« PreviousContinue »
sense of the words, it depends entirely upon himself whether he be virtuous or vicious, happy or miserable. But, how does this assertion accord with St. Paul's declaration ? “ It is not of 'him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.
Rom. 9. 16. The same Apostle expresses a very different sentiment, in asking, 66 Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou, that thou didst not receive. Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it ?" 1 Cor. 4. 7. Thus you see, my hearers, that the Anti-Trinitarian view of human virtue is wild in the extreme, and at war with the Scriptures. It evidently raises the character of man beyond the bounds assigned to it in revealed religion. Mr. Belsham has so high an idea of the inclination of man to virtue rather than to vice, that he says, “In
process of time, the earth may revert to its original paradisiacal state--and death itself be annihilated." This shows very clearly, that though Anti-Trinitarians glory in their own own supposed rationality, and eminent attainments in the empire of letters; that they are not altogether invulnerable to enthusiasm.' They take great care, however, to apprise us, that this wonderful change in the condition of man, is to be effected without any special agency of the Holy Spirit. Nothing of that nature can be admitted in their theorizing minds. No; all is to be done by moral suasion and human energy--the glory must be ascribed to man, instead of God. But the agreement of such schemes with Revelation, is unhesitatingly submitted to your judgment.
As to our various opinions on points of doctrine, Dr. Priestley says, “ There are no errors but what men may be so circumstanced as to be innocently betrayed into; and that any mistake of the head is very consistent with rectitude of heart.” St. Paul, therefore, must have been mistaken, and highly censorious, in saying, “If any man preach another gospel unto you, let him be accursed.” As the innocency of false sentiments in matters of religion, is not a doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures, advocating it must be very wicked. But, to justify sinners at all events, in almost every thing, appears to be one of the most prominent features in the Anti-Trinitarian system. The Bible, however, tells us, " Not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think ;" to "accept the punishment of our iniquity;" to put on humility as a garment; to rejoice in the sovereignty of God; and to acknowledge freely our dependence on his power and grace. Such unconditional submission is a beauty in the character of man, and the only proper way of honoring God. We cannot stand on any other ground before the glorious tribunal of the Almighty. He says expressly, “ He that covereth his sins, shall not prosper ; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy.” The system of our opponents has little to do with such feelings and acknowledgments. Being whole in their own imagination, they see no need of such a Physician as we suppose the Lord Jesus Christ to be. Human virtue is confessed by them to be the ground of their dependence. On these sacred words, “ Other foundation can no man lay, than that wlúch is laid," one of their writers says, “ All other foundation beside a good moral life, is chimerical”-a flat contradiction of the text on which he professes to found his remark. The liberty which they take with the Holy Scriptures, is truly astonishing! The art and assiduity which they display, in making every thing on their side of the question appear plausible, exceed description. Nothing is left undone that will veil the true character of God, and flatter sinners with the idea of their own virtue and safety. There were a set of teachers also in Israel, who cried
“ when there was no peace.” It may be justly said to' such instructers, “ With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad ; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life.” Ez. 13. 22. A system, whose most prominent feature is to lessen human guilt, and to lead mankind to rely on another foundation for salvation besides the atonement of Christ, is certainly hostile to the Scriptures in a high degree. An Apostle says, " By grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. 2. 8, 9.
If any religious scheme on the face of the earth is false and dangerous, and opposite to the Gospel of Christ, it is Anti-Trinitarianism in its lowest Socinian form. It is, I hope, in friendship to them, as well as to the cause of the Redeemer, that I speak in this manner. I am not conscious of having the least malevolence towards any one of that denomination. They may rely on every act of kindness that I can render them, in accordance with a faithful testimony against their doctrine. If I know my own heart, I wish them to be happy here and hereafter ; not excepting the gentleman who has appeared as my opponent. I have no apprehension that he has taken this stand from any unkind feelings to me; for his deportment has been uniformly conciliating and respectful.
My prayer is, that the Lord may lead him into a belief of the truth, and to the love of it ; that he may follow the steps of the famous Dr. Scott, who once stood on the same untenable ground in relation to religious sentiments. AMEN.
In Illustrating the baneful effects of Anti-Trinitarian doctrines, on the hearts and lives of men, it has been shown,
1. That they lead them to treat the Holy Scriptures, with an unbecoming freedom---to deny much of their contents, and to believe very little--to have wrong views of the glorious character of God; and to have wrong conceptions of the state and character of men. These are serious evils; but I think, that they have been fully substantiated; and therefore I shall proceed in showing,
5. How the system in view, leads men to have low conceptions of Jesus Christ, and consequently, but a small degree of love to his name. It seems to be a point decided in the minds of the Anti-Trinitarians, that He is nothing but a man. They can of course have no belief in the atoning efficacy of his blood ; nor, with consistency, render to Him supreme worship. He can have but little pre-eminence in their view, to the Prophets and Apostles. They suppose him, indeed, to have been sent of God to teach men truth and duty by his precepts and example; and that be sealed his mission by his death. On this calculation, however, he
only stands first on the list of human, but divinely authorized messengers from God. We cannot, therefore, be much more indebted to him, than to many others, who have appeared in the capacity of divine instructors, on the plan in question. Surely,' the Anti-Trinitarians themselves must be at a loss, how to understand and define the measure of love which men owe to the Lord Jesus Christ. If he is no more than a creature, the love which belongs to him from men, must be infinitely less than that which is due to God. On the Anti-Trinitarian plan, great care must be taken, lest the love that is felt for Christ exceeds its due limits; and the reverence that is given to him, degenerate into idolatry. On this ground, however, they do not seem to be in much danger of erring; for, it appears to be a prominent feature in their scheme, to sink his dignity instead of deifying him; and all the teachers on that side of the question, seem to be on the alert in giving it the proper application. In general, they are coolly philosophising on the supposed impossibility of his deity, instead of bowing the kuce to him in supreme worship. We may search the ranks of the Anti-Trinitarian host in vain, to find any bright examples of love to the Son of God!' No; it is their constant employment to throw water on this divine flame.
The contrast between the teachers in their Israel and the inspired writers, in relation to the dignity of Christ, and the love which is due to his name, is astonishingly great. Do they say that he is a mere man? see how the prophet Isaiah differs from them on this subject. While he admits his humanity, he announces his divivity in accents of triumph ; saying, “ Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.”