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By Evangelical Christianity you will understand me to mean that system, the leading doctrines of which are, the depravity of human nature, the deity and atonement of Jesus Christ, justification by faith in the merits of his blood, and the necessity of the Holy Spirit's influence to regenerate and sanctify the heart. There are other doctrines in respect to which Christians who, in the main, may be considered evangelical, differ; but the rejection of either of those just mentioned is a virtual rejection of the system to which it belongs.
By Unitarianism I mean that system which, in its leading features, is directly the opposite of the one just referred to;—which maintains that the moral nature of man has sustained no shock by the original apostacy, but retains all its primeval purity; that Jesus Christ is a mere man, or at most only a superangelical being; that his death was chiefly that of a martyr, not that of an atoning Saviour; that we are justified by our own personal righteousness, not by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus; and that we are not dependant on any special divine influence for a spiritual renovation. I am aware that among those who have called themselves Unitarians there have been some who have professed, in some sense, to receive the doctrine of atonement; but while I would cheerfully concede to such whatever of truth they really hold, without even stopping to inquire at present in respect to its consistency with other parts of their system, I cannot forbear to remark that, so far as my observation has extended, they have generally attached but little importance to the doctrine, and have by no means considered the rejection of it as implying even a very serious defect in Christian character. If I do not greatly mistake, the class of Unitarians who embrace this doctrine in any sense, at this day, is small;—50
small as not to demand any distinct consideration in this discourse. The same remark may apply to some other of the evangelical doctrines : some Unitarians have claimed, and for aught I know, still claim, to hold them in a modified form; but the number is too inconsiderable to constitute any ground for a formal exception.
It may not improbably strike some minds that both the terms by which I have chosen to designate these systems are objectionable. It may be said on the one hand that the very term Evangelical Christianity seems to take for granted that the system to which it is applied is the true system ; in other words, that which is taught in the New Testament; and on the other hand that, in according to the opposite system the name Unitarianism, we seem virtually to acknowledge ourselves Tritheists; as if we were not also believers in one only living and true God. But I cannot conceive that in either case the objection is valid. In appropriating the term Evangelical Christianity, we only mean to designate the system which we firmly believe the gospel contains : in conceding the use of the term Unitarianism, we only allow to men their own way of expressing their belief that God exists in one person only, in opposition to ours that he exists in three. I would not say that names are of no importance; or that they are not sometimes worth contending for ; but in the present case I can perceive no unfairness in claiming the one, no unworthy concession in yielding the other.
With this general explanation of the two systems, we will proceed to contrast them in respect to Í. THEIR ACCORDANCE WITH THE OBVIOUS INTER
PRETATION OF THE BIBLE:
II. THE HOMAGE WHICH THEY PAY TO THE AU
THORITY OF SCRIPTURE: III. THE NUMBER AND IMPORTANCE OF THEIR PE
CULIAR DOCTRINES: IV. THEIR ADAPTATION TO PACIFY A GUILTY CON
SCIENCE: V. THEIR TENDENCY TO PRODUCE AND CHERISH
THE CHRISTIAN VIRTUES.
I. In respect to THEIR ACCORDANCE WITH THE OB
VIOUS INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE. 1. I refer, first, to the doctrines which the two systems inculcate concerning the person and character of Jesus Christ. Unitarianism maintains that he is a mere creature; possessing either a superangelical nature or simple humanity. Evangelical Christianity maintains that he is truly and properly God, and truly and properly man; and that, in this double nature, he sustains the mediatorial office. Our inquiry is, which of these two doctrines is most in agreement with the obvious interpretation of Scripture.
It must have occurred to every reflecting reader of the Bible that the person and character of Christ are described by three different classes of passages, each of which differs materially from the others. That we may the more easily test the doctrines under consideration, I will select a few passages belonging to each class.
Of the first class I mention the following:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." "And thou Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are
the works of thy hands: they shall perish, but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment ; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” " Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all God blessed forever." 6 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” " And Jesús seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." “And I give unto them eternal life.” “For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." " Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord; which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” “And all the churches shall know that I am He, which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to his works.” “Every creature which is in Heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
"And they stoned Stephen invoking (as the literal translation is,) and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit !"
Of the second class of passages the following are a specimen :
“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men : and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." 6 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." " He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham." “Wherefore, in all things, it behooved him to be made like to his brethren."
Of the third class it may suffice to mention the following :
“ And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth.” “For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." 6 Then cometh the end when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority
For he must reign till he hath put mies under his feet.” " According to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet; and gave him to be the Head over all things to the Charch, which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” “Being made so much better than the angels as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excel