« AnteriorContinuar »
scribes and pharisees, were; next to open and secret profligacy of life and manners, the grand impediments to their endeavours to make men good and happy. : And accordingly both he and they took every opportunity of bearing their testimony against them. In our times and country, speculative doctrines and systems, the invention of theologians and schoolmen, have succeeded to the place of rites and ceremonies. And we should succeed to the efforts of those who founded our religion, in our constant endeavours to resist what now impedes its progress.
" With the hope of doing what good I am able to do in this way, I have listened to the request of a much valued friend, and have embraced the occa. sion, by no means urgent in itself, which your Re. marks, and your correspondent's letters have af. forded me, of thus publicly declaring my settled conviction of a most important truth, which I have long since ascertained to my own satisfaction, by a diligent and careful study of the Bible ; and which, as far as concerns any thing now advanced by your. self and your friend, I have here, at some length, confirmed and supported; namely, that MORAL AND PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY, IS CHRISTIANITY CONTAINED IN THE SCRIPTURES.
This is a truth which the meanest reader of his Bible, in spite of an imperfect translation, and under all the defects, and what is more against him, the preconceptions and prejudices, of his education, may behold blazing out with more than meridian splendour, if he will but read it, as all other write
ings are read, as a whole, and be contented with what appears most plain and obvious on the face of every book, I think I may say 'of every page of every book which it contains. Yes; as a whole, the Bible, in these protestant countries, blessed be God for all his mercies, may still be seen, like him from whom it comes, the father of lights, the giver of every good and perfect gift, covered with light as with a garment. In this broad, comprehensive view of it, we may say emphatically of God's word, what the apostle says of God himself: the scripture is light, and in it is no darkness at all (1 John i. 5.) C. And if the eye of learning and criticism, which, with more curious, narrow, and confined attention, contemplates its subordinate, minuter parts, did but thoroughly purge itself from the thick film of theo. logical prepossession, which far, very far, above every other cause, obstructs its sight, even the more obscure and ambiguous spots, which, like those in the sun, are lost amidst surrounding brightness, would then, though singly viewed, send forth their fainter rays of moral light; all absurd, unintelligible doctrines and mysteries, which sound divines now see, or rather fancy that they see, through a glass darkly; things seen to no end, or purpose, but to gender strifes and every evil work (2 Tim. ii. 23. Jam. iii. 16.) among men, and to make God the author of confusion (1 Cor. xiv. 33.), would utterly yanish; and no doctrine whatever would be visible in any part of the sacred volume, but that doctrine according to godliness (1. Tim. vi. 3.) which beams with such conspicuous lustre through the whole.'
and I, and every reader of this best of books, may daily see more and more of its
pure and simple light, by daily applying more and more to that best of means for knowing what it teaches, the doing of the will of our heavenly father (John vii. 17-), and that our practice of its precepts may enlarge our knowledge of its contents, and our knowledge in return invigorate our practice, is the earnest wish of one who is persuaded that such knowledge and such practice will infallibly guide us all, and that nothing else ever will guide us, to true and lasting happiness.
I am, SIR,
With unfeigned respect,
the appellation to one who believes
“ Christ's divinity," I beg leave, in order to shew him the validity of this mode of arguing by inference and deduction from detached passages and figurative expressions, to present him with the following
TABLE OF EVIDENCES
DIVINITY OF MOSES.*
Moses may be proved to be God, 1. From his being expressly so called in Exod.
vii. 1. iv. 16. by God himself. In this last passage what we render by instead of, is in he
* For the details of the evidences in his table, your editor refers you to Dr. Whitby's Commentary. That is, he refers you to a commentator who, upon further and more mature inquiry, abandoned these details as mistaken interpretations, and declared, that he thought the doctrine for which Mr. Burgess here contends, was a burlesque upon the scriptures. For the ground-work of my table, I beg leave to refer you to “ Some « Notes” of one who was a Master of Arts in the same Univer. sity with Dr. Whitby and Mr. Burgess, who was more and more confirmed in unitarian opinions, the more he inquired into the scriptures, and who died in the full belief of these opinions, “ a martyr to that religious intolerance which had persecuted “ him during the greatest part of his life! His private charac“ ter, like that of most of those whose zeal has led them to suf“ fer for particular opinions, was exemplary. He was fervently