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it is, that the Hindoos admit of no converts, nor are they themselves hardly ever converted. From generation to generation, the same families have followed, and will continue to follow, one uniform line of life." Thus, we see, that their prejudices admit of no improvement, neither in habit nor intellect. Let us learn to avoid this evil, and attend to the Apostolic injunction, " Be not children in understanding, but in understanding be men"
But not only is prejudice the great barrier to improvement, as exemplified in the case of the Hindoos; but if we will look around us, among the nations called Christian, we will see, that thousands, and tens of thousands, have been the bloody victims of prejudice. Look at the awful persecutions and devastations that have over-run tl»e world, and, by which, some countries have been almost desolated; and, all these, we will see, may be traced, in some measure, to prejudice. In particular, since the time that Constantine incorporated the Church with the State (when religious prejudices and secular interest became gradually blended together), christianity has been corrupted and perverted; and persecution has been the disgrace of the christian name. The author, therefore, stated it as his opinion, which he still fearlessly asserts, that "until all national establishments of christianity—all human creeds, and standards, and confessions of faith, are done away with, and the Bible alone, without note or comment, is regarded as the only standard of faith and practice—until men, with this standard in their hands, and the light of truth and reason in their hearts, shall think and act for themselves; and, by these divine tests, shall try every action and sentiment, unbiased by the opinions of any man, or set of men, however respectable—until this is the case, people must remain under the sway of blind prejudice, of which persecution, and almost every evil, are the natural consequences."
When we thus take a view of, and must acknowledge, the horrid evils of which prejudice is the parent; and when we consider it, as it retards the march of human intellect, how ought reason to blush and be ashamed to own its accursed sway? The author is fully of opinion, as he stated in that work, "that the millennial period, so anxiously wished for, will only take place when prejudice is banished from the earth, and men's minds are under the influence, and solely guided by SCRIPTURE, TRUTH, and REASON. Then shall all human standards, and institutions, and precedents, be regarded only as stepping-stones tofarther•improvement; but never be looked upon as absolute latcs, or models, whtreby to reyulate our conduct and solve our difficulties?
These were the opinions and sentiments avowed by the author, and under the influence of which he wrote the "Reflections" already alluded to, which led to the following correspondence—and hence, the subsequent Essays, &c. naturally succeeded:—
From W W to the Author.
Having read your work lately published upon "Nature, Christianity, and Providence, with the Reflections, &c." I am inclined, from a sense of duty, to request that a correspondence may be established between us.
I, at present, occupy the situation formerly filled by the late Mr
N D , having been appointed thereto by the church and
congregation which he was instrumental in forming, and am the Editor of a small work published fortnightly, entitled, " The Gospel Communicator," circulated for the purpose of propagating those amiable views of the character and oeconomy of the Diety, to which you profess attachment, one volume of which will be complete in about a fortnight, a copy of which I shall feel happy in transmitting to you, upon the reception of your answer.
I have no doubt but that I could have disposed of a number of your " Reflections," bad I- been possessed of them; and if you have any on hand, you can send a few with the price marked.
For the purpose of utility in publishing, I have recently commenced the Printing business upon a small scale, we have also published a Hymn Book, &c.; but I forbear to enlarge until I receive a reply to this letter, in which I request to know whether or not the Theological Reviewers reviewed your work; and if so, how I may procure their remarks. Wishing you the comfort and consolation which the genuine gospel so richly affords,—I am,
From the Author to W W ,
I was duly favoured with your letter of the 1st instant, in which you mention having seen my small publication on "Nature, Christianity and Providence," and request me to send you a few copies, which you say you think you can dispose of. I accordingly send you twenty copies; and request you will put down my name as a subscriber for "The Gospel Communicator,"—send also a copy of the Hymn Book you mention. You wish to know whether the Theological Reviewers have reviewed my work? They have. On the scientific part they bestow much praise. On the "Reflections" they admit "there is much that we approve of," and their disapproval, in short, appears to be chiefly directed against a Mr. Vaughan, and Dr. JEstlen, with whom I am sorry they should identify me, especially as they affirm that Dr. Estlen denies the divinity of our Saviour, than which nothing could be more opposite to my real sentiments. You request, Sir, that a correspondence may be established between us. In this, I dare say, I would be the gainer. But, whatever benefit I might derive from your pen, you would have a poor correspondent of me—my literary acquirements are very humble indeed. I never turned my attention to universal restitution, which forms a part of my publication, till a pamphlet, on that subject, accidentally fell into my hands. Although that doctrine is evidently taught in scripture, I say that I never seriously thought upon it; which careless inattention to the light of truth, I can only ascribe to the influence of education, and early prejudices. I have long, however, considered it as the express and unequivocal doctrine of the Bible (a glorious and cheering doctrine to ruined sinners), that the redemption by Jesus Christ is, or will be, ultimately greater than the evil introduced by the fall of our first parents, (Romans, v., 15—18;) but how to make it so, according to what are called the orthodox, or the prevailing opinions and systems, I found the utmost difficulty. I have been accustomed, in general, to think for myself, in reading the scriptures; taking at same time, with caution, the benefit of such opinions of others, as appeared to me worthy of approbation. The longer that I live, however, under this exercise, I am the more persuaded
that the great hulk of mankind, are really more guided hy the prevailing notions, opinions, and prejudices of the times, than hy their own judgement, and by the standard of truth and reason. As a proof of this, r.nd as one instance only of a thousand that might be given, I would just advert to the ordinance of baptism. That those who believe in Jesus Christ should be baptised (upon their profession of his name) few will attempt to deny. This is evident and plain, both from the express words of him who instituted the ordinance—from the preaching of the Apostles—and from the practice of the first churches. This is surely enough for us, and ought, therefore, to be obeyed. How is it, then, that we find this neglected, and people presenting their unconscious infants to this institution, when we have not one sentence in all the New Testament, either of'precept nor example, for infant baptism, or rather infant sprinkling? To me the answer appears now so plain and obvious, that I have often wondered why I was so long the dupe of a custom, unauthorised by scripture. In the same manner, though not altogether with the same degree of persuasion, do I now begin to look on the great prevalence of opinion in favour of never-ending misery. And when I can, in some measure, divest myself of the common prejudices, and look at the scriptures, as a whole, I think I can perceive in them a harmony and beauty; and also a consistency and amiableness in the character and oeconomy of the Deity, which it would be impossible to admit, except on the plan of universal redemption. But, as I am only enquiring after truth, I must beware of taking any thing for granted on which there may yet hang the shadow of a doubt, and shall decline speaking with decision. I hope I shall be aided in my enquiries by the publication you are ( •/ to send me. *'"
From W W to tlie Author.
Your epistle is an acquisition for which I return thanks to Him who, in the dispensations of his providence and grace, causes his light to shine on the evil and the good, and his blessings to descend on the just and the unjust.
You have, herewith, the Gospel Communicator; and the Hymn
Bonk; and, with respect to the former, I mu9t say, that when you conceive so very humbly of your " literary acquirements," I am almost afraid that mine will prove disgusting. The leading article in the next volume will be Strictures on the Shorter Catechism, deduced in sundry discourses, delivered in G .
With respect to baptism, we make that a matter of forbearance. I consider what is denominated iufant baptism, as a solemn dedication of children to God, and I do not consider the immersion of adults to be that one baptism, which alone is efficacious; because' that is a baptism, not into water, but into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hence, the only fault, that I think, I perceive in the denomination called Baptists, is, that they rest too much in, or rather hold too tenacious to, ordinances.
I rejoice in your sentiments respecting the Deity of Jesus Christ, and think your reviewer has not done you justice. He seems to be aware, that to affix a stigma upon your sentiments, he must identify you with something opprobrious—this is certainly uncandid.
I shall not begin to insist on particulars, because, the Gospel Communicator will inform you of many things respecting our state, as a sect of worshiping christians ; and I shall be happy to receive your remarks upon a future occasion.— I am, Deal. Sir, Yours, in the bond of christain affection,
ft, . From the Author to W W .
Dear Sir, ,
I duly received your esteemed letter of the 21st July, together with the books, which, so far as I have read, I can say that I like. But since the receipt of them, I have been much from home, so that I have hardly yet read the one half of the "Gospel Communicator." I admire Mr. Winchester's Sermon, and like your own discourses very much. The proceedings of the orthodox party, in excommunicating Mrs. T for holding the amiable sentiment of the universality of the atonement, are quite in character :— But to return to your letter.
You say, in regard to the baptism of infants, that you consider