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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/