« PreviousContinue »
“ when the apostle John said, Christ is come in the flesh, I John iv. 2, Dr. Priestley takes the liberty to make this very material alteration, and says, that the apostle meant to say, Christ is come of the flesh.” The fact however is, that Dr, Priestley has said no such thing. In the passage to which Dr. Hawker alludes, I the word of is substituted instead of in, without any comment; and if we may believe Dr. Priestley, it was on his part quite unintentional. Dr. Horsley, indeed, has charged him with having altered the expression with a view to the improvement of his argument, to which Dr. Priestley makes the following reply, with which if Dr. Hawker had been acquainted, he would not have misrepresented him in the manner he has done. “I am sorry, Sir, that my printer, or my own mistake, should have given you all this trouble. I do assure you, I had no knowledge of having made a change in a single word in copying that text, nor should I have wished to have made any change at all in it; thinking that, as it now
Dr, Priestley's Ilistory of the Corruptions of Christianity,
Vol, i. p, 10,
ftands, it is quite as much for my purpose as that which you suppose I have purposely substituted in its place.”* Surely no person can be qualified to pass a judgment upon any controverted point, when he has read only the arguments on one side of the question.
And here the author cannot help observing that, though he is perfectly willing to rest the decision of the controversy solely on the testimony of scripture, being firmly persuaded that its uniform declarations can be explained only on unitarian principles, he is not of opinion with Dr. Hawker that the sentiments of the early christians make nothing either for or against the point in question. If it can be proved that they did not believe the doctrine of our Lord's deity, it could be only because there was nothing in the accounts which they received from the apostles to lead them to such a belief. And of these accounts they surely must be allowed to have been the best judges; having received them before there was a possibility of their being corrupted, and being much bet
* Dr, Triesley's Letters to Dr, Horsley, p. 11, 12.
ter acquainted with their phraseology than any christians now can be.
That Dr. Hawker, in the publication of his sermons, was influenced by the most upright motives, not a doubt can be entertained ; and his zeal in what he apprehends to be so good and important a cause, is certainly very commendable. It is also a pleafing circumstance, that upon the whole he has discovered so much liberality of mind, not connecting, as is too often the case, the favour of God with a belief only in his own opinion, but expressing his hope that the unintentional error of every humble and sincere mind will be pardoned.
While the ignorant, the indolent, and the interested, may despise, or affect to despise controversies of this nature, and represent them as too trilling to deserve the attention of mankind, to every real well-wisher to the christian cause, they will appear in a very interesting light. If Jesus Christ be God Most High, he ought to be acknowledged and adored as such ; if not, we ought to tremble
at at the idea of ascribing those attributes and works, and that worship to another, which is due to God only; who is jealous of his honour, and who has declared that he will not give his glory to another. .
It was this conviction of the importance of the question which, no doubt, induced Dr. Hawker to publish his sermons, and which now induces the author to animadvert upon them. He hopes that the same conviction will influence their respective readers to examine the subject with that seriousness and impartiality which its importance demands. Whatever effect may be produced upon their minds by the present publication, he will be able to console himself with the rectitude of his intentions, and with the persuafion, even should he be mistaken, that, in these enlightened times, it is impossible for the cause of truth to suffer from any well meant attempts which are made to promote it.