« ZurückWeiter »
ideas to the common ones. Had be fully explained the bint which he has given of his way of understanding them, I believe, so able a writer as he has been esteemed, that it would have been easy for him to demonstrate that it was not correct to take in a literal sense, anywhere, the Egypt, the Wilderness, the Babylon, and the Jerusalem, that are mentioned in the Bible; easy for him to shake to their very foundation the systems of the Jews and of the Roman Catholics, and to show that both had understood quite wrong the truths of that matchless Book. But he may have thought that it would be unbecoming in him, a Dignitary of the Gallican Church, to do it; and it is possible that he did not consider Europe, in his time, as sufficiently prepared to receive a great change in her religious opinions. Is she now in a more favourable condition for it? One might suppose her to be more ready than she appeared in the seventeenth century, on account of the late, still going on, spreading of the Holy Writings, of their being more generally studied than hitherto, and of other circumstances peculiar to the present times; and a zealous person might feel inclined to try to bring it about for the good of all. For my part, in the uncertainty whether the moment is arrived anywhere, or not, I should almost hesitate even in those countries where the free circulation of all opinions that are not irreligious and antichristian, is allowed by the laws; and in those where it is not, I should think that any attempt at a revolution in the religious ideas and sentiments, belongs exclusively to the respective Governments; and I should leave to their wisdom to decide whether their subjects ought to be instructed in the Sacred History, otherwise
than they have been till now; and whether they are in such an improved state that they can be, without danger, presented with, and educated in, a new system, suited by their rulers to their present condition : wbich, being founded on a better intelligence of the Scriptures than the literal ones of the ancient Jews and early converts, might with the blessing of the Supreme Providence, unite any where the Sovereign and his people in a religion more consonant with the spirit of the Bible, more simple, more clear, and more likely to promote sound morality in his dominions, than those obscure, inconsistent, incomprehensible, notions that have crept into, and laid hold of, the doctrines of the dark ages; that, under the unexamined impression that they had been preached by the Apostles, bave maintained their ground till this day: which new religions system, I say, by approaching nearer to the truth than the existing persuasions, might better prepare every one to the foretold and heavenly religion which I take for the house of God, the house in which there are many mansions or degrees of perfections, the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, and for the Lamb's wife and his soul's inseparable companion.
Theophila, it was my intention to conclude the argument that I have submitted to your serious consideration, by explaining to you the way that I understand the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in consequence of some instructions that I have received respecting the three symbols or forms under which the Eternal God is willing to put Himself for the consolation of men; but my opinion differs so considerably from those that have long obtained, and continue to prevail, in this world, that I am afraid it would not be agreeable at the present moment. To every seed its season. When the intellect, so much talked of in these days, will have passed from the close winter in which I apprehend it is still bound on certain points, to an open spring, then there will be more prospect than now of seeing my ideas on the subject welcomed and kindly entertained. I am sorry to be in a manner compelled to keep back from you what probably would give you some satisfaction, and might draw your attention to passages that appear to have been overlooked, and also elucidate others that I suppose to be misunderstood. , I regret it likewise, because I think that my views being simple, intelligible, and concordant with the Bible, they might afford you the means of persuading and reconciling to the belief in the Holy Trinity, and in the Divinity of Christ, those whom you are concerned to see rejecting both, perhaps from want of considering that children, as we seem to be still in the knowledge of the Sacred History, show no wisdom in throwing aside what their weak faculties do not allow them to comprehend yet. In giving you that opinion, permit me to add that I do not believe that any body is under a positive obligation to adhere exactly, and surrender himself totally, to the old notions, that have involved the question in so much obscurity that it is next to impossibility to find out one's way in them. Were you to discard them entirely from your thoughts, and to mind that, whereas God is a Spirit, it might be proper to take the Trinity in a spiritual sense, I hope that, in searching perseveringly in the Scriptures, without yielding unreservedly to the sentiments of fallible men, you will, with the Divine help, glean and
acquire from them a rational and satisfactory intelligence of what has been always represented to us as a quite incomprehensible Mystery. Most sincerely I wish you may.
Farewell again, Lover of God: His Grace and Peace be with you!
NARCHANT, PRINTER, INGRAM COURT, FENCHC'RCHI-STREET.