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But the Editor can make no apology for the large space which is occupied in his history by the popish controversy, either in regard to the views of politicians, or of Romish controversialists.
I am well aware that by the extent to which I have availed myself of Fox's Acts and Monuments, I fall within the range of such censures as that of Dr. John Milner, in which he speaks of “the frequent publication of John Fox's lying book of Martyrs, with prints of men, women, and children expiring in flames; the nonsense, inconsistency, and falsehoods of which (he says) he had in part exposed in his Letters to a Prebendary.” I am not ignorant of what has been said also by Dr. J. Milner's predecessors in the same argument, by Harpsfield, Parsons, and others. But neither his writings nor theirs, have proved, and it never will be proved, that John Fox is not one of the most faithful and authentic of all historians. We know too much of the strength of Fox's book, and of the weakness of those of his Romish adversaries, to be further moved by Dr. John Milner's censures, than to reject them as grossly exaggerated, and almost entirely unsubstantial and groundless. All the many researches and discoveries of later times, in regard to historical documents, by Burnet, Strype, and many others, have only contributed to place the general fidelity and truth of Fox's melancholy narrative on a rock which cannot be shaken.
After all, the object nearest to the Editor's heart in compiling this collection, has been, as he has already intimated, to consult the benefit of the theological students in the universities, and the younger clergy.
Lambeth, Nov. 20, 1809.
I HAVE yet occasion to request the reader's attention, shortly, to another very different subject.
In the year 1802, I published “Six Letters to Granville Sharp, Esq. respecting his Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article, in the Greek Text of the New Testament." 8vo. Rivingtons. Much has been said and written for and against that publication. It would be wrong, therefore, if I were to suffer the present opportunity to pass by, without adverting to those notices ; at least, without stating whether any alteration of judgment has been produced in my mind, respecting® the argument attempted in the “Six Letters,” by the many censures and animadversions under which those“ Letters” have fallen. I am by no means certain, that a cause of very solemn importance may not, in a degree, have suffered, by an aversion to controversy, and an opinion of the little account due to my adversaries, which have kept me so long silent.
But had it been true, that the “Six Letters” had obtained a much smaller share of the public notice, either for praise or blame, than indeed they have, it could not but be fit, that I should state occasionally what may be the present bearings and estimate of my own mind, respecting the value and truth of the argument once seriously brought forward by me, in those Letters; whether my confidence in its stability may have been, by any means, in the interval, materially increased or diminished; an argument, the more interesting, at least for its assumed relation to an article of our Christian faith, of primary and fundamental importance.
In the year 1803, the Six Letters were followed by “Six more Letters to Granville Sharp, Esq. on his Remarks upon the uses of the Article in the Greek Testament, by Gregory Blunt, Esq.”
8vo. Johnson. I thought it sufficient to notice that work by the following Letter, addressed to its Author, which appeared in the month of June of that year, in one or two of the periodical publications. By recording the Letter in this place, I mean it to be understood, that I still retain the same sentiments, respecting the “Six more Letters," which I have therein expressed.
To the Author of Six more Letters to Granville Sharp, Esq.
SIR, The many observations which you have bestowed upon my “Six Letters to Granville Sharp, Esq.” in your “ Six more Letters” to that gentleman, may seem to give to my readers, and I have no great objection to say that they give to you, some claim to be informed what impressions have been made on my mind by your animadversions.
Your Letters then, in the first place, have in no degree lessened my opinion of the truth of Mr. Sharp's Rule, and of the value and importance of that discovery. It is, however, a disappointment to me, that I cannot go further ; that I cannot proceed to say, that your researches have contributed to give additional evidence and stability to Mr. Sharp's theory; an event which might perhaps have followed, had that theory found a more learned and more logical adversary.
But, with regard to my own more particular concerns, (I speak it, not without due deliberation, and well knowing what I say,) in my judgment, you have not shewn, that I have been guilty of any error, of any misrepresentation, of any false reasoning, whether great or small, one instance of inadvertency alone excepted. It appears, that in an extract from St. Cyril of Alexandria, (Six Letters, page 10,) I have inserted the article toū before Xolotoū, which does not exist in the printed text from which I quoted. In offering our acknowledgments for a favour conferred, it is justly accounted unpolite to extenuate that favour, and to shew how small is its value. For this detection, therefore, I beg leave, without interposing any reserve or demur, to return you my thanks. But this is all. In every other respect I maintain what I have written, (so far, I mean, as it has been assailed by you,) without exception or relaxation; and in no other point am I enabled to profess my obligations to you for any new stores or materials which may contribute in any way to the decision of the important subject of our respective lucubrations.
Again : with so little to retract, I feel also very little inclination to recriminate; to shew what you have, or what you
have not done; to point out your deficiencies, errors, misrepresentations, and inconsistencies. I think indeed, that they are, all of them, both very great and very numerous. But you have hinted to us, that you write not for incompetent readers. “I am not writing,” you say, "for school-boys.” If babes and boys do not read your book, I shall be well contented to leave you to the judgment and censure of others. If men are to be your readers, I can have little concern or solicitude about them.
After these observations, it can hardly be necessary, otherwise than for the sake of method, that I should subjoin the conclusion to which they were intended to lead; namely, that, unless I should be called to reconsider, defend, or retract what I have written in my “Six Letters” by some more respectable antagonist, it is not my purpose to take any further notice of your pamphlet.
I am, Sir,
The Author of Six Letters to
Granville Sharp, Esq.
In the year 1805, the subject was further prosecuted from the press, by “A Vindication of certain passages in the common English Version of the New Testament, addressed to Granville Sharp, Esq. by the Rev. Calvin Winstanley, A.M.” 12mo. Longman. Among many important mistakes, and misinterpretations of writers referred to, from which it might be easily shewn, (as it has been very sufficiently in one of our Monthly Journals, the British Critic, for May, 1808,) that the value attributed by Mr.
Winstanley to his labours originated principally in his own mistakes and misinterpretations, it may yet be conceded, that Mr. Winstanley has effected more than any other writer that has yet appeared against Mr. Sharp's theory; not that I apprehend he has, in the slightest degree, affected its truth or stability ; but, in one or two particulars, his observations may perhaps tend a little to help his readers to a clearer understanding, and a more distinct enunciation of that theory. With regard to the “Six Letters” of the present writer, Mr. Winstanley condemns them as of little value. But then, many will think that he supplies us with a criterion whereby we must be led to reckon not very highly of the value of this particular censure, not very favourably of his general judgment, when he tells us, that the book which he condemns he had never seen. After all, Mr. Winstanley's tract will not have been without its good effects. The publication has, doubtless, extended the knowledge of the matter in dispute; and it will have tended, I trust, to fix his own mind more closely to his object; and to impress him with higher notions of its importance and difficulty. Let him permit me then to invite him, with sentiments of considerable respect, and as a sincere fellowlabourer in the search of truth, which I doubt not but that he really is, to renew his efforts, to persevere in his undertaking, and to continue to communicate, either publicly or privately, the result of his researches.
In regard to such things as have been said or written, and not printed, against the “ Six Letters,” and the argument contained in them, it may be not unfit to be mentioned, that where the knowledge of their existence has reached me, I have not been backward (as the persons concerned could, if they pleased, testify), in seeking to obtain a communication of those sentiments and reasonings. It is not less true, however, that I have found, in more instances than one, a readiness to speak or write against the “Six Letters” and their Author, where there existed none to impart to himself a knowledge of the things objected against. As a personal concern, I should have much preferred to have passed this matter by in silence; but the justice due to a serious argu