« הקודםהמשך »
says St. John, were made by him ; and without him was not one thing made, which hath been made. If these two passages do not denote an absolute universality; language cannot express it. Every possible, as well as actual, thing is either visible or invisible. Every actual thing, which is either visible or invisible, it is here expressly said, Christ created. Without him, it is expressly said, was not one thing made, which hath been made. Unless therefore something has been created, that is neither visible nor invisible; unless there is something existing in the creation, which has not been made ; there is nothing, which was not created by Christ.
The interpretation of these passages by the Unitarians, which makes them mean no more, than, that Christ published the Gospel and constituted the Church, is a violation of common sense, and common decency. Let us try the same mode of construction with another passage, to which it must be acknowledged to be equally applicable. In the passage, quoted from St. Paul, it is said, that Christ created all things, that are in heaven, and that are in earth. This the Unitarians say, means no more, than that Christ published the Gospel, and constituted the Church. In the first verse in Genesis, it is said, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This, I say, and, upon their plan of construction, am certainly warranted to say it; means no more than, that in the beginning God published the Gospel and constituted the Church. Ought not any man to be deeply ashamed of the
prejudice, and strongly to censure the confidence, which has led him to use such licentious freedom with language in any case; espe. cially with words, which were taught, not by man's wisdom, but by the Holy Ghost ?
Dr. Price and other Arians attempt to evade the force of these and the like passages, hy introducing a distinction between formation and creation. In this, however, they must be acknowledged to be unhappy. The words, used by St. John, are sysvsro, and ye yovs; the proper English of which is existed. Sevomai', of which they are derivatives, signifies also to be barn, to spring up, to be brought into being, and to be caused to exist. No word, therefore, more comprehensive or more appropriate to the object in view, can be found either in the Greek, or, so far as I can see, in any
other, language. The word used by St. Paul is exigen; from krigw; the appropriate meaning of which, as you well know, is to create. As, therefore, the act of creating all things in the most absolute sense is, in the most express and unequivocal language, ascribed to Christ by these Apostles; by what authority or with what decency, can it be denied by any man?
The work of creating all things Christ performed by his command. All things, also, he upholds by the same word of his power. If these acts, and this manner of performing them, are not proofs of infinite power; such proofs have never existed. It is to be remarked, that the Apostle asserts directly, that Christ upholds all things by the word of his own power sua emulati' ons duvapeius aurs". This act, therefore, is not performed by delegated power; and neither of these acts could possibly be performed by any being, except One, whose power is without limitation.
Among the numerous other things, ascribed to Christ, which are utterly inconsistent with the supposition of his being a delezated God, I shall mention only two : as the mention of more would demand a longer time, than can now be devoted to this part of the subject. The first is, that Divine worship was rendered to him by inspired persons on earth, and is also rendered to him in heaven. This, it is presumed, has been proved beyond controversy. Stephen prayed to him. Paul prayed to him and the whole Christian Church was, at its commencement, distinguished by the appellation of those, who invoked the name of Christ in prayer. The anthems of praise in the heavens, sung by Saints and Angels, ascribe to him, both separately, and jointly with the Father, that peculiar glory and honour, which is expressive of the highest worship of the heavenly inhabitants. But Christ himself says, quoting Deut. vi. 13, and x. 20, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve. No creature, therefore, can be lawfully worshipped; but Christ is lawfully worshipped; for he is worshipped by Apostles, Angels, and glorified Saints.
The second and last thing of this nature is, that Christ is immuTable. Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever. If Christ were only the exalted creature, the super-angelic being, the delegated God, whom the Arians declare him to be, he would
of all virtuous beings be the most changeable ; because, with his superior faculties and advantages, he would advance more rapidly in knowledge, and virtue, and in power also; for the increase of knowledge is in itself the increase of power.
Such a being cannot possibly, therefore, be the Jesus Christ, who is the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever. At the same time it is further to be remarked, that a wonderful instance of change is asserted of Christ, if he be this Super-angelic being, in the Scriptures themselves. St. Luke declares, that when he was twelve years old, he increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. According to the Arians, this Super-angelic being, the greatest of all created minds, brought into existence antecedently to every other creature, was united to the body of an infant, and born of the virgin Mary, and thus constituted the Person, named Jesus Christ in the Scriptures. This infant differed so little from other infants, as to intelligence, that the first tiine, 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 thousand 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 amazeinent, 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. It this being be not God in the absolute sense, Reason has no knowledge, and no evidence, that there is a Gop.
Accordingly, Dr. Priestley 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. Priestley 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 improvenients, 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 isvisible. All things were created by him, and for him. And by him all things consist; † and he is
* John i. 1-3, 14.
Col. i. 16, 17.
† Eph. i. 22.