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by ignorant and bigotted men; that they are enlightened and reasonable Christians; and that their audience are bound in duty to become their imitators. The holy apostles however possessed, as I must believe, none of the spirit which prompts to either of these courses. They did not view the subjects, in a distorted and sectarian light. The edifice of truth-the temple of the living God, rose under their hands not only into a lofty and magnificent structure, but into one which was as conspicuous for symmetry as for grandeur.
All parts of Christian doctrine held their proper place in the system which they taught. Why should they then be continually speaking of Christ as supreme God, when (as I verily believe,) they expected no professed follower of Christ to call this doctrine in question. John seems to have had opponents to it in his eye, when he wrote the first verse of his gospel; but excepting this, I do not remember another passage of the New Testament which has this aspect of opposition to gainsayers, in regard to the divinity of Christ. The Apostles doubtless expected to be believed, when they had once plainly asserted any thing. That they are not, is indeed to be lamented; but it cannot be charged to their fault. They felt, (what we feel now,) that very frequent, strong, and direct asseverations of any thing are apt to produce a suspicion in the ininds of a hearer or reader, that the person making them has not arguments on which he relies, and so substitutes confident affirmations in their room; or that he is himself but imperfectly satisfied with the cause which he defends; or that he has sinister motives in view. For myself, I confess I am inclined to suspect a man of all these, who inakes very frequent and confident asseverations.
I am the more satisfied then, that the New Testament treats the subject in question, as one which was not controverted; and as one which was not expected to be called in question. My conclusion from the apostles' mode of treating it, is, I acknowledge, quite different from that which you draw, as stated in your Sermon and Notes. But with my present views, I must think it to be more probable than yours.
In regard to what follows in your Note, most of it has been anticipated. I will touch upon only a few points.
With respect to the passages which we adduce in proof of Christ's divine nature, you observe that the “strength of the Trinitarian argument lies in those, in which Jesus is called God.” This may be true ; but it lies in them, as I have from the first endeavoured to show, not simply because the name God is given to him: but because those things are ascribed to him as God, which no being but the Supreme God can perform. My whole argument is constructed on this ground. Your whole Note, on the ground that we draw our conclusion simply from the fact, that the appellation God is given to Christ.
What you say respecting the argument in favour of Christ's divine nature, from the name given him in Matt. i. 23, accords in the main with my own views. To maintain that the name Immanuel proves the doctrine in question, is a fallacious argument; although many Trinitarians have urged it. Jerusalem is called “Jehovah our righteousness;" Is Jerusalem therefore divine ?
Why should you say in the third paragraph of your note, that in looking through “Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you meet with no instance in which Christ is called God?” Are there no proofs here of his omniscience, of his omnipotence, of his authority to forgive sin, of his supreme, legislative right? And are not these things better proof of his divine nature than a mere name can be ? Why moreover, should such an inviduous distinction be implied, to the prejudice of John's writings, and of the Epistles? Do you not admit all the New Testament to be of divine origin and authority ? Of what importance then is it, whether the doctrine of Christ's divinity is found one part or another ? Besides if any disciple could know who the Lord in reality was, has any one a better claim to be considered as knowing it than John, the disciple “ who leaned on Jesus' bosom ?”
You have passed the whole of John i. 1, with merely commenting on the name ones. My dear Sir, can you expect to satisfy candid inquirers with this? Are you not bound to tell us how this Logos (word) could create the worlds, (Ta tærræ, the universe,) before this text is disposed of? You must tell us how creative power, the highest, the distinguishing act of Deity, which constitutes the characteristic and prominent feature of the true God, in distinction from all false gods, (Is. xl. 40, and onward,) can be delegated? When you can explain this, then you will bring us upon ground, where we shall be unable to controvert the Gnostics, who de
nied that the Jehovah of the Old Testament, is the Supreme God. Inferior power, they maintained, was competent to create the world. What less do they, who ascribe creation to Christ and yet reject his Divinity ?
Why should you pass over all that, on which we rely for proof, and touch only that, on which we do not profess to place confident reliance? I mean why should you
descant on the name God, and say nothing of the attributes and works ascribed to him, who bears this name? If we should argue in the same manner with you, ought we to expect to convince you? Much less could we acquit our consciences, of our obligation to represent the opinions of others fairly to the world, should we publish any thing by which we should endeavour to make them believe, that all the evidence in favour of a particular doctrine, held by many Christians, consisted in that very thing, on which they did not rely; or at most, in that which constituted merely but a part of their grounds of belief.
The simile from Plato and Socrates, I must think, is less happily chosen, than your fine taste and cultivated mind commonly lead you to choose. In the same breath that you say “ Plato was in the beginning with Socrates, and was Socrates ;" you add, " that whoever saw and heard Plato, saw and heard, not Plato, but Socrates, and that as long as Plato lived, Socrates lived and taught.” That is, your first sentence would either be not at all understood, or understood, of course, in a sense totally different from that which you meant to convey, unless you added the commentary along with the sentence. John has indeed added a commentary, but this is, as he means to call Christ THE GOD WHO CREATED THE UNIVERSE. Of this commentary you have taken no notice. But of this, you are bound to take notice, if you mean to convince those who differ from you, or to deal ingenuously with those, whom you design to instruct.
On the texts John xx. 28; Acts xx. 28; Rom. ix. 5; 1 Tim. ii. 16: Heb. i. 6; and John v. 20, I have already said what I wish to say at present. The remarks in your Note, do not seem to call for any new investigation.
You say, (near the close of your Note,) that you have " collected all the passages, in the New Testament in which Jesus is supposed to be called God." The foregoing letter, however, does represent us as supposing that there are still more, in which he is called God; although I have omitted many, in which a multitude of Trinitarians have supposed, that Christ is called God. Why should you affirm this, when nearly every book on the doctrine of the Trinity, that ever has been published by Trinitarians, will contradict it?
You repeat also the assertion here, “ that in two or three passages, the title (of God may be given him, (Clirist ;) but in every case it is given in connexions and under circumstances, which imply that it is not to be received in its highest and most literal sense.”
But in no single instance, have you noticed the " connexions and circumstances," in which the appellation God is bestowed on Christ. Can you reasonably expect your thinking readers will take this assertion upon credit ? Are you not bound to prove to these same readers, by the Scriptures, interpreted according to the universal laws of explaining human language, that the New Testament writers have not ascribed to Christ CREATIVE power, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, divine worship, divine honours, and eternal existence?. What are names in this dispute ? Show that these attributes are not ascribed to Christ, and you make us Unitarians at once. You ought not to take the advantage of representing our arguments as consisting in that on which we do not place reliance; and then intimate to your readers, “ This is all which Trinitarians have to allege in their own favour." Dispute can never be terminated in this way. Meet fairly and openly the points in debate. Many of your readers are certainly too intelligent, and too conscientious to be satisfied with any other course. Any other does not become your high character and distinguished talents.