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It is not, Sir, without fome reluctance, that, under the influence of these opinions, I have prevailed upon myself to address these letters to you; and you will attribute to the fame motive, my not having given you this trouble fooner. I had moreover an expectation, that the task would have been undertaken by fome perfon, capable of doing greater justice to the subject, and more worthy of your attention. Perceiving however, that the two laft chapters, the fifteenth in particular, of your very laborious and claffical hiftory of the Decline and Fall of the Roman empire, had made upon many an impreffion not at all advantageous to Christianity; and that the filence
of others, of the Clergy efpecially, began to be looked upon as an acquiefcence in what you had therein advanced; I have thought it my duty, with the utmost refpect and good-will towards you, to take the liberty of fuggefting to your confideration, a few remarks upon fome of the paffages, which have been esteemed, (whether you meant, that they should be fo efteemed, or not) as powerfully militating against that revelation, which ftill is to many, what it formerly was to the Greeks, Foolishness; but which we deem to be true, to be the power of God unto falvation to every one that believeth,
To the inquiry, by what means the Chriftian faith obtained fo remark
markable a victory over the eftablished religions of the earth, you rightly answer, By the evidence of the doctrine itself, and the ruling providence of it's Author. But afterwards, in affigning for this aftoniffing event five secondary causes, derived from the paffions of the human heart and the general circumstances of mankind, you feem to fome to have infinuated, that Christianity, like other Impostures, might have made it's way in the world, though it's origin had been as human as the means by which you suppose it was spread. It is no wish or intention of mine, to faften the odium of this infinuation upon you; I fhall fimply endeavour to fhew, that the caufes you produce,
duce, are either inadequate to the attainment of the end proposed; or that their efficiency, great as you imagine it, was derived from other principles than those, you have thought proper to mention.
Your firft caufe is "the inflexi❝ble, and, if you may use the expreffion, the intolerant zeal of "the Christians, derived, it is true, "from the Jewish religion, but "purified from the narrow and "unfocial spirit, which inftead of inviting, had deterred the Gen"tiles from embracing the law of "Mofes." Yes, Sir, we are agreed, that the zeal of the Chriftians was inflexible, neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor pow ers, nor things prefent, nor things to
come, could bend it into a fepara→ tion from the love of God, which was in Chrift Jefus their Lord; it was an inflexible obftinacy, in not blafpheming the name of Chrift, which every where exposed them to per fecution; and which even your amiable and philofophic Pliny thought proper, for want of other crimes, to punish with death in the Christians of his province.
We are agreed too, that the zeal of the Chriftians was intolerant; for it denounced tribulation and anguish upon every foul of man that did evil, of the few first, and alfo of the Gentile; it would not tolerate in Chriftian worship, thofe who fupplicated the image of Cæfar, who bowed down at the altars