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in Christ, there is no truth in his religion. Hence it seriously concerns those, who deny the divinity of Christ, impeach his character, and subvert his gospel, to prepare to meet bim when he shall come in the clouds of heaven, and settle the solemn dispute between them.
2. To deny the divinity of Christ, is virtually to set up human reason against divine revelation. The Bible so plainly represents Christ to be a divine person, that none would hesitate to believe his divinity, if they could only comprehend the mystery of his being God and man in two natures, and yet but one person. This was the stumbling-block to the Jews. They could not comprehend how Christ, being a man, could make himself God; or how he could say, when he was not fifty years old, before Abraham was, I am." And this is the stumbling-block to those, who now deny the divinity of Christ. The mystery contained in this doctrine, leads them to explain away the plainest passages of Scripture in favor of it; and to bend all their force to prove, that the personal union between the two natures of Christ is a plain and palpable absurdity. A late Writer, when he is reminded, that the Apostles maintained the doctrine of Christ's divinity, scruples not to say, “As it is not pretended that there are any miracles adapted to prove that Christ made and supports the world, I do not see that we are under any obligation to believe it, merely because it was an opinion held by an Apostle.” He adds, “It is not, certainly, from a few casual expressions, which so easily admit of other interpretations, and especially in Epistolary writings, that we can be authorized that such was the serious opinion of the Apostles. But if it had been their real opinion, it would not follow that it was true, unless the teaching of it should appear to be included in their general commission with which, as I have shewn, it has no sort of connexion.”
But is it safe for men to lean to their own understanding, in opposition to the plainest declarations of Scripture? Let experience speak. Some have made the trial upon this important subject; but greatly to their own disadvantage. For, their attempt to avoid the seeming inconsistency of Christ's divinity, has driven them into a number of most plain and palpable absurdities. By denying him to be God as well as man, they have been obliged to ascribe such things to his humanity, as properly and necessarily belong to his divinity. This will clearly appear in a variety of instances.
The Scripture represents Christ as existing from eternity: but this they are obliged partly to acknowledge and partly to deny; and so maintain, that he neither existed from eternity, nor yet had a beginning of existence; which is a plain absurdity. The Scripture represents Christ as creating the world, which be. longs to him as God: but this they are obliged to as. cribe to him as man; which is a plain absurdity. The Scripture represents Christ as governing the world, which belongs to hin as God: but this they are obliged to ascribe to him as a man; which is a plain absurdity. The Scripture represents Christ as having power to raise the dead, at the general resurrection, which belongs to him as God: but this they are oblig. ed to ascribe to him as man; which is a plain absurdity. The Scripture represents Christ as being able to judge the secrets of all hearts, at the last day, which belongs to him as God: but this they are obliged to ascribe to him as man; which is a plain absurdity. All these absurdities necessarily flow from denying the
divinity of Christ, and applying those things to him as man, which belong to him as God.
If it should be allowed, for once, that the doctrine of Christ's divinity is really absurd; yet it is by no means so plain and palpable an absurdity, as these which have been mentioned. For, it is much easier to conceive that humanity and divinity should be personally united in Christ, than to conceive that a mere dependent nature should ever begin to exist; or that such a dependent nature should be able to create the world, to govern the world, to judge the world, and raise the dead. We can clearly see, that a being below the Deity cannot perform such divine works; but we cannot clearly see, that humanity and divinity could not be personally united in the great Emmanuel. As soon as men set up their own reason against divine revelation, they break over a sacred enclosure, and take the liberty to reason themselves into one absurdity after another, until they insensibly fall into the gulf of skepticism. “Those, who will believe nothing, the manner and causes of which they cannot comprehend, must be in the way to believe nothing at all." To avoid this dangerous error, let us be content to give God his place, and to take our own. Let us be willing to allow, that the weakness of God is stronger than men; and the foolishness of God is wiser than men."
It is natural to remark in the last place,
3. That the establishment of Christ's divinity establishes the beauty and consistency of his whole character and conduct. It is this, which demonstrates the rectitude of his moral character, and so renders him worthy of the respect and imitation of the Socinians themselves. It is this, which gives worth to his death; and so renders him a complete and all-sufficient Savior. It is this, which reconciles all the great things ascribed to him, by the Prophets and the Apostles. It is this, which renders him worthy of the humble homage and praises of all the hosts of heaven. It is this, which establishes the truth and importance of the gospel. It is this, which ratifies the truth of those great and precious promises, that remain to be fulfilled; and assures us, that religion shall have a long and universal reign. It is this, which affords permanent light and consolation to all good men, while passing through the dark and dreary journey of life. In a word, it is the Divinity of Christ, which spreads a lustre over the face of the world, and calls upon Zion to rejoice, that her God reigneth,
Acts xxiv, 16. And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward
IT seems rather strange, that those, who have critically surveyed the powers and operations of their own minds, should entertain very different ideas of conscience. One tells us, that conscience is nothing else but our own judgment of the moral rectitude or pravity of our own actions. A second tells us, that conscience is properly no more than reason itself, considered as instructed in regard to the rule we ought to follow. A third tells us, that there is a principle of reflection in men by which they distinguish between, approve and disapprove their own actions, A fourth tells us, that conscience, or the moral sense, is a cordial as well as intellectual exercise. This diversity of opinions respecting conscience, has been the occasion of many disputes upon moral and religious subjects, and of many errors not only in theory but in practice. It may be of some service, therefore, to consider conscience in both a speculative and practical light. The Apostle speaks of it in both these views. He represents it as a distinct faculty of the mind, which he earnestly endeavored to keep always free from offence. “Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men." These words naturally lead us to consider,