« PoprzedniaDalej »
guage of revelation, trinitarians have invented a very awkward, and in some cases, a perfectly unintelligible phraseology to express their ideas on this great tenet of their faith; such as, God of God; very God of very God; triune God; light of light; God-man; three persons in one God; two natures in one being; God the Son; God the Holy Ghost; trinity of persons, and unity of essence; trinity in unity, and unity in trinity; hypostatical union; eternal procession; and numerous others quite as extraordinary and unmeaning. Now of the phrases here quoted, not one can be found in the Bible, nor any thing resembling them. Does this argue much for the doctrine, which they are intended to shadow forth? It would seem as if the ingenuity of man had gone to its last extremity, in contriving such combinations of words, as should the most effectually cloud the understanding. They are more like the talismans of magic, than the plain symbols of religious truth. Trinitarians would no doubt think the charge very unjust, should we say they do not go to the Bible for their faith. We make no such charge. But tell us what evidence we can have in their vindication, when we find them so totally abandoning the language of the scriptures, and constructing their creeds in a phraseology as uncouth and contradictory, as it is unscriptural. These remarks need not be confined to the trinity. They will apply. with nearly equal force to many other doctrines, which have been made the burden of human creeds.
On the subject of the supposed two natures of Christ, Mr. Campbell says,
“Let the advocates of two natures produce any one passage where this sentiment is expressed, and then they may urge it upon us; but until they do this, we assert that it is no part of the christian religion. I would urge further, that the language of Jesus, in which it is said his human nature only is meant, is so expressed as necessarily to exclude his possessing any proper deity of his own. I shall here instance two passages as specimens. 'I can of mine own self do nothing.' Whatever natures he might have possessed surely must be included in the expression mine own self; and when he asserts, that he could do nothing, how dare any one contradict him, and assert quite the contrary? In 1 Cor. xv. 24, 28, we are told, that when the end cometh, then he shall deliver up the kingdom of God, even the Father--that the Father hath put all under his feet;but this expression manifestly excludes the subjection of the Father, who did put all things under him; "and when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.' This is a passage that speaks for itself, and we earnestly entreat our opponents to consider it attentively, and see if they can reconcile it with the possession of an underived Deity by our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Will it be said, that although the expression of two natures is not to be found, yet words to the same effect abound in scripture? I ask, where are these words to the same effect? I ask further, can any man pretend that he can employ terms better fitted to express the idea intended, than God himself?” p. 10.
In this doctrine of two natures, then, we find the same objections, in regard to the language used in describing or defining it, as in the trinity. It has no direct testimony in scripture. It is contradicted in numerous passages; it is contradictory in itself. What can be a plainer contradiction, than to say two beings are one being If Christ be God and man united, then he consists of two beings, as distinctly as two men. This is equally absurd and impossible. Being implies mind, and all the attributes of mind. Two beings imply two minds; and what man in a state of sanity will talk of the possibility of two minds being at the same time two minds and one mind? It is just as rational to say, that the consciousness of one man is the consciousness of another, or that the will of one is the will of another. The consciousness and nature of Christ were not the same as the consciousness and nature of God, nor was there necessarily any accordance between them. Christ had not always the same will as God; for where he says, "thy will, and not mine be done,” it is evident that his will at that time did not accord with the Father's. He was also subject to passions, desires, and feelings, to which there can be nothing corresponding in the nature of God. How then could these beings be the same, with such opposite tendencies in their natures?
It is idle to tell us here, that we are talking of things of which we know nothing, and therefore it is presumptuous for us to reason about them. We say the perfect union of God with another being is impossible, precisely as we say it is impossible for God to be unjust, unhappy, or unwise. Although we cannot comprehend the Deity, nor any part of his works, yet we do not hesitate to say, that certain things are impossible in regard to him. We venture to say this from what we know of his attributes. But we certainly have no stronger evidence of any of his attributes, than of his simple unity; and we may affirm with just as much confidence, that the essence of his being can never be so divided as in any sense to make three parts, or be so united with another as in any sense to make one being, as we can that it is impossible for his justice ever to be altered, or his power to be circumscribed. It is not dealing fairly with the subject, therefore, to call it a mystery, and to take it out of the province of reason.
But say the advocates of this doctrine, it is revealed, and must be believed, although it cannot be explained. This principle we adhere to most firmly. What is revealed we consider an implicit object of faith. That man is only a partial christian, who does not cheerfully and cordially receive a truth, which he is convinced has been revealed. But let not credulity be taken for cohviction. To pass over a revealed truth, without being able to discover it, is an unhappy mistake;. but we doubt whether it is more unfortunate, than to find revelations where none were intended. The former termi. nates in ignorance, the latter in error. For our own part, we have found nothing in the word of God, which gives any testimony in favour of the doctrine in question. It is nowhere mentioned in any form whatever. It is inferred, and obscurely inferred too, from disconnected and broken passages. But is this enough to prove a doctrine, which contradicts the highest principles of the understanding, which is at variance with the attributes of the Deity, and involves an impossibility? We think not.
Again, the language of Christ himself always implies, that he and the Father are distinct beings. When he prayed to God, was it himself to whom he prayed? It certainly was, if he and the Father were the same being. "All things," he says, "are delivered unto me of my Father-All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matth. xi. 27. xxviii. 18. Do these passages teach, that he was himself the same being as the Father, who had delivered to him all things? The Apostle says, Acts, ii. 36, “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Can any language more forcibly express two beings! Was God crucified? And what ineaning would there be in these words, if Jesus himself were the being by whom he was made Lord and Christ.
The second part of Mr. Campbell's treatise is devoted to the subject of the atonement, or the doctrine, which teaches, that the sufferings and death of Christ were
taken as a substitute for the sins of men. He states what he conceives to be the scripture view of the subject in the following words.
"Let it be observed, that the Greek word translated atonement is the same, that is almost always rendered reconciliation. It is never translated atonement in the New Testament, except in Rom. v. 11. and there it is in the margin rendered reconciliation; and in this text we are said to receive it. "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.'
“It supposes a variance to subsist between two parties, but made one again by reconciliation. The scripture gives us a distinct account of the parties at variance, the nature, means, and end of the reconciliation. That the parties are God on the one side, and man on the other seems admitted by all. That the cause of the difference is sin on the part of man, which alienated him from God, is as generally admitted as the former,
“Many also are willing to admit, that, as God is unchangeable in goodness, no change can have taken place in him, and as the change is wholly in man,
the reconciliation must consist in delivering him from sin with all its consequences.” p. 18.
The view here taken embraces an important fact, and one little regarded by those, who defend the doctrine of satisfaction. Men are to be reconciled to God, and not God to men. God can never have been estranged from his creatures. As he has regarded them once, he must always regard them. His nature is incapable of change or disaffection, and consequently he can never be otherwise than reconciled. The scriptures accordingly always speak of the reconciliation being on the part of men; as in the text above quoted, where it is said, "we have received the reconciliation.” And the command is, "Be ye reconciled to God.” By their sins men have wandered from their Maker. They have broken his laws, and become disaffected to his government. His love and goodness would bring them back, cause them to see their errors and follies, and reconcile them to his wise and equable dispensations.