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tious and ignorant person, clothing his fancy with the Spirit of God, and his imagination with the gift of Revelation : insomuch as when the Truth, which is but one, shall appear to the simple multitude, no less variable than contrary to itself, the faith of men will soon after die away by degrees, and all Religion be held in scorn and contempt.”—Hist of the World. B. II. ch. v, sect. I.
-ON THE MISREPRESENTATION OF THE
DOCTRINE OF ATONEMENT BY UNITARIANS.
Page 16. (*)-On this subject Dr. Priestley (Hist. of Cor. vol. i. p. 153.) thus represents the arguments of the Orthodox,
“ Sin being an offence against an infinite Being, requires an infinite satisfaction, which can only be made by an infinite
person; that is, one who is no less than God himself. Christ, therefore, in order to make this infinite satisfaction for the sins of men, must himself be God, equal to God the Father." -With what candour this has been selected, as a specimen of the mode of reasoning, by which the doctrine of Atonement as connected with that of the divinity of Christ, is maintained by the established church, it is needless to remark. That some few indeed have thus argued, is certainly to be admitted and lamented. But how poorly such men have reasoned, it needed not the acuteness of Dr. Priestley to discover. On their own principle, the reply is obvious,-that sin being committed by a finite creature, requires only a finite satisfaction, for which purpose a finite person might be an adequate victim. But the insinuation, that our belief in the divinity of Christ, has been the offspring of this strange conceit, is much more becoming the de: termined advocate of a favourite cause, than the sober enquirer after truth. Our mode of reasoning is directly the reverse.
The Scriptures proclaim the divinity of Christ; and so far are we from inferring this attribute of our Lord from the necessity of an infinite satisfaction, that we infer from it, both the great love of our Almighty Father, who has “ spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all;" and the great heinousness of human guilt, for the expiation of which, it was deemed fit that so great a Being should suffer.
The decent manner, in which Mr. Belsham has thought proper to represent the orthodox notion of the atonement, is, that man could“ not have been saved, unless one God had died, to satisfy the justice, and appease the wrath of another.” (Review, &c. p. 221.) This is language, with which I should not have disgraced my page, but that it may serve to shew how dangerous a thing it is, to open a door to opinions, that can admit of treating
şubjects the most sacred with a levity, which seems so nearly allied to impiety.
NO, XIV. ON THE DISRESPECT OF SCRIPTURE MANI
FESTED BY UNITARIAN WRITERS.
Page 17.0—Perhaps I may be charged with having made a distinction in this place, which gives an unfair representation of Unitarians, inasmuch as they also profess to derive their arguments from Scripture. But whether that profession be not intended in mockery, one might be almost tempted to question ; when it is found, that in every instance, the doctrine of Scripture is tried by their' abstract notion of right, and rejected if not accordant :-when by means of figure and allusion, it is every where made to speak a language, the most repugnant to all fair, critical interpretation; until emptied of its true meaning, it is converted into a vehicle for every fantastic theory, which under the name of rational, they may think
proper to adopt :-when in such parts, , as propound Gospel truths of a contexture too solid to admit of an escape in figure and allusion, the sacred writers are charged as bunglers, producing “ lame accounts, improper quotations, and inconclusive reasonings,” (Dr. Priestley's 12th Letter to Mr. Burn) and philosophy is consequently called in to rectify their errors :--when one writer of this class (Steinbart) tells us, that
“ the narrations” (in the New Testament) “ true or false, are only suited for ignorant, uncultivated minds, who cannot enter into the evidence of natural religion ;” and again, that “ Moses according to the childish conceptions of the Jews in his days, paints God as agitated by violent affections, partial to one people, and hating all other nations :"_when another, (Semler) remarking on St. Peter's declaration, that prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, says, that “ Peter speaks here according to the conception of the Jews, and that “ the prophets may have delivered the offspring of their own brains as divine revelations :" (Dr. Erskine's Sketches and Hints of Ch. Hist. N° 3. pp. 66. 71.)-when a third (Engedin) speaks of St. John's portion of the New Testament, as written with “ concise and abrupt obscurity, inconsistent with itself, and made up of allegories;" and Gagneius glories in having given “a little light to St. Paul's darkness, a darkness, as some think, industriously affected :"-when we find Mr. Evanson, one of those able Commentators referred to by Mr. Belsham in his Review, &c. p. 206, assert, (Dissonance, &c. p. i.) that “ the Evangelical histories contain gross and irreconcileable contradic- , tions," and consequently discard three out of the four, retaining the Gospel of St. Luke only, at the same time drawing his pen over as much of this,
as either from its infelicity of style, or other such causes happens not to meet his approbation :when we find Dr. Priestley, besides his charge against the writers of the New Testament before recited, represent in his letter to Dr. Price, the narration of Moses concerning the creation and the fall of man, as a lame account; and thereby meriting the praise of magnanimity bestowed on him by theologians, equally enlightened :-when finally, not to accumulate instances where so many challenge attention, we find the Gospel openly described by Mr. Belsham, (Review, &c. p. 217.) as containing nothing more than the Deism of the French Theo-Philanthrope, save only the fact of the resurrection of a human being (see Appendix); and when, for the purpose of establishing this, he engages, that the Unitarian writers shall prune down the Scriptures to this moral system and this single fact, by shewing that whatever supports any thing else is either“ interpolation, omission, false reading, mistranslation, or erroneous interpretation,” (Review, pp. 206. 217. 272.) :-when, I say, all these things are considered, and when we find the Bible thus contemned and rejected by the gentlemen of this new light, and a new and more convenient Gospel carved out for themselves, can the occasional profession of reverence* for Scripture, as
* The fathers of the Socinian School ara as widely distin.' guished from their followers of the preseat day, by their