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so many as to constitute no small part of the Scriptures ? And why did Christ say, ' he came to give his life a ransom for many?' and why did Paul say, Christ
gave himself for all ?' Could these things be said of Moses, or Jeremiah, or Peter, or James, or Paul? Are we justified by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Moses? Did Paul make peace by the blood of his cross ? Was Peter a propitiation; an inaouos; the means of appeasing the anger of God, of reconciling him to us, and rendering him propitiatory to sinners?
Farther: In what sense was the death of Christ necessary as a testimony to the truth of his precepts? Were not his miracles, and the unspotted excellency of his life, ample proofs of the sincerity of his declarations, and the reality of his mission from God? Are they not now appealed to by Dr. Priestley and most if not all other divines, as the chief proofs? Is not his death rarely appealed to for this purpose? And is it not manifest from this fact, that it is a testimony plainly inferior to his life and miracles ?
If, then, this was the end and amount of Christ's death, is it not evident, on the one hand, that the end was in a great measure useless, and very imperfectly accomplished; and on the other, that the amount of Christ's death was no more than the amount of the death of Paul and Peter; that they, as truly as Christ, were a propitiation for the sins of the world; and that we are as truly justified hy faith in them, as in him ; and by their blood, as by his?
I shall now proceed to show,
III. That the Jews, according to the Unitarian doctrine, are unjustly charged with guilt in putting Christ to death.
The law of God, as given by Moses, required the blasphemer to be stoned. Christ, in his conversation with the Jews, recorded John v., declared himself to be the Son of God.' By this phrase the Jews, as I mentioned in a former Discourse, understood him to declare that himself was God, or equal with God. Their own construction they declared to him · For a good work we stone thee not, but because thou, being a man, makest thyself God. John x. 33. St. John also, as I then observed, understood the phrase in the same manner. • Therefore,' he says, “ the Jews sought the more to
kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his father, making himself equal with God.' This is the apostle's own construction of Christ's averment, and is plainly alleged by him as being that of the Jews also.
When Christ was brought before the Sanhedrim, after several vain attempts to convict him of any crime, the high priest. adjured him, that is, put him upon oath,' to tell him whether he was the Christ, the Son of the blessed' God. In answer to this question, thus solemnly put, Christ said, 'I am;' and, as a proof that he said this truly, added, ‘ and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. In reply to this declaration the high priest rent his clothes,' and declaring all farther testimony needless, pronounced him guilty of blasphemy for this saying; in consequence of which, the Evangelists inform us, they all condemned him to death.
Now it is evident, that Christ was understood by the Jews to declare, that he was equal to God, and was God, by asserting himself to be the Son of God. Of this there cannot be a doubt, because it is asserted both by the Jews themselves, and by the Evangelist. If then Christ was a man merely, he was, for aught that I can see, truly a blasphemer. For, when he declared himself to be God, or equal with God, he plainly declared God to be neither greater, wiser, nor better than himself. But to assert in any form of words, that the infinite Jehovah is of the same character with a man, and possessed of no more greatness, excellency, or glory than that which is human, would be acknowledged in any other case to be blasphemy, because it would be a denial of all the perfections of God, and
a an ascription to him of all the frailties of man. If this be not blasphemy, what can be ?
But if Christ was a blasphemer, he was justly put to death The law, which he as well as the Jews acknowledged to have been given by God himself, required the blasphemer to be stoned ;'as a blasphemer, therefore, he was, according to the requisitions of a divine and therefore a just law, deservedly condemned to death.
Thus, according to this scheme, the Jews instead of being guilty in putting Christ to death, acted meritoriously, for they only obeyed the divine law.
But it will be said, Christ did not intend by this declaration to assert that he was God, nor that he was equal with God. This indeed is said, and must be said, by the abettors of the Unitarian scheme. I answer, It is clear that the Jews, thus understood him, and that he knew them thus to understand him. They had formerly attempted to stone him for using the same language ; and had then told him in express terms the manner in which they construed the phrase. The Sanhedrim also sufficiently explained to him their own views of it by pronouncing it blasphemy. In consequence of this mode of understanding the phrase, he saw them now about to imbrue their hands in his blood. If it was a mistake on their part, he was bound to remove it. He was bound not to suffer his own character to be stained in their view with the crime of blasphemy. He was bound to use language as he knew it would be understood. He was bound not to lose his own life, nor suffer them to incur the guilt of taking it away, merely through a mistake of theirs. If, then, they are supposed in this case to have sinned at all, they sinned only through a mistake which Christ himself voluntarily created, and voluntarily declined to remove. The sin therefore, so far as I can see, lies, on this supposition, primarily at his door. What then shall we say of the solemn and awful charge brought against the Jews by St. Peter? * Him ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified, and slain? What shall we say of the whole body of Scriptural representations on this subject? What shall we say of the terrible destruction of their nation; of their judicial blindness; and of all the calamities which have befallen them as monuments of the divine indignation for more than seventeen hundred years?
IV. The prophets and apostles, according to the same doctrine, cannot be vindicated from leading mankind into the sin of idolatry.
The prophets and apostles have in a great variety of places, called Christ God, The true God, The great God, The mighty God, Jehovah, and I AM. They have declared him to be eternal, self-existent, incomprehensible, almighty, omnipresent, omniscient, and immutable. They have attributed to him the creation, preservation, and government of all things; and the acts of giving life, forgiving sin, judging the world,
and rewarding both the righteous and wicked. They have ascribed to him the infinite relations of Creator, Preserver, Possessor, Ruler, and final Cause, of all things. Beyond this, they have on many occasions worshipped him themselves; and have taught us that God requires him to be worshipped ; and that he is in fact worshipped by saints and angels in earth and heaven. They have also exhibited Christ, when on earth, as challenging these things to himself, and as receiving them from others without reprobation or censure. They have farther declared him to be the only Saviour of the world, a character evidently demanding infinite attributes, and according to their account, challenged by Jehovah as exclusively his own.
Beyond all this, they have informed us that he was condemned to death for declaring, under the sanction of an oath, that he was the Son of God; a phrase which he knew was understood by them to be no other than a declaration, that he was God. Yet, though knowing this, and though directly charged with blasphemy, although on two occasions they attempted to stone hirn, and on a third pronounced him guilty of death, instead of explaining, softening, or at all modifying the declaration, he proceeded directly in two of the instances to allege proofs that he used this declaration with exact truth and propriety ; proofs, which in themselves are a direct arrogation of the divine character. The Scriptures of truth they also declare to be his word ; and inform us, that the Holy Ghost who inspired them, received them from him; and that Christ himself, when promising them the gift of inspiration, personally told them this wonderful truth. In this account they have taught us, that the Scriptures, which they everywhere style the word of God,' are no other than the law of Christ himself; partly uttered by his own mouth, and partly taught by the Holy Spirit in conformity to his pleasure ; and accordingly in his own name and by his own authority explained, altered, and annulled by him as he thought proper; and that the Holy Spirit, whom, as we shall see hereafter, they pronounce to be a divine person, was commissioned and sent by him into the world to execute his purposes; an act of authority on the part of Christ, to which there is no parallel in the universe, except his own mission from the Father. Finally, in the view which is given us of the heavenly system
in the Revelation of St. John, we find the same exalted character completely recognized. In that world we behold him sitting on the throne of infinite dominion, styled the throne of God, and the Lamb;' unfolding, and declared by the heavenly host to be worthy to unfold, the book of God's counsels, which they also declare no being in the universe to be worthy or able to do; being, together with the Father, the everlasting temple of heaven; controlling all the affairs of this world, of heaven, and of hell; the light and glory of heaven; and the bestower of future and everlasting happiness. In all these wonderful characters he is also worshipped in that, glorious world with the highest ascriptions which were ever made, or which can be made, to Jehovah. • Worthy,' they cry, ‘ is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Every creature,' says St. John, 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, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him, that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.' Of all these things it is to be remarked, that they are expressed on every occasion which admits them, and in every form of phraseology which language can easily be supposed to allow; commence with the first chapter in the Bible, and terminate only with the last.
Now let me ask, Whether all these things are not a complete exhibition of Christ, as the proper object of religious worship? But the apostles have directly and fully declared all these things. If then Christ is not God, have they not clearly so represented him as to persuade mankind that he is God, and that he is to be worshipped?
How is it possible, that their readers, and especially the plain men who constitute ninety-nine hundredths of them, how is it possible that any men, acknowledging the apostles to have used language as other men use it, and so as to be understood by those for whom they wrote (an admission absolutely necessary to exculpate them from plain fraud,) should distinguish between a person thus described, and the being, who alone is the proper object of worship? What can their minds, what can any mind, add to this exhibition, to make such a being more great, awful, lovely, glorious, and godlike?