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the doctrine of Philosophical Necessity, and you for that of Philosophical Liberty, has nothing to do with it. The one is a question between us as metaphysicians, and the other as theologians. Do not, therefore, say, as you do on this account," How, then, can it be possible for us to think alike of the nature and dignity of Christ, and of the importance of his agency?" You must know that, notwithstanding every difference in this respect, many persons have thought alike on this subject; many Necessarians having been Arians, and many of their opponents Unitarians.
I am, &c.
Of the Propriety of praying to Christ on Arian Principles. DEAR FRIEND,
I HAD maintained that, upon the Arian principles which you defend, Christ ought to be considered as a proper object of religious worship.* This," you say, I asserted" on the supposition that a believer of this doctrine believes also the creation of this world, and all its dependencies, by Christ, in such a sense as to imply that he supports all things by the word of his power,-that he is always present with us," &c. But you add," he who will consider what I have said on the subject of the formation of the world by Christ, may find that I have no such ideas as these of it."†
That I should be thought to have, in any respect, misstated your opinion, or to have drawn any unfair conclusion from it, gave me much concern, because both were equally remote from my intention; but after a careful reperusal of your Sermons, I must own that I cannot help seeing them in the same light, and therefore being of opinion, that what you advanced will fully authorize the conclusion I then drew from it.
You apply to Christ what is said in Hebrews i. 1, &c. John i. 1, &c. and Col. i. 16, &c.‡ Now, in the first of these passages it is expressly said, that he upholds all things by the word of his power; and whether you understand this of his own proper power, or that of God his Father, it certainly implies his constant inspection of, and intimate pre
* See supra, pp. 383, 384.
In Sermons, pp. 140, 141. (P.)
† Appendix, p. 374. (P.)
sence with, every thing that he has made; which, you say, comprehends this world and all its dependencies.
In the second passage, not only is it said that "all things were made by him," (i. e. the Logos,) and "without him was not any thing made that was made," but that "in him was life, and the life was the light of men." And in the last of the three passages it is said, that Christ" is before all things, and by him all things consist."
Surely, then, in them is contained, even totidem verbis, the very proposition which you so strongly disclaim; so that, admitting the creation of the world by Christ, I do not see how you can hesitate to admit that he upholdeth all things by the word of his power, that he is the giver of life, and that by him all things consist; and, consequently, that he is possessed of every attribute that is requisite to constitute him a proper object of religious worship, viz. omniscience, and a capacity to supply all our wants. He must be able to hear and answer all our prayers.
Besides, the sacred writers always ascribe the government of the world to the Maker of it, whoever he be. The same Being is our maker and preserver, and we are expressly required to worship, and bow down, and kneel before him, as such. In whatever sense, therefore, it be true that Christ is our maker, in the same sense he must be our governor, preserver, and benefactor, and therefore justly entitled to what we call religious homage.
You say, indeed, "It should not be forgotten, that by religious worship I mean prayer addressed to an invisible Being, supposed always present with us, and the disposer of our lot. The honour, obedience, and gratitude, therefore, which we owe to Christ, do not amount to religious worship. The former is a part of our duty as Christians; the latter we ought to confine to that ONE invisible Being, who is the supreme disposer of the lots of all beings, and of whom alone we know that he is a constant witness to our thoughts and wishes."*
Now, upon the Arian hypothesis, must not Christ, who actually made Adam and all men, and who, though in a manner incomprehensible, and invisible to us, supports all things by the word of his power, be always, and most intimately present with us? And having all power both in heaven and in earth, though as the gift of God, is he not the immediate disposer of our lot? That he is not the supreme and ultimate disposer
Appendix, p. 382. (P.)
of it, does not exclude him from being the proper object of our addresses. If so, a child ought never to have recourse to his own father, but to God only, on whom both himself and his father depend.
Accordingly, the propriety and obligation of praying to Christ has been actually felt and acknowledged by all Arians till the present times. They have always paid him a worship which they usually termed mediatorial, to distinguish it from that which they conceived to be appropriated to his God and Father. I am informed that it was the constant practice of as reputable a person as any among the Arians, or any Christian ministers now living, I mean Mr. Micaiah Towgood, of Exeter, to address a prayer to Christ whenever he administered the Lord's Supper. In this he acted in perfect consistency with his principles. For, why should he not pray to a Being who, he believed, (though as the instrument, and by the command of God,) actually made and supports him, who must, of course, though invisible, be present to him, and who is to be his final judge ?*
I must therefore maintain, that it is the necessary conse quence of Arian principles that Christ be considered as the proper object of religious worship, and that his not being proposed to us in that character by the sacred writers, is a proof that they were not Arians; and that, however we may now understand their language, they did not really mean to say that he was the maker of the visible world; and, consequently, that this is no genuine doctrine of revelation.
Since, then, Christ, on the principles of Arianism, is both the proper object of religious worship, and also expressly called God, even that God by whom all things were made, I cannot help saying that Arians believe in more gods than
* Mr. Towgood "conceived of Jesus Christ as the very first being whom the power of the Father called into existence-by whom he afterwards made the worlds, and frequently appeared under the Jewish dispensation;" hence "he coucluded him to be a proper object of worship," which he “termed mediatorial worship." Yet, "as the scripture, in no instance, expressly requires that Christ should be addressed in prayer, and as many of the society with which Mr. Towgood was connected, considered all worship of Christ as improper, though he himself thought it defensible, he did not think it a duty, and very seldom, if ever, practised it in public.' Mr. Manning's "Sketch of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Michaiah Towgood," in Prot. Diss. Mag. 1794, I. p. 429.
Mr. Towgood appears to have taken a lively interest in "the controversy between Dr. Horsley and Dr. Priestley." Writing to his biographer, "four or five years before he died," he says, "I shall be glad to see any future publication of theirs, for when there is a collision of two such great bodies in the ecclesiastical bemisphere, it is to be hoped some beams of light will be struck out to guide us in the way of truth." Ibid. p. 428. This venerable man closed a highly exemplary life, more than sixty years of which he had passed in the Christian ministry, in 1792, aged 91.
one, and, therefore, that they are by no means entitled to the appellation of Unitarians. All that you can say is, that one of your gods is subordinate to the other. But such was also the belief of the Pagans; and upon this principle they might disclaim the appellation of Polytheists or Idolaters. When the Logos is called God, it is evidently in a very different sense from that in which Moses is called "a God to Pharoah," or in which men may be called gods with respect to brute animals. There is no comparison, or figure of speech, implied in the former case, as there evidently is in the latter. The Logos is truly and properly God, both in name and power.
I am, &c.
Of the Silence of the Three First Evangelists concerning the Doctrine of the Incarnation, and of the Doctrine of the Primitive Ages of Christianity.
I AM rather surprised that you, who do not pretend to believe the universal inspiration, or the infallibility, of the apostles, should lay so much stress as you do on the literal interpretation of a very few particular passages in their writings, and at the same time overlook general considerations, suggested by their writings, which appear to me to be of infinitely more moment in deciding the question between us. The silence of the three first evangelists on the subject of the incarnation of Christ must appear, if properly attended to, of more real consequence in supporting my opinion than a hundred such particular texts as you allege can be in support of yours. Only ask yourself whether, with your present ideas on the subject, you could sit down, and deliberately write an account of Christ, for the use of strangers and posterity, without ever calling him any thing more than a man, or a prophet, and without saying any thing of his incarnation; when you knew (as the evangelists must have done) that to the persons for whose use you wrote, the doctrine must have been absolutely novel, and must have appeared in the highest degree wonderful. And yet, of all the evangelists, it is John only who, without expressly asserting it, is thought to allude to this astonishing circumstance relating
* Exod. vii. 1. See Vol. XI. p. 132.
to their common Master, a circumstance which, in the opinion of all Arians, does him such infinite honour, and exhibits the Christian scheme to such advantage, that every thing short of it is considered as little better than Deism.
Without this doctrine you Arians even think the force of Christ's example to be greatly lessened. "His quitting his pre-existent dignity, and degrading himself to the condition of mortal man, in order to save men," you consider as "an instance of benevolence to which we can conceive no parallel," and "which is probably the admiration of angels."* And yet you will not find even in John, that our Saviour makes any merit of this condescension, as an instance of his love for the human race; though it is evident he did not wish to conceal any circumstance that would tend to enhance the value of it in the esteem of his disciples; for he, justly and repeatedly, enlarges on the greatness of his love for them. Now, what is it that he himself mentions as the greatest evidence of it? It is his laying down his life for them, which is what any other man might have done, and which we are expressly required, by his example, to do for one another. But what was all this, in your idea, to his quitting his pre-existent dignity? The Bishop of Clogher, after describing the humiliation of Christ in assuming a human body, says, "And as he grew up into life, and his reason improved, this only served to make the terrible change and alteration of his condition so much the more perceptible, and the recollection of it so much the more grievous and insufferable. The dreadfulness of which state is hardly conceivable to us, because that we were never sensible of any thing better than our present existence. But for any being, which had ever enjoyed the happiness of heaven, and had been in possession of glory with the Father, to be deprived thereof, and to be sent to dwell here, in this world, encompassed within the narrow limits of this earthly tabernacle, and the heavy organs made of flesh and blood, it must, literally speaking, be to such a being a hell upon earth." t
But why do we find nothing of this in the Evangelists? If you will look into an excellent article lately published in the Theological Repository, you will see that, much as we read in the Scriptures concerning the love of Christ to us,
Sermons, pp. 153, 154. (P.)
+Bp. Clayton's "Vindication of the Histories of the Old and New Testament," 1759, (Pt. iii. Let. vii.,) p. 483. Lardner has remarked on other passages of the Vindication. See his "Second Postscript," Works, XI. pp. 180–196.