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on church censures, this doctrine is heretical to the core, nor has it ever been able to maintain its ground when brought into free collision with its Trinitarian antagonist. Indeed, with the exception of some few texts easily capable of a different interpretation, the distinction drawn in the New Testament between Jesus and the Father is so marked and broad, that to deny it is rather to contradict than to mistake its testimony. Hence the advocates of this doctrine are always found either falling off to the Unitarians, or retreating again within the more defensible lines of Orthodoxy.
I now turn to those Trinitarians who ascribe to the Son, as divine, a real and intelligible personality; regarding him as an agent in se, having powers distinct from those of the Father and the Spirit, and all that is necessary to absolute godhead. These Trinitarians do not sup. pose that the Eternal Son suffered in Jesus, but only his human spirit, which they regard as perfect, having its own will, its own understanding and consciousness; in fact, wanting, as they allow, nothing to constitute it a distinct person, excepting to be divorced from its august companion. But that union does not obliterate distinct personality, is evident from what these same men believe of the Trinity, in which they suppose that absolute unity and identity of nature actually consists with distinct personality. And how is this distinct personality proved, or attempted to be proved, but by shewing that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have their own distinct powers of thought and action? This is the way in which the personality of the Holy Spirit is proved; and we say that if the argument is good to prove this point, it is equal to prove also the personality of the human spirit in Jesus.
It is poor arguing to say in reply, that we have in ourselves a union of two natures in one person. Our bodies, if separated from our spirits, would not be persons, but corpses. They have no distinct consciousness of their own. They are but the vehicles, the unconscious organs, of conscious spirits. But in Jesus there are supposed to be two conscious principles, which, as we have said, need only to be separated in order to become two distinct persons. We contend, then, that their union cannot make them one person, so long as their
consciousness remain distinct, but only two persons united.
Yet that Jesus is not two persons, is certain. If, therefore, he is a human person, it follows inevitably that he is not also a divine person; that is to say, his personal deity cannot be maintained. His divinity must be resolved into an assistance and presence of the Eternal Word in him, just as the former class of Trinitarians conceive of the presence of the Father in Jesus. Neither class, therefore, can with justice plead the infinite value of his sufferings. This can only be done in connection with the doctrine of his personal deity,—the doctrine which makes the I that suffered on Calvary the identical I that made the world, and now upholds the universe by his power,—the doctrine that makes the Virgin Mary, in good truth, “the Mother of God.” Yet I apprehend there are few Protestants, if we except a certain party in the Church of England, who would choose to apply this title to Mary, although it has been vindicated to her by a council which Protestants no less than Catholics have been wont to honour. How comes it to pass that this title has fallen into such general disuse, and that good people now-a-days prefer to call her “the Mother of him that was God," or, with Nestorius himself, “the Mother of Christ”? How is it to be accounted for, except on the principle that Nestorianism (the heresy so called which divides the person of Jesus Christ, or makes him only a human person, wonderfully favoured and enlightened by the Eternal Word, and associated with him) has diffused itself widely, though covertly, among Trinitarians? So Mr. Newman, of Puseyite notoriety, avers, saying that we live in a time when Socinians, Sabellians, Nestorians, abound, without themselves knowing it. The fact is, our conceptions of Deity have burst the limits which a confined view of the universe had before prescribed to them; so that thinking men find it simply impossible for them to predicate of God whatever is predicated of Jesus in the New Testament, or may with truth be predicated of him on the principle of his strict humanity. The consequence is, that one class of Trinitarians falls unawares into Nestorianism, and the other into downright Socinianism, with neither of which systems can an infinite atonement consist.
II. My second objection is, that the doctrine involves the idea of vicarious punishment in the strictest sense; and that punishment of this kind is in the highest degree repugnant to the natural sentiments of the human mind, and ordinarily but ill adapted to answer the ends of government. Vicarious punishment is punishment suffered by one in place of another, and so suffered as to release the other from punishment.
That inflictions of this kind are ordinarily unsuitable to the purposes of government, seems to be allowed on all hands. The late Robert Hall, in the discourse from which I have already quoted, says, that “to attach the penalty to the person of the offender is as much the provision of the law as to denounce it.” Accordingly he remarks, “If the principle" (that is of vicarious punishment) " be at all admissible in the operations of criminal law, it is too obvious to require proof that it should be introduced only on very rare occasions, and never be allowed to subside into a settled course;" and, “ Though there are some traces in history of persons supposed to have presented themselves as vicarious offerings for relatives and connections, yet they are feebly attested; while among the well-attested records of judicial authority we have no instance probably of any person, who was himself innocent, being admitted as a substitute in behalf of the guilty.”—Works, I. 492, 493, 516.
Suppose the case of a criminal cast for execution on a charge (let us say) of high treason, clearly brought home to him, and of such enormity that every one concerned in the preservation of order acquiesces in the sentence pronounced against him. He escapes from his cell by means of a friend who has found means to deceive the keepers of the prison, and who remains in the fugitive's place. Would the purposes of justice be answered by sending this man to the scaffold in lieu of the criminal? Make the supposition that he is so dealt with. “ The peace and well-being of the State,” it is said, “ has been placed in jeopardy. A blow has been struck at its vitals. Nothing but death can atone for the injury.” He is led forth—the innocent for the guilty; nor unwillingly on his part, for he is generous enough to rejoice in saving his friend, even at the expense of his own life. I can conceive of a Domitian or a Tiberius decreeing such a thing, under the influence of exasperation at the escape of the real offender, and of a brutalized people, under the influence of exasperation too, witnessing it with savage exultation; but in a right-minded community such an exhibi. tion would only awaken a mingled feeling of horror and consternation. Such punishment as the laws might award to one who had aided in the escape of a criminal from justice, might justly be inflicted; but to drag the friend to execution in place of the escaped culprit, is a proceeding which would suggest itself only to minds in the lowest stages of civilization and morality.
Sufferings endured for the benefit of another, the mind can easily tolerate; and even when they are so circumstanced as to form constructively a punishment, and a vicarious punishment too. But then they are never supposed to operate as punishments. Were an individual, actuated by the benevolent desire of reforming the convicts who are yearly transported from our shores, to exile himself with them, submit to their restraints and share in their labours, he would become a partaker of their punishment; and were the Government, pleased with his self-denying exertions and gratified with their results, to select some of those who had best profited by his instructions as objects of the royal clemency, he might be improperly or metaphorically spoken of as having suffered a vicarious punishment for them, they being liberated from punishment in consequence of his labours and privations. And yet no one would think of blaming the measure on this account. The plea that what he had suffered was submitted to voluntarily, and that, properly speaking, it was not in his case punishment at all, and did not by any means operate as punishment in the liberation of the criminals, would be accepted on all hands. But were the Government to declare that the liberation of these reformed convicts should not take place unless the reformer himself would consent to pass a certain number of months or days in solitary confinement for each criminal liberated, or to work for such a length of time in irons, or to receive such a number of lashes on his naked back,—every one would cry shame at the proposal, and pronounce that such a barbarity, if inflicted (though nothing more than strict vicarious punishment), would not only extract all grace from the act of pardon, but would actually defeat its own end, if that end may be understood to be the cultivation of reverence either for the laws or the governing power.
This illustration will serve to shew that the abhorrence we feel towards vicarious punishments is not confined to those of a capital nature. The same feeling, varying of course in the degree of its intensity, usually attends them in every grade. Perhaps the story of Zaleucus, of which so much is made by theologians, affects the mind with less of this feeling than any other. He was a jurist, and, as is reported by Diodorus, a disciple of Pythagoras. Modern research, however, appears to have detected an anachronism in this. It makes Zaleucus the senior of Pythagoras by near a century; so that Pythagoras might have learned from Zaleucus, instead of Zaleucus from him. But how. ever this may be, Zaleucus was a philosopher, and employed by a Grecian colony in Italy to digest for them a code of laws.
Among the laws drawn up by him, and assented to by the colonists, was one making a certain crime punishable with the loss of both eyes. His son was the first to bring himself under the lash of this terrible law. According to Valerius Maximus, the father (whom this writer describes as the
king as well as legislator of this people) would have inflicted the penalty; but they earnestly entreating him to spare the criminal, he compounded the matter by putting out one of his own eyes and one of his son's. It is probable he saw in the earnestness of the appeal made to him that the law was not in favour, and that in fact the people, or some of them, were on the alert for an occasion of getting rid of it. This, however, they were deterred from proposing directly, because, if another ancient writer is to be credited, Zaleucus had procured that no one should be allowed to propose any alteration of the laws except with a rope round his neck; that is to say, he had made it death for any one to propose an alteration not subsequently approved.* There was a risk, therefore, in making any direct proposal for the abrogation of this law. But the dissidents were acute enough to see that if they could prevail on Zaleucus to forego the penalty in the case of his son, the law would be in effect repealed, since no one afterwards could have suffered under it without an outcry being raised against the flagrant partiality of the legislator. Resolute, therefore, not to relinquish the law, yet with a heart bleeding for his son, whom it doomed to spend the residue of his life in irremediable blindness, he compounded the matter in the
Now, I can easily imagine that the immediate effect of this determined act was to produce a salutary fear of the law. Report says the crime was not repeated during the presidency of Zaleucus. And yet I suspect that the ultimate effect of this act inust have been fatal to the law; for suppose the next culprit to have had a father, equally tender and equally generous, could the authorities have refused to him the indulgence which Zaleucus had claimed for himself? “ He was spared the sorrow,” might the agonized father have said, “ of seeing his son languish in total blindness, though himself the author of this law. It is true Zaleucus was of more importance than myself, and therefore that his loss of an eye may be looked upon as a greater tribute to the sanctity of the laws than mine. But so was the example of his son of greater weight than that of mine, and more likely to injure the public morals ; nay, in dividing the penalty between himself and his son, he did in truth what he wished to avoid. He repealed the law, for he deprived it of its most appalling feature, namely, the total blindness to which it dooms the offender. I stand upon precedent, and claim that the law shall not be made more flexible for the author of it than for me."
It is not easy to see with what show of equity such a plea could have been resisted; and it would have grown stronger with each new concession to its' force. What, then, must have been the consequence ? Could this liberty of commutation have been suffered to pass into a law? Impossible. Both the interests of the community and the sympathies of the public mind would have forbidden it. What, then, would ensue? Either an arbitrary stop must have been put to the practice of substitution, contrary to the equity of the case, or the law itself must have been modified. One eye must have been made the forfeit, or the penalty changed altogether.
Dr. Smith, in his Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, says it may be doubted whether the law was actually as here stated; but he admits the probability that there were regulations in force designed to put a check upon innovation:
Nothing is known, that I am aware of, as to the real history of this law-how long it held sway, under what circumstances it was repealed, or whether
any but the two first sufferers ever fell under its sanction. But little is hazarded in saying that something like what I have imagined must have been its fate; so that it may be fairly questioned whether, if the whole history were before us, the lesson it would teach would not be of a different kind from that which is usually deduced from it, and more in accordance with the ordinary experience of human laws.
In fact, I cannot look upon this act of Zaleucus as that of a wise legislator. It was rather the act of a proud, inflexible man, who knew well that he was compromising the law, and yet would maintain a show of keeping it. For, as I have heard it remarked, the law was not that two eyes should be forfeited, but that the criminal should be blinded for life. His taking part of the penalty on himself was, therefore, a plain evasion. But his master passion had been brought into collision with one as strong, namely, parental affection; and the result was a compromise, which will ever stamp the character of the man for resolution, but which has not, that I am aware of, been thought worthy of imitation by any succeeding legislator. The act well corresponds with what is recorded of Charondas, a philosopher employed by a neighbouring state in a work similar to that of Zaleucus. Indeed, the story is told by some of Zaleucus himself; which shews the impression which the character of the man had left on the minds of his contemporaries, and also the uncertain nature of this part of ancient history. The story is, that Charondas or Zaleucus, whoever he was, returning from the pursuit of some robbers, and finding a tumult in the city, came armed into the public assembly, contrary to a law which he had himself obtained. Being reproached on this account, he drew his sword and killed himself, saying, “I do not put contempt on my own laws, but thus I seal them with my blood.” It is plain these men lived in turbulent times,* and among a people whose history, were it known, would, I doubt not, supply us with many anticipations of the Lynch law which still prevails in some of the back settlements of America. They were both of them men well adapted to the times in which they lived, and no doubt were the authors of many and great improvements. But the parent states of Greece were as far from imitating this vicarious experiment of Zaleucus, as we some of the border practices of our American descendants. For the advocates of the popular doctrine, therefore, to derive their capital illustration of vicarious punishment from the history of Zaleucus, only shews the paucity of the materials from which they have to cull, and (as we have heard R. Hall admitting) the absence of any available instances in the well-attested records of judicial authority.
And now let me ask, why should not the law of precedent hold in the Divine as well as in human governments? It is plain to me it must; and therefore that the introduction of strict vicarious punishments into that government, if not proper to be carried out, would be no less objectionable. I stand on sacred ground, upon which, I trust, I
“The account preserved by the scholiast on Pindar, from Aristotle, indicates that a period of civil strife and confusion was the occasion which led to the legislation of Zaleucus.”--Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, art. Zaleucus.