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languages 4 with , that intention . At length , however , his constitution strengthened ; and resuming his first purpose , he went in 1752 to the dissenting academy at Daventry , kept by Dr . Ashworth . He had already imbibed such an attachment to ^ tudy , and had employed his researches upon so many important topics , that he was regarded on admission as considerably advanced in the academical course .
He had also , from his family connexions among the strictest sect of dissenters , acquired those religious habits , and that vital spirit of piety , which ever in some degree assimilated him to that class of Christians ,
when in doctrine no one more widely deviated from them . At Daventry he spent three years , during which his acute and vigorous mind was expanding in free inquiry and diversified pursuit , The change of his
4 Those which he acquired , and without a master , were French , Italian , and High Dutch . " He " translated and wrote letters in the first and last for an uncle , a merchant , who intended" him for 66 a countinff-house in Lisbon . " Id . p . 5 .
5 He was first destined by his relations to the Caivmistic-Independent " Academy at Mile-end , then under the care of Dr . Conder . But being * at that time an Arminian , he resolutely opposed it , " especially declining to " subscribe an assent to tea printed articles of Calvinistic faith , and repeat it every six months . " A
neighbouring minister , Mr . Kirkby , who had been one of his instructors in the classics tc interposed and strongly recommended the academy of Dr . Doddridge . " The u Aunt , not being a bigoted Calvinist , entered into hi * views , and Dr . Doddridge being dead he was sent to Daventry and was the first pupil that entered there . " Id .
p . 16 , 17 . 6 u Three years , viz . from Sept . 1752 to 1755 , I spent at Daventry with that peculiar satisfaction with which young persons of generous minds usually go through a course of liberal study , in the society of others engaged in the same pursuits , and free from tlie cares and anxieties which
seldom fail to lay hold on them when they come out into the world . In my time , the academy was in a state peculiarly favourable to the serious pursuit of truth , as the students were about equally divided upon every questiou of much importance , such
as Liberty and Necessity , the Sleep of the Soul , and all the articles of theological orthodoxy and heresy ; in consequence of which all these topics were the subject of continual discussion . Our tutors also were of different opinions ; Dr . Ashworth tat ing-
opinions from the orthodox system in which he had been brought uj > , towards the doctrine usually termed heretical , which had already commenced , here made a further progress , though it still rested within the limits of Arianistn . Here he was
the orthodox side of every question , and Mr . Clark , the sub-tutor , that of heresy , though always with the greatest modesty . We were permitted to ask whatever questions , and to make whatever remarks we pleased , and we did it with the greatest , but without any offensive , freedom . —We were referred to authors on both sides of
every question , and were even required to give an account of them . " Id . p . 17 . For an account of Mr . Clark see M . Repos . Vol . i . p . 617 . ii . 68 and for an account of Dr . Ashworth , Vol . viii . 562 ( note } and 693 . andix . 10 , 78 and 242 . 7 In the family of his excellent aunt he
became confirmed " in the principles of Calvinism , all the books he met with " having that tendency . " Yet two ministers , " the most heretical in the neighbourhood , were frequently his aunt ' s guests . " With one of these , " Mr . Graham , of Halifax , ' * to whom he afterwards dedicated his
Disquisitions on Matter and Spirit , he now became intimate . In paying an early and serious attention to religion , as he then understood it , he had waited with painful anxiety for the experience " of a new-birth produced by the immediate agency of the spirit o > fGod , " and had been much distressed " because he " could not . feel a
proper repentance for the sin of Adam . " Yet he had so far altered his views when he offered himself u to be admitted a communicant , " where he and his jmut attended , that the examining elders orthe church " rejected him as not " quite orthodox on the subject of the sin of Adam , " because he could not believe u that all the human
race ( supposing them not to have any sin of their own ) were liable to the wrath of God and the pains of hell for ever on account of that sin only . " About this time he came into the society of two preachers who qualified Calvinism and were called JBaxterian . u Thinking farther on these subjects , " he had become , when he
entered the academy u an Arminian , but had by no means rejected the doctrine of the Trinity or that of Atonement . " Id . p . 7—12 . 8 u Notwithstanding the great freedom of our speculations and debates , the extreme of heresy among \ ts was A nanism ;
and all of us , I believe , left the academy with a belief , more or less qualified of the doctrine of A tonement . " Id . p . 20 . The fellow-student with whom Priestley had the most frequent communications and formed the most intimate friendship was " Mr , Alex-
& Memoir of the late Rev . Joseph Priestley , LL . D . F . R . S . fyc .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1815, page 2, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1756/page/2/