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prove the means of salvation to many sinners. This is nothing unusual; for when Satan sees any of the servants of God uncommonly industrious in sowing the good seed of the kingdom, it stirs him up to new zeal in sowing tares.
It was in the time of Mr. Whitefield that a new sect began to arise in New England, which has since borne the name of Dr. Samuel Hopkins, who with Doctors Bellamy, West, Spring and Emmons may be considered as having founded it. They have ingeniously attempted to blend Calvinism and Arminianism. On the subject of atonement the Hopkinsians more nearly agree with the Arminians than with any other denomination; for both say it is indefinite, and universal in its own nature, and in the extent of its design. The Arminians say that it brings all mankind into a salvable state; and the Hopkinians that it opens a door for the salvation of all mankind; which amounts to the same thing: but after the full atonement is made for all, the former sus. pend the salvation of sinners upon the foreseen, self determination of some to accept of proffered grace; and the latter upon the sovereign pleasure of God to apply the atonement not to a covenant people for whom it was made, but to the objects of a particular election. That Christ was legally punished at all, is denied by the Hopkinsians; who deem the sufferings of the Son of God a sovereign display of the divine hatred against sin, made in a glorious, innocent, guiltless, divine individual: in consequence of which God can be discovered to be the enemy of sin, even while he passes by the transgressions of the elect, without ever punishing them in any one. At present this is the prevailing doctrine among all denominations in New England, who believe in any atonement by Jesus Christ, which the Socinians do not. It is but justice, however, to say, that a great portion of the clergymen who receive this Hopkinsian doctrine of atonement, reject the other pe. culiarities of the system, and either agree with the pious Arminians, or the Calvinists, in very many other tenets. We conceive, nevertheless, that while a man may be pious, and do much good by teaching the truth so far as he holds it, yet no man can be a consistent Calvinist and deny a definite, plenary, legal satis. faction to divine justice for all the sins of those who shall be received to heaven. It is the inconsistency of their system, who in many respects are sound in the faith, that has facilitated the introduction of Arianism, Socinianism, and Deism, into Massachusetts, and some other places in our country. We recollect to have heard the Rev. Joseph S. Buckminster of Battle Street church in Boston, say, at a time when his opinions appeared to be in a state of fluctuation, “that to be consistent he must either be a thorough Calvinist of the old school, or else renounce Calvinism altoger her.” Many men of extensive erudition like himself have felt the force of this sentiment, and it needs not the spirit of prophecy to foretel, that nothing short of Calvinistic preaching will ever recover the thinking men of Boston from Socinianism. The Hopkinsian Calvinism as it is called, may gain some proselytes, on account of some evangelical doctrines that are mingled with the heterogeneous mass, but the system of the ancient fathers of New England must be revived there, or the present lamented heresy must continue to prevail; unless God should adopt some method of working, novel in the history of his gracious providence, for the revival of his work.
Could the clergy of Connecticut be corrected in their views of the atonement, they would then be thorough Calvinists at once; for with the exception of a few admirers of Dr. Emmons, they are now Calvinists, so far as it is possible they should be, while they consider the Son of God as having obeyed and died for those who shall experience the justice of God in their own personal sufferings in hell.
Mr. Willson is a Covenanter; and it is very natural for him to suppose, that the introduction of the versification of the Psalms by Dr. Watts into the eastern churches, “was setting open the foodgates of error. “ With the Psalms of Watts, his other writings were introduced into New England. Men who had been ac
customed to sing only divinely inspired songs, when they began to sing those of Watts, would naturally attach something like the notion of inspiration to his cha. racter, as thousands have since done, who assert that he was as much inspired as David. Hence they would be ready to embrace every opinion which they found in his writings.” This is imagination and not history; and we must imagine too, that instead of David, Mr. W. should have written Rouse, or Tate and Brady, or Sternhold and Hopkins, or Dwighi: for surely no Protestant of common sense would say Watts was as much inspired as David. We have heard of some Covenanters who were reputed to hold that David was the author of Rouse's poetical, (or shall we say prosaic?) paraphrase; but really Mr. Willson's anecdote is more incredible than this. The writings of Dr. Watts have not been so generally read as our author supposes; and yet we cannot deny that Dr. Watts' treatise on the pre-existence of the human soul of our Saviour has wrought much mischief. It has enabled the Socinians to claim that good man as one of their antitrinitarian party. It was the book which first turned the head of the Rev. John Sherman of Mansfield in Connecticut; for we well remember to have seen it in his hand, and to have heard him comment upon it, when he first published his departure from the faith, to the Clerical Association of which he was a member, and attempted to convince them that Dr. Watts is correct in his Sabel. lian notions. We wish the pernicious consequences of that treatise had terminated here, but a member of congress assured us, that in January of the present year, the Rev. Mr. Allison, chaplain to congress, preached the doctrine that Christ's human soul was created before his body, before any other creature, to the legislature of the nation, and referred to Dr. Watts as the father of the doctrine. Now most men know, that the members of congress in general study theology very little; and yet sometimes talk much about it among their religious constituents; and it is to be feared many will remember to carry home and circulate this heresy, while they forget every thing else which Mr. Allison may have preached during the whole session. He told a member of congress that he had entertained this notion for twenty years. It is to be regretted that he did not publish it before, that had he been then elected chaplain, the refutation of his distinguishing error might have gone with him to Washington. If our life is spared, we will review this treatise of Dr. Watts, at some conve. nient time; and therefore now resume the thread of Mr. Willson's history.
The arrival of Dr. Joseph Priestley in this country hc considers a matter of considerable interest.
“ When he arrived in Philadelphia, the celebrity which he had acquired as a philosopher, chiefly as a chemist, procured him much attention, from many distinguished men; but the Presbyterian clergy did not recognize him as a minister of Christ Jesus; nor indeed did those of any of the Christian societies in the city. They were aware of his heretical opinions, and were resolved to shew him no countenance. Though he was introduced to many of the clergy, yet none of them invited him into their pulpits. In the Philadelphia Academy there is a room appropriated to divine worship on the sabbath, for any denomination of Christians, who have no place of their own. In this Dr. Priestley was permitted to deliver his lectures, and was heard by crowded audiences, whom curiosity to hear a man of such celebrity drew together. Those opinions which he knew were obnoxious, were kept out of view till the last lecture which he delivered, in which he unfolded, without disguise, his Socinian heresies. Some of the clergy of the city occasionally heard these lectures.
“ He formed an acquaintance with Dr. Ewing, and on one sabbath went with him to his church in Market street. The doctor introduced Priestley into his pew, without giving him an invitation into his pulpit, as was his custom, with those gentlemen whom he recognized as brethren in the ministry. The preachers too attacked, with great faithfulness, the heresies which Priestley was endeavouring to disseminate. He and his Socinian brethren were greatly offended with these insults, as they called them, and with the opposition made to his creed.
They represented him as a persecuted apostle. Little did they consider that he was endeavouring to destroy every thing, which the great body of Christians, from the beginning of the world, had held most sacred, that he was attempting to pluck the crown from the head of the Messiah, whom they adored, and to wrest from them all those hopes of salvation, which were founded upon his atoning sacrifice. Though much respect was shewn to the philosophical foreigner as a man of science, in both New-York and Philadelphia, yet as his heresies rendered his very name unsavory to nearly all Christians, his situation was far from being comfortable. He indeed professed no anxiety to disseminate his principles, but as we learn from his life, and from some of his letters published since his death, it was the governing principle of all his actions, after he came to America. Among the common people he made little progress, but they were not the persons whom he was chiefly solicitous to gain over in the first instance. His object was the great. Among the distinguished persons with whom he became intimate was Mr. John Adams, at that time vicepresident of the United States; who was his constant hearer while in Philadelphia,* and who it is said received the sacrament at his hands. Mr. Adams was no doubt honest in his preference of Dr. Priestley's ministry, on account of the creed which he held. Long before that period he was called an Arminian. Though we have no decisive testimony that Mr. Adams became a convert to the Socinian creed, yet from the honesty of his character, and the preference which he gave to Priestley's ministry, hardly a shadow of doubt exists that he did. In 1796, the first volume of Priestley's Evidences of revealed religion was published, and dedicated to the vice-president. To proselyte a president was in his view almost to convert a nation. In 1797, Mr. Adams was inaugurated president of the United States; and thus there is good reason to believe that the creed of Socinus was elevated to the highest official rank in the republic.”
“ Soon after Mr. Adams's elevation to the presidential chair, there was a commissioner to be appointed to Great Britain for the settlement of some important concerns. Before that time Thomas Cooper, Esq., Dr. Priestley's friend, had arrived from Europe. Mr. Cooper was his theological disciple and of the same political creed. Priestley wrote to President Adams, a letter, recommending Cooper as a fit person to be appointed on the embassy to England. The president with some temper, rejected the proposition, declaring that there were Americans capable of filling such stations. Dr. Priestley now perceived that Mr. Adams did not suit his purpose; that Pennsylvania was a powerful state, whose weight thrown into an opposite scale, would probably change the administration; and that he could perhaps produce more effect upon a person of another
* Priestley's Life, Vol. II. p. 760.