« PoprzedniaDalej »
member with the head,* and as the branch with the vine, t contracts an infinite dignity from that intimate alliance, and is made capable of honouring God as much as his infinite perfection deserves ; his actions, even the most indifferent, when performed in union with Christ his head, are actions of infinite merit, and are entitled to a degree of glory and bliss, to which man in the state of innocence could never have been entitled, because they are not so much the actions of men, as the moral actions of Christ, their mystical head, being performed through the influence of his grace and of his spirit; being offered to God by him, and finally through him accepted. Now all this would not have taken place in the state of original justice ; God would have been far from obtaining the same degree of glory, and man from being elevated to the same degree of honour and of bliss. Have we not, therefore, great reason, with heart-felt gratitude to acknowledge and adore the depths of the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God in permitting a sin, which was to be the occasion of such immense benefit to mankind ? At the sight of the admirable counsels of God for the redemption of mankind, the church cannot contain her inflamed sentiments, but giving way to the rapture of her transports, she breaks forth in the following sublime strain : “ O wonderful condescension of thy mercy towards us ! O inestimable love of charity! thou hast delivered up thy Son to redeem the servant! O, truly necessary sin of Adam, which was cancelled by the death of Christ! O, happy guilt, which was to have such and so great a Redeemer!''
*“And he is the head of the body, the Church, who is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy." Coloss. i. 18. · f"I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit." John, xv.5.
I“ By whom (Christ) he hath given us very great and precious promises; .. that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Cor. i. 4.
“O mira circa nos tuæ pietatis dignatio ! O inestimabilis dilectio charitatis! ut servum redimeres, filium tradidisti. O certe necessarium Adæ peccatum, quod Christi morte deletum est! O felix culpa, quæ talem ac tantum meruit habere Redemptorem !" In Bened. cerei Pasch, Sabb. S.
Objection. But the Unitarian has not yet done : “ This doctrine, (says he,) makes God the author of sin, and the punisher of crimes in men, which he has rendered it impos-, sible they should not commit.”*
LXXVI. Answer. By confounding ideas, the Unitarians endeavour to throw dust in the eyes of their readers. No, God is not the author of original sin, whether we consider it in Adam our first parent, or in his posterity. And first, God is not the author of original sin, as far as it relates to Adam himself, for as such it is manifest, that it had no other cause than the free will of Adam, who, contrary to the positive prohibition of God, committed it by his own free choice and determination. Nor is God the author of original sin, as far as that sin exists in and affects the posterity of Adam. For what is original sin, when considered in the posterity of Adam ? It is assuredly not their actual sin, i. e. not a sin committed by their own physical free choice, but by the physical will of Adam, which was morally their own, and which chiefly consists in the privation of sanctifying grace, and in the exclusion from the kingdom of heaven, if this grace be not restored. Now this privation of sanctifying grace, for the very reason that it is a privation or negation, does not require a certain, determinate, efficient, and positive cause; it is sufficient, that God, in consequence of the sin of Adam, cease to preserve the supernatural habit of sanctifying grace in man; and this is all God does in regard to original sin in the children of Adam ; he, therefore, can with as little reason be said to be the author of that sin, as of all other sins, merely because he permits them.
LXXVII. Objection. But is it not cruel in the extreme, to doom poor innocent children, who happen to die without baptism, to eternal torments, and that for a fault, which they could not help committing ?
Answer. And who damns these children to everlasting torments ? Christians, indeed, hold it as an undoubted doctrine, “that unless those children be reborn of water and the holy Ghost, and thus recover the sanctifying grace, which in the
* Unitarian Miscellany, No. 1, vol. 1, page 19.
present order of things is a means absolutely necessary to en ter the kingdom of heaven, they cannot enter it, and thus suffer what is called the pain of loss, which consists in the exclusion from the beatific vision of God, which being an extraordinary favour, altogether undue to man, God might have refused him, even if he had never sinned. As to sensible and corporeal pains, which God has designed for the punishment of actual şins, of sins committed by the ill use of our senses, it is the general opinion of the best divines, and the common persuasion of all Christians, that they do not suffer them.
This dissertation being already too prolix, it is time to close our observations. The Christian philosopher discovers in this mystery of original guilt, and in the bountiful designs of the Most High, which are connected with it, the reason of all the evils of his condition, an astonishing display of the divine goodness, and the elucidation of most of his doubts. This mystery cheers his drooping spirits by the most sublime hopes, inflames his gratitude towards God, and confidence in him, and presents man with such an order of things, and such a concatenation of events, since the beginning of the world, down to this present day, as raises him above himself, as satisfies his reason and all his desires, at the same time that he knows it to be superior to all the lights of reason, and to all the researches of the philosopher. Why do you, Unitarian, separate these great truths ? Why do you erase from the history of religion, that which constitutes its chief beauty and comfort ? that mystery, which is the clue to all others, without which, as Paschal remarks, religion becomes an inexplicable enigma, and man a more inconceivable mystery to himself than this mystery is to him?* Original sin is a folly in the eye of the profane sophister, but this folly is wiser than all the wisdom of men : “ That which appeareth foolish of God, is wiser than men.” 1 Cor. i. 25.
* Pensees de Paschal. «Quod stultum est Dei, sapientius est hominibus,"
Dissertation on the adorable Mystery of the Blessed Trinity.
“ Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes, Baptizantes eos in nomine Pa
tris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.” Matt. 28, v. 19. “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, Baptizing them in the
Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”'
LXXVIII. With a view of proceeding with order and perspicuity on a Mystery, which, of all others, is the most abstruse, and the most impervious to all created understandings, we shall follow the same method which we pursued in the preceding dissertation on Original Sin, and bring the whole matter under several distinct heads. The subject divides itself naturally into the following chapters ::
In this chapter we shall give a brief account of the errors, which have been broached, during the lapse of these eighteen hundred years, against the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity.
Next, we shall investigate, what reason itself, without the aid of Revelation, says on this ineffable Mystery, and whether the Unitarian, without even resorting to the Scriptures, be not forced, by the dictates of reason alone, to admit, not only the possibility of this Mystery, but also its propriety.
In this chapter we shall establish this fundamental dogma of the Trinity, 1st. By plain Scriptural evidence. 2dly. By the concurrent and uniform testimonies of the Fathers of both the Greek and Latin church, especially of those thatflourished before the general Council of Nice. 3dly. By the authority of Councils and Symbols of Faith. 4thly. By the constant and perpetual practice and belief of the Church. At the conclusion of which, we shall meet the superannuated sophisms which have been advanced against the Mystery of the Trinity by the Arians; next, in the sixteenth century, by the Socinians; in the seventeenth, by the anti-christrian Sophisters, and, at last, in the eighteenth, by the Unitarians.
Shall be taken up in establishing the Divinity and Personality of the Holy Ghost, and in exploding the objections of the Pneumatomachi.