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I am determined to give the new Testament a serious review, and to take particular notice of all those passages, that reser to God the father, the son, and the holy spirit. And if upon such impartial examination, as I shall be able to make, I sind your facts truly represented, and your reasoning conclusive, I shall think it my duty to prosess my conviction, though it (hould contradict the practice and sentiments of wise and learned men, whose authority, I own, has hitherto had too much insluence on my mind.
Unitarian. My dear christian friend, your resolution is wise and good. Nothing is of greater consequence, in the grand business of religion, than that every person, to whom God has given common sense and reason, should judge and determine for himself, in all points, wherein his duty is concerned. I have the particular satisfaction to reflect, that the more carefully you examine the subject of our debate, the stronger conviction you will receive of the truth of the scripture facts, I have faithfully set forth. And, as to the reasoning part, it is certainly founded on the principles of common sense, which is the best method of interpreting scripture; or for what end was our reason given to us? or how can it be better employed, than in exploring the revelation of God?
With respect to the authority of wise and learned men, and .the argument drawn from the established
liturgy; liturgy; I find, upon inquiry, that many wife, learned, and good men; and some, whose judgment, upon any question, is of more value than that of thousands, have embraced the unitarian doctrine: and what deserves particular notice, some of them, who had been educated in the usual athanafian scheme, afterwards prosessed the right opinion of God, and his holy worship, in opposition to their worldly interest; and even, since the reformation, suffered imprisonment, banishment, and death.
The memory of our first reformers, ought, without doubt, to be held in very high esteem, upon account of what they did and suffered, in the glorious work of freeing religion from the foul corruptions of popery: but certain it is, that they did not sufficiently examine the gross opinion of three persons in one God. They too readily took for granted, what had been settled and determined by the fathers and councils of the fourth and fifth centuries, after the time of Christ; when persons, acquainted with church-history, assure us, the unity of God, in the plain and literal sense, was sirst corrupted: and that a superstitious veneration of relicks, and the invocation of saints immediately followed the corruption.
To speak my mind freely, it is certainly matter of serious lamentation, that such a gross corruption in the pure religion of the holy Jesus, and which laid the foundation of the grand apostacy, has not been
long long ago banished srom the church os England; which, in the most solemn manner, prosesseth the scripture as the only rule of faith and practice; and, that nothing should be imposed on the consciences of men, but what is warranted by the word of God. It is well known, that this very subject was recommended to the consideration of the most eminent persons in ehurch and state, about eighty years ago, by two very learned and very eminent divines, viz. Mr. Whiston, in his Primitive Chrislianity revived, and Dr. Clarke, in his Scripture Doclrine of the Trinity. The latter I procured, and was there completely furnished with all the texts relating to the doctrine of the trinity, reduced under proper heads: and how any christian can withstand the evidence arising from such a number of texts, ('viz. twelve hundred and fifty-one,) is to me astonishing- Again; there was a particular application made to the governing powers in the justly famous Free and Candid Disquisitions, about forty years ago, in an humble, calm, and christian manner, in order to get the liturgy reformed, according to the standard of the scripture: but nothing has yet been attempted in that glorious cause. And, in the year 1772, application was made to parliament for relief from subscription to human articles of religious faith and doctrine: since which, several of the clergy of the established church have resigned their preserments and ministry therein, rather than continue to osficiate, in the
public service, against their consciences; while many, many more, remain behind, groaning and oppressed by their conformity, being yet unable wholly to withdraw themselves. Notwithstanding which, the fame corrupt forms are still kept up in the midst of light and knowledge; and, therefore common christians are, with the highest reason, called upon to examine, judge, determine, prosess, and protest;— to disregard all public authority, when it stands in competition with the express declarations of Christ and his apostles.
We are daily praying to our heavenly Father, that "is name may be hallowed, that is, that he may be worshipped and adored, as the supreme and only object of the highest reverence and love of all rational creatures; and yet, at the fame time, we obstinately continue in such false worship as eclipses bis supreme honour and glory, in express contradiction to his holy word. We arc constantly interceding with almighty God, for the good estate of the catholic church, or, that the church of Christ may be universal; that it may be so guided and governed by his good spirit, that all who prosess and call themselves christians, may be led into the way of truth; and, at the fame time, we seem determined to hold fast -important errors regarding God and his holy worship, notwithstanding the strongest and clearest light. Upon some occasions, more especially in one of the collects for Good-Friday, we earnestly
pray pray for the conversion of jews, turks, and infidels, and at the end of the very fame collect, we inconsistently keep up a religious practice, that is one os the greatest obstacles to their conversion. For it is extremely evident, by all accounts, that neither jews, nor mahometans, who are believers of ene supreme God, can be converted whilst they are taught to think, that the doctrine of three persons in one God, and the worship practised in consequence of it, are essential parts of the christian religion. This can be deemed little less than a solemn mockery of the almighty, unless we employ our sincere endeavours to effect whatever we pray for; and, I am afraid, will sinally demonstrate the insincerity of this church and nation, if no alterations can be obtained from the governing powers.
Since my conviction, I have been naturally led.to reflect on the lamentable state of mankind, in almost all ages and countries, with respect to the knowledge of the one true God. Not a great many years after the flood, whereby the immediate power of the almighty creator was so remarkably displayed, there was a general revolt of the nations of the earth into a slate of gross idolatry: upon which account, almighty God chose a particular people, for the glorious purpose of keeping up the knowledge and worship of himself; as this grand principle os all religion, though established by demonstrative evidence in the works of creation, would have been certainly lost,