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entertained towards them, and it approaches near to the odious crime of backbiting. To ridicnle a person in his absence also betrays a spirit of low-bred timidity, which takes opportunity to attack a man's character and life, and place them in a ludicrous, light, when he is not present, that durst not be attempted to his face. It shows a littleness of soul, and that we are pleased with what we conceive to be the imperfections of others. This is directly opposite to the spirit of heaven, which is pleased with whatever degree of truth, goodness, and perception it can discover in any individual; and this enhances the general joy of all. Ridicule is opposed to a spirit of charity. Charity looks for, and fixes on our better qualities, and but very slightly glances at, or throws the cloak of mortal forbearance and regard over, our foibles or frailties, when they do not spring from corruption of the heart. Ridicule on the contrary, looks quickly around with a sarcastic eye, in order to discover some real or imaginary weakness, and when it is discovered, it puts forth the hand of evil gratification, and drags it to the pillory of contempt: it then places the mirror of distortion before the eyes of others, which disproportions and magnifies the objects which are viewed in this light, and ultimately invites them to the anti-mutual feast of false enjoyment. Anti-mutual it is; for those who join to form this ungenerous circle, when they leave it, are likely to become marks for its invidious shafts and gall steeped arrows.
It is true, Ridicule is sometimes accompanied with flashes of wit, and peals of merriment; but it may be remarked that those flashes spring from a darkening cloud, that wit is seasoned with the salt of wormwood, and that merriment has its basis on a bed of slime, which, in proportion, as it is approached ingulfs its votaries. Ridicule severs human minds; for when the person who has been thus treated in his absence, discovers the circumstances of the case, how will he feel effected when he enters the company of those who have lately erected him as the butt of their wanton amusement ? open ingenuous freedom is allowable, so long as it carries no appearance of duplicity, especially when the person is present with whom the freedom is used, but that freedom which tends to lessen a person's estimation may be classed as unjust ridicule.
The spirit of the Lord'strue church teaches us to love one another ; to bear one another's burdens, to have charity towards all men, to be courteous and affable, sincere and faithful, open and candid to the brethren, free from guile and craftiness, doing unto others as We would they shuold do unto us; uniform and constant in our behaviour, guarding against saying those things in a person's
absence which we would not say in his presence: and as no person could wish to be ridiculed in his absence, let us abstain from doing that to him, which we would not have him do to us; recollecting the maxim; “Ridicule not the absent.”
THE LATE DR. WATTS AN UNDOUBTED MEMBER OF
THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH. It is a fact too well attested to be questioned or doubted, that the late pious and venerable Dr. Watts, towards the close, of his valuable life, became extremely dissatisfied with the sentiments, he had formerly imbibed on the subject of the Trinity. At the conclusion of his work, on "the improvement of the mind,” will be found a fervent, solemn invocation to the Deity, for the illumination of his mind, which, whilst it breathes the devotional spirit of genuine piety and self-abasement, discovers at the same time a mind deeply agitated by feelings of the most poignant kind. Resisting the importunities of friends to enter into the established church, and having fixed his lot among the dissenters, and of course having subscribed to the formularies of their heterogeneous creed, he passed the current of his earlier years in uninterrupted peace and popularity. As however he approached the state, in which, as the process of regeneration advances, the subordinate notions of faith and doctrines give place to the subduing influence of the will and affections; when the religion of the head is kept in subjection to the religion of the heart, as is invariably the case as a man comes more under the predominant influence of goodness; in this state it was, that Dr. Watts began to suspect the soundness of his religious principles, particularly with reference to the doctrine of the Trinity, which ultimately, and happily terminated in an entire change of sentiment on this momentous
It was under such impressions as these, that during the latter years of his life this amiable man had been particularly diligent in collecting all possible information, so that his mind might again be restored 10 peace, as it related to the object of his worship and supreme adoration. In the progress of his research, it is recorded, that he was very forcibly struck with the 9th verse of the 2nd chapter of Colossians; "in him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” This passage in itself appeared to him so decisive, as to the proper Deity of Jesus Christ, as to lead him to a perfect conviction that he was the one only God; which being > conveyed by the power and demonstration of the spirit,” was accompanied with that joy and peace, he so earnestly sought. From this period, it seems that his theological opinions had undergone a complete revolution; and so obvious was the fact, both from his public discourses and private conversations, that by many persons, he was charged with having adopted the Sabellian scheme of religion, and was eventually branded as an apostate from his original faith. Leaving, however, these minor circumstances to the decision of contending sectaries, of one thing he has given unequivocal testimony, that after a most laborious and patient investigation, he came to the wise conclusion, that the Godhead, or Deity itself, distinguished by the term Father, was essentially united with the man, Jesus Christ; and that in consequence of such union, or in-dwelling, he became properly the one only God; an opinion in which it is supposed Dr. Doddridge and many other eminent divines cordially concurred.
As a star of the first magnitude in the christian hemisphere, multiplied were the efforts of various parties to claim this great champion of truth for their own. Accordingly, on the announcement of this radical change of opinion, in which he contended for a unity in the Godhead; the Socinians were the most active to enrole the name of this learned man among the proselytes to their system, which they considered as the triumph of reason over bigotry, superstition and idolatry. This idea was strengthened by some of Dr. Watts's MSS. falling into the hands of Dr. Lardner and Mr. Neal; both of whom were in habits of intimacy with the respected family, in which the Doctor passed so many years of his life, and ultimately died.
That both of these gentlemen were mistaken, is however clearly obvious from this fact; that although in his two last publications Dr. Watts had unquestionably discarded his former views of a tripersonal God; yet in no MS. collected from among his papers, has he afforded the least reason to suspect, that he was at all favorable to the Socinian heresy, which is fully substantiated by the testimony of those who visited the Dr. within a short time of his final departure. Besides Mr. Jos. Parker, his amanuensis, who was constantly with him, and the late Mrs. Abney, under whose hospitable roof he died, Dr. Gibbons adds his testimony, respecting what he heard drop from the Doctor's own lips, in the last visit he made him, which was, that so far from having adopted the Socinian system, he frequently lamented with tears in his eyes that so many should fall victims to so unscriptural a faith.
It was insinuated by Dr. Lardner, that the unpublished MSS. of Dr. Watts contain clear evidence that he became a decided Unitarian. This is a most unwarrantable supposition; for subse.
quent to the avowed change in Dr. Watts's sentiments, and with in two years of his decease be published two volumes; one of which is entitled "Useful and important questions concerning Jesus the Son of God," and the other, “The glory of Christ, as GOD-MAN, &c.” In these publications the author strongly maintains the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, as the Word, and his intimate union with the Deity.
In the preface to his “Christian doctrine of the Trinity there is a passage
which merits peculiar attention for the strong and pointed language in which Dr. Watts expressed his sentiments with regard to the degree of estimation in which he held the doctrines of Socinianism, and which is here subjoined. “The last controversy on the important doctrine of the Trinity has engaged multitudes of Christians in a renewed study of that subject; and amongst the rest, I thought it my duty to review my opinions, and ny faith. In my younger years, when I endeavoured to form my judgement on that article, the Socinians were the chief, or only popular opponents, recognized as such. Upon an honest search of the Seripture, and comparing it with their notions of it, I wondered exceedingly, how it was possible for any person to believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and yet to believe that Jesus Christ; was a mere man. So perverse and preposterous did their construction of Scripture appear, that I was amazed how men, who , pretended to the exercise of reason above their neighbours, could wrench and strain their understandings, and subdue their assent to such absurd interpretations; and I am of the same mind still."
Such is the strong, decisive language expressed by Dr. Watts himself, which goes fully to exonerarte him from the least partiality or attachment to the Unitarian doctrine, and places this portion of the subject beyond all possibility of: dispute. Among the MSS. committed to the superintendance of Dr. Watts's executors, I find, on examining his written memoirs, by a letter : from Mr. Neal to Dr. Doddridge that there was one M$. intitled " A faithful inquiry into the ancient and original doctrine of the Trinity, &c." Of this treatise, a small edition, it is said, was printed in the year, 1745, while the author was living. In this published work, I have no manner of doubt, though I have never been fortunate enough to ob. tain a sight of it, that Dr. Watts had expressed his opinions with greater freedom than was agreeable to his friends, who experienced some degree of alarm at the manifest change exhibited. Whether or not I may be correct in my conjecture, one thing is clear, which greatly tends to corroborate it, which is, that these friends felt extremely solicitous that the work should be smothered in embryo, in order to prevent it from meeting the eyes of the public. This was accordingly
complied with; and the whole impression was destroyed, with the exception of one copy, which by some unaccountable accident eluded their vigilance; and from which a new edition was published in the year 1802, by those few friends, probably, who were favourable to the Doctor's latter opinions.
Of the genuineness of this production, the friends of Dr. Watts were fully satisfied, both from its internal and external evidence; and even in this last work, so little cause is there for triumph on the part of Unitarians, it is manifest, that the sentiments expressed in it are as remote from Socinianism, as those of the two volumes above alluded to.
Dr. Watts, then evidently was not an Unitarian! neither was he a Trinitarian, according to the common definition of that term; although it might have been necessary to be more guarded and reserved on the subject, at that period, than in the present day of religious toleration. Combining the whole of the circumstances connected with this brief history, the subject, I apprehend, resolves itself into this simple inquiry, what were the religious opinions of Dr. Watts, subsequent to that great change which so evidently appears to have been produced in his mind ? what system of faith did he really embrace ? For my own part, were I called on to answer such an interrogatory, I should feel no hesitation in replying, that according to my best judgement of the case, he died in the faith, doctrines and life of the New Jerusalem Church. I by no means intend here to insinuate that these truths and doctrines were ever presented to Dr. Watts's acceptance in a tangible form; but my fixed opinion is, that such was the disturbed state of his mind, on the doctrine of the Trinity, that had that been the case, and be could have surmounted the prejudices too commonly prevailing, he would have readily and cheerfully appropriated them to that consolation, he, at that time stood so much in need of; that he would have rapturously exclaimed “this is my rest, here will I dwell, for my soul hath desired it!”
And may it not reasonably be suspected, that there are great multitudes of persons at this moment, standing in precisely the same situation with Dr. Watts ? To the minds of such persons, what is commonly termed the orthodox system of faith, is, in itself so contradictory, so repulsive to a reflective mind, that they cannot reconcile it with the dictates of reason and common sense; they
By the Statute 9 and 10 William III. He who shall deny any one of the Persons in the Holy Trinity to be God, is, for the first offence revdered incapablo of any office or place of trust. For the second, he is adjudged incapable of bringing any action, of being
guardian or executor uader a Will of purchasing land, or of receiving any
legacy, bequeathed to him; and to be further punished by imprisonment for three years, without bail. In Scotland, the same offences were visited
by a series of punishment; the last of which, inflicted, for the third
Thanks to Almighty goodness! this most sanguinary enactment, which attempted to silence the remonstrances of couscience, no longer disgraces our statute Book. It was repealed a very few years since.
offence was death.