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religious impressions has enabled him to discover the truths of Scripture in its most important doctrines more fully in three or four years than others have done by most unremitting study in thirty or forty", Rammohun Roy says (p. 354) “ The doctrine of the Trinity appears to me so obviously unscriptural, that I am pretty sure, from my own experience and that of others, that no one possessed of merely common sense will fail to find its unscripturality after a methodical study of the Old and New Testaments, unless previously impressed in the early part of his life with creeds and forms of speech preparing the way to that doctrine. No pride, therefore, can be supposed for a moment to have arisen from common attainable
The Editor might be fully convinced of this fact, were he to engage a few independent and diligent natives to study attentively both the Old and New Testaments in their original languages, and then to offer their sentiments as to the doctrine of the Trinity being scriptural, or a mere human invention". He then proceeds, in a fine strain of reflection, to show the evil of inculcating implicit belief in abstruse doctrines on the minds of the young, with intolerance of all other opinions, before they are capable of understanding the evidence for either. “ Parents (he says, p. 355) are bound by every moral tie to give their children such an education as may be sufficient to render them capable of exercising their reason as rational and social beings, and of forming their opinion on religious points, without ill-will towards others, from a thorough investigation of the Scripturee, and of the evidence and arguments adduced by teachers of different persuasions. Judgments thus formed have a real claim to respect from those who have not the means of judging for themselves. But of what consequence is it, in a question of truth or error, to know how the matter at issue has been considered, even for a hundred generations, by those who have blindly adopted the creed of their fathers ?” This passage occurs in the Final Appeal. The following quotation occurs at the close of the Second Appeal (p. 304), and relates to the Divine Unity.
Having derived my own opinions on this subject entirely from the Scriptures themselves, I may perhaps be excused for the confidence with which I maintain them against those of so great a majority, who appeal to the same authorities for theirs; inasmuch as I attribute the different views, not to any inferiority of judgment compared with my own limited ability, but to the powerful effects of early religious impressions ; for when these are deep, reason is seldom allowed its natural scope in examining them to the bottom. Were it a practice among Christians to study first the books of the Old Testament as found arranged in order, and to acquire a knowledge of the true force of scriptural phrases and expressions without attending to interpretations given by any sect; and then to study the New Testament, comparing the one with the other; Christianity would not any longer be liable to be encroached upon by human opinions. I have often observed that English divines, when arguing with those that think freely on religion, quote the names of Locke and Newton as defenders of Christianity ; but they totally forget that the Christianity which those illustrious persons professed did not contain the doctrine of the Trinity, which our divines esteem as the fundamental principle of this religion. For the conviction of the public as to the accuracy of this assertion, I beg to be allowed to extract here a few lines of their respective works, referring my readers to their publications upon religion for more complete information, *
* The conversation turning, at Stapleton Grove, on the course which he had pursued in reference to his son Rajah Ram Roy--for whom he manifested, in various ways, an earnest affection, and on whose heart the scenes in which he has himself recently been so much the witness and the actor, should produce indelible sentiments of reverence and filial attachment towards his deceased father, leading to the imitation of his virtues, the emulation of his philanthropic and patriotic services, and the earnest care not to throw dishonour on his memory—the Rajah asked for the Final Appeal, (of which an American edition was given him by the young friend whom he so much esteemed and valued,) and read with much energy the paragraph from which the above extract is taken.
I will conclude this portion of my Appendix by quoting a passage from the Preface to the Final Appeal, pp. 328, 329.
“In my present vindication of the unity of the Deity, as revealed through the writings of the Old and New Testaments, I appeal not only to those who sincerely believe in the books of revelation, and make them the standard of their faith and practice, and who must, therefore, deeply feel the great importance of the divine oracles being truly interpreted ; but I also appeal to those who, although indifferent about religion, yet devote their minds to the investigation and discovery of truth, and who will, therefore, not think it unworthy of their attention to ascertain what are the genuine doctrines of Christianity as taught by Christ and his apostles, and how much it has been corrupted by the subsequent intermixture of the polytheistical ideas that were familiar to its Greek and Roman converts, and which have continued to disfigure it in succeeding ages. I extend my appeal still further ; I solicit the patient attention of such individuals as are rather unfavourable to the doctrines of Christianity as generally promulgated, from finding them at variance with common sense, that they may examine and judge whether its doctrines are really such as they are understood to be by the popular opinion which now prevails.
“ I feel assured that if religious controversy be carried on with that temper and language which are considered by wise and pious men as most consistent with the solemn and sacred
* In addition to the evidence adduced to this effect in the Second Appeal, the reader may consult the Reply to Archb. Magee, pp. 100% 105, with the authorities there referred to ; and also Mr. Acton's able and eloquent Lecture on the Religious Opinions and Example of Milton, Locke, and Newton.
nature of religion, and more especially with the mild spirit of Christianity, the truths of it cannot, for any length of time, be kept concealed under the imposing veil of high-sounding expressions, calculated to astonish the imagination and rouse the passions of the people, and thereby keep alive and strengthen the preconceived notions with which such language has in their minds been, from infancy, associated.”
After I had decided to print the foregoing Discourse, I wrote the following Note to the Rey. John Foster, whose re. ligious sentiments, I was well aware, would, in the estimation of many, give a superior sanction to his testimony; and whose uprightness of mind, in connexion with his well-known acuteness of discernment and the profoundly reflective character of his understanding, would, I well knew, secure that testimony a ready reception in the judgment of all who know how to appreciate him and his writings.
" To the Rer. John Foster, Stapleton.
“ Great George Street, 12th Oct. 1833. « Dear Sir,
“ You cannot have forgotten the remarkable conversation at Stapleton Grove on the 11th ult., principally between Dr. Jerrard and the Rajah, on the subject of the extent and reasons of the Christian belief of the latter. May I solicit your opinion as to the correctness of the following position--that the Rajah's declarations at that time authorize the conviction that he believed in the divine authority of Christ, though he rested this belief on internal evidence; and that he believed in the resurrection of Christ.
“ May I further ask, if any thing that passed elsewhere in your hearing threw any doubt into your mind whether he believed in the divine authority of Christ ?
“ If you deem the position correct, and answer the inquiry in the negative, may I, to that extent, speak of you as among others at the conversation to which I refer?
&c. 66 LANT CARPENTER.”
" I am,
To this I received the following reply, which must set the question at rest. For the fullness of its statement, and for the permission to employ it, I feel greatly obliged to Mr. Foster, as will also many other friends of the Rajah.
" To the Rer. Dr. Carpenter.
“Stapleton, Oct. 14.
My memory is so very defective that I have no doubt your own, and that of each of the gentlemen of the party at Stapleton Grove, will have more faithfully retained many particulars of the conversation with that most interesting person, the Rajah Ram-mohun-roy. I cannot recollect whether, in replying, with promptitude and the utmost apparent frankness, to the respectful inquiries concerning his religious opinions, he expressed in so many exact words his
belief in the divine authority of Christ.' But it was virtually such a declaration when he avowed, as he did unequivocally, his belief in the resurrection of Christ, and in the christian miracles generally. At the same time he said that the internal evidence of christianity had been the most decisive of his conviction. And he gave his opinion, with some reasons for it, that the Miracles are not the part of the christian evidence the best adapted to the conviction of sceptics.