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May the God whom you have served from childhood to age, gladden the evening of your days with “ the light of his countenance!”—and, when the hour shall arrive,-may it yet be distant!that shall close the period of your residence on earth, receive
in peace and triumph, to that celestial home, which has so long been the goal of your hopes and desires, where the sorrows of time shall give place to the unmingled joys of eternity!
every sentiment of filial reverence and
Dear and honoured Sir,
Your dutiful Son,
and humble Servant,
This Reply has swelled in its progress'' to a degree which I did not anticipate." There are few things, indeed, to which the phrase « crescit eundo?llis more strongly applicable, than to a defensive work in theological controversy:--and, besides the extension of the work itself, various engagements and circumstances, in the detail of which the public could have no interest, have contributed to delay its appearance so unexpectedly long. My wish being to make it a final answer; and, as far as possible, to preclude the necessity," on my part, of any prolongation of the discussion, I resolved, some time after having begun, to allow myself freer scope than I had originally intended; conceiving that it would not be justice, either to myself or to my subject, to omit illustrations or reasonings, which might, in any material degree, contribute to the elucidation and settlement of the questions at issue. An assertion may be made in a single sentence, which it may require pages to refute; while the brevity and imposing confidence with which it is made, may increase, instead of lessening, the necessity for its refutation. But the ground on which I would chiefly rest, in vindicating this amplitude of discussion, is, the paramount importance of the questions themselves, and the infinite magnitude of the consequences dependent upon their just decision; _a consideration, surely, which ought to be sufficient to secure an attentive examination to arguments even much more extended.
Not that I consider the perusal and examination of complicated, critical disquisitions as necessary to enable any reader to resolve these questions for himself, in an enlightened and satisfactory manner," from the word of God. To use: an expression of my opponent, in his Sermon on the dyty and manner of deciding religious controversies,-- On quest 6tions so important and fundamental, the language of revela&tion cannot be ambiguous:" and neither, on the same prins ciples
, can it be dark, and difficult to be understood. «0 To the poor the gospel is preached.”—and the holy Scriptures, like the preaching of our Lord and his apostles, sáre adapted, in their phraseology, inot to the leamed few, but to the und learned many; not to the wise and prudent,", but to $6 babes."? iThe way of salvation, as might, a priori, have been presumed, is made known there with so much plainness, that "the way-faring man, though a fool, shall not err there, $ in.!"-But, when attempts are made, by the pride of phi. losophy, misnamed theology, to pervert these: Scriptures from their obvious and simple meaning, and to make the common people jealous and distrustful, on the most momentous subjects, of that translation of the Bible, in which they have been accustomed to confide, as a faithful exhibition of the mind of God;when Unitarian geographers endeavour, by the discovery of false readings, false renderings, and false interpretations, to lay down a map of the way to heaven, entirely different from the one which is there so distinctly delineated: it becomes an imperious duty, rightly to appreciate the pretensions of those, who are thus confident “ that they themselves are guides of the blind, lights of them 66 who are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, and teach“ers of babes;” to expose, as far as we are able, the unsoundness of their specious criticisms, and the fallacy of their high-minded reasonings; that, by this means, the faith of the stedfast may be confirmed, the confidence of the wavering restored, and those reclaimed from their wanderings, who may, unhappily, have been induced to forsake “ the good 6 and the right way.”
The last of the “ Discourses on the principal points of 66 the Socinian Controversy,” closed in the following terms: “ If it shall be found that these objects,” (namely, the glory of God, and the eternal interests of men) “ which are in their “ nature inseparable, have been, in the smallest degree, pro66 moted; that the faith of God's people has been strengthen65 ed, or the minds of the wavering settled;—that, in any *one instance, the gainsayer has been convinced, or the
“ careless sinner awakened, and turned from the error “ of his way ;'-I shall consider my reward as obtained, “ and my labour as infinitely more than compensated.”It has afforded me sincere gratification, I trust from higher and purer principles than those of a merely selfish nature, to learn, from different quarters, that my labour has not, in these respects, been entirely fruitless.--Amongst the accounts of this description, not the least pleasing has been from the other side of the Atlantic. In America, particular. ly in the state of Massachussets, the same controversy haš, of late, been exciting unusual attention. During its progress, a copy of the “Discourses” having been carried out from this country by an American minister, a large edition was published in Boston ; which, I am given to hope, has not been without some small service to the cause of Christ. It was followed, on the part of the Unitarians, by the republication of Mr. Yates's “Vindication," with Notes, and an Appendix.-The letters conveying these notices, (which were from eminent ministers of the gospel, although personally strangers to myself, and which pleasingly indicate the effect of the “one faith” in knitting the hearts of strangers, however distant, in the bonds of Christian affection)--were accompanied with copies of the various publications which had then issued from the American press, in the course of the recent controversy. As this volume is likely to reach the same quarter, it may not be improper to say, that at first I felt inclined to take some notice,