Графични страници
PDF файл

the Scriptures. This infant differed so little from other infants, as to intelligence, that the first time he was regarded as extraordinary, appears plainly to have been the time when he conversed with the Jewish Doctors in the temple; as recorded in the second chapter of St. Luke. At this time he was observed to increase in wisdom, so as to increase in favour with mankind. He also actually increased in wisdom, and actually increased in favour with GOD. He therefore changed, not only really, but obviously. If, then, we admit, that Christ was this Super-angelic being; we must also admit, that he was not the Christ, who was the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. But we cannot admit Christ to be this being. From infancy to twelve years of age he had unceasingly changed also. What, then, was his mind, when he was born; or when he had arrived at one, or two years of age? Doubtless, as much inferior to what it was at twelve years of age, as other infants are to what they become at the same period. But how evident is it, that such an infantine mind could not be a Super-angelic mind. The change, it is to be remembered, is declared by the Evangelist to be real, and not merely apparent. And it is presumed no Arian will admit that his infantine character was merely assumed and hypocritical. Arians will undoubtedly agree, that he was then equally sincere, as ever afterwards. But a Super-angelic mind must have lost all its peculiar powers and characteristics, to have become such a mind, as that of Christ in his infancy, or his childhood. Such a mind, originally formed with these sublime faculties, existing in a singular proximity to JEHOVAH, and expanded, and exalted, by its peculiar advantages for improving in knowledge and virtue, throughout four thou sand years, must have risen to so transcendent a height of intellectual and moral attainments, as, if it were not entirely changed in its whole character, must have excited the attention, the amazement, and probably if it had not forbidden it, the worship of every spectator. At the same time, such powers and attainments must have been so utterly incomprehensible by mankind, that, however rapidly they had increased, the change could never have been perceptible by such eyes as theirs. It is therefore certain, that, if the Christ, born at Bethlehem, was this Super-angelic being, he ceased to be Super-angelic, when united to the body of an infant; and differed in no other respect from the minds of other infants, except that he was perfectly holy, and possessed a superior susceptibility of wisdom. In other words, he was changed into a human being; perfect indeed, as such; but still a human being; and shorn, wholly, of his Super-angelic greatness. If Arians will put these things together, it is believed, that themselves will acknowledge mysteries, of an inexplicable kind, to be contained in this part of their System.

Nor is this idea of a delegated God a whit more consistent with Reason. Nothing is more repugnant to reason, than that a finite being should have made the Universe; should uphold it; should

possess it; should govern it; should judge and reward its Intelligent inhabitants; should forgive their sins; should be the source of life; should communicate endless life; and should be the ultimate end, for which they and all things else were created. Every one of these things is not only utterly aside from the dictates of Reason, on this subject; a mystery utterly inexplicable; but is directly repugnant to common sense. Nothing is more strongly realized by Reason, than that He, who built all things, is very GOD; that He, who made the universe, can alone uphold, possess, or govern it; or be the ultimate end, for which it was created; or do all, or any, of the things, just now recited. If this being be not God in the absolute sense, Reason has no knowledge, and no evidence, that there is a GOD.

Accordingly, Dr. Priestly has, if I mistake not, observed, and justly, that no doctrine is more preposterous, than the doctrine that Christ created the world, and that yet he is not God. Still, the Scriptures assert in terms, as comprehensive, as precise, as appropriate, and as unambiguous, as human language can furnish, that Christ created every individual thing, that hath been made. Yet in spite of this language, chosen by God himself, to express his views on the subject, Dr. Priestly asserts, that Christ is not God. The manner, in which he satisfies himself concerning this declaration, will be examined hereafter.

II. If these things are preposterously, and irreconcileably, asserted concerning a Super-angelic being a delegated god; what shall we say concerning their compatibility with the Socinian doctrine, that Christ is a mere man? If the fact had not already taken place; would it not be absolutely incredible, that any sober man living should believe such assertions, as these? Let me, however, before I make them, instead of the name of a man, substitute that of Gabriel a being, in holiness, wisdom, and power, originally superior to any man; and in a still higher degree superior by the improvements, made in them all through the four thousand years which preceded the work of Redemption. This I do, that the repetition of the name of a man may not shock the ears of my audience, while I am making a simple, and perfectly equitable statement, in that very form, in which it must be made by every conscientious man, before he can feel himself warranted to receive it. *In the beginning was Gabriel; and Gabriel was with God; and Gabriel was God. The same was in the beginning with God. By him were all things made; and without him, was not one thing made, which hath been made. And Gabriel became flesh; and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory; the glory, as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth. † For by Gabriel were all things created, that are in Heaven and that are in Earth; visible and invisible. All things were created by him, and for him. And by him

* John i. 1-8, 14.

+ Col. i. 16, 17.


[ocr errors]

all things consist; and he is head over all things unto his church. t Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Gabriel came, who is over all things, God blessed for ever. Gabriel; Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a Servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And, being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name: that at the name of Gabriel of Gabriel every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. § Hearken unto me, O Jacob my servant; and Israel whom I have called. I am he: I am the first; and I am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth; and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: I call unto them; they stand up together. Come ye near unto me; hear ye this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning. From the time that it was, there I am. And now the Lord Jehovah and his Spirit hath sent me, || God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by Gabriel: who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power. The throne of God and Gabriel, ** and Gabriel hath on his Vesture, and on his thigh, a name written King of kings, and Lord of lords. tt Every creature which is in heaven, and in earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto Gabriel, for ever and ever.

Is there a person present, who is not shocked with these declarations? Would not the insertion of them in the sacred Canon, stumble, irrecoverably, every sober man, who now believes it to be the Word of God? Is it possible for the mind to ascribe the things, declared in them, to any being, less than infinite? Is not this favoured Angel infinitely too humble in his nature, and station, to claim, or receive them? Who could bring himself to pray to Gabriel for the forgiveness of his enemies; for the acceptance of his Soul, when expiring;‡‡ or for the removal of his distresses; or for any thing? Who could be baptized in his Name; §§ or receive a blessing from him united with the Father and the Holy Ghost? |||| But, if these things are monstrous, when applied to Gabriel, one of the highest created Intelligences; how must they appear, when applied to a man, one of the lowest? How would they appear, for example, were we to substitute the name of Moses, or the name of Paul, for that of Gabriel? Is it not plain, that the incongruity

* Eph. i. 22.

§ Isaiah xlviii. 12, 13, 16. **Rev. xix. 16.

§§ Matt. xxviii. 19.

+ Rom. ix. 5. || Heb. i. 1, 3. tt Rev. v. 13.

2 Cor. xiii. 14.

+ Phil. ii. 6
Rev. xxii. 1, 3.
Acts vii. 59, 60.

would be so excessive, as to appear to have been written, not in serious earnest, but in blasphemous sport; with a direct design to entail impiety and contempt upon the Book, in which they were found? and would they not, instead of being read with sobriety and reverence, fill a light .mind with ludicrous emotions, and a serious mind with horror? Yet such, so far as I can see, is substantially the very alteration, which must be made, according to the Socinian doctrine, concerning Christ. It is true, that Socinians regard Christ as a wiser and better man than Moses, or Paul; but in no other respect do they suppose him to differ from either.

III. I object to the doctrine of the Unitarians, that it has compelled them to renounce, successively, many other important doctrines of the Gospel beside that of the Trinity.

The Deity of Christ must be acknowledged by all men, if it be real, to affect, materially, every thing which is said of him in the Scriptures. The difference between his character, according to this scheme, and according to the scheme which makes him a creature, is infinite. Every thing, therefore, which is recorded of him, and consequently every view which is formed of him, must be exceedingly diverse, in the mind of a Trinitarian and the mind of an Unitarian. In the view of a Trinitarian, He is JEHOVAH, the Alpha and Omega, the first Cause and the last End of all things. In that of an Arian, He is a being infinitely different; a creature somewhat higher than the Angels, brought into being somewhat before them: and in that of a Socinian still different from this: a man, born about eighteen hundred years since in Judea; somewhat better than Moses, Isaiah, or Paul. Now nothing is more evident, than that every thing, belonging to the first of these beings; his existence, actions, and attributes; together with the relations which he sustains to creatures; must be infinitely different from those, which belong to either of the others. Those, who adopt one of these opinions, naturally, and necessarily, fall into very different systems of thought concerning Christ: concerning the station, which he holds in the universe, and the part, which he acts in the work of Redemption; and concerning many highly important doctrines of the Christian faith. Accordingly, the whole scheme of Christianity, adopted by Trinitarians, is widely different from those adopted by Arians and Socinians. That this is true is well known to all, who are conversant with the schemes of doctrine, embraced, severally, by these classes of men; and is abundantly confessed, and boasted, by the Unitarians themselves. Some very important doctrines, constituting, and illustrating, this difference, I shall now mention. If the doctrines of the Trinitarians are really contained in the Scriptures; if they are clearly and abundantly declared; and if they are accordant only with the divinity of Christ; then it will follow, by unavoidable consequence, that the Unitarians have been compelled to renounce them, in consequence of having renounced the divinity of Christ.

If, at the same time, the doctrines, thus renounced, are of high importance to the Christian system; and those, which distinguish it from all philosophical systems of Theology; then it will appear, that the renunciation of these doctrines is an error of dangerous influence, and deeply to be regretted; and, as it grows necessarily out of the renunciation of the divinity of Christ, that that is an error also, of the same unhappy nature.

The 1st of these doctrines, which I shall mention, is the doctrine of human Depravity.

This doctrine, it is believed, has been fully evinced, in these discourses, to be a doctrine of the Scriptures. If it has not; it must have arisen either from the weakness, or the inattention, of the Preacher; for no truth is more clearly declared in any book, than this doctrine in the Scriptures; and none is more amply supported by the evidence of fact. In the Scriptures we are taught, in the most unequivocal language, that all men have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; that all are concluded under sin; that all are by nature children of wrath; being children of disobedience; that all are shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin. These declarations, to which the whole history of man gives the fullest attes tation; and to which there is not even one solitary contradiction in fact; certainly stand with the Unitarians for nothing, or for nothing like what the words themselves customarily mean. In their view, we are not by nature children of wrath, as not being children of disobedience; we are not shapen in iniquity, nor conceived in sin; we are not concluded, or shut up, together, under sin; and every imagination of our hearts, as they believe, is not evil from our youth. 2dly. The impossibility of Justification by our own Righteousness is another of these doctrines.

To justify is to declare a being, placed under a law, to be just, or righteous, or, in other words, to have done that, which the law required. Mankind are placed, as subjects, under the law of God. They have not done what the law required; and therefore cannot, with truth, be declared to have done it; or, in other words, they cannot be justified. Accordingly, St. Paul, after having proved at length that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, are sinners, says, Therefore by deeds of law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. And, again, If there had been a law, which could have given life, verily, righteousness should have come by law; but, if righteousness come by law, then Christ died in vain. But the Unitarians, in a vast multitude of instances, (for it is not true of them all) utterly deny this doctrine; and hold, that we are justified by our own repentance and obedience; both of which, they teach, are accepted for their own sake. GOD, therefore, is exhibited by them, as justifying us, in direct opposition to the express language of his law : Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. He that doeth these things shall live by them; but the Soul, that sinneth, shall die. In direct contradiction

« ПредишнаНапред »