447. To John Prior Estlin Address: Revd. Mr Estlin | BristolSingle sheet. MS. Bristol Central Lib. Pub. Letters to Estlin, 82. Postmark: 29 July 1802.Stamped: Keswick. Greta Hall, Keswick, July 26, 1802 My dear Friend Day after day, and week after week, have I been intending to write to you / to enumerate all the causes of the delay (superadded alas! to my inveterate habit of Procrastination) would make my present Letter a very different one from what I wish it to be / a doleful instead of a cheerful one. I am at present in better health than I have been -- tho' by no means strong or well -- & at home all is Peace & Love. I am about shortly to address a few Letters to the British Critic 1 on the use of the definitive article, & the inferences drawn from it by Grenville Sharp, 2 & since attempted to be proved in a very learned & industrious work by the Revd C. Wordsworth, a fellow of Trinity, our Wordsworth's Brother. Sharp's Principle is as follows -- When α connects two nouns (not of the Plural number, and not Proper names) if the article ὁ, or any of it's cases, precedes the first of the said Nouns or Participles, and is not repeated before the second Noun or Participle, the latter always relates to the same Person, that is expressed or described by the first Noun or Participle / ex. gr. 'OⒽ 3 Π ήμϊ̑ &c 2. Cor. 1.3. -- Ţ ˇXǰὸк 4 ʽ &λфὸкρ&c Eph. VI. 21. -- from which rule he deduces absolute assertions of the Godhead of Christ from Acts XX. 28. Eph. V. 5. 2. Thessal. I. 12. 1. Timoth. V. 21. 2. Timoth. IV. 1. Titus II. 13. 2. Peter. I. 1. Jude 4. -- Kit Wordsworth's Book is occupied in proofs that all the Greek Fathers, & many & those the most learned of the Latin Fathers did so understand these Texts, when from the nature of the Arian Controversy it would have answered their purposes much better to have understood the words according to our present Versions. -- The first thing, that stared me in the face & which I afterwards found true, is that all the instances, but two, are to all ____________________ 1 Chambers thinks the review of Christopher Wordsworth Six Letters to Granville Sharp, 1802, in the British Critic, xx. 15; was probably written by Coleridge. Life, 159. In an unpublished passage from a letter to Poole, dated 28 Jan 1810, however, Coleridge says: 'On the first appearance of Christopher Wordsworth's Book on the Subject I studied the matter seriously; [and] but for accidents should have published on it.' 2 Granville Sharp, Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New Testament, 1798. 3 Underlined twice in MS. 4 Underlined once in MS. -820- intents & purposes Proper Names & consequently fall within Grenville Sharpe's own Exception -- the two instances, which I have not found used as a Proper name, are Titus II. 18. & 2 Peter. I. 1. -Now if you know any proof of Σ̄́+ぎ+03A9ρη being used without an article, in any place where it stands by itself -- in the same manner as Christ is, and God -- and as Kú I can prove to be in a hundred instances in Greek -- you would serve me -- & what is a much greater inducement to you -- throw Light on a very important subject / or if you know any instance in which Sharp's Rule is falsified. / In English now,exem.causâ, we might say, as I walked out to day, whom should I meet but the Carpenter & Shoemaker of our Village / ? it would certainly be more accurate to say the Carpenter & the Shoemaker / but the accuracy of Special Pleading is to be found in few Books -- nor is it necessary -- You would know that I had met TWO Persons, because you know that the trades of Carpenter & Shoemaker are not one in this country -- whereas if I had said, the Carpenter & Joiner / tho' the form of Grammar would have been the same, you would have known instantly that I had met but one man. If you recollect in Aristophanes, &c or the Septuagint any instances to this purpose, you would oblige me by transmitting them to me. Unfortunately I have none of the Greek Fathers -- neither have I the Septuagint -- but I have found much that I want, in Suicerus's Thesaurus Patrum, 1 which I was lucky enough to buy for it's weight at a Druggist's ----- In these Letters I purpose to review Horsley & Priestley controverayu 2 -- & in these you will see my Confessio Fidei, which as far as regards the Doctrine of the Trinity is negative Unitarianism -a non liquet concerning the nature & being of Christ -- but a condemnation of the Trinitarians as being wise beyond what is written. / On the subjects of the original corruption of our Nature, the doctrines of Redemption, Regeneration, Grace, & Justification by Faith my convictions are altogether different from those of Drs Priestley, Lindsey, & Disney -- neither do I conceive Christianity to be tenable on the Priestleyan Hypothesis. I read Lardners 3 often -- not so much for the information, I gain from him -- which is however very great -- but for the admirable modesty & truly Christian Spirit which breathe thro' his works -- & which I wish to imbibe as a man, & to imitate as a Writer -- well aware of the natural Impetuosity & Warburtonianism of my own uncorrected ____________________ 1 J. C. Suicerus, Thesaurus Ecclesiasticus e Patribus Graecis . . ., 2 vols., 1682. 2 Joseph Priestley, Defences of Unitarianim for the Years 1788 and 1789. Containing Letters to Dr. Horsley. . ., 1790. 3 Nathaniel Lardner, Works, 11 vols., 1788, the edition to which Coleridge refers. -821- Disposition. My dear Friend -- believe no idle Reports concerning me / if I differ from you, & wherein I differ from you, it will be that I believe on the whole more than you, not less -- of which I give, I trust, the best proof in my power, by breeding up my Child in habits of awe for Deity, & undoubted Faith in the truth in Christ. ----- I thank you from the Bottom of my Heart for the pleasure & instruction which I have received from your sermon on the Sabbath -- which I have read repeatedly -- & shall take occasion to speak of, as in my humble opinion incomparably the best work that has been written on the Subject -- as far as I have seen / & a sufficient answer to (what I had before believed unanswerable) Paley's objections. -- It grieved me that you should have [applied] the word Genius so emphatically (p. 26) to Evanson 1 / for surely you wrote it unthinkingly -- Is not Evanson egregiously a weak & vain man? God forgive me, if I speak uncharitably -- I am sure I do not feel so -- but his Book on the Dissonance of the Evangelists struck me as the silliest & most vapid Book, I ever perused / . Σ+̄фóδρ́+ぎ+03BFϭμкρὸ μϒοο Φ ф 2 -- the Papias among the Unitarians. ( La[r]dn. Vol. II. p. 108.) -- I wish, you would give us in some form or other, in Magazine or separate Publication, a real History in the spirit of Lardner of all that can be collected of the opinions of the Jews, & Jewish Doctors, concerning the Messiah / antecedent to the time of Christ, & since that time. ----- I have been rather dissatisfied with Lardner's answer to the IVth & last objection to the philosophical explication of the Daemoniacs -- Do be so good as to look to the passage -- Vol. I. p. 483. 3 -- Dr Lardner intimates that it was not Christ's business to instruct men in Physics -- that it was foreign to his Mission -- that he was engaged in teaching the principles of true Religion -- & that any debate on this error might have diverted him from his main work. The Jews were not in danger of Idolatry -- there was therefore no urgent necessity [-- and he a]dds two insta[nces] in which our Lord studiously declined to concern himself with things foreign to the office of a Prophet --. Now the first of these Instances seems to me to weigh against Lardner / Christ might have confuted a dangerous error without involving any question of natural or metaphysical philosophy -- he did not decide for or against the doctrine of Pre-existence; but he most effectually quashed the pernicious moral error of attributing all afflictions to direct Judgments of God upon the Individual so ____________________ 1 Edward Evanson, Arguments against the Sabbatical Observance of the Sunday, 1792. 2 Eusebiuis' comment on Papias, Historia Ecclesiastica, iii. 39 , par. 13. 3 Coleridge refers to Lardner The Credibility of the Gospel History. -822- afflicted. If the Evangelists had in any one passage merely called the Daemoniacs Diseased men, or insane men, 'whose diseases are believed by the people to proceed from Daemons' -- or -- diseases, the true causes of which are not revealed to us, but which are believed to proceed from Daemons / there would have been, I conceive[, no] physical hypothesis implied, & yet the Gospel saved fro[m the] apparent Ignominy of having confirm[ed by] it's author[ity a beli]ef so wild & inhuman. In Dr Lardner's sec[ond] Instance I [do not] agree with him that 'it could not but [be a good] work to decide' that cause, as the Brother required -- On th[e contrary it] appears to me, that if Christ had done so, he would have [recognized?] institutions of individual Property / & the alliance of spiritu[al] authority with concerns of a purely secular Nature. But to [be more] orderly --. 1. It was not his business to instruct men in natural [phil]osophy -- Answer. True! But it was a grievous moral Error -- as well as physical absurdity -- & might have been removed without any decision in physics, at least so far as that his Religion could not have been chargeable with aiding & confirming it. 2. It was foreign to his Mission, which was to instruct men in the Principles of true Religion. Answer. True Principles cannot be taught but by the subversion of false ones. This is eminently the practice in the Gospel of Christ -- more than half of Christ's Discourse on the Mount is consumed in exploding errors -- elsewhere he is open & urgent in the same -- even so with St Paul / . Do, my dear Friend! read what Lardner says p. 462. 468. & 464. -- & then decide in your own mind on the baseness & pernicious effects of such a superstition / [You know human Nature too well not to know that a mind in terror of Spirits & attributing diseases to their malice may not be strictly idolatrous -- but it is impossible that such a mind can be a worshipper of the true Godin the proper, Christian, & spiritual meaning of worshippers in Spirit & in Truth. But not only did it imply frightful corruption, in the great article of all Religion, the moral attributes of God; but it must needs have had a bad effect & an anti-social Influence, on the intercourse between man & man. -- It is not fair, my dear Sir! to state it as a mere popular opinion / it was a reigning & inveterate superstition accompanied by the most wicked practices -- all the impostures & delusions of Exorcism / vide p. 486. 487. Yet so far are these Exorcists from being condemned by Christ, that their Innocence is cited by him to prove his own. Matth. XII. 27. 28. -- Dr Lardner's Exposition of these two Verses, p. 489. appears to me exceedingly arbitrary, & utterly destitute of probability or plausibility --. Indeed, I confess, it shocked me, in so dear & every way excellent a man / . If you see this matter in a different -823- Light, & approve of Lardner's Exposition, I will state my objections to it at length / at present I have no room on the paper. 8. It was not immediately connected with his Mission -- & there Ωμο δοкɛīwas no urgent Necessity. Answer. It was (Ω μο δοкɛî) immediately connected with his Mission / For how could those be deemed sane or proper judges of true miracles, who gave evidence in favor of false ones? St Paul (as Dr Lardner himself shews, p. 458) directly asserts the existence of wicked Spirits swarming in the air, [&] in a state of enmity to man. Eph. VI. 11. 12. Without pressing at all too hardly on the nature of evidence I think we may be permitted to say, that men who believed that six thousand Spirits dwelt in the Body of one man, & after they were forced to leave it, went into two thousand Pigs, three Devils to one Pig, must have been credulous or unreasoning men / & might, as far as this remained without a counterbalance / have been fairly challenged as unfit to be upon a Jury in a question of miracles. But God be praised! we can shew that an ample counterbalance did exist -- yet still Christianity is chargeable with having confirmed & taught a pernicious error -- / The infidelical argument from Christian War s, Crusades, &c is childish / Christianity was the pretext, not the cause -- but of the horrible Burnings & Drownings of thousands of Men & Women, as Witches, and all the irreverent & inhuman feelings towards aged & hypochondriacal People Christianity might seem to have been directly & properly the cause -- For when the Physicians & natural Philosophers earnestly laboured to inculcate humane & true opinions on this subject, they were silenced by the authority of the Gospel, and their efforts for a long time frustrated, as you may easily convince yourself by reading the controversies concerning Witches / I have stated the argument, as I wish to state every argument, with as much force as if I were a compleat convert to it --. I hope to hear from you on the subject / and then I will give you all I can say in solution of the Difficulty -- which I confess appears to me a very serious one. I meant to have said much to Mrs Estlin -- & I am at the end of the Paper. May God preserve & bless her, & you, & your little ones, your affect. & grateful Friend, Coleridge -824-