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sent over to him in Holland, that he might revise them. It was thought, no doubt, that it would prove a valuable supplement to the original work of Hammond.
Le Clerc entertained a high opinion of the theological literature of England, as it then was, and often expressed himself to that purpose. In the letter above mentioned, he says, "There is no man, it may be, in the continent, that has a greater value for the English clergy, and other learned men of that nation, than I, or that speaks or writes oftener in their praise." And in his "Parrhasiana," he expresses himself thus forcibly on the same subject. "To say the truth, Mr. L. C. attributes more weight to the judgment of that free and learned nation, than to that of all the slavish and lazy theologians of all the rest of Europe."
Sentiments of this kind, and still more his bold and rational religious opinions, and expositions of Scrip ture, drew down upon him the heavy animadversions and anathemas of many of the theologians on the continent. Whenever Le Clerc came out, and it was pretty often, with a sensible book, or a free opinion, he was sure to have the Philistines upon him; and the great watch word and war-cry was, that he was a Socinian. In England, too, he was not without his adversaries. He quotes, in the letter already alluded to, an anonymous English pamphlet, in which are some severe censures on his writings, and among them the old charge of Socinianism. His answer, distinguished for its spirit, and its good sense, we give with pleasure to our readers.]
The cause I have undertaken to defend, both in all my other printed works, and my additions to Dr. Hammond, is no other than the cause of Christ and
his apostles; whose authority alone, in matters of religion, all protestants think is to be regarded and followed, if we may judge of their opinion by the confessions they subscribe; of which mind I always was and ever shall be.
I value the authority of Socinus, or any other uninspired persons whatever, destitute of reason, no more than Dr. Hammond's or the Council of Trent's. When I think they agree with Christ and his apostles, I assent to them; and if not, I differ from them. I never read all Socinus' works, nor like his peculiar opinions, so far as I know them, any more than other men's, whom I judge to be in an error. Nay, I have sometimes confuted them, and as I see occasion, shall confute more of them; not with a design to make his followers odious, or to gain the favour of any mortal, but to vindicate truth.
However, I am not of their mind, who because men err in some things, that are otherwise obedient to the precepts of the gospel, and look for the coming of Christ to judge the quick and the dead, after the resurrection, by the rule of the gospel, and reward the good and punish the wicked; and think not that they can attain salvation by any other means, than the faith they have in Christ, as one sent from God; which faith alone they hope by the mercy of God, to have imputed to them for righteousness; I am not, I say, of their mind, that sentence such men to everlasting flames, into which they would, if they were able, immediately hurry them, without the least mercy; and in the mean time decree in a cruel manner to persecute them with execrations, and ecclesiastical and civil punishments. I have not so learned Christ; I do not find the apos
tles ever acted in that manner; and whilst they are silent, and do not lead the way by their example, I had rather incur the danger of being too merciful, than expose myself to the charge of the least cruelty and barbarity. God will much sooner forgive them that heartily love him, that is, who keep his commandments, and especially that great and so often repeated one of loving our neighbour, their excessive charity, if any charity can be excessive towards men fearing God and Christ, though in some things erroneous; than that horrible inhumanity, with which they are frequently defamed, and persecuted, and forced to endure all manner of punishments, only because they profess themselves not to believe, what they think Christ or his apostles never revealed. I had infinitely rather stand in the number of the merciful, before the tribunal of the great Judge, than in the company of persecutors, whatever their riches or honours are in this world. I had rather be in the meanwhile evil spoken of, and suspected of errors, which I am as far from as can be, than appear by any means to countenance such barbarity.
Nor am I of their mind, who oppose those that differ from them with any kind of arguments, after the example of bad lawyers, who deny all that their adversaries affirm, and affirm all they deny. Truth, in my judgment, can never be well defended, but by truth. Let others contend with passion, and affirm what it is the interest of their party should seem true, or deny, not that which they are sure is false, but which they think it necessary should appear so, that their side may prevail; as for me, I will always say what I think true, and shall never fear any danger to the Christian
religion from truth. This was heretofore the mind of a great man, for whom Dr. Hammond had always a very high value, whom he often transcribed, whom he defended against the calumnies of his adversaries, and in whose praise he every where speaks. All know very well that I describe Hugo Grotius, who, whenever he thought Socinus or Crellius truly interpreted any place of scripture, made no scruple to follow them; though he knew at the same time that some ill-minded men reviled him for it. Wherefore Dr. Hammond has justly more than once pleaded his cause, as every one, that has read over the second volume of his works, knows.
I am not at all for diminishing Dr. Hammond's reputation, as I have already sufficiently declared. I do not deny but he was a pious and learned man; nay, if I had not those thoughts of him, I would never have undertaken to translate one line of his writings. But my animadversions neither need his piety nor learning to make them be read, if they are valuable; and if they are not, the learning and piety of Dr. Hammond will not procure me the reader's favour; on the contrary, if I am any where mistaken, the comparing them with Dr. Hammond, will but render my mistakes the more visible.
But Socinian doctrines, says my censurer, will be imbibed with the true. I answer, I have before denied that follow Socinus as my guide; but I do not understand why this censurer should be so much afraid lest the true doctrines asserted by Dr. Hammond should not be effectual to prevent the ill impressions, that false and Socinian interpretations may make upon readers' minds. If I were to reason after his man
ner, I should say, that this censurer is a close Socinian, who by secret methods endeavours to advance the credit of Socinus's opinions. For it must needs be a very powerful doctrine in his apprehension, which if any, though never so little, of it be mixed with the writings of orthodox divines, it so obscures all their reasons, that whether they will or no, it is easily imbibed. This way of arguing, tends more to magnify and promote, than to depress and extinguish Socinianism, against which the most learned annotations on the New Testament are not, it seems, a sufficient preservative.
Besides this, there is another thing which gives ground for suspicion, and it is what my censurer, and others such as he, generally stand by. To wit, if a person be any thing ingenious, or more learned than ordinary, and writes out of the common road, he is presently a Socinian; as if all men of sense must needs turn Socinians. We have lately had a remarkable instance of this in the worthy and ingenious Mr. Locke, who, because he reasons more accurately about many things, than any before him had done, in his excellent treatise of Human Understanding, is immediately cried down as a Socinian, by this censurer and others. This is in earnest to favour the Socinians, to make all good wits of their number. Just such reports were formerly spread of Hugo Grotius, and Rene Cartesius; which were no disgrace at all to those men; but an honour to the Socinians. So Erasmus was before charged with Arianism, by the monks of those times, and others no better than they; as if it had been impossible for a man of his capacity to be orthodox.
I am conscious to myself how far I come short of