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must, therefore, require the most express evidence from the Scriptures, to prove from them the truth of a doctrine unsupported by any appearance in nature, and that was not discovered to be contained in the Scriptures of the Old or New Testament, till three hundred years after Christ.
Another part of the ancient Arian hypothesis, viz. that of Christ having been the person by whom the Supreme God had intercourse with the Patriarchs, you disclaim; justly thinking it to be expressly contradicted in the first verse of the epistle to the Hebrews. But the separation of two such old and intimate friends, as this opinion and that of Christ having made the world, is, I think, not a little hazardous with respect to them both. And surely it might naturally be expected, that if Christ be that Being who made the world, who, of course, supported it by his power, and who at length became incarnate in it, and died for it, he would be the proper medium of all the divine intercourse with it. Can it be supposed that the Maker of men had nothing to do with them from their creation to the time of their redemption?
You also reject another part of the ancient Arian hypothesis concerning Christ, viz. that he is the proper object of prayer. And yet it is so natural that the Maker and Preserver of men, and of the world, should be the object of prayer, that, in my opinion, nothing could have prevented the practice, but some very express prohibition to worship him, which we no where find in the Scriptures. It is only the idea of Christ not being present with us, together with its not being in his power to help us, that can make him, or any other being, not to be the proper object of prayer to us. For there cannot be any thing unreasonable in our asking of any being a favour which it is in his power to grant, provided he be accessible to us.
You say of the Father, "There is no other being concerning whom we have sufficient reason to think that he is continually present with us, and a witness to all our thoughts and desires. There is, therefore, no other being to whom our prayers ought to be directed."+ But surely the Being who made, and who preserves us, he in whom all things consist, whether he be finite or infinite, must always be present with us, and must have it in his power to grant all the petitions that we ever address to God.
It is simply under the character of God being the Lord
• See supra, pp. 343, 344.
+ Sermons, p. 97. (P.)
our Maker, that the Scriptures teach us to worship and bow down before him. Whatever being, therefore, comes under the description of the Lord our Maker, we are authorized to worship and bow down to him; and as, according to you, Christ is that Being, you must be abundantly justified in making him the object of your prayers. To be the Lord our Maker, and the object of prayer, are so naturally and necessarily connected, that if, by any argument whatever, it can be proved that Christ is either not the one, or not the other, it must follow that he cannot be either of them.
Moreover, all the ancient Arians allowed Christ the appellation of God, and indeed you do the same, when you apply to him what is said of the Logos in the introduction to the gospel of John; for that Logos is expressly said to be God, and has the attributes of the God described by Moses, viz. the maker of all things that are made. It is, therefore, no such God as Moses himself is called with respect to Pharoah, or as any magistrate may be called. You make him to be a God both in name and in power. It appears to me, therefore, not a little extraordinary, that you should claim the title of, Unitarians, when all that you can with propriety say is, that, though you acknowledge two Gods, one of them only is the object of prayer, and to be worshipped, and the other, though your maker, and constant preserver, yet, for some unknown reason, is not the object of prayer, or to be worshipped.
Your definition of the word Unitarian, appears to me to be quite arbitrary, and unnecessarily complex. "By Unitarians," you say, "I mean those Christians who believe there is but one God, and one object of religious worship; and that this one God is the Father only, and not a Trinity, consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. An Unitarian, therefore," you add, may, or may not, be a believer in Christ's pre-existence."*
But I should think that the only natural and simple definition of an Unitarian should be, a believer in one God, or one person, properly entitled to the appellation of God, whether he was an object of religious worship, or not; which is another and independent circumstance. person not concerned in this controversy were asked to give his opinion, I should imagine that, if he made any addition to this definition, he, would say, that an Unitarian was a believer in one God, or one Being concerned in the creation
* Sermons, p. 69, Note. (P.).
and care of the world. And even this is rising higher in the definition of the powers of Godhead than the ancient Heathens, who were properly and professedly Polytheists, ever did.
You say, that" an Unitarian may, or may not, be a believer in Christ's pre-existence," and very justly, if you mean that he pre-existed as an angel or arch-angel, and if you can assign him any department similar to theirs. But I really cannot help considering Arians as believing in two Gods, while they hold that Christ, though a created being himself, had for his department the formation of this world, the adjustment of all the laws to which it is subject, and of course the constant care and government of the whole, supporting it by the word of his power. And, that the great Being to whom this description belongs should not be the object of prayer is to me incomprehensible. If I thought there really was any such derived Being, always present with me, who planned all the events of my life, and whose power continually supported me, I could hardly resist the impulse to pray to him.
Lastly, if according to your definition, the one God must be the Father only, and they are not Unitarians who do not make him the sole object of religious worship, how will you class the Moravians, who address no prayers to him, but to the Son only? Will you say that they are worshippers of no God at all? They might even become Arians, and continue their practice of praying to Christ only. All the ancient Arians prayed to him.
I am, &c.
Of the Proof from the Scriptures of the Creation of the World by Christ.
O DEAR FRIEND,75
SURELY such an hypothesis as yours, viz. that of a great pre-existent created Being, the creator of this world, with all its connexions and dependencies, and yet not the object of prayer; a Being which, it must be acknowledged, no appearance in nature would ever have suggested to us, of which we have no account in any part of the Old Testament, (though we are there informed concerning the creation of all
things,) an hypothesis which was unknown to all Christians, learned and unlearned, till the time of Arius, requires some very satisfactory evidence; and if all the proofs be from scripture, those proofs ought to be very numerous as well as very clear. You ought also to be able to give some good reason why the Scriptures were not understood to teach this extraordinary doctrine for so many centuries, by those who must have been the best acquainted with the language in which they are written.
Now there are not, in reality, more than two passages, in which Christ is, in any sense, said to have created any thing, and these are not in any historical work, but only incidental expressions in the epistles of Paul, viz. Eph. iii. 9, “Who created all things by Jesus Christ," and, Col. i. 16—20, "By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth; visible and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist; and he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."†
As to the introduction to the gospel of John, it is not there said that any thing was made by Christ, but only by the Logos, which we maintain to be the word or power of God, which, as it were, resided in Christ, to which he ascribed all the miracles that he wrought, and which there can be no doubt did make all things. In Heb. i. 2, it is not said that the worlds, but that the ages were made by Christ ;+ so that something must be meant by the phrase, very different from proper creation.
Without entering into a large examination of the two passages above-mentioned, in which creation, in some sense or other, is ascribed to Christ, I would only observe, that neither the earth, nor the sun, moon, or stars, nor any material substance, is specified among the things created by him. In the former it is all things, in general, which is quite indefinite; and in the latter, in which the things
• See Vol. XIV. p. 272.
+ See ibid. pp. 326, 327.
created by him are enumerated, we only find thrones, dominions, &c., by the creation of which may be intended some exercise of that power and authority which was given to Christ after his resurrection.
That this was the whole meaning of the apostle is pretty evident from two circumstances; first, that this enumeration of things created by him, and consisting in him, closes with the mention of his being the head of the body, the church, as if that was intended to comprehend' all the preceding particulars. Secondly, as in the former part of the passage, all things that are in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, are said to be created by Christ, in the latter part of it all things in heaven and in earth, are said to be reconciled by him; so that those two expressions created and reconciled, may well be supposed to be synonymous to each other, and to be descriptive of the new creation or renovation of the world by Christianity. And this is the more probable, from the apostle's enlarging on this idea in the verses immediately following those quoted above:"And you that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your minds, by wicked works, yet now he hath reconciled," &c. or bakter
Had the term creation never been applied in the Scriptures to any thing but the creation of material things, there would have been some plausibility in your argument from these two texts; but you know it is very usual with the sacred writers to describe the renovation of things by this term, and especially that great and happy change in the system of human affairs which was brought about by the gospel. This use of the term creation in the New Testament, seems to have been borrowed from the same use of it in the Old, and especially in Is, lxv. 17, 18: For, behold I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad, and rejoice for ever in that which I create. For, behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." In this figurative language, it is evident, that the prophet describes the new and happy state of things which is to take place in the latter days, when the Jews will be restored to their own country, and Jerusalem, here said to be created, will be rebuilt with great splendour.‡
There are a variety of passages in which the term creation is evidently used in this secondary sense in the New
* See, on Col. i. 20-23, Vol. XIV. p. 327.
+ See Bishop Lowth's translation, Vol. XII. p. 422.