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Dr . S . concludes his observations on Mr . B . 's introduction , and with them the first great division of his work , in these words : " It would have been no disparagement to the writer of the Calm Inquiry , had he urged the duty of cherishing impartiality , sincerity , and the love of truth , by the means of assiduous p rayer to the Author of truth , a recollection of our amenableness to his tribunal , and a holy state of our mental
feelings , in reference to his presence and perfections . Without these moral cautions , can it be expected that our inquiries will be really impartial or will terminate successfully ? The principles of human nature and the righteousness of the Divine government equally forbid the expectation . Happy will those be who realize the devotion and faith of him who said , * With thee is the fountain of life ; in thy light we shall see light ! ' But on such subjects the Calm Inquiry observes the silence of death . "
Mr . B . recommends impartiality , and the sincere , disinterested love of truth ; he does not enter on the means of attaining and cultivating these qualities , because those means are not unknown or much disputed : he was writing a controversial , not a practical work , and he meant to confine himself to one volume of moderate size , where he could not , like Dr . S ., give 200 pages to introductory considerations . Nothing can be found in his book
unfavourable to habits of devotion or feelings of piety . The impartiality which he recommends—the love of truth , without regard to external advantages , sensual pleasures , or the gratification of ambition and vanity—is itself a holy state of the mental feelings , and it is hard to reproach him with the silence of death when he speaks learnedly and ably on the subject he undertakes to discuss , because he does not digress into a practical treatise on devotion and faith . Sincere devotion , and prayer , its noblest exercise and best
excitement 9 are most valuable means of producing the dispositions which aid us in the search for truth ; but it must be remembered , that there is a sort of prayer often employed in what is called religious inquiry , which is no more than a mustering of fears and prejudices against the admission of any new light , or an attempt to overpower the resistance of reason to popular opinions by an accumulation of distempered and enthusiastic feelings . There are many also who pray indeed for help from God in the understanding of his word , but , entertaining the unfounded expectation of that help being
afforded in the form of immediate and supernatural assistance , instead of improving by their pious exercises in the humble and diligent application of the means of knowledge , are puffed up with a vain conceit of their infallibility , and led to ascribe to their own crudest conceptions the authority of divine communication . As these are faults into which those who agree with Dr . S . are peculiarly apt to fall , we have at least as good reason for wondering that he did not guard against such common and dangerous abuses of what he justly recommends , as he had for reproaching Mr . B . with his silence on a subject which his plan did not oblige him to introduce .
We have been able to notice but a few of the more important passages in that portion of Dr . Smith ' s work which has now engaged our attention . There is hardly a page in which something does not call for animadversion , and there are some subjects of very high interest , as the Unitarian views of the perfections of God , and the inspiration of the Scriptures , which demand
distinct essays to do them any justice . We hope , however , that what we have done may be sufficient to make known the true character of what is represented as a formidable attack on our opinions , to expose the treatment which Mr . Belsham has received from one who would willingly be thought a candid adversary , and to repel some charges which , though glaringly
Dr . J . P . Smith ' s Scripture Testimony to the Messiah . 17
VOL , , v . c
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1831, page 17, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2593/page/17/