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6 man.” He is proud of being accessory to the production of the following pages : and if the estimate he has made of the labours of his friend be correct, they will decide the controversy; and leave the remarker, the plain-arguer, and the ori. ginal letter-writer, without resource for replication than an ingenuous retractation of their
With respect to the “ Appendix” subjoined, it is sufficient to say, that it is no easy matter to discern how either the premises or the conclusion, as they affect the character of Moses, can be denied by a believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ, consistently with the most approved arguments adduced, not merely by Messrs. Sharp, Burgess, and Wordsworth, but by the best efforts of the best advocates. Indeed, it might be generally observed, without stating a novelty, or offending a prejudice, that it will be very difficult to distinguish between the evidence and reasoning which will justify the belief in the protestant trinity, and will not extend to the like justification of the papist's transubstantiation: nor will the embarrassment be found to be less in attempting to discriminate between the pretension of one church to infallibility, and the formal renunciation of it by another, so long as we practically observe, that while the elder sister is always right, the younger is never wrong. We know the reply to the question,-Where was the religion of protestants before Luther? It was, where it now is, in the Bible; and consistent christians and consistent protestants will never look for it elsewhere.
We have been often told that these things are mysteries; but the answer is coeval with this apo. logy for systems, and entirely satisfactory;--where mystery begins, religion ends.
It would, indeed, be very extraordinary if the absolute unity and supremacy of the deity, proclaimed and established by the confession of all nature,* and by the concurring tenor and testimony
* The reader may be referred to the evidence adduced by Dr. Paley, in his late incomparable work, “ Natural Theology," in which he has greatly improved upon the manner and extent of matter of Ray and Derham. I am, however, aware of the prudential protest entered by the author against this conclusion being drawn from his general argument.
« Certain however it “ is,” says he, “ that the whole argument for the divine unity “ goes no further than to an unity of counsel.” (p. 487.) But, gentle reader, it may peradventure appear to be no less certain that this qualification of the effect of his labors, is nothing less than subversive of his whole argument. I feel no hesitation in saying that this book carries equal conviction to my mind of the unity of the designer as of the unity of design and counsel, And the saving protest looks more like tendering a composition with his orthodox creditors, than being prepared to meet the legitimate conclusion of his premises. The whole of his ad. mirable work is immediately calculated to prove not only the existence, wisdom, and goodness, but therewith the proper and absolute unity of the deity; and it can only be by travelling out of the record, or by falsifying it, that any other system can be plausibly maintained,
One might, indeed, advert to a further intimation of the writer's doctrinal creed, by referring to a short note (p. 566.), in which his benevolence states the possibility of “the propi“ tiatory virtue of Christ's passion” to extend even to “ that “ part of mankind who never heard of his name.”—But he . apologizes for this obtrusion by instantly observing ; " this is
of the jewish and christian revelations, could be affected by the fanciful or forced construction of a greek article, to be found in a few scattered passages of the christian scriptures. And it is seriously to be hoped, for the honor of true religion and sound learning, that the writings of these gentlemen will be the last among the many futile expedients which have been undesignedly used by many good, and, in other respects, able men, to corrupt and misconstrue the sacred text, and consequently to mislead its readers. It is by such criticisms and such deductions, of which we now complain, that scholars and divines have so greatly impeded the gospel of Christ from having its free course, and from working conviction on the minds of sceptics and unbelievers and, eventually, have very greatly contributed to preclude it from having its proper effect on the hearts and lives of mankind.
It can never be sufficiently lamented in the christian world, that in direct violation of the repeated declarations of our meek and humble master, so many of his disciples should still contend, and, in some cases, contend with much unchristian vio, lence, that “our lord Jesus Christ,” who was born of woman, and had not where to lay his head,
“ not natural theology;" and therefore adds--" I will not dwell longer upon it."
Dr. Paley had made the same representation on a former occasion, and in a more proper place. See his “ View of the Evi. “ dences of Christianity," part ii. ch. ii. and part iii. ch. vii. in the 2d edit. 8vo, vol. ii. p. 24, note, and 384.
who increased in wisdom as he grew in stature, who suffered death and was buried, " is truly “God!”
Nevertheless, I am persuaded that the christian world will, in some future day, witness the abandonment of all the exploded evidences and arguments, and all the diversified representation of the various invention and ingenuity of the apologists of our several prejudices. But, in the mean time, and while the reproach of impiety* is applied to the worshippers of the ONE GOD, JEHOVAH; it is well deserving of some people's very serious attention to consider, whether the reproach of idolatry does not apply with greater truth to every modification of religious worship which unites any other being, as an object of religious homage, with the peerless and unrivalled majesty of the one only true God.
It is unworthy of a gentleman of Mr. Sharp's amiable character, that he should have incautiously attempted to excite an odium against unitarian christians by uniting them with mahometans.f Such insidious reflection has, indeed, been made to meet the vulgar ear not long ago, by the child and champion of all violence and scurrility, as well ecclesiastical as civil: but such men lose no character by using foul language; and hard words from men of this description, while they can only recoil upon themselves,
* See Remarks, p. 42 and 51. of See
53 and note p. 55. And for a very satisfactory replication to the harsh and uncharitable way in which Mr. Sharp has spoken of Unitarian Christians, see p. 159-167 of the fol. lowing Letters.
fall harmless to the ground with respect to others. But it is very clear, at least it appears so to me, that because Moses, Christ, and Mahomet worshipped one and the same God, it cannot be any greater reproach to one more than to another of their respective disciples, who agree with their masters in this doctrine, for doing the same thing. And Mr. Sharp should be the last man to renounce brotherhood with any professing fellow-christian, or to insult either jew or mahometan by leaguing him
6 christian fools,” who has himself so unceasingly and commendably maintained, that “ Mungo is a man.”
Whatever difference of opinion may for the present prevail in the christian world in respect to the doctrine of the trinity, or any other particular doctrine, concerning which our christian lawgiver allows the fullest latitude of inquiry,—there exists a pretty general agreement in respect to the nature and obligation of christian morals. And it is a consideration of great importance, and deserving the serious attention of theological students, and not of them only, but of theological readers and of professing christians of every description, that they are, from the principles of their common master, and of their common belief in his mission, not merely to tolerate each other in their diversity of opinions, (which presupposes an authority not to be found in the gospel ;) but to allow each other to exercise the same liberty which they enjoy themselves, and to love each other unfeignedly, as fel