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however, for succour against external persecution, seems addressed with particular propriety to the Son."*
Now, Sir, as this is a thing that relates to practice, I should have imagined that, if each of the three persons had been to be addressed separately, we should have been distinctly informed concerning the circumstances in which we were to pray to one of them, and not to the others; considering how difficult it must be, from the nature of the thing, for mere men to distinguish the separate rights of three divine persons.. That you yourself have made some mistake in this business will not, I think, be difficult to shew. In order to this, let us consider how your supposition or theory corresponds to the fact; for, if it be not supported by corresponding facts, how ingenious or probable soever it may seem to be, à priori, it must fall to the ground. You will agree with me, I imagine, that the apostles and primitive Christians knew whether the Father or the Son was the more proper object of prayer in the time of persecution. Let us see, then, both what directions they gave, and also what they themselves actually did in this case.
The apostle James, writing to Christians in a state of persecution, says, (Ch. i. 2,) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations" (or trials). Ver. 5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God." You will hardly say, that in this he advises them to apply to Christ or to the Trinity for direction in these circumstances. If you do, I will venture to assert, that your hypothesis has no countenance either in the Scriptures, or in any Christian writer before the Council of Nice; for they all understood the Father alone to be intended whenever mention is made of God absolutely.
Peter, writing to Christians in the same situation, says, (1 Ep. iv. 19,) "Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful creator." This is certainly meant of God the Father; but more evidently must we so interpret 1 Peter v. 10: "The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." I do not find here, or any where else in the Scriptures, any direction to pray to Christ in time of persecution, or, indeed, in any other circumstances.
Let us now attend to some particulars in the history of the apostles. When Herod had put to death James, the brother * Letters, p. 103. (P.) Tracts, pp. 209, 210.
of John, and imprisoned Peter, we read, (Acts xii. 5,) that prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God," not to Christ, "for him." When Paul and Silas were in prison at Philippi, we read, (Acts xvi. 25,) that they sang praises unto God," not to Christ. And when Paul was warned of what would befal him if he went to Jerusalem, (Acts xxi. 14,) they said, "The will of the Lord be done." This, you must suppose, was meant of God the Father, because Christ himself used the same language in this sense, when, in praying to the Father, he said, [Luke xxii. 42,] "Not my will, but thine be done."
These, you may perhaps say, are only incidental circumstances, on which no great stress is to be laid. But in Acts iv. 24-30, we have a prayer of some length addressed to God the Father, at the very beginning of the persecution of Christians, when Peter and John had been examined before the high-priest and his court, and had been threatened by them. As I suspect that you may not have given much attention to the tenor of it, I shall recite the whole, which is as follows: "And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God, with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, who hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; who, by the mouth of thy servant David, hast said, Why did the Heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Christ.' For of a truth against thy holy child" (or servant)" Jesus whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto thy servants that with all boldness, they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child" (or servant) "Jesus."
We have now examined some particulars both of the instructions and the examples of scripture, with regard to the proper object of prayer in time of persecution; from which it appears that, even in this case, we have no authority to pray to any other than that one God, to whom Christ himself prayed in his affliction; and if we be not authorized to pray to Christ in time of persecution, there is, by your own acknowledgment, less propriety in praying to him on any other occasion.
As you profess a great regard for those who are called apostolical fathers, let us attend to the prayer of Polycarp, when he was tied to the stake, ready to be burned alive. Now this prayer, which is a pretty remarkable one, is addressed to God the Father, and not to Christ; so that this disciple of the apostle John did not think the example of Stephen any precedent for him. The prayer begins as follows: "O Lord, God Almighty, the Father of thy well-beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of thee, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and especially of the whole race of just men, who live in thy presence.'
You see, then, Sir, how greatly you have been misled by your speculative theology, by your attention to particular texts, single incidents, and imaginary proprieties, without attending to the general tenor of scripture, the plain directions that are there given for our conduct, and the constant practice of the apostles, which supply the best interpretation of their doctrine. To conclude, as you have done, from the single case of Stephen, that all Christians are authorized to pray to Christ, is like concluding that all matter has a tendency to go upwards, because a needle will do so when a magnet is held over it. When you shall be in the same circumstances with Stephen, having your mind strongly impressed with a vision of Christ sitting at the right hand of God, you may then, perhaps, be authorized to address yourself to him as he did; but the whole tenor of the Scriptures proves that, other, wise, you have no authority at all for any such practice. I am, &c.
Of the Unitarian Principles with respect to Mahometanism and Infidelity.
WE are not, I hope, to judge of your acquaintance with the opinions of the ancients (which we have dignified with the name of learning) by the correctness with which you state the opinions of the moderns, even those which you undertake to controvert, and therefore ought to have studied. Here, Sir, you certainly have no choice but of the grossest ignorance, and consequently presumption, or the most per
• Relation of the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp," Sect. xiv., Wake, pp. 147, 148.
verse and wilful of all misrepresentations. Your ignorance of the state of the Dissenters, of which a sufficient specimen has been given, shews that you are far from being at home, even in your own country; but the account you give in your Sixteenth Letter, of the principles of the Unitarians, and the relation they bear to those of unbelievers, is such as can hardly be accounted for from mere ignorance. I fear it has a worse origin. I hope I shall not be thought uncandid; but I cannot put any favourable construction upon your insinuations on this subject.
You say, "The whole difference between you and them" (that is, between the Unitarians and Mahometans) seems very inconsiderable. The true mussulman believes as much, or rather more of Christ than the Unitarian requires to be believed; and though the Unitarians have not yet recognized the divine mission of Mahomet, there is good ground to think they will not long stand out. In Unitarian writings of the last century, it is allowed of Mahomet that he had no other design than to restore the belief of the unity of God; of his religion, that it was not meant for a new religion, but for a restitution of the true intent of the Christian; of the grand prevalence of the Mahometan religion, that it has been owing not to force and the sword, but to that one truth contained in the Alcoran, the unity of God. With these friendly dispositions towards each other, it should seem that the Mahometan and the Unitarian might easily be brought to agree."*
Now all these propositions which you have laid down as certain facts, are so highly improbable in themselves, that few persons, perhaps, will believe that you can be serious in advancing them; and I shall think myself at liberty to treat them as groundless calumnies, till you shall produce some authority or evidence for them. For the state of things, as they now are, and which ought to be known to you, gives not the least colour of plausibility to them. If the difference between the Unitarians and the Mahometans be so inconsiderable that there is good ground to think that the Unitarians will soon acknowledge the divine mission of Mahomet, how has it happened that none of them have yet done it, and actually turned Mussulmans? I think it possible that, notwithstanding the extensive reading of which you give us so many intimations, I may be as well acquainted with the Unitarian writers of the last age as you
Letters, p. 151. (P.) Tracts, p. 266.
can pretend to be; and I have never met with any such passage as you mention; and I think if you could have produced any such in support of your assertions, you would not have failed to do it.
You may at any time see what I have said of the Mahometan religion on several occasions, and also what other Unitarians of the present age have advanced concerning it. Do you find in my publications, or theirs, any thing favourable to the pretensions of Mahomet? And if the tendency of the Unitarian principles be to approximate towards those of the Mahometans, it might be expected that they would have been nearer to each other now than they were in the last century. I shall, therefore, unless authorities are produced, consider what you have said on this subject as another specimen of your invention of facts, and of your unparalleled effrontery in publishing them, in order to throw an odium upon the Unitarians. You might, indeed, almost as well assert that all the Unitarians in England are already so far Mahometans, that, to your certain knowledge, they are actually circumcised. What respect, Sir, can be due to the man who has not scrupled to have recourse to these calumnies, for they cannot be called by any softer name, in order to blacken his adversaries? And what can we think of the cause that requires to be thus supported?
Your curious account of" a negociation regularly opened on the part of the English Unitarians, in the reign of Charles the Second, with the Ambassador of the Emperor of Morocco," for which you quote Dr. Leslie, was probably an invention of his, similar to those of yours in these Letters, and calculated to answer a similar purpose. As it is a state business, it may be sufficient to give a stale answer to it; and, therefore, without examining into the history of what passed in the reign of Charles the Second, I shall content myself with copying what Mr. Emlyn said in answer to it, which is as follows:
"As to your rarity of the address to the Morocco ambassador, I see not what it amounts to more than a complaint of the corruption of the Christian faith in the article of one God, which the Mahometans have kept, by consent of all sides. Yet, for as much as I can learn nothing from any Unitarians of any such address from them, nor do you produce any subscribers' names, I conclude no such address was ever made by any deputed from them, whatever any • See the Author's latest view of this subject, Vol. XVI. pp. $12-$76. ↑ Letters, p. 152. (P.) Tracts, p. 266.