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GENERATION with religious principles, which, by operating on the springs of human conduct, will insure their temporal and eternal felicity.
MAHOMETANISM is the religion of Mahomet, who was born in 571, at Mecca, a city of Arabia, and died at Medina 631.. His system is a compound of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity, and the Koran, which is their Bible, is held in great reverence. It is replete with absurd representations, and is supposed to have been written by a Jew. The most eloquent passage is allowed to be the following, where God is introduced, bidding the waters of the deluge to cease : “ Earth, swallow up the waters; heaven, draw up those thou hast poured out : immediately the waters retreated, the command of God was obeyed, the ark rested on the mountains, and these words were heard-Woe to the wicked !” Lust, ambition, and cruelty, are the most prominent traits in Mahomet's conduct; and Voltaire has written a fine tragedy on this subject. The great doctrine of the Koran is the unity of God, which, together with the mission of Christ, is strongly insisted upon by the prophet. Indeed he persuaded his followers that he was the Paraclete, or comforter
which Christ had promised his disciples. In this respect the Mahometan religion constitutes a powerful collateral proof of the truth of Christianity. Nor' has this circumstance, suggested to me by a worthy friend, been sufficiently considered by Christians. Thus we may extract good from evil, and it is our duty to avail ourselves of every thing which tends to augment the evidences of our holy religion. Dean Prideaux hath largely proved, in his letter to Deists, that there are seven marks of an imposture; that these all belong to Mahometanism, and that not one of them can be charged on Christianity. See Sale's Koran, Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, Dr. White's Sermons at the Bampton Lecture, and Dr. Toulmin's Dissertations on the Internal Evidence of Christianity, and on the Character of Christ compared with that of other Founders of Religion or Philosophy. Mr. Gibbon, in his Roman History, gives the following curious specimen of Mahometan divinity; for the prophet propagated his religion by force of arms : The sword (saith Mahomet) is the key of heaven and of hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of God, or a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer. Whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven at the day of judgment; his wounds shall be resplendent as vermilion, and odoriferous as musk, the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubims.” · Mr. Clarke, in his answer to the question, Why are you a Christian? already mentioned, has these just observations on Mahometanisın :"I never wondered that the attempts of Mahomet to està blish his religion were crowned with success. When I peruse the Koran, and examine the ma. terials of which it is composed ; when I observe how much the work is indebted to the Jewish and Christian revelations; when I survey the particular part which Mahomet or his agents sup. plied ; when I see with how much art the whole is accommodated to the opinions and habits of the Jews, Christians, and Pagans; when I consi. der what indulgencies it grants, and what future scenes it unfolds; when I advert to the peculiar circumstances of the times, when its author formed the vast 'design of assuming the royal and prophetic character;, and more than all, when I contemplate the reformer at the head of a conquering army, the Koran in one hand, and in the other a sword, I cannot be surprised at the civil and religious revolution which has immortalized his name. With his advantages, how could be fail of successi Every thing favoured the enterprise. The nations beheld a military apostle. And they who were unconvinced by his arguments, trembled at his sword!"
Mahometanism distributes itself into two general parts, Faith and Practice; the former containing six branches-belief in God; in his angels; in his scriptures; in his prophets; in ther esurrection and final judgment; in the divine decrees: the latter relating to prayer with washing; alms; fasting; pilgrimage to Mecca, and circumcision. Indeed the system of Makomet has no symmetry or beauty of parts; it is an heterogenous compound of the various religions then existing, and artfully accommodated to the prejudices and passions of the Eastern regions of the world.
HAVING given this preliminary account of Atheism, Deism, Theophilanthropism, Judaism, the Chinese religion, Christianity, and Mahometanism, we now proceed to the denOMINATIONS of the Christian world. In the first ages of Christianity there were various sects, which have long ago sunk into oblivion, and whose names therefore exist only in the pages of ecclesiastical history, It is not our purpose even to glance at these anrient sects, but only briefly to notice those which in the present day attract our attention. The most distinguished may be included under the following threefold arrangement:- Opinions respecting
the person of Christ; respecting the means and measure of God's favour; and respecting Church government, and the administration of ceremo. nies.
OPINIONS RESPECTING THE PERSON OF CHRIST. JESUS Christ being the medium by which the Deity hath imparted a knowledge of his will to mankind, the person of Christ has been eagerly investigated, and the nature of God rendered the subject of rude and unhallowed controversy. This has filled the religious world with violent contentions, nor are they likely to be brought speedily to a termination. In the mean time, it would become us to discuss this topic with modesty and humility. It is, however, my present province to state the existing opinions respecting this abstruse subject; it shall be done in a few words, and I hope with accuracy.
THE Trinitarians believe the doctrine of a Trinity, by which is generally understood, that there are three distinct persons in one undivided Godhead-the Father, the Son, and the Holy