Images de page
PDF
ePub

divine government, divine honour; in human governments, human honour. And for this reason also, when Christ was about to be introduced into the future world, it was said, “Let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. i. 6); which honour certainly is no other than divine. But if the angels, as they adore God, ought to adore Christ also, as a Lord given to them by God-how much more ought men to do this, to whom he is with peculiar propriety given as a Lord, and to whom alone he is given for a Saviour!

• But how do you show that we may in our necessities address our prayers to the Lord Jesus ?

•First, from this consideration, that he is both able and willing to afford us assistance ; and understands our prayers. Secondly, because we have exhortations to this duty given us by the Lord himself and by his Apostles. · And lastly, because examples of this practice may be seen in holy men,' pp. 190–191. After stating these grounds more at large, they proceed :

I perceive that we may address our prayers to the Lord Jesus :--state now what the reasons are which impel us to do this freely?

. These you may have understood from the preceding declarations: for all that has hitherto been said concerning the invocation of Christ incites us to pray to him; but chiefly his most tender and benevolent affection towards us, and that union of nature, which leads us to venture with a somewhat greater confidence to approach him, whose condition of life was at one time the same as our own : while, on the contrary, the sublimity of the nature of the supreme God, which is at all times most distantly removed from ours, may in a manner overawe our humility. And this was the very reason why God committed to the man Christ the charge of our salvation—that he might thus succour our weakness, and excite and maintain our confidence.

• Is not the first commandment of the decalogue altogether changed by this addition ;--that we are bouud to acknowledge Christ as God, in the stated sense, and to approach him with divide worship?

• That commandment is in no respect changed; for it only requires that we have no other Gods before God. But Christ is not another God, since God has communicated to him of his divine and celestial majesty, and has so far made him one and the same with himself. Nor bas God by this commandment deprived himself of the power of conducting his Christ to celestial authority, and by this means exteoding his own glory; but only bound us down, by his law, that we presume not, of our own accord, to join any one with himself in divine worship and honour. The command, therefore, to have and worship but one God only, remains in force; the mode, alone, of worshipping him is changed, in so far as that the only God was formerly worshipped without Christ, but is now worshipped through Christ.' Pp: 194, 195.

Is there any difference between the honour of God and the honour of Christ?

"There is this disference, that we adore and worship God as the first cause of our salvation, but Christ as the seconil. We direct this honour to God, moreover, as to the ultimate object; but to Christ as an intermediate object: or, to speak with Paul (1 Cor. viii. 6), we worship God as him from whom are all things, and we in him ;" that is, are in him while we direct all our religious service to him ;-but Christ, as him " by whom are all things and we by him :" that is, are by him, while we direct our religious service and worship to God by him.

• What think you of those persons who believe that Christ is not to be invoked or adored ?

Since they alone are Christians who acknowledge Jesus to be the Christ, or the heavenly king of the people of God, and who, moreover, worship him on a religious ground, and do not hesitate to invoke his name ; on which account, we have already seen that Christians are designated as those who called on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, -it is easily perceived that they who are disinclined to do this, are so far not Christians; although in other respects they confess the name of Christ, and declare that they adhere to his doctrine.' pp. 196, 197.

All the modern unitarians, of whom we have any knowledge, concur in rejecting this system of subordinate worship. It is certainly very strange, then, that they should be represented as belonging to a church, whose principles exclude them from her communion, and even deny to them the christian name. The views, generally entertained on this subject by the unitarians in England and this country, are well expressed by the venerable Lindsey :

-Love, honour, reverence, duty, confidence, gratitude, and obedience are, and will be certainly for ever, due from us of mankind to the Lord Jesus for his immense love to us, and on account of his perfect holiness, excellency, power, dignity and dominion; but religious worship is the incommunicable honour and prerogative of GOD ALONE.'

There is another singular feature of Socinianism, relating to the manner, in which Jesus acquired his knowledge of the Divine will, that entirely distinguishes it from modern unitarianism. The Socinians believed in the literal ascent of Christ into heaven after his baptism, and before he commenced his public ministry ; where they suppose him to have received his instructions, and to have been qualified for his high office as Mediator. They thus state the doctrine and its authorities.

By what means did the Lord Jesus himself acquire his knowledge of the divine Will?

[ocr errors]

By ascending into heaven, where he beheld bis Father, and that life and bappiness which he was to announce to us ; where also he heard from the Father all those things which it would behoove him to teach. Being afterwards sent by him from heaven to the earth, he was most largely endowed with the Holy Spirit, through whose inspiration he proclaimed what he had learnt from the Father. . By what testimonies of Scripture do you prove these things?

That Christ ascended into heaven, he himself testifies, John iii. 13, where he thus speaks : “No man bath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven." And that he saw his Father he testifies in the same Gospel, chap. vi. 46, where he states, “ Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, be hath seen the Father." That he beheld the life and happiness wbich he announced to us, is evident both from what he himself declares (John iii. 11), that he testified what he had seen ; and also from what John the Baptist asserts concerning him in the same chapter (ver. 31, 32), where he observes, “ He that cometh from above is above all," " What be hath seed and heard, that he testifieth” That he heard and learnt from the Father what he was to teach to others, appears partly from the passage just cited, and partly from what Christ declares, John viii. 26, “ I speak to the world those things which I have heard of himn :” and (ver. 28), “ As my Father bath taught me I speak these things." With which agrees ver. 38, " I speak that whicb I have seen with my Father:" and also, what he states chap. xii. 49, 50, “I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, be gave me commandment, what I should say, and what I should

“ Whatsoever I speak, therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” Whence likewise it is, that he says, his doctrine and word are not his, but the Father's who sent him. That he had descended from heaven, or come forth from the Father, is ioti. mated in some of those very passages which I have just quoted ; namely, Joho iii. 13 and 31: to which may be added John vi. 38, "I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me :" and chap. xvi 28, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world."",

pp. 170-172. It is hardly necessary to say, that modern unitarians regard the doctrine above defended as visionary and extravagant in the extreme. Some consider the passages adduced to support it as referring to our Lord's pre-existence, and some interpret them as figurative expressions, but none draw from them the conclusions which the Socinians did.

The views entertained by the Socinians respecting the efficacy of Christ's death in the salvation of sinners were also in some respects peculiar. Take the answers to the following questions.

But did not Christ die also, in order, properly speaking, to purchase our salvation, and literally to pay the debt of our sins ?

speak.”

Although Christians at this time commonly so believe, yet this notion is false, erroneous, and exceedingly pernicious ; since they conceive that Christ suffered an equivalent punishment for our sins, and by the price of his obedience exactly compensated our disobe. dience. There is no doubt, however, but that Christ so satisfied God by his obedience, as that he completely fulfilled the whole of his will, and by his obedience obtained, through the grace of God, for all of us who believe in him, the remission of our sins, and eternal salvation.' pp. 303, 304.

• But what do you conceive to be the meaning of the declaration,--that Christ has redeemed us and given himself a ransom for us?

• The term REDEMPTION, in most passages of Scripture, means simply LIBERATION ; but by a more extended figure, it is put for that liberation for effecting which a certain price is paid. And it is said of the death of Christ, that he has liberated us by it, because bý means of it we have obtained our freedom both from our sins them. selves, that we no longer serve them ; and also from the punishment of them, that being snatched from the jaws of eternał death we may live for ever.

• But why is this deliverance expressed by the term redemption ?

• Because there is a very great similarity between our deliverance and a redemption properly so called. For as in a proper redemption there must be a captive, the person who detains the captive, the redeemer, and lastly, the ransom, or price of the redemption ; so also in our deliverance, if we speak of our sins themselves, man is the captive-they who detain him are sin, the world, the devil, and death : the redeemer of the captive are God and Christ; and the ransom, or price of the redemption, is Christ, or his soul paid by God and by Christ himself. The only difference lies here, that in this deliverance of us from our sins themselves, no one receives any thing under the name of ransom, which must always happen in a redemption properly so called. But if we speak of our deliverance from the punishment of our sins, we owe this to God, Christ having delivered us from it when, in compliance with the will of God, he gave himself up to death for us, and through his own blood entered into the heavenly place: which obedience of his son unto death, and the death of the cross, God accepted as an offering of all the most agreeable to him. But this is not to be understood, nevertheless, as importing that God, literally speaking, had received the full payment of our debts ; since Christ was a victim of his own, provided by himself, as was also the case in the yearly sacritice (the type of the sacrifice of Christ); and owed every thing to God through himself, and in bis own name ; and although his obedience was the highest and most perfect of any, yet be received an omparably greater reward for it. Wherefore this ought to be ascribed New Series-vol. III.

57

to the unbounded grace and bounty of God; because be pot only did not receive any part of what we owed to him, and because be not only forgave us all our debts; but also because he gave a victim of his own, and that his only-begotten and best-beloved son, that lamb without blemish, for us and our sins, not that he might pay himself any thing for us (for this would be a fictitious, pot a real payment), but might create for us so much greater and more certain a right to pardon and eternal life, and might bind himself by such a pledge to confer this upon us ; and might also convert us to himself, and bless us with the other signal benefits of which we stood in need.' pp. 313-315.

It is difficult to understand the precise meaning intended to be conveyed by the preceding quotations. We can understand enough of it however to know, that but few unitarians at the present day would be willing to subscribe to it as a part of their creed.

Many among them would also be disposed to demur at the sentiments advanced in this Catechism on the subject of Justification. After defining faith to be such an assent to the doctrine of Christ that we apply it to its proper object,' and justification as being when God regards us as just, or so deals with us as if we were altogether just and innocent, which he does in the New Covenant in forgiving our sins and conferring upon us eternal life :'--they ask

• Is no one justified without faith in Christ ?

• No one whatever. But this must be understood of the time after Christ had appeared-in reference to which also those words of Peter (Acts iv. 12) are to be interpreted, that there is none other name (besides that of Jesus) under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” For this cannot be affirmed in respect to the time which preceded the appearance of Christ. For though all who at any time believed in God were justified through faith, as may clearly be gathered from the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, yet they were not justified by faith in Cbrist, but simply by faith in God. For though all are justified by faith in Christ, they are also justified by faith in God, provided they believe in God through Christ, but not else. Let it be added, that even that mode of justification by faith in God, once in use under the law, was not comprehended in the Covenant given by Moses, but depended merely on the grace of God; but that now the mode of justification by faith is comprised in the Covenant itself. Whence the apostle states (Gal. iii. 22 &c.) that faith came by the gospel.' pp. 346, 347.

It is proper also to notice that the Socinians were staunch anabaptists, maintaining that the rite of baptism could not properly be administered except upon adults and by immersion.

« PrécédentContinuer »