of holy men, and bones of dubious origin. The early Christians placed heaven and hell before the view of men; these latter talked only of a certain fire prepared to purge away the imperfections of the soul. The former taught that Christ had made expiation for the sins of men by His death and blood; the latter seemed to inculcate that the gates of heaven would be closed against none who should enrich the clergy or the Church with their donations. The former were studious to maintain a holy simplicity and to follow a pure and chaste piety; the latter placed the substance of religion in external rites and bodily exercises." The picture of Christianity which the Qur'an presents to us shows us what conception of it Muhammad had formed from his own limited experience. His knowledge of the Faith was at least powerfully affected by the teaching of the so-called "orthodox" party, who styled Mary "the Mother of God," and, by the abuse of a term so easily misunderstood, opened the way for the worship of a Jewish maiden in place of God Most High. The effect of this misconception is clearly pointed out by Ibn Ishaq. In telling the story of the embassy sent by the Christians of Najran, who, he says, belonged to "the Emperor's faith," to Muhammad at Medina in A.D. 632, he tells us of the ambassadors that "Like 1 all the Christians, they said, ‘Jesus is God, the Son of God, and the third of three.’ ... They

1 Quoted in Dr. Koelle's Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 136.

proved further that He is the third of three, namely God, Christ, and Mary." Of course this is not a true account of the language used, but that it represents correctly what Muhammad understood to be the doctrine held by these Christians is clear from the following verses of the Qur'an: "Verily now they have blasphemed who say, ‘God is a third of three’" (Surah V., Al Maidah, 77): "And when God shall say, ‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, hast Thou said unto men, Take Me and My Mother as two Gods, beside God?’" (Surah V., 116). We can hardly wonder then that Muhammad rejected the Christianity thus presented to his notice. "Had he witnessed a purer exhibition of its rites and doctrines, and seen more of its reforming and regenerating influences, we cannot doubt that, in the sincerity of his early search after truth, he might readily have embraced and faithfully adhered to the faith of Jesus. Lamentable indeed is the reflection that so small a portion of the fair form of Christianity was disclosed by the ecclesiastics and monks of Syria, and that little how altered and distorted! Instead of the simple majesty of the Gospel — as a revelation of God reconciling mankind to Himself through His Son — the sacred dogma of the Trinity was forced upon the traveller 1 with the misleading and offensive zeal of Eutychian and Jacobite partisanship, and the worship of

1 Sir W. Muir, Life of Mahomet, 3rd ed., pp. 20, 21. He is here speaking of Muhammad's visit to Syria.