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III. Perhaps the most extraordinary part of your whole performance is what you say of the mysteriousness of the doctrine of the Divine unity, and of the Unitarians having nothing to plead for themselves but single texts of Scripture, interpreted in a figurative manner. sIf this word,” (spoken of by John,) you say, “ be the divine attribute Wisdom, then that attribute, in the degree which was equal to the formation of the universe, in this view of the scripturedoctrine, was conveyed entire into the mind of a meer man, the son of a Jewish carpenter. A much greater difficulty, in my apprehension, than any that is to be found in the catholic faith.” *
In reading this and other passages in your Letters, I cannot help admiring your talent of lessening the difficulties of your own scheme, and magnifying those of others. If you use the same telescope, you certainly turn different ends to different objects.
Pray, Sir, what Socinian ever maintained that “the divine attribute Wisdom, in the degree which was equal to the formation of the universe, was conveyed entire into the mind of Jesus Christ”? What we believe, and all that is required by our interpretation of the Logos (as meaning the divine attribute wisdom) is, that a portion only of the same wisdom that formed the universe was communicated to Christ, a portion sufficient to enable him to do what he actually did,' and to say what he actually said. The Socinians do not believe that Christ made the universe, or that he was any way instrumental in making it.
For my own part, I never before heard of or suspected any difficulty in God's making man the instrument by which to do what man alone could not do. Did not God suggest to Moscs what he could not have delivered of him. self? In many of the miracles which attended the release of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, and their passage through the Wilderness, Moses was the immediate or osten. sible agent, but the power was of God; and yet this was no proper infusing of the Divine power into Moses. The power was still the incommunicable attribute of the Divine Being. Accordingly, Jesus says, that it was not himself
, but the Father within him, or acting by him, that did the works; and that the words which he spake were not his own. Moreover, he says of the apostles, that they should do greater things than he himself had done. From this, then,
* Letters, p. 138. (P.) Tracts, p. 249.
you ought to conclude, that the divine attributes of wisdom and power were conveyed entire into the minds of the apostles, or even that they were gods superior to Christ. Such reasoning as, this I have hardly patience to refute. But surely you cannot be serious in saying that this difficulty in the Socinian scheme is equal to that of three persons in one God, in the Athanasian Trinity, or to that in your own account of the Platonic Trinity.
But perhaps the most extraordinary part of your whole work will be thought to be the following: in answer to my saying that “ there are many, very many passages of Scripture, which inculcate the doctrine of the Divine unity in the clearest and strongest manner, you say, " Be pleased, Sir, to produce one of the many ;” | meaning, evidently, that there is no such passage ; and you add, “ the Unitarians themselves pretend not that their doctrine is to be found in the plain literal sense of holy writ. On the contrary, they take the greatest pains to explain away the literal meaning.”
Now, Sir, if you had really read any Unitarian treatise at all, you must have known that this representation is the reverse of the fact. We Unitarians certainly pretend at least, whether we be able to prove it or not, that the general tenor, and plain literal sense of Scripture is in our favour; that they are only particular texts, and those ill-understood, that you avail yourselves of; and we say that there is no difficulty in interpreting even those texts in perfect consistency with the Unitarian doctrine, if the true idiom of the language be considered.
You complain of my not reading, but only looking through authors. But surely you cannot have even looked through the very Letters of mine that you are professedly replying to. Let me, therefore, bring again before your view a paragraph or two in those letters, which, as far as pretensions go, directly contradict your confident assertion. See
p. 101, where you will find as follows : “ I will venture to say, that for one text in which you can pretend to find any thing harsh or difficult to me, I will engage to produce ten that must create more difficulty to you. How strangely must you torture the plainest language, and in which there is not a shadow of figure, to interpret to your purpose, 1 Tim. ii. 5; There is one God, and one mediator be
• See supra, p. 102.
+ Letters, p. 141. (P.) Tracts, p. 254. 1 Letters, p. 17. (P.) Tracts, pp. 103, 104.
tween God and men, the man Christ Jesus ;' i Cor. viii. 6: To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him ;' or that expression of our Saviour himself, (John xvii. 3,) · That they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent'! Never upbraid us Unitarians with torturing the Scriptures, while you have these and a hundred other plain texts to strain at, and to bend to your Athanasian hypothesis ; besides many general arguments, from reason and the Scriptures, of more real force than any particular texts, to answer.”
This, Sir, was certainly answering your challenge to produce one plain text in favour of the Unitarian doctrine before it was thrown out. I appeal to yourself for the obvious sense of the passages I have now recited ; and you say, " It is a principle with me, that the true sense of any phrase in the New Testament is, for the most part, what may be called its standing sepse; that which will be the first to occur to common people of every country and in
I would also refer you to a small piece I lately published, entitled, “ A general View of the Arguments for the Unity of God, and against the Divinity and Pre-existence of Christ, from Reason, from the Scriptures, and from His. tory ;”+ which you seem to have seen, as you refer to my two-penny pamphlets, for this is sold for two-pence. There you will find, not only that Socinians pretend to have the clear sense of Scripture in their favour, but many of those passages, expressive of that clear sense, produced. I there
Letters, p. 23. [Tracts, p. 111.] It is remarkable that the orthodox, even after the Council of Nice, complained of the advantage which the Unitarians had in appealing to the literal sense of the Scriptures. “ If,” says Gregory Nyssen,
a man rests in the bare letter, so far he judaizes in opinion, and has not learned that a Christian is not the disciple of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." Ουκεν, ει ψιλά παραμένει το γραμματι, και κατα τετο το μερος μεδαιζει τη γνωμη, και ουπω πεπαιδευται ότι ουχι γραμματος εςι Χριςιανος μαθητης, αλλα πνευματος: το γαρ γραμμα, φησιν, απεκτεινει, το δε πνευμα ζωοποιεί. “ Contra Eunomium Oratio xvi." Opera, 11. p. 341.
It is to be observed, that by judaizing was meant adopting the doctrine of the simple humanity of Christ. For the ancient Unitarians were commonly compared by the orthodox io Jews, and the Arians to Gentiles, as worshippers of two Gods; the Arian Logos not being of the same substance with the Father; and therefore a maker of the world, or a God, quite distinct from him. (P.)
+ See supra, p. 151..
I - you,” says Dr. Horsley, “ who are every day diffusing your dangerous doctrines among the common people in pamphlets published for their benefit in an ordinary form,
to be purchased at the easy price of sixpence, a groat, and even twopence." Tracts, pp. 179, 180.
observe, that “the Scriptures contain the clearest and the most express declarations that there is but one God, without ever mentioning any exception in favour of a Trinity, or guarding us against being led into any mistake by such general and unlimited expressions.” And if this language, as you suppose, always respected the multiplicity of gods among the Heathens, why is this one God in the New Testament always called the Father, and even the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? And why are we no where told that this one God is the Trinity, consisting of the Futher, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? This, Sir, is the language of your Litany only. The Bible used in our conventicles contains no such barbarous jargon.
I would also recommend to your perusal another pamphlet of mine, called An Appeal to the serious and candid Professors of Christianity,* of which more than ten thousand have been sold for a penny each; and of this I have lately published a new edition, and have annexed to it the remarkable Trial of Mr. Elwall, of Wolverhampton, in this neighbourhood, for his publications in defence of the Socinian doctrine.t These small publications of mine have, I trust, done much good, though you will call it much mischief, in this country ; and I rejoice in perceiving the increase of this good, or this mischief every day; and I have no doubt of the successful spread of religious truth by means of these publications, notwithstanding all you can do to counteract them, as you boast, by means of the Monthly Review.
IV. In one thing I am glad to find that you' and I entertain the same opinion, which is, that there is no inediuin between admitting the simple humanity of Christ, and, that he is properly God. - Having once admitted,” you say, “ his pre-existence in an exalted state, I saw the necessity of placing bim at the head of the creation. Being thus convinced that our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the maker of all things, I found that I could not rest satisfied with the notion of a maker of the universe, not God. I saw that all the extravagancies of the Gnostics hung upon that one principle, and I could have little opinion of the truth of a principle which seemed so big with mischief.”
You also observe, very justly, “ Can any power or wisdom, less than the supreme, be a 'sufficient ground for the trust we are 'required to place in Providence ? Make the
• Vol. II. pp. 383–404.
+ See ibid. pp. 417–429. | Letters, p. 162. (P.) Tracts, pp. 280, 281. VOL. XVIII.
wisdom and the power of our ruler what you please, still, upon the Arian principle, it is the wisdom and the power of a creature. Where, then, will be the certainty that the evil which we find in the world has not crept in through some imperfection in the original contrivance, or in the present management; since every intellect below the first, may be liable to error, and any power short of the supreme, may be inadequate to purposes of a certain magnitude? But if evil may have thus crept in, what assurance can we have that it will ever be extirpated ?"*
But if there be no proper medium between the Athana. sian and the Socinian scheme, which I readily admit, I also maintain that there is no medium at all between the Socinian doctrine and an absolute contradiction, for such Athanasian. żsm is ; so that there is no resource but in the Socinian doctrine, oppose it as much as you will.
I am, &c.
Of Prayer to Christ. Rev. Sir, Having got three persons, all of them possessed of all divine perfections, all of them having intercourse with mankind, and consequently all of them naturally objects of prayer, I do not wonder that you appear to be a little embarrased in your ideas of what is proper to be done with respect to each of them, individually considered. - That the Father," you say, " is a proper object of prayer, God forbid that ever I should not acknowledge. That he is the proper object, in the sense in which you seem to make the assertion, in prejudice and exclusion of the other persons, God forbid that ever I should concede. I deny not that there is an honour personally due to him as the Father. There is also an honour personally due to the Son, as the Son, and to the Spirit, as the Spirit. But our knowledge of the personal distinctions is so obscure, in comparison of our apprehension of the general attributes of the Godhead, that it should seem that the divinity (the to Delov) is rather to be generally worshipped in the three persons jointly and indifferently, than that any distinct honours are to be offered to each separately. Prayer,
• Letters, p. 137. (P.) Tracts, pp. 248, 249.