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Then to pray to God the Father only. Acts iv. 24. Rom. xvi. 27, &c. This denomination maintain that repentance and a good life are of themselves sufficient to recommend us to the divine favour; and that nothing is necessary to make us in all situations the objects of his favour, but such moral conduct as he has made us capable of. That Christ did nothing by his death or in any other way to render God
kind and merciful to sinners; .
or rather that God is of his own accord disposed to forgive men their sins, without any other condition than the sinner's repentance, is declared by the Almighty himself constantly and expressly in the old testament, and never contradicted in the new. Isai. lv. 7 : Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. See also Ezek. xviii. 27. This most important doctrine of the efficacy of repentance alone on the part of the sinner, as sufficient to recom
mend him to pardon with God, is confirmed by Christ himself, Matt. vi. 12: If ye forgive men their trespasses, gour heavenly Father will also: . forgive you. But above all, the beautiful and affecting parable of the prodigal son, (Luke xv.) is most decisive that repentance is all our heavenly Father requires to restore us to his favour. The Unitarians of all ages have adopted the sentiments of Pelagius, with respect to human nature." The name of Unitarians is also claimed by 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. They may or may not believe in Christ's pre-existence. The term is thus defined by the celebrated Dr. Price, and applied by him to what he calls a middle scheme between Athanasianism and Socinianism. His plan and a few of the arguments he brings to support it may therefore be inserted under this appellation.—It teaches, that Christ descended
* Priestley's Eccles. Hist, vol. i. p. 143. History of Early Opinions,
yol. i. pp. 10–51, vol. iii. pp. 7—27. vol. iv. p. 67, isquisitions, vol. i. p. 376. Institutes, vol. Appeal, pp. 19—47. Theological Repository, vol. iv. pp. 30– 436, Lindsey's View of the Unitarian Doctrine, &c., p. 355.
to this earth from a state of pre-existent dignity; that he was in the beginning with God, and that by him God made ... the world ; and that by a humiliation of himself which has no parallel, and by which he has exhibited an example of benevolence that passes knowledge, he took on him flesh and blood, and passed through human life, enduring all its sorrows, in order to bless and save a sinful race. By delivering himself up to death, he acquired the power of delivering us from death. By offering himself a sacrifice on the cross, he vindicated the honour of those laws which sinners had broken, and rendered the exercise of favour to them consistent with the holiness and wisdom of God's government; and by his resurrection from the dead, he proved the efficacy and acceptableness of his sacrifice. Christ not only declared, but obtained the availableness of repentance to pardon ; and became by his interposition not only the conveyer, but the author and means of our future immortality.” This was a service so great, that no
meaner agent could be equal to it, and in consequence of it offers of full favour are made to all. No human being will be excluded from salvation, except through his own fault; and every truly virtuous man from the beginning to the end of time, let his country or religion be what it will, is made sure of being raised from death and being made happy for ever. In all this the supreme Deity is to considered as the first cause, and Christ as his gift to fallen man, and as acting under that eternal and self-existent Being, compared with whom no other being is either great or good, and of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things. Our learned author argues in this manner to prove the pre-existence of Christ.t The history of our Saviour, as given in the new testament, and the events of his life and ministry, answer best to the opinion of the superiority of his nature. Of this kind are his introduction into the world by a miraculous conception; the annunciations from heaven at his baptism and transfi.
The arguments here
* Our learned author considers the destruction of being as the main circumstance in the punishment of the wicked.
* Previous to this our author brings arguments to prove that there is one supreme God, and one object of religious worship. These are omitted, as the principal texts which are made use of to prove the inferiority of Christ
to God the Father, are inserted in the Arian plan,
trought are only such as distinguish this denomination from the Socinians. *
guration, proclaiming him the Son of God, and ordering all to hear him; his giving himself out as come from God to shed his blood for the remission of sins; his perfect innocence, and sinless example ; the wisdom by which he spake as never man spake; his knowledge of the hearts of men; his intimations that he was greater than Abraham, Moses, David, or even angels; those miraculous powers by which, with a command over nature like that which first produced it, he ordered tempests to cease, and gave eyes to the blind, limbs to the maimed, reason to the frantic, health to the sick, and life to the dead; his surrender of himself to the enemies who took away his life, after demonstrating that it was his own consent, gave them their power over him; the signs which accompanied his sufferings and death; his resurrection from the dead, and triumphant ascension into heaven. There are in the new testament express and direct declarations of the pre-existent dignity of Christ. John i. 1, compared with the 14th verse: In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, &c. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. John iii. 13: No one has ascended up into heaven but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven. John vi. 61: What if you shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before ? John viii. 58: Before Abraham was I am. See also John xvii. 5, 2 Cor. viii. 9, Phil. ii.5, and following verses. —There remain to quote the texts which mention the creation of the world by Jesus Christ. In Heb. i. 2, we read that God, who in former times spoke to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last times spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed the heir of all things; by whom also he made the worlds. John i. 3, 10. Col. i. 16.” The doctrine of God's forming the world by the agency of the Messiah gives a credibility to the doctrine of his interposition to save it, and his future agency in new-creating it; because it leads us to conceive of him as standing in a particular relation to it, and having an interest in it. The doctrine of Christ's simple humanity, when viewed in connexion with the scripture account of his exaltation, implies an inconsistency and improbability which falls little short of an impossibility. The scriptures tell us that Christ, after his resurrection, became Lord of the dead and living ; that he had all power given him in heaven and earth ; that angels were made subject to him; that he is hereafter to raise the dead and judge the world, and finish the scheme of the divine moral government with respect to the earth, by conferring eternal happiness on all the virtuous, and punishing the wicked with everlasting destruction. Can it be believed that a mere man could be advanced at once so high as to be above angels, and to be qualified to rule and judge the world Do not all things rise gradually, one acquisition laying the foundation of another, and perhaps for higher acquisitions : The power, in particular, which the scriptures teach us Christ possesses, of raising to life all who have died and all who will die, is equivalent to the power of creating a world. How inconsistent is it to allow that he is to restore and new create this world, and yet to deny he might have been God's agent in originally forming it !
"According to our author, the formation of the world by Christ does not imply creation from nothing, that probably being peculiar to almighty power; but only an arrangement of things into their present order, and the establishment of that course of nature to which we are witnesses, Christ is not the original creator, but only God's minister in creating.
This plan coincides with the foregoing Unitarian system, in rejecting the trinity of the Godhead ; the divinity of Christ; his being a proper object of prayer; the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity; and such a total corruption of our natures by original sin, as deprives us of free-will, and subjects us before we have committed actual sin to the displeasure of God and future punishment; and also in rejecting absolute predestination,particular redemption, irresistable grace, and justification by faith alone. It differs from the foregoing in two respects:—(1.) In asserting Christ to have been more than any human being. —(2.) In asserting that he took upon him human nature for a higher purpose than merely revealing to mankind the will of God, and instructing them in their duty and in. the doctrines of religion.*
The celebrated Dr. Priestley calls those philosophical unitarians, who in the early ages of christianity explained the doctrines concerning Christ according to the principles of the philosophy of those times. As the sun was supposed to emit rays and draw them into himself again, so the divine Being, of whom they imagined the sun to be an image,
they supposed emitted a kind of efflux, or divine ray, to which they sometimes gave the name of logos, which might be attached to any particular substance or person, and then be drawn into the divine Being again. They supposed that the union between this divine logos and the man Christ Jesus was only temporary: for they held that this divine efflux, which, like a beam of light from the sun, went out of God, and was attached to the person of Christ, to enable him to work miracles while he was on earth, was drawn into God again when he ascended into heaven, and had no more occasion to exert a miraculous power. Some of them might go so far as to say, that since this ray was properly divine, and the divinity of the Father, Christ, who had this divine ray within him, might be called God, but by no means different from the Father. They are moreover charged with saying, that the Father, being in Christ, suffered and died in him also ; and from this they got the name of Patripassians. This denomination may be applied to the Sabellians, Monarchians, and others.” See Sabellians, Mlonarchians, Noetians, &c. UNIVERSALISTS. The
sentiment which has acquired its professsors this appellation was embraced by Origin in the third century, and in more modern times by Chevalier Ramsay, Dr. Cheyne, Mr. Hartley, and others. The plan of universal salvation, as exhibited by a learned divine of the present day, who, in a late performance, entitled, “The Salvation of all Men,” has made several additions to the sentiments of the above mentioned authors, is as follows : . That the scheme of revelation has the happiness of all mankind lying at bottom as its great and ultimate end : that it gradually tends to this end, and will not fail of its accomplishment when fully completed. Some, in consequence of its operation, as conducted by the Son of God, will be disposed and enabled in this present state to make such improvements in virtue, the only rational preparative for happiness, as that they shall enter upon the enjoyment of it in the next state. Others, who have proved incurable under the means which have been used with them in this state, instead of being happy in the next, will be awfully miserable; not to continue so finally, but that they may be convinced of their folly
* Priestley's History of Early Opinions, vol. iii. p.376. vol. iv, p. 279, Priestley's Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. pp. 296, 297.