« הקודםהמשך »
cept that, which teaches the existence and perfections of God. If Christ be a creature; all the worship, and all other regard, rendered to him as the Creator, is unquestionably mere Idolatry : the sin, which of all sins is the most strongly threatened, and reproved, in the Scriptures. If Christ is God; then a denial that he is God, is all that is meant by impiety. It is a denial of his primary and essential Character; of the Attributes, which in this character belong to him; of the Relations, which he sustains to the Universe, and will for ever sustain; of the actions, which he has performed, and will perform throughout eternity; and of the essential glory, which he had with the Father before ever the world was.
Man is a being, made up of an animal body and a rational mind. Should I deny, that a particular person possessed a rational mind; would it not be justly said, that I denied him to be a man, and refused to acknowledge his primary and most essential character? If Christ is God-man; and I deny him to be God; do I not, at least as entirely, deny his primary and most essential character? In other words, do I not plainly deny the Lord that bought me? It is evidently impossible for him, who makes this denial, to render to Christ those regards; that confidence, love, reverence, and obedience; which a man, who believed Christ to be God, would feel himself indispensably bound to render. Indeed, were it possible, he would necessarily, and in the very act of rendering them, condemn himself as guilty of Idolatry. On the other hand, he, who believes Christ to be God, cannot refuse to render them, without condemning himself as guilty, and without being actually guilty, of the plainest and grossest impiety; because he withholds from the true God, the homage and obedience, due to his character. The Unitarians censure the system of the Trinitarians as being idolatrous, and them as being Idolaters. If the Unitarian scheme is true, the censure is just. We, on the other hand, and with equal justice, if our scheme is true, declare them to be guilty of direct and gross impiety; because they worship not the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; the Jehovah of the Scriptures; the JEHOVAH ALEIM, who is one JEHOVAH; but another and very different God.
The admission of the Deity of Christ, therefore, if he be really God, is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity; mistakes about
which are altogether dangerous and dreadful. This is plainly felt to be the case by the plain people, even among the Socinians. For Mrs. Barbauld informs us, that although the errors of the Trinitarians “ are losing ground among thinking people, yet there is in that class, (among the Socinians,) who are called serious Christians, a sort of leaning towards them; an idea that they are, if not true, at least good to be believed; and that a salutary error is better than a dangerous truth.”
Can it then be believed, that God can have directed the Scriptures to be so written, that the true meaning of them in a case of this fundamental importance; a case, in which mankind are in so imminent danger of becoming either impious, or idolatrous; is so obscure, as to make plain men utterly unable to find it out, however honestly disposed; and that the great body of religious men should, in all ages of the Church, have totally and infinitely mistaken their real intention? Can that mode of interpretation, which leads of course to this conclusion, be the true one?
II. The Unitarians reject the doctrine, that Christ is God, and the obvious meaning of all those passages which teach it, because the doctrine is mysterious.
This I object to as a totally irrational ground of such rejection. There are two reasons, which will effectually prove this irrationality
1st. All mankind readily admit, and, if they believe any thing, must every moment admit, mysteries, as the objects of their faith. This world is made up of atoms. What are they? Dr. Priestley informs us, that they are centres of attraction and repulsion. This definition, translated out of Latin English into Saxon English, is, that atoms are centres of drawing to, and driving from : a definition, which, I believe, it would puzzle Dr. Priestley himself to unriddle, and at least as applicable to points of space as to Atoms. They are also defined to be solid extended somethings. What is the something thus solid and extended? Here our inquiries are stopped, and an atom is found to be an absolute mystery. The world is made up of atoms. What binds them together, so as to constitute a world? Attraction, it is answered. What is attraction ? To this there is no answer. The world, Then. on which we tread, in which we live, and about which we think we have extensive knowledge, is wholly formed out of particles, absolutely mysterious, bound together by a power equally mysterious.
These atoms constitute vegetables. What is a vegetable ? “ An organized body," it is answered; “ the subject of vegetable life.” What is vegetable life? To this question there is no satisfactory answer. In the same manner are we conducted to a speedy end in all our inquiries concerning the mineral, vegetable, and rational worlds.
Mystery meets us at every step, and lies at the bottom of the whole. The power, by which this discourse was thought, or written, or spoken, defies all human investigation.
If mysteries, then, are found every where in the works of God; can it be supposed, that they are not found in the character and being of the sume God? There is nothing more mysterious, more absolutely inexplicable, in the doctrine of the Trinity, than in the power by which, and the manner in which, mind acts upon Matter.
2dly. The Unitarians themselves, though professedly rejecting mysteries, admit them into their creed without number. That a creature created all things, upholds all things, possesses all things, rules all things, and is the final cause of their existence; That a creature should be the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; that he should be the final Judge and Rewarder of the just and the unjust; that he should sit on the throne of the heavens, and receive the prayers of inspired men in this world, and the everlasting praises of the Heavenly host in the world to come; or that God, if these things are not so, should have caused, or permitted, them to be written in his Word; are, to say the least, mysteries as entire, and as inexplicable, as any, which have ever entered the thoughts of man. It ill becomes those, who admit these things, therefore, to reject any thing, merely on account of its being mysterious.
III. The Unitarians take an unwarrantable license with the language of the Scriptures.
I know not, that I can express my own views of this subject, within the same compass, better, than in the following words of a respectable writer, which are a part of some observations concerning Dr. Priestley's Notes on the Scriptures. “It is a leading and determined purpose of Dr. Priestley's Notes to serve the cause of what is arrogantly termed Unitarianism; and he has certainly kept this purpose in view. To say the least, he is a zealous and resolute advocate. His maxim seems to have been, to maintain his cause at all events. Seldom is he at a loss for a gloss, or an evasion, in aiming at the accomplishment of his object. If he meets with a passage, whose indubitable reading, and whose obvious, plain meaning, are such, as every unbiassed man would pronounce favourable to the Deity and atonement of Christ; the Doctor is ready with ample stores of metaphorical, enigmatical, and idiomatical, forms of interpretation; and stubborn must be that text, which will not bend under one, or other, of his modes of treatment. In some cases a various reading, though none of the best, is called in to his assistance. Should this aid fail, some learned critic, or other, is at hand with a conjectural alteration. Or if none of these means appear advisable, the philosophical commentator has in reserve a kind of logical alkali, which will at least neutralize a pungent passage ; for example, the sage observation ;“ About the interpretation of it critics differ much."
“ And, lastly, in very desperate instances a method is resorted to, the most simple and compendious imaginable; and, that is, to say nothing at all about them.!"
One of the modes, in which the Unitarians take unwarrantable license with the language of the Scriptures, is to pronounce passages to be interpolated, which are abundantly evidenced by Manuscripts, ancient Versions, and Quotations in writings of the Fathers, to be genuine parts of the Scriptures.
Another is, to declare, without warrant, words, and phrases, to be wanting ; and then to supply them; where they are supplied by no authority but their own. Thus Grotius and Dr. Clark supply the word sotw in that remarkable text, Romans ix. 5; and then translate it, Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all God be blessed for evermore.
This, it will be observed, does not aid them at all, because he, who is over all things, is of course God.
Another mode is, to annex a meaning to some particular word, or phrase, which suits their own purpose, but which is entirely asidr from all customary use.
Thus Pierce interprets αρπαγμιον ηγησατο 50 Eivai ia @sw; He thought it no robbery to be equal with God; to mean, He was not eager, or tenacious, to retain that likeness 10 God: a translation, which no criticism can justify, or satisfactorily explain.
Another mode, of the same nature, is to suggest the conjectural opinion of some other critic, or some learned friend; which is introduced with so much gravity, as to give a kind of weight, and speciousness, to the peculiar interpretation proposed. Thus Dr. * Priestley commenting on John xiv. 2, In my Father's house are many mansions ; says, " Perhaps, with a learned friend of mine, we may understand the mansions in his Father's house, of which Jesus here speaks, to signify, not places of rest and happiness in heaven, but-stations of trust and usefulness upon earth ; such as he was then about to quit,” &c. Here the house of God is made to mean earth, and mansions, stations ; and Christ of course was going away, to prepare a place for his Apostles here, where he and they then were ; and was to come again, to receive them in the place, whither he himself was going, that they might be with him there, by continuing here.
Another mode, of the same nature, is an unbounded license in making the Scriptural language figurative.
1 That the language of the Scriptures is to a great extent, and in a high degree, figurative, is unquestionably true. But, certainly, there are limits to this character, not only in Scriptural, but all other, language. It must, I think, be admitted, that we are to consider the language of the Scriptures especially, and of all other good writings generally, as figurative, only in accordance with the following rules.
1st. That the figure be agreeable to the state of the mind of him, who uses it; that is, to his views and feelings.
2dly. That it be founded on some analogy, or relation, to the subject.
3dly. That it accord with the discourse, so far as to make sense.
4thly. That in the Scriptures it violate no doctrine declared, at least by the Writer.