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religion. To me it appears that many of the controversies which have so long agitated the christian world, might be easily settled by the exercise of a little plain good sense on the facts and declarations of scripture. Permit me, as a specimen, to present your readers with a sample of what may be done in this way, in reference to the different opinions which obtain respecting the person of Christ.
I take for granted, that christians of all parties will fully admit, at least in words, that there is but one God. On the ground of this adınission, taking common sense for niy guide, I go to the examination of the controverted point, whether Christ be properly God: and the following easy solution of the matter naturally presents itself. If Christ be God, whatever is said of him must be true of God; for common sense dictates, that what is true of bim must be true of is proper person, indeed the two parts of this position seem identical; therefore if his proper person be divine, very God, nothing can be true of him but what is true of a divine person, of the very God. To deny this is, in fact, to say that that may be true of Christ which is not true of him. Such self-contradiction may be admissible by those who would build faith upon the ruins of reason, but can never be adınitted by those who choose to retain the use of common sense. On the ground just stated it follows that, if Christ be very God, wherever he is mentioned in the New Testament the word God may be substituted ; for it can be no departure from truth to substitute one name in the place of another when both are equally applicable to the person spoken of: vet such a change of terms would make an alteration that would perhaps startle the advocates for his proper godhead, though perfectly accordant with their avowed opinions. We should then read Mat. 1. 18 66 Now the birth of God on this wise, when as his mother Mary, &c." Chap ini. 13. “Then cometh God from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him." Chap. iv. 1. “Then was God led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” John iv. 6.“ God therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well.” Chap. xviii. 19. “ Then the band, and the captain and officers of the Jews took God, and bound him." Chap. xxi. 20. “ The place where God was crucified was nigh into the city.”; Cor. i. 23. “ We preach God crucified." These are a few out of the many specimens which might be given of the manner in which the New Testament would
read if the word God was supplied wherever Christ is mentioned: however absurd such phraseology may appear, I rea peat, if Jesus Christ be God, the adoption of it can be no departure from truth. As common sense, without any laboured effort, at once discovers that many things are spoken of Christ which never could be true of God, it cannot avoid the conclusion that Christ is not God; for had he been God such things could no more be true of him than they are of the one God, the Father of all. God could not be born, could not increase in wisdom, could not have a mother and brethren, could not be circumciscd, baptized and tempted, could not be exceediny sorrowful even unto death, could not be bound and beaten with stripes, could not be crucified and slain, could not be buried and raised from the dead; but all these things are related of Jesus Christ, and, if we believe the gospel bistory, we ought to admit they are strictly true of the very Christ, the Son of the living God: but then it will unavoidably follow that Christ is not, cannot be, the Very God.
This then is the decision of common sense ; i. e. the long continued controversy respecting our Lord's divinity may be decided by plain illiterate men, simply by a sober attention 10 the plain facts recorded in the New Testament, and the exercise of reason upon them ; if those facts be true Christ could not be God, for if he had been God he could not have been born, he could not have died, he could not have been raised from the dead. In the view of common sense, the asserting that Christ is very God, involves a denial of the great facts which are at the foundation of Christianity; though I suppose those who so often make that assertion do not perceive it.
To drive me from my ground, as an advocate for the use of reason and common sense in matters of religion, I have been told a great deal about carnal reason, and the danger of listening to carnal reasoning, but I have never been able to comprehend what this meant, though I think I have perceived the design of the persons who talked so; , for reason is certainly the gift of God, and he would hardly have given us reason had he not intended we should use it, nor can I see how we can judge of any thing but by the use of reason; nor have I been able to discover how reason can be carnal; I have indeed seen many persons who, were very carnal and sensual, evidently because ihey did not make a proper use of their reason : besides, I find that those who cry out the most against reason, make use of
reason whenerer it suits their purpose, and perer say any thing against it only when it seems to militate against their notions, and even then they attempt to reason against the use of reason, which is very absurd. I have been led strongly to suspect that when they talk against reason they wish to have us believe what is unreasonable, and to lead us imperceptibly to what I have been told was once a popish maxim, " that ignorance is the mother of devotion.”
To convince me of the fallacy of my conclusions, I have been told what has appeared to me altogether a riddle, about two natures in Christ, that some things are spoken of him as God, and others as man, and that the same things are true of him and not true of him at the same time; but this is so contrary to common sense that I have never been able to comprehend it: in fact, it seems to make nonsense of the scriptures; for how can the very same pe son be incapable of being born, or of dying, as God must ever be, and yet be actually born and actually die? I have been told indeed that this is a great mystery, and that I must believe it without understanding it. That it is a great mystery I have never denied, and that if believed at all it must be believed without being understood I readily admit ; but if a mystery I know not what we have to do with it, for I read' in the scriptures that secret things belong unto the Lord, and revealed things to us: and a revealed mystery is a secret told, or a thing before mysterious opened and made intelligible: nor have I ever been able to find out how to believe what I do not understand.
After all, I have been warned of the danger of denying the godhead of Christ, but not being able to perceive how any danger can attend the denial of what is incompatible with the plainest facts and declarations of scripture, as well as contrary to common sense, and being resolved not to be frightened out of the use of the reason which God hath given me, I go on resolved to bring every thing in religion to the test of common sense.
Though this paper cannot be interesting to your learned readers, it may be acceptable to those who are unlearned, and if it should be favoured with a place in your valuable Repository you may expect more in the same way, From the Fens
From your constant Reader, of Cambridgeshire.
LETTER OF MR. EVANSON'S TO LORD REDESDALE, ON
THE CATHOLIC QUESTION.
(Concluded from p. 365.) After all, your Lordship's arguments deduced from the doc. trines of the Church of Rome are entirely founded in error, in the erroneous supposition that the moral and civil conduct of people in general, is directel by the apparent tendency of the principles of that religious faith in which they have been educated; a supposition which is contradicted by universal daily experience. Were it otherwise, my Lord, such is the obvious tendency of the religious principles of every church in Europe, when carried to their full extent, that the passions of men would have been long ago set nearly free from restraint, and moral virtue almost extirpated from christendom. Thank God, however, so agreeable is a life of virtuous morality, to those superior principles of reason and conscience, with which our Creator has endowed us, that in proportion to the increase of knowledge and mental information, in spite of the tendency of any erroneous theological doctrines, the cause of virtue and general philanthropic benevn. lence gains ground amongst mankind; and that mutual hostile antipathy exited by the interested conflicts of the several reli. gious sects in the ages more immediately succeeding the refor. mation is now so greatly diminished that even under Protestant governments the Papists evince as much loyalty and fidelity to the state, and conduct themselves as peaceably as any of the subjects of their own religion. Of this your Lordship must be convinced, if from Ireland you turn your attention to the be. harionr of the Roman Catholics in Great Britain, and in every protestant state upon the continent; to the faithful adherence of the Roman Catholic cantons, to the original confederacy of Switzerland, and particularly to the internal tranquillity of the cantons of the mixed religions, and lastly, to what more nearly concerns our own government, the firm loyalty of the Roman Catholics in Canada, which remained so conspicuously unshaken through the whole of the unfortunate American war.
From hence, my Lord, you must see that it cannot be owing to any religious doc. trines alone, that the Irish Papists have at all times been dis. satisfied with the Protestant government of England; and of late under different denominations, have been more or less in a state of insurrection for full forty years. A notorious fact, than which I cannot conceive a greater opprobrium to any c.vil government. For as the major part of a whole people can never be discontented with their rulers without some just and adequate cause, if the grievances pretended to be the causes of such insurrections are false or trifling, the insurgents must at first be few and by the prudent efforts of a wise and vigorous government may always be easily suppressed and reduced within the bounds of order and dutiful obedience. And if any real weighty grievances are found actually to exist, it is the part of every equitable good govern. ment immediately and eitectually to redress them. Of all the kinds of tyranny which men infatuated with power have thonght of exerci-ing over their fellow creatures, that which aims at enslaving the minds and opinions of their subjects is the most' irrational, irritating and impracticable. Yet every government which de. prives its subjects of all or any of their natural or civil rights, as men and citizens, on account of their religious tenets, really endeavours to establish that wild and detestable species of tyranny. Whether the Irish laws made by the Protestant part, that is hy about one fifth part of the population of the country, in favonr of themselvưs, have really dealt so oppressively with the Roman Catholics, who compose the four-fifths, your Lordship, who must be sup. posed to have made yourself thoroughly acquainted with all the laws of that island, is without doubt, much better informed than I am.
But if they have, and still remain unrepealed, no man, who has but superficially studied human nature can be at a loss to account for the discontent of those people, or for their long continued disposition to insurrection and rebellion. When the majority of the people of Scotland had adopted the religious tenets of Calvin, if instead of permitting the Presbyterian Kirk to be legally established there, and legal prorision to be made for the maintenance of their religious ministers, the Stuart Princcs had been able to accomplish their favourite scheme of establishing Episcopacy in that northern peninsula of Great Britain, and had enacted laws against the Preshyterian majority similar to those which have been enacted in the neighbouring island against the large majority of the Papists; does your Lordship think, that in such a case, the Scotch would have shewn themselves better satisfied, more patiently submissive, or less turbulent than their neighbours? if under the present reign, the Roman Catholics of Canada, in. stead of having all their natural and civil rights confirmed to them, even that of becoming members of the council of state; their religion legally established, and a proper provision secured by law for their clergy of every order; the same policy had been adop!ed towards them that has so long been practised upon their brethren of Ir-land ; can any one believe that Canada would at this day' have rimairied a dutiful, loyal province of the Bri. tish Empire? To settle the constitution of that colony to the entire satisfaction of the inhabitants previous to the contest that was resolved upon with the other provinces of America was certainly prudent in the administration of that time. And why should not the same political prudence, (I would rather call it equitable justice,) be extended to so large a member as Ireland is, at least so far as present circumstances will permit? The sole purpose