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which will be regretted by all those who, like the editor, are of opinion that he has treated this important point, rationally, scripturally, and what controvertists on this and on other theological subjects have too little considered-practically. The mere philosophical inquirer will probably be disappointed, because our author did not go out of his depth, by attempting to comprehend all the circumstances respecting an important, instructive and consolatory scripture doctrine, revealed, not for the purpose of speculation, but, of practice.
The Manuscript from which the DISSERTATions is printed, was fairly written from the author's copy, and has for many years been in the possession of my respected friend Mr. Coxe Feary, pastor of the Baptist church and congregation at Bluntisham, Huntingdonshire; who, to use his own language in a letter to the editor, “ always
esteemed the friendship of Mr. Robinson a fa“ vour, and at all times ranked amongst his warm
est admirers.” Mr. Feary is of opinion, that this piece was written by Mr. Robinson in the early part of his ministry; which opinion is confirmed by internal evidence. In the various quotations from the Sermons of Saurin, the reader is uniformly referred to the original in twelve vos lumes, which certainly would not have been the case, had the author published his translation, and which I have followed as superior to that in the manuscript alluded to. The first volume of the translation of Saurin was published in 1775.
The task of preparing these manuscripts for the press has not been without its difficulties; but notwithstanding the attention I have bestowed, the reader will evidently perceive the disadvantage of their not receiving the corrections of the author. All the SERMONS were preached extempore; and the best short hand writers are, I presume, liable to inaccuracies. The DISSERTATIONS it is evident were never corrected for the press: I have therefore endeavoured to discharge a debt of justice due to the memory of the author; and whatever deficiencies have attended my part, I can assure the reader, integrity has been my constant guide. I have not presumed to abridge, correct, or illustrate a single paragraph, which judging to the best of my abilities, would not have so far received the approbation of the author, had he been living, although his suggestions would doubtless have been considerable improvements : but whatever imperfections may be attributed to the editor, the volume now presented to the public contains treasures, which it would have been injustice to the memory of the author, and to the cause of truth, and virtue, to have suffered to rernain hidden.
The HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE PROTESTANT DISSENTING CHURCHES IN CAMBRIDGESHIRE, the latter part of which was written by the late Rev. Josiah Thompson, was sent by Mr. Robinson's venerable friend, the Rev. Dr. Toulmin of Birmingham, to the Monthly Repository, and inserted in the Supplementary number of the fifth volume of that respectable, and (alas.! that 60
very sew theological publications should deserve the epithet) impartial publication. The letters to the doctor were inserted in the fourth volume of the same work. The letters to the Rev. Dan Taylor were first inserted in the numbers of the General Baptist Repository for March and April 1808, and afterwards in the Monthly Repository. Under this article I am confident every reader will join with me in exceedingly regretting that a large collection of Mr. Robinson's letters, written to one of his most intimate friends, many of which, a competent judge assured me, were written on experimental and practical subjects of divinity, in the writer's best style, and which I was promised the perusal and the selection of, should have been mislaid, or lent to some one who has been so careless, or rather so unjust as not to return them. Every search and inquiry after them has hitherto proved fruitless.
I have to request the reader, whilst attending to the contents of this volume, to bear in mind the dates I have mentioned, as he may be the better enabled to judge of the unjust, and unchristian efforts of those persons who during the life time of the author slandered his character, and who since his death have insulted his memory. From a perusal of the following pages, and comparing them with his later writings, it is evident;—That the alteration of his opinions on certain human explanations of scripture doctrines were, comparatively speaking, trivial;--that in the zenith of his popularity even with those who arrogate to themselves
the appellation of orthodox, he preached and inculcated those supposed heresies for which he was so plentifully reviled, by the ministers of his own denomination more particularly ;-that during the period alluded to, he publicly declared his disbelief of the commonly received doctrine of the Trinity ;-that he thought with the reformers LuTHER and CALVIN, that “the word Trinity was
a barbarous, popish word,” which had produced much evil in the christian church; and—that he “ever held," as he expresses himself in a letter to Mr. Dan Taylor,* the opinion of the innocency of involuntary mental error; a truth, I will venture to affirm, which marks the distinguishing characteristic of the righteous judge of all the earth, from the weak, arbitrary, merciless despot. On the unworthy treatment our author met with in his life time, I have enlarged in the Memoirs prefixed to his Miscellaneous Works: of the slander cast on his writings since his death, I think it right to mention one instance, as it was vented in the most public manner before a numerous congregation at the Baptist association in the county of Essex. The preacher after warning his audience against heresy, which he informed then was widely spreading amongst the Baptists, not only in that but other districts ;-after misrepresenting and insulting the minister and congregation in whose pulpit he was unworthily officiating, --so unwor. thily as to compel the former, immediately on the conclusion of the discourse, to animadvert, al
* See page 301.
though in the most candid manner on the unfounded charges ;-the preacher had the effrontery to add, that this spread of heresy was to be attributed at least in part, “ to the industry with " which the poison of the late Mr. Robinson's wri“tings had been circulated !” As this calumniator is well known to be as miserably deficient in abilities both natural and acquired, as he is ignorant of the nature and spirit of genuine christianity, the exposure of his name would be making him of too much consequence. It is hoped, however, that the occurrence related will operate as a warning to our dissenting associations, how they appoint preachers on public occasions, who are so little calculated to do honour to their respective denominations, or to the christian ministry.*
* About the same time, the preacher above mentioned marle a must indecent attack on the character of a neighbouring minister, with whom he had been in the habits of friendship, in whose pulpit he was engaged in carrying on a lecture with him, and also in a neighbouring village. With all the arrogance of a petty dissenting pope, he sent bis friend word, that on account of “his awful departure from the truth," he renounced all connection with him, and would no longer preach in his pulpit; nor in the other pulpit so long as he (his associate hitherio) was engaged. The consequence was, that the persons who had the property of the place of worship, in which the neighbouring lecture was carried on, were weak enough to resign their own liberty, to exclude the minister who had endured much persecution from a high church party, and who was the principal instrument in raising the congregation, and to make his brother hitherto, lord bishop of the barn and the pulpit! Should it be inquired—What were the dreadful heresies which excited this furious zeal? They were, rea