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we secretly believe would prove false if we had the temerity to examine it, a principle of religious obedience is shewn, and an acceptable service rendered. We have no such views of God, nor of truth. On the contrary, it seems to us, that the christian system and doctrines rest on a broad basis of evidence ;ample evidence to determine a reasonable man on any other part of the conduct of life, as well as the religious. We think we see in this, that God approves the exercise of the understanding in the discovery of truth, and we say that those, with whom we argue, are reduced to this dilemma; either they think it a merit to believe that, which is at the same time repugnant to the reason and revealed in scripture, or else, they think it a merit of itself to believe what is repugnant to the reason, without reference to its being revealed or not. If they choose to stand by the first part of the alternative, we say, nothing repugnant to the reason is revealed in scripture, but on the contrary, the truths of revelation are such as an uncorrupted reason most warmly greets. Much that it could never have reached is revealed, but not the shadow of a sentiment which it rejects. Here then we are at issue; does revelation bring truths to light which reason is reluctant to receive? If not, of course there is no ground for the supposition of merit in receiving such. If so, those with whom we argue are right and safe indeed; but it is on the sure ground of believing what is true on the highest evidence, that of the divine declarations; not on the doubtful ground of believing that which taxes the credulity, and may be true or not.
But the other horn of the dilemma is sharper yet. If it is a merit to believe what the understanding relucts from, where will you set the limit of an innocent credulity? If you can believe this, you are ready for the atrocities of a bloody or sensual worship, for the impurity of Mahometanism, or the idolatry of the worshippers of the Lama.
We said, in the beginning of these remarks, that we acknowledge no applicability of the terms more or less to a saving faith. It seems scarcely necessary to say, that we did not mean that one man may not have a stronger, more efficacious, faith than another, because this has no connexion with the subject; it is not alluded to in the plea for indolence which we are examining. We mean, that doctrines are not valuable or safe because they are many or mysterious, but because they are true. Believing more or less is a thing of no moment. It is believing right or wrong. In many cases, it would be hard to affix a sense to the words, which would not violate the uses of language. One
man believes that God is one person, another that he is three. One believes that he is just and merciful; another holds the doctrine of reprobation. In what sense does one believe more than another, except, by more, be meant more incredible? One further remark. To feel one's self safe, because one is satisfied that he either believes what God has revealed, or more, what is it but to say that if he is not acquainted with God's truth, he is acquainted with some equally good method of salvation? It would be difficult to throw more contempt on the gospel revelation, than is done by this; by saying that we feel secure, because if we are not acquainted with the method of salvation which divine wisdom has adopted, we are acquainted with one as good. Let a man, who quiets his conscience by the argument we have been combating, consider this.--Whatever system of doctrine it be which is revealed in the gospel, we have the warrant of divine wisdom for believing, that that and no other, is the best means of bringing men to holiness and Hea ven. That and no other, it is the bounden duty of every christian to search after, and his unspeakable interest to learn. Let men once suppose that they are released from the duty of inquiring for it, because they think they are already possessed of it, or of something equivalent, and there is no end to the delusions which may follow. The truth itself is the thing to be known. It will be an idle excuse, that we thought any form of error would fill its place, whether the error of unbelief or credulity.
OBJECTIONS TO UNITARIAN CHRISTIANITY CONSIDERED.
It is due to truth, and a just deference to our fellow christians, to take notice of objections which are currently made to our particular views of religion; nor ought we to dismiss such objections, as unworthy of attention, on account of their supposed lightness; because what is light to us, may weigh much with our neighbour, and truth may suffer from obstructions which a few explanations might remove. It is to be feared that those christians, who are called Unitarian, have been wanting in this duty. Whilst they have met the laboured arguments of their opponents fully and fairly, they have overlooked the loose, vague, indefinite objections, which float through the community, and operate more on common minds than formal reasoning. On some of these objections, remarks will now be offered; and it is hoped that our plainness of speech will not be construed
into severity, or our strictures on different systems be ascribed to a desire of retaliation. It cannot be expected, that we shall repel with indifference, what seem to us reproaches on some of the most important and consoling views of christianity. Believing that the truths, which through God's good providence we are called to maintain, are necessary to the vindication of the divine character, and to the prevalence of a more enlightened and exalted piety, we are bound to assert them earnestly, and to speak freely of the opposite errors which now disfigure christianity. We trust, however, that when it is remembered, with what language and feelings our views are assailed, we shall not be thought unwarrantably warm in their defence. What then are the principal objections to Unitarian Christianity?
1. It is objected to us, that we deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. Now what does this objection mean? What are we to understand by the divinity of Christ? In the sense in which many christians, and perhaps a majority, interpret it, we do not deny it, but believe it as firmly as themselves. We believe firmly in the divinity of Christ's mission and office, that he spoke with divine authority, and was a bright image of the divine perfections. We believe that God dwelt in him, manifested himself through him, taught men by him, and communicated to him his spirit without measure. We believe that Jesus Christ was the most glorious display, expression, and representative of God to mankind, so that in seeing and knowing him, we see and know the invisible Father; so that when Christ came, GoD visited the world and dwelt with men more conspicuously than at any former period. In Christ's words we hear God speaking; in his miracles we behold God acting; in his character and life we see an unsullied image of God's purity and love. We believe, then, in the divinity of Christ, as this term is often and properly used. How then, it may be asked, do we differ from other christians? We differ in this important respect. Whilst we honour Christ as the Son, representative, and image of the supreme God, we do not believe him to be the supreme God himself. We maintain, that Christ and God are distinct beings, two beings, not one and the same being. On this point a little repetition may be pardoned, for many good christians, after the controversies of ages, misunderstand the precise difference between us and themselves. Trinitarianism teaches, that Jesus Christ is the supreme and infinite God, and that he and his Father are not only one in affection, counsel and will, but are strictly and literally one and the same being. Now to us this doctrine is most
unscriptural and irrational. We say that the Son cannot be the same being with his own Father, that he, who was sent into the world to save it, cannot be the living God who sent him. The language of Jesus is explicit and unqualified. "I came not to do mine own will." "I came not from myself." "I came from God." Now we affirm, and this is our chief heresy, that Jesus was not and could not be the God from whom he came, but was another being; and it amazes us, that any can resist this simple truth. The doctrine, that Jesus, who was born at Bethlehem; who ate and drank and slept; who suffered and was crucified; who came from God; who prayed to God; who did God's will; and who said, on leaving the world, "I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God;" the doctrine, that this Jesus was the supreme God himself, and the same being with his Father, this seems to us a contradiction to reason and scripture so flagrant, that the simple statement of it is a sufficient refutation. We are often charged with degrading Christ; but if this reproach belong to any christians, it falls, we fear, on those who accuse him of teaching a doctrine so contradictory, and so subversive of the supremacy of our Heavenly Father. Certainly our humble and devout Master has given no ground for this accusation. He always expressed towards God the reverence of a son. He habitually distinguished himself from God. He referred to God all his powers. He said, without limitation or reserve, "The Father is greater than I." "Of myself I can do nothing." If to represent Christ as a being distinct from God, and as inferior to him, be to degrade him, then let our opponents lay the guilt, where it belongs, not on us, but on our master, whose language we borrow, in whose very words we express our sentiments, whose words we dare not trifle with and force from their plain sense. Our limits will not allow us to say more; but we ask common christians, who have taken their opinions from the Bible rather than from human systems, to look honestly into their own minds, and to answer frankly, whether they have not understood and believed Christ's divinity, in the sense maintained by us, rather than in that for which Trinitarians contend.
2. I proceed to another objection, and one which probably weighs more with multitudes than any other. It is this, that our doctrine respecting Christ takes from the sinner the only ground of hope. It is said continually by our opponents, "We and all men are sinners by our very nature, and infinitely guilty before God. The sword of divine justice hangs over us, and hell opens beneath us; and where shall we
find a refuge, but in an infinite Saviour? We want an infinite atonement; and in depriving us of this, you rob us of our hope, you tear from the scriptures the only doctrine which meets our wants. We may burn our bibles, if your interpretation be true, for our case is desperate; we are lost forever." In such warm and wild language, altogether unwarranted by scripture, yet exceedingly fitted to work on common and terror-stricken minds, our doctrine is constantly assailed.
Now to this declamation, for such we esteem it, we oppose one plain request. Show us, we say, a single passage in the Bible in which we are told, that the sin of man is infinite, and needs an infinite atonement. We find not one. Not even a whisper of this doctrine comes to us from the sacred writers. Let us stop a moment and weigh this doctrine. It teaches us, that man, although created by God a frail, erring, and imperfect being, and even created with an irresistible propensity to sin, is yet regarded by his Creator as an infinite offender, meriting infinite punishment for his earliest transgressions; and that he is doomed to endless torment, unless an infinite Saviour appear for his rescue. And what man, we ask, has the courage to charge on our benevolent and righteous Parent, this merciless and iniquitous government of his creatures. Tell us not that Unitarianism cuts off the sinner's hope; for if God be what this system teaches, we see no hope for saint or sinner, for men or angels. Under such a sovereign every one's prospects grow black; every heart may well shudder.-We maintain, that man is not created in a condition which makes an infinite atonement necessary; nor do we believe that any creature can fall into a condition, from which God may not deliver him without this rigid expedient. Surely, if an infinite satisfaction to justice were indispensible to our salvation, if God took on him human nature for the very purpose of offering it, and if this fact constitute the peculiar glory, the life and essence, and the saving efficacy of the gospel, we must find it expressed clearly, definitely, in at least one passage in the Bible. But not one, we repeat it, can be found there.-We maintain farther, that this doctrine of God becoming a victim and sacrifice for his own rebellious subjects, is as irrational as it is unscriptural. We have always supposed that atonement, if necessary, was to be made to, not by, the sovereign, who has been offended; and we cannot conceive a more unlikely method of vindicating his authority, than that he himself should bear the punishment which is due to transgressors of his laws. We have another objection. If an infinite atonement be necessary, and if, consequently, none but God can make it, we see not but that God