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Après tout, mon cher philosophe, encore un peu de temps, et
je ne sais si tous ces livres seront nécessaires, et si le genre
D'ALEMBERT, Lettre 31 de Mars, 1762.
Personal abuse, that favourite colour which glares most in the fool's rhetoric, is carefully to be avoided.
WARBURTON's Works, vol. iv. p. 541. 4to. Christianam religionem, absolutam et simplicem, anili super.
.. stitione confundens.
AMMIAN. MARCELLIN. lib. xxi. cap. xvi.
rule is without foundation, and your correction of the common version of the scriptures erroneous, it is almost needless to remark, that your new proofs * of the
divinity of Christ,' fall to the ground. Indeed, if your rule were ever so true, and your corrections ever so just, they would be far from supplying yoụ with any thing like a proof of any such absur. dity: and the inquiry I have carried on, is more useful to vindicate the truth of language, and of scripture in general, than necessary to refute that
*“ To be impartial to every body, we must say, that those “ who engage in disputes with the Socinians, and take new “ roads, seldom fail to lose their way." Bayle's Dict. vol. v. p. 820. edit. 1738.
popish * doctrine in particular, which uphold by your mistaken interpretations.
Suppose we were to grant you your own construction of the texts in question, what strength would accrue to the doctrine from such a concession ? None but this, that Jesus would in that case be called God in a few more passages of scripture, than he is at present. And what is there in that? The title of God is an appellation which even Socinians, without reading it in your texts, have admitted that the scriptures have bestowed, not only upon Jesus, but upon many other human beings. The mere repetition of the title does not contain any 'new' or additional proof of the doctrine. The
* By popish I mean superstitious : though of the trinity, accord. ing to the latest mode in which it was established, the mode now chiefly in vogue, it is to be observed, that it was introduced in the same popedom in which transubstantiation was introduced, viz, at the fourth Lateran council, held in 1215, under Innocent 3d. (See Taylor's Ben Mordecai's Apology, vol. i. p. 65 and 212. edit. Svo. 1784.)
According to the learned Selden, the trinity is partly superstitious and partly fanatical. “ The second person,” says he, “ is made of a piece of bread by the papist; the third person “ is made of his own frenzy, malice, ignorance, and folly, by “the Round head. To all these the spirit is intituled. One the “ baker makes, the other the cobler ; and betwixt those two, I “ think the first person is sufficiently abused.” Table Talk, article Trinity.
In the “ Brief History of the Unitarians,” page 45, col. ii. as republished in the Unitarian Tracts, 4to. 1691, vol. i. is a quotation from an english papist, affirming that,“ Christ is the Pope's “ God; for if the Pope had not been, Christ had not been taken for any such person as this day we believe him to be.”
meaning of the word, the sense in which it is applied to Jesus, is the question. If there were one single passage of scripture in which the writer meaned to say, in the sense in which you use the words (pages 38 and 22), that Jesus were God, really Jehovah, it would be decisive. There would be no need of re. petition. But to repeat a doubtful term without something additional to ascertain its meaning, is doing nothing. And there is nothing more in your texts, even upon your own construction of them, to ascertain the meaning of the word, than there was before. If
you suppose, as both you (page 22) and your editor (page 23) seem to do, and as some of the fa. thers did, that there is something more in Jesus being stiled, our great God, according to your ex. . planation of Tit. ii. 13. than in his being simply stiled God; you fall into an error which, though not un, common, is yet great: I mean the error of transferring the questions, opinions, and controversies of your own times to other times in which no such questions, nor any thing belonging to them, existed, At the time when the New Testament was written, should we even suppose that the writers meaned to say that Jesus was a divine being, yet most assuredly there was no question started, no controversy on foot, as there was afterwards (for ecclesiastics have made Jesus God by degrees), about the quanturn of his divinity, The sacred writers could have meaned no more, had they said that he was the great God, than they could have done if they had said that he was God simply: for they meaned no more when
they applied the one appellation, than when they applied the other, to God himself, the God of Jesus. To say of any being that he was the great God, was not, with them, to make him more of a God, than to say merely that he was God: for to them there was but one God, and whoever was God in their estimation, must be completely so, or not at all. Were we to suppose, therefore, that the sacred writers meaned to say that Jesus was a deity, it is certain that they could never mean to say that he was a deity of the greatest kind. They knew nothing of the miserable distinctions which were afterwards invented between an xulobeos and a feos ex 988; between a ο επι σανων θεος and a θεος λογος ; between a God who was the “ origin, the cause, the author, the root, “ the fountain,”* &c. of divinity, and a God who was derived, begotten, incarnate, &c.; between God the father, and God the son; between a God and a Godman,t and one knows not how many other wretched quirks and expedients, to degrade the religion of christians below that of jews, and mahometans. I If, therefore, Paul had intended that
* See Bishop Pearson on the Creed, pages 37 and 38, fol. edit.
+ A Godman seems to be more of a monster than a gorgon, a hydra, a chimæra, a centaur, a griffin, &c. &c. because these are only made up by the imagination of incongruous parts which never did exist together : but your godman is made up of parts which never can possibly exist together ; parts destructive of, and excluding each other. Your godman is a kind of circular triangle, or triangular circle.
| Christianity, in itself, is a thing quite plain and wholly practical ; consisting in nothing else but the love of God, and the love of our neighbour, (Matt. xxii. 36-40.) With morals the
Tit. ii. 13. should be construed as you explain it (which I have shewn you he did not), still he could
New Testament begins; (Matt. iii. 2-8. v. 3, &c.), and with morals it ends ; (Rev. xxii. 14.), and with morals every intermediate page is filled. See more especially for a summary abridgment of the whole of his religion, our Saviour's own words, Matt. xix. 16-22, and xxv. 31-46. John xiii. 35. xiv. 15, 21, 23, 24. xv. 10, 12, 17; and those of his beloved disciple, 1 John iii. 22–24. v. 3. In short, if the point is to be settled by Jesus and his apostles, he is a christian, and he alone, who is a doer of the word, (Rom. ii. 13. Jam. i. 22–25.) But christianity, as it has been altered and disguised by divines, is converted into a system of dark and unintelligible mysteries. They have settled it, that he is a christian, and he alone, who believes, or rather fancies and professes to believe, all kinds of absurdity and non.
As the great lord Bacon has it, a believing christian, i. e. one formed not upon the plan of Jesus and the apostles, but upon the plan of these divines, “ believes three to be one, and one
to be three ; a father not to be elder than his son, a „son to be equal “ with his father ; and one proceeding from both to be equal with both; " he believing three persons in one nature, and two natures in one person. “ He believes a virgin to be the mother of a son ; and that pery
son of 66 hers to be her maker. He believes him to have been shut up in a nar
row room, whom heaven and earth could not contain.. He believes “ him to have been born in time, who was and is from everlasting. “ He believes him to have been a weak child carried in arms, who is “ the Almighty ; and him once to have died, who only hath life and “ immortality in himself. He believes a most just God to have punished “ a most just person, and to have justified himself, though a most un
godly sinner." Bacon's Works, vol. ii. p. 372. edit. 1753. fol.
Thus the name of Christian is made to stink (Gen. xxxiv. 30), not only among nations of infidels, but among unbelievers in our own land ; and what is worse, we ourselves are internally corrupted and made rotten by these substitutes for morality, which, wherever they prevail, are sure to undermine, more or less, both our piety and our charity. See this proved in the Unitarian Tracts, 4to. vol. ij. Tract 1. p. 5-11, K 4