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is made up of atoms. What binds them together, so as to constitute a world ? Attraction, it is answered. What is attraction ? To this there is no answer. The world, then, on which we tread, in which we live, and about which we think we have extensive knowledge, is wholly formed out of particles, absolutely mysterious, bound together by a power equally mysterious.
These atoms constitute vegetables. What is a vegetable? “An organized body,” it is answered; "the subject of vegetable life.” What is vegetable life? To this question there is no satisfactory answer. In the same manner are we conducted to a speedy end in all our inquiries concerning the mineral, vegetable, and rational worlds.
Mystery meets us at every step, and lies at the bottom of the whole. The power, by which this discourse was thought, or written, or spoken, defies all human investigation. · If mysteries, then, are found every where in the works of God; can it be supposed, that they are not found in the character and being of the same God? There is nothing more mysterious, more absolutely inexplicable, in the doctrine of the Trinity, than in the power by which, and the manner in which, Mind acts upon Matter.
2dly. The Unitarians themselves, though professedly rejecting mysteries, admit them into their creed without number. creature created all things, upholds all things, possesses all things, rules all things, and is the final cause of their existence; that a creature should be the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; that he should be the final Judge and Rewarder of the just and the unjust; that he should sit on the throne of the heavens, and receive the prayers of inspired men in this world, and the everlasting praises of the Heavenly host in the world to come; or that God, if these things are not so, should have caused, or permitted, them to be written in his Word; are, to say the least, mysteries as entire, and as inexplicable, as any, which have ever entered the thoughts of man. li ill becomes those, who admit these things, therefore, to reject any thing, merely on account of its being mysterious.
III. The Unitarians take an unwarrantable license with the language of the Scriptures.
I know not, that I can express my own views of this subject, within the same compass, better, than in the following words of a respectable writer, which are a part of some observations concerning Dr. Priestly's Notes on the Scriptures. “It is a leading and determined purpose of Dr. Priestly's Notes to serve the cause of what is arrogantly termed Unitarianism; and he has certainly kept this purpose
in view. To say the least, he is a zealous and resolute advocate. His maxim seems to have been, to maintain his cause at all events. Seldom is he at a loss for a gloss, or an evasion, in aiming at the accomplishment of his object. If he meets with a passage, whose indubitable reading, and whose obvious, plain meaning, are such, as every unbiassed man would pronounce
favourable to the Deity and atonement of Christ; the Doctor is ready with ample stores of metaphorical, enigmatical, and idiomatical, forms of interpretation; and stubborn must be that text, which will not bend under one, or other, of his modes of treatment. In some cases a various reading, though none of the best, is called in to his assistance. Should this aid fail
, some learned critic, or other, is at hand with a conjectural alteration. Or if none of these means appear advisable, the philosophical commentator has in reserve a kind of logical alkali, which will at least neutralize a pungent passage; for example, the sage observation : " About the interpretation of it critics differ much.”
" And, lastly, in very desperate instances a method is resorted to, the most simple and compendious imaginable; and that is, to say nothing at all about them.”
One of the modes, in which the Unitarians take unwarrantable license with the language of the Scripiures, is to pronounce passages to be interpolated, which are abundantly evidenced by Manuscripts, ancient Versions, and Quotations in writings of the Fathers, to be genuine parts of the Scriptures.
Another is, to declare, without warrant, words, and phrases, to be wanting ; and then to supply them; where they are supplied by no authority but their own. Thus Grotius and Dr. Clark supply the word sotw in that remarkable text, Romans ix. 5; and then translate it, Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all God be blessed for evermore.
This, it will be observed, does not aid them at all, because, he who is over all things, is of course God.
Another mode is, to annex a meaning to some particular word or phrase, which suits their own purpose, but which is entirely aside from all customary use.
Thus Pierce interprets 8x agtaypov myndalo 50 SIVA 10a Osw; He thought it no robbery to be equal with God; to mean, He was not eager, or tenacious, to retain that likeness to God: a translation, which no criticism can justify, or satisfactorily explain.
Another mode, of the same nature, is to suggest the conjectural opinion of some other critic, or some learned friend ; which is introduced with so much gravity, as to give a kind of weight, and speciousness, to the peculiar interpretation proposed. Thus Dr. Priestly,* commenting on John xiv. 2 : In my Father's house are many mansions; says, “Perhaps, with a learned friend of mine, we may understand the mansions in his father's house, of which Jesus here speaks, to signify, not places of rest and happiness in heaven, but stations of trust and usefulness upon earth; such as he was then about to quit,” &c. Here the house of God is made to mean earth and mansions, stations; and Christ of course was going away, to prepare a place for his Apostles here, where he and they then were ; and was to come again, to receive them in the place,
• Eclectic Review, No. 2d. Vol. 2d.
whither he himself was going, that they might be with him there, by continuing here.
Another mode, of the same nature, is an unbounded license in making the Scriptural language figurative.
That the language of the Scriptures is to a great extent, and in a high degree, figurative, is unquestionably true. But certainly there are limits to this character, not only in Scriptural, but all other, language. It must, I think, be admitted, that we are to consider the language of the Scriptures especially, and of all other good writings generally, as figurative, only in accordance with the following rules :
1st. That the figure be agreeable to the state of the mind of him who uses it; that is, to his views and feelings.
2uly. That it be founded on some analogy, or relation to the subject.
3dly. That it accord with the discourse, so far as to make sense.
4thly. That in the Scriptures it violate no doctrine declared, at least by the Writer.
5thly. That it be so obvious, as not to demand invention or contrivance, in the reader.
6thly. That it be explicable according to the opinions, or other circumstances, of those, for whom it was written, so as to be capable of being understood by them.
7thly. That it suit the occasion, and other circumstances, of the discourse.
But how, according to these, or any other, rules of construing language, are we to interpret the declaration, For by him, were crealed all things, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, to mean, that Christ published the Gospel and constituted The Christian Church? Is it the same thing to publish the Gospel, as to create? Is it the same thing to constitute the church, as to create ?
Are the Gospel and the Church all things that are in Heaven and that are in earth? Are they all things visible and invisible? Who are the thrones, the dominions, the principalities, and the powers ? Are they Bishops, Elders, and Deacons: the only officers, ever supposed to belong to the Church ?
The Holy Ghost is by Unitarians denied to be a person, and is commonly asserted to be no other than the power of God: The name Spirit being, in their view, always figurative. According to what rules of construction are we, on this plan, to interpret the following passages; in which I shall substitute the word power for Ghost, or Spirit; always intending by it, however, the divine power:
All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Power shall not be forgiven unto men, Matt. xii. 31. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Power, Matt. xxviii. 19. Why has Satan filled thy heart, to lie unto the Holy Power ? Acts v. 3. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Power and with power, Acts x. 33. Romans xv. 13, That ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Power. Romans xv. 19, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the Power of the Power of God. In demonstration of the Power, and of Power. John xvi. 13, Howobeit, when he the Power of truth has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself ; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak, &c. &c.
More instances cannot, I thirk, be necessary to elucidate this part of the subject.
The last mode, which I shall mention, a mode adopted when a passage is too stubborn to bend to any of the preceding, is, to leave it with such an observation as this : “Critics are very much divided about the meaning of this passage;" insinuating to the reader, that the passage is so obscure and perplexed, that he is to despair of any explanation.
In this manner, it seems to me, the Scriptures must soon become such as the Prophet Isaiah declared they would become to the Jews, at a certain future period. The vision of all, says that Prophet, chapter xxix. 11, is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed; which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; And he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed, and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned.
IV. I object to the Unitarians direct unfairness in their conduct towards Trinitarians.
The unfairness, here intended, respects two particulars.
1st. They treat the Trinitarians, as if they were Tritheists, or held the existence of three Gods.
This they do in several methods, particularly, the name Unitarian, as I formerly observed, is designed to denote, that they, among Christians, exclusively hold the existence of one God. The very name itself, therefore, is intended to declare, that Trinitarians hold the existence of more Gods than one. An imputation, which, they well know, every Trinitarian rejects with abhorrence.
Again; in arguing with Trinitarians, they customarily undertake to prove, that the Scriptures, in a great variety of passages, assert that there is but one God; as if this were the very point, or at least one point, in debate between them and Trinitarians. Accordingly, when they have proved this point, which a child can easily do, they commonly triumph, and appear to consider the dispute as ended, and their antagonists overthrown. In this way they insinuate, to their readers, that Trinitarians hold the existence of more Gods than one; and that all their arguments are intended to support this doctrine. Whereas every Unitarian perfectly well knows, that the unity of God is as entirely, and as professedly, holden by Trinitarians as himself; that none of their arguments are directed against it; and that this point has never been, and never can be, in debate between him and them. That the doctrine of the Trinity involves, or infers, the existence of more Gods than one, every Unitarian has a right to prove; and may with perfect fairness prove, if he can. But to insinuate, that Trinitarians believe the existence of more Gods than one, and to treat them as if they thus believed, when it is perfectly well known that every Trinitarian disclaims such belief with indignation; is conduct, which, in my view, admits of no justification.
2dly. The Unitarians customarily undertake to prove that Christ is a man; and thence triumph also, as if they had refuted the doctrine of their opposers. Now it is well known to every Unitarian, that the Trinitarians with one voice acknowledge Christ to be a man; and that this point, therefore, is not in controversy between him and them.
It is wholly disengenuous, therefore, to insinuate that it is in de. bate; or to attempt to make it a part of the controversy, when they know, that Trinitarians as uniformly hold it as themselves. Of these facts, however, they usually take not the least notice, but appear to consider both points as the principal topics in debate. Such conduct in their antagonists, the Unitarians would censure with severity.
I shall conclude this discussion with two observations.
The first is, that the Unitarians are extensively disagreed concerning the person of Christ. The Arians consider him as a Super-angelic being: The Socinians partly as a man, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and partly as a man, differing from other men only by being wiser and better : The Sabellians, as God manifested in one manner. The Patripassians, as the Father living, and suffering, in the man Jesus Christ. Some of the Unitarians hold, that he created the Universe; some, that he made an atonement for sin; some, that he ought to be worshipped; and some de
all these doctrines. This difference is derived from two sources: one is, that their reason, or philosophy, dictates nothing concerning Christ, in which they can harmonize. The other is, that the Scriptures in no very satisfactory manner support either of their opinions. But it ought to be observed, that this very difference is of such a nature, as strongly to indicate, that the Scriptures exhibit Christ as God.
The second observation is, that Unitarianism has an evident tendency to infidelity.
This is strongly evident in the manner, in which the Unitarians speak of the Scriptures; the insufficiency which they attribute to them for settling religious doctrines; and the superior sufficiency, which they attribute to Reason. It is evident, also, in the laxness of their ideas concerning what genuine religion is; their want of veneration for the Sabbath; their want of attendance on the public