Page images





system of religious faith that first attracted my notice was that of the Socinian Unitarians, because it was that which came nearer to the principles I had formerly maintained; and what principally allured me to this, was the boast of its advocates that this system was founded only on the truest principles of right reason. With the evidences of Christianity I was not only now conversant, but the truth of them was firmly established in my mind, although I considered myself as still open to conviction, if, upon further investigation, it should appear that I had founded my belief upon weak or mistaken grounds. I took up the leading works of the Socinian writers with every disposition to fall in with their views, if I should find them borne out by truth and the force of argument: but I stumbled at the very threshold of this Temple of Reason. The foundation upon which the fabric

of Christianity was originally built, was here, in so many places undermined and torn up, that what remained was inadequate to its support. The existence of the Scriptures themselves was called in question, and nothing but what favoured this peculiar system was considered by its supporters either as genuine or authentic. The chief corner-stone on which the building, in the opinion of all other Christians, is thought to rest, is, by the Unitarian, not only loosened, but nearly removed. Upon such inadmissible evidence as that of an unlearned and unworthy heretic of the second century, who, for the crime of seduction, had been expelled the Church, and who, upon his prayer for readmission being rejected, had enlisted himself under the banners of its adversaries, — upon the testimony of such a man as this to expunge from the New Testament those chapters which record the miraculous conception of the Virgin Mother of Christ, appeared to me utterly unwarrantable, especially when I observed that in mutilating the Scriptures (which he had done, also, in many other instances) he was endeavouring to arrive at a point the very reverse of what is aimed at by the Unitarians themselves;- namely, that of showing Jesus to have been a divine spirit, and no real man. But independent of this stratagem to get rid of the evidence of the divinity and pre-existence of Christ, the Unitarians appeared to me to have adopted so many alterations and such various interpretations of the sacred text, that no sound argument, logical reasoning, or critical investigation I was master of could receive. When, too, I found it asserted by a more modern supporter of this system, that Jesus was a mere man, and like others of the human race, was

subject to the same infirmities, the same ignorance, prejudices, and frailties *," I started at the perverseness of ascribing ignorance to one of whom it is so plainly declared in one place that “he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man;" and in another, that he knew the very thoughts of men: how much more then did my astonishment increase at the imputation of frailty to one who had no mental weakness, and whose resolution was calm, wise, and unchangeable,

* Belsham’s “ Calm Inquiry,” p. 447.

« PreviousContinue »