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sions to it in the New Testament,” yet it is "a doctrine that cannot be proved or made probable FROM THE LIGHT OF NATURE ;'' and what have we got to do with the New Testament, while it contradicts the light of nature ? Notwithstanding therefore the allusion, we choose to say, “ this is no where taught as a doctrine of revelation. A judicious Christian therefore will discard it from his creed ; and that, not only as a groundless, but as a useless and pernicious tenet, which tends to diminish our regard to the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God, and to excite superstitious respect to, and unreasonable expectations from, imaginary and fictitious beings.*" When therefore, we hear how Jesus was tempted of the devil in the wilderness, it was, (for we always talk very rational in our way,) only an allusion to a fictitious being ; and the proper, and most rational meaning is, that he was fighting with some good and bad thoughts which alternately possessed him; but such were the Eastern metaphors and Oriental figures then in use.
* Belsham's Caution, p. 21.
* There is a very curious, though almost forgotten paper, in which the Unitarians, as they call themselves, in opposition to those who hold the doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity, expressly claim kindred with the Mahometans. It is an address from two English Socinians or Arians, (it matters little which,) " in their own names, and in that of a multitude of their persuasion,” whom thy style " a wise and religious sort of people,” to the Morocco ambassador at the court of Charles the 2nd, and is entitled, “ An Epistle Dedicatory, to his illustrious Excellency, Ameth Ben Ameth, Embassador of the Mighty Emperor of Fez and Morocco, to Charles 2nd, King of Great Britain.”
In this “ Epistle Dedicatory,” they tell his Mahometan Excellency that the faith of his countrymen and sect is much purer in the article “ touching the belief of an only sovereign God,” and “ many other wholesome doctrines," than the faith of either Papal or Prom testant Christendom : seeing that about these docrines in which they, the Mahometans, “persevere,” this, our western part of the world, the British isles and European continent,“ are declined into several errors from the integrity of their predecessors.” And they * heartily salute and congratulate his Excellency and all who were with him, as votaries and fellow-worshippers of that sole supreme deity of the Almighty Father and Creator.” Observe, they are not “fellow worshippers” with Christians in this matter,
Consid. Then Sir, might it, not have sounded still more rational, nad you made it out, that he was fighting with two Eastern metaphors, or Oriental figures ? that when the angel spoke to Zacharias about the birth of John, the forerunner of our Lord, he should not have said, “I am Gabriel,” but “I am an Oriental figure?" and that it was nothing but an Oriental figure that spoke to Mary on the same subject ? and that Eastern metaphors, or Oriental figures appeared unto the shepherds, and sang “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will towards men;" and then again, that our Lord had another meeting of these Eastern metaphors and Oriental figures in the joice and thank his Divine Bounty that hath preserved the Emperor of Morocco and his people,” being Mahometans, in the excellent knowledge of that truth, already mentioned, which the Christian world, it seems had lost; and they assure his Excellency, which is a certain veriety, that in those important points," viz. the Unitarian doctrines concerning God, they “ draw nigher to the Mahometans, than all other Protestant or Papal Christians." And they farthermore state to his Excellency, that they “ are their,” the Mahometans, nearest fellow champions for those truths :'and moreover, “ that God had raised up their Mahomet to defend the same truth;" viz. “ the faith of one Supreme God with the sword, as a scourge on those idolizing Christians,” i. e. all who believe in the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ; even as “they, with their Unitarian brethren,” had been accustomed to defend it with their pens. Behold a “defender of the faith,” far goodlier than Henry The VIIIth, and much dearer to the Unitarians than any of his successors, not excepting Edward the V[th, or William of Orange ! Behold an ancient and avowed alliance; the sword of Mahomet and the Unitarian pen!" All this and more in a style of fawning compliment, from a set of professed Christians to an ambassador of the great Imposture: who probably honoured their two representatives, the instant their backs were turned, with the ordinary loving appellation of Christian dogs."
The whole of this precious 6 Epistle,” is perfixed to Leslie's "Socinian controversy discussed." Theol. Works, Vol. I. 207211.
Such an acknowledged coincidence between Unitarianism and Mahometaniem, goes far to justify the assertion, that there is no very wide difference between Unitarians and Deists. But we are Rot left to construction or inference on this head. The affinity is distinctly avowed by no less a personage than the Colossal English Socinian, the late Dr. Joseph Priestley, in a letter to his friend, Mr. Belsham, dated “ Northumberland, April 23, 1813,” speaking of Mr. Jefferson, former President of the United States, the Doctor observes, that he (Mr. Jefferson) is generally considered as an unbeliever, i. e. an infidel. “If so however he cannot be far from us.” Ilere is a fair and full confession, that jpfidelity and Socipianist
mount of transfiguration ? that an Eastern metaphor opened the prison in which Peter was confined, and that an Oriental figure knocked off his fetters ? that Paul was converted at the sight of these Eastern metaphors ? that Stephen saw somewhat of the like sort when he was stoned ? and that an Eastern metaphor stood by Paul when near shipwrecked? And if these be not enough, I could give you some farther lucubrations on your rational way of explaining these Eastern metaphors.*
are near neighbours; or else, a person allowed to be an infidel, would be s far off” from a Socinian, which Dr. Priestly says is not the fact. We say so too, and that they had much better shake hands at once, than keep up an unmeaning warfare : especially as Wiliam Wells, Esquire of Boston, a gentleman of talents and a scholar, “whose zeal,” to quote Mr. Belsham, “ whose zeal for truth,” i. e. Socinianism," is beyond all praise," has told us in a letter to Mr. B. March 31, 1812, " that Unitarianism consists rather in not believing!!” Now if faith is so essential to the character of true Christrians, that word of their God denominates them fronz that very thing, believers ; then, the Unitarians, themselves being judges, are far enough from Christians! See Dr. Mason's admirable publication on Catholic Communion, p. 98, &c.
* The Socinians suppose they have a right to take such preposterous liberties on this subject, because these spiritual existences are described as being "powers and virtues;" therefore they are not real existences, but figurative allusions. We will produce a few more passages, where the real existence of such spirits is positively mentioned, and then we shall see how far common sense will befriend them in their rational religion.
Beelzebub, the prince of the devils--the prince of the eastern mea taphors.
Unto which of the Angels (oriental figures) said he at any time, This day have I begotten thee; Let the Angels of God (eastern metaphors) worship him?
Our Lord cast out a whole legion of eastern metaphors from the man among the tombs, and that it was several of these tropical figures that possessed two thousand swine at the same time, and to alarm them in such a manner, as to drive them into the sea.
" Whether there be thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers ?" All tropical languge--only eastern metaphors.
Christ "spoiled principalities and powers :” he spoiled eastern metaphors and oriental figures.
The ministering spirits " sent forth to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation,” these are also to be understood as nonentities or oriental figures.
“The angels (oriental figures) who kept not their first estate.”
“There was fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (for an eastern metanhor and his oriental figures) But enough of this * Harwood's New Testament,
Wiseh. Sir, all our great divines are not quite of the same way of thinking, concerning these matters; for some of them have thought, that St. Paul when he conceived he saw the vision, was under a temporary derangement; and perhaps Stephen might have had a short phrenzy fit like Paul; and as for the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, that has been supposed to be nothing more than the narrative of a vision-or “a scenical exhibition of
images upon the mind of the entranced prophet.
Consid. So that it is to be supposed, that Christ slept forty days and forty nights, and afterwards related his dreams.
Wiseh. Sir, such is the way our divines have solved the difficulty.
from the New Testament, by way of giving a fair specimen of the wisdom of those, who can bestow such high compliments on themselves, and on the rationality of their religion.
A few instances from the Old Testament shall also be given, as farther embellishments of these rational evasions.
An angel appeared to Manoah, foretold the birth of Samuel, and instructed him respecting his education: his appearance was very terrible or glorious; he did wondrously, and in the flame of a sacrifice ascended into glory. All this was done by an eastern metaphors.
An argel was commissioned to punish Israel with a tremendous plague, when David numbered the people ; it is said “the angel of the Lord stretched out his hand.” N. B. Eastern metaphors have got hands; and again, the Angel of the Lord stood between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword m his hand. N. B. Tropical figures carry drawn swords. We are far ther told, The angel of the Lord stood by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. N. B. These standings, and movings, and actings, were all accomplished by an eastern metaphor.
The angel of the Lord that encamped around his people, when he brought them out of Egypt, first stood before them, and then went behind them; strange, that nothing but a tropical figure should have had such an influence on Paraoh and all his hosts!
Again. Abraham had a visit from three of these eastern metaphor's, and he was so sure of their positive existence, that he prepared an entertainment for them. While the plentiful repast was all in the eastern style ; and very properly, for he had to entertain three easterp metaphors. There was also a long conversation held between these eastern metaphors and Abraham, Sarah, and Lot; and we are told of the great care they all took to deliver the righteous man out of Sodom. This is a notable proof what a wonderful book will be exhibited before the world, when their rational
Consid. Do you mean by all this, to prove that your system, if it deserves the name, has nothing to do with infidelity ?*
Wiseh. Sir, we disown the charge, we are not such infidels as to deny the divine mission of Jesus ; though
eomment upon the Scriptures, shall appear o illuminate the human mind.
The last instance which we will produce, out of a large variety, shall be taken from the history of Balaam. The ass of the soothsayer was thrice opposed by the angel of the Lord, i. e. by an eastern metaphor, and by this means he crushed his foot against the wall. The Lord spoke unto him, as through the mouth of the ass, and thus “forbade the madness of the prophet.” What a strange timid ass must Balaam's ass have been, to have been so afraid of a tropical figure; or what stupid asses must those be who thus interpret the word of God? or what brainless asses we all must be, to abide by interpretations so preposterous and absurd ? And if this be not sufficient to expose the folly of the sadusaiac spirit of the day, nothing is.
* Had Mr. Considerate entered more deeply into the controversy, by arguing from the authority of the Seriptures against the senti. ments of Mr. Wisehead, according to his new notions of the volume of inspiration, it could have been of no avail ; for if men of such sentiments cannot succeed, by quirks and quibbles, and by the aid of the most unpatural far-fetched interpretations, the next business is to invalidate the book itself, agreeably to the samples above given : so that it is impossible to deal with a Socinian, but as you, would with a Deist. The arguments, therefore, taken up by Lardner on the credibility of the Gospels, and again lately brought forward against the Deists by Paley,t will prove the best answers against the Socinian notions of the Bible. And I think those modern perverters of Christianity, must know, how widely they differ fron the primitive Christians as it relates to the authority of the sacred volume. Brevity allows me to mention only some of the expressions during the first ages of the church, as they are to be found in Paley, p. 230— 82. Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, says, " these things the holy Scriptures teach, and all who were moved by the Holy Spirit.”- Concerning the righteousness which the law teaches, the like things are to be found in the Prophets and the Gospels, because that all being inspired, spoke by one and the same Spirit.” They are, therefore, frequently called the divine Scriptures—" the sacred fountain of truth :” and Origen (against Celsus) declares, that both Jewish and New Testament Scriptures, are believed in the Churches to be divine,
Novatus says, " That Christ is not only man, but God also, is proved by the sacred authority of the divine writings.-The divine
+ Though po man has written better respecting the authenticity of revelation, yet few have gone so far in giving up many of the divine truths therein contained. His latter publications however evidently manifest a nearer approach to the essential doctrines of the Gospel.