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their proper impression upon
the minds of his pupils. Nor did he at that time entertain a doubt, that in the judgement of every serious and impartial inquirer, the result would be a clear discernment of what he then thought the superficial texture of the Unitarian arguments, and a confirmed conviction of the pre-existence, and superior nature and dignity, if not of the proper deity, of Jesus Christ.
The first consequence of this mode of conducting the lectures was to himself very unexpected, and not a little painful and mortifying. Many of his pupils, and among those some of the best talents, the closest application, and the most serious dispositions, who had also been educated in all the habits and prepossessions of Trinitarian doctrine, to his great surprise became Unitarians. This, however, he was disposed to attribute to the fickleness of youth, and to the caprice of fashion. As to himself, though he was at first struck with the small number of
passages which he could discover, which explicitly taught the doctrine of our Lord's pre-existence, yet, being satisfied in his judgement that they were decisive
question, it was some time before the arguments of the Unitarians made any considerable impression upon his mind: and his early opinions were too deeply rooted, and too intimately associated with
the whole system of his religious feelings, to be easily abandoned. But being under the necessity of reviewing the subject from year to year, and at every review finding himself obliged to give up some posts as untenable, which were once deemed impregnable, he was at last compelled, though with great reluctance, to an entire surrender of the faith in which he had been educated concerning the person of Christ, and to the adoption of those opinions to which he certainly had no previous attachment, and the erroneousness of which he had once flattered himself he should easily have detected. Then, at length, he regarded it as his duty to speak out: and being no longer able to fulfill the design of his appointment, he resigned his office in January 1789 into the hands of Mr. Coward's Trustees, took leave of an affectionate congregation, and of a flourishing seminary of estimable pupils, and retired with no other expectation or prospect at the time, but that of passing the remainder of life in obscurity and silence.
Divine providence however ordained otherwise: and having, after a previous connexion with the New College, been chosen to succeed Dr. Priestley in the congregation at Hackney, in the year 1794, he drew up the Lectures in a more popular form, still, however, retaining the original arrangement, and delivered them to the
young people of that congregation, and afterwards to those who attended the chapel in Essex Street, to which he was appointed in the spring of 1805. Many in both these respectable societies expressed a desire of seeing them in print; with which
request the author was the rather induced to comply, hoping that a review of the principal arguments upon the question might revive and confirm the impression made at the time. When, however, he came to revise the Lectures for the
it occurred to him that the mere popular form into which the Lectures had been cast, in order to be delivered to a mixed audience, would hardly do justice to the subject; while that form in which they had been originally compiled for the use of professed theological students, would be too voluminous, and not adapted for common readers. He has therefore been at the trouble of recomposing the work, and of reducing it to such a form as he trusts will be generally intelligible to the unlearned reader, and not wholly unacceptable to the learned. Such as it is, he commends it to the candour of his readers and to the divine blessing. In the testimony of his conscience to the sincerity and impartiality with which he has himself sought after truth, and in the fidelity with which he has endeavoured to communicate information to others, the author rests perfectly satisfied. In what degree, and to what extent, his humble efforts may
be honoured, as the means of contributing to the improvement of his fellow-creatures in knowledge and virtue, he willingly leaves to the Supreme Arbiter of events.
P. S. At the close of the First Part of this Inquiry it has been thought advisable to add a brief abstract of the controversy between Dr. Horsley and Dr. Priestley, concerning the doctrine of the primitive church, which it is hoped will at any rate modify the triumphant language which some zealots have lately used upon this subject; at least, if they have any regard to their literary or theological reputation, and do not altogether presume upon the ignorance and prejudices of their readers.
Hackney, March 22, 1811.
THE SECOND EDITION.
The UNITARIAN Society has done this Treatise the honour of admitting it into their Catalogue; and has published a large impression of a second edition of the CALMINQUIRY in a cheaper form, in order to facilitate and extend its circulation. The Author has revised the work with care, and has introduced some corrections which were suggested by his own reflections, or by the remarks, friendly or unfriendly, of others. The variations, however, from the first edition of the work are neither numerous nor very material. The Author's original design was briefly, but fairly and candidly, to state the sentiments and the arguments of different parties in the important discussion concerning the person of Christ: and he is not aware that he has in
considerable degree failed of his purpose. The calm and temperate discussion of questions of high importance, he has found by experience to be the pleasantest and the most successful means of investigating