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to induce professed Infidels, by meeting them, as it were, half-way, to take upon them the Christian name ; still it would not follow, that it was of any real use. The Popish Missionaries, of the last century, in China, acted upon the principle of accommodation : they gave up the main things in which Christians and Heathens had been used to differ, and allowed the Chinese every favourite species of idolatry. The consequence was, they had a great many converts, such as they were; but thinking people looked upon the Missionaries as more converted to Heathenism, than the Chinese Heathens to Christianity.*
But even this effect is more than may be expected from Socinian doctrines among the Heathen. The Popish Missionaries had engines to work with which Socinians have not. They were sent by an authority, which, at that time, had weight in the world ; and their religion was accompanied with pomp and superstition. These were matters, which though far from recommending their mission to the approbation of serious Christians, yet would be sure to recommend it to the Chinese. They stripped the gospel of all its real glory, and, in its place, substituted a false glory. But Socinianism, while it divests the gospel of all that is interesting and affecting to the souls of men, substitutes nothing in its place. If it be Christianity at all, it is, as the ingenious Mrs. Barbauld is said in time past to have expressed it, “Christianity in the frigid zone." It may be expected, therefore, that no considerable number of professed Infidels will ever think it worthy of their attention. Like the Jew, they will pronounce every attempt to convert them by these accommodating principles nugatory; and be ready to ask, with bim, What they shall do more, by embracing Christianity, than they already do? +
Dr. Priestly, however, is for coming to action. “Let a free intercourse be opened,” says he, “between Mahometans and Ra. tional, that is, Unitarian Christians, and I shall have no doubt with
* Millor's Propagation of Christianity, Vol. II, pp. 388 438.
+ Mr. Levi's Letlers to Dr. Priestley, pp. 76,77.
* Rational, that is, Unitarian Christians.”—Why need Dr. Priestley be są particular in informing his reader that a Rational Christian signifies an Unila
respect to the consequence." And again, “Let the Hindoos, as well as the Mahometans, become acquainted with our literature, and have free intercourse with Unitarian Christians, and I have no doubt but the result will be in favour of Christianity." So, then, when Heathens and Mahometans are to be converted, Trinitarians, like those of Gideon's army that bowed down their knees to drink, must sit at home ; and the whole of the expedition, it seems, must be conducted by Unitarians, as by the three hundred men that lapped. Poor Trinitarians ; deemed unworthy of an intercourse with Heatheos ! Well; if you must be denied, as by a kind of Test Act, the privilege of bearing arms in this divine war, surely you have a right to expect, that those who shall be possessed of it, should act valiantly, and do exploits. But what ground have you on which to rest your expectations ?-none, except Dr. Priestley's good conceit of his opinions. When was it known, that any considerable number of Heathens or Mahometans were, converted by the Socinian doctrine ? Sanguine as the Doctor is on this subject, where are the facts on which his expectations are founded ?
Trinitarians, however, whether Dr. Priestly think them worthy, or not, bave gone among the Heathens, and that not many years ago, and preached what they thought the gospel of Christ ; and, 1 may add, from facts that cannot be disputed, with considerable suc
The Dutch, the Danes and the English, have each made some attempts in the East, and I hope, not without some good effects. If we were to call that conversion, which many professors of Christianity would call so without any scruple, we might boast of the conversion of a great many thousands in those parts. But it is acknowledged, that many of the conversions in the East were little,
rian Christian ? To be sure, all tbe world knew, long enough ago, that rationality was confined to the Unitariaos! Doubtless, they are the people, and wisdom will die with them! When Dr. Priestley speaks of persons of his owu sentiments, he calls them “ Rational Christians;" when, in the same pages speaking of such as differ from him, he calls them “those who assume to themselves the distinguishing title of Orthodox.” Considerations on difference of Opinion, 13. Query. Is the latter of these names assumed, any more than the former ; and, ls Dr. Priestley a fit person to reprove a body of people for assuming a name which implies what their adversaries do not admit?
* Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, Part II. pp. 116,117.
if any thing, more than a change of denomination. The greatest and best work, and the most worthy of the name of conversion, of which I have read, is that which has taken place by the labours of the Anglo-Americans among the natives. They have, indeed, wrought wonders.. Mr. Elliot, the first minister who engaged in this work, went over to New-England in 1632 ; and, being warmed with a holy zeal for converting the natives, learned their language, and preached to them in it. He also, with great labour, translated the Bible, and some English treatises, into the same language. God made him eminently useful for the turning of these poor Heathens to himself. He settled a number of Christian churches, and ordained elders over them, from among themselves. After a life of unremitted labour in this important undertaking, he died in a good old age, and has ever since been known, both among the English and the natives, by the name of The Apostle of the American Indians.
Nor were these converts like many of those in the East, who professed they knew not what, and, in a little time, went off again as fast as they came : the generality of them understood and felt what they professed, and persevered to the end of their lives. Mr. Elliot's example stimulated many others : some in his lifetime, and others after his death, laboured much, and were blessed to the conversion of thousands among the Indians. The names and labours of Bourn, Fitch, Mayhew, Pierson, Gookin, Thatcher, Rawson, Treat, Tupper, Cotton, Walter, Sargeant, Davenport, Park, Horton, Brainerd and Edwards, are remembered with joy and gratitude in those benighted regions of the earth. Query, Were ever any such effects as these wrought by preaching Socinian doctrines ?
Great things have been done among the Heathen, of late years, by the Moravians. About the year 1733, they sent Missionaries to Greenland—a most inhospitable country indeed, but containing about ten thousand inhabitants, all enveloped in Pagan darkness. After the labour of several years apparently in vain, success attended their efforts; and, in the course of twenty or thirty years, about seven hundred Heathens are said to have been baptized,
and to have lived the life of Christianis. * They have done great good also in the most northern parts of North-America, among the Esquimaux; and still more among the Negroes in the West India islands ; where at the close of 1788, upwards of thirteen thousand of those poor, injured, and degraded people, were formed into Christian societies. The views of Moravians, it is true, are different from ours in several particulars, especially in matters relating to church government and discipline : but they appear to possess a great deal of godly simplicity ; and as to the doctrines which they inculcate, they are mostly, what we esteem evangelical. The doctrine of atonement by the death of Christ, in particular, forms the great subject of their ministry. The first person in Greenland who appeared willing to receive the gospel, was an old man who came to the missionaries for instruction. told him," say they “as well as we could, of the creation of man, and the intent thereof of the fall and corruption of nature—of the redemption effected by Christ-of the resurrection of all men, and eternal happiness or damnation." They inform us, afterwards, that the doctrine of the cross, or “the Creator's taking upon him human nature, and dying for our sins," was the most powerful means of impressing the minds of the Heathen, and of turning their hearts to God. “On this account,” they add, “ determined, like Paul, to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified,"
Now consider, brethren, were there ever any such effects as the above wrought by the Socinian doctrine? If there were, let them be brought to light. Nay, let a single instance be produced of a Socinian teachet having so much virtue or benevolence in him, as to make the the attempt ; so much virtue or benevolence, as to venture among a race of barbarians, merely with a view to their conversion.
But we have unbelievers at home: and Dr. Priestley persuaded of the tendency of his principles to convert, has lately made some experiments upon them, as being within his reach. He has done well. There is nothing like experiment in religion as well as in philosophy. As to what tendency his sentiments would have upon Heathens and Mahometans, provided a free intercourse could be
* See Crantz's History of Greenland. Vol. II
obtained, it is all conjecture. The best way to know their efficacy, is by trial ; and trial has been made. Dr. Priestley has addressed Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, and Letters to the Jews. Whether this seed will spring up, it is true, we must not yet decide. Some little time after he had published, however, he himself acknowledged, “ I do not know that my book has converted a single unbeliever."* Perbaps, he might say the same still : and that, not only of his Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, but of those to the Jews.
If the opinion of the Jews may, in any degree, be collected from the answer of their champion, Mr. David Levi, so far are they from being convinced of the truth of Christianity by Dr. Priestley's writings, that they suspect whether he himself be a Christian. “Your doctrine,” says Mr. Levi, “is so opposite to what
always understood to be the principles of Christianity, that I must ingeniously confess I am greatly puzzled to reconcile your principles to the attempt. What! a writer that asserts that the miraculous conception of Jesus does not appear to him to be sufficiently authenticated, and that the original Gospel of St. Matthew did not contain it, set up for a defender of Christianity against the Jews, is such an inconsistency as I did not expect to meet with in a philosopher, whose sole pursuit has been in search of truth! You are pleased to declare, in plain terms, that you do not believe in the miraculous conception of Jesus, and that you are of opinion that he was the legitimate son of Joseph. After such assertions as these, how you can be entitled to the appellation of a Christian,' in the strict sense of the word, is to me really incomprehensible. If I am not greatly mistaken, I verily believe that the honour of Jesus, or the propagation of Christianity, are things of little moment in your serious thoughts, notwithstanding all your boasted sincerity.”| To say nothing of the opinion of the Jews concerning what is Christianity having all the weight that is usually attributed to the judgment of impartial by-standers, the above quotations afford but little reason to hope for their conversion to Christianity by Socinian doctrines.
* Letters to Mr. Hammon.
+ Mr. David Levi's Letters to Dr. Priestley,