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The only difficulty here, arises from inattention to the Jewish idiom, in which the mark of distinction is omitted where the connexion requires it to be supplied. Thus Judges, xvi. 7. Sampson said if they shall bind me, I shall become weak, and be as a man; where the public version very properly supplies the word another, as it also does, v. 11. 13. 15, and ought unquestionably to have supplied it here.
My friend declines pursuing the argument any further. “ Many other passages of scripture," (says he, p. 171.) “ might be quoted, but I have produced only those which appear to me most decisive and sufficient to establish the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ.” I am happy to agree with my friend that these are the passages in which his great strength lies, and that if these do not establish the pre-existence of Christ, and that he is the creator and supporter of all things, no other passages will prove it. How far they are conclusive to this point, every reader must judge for himself. In my estimation, as arguments for Arianism, they are empty as the bubble, and lighter than air *.
My worthy friend, though he has read Dr. Priestley's works, has not condescended to notice an argument, which that learned and indefatigable inquirer has advanced, and which, in the opinion of many competent judges, is fatal to the Arian hypothesis. It is, that Arianism, by which I mean the doctrine, that the spirit which animated the body of Christ was a creature of God, and employed by him as his instrument in making and governing the world, was absolutely unknown in the christian church till the beginning of the fourth century, when to the amazement and dismay of the whole orthodox world, it was first broached by a subtle and learned presbyter of Alexandria. I will venture to say that few facts in history are better authenticated than this, nor has it to my * Let it be remembered, that it is not at all incumbent upon the Unitarians to produce a formal proof of the simple humanity of Jesus Christ. For who is so unreasonable as to expect arguments to prove a man, to be a man, and not a superhunan being? But if any onc asserts that a person who appears in a human form and subject to all the incidents of human nature is the creator of the world, it rests with him to prove this extraordinary assumption, and if the arguments are not clear and decisive, it follows of course, that the being who appears, and feels, and acts, and suffers as a man, is a proper human being. It is however remarkable that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, in the second chapter, sets him. self profesedly to prove that the Leader of salvation could not be a spirit of supc. rior order, but must be a proper human being, a man in all respects like to his brethren : though superior to all former prophets and messengers of God, who are called upon, chap. i. 6, to pay homage to Christ, upon his resurrection from the grave, by a figure similar to that by which the departed heroes, Isa. xiv. are summonch to meet and address the kiug of Babylon upon his descent to Hades, the graad receptacle of the mighty dead.
knowledge, ever been disputed, since the evidence for it sás produced by Dr. Priestley, in his History of Early Opinions. Now, that the true doctrine concerning the person of Christ should never have been understood till three hundred years after his advent, when it was accidentally discovered by an obscure Egyptian priest, appears to me in the highest degree improbable and incredible, and therefore Arianism cannot be true. But even this difficulty is no stumbling-block in the way of our Arian brethren. If they cannot remove it, they can step over it; and on they go, content and satisfied, with an intrepidity of faith, which bids defiance to obstacles, and can remove mountains And truly as this great doctrine of an incarnate creator is not hinted at by three of the evangelists, and only incidentally mentioned by Paul, it cannot be thought surprising that it was not completely understood till the fourth century, a period celebrated for many other equally notable and edifying discoveries.
Having thus shewn, as I originally proposed, both that my worthy friend has just ground for the diffidence which he exs presses in his own opinions, (see Dedication, p. 3.) and that the Unitarians are not unwarranted in their confident belief in the proper humanity of their venerated Master, a confidence which increases in proportion to their increasing attention to the sacred records of his life and doctrine, I now take my leave of the controversy. I do not think it necessary to follow my friend into the detail of his argument in favour of what is commonly called the atonement of Christ, because the doctrine of our Lord's simple humanity cụts up this enormous corruption of his religion by the roots, at once. The true summary of Christianity is expressed by the apostle Paul in plain and clear language in bis admirable address to the Athenians, Acts xvii. 31, "that God will judgetheworldin righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.” No notice is here taken of the death of Christ. This event, indeed, was only necessary as a preliminary to his resurrection. And to avoid all suspicion and all possibility of collusion, it was requisite that Christ should be put to death publicly and by his enemies. But as the crucifixion of Jesus as a malefactor was an event exceedingly obnoxjous both to Jews and Gentiles, the apostles were solicitous to mention it in those terms, and to represent it under those figures which would have the greatest tendency to abate the prejudices
• It has been remarked, not without some appearance of reason, that faith in srodern times possesses far greater power, than it did in the apostolic age. It could dien only remove mountains, but now it can swallow them
of their hearers. Accordingly, the Christian dispensation is sometimes described as a covenant, and Christ is the victim by whose blood that covenant was ratified. Again, the Gentiles being in an uncovenanted state, and the Jews having forfeited their covenant privileges, they are both represented as ceremonially sinners, and Christ is said to have died for sinners because by the gospel dispensation, Jews and Gentiles are both brought into a covenant state and made ceremonially holy, by believing in him as the Messiah. In the epistle to the Romans, Christ is compared to the mercy seat, and it is sprinkled with bis own blood. In the epistle to the Corinthians, the Christian dispensation is a passover feast, in which Christ is the paschal lamb, and his doctrine the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. In the epistle to the Hebrews, Jesus is represented as the high priest of the new dispensation, and being of the tribe of Judah and not of the family of Aaron, it was necessary that he should be consecrated, as Aaron was, with blood; but his priesthood being superior to that of Aaron, required the blood of a superior victim, and that victim was himself. Who does not see that these representations could never be intended to be understood literally, but were figurative exhibitions of the death of Christ, and intended to abate the violent prejudices of unbelievers, but especially those of the Jews against the doctrine of a crucified Messiah
My friend gives a most curious illustration of his notion of an atonement, p. 202, by supposing a “ wise and good king" to put his beloved son to death, in order to convince penitent rebels, whom he intended to receive into favour, how much he was offended at their treason and rebellion, and how little they could expect forgiveness if they should rebel a second time. This would have been thought an odd method either of conciliating or intimidating the Irish rebels after the late rebellion, and its success must surely have been very problematical. Whether our own wise and good sovereign may or may not think fit to avail himself of my worthy friend's patriotic suggestion upon any future similar occasion, (which God grant may be very remote), it is not for me to say*. But of this I am
My friend's imaginary wise and good king is supposed to possess the power of raising his beloved son to life, which our real one does not. This however nakes little difference in the case so far as the rebels would be concerned. But though the worthy author is entitled to great credit for the originality and ingenuity of his invention, I suspect that our modern statesmen who prosess so much deference to the wisdom of our ancestors, would regard it as a hazardous experiment, and would probably resort to the old and tried method of punishing some of the rioga Peaders, and pardoning the rest.
confident that no such strange expedient as is here described, is to be found in the Christian scriptures. One text in eed ony friend produces to countenance his hypothesis upon wbich ignoraut persons may be excused for laving considerable stress, but which a person of my friend's abilities and learning should have been ashamed to allege, and which I am persuaded that upon reconsideration,' he will regret that he has cited. It is Rom. iii. 25. “ Whom God has set forth as a propitia. tion through faith in his blood to declare at this time his righteousness.
My friend, if he recollects hin:sut, must know that the word rendered propitiation invariably signifies a mercy sent; and that whether ihe doctrine of atonement be true or false, this text has nothing to do with it. The design of the apostle evidently is to represent Jesus Christ as the mercy-seat, upon which the divine goodness as it were, takes its stand and declares its purposes of mercy to mankind.
But it is time to draw to the conclusion of a discussion in which I have been so unexpectedly and unintentionally engaged. At the same time I confess thatTras not reluctant to embrace the opportunity of entering my public and graven protest against the Arian system with which I am so far from desining to enter into compromise, that I regard it as a corruption of ihe Christian doctrine which in the enorinity of its nature, and in the magnitude of its evil consequences, is little short of Trinitarianism itself. It is indeed in some respects more dangerous than even the doctrine of the trinity.' For Trinitarianism in every shape, and in every explanation of it, is so palpably absurd, that no ability, no learning, no eloquence, can veil its deformity from the inquisitive mind when once emancipated from the shackles of early prepossession. But Srianism, though equally unfouned in reason and in scripture, and though it is clogged with innumerable and insurmountable difficulties, does noi, primá fa. cie, involve a contradiction. Genuine Arianism is at best polytheism, and if it is accompanied with the worship of Christ, as in all consistency it ought, it is idolatry. It becomes every one therefore who is cou.cerned for the purity of the Christian religion, to separate himself from this glaring error, against which I am persuaded that the apostles and the first teachers of christianity would have raised aloud their warning voice of it had shewn itself in the primitive Church ; but it had no existence till some centuries afterwards. It is in vain to urge that many who have embraced this doctrine have been and are men eminent for talents and learning, men of serious piety and of exemplary benevolence. I grant it with pleasure; and the same
may be affirmed of many Trinitarians, and many Catholics. But this is no apology for their errors. It is the errors, and not the men against which we wage hostilities, and which we desire to exterminate, that so in “ the Church of Christ there may be neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing.” And “ the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual,” they are not dungeons, racks, and famcs, but reason, scripture, and ecclesiastical antiquity. And these weapons will, we trust, be mighty through God to pull down the strong holds of error, however numerous and powerful its partizans, and however proudly it inay tower aloft and bid defiance to the artillery of truth.
I am howerer here speaking of genuine Arianism only, such as my friend in his lectures, in a manly way arows and defends, and not of the doctrine of the simple pre-existence of Christ, which has of late years usurped the name. But the abertors of this doctrine, have no more right to call themselves Arians, than to call themselves Gentoos, and they ought not to apply to themselves, what may be justly all god of uue Arianism, for it does not belong to them. It is noi indeed easy to conceive, why they chuse to assume a name with which their tenets so little correspond; unless it be to screen themselves from the req proach that is annexed to the chnoxious term Socinian, which to the ears of some is more oflensive than the once dreaded name of Demogorgon: and perhaps to save the credit of their orthodoxy, by joining occasionally in the popular hue-and-cry against those who profess the primitive faith of the proper humanity of Jesus Christ
Genuine Arianism is not and cannot be Unitarianism; for it believes in two Gods, a great God and a lesser one, and in two Creators, one supreme, and the other subordinate. But these modern non-descripts, these demi-semi-arians, if so they may be called, are Unitarians in as strict a sense, as those who believe that Jesus Christ had no existence before he was born of his mother Mary. A mere difference of opinion concerning the date of our Lord's existence, bears no more relation to proper Unitarianism, than the controversy concerning his miraculous conception. The principal objections against this new doctrine of simple pre-existence are, that it is improbable, unnecessary, unseriptural, and perfectly modern. It is the pany birth of the eighteenth century, and certainly can never live through the nineteenth. But with regard to its consequences, it seems as harmless, as it is nugatory.. My friend with whom I have engaged in this controversy I