Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

gies of learning as well as of sanctity; wiser than those eighteen venerable Assemblies in which the whole Church of Christ was collected ?" Any man, capable of reflection will readily answer in the words of the Roman bard, “ Credat Judæus Apella, non ego.” “ Apella, the Jew, may believe this, but not l.

But stop, may say the Unitarian, this is not yet touching the question : to do any thing to the purpose, you must be able to show, by fair argument, that our doctrine is false, inconsistent with scripture and reason, and, of course, inadmissible.

Perfectly right : let us, therefore, come directly to the point, and, in order to proceed methodically, let us proceed to 'the grand principle, on which the whole structure of the Unitarian system is hinged. “Man cannot reasonably believe what is above the sphere of reason; and, of course, all mysteties are to be expunged from the code of Christianity.

As this principle is all-important, and, as essential to the establishment of their system, as the foundations are to an edi. fice, it is, in the nature of things, to expect that they will fight for it as “ pro aris et focis,conscious as they are to themselves, that, if this one principle be overthrown, Unitarianism must needs fall, and Christianity triumph; the reader must, therefore, be prepared to encounter all, that human ingenuity and philosophic wit could possibly invent in support of a principle which is the primum mobile, and the conditio, sine qua non, of the Unitarian cause. · Their process of reasoning on this subject, like an impregnable battery, is found in the following syllogism :

V. “ The Scriptures, being expressly intended for our instruction, edification, rule of life, and means of happiness, must have every where a consistent and intelligible meaning."* Unitarian major.

But the mysteries of original sin, of the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ, of the Trinity, of the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, the necessity of supernatural grace, are unintelligible to the human understanding : Unitarian minor.

* See the above Abstract of Unitarian Belief.

Therefore they are not revealed in the scriptures, and, of course are not to be believed. Unitarian conclusion.

If the major proposition be correct, Unitarianism triumphs : if false and groundless, Unitarianism must needs be crushed under its ruins. Acquainted as we are with the position and ground, which the enemy has taken, let us try, if we cannot storm his batteries and drive him out of his entrenchments. In reconnoitering the place, it will require, methinks, no great degree' of learning, to make it appear to the most ordinary capacity, that the above major proposition, understood in the sense and meaning of the Unitarian system, is utterly false, irrational, and absurd.

VI. Before I proceed to my demonstration, it is proper, forthe sake of avoiding confusion, clearly to state the point in question between the Unitarians and the Christians : for, if by the position, “ The Scriptures must have every where an intelligible meaning,” nothing more is meant, than, that God in the Scriptures is to speak to men after such a manner, and in such language, as to make them sufficiently understood what he has revealed and what they are to believe, without however, giving them a right to dive into the intrinsic nature of the revelation ; after nearly the same manner, as a servant, has a right to know clearly the commands of his master, (as otherwise he could not comply with them,) without having a right to know the reasons which his master may have to impose them on him; if, I say, no more is meant than this, the Unitarian will speak plain, good sense, and the whole world will agree with him : for, it is obvious, that, unless men have some idea of what God reveals, they cannot be bound to believe it. But if this principle, “the Scriptures must have every where an intelligible meaning," is understood to imply, that men have a right to examine the very intrinsic nature of the object revealed, to compare it with the natural ideas of their reason, and that, if found to be unintelligible, this alone is a sufficient reason to reject that mysterious and unintelligi.

ble meaning, and, of course, all divine mysteries, which are essentially incomprehensible to human reason ; tbe position, thus understood, is utterly false, irrational, and absurd.

I do not presume, that any Unitarian will call it in question, whether this latter meaning be the identical position of the Unitarian creed: for this is undeniable, from the very abstract of the Unitarian belief above quoted; next, from all the writers that have stept forward in vindication of that belief; and, in fine, from the total rejection of all mysteries, which the Unitarians reject, on no other ground, but, because they are unintelligible to their understandings, *

* Since the known enemies of Christianity, such as Bolingbroke, Hobbes, Shaftsbury, Toland, Bayle, Voltaire, Rosseau, Thomas Paine, &c. &c have always considered this principle, “Men cannot reasonably believe, what they cannot comprehend,” or, what is nearly tantamount, “What is above reason, is against reason,” as the most powerful engine against Revelation, we need not be surprised when we find our Unitarian friends utterly averse from acknowledging, that they have adopted the said principles. But let Mr. Sparks, (minister of the First Independent Church of Baltimore,) in his sixth Letter to the Rev. William E. Wyatt, D. D. page 200—202, and his other Unitarian friends, openly disclain the adoption of the above maxims, as long as they please, still it will not be less a fact, to any one that is conversant with their writings, that the principles under consideration are, in reality, the very basis, of the whole Unitarian system. The reader will scarce have perused a page, either in Mr. Sparks' Letters, or in the Christiau Disciple, or in the Unitarian Miscellany, when he will be made sensible, that, in the Unitarian language, Unintelligible, absurd, irrational, inconsistent, and contradictory, are all syno. nymous expressions; and that mysteries and absurdities, inconsistencies, contradictions, signify one and the same thing. The same is clearly apparent from their mode of investigating the mysteries; for, instead of inquiring into the motives of extrinsic credibility, as reason directs, when we set about to ascertain Divine Revelation; or, instead of inquiring, whether God has actually revealed them or not, they, on the contrary, follow a method quite the re, verse : their first and only care being, not to examine wbether God has actually revealed them, and whether, of course, they are to be believed without further ado, whether intelligible to reason, or unintelligible, but to examine into the intrinsic nature of the mysteries, in order to discover, whether they be concord, ant with the natural ideas of reason, or, what is the same, whether they be intelligible to reason, and, in case they are not, as it always falls out in mysteries, they are sure to reject them as inconsistencies, absurdities, contradic, tions, irrational notions, for no other reason, but, because reason cannot comprehend them. What is said here, shall be substantiated, if necessary by kopious extracts from Unitarian productions.

The meaning of the principle being thus clearly stated, let us come to the point under consideration. In order to maintain that“ the Scriptures must have every where an intelligible meaning,” that is to say, a meaning void of mystery, and such as reason may penetrate, the Unitarian must needs suppose, that either God has no right to reveal mysteries im. pervious to reason, and to exact from men the tribute of their implicit belief in those mysteries ; or, if, absolutely speaking, he has a right to do this, still, it is not consistent with, or worthy of, bis wisdom, to do so; or, in fine, that it is repugnant to the very nature of the human understanding, and derogatory to its dignity, to believe what is above it, or what it cannot conceive. Now, I maintain, that these three suppositions are equally untenable ; therefore, the Scriptures may have a meaning unintelligible to the human mind, a mysterious meaning, a meaning above the reach of reason, and such as reason cannot fathom.

SECTION 1.

VII. God has a right to reveal to men impenetrable mysteries, and to exact from them an implicit belief in the same.

And how can this.ve, asks the Unitarian, and how. can God require, that a rational being should believe, what he cannot conceive ?

The Unitarian will permit me to reply, with equal freedom, and, I trust, with reason on my side. And who are you, (so I would argue with my Unitarian friend,) who are you, a little being of yesterday, that you dare dispute the rights, which your God has over you? Who are you, who presume to call your master to an account for his conduct towards you, and to set limits to the infinite claims which he essentially possesses over the whole creation? Who are you, who pretend to prescribe laws to your God, respecting what he is to exact of you, and what not ? What! you have the audacity to say to the Sovereign Lord of the universe, “ Thus far thou shalt come and no further :)* thou hast a right to reveal to me what I can conceive, and nothing more: thy oracles shall be respected when approved at the tribunal of my reason, and disregarded when above my understanding. What language! It is your's, when you deny your God the right of revealing mysteries to men.

Whence do you come? Who made you all that you are? Is it not God? Are you not, therefore, born his servant ? Are you not, essentially and perpetually, depending on bim, as the only author of your existence, both as to body and soul? Are you not the work of his hands, and has he not, therefore, an infinite right over your whole being, over all your faculties, corporeal as well as intellectual ? Is it not, therefore, his province to dictate to you, not your's to dictate to him, how and after what manner you are to worship him? Is not God, in virtue of your creation, your sovereign master, and does not reason dictate that it belongs to the master to command, and to the servant to obey ?t Does the vessel say to the potter, Why hast thou made me so ? Has not the potter an indisputable right to do with his vessel, the work of his hands, what he pleases, and to employ it for whatever use he thinks proper, and that for this very reason, because he has made it? How much more, are you and I under the infinite control of our common Maker, and how much more right has he, to dispose of us, at his divine pleasure, than the potter can have to dispose of the work of his hands, and to exact from us such a determinate kind of worship, and no other; to demand, in fine, that we should not only honour bis infinite dominion, by a perfect submission of our will to his divine

* « Usque huc procedes, et non amplius." Job. ! St. Paul's Epist. ad Rom. ix. ver. 20, et seq. "O, man, who art thou, that' thou repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Or has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ?" And Isaiah, ch. x. ver. 15, “Shall the axe boast itself against him, that cutteth with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him, by whom it is drawn? As if a rod should lift itself up against him that lifteth it up, and a staff exalt itsell, which is but wood.”

« PoprzedniaDalej »