Page images

the records of Revelation contained in the Scriptures".

2. Revealed truths can never be inconsistent with the general tenor of the Scriptures, with each other, or with any truths which can be proved from the light of reason.

3. In interpreting the Scriptures, that meaning which would be plain and obvious to those for whom the particular parts were written, or to whom they were addressed, is to be preferred, wherever it cannot be shown that this was not the meaning of the writer or speaker.

4. To gain a right understanding of any writer, wé must carefully observe the end or design with which he wrote, and the means which he has employed for the accomplishment of his endo.”

5. The opinions of the writer or speaker, are to be determined, -not by detached expressions, which (owing to the imperfection of language) are, in themselves considered, ambiguous,-but by the general tenor of his writings or discourses.

6. Expressions which, in their particular connexion, at least, are obscure, or wbich are capable of different interpretations, must be explained by corresponding expressions (of the same individual, or of others using a similar style,) which are plain and unambiguous.

7. No meaning of any word or phrase can be the

The requisites for any doctrine being received Chris tian doctrine, or part of the system of truths revealed by Jesus Christ, are stated in p. 2.

See Mr. Veysie's Second Letter, p. 41.

just one, which does not suit the connexion, or which is inconsistent with the general tenor of the individual's own writings or discourses.

8. That meaning of a word in which it is commonly used by the individual, or by others using a similar style, is to be preferred, wherever the connexion, or the general tenor of his writings and discourses will allow of it.

9. Where a passage in the New Testament ad. mits of different interpretations, and there is no thing in the individual's own discourses or writings, to decide which is the true one, that should be

preferred which best accords with the general tenor and spirit of the New Testament at large.

In these principles, considered in the abstract, I should suppose

that most reasoners will -readily agree. I cannot expect a similar agreement as to my deductions from them; but it is one grand point gained, when we can fix upon any common principles of reasoning; and I am fully content, whatever be the result, that every explanation of Scripture in these sheets, should be tried by those which I have advanced.

I consider myself as being authorized, by the foregoing examination of the books of the N. T. separately and as a whole, to affirm, that the doctrines of the proper unity of God, and the proper humanity of Jesus, are accordant with the general tenor and spirit of the N. T. and that no opposing doctrines are. If, in addition to this, it appear that those few passages which seem to teach doctrines which oppose Unitarianism, (as well as those which are supposed to imply such doctrines without directly teaching themp,) do admit of a fair interpretation, suitable to the connexion, and to the style and manner of the writer or speaker, and at the same time consistent with the general tenor and spirit of the N. T., then it necessarily follows that Unitarianism is the doctrine of the Gospel.--My own opinion is, that Unitarianism alone accords with the general tenor of the N. T. and that there is nothing in the N. T. inconsistent with it;-that it is founded upon the great bulk of scriptural evidence, and affords an adequate explanation of whatever does not directly teach it.

I shall divide the evidence produced in favour of the chief doctrines respecting the nature of our Saviour into three classes; first, that which is supposed to prove the equality of the Son with the Father; secondly, that which is supposed to prove his proper deity; and thirdly, that which is supposed to prove his pre-existence.

p It is a principle by far too little observed by the oppoa nents of Unitarianism, that there is a wide difference between proving, and according with, a doctrine. We do not deny that seyeral passages in the N. T. sufficiently well accord with their opinions; but we cannot admit that these can in any way prove them, unless they require an explanation, which, in the given circumstances, is inconsistent with our own. See also p. 2.

CHAP. V. Consideration of the passages supposed to prove the

Equality of the Son with the Father. Before the Reader proceeds to the examination of the few texts supposed to countenance the equality of him whom the Father sent, with the Father whom he himself calls the the only true God, I beg leave to request his reconsideration of the passages quoted in the first four sections of Chap. III.; and particularly of the remarkable expression of our Lord “THE FATHER IS GREATER THAN I.'

1] Mait. xxviii. 19, 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into Els the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.”On this passage I observe 1. “To be baptized into or in the name, is to be baptized into the faith or confession, or, in token of one's faith and of one's openly confessing. See Matt. xxviii. 19. Acts ii. 38. viii. 16. X. 489.” 2. He who was appointed by God as the agent in the Christian dispensation, was, under God, the most important person in the Christian dispensation. 3. In the preceding verse it is said, all power is given to me in heaven and on earth,' therefore this verse cannot be justly considered as implying the equality of the Son with the Father. 4. Baptizing into, or into the name

. Parkhurst, in Oyoma 7.

of, a person is no proof of his divinity, otherwise Moses was God'. 5. The Apostles obviously did not consider this as a necessary formula, for we have no instance on record in which they employed it, and we know that they actually baptized into the name of Jesus alone. The sense of the passage appears obviously to be, ‘Baptizing them into the profession of that religion which had God as its Author, and Jesus as its Revealer, and was confirmed .by the gifts of the spirits.'

2] John v. 18. Making himself equal tooy with God” - The Jews were displeased at our Lord's having performed a deed of niercy on the sabbath; he justifies himself by an appeal to the constantly operating benevolence of his father, My Father workeih hitherto, and I also work.' This still more enraged the Jews, because he not only broke the sabbath, but called God His Father, making

[ocr errors]

See 1 Cor. x. 2. And all were baptized into Moses eis Tov uwüony in the cloud and in the sea.' That to be baptized into any one, and to be baptized into his nume, are phrases of the same signification, see Rom. vi. 3. Gal. iii. 27, compared with Acts xix. 5, &c. The passage from Galatians sufficiently indicates the meaning of the phrase, baptized into Christ, or, into the name of Christ : For


all are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus ; for as many as were baptized into Christ, did put on Christ.'

• I am here concerned with the passage merely as evidence respecting the nature of Jesus. Those who wish to see an examination of it in connexion with the doctrine of the personality of the holy spirit, inay consult a valuable little tract, entitled “The Impersonality of the Holy Ghost; by John Marsom.' Johnson. I acknowledge myself unable to see how it can prove any thing respecting the Trinity. If that mysterious doctrine were proved, of course it would sufficiently

« PreviousContinue »