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may best prepare us to meet temptation ; that we may be preserved by Him, who appoints the circumstances of our lives, from such outward situations as may prove fatal to our virtue, and that we may have the kindly succours of that spirit, which is able to keep from falling, to strengthen the feeble, and to restore the penitent.
A well regulated state of the affections and passions, a chastened regard for the objects of the world, is one of the most effectual securities against temptation. When the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and acts as the pervading principle of the life ; when we are accustomed to look with the eye of faith upon the objects most tempting to the worldly mind; regarding wealth only as a means, which may prove a blessing or a curse, according as it is employed; pleasures, as at best but transient good, fleeting as the visions of the night, and leaving no profit behind; honours, as the short-lived distinctions, which an hour may destroy, or which at best will be soon levelled in the grave; when in fine the heart is there firmly fixed, where only true joys can be found, and has attained that spiritual-mindedness, which while it gives inward life and peace, inspires a generous superiority to the vanities of the present world, temptations from without will lose their power.
We are also permitted to pray, that we may be preserved fronı such outward situations as may prove fatal to our virtue. Much, it is to be feared, of what passes in the world for moral goodness, depends on the external circumstances in which we are placed. There is a great difference in the pursuits and conditions of men, as influencing character; and many, who have passed through life without reproach, have much more reason to thank God for casting the lines for them in safe and pleasant places, and thus “ keeping them from the evil,” than to rejoice in any virtue of their own; while others, doubtless, who have miserably fallen amidst the snares, which have beset their path, might in more favorable situations have preserved their integrity. “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this?” was the question of Hazael, before he had been exposed to the temptations of royalty, and the only answer returned to him by the Prophet, whose predictions, incredible as they seemed, were faithfully fulfilled, was, “ The Lord hath showed me, that thou shalt be King over Syria." Had David been possessed of less influence and power, he might not have been betrayed to the commission of his aggravated crime. Had Peter not ventured into the palace of the High Priest, where his presumption exposed him to suspicion, he might not have denied his Lord. And how many have been betrayed, in situations of responsibility and
credit, which they have imprudently sought, to make shipwreck of their faith, and of a good conscience. The thought suggests caution, humility, charity, and prayer. It cautions us to beware of that ambition, which in tempting us to a dangerous height, may prove only our more distinguished ruin. It teaches us not to be proud of any virtue, which after all may have been safe only because it has not been assailed; to be candid in our judgments of those, who have fallen before strong temptations, considering ourselves, lest we also be tempted, and reflecting that had the same trials been permitted to us, we might have sunk still lower; and fervently to pray, that God would order our steps and the circumstances of our lives in mercy, that our daily employments and even our privileges may not become our snares.
We are called indeed to fulfil every duty of our proper station with cheerfulness, however arduous; remembering for our encouragement, that as is the trial of our virtue, so is its reward. Yet a just sense of our dangers and of our weakness will frequently suggest the spirit of the petition of Agar, that we may be delivered on the one hand from overflowing prosperity, lest it should make us self-confident, and our hearts be overcharged with worldly cares; and on the other from overwhelming calamity, lest we sink under the burden and murmur against God.
Sucb petitions should form a part of our daily devotions : every morning, before we renew our intercourse with a tempting world, and every evening, when the shades of night dispose to thought, or fancy and solitude become our tempters, should witness our humble prayer. But there are particular occasions, when the pressure of sorrow or the imminence of danger should especially prompt it. When in the busy commerce of the world, or in the hours of relaxation and festivity we may be en. tering upon scenes of more than usual trial; when interest assails our integrity, or pleasure with its allurements would draw us from the paths of purity and peace; when in any way we are called to combat with our besetting sin; then it becomes us to put on the whole armour of God, and to supplicate the might of his spirit, that we may be able to stand in the evil day. When called to situations of responsibility, and the god of this world would tempt us with the mammon of unrighteousness, then we must resolve, and unite our prayers with the resolution, that we will despise the gain of oppression, that our righteousness we will hold fast and not let it go, that our hearts shall not reproach us so long as we live. When sore afflictions press upon the spirit; when the sources of earthly dependance seem closed upon us, and poverty threatens our dwelling, or the friend of our heart is taken, and the satisfactions of friendship turned to the bitterness of bereavement, then we must strengthen ourselves in God; we must dismiss the murmuring, the rebellious thought, we must cherish filial views of his providence, and find our highest pleasures in submitting ourselves to his will.
It is obvious, that to make our prayers against temptation effectual, we must unite with them habitual vigilance and circumspection. We must watch against the deceitfulness of our own hearts, and the first risings of rebellious passion; against the winning influence of example, the corrupting maxims of the world, and especially against that common fallacy of reason, which would ensnare us to sin under the semblance of virtue, putting darkness for light and light for darkness.
Still further, we must be sincere in our desires, and faithful to our prayers. There is scarce any form of self-deception more dangerous, than that of continuing to pray from mere babit, or from the miserable substitution of profession for practice, for what we really do not desire should be granted. It is to be feared, that we sometimes profess sorrow for the sin, which we fondly love, and ask to be delivered from temptations, which we willingly seek. But surely this is to mock God with the prayers of the hypocrite, and to insult the majesty of Heaven by heartless, hollow wishes. If we are faithful to our own petitions, we shall industriously employ all the means, with which we are pos. sessed, of weakening the power of temptation, and establishing the dominion of virtue. We shall avoid the scenes, the occasions, the company, that may hitherto have proved our snares, remembering how few can look temptation in the face, and that the virtue of most is secure only in flight. If with such earnestness, vigilance and humility we watch and pray, we may be confident, that God will not leave us to any trials, too great for us to sustain, but with every temptation will make a way for our escape.
THERE are no other texts in the gospels, than the two on which we have already offered some remarks, John, i. 1. & XX. 28. which are brought forward as applying the appellation GOD to Christ. Now we ask the trinitarian if it be conceivable, if it be within the compass of any rational belief, that of the four individuals who wrote the history of our Saviour's ministry, only one should have given him the title which was his due, and that he should have done it in so vague and indefinite a manner. We ask, why the apostles, if they knew Jesus Cbrist to be Jehovah, did not always speak and write of him as such. If they knew that he, whom they called their master, was the incarnate Deity, why is it that they speak of him, as they almost uniformly do, as of a man, without any intimation of a higher nature? He certainly was not a man only, and is it to be supposed that it was because they conceived his human nature the most important part of his constitution, that they wrote and spoke of it or implied it with so much greater frequency than his divine?. It certainly has not been soʻregarded in succeeding ages, and we would fain be informed, why the divinity of our Lord has been insisted on as the most important doctrine of the gospel from the third century down to the nineteenth, while three of the four evangelists thought it of so little consequence that they have not once mentioned it? A trinitarian preacher of the present day would regard himself as greatly failing in duty, as shunning to declare the counsel of God, were he to omit all direct mention of the glorious union of three persons in one substance, and of the two natures in one person. How can the apostle escape from a similar judgment? The old trinitarian fathers met the difficulty, by saying, that the world was not ripe for such a mystery. A modern trinitarian, however, would think that to be a very inadequate reason for omitting to teach what he believes to be the truth; and we cannot but regard every one of the many laboured arguments to prove the doctrine of the Trinity, as a direct reproach upon the apostles, for leaving this great doctrine of the gospel in so much obscurity, and passing it over with so much neglect.
But we shall be told that it is not important that the assertions or implications of the apostles should be repeated or dwelt upon; it is enough if they once imply or assert any truth, and that in the Epistles we shall find the divinity of Jesus Christ expressly declared. We propose to examine into the testimony of the Epistles on this point, but we must first offer a remark on the other assertion. Upon opening the Testament, we find many repetitions and reiterations of what we consider the important doctrines of the gospel, such as the character of God, the duties of man, a future life, and the rewards or punishments which will hereafter be dispensed to every one. So too on the subjects which were matters of dispute in the days of the apostles, such as the obligation of converted gentiles to submit to the requisitions of the Mosaic law, we fiud repeated arguments and reasonings. To the assertion we have mentioned, then, we oppose the obvious fact, that the apostles themselves did not consider it sufficient once to imply, or simply to assert, the truth upon a subject of peculiar importance, or on a point of controversy. The doctrine of the Trinity was doubtless a subject of peculiar importance, if true; and that it would have been a point of controversy, had it been generally and explicitly taught, we suppose will not be denied. The trinitarian, then, is called upon to explain this silence, and this apparent indifference of the apostles to an important and novel doctrine. We do not mean to imply a doubt of what is once explicitly asserted by the apostles, but we do mean to affirm, that if what are supposed to be statements, or implications of the doctrine of the Trinity, be infrequent in the New Testament, this fact alone affords a strong presumption that the passages have been misunderstood, and that in reality the doctrine is neither expressed nor implied.
One of the texts adduced by those who maintain the divinity of our Lord, and one which is thought to be among the clearest proofs of it, is Rom. ix. 5. " Whose are the Fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” This text, by a slight change in the pointing of the original, admits of a very different, and to us, very simple and satisfactory rendering. We should translate it-"Whose were the Fathers, and of whom was Christ, according to the flesh; he, who was over all, was God, blessed for ever."* We are not aware that we are laying ourselves open to the old charge of perversion of Scripture by this rendering; we think any scholar will see at once, upon opening his Testament, that the verse may with perfect propriety be 80 translated ; and it seems to us that the fact, that this text is not quoted or referred to by the early orthodox fathers, considering the controversies on which it must bave had so important a bearing, if understood as it is by modern trinitarians, can be accounted for only by the supposition that they explained it in some similar manner to that which we propose.
1 John v. 20. “ And we know that the son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” It is
* εξ ών ο Χριστος το κατα σαρκα: ο ων επι παντων, Θεος ευλογητος εις τους αιωνας. See Cbrist. Disc. Vol. I. pp. 419, 420.