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sentiments than I think they are, I cannot conceive why they should have been adduced, or what weight they could have been supposed to have with me. I shall not unnecessarily lengthen my letter by noticing them; for it is with P. W. and not with Dr. Priestley that I am discussing this subject. I will, however, in this place, express my pleasure, that P. W. seems to be conversant with one of the works, at least, of that great man; as I am sure that he could not peruse any one of them without advantage.
After the citations from Dr. Priestley, I am again attended to. I am told by P. W. that what I had advanced about the impossibility of converting the Jews to Trinitarianism, “manifestly has no relation to the subject itself.” It has no further relation to the subject than this, that if the means employed are futile, the end is not likely to be accomplished by those who employ them; and that, I think, is a near relation enough. “But it is only a reason," he says, “why Trinitarians should not embark in this enterprize. Let Trinitarians then, be considered as hors de combat. Shall not the good work go on? Will not Unitarians take it up?" I wish that Trinitarians would consider themselves as hors de combat, for I cannot help thinking that they are spending their strength in vain, and injuring the cause which they suppose themselves maintaining. If they should give up the fight, there might doubtless be many Unitarians who would be disposed to carry it on, but it would be in a different way, and to better purpose. Those who might be convinced that it was their duty to take it up at this time would do so, and those who were not so convinced would keep apart. We can none of us act better, than to act from conviction.
I am next obliged to encounter a most formidable triad. Dr. Priestley is brought up again, and with him are joined Rabbi David Levi, and Bishop Horsley. The first point to be proved is one which I never questioned, nor intend to question; and that is, that there is a great difference between Unitarian Jews, and Unitarian Christians. The next point is, that Unitarians would not find the task of converting the Jews easier than Trinitarians.” To prove these two points, the Rabbi is exhibited, talking like a child, and the Bishop, arguing against himself. The Rabbi undertakes to assure Dr. Priestley that he is no Christian, but a Deist, and wonders why in that case he should sheet up as a defender of Christianity against the Jews;" and the Bishop tells him a foolish and pointless story about a Jesuit and an Indian Chief. And does P. W. expect to convince me that Trinitarianism is no particular obstacle to the reception of Christianity by the Jews, because one of their number ignorantly charges a Unitarian Christian with being a Deist, and because an arrogant Bishop tells a story? The opinion of a single Rabbi, and his misapprehensions, are evidently nothing to the purpose, and there is no reason for repeating them here; but the Bishop's story is so decidedly against his own cause, that it is worth while to quote it, with P. W's introduction.
“Dr. Priestley, in his controversy with Bishop Horsley, maintained that the Unitarian scheme would render Christianity more acceptable to Jews, Mahometans, and Infidels. In his reply, the Bishop says, 'your device of bringing them to believe Christianity, by giving the name of Christianity to what they already believe in prineiple, exactly resembles the stratagem of a certain missionary of the Jesuits, of whom I have somewhere read, who, in his zeal for the conversion of an Indian Chief, on whom the sublimity of the doctrines of the Gospel, and the purity of its moral precepts, made little impression, told him, that Christ had been a valiant and successful warrior, who, in the space of three years, scalped men, women, and children, without number. The savage was well disposed to become a disciple of such a master-he was baptized, with his whole tribe, and the Jesuit gloried in his numerous converts.'”
What a story, for a Bishop to tell, and for P. W. to tell again! Here we have a Jesuit, who believes not a word of the account which he is giving, compared with Dr. Priestley, who certainly would have been sincere in all his representations of religion, whatever might have been their correctness;—and then the savages were converted, after all, And this is to prove that Unitarians stand no better chance of converting Jews, than Trinitarians do. What an applicable story it is! Dr. Priestley could not have had a word to say to it.
But I can quote something from P. W. himself, nearly as good as the Bishop's story, if not quite. It is the paragraph which immediately follows it.
“The difficulty of converting the Jews should have no other effect on Trinitarians, than to stimulate their exertions. While they employ the means, they question neither the ability, nor willingness of God to make them effectual. They know, moreover, that whatever the Jews now disbelieve, they did not always disbelieve the Trinity. The testimony of some of their distinguished Rabbins is yet accessible, Trinitarians also know, or fancy they know, one reason, why the Jews now deny the Trinity. If the divinity of the Messiah be admitted, it will be more difficult to resist the conclusion, that Jesus of Nazareth is he.”
I think it would take the testimony of a great many "distinguished Rabbins,” to convince me that the Jews were ever Trinitarians. The Old Testament is good authority for a part of their history, and the earliest part; and I never could find any Trinity there. And as for later Jewish writings, I utterly deny that there is any clear, decisive, and respectable testimony among them all, which will prove that the Jews, in any part of their history, received the doctrine of the Trinity. If the testimony of these distinguished Rabbins is so accessible, as P. W. pretends, he is bound in honour to go and get it, and bring it down to us, and prove to the confusion of Jews and Unitarians, that whatever the former may now be, there was a time, when all their fathers were good Trinitarians. But I utterly deny the truth of the assertion.
With regard to the second part of the above extract, which announces in such a knowing manner the famous reason, why the Jews are now so perverse as to deny the Trinity, I candidly confess that I do not see the point of it. In short I do not understand it. It is one of the darkest oracles I ever read.
The next quotation, which I shall give from this writer, is sufficiently plain, whatever may be its other deficiencies. Referring to a passage of my last letter,
“But let us not overlook their redeeming virtue. It is called 'constancy. They have clung fast to the faith of their fathers.' Does W. P. mean 'the faith of their fathers' of the Old Testament? What was their faith? Not faith simply in a Messiah, but in the Messiah whom the prophets foretold; and who, even Unitarians believe, has already come. On this supposition, the present Jews, instead of clinging fast to the faith of their fathers, have apostatized from it. Will W. P. call this “noble?”
If I ever saw a sophism, it is contained in that paragraph. Let P. W. prove that the Jews of the Old Tesment believed in the very Jesus whom we acknowledge; that they knew exactly when he was to be born; that if
they had lived at the time of his appearing, they would have received him as the Messiah; and that if they were now alive, they would acknowledge, instead of rejecting him, as their descendants do; and then there would be some force in what he has said; but till he can prove all this, there is no force in it whatever. But I have not yet finished this part of his argument. He is very fond of getting me into what he imagines to be dilemmas; and proceeds thus;
“But perhaps he means the faith of their fathers’ since the coming of Christ. If so, it ought to have been called the unbelief of their fathers. In my view, the rejection of the Saviour of the world is associated with fearful guilt. “He that believeth not shall be damned.' Would Jesus Christ have used such language, if persevering unbelief had been pardonable? The “constancy' with which the Jews have clung to this infidelity of their fathers, is the darkest feature in the aspect of the whole affair. If this constancy would but relent, there might be some hope. But as it is, 'hope never comes.' It was at the expense of this constancy, that Protestants emerged from Popery, and Unitarians from Trinitarianism; and yet it is 'noble.' No matter, for so indeed W. P. teaches; “if they worshipped brutes and vegetables, instead of the living God’it still would be noble! He would pronounce it noble." For this purpose he 'would lift up his voice! I sincerely hope, for the honour of Unitarians, that he would ‘lift it up alone.""
And I sincerely hope, and believe, that Unitarians will never be so unmindful of their honour, and their principles, as to suffer any one to lift up his voice alone, in applauding resistance to persecution. Whether they would, or would not, join me, however, would make but little difference, as far as the expression of my own opinion was concerned. I do not flatter myself that I should be heard far, but I should speak as loud as I could, and if no other voice would unite with mine, I should even lift up mine alone. In this point of view, I care not what the Jews believe or disbelieve, or what their fathers believed or disbelieved; it may be called faith, or it may