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Frend, Fellow and Tutor of Jesus College, Cambridge, who, in 1793, stated that he knew only one who declared he was • not an Unitarian,' or, W. Frend, Esq. Actuary of the Rock, who in 1809 affirms or insinuates that the greater part of Europe' are polytheists ? ...
After mentioning that the moderns have raised a virgin to the celestial throne,' our author adds, . They to whom the books of revelation are open, have grafted upon them the worship of VARIOUS persons, instead of paying their undivided homage to Him alone who speaks, and it is done, who commands, and it is established.'
Is this candid ? is it honourable ? is it true? Let Mr. Frend's conscience answer the questions. · Mr. Frend afterwards, however, falls into a train of argumentation rather more consistent with the proper object of his book ; - Does any one blame the holy Psalmist, when in that beautiful ode he takes occasion from the great works of nature in the heavens, to shew the wonders of the law? And shall a Christian then, when he is.con. templating the same heavens, be blind to that greater light, which Chris. tianity has brought into the world ? It is the same God, whose powerful word operates both in the natural and the moral world : and does it become us to forget him, when we are tracing the paths of immense bodics, moving in the endless regions of space? The fallen glories of merely.an earthly temple, excited the devout feelings of the exiled Jew; and shall. not we, to whom astronomy opens an approach to a far more splendid temple, be raised to any pious feelings in describing it? Shall all religious notions be excluded, when we are treating of the grandest subjects in . nature? No! we have not such dull and slavish minds. We will not drive religion into a corner. She shall accompany us in our walks ; shall raise up her eyes with us to the heavens; and, when we are contemplating their glories, she shall increase the awful impressions by the best feelings which true devotion can inspire.
• But I will not pursue this theme any farther at present.' pp. 6,7. · Aud, unfortunately, he can hardly be said to resume it again; except perhaps at p. 152, where however the effusions of gratitude' soon give way to the well known extract from Paradise Lost, in which Milton, so pathetically bewails his own. blindness. But all this, it is manifest, is no apology for introducing Socinian sentiments into a book of astronomy. servations would be read with the greater attention as they came from one who was not an Unitarian,' meaning obviously to say, one who was not a Socinian,' but, out of respect, making use of the term which would be least unpleasant to the feelings of that class of men. This is not the first nor the last time that a term politely conceded by the opponents of Socinianism, has been unblushingly turned against them : the « Bar. rister;" who acquired some notoriety a few months ago, has ventured the same trick with almost equal effrontery.
The amusements for the month of February .commence with observations on the distinction between active and passive minds.'
• Without it, you will be liable to run continually into error; and, as the Persians feigned that the world was governed by two principles, the one good and the other eyil, so are there at the present day not wanting men, who would, if they could, keep the world in leading-strings, and prevent, as much as possible, the mind from emerging from that sloth and torpor, into which, from a variety of circumstances, it may have been plunged.' p. 25. . We are not able to trace any logical connection between our author's as and so in this passage, and almost wonder why the allusion was introduced, except as a covert attack on the Christian doctrine of apostate spirits, which seems again to be represented as a fiction' at p. 61; but it is plain that his object, on the whole, is to shew that he has been as ill treated by the critics, as Galileo was by the inquisitors; he, however, is superior to Galileo, as he has not been brought to a recantation. We humbly apprehend that the inference is not fair. As far as our personal knowledge extends, critics nei. ther are, nor wish to be inquisitors. What might be the intention of those corps in which Mr. F. may have served, we are not prepared to say.
About two hundred years ago, the belief that the Earth moves round the Sun, was far from being so general as in the present days. It had been maintained by a few eminent men, and in Italy Galileo taught this doctrine, and established it on arguments not easily to be opposed. He lived in a popish country, and an alarm was excited. “That a man, holding an opinion, which is not held by one out of ten thousand of those that are called Christians throughout all the world, should dare to tell all the rest that they are in a gross error, is a strain of self-conceito which, if not corrected, will probably bring, as self-conceit usually does, its own punishment." This was the language of the papists, though I have taken the words from a book published so late as last year, by men, who call themselves Protestants. The papists had more power in their hands than these Protestants, and to cure Galileo they cast him into the dungeons of the inquisition, where he was kept for a considerable time, to ruminate on his errors.' pp. 26, 27. i Sentence was passed on the philosopher, and then
We may easily conceive the situation of Galileo, before such ignorant and self-willed judges. To appeal from their authority was in rain, to argue with them impossible, He was clearly guilty of the unpardonable crime of self.conceit, and of daring to tell the world, they were in an error. But his judges brought no arguments against him, and many in those days approved of their proceedings. We will consider hereafter what effect the process had on the mind of Galileo ; and, without fear of similar inquisitors, examine the state of the heavenly bo. dies, determining their motions from that of the earth. pp. 29, 30.
All this is very specious; and the statement, so far as relates to Galileo, is lamentably true : but we apprehend the two cases are not at all analogous. Galileo was condemned and punished by the Inquisitors for holding a philosophical opinion; and the criminality of his judges consisted in stepping out of their province as theologians, in estimating the truth of a philosophical opinion by principles which could not possibly apply to it, and in declaring that to be heretical and dangerous to morality which had nothing to do with ecclesiastical affairs, and which could have no influence on a man's moral conduct; Mr. Frend has been censured, not punished, and we rejoice it is not possible to punish him for introducing disputable 'theological points in a work professedly philosophical, for delivering them in so doginatical a manner as to delude the unwary, and especially the young, for whom his book is intended, into an opinion of their truth, and because these disputed points relate to nothing less than the object of worship, and have been proved* to have a most pernicious influence upon moral conduct, upon our opinion of the Supreme Being, and upon our devotional habits. Galileo's judges were evtirely ignorant of the sube ject respecting which they presumed to interfere : Mr. Frend's censurers have paid as much attention to the subject which has called forth their animadversions, as he has; and are full as likely to be right. The ones in ten thousand who agreed with Galileo, were philosophers who were conversant in the subject; while the ten thousand who disagreed from them, had been favoured with no opportunities of ascertaining whether his opinions were true or false, because books containing the correct philosophical notions were in very few hands, and even of those but a very small proportion possessed the knowledge requisite to understand what they read: In the case of Mr. Frend, the ones who agree with him in his theological notions have in general paid much less attention to the subject than the ten thousands' who differ from him; while those ten thousands' found their opinions upon the plain, obvious, and unforced meaning of writings in every person's hands,--writings delivered down to us for the purpose of teaching those opinions, not merely. to critics and learned men, but to the poor, and therefore delivered with such perspicuity that 'the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein, provided he read with a sincere desire to know the truth that the truth may make hiin free' from the yoke of sin, and with an humble
* See Mr. Fuller's unanswerable work on the Moral Tendency of the Calvinistic and Socinian Systems.
reliance upon divine illuinination. If the ones who agree with Mr. Frend are in the wrong, they serve to prove that there still remain some wbo refuse to honour the Son.even as they honour the Father:' if the ten thousand who differ from bim are in the wrong, the wisdom and foreknowledge of God would be impeached; since it would thence follow, that the provisions made to destroy idolatry by the diffusion of Christianity have failed and must fail,-because the more that belief of the Christian system prevails which is derived from the Bible by plain men of unsophisticated minds (necessarily the majority), the more a system of idolatry will prevail, which will be the more difficult to destroy, as it is the more refined, and (paradoxical as it must appear on Mr. Fi's hypothesis) more calculated to produce holiness and devotion. * In the March Amusements,' Mr. F. gives an account of Galileo's recantation, and observes, What a lamentable picture this presents to us, of human nature! Our readers will not fail to notice the contrast, between him who was weak enough to confess that innocent, demonstrable truths, were dangerous errors, and him who is bold enough to advance dangerous errors as positively as though they were innocent demonstrable truths.
Previous to the description of astronomical appearances in April, our author has, (as he says of Milton,) at p. 61 of "his unrivalled composition, introduced a character in whose mouth he places (not a clarinet, or tobacco-pipe, but] sentiments worthy to be impressed on every mind, and particularly on those who are apt to be led away by the multitude to swerve froin their duty. This is no other than the seraph Abdiel, whose character is illustrated by several quotations, and who is introduced here as a kind of prototype of Mr. F.
The triumph of the rebels [says Mr. F.] may easily be conceived. What a self-conceited wretch must not he be, who could differ in opi. nion from so many millions of millions, of whom many were his superiors in rank and knowledge. “ The presumption and impudence of his declaration are on a par,” said the whole host; yet there was a degree of magnanimity in them, in letting him pass unhurt, instead of seizing the heretick, and compelling him to abjure his errors.' p. 62. ** As I have before observed, the mere consideration of number capnot have any weight in the balance of truth. If it had, we must give up the Christian religion : for of the number of men on the earth, that of believers is very small and I grant, with the utmost readiness, though not without extreme concern for the erring thousands, that not one in ten thousand holds those opinions for which I am censured: yet Newton, Locke, and Hartley, among the moderns of our own country, preceded me in these opinions ; and, in the society of just men made perfect, will be found, hereafter, myriads, who glory in the same doctrine. What I is the mass of the unthinking, the prejudiced, the interested, to have weight? Are they to be regarded, who have no standard for their opinions, but the fashion of the country, the tales of their nurses, the ipse dixits of their priests ? No! against such a multitude I present the sacred shield of truth recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Let every thing be weighed by the balance of the sanctuary, not by the fallible decrees or decisions of men, who, just emerging from the regions of darkness, had the vanity to lay down rules for future generations. Neither Abdiel's nor Galileo's opinions are to be estimated by the numbers of the apostate host, or the tools of an inquisition : nor can I submit for one moment to be deterred by the myriads of similar opponents.” pp. 63, 64,
So spake the cherub ; and his grave rebuke,
Virtue in her own shape how lovely! The eloquence of our modern Abdiel has deeply affected the sentiments of our mouths,' but it-has not entirely run away with our judgements. We must beg to doubt the cor. rectness of his assertions, in regard to Newton and Hartley, at least, whoin our author honours with a place among the so.. cinians. Newton, it is well known, was vexed with Whiston for classing him among Arians; whence we may conclude that in his opinion Arianism did not agree with genuine Christianity. It is not to be supposed he could think very highly of the more degraded and mutilated system of Socinus. As to Hartley, the best way to shew that his opinions, whatever. else they might be, were not of the same class as those of Mr. Frend and the modern Socinians, will be to extract a passage or two from bis Observations on Man. .
" As to the doctrine of the satisfaction of Christ, it appears that he has done all for us that ONE BEING CAN do for another; and that it would be a most unjustifiable and narrow way of expressing ourselves, to confine the benefits received from Christ to that of mere example."--Harto . ley on Man, vol. ii. p. 357.
« Christ our Saviour is sent from heaven, God manifest in the flesh, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life : that, though our sins be as scarlet, they should by him, by means of his sufferings, and our faith, be made as white as wool; and the great punish. ment, which must otherwise have been inflicted upon us, be averted. Faith then in Christ the righteous will supply the place of that righteous. ness and sinless perfection to which we cannot attain.” p. 408. ,
« The righteousness and sufferings of Christ, with our faith in them, . are necessary to save us from sins, to enable us to perform our imperfect righteousness. Faith is proposed by the Scriptures as the means appointed by God for rendering imperfect righteousness equivalent, in his sight, to perfect, and even of transforming it into perfect, as soon as we are freed from that body of Aesh and death, which wars against the law of our minds.” p. 410.