« AnteriorContinuar »
NOTWITHSTANDING the apprehension of exciting displeasure in the breasts of many worthy men, I feel myself obliged to lay before the public at large this my self-defence, entitled “ A FINAL APPEAL to the Christian Public.” I, however, confidently hope that the liberal among them will be convinced, by a reference to the first part of this Essay, and to my two former Appeals, that the necessity of self-vindication against the charge of being an “ injurer of the cause of truth," has compelled me, as a warm friend of that cause, to bring forward my reasons for opposing the opinions maintained by so large a body of men highly celebrated for learning and pietya consideration which, I trust, will induce them to regard my present labours with an eye of indulgence,
I am well aware that this difference of sentiment has already occasioned much coolness towards me in the demeanour of some whose friendship I hold very dear, and that this protracted controversy has not only prevented me from rendering my humble services to my countrymen by various publications which I had projected in the native languages, but has also diverted my attention from all other literary
pursuits for three years past. Notwithstanding these sacrifices, I feel well satisfied with my present engagements, and cannot wish that I had pursued a different course, since, whatever may be the opinion of the world, my own conscience fully approves of my past endeavours to defend what I esteem the cause of truth.
my present vindication of the unity of the Deity, as revealed through the writings of the Old and New Testaments, I appeal not only to those who sincerely believe in the books of revelation, and make them the standard of their faith and practice, and who must, therefore, deeply feel the great importance of the divine oracles being truly interpreted; but I also appeal to those who, although indifferent about religion, yet devote their minds to the investigation and discovery of truth, and who will, therefore, not think it unworthy of their attention to ascertain what are the genuine doctrines of Christianity as taught by Christ and his apostles, and how much it has been corrupted by the subsequent intermixture of the polytheistical ideas that were familiar to its Greek and Roman converts, and which have continued to disfigure it in succeeding ages. I extend my appeal yet further; I solicit the patient attention of such individuals as are rather unfavourable to the doctrines of Christianity as generally promulgated, from finding them at variance with common sense, that they may examine and judge
whether its doctrines are really such as they are understood to be by the popular opinion which now prevails.
I feel assured that if religious controversy be carried on with that temper and language which are considered by wise and pious men as most consistent with the solemn and sacred nature of religion, and more especially with the mild spirit of Christianity, the truths of it cannot, for any length of time, be kept concealed under the imposing veil of highsounding expressions, calculated to astonish the imagination and rouse the passions of the people, and thereby keep alive and strengthen the preconceived notions with which such language has in their minds been, from infancy, associated. But I regret that the method which has hitherto been observed in inquiry after religious truth, by means of large publications, necessarily issued at considerable intervals of time, is not, for several reasons, so well adapted to the speedy attainment of the proposed object, as I, and other friends of true religion, could wish. These reasons are as follows:
1st. Many readers have not sufficient leisure or perseverance to go through a voluminous essay, that they may make up their minds and come to a settled opinion on the subject.
2ndly. Those who have time at their command,
and interest themselves in religious researches, finding the real point under discussion mixed up with injurious insinuations and personalities, soon feel discouraged from proceeding further, long before they can come to a determination.
3rdly. The multiplicity of arguments and various interpretations of numerous scriptural passages, that bear often no immediate relation to the subject, or to each other, introduced in succession, distract and dishearten such readers as are not accustomed to Biblical studies, and interrupt their further progress.
As Christianity is happily not a subject resting on vague metaphysical speculations, but is founded upon the authority of books written in languages which are understood and explained according to known and standing rules, I therefore propose, with a view to the more speedy and certain attainment of religious truth, to establish a monthly periodical publication, commencing from the month of April next, to be devoted to Biblical Criticism, and to subject Unitarian as well as Trinitarian doctrines to the test of fair argument, if those of the latter persuasion will consent thus to submit the scriptural grounds on which their tenets concerning the Trinity are built.
For the sake of method and convenience, I propose that, beginning with the Book of Genesis, and taking all the passages in that portion of Scripture,
which are thought to countenance the doctrine of the Trinity, we should examine them one by one, and publish our observations upon them; and that next month we proceed in the same manner with the Book of Exodus, and so on with all the Books of the Old and New Testaments, in their regular order.
If any one of the Missionary Gentlemen, for himself, and in behalf of his fellow-labourers, choose to profit by the opportunity thus afforded them, of defending and diffasing the doctrines they have undertaken to preach, I request, that an Essay on the Book of Genesis, of the kind above-intimated, may be sent me by the middle of the month, and if conifined within reasonable limits, not exceeding a dozen or sixteen pages, I hereby engage to cause it to be printed and circulated at my own charge, should the Missionary Gentlemen refuse to bestow any part of the funds, intended for the spread of Christianity, towards this object; and also, that a reply (not exceeding the same number of pages) to the arguments adduced, shall be published along with it by the beginning of the ensuing month. That this new mode of controversy, by short monthly publications, may be attended with all the advantages which I, in common with other searchers after truth, expect, and of which it is capable, it will be absolutely necessary that nothing be introduced of a personal nature, or calculated to hurt the feelings of indivi