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the very same argument which the offender uses to exculpate himself. This argumentum ad hominem, to me appears unanswerable; if so, the objector is driven out of another strong hold.

One difficulty still remains. It will be asked, how can this constitution of things be reconciled to the equity of the divine administration? Is it not unjust in the Deity to inflict even the miseries of vicious conduct upon subjects, whose depravities he not only foresaw, but which originate from the very arrangements which he himself has pre-ordained?

This objection is doubtless formidable; but it is as much in the province of the advocate for the uncontrouled freedom of the will to solve it, as of the Necessarian. The Supreme Being must have foreseen that this boasted freedom would be shamefully abused, in consequence of the state in which the agent has been placed by Divine appointment. It can only be fully solved, when we shall have obtained clear conceptions of the infinite good which shall arise from the permission of evil, under a Governor, all whose attributes are perfect.

that he cannot do wrong. The possible existence of such a plan is a complete confutation of an objection which is solely founded in an imaginary impossibility. I may add, however, that this supposition is founded, not upon a mere possibility, but upon a high degree of probability. It is a supposition consonant with reason, most honourable to all the relative attributes of God, most consoling to every man of every character. It is encouraging to the practice of every virtue; and the absolute certainty of a necessary degree of salutary chastisement will alarm offenders infinitely more than all the tremendous threats of eternal misery; from which every murderer, in the present day, is encouraged to expect an escape by a simple act of faith and the sudden contrition of a panic-struck mind. It could also be shewn, were this the place for enlargement, that the position has a better foundation in the Sacred Scriptures, than most of those speculative opinions or doctrines of inference which have at any time engaged the attention of polemical divines.

As this article is drawn out to a length which threatens to be tedious to many of your readers, I shall reserve my answer to your reviewer's remarks concerning my strictures upon Mr. Hume and his metaphysical writings, for a future Number.

SIR,

THOMAS COGAN.

of the Dissenters' Dead. Ringwood, November 24, 1817.

SEND for insertion, in your liberal

Let us, in the mean time, inquire in what this difficulty consists? Is it not founded on a supposition only, that no medium can possibly be found to reconcile the justice of God with those conceptions of the nature of justice which he himself has implanted in man? If, therefore, we be able to A Dorsetshire Clergyman's Treatment support the possibility of such a medium, the objection is removed. Will it not then be removed by the supposition, that all punishments and all sufferings, under the Supreme adnainistration, will finally prove corrective, that they will ultimately manifest themselves to be of the greatest benefit to the offender? No man in his senses will consider that to be an act of injustice which was the most proper, as it may be the only method of reclaiming him from his vices, forming his character, and preparing him for permanent well-being. Should it be alleged that this is merely a supposition, it is still upon a level with the supposition that no answer can possibly be given by the Necessarian to the assertion that, upon his principles, the Judge of all the earth cannot do right. On the contrary, it evinces

publication, an account of a method practised by a clergyman in Dorsetshire, to shew his aversion from and to check the growth of Dissenters in his parish; for the truth of which I can produce numerous testimonies. When a Dissenter is brought to be buried, this clergyman will not allow the corpse to be carried into the church; and, of course, he only reads that portion of the service which is ordered “to be spoken at the grave." Some weak-minded persons have been influenced by the apprehension that this slight might be shewn to their remains, and have been known to refrain from going to the meeting, while alive, lest, forsooth, they should

not be carried into the church when dead!! Some time ago this clergyman refused admission to a Dissenter, and would not read the former part of the burial service over the corpse. In consequence of which, a person of some spirit said to him, " Sir, as you will not read one part of the service, you shall not read the other." The clergyman retired, and the corpse was inhuned without any form of words being used. I have been requested, Mr. Editor, to ask, through the medium of your Work, whether a clergyman has the power to keep Dis. senters out of the church when they are taken to be buried, and to deprive the attendants of the benefit of hearing the finest part of the church funeral service? For my own part, I am persuaded, he has not; because the church and the yard are not the property of the parson or of the church people, but belong to the whole parish; and all who pay have a right to and an interest in them.

After the repeated insults which Dissenters have received from bigoted priests of the Established Church, I am only astonished that they should not dedicate some places of their own, either adjoining their temples of worship or elsewhere, as receptacles for their dead. In a former situation I introduced the practice, and buried the first person, that was ever deposited in our chapel-yard. And I would beg leave most respectfully to recommend to every congregation of Dissenters, to procure, if possible, a piece of land, and preserve it for their burying-place. It would spare them the pain of being insulted at a time when they can least bear it; and it would have a pleasing, soothing effect, if they would plant it with trees and shrubs, similar to the Dissenters' graveyard at Stourbridge, in which, taking the chapel and the whole premises together, are shewn more correct taste and dignified elegance than in any other place to which my observation has been extended. Indeed, the managers of that temple and its concerns, are far above my praise; and they are a fit example for imitation, to Dissenting trustees and rulers, all over the kingdom.

J. B. BRISTOWE.

Origin of Doubts on the Truth of Christianity.

SIR,

THE

January 2, 1818. HE question of Scepticus [XII. 591, seems to admit of an easy answer. In the first age of Christianity there was no doubt: for the Gnostic or phantomist heresy was rebuked in the writings of the apostle John: and we find that the believers in Christ, as the servant and messenger of the one true Gon, multiplied with astonishing rapidity in different regions, and that the faith of the many, notwithstanding the learned speculations of certain philosophical converts from the Heathens, continued one and the same for at least three centuries. The fondness for platonizing in Christianity, added to the desire of throwing a supposed glory round the cross of Jesus by exalting his nature into something super-human, gradually introduced metaphysical refinements and sophistications into the simple gospel of Christ: till it was finally overwhelmed beneath a mass of dark and intricate theology; which, receiving the improvements of successive councils, at length settled in the corrupt idolatry of the Romish church. The doubt, therefore, which Scepticus seems to regard as irreconcileable with clear and authentic evidence, arises from the great apostacy in the church of Christ; which, by darkening and confusing the written word, and perverting the traditions delivered from the apostles, perplexed the truth, and led to endless disputations, "confusion worse confounded," among which a plain understanding would find a difficulty in steering its way. The unchristian alliance of religion with secular authority, strengthened and perpetuated this dogmatic theology, which, contradicting the natural reason and being at variance with the plain declarations of scripture respecting ONE God, amazed and stupified the minds of men, and induced doubt in some, and in others infidelity. The struggling conjectures of strong thinkers, making their way through the mysteries of human invention to primitive truth, drew men into sects: authority pronounced this choice of modes of faith, suggested by the light of reason, heresy and schism; persecution was resorted to where argu

ment failed; and amidst these conflicts it is not surprising that some doubted and others disbelieved: or, that men who have not patience nor leisure to examine into the historical evidences of the primitive opinions, and critically to analyze the evangelical and apostolic writings, should remain bewildered or incredulous. This apostacy was clearly foreseen and pointed out by Paul: and Jesus himself emphatically foretold the divisions of religious sentiment which should arise even in one family a most remarkable and striking prophecy! But it is equally foretold that the truth will ultimately make itself manifest, and that doubt will be at an end.

SIR,

:

CORNELIUS.

Unitarianism at Geneva.

December 17, 1817.

WRITER in the last number of

the licentious doctrines of their fellowcitizen: notwithstanding an incorporation of several years with revolutionary France, they are still distinguished by the simplicity and purity of their manners-a distinction which it is to be hoped they will retain in spite of the crowds of idle Englishmen who have taken up their abode amongst them, and the efforts of orthodox missionaries to alienate the minds of the people from their moral and religious instructors. But what decidedly proves that the heresy of the Genevans has no connexion with French infidelity, is, that the same charge of abandoning Calvinism was made and to the same extent, in the middle of the last century, and before French infidelity had disclosed itself. Perhaps many of your readers may not be aware of the circumstances to which I allude,--the insertion of an

A the Christian Observer, (p. 112] article in the celebrated Encyclopé

animadverting upon the defection of the pastors and professors of Geneva from the doctrines of their patriarch Calvin, has thought proper to ascribe the change to the influence of Rousseau and his irreligious writings. I am not surprised that Calvinists should be desirous thus to confound a renun ciation of Calvinism with the rejection of Christianity, because the fact that a body of men, eminent for their talents and exemplary in their lives, pursuing scriptural truth by the investigation of the Bible, remote from the influence of the passions which controversy awakens, and if biassed at all, naturally disposed to lean to the doctrines handed down to them from their ancestors, should with one consent have renounced orthodoxy, is a testimony to the scriptural evidence of Anti-Calvinistic opinions not easy to be got over. Had the writer in the Christian Observer known any thing of the history of the church of Geneva, desirous as he is to represent infidelity as the root of its heresy, he would at least have made his charge more plausibly than by connecting it with the name of Rousseau, who has had no more to do with it than Thomas Paine with the Arianism of Mr. Peirce and his fellow-sufferers from the Western Inquisition. Both the principles and the manners of the people of Geneva shew how unfound ed is the charge of having embraced

die, charging the ministers of Geneva with Socinianism, and the steps which they took to vindicate themselves. I have therefore subjoined a translation of that part of the article Genève which relates to the faith of the clergy, and also their solemn protest against the imputation cast on them: the former is to be found in the 7th Volume of the folio edition of the Encyclopédie, the latter in the Mélanges de d'Alembert, Vol. III. p. 465.

The present state of Geneva in respect to religious opinion is certainly very singular, and the Unitariansof this country cannot but be deeply interested in what is now going forward there. For upwards of a century, probably, the great body of the clergy have gradually been renouncing the peculiarities of Calvinism, and confining their preaching and catechetical instruction to the Being and Perfections of God, the duty and expectations of men as made known in Revelation and confirmed by the promise of a future state. Yet it does not appear that they have ever gone beyond a negative Anti-Trinitarianism and Anti-Calvinism, and the result of the present attempts of our evangelical countrymen to bring the people back to the doctrine of the Institutions, is peculiarly interesting, as it may afford a test of the efficacy of that mode of opposing error, which many excellent persons think more safe and effectual

than a direct attack upon popular opinions. They would insist upon the Unity of God, without shewing its absolute inconsistency with every modification of Trinitarianism; they would set forth the benignity, the long suffering, the graciousness of our heavenly Father, without urging that no equivalent or atonement can be necessary to make such a Being ready to receive the penitent transgressor; they would insist upon the necessity of good works to salvation, without drawing the inference, which they might, respecting the Calvinistic doctrines of absolute decrees and the efficacy of faith alone. To others it seems that though this indirect method of insinuating truth into the mind may be well suited to men of leisure and reflection, it is not adapted to the generality, who do not and cannot pursue principles to consequences not pointed out, and to whom the whole benefit of a process of reasoning may be lost, if the last step be wanting which should connect it with the conclusion. They think that to teach truth but never to shew its inconsistency with popular error, is to dig the mine without laying the gunpowder. The result of the efforts which are now making to re-convert the people of Geneva, may help to decide which of these two methods of propagating truth is most deserving of our imitation. If they succeed in making Calvinism once more popular, in spite of the notorious renunciation of it by the clergy, and even force them, as the only means of preserving their influence, to resume it, we can hardly avoid the inference, that for truth to gain a firm footing, it must be taught controversially, Should they fail, it must be allowed that where circumstances permit the system of indirect attack to be pursued so long and uninterruptedly as it has been at Geneva, it accomplishes its object effectually at last.

There is one case indeed in which the ill success of Mr. Drummond and bis associates will prove nothing, and that is, if the clergy use their influence with the magistracy to prevent Calvinism from being taught within the territories of the republic, and proceed to censure and depose any of their own body who persist in preaching

it. The former is scarcely 'conceivable; I wish I could say that no symptom of the latter had appeared. Should they adopt this method of stifling discussion, however we may regret that such an instance of disregard to the right of private judgment should proceed from such a quarter, we may learn this useful lesson, that the spirit of all establishments is too nearly the same, and that the best principles in other respects, are not proof againstthe corrupting influence of the possession of power.

P.T.L.

Having described the situation, political constitution, &c., of Geneva, M. d'Alembert proceeds, "It now only remains that we should speak of the state of religion, and this is perhaps that part of our present article, in which the philosopher will take the strongest interest. Before we enter into this detail, we must request our readers to remember that we are historians and not polemics, that our articles of theology are designed as an antidote to the errors of which we are going to speak, and that no approbation is implied in giving an account of them. We refer the reader to the articles Eucharist, Hell, Faith, Christianity, to fortify them before-hand against what we are going to say." [The reader will be amused or disgusted with this flimsy affectation of a zeal for the Catholic doctrine, which was necessary to make the Encyclopédie pass in a country where Popery was still the established religion, though notoriously designed to bring Christianity itself into contempt.] "The ecclesiastical constitution of Geneva is purely Presbyterian; they have no bishops and still less canons; not that they disapprove of episcopacy; but they see no proof of its divine authority, and they think a poorer and humbler ministry better suited to a small republic. The ministers either pastors, answering to our parish clergy, or postulants, like our unbeneficed priests. Their salary does not exceed 1200 livres (£50. sterling) without any perquisites, and it is paid by the state, for the church possesses nothing. No minister is admitted without a rigid examination both of his morals and his literary attainments; nor till he is 24 years of age.The

are

clergy of Geneva are men of exemplary morals; they live in great mutual harmony, not disputing fiercely like those of other countries upon unintelligible dogmas, persecuting oue another and calling in the aid of the civil magistrate; yet they are far from being unanimous respecting those articles which are elsewhere deemed most essential in religion. Many of them no longer believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, of which Calvin, their leader, was so zealous a defender, and for denying which he brought Servetus to the stake. When this punishment, so little to the honour of their patriarch's charity and moderation, is mentioned to them, they do not undertake to justify it; they acknowledge that Calvin was in the wrong, and, if they are conversing with a Catholic, they oppose to it the abominable massacre of St. Bartholomew, which every good Frenchman would wish to efface from our annals with his blood; and the execution of John Huss, in which humanity and good faith were equally outraged, and by which the memory of the emperor Sigismund must be covered with everlasting infamy.

"Hell, which is one of the principal articles of our creed, has ceased to be so in that of many of the ministers of Geneva. According to them, it would be unjust to the Deity, so full of goodness and mercy, to suppose that he is capable of punishing our sins by an eternity of torment. They explain, with as little awkwardness as they may, the positive declarations of Scripture which are opposed to their doctrine, alleging that nothing should be taken literally which is at variance with humanity and reason. They believe in the existence of future punish. ments, but of limited duration. So that purgatory, one of the principal causes of the separation of the Protestants from the Romish Church, is now the only state of suffering after death, which many of them admit—a curious fact to be added to the history of the contradictions of mankind.

"In short, many of the Pastors of Geneva have no other religion than complete Socinianism, rejecting every thing which is called a mystery, and believing that the fundamental principle of true religion is to propose

nothing for our belief which is repugnant to reason. When they are pressed on the subject of the necessity of revetianity, many of them substitute the lation, an essential doctrine of Chrismilder term of utility, in which they shew their consistency at least, if not their orthodoxy.

such sentiments as these, may be ex"A body of clergy entertaining pected to be tolerant, and, in fact, those of Geneva are so to such a degree, as to be regarded with an evil eye by the ministers of other Reformed Churches.

without intending to approve in other It may further be said, points the religion of Geneva, that there are few countries in which the hostile to superstition. On the other theologians and ecclesiastics are more hand, as intolerance and superstition fewer complaints are heard at Geserve only to multiply unbelievers, of infidelity. This is not surprising : neva than elsewhere of the increase religion is reduced among them to little more than the worship of one God, except among the vulgar; respect for Jesus Christ and for the Scriptures are almost the only things Geneva from pure Deism." which distinguish the Christianity of

worship and discipline of the Church The rest of the article relates to the of Geneva, and has no immediate connexion with our subject. To the passage which I have translated, the following note is added in the 8vo. edition of the Encyclopédie, Lausanne and Berne, 1782.

bert has thrown out against Geneva
"The imputation which M. d'Alem-
is not new.
English ministers had complained on
As early as 1690, some
this subject to a synod convoked at
Amsterdam. That religious toleration,
which is a natural consequence of the
principles of the Reformation, may
have occasioned Socinianism to spring
February 1758, the Church of Geneva,
up in its bosom: but on the 10th of
by a solemn act, protested against the
doctrine which is imputed to it in
record its abhorrence of all Socinian
this article; and by thus putting upon
doctrines, we must suppose, that it
will repel for the future all suspicion
of the soundness of its faith."

point out any account of the transac-
If any reader of the Repository can

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