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Besides, from your account, one would imagine that, as you declare yourself no lover of damnatory clauses, this good bishop, whose writings you so much recommend, was no more a friend to them than yourself, but that he might be the meekest and most candid of all Christians. To give a specimen, therefore, of this most excellent prelate's writings, I shall produce a few passages from the preface of this particular work, from which a judgment may be formed of the object and spirit of the whole.
Giving a reason for this publication, he says, "There have appeared a few years ago in England many writings of wicked men who have laboured with all their might to overturn the capital article of our creed, on which the hinge of Christianity certainly turns, namely, concerning the Son of God, born of God the Father himself before all ages, very God of very God, by whom all things were made, who for our salvation was incarnate, and made man; some of them impudently defending the Arian, and some the Samosatenian blasphemy."
He then quotes with approbation, a passage from Zanchius, in which he calls the writings of the Unitarians idle ravings, " inepta deliria ;" and afterwards speaking of Episcopius and others, who, though orthodox themselves, pleaded for some moderation towards these erring brethren, he calls it "an attempt to reconcile Christ and Belial;" and adds, "These men, professing to hold and believe with the Catholics, (in which I wish they were sincere,) in the truth of the article concerning the co-essential Son of God, yet do not acknowledge the necessity of it." Then, with respect to their maintaining that the Christian fathers had the same moderation, he says, " It is throwing the greatest reproach upon the doctors, bishops, confessors, and martyrs of the best ages; as if in defending the greatest of all the articles of the Christian religion, they were lukewarm, yea, alsolutely cold;whereas all those churches with one voice and judgment condemned the Arian and Socinian doctrine, as a most pernicious and deadly heresy."
"Prodiere in Anglia nostra, intra paucos abhinc annos, scripta non pauca hominum nefariorum qui dogma fidei nostræ kupiwtatov, in quo certe Christianismi cardo vertitur (de filio nempe Dei ante omnia secula ex ipso Deo patre nato, vero Deo de vero Deo, per quem omnia condita fuere, nostræ salutis causa incarnato, homineque facto) labefactare atque evertere omui ope adnisi sunt; eorum aliis Arianam, aliis vero Samosatenianam blasphemiam impudentur propugnantibus,'
"Hi homines, cum veritatem articuli de co-essentiali Dei filio cum Catholicis se tenere atque credere profiteantur (utinam sincerè) ejusdem tamen necessitatem minime agnoscunt." (P.)
"Adeoque consequenter optimorum, seculorum doctoribus, episcopis, con
He further says that, as in his former works he had defended the Nicene Creed itself, so in this, "he maintains and defends the anathema annexed to it, viz. those who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, that he did not exist before he was born, and that he was made out of nothing, or out of any other hypostasis or substance, that he was either created, or subject to change or alteration, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes."*
He concludes the Preface with saying, "This judgment of the universal church of Christ, in all times, all pious and sober-minded persons will reverence; and therefore will be upon their guard against, and with all their souls abhor, the God-denying heresy of both the Samosatenians and the Arians."†
I need not, surely, go any further into a work of which this is the Preface. am tempted, however, to quote the form in which the Bishop closes this work, viz., "To the most holy and undivided Trinity, to God the Father, and to his co-essential and co-eternal Word and Son, for our salvation made incarnate, together with the Holy Spirit the comforter, be all praise, honour, and glory, from angels and men, for ever and ever, Amen."+
Can you read all this, Sir, and not acknowledge that Bishop Bull was a friend to damnatory clauses; and if you be not so yourself, as you say you are not, how came you to recommend the writings of this fiery bishop so unreservedly as you have done? And, indeed, how can you be a true member of that church which gives its sanction to these damnatory clauses? Those damnatory clauses are as much an article of faith in the Church of England, as any of the thirty-nine, and he that does not bona fide maintain them, ought, in my opinion, to quit her communion. You, Sir,
fessoribus, martyribus, gravissimam imposuerit contumeliam; quasi scilicet, in tutando capite religionis christianæ omnium maximo, tepidi, imo prorsus frigidi fuissent. Quam ecclesiæ illæ omnes ut hæresin perniciosissimam ac Savary popor consentienti calculo ac judicio damnaverunt." (P.)
* "In hoc opusculo avadeμatioμv symbolo isto annexum tuemur ac defendimus" τες δε λεγοντας ην ποτε ότι ουκ ην, και πριν γενηθηναι ουκ ην, και εξ ουκ οντων εγενετο, η εξ έτερας υποςάσεως η ουσιας φασκοντας είναι, η κτιςον, η τρεπτον, η αλλοίωτον τον υίον το Θεε, τετες αναθεματίζει ἡ καθολική και αποςολικη εκκλησια. (Ρ.) See Biog. Brit. II. p. 704.
"Hoc judicium ecclesiæ Christi universalis omnium temporum reverebuntur certe pii ac sobrii omnes, adeoque ab apnσile Samosatenianorum simul et Arianorum hæresi cavebunt sibi totoque animo abhorrebunt." (P.)
"Sanctissimæ atque individuæ Trinitati, Deo patri, co-essentiali et coæterno Verbo ac Filio, nostræ salutis causa incarnato, una cum Spiritu sancto paracleto, ab angelis et hominibus tribuatur laus, honos, et gloria omnis in secula seculorum, Amen." (P.)
therefore, either do, or ought to believe, that myself, and all
The first time that Bishop Bull's writings were recommended to me, was by a Popish priest, in whose company I passed several days at Brussels, who took serious pains to make me a Roman Catholic, and afterwards wrote to me very earnestly on the subject. But paying too little attention to the recommendation, I was unacquainted with the real character and value of this writer, till it was enforced by the Archdeacon of St. Alban's. '
I am, &c.
Of the Light in which the Dissenters are considered by the Archdeacon of St. Alban's, and of the Penalties to which the Unitarians among them are subject.
THOUGH you profess yourself to be "no lover of damnatory clauses,† and now and then are pleased to drop some obliging expressions of respect for Dissenters, it is, however, with a considerable mixture of contempt, and with an intimation that we Unitarian Dissenters (and all Unitarians, we both agree, either are, or ought to be Dissenters in this country) are subject to many pains and penalties, as the laws now stand. With what view you threw out those hints, and so particularly recite those acts of Parliament, tọ the penalties of which we are obnoxious, is best known to yourself, and time will perhaps discover.
I had complained of the contempt with which you mentioned the places of worship among Dissenters, when you called them conventicles.+ In your present publication, after something of an apology for using that word, which I think awkward enough, you do not perhaps much mend the matter, by saying, "I could have wished that the use of it had been considered as one of the mere archaisms of my style, in which nothing of insult was intended. I must,
* In 1774. See Vol. I., Memoirs, 116.
1 See Appendix, No. X.
however, declare, that it would give me particular pleasure to receive conviction that Mr. Lindsey's Meeting-house, and your own, are not more emphatically conventicles in your own sense, that is, in the worst sense of the word. From personal respect for you and him, I should be happy to be assured that you stand not within the danger of the 35th of Eliz. cap. i., or the 17th Ch. II. cap. ii. To the penalties of which, and of other statutes, I must take the liberty to tell you, you are abnoxious, notwithstanding the late act of the 19th of his present Majesty in favour of Dissenters, unless at the quarter sessions of the peace for the county where you live, you have made a certain declaration, which is required by that act; instead of the subscription to articles required by the former acts of toleration. I am sorry, Sir, to inform you, that I find no entry of Mr. Lindsey's declaration in the office of the clerk of the peace, either for the county of Middlesex, or the city of Westminster. Could I make the same inquiry concerning you, (which the distance of your residence prevents,) I fear I should have the mortification to find that you have, no more than your friend, complied with the laws, from which you claim protection. A report prevails, that you both object to the declaration from conscientious scruples. A very sufficient excuse for not making it; but no excuse at all for doing what the law allows not to be done, except upon the express condition that the declaration be previously made." You afterwards say, "Your Meeting-house and his, contrary to your imagination, are illegal, unknown to the laws, and unprotected by them.”*
Here, Sir, it is you, and not we, who are mistaken: both our conventicles, you will find, are protected, though we ourselves are not. The consequence, therefore, of any prosecution of me (if any person, taking the hint from you, should proceed to it) would be, the depriving of the Dis senters, belonging to the New-Meeting at Birmingham, of one of their present pastors; but the Meeting-House would remain under the protection of the law, as much as any of your parish churches, which owe all their consideration to the same law; and would not prevent their choosing another minister, who, if he had more caution than myself, might defy your malice; but the congregation that I serve would think themselves disgraced by a minister of that timid character.
• Letters, pp. 167, 169. (P.) Tracts, pp. 288-290. See supra, p. 113.
As you were so very desirous of getting information concerning my conduct in this business, I wonder that you should not have been able to find some person in this neighbourhood, like-minded with yourself, to make the inquiry for you. However, I will save you and your friends that trouble, and perhaps some small expense, by informing you, that as I never made the subscription required of all Dissenters before the late act, so neither have I made the declaration which that act makes necessary to my legal toleration, nor have I at present any intention to do it.
I shall further inform you and our readers, that when it was first proposed in the general body of Dissenting Ministers in or near London, (of which, as I then resided pretty much in London, I was a member,) whether we should desire our friends in parliament to promote the passing of the bill or not, I was one of those who voted for our continuing in our former situation; but we were over-ruled by a very great majority. The reason for my voting in this manner was, I believe, peculiar to myself. I observed, that I had not, on my own account, any objection to make the declaration proposed in that bill, with the exception of a single circumstance which I then mentioned, and which we all agreed had better be omitted, and which accordingly was struck out before the bill passed into a law; but I said, that I perceived that many persons, for whom I had the greatest respect, had their serious scruples, and such as it was probable they would not be able to overcome; and I thought that the passing of the law, and especially a general compliance with it, would make them more noticed, and perhaps bring them. into trouble; whereas, the requisitions of the former law were so unreasonable, that though few, if any of us, had complied with them, it did not appear that any body would ever molest us on that account. For the same reason that I did not then wish for the law to pass, I do not now choose unnecessarily to avail myself of it.
But with respect to myself and many others, the thing is of little consequence. There are laws enow in this country, from the penalties of which the late act would not exempt us. In this happy land of religious liberty and toleration, I am liable, at any time, and without any offence of a civil nature, to have all my goods confiscated, and to be imprisoned for life. But though I think these laws most
In 1772. See Vol. X. pp. 492, 499.
It is generally understood that Unitarians, since 1813, have been released by Mr. Smith's Bill from such liability. Unbelievers, who have the zeal and honest