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Comparison of Mahometism with Popery, alluded to in p. 295.
THE Mahometan, as well as the Papal, was no new religion, but a corruption of that which we acknowledge to have been revealed to Adam, to Abraham, to Moses and the prophets, and finally completed in our Lord Jesus Christ. For Mahomet admitted, as the basis of his superstructure, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, alleging only that they had been corrupted in those places, which he found it convenient to frame anew.1 So the Christians received him as a prophet, at the time of his flight from Mecca. And without this apostasy of the Christians, which he artfully fomented and always expected, his daring schemes must have failed. The king of Ethiopia and his subjects were converted to Mahometism by considering it as a divine addition to the Christian religion. The Christians were uniformly invited to embrace Mahometism as a more perfect divine revelation. They, with the Jews, as believing the foundations of the same revelations, were at first treated with peculiar lenity and respect. They were called the people of the book, and as such, were tolerated in the profession of their respective religions, on paying a moderate tribute,
1 Koran, ch. iii. iv. v, &c.
2 Prideaux, Life of Mahomet, pp. 76, 161.
while the Harbii, that is, the idolaters and atheists, were extirpated. Hence Mahometism has been frequently accounted a Christian heresy ; and, as it had its origin in Christianity, so to Christ it looks in the end for, according to the creed of the Mahometans, Jesus is expected to descend to earth, to embrace the religion of Mahomet, to slay antichrist, and to reign with his saints. And not only does Mahometism resemble Popery, as one horn of the same beast does another in these characters of an apostate church; but the resemblance is equally complete in those marks of which the papal writers' boast, as characteristic of their only true church; amplitude, duration, temporal prosperity. If these are marks of the true church, both these usurpations have equally enjoyed them. And as their immense secular power and dominion arose and was established nearly at the same time, so from the same æra, the declension of that power is to be dated. The latter end of the seventeenth century, saw the tide of prosperity ebbing apace in both. In short, both these are religious powers; or, to speak more justly, and according to the prophecy, worldly powers masked under a religious semblance; they pretend their rights from religion; and support them by the secular sword, which both have wielded with oppressive violence. Both claim their authority originally from the same source, from the Christian religion; the one as vicar and representative of Christ; the other, by commission from the Father of Christ,
1 Reland and Höttinger, quoted by Gibbon, ch. li.
2 See the proofs of this in p. 422.
3 Sale's Koran, p. 106.
4 Bellarmine, &c. &c.
5 It has been observed, that no successful efforts have been made either by the Mahometans or Papists to extend their influence and dominion, from the peace of Ryswick, in 1697, followed by that of Carlowitz in 1699.
acknowledging the revelation given to the Son, but pretending to restore it to an original purity. Both infringe Christian liberty, by the arbitrary introduction of burthensome and unauthorized ceremonies; both attack and render nugatory that most essential part of Christianity, the mediatorial office of our Lord; the one when the pretended prophet took it upon himself; the other, when the pretended vicar transferred it to angels and departed saints.
The Mahometan apostasy may therefore fairly stand by the side of the papal, as forming one horn of the second antichristian beast. And as this will be more readily admitted by those who have considered, (as Dr. Benson by his concession seems to have done,) its right to the name and title of a Christian heresy or apostasy, I will here subjoin some quotations tending to illustrate this fact, which is not commonly seen or acknowledged:
"Mahomet did not pretend to deliver any new religion, but to revive the old one.1 He allowed both the Old and New Testament, and that both Moses and Jesus were prophets sent from God; 2 that Jesus, son of Mary, is the word, and a Spirit sent from God, a Redeemer of all that believe in him." Mahomet represents himself as the Paraclete or Comforter sent by Jesus Christ; (John xvi. 7.) So, in Mahomet's ascent to heaven, as invented in the Koran, while the patriarchs and prophets confess their inferiority to him by entreating his prayers, in the seventh heaven he sees Jesus, whose superiority the false prophet acknowledges by commending himself to his prayers." "Faith in the
1 Prideaux, Life of Mahomet, p. 18.
2 Ib. p. 19.
3 Sale's Koran, p. 19, 80, 65. Ockley's History of Saracens, ii. Koran, p. 165.
Sale's Koran, ch. 17. Prideaux' Life of Mahomet, p. 55.
divine books is a necessary article of the Mahometan creed; and among these is the gospel given to Issa or Jesus, which they assert to be corrupted by the Christians." "If any Jew is willing to become a Mahometan, he must first believe in Christ: and this question is asked him, Dost thou believe that Christ was born of a virgin, by the blast (i. e. inspiration) of God, and that he was the last of the Jewish Prophets." If he answers in the affirmative, he is made a Mahometan." "Mahomet arose to establish a new religion, which came pretty near the Jewish, and was not entirely different from that of several sects of Christians, which got him a great many followers."" Fassus impostor (scil. Muhammedes) Jesum de virgine Mariâ natum, Messiam, verbum Dei cœlitùs missum, Dei Spiritum, miraculis evangelicis clarum, prophetam Dei, qui evangelium tradiderit, ac docuit salutis viam, qui venturus ad judicium sit, et destructurus antichristum, et conversurus Judæos, &c. Sic apostolis Christi credendum docuit ut evangelio Christi, ac legi Mosis et prophetis omnibus. Sic de Christianis æquiùs quàm de Judæis sensit, quos et benignè habuit; unde illud Muhammedis apud Elmacinum, qui Christianum opprimit, adversarium eum habebit die judicii; qui Christiano nocet, mihi nocet, &c." Thus also the Mahometan writers, when speaking of him, say, "jussit quoque credere veritatem prophetarum et apostolorum;-item Christum filium Mariæ Dei esse et verbum ejus atque apostolum ;"5 and even at this day they honour what we call the Christian religion, next to their own.6
1 Reland on the Mahometan Religion, pref. p. 25.
2 Ibid. 11.
3 Leibnitz's Letter, 1706.
↑ Spanhemii Introd. ad Hist. Sæc. vii. p. 609.
5 Elmacini Hist. Saracen. p. 3.
tism began as a Christian heresy, acknowledging Christ for a Prophet, a greater than Moses, born of a virgin, the Word of God."-Alcoran, v. 27.1 Sale asserts the Mahometan religion to be not only a Christian heresy, but an " improvement upon the very corrupt idolatrous system of the Jews and Christians of those times."2 Joseph Mede affirms, that the Mahometans are nearer to Christianity than many of the ancient heresies, the Cerinthians, Gnostics, Manichees. 3 "Whatever good is to be found in the Mahometan religion, (and some good doctrines and precepts there undeniably are in it,) is in no small measure owing to Christianity: for, Mahometism is a borrowed system, made up for the most part of Judaism and Christianity; and, if it be considered in the most favourable view, might possibly be accounted a sort of Christian heresy. If the gospel had never been preached, it may be questioned whether Mahometism would have existed."
"The Musselmans are already a sort of heterodox Christians; they are Christians, if Locke reasons justly, because they firmly believe the immaculate conception, divine character, and miracles of the Messiah; but they are heterodox in denying vehemently his character of Son, and his equality, as God, with the Father, of whose unity and attributes they entertain and express the most awful ideas, while they consider our doctrine as perfect blasphemy, and insist that our copies of the Scriptures have been corrupted both by Jews and Christians."5
These are such testimonies as have occurred to
1 Ricaut, Ottoman Empire, p. 188.
2 Prelim. p. 51.
3 Works, p. 645.
4 Dr. Jortin's first Charge.
5 Sir William Jones, in the Asiatic Dissertations, vol. i. p.