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then, as we had been the slaves of Jin, and were redeemed by God, who ransomed us by the death of his son, it was maintained 'till aster the time of Austin (the principal author of all the rigid doctrines that are now called Calv'mlst) that the price of our redemption was paid not to God, but by God to the devils in whose power we were. Of this opinion was Austin himself, who wrote largely on the subject in his treatise on the doctrine of the trinity. It was long aster his time before we find any traces of its being generally thought that the price of redemption was paid to the o ffended justice of God and the present doctrine of atonement, founded on the idea of the absolute necessity of an infinite satissaction being made by one infinite being for offences of an insinite magnitude, as committed against another insinke being, is subsequent to the reformation. This doctrine was advanced by the reformers in the course of their controversy with the papists, about the doctrine of human merit, works of penance, and the power of granting indulgences. Now can it be supposed that a doctrine of so much importance, as this is always represented to be, should have been unknown so many ages?
Thus all these boasted ancient doctrines are in sact of late date, either having arisen from the principles of heathen philosophy, or having been started andi extended in the course of controversy, one salseposition making another necessary for its support;
and an air of awsul and deep mystery has been no small recommendation of them to many of the more ignorant.
The doctrine of the trinity, having been one of the earliest corruptions of christianity, will probably be one of the last to be completely eradicated. But the time, I trust, is sast-approaching, when, by means of the zeal of truly enlightened and good men in this great cause, this sundamental error, which gives such great and just cause of offence to jews and mahometans, will be removed, and all that has been built upon it will sall to the ground.
'My christian brethren, if the reading of this address give rise to any doubts or scruples in your minds, with respect to some doctrines which you have been used to consider as true and fundamental in the christian religion, inquire sarther; and if you be satisfied that you have hitherto been mistaken, dare to avow the truth, and act consistently with it. Dread the consequences of joining with an enlightened mind, in the idolatrous worslnp of any creature, though enjoined by any human authority; remembering the words of Christ, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only limit thou serve. Matt. iv. 10. and also that awsul voice from heaven respecting all antichristian corruptions of the gospel in mystical Babylon; Come out of her, my
people, that ye be not partakers of her fins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. Rev. xviii. 4.
Think not to avail yourselves of the wretched equivocation of many divines, who imagine that they may sasely ascribe all divine honours to Jesui Christ, on account of his union with the Father, when they believe no more of his proper divinity than prosesied arians or focinians. By this artifice they secure the reputation of orthodoxy; but let them consider the value of the purchase, and the price they give for it. To mere worldly considerations, to the praise of men, or filthy lucre, they sacrifice that integrity, for the loss of which worlds cannot compensate.
The publisher of these tracts docs not conceal his name through the sear of any thing that men can fay of him, or do to him, but merely to give what he has written a better chance of being read without prejudice. What he has done is out of a finceie good-will and compassion to the multitude, who believe they know not what, or why, and what is of more consequence, who know not what spirit they are of; but instead of speaking the truth in love, mistake bitterness and rancour for a zeal for God and his truth, and also for the sake of a better fort of people, who are unhappily drawn into the same delusions.
Considering the deserence which the common people always pay to the judgment of men of learn
ing, there can be little doubt but that, if those persons who, having studied this subject, have been convinced that Christ is not God, and ought not to be worshipped as God, had openly avowed their opinion, and had had recourse to no mean subterfuge or equivocation, this fundamental article of true and rational christianity had long ago been the prevailing belief; and our religion appearing more worthy of its divine author, there would have been, at this time, sewer unbelievers in all christian countries, and many more converts made to it from Other religions. And, compared with this glorious advantage, what has been gained by all the arts and sophistry of ministers, who have concealed their real meaning under ambiguous expressions, lest, as they pretend, they mould too much shock the prejudices of their hearers?
That some regard should be paid to the prejudices of the weak is allowed; but let not this lead men to criminal dissimulation, or extend to things of so much importance as this, respecting the unity as God. In this case, let us keep at the greatest distance from every thing that is disingenuous; let the truth be spoken in the most explicit manner, and let the consequences be left to the power of truth, and the God of truth. Besides, it is impossible that while men retain depraved and unworthy notions of God, their devotion should be such as God requires; so that this pretended tenderness
injures those who are the objects of it, as well as bears an unfavourable aspect on the interests of christianity more at large. Such are the effects of the wisdom of this world, when it is put in the place of sincerity, and a regard to the plain truth of the gofpel of Jesus Christ!
Prosessing the purity of the christian faith, let us be careful, my brethren, to adorn it by a blameless and exemplary lise. More especially let us beware that we do not-wear the form of godliness, when our hearts are destitute of the power of it; and that we indulge no secret hope, that by any peculiar strictness and austerity of lise, by frequent or long prayers, or by attending on much preaching, and using other means of religion, we shall atone for a neglect of the weightier matters of the law, righteousness, mercy, and truth. Let the integrity of our hearts appear in the chearfulness of our countenances; and let us (hew that we love God whom we have not seen, by loving our hrtthren whom we da see, and by being always ready to do them every .kind office in our power.
To judge of our love to God, or of our love to Christ, directly, by what vie feel when we think of them, especially when we are excluded from the world, as is the custom with many, is to expose ourselves to the grossest and most dangerous delusions. We sind in the scriptures a much plainer, and saser method of judging in both these cases.