Burnet was kept 
down by Tillotson'x influence from pushing the refor- 
mation of the Church to an extremity that might have 
endangered the Government itself. Some of these men, 
however, might have remembered, that when the Arch- 
bishop was no longer at hand to temper Burnet's impe- 
tuosity, the latter had prudence sufficient to balance 
his courage, and to keep him from attempting what 
he had sense enough to perceive was impracticable. 
.But, after all, what has been the consequence of Til- 
lotsons gentleness and Burnet's complaisance for tin.' 
times? Even this; these two eminent lights of the 
English Church could not have been more opposed 
while they lived, or more abused and vilified since they 
died, had they firmly and vigorously promoted, at all 
adventures, the reformation in the Church of Enyl<nt<l, 
which they were both of them deeply conscious she 

* I believe the edition of the Confessional I am using (1766) is tin; 


very much wanted. But, after all, if what Bishop 
Burnet has offered under all these disadvantages will 
not justify the Church of England in requiring subscrip- 
tion to the Thirty-nine Articles, we may venture to 
conclude, without any just imputation of temerity, that 
this service will hardly be more effectually performed 
by men of another stamp, who may probably engage 
in it with more alacrity and less circumspection. What 
the good Bishop has said on this behalf (on subscrip- 
tion) we now propose to consider. 

" His Lordship begins with stating the seeming im- 
propriety 'of making such a collection of tenets the 
standard of the doctrine of a Church that (according 
to his Lordship) is deservedly valued by reason of her 
moderation. This (says the Bishop) seems to be a de- 
parting from the simplicity of the first ages, which yet 
we set up for a pattern/* . 

"This objected impropriety (which, by the way, his 
Lordship exceedingly strengthens and illustrates by an 
induction of particulars) he rather endeavours to palliate 
and excuse, or, as he terms it, explain, than to deny or 
confute. He gives us an historical recital of the practice 
of former times, to shew that our Church acts after a 
precedent of long standing. To this no other answer is 
necessary than that this was the practice of times which 
were not remarkable either for their moderation or 
plitity, and of whose example the Church of England 
cannot avail herself, consistently with her pretensions 
to these two amiable qualities.*}* 

* Introduction, p. 1. 

t To illustrate this truth, Dr. Motheim'x Compendia*! View of Eccle- 
siastical History may be consulted, from the time of Constantint down- 


" But it seems this practice was originally the practice 
of the Apostles ; a consideration which will not only 
authorize our imitation, but strongly imply the utility 
and edification of the thing itself. 

" ' There was a form (says his Lordship) settled very 
early in most churches. This St. Paul, in one place, 
calls The form of doctrine that was delivered; in another 
place, The form of sound words, which those who were 
fixed by the Apostles in particular churches had received 
from them. These words of his do import a standard or 
fixed formulary, by which all doctrines were to be 

"The passages here referred to are Rom. vi. 17; 
1st Tim. iv. 6, to which are added, in the margin, 
1st Tim. vi. 3; 2nd Tim. i. 13 ; and the Greek words 
in these several passages, which are supposed to signify 
this standard or fixed formulary, run thus : TVT 
vTTOTVTTdia-Lv vyiaivovTMv Aoywv TOIS Aoyois rfjs 
KCU TTJS KaArjs 8i8a0-KaAi'as vyiaivovcrt Aoyot? rots rov Kv/otov 
rffjLiov Irjcrov Xpitrrov KCU ry KO.T evcre/Sciav SiScur/caAi'p. 

"Now, when a capable and unprejudiced reader con- 
siders the variety of expression in these several passages, 
he will probably be inclined to think that a fixed for- 
mulary of doctrine is the last thing a plain man would 
look for in them. A fixed formulary, one would think, 
should have & fixed title. Nor is it at all probable that 
one and the same form of words should be described 
in terms which may denote a hundred different forms. 

"To enter into a just criticism on these expressions 

wards ; and with greater advantage, in Dr. Machine's English translation 
lately published. Note in the " Confessional. " 
* Introduction, p. 2. 


would be tedious and unnecessary. Suffice it to observe, 
after very competent judges, that TJ'ITOS 8i8a x ^ and 
vTTOTVTrowrts i'yiaivoi/Twi/ Xoywi/ appear to refer rather to 
the exemplification of the Christian doctrine in the practice 
of pious believers than to any form of words. The doc- 
trine is one thing, and the type of the doctrine another. 
The doctrine is and must be expressed by, and 
sequently contained in, SMM form of words. But th' 
tyjiM of that/wm must be something different from t In- 
form itself: and the general acceptation of the word 
rmras points out the practical exemplification of the doc- 
trine to be the thing here intended. The text, Kom vi. 
17, is, it must be owned, obscure and difficult; but 
without giving this sense to the words TUTTOS SiSaxvjs, it is 
absolutely unintelligible.* And whatever is the signi- 
fication of TVTTOS here, must be the meaning of VJTOTVITWI.S, 
2nd Tim. i. 13.f 

"Again, the literal English of irytaivovTcs Ao'yot, is heal- 
ing or salutary words ; that is, the words of salvation or 

* " See Grotiu$ and Benyelivsts Gnomon upon the place. TVTTOC. Typus, 
vestigium, figura, exemplar, forma. Hen. Stephens. Acts xxiii. 25, TVTCOC 
is the literal copy of Lysiass epistle to Felix, not the sum or abridgment 
of it." Note in the " Confes$ional. n 

t "The word is but once more to be found in the New Testament, vi*. 
1st Tim. i. 16 ; where the Apostle says he found mercj jrpof VTTOTVTTWOIV 
rHiv pt\\6vTtav ITUTTIVHV, &c., for a pattern ; which ia the same thing as 
an example of the doctrine of pardon and mercy through Christ. In what 
sense the word Ttnrnq was afterwards used, may be seen in Mills's 
lation of Bruys's History of the Popes, Vol. I. p. 428 ; where an u 
merit or edict of the Rinperor Constant for the pacification of the disputes 
concerning the two wills of Christ, is called the type ; which instrument 
contained no formulary of doctrine, but only enjoined that the parties at 
variance should abide by the Scriptures, the five oecumenical cou 
and the plain and simple passages of the fathers." Note in the 
fessional. " 


eternal lite. Our translators have rendered tin- <liv.-k 
particle by the e.jni vocal words aound and //////' 
which signified, I suppose, in their ideas, the same as 
orf/i - 

It' you ask where these Jiealmy word* aiv to l>e 
found; I answer, in the Scriptures; sometimes, per- 
haps, abridged and comprehended in some short sum- 
maries which occur in Paul's Epistles to Timothy and 
Titus. Hut these are evidently not the fixed formularies 
his Lordship means, as the certain consequence of that 
must have been, that 110 man or body of men whatso- 
ever could have had the least authority to add to them, 
or enlarge them in any future time. 

" And if any other standard or formulary is meant, 
it then comes to our turn to ask the question, Where is 
it to be found? What is become of it? For that it 
should be lost, or drop into utter oblivion, if it once had 
a real existence, is wholly incredible. 

"In answer to this demand, the Bishop gives us 
to understand, 'that by a fixed formulary he does not 
mean one precise and invariable form of words, which 
he thinks improbable the Apostles should leave behind 
them. For his Lordship observes, that the first apolo- 
gists for Christianity, when they deliver a short abstract 
of the Christian faith, do all vary from one another, 
both as to the order and as to the words themselves : 
whence he thinks it more probable that they received 
V. these short abstracts from the Apostles themselves with 
v;me variation. 

*" But, surely, the moment you admit of variations, 
not only the idea of a fixed formulary, but even the k*0 
of any formulary, as a standard or test of all doctrines, 


immediately vanishes away. There must be left in such 
varying formularies room for doubtful and precarious 
judgments ; and the Scriptures alone, in such cases, 
must be the dernier ressort. And if so, why might they 
not as well have been admitted to decide in the first 
instance ?" The Confessional, p. 66, et seq. The sequel 
of this passage, indeed the whole work, should be par- 
ticularly noticed in the present times. 


On the Old Testament as a supposed Standard of Orthodoxy. 

THE frequently quoted words of Paul (2nd Tim. iii. 
16, 17) will probably occur to many, as clearly opposing 
my statement. Let us consider those words, divesting 
ourselves of established prejudices. "All Scripture is 
given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doc- 
trine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in 
righteousness ; that the man of God may be perfect, 
thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 

I have a few observations to lay before the dispas- 
sionate reader. 

The Greek word Oeoirvcwrros is not only figurative, but 
may possibly represent two figures, which are the re\ 
of each other ; something breathed out by God, and s< 
thing breathing out God. It is true that the Lexicons, 
so far as I have been able to consult them, limit the word 


in question to the first signification. I am a\v;u< also 
that the best grammarians exclude from the (lass of 
compounds which are capable both of the active and 
the passive signification, as (pjrpoKTovos, #>TOKOS, marking 
the change by the accent) those which end in TO?, 
probably because they are derived not from the middle 
hut the passive preterit. But since such derivatives from 
the passive, as curi/tvo-Tos, virvvcrro<s, mean, he that brent /us 
/a>f, htthat bi-eathes well, the supposition that Btoirviwros 
may signify Deum spirans, or, as it might be expressed 
in English, breathing of God, may be not well grounded 
but it cannot be absurd. After all, it seems strange 
that the fact of inspiration should depend so much on a 
delicate point of grammatical criticism. 

In the next place, I request a serious attention to 
St. Paul's enumeration of the purposes for which he 
considers the Hebrew Scriptures as eminently useful. 
The impartial reader should, in his mind, compare, 
as he proceeds, the various parts of this enumeration 
with the pretended destination of those writings, to settle 
the disputes of scientific theology, and thus to fix Or- 

1. Those Scriptures, according to Paul, had the power 
to make Timothy (a Jew) wise unto salvation through that 
faith which is in Christ Jesus. That the Hebrew Scrip- 
tures were so ordained by Providence as to lead the 
upright, candid, and virtuous Jews to Christ, cannot be 
denied. 2. Those Scriptures are profitable for teaching 
(SiSao-KaAiW). The Jews had, indeed, no other national 
means of instruction. 3. The Hebrew Scriptures are 
profitable for reproof (IXcyxoi/) ; and unquestionably, to 


a Jew, as long as the polity existed in compliance with 
which Paul had circumcised Timothy (not for any value 
which Paul himself set on circumcision, but " because 
of the Jews"*), the Hebrew Scriptures were the standard 
by which the conduct of every member of the nation, 
who had not arrived at the full conscientious conviction 
of the abolition of the law through Christ, should h.- 
judged. 4. The Hebrew Scriptures are profitable for 
correction (tVavo/^awrii/), i.e. setting right again. Tin- 
declaration almost identical with that immediately piv- 
ceding. 5. The Hebrew Scriptures are profitable for 
instruction (?rai8eiai/, i.e. elementary instruction (in righte- 
ousness (SiKaiwrvvy), i.e. the correct conduct of a Jew ; 
who, if he was observant of the law, was, in the lan- 
guage of the New Testament, called SIKCUOS. 

This more rhetorical than logical enumeration con- 
cludes with a sentence which, in general terms. 
presses the final end of the advantages offered by the 
Hebrew Scriptures to a pious Jew; namely, "?///// the 
man of God" ^ (i.e. a man whose life, like that of the 
ancient prophets, is devoted to the object of spi 
ing the principles and sentiments of piety) may be 
COMPETENT (aprio?), thoroughly furnished (fitted out 
tripTurpfvo*) for every good work (i.e. every duty of his 

When the utmost shall have been done to increase the 
signiticancy of every phrase in this passage, I wish the 
reader impartially to judge whether St. Paul's occast 
praise of the Hebrew Scriptures, and his list of the 

* Acts ivl 3. 

t Compare 1st Samuel ix. 6 ; 1st Kings xiii. 6 ; 2nd Kings i 

AI'I'KNDIX. I ."-7 

advantages which may be derived from them especially 
by ,Iew>. before tin- total abolition of their polit ico ivli- 
gious constitution), can in a satisfaeiory manner prove 
that tli' Apostle was thinking of an inspired rerhul //// 
of faith, by which *nntijic disputes in theology much 
less in physics, chronology, &c. should be settled, as 
by tin- intervention of an oracle. Observe, however, 
how the Old Testament is used among us. Suppose 
a divine denies that the literal sense gives the true 
meaning of the beginning of Genesis ; we instantly 
hear an indignant cry against the impiety of such a 
view. But why? Has St. Paul given us any rule to 
ascertain to which of the, senses of every passage in Scrip- 
ture it is that the word Qcoirvevo-Tos applies? And since 
lie has not, should we not take that omission as a proof 
that the word which the established version translates 
" inspiration of God," means only a general derivation 
from God, which leaves the Christian at liberty to 
expound individual passages so as to prevent .their 
opposing the originally divine light of our REASON, fully 
assisted by the SPIRIT of the Gospel? lly what clear 
title does any man accuse another of impiety when that 
man uses his intellectual liberty ? 

Were there a judge of the sense of Scripture divinely 
up pointed; were that appointment so made as to allow 
of no reasonable doubt; to act against the decisions of 
that judge would deserve the condemnation to which 
clear offences against divine authority are liable. Hut 
since we have been left to judge of the sense of the 
Scriptures /or ourselves, every man, after exerting his 
means and faculties to the best of his power, must 


adhere to what he understands. He must, of course, 
think others vwong ; but, as he should remember his 
own liability to error, he ought to abstain from con- 
demning them as guilty of sin and impiety. To act as 
most divines act at present, is a most unchristian pre- 



On 2nd JOHN 711. 

THK passages of Scripture which seem to give an 
ance of probability to the essentially intolerant notion that 
Orthodoxy is necessary to salvation, or which (to speak more 
properly) disturb the conviction which Reason, enlightened 
by the Scriptures, is apt to produce against that notion in 
candid, unsuperstitious minds, are very few. This, by itself, 
is a strong proof to me that the intolerant interpretation 
commonly given to them cannot be true ; for Providence 
would not have committed so important and practical a 
declaration to a few incidental expressions. In the Trini- 
tarian question, especially, this consideration is to me more 
powerful than any direct interpretation of individual pas- 
sages. But, in regard to our present subject, I think it 
necessary to draw the attention of the reader to that passage 
of the 2nd Epistle of John, which I have constantly found to 
l>f tin 1 last it- luge of intolerance defeated by argument. But 
although I have carried on my argument without ques- 
tioning either the full inspiration (as it is called) of the 
Scriptures, or the authenticity of commonly received passages, 
it would be doing wrong to the cause of spiritual freedom if 
I did not mention in this place the fact, that the Second and 
the Third Epistles which bear the name of John, were among 
those writings of which the genuineness was disputed in the 
curly ages of the Church. Eusebius, whose authority may be 

160 NOTES. 

said to be the chief foundation of our present canon, classes 
those Epistles with writings which at a later period were 
totally excluded from the catalogue of Holy Scriptures, such 
as the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd, the Revelation of Peter 
and the Epistle of Barnahas. This being premised, that 
the intelligent and candid reader may not be without that 
degree of light which may be derived from this fact, I will 
proceed to the examination of the above-mentioned passage. 
But to save inquirers the trouble of seeking for the passage 
in the New Testament, 1 shall copy it here. I will also give 
in italics the expressions which appear to me to deserve par- 
ticular attention. 

Verse 6. "And this is love, that we walk after his com- 
mandments. This is the commandment (namely, that we 
love one another see v. 5 and John xiv. 15 21) that, as 
ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 
(V. 7) : For many deceivers are entered into the world, who 
confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a 
deceiver and an antichrist. (V. 8) : Look to yourselves, that 
we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that 
we receive a full reward. (V. 9) : Whosoever tras 
and abideth not in fit? doctrine 0/(the) Christ, hath not G<><l. 
He that abideth in the doctrine o/(the) Christy he hath //// 
the Father and the Son. (V. 10) : If there come any unto 
you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into 
hiHw.j jieitherbid him God-speed: (v. 11), for he that bidd. tli 
him God-speed, is partaker of his evil deeds." 

I wish the reader to consider the great probability (to me, 
certainty) that the writer iii-;m< the same thing by command- 
ment, ivroXt}, as by &3ax'/, <l<>c trine. To be convinced of this, 
nothing more is necessary than to refer to v. 9, and compare 
it with v. 10, c. xv. and v. 23, c. xiv. of the Gospel f John. 
The reward of keeping Chri-i's words, commandments, or 
doctiine (for the context shews that they are various names 
to the same thing i.e. charity, love to God, and to 


one another), is the coming of the Father ami //<> ,sVm to liim, 
and making their abode with him. The very same result is 
in Hi.- Kpistle attributed, in loss figurative words, to tin- keeping 
tin 1 tine trine of Christ. He that aliidfth in tic <l"<-trinf f 
<'////.< hi> hath both the Father and the Son; or is in full 

ssion of Christianity, which consists not only in the 
acknowledgment of God, but in the acceptance of Christ as a 
guide to Him. From this comparison of passages, by ke--p 
ing in mind the practical character which John gives to 
Christianity, and by remembering that he reduces it to love 
to ( lod, as known through Christ, and to our brethren, for the 
sake of the love which Christ deserves from us, we may be 
convinced that nothing was farther from the Evangelist's 
thought* than the condemnation of theoretical doctrines. 
What he condemns is the denial of the existence of Christ, 
and the consequent denial of his doctrine, his great comma ml - 
nicnt, his peculiar dctriii'' of //>/v to God and man; that 
love which necessarily produces moral obedience. 

And here I must observe the unjustifiable rendering of v. 7, 

ivers . . . who confess not that Jesus Christ is COME 
in the flesh." The Greek participle present, ip^ofjievov (Lat. 

.'if-m), has evidently the force of an adjective in this 
place. The difference is most important. The translation 
should be, not confessing (or not acknowledging) him irho i* 
' in the flesh, Jesus Christ literally, Jesus Christ, the 
ing in the flesh. Thus everything is plain and consistent. 
'John is not concerned with metaphysical and mystic doc- 
trines. Such as deny the existence of the man Christ, whose, 
love to mankind is the great acting spring of the new doctrine 
(Stda^)) ; those who, probably in consequence of that theory 
which induced others to say that the resurrection was /></./, 
denied that the Christ had existed, and made the whole of 
Christianity a figurative, moral f able; such men were true 
Antichrists, destroyers of Christianity, and should be carefully 
avoided by the Christian congregations, when, as preachers, 


162 NOTES. 

as men who carried about the doctrine (see v. 10), they claimed 
those rights of maintenance and encouragement* which (a 
find in St. Paul's Epistles) were considered to be the right of 
the true apostles and messengers of the Gospel. t 


On the word SALVATION. 

No reflecting reader of the New Testament can but have 
observed the indistinct and vague meaning of the word W- 
rntion. Those who are blindly guided by the impressions 
left upon their infant minds by the undisputed authority of 
catechisms and nurses, imagine that no doubt can arise upon 
the meaning of salvation, condemnation, and the other words 
grammatically connected with them : Salvation must mean 
going to heaven ; Damnation, being doomed to eternal lire. 
But these are arbitrary notions. The Greek word which is 
translated salvation, as well as the expression, to be #> 
was part of the established language of the chief Pagan 
schools of moral philosophy. From the language of the 
moral writers it was borrowed for the writings of the New 
Testament ; and as the authors of those writings have n.. win-re 
explained such expressions, but taken it for granted that 
their readers would understand them, we have a sufficient 
ground to infer that they used them in the common and 
established sense of moral safety on the one side, and >/ 

hensiMen&fs on the other. The passages of Greek writers 
which prove this statement would occupy too much space : 
they are well known to all good scholars who allow them- 
selves mental freedom. The bare statement of the 

* Observe attentively what is forbidden in v. 11, viz. lodging and enter- 
f See 2nd Tim. ii. 18 ; 1st Thess. ii. 6. 

Noi 163 

above alluded to, is enough for my present purpose, which is 
to put the plain hut intelligent reader upon his guard against 
interpretations of the original language of Scripture which 
have no ground for their popularity but the despotic sway 
of the various clerical bodies, called churches, over the help 
:inds of children horn under their domination. 

The following passage of Plutarch, in the Life of jEmilius 
I'juilus, which drew my attention some years ago as I was 
reading those interesting lives, with no view whate\> 
theological controversy, may be of some interest to scholars 

Tavra piv ovv // (oropm \oyie<rOai Kal IT a p enteric ore Civ cmntn 

role ilftZESGAI BOYAOME'NOIS. Pint. Paul ^Emil. \. 

much instruction does history suggest to the considera- 

tion of those who are willing to profit by it." Langhvrne's 


Is there among the D.D.'s that can construe a Greek passage, 
any one who, if in the above sentence the words r/ iffTopia had 
IN .11 changed into ^ TapafioXtj, and the whole attributed to 
Saint Chrysostom, would not have translated it : "So much 
instruction does this parable suggest to the consideration of 
those who wish to be saved"? (March 22, 1839.) 

On opening a Greek Testament, which I had not used for 
MUM time, I have found, in reference to Acts ii. 47, the two 
following verses of Theognis, in my own hand 

T, aTTCLTag re, TroXvTrXoieiaf T i<j>i\r\oav 

vv. G7, 68. 


On tJie Spiritual Assistance promised by CHRIST. 
WHATEVER may be the means by which the assistance 
which, under the name Holy Spirit, is promised to sincere 
Christians, is communicated, the effect must appear in the 

If 2 

164 NOTES. 

character of reasonable motives operating upon the will. The 
mystical signification which the term spiritual has had tor 
ages among most Christians, cannot be proved to have been 
intended by the writers of the New Testament, who evidently 
used it in the sense of mental or intellectual. Much less is 
there any ground for supposing the assistance in question to 
be miraculous. The established laws of our intellectual and 
moral nature, and the nature of the Cbristian principle, seem 
quite sufficient for the fulfilment of the promise of Christ. 
"Every one that asketh receiveth ; and he that seeketh findeth ; 
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened," are (as we may 
infer from the manner of the assertion) established laws of the 
moral world ; yet they mean the same thing as the promise 
of assistance. The whole view of the subject is beautifully 
brought to one point in the affecting words of Jesus, as 
recorded in Luke xi. 13 : "If ye then, being evil, know how 
to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall 
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that a>k 
him !" An assistance which so regularly and naturally Hows 
from the character of our heavenly Father, cannot be supj 
to be bestowed by occasional and extraordinary exertions of 
divine power. It must take place as an established law, when- 
ever the free moral agent, man, shall fulfil the conditions 


THERE is not a true scholar who will not thank me f.r 
shewing a remarkable coincidence between the words of 
most amiable of Bishops, and those of the most amiable of 
Sovereigns, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. I think 
it probable that Fenelon must have habitually studied that 
treasure of wisdom, the Memorandums of Marcus Aureliin, 


commonly called his Meditations; for it i> !nij..".sible that 
a lover of virtue can become well acquainted with I 
and not make it his daily companion. 

Lib. viii. 54. MjYe povov trvfjurvtlv ry irtpu-^ovn dipt, 
fiXXu. tftii] Kcit (rvfitypovtlv T<j> TTtpitxoi'ri Trrii'ra voipu' ov yap 
TJTTOV fj votpd ^ui'a/ztc Travrr) Kt-^yrat ical $ia.7re$oiTT)K(. rut oiraaai 
Cvvapiru, faep n atpwdrjc ru avcurvevaat ^wafievy. 

(Remember) "not only to breathe with the surrounding 
air, but also to be wise with the intelligence which enfolds 
.ill things; for the intelligent power is not less universally 
diffused, or less spread about, than the aerial, for him that is 
able to draw it." 

The simile of the Light is also found, Lib. ix. 8. 



June, 1836. 

" MY DEAR FRIEND, The constant and almost invo- 
luntary employment of my mind on the painful subject 
of the divisions of Christians, produces an habitual 
desire to exert myself in the as yet hopeless work of 
diminishing the sources of that great evil 


" There is a point from which all writers on Christian 
liberty seem instinctively to recoil : it is, the authority 
of the Bible. And yet whilst that authority remains 
undefined, as long as all Christians are taught to look 
upon the whole collection, from Genesis to the end of 
the book of Revelation, as the immediate and direct Word 
of God, and oracle before which human judgment is 
bound to submit, renouncing its natural rights, to talk 
of spiritual liberty, under such a mental yoke, is almost 
mockery. I have already stated, in my ' Observations 
on Heresy and Orthodoxy,' some of the results of a long 
and anxious examination of this subject. I have proved, 
as I conceive, that it would be more consistent with 
intellectual or spiritual freedom to live under the whole 

* Reprinted from the Appendix to "The Rationale of Religious luqi. 
Fourth Edition, by permission of Dr. Mart menu. 

A1VKN1MX. 1 07 

Mosaic routine o! 'practices, than under the obli- 

gation of receiving tin- philosophy, history, chronology, 
and astronomy ol'the Bible. Whoever do,-.s not feel this, 
cannot be ;i judge of this question. Menial fn-edoin, 
the right to give, free scope to the noblest powers of 
his nature, would bu a dead letter to such a man. 

" (9.) But 1 must condense what I have to say, and 
for that purpose I beg to call your attention to the fact, 
that the obscure and indefinite notions of such a moral 
duty in regard to the Bible cannot be traced to any 
legitimate source. This absence of an unquestionable 
and clear divine injunction is sufficient to upset the 
whole theory which supposes Christianity to have its 
ground in the Bible. I beg to be clearly understood 
upon this subject. In denying that the autJiority of the 
Scriptures is the foundation of Christianity, I am far 
from asserting that the Bible is useless to Christians. 
'The question is not' (I will say with Barclay, the 
apologist of the Quakers, whose work contains admirable 
hints on this subject), 'The question is not what may be 
profitable or helpful, but what is absolutely necessary. 
Many things may contribute to further a work, which 
yet are not the main thing that makes the work go on.'* 
What I oppose is, the almost universal notion, that the 
first and essential condition of being a Christian is, to 
submit to the authority of the Scriptures. This is a 
gratuitous assumption. To demand respect for the various 
books of the Bible, in proportion to the critical proba- 
bility that they are the writings of apostles or prophets, 
is rational ; but respect is not submission, nor does 

* Apology for the Quakers, Prop. II. iv. 


respect exclude examination and dissent. The exclusion 
of these inalienable rights of a free, rational creature, 
must be grounded upon direct, unquestionable, and 
definite divine command ; and such command has never 
been made known to men. Conjecture and inference are 
of no avail. My right to judge is clearer than any con- 
jecture that God wishes me to renounce it. 

" (10.) I have indeed been persuaded, for many, many 
years (though the importance of the subject has made me 
try and (as it were) ripen my persuasion by keeping it 
in my bosom), that the theory which makes Christianity 
rest upon the infallibility of the Bible is much more 
groundless than that which places it on the infallibility 
of the successor of St. Peter and his Church. Both 
these theories want truth ; but the latter (the Roman 
Catholic theory) is consistent within itself, and derives 
a very great plausibility from its perfect efficiency in 
settling questions among those that embrace it as ema- 
nated from the authority of Christ. Thesemi-Protc.stant 
view, which, admitting the necessity of a right faith 
(meaning assent to certain metaphysical and historical 
assertions), appeals in ultimate judgment to certain 
writings, must at once betray its groundlessness to every 
one who will dispassionately consider the total insuffi- 
ciency of the proposed means for the attainment of the 
desired end. Grant the most literal and minute inspira- 
tion to the whole Bible, and it will still be found totally 
inadequate to the purpose of settling questions as to its 
own meaning, when such questions arise. 

"(11.) It might indeed be supposed that the experi- 
ence of three centuries would have opened the ey< 
all Protestants on this point, and that they would now 


to perceive that Luther fell into an egregious cum 
\\hcn he imagined that a system of orthodoxy, in the 
same spirit as that of the Church of Rome, could be 
maintained upon the basis of the written authority of the 
Scriptures ; that the idea of a saving orthodoocy could have 
even the slightest colouring of truth without a living 
rule of faith. But the clearest demonstrations on these 
subjects lose their power when superstitious fear paralyzes 
the logical faculty. Protestants of all denominations 
continue to denounce perdition on those who disagree 
with them on what they themselves have decreed to be 
essentials ; and, in spite of their long experience of the 
insufficiency of the Bible to put an end to these dis- 
graceful feuds, they go on crying and protesting that it 
is the fault of their opponents, that if those unfortunate 
men would only see certain texts in a certain light (i.e. 
the light of the divines who think themselves aggrieved 
by the opponents' obstinacy), the Protestants might soon 
rival the Church of Rome in unity. 

" (12.) But why do I address these obvious observa- 
tions to you, my dear friend, when I am fully aware that 
they are quite familiar to your mind ? I will tell you 
candidly why : because, though I have read not only with 
pleasure but with admiration your Rationale of Religion, 
I still more than doubt that you have allowed the prin- 
ciples on which we both agree to lead you into all the 
legitimate inferences which follow from them. You still 
take upon yourself to deny the name of Christians 
to men who claim it, only because their views do not 
fully agree with your own ; you make a harsh decla- 
ration against certain divines whom you describe as 
Rationalists. Now, if by Rationalist you mean an ex- 


pounder of the Scriptures who attempts to explain the 
miraculous narratives conjecturally by natural mean- 1, 
for one, will join you in declaring such an atteni] 
generally unsuccessful ; but this is merely an exe. 
question: I myself feel convinced that such a method 
of interpretation is unsatisfactory in by far the gi < 
number of cases. Yet, if the liberties taken with the 
historical documents of the Bible were still much gr< 
than those of the Rationalists, I would contend that no 
man has aright to deny the name of Christian to another 
who wishes to be known by that name, as long as it 
cannot be proved that he assumes it maliciously and for 
the purpose of deception. To declare any one unworthy 
of the name of Christian because he does not agree with 
your belief, is to fall into the intolerance of the Ai tided 
Churches. The moment that the name Christie 
made necessarily to contain in its signification belief 
in certain historical or metaphysical propositions, that 
moment the name itself becomes a creed: the length of 
that creed is of little consequence. 

"(13.) In vain will it be said that, according to this 
view, the signification of the word Christianity may be 
reduced to a kind of negative quantity : such an o' 
tion assumes the great point in question, namely, that 
Christ left a positive creed to be indispensably accepted 
by all his disciples. Until such a fact shall be proved, 
no man has a right to reject another from the Christian 
union on account of any abstract opinion what* 
Christ's disciples were not known by the name of Chris- 
tians till it was given to them, as it would appear, by 
the public at Antioch. This fact is important. 
it prevents verbal subtleties as to the original signilicu- 


lion of that word. Christian was a popular name, \\ hu-h 
the diseiples accepted as one which avoided (he invi- 
diousness and contempt implied by the earlier one of 
Thus it appears that Christian cannot t>e 
said to have had a scriptural sense ; for, properly speak- 
ing, it is not scriptural. A Christian was originally 
(and should always continue to be) the designation of 
one who separated himself from Judaism and Heathen- 
ism, and joined the followers of Christ. Of the reality 
of his Christianity none could properly judge ; for, ac- 
cording to the views of the primitive Christians attested 
by Paul, those alone were properly disciples who shewed 
in the temper of their minds that they were under the 
guidance of a moral spirit similar to that of Christ It 
is the priestly spirit, the spirit of hierarchical association, 
which has attached the idea of assent to certain dogmas 
to the name of Christian. 

"(14.) Nevertheless, the priesthoods have not entirely 
succeeded in that work ; the unsophisticated mass of 
laymen, when shocked by the appellation of heretic (in 
such countries as Spain and Italy), and of infidel (in 
England), do not derive their feeling of disgust and 
horror from the idea of doctrines denied by the heretic 
or infidel, but from a conviction that those words imply 
an unprincipled and immoral conduct. Imagine, for in- 
stance, the impression which would be produced upon 
a servant, especially a well-inclined and modest woman, 
who being on the point of entering the family of a 
H'.'tiima/ifit, were to hear from a respectable divine, thai 
though the person in question was an honourable man, 
unfortunately he was not a Christian. You will very 
naturally say, that no one but a fiery enthusiast would 


use such language : I certainly agree with you : but the 
necessity which I believe you acknowledge of not 
using it in common parlance, shews the evil of employ- 
ing it theologically. 

"(15.) Whatever errors may have crept in among the 
simple yet sublime views published by Christ, the prac- 
tical moral character of his Gospel has always stood 
prominently above the abstract doctrines. From the 
first publication of Christianity to this very day, it may 
be safely asserted, that no sincere convert has embraced 
it, allured by its creed. A longing after ' whatsoever 
things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever 
things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever 
things are of good report,' will be found more or less to 
be the motive of every original or renewed attempt to 
be a Christian. There is therefore a great moral respon- 
sibility in every discouragement placed in the way of 
such moral impressions as induce men to cling to the 
name and title of Christians. An attachment to that 
denomination should be fostered by every friend of 
human virtue, as being, unquestionably among Euro- 
peans, the most evident sign of a living moral principle 
in the soul. 

" (16.) Let us then anxiously reject every remnant of 
that hierarchical, that thoroughly priestly spirit, which 
cares for no virtue which does not bear the seal and 
impress of a certain Church. Let us follow the example 
of Christ in rejecting none who approached him. Such 
traits of benevolent liberality, which abound in the Gos- 
pels, cannot rationally be suspected as being part of that 
superstructure of pious fraud which the early Christian 
priesthood began, and which their successors carried up 


to a monstrous height. The genuine views of Christ, 
the only (rue Christianity, will never combine with the 
hierarchical dogmas, so as to be (indistinguishable. 
Christ's mission was evidently a reform, compared with 
the positive or preceptive and ceremonial religions then 
in existence. The 'Gospel of God's kingdom' may be 
correctly called a negative system. Christ published the 
religion of conscience, which, though essentially grounded 
upon the nature of man, and having faithful disciples 
at all times and in all nations, those men who, being 
without a written law, ' were a law to themselves,' and 
were just before God, 'because they obeyed the law 
written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing 
witness,' had been obscured, and almost placed beyond 
the mental reach of the mass of mankind. Christ 
declared himself against all religions which made salva- 
tion, or spiritual safety, dependent on a priesthood and 
its peculiar offices. Hence the insurmountable difficulty 
with which all successors, and especially the Episcopal 
Protestants, have to contend; for if salvation must be 
dispensed to mankind through the hands of a legitimate 
priesthood, the world must be in a sad case as long as 
the titles shall continue in a state of the most hopeless 

"(17.) What shall we say, then, of the still greater 
difficulty of finding the learned portion of Christianity, 
that catalogue of historical and metaphysical propo- 
sitions which every man is supposed to be concerned 
in, as he is concerned in his eternal happiness ? Can 
a Christianity, containing a philosophical and critical 
department, be believed to have originated in that Jesus 
of Nazareth, whose anti-hierarchical and anti-rabbinical 


mental portrait is still transparent through the thick 
coating of sophistical and pharisaical paint which was 
spread over it before the middle of the second century ? 
"(18.) The practical meaning which the name Chris- 
tian still preserves in the popular language of all Chris- 
tian nations, that fact to which I have already alluded, 
is to me a remarkable instance of the indestructible 
character of certain popular traditions. The Christian 
priesthoods have exerted themselves for ages in making 
people believe that the essence of Christianity consists 
in the belief of doctrines ; yet the great currency which 
that notion obtained, arose exclusively from the pro < 
shape in which it was preached. It was not assent to 
certain propositions, or belief in certain facts, that Chris- 
tianity was said to demand ; but obedience to the Church, 
and implicit trust in her doctrines. This is indeed an 
intelligible demand, which by the assistance of certain 
texts of Scripture has been recognized for ages by the 
great majority of the Christian world. The supposition 
that Christ had laid this duty upon all his future disci- 
ples is not absurd in itself ; it is totally devoid of proof : 
but of this the mass of Christians are not sufficiently 
enlightened judges : such a submission is, indeed, much 
in accordance with the popular notions of religion among 
mankind ; for a religion without a priesthood was scarcely 
conceived before Christ. But the idea of Christianity 
consisting pre-eminently of personal belief in, and of 
real conviction of, the truth of certain metaphysical 
tenets and certain historical facts, this conviction to 
be grounded on the laws of historical criticism, on the 
intrinsic validity of certain documents, and the accuracy 
of their interpretation, such Christianity, such method 


of .spiritual safety, does not, cannot exist as a popular, 
much less as a universal religion. The mass of people 
who call themselves, and (I am ready to grant) arc 
Christians in proportion to the sincerity of their wish 
t. live according to their notions of Christ, have no 
more reason to be convinced of the authenticity of the 
I'ihle, than the people of Ephesus had in their day that 
the statue of the great I>iana had fallen from heaven. 
Even most of those who have read such works as Paley's 
(a number, comparatively speaking, very small) cannot 
l>e said to believe in consequence of a fair examination 
of the case: such an examination would require the 
attentive perusal of the most accredited works of infidels. 
Such deliberate, impartial, and attentive hearing of both 
sides, would be necessary for a well-grounded decision. 
How then, I will ask, can it be supposed that Christ 
could have founded his universal religion upon such a 
basis ? The Christian world, the mass of Christians, 
have never conceived anything of the kind ; they think 
it one of their duties to treat the Bible as a book from 
heaven : this is part of their practical religion. Among 
Roman Catholics, this duty is a branch of obedience 
to the Church; among Protestants, an early inculcated 
habit ; but in neither case will the great majority pretend 
that they have or ought to have a rational ground of 

"(19.) What strange notions of God must lie at the 
bottom of such systems of Christianity as make eternal 
happiness depend on an historical faith! an historical 
faith, too, of miraculous facts, of facts externally alike to 
those which, in all other histories out of the Bible, have 
been long stamped by all sensible historians as pure 


fables! I do not mean to rank all the miracles of tin- 
.Bible with the mythico-historical narratives of the early 
history of every nation; I only wish the external simi- 
larity to be remarked ; because, owing to that likeness, 
consisting of all that strikes the imagination, the work 
of discriminating and weighing the evidence for a //// 
miracle must be confessed to be of the most difficult 
nature. Nevertheless, this work of thought and pro- 
found research is supposed to be made the condition of 
eternal happiness by the good and gracious Father ot all 
mankind. Observe, however, the partiality implied in 
such a system. The difficulty of historical conviction is 
all for the thinking part of mankind ; among whom 
miracles become more and more difficult of proof, in pro- 
portion as the knowledge of nature on the one hand, and 
of the character of historical documents on the other, in- 
creases. Here, however, we are told that this apparent 
partiality in favour of the 'poor and humble,' is the diu> 
reward of their moral temper. But the evasion is such, 
that were it not for the total want of reflection which 
attends all mysticism of this kind, few would not U- 
ashamed to avow it ; for it is obvious that the advantage 
in question belongs equally to the mentally indolent, to 
the mere man of the senses who detests the labour and 
fatigue of attention. This is practically exhibited every 
-.\\(\ before our eyes, though not so strikingly and abun- 
dantly as it appears in the history of the most brutal 
and immoral times, the ages of faith and violence, op- 
tion and profligacy, the period of chivalry. When did 
the 'poor and humble' equal the barons and knigh; 
those times in strong, unhesitating belief of the Bible, or 
of anything which they were told that it was ^to/<s and 


Christian-like to believed What candid man will deny 
that it' the mam condition of Christianity ifl unhesitating 
belief ill historical testimony, tin; kingdom of heaven 
announced by Christ belongs as an inheritance to the 
class of iiu-ii to whose lot the possession of the earth has 
gem-rally fallen ; whilst UK- purest models of god-like 
humanity, those in whose composition the highest gifts 
of (iod, intellect and reason, predominate, must at all 
times, but especially in our own, and in the fast ap- 
proaching ages of widely-Spread thought, belong almost 
by a natural right to the 'devil and his angels'? This 
may be broadly expressed, I confess ; but is it not the 
unvarnished substance of the doctrine maintained by all 
(i/iir/dt Churches ; the doctrine to the root, at least, of 
which, I fear, not a few among us still cling, unaware 
that they do so? 

" (20.) There is indeed only one way of getting safely 
out of this insecure position. The following question 
must be thoroughly examined and settled, with a manful 
and truly Christian indifference to obloquy; for that all 
the consequences of alarming inveterate prejudice will 
follow from such a bold examination, no one can doubt 
who knows the nature of superstition. Such, indeed, is 
its power, that I foresee a difficulty even in making the 
question which I propose intelligible to persons tainted 
with the existing bibliolatry. But I will do my best to 
he clear. The question is this : 

"Is it a Christian's duty, as such Christian, to receive 
as true whatever may be proved by the text of our 
Hibles to have been considered as true by the writers, 
some of whose works are contained in it? In other 
words, are we bound as Christians to believe 1st, 



that the writers of all and each of the books in the Bible 
were miraculously preserved from all error, or at least 
from errors connected with some kind of subjects, which 
we may clearly distinguish from all other subjects, so 
that we may be sure of the author's infallibility when he 
speaks .about them? 2ndly. Are we bound as Christians 
to believe with the utmost assurance that the existing 
books of the Bible are the identical compositions which 
those writers left to the world, and that no curtailment, 
addition, or interpolation, has taken place in regard to 
those books ? 

" (21.) Here it will be absolutely necessary, as an indis- 
pensable previous step, to agree upon some general prin- 
ciples, without establishing which we cannot expect 
anything but pure wrangling. I conceive, then, that 
such an obligation in regard to the Bible should not be 
proved by inference. As I have already suggested, such 
an obligation cannot be established except by a clear 
and positive command of God. The existence of such 
a command should, besides, be made clear by those who 
contend for the above-mentioned obligation. Those who, 
as myself, deny it, are not bound to prove the non-exist- 
ence of the divine command. The state of the question 
is, in fact, just the same as that of the infallibility of the 
Church. The Church must prove its title, not by in- 
ice, but positively and directly : he that denies that 
infallibility is not bound to prove by direct argument 
that it has not been granted: the want of a clear title- 
to it is a sufficient proof. 

" (22.) I also would demand, as a previous fundamental 
principle, that no injury to the consequences of tin- 
supposed privilege be alleged as a proof of its existti 


1 . -aimot fiml a more effect mil method of making this 
very important principle appear in a clear light than 
that of imagining ourselves among the contempm 
ol Luther's Hi-formation, and considering the impression 
which arguments similar to those which my rule would 
exclude, would make upon the generality of the people. 
We. should remember that the whole of that system of 
religion which we call Popery had grown out of two 
suppositions: 1st, that the salvation of mankind de- 
pended upon acquiescence in certain doctrines as tnn\ 
and upon the admission of certain historical facts as 
2nd, that there existed means, suited to the capa- 
city of all men, not to mistake the sense of the books to 
which those doctrines were believed to have been con- 
signed by God himself, and to prevent all doubt as to 
the miraculous nature of those books. The mainspring 
of this mighty machinery was the Church, which, having 
been for many centuries at work, had raised a mighty 
structure of dogmas and ceremonies, long identified with 
( 'hristianity in the minds of all people. Habit must, in 
all such cases, give to the growth of the original false 
assumption the appearance of a. final end, while its root, 
the gratuitous assumption, takes the character of 
means totally indispensable for the attainment of the 
imaginary end. Now, under such circumstances, it will 
always happen that whenever the root of the evil is 
touched, whenever its legitimacy is questioned, no 
arguments are more popularly conclusive against the 
objectors than those which go to prove that the system 
Which -long custom has consecrated cannot stand without 
the ground now assailed. There cannot be a doubt that 
>uch arguments were the strongest barrier which checked 



the Reformation. 'You would make the Church falli- 
ble in matters of faith' (people would say with alarm 
and indignation) ; ' you would question her power to 
bind and to loose. How then can we be sure that our 
belief is not heretical ; or how can we enjoy a comfort- 
able assurance of the remission of our sins? Observe 
besides (they would continue to object), the innume- 
rable cases in which the Pope's dispensing power i- 
required : what shall we do without it in the multitude 
of complicated events which no law can provide for?' 
I cannot conceive anything more powerful than Un- 
reasoning to excite a general feeling of abhorrence to 
the Reformation. Whence, I ask, does the fallacy d< 
its strong power of delusion? From a men- winking 
the principle, the recognition of which I contend for : 
the fallacy derives its power from the circumstance that 
the growth or the consequences of the assailed assump- 
tion are regarded as important final ends, and the false 
assumption itself is defended upon the score of its being 
indispensable for the attainment of those cm I 
perfectly true, whatever the ortJwdox Protestants : 
say, that without an infallible Church, salvation by 
means of an orthodox creed hangs upon a d< ->] 
chance ; but if the notion of a salvation which de| 
on orthodoxy is the growth of hierarchical pret-en- 
ignorantly admitted at first, and subsequently confirmed 
by superstition, habit, and violence, the obje< -tioii that if 
we reject the infallibility of the Church, we cannot 
our orthodoxy upon the infallibility of the Chuni 
quite ludicrous. Let us then beware of a similar reason- 
ing respecting the oracular character of the Scrip! 
To object that, if the Scriptures are not infallible 


rrinnot have an infallible foundation lor our ivli 
creed, is just such an argument a^ I have stated in 
favour of Church infallibility. The necessity of infalli- 
bility in religion must tirst be proved to exist; if this 
.iniiot be done, we must not be surprised by the dis- 
ry that God has not given us tlie means of attaining 
what he has not demanded. 

"(23.) Exactly of the same logical character is the 
lion, that such rationalism as I contend for renders 
useless all God's revelations to man. 'If the P>il>le 
(it will be said) is to be treated like any other collec- 
tion of writings, we must at once make up our minds to 
the melancholy state of being without a direct means of 
knowing the will of God, we must acknowledge that 
we- have no advantage over the heathen world/ Here, 
again, the failure of results which were expected upon a 
false assumption, is charged upon those who shew that 
the assumption is groundless. It has been assumed 
that if the Bible is inspired, mankind are brought by 
means of it nearer to the Deity than they have been, 
and must remain, in case such inspiration cannot be 
proved ; but any one who shall shew the fallacies upon 
which the supposition was made, will be sure to be 
accused of the cruelty and impiety of destroying the 
only means of direct communication with God. I do 
not mention this as a peculiar hardship to which I 
myself must submit. At all times and in all pi; 
he who ventures to disturb a flattering delusion will he 
described as a wanton aggressor, as an enemy to the 
happiness of his fellow-men. Thank Heaven, the fre- 
quent and melancholy disappointments which the more 
civilized part of the world have experienced on such 


subjects, have opened the eyes of a sufficient number to 
diminish the danger of those whose unwelcome v- 
tion is to contend with popular delusions. 

" (24.) In the present case I might content myself with 
an appeal to the long and varied experience which shews 
that the theory of inspiration (especially among Pro- 
testants) totally fails of the results for the sake of which 
it has been set forth. But I wish to attack the root 
itself of the delusion. In my view of the subject, even 
the most direct and personal communication with < 
of any writer, could not give to his books the power of 
conveying a supernatural, or rather superrational, cun- 
viction to the readers. In establishing this important 
point, deep prejudice and trembling superstition present 
the only difficulties with which intellect has to contend. 
As, for the present, I totally despair of gaining any 
ground, I shall only point to principles on which men 
accustomed to follow reason in spite of imagination, 
will, I trust, readily agree with me. 

"The notion of a certainty above reason, a w- 
rational certainty I wish to call it, is so self-contra- 
dictory, that it cannot be well conceived by the mind. 
Yet such a notion is the only foundation of the esta- 
blished supematuralism. With a truly infantine i 
ranee of man's mental constitution, people continue to 
imagine that no belief can exceed in certainty that which 
would arise from hearing God himself make a vnbul 
statement of what he wished mankind' to hold as un- 
questionably true. But there is a monstrous miscon- 
ception at the bottom of this notion ; for does it not 
suppose that God may make himself an object of which 
our senses may judge ? God, I doubt not, can do all 


tilings, except what is in contradiction with himself: it 
is lie \\lio II.-IN made our 96DB66 in such ;i manner that, 
they can receive only certain kind of impressif 
impressions essentially distinct from everything mental 
or spiritual. The supposition then that he would i< 
to such a medium for a more immediate and more secure 
communication with man, implies a charge of ignorance 
of his own works in the great Creator. * God is a Spirit,' 
is the sublime fundamental principle of Christ's religion. 
Man, too, is in part a spirit; and the communication 
hetween the spiritual Creator and that visible creature 
of his who bears the spirit teal stamp of his likeness, 
would naturally be expected to be between the two 
spirits, the spirit of God and the spirit in man. lint 
no : this could not take place except through man's 
reason ; and that supreme power within us is said to be 
too weak, too much exposed to error and delusion. How 
shall this difficulty be obviated ? How shall God remove 
uncertainty from his most particular and important com- 
munications with man? 'Let God be seen and heard,' 
answers the supernaturalist. In vain it is declared 
(though it scarcely needed a declaration) that 'no 
man has seen God at any time.' The divine will con- 
tidently explain away this assertion, and tell us that 
God was frequently seen in the time of the patriarchs, 
and was distinctly heard by the whole people of Israel, 
on, he tells us, is a deceitful guide: but here, it 
seems, there was no room for mistake, a mountain was 
seen in flames, there was an earthquake, a trumpet 
sounded, and a voice was heard speaking distinctly. 
Such, we are told, is one of the most remarkable in- 
stances of direct communication between God and man 


intended to obviate the danger of our being misled by 
reason, and to establish a certainty in religious matters 
for all ages and nations to come. This is to be con- 
sidered a source of certainty above all assurance which 
could be obtained spiritually, or, what is the same, 
rationally. But let us see : God spoke : are we sure 
that God has a voice, or that when a sound like that of 
the human voice cannot be traced to any man, it must, 
beyond all doubt, originate in God? The world has 
been full of delusions, bearing internal marks very like 
the communication in question. I will not say that this 
is a delusion of the same kind as those which are 
recorded in profane history ; but the senses are subject 
to delusions ; and how can we be certain that the wit- 
nesses of such manifestations of Gud through the senses 
took every reasonable precaution against mistake ? But 
I will not tire you with a minute enumeration of the 
doubts which inevitably surround a transaction of this 
kind, as soon as it is consigned to history, in order (it is 
supposed) to produce a superrational conviction, at the 
distance of an indefinite number of years. It seems 
quite incredible that such an ignorance of ourselves, 
of our faculties, of the grounds of our conviction, as is 
betrayed in the above supposition, should exist among 
us. God, in the first place, is asserted to have addressed 
himself to the external senses of man, distrusting the 
powers which he had imparted to man's mind. Such, 
we are told, was the Deity's pre-eminent means of giving 
US certainty upon tilings on which our eternal well-hcinu r 
depended. But it is clear that all this contrivance of 
oruhir and auricular certainty could reach only those 
whose eyes and ears were affected at a certain tim<\ 



The benefit of that supposed certainty was mnlmrd to 
a small number of men, upon a very limited spot. What 
then is to be the ground of certainty for the millions of 
millions, equally concerned in the subject, who were not 
present? 'Historical evidence,' we are told, 'is enough 
for tin- ml But historical evidence, however complete 
and strong, does not address itself to the senses, which 
the siipernaturalist makes the vehicles of the highest 
certainty, certainty above that of which reason is 
capable. What we and all the rest of mankind, except 
the witnesses of a miracle, can examine by means of our 
senses, are writings which can prove nothing, except 
by the help and under the approbation of reason. The 
credibility of the witnesses, the authenticity of the docu- 
ments, their perfect agreement with the original manu- 
scripts, are these things objects of sense? Unques- 
tionably not : the blindest enthusiast must confess that 
iva son is here to be the judge ; and since its approbation 
must be at the bottom of the whole process, even the 
blindest enthusiast, if he still preserves common sense 
undisturbed in the slightest degree, must confess that 
the supposed divine contrivance to avoid the fallibility 
of human reason, has totally failed ; and that the origin- 
ally discarded reason must be the foundation of belief 
in those miracles which were intended to supersede it 
in matters, as they are called, of revelation. 

" (25.) Verbal revelation and miracles have for ages 
been treated under the false notion which I have just 
laid before you. Both have been, most unphilosophically, 
imagined to be evidence above reason. Such an error 
would not find admittance even into our nurseries, if a 
most tyrannical power, supported by the popular errors 


it creates aud cherishes, had not transmitted, through 
a long series of generations, an inheritance of m> 
servility of which hardly our children's children will In- 
to tally free. I wish you to imagine what would be the 
conduct of truly pious and unenthusiastic men in the 
present day, if a case of resurrection by miracle w; 
appear in the public journals. In the first place, there 
would be an extreme reluctance to pay any serious 
regard to the statement. Whence, I ask, this reluct; 
to examine into modern miracles ? Surely the evidence 
adduced for some * the cures of Prince Hohenlol. 
not, primd facie, contemptible. Still, the stout i-st U- 
lievers of the miraculous in the Bible, would, if Pro- 
testants, look with a feeling less respectful than pity on 
any one, not a Roman Catholic, who should undertake 
a journey for the purpose of examining the evidence of 
the alleged miracle upon the spot. This mental fact, 
this reluctance to give credit to miraculous transaction-, 
aud the law of its appearance and growth, are things not t < > 
be overlooked in the present question. Bold indeed must 
be that ignorance which shall attribute it to individual 
perverseness. Few mental phenomena can be 1)' 
established, as inseparably connected with our intel- 
lectual nature, than the attraction of the miraculous in 
the infancy of mind, and its repulsiveness for the s 
mind instructed and developed. To man, in individual 
as well as in collective or national childhood, a mii-adi- 
is evidence to itself; and the more extraordinary the 
miracle, the greater the certainty which a mere narrative 
of it will convey. Ramahoun Roy's experience coin. 
Ix-re most satisfactorily with theory; he has, as I 
uK-inber, stated somewhere that missionaries can prodii- 


no impression upon tin- Hindoos by means of tin- Bible 
miracles. Accustomed to the extravagant magnitude of 
their own wonders, they smile upon the insignificance 
of ours. Nor can any one be surprised at this, con- 
sidering that whatever makes a deep impression upon 
the imaginative faculty, is in that state of the human 
mind taken tor absolute reality ; consequently the narra- 
tive of the miracle, which leaves deeper traces upon the 
fancy than that of a more modest and unambitious 
wonder, must indispose the undeveloped mind for a 
belief in the latter. Such, then, being the immutable 
laws of the human understanding, the Eternal Source of 
those laws, if he intended to guide mankind by miracles 
(and verbal revelation is of that class), not by reason, 
must have intended two things : First, that the great 
mass of mankind in a low state of mental development 
should follow the most extravagant dreams of enthu- 
siasm and imposture. Secondly, that in proportion Bfl 
the human mind increased in knowledge, so it would 
reject the miraculous divine guidance. I have examined 
this objection to the common theological notions on 
revelation and miracles, with the utmost impartiality 
and attention of which I am capable; I have done so 
for many years, under a desire of finding it fallacious ; 
for the superstitious fears inspired by ray early education 
were not easily subdued ; but I never could discover 
even a plausible answer. 

" (26.) What I am about to say, is a result of the same 
inquiry, and by no means one of the concessions which 
the opponents of religious prejudices frequently make for 
the sake of allaying the alarm which their too unceremo 
nious approach to the popular idols may have raised. 


In the course of my examination of verbal revelation and 
miracles, I have found no convincing reason for denying 
that God may have, on some occasions, put forth ener- 
gies which do not belong to the system of regular and 
invariable forces by which he conducts the phenomena 
of nature. But I see no ground whatever for believing 
that such extraordinary instances of occasional divine 
activity had human belief for their object. If God has 
at any time acted visibly, either against or beyond the 
range of the laws which he gave to his creation, he cer- 
tainly must have done it for the sake of the thing thus 
performed, and not to give rise to historical or tradi- 
tional narratives to be believed in distant times. Within 
the narrow limits of the probability which these matters 
admit, I believe that, besides that immediate divine 
energy attested by the recent existence of man on the 
face of this globe, the preservation of the parents of 
mankind, immediately after their formation, was an 
effect not within the reach of the existing natural laws. 
Admitting the immediate formation of one or more 
couples, especially of the lower classes of animals, en- 
dowed at once with the instincts which belong to their 
species, we may well conceive the manner in which they 
would preserve themselves and propagate their race. 
lint man possesses no such instincts : and if we imagine 
one or more couples formed at once in a state of full 
development, and then left to themselves, it will not be 
easy to conjecture by what natural means, within the 
existing laws, they could be preserved. We know how 
long infants are in learning to see, to measure dis- 
tances, to use their hands, and to walk. It sr- 
indeed very probable that the acquisition of these po\ 


would le still more lifficult to a human In-ill^ who (by 
supposition) should have to obtain them when his body 
had attained full growth. The provision of food for tin- 
grown infants, which the fact of creation ton es us to 
admit, must have been made by an individual act of 
tin 1 creating power, since the wonderful means provided 
by the law of procreation are totally excluded in tin- 
case before us. So far, I am willing to admit, there is a 
strong conjectural ground for the existence of a divine 
operation, which, like creation itself, may be well ranked 
as a miracle ; yet not a miracle for show (as the etymo- 
logy of that word implies), but one which might be 
considered as a personal act out of the reach of the 
laws, whose operation could not commence but subse- 
u l uently to that act. In a mental point of view, that is, 
in relation to the human mind, this conjecture affords a 
valuable support to the various grounds upon which our 
race, after having emerged from that low state of intellect 
which produces idolatry and anthropomorphism, may, in 
such ages as the present, preserve itself from pantheism, 
or the belief of an impersonal Creator, a necessarily 
constructive, but unconscious Deity. 

" (27.) In regard to what is called revelation (which, to 
avoid ambiguity, 1 shall define a personal teaching of an 
individual man by God), I feel confident that the esta- 
blished notions are perfectly untenable. Those notions 
belong to a period of imperfect development, and, as 
it has been already shewn, arise from a gross mistake 
regarding the nature of belief and of evidence. This 
has been more or less clearly perceived, even in 
when the belief in visions and verbal communications 
from an invisible world was totally unshaken. We find 


common sense breaking out and betraying its first per- 
ception of the inadequacy of visions and miracles to 
establish truth, in the Old Testament iteelf. Manoah, 
for instance, insists upon having his own tests applied 
to the heavenly vision, that he may be sure of the reality 
of a heavenly message. I cannot at this moment bring 
to my recollection other instances of the same kind, 
though I believe they are to be found in the Bible ; but 
the suspicion of delusion is so natural, so thoroughly 
grounded in nature, that men appear to be unable to feel 
secure against it, except when, being cautioned to be upon 
their guard on that point, superstition makes them at once 
impenetrable to argument. Hence it is that in appeals 
to nature, especially to that nature which is best known 
to consciousness (I wish to speak without personal 
offence), the very name of theology deprives me of con- 
fidence ; for theology, as it is studied among us generally, 
stifles the voice of nature within, and few, even under 
the most sincere wish to listen to it, can perceive its 
still small voice, drowned as it is by the loud and hai>h 
ciies of authority. It is fortunate indeed, in such a case, 
to have an attestation from Nature herself, through one 
of her most unprejudiced and distinguished favour! t< -s. 
Hear it then in the following lines : 

'The spirit that I have seen 
May be a devil, and the devil hath power 
To assume a pleasing shape ; yea, and perhaps, 
Out of my meekness and my melancholy 
(As he is very potent with such spirits), 
Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds 
More rein tire limn th in. ' 

The greatest interpreter of Nature has given us IKM> 


e!rni;il, immutable answer to the claims of \isi<>ns and 
lunacies to be the foundations of religious truth I will 
nni. as I have said of miracles (tor there is no essential 
difference between the two things in question), I will not 
i-t that God has never used some extraordinary im- 
pressions on the senses as means of drawing attention 
to important truths, or rather of inclining the will of 
the rude and unthinking multitude to follow the dic- 
tates of those whom he had endowed with the high moral 
and intellectual qualities which truly distinguish his 
messengers for good to man. But in matters of truth, 

* I'll have grounds 
More relative than this.' 

The only safe grounds are those essentially connected 
with the truth to be received. That all external phe- 
nomena, all impressions on the senses, are irrelative to 
spiritual truth, is proved by the crowd of impressions 
t/irr/i.ed miraculous which the successive generations 
which have peopled, and at this moment inhabit, this 
globe, make their ground for belief in the most monstrous 
errors. Let us, my dear friend, have grounds more 
tin- for what we embrace as pure Christianity. 

" (28.) And it is very remarkable that all thinking men 
however prepossessed in favour of miraculous evidence, 
look for proofs more relative to the truths in which they 
feel a deep interest. This appears in the unconcern with 
which they treat all miracles alleged against their settled 
belief. Now, if their reason were thoroughly satisfied 
that miracles are the most unquestionable stamp of 
divine communications, honest men would not be so 
inconsistent as to turn away disdainfully from modern 


miracles ; nay, they would take sufficient pains to weigh 
the evidence of the miracles which support the unhesi- 
tating religious belief of other sects and other nations. 
Let the supernaturalist be just upon such an important 
point ; let him put aside that national pride, and that 
more extended though weaker pride of race, which stand 
to him in lieu of examination for his comfortable con- 
viction that all miracles but the Jewish and Christian 
are totally unworthy of attention. A man whose reli- 
gious belief is founded upon the intrinsic and rational 
worth of what he embraces as such, he who is perfectly 
convinced that what most concerns every individual 
man, must have been placed by the great Creator within 
the reach of our mind, if it but honestly wish to exert 
its faculties, such a man may justly turn a deaf ear to 
those who call him to examine the various and recipro- 
cally-opposed collections of miraculous evidence, ancient 
and modern ; for he is convinced that God has not ap- 
pointed that kind of evidence for those, at least, to whom 
he has not addressed it in itself and originally : but 
it is most unreasonable, not to say arrogant, in those who 
contend that miraculous evidence, reduced to testim 
is the direct and the highest proof of revealed truth, to 
sit down contentedly in their own corner of the world, 
closing their eyes to all other evidence of the same kind. 
Protestants of this description are bound, at the least, to 
go to Eome, and examine the detailed evidence of thou- 
sands of miracles proved to the satisfaction of a board 
of cardinals, who pass judgment in conformity with u 
previously-established code of laws. Many a smile, and 
many a scowl too, will be raised on hearing this invita- 
tion ; but what will the smilers and the scuwlers say to 


a similar answer from a follower of Mahomet, or of 
l.rahma, on their being invited to examine the miraculous 
evidence of the Bible? I, for one, well know what my 
address would be on such occasion. I would desire the 
Mahometan, the Hindoo, and all others, to reflect on the 
view of religion which I myself call Christianity, to 
compare it with his national religion, and judge between 
the two. If he appealed to the wonders exhibited in 
past ages, I would tell him that, in my relative igno- 
rance of Oriental history, and total unacqiuiintance with 
the language of the documents adduced as the testimony 
of ocular witnesses of his national miracles, I could not 
judge their value and weight. I would mention the 
Christian Scriptures, and my just confidence in their 
intrinsic value, just to make him perceive the analogy 
of our respective situations in regard to the written 
testimony of past ages. From the certainty of this 
analogy, from the obviously insuperable difficulty of his 
transforming himself into a European scholar, or my 
becoming a learned Pundit, in good time for making up 
our minds on the respective value of our traditional evi- 
dence of miracles, I hope I could infer satisfactorily for a 
reasonable man of any nation whatever, that God cannot 
have made our happiness depend upon the settlement 
of such a question. Having conjured away that dis- 
turbing mental phantom, the rest of the examination 
could not fail to be both improving and satisfactory to 
any couple of upright men, whatever might be their 
respective conclusions at the end of the conference. 

"(29.) Is this Rationalism, or is it already rank infi- 
delity, a formal renunciation of all revelation ? I con- 
fess I am perfectly indifferent to the name by which 



others may choose to express the simple fact that they 
do not agree with me. But I am far from being indif- 
ferent to the removal of dark and unsocial prejudices, 
when there is a chance left of my being heard on these 
important subjects. I wish, therefore, to request the 
serious attention of men not totally blinded by the spirit 
of Orthodoxy, to a passage in the Old Testament which 
clearly proves the inferior value, as evidence, which 
Moses, or whoever was the writer of the book of Deute- 
ronomy, sets on miracles. The too common practice of 
talking a great deal of the inspiration of the Old Testa- 
ment, whilst by some it is read in detached passages 
merely as a charm, and in total indifference to the sense ; 
and by others it is kept as much as possible out of view, 
in order to avoid the disturbance which, if read atten- 
tively, it never fails to produce in the minds of thinking 
persons, this practice alone is the cause of the general 
notion that the Bible lays the ultimate foundation of 
religion on miracle. The following passage deserves 
deliberate attention : it is in the 1 3th chapter of Deu- 
teronomy : 

"'If there arise among you a prophet or a dreamer of 
dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign 
or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, 
saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not 
known, and let us serve them ; thou shalt not hearken 
unto the words of that prophet, or of that dreamer of 
dreams : for the Lord your God proveth you, to know 
whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart 
and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your 
God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey 
his voice, aud ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 


And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be 
put to death/ 

"This riffnnifi/e. of miraculous evidence deserves a 
degree of consideration from those who conceive revelation 
to depend on miracles, which they certainly have not 
bestowed upon it. It discloses something very extra- 
ordinary relating to God, but, at the same time, most 
important in regard to miraculous evidence. According 
to this oracular writer, Clod, after having established a 
religion by miracles, may happen to assist false prophets 
in the performance of really miraculous works, or, at 
least, may connive at the production of signs and wonders 
perfectly undistinguishable from miracles, with a view 
to try whether a people's belief in their religion is proof 
against that same kind of evidence which made them 
embrace it. Now the question occurs, Did the Jews 
act upon this revealed command in regard to Christ? 
Unless they were accustomed to read the Old Testament 
like most divines among us, they could not have over- 
looked a law so obviously applicable to the miracles of 
Jesus and his apostles. Yet either the Christian docu- 
ments have suppressed the very perplexing argument 
which this passage offered to the Scribes and Pharisees, 
or both Christ and his learned contemporaries must have 
been aware of the inherent and intrinsic weakness of 
miraculous evidence. There are, indeed, in the Gospels 
deeply-marked traces of Christ's dislike to the popular 
notions regarding miracles: the genuineness of the pas- 
sages in which Jesus reproves the Jews for their deter- 
mination not to believe him except on the ground of 
miraculous exhibitions, becomes unquestionable, when 


we consider that those speeches are preserved by men 
who fully partook of the popular notions in favour of 
miraculous proofs of doctrine, of men who evidently did 
not understand the meaning of such sayings, nor their 
inconsistency with the abundance of miracles found in 
their narratives. But I leave those who ground their 
Christianity on miracles and inspired books to grapple 
with these difficulties. One thing after all is evident, 
that the Bible itself is not decidedly in favour of the 
notion that the miraculous can be the ultimate proof of 
a divine revelation. As to Christ himself, a conviction 
that miracles must be the credentials of an extraordinary 
messenger from God, is totally inconsistent with his 
reproof to the Jews, ' Except you see signs and wonders, 
you will not believe/ If we follow up the consequences 
of the commonly-established notions on this subject, the 
Jews were perfectly right in not believing except under 
that condition. But, in justice to them, it must be 
acknowledged that not even the clearest miracles could 
relieve them from a most distressing perplexity ; the 
book of Deuteronomy excludes all miraculous evidence 
in regard to the Jews themselves, and condemns the 
miracle-worker to death. The Jew was bound to con- 
tinue what he was in regard to religion, even if heaven 
and earth obeyed the voice of a reforming prophet : the 
sun might rise in the west, and the seasons change their 
succession at his command. The Jew, the faithful, 
orthodox Jew, would not be moved at such signs, for 
he had the highest authority to believe ' that the Lord 
his God was proving him/ Such was his clear duty, 
according to the Law, even when the miracles 


worked before his eyes. \Vhat then can be expected from 
the conscientious Israelite of our own times, who has only 
miracles in ivriting to convince him ? 

" (30.) What then, I shall be asked, can prove a 
revelation from heaven? I know nothing that can prove 
it except the thing revealed. How the glorious thoughts, 
pregnant with blessings to mankind, were imparted by 
the Father of lights ' at sundry times and in divers 
manners/ but especially 'in these last days' to his 
greatest messenger, Christ, whether those thoughts 
arose according to the established laws of mind, or were 
breathed, together with a vivifying moral spirit, into the 
souls of the divine messengers, we have not means to 
ascertain ; all that we are enabled to do is to appreciate 
the value of the message itsel Eevelation is precious 
because it communicates truth. Gold might be miracu- 
lously drawn from the bowels of the earth, but its mira- 
culous origin could not raise its standard when put into 
circulation with other gold. The wisdom of God, I 
doubt not, has, in mercy to mankind, chosen instructors, 
whom, by means known to God alone, he has enabled 
to do for the world what, as far as we can judge, 
would be out of the power of any individual unsupported 
by a peculiar divine assistance. Among the benefactors 
of mankind, I cannot find any one to compare to Jesus 
of Nazareth. But if mankind cannot be benefited by 
the truths he taught, except through an historical con- 
viction that those truths were miraculously known and 
miraculously proved, the truly divine mission of Christ 
is doomed to remain without anything like an adequate 
result. Millions of men may continue to call themselves 
Christians, but with no more reason than they would be 


called Mahometans, if chance had united that name with 
the circumstances of their birth and education. Unless 
Christianity be what men, all over the world, may ration- 
ally accept as soon as education shall have awakened 
their conscientious reason, that faculty which judges 
between moral evil and good, unless Christianity can 
be preached to the poor without the assistance either 
of enthusiasm, or of historical and critical proofs, 
we are forced to conclude that either Christ mistook the 
nature of his own religion, or that his followers have 
perfectly disqualified it to answer the purpose of uni- 
versality for which he intended it. I know that it will 
be said that the great mass of mankind are very imper- 
fect judges of moral truth. I answer, that there is a 
still greater mass who are much less qualified to judge 
of historical truth. I cannot conceive how the idea that 
Christianity must derive all its efficacy as history, can 
maintain its hold on any mind tolerably acquainted with 
the character of historical testimony. ' Historical testi- 
mony in support of events analogous to those with which 
a universal experience acquaints us, is above the judg- 
ment of the generality of people. None but thoroughly 
educated men who have paid a particular attention to 
historical criticism, can properly estimate the authority 
of the documents from which the history of England, for 
instance, or of France, is derived. How strange then 
is the supposition that every one who calls himself a 
Christian is capable of understanding the reasons upon 
which it is asserted that the existing historical testimony 
to the reality of the Bible miracles is sufficient ! An 
ingenious answer has been lately given to this difficulty 
by my excellent friend Dr. H * * *, who says, ' that it is 


enough for the mass of the pro] .!< to know that tin- 
authenticity of the Christian documents has stood the 
titlarks of the unbelieving writers.' P.ut how do they know 
this, except through the controversialists on their own 
side? How can they be sure that, while the law of the 
land threatens with severe punishment any one who in. 
a publication should conclude against the authenticity of 
any considerable part of the Bible, there are not many 
among those on whose authority they rely who secretly 
believe that the (lernian critics of the Rationalist school 
(as they are called) have had the best of the argument.? 
I cannot conceive how any unprejudiced person to whom 
the difficulties of historical proof are known, can delibe- 
rately assert that the great mass of mankind of all coun- 
tries and ages can receive Christianity upon historical 
grounds, especially if upon such grounds it be their 
duty to believe in the miracles both of the Old and the 
New Testament ! 

" I have, my dear friend, been writing on, day by day, 
and only for a very short period each time, for my health 
has been, and continues, much worse than usual. I fear, 
therefore, that you will find it difficult to collect any 
clear and distinct general notion from the rambling 
thoughts which I have already consigned to this letter ; 
as my strength does not allow me to re-cast it, and reduce 
what I have said into one clear and distinct view, I must 
take the liberty of sending to you this rather loose collec- 
tion of notes, requesting your attentive consideration of 
them individually. It is of great importance to ascertain 
whether these objections to some deeply-rooted notions 
which exist among all denominations of Christians are 
as valid as I think, or not. [The only method by which 


we can arrive at a perfect knowledge of the object of 
Providence in the unquestionably great work which 
began with our era, and has uninterruptedly proceeded 
up to the moment when, in consequence of the moral 
impulse then given to a great portion of mankind, I am 
anxiously exerting myself on the subject of Christianity, 
the only way to complete the Eeformation which Luther 
proclaimed, is to remove, one by one, every false notion 
which we may find connected with the profession of the 
Gospel] While employed in the removal of individual 
errors, we should be upon our guard against the usual 
bugbear, 'Where shall we stop?' 'What will be left?' 
When we shall have removed what is positively not 
Christianity, then, and not till then, shall we be able to 
perceive what true Christianity is. 

" Ever, with sincere affection, 

" Your friend and brother, 





Outlines of the Life of Joseph I'.lanen White, by John Hamilton 

Thorn .................................................................. iii 

Funeral Address, by Jamrs Martineau ............................. xxxix 

Sonnet, by Joseph Blanco White ....................................... xliv 


, written in 1839 .......................................... xlvii 

Preface to the First Edition, 1835 .................................... lix 

A History of the Inquisition worse than useless if not preceded 

by a true definition of //(,,.<// ................................... 2 

Some latent error in the usual phrase Christian truth ............ 4 

Only true sense of the phrase C/i riatian truth ..................... 5, 6 

True meaning of the word Heresy, as used among Christians ... 7 

Question on which the necessary existence of some degree of in- 

terference, like that claimed by the Papal Inquisition, or 

the absence of that claim, depends .............................. 7, 8, note 

Protestantism, on the basis of Orthodoxy, untenable ............ 8 

Unanswerable arguments of the Roman Catholics against such 

Protestantism ..................................................... 9 

Unanswerable arguments of the unbelievers against that Protest- 

antism ............................................................... 10 

If and his Apostles, by saving faith, understood Ortho- 

doxy, Christianity cannot be true .............................. 12 

Proofs that such was not Christ's and Apostles' meaning of faith 13 

True meaning of the word Faith ....................................... 14 

No judge of Orthodoxy appointed ................................... 13 

Union of Christians not dependent on unity of abstract doctrines 16 

Obvious means of ostahlishing unity of doctrine on ai 

points, if Christ had intended it, as the bond of his disciples 17 

What must men agree upon to be Christians ? ..................... 18 

What kind of men are excluded by St. Paul and St. John ...... 19, 20 

Acceptance of Chri.-l as .supreme religious guide, the or 

condition of Christian communion ............................. 21 

Natural sources of error connected with the only essential con- 

dition of Christian communion ................................ 

Paul's notion of // ;-->sition of part of 1st Cor. iii. ...... 29 




Theological writers who do not follow the scholastic phraseology, 

in constant danger of being misunderstood 26 

Passions which disturb the judgment of the generality of people 

attached to some theological system 27 

Main argument of Letter I. collectively stated 28 33 

Call of the Gospel made to the will 34 

Essential difference between such a call and one made upon the 
understanding, especially in relation to the interpretation 

of language 34, 35 

Unadulterated Christianity in perfect harmony with the nature 

of our moral being 36, 37 

The understanding not morally responsible 38 40 

Translation of 1st Cor. xiii. 12, corrected 40, note 

Duty of veracity 40 

Christians should not deceive each other as to the results of their 

respective perceptions of the sense of the Scriptures 41, 42 

Advantages which Christianity would derive from a general 

faithfulness to the duty of veracity 43, 44 

Unjustifiable methods of perpetuating certain interpretations of 

Scripture 44, 45 

The established orthodoxies of the Christian world prevent our 
knowing the sense of the Scripture according to a successive 
and comparative experience of the various generations of 

Christians 45, 46 

What the Church of Christ might be if its growth had not been 

perverted by Orthodoxy 47 

Orthodoxy has placed the world in a worse condition for peace 

and charity than it was before the Gospel 48, 49 

The reason of this explained 50 

Gospel liberty 5'J 

Mark xvi. 16, Matt. x. 14, 15, explained 53, note 

Paul's notions of Christian liberty 54 

Connection of the words SPIRIT and LIBERTY in the New Testa- 
ment 57, 58 


Necessity of keeping in mind what has been proved, that Heresy, 
in the usual sense of the word, cannot exist unless there 
exists a divinely-appointed j udge of controversies 60 

Difficulty of uprooting errors arising from misapplied texts of 

Scripture 60,61 



: of avoiding great mistakes in the interpretation of the 
New Testament 

The sriise of passages relating to speculative subjects cannot be 

obvious 62 

us notions inculcated in early life make them less obvious 
than they might be 62 

Certain passages of the New Testament recommended for the 

purpose of overcoming those mental habits 63 

'I chapter of 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians explained ... 64 66 

That chapter opposed to the notion of Orthodoxy as necessary to 

salvation 67 

The Scriptures were not appointed to be the rule of that pre- 
tended condition of salvation 68 72 

The Scriptures addressed to reason as it resides in man 73, 74 

A'eu.s-o/i, as derived from God, is the "light which lighteth every 

man that cometh into the world" 75 77 

The "carnal mind, which is enmity against God," is the oppo- 
site of reason 77 

"Let us not therefore judge one another" 79 


Scriptural signification of the word ////<*?/ 80 

Early causes of the misapplication of that word 81 

Christianity taken up by speculatists as a basis for their theories 82 84 
St. Paul's rivals belonged to the class of Judeo-philosophical 

speculatists 85 

Proof of the former assertion in the character of Apollos 86, 87 

Utility of abstract doctrines for the purpose of maintaining the 

self-importance of nominal Christian preachers 88 

A specimen of the early sources of speculative corruptions 89 

Some of the subsequent speculations, comparatively, not less 

absurd 90, 91 

The Gospel, without Orthodoxy, what ? True character and use 

of the New Testament 9294 

Power which Christian teachers derive from the supposed neces- 
sity of Orthodoxy 95 

The notion of fmri/nj Orthodoxy necessarily intolerant 96 

Steps by which the apostolical condemnation of dissension was 

transferred to dissent 97 

Historical traces of early toleration among Chri - 97 

Organized tyranny of the Bishops which soon followed 100 



Reason charged with sin among Protestants 102 

What can pride of reason be ? 103 105 

Why most languages want a word to express the virtuous feeling 

of which pride, in the common sense of that word, is an excess 106 

Pride of reason defined 107 

Pride of reason absurdly supposed to be a rebellion of reason 

against God 108 

Mistake in which that notion originates 108, 109 

Who are really guilty of pride of reason 110 

Pride of sight, an illustration Ill 

Those who identify their own explanations of Scripture with the 

word of God are guilty of pride of reason 113 

The spirit of Orthodoxy inseparable from pride of reason 114 

The Trinitarians and the Unitarians compared in regard to 

pride of reason 114 116 

Reluctance to believe what is directly against the first principles 

of reason, mistaken for pride 116, 117 

The New Testament compared with the Orthodox system in 

regard to reasonableness 117 121 

The Orthodox doctrines cannot be divested of their verbal mys- 

teriousness without the appearance of scorn 122 124 

Fallacy of comparing the mysteries of Orthodoxy and the myste- 
ries of Nature 125127 

Difference between mysteries to be explained and mysteries to 

be proved 128 

Dangerous position of orthodox Protestants, who cherish the root 

of Popery 120132 


I. On the omission of the article before the word Christ 133 

II. Extracts from Professor Norton's Statement 137 

III. A passage from Archdeacon Blackburne's Confessional ... 148 

IV. On the Old Testament as a supposed standard of Orthodoxy 154 


On 2nd John 7 11 159 

On the wonl 

On the spiritual assistance promised by Christ 163 

On a passage from Pension l*l 


Letter from Rev. Joseph Blanco White to Rev. Jamea Martineau 166 


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