|Volume and Page:||Vol. 17 (1765), pp. 387–401|
|Translator:||Dena Goodman [University of Michigan]; Susan Emanuel [email@example.com]|
|Original Version (ARTFL):||Link|
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|Citation (MLA):||Naigeon, Jacques-André. "Unitarians." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Dena Goodman and Susan Emanuel. Ann Arbor: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library, 2010. Web. [fill in today's date in the form 18 Apr. 2009 and remove square brackets]. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0001.224>. Trans. of "Unitaires," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 17. Paris, 1765.|
|Citation (Chicago):||Naigeon, Jacques-André. "Unitarians." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Dena Goodman and Susan Emanuel. Ann Arbor: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library, 2010. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0001.224 (accessed [fill in today's date in the form April 18, 2009 and remove square brackets]). Originally published as "Unitaires," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 17:387–401 (Paris, 1765).|
Unitarians, a very famous sect whose founder was Fausto Socinus and that has long flourished in Poland and Transylvania.
The theological and philosophical dogmas of these sectarians were long the object of hatred, anathema, and persecutions from all Protestant communions. While other sectarians were also horrified by the Socinians, it does not appear that this was based on profound and thoughtful knowledge of their doctrine, which they never took the trouble to study, probably because of its small importance: in fact, gathering all they said about Socinianism in their polemical works, one finds that they have always spoken of them without having direct intelligence of the principles that served as its basis, and consequently they spoke with more partiality than moderation and charity.
For the rest, whatever the universal and just contempt into which the vain, puerile and contentious science that is called controversy has fallen among Protestants, it has facilitated their progress in the search for truth, by turning their ideas toward the most important subject and making them perceive in the intellectual sciences an ulterior breadth. Whether the flame of their reason is ignited by the sparks that they thought they saw burning in Socinian doctrine, or else misled by some apparently lively glimmers of light and by the bundles of luminous rays that they saw reflected from all points of this doctrine, they believed they found solid and demonstrative proofs of the strong and daring theories that characterized Socinianism. It is certain that the most wise, scholarly and enlightened among them have been for some time considerably drawn to the dogmas of the anti-Trinitarians. Add to this the tolerationism that (happily for humanity) seems to have won the general spirit of all communions both Catholic and Protestant, and you will have the true cause of the rapid progress that Socinianism has made in our day, and the deep roots that it has plunged into minds, roots whose ramifications, by continually developing and extending, cannot fail to make of Protestantism in general a perfect Socinianism that will slowly absorb all the various systems of these errants, and which will be like a common center of correspondence, where all their hypotheses, heretofore isolated and incoherent, will be united and will lose (if I may express it thus) — like the primitive elements of bodies in the universal system of nature — the particular sentiment of self in order to form by their universal copulation the consciousness of everything.
After having read and meditated upon with the most exact attention all that has been most strongly written against the Socinians, it has seemed to me that those who have fought their opinion have delivered very feeble blows that they necessarily need make little effort to parry. The Unitarians have always been regarded as Christian theologians who merely broke and tore out some branches of the tree, but remained connected to the trunk; whereas they should have been considered a sect of philosophers who, so as not to shock the cult too directly and the true or false received opinions, did not want to proclaim openly a pure deism, or reject formally and without qualification any kind of revelation; but who did continually with respect to the Old and New Testaments that which Epicurus did with regard to the gods — whom he accepted verbally but destroyed in fact. In fact, the Unitarians accepted in Scripture only what they found conforms to the natural light of reason, and served to back up and confirm the systems they had embraced. Since they regarded these works as purely human, which a bizarre and unforeseen course of circumstances (which might well not have ever happened) had made the object of faith and veneration of certain men in a certain part of the world, they did not attribute more authority to them than to the books of Plato and Aristotle, and treated them so in consequence (without ceasing to respect them, however – at least publicly).
The Socinians were thus a sect of hidden deists as are found in all Christian countries, who in order to philosophize peacefully and freely without having to fear being pursued by the law and magistrates, employed all their sagacity, dialectic, and subtlety to reconcile with as much science, skill and verisimilitude as possible the theological and metaphysical hypotheses laid out in Scripture with those they had chosen.
This, if I am not mistaken, is the point of view from which one must look at Socinianism, and for want of having made these observations, this is why it has been fought until now; there is so little advantage to be gained, in fact, by perpetually opposing the Unitarians with revelation. Is it not evident that they reject it — although they have never formally explained themselves on this subject? If they had accepted it, would they have spoken with so much irreverence of all the mysteries that the theologians have discovered in the New Testament? Would they have shown (with all the force of reasoning of which they were capable) the perpetual opposition there is between the first principles of reason and certain dogmas of the Gospels? In a word, would they have exposed it so often to the raillery of the profane by the ridicule they took pleasure in heaping upon most dogmas and moral principles, in line with this precept of Horace:
Fortius and melius magnas plerumque secat res.
[Ridicule more often settles things more thoroughly than acrimony.]
Such are the reflections that I thought I ought to make before entering into the subject; let us now make known the sentiments of the Unitarians ; and in order to do so with more order, precision, impartiality and clarity, let us present readers by means of analysis a general plan of their system extracted from their own writings. This is all the more fair because there were among them, as among all heretics, renegades who, either out of vengeance or for reasons of interest (that so powerful and so universal a motive) or for both reasons, and for other reasons as secret as perverse, have blackened, decried, and slandered the sect to try to make it odious, and to bring down persecution, anathema, and proscriptions upon it. So in order to avoid the traps that these minds so prejudiced and blinded by hatred might tender to our good faith, (whatever efforts we have made to discover the truth), and so as not to impute anything to the Socinians that they have not expressly taught, either as principles or as consequences, we will confine ourselves here to making an analytical extract of the works of Socinus, Crellius, Volkelius and other Unitarian scholars, both ancient and modern. To better develop their system, whose linkage is hard to grasp, we will gather with as much selection as exactitude all they have written that is most interesting and most profound. Out of all these fragments that are inactive and scattered in very diffuse and very abstract writings, we will try to form an uninterrupted chain of propositions that are sometimes distinct and sometimes dependent, which will all be like so many elementary and essential portions of a whole. But to succeed in this enterprise which is as painful as it is delicate, to the taste of philosophical readers (the only men on earth whose praise and suffrage the sage should want to earn), we will be careful to banish from our exposition all these discussions of controversy that have never discovered a truth, and which moreover smack of the schools and reveal the pedant. For this purpose, without trying to refute piece by piece all the paradoxes and all the impieties that the authors that we are going to analyze might deduce from the following paragraphs, we will content ourselves with referring exactly to the articles of this Dictionary, where one has responded to the difficulties of the Unitarians in a manner to satisfy any unprejudiced spirit, and where one will find on all the contested points the true principles of current orthodoxy posed in the most solid manner.
All the heresies of the Unitarians flow from the same source: they are the necessary consequences of the principles on which Socinus built his whole theology. These principles, which are also those of the Calvinists from whom they borrowed them, establish: 1.That the divinity of Scriptures can only be proven by reason.
2. That each person has the right and it is even expedient to follow his own mind in the interpretation of these same Scriptures, without stopping either at the authority of the Church or that of tradition.
3. That all the judgments of antiquity, the consent of all the Fathers, the decisions of ancient councils do not prove the truth of an opinion, from whence it follows that one should not care if those judgments proposed on the subject of religion have had supporters in antiquity or not.
If one wants to reflect even a little on the terms of these propositions and on the nature of the human mind, one will recognize that similar principles are capable of leading quite far astray a mind that is unfortunately rational, and that this first step once made, one no longer knows where one will stop. This is also what happened to the Unitarians, as the rest of this article will prove irresistibly. One will see the usage and applications that they made of these principles in their polemical disputes with the Protestants and where these principles led them. It will be, I think, a rather interesting spectacle, for readers who do not enjoy this kind of subject, to see with what subtlety these sectarians explain in their favor the various passages of scripture that the Catholics and Protestants use against them; with what art they escape those who press them, with what force they attack in their turn; with what address, with the aid of a fine dialectic, they complicate an apparently simple question, multiply the difficulties that surround it, and discover the weakness of their adversaries’ arguments in their retorts, and thus making vanish the immense distances that separate them from orthodoxies — in a word, how, rejecting little by little the dogmas that are opposed to reason, and retaining only those that accord with it and with their hypotheses, they have managed to gradually make a religion in their fashion, which is at bottom, as I have already implied, only a pure deism rather artificially disguised.
One might report the theological opinions of the Unitarians under seven principal headings: 1. The Church; 2. Original Sin, grace and predestination; 3. Man and sacraments; 4. Eternity of punishment and resurrection; 5. Mystery of the trinity; 6. Incarnation, or the person of Jesus Christ; 7. Ecclesiastical disciplines, politics and morality. These are stems that each embrace an infinity of branches and offshoots of heterodox principles.
On the Church . The Unitarians say:
That what is called the visible church has never existed and will never exist.
That there are no sure and distinct signs that designate the true church.
That one should not expect from the Church the doctrine of divine truth, and that nobody is obliged to find and examine what this true church might be.
That the Church has entirely fallen but can be reestablished with the writings of apostles.
That it is not the character of the true Church to condemn all those who are not of its sentiment, or to guarantee that outside it there is no salvation.
That the apostolic Church does not err on matters necessary to salvation, although it might err on other points of doctrine.
That there is only the word of God interpreted by healthy reason that can determine for us the fundamental points of salvation.
That the Anti-Christ began to reign when their Roman pontiffs began their reign and it is then that the laws of Christ began to wane.
That when Jesus Christ said to Saint Peter “you are the rock, and on this rock I will build my church,” there was nothing promised and given to Peter other than what was promised and given to the other apostles.
That it is useless and ridiculous to want to base upon these words of Jesus Christ, “that the gates of hell will never prevail against it,” that the church cannot be seduced and overthrown by the devil’s schemes.
That the meaning of this promise is that hell, or the power of hell, will never prevail over those who are truly Christians, that is to say, they will not remain in the condition of the dead.
That the keys that Jesus Christ gave to Saint Peter are nothing other than a power that he was left to declare and pronounce who belongs to the kingdom of heaven and who does not, meaning those who belong to the condition of Christians and whom God wants to remain in this life by his grace and in the other by the eternal glory with which he will crown them. They add:
Thus it is in vain that doctors of the Roman communion rely on this passage to prove that Saint Peter was established as head of the Catholic Church. In fact, when they have clearly proved this thesis they have still done nothing if they do not show that the promises made to Saint Peter also regard his successors; instead of which, most of the [Church] fathers have believed that they were personal privileges, such as Tertullian in his book on chastity (chap. xxi) who speaks thus to Pope Zephirin: if because the Lord said to Peter, On this rock I will build my church and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and all that you bind or unbind on earth will be bound or unbound in heaven, if, I say, because of that, you imagine that the power of unbinding or binding has passed to you, that is to say, to all the churches founded by Peter, who are you, who overthrow and change the clear intention of the Lord who conferred this personally on Peter? On you , he said, I will build my Church and I will give you the keys — and not to the Church and all that you will unbind, not that they will unbind.
After having proven that these privileges are not personal, you would have to prove:
That they concern only the bishops of Rome, to the exclusion of those of Antioch.
That they concern all without exception and without conditions, that is to say, that each and every pope is infallible, in fact and in law, against the experience and sentiment of most Roman Catholic theologians.
You would have to define what the catholic church is and show by formal passages that these terms mark the body of pastors that is called the representative church, which is impossible, whereas it is very easy to see that the Church always signifies in Scripture the people and simple faithful, in contrast to the pastors; and in this sense there is nothing more absurd than all that is said of the power of the church and its privileges, since it is only the body of subjects of the pope and Roman clergy; they are subjects who, far from making decisions, have only submission and obedience as their share.
After all that you would have to prove that the privileges given to Saint Peter and the bishops of Rome his successors, did not carry only a primacy of order, and some authority over things concerning discipline and government of the church (which the Protestants might grant without prejudice to their cause), but they moreover mark a primacy of jurisdiction, sovereignty, and infallibility in matters of faith, which it is impossible to prove by Scripture and all the monuments that remain to us from antiquity; which is moreover contradictory, since the credence of a fact or a dogma derives from persuasion and cannot be forced. What are the Roman Catholics thinking of when they accuse the Protestants of stubbornness over their refusal to embrace an hypothesis that presupposes so many doubtful principles, of which most are contested even among the theologians of Rome; and ask them to obey the church without telling them distinctly who this church is, or what the submission being demanded consists of, or how far it should be extended?” 
It is by these arguments and other similar ones that the Socinians demolish the visibility, indestructibility, infallibility, and the other traits or prerogatives of the church: the primacy of the Pope, etc. Such is the first step that they took in error, but what is sadder for them is that this first step then determined their faith. We are rendering a significant service to the Christian religion in general, and to Catholicism in particular, by showing attentive readers, especially those who are weak and flagging in their faith, how one is going to be imperceptibly lost when one moves away from the pure and unchanging belief of the Church and refuses to recognize it as sovereign and infallible judge of the controversies and true meaning of Scripture. See Church, Pope, and Infallibility .
2. On original sin, grace and predestination . The second step of our sectarians was an act of rebellion no less striking; not wanting (by a blindness that one cannot overly deplore) to abide by the wise decisions of the church, they dared to examine what it had pronounced on original sin, grace and predestination, and to bring a curious eye to bear on these mysteries inaccessible to reason. One might believe that they debated for a long time in these shadows without having been able to dissipate them, but they claim to have found in Pelagianism (and extreme semi-Pelagianism) the points closest to truth. Strongly reviving these ancient heresies, they say:
That the doctrine of original sin as imputed and inherent is evidently impious.
That Moses never taught this dogma, which makes God unjust and cruel. and for which one searches in vain in his books.
That we owe to Saint Augustine this doctrine that they treat as desolate and prejudicial to religion.
That he introduced it into a world where it had been unknown for 4,400 years, but that his authority should not be preferred to that of Scripture, which says not a word about this so-called original corruption or its consequences.
That however when one should find in the Bible some obscure passage that would favor this system (which they say is certainly impossible, for some violence has been done to the sacred text), one would necessarily have to believe that these passages were corrupted, interpolated, or badly translated:
“for there can be nothing in the Scriptures that does not accord with reason: any interpretation, any dogma that does not conform to it cannot have a place in theology, since one is not obliged to believe anything that reason assures us is false.”
From which they conclude:
That there is no moral corruption or perverse inclination that we inherit from out ancestors.
That man is naturally good.
That to say (as do some theologians) that he is incapable of doing good without the particular grace of the Holy Spirit is to break the strongest links that attach him to virtue and to tear away from him, so to speak, that self-esteem and love of self (two principles equally useful that have their source in man’s nature, and which merely have to be well directed to give rise in all ages and among all peoples, to a multitude of sublime and striking actions that require the greatest self-sacrifice.
That, in a word, this is to advance a false and dangerous maxim with which one can never make good morality.
They ask why Christians need this supernatural help to order their conduct according to right reason, since the Pagans by their own forces and without any rule other than the voice of nature that is heard in all men, were able to be just, honest, virtuous, and to advance along the paths of heaven.
They say that if there are not in the understanding shadows so thick that education, study and application cannot dissipate them, no vicious sin or bad habit that one cannot rectify with time, will, and the sanction of laws, then it follows that any man can — without internal grace — attain prefect sanctity here below.
That such help would destroy the animal merit of his works and would annihilate, not his liberty (for they claim that this liberty is a chimera), but the spontaneity of his actions.
That far from the wise man being able reasonably to attain such grace, he himself must work to make himself good, to rely on his own strength, vanquish difficulties and temptations by his continual efforts toward the good, dominate his passions through reason and arrest their hold through study; but that if he waits for supernatural help, he will perish in his security.
That it is certain that God does not interfere with the wills of men by means of a secret agreement that puts them in motion.
That they have no more need of his help ad hoc than for his assistance to move and his inspiration to determine actions.
That their actions are the necessary results of various impressions that external objects make on their organs, and of the fortuitous assemblage of an infinite series of causes, etc. See Original Sin, Grace, etc.
With respect to predestination, they claim: that there is no decree from god by which he predestined for all eternity those who will be saved and those who will not; that such a decree (if it existed) would be worthy of the bad principle of the Manicheans; they cannot conceive that a dogma so barbarous, so injurious to divinity, so revolting to reason (however it is explained) could be accepted in almost all Christian communions, who treat as impious those who reject it and who hold firmly to what reason and sanely interpreted Scripture teach them in this regard. See Predestination and Decree, where we examine what St. Paul teaches on this obscure and difficult matter.
Concerning man and the sacraments . In seeing the Unitarians reject so boldly the ineffable dogmas of original sin, grace, and predestination, one might think that they had no more respect for what the Church and the holy councils have sagely determined touching men and the sacraments . The opinion of our sectarians may be regarded as the third step they took in the direction of error, but in this they only follow Socinus' sentiment, which served as their guide. I make this remark because they have not adopted without exception all the sentiments of their leader, but no sect pushes freedom of thought and independence from all authority farther. So Socinus says:
That it is a gross error to imagine that God made the first man endowed with all the great advantages, which Catholics like most of the Reformed, attribute to him in the state of innocence, such as original justice, immortality, the rightness of will, enlightened understanding, etc., or to think natural death and mortality entered into the world by means of sin.
That not only was man before his fall no more immortal than he is today, but he was not even truly righteous since he was not faultless.
That if he had not yet sinned, it was because he had not had the occasion.
That therefore one cannot assert he was righteous, since it cannot be proved that he abstained from sinning if he did not have the occasion, etc.
As regards the sacraments, he claims:
That it is evident to anyone who reasons without prejudice that they are neither marks that confer grace nor seals of the alliance that confirm it, but marks simply of profession of faith.
That baptism is necessary neither as a precept nor as a means.
That it was not instituted by Jesus Christ and so the Christian may ignore it without any disadvantage.
That therefore one should baptize neither infants, adults, nor any man.
That baptism might have been of use in the birth of Christianity to those who were leaving paganism in order to make public their profession of faith and for it to be its authentic mark, but in the present it is absolutely useless and completely indifferent. See Baptism and Sacraments.
As for the use of the Eucharist , according to him, unless one wants to indulge in the most ridiculous visions, one must believe:
That the bread and wine are nothing other than eating bread and drinking wine, even if they are taken in ceremony, either spiritually or bodily.
That God places no virtue in the bread or the wine of the Eucharist, which remain always the same as in nature although they are said to be transubstantiated. See Transubstantiation.
That the utility of making this oral manducation in the name of all, or with the assembled faithful participating, is only instituted by an act of grace that can quite well take place without this formula; in a word, that communion is not a sacrament.
That its only purpose is to remind us of the memory of the death of Jesus Christ, and it is absurd to think that it procures some new grace or that it keeps us in those we have See Eucharist and Shame.
That the same is true of other ceremonies that are called sacraments .
That one might, without fearing to stray from the truth, reject their practice and efficacy.
That as for marriage, it should be among all people on earth only a purely civil contract.
That only by instituting it as such through a small number of wise and unvarying laws (but always relative to the political constitution, climate, and general spirit of the nation for which they are designed), might one repair the infinite evils of all kinds that this link, if considered as sacred and indissoluble, has caused in all states where Christianity is established. See Marriage [Natural law, Theology, Jurisprudence] and Population.
Fourth Step: On the eternity of punishment and resurrection . We have just seen Socinus make efforts as scandalous as they are useless and impious in order to destroy the efficacy, necessity, validity, and sanctity of the sacraments. We are going to see in this paragraph the rash sectarians march blindly along his dangerous path as they pass rapidly from rejection of sacraments to the eternity of punishment and of the resurrection, dogmas no less sacred than the preceding ones and on which most Unitarians admit straightforwardly the sentiments of the Origenists and Sadduccees, condemned long ago by the Church. To show to what point this heterodox sect pushes freedom of thought and furious innovation in religion, I am going to translate here three or four extracts from their books on this subject. It will be a new confirmation of what I said above on the need for an infallible judge of faith, and at the same time a terrible lesson for those who do not want their understanding to be captivated by obedience to faith, captiventes intellectum ad obsequium fidei, to use the very terms of Saint Paul. But let us listen to our refractory heretics: “It is certain,” they say,
that of all the hollow ideas, of all the absurd and often impious dogmas that Catholic and Protestant theologians have advanced as so many heavenly oracles, there is perhaps none, except the Trinity and the Incarnation, against which reason furnishes the strongest and most solid objections than against the resurrection of bodies and the eternity of punishment . The first of these opinions is in truth only an extravagant reverie, which will never seduce a good mind since it has no tincture of physical experiment, but the second is a blasphemy that every good Christian should view with horror. Heavens! What an idea to have of God, if this hypothesis were actually plausible! How can these souls of stone, who dare to determine the degree and duration of torments that the Supreme Being will inflict, according to them, on impenitent sinners, how can they without trembling announce this terrible decree? By what right and title do they thus exclude themselves and give themselves an exemption from the punishments with which they so inhumanly threaten their brothers? Who told these men of blood that they were not pronouncing their own condemnation and that they would not one day be obliged too implore the infinite clemency and mercy of this being (supremely good) that they today represent as a cruel and implacable father who can only be made happy by the misery and eternal torment of his children? I will not destroy forever; I will never be indignant forever, says God in Isaiah . After so pointed a text (and so many others just as decisive that we might report), who are the theologians still crazy enough to declare in favor of an opinion that so directly injures the most essential attributes of divinity, and consequently its existence? How can one believe that it punishes eternally things that are not eternal and infinite, or that it exercises continual vengeance on beings that can never offend it, whatever they do? But supposing that man can really offend God (a proposition that appears as absurd as it is impious), what an enormous disproportion there would be between a passing fault, a momentary disorder, and an eternal punishment? An equitable judge should not want to make a guilty person suffer eternal punishment for temporal sins that lasted only a while. Why then does one want God to be less just and more cruel than he? Moreover, as a very famous author  says so well, a torment that does not have any end or reprieve cannot be of any utility to the person who suffers it, nor to him who inflicts it; it cannot be useful to man if is not for him a state of improvement, and it cannot be such if it leaves no room for repentance, if he does not have time to breathe or to reflect on his condition. The eternity of punishment is thus wholly incompatible with the wisdom of God, since according to this hypothesis he would be evil only for the pleasure of being so. See the Collection of the Polish Brothers.
Let us say more: if what are called just and unjust, virtue and vice, were such by nature and did not depend on the arbitrary institutions of men, then there might be a good and a bad morality properly speaking, founded on immutable and eternal relations of equity and goodness anterior to political laws and consequently beings who are morally good and bad ; such beings might be under God’s jurisdiction and might be meritorious or not vis-à-vis Him; He might punish them or reward them in his own City. But as the terms just and unjust, virtue and vice , are absolutely unintelligible abstract, metaphysical words if they are not applied to physical, sensible beings united together by an express or tacit act of association; it then follows that all that is useful or harmful to the general and particular good of society is for it the true and sole measure of the just and unjust, of virtue and vice, and that consequently there are really no good or bad people , virtuous or vicious people, other than those who do good or evil to the political body of which they are members, and who infringe or observe the laws. Therefore there is no morality, strictly speaking, in human actions; it is not up to God to punish or reward, but up to civil laws; for what would one say of a sovereign who arrogated the right to have tortured in his states those who committed infractions of the laws established in neighboring states? Moreover, why would God punish the evil-doers? Why even would he hate them? What then is the evil-doer but an organized machine that acts out of the irresistible impulse of certain springs that move him in some direction or other, and which determine him necessarily to do evil? But if a watch is badly regulated, is the watchmaker who made it in a situation to complain of the irregularity of its movement? And would it not be unjust (or rather folly) to require of it perfection in the effect if there was none in the cause? Here the watchmaker is God, or nature, of which all men, good or bad, are the handiwork. It is true that Saint Paul did not want the vase to say to the potter, why did you make me thus? But, as an illustrious philosopher remarks judiciously,  this is well and good if the potter did not require of the vase services that he did not put it in a state to render; but if he was angry with the vase for not being suitable for a use for which he did not make it, would the vase be wrong to say to him, why did you make me thus?
As to us, we believe firmly that if there is a life to come, then all men, without exception, will enjoy the supreme happiness, according to the express words of the apostle: God wants all men to be saved . If by the impossible chance there were a single unfortunate person, the objection against the existence of God would be strong enough on account of this sole being as for all of humankind. How can those pitiless theologians who strain with so much bad faith in their writing to find proofs of the eternity of punishment and consequently the injustice of God, how can they not see that everything that Jesus Christ and his apostles said on the torments of hell is only allegorical and similar to what was written by the poets  about Ixion, Sisyphus, Tantalus, etc., and that in speaking thus Jesus Christ and his disciples were simply accommodating the received opinions of their time among people for whom fear of hell might sometimes serve as a brake in the absence of good legislation? See the Collection of the Polish Brothers .
One may see under the word Hell , what we use against these Socinian ideas. Let us say here that what renders their conversion impossible is that they combat our dogma with philosophical reasoning, when they ought merely to submit themselves humbly and impose silence on their reason, since finally we travel by faith and not by sight, as St. Paul says so well.
Whatever the case, let us see what they have thought about the resurrection. They say, then:
That it is easy to see (if one reflects attentively) that it is metaphysically impossible for the particles of a human body, which time has dispersed in a thousand places in the universe, to ever be assembled even by the efficacy of divine power.
That an English author, as profound a theologian as he was a good physicist (who has never been reproached with favoring their sentiments), appears to have been struck by the weight and importance of this objection, and that he neglected nothing to present it forcefully. They quote a passage from this author, of which here is a translation:
Everyday one knows and sees with one’s own eyes that the ashes and particles of cadavers are in a thousand ways dispersed by land and sea, and not only over all the earth, but also being raised into the region of the air, by the heat and attraction of the sun, they are thrown and dissipated in a thousand different climates; and they are not only dispersed, but are also inserted into the bodies of animals, trees, and other things from whence they cannot be easily withdrawn. Finally in the transmigration of these corpuscles into other bodies, these parts of particles take on new forms and figures, and do not retain the same qualities or the same nature.
This difficulty being felt strongly by those who are capable of reflection and those who do not humbly indulge in popular errors; we ask if this miracle of which we have just spoken, if this collection of all these ashes, all these particles dispersed in a million places and metamorphosed into a thousand sort of different bodies, is in the order of what is possible.
There are several persons who doubt this, and who, in order to prop up their incredulity, allege the voracity of certain nations and certain cannibals who eat each other and are nourished by human flesh; with this supposition, here is how they reason: that in this case it would be impossible for the same flesh that contributed to make the flesh in so many different bodies in alternation, might be returned numerically and specifically to various bodies at the same time.
But why do we get hung up on this small number of cannibals? We are all flesh-eaters and we all wallow in the remains and cadavers of other men, not immediately, but after some transmutations into plants and in these animals we eat our ancestors or some parts of them. If the ashes of each man had been sealed and conserved in urns since the creation of the world, or rather if the cadavers of all men had been converted into mummies and so remained whole or almost, so there would be some hope of reassembling all the bodily parts, not having been mixed up in other bodies; but as cadavers are almost always dissolved and dissipated, and as their parts are mixed in other bodies that they exhale into the air, and as they then fall back down in rain and dew, and as they are imbibed by roots, which help in the production of grains, cereals and fruits, from which, by a continual circulation they re-enter human bodies and become again human bodies. It is possible that by an almost infinite circuit the same matter might undergo different metamorphoses and might inhabit more bodies than did the soul of Pythagoras. But matter cannot be returned to each of these bodies in the resurrection, for if it is returned to the first men who existed, as appears just, there will be no more for those who came after them; and if it is given to the latter, this will be to the prejudice of their ancestors. Let us suppose, for example, that the first descendants of Adam (or the men of the first centuries) asked for their bodies back and then the people of each succeeding century also sought theirs, it would happen that the most remote nephews of Adam or the last inhabitants of the earth would have barely enough matter to make half-bodies. 
5. Fifth Step . We have arrived at the incomprehensible but divine mystery of the Trinity, that eternal subject of scandal to the Socinians , the cause of their division with the Protestants, that dogma they have attacked with such fervor that they have earned the nickname anti-Trinitarians .
They began by renewing the ancient heresies of Paul of Samosata and Arius, but, soon claiming that the Arians had given too much credit to Jesus Christ, they declared themselves clearly Photinians and above all Sabellians, but they gave new force to the objections of these heresiarchs and indeed added new ones of their own; finally, they omitted none of the reasons they believed capable of uprooting from the heart of the faithful a dogma so necessary to salvation and also essential to faith and to good morals.
To make known their idea on this dogma, it suffices to say that they maintain that nothing is more contrary to right reason than what is taught among Christians touching the Trinity of persons in a single divine essence, of which the second is engendered by the first, and the third proceeds from the two others.
That this unintelligible doctrine is not found anywhere in Scripture.
That one cannot produce a single passage that gives it authority and to which one could not, without departing in some way from the spirit of the text, give a clearer and more natural sense, more in accord with common notions and primitive and immutable truths.
That to maintain, as do their adversaries, that there are several distinct persons in the divine essence and that it is not the eternal one that is the sole true God, but that one has to join to Him the Son and the Holy Spirit, is to introduce into the church of Jesus Christ the grossest and most dangerous error; since this means openly favoring Polytheism.
That it implies a contradiction to say that there is only one God and that nevertheless there are three persons , each of which is truly God.
That this distinction, one in essence and three in persons , was never in Scripture.
That it is manifestly false, since it is certain there are no fewer essences than persons and persons than essences .
That the three persons of the Trinity are either three different substances, or else accidents of the divine essence, or else this same essence without distinction.
That in the first case one makes three gods.
That in the second one makes God composed of accidents, one adores accidents, and one metamorphoses accidents into persons.
That in the third, it is useless and without foundation to divide an indivisible subject by distinguishing as three what cannot be distinguished from itself.
That if one says that the three personalities are neither different substances in the divine essence, nor accidents of this essence, one will have trouble being persuaded that they are anything at all. One must not believe that the most rigid and decided Trinitarians have themselves any clear idea of the way in which the three hypostases subsist in God, without dividing its substance and consequently without multiplying it.
That St. Augustine himself, after having put forward on this subject a thousand reasons as false as they were vague, was forced to admit that one could not say anything intelligible on the subject.
They then report the passage from this [Church] father, which is indeed quite singular: “When one asks,” he says,
what the three are, the language of men is inadequate and we lack terms to express them; yet three persons has been said , not to say something but because one has to speak and not remain silent.
Dictum est tamen tres personae, non ut alliquid diceretur, sed ne taseretur. De Trinitate , book, V, chap. ix .
That modern theologians have not illuminated this subject any better.
That when one asks them what they understand by the word person , they explain it only by saying that it is a certainly incomprehensible distinction to divide a nature single in number into a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit.
That the explanation they give of the terms engender and proceed is no more satisfactory, since it is reduced to saying that these terms mark certain incomprehensible relations that exist between the three persons of the trinity .
That one might gather from the state of the question between the orthodox ones and them consists of knowing whether there is in God three distinctions of which nobody has any idea and among which there exist certain relations nobody has any idea about either.
From all this they conclude that it would be wiser to stick to the authority of the apostles, who never spoke of the trinity , and to banish forever from religion all the terms that are not in Scripture like trinity, persons, essence, hypostasis, hypostatic union and personal union, incarnation, generation, procession, and so many other similar ones that are absolutely devoid of meaning, since they have in nature no real representative being and cannot excite in the understanding anything except false, vague, obscure and incomplete notions. See the word Trinity , where these arguments are examined and reduced to their just value, where the mystery contained therein is explained. See also in the Nouvelles de la republique des letters of Bayle (1685) the parallel between the trinity and the three dimensions of matter.
6. Sixth step . On incarnation and the person of Jesus Christ the Unitarians are no less removed from the pure and holy faith of the Church. Since they have destroyed the mystery of the trinity, they must as a consequence attack even the foundations of the incarnation , for these two ineffable mysteries requiring in order to be believed the same sacrifice of reason to authority, they would never be followed if they accepted one and rejected the other. But unfortunately, they are only too consequential, as may be seen by all the preceding.
Whatever the case, they claim:
That the opinion of those who say that the Word, or the second person of the trinity, was united hypostatically with the humanity of Jesus Christ, and that by virtue of this personal union of divine nature with human, it is God and man together, is false and contradictory.
That this incarnate God never existed except in the empty mind of those mystics who made a virtue (or a divine external manifestation) into a distinct hypostasis, against the natural sense of the terms used by Saint John.
That when he says that the Word became flesh , this does not mean anything except that the flesh of Jesus Christ was the glorious cloud through which God made himself visible in this latter time, and whence he made his will heard.
That it would be to create an illusion, and give to these words clear in themselves the most forced interpretation, to understand them as if they signified that God is truly incarnate, whereas they refer only to a simple presence of assistance and operation.
That if you read the first verses of the Gospel of Saint John with both attention and impartiality, and if you do not look for more mystery there than there really is, you will be convinced that the author never thought either of the pre-existence of a word distinct from God, or of God himself, or of the incarnation .
Not content with accommodating Scripture to their hypotheses, they maintain:
That the incarnation was useless, and that even with the liveliest faith it is impossible to see any good in it.
They relate God’s sending his son for the salvation of men to the famous passage of Horace:
Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodues Inciderit . [No God should intervene unless there be a knot worthy of his cutting.]
If one replies that it took no less than the blood of a man-God to expiate our sins and to redeem us, they ask why God needed this incarnation and why instead of abandoning his son to suffering, ignominy, and death, God, dual and consubstantial with him, did not on the contrary change the heart of all men, or rather why he did not effect in all eternity their sanctification by a single act of will.
They say that this latter economy accords better with the ideas we have of the infinite power, wisdom and goodness of God.
That the hypothesis of the incarnation confounds and obscures all these ideas and multiplies the difficulties instead of resolving them.
Catholics and Protestants rightly confront them with all the texts of Scripture; but the Unitarians maintain to the contrary that if we had been limited to the New Testament alone, Jesus Christ would not have been made a God. To confirm this opinion, they cite a very singular passage from Eusebius ( Ecclesiastical History I, I, chap. 2), where this father says:
that it is absurd and contrary to all reason that the non-gendered and immutable nature of the All-Powerful God should take the form of a man, and that Scripture should forge similar falsehoods.
To this passage they join two others no less strange: one from Justin Martyr and the other from Tertullian, who say the same thing. 
If one objects to the Socinians that Jesus Christ is called God in holy letters, they reply that this is only a metaphor for the great power given him by the Father.
That this word God has two meanings in Scripture: first, as the great and only God , and second as someone who has received from this supreme being an extraordinary authority or virtue, or who participates in some way in the perfections of the divinity.
That it is in the latter sense that it is said sometimes in Scripture that Jesus Christ is God , although he is really just a simple man, who did not exist before his birth, who was conceived in the manner of other men and not by the operation of the Holy Spirit, and who is not a divine person but only the virtue and efficacy of God, etc.
Socinus then annihilates the redemption of Jesus Christ and reduces what he did to having given men examples of heroic virtues; but what proves the little respect that he had for the New Testament is what he says on the satisfaction of Jesus Christ in one of his works addressed to a theologian. He writes:
“Even if the opinion of our adversaries should be found written, not only once but often in sacred writings, I would not however believe that it goes as you think, for as this is impossible, I would interpret the passages by giving them a wide meaning, as I do with others in several passages of Scripture.”
The Seventh Step . On ecclesiastical discipline, politics and morality, the Unitarians have advanced opinions that are no les singular, no less heterodox, and that joined with the preceding, manage to show (one cannot too often repeat) that in starting from the rejection of an infallible authority with respect to faith and in submitting all religious doctrines to the tribunal of reason, they are taking great strides toward deism; but what is sadder still, is that deism is itself (whatever its apologists say) only an inconsequential religion, and that to want to stop there is to err inconsequentially and to throw the anchor into moving sands. This seems to me very easy to demonstrate if this were the place, but it is better to follow our sectarians and complete the picture of their theological errors by exposing their sentiments on the points that are the subject of this article.
They say that there is in all Christian states a political vice that has been until now an unfailing source of evil and disorders of all kinds.
That the harmful effects become day by day more apparent, and sooner or later it will lead infallibly to the ruin of these empires if the sovereigns do not hasten to destroy it.
This vice is the usurped and therefore unjust power of ecclesiastics, which, forming in each state a body apart that has its own laws, privileges, police, and sometimes its own leader, breaks in this way that union of all forces and wills that should be the distinctive character of any political society that is well constituted and introduces in reality two masters in the place of one.
That it is easy to see how such a government is vicious, and even contrary to the fundamental pact of legitimate association.
That the more the resulting evil is apparent, the more one has reason to be astonished that sovereigns, who are even more interested than their subjects in arresting its rapid progress, have not long ago shaken off the yoke of this sacerdotal power that tends ceaselessly to invade everything.
That for them, constantly animated by love of truth and the public good, despite the cruel persecutions for which this love has made them so often the victims, Unitarians will dare establish on this matter that is so important for all men in general, a small number of principles that, by affirming the rights and the too-long divided and consequently weakened powers of sovereigns, in whatever manner they are represented, will serve at the same time to give to various political bodies a more solid and durable foundation. After this singular preamble, our sectarians enter into the subject and pose as a principle, that a sure and invariable rule (from which those who in whatever government have legitimacy of sovereignty should never depart, under any pretext whatever) is one that all philosopher-legislators have reasonably regarded as the fundamental law of every good polity, which Cicero expressed in these terms: Salus populi surema lex est [The welfare of the people is the supreme law.]
That from this incontestable maxim, without the observance of which any government is unjust, tyrannical, and thereby subject to revolutions, it follows:
1. That there is no religious doctrine that is truly divine and obligatory or any morality that is really good, except those that are useful to the political society to which they are destined; and that consequently any religion and any morality that tends (followings its spirit and nature) in a way both direct and effective, to the principal goal that all civil and legitimate governments ought to have, is good and in this sense revealed, whatever its other principles.
2. That what is called in certain states the word of God , should always be merely the word of the law , or if one prefers, the formal expression of the general will governing all subjects.
3. That a religion which claims to be the only true one is by that very fact bad for all governments, since it is necessarily intolerant by principle.
4. That the frivolous disputes of Theologians being so often harmful to the states in which they arise only because too much importance is attached to them, and that people falsely imagine that the cause of God is at stake; it is prudence and wisdom of the legislative body to not pay the least attention to these quarrels and leave to ecclesiastics, as well as to all subjects, the freedom to serve God according to the light of their conscience:
To believe and write what they want about religion, politics, and morality.
To attack even the most ancient opinions.
To propose to the sovereign the abrogation of a law that appears to them unjust or prejudicial in some way to the good of the community.
To enlighten him about the means of improving legislation and preventing usurpations of the government.
To determine exactly the nature and limits of the reciprocal rights and duties of the prince and subjects.
To complain loudly about embezzlements and the tyranny of magistrates and to demand their resignation or punishment, according to the case.
In a word, that it is the justice of the sovereign not to harm in any way the freedom of citizens, who should be subject to the laws alone and not to the blind caprice of an executive and tyrannical power.
5. That in order to remove from priests the authority they have usurped and tear forever from their hands the still bloody sword of superstition and fanaticism, the most effective means is to persuade the people forcefully:
That no religion is exclusively good.
That the form of worship most agreeable to God, if God can still require it of men, is obedience to the laws of the state.
That the true saints are the good citizens, and sensible people will never recognize others.
That no one is impious toward the gods except those who break the social contract.
In a word, that one must not regard, respect, or love religion, whichever it may be, but simply as an institution of public order [une pure institution de police relative ] , which the sovereign may modify, change, and even abolish from one moment to another, without the alleged spiritual health of his subjects being for that reason endangered. Here, it must be said that the end is more excellent than the means — but let us continue.
6. That the privileges and immunities of ecclesiastics being one of the most pernicious abuses that can be introduced into a state, it is in the sovereign’s interest to remove without any restriction or limitation the shocking distinctions and exemptions granted by the superstitions of centuries of darkness, which tend directly toward the division of the empire . See [Daniel Bargeton], Lettres. Ne repugnate vestro bono [London, 1750].
7. Finally, that the celibacy of priests, monks and other ministers of religion, having caused for several centuries (and still causing every day) frightful evils in states, where it is regarded as a divine institution and as such ordered by the prince; one cannot too hastily abolish this law, which is barbarous and destructive to all civil society, and is visibly contrary to the goal of nature, since it is against the propagation of the species and unjustly deprives sensible beings of the sweetest pleasure of life, and to which all their senses tell them at every moment that they have the right, the strength, and the desire to enjoy. See Celibacy and Population.
That the advantages of this plan of legislation are evident to those whose wide and deep political views are not confined to a servile following of those of their governors.
That it is to be wished for the good of humanity that sovereigns would hurry to follow it and to prevent by this new system of administration all the innumerable miseries and crimes of all kinds of which the tyrannical power of priests and their religious disputes have been so often the cause, principally since the establishment of Christianity, etc.
Other less brave Unitarians, with Socinus at their head, have very different ideas about discipline and morality and are content to say along with him:
That a Christian is not allowed to make war, or to enter into it, even under the authority and command of a prince, or to employ the assistance of a magistrate to take revenge for an injury.
That to make war is always to do evil and to act against Jesus Christ’s formal precept.
That Jesus Christ forbade individual oaths even when made to ensure certain things (Socinus modifies his opinion by adding that if matters are important, one may swear).
That a Christian may not exercise the office of magistrate if in this employment violence must be used.
That Christians cannot give this legal office to anybody.
That Christians are not permitted to defend their lives nor those of others by force, even against thieves and other enemies, if they can defend them otherwise, because it is impossible for a truly pious man, who confides himself to Him sincerely, to find himself in those fractious encounters where he wants to save himself at the expense of the life of his neighbor.
That the murder one commits against one’s aggressor is a greater crime that that committed out of vengeance, for in vengeance one gives back in kind, but defending oneself against a thief or an enemy means killing someone who had only the will to cause fear in order to steal more easily.
That ministers, preachers, doctors, and others have no need of a mission or vocation.
That the words of Saint Paul, how can they preach if they have not been sent ? do not extend to all sorts of preaching but only to the preaching of a new doctrine, such as that of the apostles in relation to the Gentiles.
Socinians act accordingly, for in their religious assemblies, all present have the freedom to speak. One of them begins a chapter of Scripture and when he has read a few verses that form a complete meaning, the one who reads and those who listen speak their feelings if they consider it relevant to what has just been read; this is the sum total of their exterior worship.
Here I finish the exposition of the theological opinions of Unitarians ; I do not have the courage to follow them in all their details: on the way that the canon of sacred books was formed, or the authors that are collected there; on the question of whether they were really written by those whose names they bear, on the nature of the apocryphal books and on the prejudice they cause to Christian religion; on the poverty and ambiguities of the Hebrew language, on the antiquity of the Masora; on the infidelity and inexactitude of most versions of Scripture, on the varieties of readings found there, on the frequency of Hebraic expressions found in the New Testament; on the style of the apostles, on the caution with which one must read the interpreters and commentators of the Bible; on the necessity of going back to the originals in order not to give them a meaning contrary to the subject of sacred writers – in a word, on several points of criticism and controversy, essential to the truth, but discussion of which would take us too far away. It suffices for me to have given on the most important subjects of Theology a general idea of the doctrine of the Socinians , extracted from their own writings. Nothing is more capable, it seems to me, than such a reading of intimidating those who have removed themselves from the Roman Communion and who refuse to recognize an infallible judge of faith; I do not say the Pope, for that would be to declare oneself against the liberties of the Gallican Church, but in the general councils presided over by the Pope.
After having proved by the Unitarian example the need to resort to a similar judge to decide matters of faith, it remains for me (to fulfill my project) to give a concise summary of the philosophy of the Socinians ; here will be found new proofs of how far away one can fall when one wishes to use one’s own reason; and it will be seen that this manner of philosophizing is basically the art of “unbelieving,” if one may use this term. To express more clearly the thoughts of our heretics, let us follow the same method we used in the preceding exposition.
Socinus and his sectarians unanimously recognize God, that is, a single pre-existing being, necessary, eternal, universal, infinite and necessarily containing an infinite number of attributes and properties, but at the same time they deny that this idea is natural and innate.  They claim:
That it is only by taking the word God in its widest sense (to be clear, by establishing a system of forces and properties, as a precise idea that is representative of his substance) that one can assure oneself without fear of being mistaken that the proposition, there is a God , has all the evidence of first principles.
That the better one knows the full strength of the metaphysical and physical objections (both equally unsolvable) that man, left to his own reflections, can make against the existence of God considered as distinct from the world and against Providence, then the more one is convinced that it is absolutely impossible for the natural lights of reason ever to lead any man to be firmly and wholehearted persuaded of these two dogmas. See God.
That it seems that they instead will lead to not accepting any other God than universal nature, etc.
That it is equally impossible for anyone who wishes to reason profoundly to achieve a knowledge of the supreme Being by the contemplation of his works.
That the spectacle of nature proves nothing, since it is, strictly speaking, neither beautiful nor ugly.
That there is no absolute order or harmony at all in the universe, or disorder and dissonance, but only those that are relative, determined by the nature of our existence pure and simple.
That to undertake research into the final causes of natural things is the deed of a man who establishes his feeble intelligence as the true measure of the beautiful and the good, of perfection and imperfection. See Final Causes.
That the Physicists who wanted to demonstrate the existence and attributes of God by the works of creation have never advanced a single step toward science and basically have just unwittingly advocated their own wisdom and limited views.
That those who have pushed back the boundaries of the human mind and perfected rational philosophy are those who, constantly applying reasoning to experience, have not used as an explanation of some phenomena the existence a being with which they did not know what to do moments later.
That one of the highest and most profound ideas that has ever entered the human mind comes from Descartes, who required in order to make a world like ours only matter and motion. See Cartesianism .
That to reason well on the origins of the world and on the beginning of its formation one should resort to God only when one has exhausted the whole series of mechanical and material causes.
That these causes are fully satisfactory and do not have the disadvantages of the other system, since one then reasons on the facts and not on conjectures and hypotheses.
That the homogeneity of its molecules is an absurd and untenable supposition, by which the system of the universe becomes an inexplicable enigma, which does not occur if, following experience, one considers matter as an aggregate of heterogeneous elements and consequently endowed with different properties.
That it is a reckless assertion to say with some metaphysicians that matter does not, and cannot, have certain properties, as if one did not every day discover in it new ones that had never been suspected. See Soul, Thought, Sensation, Sensibility, etc.
That Creation out of nothingness is something impossible and contradictory. See Creation .
That Chaos never existed, at least if what is understood by this word is the state of molecules of matter at the moment of their coordination.
That, rigorously speaking, there is no absolute rest, but only apparent cessation of motion, since the tendency, (if you wish, the nisus ) is itself only arrested motion.
That in the universe the quantity of motion remains always the same, which is evident if one takes the total sum of active tendencies and forces.
That the acceleration or deceleration of motion depends on the greater or lesser resistance of the masses and consequently on the nature of the bodies in which it is distributed or communicated.
That nothing is dead in nature, but that everything has a life that is specific and inherent to it.
That this truth, so important in itself and from the consequences that follow from it, is demonstrated by the experiments that Physicists have made on the generation, composition, and decomposition of organized bodies, and on plant infusions.
That the smallest part of any fluid is filled with these bodies.
That the same is apparently true of all plants.
That the discovery of the polyp, the hermaphrodite aphid, and so many others of this kind, are in the eyes of the observer so many keys to nature, which he may use to more or less advantage according to the breadth or narrowness of his view.
That the division that is usually made between living matter and dead matter is comes from man and not nature.
That the same should be said of dividing animals into genres, species , and individuals .
That there are only individuals.
That the universal system of beings represents only the different affections or modes of heterogeneous, eternal, and necessary matter.
That all these affections or co-ordinations whatever are successive and transitory.
That all species are in a continual state of flux, and that it is no more possible to know what they will be in two hundred million years, than to know what they were a million centuries ago.
That it is a false and unphilosophical opinion to accept on authority certain relations of extemporaneity of the formation of the universe, the organization and animation of man and other sensible and thinking animals, plants, etc.
That this world, as well as all the beings that are part of it, have perhaps been preceded by an infinity of other worlds and other beings that had nothing in common with our universe and with us other than the matter of which they were formed; matter does not perish, although it always changes form and it is susceptible of all possible combinations.
That the universe and all the beings that coexist will pass without anyone being able to conjecture what will become of all these aggregates and what their organization will be.
That what is certain is that, whatever form the coordination of the universe will take, it will always be beautiful, and that as there is no one who could find fault with that which has passed, it is equally impossible that there should exist any being who could find fault what will take place in the succession of time, etc., etc.
If one asks the Unitarians what idea they have of the nature of God, they have no difficulty saying that it is corporeal and extensive.
That all that is not body is pure nothingness. See Materialism.
That the spirituality of substances is an idea that does not merit being seriously refuted.
That the most scholarly of the Church Fathers never knew it.
That they all gave a body to God, the angels, and human souls, but a subtle, nimble, and aerial body.
That Scripture favors this opinion in a thousand places.
That the term incorporeal is not even found anywhere in the Bible, as Origen noticed.
That the idea of a corporeal God is so natural to man that it is impossible for him to do without it, as much as he wants to reason without prejudice and not believe on trust what he does not understand and which confuses the clearest ideas that are in his mind.
That an incorporeal substance is a contradictory being.
That the immensity and spirituality of God are two ideas that negate each other. See God.
That immaterialism is indirect atheism and that God is made into a spiritual being in order to make him nothing at all, since a spirit is a pure being of reason See Spirit.
That consequent upon these impious principles, they maintain that man is one.
That to suppose him composed of two distinct substances is to multiply beings needlessly, since it means in the production of any effect using the help of several causes, when only one suffices. See Soul.
That there is no specific difference between man and beast
That organization is the only thing that differentiates them.
That both of them act and move by the same laws.
That after death their fate is the same; that is to say, the elements of matter that compose them are disaggregated, dispersed, and rejoin the total mass, to later serve for the nourishment and organization of other bodies See Immortality, Animal, Animality.
That if there is nothing in the movements and actions of beasts that cannot be explained by mechanical laws, similarly there is nothing in the oscillations, determinations and acts of man that cannot be explained by the same laws.
That thus those who, following Descartes, have claimed that animals are pure machines and who have made every effort to prove it, have demonstrated at the same time that man is nothing else. See Instinct.
This is the consequence they let their readers draw, whether they do so on purpose, or because they do not know the inevitable corollaries of the system they want to establish.
That improvement [ perfectibilité ] is not a faculty that we possess more than beasts, since one sees that their instinct, their address, and their ruses always increase in proportion to those one uses to destroy them or to improve them.
That reducing everything that happens in man simply to physical sensibility, or simply to perception, is all the same as regards consequences. See Sensibility.
That these opinions are both true, and differ only in the words used to express them, of which the former touches closely on the body and the latter belongs more to the soul See Perception, Sensation, Idea.
That without the senses there are no ideas.
That without memory there are no ideas.
That liberty, considered as the power to act or not act, is a chimera.
That, in truth, one does what one wills, but that one is invincibly determined to will. See Will.
In a word, that there are no free actions, properly speaking, but only spontaneous ones. See Liberty.
If one objects that we are free with a freedom of indifference, and that Christianity teaches that we have this liberty, they answer with this reasoning borrowed from the Stoics. These philosophers say:
Freedom does not exist. Lacking knowledge of motives, taking into account the circumstances that determine us to act in a certain way, we believe ourselves free. Can one think that a man really has the power to determine himself? Rather are these not external objects combined in a thousand different ways that push him and determine him? Is his will a vague and independent faculty that acts without choice and by caprice? It acts, either as a consequence of a judgment, of an act of understanding, that represents to him that one thing is more advantageous to his interests than any other; or else independently of this action the circumstances in which the man finds himself incline him to, or force him to turn in a certain direction and he flatters himself that he turned that way freely, although he could not want to turn in any other way.
After having thus established a series of principles as singular as they are heterodox, the Unitarians try to prove that they accord with phenomena, and that they have the additional advantage of giving a solution to the most obscure and complicated problems of metaphysics and theology. They pass from there to the discussion of objections that might be made and after having responded as best they can, they examine anew the two principles that serve as the basis for their system. These two principles are (as we saw above) the corporeality of God and the eternal and necessary existence of matter and of its infinite properties. Our sectarians try to show that once these two propositions are accepted, all difficulties disappear.
That the origin of physical and moral evil, that phenomenon so difficult to reconcile with the moral attributes of the divinity (unless one resorts to the Manichean hypothesis), ceases at this point to be a thorny question; since then man no longer has anyone to blame, there is neither absolute good or evil, and everything is as it necessarily should be.
That similarly we know what position to take on questions that are so often debated, from the claim that imputes Adam’s sin to all posterity, to the providence and prescience of God, to the nature and immortality of the soul, to the future state of rewards and punishments, etc., etc, etc.
That man no longer has to complain about his existence.
That he knows that it is the determined and infallible result of a secret and universal mechanism.
That as for freedom, and the fortunate or unfortunate events that one experiences in life, he sees that with all being linked in nature, there is nothing contingent in the determination of our will, but that all the actions of sensitive beings, as well as everything that happens in the two orders, has its principle in an immutable sequence and a fatal coordination of necessary causes and effects.
In a word, that there are few important truths, either in philosophy, or in physics or morality, that cannot be deduced from the principle of the eternity of matter and its coefficient. They add:
It is true that to apply this theory to the phenomena of the material and intelligent world and to find with this given the answers to these problems, one must combine a free and unprejudiced mind with a sagacity and penetration that are uncommon; for it means no only rejecting received errors, but perceiving at a glance the relations of and the reason for the fundamental proposition with the near or distant consequences that emanate from it, and then to supply, by a kind of geometric analysis, the intermediate ideas that separate this same proposition from its results, and which simultaneously make the connection felt.
What one has just read should suffice to give a general idea of the philosophy of the Socinians — if the doctrine of these sectarians were constant and uniform; but one thing they have in common with all other Christian sects is that they have varied in their beliefs and their worship. Thus this is not the philosophical system that is unanimously received and adopted by these heretics, but only the particular opinion of several Unitarian savants, ancient and modern.
However, we observe that those of this sect who are the most distant from the principles explained above, have merely restricted, modified, and rejected some consequences that flow immediately from them, either because they appeared too reckless and heterodox, or because they did not necessarily believe them inherent in the principles that they were accepting. But if I am allowed to speak my mind on this delicate matter, it seems to me that the latter system is much less coherent and is also subject to very annoying difficulties.
In effect, what do they gain by giving God only limited extension? Is this not to suppose that the divine substance is divisible – and hence to make a trivial error? They cannot say that a finite extension is an essentially simple being exempt from composition, on the pretext that its parts are not actually divided and so they are not truly distinct from each other. For as soon they do not all occupy the same space, they have local relations with other bodies that differentiate them; thus they are as really distinct, independent, and disaggregated (although they are only separated intelligibly), as if their parts were at infinite distances from one another, since one might assert that one is not the other and does not penetrate it.
With regard to the origin of evil, what does it serve to remove from God foresight of future contingencies and to say that he does not know the future of free agents except by conjectures that may sometimes prove Him wrong? Do they believe that by this hypothesis they can justify Providence and exonerate themselves from the accusation of making God the author of sin? It is in vain that they flatter themselves about this, for if God has not foreseen with certainty events that were dependent upon man’s freedom, He could at least, as a famous theologian remarks, divine them by conjecture:
He did suspect that free creatures might go wrong by the bad use of their freedom. He had to take precautions to prevent disorder. At least He could know things when he saw them happen. He could not ignore, when He saw Adam fall and sin, that he was going to found a race of wicked men. He ought to have used all sorts of means to put up barriers against this malice and to prevent it from increasing as much as it has. Instead of that, one sees a God who let all men follow their own paths for 4,000 years, who sends them neither guides nor prophets, and who abandons them entirely to ignorance, error, and idolatry - - except for two or three million souls hidden on a small corner of the earth. Might the Socinians not respond well to that and perfectly satisfy the incredulous?
I know very well that the Unitarians we are speaking of object that divine prescience would destroy a creature’s freedom; here is more or less how they reason on this subject. They say:
If a thing is contingent in itself and may just as well not happen, as happening, how can it be predicted with certitude? To know a thing perfectly, it must be known such as it is in itself; and if it is indeterminate by its own nature, how can one know it as determined, and how before it happens? Would this not mean having a false idea of it? This is what seems to be attributed to God when it is said that He necessarily foresees something that in itself is no more determined to happen than not to happen.
From which they conclude that it is impossible for God to be able to foresee the events that depend on free causes, because if He foresaw them, they would necessarily and infallibly happen; and if it is infallible that they will happen, there is no longer any contingency, and consequently no more freedom. They push the objections on this subject much farther and claim to refute solidly the response of some theologians who say that things do not happen because God has foreseen them, but that God has foreseen them because they happen. See Prescience, Contingent, Liberty, Fatality, etc.
Their sentiment on providence is going to furnish us with another proof of the incoherence of their principles. Not being able to reconcile this dogma with our freedom and with the infinite hatred God has for sin, they refuse the Supreme Being the Providence that rules and governs things in detail. But it is easy to see – if you reflect a little – that this means subjecting all human things to the laws of a necessary and irresistible destiny, and consequently to introduce fatalism. Thus if they want to be consistent, they should not render any kind of worship to divinity: their hypothesis renders absolutely useless any vows, prayers, sacrifices – in a word, all the internal and external acts of religion. It destroys just as invincibly the doctrine of the immorality of the soul, and its corollary, that of punishments and rewards after death – hypotheses that are founded only on a particular and immediate providence, and which crumbles along with it.
To this their defenders respond that it is impossible to admit the dogma of a universal Providence without extinguishing the idea of an infinitely perfect being. They say:
Can you conceive that under the empire of an all-powerful God, both benevolent and just, there might be vessels of honor and vessels of dishonor? Is that not repugnant to the ideas we have of order and wisdom? Shouldn’t the continual happiness of intelligent beings be the first of the cares of providence and the principal object of its infinite goodness? Why then do we suffer, and why are there bad people? Examine all the systems that the theologians of all communions have invented to respond to the objections about the origins of physical evil and moral evil, and you will find none that satisfy you, even in a few respects. There always results for whoever knows how to judge these things, that God, being easily able to prevent man from being either criminal or unfortunate, has nevertheless let him fall into crime and misery. So let us conclude that God must necessarily be made the author of sin, or else be a fatalist. Now, since there is only this one means of fully exonerating the divinity and of explaining phenomena, it follows that it is not necessary to swing between these two solutions.
Such are in part the reasons that the Socinian troublemakers use to justify the opinion of our Unitarians on providence: reasons that they fortify with the dilemma of Epicurus and all the objections that can be made to the orthodox system. But we have not claimed to deny that this system also has its difficulties; all that we have wanted to prove is: First, that these sectarians did not know the inevitable corollaries of the principle on which they have built their whole philosophy, since any idea of Providence is incompatible with the supposition of eternal and necessary matter.
Second, that by excluding divine providence from what happens here below, and by restricting its operations to greater things, these Socinians are no less heterodox that those whose system they have mutilated, either by altering its principles or by interleaving several quite discordant opinions. I have given, it seems to me, sensible proofs, to which one might add what they say about the soul of beasts.
They first remark  that man is the only one of all the animals to whom one might attribute reason and will properly speaking, and whose actions are actually susceptible of merit and demerit, of punishment and reward. But if they do not give beasts either a will or a free-will properly speaking, if they do not make them capable of virtue and vice, or punishments and rewards properly speaking, they still let it be said that reason, freedom, and virtue are found in beasts imperfectly and analogically, and that they are worthy of punishments and rewards in some fashion. They prove this with passages from Genesis , Exodus , and Leviticus ,  where God orders punishments upon the beasts.
As bold as this thinking may be, it does not reach the depth of Socinian heresy. By reasoning consequentially, the Unitarians (of whom we are merely the historians) should say with Solomon:
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? ( Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)
This admission would not cost them very much, since they support the mortality of souls, or have them sleep until the Day of Judgment and the annihilation of the souls of the wicked, etc.
In conclusion, that is what I found most curious and most worthy of the attention of philosophers in the writings of the Unitarians . I have tried to give this analytical extract all the clarity of which the subjects treated here are susceptible; and I have not feared making the doctrine of these sectarians accessible to all my readers; it is so impious and so infected with heresy, that it surely bears its own antidote and refutation. Moreover, I have taken care to bring down error and to cross-reference other articles in this Dictionary where all the heterodoxies of the Unitarians must have been solidly refuted and where the truths of religion and the dogmas of the true church could be clarified and set out by our theologians with such a high degree of evidence and certitude that one would have to be deluded not to be struck by them and not to foresee the total destruction of incredulity. By means of these cross-references, feebler minds (or those who have not applied themselves to sounding the depths of metaphysics and so might be dazzled by captious arguments) will be protected from seduction and have a sure and infallible rule to judge what is true and what is false.
I will finish this article with a reflection whose truth will be felt by any intelligent reader.
The Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion is incontestably the only good, the only sure, and the only true one, but this religion requires from those who embrace it the most entire subjection of reason. When within this communion there is a man with an unquiet and agitated mind, difficult to satisfy, he starts first by establishing himself as judge of the truth of the dogmas that are proposed to him to believe, and not finding in these objects of his faith a degree of evidence, which by their nature they do not contain, he becomes a Protestant. Soon perceiving the incoherence of the principles that characterize Protestantism, he tries to find in Socinianism a solution to his doubts and his difficulties, and he becomes a Socinian. From Socinianism to deism there is but an almost imperceptible nuance, and one step to take — he takes it. But since deism is itself (as we have already said) merely an inconsequential religion, he falls unknowingly into Pyrrhonism, a violent state and as humiliating to self-respect as it is incompatible with the nature of the human mind. Finally, he ends up falling into atheism, a truly cruel state, and one that ensures to man an unfortunate tranquility, which one can scarcely hope to see him renounce.
Besides, although the aim of this Encyclopedia is not to give the history of heretics but that of their opinions, we nevertheless report some historical anecdotes that concern the persons and adventures of the principal leaders of the Unitarians . These sectarians have made too much noise in the world, and have become too famous by the boldness of their sentiments, not to make an exception in their favor.
Lelio Socinus [Sozzini] was born in Sienna in 1525, and, allowing himself to be infected by the poison of the new errors that Luther and Calvin were spreading then (as repeatedly since), he left his country in 1547, traveled for four years in France and England as well as in the Low Countries and Poland. Finally settling in Zurich, he began to spread the seeds of the Arian and Photinian heresy that he wanted to introduce. He died in this town at age 37, in 1562, leaving his writings to his nephew Faustus Socinus.
The latter was born in Sienna in 1539, and already seduced by his uncle’s letters, he left Italy to avoid the Inquisition and hastened to take possession of the writings of Lelio, which he neglected, though, after having gathered them. Passing through Italy, where he lived for twelve years at the court of the Duke of Florence, he suddenly left and retired to Basel, where he applied himself to study and to revisiting the works of his uncle; there he wrote in 1578 his book Jesu Christo servatore , which was not printed, however, until 1595. From Switzerland he was called by Giorgio Blaudrata, another anti-Trinitarian , to Transylvania, where he had lively disputes with Francis David, a heresiarch even more decided against the divinity of Jesus Christ than Socinus and Blaudrata. From there he went to Poland, where the new Arians were numerous and wished to enter into communion with the Unitarians , but as he differed from them on several points and he did not want to remain silent, he was rejected rather harshly. He did not fail to write in their favor against those who attacked them, and in the end saw his sentiments approved by several ministers. But he experienced from the Catholics very cruel persecution, and to save himself from it, he retired to a small village about nine miles from Krakow. There, followed by a rather small number of disciples, and protected by several great lords, he spent twenty-five years composing a great number of small treatises, minor works, remarks, accounts of his various disputes, etc. Printed at various times, either during his lifetime or after his death, they can be found collected in two folio volumes at the front of the library of the Polish brothers.
This patriarch of the Unitarians died in 1604. As Bayle says quite well:
His sect, far from dying with him, grew considerably afterward, but since it was chased out of Poland in 1658, it has declined and its visible state has diminished. Moreover, there is hardly anyone who is not persuaded that it has increased invisibly and becomes more numerous from day to day. It is believed that in this state of things, Europe would be astonished to find itself Socinian in a short while, if powerful princes publicly embraced this heresy, or if they simply gave the order than the profession of it be freed of all the temporal disadvantages that accompany it.
See my introduction to this article .
What is certain is that the Unitarians were once widespread in Poland, but after being chased out by public decree by General Diet of the kingdom, they took refuge in Prussia and in the March of Brandenburg, with some going to England and others to Holland, where they are tolerated and where their books are sold publicly, whatever Bayle says.
Apart from the two Socinuses, their principal writers are Crellius, Smalcius, Volkelius, Schlitingius, Chevalier Lubinietski, etc. One also suspects very credibly Episcopius, Limborg, de Courcelles, Grotius, Jean le Clerc, Locke, Clarke, and several other moderns of having adopted their principles on the divinity of the Word, the Incarnation, the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, etc., and on some other points of theology and philosophy. See the library of the anti-Trinitarians ; Crellius, De uno Deo patre, de Deo et attributis , etc.; [Johann] Volkelius, De vera religione ; [Johann] Micraelius, Historia ecclesiastica; Natalis Alexander, Historia ecclesiastica ad , section xvi; [Johannes] Hoornbeeck, in apparatu ad controvers. Socinianas ; the Rakow catechism, and works by modern Unitarians , from which this article was drawn in part.
1. See the book of Episcopius against Guillaume Bom, a Roman Catholic priest. [The reference is to Simon Episcopius and Willem Bom, Onfeilbaarheit ende opper-rechterschap der Roomsche Kerke (Rotterdam: Barent Bos, 1687) — trans.]
2. I discovered by chance that the reference here is to Thomas Burnet, for in reading one of his books, I found the passage cited here by the Socinians. Neque Dev, neque homini prodesse potest cruciatus indefiniens & sine exitu; non utique homini si nullus locus sit respiscentioe, meliorescere possit panitus, si nulla intermissio, aut levamen ad respirandum paulisper, & deliber andum de anime & sorte mutandis. Thomas Burnet, De Statu mortuorum et resurgentium liber [London, 1723], chap. xi. p. 240.
3. I do not know which author the Socianians have in mind here.
4. This is what the Socinians say expressly in the acts of the Rakow Conference.
5. See Thomas Burnet, doctor in Theology and master of the London Charterhouse, in his treatise Telluris Theoria Sacra (1681) , chap. 9 [later published as Sacred Theory of the Earth (1684) – trans.].
6. See Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, and Tertullian, Adversus Praxean [ Against Praxeas ], chapter 16.
7. See Socinus, Proelectionum theologicum , vol. I, chap. ii, p. 5370; also [Johannes] Crellius, De Deo and attributis , and especially the modern Socinians.
8. See [Johannes] Crellius, Ethicoe christianoe , Book II. chapter 1, p. 65-66.
9. See Genesis 9:5; Exodus 12:28; Leviticus 20:15-16. Note these words of Franzius: Quoeri autem posset an non ponenda sit rationalis anima in brutis . . . cum [But a beast has no rational soul, though it does exert such actions] (Genesis 9:5). Deus ipse velit vindicare sanguinem hominis in brutis sequando effuderunt sanguinem humanum. [God will have the blood of man revenged on brutes;Wolfgang Franzius], Historia Animalium Sacra , Part I, chapter 2, p. 16.