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here referred to, is urged by Chubb, in his reasoning on Redemption.
The species of argument which he has employed, is a favourite one with this deistical writer. He applies it on another occasion, to establish a conclusion, no less extraordinary, than that the conversion of the Jews or Heathens to Christianity was a matter of little consequence, either as to the favour of God, or their own future safety; for, adds he, if they were virtuous and good men, they were secure without such conversion; and if they were bad vicious men, they were not secured by it!!! (Posthumous Works, vol. ii. p. 33.) Thus, with the simple apparatus of an if and a DILEMMA, was this acute reasoner able, on all occasions, to subvert any part of the system of revelation against which he chose to direct his attacks. The AOE TOT ETS2 was never wanting to this moral Archimedes; and the fulcrum and two-forked lever were always ready at hand, to aid the designs of the logical mechanician.
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 professors 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 avoided:---circumstances, from which their serious reverence of the author, and the solid value they attach to his works, may reasonably be inferred.
Now, as this is one of the oracles, from which these illuminating teachers derive their lights, 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 this writer's 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 absurdities 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 religion; and, that the idea of application to God for his assistance, or prayer in any 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 reasoning 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. " Whether the Mahometan 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 !!!”—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 can 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.
* 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. Mahometanism 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 dignify 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 Mahoment comprises almost every heterodox opinion, that has ever been entertained respecting the Christian faith.
Indeed the decided part, which the Unitarians have heretofore 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 conveyed, in a solemn address from the English Unitarians to the Mahometan ambassador of Morocco, in the reign of Charles the Second, a cordial approbation of Mahomet and 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 be different; but the object contended for they assert to be the same. “We, with our Unitarian brethren, have
been in all ages exercised, to defend with our pens the faith of one supreme 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, concedes the justice of the claim set up by the Unitarians to be adınitted to rank with the followers of Mahomet; 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 play of the projected coalition, at the time were strenuously denied. The truth of Mr. Leslie's stateinent, 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 had 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 learned 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, Incarna tion, &c.” Leslie, vol. i. pp. 216, 217.
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 emancipated from revelation, may prepare his mind for a juster view of what is called RATIONAL CHRISTIANITY.
NO. VIII.-ON THE CONSISTENCY OF PRAYER WITH THE
Page 10. (h)-See Price's Dissertations-2d Edit. pp. 209. 210. There are some observations of this excellent and serious writer upon the nature of prayer, which are not only so valuable in themselves, but with some extension admit so direct a bearing upon the subject before us, that I cannot resist the desire I feel of laying them before the reader. In answer to the objection derived from the unchangeableness of God, and the conclusion thence deduced that prayer cannot make any alteration in the Deity, or cause him to bestow any blessing which he would not have bestowed without it; this reply is made. If it be in itself proper, that we should humbly apply to God for the mercies we need from him, it must also be proper, that a regard should be paid to such applications; and that there should be a different treatment of those who make them, and those who do not. To argue this as implying changeableness in the Deity, would be