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Do not these things include all which we can conceive to be included in infinite perfection? Has any thing superior to these been ever published to mankind? Has any thing been published in any other instance which can be compared with these?
But if Christ be not truly God, he cannot be worshipped without idolatry. He himself says, and recites it as the command of God, Thou shalt worship Jehovah thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.' Can inspired men then, writing a Revelation, the great end of which was to inculcate the unity of God, the existence of but one God, and the supreme obligation incumbent on all men to worship him only, can such men have been directed by the Spirit of God so to write as they have actually written? Could they, being Jews with the Old Testament in their hands, have so written even of themselves, as naturally, not to say necessarily, to lead all their followers into the sin of idolatry? That they have so written as naturally to produce this consequence, if Christ be not God, is unquestionable; because the great body of their followers have actually understood them to assert the Deity of Christ, and have actually worshipped him. The Scriptures therefore written for the professed purpose of preventing idolatry, have, according to the scheme of my opponents, been the direct cause of promoting and establishing it among almost all those who have believed them to be the word of God. Mr. Belsham accordingly pronounces the system, of which the worship of Christ is a leading principle, "a pernicious system: a mischievous compound of impiety and idolatry." Lest it should be supposed, however, that those who adopt this worship have really been impious, let it be remarked, that Dr. Priestley himself expressly says, "he considers the principles of Calvinism as generally favourable to that leading virtue, devotion; even an habitual and animated devotion." Another writer also, no way favourable to these principles, says in the British Encyclopedia,+"If we consider the character of the Calvinists" (whom he mentions together with several others,) "when compared with that of their antagonists, we shall find that they have excelled in no small degree in the practice of the most rigid and respectable virtues; and have
• Robert Forsythe, Esq.
† Article Predestination.
been the highest honour of their own ages, and the best model for imitation to every age succeeding." But Calvinists, to a man, have been worshippers of Christ; as have also been almost all other members of the church universal; and to this idolatry, if it be such, the Scriptures .have led them. Of course the guilt of leading mankind into that gross sin is, on this scheme, chargeable to the prophets and apostles. But can the prophets and apostles have led mankind into the abominable sin of idolatry? Can the principles which lead to idolatry be favourable to habitual and animated devotion? Can the men who have excelled in the practice of the most rigid and respectable virtues, who have been the highest honour to their own age, and the best models for imitation to succeeding ages, have been regularly guilty of this sin? Can the system which asserts or involves these things, be truth?
Can all or any of the things which I have asserted concerning Christ from the Scriptures, be true of a man: or of any created being? Can a man, can an angel, be the first cause or last end, the Preserver, Proprietor, Possesser, and Ruler of all things? Can a creature be the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person;' the Light of the world,' the propitiation for sin,' the Saviour' of mankind, or the object of religious worship? Can any religious man on a death-bed say, "Gabriel, receive my spirit?" or "Lay not the sin of my murderers to their charge?" Can Gabriel give life, raise the dead, or bestow immortal life? Can he judge the world, reward the righteous and the wicked, or be the glory, light, and temple of heaven? What would be the impression, were a minister of the Gospel to say, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of Gabriel, and of the Holy Ghost?" or "The grace of Gabriel, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen!" Would not these things beyond measure shock the minds of any Christian assembly, as the most palpable blasphemy? Was there ever a minister, even an Arian or a Socinian who could bring himself thus to speak in such an assembly? Would not this be, not merely comparing or likening one of the angels to Jehovah, but placing him on the same level? Yet these things are said of Christ. Why are they said of him, if his nature be like that of Gabriel? Why are they seemingly said? Was it not per
fectly easy. for the omniscient God to have said, if he chose to say it, that Christ was a mere man, or a mere creature? and so to have said this, that it would not have been misunderstood even by the plainest man? Did he not understand language sufficiently? Has it not been said in such a manner as to be intelligible to all men, by Arius, Socinus, Zuicker, Price, Priestley, Belsham, and many others? Did any man ever mistrust that they have not said it? Was not Jehovah more interested to say it, if it is true, than they were? and so to say it, as to be easily, generally, and certainly understood? Was he not more able? Did he not foresee all the doubts, difficulties, errors, misconstructions, and consequent sins and idolatries, if they have indeed been misconstructions and idolatries, arising from unhappy language used in the Scriptures? Have not the Prophets, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;' have not the Apostles, who spake the things freely given to them of God, not in the words which man's wisdom taught, but which the Holy Ghost taught,' expressed the mind of God on this subject, and every other, in the very manner chosen by God himself? Has not his infinite faithfulness and mercy then sufficiently guarded every honest mind against this erroneous sin?
But if Christ be not the true God, the great body of Christians have in every age of the church wholly misunderstood the Scriptures concerning this most important doctrine, and mistaken infinitely the real character of their Saviour. Of course the Scriptures have been so written, as that the natural interpretation of them is a source of total and dreadful error, even of that which they themselves denounce in terms of the highest reprobation, viz. idolatry. For the interpretation which has been given them by the great body of Christians in every age and country in which they have existed, is beyond a controversy the natural interpretation. That men, who first make a philosophical system of religion, and then endeavour to reconcile the Scriptures to it, should understand them falsely, cannot be wondered at; but that they should be falsely understood by the great body of mankind, who for their religion come to them only; and yet the way of holiness be still a highway, in which wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err, is a position which is yet to be explained.
DIVINITY OF CHRIST.
THE LORD KNOWETH THE THOUGHTS OF THE WISE, THAT THEY ARE VAIN.
1 CORINTHIANS III. 20.
In the eighteenth verse of this chapter, St. Paul says, Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.'
These words, together with the text, are paraphrased by Doddridge in the following manner: "I know there are those among you, whose pride and self-conceit may lead them to despise this admonition, especially as coming from me; but 'let no man deceive himself' with vain speculations of his own worth and abilities. If any one of you seem to be wise in this world,' if he value himself on what is commonly called wisdom among Jews or Gentiles; let him become a fool, that he may be wise' indeed. Let him humbly acknowledge his own natural ignorance and folly, and embrace that Gospel, which the wisdom of the world proudly and vainly derides as foolishness, if he desire to approve himself really and substantially wise, and to reap at last the honours and rewards of those who are truly so in the sight of God. 'For' all the boasted wisdom of this world is foolishness with
God;' who with one glance sees through all its vanity; as it is written (Job v. 13.) He entangleth the wise in their own' crafty artifice;' often ruining them by those designs which they had formed with the utmost efforts of human policy, and were most intent upon executing. And again it is said, elsewhere, Psalm xciv. 11, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.' He sees how they ensnare themselves in their own subtleties; and, when they think themselves most sagacious, are only amused with their own sophistry and deceit."
This paraphrase expresses exactly my own views concerning these declarations of St. Paul; declarations which appear to me to be continually and abundantly verified by experience. No man is in the way to true wisdom who does not first become, in the apostle's sense, a fool;' that is, who has not a just and affecting consciousness of his own ignorance and weakness, his utter inability to devise a system of religion, or to amend that which God has taught; and who is not altogether willing to submit his own opinions to the dictates of inspiration.
Concerning the text it will be only necessary to observe, that the word dixλoyioues, translated thoughts,' is properly rendered reasmings; and that the word, translated' the wise,' is op; denoting the learned men of Greece, and ultimately of other countries, most usually called Philosophers. The reasonings' of these men, as the apostle proves from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, are in the sight of God vain;' or utterly incapable of accomplishing the end to which they were then chiefly directed; viz. the formation and establishment of a sound theological system.
What was true of these meu in ancient times is equally true of men of the same sort in every age. Modern wise men are no more able to perform this work than ancient ones. Hence, the proposition in the text is written in the absolute or universal form; and extends this character to the reasonings of all men employed either in making systems of theology, or in amending that which is revealed by God.
Of the truth of this declaration experience has furnished the most abundant evidence. The great body of such systems, including all which have been originally devised by man, and which have existed long enough to bethoroughly examined,