Page images

(logos) means Christ is not to be taken for granted; since another interpretation is very obvious and natural, viz. that the word here spoken of is the proper word, or power of God, by which the Scriptures of the Old Testament inform us, that all things were actually made. Thus the psalmist says, Psa. xxxii. 6, 9, “ By the word of the Lord were the hea. vens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his inouth.-He spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast." "The same word or power resided in Christ, and performed all his miraculous works. Agreeably to which he himself says, the Father within me he doeth the works.

On the slender foundation of these four passages, rests the great doctrine of Christ having been the instrument, in the hands of God of making the world and all things. When they are all put together, and even shutting our eyes on all the direct and positive evidence that the world was made by the Supreme Being himself, and by no other, acting under him, can it be said that they all together amount to a sufficiently clear declaration of a doctrine of so much magnitude as the Arian hypothesis is, viz. that Christ, having been first created himself, did (and, as far as appears, without any previous essays or efforts,) immediately make the whole system of the visible universe, and from that time support ail the laws of it, himself only being supported, or perhaps unsupported, by the Father.

Where would have been the evidence of the Arian bypothesis, if Paul had not written the two epistles, to the Ephesians and the Colossians, which are supposed to contain it? For, little as is the evidence for this doctrine from the passages I have recited from these cpistles, it is much greater than that which can be derived from the two others. And had neither the epistles themselves, nor the introduction to the gospel of John been ever written, it would not have been suspected that any thing was wanting in the scheme of Christianity.

However, it is not, certainly, from so few casual expressions, which so easily admit of other interpretations, and especially in epistolary writings, which are seldom coin posed with so much care as books intended for the use of posterity, that we can be authorized to infer that such was the serious opinion of the apostles. But if it had been their real opinion, it would not follow that it was true, unless the teaching of it should appear to be included in their general commission, with which, as I have shewn, it has no sort of connexion.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

If any should be convinced that these four passages, do not authorize us to conclude that Christ made the world, they must be interpreted in such a manner as not to imply his simple pre-existence; and if this cannot be inferred from these texts, it certainly cannot from any other. Consequently, both the doctrine of Christ having made the world, and that of his simple pre-existence, must stand or fall together.

5. It will be seen in its proper place, that the Arian hypothesis, loaded as it is with the greatest natural improbabilities, and altogether destitute of support in the Scripture's, was the natural consequence of other false principles, which also naturally sprung from the philosophy of the times in which Christianity was promulgated. That philosophy is now exploded, but the articles in the christian system which were derived from it remain. Platonism is no more ; but the Trinitarian and Arian doctrines yet subsist; and with many, the latter remains, when the former, from which it arose, is abandoned. Thus the fruit is preserved, when the tree on which it grew, is cut down.

. Had there been no Platonic nous, or logos, Christians would never have got a divine logos, or second God, the creator of the world under the Supreme God, and the medium of all the divine communications to the patriarchs; and had there been no such divine and uncreated logos in the christian system, we should never, I am confident, have heard of a created logos being provided to answer the same purpose.

Also, if it had not been a doctrine familiar to all the schools of philosophy, that the souls of men in general had pre-existed, it would never have been imagined that the created soul of Christ had pre-existed. But when other souls are deprived of this great privilege, it remains, contrary to all analogy, and all principles of just reasoning, attached to that of Christ only, just as with many, the doctrine of a divine uncreated logos is abandoned, and that of the created logos, which sprung from it, remains in its place.

But an attention to the true causes and original supports of the Arian doctrine in all its parts, and the reasons for which these causes and supports of it have been given up, cannot fail to draw after it, in due time, the downfal of the Arian doctrine itself. In the mean time it is held by many as being a medium between two great extremes, the doctrine of the proper divinity of Christ on the one hand, and that of his simple humanity on the other.

Reasons for not considering Arians as being properly

Unitarians. The great objection to the doctrine of the Trinity is, that it is an infringement of the doctrine of the unity of God, as the sole object of worship, which it was the primary design of the whole system of revelation to establish. Any modification of this doctrine, therefore, or any other system whatever, ought to be regarded with suspicion, in proportion as it makes a multiplicity of objects of worship, for that is to introduce IDOLATRY.

That the doctrine of three persons in the divine nature is making three Gods, has, I think, been sufficiently proved. But they who do not think that Christ is equal to the Supreme Being, but only the maker and governor of the world under him, are willing to think that they are not included in the censure of making a multiplicity of gods, or in any danger of introducing more objects of worship. They therefore call themselves Unitarians, and think themselves perfectly clear of the charge of giving any countenance to idolatry. Indeed, this is an accusation to which the Athanasians themselves plead not guilty. I think, however, that it applies not only to them, but even to the Arians, and therefore, that strictly speaking, the latter are no more entitled to the appellation of Unitarians than the former. My reasons for this are the following:

1. If greatness of power be a foundation on which to apply the title of God, they who believe that Christ made the world, and that he constantly preserves and governs it, must certainly consider him as enjoying a very high rank in the scale of divinity, whatever reason they may have to decline giving him the title of God. They must allow that he is a much greater being, or god, than Apollo, or even Jupiter, was ever supposed to be. His derivation from another, and a greater God, is no reason why he should not likewise be considered as a god. The polytheism of the Heathens did not consist in making two or more equal and independent gods, but in having one Supreme God, and the rest subordinate, which is the very thing that the Arians hold.

We have no idea of any power greater than that of creation, which the Arians ascribe to Christ, especially if by creation be meant creation out of nothing; and the Arians do not now say that the Father first produced matter, and that then the Son formed it into worlds, &c. a notion indeed, advanced, as will be seen, by Philo and Methodius among the ancients, but too ridiculous to be retained by any; so that whatever be meant by creation, the Arians ascribe it to Christ.

2. Upon the principle which is adopted by many Arians, we must acknowledge not only two gods, but gods without number. According to some, Christ made this solar system only. There must, therefore, have been other beings, of equal rank with him, to whom the creation, or formation, of the other systems was assigned; and observation shews, that there are millions and millions of systems. The probability is, that they fill the whole extent of infinite space. Here, then, are infinitely more, as well as infinitely greater gods, than the Heathens ever thought of.

But I would observe, that the modern Arians, in ascribing to Christ the formation of the whole solar system, ascribe more to him than the ancient Arians did; for they did not suppose that he made any thing more than this world, because they had no knowledge of any other. Had the ancients had any proper idea of the extent of the solar system ; had they believed that it contained as many worlds as there are primary and secondary planets belonging to it, all of which might stand in as much need of the interposition of their maker as that which we inhabit, they would probably, have been staggered at the thought of giving such an extensive power and agency to any one created being; much less is it pro. bable that they would at once have gone so far as the gener rality of modern Arians, who suppose that Christ made the whole universe. That would have been to give him so much power, and so extensive an agency, that the Supreme Father would not have been missed, if, after the production of such a Son, he had himself either remained an inactive spectator in the universe, or even retired out of existence. For why might not the power of self-subsistence be imparted to another as well as that of creating out of nothing?

3. If we consider the train of reasoning by which we infer that there is only one God, it will be found, that, according to the Arian hypothesis, Christ himself may be that one God. We are led to the idea of God by inquiring into the cause of what we see; and the being which is able to produce all that we see, or know, we call God. We cannot, by the light of nature, go any farther; and the reason why we say that there is only one God, is, that we see such marks of uniformity in the whole system, and such a mutual relation of all the parts to each other, that we cannot think that one part was contrived or executed by one being, and another part by another being. Whoever it was that made the plants, for instance, must also have made the animals that feed upon them. Whatever being made and superintends the land, must also have made, and must superintend the water, &c. We also cannot suppose that the earth had one author, and the moon another, or indeed any part of the solar system. And for the same reason that the whole solar system had one author, all the other systems, which have any relation to it (and the probability is that the whole universe is one connected system) had the same author. There can be no reason, therefore, why any persons should stop at supposing that Christ made the solar system only. For the same reason that his province includes this system, it ought to include all the universe, which is giving him an absolute omnipresence, as well as omnipotence; and I shall then leave others to distinguish between this being, and that God whom they would place above him. For my own part, I see no room for any thing above him. Imagination itself cannot make any difference between them. If, therefore, the Arian principle be pursued to its proper extent, we must either say that there are two infinite beings, or Gods, or else that Christ is the one God.

4. If any being become the object of our worship in consequence of our dependence upon him, and our receiving all our blessings from him; and also in consequence of his being invisibly present with us, so that we may be sure both that he always hears us, and that he is able to assist us; Christ, on the Arian hypothesis, coming under this description, must be the proper object of all that we ever call worship, and therefore must be God. For he who made all things, and who upholds all things by the word of his power, must necessarily be present every where, and know all things, as well as be able to do all things. If he only made and takes care of this earth, he must be present in all parts of the earth. There must, therefore, be the greatest natural propriety in our praying to such a being. A being to whom these characters belong has always been considered as the object of the highest worship that man can pay. The psalmist says, Ps. xcv. 6, “ O come, let us worship, and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.' If, therefore, Christ be the Lord our maker, we are fully authorized to worship and bow down before him.

5. If the logós be Christ, Ariäis éannot refuse to give

« PreviousContinue »