« AnteriorContinuar »
ridiculous doctrine I mention. For if he affirm that "to us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things," a truth we should be sorry to disbelieve or deny, persuaded as we are, that he is what his name imports, the Father of all, even of his beloved Son, his incarnate Word; if, I say, he affirms this, he affirms with equal plainness, that there is "one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things:" and how all things could be by a mere man, who had no existence till they had been made and preserved at least four thousand years, it may perhaps puzzle even Dr. Priestley to show. Nor have we far to read before we find another proof of the absurdity of supposing St. Paul to hold the doctrine of Christ's mere humanity. Verse 12, he says, "When ye sin so against the brethren and wound their weak consciences, ye sin against Christ:" that is, according to this hypothesis, " When ye sin against mere men, ye also sin against a mere man!" To this mere man, as the Socinians think him, the apostle declares himself, in the next chapter, to be "under the law," and, chapter x, affirms that the Israelites tempted him in the wilderness, that is, if the Socinians be right, tempted him two thousand years before he existed. And while the ungodly among them thus rebelled and vexed the Holy Spirit of their Lawgiver, and their Judge, the faithful applied to him as their Saviour, and received salvation from him, for " they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ," the Rock of Ages, and the fountain of living waters to his Church, and yet, according to Dr. Priestley, a mere man-! iIf it seem strange to us that persons of sense and learning should patronize a doctrine which fathers such nonsense upon an inspired apostle, our wonder will in some measure cease, if we pass on to the twelfth chapter of this epistle. There the apostle both gives us the true reason why men embrace the Socinian hypothesis, and furnishes us with a striking example of the absurdity of attempting to reconcile it with his doctrine. "I give you to understand (says he) that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed, and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." They have not received the Holy Ghost; they are not enlightened by that Divine Spirit; he has not taken of the things of Jesus, and shown unto them; has not revealed Christ to them, and therefore they do not, in the true and Scriptural sense, call Jesus Lord, but degrade him into a mere man. The apostle goes on: "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit," from whom they proceed, "and there are. ditferences of administrations, but the same Lord," the same mere man, says Socinus, that appoints them all, "and there are diversities of operations, but the same God, who worketh all in all." In other words, according to the Socinian doctrine, all the gifts, offices, and effects, produced in the Church of Christ, are from the Holy Ghost, from a mere man, and from the self-existent Jehovah.
Permit me, Rev. sir, to refer you to a few more passages of this epistle, as instances of the absurdity of supposing the apostle to have held Dr. Priestley's sentiments concerning the mere humanity of Christ. Chap. xv, 45, we read: "The first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam is a quickening Spirit;" that is, according to the doctor, a mere man is a quickening Spirit!" The first man was from the earth, earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven:" that is, a mere man, descended from Joseph and Mary, is the Lord from neaven! "I protest by your rejoicing, which I also have in Christ Jesus, [a mere man,] I die daily. Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ, [that is, through a mere man!] Therefore be ye steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, [viz. the work of a mere man!] forasmuch as ye know that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord," [the same mere man !] Chap, xvi, 21: "The salutation of me Paul with my own hand. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, [that is, love not a mere man!] let him be anathema [let him be accursed] maranatha; [that is, the Lord, the same mere man, cometh.] The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, [viz. the grace of a mere man !] be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus," [the same mere man!]
You see, dear sir, the first Epistle to the Corinthians, when interpreted according to the Socinian doctrine, no more appears to have been written with common sense, than the Epistle to the Romans. Nay, if Jesus Christ be a mere man, some parts of it are impious, as well as absurd. It is inscribed to those that "call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;" that is, if Jesus be no more than a man, it is inscribed to idolaters. And both that and many other passages of it manifestly countenance and encourage idolatry. To represent grace and peace as being derived from the Lord Jesus, as well as from God the Father, and to ask "grace of him" for the Churches: to speak of being "enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge, of being confirmed by him to the end," and called into "his fellowship," of " preaching him, the wisdom and power of God;" "the wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption" of his followers; of being determined to "know nothing but him:" to call him the " Lord of glory," even that Lord "by whom are all things," and represent him as the only " foundation" of " his Church," that is or can be laid; as the "Lord that shall come" and bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart: to speak of the power of this person being with them that are gathered together delivering an offender to Satan: to hold him forth as our Passover crucified for us, and "dying for our sins," according to the Scriptures: to teach that believers are "washed, justified, and sanctified in his name ;" are his members joined to him, in one spirit, and not their own but his, bought with a price: to term him the Lord almost in every breath, and that eminently and absolutely without any, the least, restriction or limitation; and represent himself and all the apostles, nay, and all Christians and ministers through all the world, as his servants: to speak of his ordaining laws for his Church; and of his followers being "under the law" to him: to talk of " sinning against him, tempting him, and provoking him to jealousy," and to pronounce those accursed that do not love him: surely this is not only absurd, but even pernicious doctrine, if he be no more than a man.
Equally pernicious, as well as absurd, are sundry passages of his second epistle to the same people. He begins it, as he had done the former, by styling himself an "apostle of Jesus Christ," and asking grace and peace of him, as well as of his supreme and everlasting Father! Verse fifth he mentions his consolations as "abounding through him," and chap, ii, 14, speaks of their "triumphing in him," and being "unto God a sweet savour in him," in them that are saved, and in them that perish. Chap, i, 19, he calls him that "Son of God," whom he, Sylvanus, and Timotheus had preached, and declares that he was not yea and nay, but that all the promises of God in him are "Yea," and in nim"Amcii." And chap, iv, 5, he assures us they "preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord:" that is, according to this doc. trine, they preached not mere men, but a mere man!" and themselves the servants of the Churches for Jesus' sake," viz. for the sake of a mere man! And verse 11:" Always delivered unto death for his sake, [viz. for the sake of a mere man !] that the life also of Jesus," adds he, "might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." The reason of this their entire devotedness to Christ, we learn, chap, v, 14, 15, "The love of Christ constrained them :" that is, according to Dr. Priestley, the love of a mere man!" while they thus judged," thus believed and refleeted, "that if one [mere man] died for all, then are all dead: and that he died for all, that they who live should not live henceforth unto themselves, but unto him [the mere man !] that died for them, and rose again." All mankind, therefore, being redeemed by his death, are, according to this doctrine, under an indispensable obligation of living in obedience to the will, and of being devoted to the glory of one mere man! Nay, and the apostles themselves were but ambassadors for Christ, (that is, ambassadors for a mere man,) as though God, adds he, did "beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, [the stead of a mere man!] be ye reconciled to God: for he hath made him [though but one mere man] a sin offering for us, [many millions of mere men,] that we might be the righteousness of God [might be justified and made righteous by God] in him." How all true believers should be justified and made righteous through one mere man, is surely, to say the least, not easy to conceive.
Proceed we to the eighth chapter. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that, though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich." Will Doctor Priestley, or any Socinian, inform us when and how Christ was rich, on their hypothesis, and when and in what sense he became poor? And will he tell us how, on the supposition of his being a mere man, he can act the part of a spiritual husband, to all the faithful in every nation and age, guiding, protecting, and comforting them, nay, and supplying all their wants? "1 have espoused you [many millions as ye are] to one husband, (says the apostle, chap. xi, 2,) that I may present you a chaste virgin to Christ." The apostle goes on: "But I fear lest your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ . For if he that cometh preach another Jesus [another mere man] whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another Spirit [from that mere man] which ye have not received, ye might well bear with him."
Above all, I would recommend the paragraph that follows, to the consideration of those who view Christ as a mere man, and therefore judge that it would be idolatry to worship him. Chap. xii, 7, speaking of his thorn in the flesh, he says: "For this thing I besought the Lord [that is, I besought a mere man! see verse ninth] thrice, that it might depart from me, and he said unto me, My grace [though I am but a mere man !] is sufficient for thee, for my strength [mere man as I am!] is made perfect [is perfectly displayed] in weakness! Most gladly therelore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ [the power of a mere man!] may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, &c, for Christ's sake, [that is, for the sake of a mere man!] for when I am weak, then [through the help of this mere man] I am strong!" This surely is ridiculous in the extreme. And the 3d, 5th, and 13th verses of chap, xiii, are little better. 8. "Ye seek a proof of Christ [a mere man!] speaking in me. 5. Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith. Know ye not that Christ [a mere man!] is in you, except you be reprobates! Verse 13: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, [that is, the grace of a mere man!] and the love of God, [the Supreme Being,] and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, [that is, the fellowship of a power or property of God!] be with you all! Amen."
Leaving you to wonder, Rev. sir, how any man of sense can patronize and attempt to reconcile with the Scriptures, a doctrine, which, when brought to that touchstone, appears to be so absurd and ridiculous, I subscribe myself yours, &c.
Rev. Sir,—In the two former letters we reviewed a variety of passages occurring in the Epistle to the Romans, and the two Epistles to the Corinthians, which, on the supposition that the author of those epistles held the doctrine of Christ's mere humanity, manifestly appear to have been written without regard to common sense. I proceed now to lay before you a few texts, of a similar nature, from the lesser epistles of the same apostle: and several, not a little remarkable in this view, occur in the very beginning of the first of these epistles. According to Dr. Priestley's hypothesis, they must be read as follows:—Gal. i, 1, "Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, [a mere man!] and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. Grace to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, [from the eternal God and a mere man!] who [though no more than a man] gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us [many myriads as we are!] from this present evil world. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, [the grace of a mere man!] unto another gospel, which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ, [the gospel of a mere man !] Do I now persuade [or solicit the favour of] man? or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not [please or] be the servant of Christ, [a mere man !] But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man: for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ," a mere man!
Now, sir, is not all this very extraordinary? An apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by a mere man! If I pleased, or were the servant of men, I should not be the servant of a mere man! The Gospel which I preached is not after man, but after a mere man! Is not this excellent sense? worthy of the learning of the disciple of Gamaliel, and of the inspiration of the apostle of God? The apostle proceeds, verse 16: "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,—to reveal his Son [that is, to reveal a mere man J] in me, that I might preach him [the same mere man!] among the heathen," as the grand foundation of their confidence and hope, 1 Cor. iii, 11; Eph. i, 12, 13; the object of their love, 1 Cor. xvi; and spring of their obedience, 2 Cor. v, 14;—" immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood!"
I shall take no notice of what the apostle has delivered with great clearness in the next chapter, respecting justification by faith in this mere man, as the Socinians think him, though absolutely irreconcilable with their doctrine; but what he has occasionally remarked, respecting the union which he had with Christ, and which indeed all that are justified have with him, must not be passed over, as being perfectly unintelligible on their hypothesis. Verse 20, we read, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ [a mere man, says Dr. Priestley] liveth in me; and the life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, [that is, by faith in a mere man,] who hath loved me and given himself for me." Will Dr. Priestley inform us how Christ, if a mere man, could live in the apostle? And will he tell us how he could "redeem all [that believe in him, whether Jews or Gentiles] from the curse of the law, see chap. iii, 13, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through him; and mankind might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith?" John vii, 37, 38.
There are many other passages in this epistle equally absurd on the Socinian principles. As chap, iv, 14, "Ye received me as an angel of God, even as [a mere man !] Jesus Christ." Verse 19, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ [a mere man] be formed in you!" Chap, v, 1, "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith [a mere man] Christ hath made us free!" Chap, vi, 2, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ," that is, the law of a mere man. Verse 14, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the cross of the same mere man,] by whom [a mere man though he be] the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in [the same mere man] Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus, [viz. the marks of the sufferings I have endured for the sake of a mere man!] Brethren, the grace of [this mere man] the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."
You see, Rev. sir, that this Epistle to the Galatians, beside the many passages which are similar to those found in the preceding epistles, has several of a peculiar nature, in which the Lord Jesus is set in opposition to men: and to be made an apostle by him, to receive the Gospel from him, and seeking to please him, are opposed to the being made an apostle by man, receiving the Gospel from man, and seeking to please man. Now, in these instances, Dr. Priestley will find it hard work, indeed, to vindicate, on his hypothesis, the common sense of the apostle. Examine we now the Epistle to the Ephesians. This also furnishes us with many instances of the apostle's writing without common sense, on the supposition of his being a Unitarian. Passing over the inscription and