Page images

people, at least will takely yet they confidently that, whilst on the one hand he was no Trinitarian, so on the other hand he is not to be ranked amongst the modern Unitarians. Whether Mr. Richards was right or wrong in the maintenance of these sentiments, it is not my province to determine. He was, no doubt, firmly and conscientiously persuaded, that the views he had formed were those of the writers of the New Testament. And it is only justice to add, that by him they were held in perfect charity towards all other professors of Christianity*.

Upon his return to Lynn in the latter end of 1801, or beginning of 1802, MR. RICHARDS soon ceased preaching to his old fock. Not that he ever received from them a regular dismission. He, however, upon the death of his worthy friend the Rev. Mr. Warner, the Presbyterian minister, officiated in the morning at his chapel; but this was of short duration. MR. RICHARDS soon found that there was a degree of coolness in some of his old friends : but alas ! this was not the only circumstance which attended it. Rumour was busy to propagate the strangest reports. But a Letter, written by him to a minister of the county of Norfolk, shall be introduced.

* It may be here worthy of remark, that the Rev. Andrew Fuller, in his Gospel its own Witness, has this acknowledgment respecting the atonement, or doctrine of reconciliation :-“ If we say a way is opened by the death of Christ for the free and consistent exercise of mercy in all the methods wbich sovereign wisdom saw fit to adopta perhaps we shall include every material idea which the SCRIPTUREs give us of that important event."

Its concluding paragraph depicts the arts of a sullen and implacable bigotry. The whole will be read with interest by every honest and independent mind :


Dec. 7, 1804. I have had thoughts for some years of writing Memoirs of W. Kiffin, Roger Williams, T. Grantham, and some other worthy characters among the Baptists of the seventeenth century, but my ardour for such an undertaking, I confess, is considerably abated through the strange and unaccountable behaviour of my religious friends, chiefly those of this county. Among some, Sandemanianism only was laid to my charge (this is an old imputation)-in other places I have been stigmatized with Fullerism (than which nothing this side hell can be worse in the estimation of some good folks)-in other places again Arminianism is laid to my charge, and that with them is the worst thing in the world—in other places I am said to be a Socinian, which with some people is synonimous with the perfection of wickedness. By others I am charged with having renounced my, Baptist principles, and become, I know not whether, Pædobaptist or Catabaptist. Some have represented me as a Deist; and others again, even in this very town, say I am a downright Atheist! But amidst all these various and contradictory imputations, I have scarce ever been asked if there were any truth in these reports-a certain minister never asked me, nor any of his


at leastrilluaamulyapthey confidenny affirmed every where that those imputations (that of Socinianism especially) were true. Even Mr. W. never asked me, which I wonder at the more, considering his usual open, and upright way of acting, if he really did believe it.

If I had been at Nh, so much and so long respected as you would have me believe, it is rather odd that all my friends there, without exception, should think it not worth their while to ask me the question before they credited the report. I think I should have done so had I been in their places. The few who have asked me, I have told in much the same words as I used in my letter to you, that I was conscious of no change of sentiments, but what might be expected in one that had been in the habit of thinking a good deal, and of thinking us freely and unfettered as he could. From this sentence you infer that some change of opinion has really taken place. It is possible there may, but I really cannot tell what it is, or in what I have lately changed. It must be chiefly, I think, in a liberality of mind or charitableness of disposition towards those who differ from me! I hope there is in this no great criminality. I think I may safely say, that no very great change of any kind has taken place in my religious sentiments since I knew you. You must know, surely, that I did not use to be an Athanasian, or even a Waterlandian. Such views of the Dejty always appeared to me too tritheistical ! I have been used to think, and do so still, that there

is a particular meaning in such words as these of the Apostles, To us there is but one GOD THE FATHER; but I never could say or think with the Socinians, that Jesus Christ is no more than a man like ourselves. I believe, indeed, that he is a man, but I also believe that he is Emmanuel, God with us that that Man is Jehovah's glorious temple, wherein he manifests himself to us-that in him God hath pitched his tent or tabernacle amongst us—that He is in the form of Godthe image of the invisible Godman object of divine worship, so that we should honour the Son as we honour the Fatherthat all the fullness 'of the Godhead dwells in him bodily, or substantially. In short, I believe every thing of the dignity and glory of CHRIST's character that does not divide the Deity or land in Tritheism, as I cannot but think the Athanasian or Waterlandian scheme does.

While I am ready to allow that Christ hath a name which is above every name—that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, that he is above all, God blessed for ever, and all things are put under him-I cannot help remembering, at the same time, the Apostle's intimation, that when it is said all things are put under him, it is manifest that He Is Excepted which put all things under him! In short, I know not that my views on this head are materially different from what they were ten or twelve years ago, when I had the honour of being your humble correspondent on this same subject,

I think you did not deem me a heretic then—if you should now-I hope you will still allow me to be AN HONEST MAN!

The report alluded to arose from a Welsh minister, whom I had detected appealing to heaven in behalf of a known falsehood. He never forgave me; and a Socinian pamphlet appearing in Wales without a name, he assured a shipmaster of this town, that I was THE AUTHOR, and transmitted Extracts here out of it, though I can safely say that I had no more hand in it, or concern with it, directly or indirectly, than you had, and to this very moment know nothing of its contents but what is reported on the authority of that minister, which you may suppose is of no great weight with me. phlet is well known to be the production of an eminent Presbyterian minister lately deceased, and father of Mr. Rees of Ipswich. But surely I have not been used fairly in this business*.

I am, dear Sir,
Yours, &c.


The pam

* My friend, Dr. Thomas Rees, now minister of St. Thomas Chapel, Southwark, obligingly informs me that the Pamphlet was not his Father's, but being circulated by the Unitarian Society for distributing books, it was by his Father translated into the Welsh tongue! He confirms also the statement of Mr. Richards, relative to the Welsh minister, by a translation of a part of a piece written by Mr. R. on the occasion.

« PreviousContinue »