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iapon the religion of Jesus , done less injury to it > lhan its reputed friends by bigotry and false zeal . It is fro in this conviction that I have long wished to see the uncontrovertible
facts of the gospel history placed in oae lucid point of view , and in a similar manner the gospel doctrine fully explained , without the smallest mixture of any controverted tenet , or even the incidental admission of or
allusion to any one , embraced by any Christian sect ; and , this solid basis having once been adopted by friend and ' fpfe * the discussion might gradually proceed to collatera 4 topics . In this mood I was q ^ ratified with
the perusal of a letter and sketch , which bear the stamp of candour and that of profound research . He would deserve well of his country , and the gospel doctrine , could he find leisure Xo execute the plan , whose outlines
he so masterly delineated . But , accept it £ s it is . There are I hope many in your happy isle equal to this task . In this question is a Churchman as much interested as a Dissenter ; and he , who shall have accomplished it , will have done more in defence of
the religion of Jesus , than a host of well-meaning though misguided apologists . SINCERtTS .
No , II . D ^ ar Sir , In some of the delightful conversations with you in the evenings of 17 <) 8 and 1799 , the Christian religion
was sometimes our topic ; and then I promised you that > oue day-or other , I would give you my views of it . They are the result of a life , of inquiry and reflection , and very different from
that anti-christian system imputed , to me by those who know nothing of my opinions . To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed , but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself . I am a Christian , in the only sense in which he wished any
one to be ; sincerely attached to his doctrines ^ in preference to all others , ascribing to himself all human excellence , and believing he never claimed any other . At the inter sals since
. these conversations , when I could justifiably abstract myself from other affairs , this subject has been under i&y contemplation : but th > e i ^ ore I
considered it , the more it expanded beyond the measure of either my time or information . In the moment of setting out on a late journey , I received from Dr . Priestley his little treatise of " Socrates and Jesus Compared . ** This being a section of the general view I had taken of the field , it became a subject of reflection , while on the road , and unoccupied otherwise * The result was , to arrange in my mind a
syllabus or outline of such an estimate of the comparative merits of Christianity ; as I wished to see executed by some one of more leisure and information for the task than myself . This 1 now send you , as the only discharge of my promise I can probably ever
execute ; and in confiding it to you , I know it will not he exposed to the malignant perversions of those , who make of every work on the subject of religion a text for misrepresentations and calumnies . I am moreover averse
to the communication of my religious tenets to the public , because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavoured to draw them before that tribunal , and to seduce
public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience , which the laws have so justly prescribed . It behoves every man , who values liberty of conscience for himself , to resist invasions of it in the
case of others ; it behoves him too , in his own case , to give no example of concession , betraying the common right of independent opinion , by answering questions of faith , which the laws have left between God and himself . To Mr . CRITO .
No . Iir . Syllabus of an Estimate of the Doctnne of jes us , compared with tiiose oj others . In a comparative view of the ethics of the enlightened nations of anti quity , of the Jew * and of Jesus , no notice should be taken of the corruptions oi wit
reason among the ancients , to , the idolatry and superstition of their vulgar , nor of the co rruptions oi Christianity by the overlearned among its professors * c . l . Let a just view be taken of J ^ moral principles inculca ted by ^ most esteemed of the sect ? ° \ . ^ T philosophy , or of their indmd *^'
§ 74 Eetter , t&c . on the Doctrine of Jesus .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Oct. 2, 1816, page 574, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2457/page/10/