Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Yet this man was one of the enlightened in his day. And even at the present time, there is good reason to think, that he is held in no small estimation, by those, who claim to be distinguished by that appellation, amongst the profess $ors of Christianity. For in the treatises of Unitarian and other philosophic Christians of these later times, we find the arguments and opinions. of this writer plentifully scattered ; and at the same time all ostentatious display, of the source, from which they are derived, most carefully ávoided:-circumstances, from which their serious reverence of the author, and the solid value they áttach to his works, may reasonably be inferred.

Now, as this is one of the oracles, from which these illuminating teachers derive their lights, (without however confessing it) it may afford some satisfaction to the reader, who may not have misemployed time in attempting to wade through the swamp of muddy metaphysics which he has left behind him, to have a short summary of his notions concerning Christianity laid before him.

Having altogether rejected the Jewish revelation, and pronounced the New Testament to be a “ fountain of confusion and contradiction;" and having consequently affirmed every appeal to Scripture to be “ a certain way to perplexity and dissatisfaction, but not to find out the truth :” he recommends our return from all these absur

[ocr errors]

dities to “that prior rule of action, that eternal and invariable rule of right and wrong, as to an infallible guide, and as the solid ground of our peace and safety.” Accordingly, having himself returned to this infallible guide, he is enabled to make these wonderful discoveries-1. That there is no particular providence ; and that, consequently, any dependance on Providence, any trust in God, or resignation to his will, can be no part of res ligion ; and, that the idea of application to God for his assistance, or prayer in auy view, has no foundation in reason. 2. That we have no reason to pronounce the soul of man to be immaterial, or that it will not perish with the body. 3. That if ever we should suppose a future state in which man shall be accountable, yet the judgment, which shall take place in that state, will extend but to a small part of the human race, and but to a very few of the actions which he may perform: to such alone, for example, as affect the public weal.

Such are the results of reason triumphing over Scripture: and such is the wisdom of man when it opposes itself to the wisdom of God Yet this strange and unnatural blasphemer of divine truth declares, that the work, which conveys to the world the monstrous productions of insanity and impiety above cited, (and these are but a small portion of the entire of that description,) he had completed in the decline of life,

with the design to leave to mankind“ a valuable legacy,” conducing to their general happiness. The reader will hardly be surprised, after what has been said, to learn, that the same infallible guide, which led this maniac to revile the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and to condemn the Apostles and first publishers of Christianity as blunderers and impostors, prompted him at the same time to speak with commendation of the religion of + MAHOMET. 66 Whether the Maho

+ It deserves to be noticed, that a complacency for the religion of Mahomet, is a character, by which the liberality of the Socinian or Unitarian is not less distinguished, than that of the Deist. The reason assigned for this by Mr. Van Mildert is a just one. Mahometaoism is admired by both, because it sets aside those distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel, the divinity of Christ, and the sacrifice upon the Cross; and prepares the way for what the latter are pleased to digoify with the title of Natural Religion, and the former with that of Rational Christianity.-Van Mildert's Boyle Lect. vol. i. p. 208. The same writer also truly remarks, (p. 202.) that, besides exhibiting a strange compound of Heathen and Jewish errors, the code of Mahomet comprizes almost every heterodox opinion, that has ever been entertained respecting the Christian faith,

Indeed the decided part, which the Unitarians have here. tofore taken with the Prophet of Mecca, seems not to be sufficiently adverted to at the present day. The curious reader, if he will turn to Mr. Leslie's Theolog. Works, vol. i. p. 207, will not be a little entertained to see con. veyed, in a solemn address from the English Unitarians to the Mahometan embassador of Morocco, in the reign of Charles the second, a cordial approbation of Mahomet and

metan revelation be of a divine original or not; there seems (says he) to be a plausible pretence, arising from the circumstances of things, for stamping a divine character upon it!!!

same.

the Coran. The one is said to have been raised up by God, to scourge the idolizing Christians, whilst the other is spoken of as a precious record of the true faith. Mahomet they represent to be “a preacher of the Gospel of Christ;" and they describe themselves to be his fellow champions for the truth.” The mode of warfare they admit, indeed, to bę different; but the object contended for they assert to be the

« We, with our Unitarian brethren, have been in all ages exercised, to defend with our pens the faith of one su. preme God; as he hath raised your Mahomet to do the same with the sword, as a scourge on those idolizing Christians.” (p. 209.) Leslie, upon a full and deliberate view of the case, admits the justice of the claim set up by the Unitarians to be admitted to rank with the followers of Ma. homet; pronouncing the one to have as good a title to the appellation of Christians as the other. (p. 337.) On a disclosure by Mr. Leslie, of the attempt which had thus been made by the Socinians, to form a confederacy with the Mahometans, the authenticity of the address, and the plan of the projected coalition, at the time were strenuously denied. The truth of Mr. Leslie's statement, however, (of which from the character of the man' no doubt could well have been at any time entertained,) has been since most fully and incontrovertibly confirmed.See Whitaker's Origin of Arianism, p. 399. Mr. Leslie also shews, that: this Unitarian scheme, of extolling Mahometanism as the only true Christianity, continued for a length of time, to be acted on with activity and perseverance. He establishes this at large, by extracts from certain of their publications, in which it is endeavoured to prove, that Mahomet bad

However at other times he seems disposed not to elevate the religion of Mahomet decidedly above that of Christ; for he observes, that “the turning from Mahometanism to Christianity, or from Christianity to Mahometanism, is only laying aside one external form of religion and making use of another, which is of no more real benefit than a man's changing the colour of his clothes.” His decision upon this point, also, he thinks he éan even defend by the authority of St. Peter, who, he says, has clearly given it as his opinion, in Acts x. 34, 35, that all forms of religion are indifferent.

I should not have so long detained my reader with such contemptible or rather pitiable extravagances, but that the specimen they afford of the wild wanderings of reason, when eman

no other design but to restore the belief of the Unity of God, which at that time was extirpated among the Eastern Christians by the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation: that Mahomet meant not, that his religion should be esteemed a new religion, but only the restitution of the true intent of the Christian religion: that the Mahometan Icarned men call themselves the true disciples of the Messias :" and, to crown all, “that Mahometanism has prevailed so greatly, not by force and the sword,--but by that one truth in the Coran, the Unity of God.And, as a just consequence from all this, it is strongly contended, that “the Tartars had acted more rationally in embracing the sect of Mahomet, than the Christian faith of the Trinity, Incarnation, &c.” Leslie, vol. 1. pp. 216, 217,

K 4

« PoprzedniaDalej »