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Christians in the first three centuries lived and died in the persuasion that he was “ one with God,”—the primitive martyrs resigned their lives in attestation of this great truth, and while they suffered “ rejoiced in God 56 their Saviour ;” and they derived their conviction from the personal instruction of the apostles, or from the perusal of the word of God. On these grounds we affirm that the doctrine is true. If it were not, it would follow that the most diligent perusers of that book which is given to be “ a lamp unto our feet, and “ a light unto our paths,” (x) have lost the truth, while Mahometans, who do not read the Bible, have found it: for if Jesus Christ be not God, Mahomet has described his character more correctly than the apostles. This is his language: “ They are infidels 64 who declare that God is Christ: Christ the son of 66 Mary is no more than God's envoy. Christians say 6 Christ is the son of God; how are they infatuated : 5 far be it from God that he should have a Son. “ Jesus is no other than a servant. O Jesus, son of 66 Mary, dost thou persuade mankind to put thee in “ the place of God?” (a) And truly, if he have so done, and be not essentially God, it must follow (though it is a horrid inference) that Mahomet, even Mahomet the impostor, was more faithful, more wise, and more zealous for God's glory than was Jesus Christ himself !!
I cannot, however, pass from the subject before us without entreating you to bear in mind that it is, strictly speaking, fundamental. Different religions are (as (z) Ps. cxix. 105.
(a) Sale’s Koran, passim.
was suggested in a preceding letter) distinguished one from another by their having different objects of worship, and proposing different grounds of hope. Considered in this light, the religion of him who admits and him who rejects the Deity of Christ, are as essentially different as the religions of the Jew and the Christian. This is no uncandid remark; but one founded in the nature of things, and justified by the conduct of both parties. If Jesus Christ be a mere man, those who worship him are guilty of idolatry : in that case the Socinians rightly call them idolaters, and, for aught I can see to the contrary, were justifiable upon their own principles in proposing (as they did in the reign of Charles the Second) (b) to reduce the
(6) I have been called upon to furnish proofs of this singular fact, and feel no hesitation in complying with the requisition.
A negociation was opened on the part of our English Unitarians, with his Excellency Ameth Ben Ameth, Ambassador of the Emperor of Morocco at the English Court, in order to form an alliance with the Mahometan Prince, for the more effectual propagation of the Unitarian principles.
The two Unitarian divines, who undertook this singular treaty, address the Ambassador, and the Mussulmen of his suite, as “ votaries and “ fellow-worshippers of the sole Supreme Deity.” They return thanks to God that he hath preserved the Emperor of Morocco, and his subjects, in the excellent knowledge of one only Sovereign God, who hath no distinction, nor plurality of persons; and in many other wholesome doctrines.
They say, that they with their pens defend the faith of one Supreme God; and that God raised up Mahomet to do the same with the sword, as a scourge on idolizing Christians. They therefore style themselves the fellow champions with the Mahometans for these truths. They offer their assistance to purge the Koran of certain corruptions and interpolations, which after the death of Mahomet had crept into his papers, of which the Koran was composed. For of Mahomet they think too highly, to suppose that he could be guilty of the many repugnances, which
two schemes of Socinianism and Mahometanism into one consistent aggregate. If, on the other hand,
are to be found in the writings that go under his name. This work they declare themselves willing to undertake, for the vindication of Mahomet's glory. They intimate that the corrections which they would propose would render the Koran inore consistent ; not with itself only, but with the Gospel of Christ, of which they say Mahomet pretended to be but a preacher. They tell the Ambassador, that the Unitarian Christians form a great and considerable people. To give weight to the assertion, they enumerate the heresiarchs of all ages who have opposed the Trinity, from Paulus Samosatenis, down to Faustus Socinus, and the leaders of the Polonian fraternity. They celebrate the modern tribes of Arians, as asserters of the proper unity of God; and they close the honourable list with the Mahometans themselves. All these, they say, maintain the faith of one God: and “why should we forget to add you, Mahometans, “ who also consent with us in the belief of one only Supreme Deity.”
Such is the substance of a letter which they presented to the Ambas. sador with some Latin manuscripts respecting the differences between Christianity and the Mahometan religion, and containing an ample detail of the Unitarian tenets. They apply to the Mussulman, as to a person of known discernment in spiritual and sublime matters: and they entreat him to communicate the import of their manuscripts to the con. sideration of the fittest persons among his countrymen.
This singular epistle may be seen entire in Leslie's Socinian Contro. versy discussed.
Dr. Horsley, in whose controversial writings with Dr. Priestley this is inserted (Letter 16, page 307, ed. 3), by way of stamping its authenticity, has added a note, in which he says, that in consequence of Dr. Priestley's questioning the veracity of it, he examined the Arch. bishop's library at Lambeth, from whence the copy was originally taken, where he found it in a thin folio, under the mark 673, among the Codices MSS. Tenisoniani; and entered in the catalogue, under the article Socinians, by the title of Systema Theologiæ Socinianæ.
On the preceding leaf are these remarks :-" These are the original 66 papers which a cabal of Socinians in London offered to present to the 66 Ambassador of the King of Fez and Morocco, when he was taking " leave of England, August 1682.-The said Ambassador refused to “ receive them, after having understood that they concerned religion.“ The agent of the Socinians was Monsieur Virze.—Sir Charles Cottrell, 66 Knt. Master of the Ceremonies, then present, desired he might have
Jesus Christ be God incarnate, then “ every spirit " that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the “ flesh, is of God; and every spirit that confesseth “ that Jesus Christ is not come in the flesh, is not of 6 God:” « whosoever denieth the Son, hath not the “ Father,” while he “ that acknowledgeth the Son hath “ the Father also:” “ he that hath the Son hath life, 6 and he that hath not the Son hath not life;" (c) they are as opposite in their nature as the dead and the living, and it is as impossible for them to unite cordially together in religious worship. The one party contends, and contends naturally, that by worshipping a creature he should dishonour God, to whom alone worship is due: the other affirms as naturally, and (as I trust you will now allow) more consistently with the uniform tenour of the Gospel, that, by withholding worship from the Saviour, he should deny his Divine
" them, which was granted ; and he brought them, and gave them to ós me, Thomas Tenison, then Vicar of St. Martin's in the Fields, “ Middlesex.”
Dr. Horsley adds, by way of farther confirmation, “ I do most so. " lemnly aver, that I have this day (Jan. 15, 1789), compared the " letter to Ameth Ben Ameth, as published by Dr. Leslie, in his So. “ cinian Controversy discussed, with the MS. in the Archbishop's library, " and find that the printed copy, with the exception of some trivial " typographical errors, which in no way affect the sense, and are such as “ any reader will discover and correct for himself, is exactly conform“ able to the MS., without the omission or addition of a single word.”
(c) 1 John, iv. 2, 3. ii. 23. v. 12. In the first of these passages, the phrase in the flesh either clearly indicates a possibility or capability of other ways of coming, or it is nugatory. If it be not merely expletive, which is not easily to be admitted, it is, therefore, decisively in favour of the orthodox doctrine respecting the person of Christ. The Socinian in. terpretation of the passage is refuted by Bishop Horsley, Letters, p. 120, and by Abbadie, sect. iii. cap. 2, 10.
perfections, dishonour and degrade Him, and thus lose his title to eternal glory.
The character the Redeemer now sustains renders this a matter of infinite moment. Jesus has “ as66 cended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand « of his Father," “ far above all principalities and 6 powers.” Here he was our prophet and teacher, and died as our atoning sacrifice; there he is incessantly pleading for his people; nay, there he both intercedes as our High Priest, and sits and reigns as King ; reigns with inexpressible dignity and glory, rich in power and grandeur, rich in compassion and tenderness, rich in adorable perfections, as the Son of God, the SAVIOUR to the uttermost, the PRINCE OF LIFE. He governs all things in heaven and on earth, that he may defend his Church, adorn her with his Spirit, and procure and accomplish her eternal salvation. But “ from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the “ dead : ”, “ for the Father judgeth no man; but hath “ given all judgment to his Son, that all may honour “ the Son as they honour the Father.” (d) May the contemplation of this great event stimulate us, my friend, sedulously to seek, and heartily to embrace, the truth. For, “behold he cometh with clouds, and 66 every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced “ him.” (e) Then will they “ say to the mountains 66 and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of “ him that sitteth upon the throne, even from the wrath 6 of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come,