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well in it. And being persuaded that this has been the doctrine of christians for many ages, and I believe from the very first, I must again say, that I like not to be disturbed, and set afloat at my time of life, when I have no leisure, and less relish for such intricate inquiries.
PHot INUs.-I am much concerned, replied Photinus, if I have given you any just cause of offence; but you must excuse me still in further saying, that you have rather confirmed my suspicions by talking in such a superficial manner of your examination of the scriptures concerning so important a subject. You would be far from acting so negligently in a law-suit, in which your own, and much more, in which another’s property was concerned. Here you would take pains in examining facts yourself, and in coming at evidence, and whatever could throw light upon the mattel'. - -” And surely, how much soever your studies and
thoughts may have taken another turn, and have been confined to the business of your profession ; yet as you have a firm belief of the divine revelation made in our sacred writings, and of course look for a life to come, in which you are to be responsible for the improvement of the light and talents given you ; it cannot but be a matter of some consequence to you, to see clearly with your own eyes, without trusting to those of your church and priest, who is the God you worship; whether Jesus Christ be this God ; or whether he be his only favoured creature, messenger, and prophet, as those whom you censure maintain, - C - and
26 ON CHRISTIAN *
and appeal to the scriptures for the truth of their assertions. Whatever difficulty you may suppose there to be in making this inquiry, I am convinced it will all vanish, when you set youself in earnest about it, To settle this pqint, you need not to have recourse to the fathers, as they call them, of this age, or of that age. There is no necessity of looking into the voluminous commentaries on the scriptures, of former, or the present times, which generally serve only to perplex a plain subject. The reading of the original record itself, which all profess to comment upon, and from which they form their opinions, is no such prolix business for any one, for you especially, who are in the habit of consulting old records and reading over acts of parliament, Nor is there any uncertainty in the record itself, particularly the New Testament, from the vast variety of various readings of the manuscripts, but, on the contrary, a greater confirmation, that thereby we approximate to the very original words of the sacred writers. And for the passages to which you allude, whose genuineness Dr. Priestley calls in question, they do not at all affect the point in debate, nor detract from the authenticity of the other parts of the revelation. - My good friend, leave your divines to settle their own faith, for assuredly they have nothing to do with your's, or any body's but their own. You may be able in a few days, I had almost said in a few hours, to satisfy yourself, with your own eyes, about this momentous momentous part of it, the God you are to worship.
And pardon me saying, that it is incumbent on you to do it. For, as an excellent person, (c) I remember, well observes; “ other subjects contain only matter of speculation, but this immediately concerns our practice, in our daily addresses to heaven: in which a serious christian will earnestly desire satisfaction, and I think cannot have true peace, till he has used earnest endeavours to know his duty in it.”
And this good effect will follow, that when you have once settled your opinions on mature inquity, you will not be moved with what others say of you or them. For it is in general owing, either to our being in the dark concerning the grounds of our religious opinions, whether solid or not, or the being too much interested in retaining them, that we are frequently so angry and offended with other people's censure of them.
But it is time to quit the subject, which I perceive is beginning to make us all too thoughtful. Let us then take a walk upon the lawn before us, to dissipate our thoughts, and refresh ourselves with the pleasing breeze, and beautiful scenes of the country, and its various hues at this season; not a little heightened by yonder not very distant road, where busy men are hurrying along ; some intent on business, others pursuing pleasure, and all right, if only due moderation and virtue accompany them.
(c) Emlyn. -
Of the Character of Photinus, and the State of Opinions &fore, and in this time. THE real Photinus, whom you inquire after, and whose name has been assumed by your present correspondent, one of the parties in the conference I am reporting to you, was a bishop of Sirmium, of great note, about the middle of the 4th century; very learned, of unblemished character, and such engaging manners, that after he was condemned in several councils for his opiinions, it was found difficult, we are told, to remove him, on account of the affection which the people of Sirmium had for him. A contemporary historian, not favourable to his opinions, describes him as naturally eloquent, fitted to persuade men, and that he gained many to his way of thinking concerning God and Christ. His sentiments, according to the same historian, Sozo... men, were, “ that there is one God Almighty, who by his own word made all things; and he did not allow the eternal generation and subsistence of the Son, but said that Christ began to be, when he was born of Mary.” He is spoken of as the disciple of Marcellus, bishop of Ancyra, and probably was a native of that city. The bishops assembled at Sirmium, are said to have deposed him, having found that he held the doctring of Sabellius of Lybia, and of Paul of Samosata. Sabellius was of Upper Lybia, in the middle of the 3d century; where we are informed many bishops embraced his sentiments concerning Christ. ... Paul of Samosata, who flourished somewhat later, anno * * 26O,
260, was bishop of Antioch, reckoned the third see in rank. There he was befriended by king Odenatus, and after his death, by his widow, queen Zenobia. She is generally acknowledged to have been a lady of a fine understanding and a very superior character in all respects, and a favourer of the doctrine of the divine unity taught by Paul. Longinus, the celebrated critic, was patronized by her. Austin mentions some followers of Photinus, in his sermons; and says, that their opinions were, “ that Christ was a man, and a great prophet, and excelled all men, the best and most knowing, in wisdom and holiness; but he was not God. They said, that the Father only is God, and Christ a man : and they denied the personality of the spirit.” Vincent of Lerins, in the next century, says that * Photinus entered upon the bishopric of Sirmium with universal applause; and that he was a man of ready wit, extensive learning, and charming eloquence, and therefore was a great temptation. He spoke and wrote properly and elegantly both in Greek and Latin, of which his remaining works are a proof, there being some in each language." This little history, Victorin, of a man, whose writings are highly commended by writers of those times, but which have been destroyed by time, by negligence, or more probably by design, shews, how ignorant they are, who speak of unitarian Christians as a novel sect, and hardly brought into name or notice before the time of Socinus, about two hundred years ago. Whereas it may be most truly said, that there is no such thing as a trinitarian christian mentioned or supposed in the New Tes. ment; all there named being perfect Unitarians, the blessed Jesus himself, his apostles, and all his followers. Soon after indeed heathenism and a false philosophy were imported into the church by learned men, who took the C 3 - lead