George Sale, The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed, translated into English immediately from the original Arabic; with Explanatory Notes, taken from the most approved Commentators. To which is prefixed A Preliminary Discource (1734)
The corrupt state of Christianity after the third century.
If we look into the ecclesiastical historians even from the third century, we shall find the Christian world to have then had a very different aspect from what some authors have represented; and so far from being indued with active graces, zeal, and devotion, and established within itself with purity of doctrine, union, and firm profession of the faith 1, that on the contrary, what by the ambition of the clergy, and what by drawing the abstrusest niceties into controversy, and dividing and subdividing about them into endless schisms and contentions, they had so destroyed that peace, love, and charity from among them, which the Gospel was given to promote; and instead thereof continually provoked each other to that malice, rancour, and every evil work; that they had lost the whole substance of their religion, while they thus eagerly contended for their own imaginations concerning it; and in a manner, quite drove Christianity out of the world, by those very controversies in which they disputed with each other about it 2. In these dark ages it was, that most of those superstitions and corruptions we now justly abhor in the church of Rome, were not only broached, but established; which gave great advantages to the propagation of Mohammedism. The worship of saints and images, in particular, was then arrived at such a scandalous pitch, that it even surpassed whatever is now practised among the Romanists 3.
After the Nicene council, the eastern church was engaged in perpetual controversies, and torn to pieces by the disputes of the Arians, Sabellians, Nestorians, and Eutychians: the heresies of the two last of which have been shewn to have consisted more in the words and form of expression, than in the doctrines themselves 4; and were
1 Ricauy’s State of the Ottoman empire, p.187.
2 Prideaux’s pref. to his life of Mahomet.
3 V. La vie de Mahomed, par Boulainvilliers, p. 219, &c.
4 V. Simon, Hist. Crit. de la creance, &c. des nations du Levant.