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to you, and other Christian societies, upon that subject, proposing what appeared to me a better constitution of a Christian church, by means of which the original and proper ends of Christian societies might be more effectually answered. I am afraid we are gone too far from the primitive institutions of Christianity to expect a revival of them in this age; but I hope that the idea I then endeavoured to give you of the obligation that naturally lies upon every member of a Christian society, who, on any account whatever, has influence in it (without any formal nomination to an office) to contribute all that may be in his power to the real benefit of it, by instruction, reproof, or any other way, will not be wholly without effect; and that you will, in general, be more attentive to the important Christian duty of ‘provoking to love and to good works, exhorting one another daily while it is called to-day, lest any be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Lastly, perceiving in this neighbourhood, and, in some measure, among yourselves, the progress of what appears to me to be a spurious and mischievous set of notions in religion, inspiring very unworthy ideas of the Divine Being and the maxims of his government, which cannot but have an unfavourable effect upon the disposition of men's minds, and consequently upon their conduct in life; I published, in the cheapest form that I could, and, in order to give as little offence as possible, without my name, a serious “Appeal to the Professors of Christianity,” upon this subject. This, and other small pieces, written in pursuance of the same design, I have had the satisfaction to find, have been the instrument, in the hands of Divine Providence, of enlightening the minds of many in the knowledge of what I believe to be his truth, and I hope they will still continue to produce the same effect. I was the more willing to publish something of this kind, as it has always been my opinion, and my practice has been

agreeable to it, to keep all subjects of religious controversy, as much as possible, out of the pulpit; and yet it was to be wished, that persons of plain understandings, who were disposed to read and inquire for themselves, might have an opportunity of seeing the foundation, in reason and the Scriptures, of those doctrines which alone can render the Divine Being the object of filial reverence, love, and confidence; and likewise be able to answer those who allege detached passages of Scripture, in favor of long-established corruptions; passages often ill translated, but more often wretchedly interpreted.” For some years after leaving Leeds, Dr. Priestley resided with Lord Shelburne, at his very urgent solicitation, as librarian and literary companion. With him, in 1774, he made a tour to the continent, and spent a month in Paris, where of course he had ready access to the scientific and philosophic circles of that great city. Here he found, as he anticipated, not a little infidelity. “As I was sufficiently apprized of the fact, I did not wonder, as I otherwise should have done, to find all the philosophical persons to whom I was introduced at Paris, unbelievers in Christianity, and even professed Atheists. As I chose on all occasions to appear as a Christian, I was told by some of them that I was the only person they had ever met with, of whose understanding they had any opinion, who prosessed to believe Christianity. But on interrogating them on the subject, I soon found that they had given no proper attention to it, and did not really know what Christianity was. This was also the case with a great part of the company that I saw at Lord Shelburne's. But I hope that my always avowing myself to be a Christian, and holding myself ready on all occasions to defend the genuine principles of it, was not without its use. Having conversed so much with unbelievers, at home and abroad, I thought I should be able to combat their prejudices with some advantage, and with this view I wrote, while I was with Lord Shelburne, the first part of my “Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever,” in proof of the doctrines of a God and a Providence; and to this I have added, during my residence at Birmingham, a second part, in defence of the evidences of Christianity. The first part being replied to by a person who called himself Mr. Hammon, I wrote a reply to his piece, which has hitherto remained unanswered. I am happy to find that this work of mine has done some good, and I hope that in due time it will do more. I can truly say, that the greatest satisfaction I receive from the success of my philosophical pursuits, arises from the weight it may give to my attempts to defend Christianity, and to free it from those corruptions which prevent its reception with philosophical and thinking persons, whose influence with the vulgar and the unthinking is very great.” From Paris he wrote to Mr. Lindsey as follows: “I am quite tired of the idleness in which I spend my time here, and long exceedingly to be about my experiments, or some composition. Upon my journey I have read and studied the Gospels very much, and should like exceedingly to print the Greek text, in the order of a harmony, with my dissertations from the “Repository” prefixed. It would certainly add much to the satisfaction of reading the Life of Christ, to have the whole narrative in one continued story, and the variations in separate columns. I will, at least, cut to pieces, and put together, one copy for my own use. In reading over the gospel of John, I think I perceive that one of his principal objects was to show what opportunities the Jews had for knowing the divine mission of Christ, and consequently how inexcusable they were in their rejection of him ; and the supposition of this gospel being written after the destruction of Jerusalem, suggests a reason for his having such an object in view. The more attention I give to the study of the Scriptures, the more attached I am to it; and I hope the time will come when I shall apply myself to it chiefly. At present I read chiefly with a practical view; and the attentive consideration of the facts in the gospel history has certainly the strongest tendency

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to impress the heart and influence the life in the most favorable manner. The more I read the history of the death of Christ, in particular, the more reasons I think I see why he was to suffer; at least I see the old ones in a stronger light and feel more of their force. Other studies, and other pursuits that to many others are very proper and useful, appear to me to be altogether insignificant compared to these. I am here in the midst of unbelievers, and even atheists. I had a long conversation with one, an ingenious man, and good writer, who maintained seriously that man might arise, without any Maker, from the earth. They may despise me; I am sure I despise and pity them.” About the same time he wrote thus to another friend. “I was more shocked at the superstition of the Catholics than I expected to have been ; but found some of their priests very intelligent and candid, and some of them as truly Christian characters, in all respects, as any sort can boast; but these, I believe, are few. The generality, I have reason to think, from the inquiries I have made, are either very stupid, or infidels. Their philosophers are almost universally the latter. “I had a conversation of two hours with a most ingenious man, and a considerable writer, who maintained that man might have sprung out of the earth by spontaneous generation; and I was told by another, that I was the first believer in Christianity that he had met with of whose understanding he had any opinion. I always told them very freely, that I could easily account for their infidelity by the very corrupted state of their established religion, farther than which they plainly had not looked; and that they could not pretend to have studied the subject as myself and other believers in England had done. However, I left them all as I had found them; and whether they think better or worse of me on that account, I am very indifferent. They could not possibly, however, have shown more respect to any body, than they did to me, especially on account of my Observations on Air, which b

have engaged the attention of almost all the philosophers on the continent. “I saw a good deal of several of the present leading statesmen of France. They are, in general, philosophical people, very honest and economical, friends of commerce and of peace. The king is, on all hands, agreed to have nothing at all in him, and while he is in good hands, all will do well. But there are many persons disaffected, intriguing, lovers of war, and violent enemies of England. If these get into power, which is far from being impossible, we shall certainly have a war, and the economy of the present ministers will have brought the nation into excellent order for it. “The present French ministry are great friends of toleration. A person who is very much in their confidence told me, he hoped that in ten years all religions would have a full toleration in France; but that, I am convinced, will be pushing things too fast for that country. At present they are miserably hampered by the censeurs of the press. The person who has translated my Treatise on Air, could not obtain leave to insert that paragraph in the preface in which I speak of the consequence of the spread of knowledge with respect to religion. A person is translating my Essay on Government; but he must print it in Holland, and get it into France clandestinely. “Upon the whole, I thought the country by no means a desirable one to live in, or to stay much in, and I wonder much at the taste of my countrymen, who spend so much of their time, and of their money, there.” Dr. Priestley, in several of his works, recurs to the impressions which he received during this visit to Paris; and there can be no doubt that this was one of the circumstances which instigated him to that perpetual warfare against infidelity, and that earnest, never-ceasing defence of Christianity, by which his career was distinguished. On his return from Paris, he took up his abode at Calne, Wiltshire, in the neighbourhood of which place was the resi

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