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WHEN all other objections to Unitarianism fail, it is common for opponents to say, that this system is very well as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. This objection has really had a good deal of influence on common and weak minds; not because it has been understood, or is well founded, but because it is one which any body can make, and every body remembers: besides, as it specifies nothing, and seems to relate rather to imperfection, than to any thing positively wrong, it is, for this reason, at once more likely to be admitted, and more difficult to expose, or repel. These considerations have induced me to undertake, in the following pages, to vindicate Unitarianism from the charge of not going far enough; and this I shall do by showing, that it goes far enough for scripture, far enough for safety, and far enough for moral effect.
I. Unitarianism goes far enough for scripture.
I begin by distinctly stating the true reason why Unitarians do not go any further. It is the same with that
assigned by the seer for not cursing Israel :- "If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own mind." We must keep to "the simplicity that is in Christ." We would not shun “to declare all the counsel of God;" but we dare not "teach, for doctrines, the commandments of men." We endeavour to follow the scriptures in all things, and the true and only reason why, as Christians, we do not go any further, is our solemn, firm, and deliberate conviction, that the scriptures do not go any further. This I shall show to be the principle, on which Unitarians proceed in forming the views they entertain of the person and authority of Jesus Christ, and of the honour due him, and of the reconcili ation or atonement he has effected.
1. We believe in Jesus Christ as a Divine Messenger; that his power and authority are divine, and that his words are to be regarded as the words of God. We believe him to be the "only begotten Son" of God; and, when he says, (John x. 30,) "I and my Father are one," we also believe him; understanding this language as it is explained by himself in another passage, where, interceding with the Father for his disciples, he prays, (John xvii. 22,)" that they may be one, even as we are one" one in purpose, counsel, and cooperation. But we cannot go any further, because we think that the scriptures do not; nay, that they expressly forbid it.
The plain and obvious sense of the sacred writings will not permit us to regard Jesus Christ, as the omnipotent, omniscient, and self-existent God. For an apostle has said, (1 Cor. viii. 6,) "to us there is but one God, the
Father;" and to the same purpose, also, our Lord himself, in a prayer addressed expressly to the Father, (John, xvii. 3,) "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God.” In another place, also, he declares, in so many words, his own inferiority, (John, xiv. 28,) "For my Father is greater than I;" and he is so far from pretending to omniscience, that he expressly disclaims it in more than one instance: (Mark, xiii. 32,) "But of that day, and that hour, knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Again, it is the uniform doctrine of scripture, that Jesus Christ is a dependent being. His own words are, (John, v. 30,) "I can of mine own self do nothing." And in another place, (John xii. 49,) " For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." So, likewise, at the resurrection of Lazarus, (John xi. 41, 42,) "Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me; and I know that thou hearest me always:" plainly intimating that he derived the power by which he wrought, not only this, but all his other wonderful works, from above. Nay, take the passage that asserts our Lord's power and authority more strongly than any other in God's word: (Matthew, xxviii. 18,) "And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." To maintain, in the face of this scripture, that his power was not "given" him, that it was not a delegated power, that he was not dependent for it on another being, seems to us an open and palpable contempt of revelation.
2. We believe that Jesus Christ should be revered and obeyed, by all men, as their teacher and Lord, the head of the church, and the saviour of the world. We believe, also, that "all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father;" because the Son is the representative of the Father, and the dignity of every government is always supposed to reside in its accredited representatives. We hold, moreover, that, in gratitude for the inestimable benefits resulting from his mediation, and for the sufferings voluntarily undergone by him in procuring and dispensing these benefits, and for the relation which he still sustains towards us, as our advocate and intercessor with the Father, every devout believer must be drawn to him by a love, that knows no measure nor intermission. But we cannot go any further, being convinced that the scriptures do not, and that they expressly forbid it.
We cannot, we dare not worship Christ as the Supreme Being. In a form of prayer given by our Lord to his disciples, (Matthew, vi. 9—13,) with the express direction
that they should pray "after this manner,' "there is not the remotest allusion to any other person, as an object of worship, but "our Father which art in heaven." In another place, referring to what should be after his resurrection, he says, in express terms, (John, xvi. 23,) “In that day, ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." It is true, the gospels mention a single instance of prayer offered to Jesus as an ultimate object of regard-the prayer of the mother of Zebedee's children, that they might sit, one on his right hand, and the other on the left, in his kingdom; but the answer he