On this page
- Text (2)
Note: This text has been automatically extracted via Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. The text has not been manually corrected and should not be relied on to be an accurate representation of the item.
Additionally, when viewing full transcripts, extracted text may not be in the same order as the original document.
Art . A III . —The Confessions of an rian Minister ; containing a Narrative oj his Conversion , and exhibiting his present Views of the principal Doctrines of the Gospel , in a Letter to his So ft . By William Gellibrand . 8 vo . pp . 31 . Williams and Co .
1817 . WE recollect to have read a pamphlet * satisfactorily accounting for " the unbelief of Edward Gibbon , Esq . ' * from the circumstances of his life . In like manner , it will not be
difficult to explain Mr , Gellibrand ' s conversion ; this letter shewing that his change of religious sentiment has been the effect of a bad theological education , of the want of studious
habits , and of the force of certain social attachments . From his confessions we shall collect abundant evidence in support of our allegation : nor will attentive readers fail to perceive that such a convert ' s avowal of reputedly evangelical opinions is far from being presumptive of their truth . I . The Divinity JProfessor under whom Mr . G . studied , he represents
( 7 ) as * ' a man of great learning , eminent piety , and much Biblical acuteness , " but adds that he " had not the happy talent of engaging the attention , or even of securing the respect of his pupils . " As the natural
consequence , ' his labours were disregarded / ' and in this branch of education the students ** exhibited the most deplorable ignorance . ' Mr . Gellibraud ' s creed therefore was not the result of theological knowledge and inquiry : it did not rest on an examination of the Scriptures . With some inconsistency t he speaks of himself as having been , at this period of his life , a determined Arian ; " advancing fast , " says he , " to what I then considered as the pure aud rational views of Christianity , as supported and recommended by Dr . rriestly" ^ Priestley ] . Now it does jiot appear that Mr . G . ever gave up the doctrine of our Lord ' s pre-exis * tence : and the following sentences are a memorable comment qn this Arian minister ' s approximation to pure views of Christianity . Hit * experience and his confessions prove , as ecclesiastical history also proves , that
• By the Rev . John Evans , M . A . -f See p . 13 of this pamphlet .
the grossest mistakes concerning the person of Christ have originated in a false gliame of the " mere humanity " of the Saviour . Let us hear our author ' s acknowledgment : [ 13 ]
" I could listen without any digg-ust or uneasiness whilst this friend and benefacto r to the world was not only praised , but eveu exalted to a seat upon the throne of God . I often thought that the preacher erred , but it was an error more in unison with my heart and my love , than if he had attempted to degrade his Saviour by sinking- him to the level of mere humanity . "
Defective indeed must have been the theological education of the man who could write such a sentence ! What is Mr . G / s avowal ? That he approved of a creed which , nevertheless , he considered as erroneous ! Of the light ( Pref . 4 ) in which we view
this or any part of his Letter let him be as careless as he please : he should know however that , by the declaration before us , he virtually accuses himself of inconsistency , and proves how little he is acquainted with the laws of evidence and wijth the test of truth . Numerous additional illustrations of
the evils of an ignorance of the principles of Biblical and Scriptural criticism , are supplied by his pamphlet . When the candidate for the ministry is a stranger to them , he will not possess the ability—perhaps not the desire—of explaining to his fellow-men the records of Revelation : his sermons
will not be really evangelical ; and it is probable that he will be indifferent to religious opinions , —will lightly embrace and as easily dismiss them . II . But did the " Arian minister , who makes these confessions , attempt
to supply the deficiencies of his theoiogical course , in the former academy at Hoxton , by any subsequent regard to theological studies ? " The world , " says he , ( 8 , 9 , ) " presented itself to my view , and stole too much of my heart from God and from heaven—I
was hastening fast to a state of inreligion and unbelief ; I was immersed in the pursuits , in the pleasures , and , oh ! sad to relate , in many of the vices of the world . " This , be it
remembered , is his own statement of his own case . We " would not hear his enemy say so : " and , possibly , in the revulsion of his feelings , his self-accusation i * extravagant . If . however he was in * mersed in the pursuits of the world ,
620 Review .- — 'The Confessions of an Arian Minister .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Oct. 2, 1817, page 620, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2469/page/48/