« PrécédentContinuer »
ter, three distinctions, which he does not understand and cannot tell wherein they consist. To this there cau be no objection except that it means nothing, and there is no good reason why we should not say, there are thirty distinctions, or three hundred as well as three.
The rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity proceeds from no afrogance in our trust in the human understanding. On the contrary, it is, perhaps true, that we rate its powers lower than our opponents. But then we measure its duties, so to speak, by its powers. We think it important to discriminate clearly the boundary line of human intellect-to do all that can be done within the allowed limits--and reverently to stop where we have reached the bound of which the Creator who erected it has said, “ this you shall not pass--you shall go no further.” We do not call words knowledge, nor conjectures, religion. In all the revelations of God to man, and especially in the Holy Scriptures, he has clearly expressed that which He would have clearly understood. He has condescended to use human language, and to adapt his instructions to the human understanding. If it were not so, it would not be REVELATION.
EXTRACTS RELATIVE TO SIR ISAAC NEWTON'S THEOLO
Hopton HAYNES, Esq. was the King's Assay-Master to the Mint, during the period that Sir Isaac Newton filled the office of Master of the Mint; and as there must have been continual intercourse between these two persons, it could hardly be but their conversation would sometimes touch upon religious topics; especially as both of them dedicated much of their time to the reading of the Bible, and were sincere in their belief of Divine Revelation, whilst each took the liberty of judging for himself, and, in many things, differed widely from the doctrines established by the civil power.* This presumption of an amicable correspondence between two such persons, so many years together in the same office, is only mentioned as tending to corroborate the following facts, and testimony of Mr Haynes, that the sentiments of Sir Isaac Newton did not differ from his own, in what concerned the divine unity and the person of Christ.
* lo proof of this assertion, so far as regards Hopton Haynes, see his "Scripture Account of the Attributes and Worship of God, and of the Character and offices of Jesus Christ," including the preface
“ Newton was thoroughly persuaded of the truth of Revelation; and, amidst the great variety of books which he had constantly before him, that which he studied with the greatest application was the Bible.”
Gen, Dict. Art. Newton.
“1. The Rev. Richard Baron, a person of great probity and public spirit, known by many valuable publications, observes,* “Mr. Haynes was the most zealous Unitarian I ever knew ; and, in a conversation with him on that subject, he told me that • Sir Isaac Newton did not believe our Lord's
exists ence, being a Socinian, as we call it, in that article ; and that Sir Isaac much lamented Dr. Samuel Clarke's embracing Arianism, which opinion he feared had been, and still would be, if maintained by learned men, a great obstruction to the progress of Christianity.'
“No man had searched the Scriptures more than Sir Isaac Newton, or understood them better; and if men will set up names for authorities in this matter, we have the greatest name on our side.-Not that it is of any moment, what the greatest and wisest men may think, but what the Scriptures bold forth on all points ; though it is a satisfaction, in matters of consequence, to have the suffrage of such persons.”+
The only objection that I remember to have seen any where made to this evidence, is derived from “ Mr. Haynes' being a most zealous Unitarian," as if this should have led him to imagine and assert, with respect to Newton's opinions, what was not strictly true. To this insidious and chimerical allegation, we may oppose the facts, that Haynes had the best of all opportunities, during a constant intercourse of thirty years, for knowing what Newton's opinions were; that, from the similarity of their pursuits, it is scarcely conceivable that the contrary could have been the case ; that the minute accuracy with which Haynes formed his own opinions, and the precision with which he defends them in his “ Scripture Account," would preserve him from the error into which persons not much conversant in theological distinctions are apt to fall; and that his unsullied integrity, to which his long continuance in an office, of great responsibility in the State, bears ample testimony, affords sufficient evidence that if he had had any inducement to falsify, he would still have adhered to the truth. Although, therefore, there were no farther proof of Sir Isaac Newton's Unitarianism, than the single passage already quoted, it would
* In the Preface to a collection of curious Tracts, entitled, " a Cordial for Low Spirits," vol. I p. 18, note, 3d edit. 1763.
† Preface to the 2d edit of Haynes' “ Scripture Account."-See also,, a quotation of this evidence, in Lindsey's Sequel to bis Apology, p. 19.
be similar in kind to that which is urged by Dr. Paley, and even by Dr. Chalmers himself, for the credibility of the facts and discourses of the gospel history, namely the evidence of honest and respectable men, of unimpeachable veracity, who were so well circumstanced for the reception of evidence, that they could not be deceived themselves; and who, from every thing that appears, could bave had no inducement to impose upon others.
2. Sir Isaac Newton, in a Note to the 11th chapter of his work on Prophecies, entitled, “Of the Times of the Birth and Death of Christ,” speaks of Christ being "endued with a nobler prophetic spirit than the rest,” meaning the former prophets.
3. Among the theological writings of this great man, we possess what is called “ A Historical Account of two remarkable Corruptions of the New Testament, 1 John v. 7. 1 Tim. iii. 16.”—The evidence for the spuriousness of the former passage, and for the correction of the latter, is placed in a very striking light. In this work, Newton thus speaks; Cyprian " does not say the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, as it is in 1 John v. 7. but the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as it is in Baptism, the place from which they at first TRIED to deride the Trinity.”
4. P. 528.-“ Jesus was the Son of God, as well by his resurrection from the dead, (Acts xiii. 33,) as by his supernatural birth of the Virgin.” Luke i. 35.-Had Newton been a Trinitarian, would he have given this definition of the Scripture phrase, “Son of God ?"
5. P. 529.—Having spoken of the impossibility of reconciling the two sets of witnesses, 1 John v. 8, Newton says, “ Let them make good sense of it who are able. If it be said that we are not to determine what is Scripture, and what not, by our own private judgments, I confess it in places not controverted. But in disputable points, I love to take up with what I can best understand. It is the temper of the hot and superstitious part of mankind, in matters of religion, to be fond of mysteries ; and, for that reason, to like best what they understand least. Such men use the Apostle John as they please; but I have that honour for him, as to believe that he wrote good sense, and therefore take that sense to be his which is the best, especially since I am defended in it by so great authority :" viz. the evidence for the spuriousness of 1 John v. 7.
6. Speaking of the Apocalypse, Newton says, “ As the few and obscure prophecies concerning Christ's first coming, were for the setting up of the Christian religion, which all nations New Series
- vol. III.
have since corrupted, so the many and clear prophecies concerning the things to be done at Christ's second coming, are not only for predicting, but also for effecting a recovery of the long-lost truth."
7. "Newton and Locke were esteemed Socinians, Lardner was an avowed one.”—Bishop Watson, Theol. Tracts, Pref.
8. “ He (Newton) not only showed a great and constant regard to religion in general, as well by an exemplary life, as in all his writings, but was also a firm believer in Revealed Religion, as appears from many papers which he left behind him on this subject. But his notion of the Christian religion was not founded on a narrow bottom, nor his charity and morality so scanty, as to show coldness towards those who thought otherwise than he did, in matters indifferent, much less to admit of persecution, of which he always expressed the strongest abhorrence and detestation,”—(Note) “I have heard it affirmed by some of the self-constituted Philosophers of the present day, that Sir Isaac Newton believed the Christian Religion, merely because he was born in a Christian country ;. that he never examined it; and that he left behind him, a cart-load of papers on religious subjects, which Dr. Horsley examined, and declared unfit for publication. These gentlemen do not perceive that their assertions are inconsistent with each other, No body who has ever read a page of Newton's works, would believe that he could write a cart-load of papers on a subject which he never examined. Newton's religious opinions were not orthodox. For example, he did not believe in the Trinity, This gives us the reason why Horsley, the champion of the Trinity, found Newton's papers unfit for publication. But it is much to be regretted, that they have never seen the light."THOMSON's Hist. of the Royal Society, p. 283, 284.-Annals of Philosophy, vol. II. p. 322.*
THE CHRISTIAN'S PRAYER AGAINST TEMPTATION.
We live in a world that is perpetually exposing us to temptation. When we look abroad, and observe the various snares, that surround us in the alluring objects, in the artful solicitations, the corrupt examples and habits of the world, when we turn our eyes within, and mark our fond attachments, our earth
* For this article we are indebted to the notes of a Letter to Dr. Chalmers, by Benjamin Mardon, Minister of the Unitarian Church, Glasgow.
ly passions, and our treacherous purposes ; and when we reflect how many, whose virtue seemed fair and promising, nay, even firmly established, have miserably fallen ; to the triumph of the worldly, to the grief and mortification of the friends of virtue, and to the ruin of their own souls; we have all reason to pray, “ Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
We cannot indeed ask to be delivered from the ordinary trials and difficulties of life. These are inseparable from our state of probation. They are appointed of God as exercises of our virtue, for the improvement of character; and such is the very condition of human existence, that we must give up life itself, if we would be exempted. All the frowns of Providence, every pain, affliction and disappointment are in the nature of temptations, or trials. Neither can we hope to escape entirely from those affections and passions, which grow out of our mixed nature, and more immediately solicit to sin. As long as we are in the body, our state is a warfare, and the distinguishing characteristic of the Christian is, that he subjects the senses to his soul, and denies himself in all ungodliness. Neither in offering to God such a petition, are we to admit the thought, that He tempts his children to sin, either by infusing evil passions into their hearts, by inclining them to transgress, or by placing them in situations where transgression is inevitable. For this would be entertaining the most unworthy views of the character of Him, whose delight is in goodness, and who designs by every blessing he bestows, and every trial he appoints, to make his children partakers of his own holiness. On the contrary, the petition implies the most just and filial conceptions of God, as our moral governor, and humble views of ourselves, as beset by dangers and liable to fall. This
sentiment is essential to our vigilance and circumspection. For do we say too much, when we assert, that we are exposed to temptations on every side ? Our natural tempers, in the vast variety, in which they appear, whether gay or gloomy, timid or daring, worldly, suspicious, or irritable ; our period of life, whether exposing to the excesses of youth, to the selfish schemes, or ambitious and calculating spirit of manhood, or to the petulance of old age; our daily employments and cares; our disappointments, or our success ; our affluence or our straits ; our friends or our enemies; our ignorance or our knowledge ; and even our religion, or more properly, our abuses and mistakes concerning it, may all in their turn become our tempters. So that occasions for vigilance and prayer must be continually occurring; and the subjects of our requests will be, that we may maintain such a regulated state of our affections and desires, as