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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 refer to God the father, the fon, and the holy. spirit. And if upon fuch impartial examination, as I shall be able to make, I find your facts truly represented, and your reasoning conclufive, I shall think it my duty to profefs my conviction, though it should contradict the practice and sentiments of wise and learned men, whose authority, I own, has hitherto had too much influence on my mind.
UNITARIAN. My dear christian friend, your resolution is wife and good. Nothing is of greater consequence, in the grand bufinefs 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 athanasian scheme, afterwards profefled the right opinion of God, and his holy worship, in opposition to their worldly interest; and even, fince the reformation, suffered imprisonment, banishment, and death.
The memory of our first reformers, ought, with out 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 first corrupted : and that a superstitious veneration of relicks, and the invocation of faints immediately followed the corruption.
To speak my mind freely, it is certainly matter of ferious lamentation, that such a grofs corruption in the pure religion of the holy Jesus, and which laid the foundation of the grand apostacy, has not been
long ago banished from the church of England ; which, in the most folemn manner, professeth 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 confideration 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 Christianity revived, and Dr. Clarke, in his Scripture Doctrine 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 fcripture : 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 preferments and ministry therein, rather than continue to officiate, 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 same 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, profess, and protest; to disregard all public authority, when it ftands in competition with the express declarations of Christ and his apostles.
We are daily praying to our heavenly Father, that his 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 same time, we obstinately continue in such false worship as eclipses his fupreme honour and glory, in express contradiction to his holy word. We are 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 fpirit, that all who profess and call themselves christians, may be led into the way of truth; and, at the same time, we seem determined to hold fast important errors regarding God and his holy worship, notwithstanding the strongest and clearest light. Upon fome 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 same collect, we inconsistently keep up a religious practice, that is one of the greatest obstacles to their conversion. For it is extremely evident, by all accounts, that neither jews, nor mahometans, who are believers of one fupreme 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 finally 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 Aood, 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 state 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 of all religion, though establilhed by demonstrative evidence in the works of creation, would have been certainly lost,