« ZurückWeiter »
- Atonement of the Redeemer. But these slight shades of difference, do not interrupt their harmony, nor greatly impede their operations in opposing the Orthodox. My remarks, however, will be principally made on that class of Anti-Trinitarians, who reside in this vicinity. They are the disciples of Socinus rather than of Arius, yet, they seem to be unwilling to take the Socinian name. The difference seems to be this ;-Socinus advocated the propriety of worshipping Christ, while he believed him to be nothing but a man, which our modern Anti-Trinitarians, with a greater consistency with the scheme, refuse to perform. I have not been able to learn, that there is any other material difference between Socinus and the Anti-Trinitarians in this region. It is the moral tendency of the system, as it is held here, with which we are chiefly concerned. In attending to that, however, the nature and tendency of the system at large may be ascertained.
The plan, to which these discourses stand opposed, is essentially different from our views, in every prominent feature. If that is divine truth, then we are as really idolaters as the heathen world; but if we are correct, then our opponents are nominally christians, but real infidels. These conclusions cannot be consistently denied; yet the AntiTrinitarians seem to be loth to admit them. This arises from their latitudinarianism, and the non-importance which they attach to doctrinal opinions. But that is mere pretence; for they show the greatest possible opposition to Calvinistic doctrines, and declare that they are hostile to all virtue-repugnant to the glory and government of God. These things will be made to appear, in the subsequent part of this subject.
I am, by no means, disposed to take offence at their sayings on these points; for if their system is the right one, they must necessarily believe, that we can never go to hea
ven in our idolatry. It is said in the word of God, that "idolaters shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone,, which is the second death." Rev. 21. 8. It is equally clear, that if we are right, they are" denying the Lord that bought them ;" and the Apostle says, that such people are " bringing upon themselves, swift destruction." 2 Pet. 2. 1. 2 Pet. 2. 1. The difference, therefore, between these systems, is as great as that between light and darknes, heaven and hell. Shall we then compliment each other, as fellow Christians? No; no such relation can exist between us. It is justly said by one of their own writers, that "people, whose religious sentiments are so dissimilar, cannot be fellow worshippers in the same temple."* The effects of our system and their's, therefore, must be entirely different on the human mind. In the next sermon, I shall attempt to show more particularly, how the scheme that I am opposing, operates on the hearts and lives of men. AMEN.
*The Rev. "Samuel Miller, D. D. Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government, in the Theological Seminary of the Fresbyterian Church in the United States, at Princeton," says, that he had an interview with “Dr. Priestley, two or three years before" his "decease," at which time, Dr. Priest ley said, "I do not v onder that you Calvinists entertain and express a strongly unfavorable opinion of us Unitarians. The truth is, there neither can, nor ought to be, any compromise between us. If you are right, WE ARE NOT CHRISTIANS AT ALL; and if we are right, you ARE GROSS IDOLATERS." [See the Southern Intelligencer for March 30, 1822, page 50.]
GALATIANS 4. 17.
They zealously affect you, but not well.
One discourse has been delivered from this passage. The proposition deduced from it, is,
THE BANEFUL EFFECTS OF CORRUPT DOCTRINES ON THE HUMAN MIND.
In the illustration of it, some remarks were made,
1. On a scheme of theology called Universalism, which holds a near relation to the system against which these sermons are levelled.
2. Some general things were said on the moral tendency of Anti-Trinitarianism. But in descending to particulars, we may observe,
1. How that system leads its advocates to treat the Scripture and its doctrines. It has been fairly proved, in the preceding sermons, that they wholly deny the plenary inspiration of the Bible. The evidence of this fact, therefore, need not be repeated. The writings which we consider as sacred, they treat with as little ceremony as the productions of any other faithful historians. In one word, they believe what they please of them, and reject the rest. Their whole scheme appears to be doubtfulness, and open denial. They deny the Trinity-the Deity of Christ— his Atonement-the Personality and peculiar Offices of the
Holy Ghost-the decrees and sovereignty of God-the unalterable nature of the moral law-the uncancellable obligation of all intelligent beings to perfect holiness-unconditional submission-disinterested benevolence-total depravity-instantaneous regeneration by the Spirit's power-the certain perseverance of the saints-and eternal punishment. They make great objections to the justice of God, in punishing any of his creatures. The belief seems to be greatly prevailing among them, that the souls of men sleep with their bodies until the resurrection, and that the wicked are to be eternally annihilated. When the plan is closely examined, it appears to be a compound of infidelity and Arminianism. As far as it relates to the full inspiration of the Scriptures, and the manner of the divine. existence, it is nearly allied to simple Deism; and as it relates to other doctrines, it leans to salvation by works instead of grace. It is, therefore, a medley of almost every thing that is false and pernicious. I am, by no means, alone in this opinion; for every writer among the Orthodox has made similar observations. If I know my own heart, I am far from wishing to misrepresent any thing that is believed by my opponents. If they are willing to assent to any of the points that I have said they deny, let them avow their belief; and I will cheerfully retract what I have said. It would give me much pleasure to have them acknowledge any of the essential doctrines believed by the Orthodox. On a subject of such magnitude, honesty is beautiful; it is the best policy that can possibly be pursued.
2. A brief view will be taken of what the Anti-Trinitarian system leads its advocates to believe. Their articles of faith are few, and unimportant. They differ from mere infidels, however, in admitting that God has made some communications of his will to the Prophets and Apostles; but they deny that he has so far superintended their wri
tings, as to secure them from error. They think themselves justifiable, therefore, in using their own reason to correct the productions of those messengers of Heaven. They differ in some degree, also, from the Deists, in relation to their view of Jesus Christ. . It is admitted by both sects, that there was such a man; and both believe that he was nothing but a man. The Anti-Trinitarians, however, believe that he was sent of God, to instruct men by his precepts and examples, and to seal the truth of his mission by his death; but these things are wholly denied by avowed Deists. So much difference really exists between these denominations. But, by the Orthodox, that disparity must be considered as a trivial matter-as a shade scarcely discernible, when compared with their views of "the Lord of glory." If the Supreme Divinity of Christ is given up, the foundation is sapped at once on which the Church is built.
The Anti-Trinitarians acknowledge that there will be a resurrection of human bodies; and that is the only essential thing, besides the being of God, in which they agree with the Orthodox. They seem to be much pleased with their own soundness in this respect; and we are willing to give them credit for it. A future and general judgment, is a doctrine allowed by them, and that Christ is to be the judge; but they differ greatly from us, in relation to the circumstances of that momentous scene. But acknowledging Jesus Christ to be the judge of the world, is wholly inconsistent with the belief of his simple humanity. No mere creature can be capable of raising the dead, and of properly discerning the character, and deciding the destiny of angels and men. To think that a mere man is suitably qualified for these high operations, is infinitely more unreasonable, than a belief of the Trinity in Unity. Raising the dead, and judging the intelligent