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that a virgin shall bring forth a god, but you always call Mary, the mother of God. Where does he
Where does he say that he who shall be born of a virgin, shall be the only-begotten son of God, the first-born of all creation? As to what is said by John, “ All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made,” can any person shew this in the prophets? But attend to what I can shew out of them, O Lord God possess us, we know no other besides thee.' King Hezekiah is represented by them as praying,
O Lord God of Israel, who sittest upon the cherubim, thou art God alone. He leaves no room for any other.”*
From this passage it is evident that Julian understood the Scriptures much better than the orthodox fathers. But he was acquainted with Photinus, and therefore, must have known that all the Christians were not such absurd interpreters of the Scriptures, or such favourers of Polytheism. But the public reproaches of Christianity must always fall on the most conspicuous professors of it, and those who, in consequence of having the countenance of government, will always be the most numerous.
And while the absurd Polytheism, the rise and progress of which I have described, had this great advantage, it set at equal defiance the indignation of the oppressed Unitarians, and the sneers of the unbelieving Heathens.
After what has been exhibited in this work, we cannot wonder at the complaint of Ruffinus, who says, “ The Pagans are wont to object to us, that our religion, being deficient in reason, consists in the mere force of believing." +
Having given so much attention to the doctrine of the Trinity; having traced it from its rise; having followed it through all its variations, and seen what its original advocates were able to say in its defence, I shall in the next place invite my reader to give the same impartial attention to the history of the ancient Unitarians. This, however, will be attended with the melancholy reflection, that while the greatest and most alarming of all errors kept taking deeper root, and flourished under the protection of the wisdom and
Μηλι Θεον φησιν εκ της παρθενο τεχθησεσθαι; θεοτοκον δε υμεις του παυεσθε Μαριαν καλονίες ή μη σε φησι τον εκ της παρθενα γεννωμενον υιον Θεου μονογένη και πρωθολοκον πασης κτισεως; αλλα το λεγομενον υπο Ιωαννε σαντα δι' αυτο εγενείο, και χωρις αυτο εγενετο εδε εν εχει τις εν ταις προφητικαις δειξαι φωναις; α δε ημεις δεικνυμεν, εξ αυτων εκεινων εξης ακέετε. Κυριε ο Θεος ημων κτησαι ήμας, εκτος σε αλλον ουκ οίδαμεν" σε. ποιηται δε παρ' αυτων και Εζεχιας και βασιλευς ευχομενος. Κυριε ο Θεος Ισραηλ, ο καθημενος επι των χερεξιμ, συ ει ο Θεος μονος μητι το δευτερη καταλειπει χωραν. Cyril contra Julianum, L. viji. Juliani Opera, 11. p. 262. (P.)
t“ Pagani nobis objicere solent quod religio nostra, quia rationibus deficit, in sola credendi persuasione, consistat."
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power of the world, the simple truth of the Gospel was almost confined to the unlearned, who were first despised, and then cruelly persecuted ; till, in the age of ignorance, barbarity, and antichristian tyranny, that overspread the Christian world, it was nearly exterminated. A vigorous seed, however, remained alive; the Scriptures which taught that doctrine were not lost, and, in more favourable circumstances, (prepossessed as the minds of men were in favour of extraneous doctrines,) they came to be better understood ; and then the first, the greatest, and the clearest of all religious truths began to be perceived. Its advocates are now increasing every day;* so as to give us the glorious prospect of Unitarianism being in time the belief of all, the Christian world. And this, we doubt not, will be followed by a still more glorious event, that of the whole world becoming Christian. +
• “ I am sensible," says Mr. Lindsey, “that the plain religion of Jesus, stript of these mysterious, inexplicable doctrines, to which mankind have been so long wedded, is not likely to gain proselytes immediately. Too many are the more attached to them on account of their being hidden and obscure; imagining their faith to be thereby rendered more august and venerable; although it be a false grandeur which they admire. Christians must be better taught and informed, freer from violent, narrow, early prejudices against others of differing sentiments, and more simplified in their ideas, before the true Unitarian doctrine of the Scrip: tures can be generally received. Among those also who have more light and knowledge, many are found cautious and shy of producing it, and afraid, from different motives, good or otherwise, of disturbing other people's minds, and putting them upon inquiry, and judging for themselves."
“ And yet, notwithstanding these obstacles, there is abundant reason to rejoice, that the light of the knowledge of the glorious God, the great original, the sole creator, and benevolent author of all things, is breaking forth through the dark clouds that have hitherto so long intercepted it, and hindered him from being seen by the followers of Christ as he really is; and that, within a century past, this great truth of revelation confirmed by nature's still and secret voice, that God is ON E, one single Person, and not (distracting thought !) compounded of two or three Persons, has been imperceptibly making progress in the breasts of many among us; and, in the present day, to their honour, some are not afraid or ashamed to come forth and openly confess it." Historical View, 1783, pp. 5—7.
+ The following Motto, on the Title-page of Vol. II. 1786, was omitted, supra,
“ Vana Philosophorum verba, quæ in doctrinis Platonicis ecclesiæ parvulos interimebant." Jerome.
THE HISTORY OF THE UNITARIAN DOCTRINE.
Id verum quodcunque primum, id adulterum quodcunque posterius.
TERTULLIAN. Ει μεν εξελoντo παντες, εφ' ες το ονομα του Θεού και σωληρος ημων Ιησου Χριςου επικεκληται, μηδεν τη αληθεια του ευαγΓελιου παρεγχωρειν, τη δε παραδοσει των απος ολων, και τη απλοΐηι της πιςεως εξαρκεισθαι, ουδεν αν ημιν εδει λογων εν τω παροντι.
AFTER the view that has been given of the rise and progress of the doctrine of the Trinity, which sprung from the absurdity and mystery of Platonism, and terminated in a mystery still more unintelligible and absurd, in which every thing that is simple and excellent in Christianity was wholly swallowed up and lost, and a Polytheism little better than that of the Heathens took its place, (for the worship of Christ led to that of the Virgin Mary, and a thousand other persons, called saints,) it is with peculiar satisfaction that I proceed to give an account of the doctrine of the Divine Unity, or the History of Unitarianism.
If I had not given what I imagine will appear to be a satisfactory account of the rise of Christian idolatry, it might have appeared a very extraordinary and unaccountable thing; considering that the Jews, from whom the Christians sprung, were
all zealous Unitarians in the time of our Saviour, and that they have continued sueh to this day. It even appears to have been the great object of the Jewish religion, as contained in the books of Moses, to preserve in the world the knowledge and worship of the one true God, notwithstanding the universal tendency to Polytheism among all nations in the early ages.
The doctrine of one great omnipresent Being, the maker and the immediate governor of all things, was too great and sublime, I do not only say to have been discovered by mankind, but even to be retained by any of them, after it was
revealed, without particular provisions for that purpose. Though, I have no doubt, but that the first parents of the human race were instructed in the knowledge of the Divine Unity, their posterity soon adopted the notion of different gods, to whom they imagined the government of the world was delegated; and their attention to these inferior deities, on whom they thought that they more immediately depended, withdrew their attention, as it naturally would, from the supreme God, under whom they at first supposed that these lesser gods had acted. Then, being left to their own imaginations with respect to the characters of these gods, and having no models by which to frame them besides beings like themselves, they presently conceived them to be of very different dispositions, some of them cruel and base, and others lewd; and of course delighting in cruel, base, and lewd actions. To procure the favour, or to avert the displeasure of these gods, they would, therefore, practise many abominable, horrid, and atrocious rites.
The religious ceremonies, and the general character and practice of the Heathen world, abundantly prove, that idolatry was not a mere speculative mistake, a thing only foolish and absurd, but of a very serious and alarming nature; and that it was therefore nothing that could be called jealousy in the true God, to take such extraordinary measures as the history of revelation represents him to have taken in order to cure mankind of their proneness to idolatrous worship. It was a part which it became the Supreme God, the benevolent parent of all his offspring, to take, and what a regard to their own happiness required. The mischief was of so alarming a nature, that the greatest severities were necessary, and therefore proper, to be employed for this purpose ; and they must know nothing of the nature and tendency of the ancient idolatry, who find any thing to censure in the severity with which the Israelites were ordered to act with a view to the extirpation of it from among themselves, or the nations inhabiting the district that was destined for them.
It is not possible to imagine any instructions or regulations more proper to effect the extirpation of idolatry, and to guard the people from it, than the laws of Moses, interpreted by his repeated and earnest remonstrances on the subject with respect to the Israelites. Let the reader only peruse the book of Deuteronomy, and then form his judg
And yet, so seducing were the idolatrous customs the Jews always were to abandon their own purer religion, and more simple rites, though, to appearance, sufficiently splendid, and having little of austerity in them; for they had only one fast day in the whole year, and three great festivals.
that their whole history shows how nrone
But the intention of the Divine Being was equally answered by the obedience or the disobedience of that people; and after a series of discipline, they returned from the Captivity of Babylon, with a new heart and a new spirit, in this respect. For they never discovered the least proneness to idolatry afterwards; but, on the contrary, always shewed the most scrupulous dread and jealousy on this subject. Nay, to a neglect of their religion, there succeeded the most superstitious attention to the smallest punctilios relating to it.
That the Jews in all Ages were Believers in the Divine Unity.
It is impossible to read the sacred books of the Jews, (with minds freed from the strongest prejudices,) without perceiving, that the doctrine of the Divine Unity is most rigorously inculcated in them. It is the uniform language of those books, that one God, without any assistant, either equal or subordinate to himself, made the world, and all things in it, and that this one God continues to direct all the affairs of men.
This is so evident from the bare inspection of the books, and the well-known principles of the Jews in our Saviour's time, that even the Christian fathers, desirous as they were to find advocates for their doctrine of the Trinity, and pressing even Platonism into the service, could not but allow it. They ransacked every part of the Old Testament, as we have seen, for proofs or intimations of the doctrine of the Trinity, or of the divinity of Christ; but, though they imagined they found many such, yet they always acknowledged that the doctrines were delivered so obscurely, that the bulk of the Jewish nation had not perceived them.
They thought, indeed, that Moses himself, and the prophets, were acquainted with these doctrines ; but that there were good reasons why they did not endeavour to make them intelligible to the rest of their countrymen; partly, lest it should have hindered the operation of their religion