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Letter from Mr. Armstrong to Mr. Gurney, the Quaker,
upon a Trinitarian Discourse of his at Taunton. SIR,
Taunton, May 19, 1826. By the reqnest of many of your readers I send you the following letter, which was handed to Mr. J. J. Gurney, oft Norwich, in consequence of his delivering a discourse, the principal part of which appeared to me directed against the religious sentiments of Unitarian Christians.
In conclusion he endeavoured to impress on the minds of his numerous audience, that the Friends were believers in the generally-received Orthodox notions of the Trinity. But Clarkson, their historian, and many other competent judges, are, I believe, of a different opinion. Indeed, I have long had the satisfaction of being on terms of intimacy with several intelligent members of their society, and have attended almost every meeting (when the public have been invited) for the last ten years, but I never before heard them defend the doctrine of the Trinity either in public or in private. I ought, perhaps, to add, that I received a long and friendly reply from Mr. Gurney, which of course I ought not to publish without obtaining his consent ; in this he declines entering into a controversy on the subject, but refers me to his Essays on the Evidences and Doctrines of Christianity. This work, which is strictly Athanasian, I hope will soon be noticed by your respectable correspondent N. in the Monthly Repository.
Taunton, April 23, 1826. I have this evening attended public worship at the Friends' meeting, and I trust that I have listened with seriousness and attention to your discourse on some of the doctrines of Christianity, in which I have long felt a lively interest ; but as I differ from some of your conclusions, and as you appear to me not well acquainted with the real sentiments of Unitarians, against whom some of your remarks were evidently directed, I hope you will excuse the liberty I have taken in thus addressing yon.
In the first place I beg to assure you that we do not set up our reason above revelation ; if the doctrine of the Trinity, or the two natures of Christ, were clearly revealed in scripture, however incomprehensible or contradictory to reason, we should in these, as in the doctrine of a resurrection, bow with submission,
Nor is the appellation mere man, which you repeated more than once, applicable to our views of the Saviour : we believe in the divinity of his mission, but not in his Deity. Nay, I will go further and say, that in scriptural language he may be called a god, because the Apostle John says, that those were called gods to whom the word of God came. Moses was called a god, Exodus vii. 1:
See," says Jehovah, " I have made thee a god, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” We believe of Christ that he was chosen from among his brethren by his Father and our Father, by his God and our God; that he was greater than Moses or any other prophet; that he performed miracles which a mere man, without the especial assistance of God, could not perform. Still, as we cannot conceive of two Gods, we say with the Apostle, " that he was a man approved of God, by signs and miracles, which God did by him." I wish, Sir, that you could see on paper
the various passages of Scripture which you quoted; how opposite and contradictory! Sometimes you represented Christ' as the Eternal * Son, and then as born of a virgin. Sometimes you represented him as God over all, Creator of the world and all things therein; and then you said that God had highly exalted him, and given him a name above every other name, &c. You represented him as all-wise, and yet he declared, when speaking of the day of judgment, * Of that day knoweth. no man, not even the Son, nor the angels; but the Father only.” You represented him as possessing all power, both in heaven and on earth; and yet, when solicited by the mother that her two sons might sit, the one on his right hand and the other on his left in bis kingdom, he says, “ To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” I might go on, but I hope I bave said sufficient to recall your serious attention to the subject. That there is but one God, that he created Christ, and gave liim all the power which he possessed, is iny most deliberate conviction : this seems
“To speak of the Eternal Sonship of Christ,” says Dr. Adam Clarke, (a learned Trinitarian in the Methodist connexion,) “ is nonsense ; for if he is, a Sou he must have had a beginning, and therefore was not eternal.”
accordant with the whole tenor of Scripture. The Trini-
God either made Christ, or else he did not;
If not, he's a God, and then we have two." If Christ was really God, I cannot account for the fact, that after our Lord's ascension, after the day of Pentecost, when one should naturally suppose that the doctrine of the two natures, the Trinity and the like opinions, which are now adored as mysteries, and a belief in which is so often insisted upon as essential to salvation--I say, I cannot account for it, that Luke and the other apostles, who wrote after this time, should have expressed themselves in a mapner so ambiguous, and in general so contradictory to the alleged fact.
I believe that it is generally admitted by all parties, that the disciples of our Lord considered that he was a man, and as to his nature nothing more than man; that one betrayed him, another denied him, and all forsook him and fled. Now it appears to me that if, in after time, it had been revealed to them that Christ was what he is now represented to be, they would have been so struck with amazement, that the beginning, the middle, and the end of all their discourses would have been, that Jesus of Nazareth, whom we always considered as a man like ourselves, was no other than the very and eternal God, the Maker of heaven and earth. But how different is the case! They continue to speak of him as a man appointed by God, as distinct from God. “ There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the inan Christ Jesus."
My time, Sir, will not permit me to refer to the stress which you laid on the phrases "Emmanuel, God with us ;" “ In the beginning was the word,” &c.; but I take the liberty to enclose a work of Dr. Carpenter's, in which you will learn our views of these and many similar passages. At some future time you can return it to my friend Rebecca Russell, at Priscilla Gurney's, Bath, or to Mr. John Young, of this town. Soliciting your pardon for this intrusion, I subscribe myself, Sir, Yours in Christian affection,
Lines on a Tomb-stone.
June 6, 1826. The following beautiful lines were copied, a few weeks since, from a tomb-stone in Brockdish Churchyard, Norfolk, raised to the memory of an amiable girl, aged ten years. Should you deem them worthy of a place in the forthcoming Number of your valuable little work, I think they cannot fail of proving highly interesting to your numerous readers.
A CONSTANT READER.
A Story for the Enemies of Free Trade and of the Im-'
provement of Mechanics. [From “ Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, by J. B. Fraser,
author of a Tour in the Himālā Mountains." P. 190. 4to. 1825. £3. 35.]
It is not long ago since a native of Fars succeeded in making certain improvements in pottery, so far as to manufacture a species of porcelain resembling tolerable China
His fame quickly spread, and soon reached the court. When the king heard it he dispatched an order for the man to repair directly to Terhān to make china for the Shah. The poor fellow was seized with consternation at this order, for he knew that, not only should he have to work for the Shah, but for all his officers and courtiers; while so far from being paid, he would probably not receive enough to keep body and soul together. He accordingly went to court, not to make china, but mustering every thing he could raise for a bribe to the minister, he besought him to report to the king that he was not the man that made the china; that the real potter had run away nobody kuew where, and that he hiinself was thus erroneously placed in restraint, and prayed that he might obtain his release. The minister soon sent him his discharge, and the man left the capital for his own country, fervently vowing never to make a bit of china, or attempting improvement of any sort as long as he lived. It is a common practice thus to kidnap the best workmen in all trades for the use of the court and great men of the provinces, who seldom or never pay for such matters. Thus every one rather avoids the reputation of excellence in any but the commonest trades; and thus the conduct of the govers ment and its officers strikes directly at the root of all improvement and useful invention.
Letter of Mr. Wright's, preparatory to his First Mis
sionary Visit to Scotland. SIR, It will no doubt be recollected by many of the readers of the Rev. R. Wright's Missionary Life and Labours, that when about to take his mission into Scotland, fearing lest the Scotch people should have their expectation too much raised before they saw and heard him, and that his appearance, voice and talents would not be such as they anticipated, and that their disappointment would prove injurious to the cause, he wrote a letter to inform them what kind of person they were to expect to find him. (Pp. 265, 266.) This letter I have often wished to see, and having lately been favoured with a copy of it, cannot deny myself the pleasure of transmitting it to you, being persuaded that the readers of your useful Miscellany will be as much gratified with the perusal of it as I was.
Wisbeach, June 30, 1809. Being appointed by the Committee of the Unitarian Fund to visit our northern brethren as a missionary, I shall, if God permit, begin the journey on Monday next. Having several places to visit in my way through England, it will be near a fortnight after I set out before I can reach Glasgow. The first Sunday in July I have engaged to spend at Chester, where Mr. Lyons now resides. Then I think of proceeding to Liverpool, and of taking coach from thence to glasgow. I hope to arrive at Glasgow on Friday the 14th or Saturday the 15th of July. I intend spending eight Lord's days in Scotland.
In your country I am a total stranger, and have no personal acquaintance there, unless it be one person at