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The scriptures teach, that divine HONOR and WORSHIP properly belong to Christ. John 5:23. Phil. 2:10. Heb. 1:6. The apostles and primitive christians exhibited this worship in their example. Acts 1:24. 7:59,60. The word God, in the passage last referred to, is not in the original text, and ought not to have been introduced in the translation. Jesus Christ was the person on whom Stephen called. See also 2 Cor. 12:8,9. 1 Thess. 3:11–13. 2 Thess. 2:16,17. In fact, throughout the whole New Testament, he is exhibited as the Great Object of the faith and hope and trust of his people. They are encouraged to place an unbounded reliance upon him, and to look to him for all blessings, temporal and spiritual.
Thus do the scriptures explicitly ascribe to Christ the proper attributes, and works, and worship, of the one ever-living and only true God. Need we be surprised, then, in finding the names of deity in like manner bestowed upon him? or hesitate to take the appellations thus given in their full and proper sense? The Word, it is written, was God. John 1:1. My Lord, and my God! was a profession of faith made by an apostle himself, and made without rebuke, John 10:28. He is styled, God manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. 3:16. and again, The true God, and eternal life, 1 John 5:20. and in our text, God over all, blessed forever. See also, Isaiah 9:6. Matt. 1:22,23. Acts 20:28. Heb. 1:8. also Tit. 2:13. and 2 Pet. 1:1. Even the incommunicable name of the supreme God, JEHOVAH, is appropriated to him without qualification, as may be seen by comparing Luke 1:16,17. with Isa. 40:3. Mal.3:1. Mat.3:3. and John 3:28.; also, John 12:41. with Is. 6:1-10.; also, Heb. 1:10. with Ps.102. In all these passages of the Old Testament, it is the the name Jehovah which is translated LORD, and no other can be properly understood in the corresponding passages of the New.
from their nature be original and inherent in the being by whom they are possessed. The Creation of the world, the Government of the world, and the administration of the last general Judgment, are works that require for their accomplishment the attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and independence. These attributes are in their nature as incommunicable as the essential glory of Jehovah himself. To suppose that God might confer any one of them upon a creature, is to suppose that all the attributes of divinity might be made to reside in a being of this kind-or that a mere creature is capable of being made God, in the highest sense of the term.
Pressed with this insupportable difficulty, the arian theory has never been found a sufficiently tenable position by the anti-trinitarian party. In modern times, accordingly, it has been in a great measure abandoned. We still hear something said about a delegation to the office of Judge in the great day, by which capacity, as well as authority, is to be lodged in the man Christ Jesus; though at the same time such a character is ascribed to the office itself, as it is to be exercised by him, and the functions belonging to it are so let down beneath the nature of the case and the plain representations of the Bible, that attributes far less than divine are supposed to be sufficient for the occasion. But a more summary mode of escaping the trinitarian argument is adopted, in regard to the works of creation, and provi. dence ascribed in the scriptures to Christ. What is said in relation to these, they tell us, is all figurative! The creation of which he is the author, is only a moral creation, or the establishment of the christian religion. His dominion over the world consists only in the prevalence of Christianity among the nations. Even what is said about his judging all mankind, may mean only that they shall be judged by God himself according to the declarations of the gospel!!
It must be acknowledged by all, that these proofs of the divine character of Christ seem very full and convincing. An attempt to set them all aside, and to interpret away the whole testimony which they are supposed to involve, would appear too desperate to be thought of. That attempt, however, is actually made. It is maintained, that we attach a wrong meaning to the language of the sacred volume; and we are required to contest every inch of ground over the wide field of criticism and interpretation, in order to make good our argument. This has been done amply and triumphantly by men every way qualified for the task. There is no space at present for entering upon any controversy of that kind, in regard to a single text; nor do I think it at all important. I am content to submit the evidence presented, just as it is, direct and plain and broadly diversified and harmonious in all its parts, to the judgment of every serious and candid mind. I shall only add some considerations of a general character, which, in my opinion, conspire to show that the true and proper meaning of the scriptures on this subject is what it has been supposed to be in the trinitarian argument.
1. If it be not so, it cannot be denied, that the scriptures are so constructed as to be most easily misundertood, in a case of the very deepest interest to religion. It is in vain to say, that they lend no apparent sup. port to the trinitarian doctrine. Not only in one or two passages, or by a few incidental or ambiguous references, do they seem to countenance that doctrine; but they so express themselves, that it is continually forced into view, and the plain and simple reader can hardly fail to be carried away with the impression that they mean to hold it up as the very truth of God. It meets him under all different aspects, and is found incorporated, to all appearance, with the entire scheme of the gospel. And is it, after all, an error? How strange, that a revelation so much at war in its professions with the sin of idolatry, should yet be so constructed as to put men in danger of the most disastrous idolatry ever known in the world!
2. What might have been apprehended in this case, has actually taken place. Trinitarianism has been the general faith of the church in all ages. It has been attempted, indeed, to prove that it crept into the ehurch after the apostolic times, and that the first christians did not embrace it. But, even on that supposition, how is the accomplishment of such a momentous change to be accounted for, without admitting that the sacred scriptures are so constructed as to encourage and sustain the dreadful heresy, that so soon and so universally obliterated every trace of the primitive creed? And shall we imagine, that God has left the christian world, to this day, to labor under a fundamenatal mistake in regard to the revelation which he condescended to make through the gos. pel, and to be given up to a wretched idolatry by the use of the gospel itself-with only the partial exceptions that stand out from the general de. solation, like the oases, or green islets of the desert, where the power of Unitarianism has been felt?
3. The theology in which the trinitarian doctrine is denied, has always shown itself unstable, and its tendency has always been downward, in a direction towards pure deism. Arianism, which admits the pre-existence of Christ, and takes in its proper sense what is said of his attributes and works and worship, would seem to be at first view the natural form for that theology to assume. And that form it has assumed in ages past; but it has been constrained to throw it off, on account of the unmanageable difficulties with which it was attended. Socinianism, though & vastly lower ground, has been found equally untenable. It has given place, accordingly, to Humanitarianism, in which Christ appears as a mere man, born of human parents in a natural manner, and bearing only a prophet's commission for the reformation of the world. This schere again, as might be expected, betrays a constant tendency to get clear of its own difficulties, by discarding the idea of revelation altogether, and sinking into mere Rationalism or Intidelity. This is the consummation to which the Unitarianism of Germany has actually come; and from the depths of this horrible abyss of night, it is now heard proudly vaunting its own powers of reason, and rejoicing in its marvellous light.
4. To sustain the pretensions of the unitarian creed, resort is had to expedients that tend to unsettle all the foundations of Christianity. If it were in the bible, one would think it should need no great art to draw it thence. But it is truly astonishing what an array of criticism and ingenious interpretation has been put in requisition, for the purpose of making the scriptures speak on this subject, as it has been supposed they ought to speak. Daring liberties with the text-loose principles of exposition-crude notions about inspiration--irreverent views of sacred truth, have been the consequence. Unitarianism in this way puts all truth in danger. That this is its proper tendency, appears from all its history. In Germany we behold the tendency fairly acted out.
5. In order to uphold Unitarianism, it is necessary not only to set aside the trinitarian view of the person of Christ, but also to reject the whole scheme of religion of which it is a part. That view is intimately and essentially connected with other doctrines of great consequence, which, like itself, appear to be taught in the scriptures. It is not enough, therefore, to combat with this alone; the controversy must be extended over the whole field of theology, and the cause cannot be said to be gained, till every part of what is termed the Evangelical system is fairly disproved. This doctrine is a constituent part of that system, and cannot be taken away without overthrowing the whole. Whatever of testimony there is, then, in the bible to the truth of that system in any of its parts, it must be regarded as lending corroboration to this particular doctrine. Unitarianism, accordingly, is put upon the task of bringing in another gospel throughout.
6. In doing this, great darkness, and confusion, and want of meaning, are introduced into the sacred volume. The typical character of the old dispensation is in a great manner given up, and thus the connection between Judaism and Christianity is made to disappear. They are no longer parts of , one grand scheme; and the strange constitution of the Jewish church is left an unexplained and inexplicable riddle. The prophecies of the Old Testament, too, lose a great part of their significancy, and become wrapped in darkness, or else shorn of strength. În the New Testament, a constant perplexity is made to hang around all that pertains to the character of Jesus Christ. T'he hypothesis adapts itself only to some representations that occur on this subject, while others are not met by it at all. It does not show ito itself adequate at all to a full comprehension of the different facts to be explained. It fails to bring them together in any harmonious and consistent scheme. Then a like unsatisfactoriness is found to characterize it, when it undertakes to explain the nature of Christ's mediatorial work, and the cha. racter of his salvation. The representations of scripture are not adequately met. Not only language, but things also, are made to appear without
meaning. The sacred writers are found expressing themselves continually in a way, that is either unmeaning altogether, or grossly inaccurate, or extravagant in the extreme.
7. The unitarian scheme of religion does not adequately meet man's spiritual wants. The bible professes to make known a salvation commen. surate with the utmost necessities of our nature. It cannot be interpreted aright, therefore, unless regard be had to the correspondency thus estab. lished between its truth and these necessities. That truth will always prove itself, by a practical development of its power in the human soul. Now, Unitarianism, I affirm, has not power to relieve the spiritual wants of men, as they are delineated in the bible, and as they are felt by the awakened spirit itself. It cannot take away the conscience of guilt. It cannot bring the soul into any sensible contact with God. It cannot give it power to lean upon Him, to rejoice in Him, or to hold free and confiding fellowship with Him. It cannot rescue the soul from the power of earthly effections, or give it refuge from the cares and fears and sorrows of the present life; and it contains no resources equal to the exigencies of a dying bed. It turns the sinner over upon himself for righteousness, and light, and strength, and peace; and in so doing, leaves him destitute of all. Hence it has always happened, that conviction of sin and spiritual want has of itself been sufficient to convince such as have had it, of the vanity of this system of religion. Let a man wake to the knowledge of himself, and of his relations to God, and he will turn himself some other way for rest.
8. Unitarianism is found wanting, when tried by its influence upon cha. racter. The motives which it presents to men, for the purpose of engaging them to a holy life, are comparatively weak and inefficient. Its standard of righteousness itself is low. The views which it takes of sin and of the divine character, are not such as are suited to put the soul upon any very diligent effort after sanctification. That in which holiness especially consists, a right frame of heart toward God, is in a great measure lost sight of, and an attention to the social virtues is set forth as the chief part of relie gion. The tendency of the system is not certainly to promote humility, or self-denial, or spirituality, or zeal in the service of God, or heavenly-minda edness. And when we appeal to actual life, this defect is clearly seen. According to all history and observation, Unitarianism is not by any means 80 well adapted to produce a character of piety and devotion, as the system to which it stands opposed. When we look for piety as it has exhibited it. self in such men as Augustine, and Luther, and Calvin, and Owen, and Baxter, and Howe, and Leighton, and Pascal, and Spener, and Francke, and Wesley, we must turn our eyes in a quite different direction to find it.
9. Unitarianism is found to be, under every form, a lifeless and inefficient system. The religion of the gospel is represented to be ever active and dif. fusive. When planted in the soul, it grows there and gathers power contin. ually, working itself out into the whole life. It stretches itself abroad, also, in benevolent interest to all around, and seeks to subdue all things to itself, and to pervade them with its power. In this respect, it is like leaven hid in meal, which by its own nature cannot be at rest, but works and diffuses its power abroad, till the whole is leavened. I know of no more certain cha. racteristic of true religion, as delineated in the word of God. But where do we find this vital energy lodged in the faith of Unitarians? It is notoriously inoperative and destitute of strength. We have just seen its want of efficacy in the formation of individual character. Its insufficiency for promoting the growth of the church and the salvation of the world, is equally complete. What has it done in this way in ages past? What is it doing now? Where is its zeal for the conversion of men to God, its enlarged schemes of benevo. lence, its missionary enterprises? But why do I talk of these things, when even the vitality that is wanted for its own preservation is not found in the system? Its tendency is always to decay. It dies, even while it seems to live. The principle of continuance is not in it; much less, the elements of growth.* !
I shall conclude with urging upon all the high importance of their having a true understanding of the doctrine concerning Jesus Christ, so as to know the power of it in their own experience, and so as to make it live in their lives.
Is there truth in the revelation of the gospel? Is it a fact, that a movement so high and vast and mighty as that which it represents, has taken place on the part of Heaven for the restoration of this lost world to holiness and life? Is it a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that God has so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life? Has there been a real transaction, comprehending in itself all that is magnificent and stirring in the idea of Christianity? Is there something more than a notion, a dreamy speculation, wrapt up in the mighty theme of this religion? Then, surely, it is worthy of all the regard that can be given it by any of the children of men. It is meet that it should absorb all other interests. What are the largest interests of time the cares of wealth, the pursuits of ambition, the politics of nations.com in comparison with the world of glory that is here unfolded to view? One would think that there was power enough here to put all the mass of human society in motion. And it would be so if the truths involved in religion were at all apprehended as facts; but we have the most melancholy evidence in every direction that they are not so appre hended.
Be it deeply impressed upon every mind, that a mere assent of the understanding to any of the doctrines of christianity, is a matter of but small account. “The words which I speak unto you,” said Christ on one occasion, “ they are spirit, and they are life." No doctrine of the gospel can be said to be fairly apprehended, till it is made a thing of actual experience, directly or indirectly, in the history of the soul. Every doctrine has a bearing upon character and feeling and conduct, and must be understood practically, if ever it is understood at all. It is perfectly possible, therefore, and it is, alas, dreadfully common, for persons to embrace and hold the trinitarian view of the person of Christ, while yet the dark and dreary desolation of Unitarianism itself continues to reign throughout their spirits. The true doctrine is received, but not discerned. It dwells only as a dead notion in the mind, destitute of all the light, and power, and glory, that should attend it. It has not become incorporated at all with the life of the soul, nor developed as a fact in its experience. This is the case in every instance, where the truth is held without being productive of the great fruits of righteousness; where it
** The modern history--the fate, and the present actual condition of the doctrine, absurdly called Unitarianism, is quite enough to convince any man of sense that the sceptical argument is a mere sophism, even if he knew nothing of the merits of the question. And this edifying history, and spectacle, does in fact produce a proper effect upon the minds of men, and does actually seal the theological argument, as it ought. "Is Unitarianism Christianity?-Read the story of its rise in modern times, of its progross, and decay, and look at the mcagre phantom as now it haunts the dry places it has retired to!is this pitiful shadow Christianity?"_SATURDAY EVENING,