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Title: Unitarianism Defended - A Series of Lectures by Three Protestant Dissenting - Ministers of Liverpool
Author: Martineau, James, Giles, Henry, Thom, John Hamilton
Language: English
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                         UNITARIANISM DEFENDED:

                          A SERIES OF LECTURES


                             OF LIVERPOOL:

                              IN REPLY TO

                         THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.


Would to Heaven that Christians had their own ‘vail’ of orthodox words
taken away from their minds; that, limiting Orthodoxy to the acceptance
of the Christ as the SPIRIT (‘the Lord is that Spirit,’ says St. Paul),
_i.e._, the meaning, the end of all revelation, they would not allow a
new _letter_, consisting of abstract doctrines, to involve their minds
in a ‘vail’ which obstructs the view of the Gospel, even more than the
old letter, which kept the Jews in “bondage.”—_Heresy and Orthodoxy by
Rev. J. Blanco White_, p. 53, 2nd edition.


                 WILLMER AND SMITH, 32, CHURCH STREET.

                    JOHN GREEN, 121, NEWGATE STREET.




                       PRINTED BY RICHARD KINDER,
                    GREEN ARBOUR COURT, OLD BAILEY.


                            GENERAL PREFACE.

In this Preface, and in all the other contents of this volume, we have
occupied the position of an assailed party, lending our best
consideration to whatever a leagued body of resolute and unsparing
adversaries could say against us. We have stood upon the defensive, not
lamenting that such an occasion had occurred of exposing our views of
Christianity to so severe a scrutiny, and of displaying to the world
whether our position was tenable. We did not provoke this Controversy.
It was of our opponents’ choosing. They entered into combination, and
arranged their method of attack, and invited the public attentively to
look on while they performed upon us the work of destruction. With
respectful attention, as men whose system of Christianity was about to
be subjected to a powerful analysis by those who believed the main
ingredients to be poisonous,—but with quiet hearts, as men who had no
interest in this world but to discover Truth,—we have interfered no
further than was necessary to make this examination, by carefulness,
impartiality, and accuracy, productive of a true result. We have struck
out whatever was untrue, and we have supplied whatever was wanting, to
exhibit a full statement of the respective Evidences of Unitarianism and
of Trinitarianism. Lecture qualifies lecture; and Preface corrects
Preface. We are satisfied to have thus placed, side by side, the
contrasted views of Man and God, and to await the issues.

To return upon the “thirteen Clergymen of the Church of England” the
words of their General Preface, (p. xi.) “_it is no uncommon practice in
modern criticism to neglect the statements_” of an opponent’s case, as
if they never had been made, and the corrections passed upon one’s own
as if they never had been experienced. It is the policy of the “thirteen
Clergymen” to _reiterate_, nothing daunted, arguments, our careful
replies to which are not even noticed, and misrepresentations whose
injustice had solemnly been protested against. By these resolute
repetitions some are seduced to believe, and attention is withdrawn from
the overthrow of an error or a calumny by the hardihood with which it
rises from its fall, and reasserts itself. Strike them down;—they get
up, and coolly offer themselves to be struck down again. Great ought to
be the power of Truth; for great is the vitality and the power of
effrontery in a popular error. It is only in the long combat of years
and generations that the _Real_ manifests at last its imperishable
quality. The “General Preface” quietly gathers up all the “_disjecta
membra_” of error and misstatement, and without a word of answer to our
analysis of their character, presents them again to have sentence and
execution passed upon them. It is a careful redintegration of the broken
particles, which in our simplicity we had hoped would not so readily
reunite. We are obliged, therefore, by way at once of Preface and of
Protest, to repeat our solemn contradiction of some most strenuous
misrepresentations, and to attempt again the exposure of some fallacies
most tenacious of life.

I. It was distinctly stated by us in the course of this Controversy,
that not upon any grounds of _literary evidence_ did we discredit those
prefaces which relate to the miraculous (or as, in insult to the purest
and holiest human feelings, our opponents are not ashamed to call it,
the _immaculate_) conception; and that our estimate of them was formed
solely upon grounds of inherent incredibility, and of proved
inconsistencies both with themselves and with the general statements of
the New Testament. Yet in total disregard of this our denial, the
Preface (p. xiii.) reasserts the charge, as if it never had been
contradicted. We also distinctly stated that the miraculous conception
_in no way interfered with Unitarianism_,—that many Humanitarians
believed in it; yet it is _the policy_ of Trinitarianism to _repeat_,
that we pervert these portions of Scripture, for the sake of evading a
fact fatal to our system. Unitarianism is so little concerned to evade
the fact of a miraculous conception, that many Unitarians themselves
adopt it. It is the “tactics” of the “thirteen Clergymen,” their system
“of holy war,” (_see Preface to Mr. Ould’s Lecture_) to ignore whatever
we may say on our own behalf, either in way of correction or of defence,
and to reassert the false statement.

II. The “Unitarian Creed” is described by our reverend opponents as “_a
mere code of unbelief_” (p. xiv.) it being the policy of the “thirteen
Clergymen,” not only to pay no regard to our most solemn assertion of
our faith in Christianity, as God’s full and perfect revelation to man,
but also to assume to themselves the functions of infallible judges of
what is Christianity, and what is not; and so, again to return upon them
their own language, to “deify their own fallible” (p. xii.)
interpretations and inferences. Yet they can impose upon the simplicity
of the world, by charging others with the “pride of reason.” Infallible
themselves, to differ from their infallibility can of course be nothing
else than the _pride_ of reason.

III. It is stated (p. xv.), that we “utterly deny” “the eternity of
punishments,” without adding _what we have added_, that the moral
consequences of actions _are eternal_, and that in its influence on
character and progress, the retribution of every evil thought or deed
_is everlasting_. What we _do_ deny, as the blackest misrepresentation
that can be conceived of the God of Providence, whose glory it is to
lead his children to Himself, is the horribly distinct statement of
their own “General Preface”—“_that the sufferings of the lost are not
intended for their amendment, but as a satisfaction to divine justice,
when the hour of pardon shall have passed away_.” (p. xv.) Is this the
Religion, and this the God, of Love? These are the men who make the
Unbelief of which they afterwards so blindly and bitterly complain. If
such was Christianity, unbelief would be a virtue, a prompting of
devotion, a protest on behalf of God.

IV. Our doubt as to the existence of, or necessity for, an external
Devil, permitted by God to ruin the souls of men, has been converted to
two uses in this Preface;—first, as manifesting that we are ourselves
under the power of the subtlest device of Satan, who has concealed from
us his existence, that he might lead us captive at his will; and,
secondly, that though denying the existence of Satan, we are yet
ourselves the emissaries of Satan; for that as the Devil tempted Eve,
and our Lord himself, by perversions of the Word of God, so
Unitarianism, by its interpretations, is his present instrument,—in
fact, Satan himself tempting the world by the word of God, as of old he
tempted Eve and Christ. (pp. xv. xvi.) We leave this matter to the
judgment of men whose sense of propriety and decency has not been
borrowed exclusively from the influences of a dogmatic Theology.

V. It is said of us (p. xvi.), contrary to our own most distinct
averment in this very Controversy, that “according to the theologians of
this unhappy school, it seems to be almost a fundamental rule, that no
doctrine ought to be acknowledged as true in its nature, or divine in
its origin, of which all the parts are not level to human understanding:
and that whatever the Scriptures teach concerning the counsels of
Jehovah, and the plan of his salvation, must be modified, curtailed, and
attenuated, in such a manner, by the transforming power of art and
argument, as to correspond with the poor and narrow capacities of our

Where are the simplicity, the sincerity, the love of Truth, which alone
can make Controversy fruitful of good results, when such a
representation of the spirit of our Theology _can_ be given by “thirteen
Clergymen” _after_ we had published the following words in our fifth
Lecture (p. 9), for their special instruction:—“Let me guard myself from
the imputation of rejecting this doctrine _because it is mysterious_; or
of supporting a system which insists on banishing all mysteries from
religion. On any such system I should look with unqualified aversion, as
excluding from faith one of its primary elements; as obliterating the
distinction between logic and devotion, and tending only to produce an
irreverent and narrow-minded dogmatism. ‘Religion without mystery’ is a
combination of terms, than which the Athanasian Creed contains nothing
more contradictory; and the sentiment of which it is the motto, I take
to be a fatal caricature of rationalism, tending to bring all piety into
contempt. Until we touch upon the mysterious, we are not in contact with
religion; nor are any objects reverently regarded by us, except such as,
from their nature or their vastness, are felt to transcend our
comprehension.” Nay, it is not a little remarkable, that the very
illustration employed by the “thirteen Clergymen” to exhibit our
absurdity in rejecting the incomprehensible, had been previously
employed by ourselves to exhibit the necessity of admitting the

 _Trinitarian Preface_, p. xviii.     _Unitarian Lecture_, No. V. p. 9.

 “Much of the great mystery of        “The sense of what we do not know
 godliness, God manifest in the       is as essential to our religion,
 flesh, with all the firmament of     as the impression of what we do
 saving truth and love, whereof       know; the thought of the
 it is the radiant centre, must       boundless, the incomprehensible,
 remain inexplicable to our           must blend in our mind with the
 present capacities. But to argue     perception of the clear and true;
 from thence, that this mystery       the little knowledge we have must
 is a cunningly-devised fable, is     be clung to, as the margin of an
 as illogical as it would be to       invisible immensity; _and all our
 maintain _that there is no           positive ideas be regarded as the
 bottom to the sea, because we        mere float to show the surface of
 have no plumb-line with which it     the infinite deep_.”
 may be fathomed_.”

This is bold misrepresentation; a consistent hardihood in the “tactics
of holy war.” To persevere, against all remonstrance, in the repetition
of a misstatement injurious to an opponent, and to do this so coolly as
to use almost his own words in imputing to him the very opposite of what
he has said, is at least a convenient, if not an honourable nor yet a
formidable policy.

In the same spirit of neither honourable nor yet formidable policy, is
the attempt (p. xvii.) to identify Mahometanism and Unitarianism, by the
help of a literary forgery, which even if it was authentic, would prove
nothing except that the early Unitarians of England, in the reign of
Charles the Second, amid the corruptions of Christianity, rejoiced in
the testimony borne by Mahometanism to the great doctrine of revealed
religion, the Unity of God. It is said that there is, among the MSS. in
the Lambeth Library, a “Socinian Epistle (to this effect) to Ameth Ben
Ameth, Ambassador from the Emperor of Morocco to Charles II.” Leslie, in
the Preface to his “Socinian Controversy Discussed,” was the first who
made use of this supposed letter, and not without the suspicion, that he
had first forged it himself.[1] “I will here,” says Leslie, “present the
reader with a rarity, which I take to be so, because of the difficulty I
had to obtain it.” “It is in my mind,” says Mr. Aspland, “decisive of
the question, that immediately after Leslie had published the Epistle,
Emlyn, who answered the tract to which it was prefixed, stated it as his
belief, upon inquiry, that no such epistle had ever been presented by
any one ‘deputed’ from the Unitarians, and insinuated that no credit was
to be given to a document published by Leslie, unless vouched by some
other authority than his own; and that Leslie, in replying to this
answer, though he dwells, for pages, upon the passages before and after
this, relating to the epistle, says not a syllable about his ‘rarity’ or
in defence of his veracity.” “Leslie,” continues Mr. Aspland, “is
convicted (by Emlyn) of quoting passages from Archbishop Tillotson’s
Sermons, which had been published in the name of their eminent author,
as if they were the work of an avowed ‘Socinian.’ And if you will
consult his reply, you will find this theological braggart completely
humbled, and reduced to the necessity of using the wretched plea, that
he had omitted the name of the ‘great Prelate,’ out of _tenderness_.—Is
it uncharitable to suspect, under all these circumstances, that he who
was proved to have resorted to one trick, might have had recourse to

“As to your ‘rarity,’” says Emlyn in his reply to Leslie, “of the
address to the _Morocco_ ambassador, I see not what it amounts to, more
than a complaint of the corruption of the Christian faith, in the
article of one God, which the _Mahometans_ have kept, by consent of all
sides. Yet, forasmuch as I can learn nothing from any _Unitarians_ of
any such address from them, nor do you produce any subscribers’
names,[2] I conclude no such address was ever made, by any _deputed_
from them, whatever any single person might do. I suppose you conclude
from the matter of it, that it must be from some _Unitarian_, and
perhaps so; yet you may remember that so you concluded from the matter
of Dr. _Tillotson’s_ Sermons, that they were a _Socinian’s_.”[3]

For our own part, when we read this amusing attempt to identify us with
Mahometans, by the help of an unknown letter, bearing no subscription,
and addressed, by nobody knows whom, to the _Ambassador of Morocco_, in
the reign of Charles II., we were forcibly reminded of two passages in
Ecclesiastical History, in whose pages all tricks and absurdities can be
paralleled, and whose exhibition of gratuitous follies and distortions
has left the possibility of “nothing new under the sun,” of this
description, for our modern days. Hildebrand himself, yes, GREGORY THE
SEVENTH, like our poor selves, was suspected of a leaning to
“_Islamism_,” (_General Preface_, p. xvii.) because he wrote a letter,
not to the Ambassador, as in our case but, as became his greater
dignity, to the _Emperor_ of Morocco, thanking him for the liberation of
some Christian captives, and expressing his conviction, so much was
there of the spirit of God and goodness in this act, “that they both
worshipped the same spirit, though the modes of their adoration and
faith were different.” It also appears that the Emperor Manuel Comnenus
exposed himself to the same imputation of “_Islamism_,” because he
wished to correct an error in the ritual of the Greek Church, which by a
laughable misunderstanding of an Arabic word, signifying _eternal_,
“contained a standing anathema against the God of Mahomet,” as being
“_solid_ and _spherical_.”

               “Solventur risu tabulæ; tu missus abibis.”

We confess our unmixed astonishment at finding the “thirteen Clergymen”
avowing the most undisguised Tritheism. We do not recollect in modern
times so bold and unwary an admission of Polytheism as the following:
“Our inability, therefore, to explain the Triunity of his Essence, can
be no reason for rejecting the revelation of it contained in his Word;
even if we were deprived of those shadows and resemblances of this
divine truth, which may be seen in the one nature of man, communicating
itself to many individuals of the species. _There is one human nature,
but many human persons._” (p. xix.) Is this then the _Unity_ of God
which the “thirteen” maintain, viz., such a unity as subsists between
three individual men? Is it their meaning that the Divine Nature is a
Species containing under it three Individuals, as human nature is a
species containing under it as many individuals as there are men? Do
they mean to contend, with some of the Fathers, that three men are only
“_abusively_” called _three_, being in reality only _one_? What mercy
would Dr. Whately have for such unskilful controversialists? Is this
however the deliberate view of the whole thirteen, or is it only the
rashness of one of them?—for it is very important to have so definite a
statement of what is meant by the Trinity in Unity.

VI. It is most incorrectly stated (_Preface_, p. xx.) that “Dr.
Priestley, Mr. Lindsey, Mr. Belsham, not to mention earlier writers,
have laboured hard to show that the Fathers of the first three centuries
were Unitarians, _and believers in the simple humanity of Jesus
Christ_.” Such a labour was never undertaken by these writers, nor by
any one else. It is capable of proof that the Fathers of the three first
centuries were _not_ Trinitarian in the Athanasian sense; but that they
were believers in the simple _humanity_ of the Christ, no one maintains,
from the time that Platonism first began to transform Christianity into
harmony with its own peculiar ideas. That Unitarians have supported this
view by “hardy misquotations,” is, to say the least of it, an unwise
provocation from men who have in the course of this Controversy been
convicted of the most careless misquotations both in their own case
(_see especially preface to the Seventh Unitarian Lecture_), and in that
of their favourite Champion (_see the Appendix to the Sixth Unitarian
Lecture_). That the substantial statements of Unitarians as to the
Unitarianism of the primitive Church have been overturned by Bull, &c.,
(_Trinitarian preface_, p. xxi.) is a hardy assertion in the face of the
following quotations from Bull himself: “In the FIRST and BEST ages, the
Churches of Christ directed all their prayers ACCORDING TO THE
SCRIPTURES, TO GOD ONLY, _through_ the alone mediation of Jesus
Christ.”—_Answer to a Query of the Bishop of Meaux_, p. 295.

“The Father is rightly styled THE WHOLE, as he is the fountain of
divinity: For the divinity which is in the _Son_ and in the _Holy
Ghost_, is the _Father’s_, because it is DERIVED FROM THE
FATHER.”—_Defence_, sect. ii. 8.

For another quotation from Bishop Bull, see also preface, p. vi., to the
Seventh Unitarian Lecture.

VII. The “thirteen Clergymen,” finding that Mr. Belsham’s “Improved
Version” was not a STANDARD with us, and knowing perhaps that in our
rejection of it as such we have been borne out by the Unitarian
Association at its recent general meeting in London, yet determined to
find a standard for us somewhere, have (p. xxvi.) put into our mouths,
with marvellous naïveté, an appeal to Mr. Belsham’s Translation of St.
Paul’s Epistles. We have already given up the Mr. Belsham of the
Improved Version, and they, for their own easy purposes, represent us as
making an appeal to the Mr. Belsham of “the Epistles.” We will yield to
our reverend opponents whatever consolation they may be able to derive
from their _imaginary_ triumph, in case we made this _imaginary_ appeal.
The Trinitarians cannot divest their minds of the idea that we must have
an Authority _somewhere_. They cannot understand what is meant by
deferring to principles alone; by having no external judge of
Controversies, no shorter road to conclusions, than to submit every
question to the fullest light that Knowledge and Inquiry have provided,
or may yet provide. The Cæsar to whom we appeal from Mr. Belsham is not
some other Mr. Belsham, or the same man in a different book, but the
great principles of Criticism and of Interpretation, as recognized by
competent judges of all parties.

VIII. For the faith of the Church of England, the “thirteen Clergymen”
declare, that “it is alike their privilege and obligation to contend in
that spirit of charity which becomes a believer in Jesus.” (_Preface_,
p. xxviii.) We shall not open former wounds, but look simply to some of
their last manifestations of “Charity” in their General Preface.

1. They say of us (p. xxiii.), that “Unitarians have borne some such
proportion to the Christian Church, as monsters bear to the species of
which they are unhappy distortions.”

2. They “_decline to receive us as brethren, and to give us the right
hand of fellowship_” partly because our doctrinal views of Christianity
are different from their own, and partly because, as they aver, we
maintain our views in _dishonesty_, using language _hypocritically_. We
“cannot be Christian brethren,” say they, “for we cannot tread the same
road, even for an instant. They use the _language_ of Christianity,
without believing its _mysteries_. How, then, can we bid them God speed,
while they are influenced by this spirit of unfairness? ‘The words of
their mouth are smoother than butter, but war is in their heart: their
words are softer than oil, yet are they drawn swords.’” (pp. xxiv. xxv.)

3. We are charged with deliberately opposing our own minds to the mind
of God. “That such unwearied hostility,” say they, “is waged by
Unitarians _against the mind of God_, as expressed in his word, all
their publications unequivocally and mournfully attest.” (p. xxv.)

4. They describe us as “blasphemers against the Son of Man,” and they
close this peculiar exhibition of “Charity” by offering up for us the
following prayer:—

“_O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou
hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should
be converted, and live, have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and
Heretics, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and
contempt of thy word_,” &c. (p. xxix.)

If such is their “Charity,” may we be permitted to ask, what form would
their _uncharitableness_ take?

Such is the “General Preface,” which the “thirteen Clergymen” are
deliberately of opinion that the issues of this Controversy, and our
mutual relations to each other, justified them in writing. We confess
that we had prepared ourselves for a careful attempt, on their part, at
repairing whatever further inquiry, and, we may say without presumption,
the close scrutiny of an opponent, had shown to be weak or imperfect in
their previous labours,—a last effort to present again the edifice of
their faith in what they deemed its most favourable lights, accompanied
by a corresponding attempt to shake the foundations of Unitarian
Christianity. They have thought themselves, however, sufficiently strong
already to be able to throw away this last opportunity. They deem the
work already done, and that they have earned the right, without further
addition or defence, to entitle their Lectures “_Unitarianism

By their own act they entered with us into this Controversy; they
repeatedly recognized us during its continuance as the persons whom they
were opposing, and whose Theology they had undertaken to refute;—yet our
careful and respectful examination of _their_ views, and statement of
our own, have not been able to win from them one word either of notice
or reply. However low their opinion may be of us, as of antagonists
beneath their consideration, yet surely in an attack on Unitarianism in
Liverpool, we are the persons whose views and influence they had most
occasion to correct; and if no more respectful feeling, mere expediency,
a regard for their own designs against Unitarianism, would seem to
require some examination of the arguments and doctrines of those who are
its Ministers and interpreters in the place where this attempt at its
overthrow has been made.

In abandoning this last occasion of a careful and elaborately
strengthened restatement of their case, we confess they have
disappointed us. Nor do we believe that even that part of the public
which has most sympathies with them, and would most rejoice in their
success, will contemplate the omission without surprise.

The origin and history of this Controversy is sufficiently detailed in
the annexed Correspondence. It will there be seen how our desire for a
really close and decisive examination of the several points at issue
between us has been evaded: our reverend opponents would not admit of
any controversy of which declamation was not to be the instrument.

We have already stated at the opening of this Controversy, that we did
not enter into this discussion for the sake of a Sectarian triumph, but
in the more Christian hope of exposing and checking the Sectarian
Spirit. To exalt the _spiritual_ character of Faith above the verbal and
metaphysical,—to unite mankind through their common love and acceptance
of Christ’s goodness and of Christ’s God,—to make his Church one by
their participation of one spirit, even the spirit of the life of
Jesus,—has been our highest aim, not only on this particular occasion,
but throughout all our Ministry. We acknowledge it to be an aim that,
indirectly at least, is destructive of “Orthodoxy,” that is, of “the
supposed attainableness of Salvation only by one particular set of
Opinions,” for if the love of Christ’s God, and the prayerful seeking
after Christ’s goodness are sufficient to place us on the way of
everlasting Safety, then the question is virtually decided, for no man
will follow Orthodoxy _gratuitously_. It is necessary to set it forth as
the _only_ escape from Hell,—else no man would burden himself with it.
And thus Orthodoxy is condemned to be damnatory. Intolerance is the very
condition of its existence. Cursing is its breath of life. Let it
acknowledge that the pure heart, and the pure life, and the spirit of
faith in God, may save a soul from death, _and Orthodoxy will have
dissolved itself_, for nothing but the last necessity, the
attainableness of safety by no other means, could justify its existence.
A damnatory creed must be an _essential_ of Salvation;—else it is the
greatest impiety possible to conceive. Was it, then, the intention of
Jesus to establish a certain _Creed_ breathing curses against all who do
not _think_[4] alike,—however they may love and live? Alas! why, then,
was not that merciful being as distinct as the Athanasian Creed? If
Jesus had been charged with the delivery of an exclusive Creed, as the
_only_ instrument of Salvation, would he have veiled it from the eyes of
those he came to save? Need we pursue the argument further? Orthodoxy is
_not Christianity_;—yet that in Orthodox bosoms the Spirit of Christ may
dwell, we are not the persons to deny.

What interest or value can these disputations have for beings whose main
business in this world is, in the prospect of a coming world, to conform
their souls to the image of the heavenly model, to Jesus the pattern of
citizenship in the new Heavens and the new Earth wherein dwelleth
righteousness! “Whilst we are wrangling here in the dark,” says Baxter,
“_we are dying_, and passing to the world that will decide all our
Controversies, and the safest passage thither is by peaceable holiness.”
Whilst we are struggling for points, of which we know little or nothing,
hearts are dead or perishing. Whilst we are battling for our conceits,
we are all of us unsound within, not right with God, and falling away
from the true service of our great master. Whilst proclaiming in
Sectarian eagerness, “Lo, Christ is here,” and “Lo, Christ is _not_
there,”—none of us are sitting at his feet, and submitting our souls and
passions to his yoke. Whilst we are falling out by the way, in vain his
heavenly invitation is addressed to our unquiet hearts—“Come unto me all
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my
yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye
shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is

Footnote 1:

  See “A Plea for Unitarian Dissenters,” pp. 88-9, published in 1813, by
  the Rev. Robert Aspland, from whom we take the exposure of this
  forgery now brought forth again; for in Trinitarian Controversy
  falsehood seems immortal, and there is no work for us modern
  advocates, except to “slay the slain.”

Footnote 2:

  “There is internal evidence of its being written in the way of banter.
  No subscription appears to it, and no person is named as concerned in
  it, but a Monsieur Verze, a Frenchman, who might be employed as an
  _agent_, and yet not be a ‘Socinian’ agent.”—ASPLAND.

Footnote 3:

  Plea for Unitarian Dissenters, p. 137.

  “My Lords, if your Lordships attended to the manner in which that
  quotation is introduced into Leslie, you might see that it bore
  internal evidence of being something of the nature of a _jeu
  d’esprit_.... My Lords, this Leslie was a general maligner.... I
  really think that this is raking into a dunghill to produce this
  address to the Ambassador of the Emperor of Morocco.”—_The
  Attorney-General before_ THE HOUSE OF LORDS _in the Lady Hewley
  Appeal_, June 28th, 1839.

Footnote 4:

  “He therefore that will be saved, must thus _think_ of the
  Trinity.”—_Athanasian Creed._



                            GENERAL PREFACE.

                         PUBLIC CORRESPONDENCE.

                              _LECTURE I._


                     _BY REV. JOHN HAMILTON THOM._

“Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man,
   and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man
   perfect in Christ Jesus.”—_Colossians_ i. 27, 28.

“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in
   privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that
   they might bring us into bondage; to whom we gave place by
   subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might
   continue with you.”—_Galatians_ ii. 4, 5.

                             _LECTURE II._


                       _BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU._

“And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his
   glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father,) full of
   grace and truth.”—_John_ i. 14.

                             _LECTURE III._


                     _BY REV. JOHN HAMILTON THOM._

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined
   in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
   in the face of Jesus Christ.”—2 _Cor._ iv. 6.

                              _LECTURE IV._


                          _BY REV. HENRY GILES._

“There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ
   Jesus.”—1 _Tim._ ii. 5.

                               _LECTURE V._


                        _BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU._

“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth
   (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one
   God, _the Father_, of whom all are things, and we in him; and one
   Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”—1 _Cor._
   viii. 5, 6.

                             _LECTURE VI._


                       _BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU._

“Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name
   under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”—_Acts_ iv.

                             _LECTURE VII._


                     _BY REV. JOHN HAMILTON THOM._

“The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”—_John_ xiv. 10.

                            _LECTURE VIII._

                         MAN, THE IMAGE OF GOD.

                         _BY REV. HENRY GILES._

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the
   image and glory of God.”—1 _Cor._ xi. 7.

“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my
   father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I
   will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him,—Father, I have
   sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be
   called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.”—_Luke_ xv.

                             _LECTURE IX._


                     _BY REV. JOHN HAMILTON THOM._

“If ye love me, keep my commandments: and I will pray the Father, and he
   shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for
   ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive,
   because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for
   he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you
   comfortless; I will come to you.”—_John_ xiv. 15-18.

                              _LECTURE X._


                         _BY REV. HENRY GILES._

“Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”—_Rom._ xiv. 5.

                             _LECTURE XI._


                       _BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU._

“Woe unto them that say, ... let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel
   draw nigh and come, that we may know it; woe unto them that call evil
   good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for
   darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”—_Isaiah_
   v. 18-20.

                             _LECTURE XII._


                         _BY REV. HENRY GILES._

“And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And
   he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the Lord,
   Thou hast pity on the gourd for which thou hast not laboured, neither
   madest it grow; which came up in a night and perished in a night. And
   should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than
   six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right
   hand and their left hand?”—_Jonah_ iv. 9, 10, 11.

                            _LECTURE XIII._


                       _BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU._

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but
   chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up
   a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual
   sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”—1 _Pet._ ii. 4, 5.

                           _INDEX OF TEXTS._




                                 ON THE





           _To all who call themselves Unitarians in the town
                    and neighbourhood of Liverpool._

  “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into
  his lodging to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God,
  PERSUADING THEM CONCERNING JESUS, both out of the law of Moses and
  out of the prophets, from morning till evening.”—Acts xxviii. 23.

Men and Brethren,—I am aware that the term “Religious Controversy,” is a
phrase peculiarly revolting to many minds; that it presents to them
nothing in its aspect but that which has been sarcastically called the
“_Acetum Theologicum_,” a something bitter and distasteful, of more than
common offensiveness and asperity. It is for this reason that, in
proposing a course of lectures on the subjects in controversy between
the Church of England and those who call themselves UNITARIANS, and who,
by that very term, seem to impute to the great majority of professing
Christians, of almost all denominations, a polytheistic creed, and in
requesting your attendance on these lectures, and inviting your most
solemn attention to those subjects, I wish, antecedently, to remove from
myself every suspicion of unkindness towards you, and to take away any
supposition of unchristian asperity in my feelings, or of a desire to
inflict upon the humblest individual amongst you unnecessary pain. That
no mere political difference of opinion, much less that any apprehension
of danger to the Established Church, have originated this movement, will
be sufficiently evident from the fact, that while we are surrounded by
many other classes of dissenters, equally opposed to the principle of
our establishment, and much more likely to draw away the members of our
flocks to their communion, I and my reverend brethren, who were
associated with me, on the present occasion, have limited ourselves
exclusively to an inquiry into, and an endeavour to expose, the false
philosophy and dangerous unsoundness of the UNITARIAN SYSTEM.

Now, what is the cause of this distinction? It is simply this, that
while we believe the other dissenting bodies to have arranged an
ecclesiastical system, in our judgment not clearly Scriptural, and
deficient in those particulars which constitute the _perfection_, though
they may not affect the _essence_ of a church, we do at the same time
acknowledge that they generally hold, as articles of faith, those _great
fundamental Gospel truths_ which are the substance of the safety of
souls; truths which, while so held, give them a part in that gracious
covenant in Christ, _within which_ God has revealed a way of salvation
for all and _out of which_ he has not revealed a way of mercy to any.
These fundamental truths are the very doctrines which are controverted
between _us_ and _those_ whom we call in courtesy, but not as of right,
UNITARIANS: viz., the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the atoning
sacrifice, the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit, the fall of our
nature, and the gracious renovation of the human soul, through his
supernatural operation. Assured as I am that these truths (which,
without a desperate mutilation, or an awful tampering with the plain
language of the Word of God, it seems impossible to exclude from that
divine record) are of the essence of our souls’ safety, I ask you, men
and brethren, I put it to your consciences, is it not of the nature of
the tenderest charity, of the purest love, of the most affectionate
sympathy with those in the extreme of peril, and that an _eternal
peril_, to supplicate to these doctrines the attention of such as have
not yet received them, to pray them to come and “search with us the
Scriptures, whether these things be so?”—Acts xvii. 11. Shall he who,
unwittingly, totters blindfold on the edge of a precipice, deem it a
rude or an uncharitable violence which would snatch him with a strong
and a venturous hand, or even it may be with a painful grasp, from the
fearful ruin over which he impends? Is it not to your own judgment a
strong antecedent ground of presumption, that you are alarmingly and
perilously mistaken in this matter, when you see such numbers of
highly-gifted and intellectual men, men of study—of general information
and of prayer,—holy men, men who “count not their lives dear unto them,”
so that they may honour God and preach this gospel, and that not in one
particular place, but over the whole surface of the church; who yet
account these truths, which you reject, as the essential truths of
salvation; truths built, you will remember, in their minds, not on the
traditions or authority of men, but on the lively oracles of God?

Seeing, then, men and brethren,

1. That the points of difference between us are of the _very highest
possible importance_, and not matters of mere theoretical speculation,
as some of your writers have striven vainly to make appear; that, in
short, if Unitarians be sound interpreters of Holy Scripture, we
Trinitarians are guilty of the most heinous of all sins—_idolatry_; and
if, on the other hand, ours be the creed of the apostles, saints, and
martyrs, Unitarians are sunk in _the most blasphemous and deadly error_,
and are wholly unworthy of being considered _Christians_, in any proper
sense of the word. And seeing,

2. That considerable numbers, it is apprehended, especially among the
middling and lower classes, who outwardly profess Unitarian principles,
are in total ignorance of the unscriptural nature and dangerous
character of those principles. And seeing,

3. That the controversial discussion of disputed points was
unquestionably the practice of the apostolic and primitive, as well as
of all other ages of religious revival, and is calculated as a means,
under the good blessing of Almighty God, to “open men’s eyes, and to
turn them from darkness to light;”—We invite and beseech you, by the
mercies of God in Christ, to come and give us at least a patient
hearing, while we endeavour to “persuade you concerning Jesus,” and “by
all means to win some of you.” It is impossible that we can have any
base or worldly motive in thus addressing you—any other motive, indeed,
besides that which is here avouched, viz., _our solemn impression of the
value of souls, and of the peril to which the false philosophy of
Unitarianism exposes them_.

Surely it is a sweet and a pleasant thing,—a thing not to divide and
sever, but to unite and to gather into the bonds of dearest
affection—thus to tell and to hear together of the great things which
our God has done for our souls; of His love to us, when He, “Who thought
it not robbery to be equal with God, did take upon him the form of a
servant, and, being found in fashion as a man, did humble himself, and
become obedient unto death, even the death of a cross.”—Phil. ii. 6-8.

It is the intention of my reverend brethren and myself to meet together
on the morning of Tuesday, the 5th of February, (the day immediately
preceding the commencement of the course,) for the purpose of solemn
humiliation before God, and earnest prayer for the blessing of our
Heavenly Father, upon the work in which we are about to engage, that we
may be enabled to exhibit and preserve “the mind of Christ,” while
employed in “contending for the faith,” and that we may have great
success in our endeavours to be instrumental in enlightening the eyes
which we believe to have been blinded by “the god of this world,” and
causing “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, WHO IS THE IMAGE OF
GOD, to shine unto them.”—2 Cor. iv. 4.

And now, men and brethren, humbly and affectionately praying your
serious attention to these things, I commend you to the protection and
blessing of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I remain your
friend and servant in the gospel, for the Lord’s sake,

                                                  FIELDING OULD,

     Christ Church, Jan. 21, 1839.      Minister of Christ Church.


  _To the Rev. Fielding Ould, and the other Clergymen about to lecture
            on the Unitarian Controversy in Christ Church._

Reverend Sirs,—A paper has been put into our hands, and an advertisement
has appeared in the public journals, containing a “Syllabus of a Course
of Lectures on the Controversy between the Protestant Churches and the
(so called) Unitarians,” &c. As individual inquirers after truth, and
disciples of Jesus, we deliberately hold the characteristic doctrines of
Unitarian Christianity; and, as ministers among a class of Protestants,
who, binding themselves and their pastors by no human creed or
interpretation, encourage us to seek for ourselves and expound for them
the uncorrupted Gospel, we publicly preach the faith which we privately
hold. We feel, therefore, a natural interest in the determination of
yourself and brother clergymen to call attention to the Unitarian
Controversy, and a desire that the occasion may be made conducive to the
promotion of candid research, the diminution of sectarian prejudice, and
the diffusion of the true faith, and the spirit of our great Master.

We are not of opinion that a miscellaneous audience, assembled in a
place of worship, constitutes the best tribunal to which to submit
abstruse theological questions, respecting the canon, the text, the
translation of Scripture—questions which cannot be answered by any
“defective scholarship.” You however, who hold that mistakes upon these
points may forfeit salvation, have consistently appealed to such
tribunal; and nothing is left to us but to hope that its decision may be
formed after just attention to the evidence. This end can be attained
only by popular advocacy on neither side, or popular advocacy on both;
and, as you have preferred the latter, we shall esteem it a duty to
co-operate with you, and contribute our portion of truth and argument
towards the correction of public sentiment on the great questions at
issue between us. Deeply aware of our human liability to form and to
convey false impressions of views and systems from which we dissent, we
shall be anxious to pay a calm and respectful attention to your defence
of the doctrines of your church. We will give notice of your lectures,
as they succeed each other, to our congregations, and exhort them to
hear you in the spirit of Christian justice and affection; presuming
that, in a like spirit, you will recommend your hearers to listen to
such reply as we may think it right to offer. We are not conscious of
any fear, any interest, any attachment to system, which should interfere
with the sincere fulfilment of _our_ part in such an understanding; and,
for the performance of _yours_, we rely on your avowed zeal for that
Protestantism which boldly confides the interpretation of Scripture to
individual judgment, and to that sense of justice which, in Christian
minds, is the fruit of cultivation and sound knowledge. As you think it
the duty of Unitarians to judge of your doctrines, not from our
objections, but from your vindication, you cannot question the duty of
Trinitarians to take their impressions of our faith from us, rather than
from you.

We rejoice to hear that the Christ Church lectures will be published.
Should they issue from the press within a week after delivery, we should
desire to postpone our reply till we had enjoyed the opportunity of
reading them, persuaded that thus we shall best preserve that calmness
and precision of statement, without which, controversial discussions
tend rather to the increase of prejudice than the ascertainment of
truth. Should the publication be deferred for a longer time, the
necessity of treating each subject, while its interest is fresh, will
oblige us to forego this advantage; and we shall, in such case, deliver,
each week, an evening lecture in answer to that preached in Christ
Church on the preceding Wednesday. Permit us to ask, how early an
appearance of your printed lectures may be expected; and whether you
will recommend your congregations to attend with candour to our replies.

We fear, however, that neither from the pulpit nor the press will your
statements and ours obtain access extensively to the same persons; your
discourses will, perhaps, obtain readers, too exclusively, among
Trinitarians; ours, certainly, among Unitarians. In order to place your
views and ours fairly side by side, allow us to propose the following
arrangements; that an epitome of each lecture, and another of the reply,
furnished by the respective authors, shall appear weekly in the columns
of one and the same newspaper; the newspaper being selected, and the
length of the communications prescribed, by previous agreement. Or
should you be willing, we should prefer making some public journal the
vehicle of a discussion altogether independent of the lectures,
conducted in the form of a weekly correspondence, and having for its
_matter_ such topics as the first letter of the series may open for
consideration. In this case you will perceive the propriety of conceding
to us the commencement of the correspondence, as you have pre-occupied
the pulpit controversy; have selected the points of comparison between
your idea of Christianity and ours; and introduced among them some
subjects to which we do not attach the greatest interest and importance.
On this priority, however, we do not insist. You will oblige us by
stating whether you assent to this proposal.

While we are willing to hope for a prevailing spirit of equity in this
controversy, we are grieved to have to complain of injustice, and of a
disregard to the true meaning of words, at its very opening. We must
protest against the exclusive usurpation of the title “Protestant
Churches,” by a class of religionists who practically disown the
principle of Protestantism: who only make the Church (or themselves),
instead of the Pope, the arbiter of truth; who hold error (that is, an
opinion different from their own,) to be fatal to salvation: and who
allow the right of individual judgment only with the penalty of
everlasting condemnation upon all whose individual judgment is not the
judgment of their Church. We take objection also to the spirit that
creeps out in the expression, “_(so called) Unitarians_,” maintaining
that the word does not “impute to others ‘a polytheistic creed;’” but
that as “Trinitarian” denotes one who worships the Godhead in _three_
“persons,” _Unitarian_ fitly describes one who worships the Godhead in
_one_ person. And, above all, we protest against the resolution of our
case into “dishonest or uncandid criticism;” that is the wilful
maintenance of error, knowing it to be such, the Charybdis which one of
your lecturers proposes for us, if we should be fortunate enough to
escape the Scylla of “defective scholarship.” We are deeply concerned
that so much of the “_acetum theologicum_” has mixed thus early in an
invitation, characterized by the chief inviter as “a sweet and pleasant
thing;” and this, too, after a public announcement of having purged the
mind of every feeling but the pure love of the pure truth.

And to you, reverend sir, in whose letter to the Unitarians of this town
and neighbourhood the announcement in question occurs, it is incumbent
on us to address a few remarks, with a special view to acquaint you with
the feelings awakened by your earnest invitation.

The anxiety which that letter manifests to convince us that, in seeking
our conversion, you are actuated by no “base and worldly motive,” is, we
can assure you, altogether superfluous. Of the purity and
disinterestedness of your intention we entertain no doubt; and we regard
it with such unaffected respect, as may be due to every suggestion of
conscience, however unwise and fanatical. If, with the ecclesiastics and
philosophers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, you esteemed
the denial of witchcraft as perilous a heresy as Atheism itself, we
should feel neither wonder nor anger at the zeal with which you might
become apostles of the doctrine of sorcery. Any one who can convince
himself that _his_ faith, _his_ hope, _his_ idea of the meaning of
Scripture, afford the only cure for the sins and sorrows and dangers of
the world, is certainly right in spending his resources and himself in
diffusing his own private views. But we are astonished that he can feel
himself so lifted up in superiority above other men, as to imagine that
Heaven depends on their assimilation to himself,—that, in
self-multiplication, in the universal reproduction of his own state of
mind, lies the solitary hope of human salvation. We think that, if we
were possessed by such a belief, our affections towards men would lose
all Christian meekness, our sympathies cease to be those of equal with
equal, the respectful mercy of a kindred sufferer; and that, however
much we might indulge a Pharisaic compassion for the heretic, we should
feel no more the Christian “honour” unto “all men.”

You ask us, reverend sir, whether it is not “a sweet and pleasant
thing,” “to tell and hear together of the great things which God has
done for our souls.” Doubtless, there are conditions under which such
communion may be most “sweet and pleasant.” When they who hold it _agree
in mind_ on the high subjects of their conference, it is “sweet and
pleasant” to speak mutually of “joys with which no stranger
intermeddleth,” and to knit together the human affections, with the
bands of that heavenly “charity,” which, springing from one faith and
one hope, is yet greater than them both. Nay, when good men _differ from
each other_, it is still “sweet and pleasant” to reason together, and
prove all things, and whatsoever things are pure, and true and lovely,
to think on these things, provided that both parties are conscious of
their liability to error, and are anxious to learn as well as to teach:
that each confides in the integrity, ingenuousness, and ability of the
other; that each applies himself with reasons to the understanding, not
with terrors to the will. But such conference is not “sweet and
pleasant” where, fallibility being confessed on one side, infallibility
is assumed on the other; where one has nothing to learn and everything
to teach; where the arguments of an equal are propounded as a message of
inspiration; where presumed error is treated as unpardonable guilt, and
on the fruits of laborious and truth-loving inquiry, terms of
reprobation and menaces of everlasting perdition are unscrupulously

You announce your intention to set apart, on our behalf, a day of
humiliation and prayer. To supplicate the Eternal Father, as you
propose, to turn the heart and faith of others into the likeness of your
own may appear to you fitting as an act of prayer; it seems to us
extraordinary as an act of humiliation. Permit us to say, that we could
join you in that day’s prayer, if, instead of assuming before God what
doctrines his Spirit should enforce, you would, with us, implore him to
have pity on the ignorance of us all: to take us all by the hand and
lead us into the truth and love, though it should be by ways most
heretical and strange; to wrest us from the dearest reliances and most
assured convictions of our hearts, if they hinder our approach to his
great realities. A blessed day would that be for the peace, brotherhood,
and piety of this Christian community, if the “humiliation” would lead
to a recognition of Christian equality, and the “prayer,” to a
recognition of that spiritual God whose love is moral in its character,
spiritual, not doctrinal in its conditions, and who accepts from all his
children the spirit and the truth of worship.

We fear that you will consider it as a mark of great obduracy, that we
are not more affected by that “purest love” for “those in the extreme of
peril,” which your letter expresses. Let us again assure you that we by
no means doubt the sincerity of that affection. However pure in its
source, it is ineffectual in its result, simply because no one can feel
his heart softened by a commiseration which he is wholly unconscious of
requiring. The pity that feels _with_ me is, of all things, the most
delicious to the heart; the pity that only feels _for_ me, is, perhaps,
of all things, the most insulting.

And, if the tenderness of your message does not subdue us, we trust its
terrors will prevail still less. We are not ignorant, indeed, that, in
dealing with weak minds whose solicitude for their personal security is
greater than their generous faith in truth and God, you enjoy an
advantage over us. We avow that we have no alarms whereby to urge men
into our Church; that we know of no “terrors of the Lord” by which to
“persuade men,” except against sin; nor do we esteem ourselves exclusive
administrators of any salvation, except that best salvation, which
consists in a free mind and emancipated heart; reverencing Christ as the
perfect image of the Father, listening to the accents of reason and
conscience, as to the breathings of God’s spirit, loving all men as his
children, and having hope in death, of a transference from this outer
court into the interior mansions of His house. For this reason, imbecile
souls, without Christian trust and courage, may think it _safer_, at all
events, to seek a place within your Church; but we wonder that you can
feel satisfied, retaining your Protestantism, to appeal thus to fear and
devout policy, rather than to conviction, and that you cannot discern
the mockery of first placing us on the brink of hell and lifting up the
veil, and then bidding us stand there, with cool and unembarrassed
judgment to inquire. Over converts, won by such means, you would surely
have as little reason to rejoice as had the priests of Rome to exult on
the recantation of Galileo. Our fellow worshippers have learned, we
trust, a nobler faith; and will listen to your arguments with more open
and tranquil mind than your invitation, had it attained its end of fear,
would have allowed. They will hold fast, till they see reason to abandon
it, their filial faith in a Divine Father, of whom Jesus, the merciful
and just, is _indeed_ the image; and who, _therefore_, can have neither
curse nor condemnation for “unwitting” error, no delight in
self-confident pretensions, no wrath and scorn for any “honest and good
heart,” which “brings forth its fruit with patience.”

To this God of truth and love, commending our high controversy, and all
whose welfare it concerns, we remain your fellow-labourers in the

                  JAMES MARTINEAU,
                        Minister of Paradise-street Chapel.
                  JOHN HAMILTON THOM,
                        Minister of Renshaw-street Chapel.
                  HENRY GILES,
                        Minister of the Ancient Chapel, Toxteth Park.
  Liverpool, Jan. 26, 1839.


    _To the Reverend James Martineau, J. H. Thom, and Henry Giles._

Gentlemen,—As Christian courtesy seems to require a reply to your
address, published in the _Albion_ of this day, I hasten to furnish it,
though unwilling, for many reasons, to enter into a newspaper discussion
with you on the important subjects which just now engage our attention.
I shall, therefore, (without intending any disrespect,) pass by
unnoticed your critical remarks on certain portions of my recently
published invitation to the members of your body to attend and give a
patient hearing to the lectures about to be delivered at Christ Church,
and confine myself altogether to those points of inquiry to which it is
but reasonable that you should receive an answer. And,

1. You ask, whether I will recommend my congregation to attend (I
presume, in your respective chapels) to hear the replies which you
intend making to our proposed lectures. To this I am compelled to reply
in the _negative_. Were I to consent to this proposal, I should thereby
admit that we stood on the terms of a _religious equality_, which is,
_in limine_, denied. As men, citizens, and subjects, we are doubtless
equal, and will also stand on a footing of equality before the bar of
final judgment; I therefore use the term “_religious equality_” in order
to convey to you the distinction between our relative position as
members of the community and as religionists. Being unable (you will
excuse my necessary plainness of speech) to recognize you as
_Christians_, I cannot consent to meet you in a way which would imply
that we occupy the same _religious_ level. To _you_ there will be no
sacrifice of principle or compromise of feeling, in entering our
churches; to _us_, there would be such a surrender of _both_ in entering
yours, as would peremptorily prohibit any such engagement.

2. You next inquire how early an appearance of our printed lectures may
be expected. In answer to this I have only to say, that arrangements
have been made for publishing each lecture as soon after its delivery as
may be practicable. Within what time this practicability may be found to
coincide, it is of course impossible precisely to determine. It will be
obvious, that I cannot answer for my brethren upon this point; but shall
only observe for myself, that I should hope a week or ten days will be
sufficient for the necessary revisal of proofs, arrangement of
authorities, and other business connected with a careful and correct

3. Your third inquiry respects a proposal to have an epitome of each
lecture, and its reply, published weekly in the columns of some
previously selected newspaper. Not having as yet had the opportunity of
collecting the sentiments of my reverend brethren, I can only, as
before, give the view which suggests itself to my own mind. I am
inclined to think it would be unfair to the respectable bookseller, who
has undertaken to publish the course _at his own risk_, to expect him to
concur in a proposal which could not but materially injure his sale. As
it is our intention to publish each lecture separately, as well as the
whole collectively, at the close of their delivery, and that in the
cheapest possible form, with a view to the most extensive circulation, I
cannot but hope and believe that our united object will be equally, if
not better, answered, than by resorting to a process which should
necessarily so condense and curtail the matter as to present a very
meagre and insufficient exhibition of the arguments, reasonings,
references, and authorities, on which so much of the value of the
lectures will depend.

4. And, finally, as to your proposal of making some public journal the
vehicle of a discussion independent of the lectures, I regret that I
feel again obliged to decline pledging myself to concur in it. While I
reserve to myself the right of noticing and replying to any
communication which may appear, in a duly authenticated form, in any of
the public journals, I must at the same time express my conviction, that
a newspaper is not the most desirable medium for disquisition on the
deep and awful subjects which must pass under review in a controversy
like that in which we are about to engage. The ordinary class of
newspaper readers, including too frequently the ignorant scoffer, the
sceptical, and the profane, is not precisely that whose attention we
desire to solicit to our high inquiry into the laws of Scriptural
Exegesis, and our application of these laws to the elucidation of the
profound mysteries of the Book of Revelation. I feel no doubt that all
who feel interested on the subject, will contrive to hear or read what
we shall preach and publish; and will thus be furnished with more solid
and suitable materials for forming a correct judgment, than could be
afforded by the casual study of the ephemeral pages of the public press.

Having thus distinctly replied to the several points of your letter, on
which you may have reasonably expected to hear from me; and trusting
that you will not attribute to any want of respect to you the omission
of all notice of the remainder; and congratulating you with all
sincerity on your avowed intention of coming, with your respective
congregations, to hear the exposition which we are about to give of what
we believe to be _fatally false_ in your system, as contrasted with what
we think _savingly true_ in our own; and praying with all fervency, to
the great Head of the Church, to bless and prosper the effort about to
be made for the promotion of his glory, through the instruction of those
who are “ignorant and out of the way,”

                    I remain, Gentlemen,

                              Yours for the Lord’s sake,

     January 28, 1839.                              FIELDING OULD.


      _To the Rev. James Martineau, J. H. Thom, and Henry Giles._

Gentlemen,--I owe it to you and to myself to state, that no offence was
intended, either by me, or, as I conscientiously believe, by my clerical
brethren, in the title of the subject to which my name stands affixed in
the Syllabus of the Lectures on the Unitarian Controversy. I am also
bound to acknowledge, that your letter, on the subject of the lecture,
is written in a style of calmness and courtesy, of which, I trust, you
will have no reason to complain of the absence in the statements which I
shall have to submit to your attention. Of course, this is not the time
for the vindication of the view which I adopt on the great question: I
content myself, therefore, with this public disclaimer of any desire to
substitute irritating language for sound argument.

                    I remain, Gentlemen,

                              Yours, with all due respect,

                                                            THOS. BYRTH.


                    _To the Reverend Fielding Ould._

Rev. Sir,—We beg to offer you our thanks for your prompt and distinct
reply, in the _Liverpool Courier_ of yesterday, to the proposals
submitted to you in our letter of Monday. We are as little anxious as
yourself for the prolongation of this preliminary newspaper
correspondence; and however much we may regret the negative character of
your answers to our questions, we should have reserved all comment upon
them for notice elsewhere, if you did not appear to us to have left
still open to consideration the proposed discussion (independent of the
lectures) through the press. That the pulpit controversy should be on
_unequal terms_, is, we perceive, a matter of conscience with you; but
your objections to a newspaper controversy seem to arise, not from any
desire to withhold your readers from our writings, as you would your
hearers from our preaching, but from the unfitness of a political
journal to be the vehicle of religious argument. Permit us, then, to
say, that we have no preference for this particular _medium_ of
discussion; that we are wholly indifferent as to its _form_, provided
the substantial end be gained of _bringing your arguments and ours
before the attention of the same parties_, and that _any_ plan which you
may suggest, affording promise of the attainment of this end, whether it
be the _joint_ publication of the lectures in your church and those in
our chapels, or the appearance in the pages of a religious journal
(either already established, or called into existence for the occasion,
and limited to this single object), will receive our welcome acceptance.

Had we any desire to see a theological opponent in the wrong, we should
leave the case between us in its present position, and should not
persevere thus in opening the way towards a fair adjudication of it; but
our reverence for the religion of which you are a representative and
symbol before the world, transcends all paltry controversial feelings,
and we should see, with grave sorrow, the honour of Christianity
compromised by the rejection, on the part of its authorized ministers,
of the acknowledged principles of argumentative justice. You will not,
we trust, incur the reproach of inviting a discussion _with_ us, and
then changing it into an indictment _against_ us. _You_ have originated
the appeal to the great tribunal of public opinion in this Christian
community; _you_ are plaintiff in this controversy; you will not, we
feel assured, so trifle, in things most sacred, with the rules of
evidence, as to insist that your case shall be heard in one court, and
before one jury, while your defendant’s case is banished to another, and
the verdict pronounced without balancing the attestation and comparing
the pleadings. Should you, moreover, succeed in convincing your readers,
that this is a discussion not (as we submit) between church and church,
but (as you contend) between Christianity and No-Christianity, the
effect will be yet more to be deplored, for, in such case, Christianity
will appear to claim from its votaries the advantage of an exclusive
hearing for itself, and, while challenging, by the very act of
controversy, the appeal to argument, to leave, for those who are
stigmatized as unbelievers, the honour of demanding that open field
which, usually, truth is found to seek, and falsehood to avoid. We trust
that you will not thus inflict a wound on a religion which, in all its
forms, we deeply venerate.

You deny our _religious equality_ with _you_. Is it as a matter of
_opinion_, or as a matter of _certainty_, that such equality is denied?
If it is only as an opinion, then this will not absolve you from fair
and equal discussion on the grounds of such opinion. If it is with you
not an _opinion_, but a _certainty_, then, Sir, this is Popery. Popery
we can understand,—we know, at least, what it is,—but Protestantism
erecting itself into Romish infallibility, yet still claiming to be
Protestantism, is to us a sad and humiliating spectacle, showing what
deep roots Roman Catholicism has in the weaker parts of our common

We confess ourselves at a loss to comprehend your distinction between
_civil_ equality and _religious_ equality. We claim equally as
fellow-_men_, as partakers of a common _nature_; of that nature the
religious elements are to us incomparably dearer and more elevating than
the elements that make us merely citizens; and the equality that is
conceded in regard to all our lower attributes, but denied in regard to
those that are spiritual and immortal, is such an equality as you might
concede to the brutes, on the ground of their animal nature, without
injury to the maintenance of your religious superiority. What is meant
by our equality at the bar of final judgment, as citizens, but not as
religionists, we do not know; or, if we can detect a meaning in it, it
is one which we should have supposed belonged to our faith rather than
to yours.

In reference to your repugnance to enter our chapels we say no more,
reserving our right of future appeal in this matter to those members of
your church who may be unable to see the force of your distinction
between religious and social equality. But we are surprised that you
should conceive it so easy a thing for us to enter your churches: and
should suppose it “no sacrifice of principle and compromise of feeling”
in us to unite in a worship which you assure us, must constitute in our
eyes “the most heinous of all sins—Idolatry.” _Either_ you must have
known that we did _not_ consider your worship to be idolatry, _or_ have
regarded our resort to it as a most guilty “compromise of feeling;” to
which, nevertheless, you gave us a solemn invitation; adding now, on our
compliance, a congratulation no less singular.

We thought you had been aware, that, while our services must be, in a
religious view, _painfully deficient_ to you, those of your church are
_positively revolting_ to us. Still as our presence, on such passing
occasions as the present, does not, in our opinion, involve any
“sacrifice of principle,” we shall set the example to our friends of
attending; not making our desire that they should be just dependent on
the willingness of others to be so too. And we shall have this
satisfaction, that, whether you “win” them, or whether we retain them,
the result will be a faith held, not on the precarious tenure of
ignorance or submission, but in the security of intelligent conviction,
and the peace of a just and enlightened conscience.

               We remain, reverend Sir,

                    Yours, with Christian regard,

                                             JAMES MARTINEAU.
                                             JOHN HAMILTON THOM.
    Liverpool, January 31st, 1839.           HENRY GILES.


    _To the Trinitarians of this Town and Neighbourhood who may feel
         interested in the approaching Unitarian Controversy._

Christian Brethren,—A letter of public invitation has been addressed to
the Unitarians of this town and neighbourhood, by the Rev. Fielding
Ould, on behalf of himself and twelve other gentlemen associated with
him, urging us, with the earnestness of Christian anxiety, to bend our
minds to their expositions of our errors and our dangers. We naturally
interpreted this to be an invitation to discuss the most momentous
questions as equal with equal. We thought, indeed, that we saw an
assumption of superiority, if not of infallibility, perhaps inseparable
from minds so trained: still we supposed, that this superiority was to
be maintained by argument and fair discussion: and this was all that we
desired. It never occurred to us, that the reverend gentleman might
possibly expect us to accept him as a divinely appointed judge of truth,
whose teachings were to be received in submission and silence; or that
he could suppose that convictions like ours, convictions that have
resisted all the persuasions of worldly ease and interest, that have
removed from us the charities and sympathies of men like him, and held
in simple fidelity to truth and God, could be so lightly shaken that
nothing more was required to blow them away than a course of _ex parte_
lectures without answer or discussion. If the object had been to confirm
Trinitarians in their views, this kind of proceeding we should have
understood; but surely something more was required when Unitarians were
publicly invited to the controversy. Much less could we anticipate that
the reverend gentleman, holding himself to be upon a “religious level”
far above us, to belong to a different order of spirits, could yet be so
far removed from the Christian and Apostolical spirit as to refuse to
bring his “light” into direct conflict with our “darkness.” With these
expectations of controversy, and having no bonds with anything but
truth, we unfeignedly rejoiced, that, for the first time in this
community, both sides of the great question were about to appear
together before the solemn tribunal of public attention.

In all these things we have been quickly undeceived. In our simplicity,
we believed that discussion was really invited and desired. We now find
that we were invited to hear, but not to argue; that to lecture us is of
the nature of “dearest affection;” but that to hear what we may have to
urge in reply would be to “recognize us” as “_Christians_,” to admit
that we stood on the terms of a _religious equality_, which is, _in
limine_, denied. We now find that all reciprocity is refused to us; that
it never was intended to treat us as equals; that the method of
discussing the Unitarian controversy, about to be adopted, is to hear
only the Trinitarian advocates—to call us around the Christ Church
pulpit to be taught to listen and believe. Clergymen may be so blinded
by ecclesiastical feelings as not to perceive the extreme offensiveness
of all that is assumed in this mode of treating their fellow-men; but we
turn to you, the freer laity of the Church, in generous confidence, that
such conduct will not be found to accord with your spirit of
justice—with the nobler ideas which _you_ have gathered, from the
intercourse of life, of equitable dealing between man and man.

We proposed to the clergymen about to lecture at Christ Church, that
since they had appealed to public opinion, through a popular advocacy,
the pleadings should be on both sides, and, as far as possible, before
the same parties. This is refused to us, because we are not Christians.
Is this in the spirit of the Saviour? It is also refused to us, because
it is asserted, that Trinitarians cannot enter our places of worship
without a sacrifice of principle, whilst we may enter theirs without
pain or compromise. Now the very opposite of this, though not the truth,
would have been nearer to it. In our worship there would be the
inoffensive absence of some views dear to you: in your worship there
would be the actual presence of some views most painful to us. In our
worship, you would hear addressed that Great Spirit whom you, too, adore
and seek: in your worship, we should hear addressed, as God, him whom we
revere and follow, as the image of God, the man Christ Jesus. In our
worship, you would find deficiencies only; in yours, we should find
what, to us, is positively objectionable, religion materialized and the
Deity distributed into persons. The Rev. Fielding Ould, in one of his
letters, represents us as looking upon you to be Polytheists, which we
do not; and, in another of his letters, tells us, that we may enter your
temples without pain or compromise of feeling. It will be evident to
you, Trinitarian laymen, that the Lecturers at Christ Church cannot
retire, upon such reasoning as this, from the full, public, and
impartial discussion which we propose to them, without making it
manifest to the public, that they are _determined_ upon doing so.

We proposed to them discussion through the press, as well as from the
pulpit: and this also is denied to us, on the ground, that newspapers
are read by the sceptical, the scoffing, and the profane. Now, not in
newspapers alone, _but in any journal whatever_, was the controversy
offered by us; yet we could not have anticipated the objection, when we
recollect the use made of the newspapers by the religious party to which
the reverend gentlemen belong. Again have we tendered discussion,
through the press, in any form whatever, with the single condition, that
the views of both parties shall be presented to the same readers—in the
hope, not as yet gratified, of an answer in a juster spirit.

Nothing now remains for us but to appeal from ecclesiastics to minds
more generally influenced, to minds that, taught in the great schools of
humanity, have learned mutual respect, and that have dropt, in the free
and noble intercourses of man with man, the monkish and cloistered
sentiment of spiritual as of civil superiority. To you, then, the
Trinitarian laity, we make our appeal; from the exclusiveness and
assumed infallibility of clergymen, to men who, from familiarity with
wider influences, have formed different conceptions of Christian
brotherhood and of Christian justice. We should not have held ourselves
authorized in thus addressing you had we supposed, that your cause or
yourselves, your ideas of justice, had been worthily supported by your
ecclesiastical representatives, who, we firmly believe you will agree
with us in feeling, have openly betrayed both you and it.

We appeal to you, not without confidence, to give us that equal audience
which your clergymen have refused; that those of you who, through
interest in the great question, are led to hear the Trinitarian
statements, will, in the love of the truth, and in the spirit of
equitable inquiry, hear also the Unitarian replies. We seek not to make
you Unitarians: that, at least, is not our chief desire and aim. But
would to God that we could do something to spread that true Christianity
which holds the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, and deems
charity dearer and more heavenly than doctrinal faith! Would to God that
this controversy might have some effect, not in building up any one
creed, or swelling any one sect, but in destroying the delusive and
separating ideas that lie at the roots of creeds, and are the nourishers
of bigotry, uncharitableness, and heresies! We should deserve well of
this great community, if we could remove from it this cause of strife
and bitterness,—if we could exhibit the God of Jesus requiring from us,
not speculative opinions, but the heart, the temper, and the life of
Christ!—if we could expose the unchristian idea of men preparing
themselves for a moral heaven by a metaphysical creed, and unite those
who now consume their energies, their temper, and their time, in
contending for abstruse and uncertain dogmas in the deeds of mercy and
of brotherhood which flow out of our common Christianity, and which, in
the wide wastes of sin, of ignorance, and of misery, that surround us,
are the moral debts of man to man, and constitute the religion which,
before God, even our Father, is pure and undefiled.

Respectfully directing your attention to our advertisement of a syllabus
of Lectures on the Unitarian Controversy, presenting both sides of the
question—our portion of which will be delivered in Paradise Street
Chapel, on successive Tuesdays,

               We are, Christian brethren,

                     Yours, in the spirit of Christian brotherhood,

                                          JOHN HAMILTON THOM.
      Liverpool, Feb. 2, 1839.            HENRY GILES.
                                          JAMES MARTINEAU.


                          TRINITARIAN LECTURE,


        1839.—February 6.

           1. Introductory. The practical importance of the
                Controversy with Unitarians.

                                                 _Rev. F. Ould._

        February 13.

           2. The Integrity of the Canon of Holy Scripture
                maintained against Unitarian Objections.

                                         _Rev. Dr. Tattershall._

        February 20.

           3. The Unitarian Interpretation of the New Testament
                based upon defective Scholarship, or on
                dishonest or uncandid Criticism.

                                                _Rev. T. Byrth._

        February 27.

           4. The proper Humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                                _Rev. J. Jones._

        March 6.

           5. The proper Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ proved
                from Prophecies, Types, and Jewish Ordinances.

                                           _Rev. J. H. Stewart._

        March 13.

           6. The proper Deity of our Lord the only ground of
                Consistency in the Work of Redemption.

                                              _Rev. H. M‘Neile._

        March 20.

           7. The Doctrine of the Trinity proved as a
                consequence from the Deity of our Lord Jesus

                                                _Rev. D. James._

        March 27.

           8. The Atonement indispensable to the Necessities of
                Fallen Man, and shown to stand or fall with the
                Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                                          _Rev. R. P. Buddicom._

        April 3.

           9. The Deity, Personality, and Operations of the Holy

                                             _Rev. J. E. Bates._

        April 10.

           10. The Sacraments practically rejected by

                                           _Rev. H. W. M‘Grath._

        April 17.

           11. The Nicene and Athanasian Creeds explained and

                                               _Rev. R. Davies._

        April 24.

           12. The Personality and Agency of Satan.

                                              _Rev. H. Stowell._

        May 1.

           13. The Eternity of future Rewards and Punishments.

                                               _Rev. W. Dalton._


                           UNITARIAN LECTURE,


        1839.—February 12.

           1. The practical importance of the Unitarian

                                              _Rev. J. H. Thom._

        February 19.

           2. The Bible; what it is, and what it is not.

                                            _Rev. J. Martineau._

        February 26.

           3. Christianity not the property of Critics and
                Scholars, but the gift of God to all men.

                                              _Rev. J. H. Thom._

        March 5.

           4. “There is one God, and one Mediator between God
                and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

                                                _Rev. H. Giles._

        March 12.

           5. The proposition ‘That Christ is God,’ proved to be
                false from the Jewish and the Christian

                                            _Rev. J. Martineau._

        March 19.

           6. The scheme of Vicarious Redemption inconsistent
                with itself, and with the Christian idea of

                                           _Rev. J. Martineau. _

        March 26.

           7. The unscriptural Origin and Ecclesiastical History
                of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

                                              _Rev. J. H. Thom._

        April 2.

           8. Man, the Image of God.

                                                _Rev. H. Giles._

        April 9.

           9. The Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, who
                dwelleth in us, and teacheth all things.

                                              _Rev. J. H. Thom._

        April 16.

           10. Christianity without Priest, and without Ritual.

                                            _Rev. J. Martineau._

        April 23.

           11. Creeds the foes of Heavenly Faith; the allies of
                worldly Policy.

                                                _Rev. H. Giles._

        April 30.

           12. The Christian view of Moral Evil here.

                                            _Rev. J. Martineau._

        May 7.

           13. The Christian view of Retribution hereafter.

                                                _Rev. H. Giles._


             _To the (so-called) Unitarians of Liverpool._

Men and Brethren,—Before the commencement of the lectures, on which I
have taken the liberty of inviting your attendance, I am anxious
respectfully to address to you a few observations in reference to the
letters which have appeared in the public journals under the signature
of your ministers.

It would appear that these gentlemen have been desirous to produce upon
the public mind an unfavourable impression, _à priori_, of my reverend
brethren, and of myself in particular, because of our having declined,
on their proposal, to enter upon a course different from that which we
had originally contemplated. “You will not, we trust,” say Messrs.
Martineau, Thom, and Giles, “incur the reproach of inviting a discussion
_with us_, and then changing it into an indictment _against us_.” Now,
we never invited any discussion with these gentlemen; if we had, we
should have addressed ourselves to them personally. But, while we would
not, and do not, shrink from any discussion with them into which we can
consistently enter, we cannot allow ourselves to be diverted from the
pursuit of our original purpose, _viz._, to deliver a course of lectures
upon the various points of Unitarian doctrine, which we believe, and
think we can prove, to be not only _unscriptural_, but _fatal to the
souls_ of those who embrace them, and which cannot be maintained (as
appears from the published works of the most learned Unitarians) without
a virtual surrender of the inspiration of the Bible. Believing, as I do,
that your best interests for time and for eternity are involved in the
momentous questions at issue—questions affecting the very vitality of
true religion—I inserted a letter in the daily prints, expressed, as I
had hoped, in terms of courtesy and affection, inviting your presence
and soliciting your attention. I also caused a notice to be published of
our intention to print the lectures, separately and in a collective
form, for extensive and immediate circulation, so that the amplest
opportunity might be afforded for replying to our arguments on the part
of any who might feel disposed to the task. That is, we proposed to
employ the instrumentality of the _pulpit_ and the _press_, (an
instrumentality, be it observed, _equally at the service of those who
differed from us_,) in order to promote the best interests of a portion
of our countrymen, whom we believe to be “perishing for the lack of

Where is there to be found here aught of _arrogance_, or
_uncharitableness_, or “_assumed infallibility_”? Where is there aught
of unfairness, or “any rejection on our parts of the acknowledged
principles of argumentative justice?” It is true we refuse to advise our
respective congregations to attend at Unitarian chapels, to hear such
answers as your ministers may think it right to offer in refutation of
our reasonings. Our principles and our consciences alike forbid our
concurrence in such a proposal. We cannot go ourselves, nor recommend
our people to go and have their ears wounded, their hearts pained, and
their Christian sensibilities shocked, by the iteration of such, in our
view, blasphemous statements, as we find spread in painful profusion
over the pages of Unitarian theology. And why, then, it is asked, do we
invite or expect your attendance upon what are called “the painfully
revolting” services of our church? For this reason, that, as appears
from the works of all their principal writers, Unitarians do not attach
the same importance to religious doctrines and opinion that we do. It
seems to be with them a matter of comparative indifference what dogmas a
man holds, provided he be _sincere_ in his profession; while with us
sincerity is no criterion of truth, being persuaded that as a man’s
_religious opinions_ are, so will his _conduct_ be in time, and his
_destiny_ through eternity. Being of opinion, then, that our people
would suffer by being brought into contact with error, in the same way
that the human body would be endangered by accepting an invitation to
feed at a table where poison was mingled with bread, we feel obliged to
decline recommending the proposed arrangement to their adoption. But,
feeling that there would be neither danger nor risk to those who are
represented as having a moral appetite for poison as well as bread, and
as looking upon all theological opinions if not as equally harmless in
their bearing on their eternal interests, we ventured to invite you to
come, that we might “persuade you concerning Jesus.” If there be any of
you whose conscience revolts against a participation in Trinitarian
worship, we invite not his attendance: we would be not intentionally
accessory to the wounding of the weakest conscience among you.

You will thus, men and brethren, perceive what was intended by the
assertion that our “_religious level_” was different. We meant not to
arrogate to ourselves any undue superiority, but simply to state a fact.
And while we think it both _unreasonable and unjust_ that we should be
expected to become the auditors of what we deem blasphemous error, or
pledge ourselves to the joint circulation of what we call truth and
falsehood, and thus be “partakers of other men’s sins,”—we cannot but be
of opinion that there is some ground for these charges in reference to
the conduct of those who, on this ground, attempt to prejudice the
public mind against us, as if we were declining a battle which we had
invited and provoked.

We are convinced that the attempt will not succeed. The public will have
eyes to see with sufficient clearness the real merits of the case, and
will condemn the efforts made to blind its vision, or at least incline
it to take a distorted view of our relative position.

Again repeating my invitation to all who can conscientiously accept it,
to attend our lectures, and leaving cheerfully to others the free use of
the only weapons we employ—the BIBLE—the PULPIT—and the Press—and
praying the Lord to guide all his inquiring people, by the teaching of
his Holy Spirit, into all truth, even the “truth as it is in Jesus,” I
remain, men and brethren, yours in the bonds of love,

     Christ Church, Feb. 5, 1839.                   FIELDING OULD.


        _To the Rev. J. Martineau, J. H. Thom, and Henry Giles._

Gentlemen,—Having hitherto corresponded with you on my own individual
responsibility, I have to request that you will consider me as _alone_
answerable for what has hitherto appeared under my signature. I had this
morning, for the first time, the opportunity of personal conference with
my reverend brethren collectively at the expected meeting which took
place at my house. I have now to address you upon the result.

All that we had originally contemplated was, the delivery of a course of
lectures upon the principal doctrines in controversy between Unitarians
and ourselves. It now appears that my invitation to the Unitarian laity
to come and hear us, while we brought their avowed principles to the
test of the Word of God, has been taken advantage of by you, and led to
a series of proposals on your part, which I took upon myself to decline.
I have this day addressed a letter to the members of your body
generally, which I trust will have the effect of setting that part of
the subject in its proper point of view.

It is, however, indispensable to distinguish carefully between this
_particular invitation_ of yours, and _discussion_ generally. Your
letter to the Trinitarian laity invites discussion in any shape which
shall effectually bring the statements of both parties before the same
individuals. We are now prepared to gratify your desire, and WE ACCEPT
YOUR INVITATION. Our lectures, however, shall be first delivered; on
this we are determined. Then, in the name of all, and in dependence upon
our blessed Lord and Master, three of our body will be ready to meet you
three before a public audience in this town; all preliminaries to be, of
course, arranged by mutual conference. We propose, if you please, to
take the three great subjects into which the controversy obviously
divides itself, _viz._,

1. EVIDENCE of the genuineness, authenticity, and inspiration of those
parts of our authorized version of the Holy Scriptures which you deny.

2. TRANSLATION of those parts which you alter, and in our judgment

3. THEOLOGY, involving those principles of vicarious sacrifice which we
deem vital, and which you discard.

Our proposal, then, is to meet you either _one day_ on each subject, as
you please; or _one week_ on each subject, as you please: the discussion
to be conducted in speeches of _one hour_ or _half an hour_ each, as you

And now, trusting that this proposed arrangement may prove satisfactory
to _you_, and to all who take an interest in this controversy, and
fervently praying the great Head of the Church to overrule our purposes
to the advancement of His kingdom and the promotion of His glory,

                    I remain, Gentlemen,

                              Yours for the Lord’s sake,

     February 5, 1839.                              FIELDING OULD.


                    _To the Reverend Fielding Ould._

Reverend Sir,—It would have been gratifying to us to receive from you an
answer to our offer of a discussion, through the press, before being
called upon to consider a proposal, altogether new, for a platform

You give us an invitation to _talk_, and call this an acceptance of our
offer to _write_. The two proposals are so distinct, that it is not easy
to see how the one could be transformed into the other; nor is the
mistake explained on turning to the words of our invitation, appealed to
by you, and contained in our letter to the Trinitarian laity. They are
these:—“We have tendered discussion _through the press_, in any form
whatever, with the single condition that the statements of both parties
shall be presented to the same _readers_.” You leave the impression,
that an oral debate is comprised within the terms of this offer; but, in
doing so, you widen its scope, by striking out the phrases which
restrict it to _printing and publication_, and describe it thus; “Your
letter to the Trinitarian laity invites discussion _in any shape_ which
shall effectually bring the statements of both parties before the same
_individuals_.” You will at once perceive the misrepresentation; will
acknowledge that the idea of settling historical and philological
controversies, by popular debate, has neither origin nor sanction from
us;—and will permit us to recal you to our first proposal of discussion
through the press,—a proposal to which, though now made for the third
time, we have yet received no answer.

Meanwhile, we will not delay the reply which is due to this new
suggestion of a platform controversy. We decline it altogether; and for
this answer you must have been prepared, by the sentiment we expressed
in an early stage of this correspondence: “We are not of opinion that a
miscellaneous audience, assembled in a place of worship, constitutes the
best tribunal to which to submit abstruse theological questions
respecting the canon, the text, the translation of Scripture,—questions
which cannot be answered by any defective scholarship.” To assemble a
similar audience in an amphitheatre, where the sanctities of worship are
not present to calm and solemnize the mind, is evidently not to improve
the tribunal. The scholar knows that such exhibitions are a mockery of
critical theology: the devout, that they are an injury to personal
religion. We are surprised that any serious and cultivated man can think
so lightly of the vast contents of the questions on which we differ, as
to be able to dispense with calm reflection on the evidence adduced, and
to answer off-hand all possible arguments against him, within the range
of biblical and ecclesiastical literature. We are not accustomed to
treat your system with such contempt, however trivial an achievement it
may seem to you to subvert ours. In reverence for truth, in a spirit of
caution inseparable from our desire to discharge our trust with
circumspect fidelity, and from a belief that, to think deeply, is the
needful pre-requisite to speaking boldly, we offered you the most
responsible method of discussion, in which we might present to each
other, and fix ineffaceably before the world, the fruits of thought and
study. To this offer we adhere; but cannot join you, on an occasion thus
solemn, in an appeal to the least temperate of all tribunals. We
recollect that one of the clergymen associated with you refused an oral
discussion of the Roman Catholic controversy. We approved of his
decision; and, in like circumstances, adopt it.

Will you allow us to correct a mistake which appears in your enumeration
of the three topics most fit for discussion? We do not, as Unitarians,
deny the genuineness, or alter the translation, of any part of the
authorized version of the holy Scriptures. The Unitarians have neither
canon nor version of their own, different from those recognized by other
churches. As biblical critics, we do indeed, neither more nor less than
others, exercise the best judgment we can on texts of doubtful
authority, (as did Bishop Marsh, in rejecting the “heavenly witnesses,”
1 John v. 7,) and on the accuracy of translations (as did Archbishop
Newcome, when he published his version of the New Testament); but no
opinions on these matters belong to us _as a class_, or are needful to
the defence of our theology. If you allude to the Improved Version, we
would state, that it contains the private criticism of one or two
individuals; that it has never been used in our churches, nor even much
referred to in our studies, and is utterly devoid of all authority with
us; and that, for ourselves, we greatly prefer, for general fidelity as
well as beauty, the authorized translation, which we always employ.

In your letter to the Unitarians, published in the _Courier_ of
Wednesday, you state that you never invited discussion with us (the
ministers) personally. We never imagined or affirmed that you did. But
surely you invited discussion with the class of persons called
Unitarians; and as a class has no voice except through its
representatives, and no discussion can take place without two parties,
you cannot think that we are departing from our proper sphere in
answering to your call. Did you not invite us (the Unitarians) to you,
“to tell and hear together the great things which God has done for our
souls?” And did this mean that all the “_telling_” was to be on one
side, and all the “_hearing_” on the other? Did you not press upon our
admiration the primitive practice of “controversial discussion of
disputed points?” And did this mean that there was to be neither
“_controversy_,” “_discussion_,” nor “_dispute_,” but _authoritative
teaching_ on one side, and _obedient listening_ on the other? In one of
two relations you must conceive yourself to stand to us;—that of a
superior, who _instructs_ with superhuman authority, or that of an
equal, who “_discusses_” with human and fallible reasonings. Between
these two conditions, there is _no third_; nor can you, with justice,
take sometimes the one and sometimes the other, according as the
occasion may require the language of dignity or that of meekness. We
certainly addressed you as an equal, and did not pay you the disrespect
of imagining that your invitation to “discussion” meant nothing at all.

We are sorry that you ascribe to us any intention to divert you from
your contemplated course of lectures. Be assured nothing could be
further from our design. We simply desired that, having _invited us_,
you should have _recognized us when we presented ourselves_, as parties
in the “discussion.”

               We remain, reverend Sir,

                    Yours, with Christian regard,

                                             HENRY GILES.
                                             JOHN HAMILTON THOM.
    Liverpool, February 7th.                 JAMES MARTINEAU.


         _To the Revs. J. Martineau, J. H. Thom, and H. Giles._

Gentlemen,—I think it due to the cause of truth, as well as to the
interest awakened in the public mind by this controversy, to address to
you a few observations on your last letter, as published in the
_Mercury_ of Friday. Though still strongly of opinion that the columns
of a newspaper present a most undesirable medium of communication upon
subjects such as those we are now engaged in discussing, I am unwilling
in the absence of any other accessible instrumentality, to lose the
opportunity it affords of impressing upon the attention of all
reflecting men the actual position which we relatively occupy.

1.—Being aware of the sincere anxiety which you have already manifested
for “discussion in any shape which should bring the statements on both
sides before the same parties,” it is not without considerable surprise
that I perceive that you “decline altogether” my proposal of a “platform
controversy.” Now, while you say I invited you to “_talk_,” and I answer
I invited you to _argue_, I cannot but think it will appear evident to
most, that by the subsequent publication, in an authentic form, of our
oral debate, you would have gained all that you could have desired in
the assistance of the press, while a select auditory, equally composed
of the respective friends of both parties, would have been able to judge
of your ability, not intellectually, but morally, to meet the case we
could have made out against your system. I cannot but hope that a secret
consciousness of the weakness of your cause has prompted your
determination, and am of opinion that while a discerning public will
approve the discretion of your resolve, they will not be slow to
appreciate its motive, or the precise measure of your zeal for a candid
impartial hearing.

But the “settling of historical and philological controversies by
popular debate has neither origin nor sanction from you.” Perhaps not:
but you cannot say that such a course is altogether without precedent.
You have doubtless heard of the protracted debate upon these same
controversies which were held in the north of Ireland a few years ago
between Mr. Bagot and Mr. Porter. May I ask whether it was the _result_
of that discussion that induced you to withhold your sanction from all
future controversies so conducted? Mr. Porter did not consider it
inconsistent with the principles of Unitarianism to debate his creed
before “a miscellaneous audience.” Are you wiser than he in your
generation? Again:—the proposed tribunal is not the best “to which to
submit abstruse theological questions respecting the _canon_, the
_text_, the translation of scripture.” But do you not apprise us a
little lower down, that you, as Unitarians, do _not deny the
genuineness, or alter the translation of any_ part of the authorized
version of the holy scriptures? Why, then, there is no ground for the
above apprehension. As these are not points which the tribunal will have
to try, why question its competence on their account? You are surprised
that I would “dispense with calm reflection on the evidence adduced.” I
am, in my turn, surprised that you should suppose I have any such
intention. When the “evidence adduced” has been taken down and
published, what is there to prevent its being “calmly” weighed and
estimated at its proper value? And then it is hard “to answer off-hand
all possible arguments” advanced. So it is; but not harder for _you_
than for _us_. Here at least we should stand on a footing of _perfect
equality_. It was hardly to be expected that _you_ should object to

2.—I now come to the _mistake_ into which you say I have fallen, and
which you offer, obligingly, to correct. “We do not, as Unitarians, deny
the _genuineness_ or _alter the translation_ of any part of the
authorized version of the holy scriptures. The Unitarians have neither
canon nor version of their own different from those recognized by other
churches.” If this be true I certainly have been mistaken; but have the
satisfaction of knowing that this mistake has been shared by a host of
abler critics and more learned scholars than I can pretend to be. I had
always thought that I read of the liberties taken with the received text
by the Priestleys and Belshams—the Wakefields and Channings, when they
were of opinion that they spoke too strongly the language of
Trinitarians. I had also understood that the Bruces, the Drummonds, and
the Armstrongs of Ireland had performed achievements in the same line,
at which many not a little wondered. I had further imagined that the
unanswered—because unanswerable—volumes of Archbishop Magee presented
evidence on this behalf, with which few were unacquainted. Now, if you
mean to say that you, the ministers and representatives of Liverpool
Unitarianism have never “questioned the genuineness, nor altered the
translation of any part of the authorized version,” I can understand the
assertion, and willingly take your own word for its truth. But if you
mean to affirm that this has not been done, and to a very prodigious
extent, by Unitarians, both domestic and foreign, you will excuse me if
I positively deny the allegation, as being totally without foundation,
and I refer in proof to the notorious lucubrations of the above-named
doctors of Unitarian divinity, as well as to the severe exposures of
their semi-infidel tampering with the Bible which they have called

But while you do not “deny the genuineness or alter the translation of
any part,” perhaps you question the _inspiration_ of certain portions of
the sacred volume. You will remember that this was _one_ of the branches
of _evidence_ that we proposed to discuss with you, and that not the
least in importance. Why are you silent on this head? Is it not of any
moment, think ye, to admit the _genuineness_ and confess the
_authenticity_ of a book or a chapter or a verse of scripture, if you
withhold your conviction of its _inspiration_? Is it not a fact that you
might hold the _genuineness_ of the two first chapters of St. Matthew
and St. Luke, and feel no disposition to alter the _translation_ of a
word, and, at the same time, boldly deny that they were “given by
inspiration of God?” If I am mistaken here too, I pray to be set right.
If not, then the public will decide upon the candour and fairness of
your profession to remove the necessity of any controversy with you on
the score of EVIDENCE, because of your admission of the _genuineness_
and your satisfaction with the _accuracy_ of the authorized version,
while by an expressive but momentous silence, you acknowledge that the
_greatest of testimonial questions_ is by you disputed, and you at the
same time refuse to come forward boldly, and debate it fairly before the

Again—“Unitarians have neither canon nor version of their own different
from those recognised by,” &c. You anticipate here a reference to “the
improved version,” and tell us that “it contains only the private
criticism of one or two individuals—that it has never been used in your
churches, and is utterly devoid of all authority with you.” Will you
excuse me for expressing my doubts of the accuracy of this statement,
for these reasons: —1. That work was the joint production of some of the
ablest men and best scholars that the Unitarian sect has ever been able
to boast of; and that the shades of Belsham, Lindsey, Jebb, Priestley,
Wakefield, &c.,[5] might well be astonished to hear their learned
labours so contemptuously spoken of by three modern disciples of their
school. 2. That, in the year 1819, (the date of the edition which I
possess,) the improved version had gone through no fewer than _five
editions_—a tolerable criterion of the extent of its circulation in
little more than twenty years. How many it may have passed through
since, I have been as yet unable to ascertain. 3. That so far from its
being “devoid of all authority,” it professes, in the title page, to
have been “published by the Unitarian Society for promoting Christian
Knowledge and the practice of virtue by the distribution of Books.” That
it may “never have been used in your churches” I can well believe, as it
is probable that the feelings of your people would have revolted too
strongly against its introduction, to make the experiment advisable: the
food which it furnishes may have proved too coarse even for the
digestive organs of popular Unitarianism itself. It is also possible
that the modern professors of your theology may be somewhat ashamed of
this awful specimen of “rational and liberal criticism,” and may
secretly wish that it had never seen the light. But the _existence_ of
it, at least, cannot be denied; and there it stands, a painful memorial
and a living witness, of what is “in the heart” of a system that exalts
_reason_ into a dominion over _revelation_, and that, unwarned by the
solemn admonitions contained in the book itself against the presumptuous
additions or detractions of human pride or folly, has dared
sacrilegiously to lay its unhallowed hands on the sacred ark, and to
attempt the mutilation and misrepresentation of the great magna charta
of the spiritual liberties of man.

3.—At the close of your letter, you say, “Surely you invited discussion,
with the class of persons called Unitarians.” I again repeat I did not.
I determined to have a course of lectures delivered in my church on the
points at issue between us and the professors of what we call your
“heresy.” And I invited the persons whom I was and am sincerely anxious
to benefit, to come and hear our well considered convictions of their
errors and their consequent danger, as well as our faithful exhibitions
of what we think “a more excellent way.” It will not be denied that a
clergyman of any denomination, in a free country, and more especially a
clergyman of the national church, has a right to preach, or authorize
others to preach, in his pulpit, according to his own discretion, and
invite whom he pleases to come and hear, without its being understood
that he challenges either the parties so invited, or their
representatives, to enter with him the lists of controversial
discussion. I absolutely protest against any such understanding. I did
not seek to _compel_ the attendance of any of your body, nor yet to deny
to you or them, in reply, the use of the same weapons that I had
employed in the attack. I _did_ mean that those who pleased should come
and hear us “_tell_” them a gospel which they were not _told_ by those
upon whom we looked as “blind leaders of the blind;” and that they
should be prepared to “learn” whatever should commend itself to their
consciences, under our teaching, as the truth of God. We did not, and do
not, expect to be able to bring demonstration home to the hearts of any
by the strength of our arguments, or by the force of our appeals; but we
anticipated that, in answer to our earnest prayers, the power of the
Holy Ghost would accompany our teaching of His truth, and make it
effectual to the conversion of souls “from darkness to light.” We
propose to stand before the congregations that might assemble, neither
as “superiors to instruct with superhuman authority,” nor as “equals to
discuss (if you mean by that _dispute_) with human and fallible
reasonings;” but simply as “ambassadors for Christ, as though God did
beseech them by us, that we might pray them in Christ’s stead—be ye
reconciled to God.”[6] This is the middle position in which we stand,
the _mean_ between your _two extremes_; and by God’s blessing, we will
continue to occupy it, until we shall have delivered our consciences,
and discharged our duty to a numerous, respectable, but, in our
judgment, blinded and deluded class of our fellow-countrymen.

And now, gentlemen, having taken such notice of certain allegations in
your letter as it seemed impossible to pass by, and with the full
purpose of continuing in the course on which I have entered, until,
through the blessing of God, the grand object which I have proposed to
myself shall have been accomplished,

                    I remain, yours, for the truth’s sake,

                                                        FIELDING OULD.

  February 11, 1839.


Footnote 5:

  See “Improved Version,” note on 1 John, i. 1.

Footnote 6:

  2 Cor. v. 20.


         _To the Revs. J. Martineau, J. H. Thom, and H. Giles._

Gentlemen,—You state, in your letter of the 7th ult., that “your
proposal of discussion through the press, though made for the third
time, has as yet received no answer.” It was thought by ourselves and
our clerical brethren, that as our lectures were to be printed and
published, every facility was afforded you of replying to them through
the same channel, and that thus the whole subject would be fairly
brought before the public.

In addition to this, we have offered to meet you in oral discussion; you
decline the proposal.

Anxiously desirous to bring the whole matter before this great
community, so as to prove that we not only entertain no apprehensions as
to the result, but are convinced that, by such an exposition, great good
will be effected, we, the undersigned, on our own responsibility, ACCEPT
YOUR TERMS of discussing the momentous question between us, in the form
of a correspondence in some public journal or periodical, altogether
independent of the lectures.

               We remain, Gentlemen,

                    Yours, for the sake of the Gospel,

                                                     THOMAS BYRTH.
                                                    FIELDING OULD.
     Liverpool, February 11.                         HUGH M‘NEILE.


                      _To the Rev. Fielding Ould._

Rev. Sir,—The tone of your last letter makes us rejoice that, by the
acceptance on your parts of discussion through the press, this
correspondence may now be brought to a close.

Let us, Rev. Sir, place before you your own language, and ask, in solemn
sadness, are the feelings it betrays worthy of the occasion, or deserved
by us, or edifying to the public mind? These are your words:—“I cannot
but hope that a secret consciousness of the weakness of your cause has
prompted your determination, and am of opinion, that while a discerning
public will approve the discretion of your resolve, they will not be
slow to appreciate its motive, or the precise measure of your zeal for a
candid and impartial hearing.” Sir, it is not a little mournful to find
a Christian Minister expressing his hope that other men are
hypocrites,—that they are secretly conscious of the weakness of the
cause which they publicly defend. To _hope_ that we secretly know our
errors, whilst publicly preaching them as truth, is, indeed, strange
preference of faith before works. Let us assure you, Sir, that if we
could think of you as this language shows you think of us, we should
decline all discussion with you,—we should regard you as an opponent too
discreditable to be identified with a great question, or to be
considered as an honourable representative of your own party.

We apprehend, Rev. Sir, that nobody but yourself would think of
attributing to conscious weakness our preference of the most perfect and
searching method of discussion, to the most flimsy, insufficient, and
unscholarlike that could by possibility be selected. Had we wished to
catch the ear of a popular assembly, or to turn away attention from weak
points by oratorical artifices, we should have proposed this platform
controversy, instead of, as we did, carefully and purposely wording our
invitation and our enumeration of the modes in which the controversy
might be conducted, so as to exclude the idea of oral discussion.

We observe with sorrow, and with diminished hope of benefit from
controversy, that you can so sink the interests of truth in personal
championship, as to meet our solemn unwillingness to entrust the gravest
questions to extempore dexterity and accidental recollection, with the
reply that in this respect we should be at least _equally_ situated.
Doubtless, Sir, if a display of personal prowess was our object, this
would be conclusive; but TRUTH is our object, and we dare not offer it
such worthless advocacy.

With respect to the instance alluded to by us, of a decision similar to
our own, our impression had been that reasons also similar to our own
were given at the time; and we can only regret, since this impression
seems to be false, that we quoted the case.

With regard to the “Improved Version,” we shall only say here, that it
has been raised to an importance in this discussion which is entirely
factitious. The differences between us must be settled upon principles
of interpretation and criticism recognized by all scholars; and if these
principles can be shown, in any respects, to condemn the “Improved
Version,” in those respects we shall be the first to abandon it, feeling
ourselves to be in nothing bound by it. When we said that, as
_Unitarians_, we had no canon or version of our own, we meant that we
are quite willing to accept the text as fixed by scholars, most of them
Trinitarians, on critical principles. We most cheerfully recognize the
fundamental principles of Scriptural inquiry, so clearly and soundly
stated yesterday evening by Dr. Tattershall; and although agreeing with
many of your ablest scholars, in thinking the received translation to
require corrections, and not approving of the morality of taking up a
position in defence of truth unnecessarily unfavourable; yet, were our
only object to display the ampler and superior Scriptural evidence for
Unitarianism than for Trinitarianism, the received translation would be
quite sufficient for our purpose.

Again reminding you that the word “discussion” was introduced into your
original invitation, which contained also reference to the controversial
practice of primitive times, and set forth the advantages of “hearing”
and “telling” together,

               We remain,

                    Your fellow-labourers and fellow-Christians,

                                             JAMES MARTINEAU.
                                             JOHN HAMILTON THOM.
    Feb. 14, 1839.                           HENRY GILES.


     _To the Revs. Thomas Byrth, Fielding Ould, and Hugh M‘Neile._

Gentlemen,—Your willingness to discuss the Unitarian and Trinitarian
controversy in the most satisfactory mode, has given us sincere
pleasure; and if we have seemed to press this matter upon your
acceptance, we assure you it was with the single desire that the
statements of both views, in their most accurate and perfect forms,
might be presented to the same minds through an unbiassing medium; an
object which could be obtained neither by the unequal distribution of
separate lectures, nor by means so necessarily imperfect as oral

We shall be happy to arrange with you, at the earliest possible period,
the manner and conditions of our proposed discussion.

We shall be ready to conform ourselves to your wishes upon the subject;
but we would suggest the desirableness of the discussion being entered
on at once—partly because attention to it might now be secured, and
partly because in the seriousness and number of our mutual engagements,
this controversy should not be allowed to interfere with our other
duties and responsibilities longer than is necessary.

                              We are, Gentlemen,

                                   Yours, with respect,

                                         JOHN HAMILTON THOM.
                                         JAMES MARTINEAU.
     Feb. 14, 1839.                      HENRY GILES.


         _To the Revs. J. Martineau, J. H. Thom, and H. Giles._

Gentlemen,—I cannot permit our correspondence to terminate without a few
remarks on your letter, as published in the _Mercury_ of Friday last.

1. I regret that the “tone” of my last address should have given you any
offence, while I am wholly unconscious of any intention unnecessarily to
wound the feelings of those who, I am free to admit, have hitherto
written at least courteously, if not very candidly, upon the subjects
which have been recently submitted to the attention of the public. Allow
me distinctly to disclaim any attempt to charge you with _hypocrisy_, or
make it appear that you “secretly know as errors what you publicly
preach as truths.” I took occasion merely to express my surprise that
persons who seemed so anxious for an impartial hearing of their defence,
should “altogether decline” a proposal by which, as it appeared, and
still appears to me, that object might have been so satisfactorily
attained; and in the exercise of a charity that “hopeth all things,” I
sought to attribute your refusal to a latent and half-formed conviction
within you, that your principles, in whatsoever sincerity entertained
and professed, might not bear the light of such an investigation as that
to which they would have been subjected in a public _vivá voce_
discussion. Where is there any charge of hypocrisy here? May not a man
be perfectly sincere in the maintenance of an opinion, which he would
nevertheless be very unwilling to defend in oral debate, from a proper
apprehension of the force of argument with which it might be
encountered, and a secret consciousness of his own slender materials for
its support? Be assured it is not necessary for us to brand you with
_hypocrisy_, in order to convict you of _heresy_. We are willing to give
you every credit for honesty of intention and integrity of purpose,
while we cannot but suspect that you are fully aware of the difficulty
of maintaining the principles of Unitarianism on the ground of an
unmutilated and “unimproved” Bible.

Were I equally disposed with you to take offence, I too might inquire,
“in solemn sadness, whether it be deserved by us, or edifying to the
public mind,” that you should more than insinuate, though of course in
very polished phrases, that “we have proposed a platform controversy, in
order to catch the ear of a popular assembly, and to turn away attention
from weak points by oratorical artifices.” Is this your opinion of us?
If we thought so, “we should decline all discussion with you as
opponents too discreditable to be identified with a great question, or
to be considered as honourable representatives of your own party.” But
_we_ are not offended. We look upon your language as simply intended to
convey an admission that your system is unpopular; one that, from its
cold, and cheerless, and unimpassioned character, would seek in vain to
enlist on its behalf any measure of popular sympathy, or conciliate any
favour unless from those whom it had imbued with its own proud spirit,
and accustomed to the low temperature of its own frigid zone.

2. But, gentlemen, while I cheerfully receive the admonition on the
“tone” of my address which your letter _does_ contain, I have to
complain respecting the answer to a very simple question I had proposed,
which your letter _does not_ contain. As I am unwilling to incur the
hazard of again offending, I will forbear from more than hinting at the
semblance of rhetorical dexterity that appears in your perhaps
undesigned turning away of attention from the PRINCIPAL POINT which I
had submitted for your consideration, in order to fasten upon me a
groundless charge, and so challenge public sympathy in your favour, as
men branded with the character of hypocrites, and secretly cognizant of
errors which were openly preached as truths. We proposed to discuss with
you “the evidence of the genuineness, authenticity, and _inspiration_ of
the holy scriptures.” You replied that you do not “deny the
_genuineness_” and seek not “to alter the _translation_ of any part of
the authorized version,” which you prefer to the abandoned version of
Mr. Belsham and his associates. You were silent, however, about the
INSPIRATION. I ventured to inquire whether I was mistaken in supposing
you denied _the plenary inspiration_ of the authorized version? My words
were, “If I am mistaken here too, I pray to be set right.” In your
letter now before me there is not a word upon the subject; no answer to
my all-important inquiry. There is a little further disparagement of the
“improved version,” which, we are told, has been raised into a
“factitious importance in this controversy;” you will be the first to
“abandon it,” if it should be condemned by the ordinary principles of
critical interpretation—so far so good. But what of the INSPIRATION? Are
you either afraid or ashamed to speak out what you think on this
subject? I would not that you should be offended at the “tone” of my
interrogations; but again I must ask, what are your opinions upon the
_quality_ and _extent_ of scripture inspiration? The public are
anxiously expecting an answer to this solemn query, and our present
correspondence cannot close until it is answered. The way will then be
clear for our approaching discussion through the press; we shall then
understand each other, and shall have reconnoitred and appreciated the
character of the field upon which we are to take up our respective
positions. You say that “_truth_ is your object,” and not “personal
championship.” Well, then, let us have _the truth_ upon Unitarian views
of SCRIPTURAL INSPIRATION. All other argument can be only an unmeaning
play of words until this point is settled.

We are rejoiced to learn that you are satisfied with “the authorized
version,” and “the received translation,” for the purposes of our
present inquiry; and when you shall satisfy us that you admit the full
inspiration of _all and every part_ of that volume, we shall be in a
condition to inquire whether it presents “ampler and superior Scriptural
evidence for Unitarianism than for Trinitarianism.” We remember that Mr.
Belsham, in his Review of Mr. Wilberforce’s Treatise, has said, speaking
of the texts usually quoted by Trinitarians in proof of the proper deity
of Christ, that “Unitarians pledge themselves to show that they are
_all_ either _interpolated_, _corrupted_, or _misunderstood_.”—Review,
pp. 270, 272. They engage to get clearly rid of them altogether. _You_,
it would appear, have given up the _interpolations_ and _corruptions_;
the _misunderstandings_, we presume, still remain chargeable against us;
but whether on the ground of _ignorance_, or of mistaken confidence in
the _inspiration_ of the texts in question, we have yet to be informed.

You will pardon my anxiety for an answer upon this head, bearing in mind
that we regard it as opening wide a door for the introduction of
_infidelity_, so to give up _any portion_ of the sacred volume as being
not of inspired authority, as to render it doubtful whether _any
portion_ does possess that authority, and thus entirely neutralize the
effect of God’s message of mercy to the minds and hearts of men.

               I remain, Gentlemen,

                    Yours, for the sake of the Gospel,

     February 18, 1839.                             FIELDING OULD.


                      _To the Rev. Fielding Ould._

Reverend Sir,—You proposed (in your letter of the 5th February) a
certain series of subjects as proper topics for the discussion between
us, and submitted the list to our notice for acceptance or rejection.
From this enumeration we struck out two particulars, _viz._, the
_authenticity_ of certain parts of the New Testament writings, on the
ground that we did not deny your postulates under that head; and the
_translation_ of certain other parts of the Scriptures, on the grounds
that, with yourself, we prefer, on the whole, the authorized version to
all others; that we would not be responsible for any new rendering
proposed in the Improved Version; and that, as we have nothing so absurd
as a _system of translation_ capable of _systematic_ treatment, any
special instances, in which we may think the common translation
inaccurate, had better be discussed in connection with the theological
doctrines affected by the texts in question.

These subjects being excluded from the list, the rest, comprising the
question of _inspiration_, and the _doctrines of your theology_, of
course stand over for discussion. We said nothing of these, because we
had no exception to take against them. As our _notice_ of the others was
to effect their removal, our “silence” about these was to _secure their

The plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, or, if you really prefer it,
(as your phraseology seems to imply,) “the plenary inspiration of the
_authorized version_” remains then as an essential part of our
approaching controversy. Why you should complain that we do not step
aside with you individually, to render you an account of our belief in
this matter, we cannot divine, unless you think that, by tempting us
into your confessional by appeals to our conscience, you could impose
upon the “heretics” your penance at discretion. If it should be, that
this subject is likely to be committed to your hands in this
controversy, and you are merely anxious to know betimes what precisely
are the positions which you may be called upon to meet, a private
communication of your wish would be sufficient. The second lecture of
our series will be speedily published, and will furnish the information
which you desire.

We are sorry that you discover any want of “candour” in our last letter;
and surprised that, this being the case, you can esteem it “courteous.”
We regard a violation of “candour” as the greatest outrage upon
“courtesy;” and despise, above all things, the hollow and superficial
manners, which are empty of all guileless affections and Christian
sentiments. In saying that you charged us with hypocrisy, we committed
no breach of candour, but only the mistake, which we are now happy to
correct, of supposing that your language faithfully represented your
meaning. That you did not think of the _word_ “hypocrite” when you wrote
to us, we cheerfully believe; but that you thought of us as doing that
which makes a hypocrite, your own explanation renders more evident than
it was before. You attribute to us “a latent and half-formed
conviction,” that “our principles might not bear the light of
investigation,” and “a consciousness” of “the difficulty of maintaining
them.” Now there can be no “difficulty,” where the tribunal is wisely
chosen, in maintaining any set of opinions, except from the superior
force of the antagonist considerations; there can be no “consciousness”
of such “difficulty,” except from consciousness of this opposing
superiority;—to be conscious of a preponderant evidence in favour of any
system, is at heart to believe it; and he who believes one system, and
publicly upholds another, is, as we interpret the word, _a hypocrite_.
We perceive, however, that you made this charge without precisely
meaning it; and we think no more of it.

We disclaim any intention of hinting that you “proposed a platform
controversy, in order to catch the ear of a popular assembly, and to
turn away attention from weak points by oratorical artifices.” We simply
affirmed, that oral discussion would have afforded a better refuge for
our imputed “weakness” than the press. But surely it does not follow
that, because the consciously weak might prefer such a method, therefore
all who prefer it must be consciously weak. It would, indeed, be a
strange mistake of all the symptoms by which the characters of men can
be known, if we attributed to you any suspicion that you could be
mistaken. You are quite aware that your earnestness appears to us
perfectly sincere, and even to transgress the bounds of a modest

               We remain, Reverend Sir,

                         Yours, with Christian regard,

                                          HENRY GILES.
                                          JOHN HAMILTON THOM.
      February 21, 1839.                  JAMES MARTINEAU.


         _To the Revs. J. Martineau, J. H. Thom, and H. Giles._

Gentlemen,—Before we proceed with our proposed discussion, it is
necessary to determine, with a little more of accuracy than has been
hitherto stated, what our controversy is to be about.

We thought that you, in common with Unitarians generally, acknowledged
the Scriptures of the New Testament, as contained in what is commonly
called “The Unitarian or Improved Version,” to be inspired of God, and
consequently of infallible truth.

This however you, as individuals, have disclaimed; and, therefore, we
are compelled to ask _what you do_ acknowledge INSPIRED REVELATION?

Is our discussion to be,

1. Upon the meaning of a mutually-acknowledged standard of truth? Or,

2. Upon the question, Is there any such standard? And if so, what is it?

We affirm the inspiration by God of the Holy Scriptures, as contained in
our authorized canon, and are willing to refer every question for
decision to their ascertained meaning.

Do you agree in this?

Our standard being known, it is a matter of obvious fairness that we
should ask to have yours stated.

Either you admit the divine inspiration, and consequent infallible
truth, of the Bible, or you do not.

Or, you so admit a part, and reject a part. You will be so good as to
state clearly how this matter stands.

God to man?

If so, _what is_ that Revelation?

If you admit only _parts_ of our Bible as inspired, you will oblige us
by stating _what parts_.

The character of the discussion must obviously depend upon this: is it
to be a discussion upon EVIDENCE or upon INTERPRETATION? It would be
manifestly a waste of time in us to enter upon the interpretation of
what you might afterwards get rid of, (so far, at least, as you are
concerned,) by declaring it only the opinion of a _fallible man_.

                 We remain, Gentlemen,

                         Yours, for the sake of truth,

                                                     HUGH M‘NEILE,
                                                    FIELDING OULD,
     March 4th, 1839.                                THOMAS BYRTH.


           _To the Revs. H. M‘Neile, F. Ould, and T. Byrth._

Gentlemen,—You ask us, Is our discussion to be,

1. “Upon the meaning of a mutually-acknowledged standard of TRUTH?” Or,

2. “Upon the question, Is there any such standard? And if so, what is

We answer, distinctly, that our controversy is upon the meaning,
ascertained by INTERPRETATION, of the _Hebrew_ and _Greek_ Scriptures.
Should any questions of criticism arise respecting what is the text to
be interpreted, these must, of course, be argued separately, upon purely
_critical_ grounds.

We conceive that the real controversy between us respects the nature of
Christianity itself;—you holding the Revelation to consist in doctrines
deducible from the written words; we holding the Revelation to be
expressed in the character and person of Jesus Christ, and to be
conveyed to us through a faithful and authentic record. Which of these
two ideas is Scriptural?—that is our controversy.

Of course, “the standard” by which we must test “the truth” of these
ideas is the New Testament, and the Hebrew Scriptures, so far as they
throw light on its contents. Whichever view of Christianity is supported
by the _meaning_ of this standard, is the true one. The method of
ascertaining the meaning of any writings is the same, whether those
writings are of natural or supernatural origin; so that the process of
interpretation may go on, undisturbed by any reference to the theory of
verbal inspiration. The admission of an “infallible truth” in the Bible
(which, however, is known with _certainty_ only to God; for you, after
admitting it, are disputing with heretics of your own communion what it
is), cannot alter, in any respect, the true grounds of our controversy.
It is a controversy of interpretation, and no theory of verbal
inspiration can make it anything else.

This theory, however, we conceive to be altogether fallacious, both in
its principles and its results; and if you wish to make it the subject
of our controversy, we have no objection. We leave it to your choice,
whether we are to discuss the theory of verbal inspiration, or whether
we are to discuss the meaning of the original Scriptures, as ascertained
by the acknowledged principles of interpretation.

We confess to not a little surprise that three clergymen, coming forward
to discuss Unitarianism, should be found to express themselves so
inaccurately, or from such defective information, as to speak of “the
Unitarian or Improved Version,” and to represent the work, thus falsely
described, as acknowledged by Unitarians generally to contain the New
Testament as inspired by God. The theory of verbal inspiration, which we
deny altogether, we are not likely to claim in favour of a Unitarian
translator. We have repeatedly stated, that the “Improved Version,” is
not the “Unitarian Version;” nor is it “commonly” so “called.” And now
we say, once more, that our controversy is not about the Improved
Version, but about the Greek Testament.

When you accepted our invitation, with its terms, it was understood that
all the preliminaries of our controversy were to be arranged by mutual
agreement. You were aware, and we have in our letters distinctly stated,
that the theory of verbal inspiration stood as a part of that
controversy; you knew, also, that in a few days a distinct statement of
our opinions upon the nature of the Bible, in the form of a printed
lecture, would be before the public. We therefore look upon your letter,
in the _Courier_ of Wednesday last, as altogether unnecessary; and we
answer, thus publicly, what ought to have been matter of private
communication, only because we are resolved not to allow any
informalities, on your parts, to prevent our coming to a public
discussion of our respective views of Christianity.

                    We are, Gentlemen,

                              Yours respectfully,

                                             JAMES MARTINEAU.
                                             JOHN H. THOM.
    March 11, 1839.                          HENRY GILES.


         _To the Revs. J. Martineau, J. H. Thom, and H. Giles._

Gentlemen,—In our last letter we gave up the “Improved Version,” so far
as you, _as individuals_, are concerned, because, _as individuals_, you
disclaimed it. We are surprised, therefore, that you should revert to
it, and the more so, because you have now ventured to say, not only that
_you_ disclaim it, but also, in the face of known facts, that it is not
“the Unitarian version,” nor is it “commonly so called.” When you
disclaimed it _for yourselves_, we did not demur. But when you go on to
disclaim it _for the Unitarian body_, (for which, by the way, you have
no authority,) we strenuously deny your assertion, and call in evidence
the language of all the best writers upon the controversy.

You have misstated our question. We did _not_ ask, “Is our discussion to
be upon the meaning of a mutually-acknowledged standard of _Scripture_?”
We did ask, “Is it to be upon the meaning of a mutually-acknowledged
standard of _truth_?” We receive the Scripture as a _standard of truth_.
The substitution of the one word for the other, in this question, has
mystified your whole letter.

We collect, however, from your letter, and from Mr. Martineau’s sermon,
to which you refer us, (and which we consequently conclude contains the
sentiments of you all,)

1. That you do not believe in a _written and infallibly-accurate
Revelation_ from God to man.

2. That Paul the apostle may have “_reasoned inaccurately_,” and
“_speculated falsely_.”[7]

3. And that, consequently, you feel yourselves at liberty to judge his
statements (and all the statements of Scripture) as you do those of any
other books.

You seem to think that this is of little consequence, and say that “the
process of interpretation may go on, undisturbed by any reference to the
theory of verbal inspiration.”

We reply that such a process can lead to nothing but waste of time. For
when we shall have proved some great truth, or condemned some fatal
error, upon the authority of Paul, or some other inspired writer, you
have kept an open door for yourselves to escape from the whole force of
our demonstration, by saying that, in the words on which we rely, the
sacred writers “_reasoned inaccurately_,” or “_speculated
falsely_,”—while, if any passages in those writers _seem_ to favour your
views, you have adroitly retained the privilege of ascribing to them a
sort of inspiration.[8]

No, gentlemen, we are not to be deceived so, into an attempt to fix the
chameleon’s colour. If the apostles may “reason inaccurately,” and
“speculate falsely;” if the inspiration under which they wrote did not
infallibly preserve them from error, then there is no standard of truth
upon earth. Of what avail is it, then, to refer to the _Greek_
Testament, or the _Hebrew_ Scriptures? The Scripture, instead of being
(what David called it, speaking as he was moved by the Holy Ghost) “a
lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path,” degenerates into a
mixture of light and darkness, which we dare not implicitly follow, but
of which we must judge by some superior light in ourselves.

We observe, further, that, according to the light that is in you,
historical proof of miracles having been wrought in attestation of what
the writers of Scripture say, would NOT be proof against inaccuracy in
their reasonings, or falsehood in their speculations.

This notable conclusion you come to, by elevating nature into the
miraculous, and thus depressing the miraculous into the natural; since
you say that the whole force of the impression made by proofs from
miracles arises from a “SUPPOSED _contrast_” between miracle and

You have thus advanced a step beyond common Deism, and rendered
yourselves inaccessible even by miracles. This is conclusive, and
demands the serious attention of all who have hitherto been disposed to
receive instruction from you. We confess that we can go no further! for,
if there be only a _supposed contrast_ between miracles and nature, we
cannot prove the attesting interposition of God on behalf of the
statements of Scripture, and must give up as worthless the appeal which
Jesus makes to his miracles, in answer to the inquiry of John’s
disciples: “_Go_,” said he, “_and show John again those things which ye
do see and hear; the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the
lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the
poor have the Gospel preached to them_.”—Luke vii, 22. Upon your
principles, gentlemen, this appeal is worthless; for even if the
wonderful things here stated be established as historical facts, still
they contain no proof, because between these wonders and the course of
nature there is only “a _supposed_ contrast.”

Thus then, by your avowal, that even miracles cannot prove inspiration,
you are left in undisputed possession of the field of infidelity. We
have no common property of reason with you, and without determining
whether men who reject the evidence of miracles are of an order of
beings above or below ourselves, we feel that discussion with them is

While, therefore, we shall continue to use all lawful methods of
argument and persuasion, in the hope of being useful to those who,
though called Unitarians, are not so entirely separated from our common
humanity as you seem to be, we have no hesitation in saying that, with
regard to _yourselves_ as individuals, there appears to be a more
insurmountable obstacle in the way of discussion than would be offered
by ignorance of one another’s language; because the want of a common
medium of language could be supplied by an interpreter, but the want of
a common medium of reason cannot be supplied at all.

                    We remain, Gentlemen, yours respectfully,

                                                     HUGH M‘NEILE.
                                                    FIELDING OULD.
     March 18th, 1839.                               THOMAS BYRTH.


Footnote 7:

  _To grant that Paul reasons, and be startled at the idea that he may
  reason incorrectly—to admit that he speculates, and yet be shocked at
  the surmise that he may speculate falsely_,—to praise his skill in
  illustration, yet shrink in horror when something less apposite is
  pointed out,—_is an obvious inconsistency_. The human understanding
  cannot perform its functions without taking its share of the chances
  of error; nor can a critic of its productions have any perception of
  their truth and excellence, without conceding the possibility of
  fallacies and faults. We must give up our admiration of the apostles
  as men, if we are to listen to them always as oracles of
  God.—_Martineau’s Sermon_, pp. 34, 35.

Footnote 8:

  I believe St. Matthew to have been _inspired_; but I do not believe
  him to have been _infallible_.—_Sermon_, p. 27.

Footnote 9:

  All peculiar _consecration_ of miracle is obtained by a precisely
  proportioned _desecration_ of nature; it is out of a supposed contrast
  between the two, that the whole force of the impression
  arises.—_Sermon_, p. 24.


           _To the Revs. H. M‘Neile, F. Ould, and T. Byrth._

Gentlemen,—We regret the misstatement of your question, which appeared
at the commencement of our letter of the 13th instant. We regret still
more that it did not occur to you to attribute it to its real cause,—the
carelessness of a printer or transcriber. In the autograph manuscript
which remains in our hands, your question is correctly stated thus—“Is
our discussion to be upon a mutually-acknowledged standard _of truth_?”
How the word “truth” became changed into “scripture,” we cannot tell;
and not having read our letter after it was in print, we were unaware of
the mistake until you pointed it out. Whatever “mystification” it
introduced, you will consider as now removed.

Your letter announces your retirement from the promised controversy.
Knowing that in taking this step you could not put yourselves in the
right, it is only natural perhaps that you should resolve to set your
opponents in the wrong, and to cover your own retreat by throwing scorn
on their religious character. Theology appears in this instance to have
borrowed a hint from the “laws of honour;” and as in the world a
“passage of arms” is sometimes evaded, under the pretence that the
antagonist is too little _of a gentleman_, so in the church a polemical
collision may be declined, because the opponent is _too little of a

You refuse to fulfil your pledge to the public and ourselves on two

I. Because we do not acknowledge the plenary inspiration of the

II. Because we think it impossible to infer from miracles the mental
infallibility of the performer. It is of no use, you say, to argue about
divine truth with those who do not believe in “a written and infallibly
accurate revelation from God to man.”

We will concede, for the moment, and under protest, your narrow meaning
of the words “inspiration” and “revelation;” and without disturbing your
usage of them, we submit that the reasons advanced by you afford not
even a plausible pretext for having violated your pledge. First, as to
the plea that we are put out of the controversy by our unexpected denial
of the intellectual infallibility of the sacred writers; and that to
argue about the meaning of the Bible is a waste of time, till its verbal
inspiration is established. We reply,—

I. That it was you yourselves who started this very question of
inspiration for argument between us. In his letter of February 18th, Mr.
Ould gives this account of our projected controversy: “We proposed to
discuss with you the EVIDENCE of the genuineness, authenticity, and
INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES;” he taunts us with _reluctance_ to
take up this “greatest of testimonial questions,” with “refusing to come
forward boldly, and _debate it fairly before the church_.”[10] We _have_
come forward boldly, and this is now the alleged reason why there is to
be _no debate at all before the church_. Moreover, at the time when you
said “we accept your terms,” you regarded us as holding the very
opinions which are now made the excuse for a retreat; in your first
lecture they are made a chief ground of indictment against us, and pages
are crowded with citations from Unitarian writers, expressing those same
sentiments, which, when avowed by your own opponents, are to make them
unfit to be addressed, and to exempt you from the duty of reply. Of the
spirit of this proceeding, observers of honourable mind must judge;
they, as well as you, are well aware, that to pronounce men unworthy of
attack, is itself an attack of the last degree of bitterness.

II. Your refusal to settle with us the meaning of Scripture till the
plenary inspiration is acknowledged, is in plain contradiction to your
own principles. You fix the imputation of _deception_ on our statement,
that “the process of interpretation may go on undisturbed by any
reference to the theory of verbal inspiration.” Yet is this only a
repetition of what Mr. Byrth himself says, “In whatever light the
Christian Scriptures are regarded, whether as the result of plenary
inspiration, as we Trinitarians believe, or as the uninspired
productions of the first teachers of Christianity, or even as the
forgeries of imposture, _the meaning_ of their contents is a _question
apart from all others_.”[11]

Dr. Tattershall, in common with all sound divines, makes it the _first
step_ of scriptural inquiry to “examine the contents” of the books under
the guidance of the following principle: that “any message coming from
God must be consistent with the character of the same holy being, as
exhibited in his works,” and must have “consistency with itself:”[12]
and he justly states, that whether we ought to take the _last step_, of
admitting the divine authority of the doctrines, must still be
contingent on those doctrines, “being themselves wise and
holy,”—“lessons worthy of God.”[13] These principles are violated,
unless our investigation into your doctrines is taken in the following

I. Are your doctrines _true to the sense of Scripture_? If _not_, the
controversy ends here; if they _are_, then,

II. Are they _self-consistent; reconcilable with the teachings of God’s
works, pure and holy_? If _not_, the controversy ends _here_; if they
_are_, then,

III. Do they come to us clothed with divine authority, and conveyed in
the language of plenary inspiration?

Your system, then, must establish its _existence in the Bible_ (which is
a matter of interpretation), and its _credibility in itself_ (which we
presume there must be _some criterion_ to determine), _before_ the
question of inspiration is capable of being discussed. We deny both
these preliminaries; protesting that we cannot find your system in the
Scriptures; and that if we could, it appears to us so far from
“self-consistent,” “wise and holy,” and “worthy of God,” as exceedingly
to embarrass the claims to divine authority, of any writings which
contain it. It was then in implicit obedience to your own rules that we
proposed to let the question of interpretation take the lead; and no
less so, that we presume to form a judgment respecting the internal
character of doctrines professing to be scriptural. Permit us to ask
how, but by some “light in ourselves,” we are to determine whether
doctrines are “wise and holy,” “self-consistent,” and “worthy of God?”

Secondly. You plead that we have forfeited our claim on the fulfilment
of your engagement, by a statement of opinion in our second lecture, to
this effect: that miracles do not enable us to infer the intellectual
infallibility of the performer. This, it seems, is an unexpected heresy,
and cancels all promises. You appear to be affected by the Popish
tendencies of the age; and to have adopted the notion, that no faith is
to be kept with heretics. On this point we remark as follows:—

1st. We are astonished at your assertion, that this idea about miracles
deprives us of any “common medium of reason” with you. Did you not
“propose to discuss with us” the “evidence of the plenary inspiration of
the holy Scriptures,” under the persuasion that we should take the
negative side? In such discussion, would you not have argued from the
miracles to the inspiration? And how did you suppose that we should
reply? You were well aware that we should _admit_ the miracles; and
equally well aware that we should _deny_ the plenary inspiration of
those that wrought them. It cannot be supposed that, at this point, you
would have had no more to say; but you would have proceeded, as many
able writers have already done, to seek some “common medium of
reason,”—some considerations, that is, having force with both parties;
by which you might hope to fasten the disputed connection between your
premises and your conclusion.

2nd. We are still more astonished to hear that this sentiment puts us “a
step beyond common Deism,” “in undisputed possession of the field of
infidelity,” and even in “separation from our common humanity;” seeing
that the opinion has been held by

BISHOP SHERLOCK:—Who says, “Miracles cannot prove _the truth_ of any
doctrine; and men do not speak accurately when they say the doctrines
are proved by the miracles; for, in truth, there is _no connection_
between miracles and doctrines.”[14]

JOHN LOCKE:—“Even in those books which have the greatest proof of
Revelation from God, and the attestation of miracles to confirm their
being so, _the miracles are to be judged by the doctrine, not the
doctrine by the miracles_.”[15]

DR. SAMUEL CLARKE:—“We can hardly affirm, with any certainty, that any
particular effect, how great or miraculous soever it may seem to us, is
beyond the power of all created beings (whom he explains further to be,
‘subordinate intelligences, _good_ or _evil_ angels,’) in the universe
to produce.” He believes the Devil to “be able, by reason of his
invisibility, to work _true and real miracles_;” and “whether such
(_i.e._ miraculous) interposition be the immediate work of God, or of
some good or evil angel, can hardly be discovered merely by the work

He accordingly lays down _the conditions under which_ the miracles will
prove the doctrine.[16]

BISHOP FLEETWOOD:—“Spirits may perform most strange and astonishing
things,—may convey men through the air, or throw a mountain two miles at
a cast.”[17]

The notions expressed by the last two writers, respecting the superhuman
agency of good and evil spirits, evidently destroy, no less than the
more philosophical principle of Sherlock and Locke, all power of
reasoning from miracles, as such, to the divine authority and
inspiration of the performers. You cannot be ignorant of the fact, that
these notions prevailed among all the Fathers of both the Greek and
Latin churches; that they were almost universal among Christians till
very recent times; and that your own church lodges with the Bishop of
the Diocese a discretionary power to license clergymen to cast out

Nor need we remind you that, by yet another process of thought, the
Society of Friends assigns to miracles the rank which you think so
profane. “We know,” says Barclay on this subject, “that the devil can
form a sound of words, and convey it to the outward ear; that he can
easily deceive the outward senses, by making things appear which are
not. Yea, do we not see that the Jugglers and Mountebanks can do as much
as all that, by their legerdemain? God forbid then that the saint’s
faith should be founded on so fallacious a foundation as man’s outward
and fallible senses.”[19] And he urges, “that there must be other ways
of ascertaining divine truth; for as to miracles, John the Baptist and
divers of the Prophets wrought none that we hear of, and yet were both
immediately and extraordinarily sent.”[20] By different modes of
thinking, all these (Christians?) have arrived at the sentiment in
question, so that we occupy “the field of infidelity,” without being
“separated from” at least a goodly portion of “our humanity.” That this
sentiment should be of so deep a dye of Deism is the more remarkable,
because it is advanced and vindicated as a _scriptural sentiment_,—a
plea which, however foolish, can be shown to be so, only by discussing
_the interpretation_ of the New Testament. You have proposed no
explanation of the state of the Apostles’ minds before the day of
Pentecost. On that day they either did, or they did not, become more
enlightened than before. If they did not, the gift of the Holy Spirit
conferred no illumination; if they did, they were deficient in light
before; and the miraculous powers they had possessed and exercised did
not imply infallibility. We thought, indeed, that the comparative
narrowness of their views before this period had been universally
admitted. With respect to the appeal which in the presence of the
Baptist’s disciples our Lord makes to his miraculous acts, you are quite
aware that we do _not_ regard it as “worthless,” though you say we
“_must_” do so. These acts (the _climax_ of which, however, was no
miracle at all,—“the poor have the Gospel preached to them,”) fully
answered _the purpose for which they were appealed to_, viz., to
determine whether Jesus was “He that should come,” or whether John was
“to look for another;” for as Bishop Sherlock remarks though miracles
may not (he says “_cannot_) prove the _truth_ of any doctrine,” they
“prove _the commission_ of the person who does them to proceed from
God.”[21] We repeat, then, that we have started no topic which you did
not invite; we have taken up no method of discussion which your own
rules did not prescribe; we have advanced no idea for which your own
Church should be unprepared. You have quitted this controversy without
any justification from the unexpected nature of _our sentiments_, and we
are persuaded that you can plead no discourtesy in our proposals
respecting the _mechanical arrangements_. On this point we think it
right to state thus publicly the overtures which we made to you, through
the excellent clergyman who communicated with us as your representative.
An objection having been urged by Mr. Ould to discussion through the
newspapers, on the ground that they are read by “the ignorant scoffer,
the sceptical, the profane,” we proposed the following plan:—That for
twelve or any limited number of weeks, a joint weekly pamphlet of
thirty-two pages should be published, each party furnishing sixteen
pages; that the first number of the series should contain a positive
statement, _from each party_, of its fundamental principles in religion,
of that which it undertook to assail, and that which it undertook to
defend; and that within the limits of this programme, the replies in the
subsequent numbers should confine themselves. Thus each party would have
chosen its own ground, at first; and both would have disappeared from
the public view together, at last. This proposal was rejected without
any reason being assigned, except that there were “too many difficulties
in the way;” and though all preliminaries were to be settled “by
previous agreement,” we were told that in the following _Courier_ we
should find a letter addressed to us, which we might answer in whatever
way we thought proper. The public who have watched the proceedings in
this matter will bear witness, with our consciences, that we were _not
the first_ to enter this controversy; that we have _not been the first_
to leave it; and that, in its progress, we have departed from no pledge,
and been guilty of no evasion.

And now, Gentlemen, accept from us in conclusion, our solemn protest
against the language of unmeasured insult, in which, under the cover of
sanctity, the associated clergymen whom you represent, have thought
proper to speak of our religion; against the accusations personally
addressed to us, in the presence of 3,000 people, by the Lecturers in
Christ Church, of “mean subterfuges,” “of sneering,” of “savage grins,”
of “damnable blasphemy,” of “the greatest imaginable guilt,” of “doing
despite to the Spirit of Grace,” of “the most odious of crimes against
the Majesty of Heaven,” and in common with all Unitarians of forming our
belief, from “the blindness of graceless hearts,” too bad “to have been
touched by any spirit of God,” and against the visible glee, fierce as
Tertullian’s, with which “the faithful” are reminded that ere long, _we
must and shall_ bow our proud knees, whether we like it or not, to the
object of their peculiar worship;—so that they are sure of their triumph
in heaven, however questionable it may be on earth. You began the
controversy by ascribing to us one shade of “infidelity;” you end it by
ascribing to us a blacker. Beneath “the lowest deep,” there is it seems
“a lower still.” We have sat quietly under all this, bearing the rude
friction upon everything that is most dear to us, assured that if
anything in heaven or earth be certain, it is this;—that no spirit of
God ever spake thus, or thus administered the poison of human passions,
falsely labelled as the medicine of a divine love. What is the
difference between your religion and ours, that this high tone (than
which, to a pure moral taste, nothing surely can be _lower_) should be
assumed against us? We believe, no less than you, in an infallible
Revelation (though had we the misfortune to doubt it, we might be, in
the sight of God, neither worse nor better than yourselves); you in a
Revelation of an unintelligible Creed to the understanding; we in a
Revelation of moral perfection, and the spirit of duty to the heart; you
in a Revelation of the metaphysics of Deity; we in a Revelation of the
character and providence of the Infinite Father; you in a Redemption
which saves the few, and leaves with Hell the triumph after all; we in a
Redemption which shall restore to all at length the image and the
immortality of God: we _do_ reserve, as you suggest, “_a sort of
inspiration_” for the founders of Christianity, “a sort” as much higher
than your cold, dogmatical, scientific inspiration, as the intuitions of
conscience are higher than the predications of logic, and the free
spirit of God, than the petty precision of men. We believe in a
spiritual and moral Revelation, most awakening, most sanctifying, most
holy; which _words_, being the signs of hard and definite ideas, could
never express, and which is therefore pourtrayed in a mind divinely
finished for the purpose, acting awhile on Earth and publicly
transferred to Heaven. All men may see that such a Revelation
corresponds well with the medium which conveys it; but a set of
scholastic propositions, like Articles and Creeds, might as well have
been written on the sky; and many a bitter doubt and bitterer
controversy might have been spared.

We believe, Gentlemen, that the minds of serious and considerate persons
are weary of the aggressions of Churches upon the private and secret
faith of the individual heart; that they will not long be forced to live
on the dry husks of Creeds which have lost the kernel of true life; nor
accept mere puzzles as divine mysteries. It is at the peril of all
religion that its illimitable truths are embalmed in definite formulas,
and the abyss of God confidently measured by thrusting out the foot-rule
of ecclesiastical wisdom. The things most holy cannot without injury be
thus turned from the contemplation of the affections, to the small
criticism of the intellect; and the acute and polished dividing-knife of
dialectics, when applied to cut theology into propositions, is apt to
leave scarce a shred of faith.

That all professing ministers of the Gospel may speedily turn from their
divisions of belief to a hearty union of spirit, is the desire and
prayer of

          Us, who in this temper, and in better times, might have been
               owned as

                            Your fellow-labourers,

                                            JAMES MARTINEAU.
                                            JOHN HAMILTON THOM.
        March 25th, 1839.                   HENRY GILES.


Footnote 10:

  Rev. F. Ould’s Letter of February 11.

Footnote 11:

  Rev. T. Byrth’s Lecture, Part I. p. 114.

Footnote 12:

  Rev. Dr. Tattershall’s Lecture on the Integrity of the Canon, p. 69.

Footnote 13:

  “Whatever lessons of instruction or doctrines they teach us, _these
  doctrines being themselves wise and holy_, must have been delivered
  under a divine sanction, and therefore possess divine authority.

  “If he (that is, the person who performs miracles) also teaches
  lessons,—_lessons worthy of God_,—these lessons undoubtedly come to us
  clothed with divine authority.”—_Dr. Tattershall’s Lecture_, pp. 70,

Footnote 14:

  Sherlock’s Discourses, No. 10, Hughes’s edition, Vol. I. p. 197, and
  No. 15, Vol. I. p. 278.

Footnote 15:

  Lord King’s Life of Locke, p. 125.

Footnote 16:

  Sermons at the Boyle Lecture, Prop. xiv.

Footnote 17:

  Essay on Miracles, p. 99, _seq._, as quoted by Farmer in his
  Dissertation on Miracles, chap. i. § 3.

Footnote 18:

  “No minister or ministers shall, _without the licence and direction of
  the Bishop of the Diocese_, first obtained and had under his hand and
  seal, ... attempt, upon any pretence whatsoever, either of possession
  or obsession, by fasting and prayer, to cast out any devil or devils,
  under pain of the imputation of imposture or cozenage, and deposition
  from the ministry.”—_Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical_, lxxii.

Footnote 19:

  Apology for the True Christian Divinity, Prop. ii, pp. 35, 36.

Footnote 20:

  Ibid. Prop. x. p. 296.

Footnote 21:

  Discourses, No. 10, Hughes’s edition, vol. i. p. 197.



                          PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE

                                 OF THE

                         UNITARIAN CONTROVERSY.

An attempt has been made, in a preface to the Lecture to which the
following pages are a reply, to break the force, by anticipation, of the
statements they contain. The Answerer, however, evidently did not hear
the statements; and the preface proceeds upon some rumour of what was
said. If Clergymen are conscientiously prevented from going to hear
Unitarians, they ought also to be conscientiously prevented from
answering what they did not hear. I am represented as saying that
Trinitarians do not gather, but _lecture_: I said Trinitarianism does
not gather, but _scatters_. I am represented as arguing the tendency of
Trinitarianism to Popery from the recent movement of the Oxford Tract
divines in that direction: I argued the tendency of Trinitarianism to
Popery _from its fundamental principles_, and I referred to the Oxford
movement as one of the visible manifestations of the demonstrated

I shall notice the instances in which the Preface proceeds upon anything
like a true apprehension of what was said—

1. Page vii. viii.—“When men tell us that Jesus did not weep over
_errors of opinion_, we maintain that it was the ‘error of opinion’
which led them to reject him as the Messiah over which he lamented.”
Now, 1. Is the unbelief of the Jews in the Christ, when he was
exhibiting his divine credentials in his Character and in his Miracles
before their eyes and to their hearts, in any respect similar to our
unbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity, which we, accepting both the
Scriptures and Christ, declare we cannot find to be authorized by
either? And 2. Is it not evident that Jesus attributed the unbelief of
the Jews to _Moral_ Causes, and that therefore, and _only_ therefore, he
condemned it? “This is the Condemnation, that light is come into the
world, and men loved darkness rather than light, _because their deeds
were evil_.” John iii. 19.

2. Page viii.—“But these principles involve a violation of unity.” And
what if they do? Did not our Saviour emphatically declare, “Think not
that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace but a
sword.” 1. Christ is here not describing the final purpose of his
Mission nor the natural operation of his Spirit, but the immediate
opposition and contention which his religion would excite both in Jew
and Gentile before it rooted out the old Faiths: And 2. The Christ is
not here alluding to differences between _Christians themselves_,
between those who did accept him; but to the necessary conflict of the
Spirit of Jesus with the Antagonist spirits of Judaism and Heathenism.
This also is the great subject of the Book of Revelations.

3. Page xi.—“But it is a priestly spirit which says, ‘you must
believe.’” This ought to be reckoned with the instances in which the
answer proceeds upon an incorrect rumour of what was said; which was to
this effect,—“that it is the priestly spirit, whose constant cry is,
unless you believe _this doctrine_, and unless you believe _that
doctrine_, you cannot be saved.” Belief in Jesus, entire spiritual Trust
in him, as, for all providential purposes, one with God, we have
explicitly stated as our view of the essentials of Christianity.

Page xxi.—We do not know how far the Author extends his approval of “the
tactics of holy war.” For ourselves we disapprove of all such tactics,
especially the tactics of substituting a mere illustration or practical
verification of an argument, for the argument itself, and then dealing
with the illustration as if there was no general principle behind it, as
if the illustration was represented as _the grounds_ of the principle,
when it is only represented as one of its outward operations. And yet
this “argumentum a particulari ad universale,” is one which the author
employs in his description of Unitarianism in almost every page of his

                                                                J. H. T.



                          PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE

                                 OF THE

                         UNITARIAN CONTROVERSY.


COLOSSIANS I. 27, 28.—_Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach,
      warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we
      may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus._

GALATIANS II. 4, 5.—_And that because of false brethren unawares brought
      in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in
      Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; to whom we
      gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of
      the gospel might continue with you._

Were some stranger to our religion inquiring what it is to be a
Christian, there are two quarters from which he might derive his ideas
of that character. He might draw near to him who is the only perfect
expression of Christianity, and when he had sat at the feet of Jesus,
listening with hushed heart, and then arisen and joined himself to the
meek Prophet of Mercy on his way of Love, he might receive from Christ
his impressions of Christianity and catch from the living Master the
type of a disciple: or he might turn for information to the Christians
of the day, selecting for examination the largest and most prominent
classes, and so gather from the common specimen his impressions of their
temper, their spirit, and their faith. Each of these modes of inquiry
would produce a result of Truth; but the one would be a Truth of
reality, and the other only a Truth of description; the one would
present to us what we were seeking, the true idea of a Christian; the
other would show with what degree of faithfulness Christians had
preserved the spirit of the original, or whether in the copy, in the
distant reflection, the features had been faded, marred, distorted; the
one would furnish us with the great Master’s idea of a Disciple, the
other would exhibit the Disciple as a representative of the Master, and
assuming to be his Image to the world; in a word, the one would be
Christ’s idea of a Christian; the other would be only a Christian’s idea
of Christ. Oh, thanks be to God for the _written_ Gospel, for the
Epistles written on men’s hearts, the living transcripts, give us no
worthy ideas of Christ; and were it not for those silent witnesses which
speak from a passionless page, and cannot be made to wear the garb of
party, which reflect Christ’s realities, and not man’s ideas, the Image
of Jesus had long since been irrecoverably lost!

Let us then for a moment place ourselves beside Jesus, and learn from
the Christ what it is to be a Christian. I hear him inviting the weary
and the heavy laden to come and find rest unto their souls. I listen for
that doctrine of rest, the faith that gives the sin-bound peace. I hear
him speak of God, and they are indeed healing words of peace, intended
to quell a superstition and a controversy: “God is a spirit: the hour
cometh and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in
spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.”[22] I
hear him speak of Duty: “The Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first
Commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself. This do and thou shalt live.” I hear him speak of
Heaven: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of
Heaven. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed
are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for
theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” “The kingdom of God cometh not with
observation, neither shall they say lo here, or lo there, for behold the
kingdom of God is within you.”[23] I hear him speak of Sin, melted, and
transformed into penitence: “To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth
little. Thy faith hath saved thee. Go in peace. Sin no more, lest a
worse thing come upon thee.” I hear him speak of DISCIPLESHIP: “He that
hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he
that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and
will manifest myself to him.”[24] “Herein is my Father glorified, that
ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. If ye keep my
commandments ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s
commandments, and abide in His love. Ye are my friends if ye do
whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the
servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends:
for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto
you.” “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have
love one to another.”[25]

We turn now from the words to the life of the great Teacher, in the
endeavour to get a more definite idea of Duty, Discipleship, and Faith.
The character of Jesus is the best, fullest, and truest interpretation
of the words of Jesus. His life is his own translation of his own
precepts into the language of action. We surely cannot be far from the
true sources of Christianity when we first drink his words into our
hearts, and then follow him with reverent steps and with gazing eyes, to
watch his own illustrations of those words, to behold the spirit
breathing in the life, and from the fulness of his character to learn
the fulness of his precepts. Surely Christ embodied and impersonated his
own teachings. Surely the life of Christ is undoubted Christianity.
Surely his character is Christian Duty; and his destiny Christian Faith.
Surely he knew and exhibited the practical tendencies of his own
doctrines; and surely to set him up at the fountain-head of our moral
being, as God’s image to the conscience, and to strive in all things to
be like unto him, “whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every
man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ
Jesus,”—cannot be to preach “another gospel,” or to mistake fatally the
essentials of Discipleship. “If a man love me, he will keep my words,
and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our
abode with him.”[26] The definition of a Christian, when deduced from
the words and the life of the Christ himself, thus comes out to be—one
who TRUSTS himself in all things to that God of whom Jesus was the
image; and who CONFORMS himself in all things to that will of God of
which Jesus was the perfect expression. “This is life eternal that they
might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast

Turn we now to a different quarter for an answer to our inquiry what it
is to be a Christian; from the one Master to the multitude of
professors; from the original image, distinct and bright, to the
transmitted reflections, all claiming to be genuine copies; from the
single voice, sweet and clear, to the confusion of jarring tongues; from
the pure fountain to the impure streams; from Christ to Christians. I am
entirely guiltless of the intention of satire, but it is quite
impossible to avoid the appearance of it in any attempt to give the
features of Christianity as they appear in the Christians of the day, in
those, that is, who claim to be Christians exclusively; for the tamest
truth of description excites ideas of the true Christ, so contrasted,
that it has without intention all the effect of sarcasm. Surely a
stranger to the only true source of our religion, examining its actual
forms as they exist in the world, and selecting its characteristics from
that which is largest and most prominent, would not be guilty of
misrepresentation, if he described a Christian as one who was shut up
within the narrowest circle of religious ideas; who identified himself
and his opinions with absolute Truth; who idolized himself and his sect
as the only friends of God; who was so unconscious of a liability to
err, that he breathed, unknowingly, an atmosphere of infallibility, and
insulted the Rights of other men, not more fallible than himself,
without perceiving the invasion;—one so used to arrogate to himself and
to his own party, all excellence and all truth, that he starts in
surprise, innocent of what can be meant, when he is told that he is
pressing on the liberties of other minds, who, with as deep an interest
as he can have in their own salvation, have searched into these things
and read differently the mind of God;—as one who regards a few
metaphysical propositions, confessedly unintelligible, as the only hope
of human salvation, and who, in the confidence of this faith, speaks to
his fellow men as if he had secret council with God; assumes to be on “a
religious level” nearer to the spirit of the Most High, who, on that
more elevated standing, drops more readily into his heart communications
from Heaven;—and who, when he pays any regard to other men at all, looks
down upon them from an eminence; assumes as proved their ignorance,
their errors, and their sins; insults their opinions; treats with no
brotherly respect the convictions of Truth and the dictates of
Conscience which to them are Voices from the living God; denies that
they have equal zeal for truth, or equal ability to discover it; scoffs
at the idea of religious equality, and looks amazed when others tell
him, though it be in apostolic words, that they will not “give place by
subjection, no, not for an hour;” and finally adds mockery to insult and
wrong, by telling the men whom he so treats, that all this is Christian
affection, and an interest in their souls.

It is painful to put last in order, not the true, but the untrue idea of
a Christian, and therefore to set us right, I will present the original
picture again in apostolic words. “Hereby we do know that we know him if
we keep his commandments.” “Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the
love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” “If ye know
that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is
_born_ of him.” “Let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is
righteous, even as he is righteous.”[28]

There is still another way of bringing into comparison the spirit of
Christ and the character of that Christianity which assumes to itself to
be the only fruit of his spirit. We can compare the existing state of
the Christian world with the expectations of Jesus, with that state of
things to which he looked forward as the Reign of his spirit, the
Kingdom of the true Gospel upon earth. If the Christianity that prevails
has not realized the expectations of Christ, then its practical tendency
is evidently not in the direction of the true Gospel; it is, to the
extent of the failure, a departure from the power and character of the
original spirit. Christ could not be mistaken about the proper
operations of his own spirit; and the system whose operations do not
fulfil his promises cannot contain a full and perfect ministration of
his spirit. And this argument will amount to something like a
demonstration, if we can show, first, that this system which has failed
to realize the expectations of Jesus as to the condition of his Church,
has, for large tracts both of time and space, been the prevailing
influence of the Christian world, with nothing to obstruct it, so that
it has had full and free scope to work its own works, and to manifest
its own spirit; and secondly, if we can point to _the something_ in that
system, which manifestly has caused it to be destructive of those hopes,
and to work counter to this expectation of Christ.

There is no sublimer idea of Christianity than its delightful vision of
a UNIVERSAL CHURCH; the kingdom of the Gospel becoming a kingdom of
Heaven on earth; uniting the nations by a spiritual bond; in every heart
among the families of men kindling the same solemn ideas, and opening
the same living springs; subduing the differences of class and country
by the affinities of worship, by kindred images of Hope, of Duty, and of
God, becoming a meeting place for the thoughts of men; including every
form and variety of mind within that spiritual faith which leads onwards
to the infinite, yet presents distinct ideas to the heart of childhood,
and feeds the sources of an infant’s prayer; assembling in their
countless homes the Brotherhood of man around the spiritual altar of one
Father and one God, whose presence is a Temple wherein all are gathered,
and whose Spirit, dwelling in each heart, meets and returns the seekings
of all his children.

Such was the Christian vision of the CHURCH UNIVERSAL, of the union of
all good men in the worship of one God under the leadership of his
Image, growing up into him in all things, which is the head, even

Such was the sublime idea that filled the mind of Jesus when he looked
forward in heavenly faith to the reign of his spirit, the kingdom of his
Gospel in the world. “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold;
them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be
one fold and one shepherd.”[29] “Neither pray I for these alone, but for
them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all
may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also
may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
Such also was the magnificent and healing view that filled the hearts of
the Apostles when they protested against burdens being laid upon
Christ’s freemen; rebuked the first manifestations of a sectarian
Christianity; and would acknowledge no distinctions between those who
were walking in the steps of the same master, and moulding their souls
into the same similitude of Christ. “There is one body, and one spirit,
even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith,
one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through
all, and in you all. But unto every one is given grace, according to the
measure of the gift of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: from whom the whole
body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint
supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every
part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in
love.”[30] “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. And
there are differences of administration, but the same Lord. And there
are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all
in all.” “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the
members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.
For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews
or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink
into one spirit.” “That there should be no schism in the body; but that
the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one
member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be
honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ
and members in particular.”[31]

Such is the Christian and Apostolic view of the Church of Christ on
earth. Turn we now to the actual Church. Is it a realization of this
divine image of the mind of Jesus? Is there in it a unity of spirit in
the bond of peace? Do the branches abide in the Vine? Do the scattered
and warring members make one spirit in one body? Alas! could there be a
sadder mockery, than to pretend to seek in our prevalent Christianity
any features corresponding to this divine conception?

Trinitarian Christianity is founded upon a principle directly opposed to
the realization of this prospect and vision of Jesus. It declares that
there shall be no unity but a doctrinal unity. It rejects that moral and
spiritual union which is the bond of peace, and which, as subsisting
among his followers, Christ looked forward to as the great proof to the
world that God had sent him;—and it declares that there shall be no
bonds but the bonds of Creeds. It breaks up the Christian world into
distinct and mutually repulsive parties; each claiming—not to be
disciples of the life of Christ—not to be one with him as he was one
with God, in will, aspiration, and purpose of soul, but—to be in
possession of the exact doctrinal ideas which constitute a saving faith,
of a certain intellectual process of belief, through which alone God
conducts the sinner into Heaven, and without which no soul, whatever may
be its spiritual oneness with Jesus and his Father, can be saved. Now it
is clear that a system such as this, requiring not a unity of spirit,
but a unity of opinion, cannot be that primitive Gospel, which,
according to the expectation of the Saviour, was to gather all the
believers under Heaven into a universal Church. Trinitarianism, as a
system, does not, and cannot, work out these fruits of the spirit of
Christ. It does not gather, but scatters; it does not collect into one;
but disunites, severs, and casts out. It disowns all harmony but the
harmony of metaphysical conceptions. It has no wider way of salvation,
no broader bond of peace, no more open road to Heaven, than a
coincidence of ideas, on the essence of the Deity, the mysterious modes
of the divine existence; a person in whom there are two natures; and
then, again, a nature in which there are three persons; and this as
preparatory to a moral process, in which a penalty is paid by
substitution for a guilt incurred by substitution. I ask not now whether
these ideas are true; whether they are realities of God’s mind; but I
ask, Have they ever been, or can they ever be, bonds of union for a
Church Universal? Are these the grand affinities towards which all
hearts shall be drawn; and which, breaking down our minor distinctions
into less than nothing, shall bind together the families of man in the
fellowship of one spirit? You all know, every man knows, that a
uniformity of opinion is an impossibility; that God has nowhere provided
the means for producing it; that nowhere does it exist; no—not in that
closely-fenced and strictly-articled Church, whose bosom at this very
hour is rent by heresies, even as, throughout all her history, they
shattered the unity and split the bosom even of infallible Rome; and
seeing, therefore, that there is no such doctrinal unity on earth, if
Jesus understood his own gospel, this cannot be the oneness with his
Father and himself, to which he looked forward as the Reign of his
Spirit in the world. And yet the Trinitarian Church of England, one of
whose Ministers when, on a late occasion, denouncing Unitarian heresies,
took the opportunity to give the relief of expression to his horror of
other heresies in the bosom of his own communion, and openly denounced
as heretics ordained clergymen and dignitaries of his own Church,—this
Church of England, notwithstanding all this, still claims to be the
great bulwark, among Protestants, of the unity of the Faith, the
dignified rebuker of schisms and sects; and still offers to the harassed
and distracted, to the rent and divided body of Christ, a creed—and what
a creed!—as the only bond of agreement and of peace.

Either, then, Christ miscalculated the workings of his own spirit, when
he contemplated a Universal Church as its natural fruit; or
Trinitarianism, when it destroys the spiritual union of the Church, a
moral oneness with Jesus and with his Father, by its demand for a
doctrinal conformity, is, to the extent of this operation, an
Antichrist, a departure from the healing and uniting spirit of the true
Gospel. Let me, for the sake of distinctness, put you in possession of
the exact difference between the fundamental principles of Unitarian and
Trinitarian Christianity. To a Unitarian the essentials of Christianity
are; that a man takes into his heart the moral image of Jesus, and loves
it supremely, and trusts it absolutely as his example of perfection, and
his leader up to God. If I was asked to define a Christian, I would say
that he was one who took Jesus Christ as he is presented in the gospels,
as his best idea of Duty, and his best programme of Heaven; the very
ideal of the religious spirit and life; the perfect image of God; and
the perfect model for man. These are a Unitarian’s essentials of
Christianity. To a Trinitarian the essentials of a Christian are these:
not that he receive Jesus as his image of God, his model of Duty, and
his type of Heaven,—but that he receive a certain metaphysical Creed,
certain doctrinal ideas, which “except he keep whole and undefiled,
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” Now, a union of all
_hearts_, under the leadership of one Christ, and in the love and
reverence of one moral Spirit, is a possible thing; but a union of all
_minds_ in the reception of certain metaphysical ideas which the minds
of Milton, of Newton, and of Locke, could not find, either in Reason or
in Scripture, is not a possible thing: and therefore my first assertion
of the “practical importance” of the Unitarian Controversy is to this
effect:—that Trinitarianism, by its fundamental principle of a doctrinal
conformity, a principle not known to the true gospel, is the originating
cause of all religious disunion and strife; the creator of all schisms,
sects, and heresies; the great and effectual antagonist of any
realization of that sublimest and most heavenly conception of the
Saviour—a Universal Church, cherishing the same Hopes, studying the same
Models, trusting to the same Image of God to guide us to His presence,—a
union of all hearts, seeking to be one, even as God and Christ were one,
in the fellowship of the same spirit. This is my heaviest indictment
against the practice of Trinitarianism, that it destroys Christ’s
delightful image of his Spirit’s Reign on earth, and creates in its
place—what shall I say?—the strife and disunion, the fears of the weak
and the arrogance of the coarse; the wranglings of creeds and the
absence of love; the heat of controversy and the chill of religion,
through the midst of which we are now passing.[32]

Trinitarianism has long been the prevailing influence of the Christian
world; it holds all the religious power of these countries in its own
hands; there is nothing external to prevent its carrying into existence
its own ideas; and if in the day of its power it has not wrought the
works and realized the hopes of Christ, it must be because it has worked
in another spirit, and preached another gospel; adding to the primitive
“glad tidings” of “repentance and remission of sins,” other conditions
which are not glad tidings, and which are not Christ’s. Now not only can
we point to the actual failure in proof of the absence of the true
spirit, _but we can lay our finger upon the element of mischief_, and
demonstrate it to be the parent of the evils we deplore, the frustrator
of the hope of Christ. Trinitarianism, by demanding a doctrinal
assimilation, an intellectual instead of a spiritual union, and
wielding, as it does, the prevailing influences of religion, has, in the
day of its power, forcibly prevented the formation of that universal
Church which Christ contemplated. And until it drops from its essentials
the doctrinal oneness, and substitutes in its place a spiritual oneness
derived from obedience to God as he is manifested in Jesus, it cannot
gather into one fold, and constitute the kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

Now let us suppose, for a moment, that this doctrinal conformity is
required by Christianity, and that not TRUST in Christ, but belief of
Creeds, constitutes acceptance of the gospel. Then comes the question,
and a most perplexing one it would be, how can any one be sure that the
creed he trusts to contains exactly the ideas to which God has annexed
safety? Supposing creeds to be the essentials of Christianity, then how
can any Christian be sure that he has got the true creed? I can easily
conceive with what fear, with what apprehensions of mind, with what a
paralyzed intellect, and unconfiding heart, sinking the love of truth in
selfish terrors, a man trembling under the conviction that his
everlasting safety depended upon his reception of a doctrine, would come
to the examination of the Scriptures; I can well conceive how his
judgment would be gradually bereft of all calm and trustful
independence; how his fears and passions would slavishly draw him over
to whatever party predominated in intolerance, and in the confidence of
their assumptions, frightening him into the belief that safety was with
_them_, for that if creeds were the essentials of salvation, the more of
creed the more of certainty;—but after all this sacrifice has been
submitted to, after terror has wrought its work, and the intellect has
surrendered to the passions—after the man in the pursuit of selfish
safety has given up his Reason and his free mind, and stooped his neck
to the yoke,—I cannot see how in any way he has altered or bettered his
position; I cannot see how he has attained the end for which he has paid
such degrading wages; how he can be certain that he has got the creed
which ensures salvation;—and after having sold his birthright, parted
with his free soul for the sake of a safety built upon doctrines, he
discovers at last, _unless he is a Roman Catholic_, that he has no
absolute certainty of these doctrines being the true ones; he is still
left in doubt whether after all he is in possession of the particular
creed that works salvation—whether, after all, he has not bowed down his
soul for nothing. If God requires from men certain doctrinal convictions
as necessary to salvation, then how can any man be sure that he has got
the true convictions? Even the verbal and plenary inspiration of the
Bible, if we believed in it, which we do not, would not relieve a
Protestant Trinitarian of this difficulty: for those who agree in
believing the Bible in every word inspired, can draw from it very
different meanings, as none have reason to know better than the divines
of the English Church.

I am tempted to give a few specimens of the differences between existing
divines of the Church of England on the very points of accusation
against Unitarianism. You are aware of the place that the Atonement
holds in Evangelical preaching. Listen then to the new party in the
Church, the leaders of which are, one of them, the Oxford Professor of
Hebrew and a Canon of Christ Church, and the others distinguished both
in the Church and in the University. These are their words:—“We now
proceed to the consideration of a subject most important in this point
of view,—the prevailing notion of bringing forward the Atonement
explicitly and prominently on all occasions. It is evidently quite
opposed to what we consider the teaching of Scripture, nor do we find
any sanction for it in the gospels. _If_ the Epistles of St. Paul
_appear_ to favour it, it is only at first sight.”[33] Again, you are
aware of the importance attached to the doctrine of Justification by
Faith, that test, as it is described, of a rising or a falling church.
Listen then once more to one of the heads of the Oxford party:—“The
instrument of our righteousness, I would maintain, is _holy baptism_.
_Our Church_ considers it to be the _Sacrament of Baptism_; _they_ (the
Reformers) consider it to be _Faith_. ***Christians are justified by the
communication of an inward, most sacred, and most mysterious gift. From
the very time of baptism they are temples of the Holy Ghost.*** Faith,
then, being the appointed representative of baptism, derives its
authority and virtue from that which it represents. It is justifying
_because of baptism_; it is the faith of the baptized, of the
regenerate, of the justified. Faith does not precede justification; but
justification precedes faith, and makes it justifying.”[34] I must quote
one other sentiment of this Oxford section of the English Protestant
Church, respecting the MASS:—“At the time of the Reformation, we, in
common with all the West, possessed the rite of the Roman Church, or St.
Peter’s Liturgy. This _sacred_, and _most precious_ monument, then of
the Apostles, our reformers received whole and entire from their
predecessors, and _they mutilated the tradition_ of 1500 years.”[35] Now
it only bears out my argument that this movement of Trinitarianism is in
the direction of Popery.

Such being the doctrinal uniformity of the Church of England, where then
is the infallible authority that is to put me in possession of those
doctrinal ideas, that absolute truth, without which I cannot be saved?
Having got an inspired Bible, I still want an inspired Interpreter, who,
out of all the possible meanings that the words will bear, will set
aside all the wrong ones, and select that one interpretation which, in
the shape of doctrine, God has made the source of safety. Where is this
Interpreter to be found? Where am I to look for this infallible
authority, which is to explain to me the exact sense of the Bible,
without which I cannot be saved, and to acquaint me with the very ideas
of God? Is it the Church of England that is to do me this important
service; to be my infallible guide through the possible meanings of
words; and to present me with the one creed that will operate as a charm
for my salvation? Oh no! for the Church is Protestant, and recognizes
the sufficiency of Scripture, and the right of free inquiry, and rails
at the Pope because he denies these things. But still I ask, if I cannot
be saved without this doctrinal truth, where am I to find it, and how
can I feel certain that I have it? A Roman Catholic would relieve me of
my difficulties. He would treat me more kindly, and with an ampler
provision for my security, than do the divines of the English Church.
They tell me that my salvation depends upon my having the true creed,
and then they leave me in the dark, without any means of ascertaining
what the true creed is, and whether I have it or not. The Roman
Catholics, on the other hand, seeing that exact truth is necessary, take
care to provide for me an infallible Judge of truth. They are merciful
in the accuracy of their provisions for relieving my fears, when
compared with the worse than Egyptian inconsistency, the contradictory
tyranny of my Protestant taskmasters. The Egyptians asked for bricks,
and provided no straw. The Church of England asks for absolute Truth,
and provides no judge of Truth. And this it does in the face of the fact
that, not even to its own clergymen is the inspired Bible a source of
certainty: that three distinctly marked divisions now constitute the
Unity of the Church, and dwell, not peaceably, together.

To any man, then, who believes that doctrinal convictions are the
essentials of Christianity, there is no escape from Popery. Out of
Popery, there is no Church that professes to have interpreted Scripture
with infallible certainty. If I am to be saved by a true creed, show me
the divinely appointed tribunal, and let me bow down before it. But do
not tell me, unless you are a Roman Catholic, that I must be saved by
Truth, and that your Truth is the one to which I must bow down my soul,
or perish everlastingly. One man’s Truth is as good as another man’s
Truth, unless there is a divinely appointed tribunal to judge between
them.[36] Where is this tribunal? I know it is supposed to be in the
Roman Catholic Church; and I know that the English Church, if it
possessed such a tribunal, could not speak with a whit more confidence
than it does. I enter it then as my second indictment against the
practice of Trinitarianism, that by building the Church of Christ upon
the foundation of a doctrinal uniformity, it is an ally of Popery; that
if it was consistent with itself, it would be Popish altogether; and
that this is not a mere tendency but actually taking effect, is
manifested in that Church which is most open to the temptations of
spiritual ambition, by its gradual and lately accelerating movements in
the direction of Roman Catholicism. I know that the Evangelicals
denounce the Oxford modification of Popery, but they are both of one
spirit, and neither will find their natural issues until they fall into
the arms of the infallible Church, and leave whatever Protestantism
still remains in the land, unencumbered by their presence.

Listen to some of the Clergymen of the Church of England, and tell me,
can you distinguish their tones from the tones of Popery? I have lately
done so. I heard this language, I mean language to this effect:
“Unitarians think our pity insulting, because they are not conscious of
requiring of it: but when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, was his pity an
insult to those who had no sympathy with the sources of his tears?” So
that we are left to infer, first, that he who uses this language knows
our need as fully as Jesus did, when amid the brief acclaim of his
followers, he forgot the momentary triumph, and his sympathy gushed out
in tears wept over the doomed city—and, secondly, that the speculative
errors of Unitarians, supposing them to be such, require tears of the
same description as did the crimes of Jerusalem. Did Jesus ever weep for
errors of opinion; over Samaritan heresies for instance? “Ye know not
what manner of spirit ye are of. The Son of Man is not come to destroy
men’s lives; but to save them.”

Again I heard, in substance, this language, and could not distinguish it
from Popery. “Christianity must have its essentials; these to us are the
Deity of Christ; the corruption of human nature; and the remedy of a
vicarious sacrifice. The Unitarians who deny these points we therefore
do not hold to be Christians, and not believing them to be so, we
plainly tell them so.” And accordingly they treat us as if we were not.
Now I acknowledge that this is entirely consistent upon their part. They
make the essentials of Christianity to consist in doctrinal ideas, and
consequently, whether they choose it or not, and almost without knowing
it, they are forced to assume the tones of Popish Infallibility, and to
decide authoritatively, by their metaphysical standard, who are
Christians and who are not. I am quite aware that this is not
intentional arrogance on their part, but a necessity in which their
first principles involve them. They cannot begin with a Salvation
through creeds, without ending in Popery; and of all the forms of
Popery, that which professes Protestantism, is the most offensive.

It was a fresh proof to me of the authoritative character which
Trinitarianism by necessity assumes, when I heard naturally and
unconsciously the same kind of doctrinal compactness ascribed to
ourselves, as if a church could not exist without a fixed creed; and
quotations from all sorts of minds brought forward, without a suspicion,
but they were all received among us as recognized standards of opinion.
There were Arians and Humanitarians, Necessarians and Libertarians, and
one foreign writer, who, as I am informed, was no Christian at all—and
all these were appealed to as standards of Unitarianism. Now we
certainly glory in it that our religion does not destroy our
individuality; that in consistency with the great principle of Christ
being our Leader, we tolerate freely intellectual differences, and
encourage the virtues of free thought and speech; but it is a little
unfortunate, and a little unfair, if the fundamental principles of
Unitarian Theology and Religion are to be answerable, with their life,
for all the sayings of all the Unitarians from Marcion and the Ebionites
down to the present day. Take one form of Unitarianism as it is
represented by Priestley; or take another and better form of it as it is
represented by Channing; but do not confuse in one two minds so
radically different, and call a combination which never had existence,
the Unitarian Faith. It was owing to this Popish idea that all Religions
must have a doctrinal compactness, that I heard a sentiment of
Priestley’s, which I entirely disown, imputing idolatry to Trinitarians,
ascribed to all Unitarians. If Unitarians worshipped Christ not
believing him to be God _they_ would be idolaters: but Trinitarians
worshipping one God in three persons, and still believing him to be one,
are as certainly not Polytheists. Again I heard the Improved Version
stated to be the Unitarian Bible: and that the Unitarians not finding
their favourite doctrines in the actual Bible made a Bible for
themselves. Now let it be known that this new Bible is simply an English
Version of the New Testament having for its basis or model a translation
made by an Archbishop of the United Church of England and Ireland, a
circumstance which we were not told; that it is founded upon the
translation of Archbishop Newcome; that it is not used in Unitarian
worship and possesses no authority amongst us except such as it may
derive from its just merits, which are not generally rated by us as very
high: and lastly, that no one is answerable for it except its
editors,[37] and not even they any longer than they choose. And yet, one
would suppose, that the Church of England divines might be sufficiently
conversant with varieties of opinion, even in a church more strictly
bound than ours, and ought not to fall into the error of taking any book
whatever, or any man whatever, as the standards of a faith. With all our
differences I am not aware that our bond of union covers wider varieties
of opinion on the great questions of Theology and Criticism, than those
which separate Bishop Marsh, Bishop Butler of Durham, Archdeacon Paley,
to say nothing of the older and nobler school of Sherlock and
Barrow,[38] Tillotson and Taylor, from the modern Evangelical Divines;
and both from the Oxford approach to Popery, a late movement in the
direction which we have now endeavoured to show is the destined path of

But I shall be asked, has Christianity no essentials, and may a man
believe anything he likes, and yet be a Christian? I answer that the
essential belief of a Christian is the belief that Jesus Christ is the
moral image of God; that to be one with him is to be one with his Father
and become fitted for that Heaven in harmony with which his mind was
made; and that any doctrinal ideas which a man can hold in consistency
with this act of spiritual allegiance, he may hold, and yet be a

And yet we do not hold that all doctrines are indifferent, for we think
that some are nearer than others to the great realities of God; that
some, more than others, are in harmony with the mind of Christ; that
some more than others give us solemn and inspiring views of the infinite
Spirit; worthy conceptions of the mission and offices of Jesus, and
elevating sympathies with his character; sublime and true ideas of Duty;
peaceful yet awful convictions of the retributions of God; and therefore
are more effectual to build us up in the oneness with his Father and
with himself, which is the sublimest aim of Christ. Other views may
operate powerfully on those who hold them; but as long as they do not
accord with our best ideas of perfection, with our noblest views of the
character of Jesus and of God, they cannot confer upon _us_ that
salvation which we take to be the essence of the Gospel, assimilation to
the infinite Spirit as we know him through his Image, perfect Trust in
our heavenly Father, as he is manifested in Christ.

I warn you against an imposture that is practised upon you, not
knowingly but ignorantly, in the use that is made of such expressions
as, “salvation by faith and not by works,” and St. Paul’s anathema on
those who preached another gospel, which he declared was not another
_gospel_, that is, that it did not contain “_glad tidings_,” and was
therefore no gospel at all. Now salvation by “faith” does not mean
salvation by doctrines, but by TRUST in Jesus Christ as our spiritual
Master, God’s representative to man; and exemption from “works” does not
mean exemption from moral excellence, but exemption from all the works
and conditions of the Jewish Law, from which, with all the bondage of
its sacrifices, services and exactions, the Gospel, as offered by
Christ, was the glad tidings of deliverance. It is on this account that
St. Paul denounces any man who preaches another gospel, that is, who
adds to it unspiritual conditions which would bring men again under the
yoke of the Law, and change the glad tidings of Liberty into the burdens
of a woeful superstition. “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be
circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” To go back to the bondage
of the law, is to make the spiritual liberty of Christ’s freemen of no
avail. Now the scriptural knowledge that is necessary for these
explanations is of the scantiest measure; that Faith means moral Trust,
spiritual acceptance and confidence; that works frequently mean, when
used by Paul, not Christian holiness but Jewish Ceremonies; and that the
Gospel means not a scheme of doctrines but the glad Message of
deliverance from every yoke of bondage: and yet the false meanings that
lurk under these words, are again and again thrust forward as Scripture
evidence for doctrines entirely alien to their spirit. Elsewhere, would
the anathema of the noble-minded Apostle be ready to descend upon all
other additions as well as Jewish ones, to Christ’s gospel of spiritual

I have contrasted the fundamental principles of Trinitarian and
Unitarian Christianity, and, without entering into their peculiar
tenets, I have shown that the practical tendency of Trinitarianism is to
disunite the Church of Christ; to lead to Popery as the only known
provision for doctrinal certainty; and to preach “another gospel,”
which, to us at least, is no gospel at all, and has defaced the grace
and glory of the original message. I have now to proceed to the
particular views in which these principles respectively issue when
applied to the examination of the Scriptures, and to contrast the
practical tendencies of the distinguishing doctrines of Unitarian and
Trinitarian Christianity. The Unitarians think that Trinitarianism, with
all its dependent ideas, is not a system which the Scriptures would of
their own accord naturally suggest to a free mind, examining them
without prejudice or fear, in a spirit of confidingness in God and in
truth; and that its peculiar set of notions are chiefly arrived at by
inferences drawn from the Scriptures in the spirit of preconceived
theories, and under the intimidation of priest-taught fears. We
recognize nothing but the priestly spirit in all those systems whose cry
is, “unless you believe this and unless you believe that, you cannot be
saved;” and acknowledging no salvation but that of a spirit morally one
with God and with his Christ, salvation from superstition, and salvation
from sin, and salvation from unconfiding fears; and believing that all
truth is one and from God, we confidently appeal, in confirmation of our
scriptural soundness, to that great and independent test of Truth which
is furnished by the moral tendencies of doctrines. I shall aim to show
that Unitarianism has more power both with the understanding and the
heart; that the Intellect which Trinitarianism has no resource but to
disparage, and the Reason at which I lately heard, doubtless not without
good reasons, such melancholy scoffs (for what can be more melancholy
than to hear a man scoffing at Reason, and attempting to _reason_ men
into a contempt for Reason?), that this Reason, our ray of the divine
mind, _we_ enlist on the side of our religion and of our souls;—that the
spiritual nature which Trinitarianism insults and scorns we contemplate
with trembling reverence as made for holiness and for God;—and that the
personal holiness and love, the Christ-like spirit and the Christ-like
life to which Trinitarianism assigns a secondary place, and in
disparagement of which it can stumble, as happened on a late occasion,
on a condemnation of the Scripture law, that every man shall be judged
according to his works[40]—this holy living and dying _we_ set forth as
the very salvation of the sons of God, the very way of spiritual safety
trodden by the Forerunner and the Saviour, even Christ the righteous.

I desire to be understood to affirm nothing about the actual characters
of those who hold views which I think unfriendly to the soul. The
tendencies of opinions may be counteracted: but still wherever there is
error, that is, wherever there is anything not conformed to the mind of
God, _there_ there is, to the extent of its agency, a principle of evil,
or at least of misdirection, at the fountain of our life, though there
may also be sweetening influences which are strong enough to neutralize
its power. Trinitarianism does not produce all its natural fruits,
though it produces some that are sufficiently deplorable, because it is
kept in check by the better principles of our nature, with which it is
not in alliance. It is vain to pretend that a man’s belief has no
influence upon his life and upon his soul. The belief of a man is that
which animates his sentiments, and peoples his imagination, and provides
objects for his heart;—and if he bears no impress of it upon his
character, it is only because it forms no real part of his spiritual
existence, it is not written upon the living tablets of the mind.
Believing then that our views of Truth, when they become a part of our
living thoughts, woven into the spiritual frame and the daily food of
the mind, _do_ exercise a controlling influence over the whole being, it
is our ardent desire to discover those views of the Gospel which put
forth most mightily this power over the heart, and we openly confess,
that it is because we believe it possesses an unrivalled efficacy to
save the soul, by bringing it into a holy and trustful union with God
and Christ, that we value unspeakably, and adhere to through all
temptation and scorn, the faith that is in us. To us it is the light, as
it is the gift of God, and we will not abandon it, so long as it points
Conscience to the things that are before; leads us up to God through the
love and imitation of his Christ; speaks with heavenly serenity of grand
and tranquillizing truths in moments of trial: and true to our spiritual
connections with Heaven, suffers our sins to have no peace, and our
virtues no fears.

I shall endeavour, briefly but distinctly, to bring out the prominent
points of difference between Unitarian and Trinitarian Christianity, in
their moral aspects.

And, first, Unitarianism alone puts forth the great view that the moral
and spiritual character of the mind itself is its own recompense, its
own glory, its own heaven; and that this harmony with God and with his
Christ is not the means of salvation only, but salvation itself.
Unitarianism alone receives the spiritual view of Christ that the
kingdom of Heaven is within us; and works not for outward wages, but to
make the inward soul a holy temple for the Spirit of God; that through
its purified affections Jesus, our best type of Heaven, may shed his own
peace, and that he and his Father may be able to love us, and come unto
us, and make their abode with us. Now you are aware that this qualifying
of ourselves for Heaven through heavenly frames of mind, is so prominent
a part of our faith, that it is actually converted into a charge against
us. I heard the Unitarians charged with a want of gospel humility for
regarding holy affections and a Christ-like life as the substance of the
hope of Heaven; and I thought on the words of the Apostle—“The kingdom
of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”[41]
This is not the salvation so loudly vaunted by Trinitarianism. It
assigns another office to Christ than that of leading men to God through
a resemblance to himself. Jesus stands to Trinitarians not principally
as the Inspirer of virtue, the quickener of holiest affections, the
guide of the heaven-bound spirit; but as bearing on his own person the
punishment due to their sins, and as performing in his own person the
righteousness that is imputed to them, and being transferred, by an act
of faith, makes good their claim to Heaven. Now these notions of Heaven
regard it as so much property, which one person may purchase and
transfer to another. Christ, by an act of self-sacrifice, becomes the
purchaser of Heaven, and gives a right of settlement in the blessed land
to every one who consents to regard his death as a substitution for his
own punishment, and his righteousness as a substitution for his own
virtues. There is no flattering unction that could be laid to the soul,
no drug to stupefy its life, that could more thoroughly turn it away
from the spiritual purposes of Jesus.[42] He lived that men might know
their own nature, and work out its glory for themselves. He lived that
he might rescue that nature from low views of its duties and its powers,
by showing humanity in the image of God. He bore his cross that men
might look to Calvary and behold the moral heroism of the meekest heart
when it trusts in God; with what serenity a filial faith can pass
through the vicissitudes of severest trial, and take the cup from the
hand of a Father, though he presents it from out the darkest cloud of
his providence. He died, because Death crossed his path of Duty, and not
to turn aside was part of his loyalty to the Spirit of Truth, “for this
cause was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I
should bear witness unto the truth;”—he died that earth and heaven might
unite their influences on the human soul treading an uninterrupted path
to God, that its light might come from beyond the grave, and its hope
from the peace of a world that is never troubled; and yet, alas! for the
perversion—men are found to stand beneath the cross, and so far to
mistake the spirit of the celestial sufferer, as to appropriate, to
transfer to themselves, by an act of faith, its moral character, and to
call themselves the redeemed of Christ. Surely there is a “practical
importance” in the Unitarian controversy, if it warns men against these
notions of substitution, these unspiritual views of Heaven and Christ.
The worst of all delusions is that which turns us away from inward
holiness, inward qualifications for Heaven, and holds out to our too
ready grasp some foreign, some adventitious, and extrinsic hope. It is
right that we should rely on God, for his strength is our strength, and
his mercy _our_ supporting hope; it is right that we should love and
look unto Jesus, for his influences are our spiritual wealth, and his
path our bright and beaming way;—but where in Heaven or earth are we to
rest at last, but in what God and Christ do for us, in the formed
character of our own souls?

And now shall I be told, that this is claiming Heaven on the ground of
our own merits? And how often shall we have to repel that false
accusation? If by this is meant, that we deem our virtues to be
_deserving_ of Heaven, the charge of insanity might as well be laid
against us, as that infinite presumption; but if it is meant that, to a
holy spirit, and to a holy life, to a supreme love for the Right, the
True, the Good, _and to these alone_, God, with a love that is infinite,
has attached something of the blessedness of his own nature;—then we do
hold this as the first and brightest of Truths, the very substance of
the Gospel, the sublimest lesson of the Saviour’s life, shadowed by his
death, only to be authenticated and glorified by his resurrection and
ascension. I know of nothing so deeply sad as to witness the ministers
of Christ appealing for support to the lowest parts of human nature—the
fishers of men casting out their nets, that they may take into the drag
the most selfish passions and fears—bribing over to their side the
terrors and the weaknesses, to which, except through penitence and
restoration, Unitarian Christianity dare not offer peace. Trinitarianism
will not deal so justly and so strictly with sin. We are speaking of its
tendencies; not of the forms it sometimes, nay we will say often,
assumes in the higher and purer order of minds. It is true to the
weaknesses of men; but false to their strength. It seems to many to save
them _in_ their low condition, not _from_ it. It will not meet the soul,
and tell it that there is no substitute for holiness, and that to move
guilt from its punishment would be to move God from his throne. It takes
that guilty soul, and instead of dealing with it truly, cleansing from
sin, and pouring in the spirit of the life of Christ, leans it against
the Atoning Sacrifice, and the Righteousness that cometh by imputation,
an unhallowed and unnatural alliance, to make that glorious virtue an
easy retreat for guilt, and the holy Jesus a “Minister of Sin.”[43]
“They have healed the hurt of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace,
where there is no peace.”[44]

And if we value Unitarianism for what we feel to be the efficacy of its
views in regard to the offices of Christ, we value it even more, for its
views of God, and for the connections it gives us with his spirit. Piety
is the noblest distinction, the richest happiness, the purest fountain
of the soul; and we love, without measure, the faith that nurtures it
most strongly. We feel our affections to be drawn towards one God and
Father with a singleness and intensity, that we believe would be
impossible, if the heart was to be distributed among three objects, or
distracted by a confused conception of a tripersonal God. We boast an
undivided worship, and an undivided Temple, where all the soul’s
devotion centres upon one Father. His spirit was with us when we knew
not the power that was exciting our irrepressible joy; and though He has
led us through his ways of discipline, we knew it was the same hand that
had guided our early steps; He has met our souls when they were abroad
through Nature, and touched them with his breathing Spirit; He has
pursued us into our solitudes, and, in our more solemn moments of
penitence and suffering, He has made us to see light in darkness, mercy
in trial, and to drink of the deepest fountains of life; His compassion
has mercifully cooled the burning shame of our guiltiest confessions,
and saved us through fear and weakness by heavenly hope; His peace has
descended upon all our aspirations, and shielded their feebleness from
blight and death;—and, throughout this varied experience, there was but
one voice speaking to the heart; the pressure of one hand on the pulses
of life; one God revealing himself to the spirits of his children.
Whatever is delightful in the Universe, whatever is pure in earthly joy,
whatever is touching in Jesus, whatever is profoundly peaceful in a holy
spirit, are to us the splendours of one God, the gifts of one Father;
bonds upon the heart, uniting it to one spiritual and everlasting
Friend. We do not profess that our Piety has glowed with the intensity
of these mingling fires, but we feel that there is a power of motive
drawing us to the love of one God, which no other Theology may lay claim

But the “practical importance” of our views of God consists not merely
in that Unity of being, through which all the devotion of the soul is
poured into one central affection; it affects also the unity of his
Character, the moral perfections of the source of Piety. We reject that
faith which represents the moral government of God as a system of
favouritism. We meet with nothing in nature to impeach the Impartiality
of our Heavenly Father. We believe that the same God who sends his sun
and his rain upon the evil and upon the just, is willing to shed the dew
of his blessing upon the hearts of all his children. We rejoice to
overlook the vain and perishable distinctions of time; to believe that
all the human family, partakers of one spirit, meet in the love of the
universal Father; that God in heaven is no respecter of persons; and
that the humblest and most neglected of his children may rise into
hallowed intercourse with the infinite spirit. We protest with a strong
abhorrence against the dreadful views which are given of God’s inability
to forgive, of the Justice of the Father horribly satisfied by the
substitution of the innocent for the sins of the guilty. We profess to
have no hope either in time or in eternity, but in the unclouded
goodness of Him who sitteth on Heaven’s throne and reigneth overall—and
if these things may be, and yet God be good, it is a goodness we do not
understand and cannot calculate upon, and the pillars of our faith are
shaken in all the reliances of futurity. We do not enter now into the
scriptural evidence for or against these doctrines—that will be done in
other parts of this course; our present concern is with the question,
which of these views is the most calculated to nourish piety, to kindle
within us a warm, unselfish, and intelligible love of God. We meet in
the world the children of one Parent, with the same souls, the same
hopes, the same capacities for joy; with the same God to comfort their
sorrows and to guard their happiness; breathing on them the same holy
and inspiring influences; leading them to the same Saviour, and
beckoning them to the same Heaven; and our love for God and our
fellowship with man thus mingle intimately in the same heart and shed
through it the serene and blissful light of a full, radiant, and
unclouded Piety. The spiritual influences of Unitarianism thus lead to a
supreme love and veneration for God by exhibiting the Holiness, the
Forgivingness, and the all-embracing Impartiality of the Divine
Character, without a stain upon their brightness and their purity.

We believe that there is in the spirit of these views a peculiar power
to excite an interest in the souls of our brethren; to give an expansive
spirit of humanity; to make us feel that we are bound by the holiest of
ties; united in the purposes of one Father; children of the same God,
and educating for the same destinies. Wherever we cast our eyes they
fall upon God’s everlasting ones. In the humblest we see the future
immortal; and in the proudest we can see no more. We believe that God
made every living soul that it might become pure, virtuous and blessed;
we believe that his eye of watchful care is never removed from it; we
believe that He never abandons it, that He accompanies it in all its
wanderings, and that he will ultimately lead it by his own awful yet
merciful discipline, in this world or in the next, in safety to
Himself—and we dare not to scorn the spirit which God is tending and
which He purposes ultimately to save.

And with this belief at our hearts, we wonder that there is not more
heroism in the cause of the human soul; we wonder that the noblest of
all philanthropy, that which seeks the realization of Christian states
of character, is so rare among men; that there is so little of a strong
and yearning love drawing us towards sinning and suffering man; that
souls are permitted to slumber and die without an awakening voice; that
our hearts are not stirred within us when we look to the awful and
neglected wastes of human ignorance and sin, and reflect that through
each guilty bosom, and each polluted home there might breathe the purity
and the peace of Christ. We despair of none. We believe that the
guiltiest may be turned from their iniquities and saved. We believe that
God works by human means and expects our aid. We believe that the fire
of heaven is still smouldering, and that a spark might light it into
undying flame; and we are sure that the end of this faith is love
unwearied, which ought to assume more earnest forms of interest for our
nature, and to vent itself in purer efforts for its highest good. Others
may defend themselves by casting the whole burden upon God; may point in
despair to the hopeless condition of man’s heart; wait for fire from
heaven to come down and stir the sinner’s soul; and having thus “looked
upon” the moral sufferer may pass by upon the other side; but _with us_
there is but one duty; to go to him, to pour the spirit of Jesus into
his wounded heart, to lay upon ourselves his burdens, and to toil for
his restitution as a brother immortal. The “practical importance,” then,
of Unitarianism as contrasted with Trinitarianism is in this—that it
tends to penetrate our hearts with a deeper spirit of Christian love; to
give us hope and interest in our nature; to call out the highest efforts
of the spirit of humanity; and to supply us with lofty motive for
emulating the self-sacrifice of Jesus.

We think, further, that in our views of God, of Christ, and of human
nature, we have a peculiar encouragement for the personal virtues, a
peculiar demand for individual holiness. We have already alluded to the
force and distinctness with which we teach that the greatest work of
Christ is in giving inward power, strength of purpose to the soul; and
that there is no salvation except where the purity, the freedom, and the
love of Heaven are growing in the heaven-bound heart; but we also
recognize peculiar claims _upon us_ in the conviction which we hold so
sacred that our righteous Father has created us with a nature capable of
knowing and of doing His Will. Others may cast the odium of human sins
upon human inability, and thus at last throw down their burdens at the
door of their God; but as for _us_, we can only bow our heads in sorrow
and ask the forgiveness of Heaven. We believe that God has united us by
no necessity with sin; we deny altogether the incapacity of man to do
the will of God; we feel that there are energies within us which, if but
called out into the living strife, would overcome all the resistance of
temptation; we hear a deep voice issuing from the soul and witnessed to
by Christ, calling us to holiness and promising us peace;—and with God’s
seal thus set upon our nature, and God’s voice thus calling to the
kindred spirit within, why are we not found farther upon the path of
Christ, and brightening unto the perfect man?

For, alas! there is not only energy and holy motive in this lofty
conviction, there are also the elements of a true and deep humility. If
the glory of our souls is marred it is our own work. If the spirit of
God is quenched within us, we have ourselves extinguished it. If we have
gained but little advancement upon Heaven’s way, we have wasted and
misdirected immortal powers. Elevation of purpose, and true humility of
mind, the humility that looks upwards to Christ and God, and bows in
shame, are thus brought together in the Unitarian’s faith, as they are
by no other form of Christianity. I know it is said, with a strange
blindness, that this doctrine of the incapacity of man to know and to do
the will of God is rejected by Unitarianism because it rebukes our
pride; but no—it suffers man to be a sinner without hurting his pride;
it transfers the disgrace from the individual to the race; and that, on
the other hand, is the humbling picture which represents our sins not of
our inheritance but of our choice, the voluntary agent of evil degrading
a spirit made in the image of God, pouring the burning waters of
corruption into a frail though noble nature, until the crystal vessel is
stained and shattered. “Preach unto me smooth things, and prophesy
deceits,” is the demand of the less spiritual parts of man, and
Trinitarianism is certainly the Preacher whose views of sin fall softly
on enervated souls.

We cannot conclude without alluding, however generally, to the practical
importance of our views of the future life. We believe that the fitness
of the soul for Heaven, its oneness with God and Christ, will form the
measure of its joy; and that the thousand varieties of goodness will
each be consigned to its appropriate place in the allotments of
happiness. We believe that the glory of Heaven will brighten for ever as
the character is perfected under the influences of Heaven, and that to
this growing excellence there is no limit or end. We believe that even
in the future there is discipline for the soul; that even for the
guiltiest there may be processes of redemption; and that the stained
spirit may be cleansed as by fire. We believe that this view of a strict
and graduated retribution exerts a more quickening, personal, realizing
power than that of Eternal torments which no _heart_ believes, which no
man trembles to conceive; where the iniquity which is to be visited with
such an awful punishment becomes a _shifting line_ which every sinner
moves beyond himself; until Heaven itself is profaned, and all its
sacredness violated and encroached upon by those who feel that it would
be infinite injustice to plunge _them_ into an Eternity so unutterably
dreadful, but who have been taught to believe that to escape this Hell
is to be sure of Heaven.

Now our present objection to this doctrine of eternal punishment is the
practical one that it has no moral power. It does not come close enough
to truth and justice to take a hold upon the conscience, and so instead
of binding and constraining, it is inoperative and lax. The fact is, it
is not practically believed. It is too monstrous to be realized. Where,
we ask, are the fruits of this appalling doctrine, which is everywhere
preached? One would suppose that its dreadfulness would keep the tempted
spirit in constant alarm. I know that it occasions misery to the timid,
to the sensitive, to the feeble of nerve, that is just to those who
require the purer and gentler influences of religion to give them trust
in God: but what sinner has it alarmed? what guilty heart has it made
curdle with terror? what seared conscience has been scared from evil by
the shriek of woe coming up from the depths of the everlasting torture?
No; these are not the influences that convert sin. They are not believed
or realized, and yet they displace from the thoughts those definite
views of the future which would have power to move and save the soul.
The righteous allotments with which God will award the joys and sorrows
of the future; the character of the individual mind when it first
appears for judgment; the value of every moment of present time in
assigning us our first station in immortality; the exact righteousness
in which every variety of character shall have its graduated place on
the scale of recompense; the appalling thought of every separate spirit
standing before God just as the last effort of convulsed nature
dismissed it from the body;—the trifler in his levity, the drunkard with
his idiot look, the murderer with the blood-stains on his soul—and the
sainted spirit passing on the breath of prayer from the outer to the
inner Court of God’s presence;—these, the solemn distinctions of that
awful world, are all lost, because of that common Hell into whose abyss
unawed Conscience hurls her fears, and then forgets the infinite
gradations of punishment that still remain to pour dread recompense on
evil at the award of a retributive God.

There are some objections urged against these views of the practical
importance of Unitarianism to which I must now give brief and emphatic

1. It is said that Unitarianism generates no love to Christ: and the
reason assigned is, that as we reject the primal curse of original sin,
we have not so much to be forgiven, and consequently not equal
obligation to love; for to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth
little. Now in our view forgiveness is of God, in whom Trinitarians find
no forgiveness, and Christ is the image of our Father in Heaven, and we
love _him_ who leads us into that pure and blissful presence, and in
whose face we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, full
of grace and truth. We love Jesus for what he is to our souls, and not
for the theological fiction, that he took off a disqualification which
our God laid on. We love all holy and good beings for the same reasons,
that they strengthen in our own nature the springs of goodness and
unselfish love, and lift us into fellowship with themselves; and
therefore we love God supremely, _and next to God_, _him_ who through
self-devotion and perfect filial trust preserved the moral lineaments of
Heaven, of a mind harmonized with providence, against the weaknesses and
through the temptations of this humanity, whose tremblings we know so
well, and whose fallings away in ourselves from the higher impulses of
God have taught us the love of veneration for him who made it bear the
likeness of Heaven, and, through its trials and its shrinkings, realized
perfection. The moral estimate that would proportion our love to Christ,
not to his own fitness to inspire love, to the heavenly benevolence that
breathed through his own life and death, but to the selfish measure of
the outward benefits received, can be equalled in the confusion and
impurity of its moral ideas only by another moral judgment pronounced
upon the same occasion—that the guilt of the Jews, when they crucified
Jesus, must be estimated and measured in proportion as Jesus was man or
God. This certainly is quite consistent with the Trinitarian scheme,
that guilt can be contracted unknowingly; but who will set right this
utter ignorance of the primitive ideas of morality? What spectres of the
thirteenth century rise before us when we listen to these conceptions—of
God dying under the hands of his creatures; and of their guilt, by some
process, (not moral, but metaphysical,) becoming infinite because the
sufferer was infinite, though they knew it not, and believed themselves
to be crucifying the man Jesus! It is only further proof that the
Atonement and its allied ideas tends to confuse in the minds that
receive it the fundamental perceptions of Right and Wrong.[45]

2. It is said that Unitarianism leads to infidelity: and the proof
assigned is that those whom Trinitarianism makes sceptics, find with us
ideas of Christ and Christianity with which they have sympathies. We
intercept the minds whom they have driven from Belief; we present our
serene and perfect image of Duty and of God to minds wearied and
perplexed with views of Religion which are felt to be too coarse for
their own nature and therefore infinitely unworthy of the spirit of God;
but because they leave the Church, that Christian Jerusalem, and come to
sit at the feet of Jesus in our humble Bethany, where at least he is
loved purely and for himself;—then this is Infidelity, and we who stay
the wanderer, and retain him within the fold, are called producers of
unbelief. The spirit of Jesus said, “he that is not against us is for
us.” The spirit of Trinitarianism says, “he that is not for us is
against us.” It was said that the spirit of infidelity is the spirit of
this age. I only ask, if this is so, could there be a more practical
condemnation of that system, and of that Church, which sways all the
religious influences of the country; and whose representations of Christ
and of Christianity, the universally prevailing ones, have produced the
religious character of these times? If there is Infidelity in the land,
it is mainly the recoil from Orthodoxy.[46]

3. It is said that Unitarianism encourages the pride of human Reason.
Now I shall answer this very briefly, because any lengthened exposure
would necessarily take the form of sarcasm. Whose Reason is it that we
oppose when we reject Trinitarianism? Trinitarians say that it is the
Reason of God. But how do they know this? Because they are sure that
_they_ know the Mind of God as it is revealed in the Scriptures; and
they are sure that _we_ are in error. Infallibility again! So that to
oppose _their_ interpretation of the Scriptures, is to set up our own
Reason against the Reason of God. Now I ask, in all simplicity, Can they
who say these things have taken the trouble to clear their own ideas? If
there is any pride of Reason, on which side does it lie? They first
identify their own sense of the Scriptures with God’s sense, and then
they charge other men with the pride of Reason, for not bowing down
their minds to God, having first taken it for granted that _their_
Reason and God’s Reason are one and the same. Look again to the
uncertain doctrines which they deduce from the Scriptures by processes
of inference, sometimes technical and sometimes mystical, and say, does
the world afford a more marked exemplification of the pride of human
Reason, than the absolute confidence with which these doubtful
conclusions are received, and not only that, but pressed upon men, as
the exact meaning of God, at the peril of their eternal Salvation? What
do these divines rest upon when they deduce from the Scriptures their
essentials of Christianity? Their own reasonings. And yet they will tell
you, that to differ from _them_, is to oppose your own Reason to the
mind of God. I ask, hereafter in this controversy, Should not this
matter of the pride of human reason be a weapon of attack in our hands,
an accusation against Trinitarians, instead of a charge which Unitarians
are to answer? We have too long, in this and many other matters, stood
upon the defensive.[47]

And now, in conclusion, let me say once more, that though we think
Trinitarian views of man’s connections with God injurious to Christian
perfection, inasmuch as they throw the minds which receive them out of
harmony with the realities of God, and must therefore undergo future
correction and re-adjustment, still our strongest objection to the
Trinitarian scheme is the fundamental one that it is based upon
principles of exclusiveness, upon the indispensable conditions of a
narrow and technical creed, and that thus it is the parent and fomenter
of all those dissensions and practical evils in religion which these
times witness and deplore. How many has orthodoxy persecuted into a
hatred for the very name of religion? In how many minds has it darkened,
or mixed up with the most incongruous associations, the beautiful image
of Christ, destroying its healing and persuasive power? O! why should it
be, except for this Trinitarian scheme of an Exclusive Salvation, that
Religion should be directing her whole energies to the support of
creeds, instead of going about doing good, and with her heavenly spirit
entering into conflict with the moral evils that afflict society, and
degrade man, and rebel against God? Why is it, that instead of this, we
have a distinct class of sufferings, that go under the name of religious
evils? Why is it that we are here holding controversy with our
fellow-Christians, instead of uniting our spirit and our strength to
work the works of Christ? We wage not this controversy for the purpose
of aiding a sect; but we wage it, to do what we can to expose and put
down universally the sectarian spirit. The great evils of society, the
crying wrongs of Man, are mainly owing to this diversion of Religion
from spiritual and practical objects to the strife of tongues and
Salvation by creeds. What is the Religion of this country doing?
Contending for creeds. What ought it to be doing? Spreading the spirit
of the life of Christ through the hearts of men and the institutions of
society. How long are these things to be? How long are the spiritual
influences of this country to be all consumed in striving with heresies
instead of striving with sins; leaving untouched the bad heart of
society, whilst wrangling for a metaphysical faith? Look to the
religious apparatus of this country. Look to the number of pulpits that
should send forth the spiritual influences of righteousness and peace;
and the number of men that should move through society apostles of the
beneficence of Christ.

Suppose all this strength directed to practical and spiritual objects,
and could the things that are, remain as they are, if the religious
forces of the country, instead of being exclusive, doctrinal,
controversial, were full of the love of Jesus, and sought simply to
establish the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth! Could Religion excite the
angry passions that she does, if her aims were spiritual and not
doctrinal? Could Religion be divorced as she is from practical life, and
confined to a class kept under powerful stimulants, and called the
“religious public,” if her aims were spiritual and not doctrinal? Could
Religion leave the people neglected and without education, practical
Heathens, while she is settling her creeds, if her aims were spiritual
and not doctrinal? Could Religion have left unpurified the streams and
sources of public morality, if her aims were spiritual and not
doctrinal? Could she have suffered War still to disgrace the world, and
not long since have extinguished the Earthborn passion by the Heavenly
spirit and the moral instrument, if the direction of her energies had
been spiritual and not controversial? Could she have shown so little
interest in the great mass of the people? Could she have abandoned them
to ignorance and grinding oppressions and not raised her omnipotent
voice on their behalf? Could she have so separated herself from the real
business of life and left the moralities of intercourse unsanctified
whilst she remained unsympathizing and cloistered? Every friend to
practical religion has an interest in destroying this exclusive
Theology, which turns away from the works of love to the war of creeds.

If then we preach Unitarianism, it is that we may win men’s hearts to
the one Spirit who pervades all things, and harmonizes all things, and
sends all blessings, and sanctifies all thoughts, all duties, and all
times. If we preach the man Christ Jesus, the word made flesh, it is
that we too may sanctify our nature, and make it a temple for the living
God, and grow up into him in all things who is our head, even Christ. If
we preach Salvation, not by creeds, but by the spirit of Christ in us,
the hope of glory, it is that our fitness for Heaven may commence on
Earth; that we may live now as those who when they have slept the brief
sleep of death shall awake in the presence of Christ and God, and find
themselves in that Heaven wherein dwelleth righteousness. And if we
preach not indiscriminate happiness and indiscriminate tortures in
futurity, but the just retributions of God, it is that we may redeem the
time, remembering that each moment lost throws us back on the heavenly
way, that there is an infinite perfection before us, providing work for
our infinite capacities through an immortal life; that God is faithful
and inflexible in his retributions; that no virtue shall be without its
reward, no sin without its woe; that we shall be judged according to our
works, and reap what we have sown.

To sum up, the two great principles of Unitarianism are these:—

I. Spiritual allegiance to Christ as the image of God. “Whom we preach,
warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may
present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

II. Spiritual liberty from ought besides; Creeds, Traditions, Rituals,
or Priests. “False brethren, unawares brought in, who came in privily to
spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring
us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an
hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”



                            NOTE 1, page 14.

“The free and unprejudiced mind dwells with delight on the image of the
universal church or convocation of Christ, as it would naturally have
grown ‘into the fulness of the body’ of its glorious founder * * * *

“And what (let me earnestly and solemnly ask) has hitherto turned this
view into a mocking dream,—a dream that deludes by images which are the
very reverse of the sad realities which surround us? ORTHODOXY;—the
notion that the eternal happiness or misery of individuals is intimately
connected with the acceptance or rejection of a most obscure system of
metaphysics; a system perplexing in the extreme to those who are best
acquainted with its former technical, now obsolete language, and
perfectly unintelligible to the rest of the Christian world: a system
which, to say the least, _seems_ to contradict the simplest and most
primitive notions of the human mind concerning the unity, the justice,
and the goodness of the Supreme Being; a system which, if it be
contained in the Scriptures, has been laid under so thick and
impenetrable a veil, that thousands who have sought to discover it, with
the most eager desire of finding it, whose happiness in this world would
have been greatly increased by that discovery, and who, at all events,
would have escaped much misery had they been able to attest it, even on
the grounds of probability sufficient to acquit themselves before their
own conscience, have been compelled, by truth, to confess their want of
success. Yet Orthodoxy declares this very system identical with
Christianity—with that Gospel which was ‘preached to the poor,’ and
‘revealed unto babes;’ such a system, we are told, is that faith which,
‘_except every one keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall
perish everlastingly_.’”—_Heresy and Orthodoxy, by Rev. J. Blanco

                            NOTE 2, page 18.

“What do divines understand by _Christian Truth_? The answer, at first,
appears obvious. ‘Christian truth (it will be said) is what Christ and
his apostles knew and taught concerning Salvation under the Gospel.’
Thus far we find no difficulty; but (let me ask, again) where does this
exist as an object _external_ to our minds? The answer appears no less
obvious than the former: ‘In the Bible.’ Still I must ask, Is the
MATERIAL Bible the Christian truth about which Christians dispute? No:
it will be readily said not the MATERIAL Bible, but the SENSE of the
Bible. Now (I beg to know) is the SENSE of the Bible an object
_external_ to our minds? Does any _Sense_ of the Bible, accessible to
man, exist anywhere but in the mind of each man who receives it from the
words he reads? The Divine mind certainly knows in what sense those
words were used; but as we cannot compare our mental impressions with
that model and original of all truth, it is clear that by the SENSE of
the Bible we must mean our own sense of its meaning. When therefore any
man declares his intention to defend _Christian truth_, he only
expresses his determination to defend his _own notions_, as produced by
the words of the Bible. No other _Christian truth_ exists for us in our
present state.”—_Heresy and Orthodoxy._

                            NOTE 3, page 22.

“If different men in carefully and conscientiously examining the
Scriptures, should arrive at different conclusions, even on points of
the last importance, we trust that God, who alone knows what every man
is capable of, will be merciful to him that is in error. We trust that
He will pardon the Unitarian, if he be in error, because he has fallen
into it from the dread of becoming an idolater—of giving that glory to
another which he conceives to be due to God alone. If the worshipper of
Jesus Christ be in error, we trust that God will pardon his mistake,
because he has fallen into it from the dread of disobeying what he
conceives to be revealed concerning the nature of the Son, or commanded
concerning the honor to be given him. Both are actuated by the same
principle—the fear of God; and though that principle impels them into
different roads, it is our hope and belief, that if they add to their
faith _charity_, they will meet in Heaven.”—_Watson._

“We should learn to be cautious, lest we _charge God foolishly_, by
ascribing that to him, or the Nature he has given us, which is owing
wholly to our own abuse of it. Men may speak of the degeneracy and
corruption of the world, according to the experience they have had of
it; but human nature, considered as the divine workmanship, should,
methinks, be treated as sacred: for _in the image of God made he
man_.”—_Bishop Butler._

                            NOTE 4, page 24.

“But, if ORTHODOXY cannot be the principle of union among _Christians_,
upon what are men to agree in order to belong to the CONVOCATION, or
people of Christ? I believe that the Apostle Paul has said enough to
answer this question. When by using the word _anathema_, he rejects from
his spiritual society even an angel from Heaven, were it possible that
such a being should “preach another gospel,” he lays down the only
principle, without which there can be no communion among Christians.
Unhappily the word GOSPEL, like the word FAITH, is constantly understood
as expressing a certain number of dogmatical articles. Owing to this
perversion of the original meaning, these very passages of Paul are
conceived to support the long-established notion that Orthodoxy is the
only condition of Christian communion; and want of it, a sufficient
cause for _anathema_. I have, however, already proved, that Orthodoxy,
without a supreme judge of religious opinions, is a phantom; and since
it is demonstrable that no such judge has been appointed, it clearly
follows that the Apostle Paul, by the name of _Gospel_, could not mean a
string of dogmatic assertions. It is necessary, therefore, to ascend to
the original signification of the word Gospel, if we are not to
misunderstand the reason of the anathema pronounced by Paul. Let such as
wish to rise above the clouds of theological prejudice, remember that
the whole mystery of godliness is described by the expression ‘glad
tidings.’ _Sad_, not glad tidings, indeed, would have been the Apostles’
preaching, if they had announced a salvation depending on _Orthodoxy_,
for (as I have said before) it would have been a salvation depending on
chance. But salvation promised on condition of a change of mind from the
love of sin to the love of God (which is _repentance_); on a surrender
of the individual will to the will of God, according to the view of that
divine will which is obtained by trust in Christ’s example and teaching,
which is _faith_; a pardon of sins independent of harassing religious
practices, sacrifices, and ascetic privations—these were ‘glad tidings
of great joy,’ indeed, to all who, caring for their souls, felt
bewildered between atheism and superstition.”—_Heresy and Orthodoxy._

                            NOTE 5, page 27.

“Men want an object of worship like themselves, and the great secret of
idolatry lies in this propensity. A God, clothed in our form, and
feeling our wants and sorrows, speaks to our weak nature more strongly,
than a Father in Heaven, a pure spirit, invisible and unapproachable,
save by the reflecting and purified mind. We think, too, that the
peculiar offices ascribed to Jesus by the popular theology, make him the
most attractive person in the Godhead. The Father is the depositary of
the justice, the vindicator of the rights, the avenger of the laws of
the Divinity. On the other hand, the Son, the brightness of the divine
mercy, stands between the incensed Deity and guilty humanity, exposes
his meek head to the storms, and his compassionate breast to the sword
of the divine justice, bears our whole load of punishment, and purchases
with his blood every blessing which descends from Heaven. Need we state
the effect of these representations, especially on common minds, for
whom Christianity was chiefly designed, and whom it seeks to bring to
the Father as the loveliest being? We do believe, that the worship of a
bleeding, suffering God, tends strongly to absorb the mind, and to draw
it from other objects, just as the human tenderness of the Virgin Mary
has given her so conspicuous a place in the devotions of the Church of
Rome. We believe, too, that this worship, though attractive, is not most
fitted to spiritualize the mind, that it awakens human transports,
rather than that deep veneration of the moral perfections of God, which
is the essence of piety.

“We are told, also, that Christ is a more interesting object, that his
love and mercy are more felt, when he is viewed as the Supreme God, who
left his glory to take humanity and to suffer for men. That Trinitarians
are strongly moved by this representation, we do not mean to deny; but
we think their emotions altogether founded on a misapprehension of their
own doctrines. They talk of the second person of the Trinity’s leaving
his glory and his Father’s bosom to visit and save the world. But this
second person being the unchangeable and infinite God, was evidently
incapable of parting with the least degree of his perfection and
felicity. At the moment of his taking flesh, he was as intimately
present with his Father as before, and equally with his Father filled
heaven, and earth, and immensity. This Trinitarians acknowledge; and
still they profess to be touched and overwhelmed by the amazing
humiliation of this immutable being! But not only does their doctrine,
when fully explained, reduce Christ’s humiliation to a fiction, it
almost wholly destroys the impressions with which his cross ought to be
viewed. According to their doctrine, Christ was, comparatively, no
sufferer at all. It is true his human mind suffered; but this, they tell
us, was an infinitely small part of Jesus, bearing no more proportion to
his whole nature, than a single hair of our heads to the whole body, or
than a drop to the ocean. The divine mind of Christ, that which was more
properly himself, was infinitely happy, at the very moment of the
suffering of his humanity; whilst hanging on the cross, he was the
happiest being in the universe, as happy as the infinite Father; so that
his pains, compared with his felicity, were nothing. This Trinitarians
do, and must acknowledge. It follows necessarily from the immutableness
of the divine nature, which they ascribe to Christ; so that their system
justly viewed, robs his death of interest, weakens our sympathy with his
sufferings, and is, of all others, most unfavourable to a love of
Christ, founded on a sense of his sacrifices for mankind. We esteem our
own views to be vastly more affecting. It is our belief, that Christ’s
humiliation was real and entire, that the whole Saviour and not a part
of him suffered, that his crucifixion was a scene of deep and unmixed
agony. As we stand round his cross, our minds are not distracted, nor
our sensibility weakened by contemplating him as composed of incongruous
and infinitely differing minds, and as having a balance of infinite
felicity. We recognize in the dying Jesus but one mind. This, we think,
renders his sufferings, and his patience, and love, in bearing them;
incomparably more impressive and affecting, than the system we

                            NOTE 6, Page 29.

“We believe, too, that this system is unfavourable to the character. It
naturally leads men to think that Christ came to change God’s mind,
rather than their own; that the highest object of his mission was to
avert punishment rather than to communicate holiness; and that a large
part of religion consists in disparaging good works and human virtue,
for the purpose of magnifying the value of Christ’s vicarious
sufferings. In this way, a sense of the infinite importance and
indispensable necessity of personal improvement is weakened, and high
sounding praises of Christ’s cross seem often to be substituted for
obedience to his precepts. For ourselves, we have not so learned Jesus.
Whilst we gratefully acknowledge that he came to rescue us from
punishment, we believe that he was sent on a still nobler errand,
namely, to deliver us from sin itself, and to form us to a sublime and
heavenly virtue. We regard him as a Saviour, chiefly as he is the light,
physician, and guide of the dark, diseased, and wandering mind. No
influence in the universe seems to us so glorious as that over the
character; and no redemption so worthy of thankfulness as the
restoration of the soul to purity. Without this, pardon, if it were
possible, would be of little value. Why pluck the sinner from hell, if a
hell be left to burn in his own breast? Why raise him to heaven, if he
remain a stranger to its sanctity and love? With these impressions, we
are accustomed to value the gospel chiefly as it abounds in effectual
aids, motives, excitements to a generous and divine virtue. In this
virtue, as in a common centre, we see all its doctrines, precepts,
promises meet; and we believe that faith in this religion is of no
worth, and contributes nothing to salvation, any further than as it uses
these doctrines, precepts, promises, and the whole life, character,
sufferings and triumphs of Jesus, as the means of purifying the mind, of
changing it into the likeness of his celestial excellence.”—_Channing._

                            NOTE 7, page 37.

“I can direct you to nothing in Christ more important than his tried,
and victorious, and perfect goodness. Others may love Christ for his
mysterious attributes; I love him for the rectitude of his soul and
life. I love him for that benevolence which went through Judea,
instructing the ignorant, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind. I
love him for that universal charity which comprehended the despised
publican, the hated Samaritan, the benighted heathen, and sought to
bring a world to God and to happiness. I love him for that gentle, mild,
forbearing spirit, which no insult, outrage, injury, could overpower;
and which desired as earnestly the repentance and happiness of its foes
as the happiness of its friends. I love him for the spirit of
magnanimity, constancy, and fearless rectitude with which, amid peril
and opposition, he devoted himself to the work which God gave him to do.
I love him for the wise and enlightened zeal with which he espoused the
true, the spiritual interests of mankind, and through which he lived and
died to redeem them from every sin, to frame them after his own God-like
virtue. I love him, I have said, for his moral excellence; I know
nothing else to love. I know nothing so glorious in the Creator or his
creatures. This is the greatest gift which God bestows, the greatest to
be derived from his Son. You see why I call you to cherish the love of
Christ. This love I do not recommend as a luxury of feeling, as an
exstasy bringing immediate and overflowing joy. I view it in a nobler
light; I call you to love Jesus, that you may bring yourselves into
contact and communion with perfect virtue, and may become what you love.
I know no sincere, enduring good, but the moral excellence that shines
forth in Jesus Christ. Your health, your outward comforts and
distinctions, are poor, mean, contemptible, compared with this; and to
prefer them to this is self-debasement, self-destruction. May this great
truth penetrate our souls; and may we bear witness in our common lives,
and especially in trial, in sore temptation, that nothing is so dear to
us as the virtue of Christ! * * *

“Thus Jesus lived with men; with the consciousness of unutterable
majesty he joined a lowliness, gentleness, humanity, and sympathy, which
have no example in human history. I ask you to contemplate this
wonderful union. In proportion to the superiority of Jesus to all around
him was the intimacy, the brotherly love, with which he bound himself to
them. I maintain, that this is a character wholly remote from human
conception. To imagine it to be the production of imposture or
enthusiasm, shows a strange unsoundness of mind. I contemplate it with a
veneration second only to the profound awe with which I look up to God.
It bears no mark of human invention. It was real. It belonged to, and it
manifested, the beloved Son of God.

“But I have not done. May I ask your attention a few moments more? We
have not yet reached the depth of Christ’s character. We have not
touched the great principle on which his wonderful sympathy was founded,
and which endeared him to his office of universal Saviour. Do you ask
what this deep principle was? I answer, it was his conviction of the
greatness of the human soul. He saw in man the impress and image of the
Divinity, and therefore thirsted for his redemption; and took the
tenderest interest in him, whatever might be the rank, character, or
condition in which he was found. This spiritual view of man pervades and
distinguishes the teaching of Christ. Jesus looked on men with an eye
which pierced beneath the material frame. The body vanished before him.
The trappings of the rich, the rags of the poor, were nothing to him. He
looked through them, as though they did not exist, to the soul; and
there, amidst clouds of ignorance and plague-spots of sin, he recognized
a spiritual and immortal nature, and the germs of power and perfection
which might be unfolded for ever. In the most fallen and depraved man,
he saw a being who might become an angel of light. Still more, he felt
that there was nothing in himself to which men might not ascend. His own
lofty consciousness did not sever him from the multitude; for he saw, in
his own greatness, the model of what men might become. So deeply was he
thus impressed, that again and again, in speaking of his future glories,
he announced that in these his true followers were to share. They were
to sit on his throne, and partake of his beneficent power. Here I pause;
and I know not, indeed, what can be added to heighten the wonder,
reverence, and love which are due to Jesus. When I consider him not only
as possessed with the consciousness of an unexampled and unbounded
majesty, but as recognizing a kindred nature in all human beings, and
living and dying to raise them to an anticipation of his divine glories;
and when I see him, under these views, allying himself to men by the
tenderest ties, embracing them with a spirit of humanity, which no
insult, injury, or pain could for a moment repel or overpower, I am
filled with wonder, as well as reverence and love. I feel that this
character is not of human invention, that it was not assumed through
fraud, or struck out by enthusiasm; for it is infinitely above their
reach. When I add this character of Jesus to the other evidences of his
religion, it gives to what before seemed so strong a new and vast
accession of strength; I feel as if I could not be deceived. The Gospels
must be true; they were drawn from a living original; they were founded
on reality. The character of Christ is not fiction; he was what he
claimed to be, and what his followers attested. Nor is this all. Jesus
not only _was_, he is still, the Son of God,—the Saviour of the world.
He exists now; he has entered that Heaven to which he always looked
forward on earth. There he lives and reigns. With a clear, calm faith, I
see him in that state of glory; and I confidently expect, at no distant
period, to see him face to face. We have, indeed, no absent friend whom
we shall so surely meet. Let us then, by imitations of his virtues, and
obedience to his word, prepare ourselves to join him in those pure
mansions where he is surrounding himself with the good and pure of our
race, and will communicate to them for ever his own spirit, power, and

                            NOTE 8, Page 38.

“At the present moment I would ask, whether it is a vice to doubt the
truth of Christianity as it is manifested in Spain and Portugal. When a
patriot in those benighted countries, who knows Christianity only as a
bulwark of despotism, as a rearer of inquisitions, as a stern jailer
immuring wretched women in the convent, as an executioner stained and
reeking with the blood of the friends of freedom,—I say when the
patriot, who sees in our religion the instruments of these crimes and
woes, believes and affirms that it is not from God, are we authorized to
charge his unbelief on dishonesty and corruption of mind, and to brand
him as a culprit? May it not be that the spirit of Christianity in his
heart emboldens him to protest with his lips against what bears the
name? And if he thus protest, through a deep sympathy with the
oppression and sufferings of his race, is he not nearer the kingdom of
God than the priest and the inquisitor who boastingly and exclusively
assume the Christian name? Jesus Christ has told us that ‘this is the
condemnation’ of the unbelieving, ‘that they love darkness rather than
light;’ and who does not see that this ground of condemnation is
removed, just in proportion as the light is quenched, or Christian truth
is buried in darkness and debasing error?”—_Channing._

                  *       *       *       *       *

“I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is True. It is true;
and its truth is to break forth more and more gloriously. Of this I have
not a doubt. I know that our religion has been questioned even by
intelligent and good men; but this does not shake my faith in its divine
original or in its ultimate triumphs. Such men have questioned it,
because they have known it chiefly by its corruptions. In proportion as
its original simplicity shall be restored, the doubts of the
well-disposed will yield. I have no fears from infidelity; especially
from that form of it which some are at this moment labouring to spread
through our country (America). I mean, that insane, desperate unbelief,
which strives to quench the light of nature as well as of revelation,
and to leave us, not only without Christ, but without God. This I dread
no more than I should fear the efforts of men to pluck the sun from his
sphere; or to storm the skies with the artillery of the earth. We were
made for religion; and unless the enemies of our faith can change our
nature, they will leave the foundation of religion unshaken. The human
soul was created to look above material nature. It wants a Deity for its
love and trust, an Immortality for its hope. It wants consolations not
found in philosophy, wants strength in temptation, sorrow, and death,
which human wisdom cannot minister; and knowing, as I do, that
Christianity meets these deep wants of men, I have no fear or doubts as
to its triumphs. Men cannot long live without religion. In France there
is a spreading dissatisfaction with the sceptical spirit of the past
generation. A philosopher in that country would now blush to quote
Voltaire as an authority in religion. Already atheism is dumb where once
it seemed to bear sway. The greatest minds in France are working back
their way to the light of truth. Many of them cannot indeed yet be
called Christians; but their path, like that of the wise men of old, who
came star-guided from the East, is towards Christ. I am not ashamed of
the Gospel of Christ. It has an immortal life, and will gather strength
from the violence of its foes. It is equal to all the wants of men. The
greatest minds have found in it the light which they most anxiously
desired. The most sorrowful and broken spirits have found in it a
healing balm for their woes. It has inspired the sublimest virtues and
the loftiest hopes. For the corruptions of such a religion I weep, and I
should blush to be their advocate; but of the Gospel itself I can never
be ashamed.”—_Channing._

                            NOTE 9, page 39.

“Having found that _pride of reason is an aggression upon other men’s
reason_, arising from an over-estimate of the worth of the aggressor’s
own, we may now proceed in our inquiry, who are justly chargeable with
pride of _reason_? Is it those who, having examined the Scriptures,
propose their own collective sense of those books to the acceptance of
others, but blame them not for rejecting it? or those who positively
assert, that their own sense of the Scriptures is the only one which an
honest man, not under diabolical delusion, can find there? The answer is
so plain, that a child, who could understand the terms of the question,
might give it. And yet experience has taught me that there is no chance
of unravelling the confused ideas which prevent many a well-meaning
Christian from perceiving that the charge of the pride of reason falls
upon the Orthodox. Their own _sense_ of the Scripture (such is the dizzy
whirl which their excited feelings produce) must be the _word of God_,
because THEY cannot find another. _My sense_ of the Scripture must, (for
instance,) on the contrary, be a damnable error, because it is the work
of my _reason_, which opposes the word of God, _i.e._, THEIR sense of
the Scriptures: hence the conclusion that I am guilty of _pride of
reason_. ‘Renounce that _pride_, (they say,) and you will see in the
Scriptures what we propose to you:’ which is to say, _surrender your
reason to ours, and you will agree with us_. * * *

“It is remarkable that Christians are accused of _Pride of reason_ in
proportion as their view of Christianity contains fewer _doctrines of
inference_ than that of the accusers. Compare the creed of the
Trinitarian with that of the Unitarian. The former may be true, and the
latter erroneous, though I adhere to the latter; but unquestionably the
_Trinitarian Creed_ is nearly made up of _inferences_, it is almost
entirely a work of _reason_, though, in my eyes, sadly misapplied. Why,
then, is the _Unitarian_ accused of _pride of reason_, when he only
employs it to show that the Trinitarian has not any _sound reason_ to
draw those inferences? which of the two is guilty of encroaching upon
another man’s _rights of reason_? Is it not he who claims for his
inferences—the work of his own _reason_—an authority above human

“It is not, however, to _inferences_ alone (the work of logical reason)
that the Trinitarian creed owes its existence, and, more than its
existence, its popularity. My observation has shown me, and that of
every competent judge will find, that the strongest hold which that
creed has on the minds of its supporters, consists in _preconceived
theories_ concerning the nature of God and of sin, and of some
_necessity_ which places the Divine Nature in a state of difficulty in
regard to the pardon of sin. The work of saving the race of man from a
most horrible fate depends (according to this theory) not only on a very
mysterious method of overcoming the difficulty which prevents pardon by
an act of mercy, on repentance, but also on the acknowledgment of the
_mystery_ by the sinner. The remedy prepared by the wisdom of God is
(according to this theory) totally powerless, unless we believe a
certain explanation of the _manner_ in which it acts.

“Now people who cordially embrace this view very naturally work
themselves into a state of the most agonizing excitement: for if the
whole world is to perish because it does not know how the saving remedy
acts, or because its activity is explained in a wrong way, benevolent
men, who think themselves in possession of that important secret, must
burn with zeal to spread it, and with indignation against those who
propagate an explanation which deprives the remedy of all its power.
‘Believing,’ says an orthodox writer, though a dissenter from the
orthodoxy of the Church of England, ‘the doctrine (of the divinity of
Christ) to comprehend within itself the hopes of a guilty and perishing
world, while I would contend _meekly_, I must be pardoned if, at the
same time, I contend earnestly.’ It is this preconceived theory (one of
the strangest that was ever founded on reasonings _à priori_) that
guides most Christians in the exposition of the New Testament, and even
in that of many passages of the Hebrew Scriptures. The notion that sin
_could not_ be pardoned unless a person _equal to God_ suffered for it,
is the deeply-coloured glass through which the orthodox read the
Scriptures. I do not _blame_ them for this extraordinary conception.
What I earnestly wish is, that their religious fears may allow them to
perceive that this theory of redemption is made up of _preconceived
notions and inferences_. Even if that theory were true, it would
unquestionably be a work of _reason_ working by inference. Can, then,
the attempt to make it the very soul of the Gospel be acquitted of the
charge which is constantly in the mouth of the orthodox? Are they not
guilty of the _pride of reason_?”—_Heresy and Orthodoxy._


          _Comments on Rev. F. Ould’s Lecture on the practical
            importance of the Controversy with Unitarians._

Page 5.—It is here argued that the error, if an error, of denying
Unitarians to be Christians is as _innocent_, as the error, if one, of
denying Jesus to be God. Certainly, if equally involuntary and the pure
conclusion of a truthful mind. But, if an error, it involves two
errors,—first, the mistake as to the nature and offices of Jesus, and
second, the mistake of making essentials which Jesus did not make, and
of passing judgments which Jesus did not pass. It is also essentially

Page 6.—“But if it be a characteristic of true Christianity so to trust
in Christ, as to commit the salvation of our souls into his hands, how
can we conceive of those as true Christians who consider him only a
fellow-creature, and consequently repose in him no such trust?” Trust is
a _moral_ act of the mind. We trust Jesus spiritually. Our souls feel
him to be the Image of God: and we confide ourselves with a perfect
trust to the God of Love whom Jesus imaged. “Let not your hearts be
troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Our hearts are not
troubled because our faith rests upon the God whom Jesus has made known
to us. This is the only intelligible meaning of TRUST as a spiritual
act. We trust _him_ whom we believe God to have trusted and sent.

Page 8.—“We maintain that the Bible is alone safely interpreted by its
Author and Inspirer, the Holy Ghost.” Do the Trinitarians mean that
_their_ interpretations of the Bible are the interpretations of the Holy
Spirit? If so, we can have no controversy with them. If they are
inspired to interpret, what the Apostles were inspired to write, nothing
is required but _that this should be proved_.

Pages 11, 12.—“The New Testament writers also assert their own
inspiration in language equally strong. ‘All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable,’ &c. St. Paul does _not_ here
assert _his own_ inspiration, but the inspiration of the Jewish
Prophets, the study of whom had made Timothy wise unto salvation through
faith in Christ. The Christian Scriptures were not in existence when the
words were written. It is also very doubtful whether the word
translated, ‘given by inspiration of God,’ signifies ‘breathing _of_
God,’ or ‘breathed _from_ God.’

“‘No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation,’ &c.
The inspiration of Prophecy is not denied. But can anything be more idle
than to prove the inspiration of all the books of the Old Testament by
such a quotation as this: ‘Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of
Jerusalem, believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established;
believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper’?”

Page 16.—“So then, it appears, that if these ‘rational and liberal’
critics are not allowed to Unitarianize the Bible, they are prepared to
deny its divine authority, and to give it up to its enemies!” Dr.
Channing _does not say so_. What he says is, that he cannot defend the
Scriptures unless he is allowed to interpret them by the same principles
which are applied to all other works. And this principle of
interpretation we understood Dr. Tattershall freely to admit. The use
that is made of the extract from Dr. Channing, exhibits the temptations
of controversy. There is nothing in the extract that Trinitarians
themselves would not say upon occasion. Why is it thought worthy of
being marked in italics that the dispensation of Moses is imperfect when
compared with that of Jesus? Is this denied? Why is the word _seems_
italicized, when the connected word is not rejects, but only
_distrusts_? Yet the author praises the candour of Dr. Channing.

Pages 20, 21.—“The improved Version.” It is a curious fact that most of
the Trinitarian objections to the Improved Version have been provided
for them by an Unitarian Critic and Reviewer. Dr. Carpenter in his reply
to Archbishop Magee states, “I furnished to the opponents of the
Improved Version some of the most powerful weapons against it.” Again,
“At my request a young friend undertook to draw up the table I wished.
This led him to collate the two Versions, which he did with great
patience and fidelity. He discovered some variations from the basis
which were not noticed; and I thought it right to point them out. It is
not too much to say that, but for this, neither Bishop Magee, nor any
others who have censured the Improved Version, would have been aware of
their existence.”—pp. 308, 309. Whatever becomes of the Improved
Version, the Controversy between Unitarianism and Trinitarianism remains
just where it was, to be settled upon independent principles, critical
and exegetical. So far, the whole indictment against the Improved
Version relates to the introductory chapters of Matthew and Luke.
Suppose those chapters authentic and genuine, and what follows from
them? The doctrine of the Miraculous Conception, which most Unitarians
believe. Professor Norton, the ablest, perhaps, of American Unitarian
Critics, defends this doctrine. The introductory chapters of Matthew he
rejects, chiefly on account of their inconsistencies with those of Luke,
the authenticity of which he does not doubt. Dr. Carpenter also
critically dissents from the Notes in the Improved Version on the
introductions of Matthew and Luke. Reply to Dr. Magee, p. 299. It is not
then such a _new_ thing among Unitarians, to question the authority of
the Improved Version. Will the Author inform us where he got his
knowledge respecting Ebion, his existence and opinions?

Page 25.—In an introductory Lecture on the “_practical” tendencies_ of
views, we labour under the disadvantage of being obliged to allow
scriptural language to be quoted in a sense which we do not admit. It
would be evidently quite out of place to enter here into the _textual_
controversy. This will be done abundantly in the course of these

Page 37.—Does the Author deny that Free Inquiry generates a degree of
scepticism—that is, not of unbelief, but of the examining and
questioning spirit? Or does he mean to object to all free inquiry on
account of this tendency? It is extraordinary reasoning to take Dr.
Channing’s _caution against a sceptical spirit_, proceeding from the
very constitution of mind, as a proof of the tendency of Unitarianism to
infidelity. If Unitarianism leads to unbelief, it is strange that so
many Unitarians should defend the Evidences of Christianity, and that
one of them, Dr. Lardner, is the great authority from which Trinitarians
themselves draw their knowledge of the external testimonies.

Page 39.—“Another leading principle, common to both systems,
(Unitarianism and Infidelity,) is _the non-importance of principle
itself to the enjoyment of the Divine favour_.” Let it be known, that by
_principle_ here, the Author means _opinions_.

Page 41.—“Does the Deist reject the Bible because God is represented as
a being who takes vengeance? So does the Unitarian for the very same
reason reject the Gospel. Does the Deist reject the Bible because it
contains the doctrine of atonement and of divine sovereignty? For the
very same reason the Unitarian rejects the Gospel.” It is melancholy to
have to remark upon this passage. The Unitarian _does not reject the
Gospel_, unless the Gospel means Trinitarianism, a use of words which,
in controversy, cannot be justified. The Unitarian does not deny that
God takes vengeance, if by vengeance is meant the infliction of
retribution. The Unitarian accepts the Gospel, but _does not find in it_
the doctrine of Atonement.

Page 46.—“How, on Unitarian principles, this reasoning can be answered,
is more than I can tell.” Jesus _did_ refer to God both his words and
his works. But Unitarians do not regard the mission of Jesus as similar
to that of any of the Prophets. It was essentially different. He was
himself the Revelation: a man in the image of God. By the Prophets, God
taught the Jews certain lessons, and inspired certain expectations. By
Jesus, in whom was the spirit without measure, God exhibited a perfect
revelation both of human perfection and of human destinies. God’s word
was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us. The purposes of the Deity were
impersonated. He was consequently the life, and the way, as well as the

Page 59.—Does the Author mean to contend that Thomas was an INSPIRED MAN
when he refused to believe in the risen Jesus? We had thought the
Trinitarian view was, that the day of Pentecost dated the inspiration of
the apostles. But it appears the Author believes Thomas to be inspired
when refusing to believe in the resurrection of Christ.

Page 60.—Is not the Author aware of the doubtful authenticity of the
second epistle of Peter, from which he quotes twice, contrary to the
judgment of Lardner, who decides that the doubtful Epistles, so stated
by Eusebius, should not be used as authority for doctrines?

There are other passages in this Lecture on which we might comment. But
we refrain. We wished to remark upon those passages which affect the
cause, and not more than was unavoidable upon those which affect only
the advocate.


                        Footnotes for Lecture I.

Footnote 22:

  John iv. 23, 24.

Footnote 23:

  Luke xvii. 20, 21.

Footnote 24:

  John xiv. 21; xv. 8, 9, 10.

Footnote 25:

  John xiii. 35.

Footnote 26:

  John xiv. 28.

Footnote 27:

  John xvii. 3.

Footnote 28:

  1 John ii. 3, 5, 29; iii. 7.

Footnote 29:

  John x. 16; xvii. 20, 21.

Footnote 30:

  Ephes. iv.

Footnote 31:

  1 Cor. xii.

Footnote 32:

  Note 1.

Footnote 33:

  The Oxford Tracts, No. 80, as quoted in “Dr. Hook’s ‘Call to Union,’

Footnote 34:

  Newman on Justification.

Footnote 35:


Footnote 36:

  Note 2.

Footnote 37:

  It is absurd to say that a work becomes a standard authority, because
  a Book Society admits it into its Catalogue, or thinks its objects of
  sufficient importance to aid in its publication. Doubtless the
  Unitarian Society thought the “Improved Version” valuable as a
  Scriptural aid.

Footnote 38:

  Note 3.

Footnote 39:

  Note 4.

Footnote 40:

  See Rev. F. Ould’s Lecture, page 35.

Footnote 41:

  Rom. xiv. 17.

Footnote 42:

  Note 5.

Footnote 43:

  Gal. ii. 17.

Footnote 44:

  Note 6.

Footnote 45:

  Note 7.

Footnote 46:

  Note 8.

Footnote 47:

  Note 9.


                               THE BIBLE:

                    WHAT IT IS, AND WHAT IT IS NOT.


                              LECTURE II.


                        BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU.

   GRACE AND TRUTH.”—_John_ i. 14.

The Bible is the great autobiography of human nature, from its infancy
to its perfection. Whatever man has seen and felt and done on the
theatre of this earth, is expressed therein with the simplicity and
vividness of personal consciousness. The first wondering impressions of
the new-created being, just dropt upon a scene quite strange;—the
hardened heart and daring crimes of the long-resident here, forgetting
that he dwells in a hospice of the Lord, and not a property of his
own;—the recalled and penitent spirit, awakened by the voice of Christ,
when, to a world grown old and dead in custom, he brought back the
living presence of God, and to the first reverence added the maturest
love;—all this is recorded there, written down in the happiest moments
of inspiration which have fallen upon our race during the lapse of
sixteen centuries. The volume stations us on a spot, well selected as a
watch-tower, from which we may overlook the history of the world;—an
angle of coast between the ancient continents of Africa and Asia,
subtended by the newer line of European civilization. Thence have we a
neighbouring view of every form of human life, and every variety of
human character. The solitary shepherd on the slopes of Chaldæa,
watching the changing heavens till he worships them; the patriarch
pitching his tent in the nearer plain of Mamre; the Arab, half merchant,
half marauder, hurrying his fleet dromedaries across the sunny desert;
the Phœnician commerce gladdening the Levant with its sails, or, on its
way from India, spreading its wares in the streets of Jerusalem; the
urban magnificence of Babylonia, and the sacerdotal grandeur of Egypt;
all are spread beneath our eye, in colours vivid, but with passage
swift. Even the echo of Grecian revolutions, and the tramp of Roman
armies, and the incipient rush of Eastern nations, that will overwhelm
them both, may be distinctly heard; brief agents, every one, on this
stage of Providence, beckoned forward by the finger of Omnipotence, and
waved off again by the signals of mercy ever new.

The interest of this wide and various scriptural scene, gradually
gathers itself in towards a single point. There is One who stands at the
place where its converging lines all meet; and we are led over the
expanse of world-history, that we may rest at length beneath the eye of
the Prophet of Nazareth. He is the central object, around whom all the
ages and events of the Bible are but an outlying circumference; and when
they have brought us to this place of repose, to return upon them again
would be an idle wandering. They are all preliminaries, that accomplish
their end in leading us hither.—“The law,” aye, and the prophets too, we
esteem “our schoolmasters to bring us to Christ:”[48] and though, like
grateful pupils, we may look back on them with true-hearted respect, and
even think their labours not thrown away on such as may still be
children in the Lord, we have no idea of acknowledging any more the
authority of the task, the threat, the rod. To sit at the feet of Jesus
we take to be the only proper position for the true disciple; to listen
to his voice “the one thing needful;” and however much others,
notwithstanding that he is come, may make themselves “anxious and
troubled about many things” besides, and fret themselves still about the
preparations for his entertainment, we choose to quit all else, and keep
close to him, as that better “part, which shall not be taken from” us.
Whatever holy influences of the Divine Word may be found in the old
Scriptures, are all collected into one at length; “the Word hath been
made Flesh,” and in a living form hath “dwelt among us;” and from its
fulness of “grace and truth” we will not be torn away.

If the ultimate ends of Scripture are attained in Christ, that portion
of the Bible which makes us most intimate with him, must be of paramount
interest. Compelled then as I am, by my limits, to narrow our inquiry
into the proper treatment of Scripture, I take up the New Testament
exclusively, and especially the Gospels, for examination and comment

Suppose then that these books are put into our hands for the first
time;—disinterred, if you please, from a chamber in Pompeii;—without
title, name, date, or other external description; and that with
unembarrassed mind and fresh heart, we go apart with these treasures to
examine them.

It is not long before their extraordinary character becomes evident. All
minds are known by their works,—the human quite as distinctly as the
Divine: and if “the invisible things of God” “are clearly seen” “by the
things that are made,” and on the material structures of the universe
the moral attributes of his nature may be discerned,—with much greater
certainty do the secret qualities of a man’s soul,—his honesty or
cunning, his truthfulness or fraud,—impress themselves on his speech and
writings. To a clear eye his moral nature will unerringly betray itself,
even in a disquisition; more, in a fiction; more still, in a history;
and most of all, in a biography of a personal companion and teacher,
drawing forth in turns his friendship and grief, his pity and terror,
his love and doubt and trust, his feelings to country, to duty, to God,
to heaven. Accordingly in these Gospels, and in the Journal of travels
and Collection of letters, which carry out and illustrate the
development of a new religion, I find myself in the presence of honest
and earnest men, who are plainly strangers to fiction and philosophy,
and lead me through realities fairer and diviner than either. They take
me to actual places, and tell the events of a known and definite time.
They conduct me through villages, and streets, and markets; to
frequented resorts of worship, and hostile halls of justice, and the
tribunals of Roman rulers, and the theatres of Asiatic cities, and the
concourse of Mars’ hill at Athens: so that there is no denying their
appeal, these things were “not done in a corner.”[49] Yet their frank
delineation of public life is less impressive, than their true and
tender touches of private history. Following in the steps of the world’s
domestic prophet, they entered, evening and morning, the homes of
men,—especially of men in watching and in grief, the wasted in body or
the sick in soul: and the unconsciousness with which the most genuine
traits of nature gleam through the narrative, the infantile simplicity
with which every one’s emotions, of sorrow, of repentance, of affection,
give themselves to utterance, indicate that, with One who bare the key
of hearts, the writers had been into the deep places of our humanity.
The infants in his arms look up in the face of Jesus as we read; the
Pharisee mutters in our ear his sceptic discontent at that loving “woman
who was a sinner” kneeling at the Teacher’s feet; and the voice of the
bereaved sisters of Lazarus trembles upon the page.

But, above all, these writings introduce me to a Being so unimaginable,
except by the great Inventor of beauty and Architect of nature himself,
that I embrace him at once, as having all the reality of man and the
divinest inspiration of God. Gentle and unconstrained as he is, ever
standing, even on the brink of the most stupendous miracles, in the
easiest attitudes of our humanity, so that we are drawn to him as to one
of like nature, we yet cannot enter his presence without feeling our
souls transformed. Their greatness, first recognized by him, becomes
manifest to ourselves: the death of conscience is broken by his tones;
the sense of accountability takes life within the deep; new thoughts of
duty, shed from his lips, shame us for the past, and kindle us for the
future with hope and faith unknown before. His promise[50] fulfils
itself, whilst he utters it; and whenever we truly love him, God comes,
and “makes his abode with” us. He has this peculiarity: that he plunges
us into the feeling, that God acts not _there_, but _here_; not _was
once_, but _is now_; dwells, not _without us_, like a dreadful sentinel,
but _within us_ as a heavenly spirit, befriending us in weakness, and
bracing us for conflict. The inspiration of Christ is not any solitary,
barren, incommunicable prodigy; but diffusive, creative, vivifying as
the energy of God:—not gathered up and concentrated in himself, as an
object of distant wonder; but reproducing itself, though in fainter
forms, in the faithful hearts to which it spreads. While in him it had
no human origin, but was spontaneous and primitive, flowing directly
from the perception and affinity of God, it enters our souls as a gift
from his nearer spirit, making us one with him, as he is one with the
Eternal Father. Children of God indeed we all are: nor is there any mind
without his image: but in this Man of Sorrows the divine lineaments are
so distinct, the filial resemblance to the Parent-spirit is so full of
grace and truth, that in its presence all other similitude fades away,
and we behold his “glory as of the _only_ begotten of the Father.” It is
the very spirit of Deity visible on the scale of humanity. The colours
of his mind, projected on the surface of Infinitude, form there the
all-perfect God. The mere fact of his consciousness of the alliance with
the Creator, and his tranquil announcement of it, without the slightest
inflation, and amid the exercise of the meekest sympathies, appears to
me all-persuasive. From whom else could we hear such claims without
disgust? In a moment they would turn respect into aversion, and we
should pity them as insanity, or resent them as impiety. But to him they
seem only level and natural; we hear them with assent and awe, prepared
by such a transcendent veneration as only a being truly God-like could
excite. This is one of those statements which refutes or proves itself.
Whoever, calmly affirming himself the Son and express similitude of God,
can thereby draw to him, instead of driving from him, the affections of
the wise and good, proclaims a thing self-evident; requiring, however,
to be stated, in order to be tested.

Of such _self-evidence_ as this, the gospels appear to me to be full.
Whenever men shall learn to prefer a religious to a theological
appreciation of Christ, and esteem his mind greater than his rank, much
more of this kind of internal proof will present itself. It has the
advantage of requiring no impracticable learning, and being open, on
internal study of the books, to all men of pure mind and genuine heart;
it is moral, not literary; addressing itself to the intuitions of
conscience, not to the critical faculties. It makes us disciples, on the
same principles with the first followers of Christ, who troubled
themselves about no books, and forged no chains of scholastic logic to
tie them to the faith; but watched the Prophet, beheld his deeds of
power, felt his heavenly spirit, heard his word, found it glad tidings,
and believed. In short, it is identical with the evidence to which our
Lord was so fond of appealing when he said, “No man can come to me,
except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him;”[51] “every one that is
of the truth heareth my voice;”[52] “if I do not the works of my Father,
believe me not;”[53] “my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they
follow me;”[54] “if any man will do His will, he shall know of the
doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”[55] This
spiritual attraction to Christ, arising out of mere contemplation and
study of the interior of his life, is enough to bring us reverently to
his feet,—to accept him as the divinely-sent image of Deity, and the
appointed representative of God. If this be not discipleship, allow me
to ask, “_What is it?_”

I consider, then, _this internal or self-evidence_ of the New Testament,
as incomparably the most powerful that can be adduced; as securing for
Christianity an eternal seat in human nature, so as to throw ridicule on
the idea of its subversion; and as the only evidence suitable, from its
universality, to a religion intended for the majority of men, rather
than for an oligarchy of literati.

But though the divine perfection and authority of Christ may thus be
made manifest to our moral and spiritual nature, what is called the
plenary inspiration of the whole Bible is by no means a thing equally
self-evident. By the term _plenary inspiration_ is denoted the
doctrine,—That every idea which a just interpretation may discover in
the Scriptures, is infallibly true, and that even every word employed in
its expression is dictated by the unerring spirit of God; so that every
statement, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelations, must
be implicitly received, “as though from the lips of the Almighty
himself.” We are first assured that whoever denies this, shall have his
name cancelled from the Book of life; and then we are called upon to
come forward, and say plainly whether we believe it. The invitation
sounds terrible enough. Nevertheless, having a faith in God, which takes
the awe out of Church thunders, I say distinctly, this doctrine we do
not believe; and ere I have done, I hope to show that no man who can
weigh evidence, ought to believe it.

It is clear that, by no interior marks, can a book prove this sort of
inspiration to belong to itself. Accordingly, the advocates for it are
obliged to quit the intrinsic evidence, of which I have hitherto spoken,
and to seek external and foreign testimony on behalf of the Biblical
writings, and of the New Testament in the first instance. The course of
the reasoning is thus adverted to by Bishop Marsh: “The arguments which
are used,” he says, “for divine inspiration, are all founded on the
previous supposition that the Bible is _true_; for we appeal to the
contents of the Bible in proof of inspiration. Consequently, these
arguments can have no force till the authenticity and credibility of the
Bible have been already established,”[56] “Suppose,” observes the same
author, “that a professor of Divinity begins his course of lectures with
the doctrine of divine inspiration; this doctrine, however true in
itself, or however certain the arguments by which it may be established,
cannot possibly, in that stage of his enquiry, be proved to the
satisfaction of his audience; because he has not yet established other
truths, from which this must be deduced. For whether he appeals to the
promises of Christ to his Apostles, or to the declarations of the
Apostles themselves, he must take for granted that these promises and
declarations were really made; _i.e._, he must take for granted the
authenticity of the writings in which these promises and declarations
are recorded. But how is it possible that conviction should be the
consequence of postulating, instead of proving, a fact of such
importance?” “If (as is too often the case in theological works) we
undertake to prove a proposition by the aid of another which is
hereafter to be proved, the inevitable consequence is, that the
proposition in question becomes a link in the chain by which we
establish that very proposition, which at first was taken for granted.
Thus we prove premises from inferences, as well as inferences from
premises; or, in other words, we prove—nothing.”[57]

In perfect consistency with these remarks, was the lucid exposition of
the true method of theological enquiry, which I had the privilege of
hearing in Christ Church, on Wednesday last: to every word of which
(limiting it, however, to the external evidences of Christianity) I
entirely assent. It was then stated that we must

(1st.) Ascertain that the books under examination are self-consistent,
and that they contain nothing at variance with the character of God
impressed upon his works.

(2ndly.) Enquire whether the writings are really the productions of the
authors whose names they bear; or, in other words, determine their

(3dly.) Whether the writers were in circumstances to know what they
relate, and were persons of character and veracity.

(4thly.) Whether we have the works in an unmutilated state, and as they
came from the pens of the authors.

If all these researches should have an issue favourable to the writings,
the Lecturer conceives, for reasons which I think very inconclusive,
that the following inferences may be drawn:—

(1.) That the whole contents of the Bible have divine authority, because
they truly report the fulfilment of prophecy, and the performance of
miracles; and all the doctrines and lessons of a person who works
miracles must have divine authority.

(2.) That the writers were so inspired, that their writings are, in all
respects, infallibly correct; for, among the facts narrated (and which
we admit to be true), is this one; that the Holy Ghost was promised to
the Apostles, and actually descended on the disciples assembled on the
day of Pentecost, and was so extensively communicated through them to
the early church, that no New Testament writer could be without it. So
that these books are as strictly _the Word of God, as if all their
statements proceeded at once and immediately from the lips of the
Almighty himself_.

As “the Word of God” is a beautiful Scriptural phrase, which I must
refuse to give up to this most unscriptural idea, I shall replace it,
when I wish to speak of verbal inspiration, by the more appropriate
expression, the _Words_ of God. I discern in the Bible _the Word of
God_, but by no means the _Words of God_.

For the sake of brevity, I may be allowed to compress this elaborate
system of external evidence into two successive divisions; and, taking
up the first Gospel as an example, I should say, we have to enquire
respecting it,

(1.) Whether we have the words of St. Matthew. And if this be determined
in the affirmative,

(2.) Whether we have the words of God.

(1.) Our first attempt then must be, to establish the origin of these
books from Apostles or Apostolic men,—which is the sole ground for
affirming their infallibility. The method by which their origin must be
ascertained is admitted to be similar to that which would be employed in
the case of any work not sacred. It is an enquiry altogether historical
or antiquarian;—a process of literary identification. We must collect,
and dispose along an ascending chronological line, the various writers
who have quoted and mentioned the New Testament writings; call each, in
turn, into the court of criticism, to speak to the identity of the work
he cites with that which we possess; and if the series of witnesses be
complete,—if, in following into antiquity the steps of their
attestation, we find ourselves in contact with the Apostolic age, and
near the seats of Apostolic labours, we justly conclude that we have the
genuine and original productions. By the help of this foreign testimony,
almost all the books of the New Testament may be traced perhaps to the
middle of the second century; the remaining fifty or sixty years to the
death of St. John, and eighty or ninety to that of the Apostle of the
Gentiles, must be filled up by arguments showing, that this chasm is too
small for the possibilities of forgery and mistake to take effect. The
results of this process are not fit matter for detailed criticism here;
I will simply state, in general, that they yield a preponderating
probability in favour of the general reception, in the second age of the
church, of all the New Testament writings, under the names of their
reputed authors; and that it would be unreasonable to expect more
precise external evidence of authenticity than this. It is indeed much
easier to prove in this way the origin, from the founders of our
religion, of the books which we receive, than to disprove a like
authority with respect to others which we disown, or whose memory (for
many of them are lost) we dishonour. The equal antiquity of some of
these repudiated works, it is scarcely possible to deny; their inferior
authority we are obliged either to conclude from their intrinsic
character, (a reason, often abundantly satisfactory,) or to assume on
the word of a set of ecclesiastical writers, not generally distinguished
for sound judgment or tranquil passions, nor always trustworthy, even in
matters of fact; and who notoriously formed their estimate of Christian
books, less from enquiry into their genuineness, than from the supposed
orthodoxy of their contents. The Christian Fathers, on whose statement
the whole case rests, were undoubtedly guilty of that which, at all
events, with far less justice, is charged on Unitarian authors: they
threw away many a writing as spurious, because they did not like its
doctrines; testing the work by their own belief, instead of their own
belief by the work. The zone of proof which encircles the books within
the canon, and separates them from the apocryphal tribe without, appears
to me less sacred, and more faint, than it is common for theologians to
allow. And even when the selection has been made, and we have agreed to
accept the canon as it is, it is impossible, until it is shown that one
uniform inspiration produced the whole, to acknowledge the equal value
of every part. It is usual to urge the “authenticity” upon us as a kind
of technical quantity which we must take or reject, an indivisible
theological unit admitting of no variation, but that of positive or
negative. But it would surely be extraordinary, if all the twenty-seven
books of the New Testament should have precisely the same amount of
historical attestation in their favour; and it is undeniable that they
have not. The probabilities are much stronger in behalf of some books
than in that of others, though preponderant in all. There is a gradation
of evidence, arranging the writings along at least five separate steps
in the descent of proof; in effecting this division, however, let it be
clearly understood, that I refer solely to the literary question of
personal authorship, not to that of religious worth and authority; and
that, for the moment, I take into account the internal as well as
external considerations bearing upon this single point.

1. The letters of St. Paul (excepting Hebrews) occupy the highest
station of evidence.

2. The remaining letters, excepting 2nd Peter and Hebrews again, I
should place next.

3. The Gospel of St. John is more certainly authentic than the other
three; which, however, would follow in the

4th place with the book of Acts. And the list will be closed by

5. The Apocalypse, 2 Peter, and the Epistle to the Hebrews.

This arrangement might be justified, if it were necessary, in detail.
But my sole purpose in stating it now, is to convey a distinct idea of
the kind of graduated scale of proof which, from the very nature of the
enquiry, must be applied to the authenticity of the Christian records;
and to give force to the protest, which truth compels me to enter
against the indiscriminate coercion of assent attempted by theologians
in this argument. With this qualification then, we approve the general
decision of the Protestant Churches, and adopt as authentic the canon as
it stands. “Unitarians,” we repeat, “have neither canon nor version of
their own.”

“What! not the Improved Version?” I shall be asked:—that favourite
achievement of your most renowned Unitarian champions;—published by a
Unitarian society;—circulated among your laity in three simultaneous
editions; when assailed successively by Dr. Nares and Archbishop Magee,
repeatedly defended by your ablest critics in your own Journals;
containing moreover all the standard heresies of your sect; using all
your received methods of getting rid of troublesome texts; and
especially relieving you of the doctrine of the miraculous conception by
the liberal application of Jehoiakim’s pen-knife to the initial chapters
of Matthew and Luke?[58] “The shades of Belsham, Lindsey, Jebb,
Priestley, Wakefield, &c., might well be astonished to hear their
learned labours so contemptuously spoken of by” the “modern disciples of
their school.”[59]

Now it so happens, that, excepting two, all these good men were dead
before the commencement of that work. Of the two survivors, Mr. Lindsey
was disabled, by the infirmities of age, from any participation in it,
and scarcely lived to see it published.[60] The remaining divine, Mr.
Belsham, was the real editor of this translation; and alone, among
Unitarians, must have the whole honour or dishonour of the work. The
funds for the publication were doubtless furnished by a society, whose
members hoped thus to present the theologian with a valuable
contribution to Biblical literature; but had neither power nor wish to
bind themselves or others to an approval of its criticisms, or a
maintenance of its interpretations. That “all the ministers belonging to
this Society” were enrolled in the Committee for preparing the Work, is
itself a proof of the small proportion which the Association bore to the
whole body of Unitarians; and is well known to have been an inoperative
form, which had no practical effect in dividing the chief Editor’s
responsibility. The Version adopts, as a basis, the “Attempt towards
revising our English Translation of the Greek Scriptures,” by Archbishop
Newcome, Primate of Ireland; from which, including the smallest verbal
variations, there are not, on an average, more than two deviations in a
page; and it is a principle with the Editors, that these departures
shall be noticed in the margin; so that any one, having the Improved
Version in his hand, has the Archbishop’s Revision also before him. How
far this translation has authority with Unitarians, may perhaps be
judged of from one fact. The clergymen who are holding up this work to
the pious horror of their hearers are repeating charges against it, long
ago preferred by Archbishop Magee; who, in his time, reproduced them
from Dr. Nares, the Regius Professor of modern history in the University
of Oxford; who, again, borrowed no small part of his materials from a
Review of the Version, in the Monthly Repository for 1809, by Dr.
Carpenter, a distinguished Unitarian Divine. I do not mean that there
was nothing but reproduction of the original Reviewer’s materials
throughout all these steps; if it were so, I should be ashamed to call
that venerable man my friend: fresh objections were added at every
stage; and, by Archbishop Magee, a mass of abuse the most coarse, and
misrepresentation the most black; repeated still by unsuspecting and
unlearned admirers, who find it easier to acquire from him his aptitudes
for calumny than his acuteness in criticism. But the principal
objections to the Improved Version were certainly anticipated by Dr.
Carpenter, who furnished a list of unacknowledged deviations from
Newcome’s revision, and from Griesbach’s and the Received Texts;—who
censured the whole system of departure from that text, which seemed to
be adopted as a standard; the license allowed to conjectural emendation;
the preference of Newcome’s to the authorized version as a basis; the
introduction of any doctrinal notes; and, what is especially to our
present purpose, who vindicated, from the suspicion of spuriousness, the
initial chapters of St. Luke’s Gospel, and consented to part with those
of St. Matthew’s, only because at variance with the authority of the
third Evangelist. From the armoury, therefore, of our own church, are
stolen the very weapons, wherewith now, amid taunts of sacerdotal
derision, we are to be driven as intruders from the fair fields of
learning. For myself, when the learned labours of Dissenters are
ridiculed, and the “defective scholarship” of heretics affirmed, by the
privileged clergy of the established church, I always think of the
Universities,—those venerable seats of instruction, from which
Nonconformists must be excluded. The precious food of knowledge is first
locked up; the key is hung beyond our reach; and then the starvelings
must be laughed at, when they sink and fall. But so is it always with
unjust power; the habit of injury begets the propensity to scorn.[61]

But we are called upon to say, whether we really mean to repudiate the
Improved Version. If by “repudiate” be meant, confess the truth of all
the accusations brought against it, or reject it from our libraries as
unworthy of consultation, we do not repudiate it. But we do refuse to be
held responsible, directly or indirectly, for any portion of its
criticisms; with which we have no more concern, than have our Reverend
assailants with the Translation of Luther or the Institutes of Calvin.
If we are pressed with the personal inquiry, “but, what portion of its
peculiarities, especially in relation to the narrative of the miraculous
conception, do you as a matter of fact, approve?” I can answer for no
one but myself, for we have no theological standards, nor any
restriction on the exercise of private judgment, on such subjects. But,
individually, I have no objection to state, that I consider Mr. Belsham
as having brought over the threshold of his conversion so much of his
original orthodoxy, that, like all who insist upon finding a uniform
doctrinal system prevading the various records of Christianity, he is
justly open to the charge of having accommodated both his criticism and
his interpretations to his belief; that his objections to the
authenticity of both accounts of the miraculous conception, appear to me
altogether inconclusive; that I therefore leave these histories as
integral parts of the gospels they introduce.[62] Whether I receive all
their statements as unerringly true, is a question altogether different;
nor can the Lecturer who calls on us to satisfy him on this point, link
together in one query our reception of these chapters as _authentic_ and
as _true_, without falling into Mr. Belsham’s own error of mixing these
two things so obviously distinct. It no more follows, because these
chapters are Matthew’s, that they must be reconcilable with Luke, and
so, free from objection to their truth; than, because they are
inconsistent with Luke, therefore they cannot be Matthew’s. This part of
the enquiry belongs to the second portion of our discussion respecting
the New Testament; whether, granting that we have the veritable words of
the reputed authors, we have, in consequence, the _ipsissima verba_ of
God. To this topic let us now proceed.

(2.) The advocate of plenary inspiration, having obtained our assent to
the authenticity of the Christian Scriptures, proceeds to show their
truth. He reminds us that the depositions are no longer anonymous; and
that, the testimony having been duly signed, we may examine the
character of the witnesses. We call them therefore before us. They are
plain, plebeian, hard-handed men of toil, who have laboured in the
fields and olive-grounds of Judæa, or held an oar on the Galilean Lake;
who nevertheless have been not without the cottage and the home, the
parent, wife and child; belonging, moreover, to a country having
something to remember, and more to expect. Addressed by a solitary and
houseless wanderer from Nazareth, won by some undefinable attraction
that makes them think him a man of God, they follow him awhile, hoping
for promotion, if he should prove, as they suspect, to be some great
one. Daily this hope declines, but hourly the love increases. They hang
upon his words; their passions sink abashed before his look; they
blindly follow his steps, knowing nothing but that they will be the
steps of mercy; they rebuke the blind beggar who cries; but he calls him
groping to him, and sends him dazzled away; they go to help the cripple,
and ere they reach him, at a word he leaps up in strength; they fly at
the shriek of the maniac from the tombs, when lo! he lapses into
silence, and sits at the feet of the Nazarene in the tears of a right
and grateful mind. How can they leave him? yet why precisely do they
stay? If they depart, it is but to return with joy; and so they linger
still, for they learn to trust him better than themselves. They go with
him sorrowing; with occasional flashes of brilliant ambition, but with
longer darkness between; with lowering hopes, but deepening love; to the
farewell meal; to the moonlit garden, its anguished solitude, its
tranquil surrender to the multitude, making the seeming captive the real
conqueror; a few of them to the trial; one, to the cross; the women,
even to the sepulchre; and all, agitated and unbelieving, were recalled
in breathless haste from their despair by the third day’s tidings, the
Lord has risen indeed! Thenceforth, they too are risen from the dead;
the bandages, as of the grave, drop from their souls; the spirit of God,
which is the spirit of truth, comes to loose them and let go. Not higher
did the Lord ascend to the heaven which holds him now, than did they
rise above the level of their former life. They understand it all, and
can proclaim it; the things that were to come,—that dreadful cross, that
third day, so darkly hidden from their eyes,—are shown them now; a
thousand things which he had said unto them, rush, by the help of this
new spirit, to their remembrance. And forth they go, to tell the things
which they have seen and heard. They most of them perished, not without
joy, in the attempt; but they _did_ tell them, with a voice that could
summon nations and ages to the audience; which things are this day
sounded in our ears.

But I suppose we must endeavour to speak coolly of these venerable men,
if we are to save them from being deprived of their manhood, and turned
into the petrified images and empty vessels of a physical or
intellectual inspiration. Why will the extravagance of Churches compel
us to freeze down our religion into logic, to prevent it blazing into an
unsocial fanaticism? If, however, we must weigh the Apostles’ claims
with nice precision, we must say (at this stage of our enquiry we can
say only) that they were honest personal witnesses of visible and
audible facts; deserving therefore of all the reliance to which
veracity, severely tested, is entitled. To everything then which comes
under the description of _personal testimony_, their demand on our
confidence extends; their own impressions we believe to have been as
they record. But their inferences, their arguments, their
interpretations of ancient writings, their speculations on future
events, however just and perfect in themselves, are no part of the
_report which they give in evidence_, and cannot be established by
appeal to their integrity.

Nor, in this limitation of testimony to its proper province, is there
anything in the slightest degree dishonourable to these “chosen
witnesses.” “Is the judgment of the writers of the New Testament,” says
Archdeacon Paley, “in interpreting passages of the Old, or, sometimes
perhaps in receiving established interpretations, so connected either
with their veracity, or with their means of information concerning what
was passing in their own times, as that a critical mistake, even were it
clearly made out, should overthrow their historical credit? Does it
diminish it? Has it any thing to do with it?” “We do not usually
question the credit of a writer, by reason of an opinion he may have
delivered upon subjects unconnected with his evidence; and even upon
subjects connected with his account, or mixed with it in the same
discourse or writing, we naturally separate facts from opinions,
testimony from observation, narrative from argument.”[63] Moreover, our
dependence upon a faithful witness, besides being restricted to matters
of fact, is measured by his _opportunities_ of observation; and it would
be absurd to insist on his being heard with precisely equal belief,
whether he relates, to the best of his knowledge, that which happened
before he was born, or tells an occurrence that passed under his eyes.
If this distinction be not well founded, then has personal contact with
events no advantage; the stranger is on a footing with the observer; and
all the defensive reasonings which theologians have thrown round
Christianity, from the station which the Apostles occupied as
eye-witnesses, are destitute of meaning; supported though they are by
the sanction of the Apostles themselves, whose constant claim to belief,
when they preached, was this only, “and we are witnesses of these
things.” And if this distinction be well founded, there is just ground
for discriminating between the different parts of an historian’s
narrative, and giving the highest place of credit to that which he had
the best means of knowing; nor is it possible to admit the rule which I
heard laid down on Wednesday evening, that if we discover in an
Evangelist a single incorrect statement, the whole book must be
repudiated,—selection being wholly out of the question. Of the birth of
Christ, for example, St. Matthew was not a witness; of his ministry he
was; and has the report of the latter no higher claim upon belief than
the history of the former,—seen as it was only in retrospect, at the
distance of from thirty to sixty years, and through the colours of a
subsequent life so great, so marvellous, so solemn? Hence, with relation
to the initial chapters of the first and third Evangelists, while I
leave them on an equality with the rest of the Gospels, in respect of
authenticity, I place them in an inferior rank of credibility;
especially since I find it impossible to reconcile them with each other.
To justify this opinion, I will point out two inconsistencies between
them, one chronological, the other geographical. I heard it affirmed on
Wednesday evening, that the former of these difficulties was only
apparent, and arose from the mistaken calculation of our Christian era,
the commencement of whose year, 1, does not really strike, as it ought,
the hour of the nativity. Well, then, we will throw this era aside for
the moment, and employ another mode of reckoning, prevalent among the
historians of those times, dating from the building of Rome. St. Luke
tells us that in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, our Lord was about
thirty years of age; this would assign the birth of Christ, at the
earliest, to Jan. 1 of the year of Rome 751. According to St. Matthew,
he was born full one year before the death of King Herod, whose massacre
of the innocents included all under two years; the latest date that can
be fixed for the death of Herod is Feb. or March 751, so that the
nativity falls, according to one Evangelist not later than 750,
according to the other not earlier than 751.[64] The geographical
discrepancy between the two Evangelists has reference to the habitual
residence of the Virgin Mary; St. Matthew supposes Bethlehem to have
been Joseph’s usual dwelling place; and “nothing can be more evident
than that, according to the account of St. Luke, Joseph was a total
stranger at Bethlehem.” I quote the opinion of the Rev. Connop
Thirlwall, a divine whose distinguished philological attainments have
given him a European reputation, without at present raising him to that
station in his own church, which would best suit his merits and her

The variance between two narratives is no sufficient reason for
rejecting both, though it compels the disbelief of one. In the present
instance, the probabilities appear to preponderate in favour of St.
Luke’s. And, returning from the particular case to the general rule, I
conclude this topic by repeating, respecting the “_credibility_” of any
set of historical works, the remark formerly made respecting their
“_authenticity_.” I protest against its being urged upon us as an
indissoluble magnitude, without fractional parts, incapable of increment
or decrement, analysis or composition, which must be taken whole, or
rejected whole; and I claim the right, till it can be shown not to
belong to me, of reducing the recorded events of Scripture into classes,
according to their decree of probability and their force of testimony.
With this qualification, we maintain, with all other Christians, the
ample credibility and the actual truth of the Gospel records, making no
divorce between the natural and the miraculous, but taking both as
inseparably woven together into the texture of the same faithful

But this step in the argument, I am reminded, cannot be taken without
another, which brings us directly to the intellectual infallibility of
the Apostles. Among the primary and undisputed facts which they record
from personal experience, are the miracles which they wrought; and
miracles, being an interposition of God, establish the divine authority
of the performer; so that all the lessons and sentiments propounded by a
person so endowed, must be received as immediate communications from the
Unerring Spirit.

To this argument, if somewhat limited in the extent of its conclusion, I
believe that most Unitarians would yield their assent. Certain it is
that their best writers constantly reason from the miraculous acts, to
the doctrinal inspiration of the first preachers of Christianity; and
Dr. Priestley calls it “egregious trifling”[66] to question the
soundness of the proof. Yet it is surely difficult to reconcile it with
fact and Scripture; and not less so to state it logically in words. In
whatever form it is expressed, it rests upon a postulate which I hold to
be false and irreligious; viz., that the supernatural is Divine, the
natural not Divine; that God did the miracles, and since the creation
has done nothing else; that Heaven gave a mission to those whom it thus
endowed, and has given no mission to those who are otherwise endowed.
All peculiar _consecration_ of miracle is obtained by a precisely
proportioned _desecration_ of nature; it is out of a supposed contrast
between the two, that the whole force of the impression arises. The
imagination which overlooks and forgets all that is sacred in the common
earth and sky, that gives itself over to the dream, that all is dead
mechanism,—downright clock-work, wound up, perhaps at creation, but
running down of itself till doom; the heart that feels nothing divine in
life, and nothing holy in man; that has lost, from Epicurean sloth and
sickness of soul, the healthy faculty of spontaneous wonder, and worship
ever fresh,—are the pupils most ripe for this tutelage. The Deity must
be thrust from the universe, or else benumbed there, in order to
concentrate his energies in the preternatural. The speculative convert
to miracles, is the practical Atheist of nature.

I need not remind any reader of the Gospels, of the accordance of this
view with the general temper of our Lord’s mind. His miracles, surely,
sprung from compassionate, not proselytizing impulses; had a practical,
not a didactic air; were not formally wrought as preliminaries to a
discourse, but spontaneously issued from the quietude of pity; they were
not syllogisms, but mercies. Nay, where conviction was most needed, what
is said of him? “He did not many mighty works there, _because of their
unbelief_;”[67] unless he wished them to continue in unbelief, he must
have regarded miracles as an improper instrument of overcoming it. And
can we forget his language of rebuke, “except ye see signs and wonders,
ye will not believe,”[68] When he appeals to his “_works_,” it is to his
“_many good works_;”[69] to the benevolence of his acts, not their
marvellousness chiefly, to their being “the works of his Father,”[70]
conceived in the spirit of God, and bearing the impress of his

This estimate of the logical force of miracles (the moral power of those
which belong to Christianity is incalculable) appears to be consonant
with experience. I conceive that, _in fact_, unbelievers are very seldom
convinced by the appeal to the supernatural; that the avenues of
admission to Christianity lie usually in quite a different direction;
and that the reason and affections surrender to Christ’s spirit, and
thus comprehend the thing signified, before they can receive and
interpret “_the sign_.” Nay, let me put the case home to your own
experience. Would you, by this instrumentality, become convinced of that
which you before held false? If, before your eyes, a person were to
multiply five loaves into five hundred, and then say, “this is to prove
the doctrines which I teach, that God is malignant, and that there is no
heaven after death,”—should you be converted, and follow him as his
disciple? Certainly not; the statement being incredible, the miracle
would be powerless. And the inference I would draw is this: that the
primitive force of persuasion lies in the moral doctrine as estimated by
our reason and conscience, not in the preternatural act displayed before
our senses; for, the moment you test their forces, by bringing them into
collision, the original convictions of the reason obtain the mastery. It
is no answer to say, that such a case is of impossible occurrence. For
the purpose to which I apply it, viz., to try an experiment with our own
minds, respecting the real argumentative capabilities of miracles, an
imaginary case is not only as good as an actual one, but a great deal
better: for so long as a good truth and a good miracle are linked
together, and move in the same direction, we rest confusedly in the
joint support of physical and moral evidence, and are unable to
determine which is the ascendant power.

The statements and examples of Scripture tend to the same conclusion.
The personal disciples of our Lord returned from a mission on which he
had sent them; exclaiming, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us
through thy name,”[71] Yet, though they were possessed of these
miraculous powers, their views of the very kingdom which they had gone
forth to preach were at this time exceedingly narrow and
erroneous,—leading them into acts and desires ambitious, passionate, and

Miracles, then, are simply awakening facts: demanding and securing
reverential and watchful regard to something, or to everything, in the
persons performing them; but not specifically singling out any portion
of their doctrinal ideas, and affording them infallible proof. Is it not
competent to God thus to draw human attention to a _person_, as well as
a truth;—to a _character_, as well as a doctrine? At all events, it is
an unwarrantable presumption in us to select for the All-wise the
particular motive with which exclusively he ought to create a miracle;
instead of humbly noting the actual results, and judging thence of his
divine purposes.

But, it will now be urged, whatever sentiments may be entertained
respecting the proper inference from miracles in general, there is one
in particular which directly establishes the plenary inspiration of the
apostles and first disciples. It is recorded in the book of Acts, that
on the day of Pentecost, when they were with one accord in one place,
the Holy Ghost descended upon all.[72] The two Evangelists, St. Matthew
and St. John, were present; so were St. Peter and St. James; for all
these were Apostles. And we know that, by the laying on of the hands of
the Apostles, the same power passed into all disciples on whom they
might choose to confer the privilege. We cannot suppose any of the New
Testament authors to have been excluded from this class; and must
therefore believe, that every word of the Christian canon was composed
under the influence of the Unerring Spirit. This argument is proposed in
the following words, by Dr. Tattershall, in his published sermon on the
“Nature and Extent of the Right of Private Judgment.”

“The Scriptures have been already proved” ... “to be a true and
authentic history; one of the principal facts of which history is, the
outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ.
I take, therefore, as an example, the Gospel of St. Matthew, and reason
as follows:—I learn, from the history, that Christ’s disciples were
inspired by the Holy Ghost; among this number was St. Matthew; therefore
St. Matthew was inspired; and, consequently, that which he wrote, under
this influence of inspiration, is to be regarded as the Word of God.
Whereas, on the other hand, if St. Matthew was not inspired, the history
relates that which is not true, and the credibility of the whole sacred
history is at once destroyed: and, with it, both the Church, and also
Christianity itself, must fall to the ground.”[73]

Now to convey, at the outset, a distinct idea of the reason why this
argument does not convince me, let me say, that I believe St. Matthew to
have been inspired; but I do not believe him to have been infallible. I
am sure that he nowhere puts forth any such claim: and if he does not
affirm it himself, I know not who can affirm it for him. Indeed, to the
advocates of this doctrine it must seem strange, that even St. John the
Divine, instead of bearing down all doubt by this overwhelming claim,
should so modestly and carefully conciliate the belief of his readers,
by appealing to his own human opportunities of information: “and _he
that saw it_ bare record, and his record is true:”[74] “this is the
disciple _that testifieth_ of these things, and wrote these things:”[75]
and that St. Luke should content himself with saying, at the
commencement of his Gospel, that its materials were furnished by those
who “from the beginning were eye-witnesses.”[76]

Everything in this argument clearly depends on the meaning which we are
to attach to the phrases “Holy Ghost,”—“Inspiration,”—“Spirit of
God,”—and other forms of expression employed to denote this peculiar
influence. What, according to the Scriptures, were the _appropriate
functions_ of this Divine Agent? and are we to include among them an
exemption of those on whom its power fell from all possibilities of
error, in narration, in reasoning, in expectation, in speculative and
practical doctrine? In short, do the sacred writers represent this Holy
Spirit as conferring intellectual infallibility?

Now the original account of the descent of the Holy Spirit certainly
implies nothing of the kind.[77] The _gift of tongues_, which St. Paul,
though possessed of it in the highest degree,[78] places in the lowest
rank of spiritual gifts,[79] and which he expressly discriminates from
“the word of wisdom,” and “the word of knowledge,”[80] is the only
preternatural effect there ascribed to this new influence. Other
passages descriptive of this agency equally fall short of this claim of
infallibility. We read, for example,[81] that by the direction of the
Apostles, seven persons were to be selected from the general body of
believers, who were to be men “full of the Holy Ghost, _and
wisdom_,”—the two attributes being distinguished. It must be supposed,
too, that the qualifications demanded of these officers had some
proportionate reference to the duties assigned. These duties were simply
the management of the society’s financial accounts, and the distribution
of its eleemosynary funds. When it is said that John the Baptist should
“be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb,”[82] are we
to understand, that from earliest infancy he was infallible?—he who, in
the very midst of his ministry, sent to Jesus for information on this
question, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for
another?”[83]—a question, be it observed, which implies doubt on the
great subject-matter of the Baptist’s whole mission. Perhaps, however,
it will be admitted that there are inferior degrees of this inspiration;
so that passages like this may be found, in which the phrases denoting
it are used in a lower sense. But, it will be said, in its highest
intensity it cannot be so restricted, and is even distinctly affirmed to
involve infallibility. The operations of the spirit of God are
distributed by theologians into two classes,—the extraordinary,
experienced by the apostles, and exempting them from liability to
error,—the ordinary, which are assured to all true disciples, and whose
office implies no further illumination of the understanding, than is
needful for the sanctification of the heart. Now if this statement and
division be really true and scriptural, we shall doubtless find Christ
and his Apostles separating their promises of divine influence into two
corresponding sets; keeping things so different, clear of all confusion;
and fully as exact in this “discerning of spirits,” as their modern
disciples. But so far is this from being the case, that between the
_greater spirit_ of the twelve apostles, and the _less spirit_ of the
general church, no distinction whatever is drawn; nor any between the
_intellectual infallibility_ which was to await the apostles, and the
_spiritual sanctification_ promised to the faithful multitude of all
ages. Nay, it so happens, that the most unlimited expressions relating
to the subject occur in such connections, that they cannot be confined
to the apostles, but obviously apply to all private Christians. For
instance, shall we say that our Lord’s promise of the “Comforter, which
is the Holy Ghost,” explained by the remarkable synonym which he
appended, “_the spirit of truth_” which should “_teach them all
things_,” and “_lead them into all truth_”—implies universal
illumination of the understanding? Close at hand is a clause forbidding
the interpretation, by spreading the promise over all ages of the
church; “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter,
_that he may abide with you for ever, even the spirit of truth_;”[84]
and the expression is accordingly quoted by Dr. Wardlaw, as descriptive
of the common operations of the spirit.[85] Again, St. John in his first
_General Epistle_ (addressed of course to the whole church) says, “Ye
have an unction from the Holy One, and _ye know all things_.”[86] Take
then the strongest and most unqualified expressions on this subject, and
if they prove the infallibility of the apostles, they prove the same of
all private Christians. Or, take those which show sanctification to be
the characteristic office of the Holy Spirit with respect to the general
church, and you show that this also was its agency on the Apostles.

One or two texts are occasionally adduced in defence of this doctrine;
their paucity and inapplicability show how slight is the scripture
foundation on which it rests. By far the most remarkable of these is
found in 2 Tim. iii. 16. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness.” Now observe,

1. That the verb _is_, which constitutes the whole affirmation here, has
nothing corresponding to it in the Greek, and is put in by the English
translators. Of course the sentence requires a verb _somewhere_, but the
place of its insertion depends on the discretion of the translator.
Baxter, Grotius, and other critics, accordingly render the passage thus:
“All scripture, given by inspiration of God, is also profitable,” &c.
The Apostle has already been reminding Timothy of the importance of
those scriptures with which he had been acquainted from his youth, to
his _personal faith_: and he now adds, that they are _also_ useful for
his _public teaching_. He therefore simply says that whatever scriptures
are given by inspiration of God, are thus profitable.

2. Since Paul first speaks generally of those scriptures with which
Timothy had been familiar from his youth, and then proceeds to select
from these a certain class, as given by inspiration of God, his
description extends to no portion of the New Testament, and only to some
writings of the Old. The purpose for which he recommends them, indicates
what books were in his thoughts. As they were to aid Timothy in his
public duty of convincing his countrymen that Jesus was the Messiah, he
refers to those books which had sustained the expectation of a
Messiah,—the Jewish Prophets. “The whole extent of his doctrine, I
conceive to have been expressed by the Apostle Peter thus: ‘prophecy
came not in old time by the will of men; but holy men of God spake,
moved by the Holy Spirit;’[87]—that those also who recorded these
_speeches_, _wrote_ by the Holy Spirit; that, in addition to the
superhuman message, there was a superhuman report of it, is a notion
which no trace can be found in the apostolic writings. The whole amount,
therefore, of the Apostle’s doctrine is this; that the prophets had a
preternatural knowledge of future events; and that their communications
were recorded in the prophetic books. By the admission of these points,
the theory of _inspired composition_ obviously gains nothing.”[88]

No appeal can be more unfortunate for the advocate of plenary
inspiration, than to the writings of the great apostle of the Gentiles.
Not a trace can be found in them of the cold, oracular dignity,—the
bold, authoritative enunciation,—the transcendental exposition, equally
above argument and passion, in which conscious and confessed
infallibility would deliver its decisions. All the natural faculties of
the man are shed forth, with most vehement precipitation, on every page.
He pleads with his disciples, as if kneeling at their feet. He
withstands Peter to the face,—though no less inspired than
himself,—because he was to be blamed for unsound sentiments and
inconsistent conduct. He hurries so eagerly, and sinks so deep into an
illustration, that scarcely can he make a timely retreat. He too quickly
seizes an analogy to apply it with exactitude and precision. And above
all, he is incessantly engaged in _reasoning_: and by that very act, he
selects as his own the common human level of address,—generously submits
his statements to the verdict of our judgment, and leaves that judgment
free to accept or to reject them. Nor is it on mere subordinate points
that he contents himself with this method, which, by challenging search,
abandons infallibility. The great controversies of the infant church,
which involved the whole future character of Christianity, which decided
how far it should conciliate Polytheism, and how much preserve of
Judaism, the apostle of the Gentiles boldly confides to reasoning: and
his writings are composed chiefly of _arguments_, protective of the
Gospel from compromise with Idolatry on the one hand, and slavery to the
Law on the other.

Nor is this denied by any instructed divine of any church. In insisting
“upon the duty of professed Christians to abstain from all compliance
with the idolatrous practices of the heathens around them,” says Dr.
Tattershall, “St. Paul, even though an inspired Apostle, does not
proceed upon the mere dictum of authority, but appeals to the _reason_
of those to whom he writes; and calls upon them to reflect upon the
inconsistency of such conduct, with the nature of their Christian
profession. In fact, he produces _arguments_, and desires them to weigh
the reasons which he assigns, and see whether they do not fully sustain
the conclusion which he draws from them. ‘I speak,’ says he, ‘as to
_wise_ men, JUDGE YE what I say.’”[89]

If then the Apostle wrote his letters under inspiration, have we not
here direct authority to sit in judgment on the productions of
inspiration, or _the contents of the word of God_; not merely to learn
what is said, but to consider its inherent reasonableness and truth? No
one, indeed, can state more forcibly than Dr. Tattershall himself the
principle, of which this conclusion is only a particular case. “When I
reason with an opponent,” says he, “I do _not_ invade his acknowledged
right of private judgment, nor do I require of him to surrender that
judgment to me. I am, in fact, doing the precise _contrary_ of this. I
am, _by the very act of reasoning_, both _acknowledging_ his right of
judgment, and making an _appeal_ to it.”[90]

To acknowledge the right of judgment, is to forego the claim of
infallibility, and to concede the privilege of dissent; and thus frankly
does St. Paul deal with me. Vainly do his modern expounders attempt to
make him the instrument of their own assumptions. To appeal to my
reason, and then, if I cannot see the force of the proof, to hold me up
as a blasphemer and a rebel against the word of God, is an
inconsistency, of which only the degenerate followers of the great
Apostle could be guilty. His writings disown, in every page, the
injurious claims which would confer on them an artificial authority, to
the ruin of their true power and beauty. In order to show the absolute
divine truth of all that may be written by an inspired man, it is not
enough to establish the _presence_ of inspiration, you must prove also
the _absence_ of everything else. And this can never be done with any
writings made up, like the Apostle’s, of a scarce-broken tissue of
argument and illustration. It is clear that he was not forbidden to
reason and expound, to speculate and refute, to seek access, by every
method of persuasion, to the minds he was sent to evangelize; to appeal,
at one time to his interpretation of prophecy, at another to the visible
glories of creation, and again to the analogies of history. Where could
have been his zeal, his freshness, his versatility of address, his
self-abandonment, his various success, if his natural faculties had not
been left to unembarassed action? And the moment you allow free action
to his intelligence and conscience, you inevitably admit the
possibilities of error, which are inseparable from the operations of the
human mind. To grant that Paul reasons, and be startled at the idea that
he may reason incorrectly,—to admit that he speculates, and yet be
shocked at the surmise that he may speculate falsely,—to praise his
skill in illustration, yet shrink in horror when something less apposite
is pointed out, is an obvious inconsistency. The human understanding
cannot perform its functions without taking its share of the chances of
error; nor can a critic of its productions have any perception of their
truth and excellence, without conceding the possibility of fallacies and
faults. We must give up our admiration of the Apostles as men, if we are
to listen to them always as oracles of God.

But I must proceed to my last argument, which is a plain one, founded
upon facts, open to every one who can read his Bible. I state it in the
words of Mr. Thirlwall: “the discrepancies found in the Gospels compel
us to admit that the superintending control of the Spirit was not
exerted to exempt the sacred writings altogether from errors and
inadvertencies;”[91] nay, he speaks of “the more rigid theory of
inspiration” having been so long “abandoned by the learned on account of
the insuperable difficulties opposed to it by the discrepancies found in
the Gospels, that it would now be a waste of time to attack it.”[92]

I heard it affirmed on Wednesday evening, that, in the sacred writings,
no case can possibly occur of self-contradiction or erroneous statement;
that the very idea of inspiration is utterly opposed to all supposition
of the presence of error; that the occurrence of such a blemish would
prove, that the writer was not so under the immediate teaching and
superintendence of Almighty God as to be preserved from error; or, in
other words, that he was not inspired; that the erroneous passage must
indeed be rejected, but, with it, the whole work in which it is found,
as destitute of divine authority. I have brought Mr. Thirlwall to
confront the question of fact; let me quote Dr. Paley in relation to
this statement of principle. “I know not,” he says, “a more rash or
unphilosophical conduct of the understanding, than to reject the
substance of a story, by reason of some diversities in the circumstances
with which it is related. The usual character of _human testimony_ (Dr.
Paley is discussing the discrepancies between the several Gospels), is,
substantial truth under circumstantial variety.” “On the contrary, a
close and minute agreement induces the suspicion of confederacy and
fraud.”[93] If both these statements be true, the phenomena of
inspiration would be identical with those of confederacy and fraud. I
estimate the Scriptures far too highly to hesitate, for a moment, about
pointing out to your notice certain small variations and
inconsistencies, utterly destructive of the doctrine of plenary
inspiration; but absolutely confirmatory, in some instances, of the
veracity of the historians, and, in all, compatible with it. Our faith
scorns the insinuation, that these sacred writings require “any
forbearance from the boasted understanding of man.”

1. The different Evangelists are at variance with each other, with
respect to the calling of the first Apostles. They differ with respect
to the _time_, the _place_, the _order_; e.g.:

First, as to _time_; Matthew[94] represents the imprisonment of John the
Baptist as the occasion of our Lord’s beginning to preach, and as
preceding the call of any Apostles.

John[95] represents Andrew and Simon, Philip and Nathanael, as
called,—the miracle at Cana as wrought, a Passover as attended at
Jerusalem,—a residence of Jesus and his disciples in the rural district
of Judæa, as going on; and then adds, “for John was not yet cast into

Next, as to _place_; according to Matthew and Mark,[96] Andrew and Peter
are called by the Lake of Galilee; according to John, in Judæa.

And as to _order_; Matthew and Mark represent the two pairs of brothers,
as _successively_ called: first, Andrew and Peter; then, after a short
interval, James and John.

Luke,[97] making no mention of Andrew, represents the others as
simultaneously called.

John represents Andrew as called with himself; and Peter, as
subsequently called, through the instrumentality of his brother Andrew.
Of James (though affirmed by the other Evangelists to have been his own
companion in the call), he is silent.

The three first writers not being present, it is nothing wonderful that
they are less accurate than the fourth, who was.

2. The three denials of Peter, as recorded by the first, third, and
fourth Evangelists, will be found inconsistent in their minute
circumstances. The denials are uttered,

                             { 1. to a maid.
   according to Matthew,[98] { 2. to another maid.
                             { 3. to those who stood by.

                             { 1. to a maid.
   according to Luke,[99]    { 2. to a man.
                             { 3. to another man.

                             { 1. to the maid who admitted him.
   according to John,[100]   { 2. to the officers of the palace.
                             { 3. to a man (a relation of Malchus).

3. Matthew[101] and Luke[102] state, that one Simon bore our Lord’s
cross to Calvary; John,[103] that Jesus bore it himself.

4. The inscription annexed by Pilate to the cross is given differently
by every one of the Evangelists.

    Matthew:[104]  “This is Jesus the king of the Jews.”
    Mark:[105]     “The king of the Jews.”
    Luke:[106]     “This is the king of the Jews.”
    John:[107]     “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.”

5. Matthew[108] and Mark[109]; state that our Lord on the cross was
reviled by both the malefactors; but Luke[110] affirms that when one of
them was guilty of this shocking mockery, he was rebuked by the other;
and that the latter received the well-known assurance, “this day shalt
thou be with me in Paradise.”

6. The last discrepancy which I shall mention, has reference to the
final Passover, and its relation to the day of crucifixion. But in order
to understand the case, and indeed to read with intelligence the whole
series of events connected with the crucifixion and resurrection, it is
necessary to bear in mind the following facts:—

(a.) That the Jewish day commenced in the evening, and was reckoned from
sunset to sunset.

(b.) That the Jewish Sabbath was the seventh day of the week, and
extended from six o’clock on Friday evening, to the same time on

(c.) That at the Passover, the paschal lamb was slain at the end of one
Jewish day, and eaten immediately, _i.e._, at the commencement of the
next, or about six or seven in the evening. The three hours before
sunset, during which it was prepared, were called _preparation of the
Passover_, and belonged to the fourteenth of the month; while the hours
after sunset, during which it was eaten, belonged to the fifteenth. The
phrase, _preparation of the Sabbath_, was used in like manner, to denote
the three hours before sunset every Friday.

(d.) The Passover being fixed to the fifteenth of the _month_, and
_that_ a lunar month, necessarily moved over all the days of the week;
and might fall, of course, into coincidence with the weekly Sabbath.

(e.) The feast of unleavened bread was a festival of seven days’
duration, the first day of which coincided with that on which the
Passover was eaten, following of course that on which it was killed.

These things being premised, we are prepared to notice the points on
which the Evangelists agree, and those in which they disagree, in their
accounts of the crucifixion, and its connected events. They all agree in
assigning the same distinguishing incidents of our Lord’s personal
history to the _four great days of the week_ most interesting to
Christians, viz., to the Thursday the last supper; to the Friday, the
crucifixion; to the Saturday, the sleep in the sepulchre; to the Sunday,
the resurrection. But about the position of the Jewish Passover upon
these days, they singularly differ; St. John fixing it on the Friday
evening, and making it therefore coincide with the weekly Sabbath; the
other three fixing it on the Thursday evening, and so following it up by
the Sabbath. The variance is the more interesting from its influence on
our views of the last supper; which, according to the three first
Evangelists _was the Passover_, according to the fourth, was _not the
Passover_. The institution of the Communion, as a Christian
transformation of the Jewish Festival rests entirely on the former of
these narratives; St. John is altogether silent respecting it. Yet it
was he who leaned on Jesus’ bosom, and stood beneath his cross.

Now what is the just inference from such discrepancies? Is it that the
writers were incompetent reporters of the main facts? Not so; for there
are few biographers, however well-informed, whose testimony, produced in
circumstances at all parallel, would not yield, on the application of as
severe a test, inconsistencies more considerable. Is it that they are
not veracious? Not so; for not a trace of self-interest is discernible
in these cases. Is it that they were not inspired? Not so; for the
transition they underwent from peasants to apostles, from dragging the
lake to regenerating the world, is the sublimest case of inspiration
(except one) with which God has refreshed the nations. But it is this;
that they were not intellectually infallible.

I have now endeavoured to give some idea of two different ways of
regarding the Christian records.

I. They possess an _internal and self-evidence_, in their own moral
beauty and consistency, and the unimaginable perfection of the great Son
of God, whom they bring to life before us. With this evidence, which is
open to every pure mind and true heart,—which speaks to the conscience
like a voice of God without, conversing with the spirit of God within,
all those may be content, who think that, _to accept Christ as the image
of Deity, and the authoritative model of Duty_, is to be _a Christian_.

II. Those, however, who think that, in order to be Christians, we must
hold one only doctrinal creed, containing many things hard to
understand, and harder to believe, are aware that nothing short of a
divine infallibility can prevail with us to receive a system so
repugnant to our nature. And as this is incapable of self-proof, they
appeal chiefly to the _external evidence and foreign attestation_ which
belong to the Christian records; beginning with the historical method,
they endeavour to show,

(1.) That we have the original words of the Gospel witnesses

(2.) That, this being the case, we have the very Words of God (_plenary

Now let me detain you by one reflection on these two methods. Suppose
each, in turn, to prove insufficient, as a basis of Christianity, the
other remaining firm; and consider what consequences will result.

If the internal or self-evidence be inadequate, (which our objectors
must suppose, for it cannot, they admit, prove their creeds,) then every
one must seek a foundation for his faith in the other. He must satisfy
himself, _in limine_, of the personal authorship of the books in the
Canon; a purely literary inquiry, and one of extraordinary labour, even
to those who enjoy every advantage for its prosecution. In order to be
saved, doctrines must be embraced, requiring for their proof an
inspiration, which does not exist in the New Testament writings, except
on the supposition of their _apostolic origin_. The ascertainment, then,
of _this_ point, is the necessary prelude to all saving faith; this duty
lies on the outermost threshold of our acceptance with the Giver of
salvation. So that God hangs the eternal welfare of every man on an
investigation so critical and elaborate, that a whole life of research
is not too much to understand it, and the most familiar with its details
are, by no means, the most uniformly confident of its results; an
investigation which assigns a certain date to each book, as the lowest
limit of security; and says, if you dare to fix this letter or that
Gospel upon a time later by half a century, you are lost for ever.

But may not the young and the ignorant trust in the guidance of a
teacher? In his sermon on private judgment, Dr. Tattershall treats of
this question, and lays down the following rule:—“In the case of adults,
such reliance is justifiable _so far_, and _no farther_, than it is
unavoidable. So far as God has not given the ability, or the opportunity
of investigation, so far he will not require it; but in whatever degree
any person has the power and opportunity of examining the will of God
for himself,—in that degree,—whether he exercise his privilege _or
not,—God will hold him responsible_. As to the liability to fall into
error;—beyond all doubt, such liability exists, whether we submit to the
guidance of any teacher, or exercise our own private judgment.”[111]
How, let me ask, can we avoid drawing the following inferences?

(1.) That the greater part of mankind must be held to be in a condition
rendering this reliance on a teacher “_unavoidable_.”

(2.) For this reliance, then, such portion of mankind must be held
_justified in the sight of God_.

(3.) But such dependence makes them liable to err; and must, in fact,
have led countless multitudes into error.

(4.) If these errors are fatal to salvation, then _God_ _inflicts
eternal torments for the inevitable results of a justifiable act_.

(5.) If these errors are not fatal to salvation, then _there is
salvation out of the faith_.

The result, then, of this external system is, that you may be saved on
either of two conditions; that you belong to the orthodox literary sect,
and hold the antiquarian opinions of the priests; or, that you belong to
the ignorant, and can find out the right persons to whom to say, “I will
believe, as you believe.”

Reverse the supposition. Conceive that in the process, becoming ever
more searching, of historical inquiry, the other and external method
should be found to be inadequate to the maintenance of its
superstructure; what would be the fate of Christianity, trusted solely
to its self-evidence? I will imagine even the worst: and suppose that
the first three Gospels are shown to be not personally authentic, not
the independent productions of three apostolic men; but a compilation of
very composite structure, consisting of (we will say) some thirty
fragments, obviously from different hands, and all of anonymous origin.
In such case, the individual testimony of eye-witnesses being gone, the
whole edifice of external proof which supports a dogmatic Christianity,
must fall. But the self-evidence of a moral and spiritual Christianity,
of a Christianity that clings to the person and spirit of Christ, is not
only unharmed, but even incalculably increased. For how often, and how
truly, has it been argued, that the mere inspection of the four Gospels
is enough to prove the reality of Christ; that the invention, and
consistent maintenance of a character so unapproachable, so destitute of
all archetype beneath the skies, so transcending the fictions of the
noblest genius, and so unlike them, are things utterly incredible, were
they supposed even of one writer: and that, for the same divine image to
gleam forth with coincident perfection from four, belongs to the highest
order of impossibilities. What then should we say, if these four were
resolved into thirty? The coalescence of so many fragmentary records,
could no more make a Christ, than the upsetting of an artist’s colours
could paint a Raffaelle. Whatever then becomes of Church Christianity,
that which lives in Christ, and has the power of love in man, is
everlasting as the soul.

We are warned that “the Bible is _not_ a shifting, mutable, uncertain
thing.” We echo the warning, with this addition, that Christianity _is_
a progressive thing; not a doctrine dead, and embalmed in creeds, but a
spirit living and impersonated in Christ. Two things are necessary to a
revelation: its record, which is permanent; its readers, who perpetually
change. From the collision of the lesson and the mind on which it drops,
starts up the living religion that saves the soul within, and acts on
the theatre of the world without. Each eye sees what it can, and what it
needs; each age develops a new and nobler idea from the immortal page.
We are like children, who, in reading a book above their years, pass
innocently and unconsciously over that which is not suited to their
state. In this divine tale of Christ, every class and every period
seizes, in succession, the views and emotions which most meet its wants.
It is with Scripture as with nature. The everlasting heavens spread
above the gaze of Herschel, as they did over that of Abraham; yet the
latter saw but a spangled dome, the former a forest of innumerable
worlds. To the mind of this profound observer, there was as much a _new
creation_, as if those heavens had been, at the time, called up and
spread before his sight. And thus it is with the Word of God. As its
power and beauty develop themselves continually, it is as if Heaven were
writing it now, and leaf after leaf dropped directly from the skies. Nor
is there any heresy like that, which denies this progressive unfolding
of divine wisdom, shuts up the spirit of heaven in the verbal
metaphysics and scholastic creeds of a half-barbarous period,—treats the
inspiration of God as a dry piece of antiquity, and cannot see that it
communes afresh with the soul of every age; and sheds, from the living
Fount of truth, a guidance ever new.




                       _On the Improved Version._

Great allowance must perhaps be made for the clergymen who persist,
after repeated expostulation, in their assumption that the Improved
Version is an authoritative exposition of Unitarian theology. The
convenience of limiting their studies, for the most part, to a single
work, and the inconvenience of dispensing with the previous labours of
Dr. Nares, and Archbishop Magee, whose hostile criticisms furnish the
orthodox divine with invaluable prolegomena to the book, ought to
diminish our surprise at the tenacious adherence to this ground of
attack. The advantage too of giving fresh currency to the popular
notion, that some dreadful production exists, containing unmentionable
impieties, and constituting the “Unitarian Bible,” is undeniable. It is
evident that the utility of fostering this impression is by no means
overlooked: for after strong assertion and contemptuous comments have
given to a very few passages of the Improved Version the appearance, to
an unlearned audience, of falsification of the word of God, I have heard
it said, that these cases are but a _small sample of a system_, which
might be illustrated to an indefinite extent from every page. As there
are not, on an average, more than two variations in a page from
Archbishop Newcome, the charge must, in an incalculable majority of
instances, fall on him.

I am at a loss, however, to perceive even any controversial advantage to
be gained by the rash statement of Mr. Byrth; that every Unitarian
minister is as much bound to uphold the criticism and interpretation of
the Improved Version, as the Established Clergy to maintain the
Thirty-nine Articles. A clergyman, it is known, signs the articles, and
solemnly contracts to preach in conformity with them; a minister among
Unitarians may never see the Improved Version, or hear its name. During
a five years’ course of study at the college where I received my
education for the ministry, I do not remember any mention of it in the
theological classes, and only two in the Greek classes: both of which
were condemnatory; one, of the introduction of the English indefinite
article to indicate, in certain cases, the absence of the definite
article in the original; the other, of the rendering of the preposition
διά, with the genitive, by the word “for.” The fact that most ministers
of our persuasion subscribe to the British and Foreign Unitarian
Association, which has succeeded to the property in the Improved
Version, and continues to circulate it, no more makes them responsible
for its criticisms than a contribution to the Bible Society makes a
clergyman accountable for the forgery of the “heavenly witnesses.” The
one aids in distributing a possibly defective, the other a certainly
interpolated, copy of the Christian records. Let us apply another test
to this imprudent parallel between the established clergy, and the
Unitarian ministers. In the United States of America, no one, I presume,
could take holy orders in the Episcopal church, without pledging his
assent to the Thirty-nine Articles; and should he cease to approve of
them, his ordination vow would require him to resign his preferment. But
in that country are hundreds of Unitarian ministers, who know nothing of
the Improved Version; and would be as much astonished to be told that
they were bound by it, as would Dr. Tattershall to hear that he must
answer for the Oxford Tracts.

But the mere fact, that within a year after the publication of this
work, a Unitarian divine, a subscriber to the Unitarian society, in a
Unitarian periodical, submitted it to a criticism far more searching and
elaborate than that which an acumen sharpened by theological hostility
is now able to produce, is sufficient to set in its true light the
statement which I have quoted. I beg to call the attention of our
Reverend opponents to the following enumeration of the points, to which
the censures of the Reviewer (Dr. Carpenter) are directed.

(1.) The selection of Newcome’s Revision, instead of the authorized
version, as the basis.

(2.) The departure, and without any intelligible rule, from Griesbach’s
text, which, in the introduction, had been mentioned in a way to excite
the expectation of its invariable adoption. Of these departures, a
complete table is given.

(3.) The neglect of proper acknowledgment and defence of these

(4.) The professed employment of brackets for one purpose, (to indicate
words which, according to Griesbach, were probably, though not
certainly, to be expunged,) and the actual use of them for another; as,
for example, in the introduction of St. Matthew’s Gospel, which is thus

(5.) The use of italics (intended to indicate doubtful authority)
without adequate evidence of doubtful authority, and in violation of the
apparent intention to repudiate critical conjecture. And in particular,
the use of this type in the introduction to St. Luke’s gospel; which
“the evidence is far too little to justify;” and in the introduction to
St. Matthew’s gospel. Both these examples are considered by the reviewer
as instances of _conjectural criticism_.

(6.) The unwarrantable license allowed in general to conjectural
emendation of the text; of which particular cases are adduced; as the
transposition of verses, John i. 15, 18; and, in a lower sense of the
word _conjecture_, the omission of διὰ τῆς πίστεως, Rom. iii. 25; and
the καὶ in 2 Tim. iii. 16.

(7.) The departures from the received text without notice. Of these
departures, a complete table is given.

(8.) The departures from Newcome’s Revision, without sufficient notice;
of these, a list was given, and a synoptical table has since been
published in the appendix to Dr. Carpenter’s reply to the “unanswered”
Archbishop Magee.

(9.) The use of the English indefinite article, in certain cases, where
there is no Greek definite article. For example, the Centurion’s
exclamation at the crucifixion, Matt. xxvii. 54; in his remarks on
which, Mr. Byrth will perceive that he has been anticipated by the

(10.) The introduction of doctrinal notes, which the reviewer thinks
ought to have been entirely excluded.[112]

The culpable omission of the epithet, “Unitarian,” from the description
of the “Society for promoting Christian Knowledge,” in the title-page of
the first edition, has since received the censure of the same friendly
but just critic.[113]

If then, all that is original and “orthodox,” in the recent assaults on
the Improved Version, be the sarcasm and extravagance; and all that is
“candid” and “scholar-like” was long ago anticipated by a Unitarian
divine, (to whom Dr. Nares awards the praise of being “the very learned
and dispassionate reviewer,”) with what propriety can we be held
responsible, as Unitarian ministers, for the peculiarities of the work,
and called upon to defend it from strictures, produced at second-hand in
Christ Church, and originally published among ourselves. If Dr.
Carpenter had been minister in Liverpool, instead of Bristol, would he
have been bound to come forward and answer _himself_?

I by no means intend to charge the clergymen engaged in this controversy
with plagiarism. Their great authority, Archbishop Magee, so completely
withheld in his postscript, all notice of his obligations to the
Unitarian Reviewer, that a reader may well be excused for not knowing
that there was such a person. Nor do I at all doubt the competency of
our respected opponents to originate whatever they have advanced,
without the aid of any one’s previous researches. I simply affirm that
they have been anticipated, in a quarter, and to an extent, which
disprove their assertions respecting the acceptance and influence of the
Improved Version among Unitarians.

For the very same reason, however, that we are not bound to praise this
work when faults are fairly attributed to it, neither are we bound to be
silent, when merit is unjustly denied it. With the corrections
introduced in the fourth and fifth Editions, it has the exclusive honour
of accomplishing the following important ends:

(1.) It exhibits the text of the New Testament in the most perfect
state, being conformed to Griesbach’s second Edition.

(2.) It enables the English reader to compare this critical with the
Received text, all their variations being noticed.

(3.) It places before its possessors Archbishop Newcome’s Revision,
which otherwise would have passed into unmerited oblivion. Wherever it
departs from its basis, and advances any new translation, the Primate’s
rendering is given also; so that the whole extent of the innovation is
seen, and free choice afforded to the reader.

When the advocates of the common version shall exert themselves to bring
it into accordance with the true text, they will attack the Improved
Version, from a safer position. But so long as they leave with this
heretical work the sole praise, among British translations, of showing
what the Evangelists and Apostles really wrote, and content themselves
with circulating a version containing words and passages, without mark
or warning, which they know to be spurious, and in more than one case,
to be ancient theological allies of their creed, they are too much open
to the charge of availing themselves of detected forgeries, to be
entitled to read lectures to others, about reverence for the text. Dr.
Tattershall enforces well “the duty of preserving the Canon of Scripture
in its _integrity_.” Will he permit me to remind him of the duty of
preserving it in its _simplicity_: or is there, in the _bare proposal of
curtailment of the volume_, a sinfulness which does not exist in _the
practical and persevering maintenance of known interpolation_?



                  _On the Ebionites and their Gospel._

The argument of Mr. Belsham against the authenticity of Matthew’s
account of the miraculous conception appears to me very unsound: but Dr.
Tattershall’s criticism upon it, I must think to be altogether
unsuccessful; if at least, amid its intricate construction, I have
really apprehended the points to which its force is applied. In
rejecting this portion of Scripture, Mr. Belsham relies on the authority
of the Nazarenes and Ebionites, or early Hebrew Christians: who are
affirmed by Epiphanius and Jerome, to have used copies of Matthew’s
Gospel, without the introductory passages in question.

As the value of this argument depends altogether on the character of the
attesting parties and documents, Dr. Tattershall calls in question the
respectability of them all; and disparages, first, the ancient Nazarenes
and Ebionites themselves; secondly, the testimony, in this matter, of
Epiphanius and Jerome; thirdly, the Hebrew gospel or record, which they
describe. The positions advanced under every one of these heads, appear
to me to be erroneous.

I. Nothing, it is said, can be more incorrect than to admit the claim of
the Nazarenes and Ebionites to be regarded as the _original_, or main
body of Hebrew Christians. They were a _sect_, at first united, then
divided into two; successors of the Judaizing Christians; and after
Adrian’s destruction of Jerusalem (A. D. 132), they _separated_ from the
general community of the Christian Church.

I certainly had conceived that this _quæstio vexata_ of ecclesiastical
history, might be considered as set at rest, since the controversy
respecting it between Bishop Horsley and Dr. Priestley; and still more,
since the production of many additional _loca probantia_ from the
Fathers, by Eichhorn, Olshausen, Bertholdt and others, who have engaged
in the inquiry respecting the origin of the three first gospels. If,
however, the subject is still open to agitation, the principle on which
it must be discussed is evident. If, as Dr. Tattershall states, the
Nazarenes and Ebionites did not embrace _in extent_, the main body, and
_in time_, the original societies, of Jewish believers, it is incumbent
on him to find some clear traces of _other_ or _earlier_ Hebrew
Christians, denominated by some different term, or at all events
_excluded from these_. Until such persons are discovered, in the
primitive history of the church, the Nazarenes and Ebionites must remain
in undisturbed possession of their title as “_The_ early Hebrew
Christians.” Meanwhile, in direct proof of their claim to be so
regarded, I submit the following considerations:

(1.) Their name is applied, in a direct definition, to the _whole_ of
the Jewish Christians. Origen says, “_Those from among the Jews who
received Jesus as the Christ_,” were called Ebionites.[114]

(2.) The characteristic sentiments of this “_sect_,” are ascribed to
_the early Hebrew Christians generally_. These were, the persuasion of
the continued obligation of the Mosaic law, on persons of Jewish birth,
and the belief that Christ was a creature, some considering him as
simply human, others as pre-existent.[115] Origen says, “Those from
among the Jews who have faith in Jesus, have not abandoned their ancient
law; for they live in conformity with it, deriving even their name
(according to the true interpretation of the word,) from the poverty of
the law; for _Ebion_, among the Jews, means _poor_.”[116] Origen again
says, “And when you observe the belief respecting the Saviour, held by
_those from among the Jews who have faith in Jesus_, some supposing that
he was of Mary and Joseph, and others that he was of Mary alone and the
Holy Spirit, but still without the notion of his Deity, &c.”[117]

(3.) The characteristic _Gospel_ of the sect (under its frequent title
“Gospel according to the Hebrews”) was used _by the Hebrew Christians
generally_. Eusebius says: “In this number, some have placed the Gospel
according to the Hebrews, which is a favourite especially with the
Hebrews who receive Christ.”[118] The gospel here given to “the Hebrews
who received Christ,” is given in the following to the “Ebionites,” by
the same author. “They (the Ebionites) made use only of that which is
called ‘the Gospel according to the Hebrews;’ the rest they made small
account of.”[119]

If these passages be thought sufficient to identify the Ebionites and
Nazarenes with the “main body of Hebrew Christians,” perhaps the
following may be held to prove their early existence; as it states that
they presented the Apostle John with a motive for composing his Gospel:
Epiphanius says, “When therefore the blessed John comes and finds men
speculating about the human nature of Christ,—the Ebionites going astray
respecting the genealogy of Christ in the flesh, deduced from Abraham,
and by Luke from Adam; and when he finds the Cerinthians and Merinthians
affirming his natural birth as a mere man; the Nazarenes too, and many
other heresies; coming as he did, fourth, or in the rear of the
Evangelists, he began, if I may say so, to recall the wanderers, and
those who speculated about the human nature of Christ, and to say to
them, when from his station in the rear, he beheld some declining into
rugged paths, and quitting, as it were, the straight and true one,
‘whither are you tending, whither are you going, you who are treading a
path rugged and obstructed, conducting, moreover, to a precipice?
Return, it is not so; the God, Logos, who was begotten of the Father
from the beginning, is not from Mary only.’”[120]

That the Nazarenes and Ebionites were truly “_the_ early Hebrew
Christians,” must be considered as a fact established by such evidence
as the foregoing, till some testimony to the contrary can be produced.
That they were the successors of the Judaizing Christians reproved by
St. Paul is an assertion destitute of support; for the opponents who
troubled the _Apostle of the Gentiles_ were distinguished by their
pertinacious attempts, as Hebrews, to _force the Mosaic Law on Gentile
converts_; whereas, respecting the Nazarenes, Lardner observes, “Divers
learned moderns are now convinced of this, and readily allow, that the
Jewish believers, who were called Nazarenes, _did not_ impose the
ordinances of the law upon others, though they observed them as the
descendants of Israel and Abraham.”[121]

The application by Epiphanius of the words “_sect_” and “_heretics_” to
these believers, does not prove that he was speaking of a _different
class_ from the early Hebrew Christians; but only that this same class
began, in his time, to be spoken of in a different and more disparaging
way. He is the first writer, so far as I can discover, who describes
them in such reproachful language. On this point Dr. Wall observes: “He
styles them heretics, for no other reason that I can see, but that they,
together with their Christian faith, continued the use of circumcision
and of the Jewish rites; which things St. Paul never blamed in a Jewish
Christian, though, in the Gentile Christian, he did: and Epiphanius with
the same propriety, as far as I can perceive, might have blamed St.
James, bishop of Jerusalem, and those thousands of Jewish Christians
with him, concerning whom James said to Paul, ‘Thou seest, brother, how
many thousands of Jews there are which believe, and they are all zealous
for the law.’”[122]

And as to the Nazarenes and Ebionites separating from the general
community of the Christian church, after the second destruction of
Jerusalem by Adrian, and thus _bringing upon themselves_ the opprobrium
of heresy, the fact, stated in this form, cannot be proved. From the
first, the Hebrew Christians had formed a separate body from the Gentile
Christians. But their proportion to the whole body of believers seems to
have been for some time too considerable to admit of their being spoken
of in contemptuous language. When the Gentile portion of the Church
became altogether ascendant, and especially when it furnished all the
_ecclesiastical writers_, (one of whose chief functions it has been, in
every age, _to call names_,) the Jewish brethren, destitute of all
pretensions to philosophy, and free from that ambitious speculative
spirit out of which orthodox theology arose, were naturally treated with
less respect, and regarded as exceptions to that general union which had
consolidated itself independently of them, and at last completely left
them out. It does not appear that any further change was wrought by
Adrian’s destruction of Jerusalem, than necessarily followed from his
resolution to exclude, from the new colony which he founded there, all
who practised Jewish rites. This imperial determination compelled the
withdrawal of the Hebrew Christians to the North of Palestine; and they
were replaced by a new church, whose Gentile origin and customs
qualified its members (under the Emperor’s decree) for settlement on the
ancient site.

II. Dr. Tattershall disparages the testimony of the witnesses cited in
this cause,—Epiphanius and Jerome; and not without good reason, if there
should be sufficient proof, _when the whole case is before us_, of his
two allegations, viz.:

First, That Epiphanius contradicts himself; affirming now the
completeness, and then the mutilation, of the Gospel in question.

Secondly, That Epiphanius contradicts Jerome; in asserting, _what
“Jerome does not admit_,” the identity of the Ebionite Gospel with that
of St. Matthew.

Premising that one and the same work is to be understood as described,
by the several titles, “Nazarene Gospel,” “Ebionite Gospel,” “Gospel
according to the Hebrews,” “Gospel according to the Twelve Apostles,” I
would submit that the first of these allegations is more plausible than
true, and that the second is wholly untenable.

The contradictory statements of Epiphanius are the following:

(a.) “They (_i.e._ the Nazarenes) have the Gospel of Matthew _most
entire_ in the Hebrew language among them; for this, truly, is still
preserved among them, as it was at first, in Hebrew characters. But I
know not whether they have taken away the genealogy from Abraham to

(b.) “In that Gospel which they (_i.e._ the Ebionites) have called the
Gospel according to St. Matthew, which is _not entire and perfect, but
corrupted and curtailed_, and which they call the Hebrew Gospel,”

The verbal contradiction between these two passages, is no doubt
manifest enough; and in a writer of more accuracy than Epiphanius, might
have justified the proposal of Casaubon (approved by Jones) to effect a
violent reconciliation, by the conjectural insertion of the negative
adverb in the former sentence, which would then describe the document as
_not_ wholly perfect. But the looseness of this author’s style appears
to me sufficient to explain the opposition between the statements; which
seem indeed, to look defiance at each other, when brought by force, face
to face; but which at the intervals of separate composition, may be, by
no means, irreconcilable. That in the first, Epiphanius designed the
phrase “most entire,” to be understood with considerable latitude, is
evident from the expression of suspicion which instantly follows, that
the genealogy might probably be absent. And if the work in question
contained a quantity of matter additional to Matthew’s Gospel, whilst it
also _omitted_ some of its integral parts; it seems not unnatural that
the same writer, who with his thoughts running on its redundancies, had
at one time called it a _most full_ copy, should at another, when
dwelling on its deficiencies, style it an incomplete edition of the
first Evangelist. But it is more important to observe, that _on the
points_ for which the _Editors of the Improved Version_ adduce the
testimony of Epiphanius, viz., to identify the Gospel of Matthew with
that of the Nazarenes and Ebionites, and to attest the absence from this
book of the story of the miraculous conception, there is here _no
contradiction whatever_. In _both_ passages he states the work to be
Matthew’s, and in _neither_, according to Dr. Tattershall, does he say
that the first two chapters were wanting. The harmony then, on these,
the only points in dispute, is complete.

(2.) “Jerome,” it is said, “does not admit the work in question to be
the Gospel of St. Matthew;” which puts him at issue with Epiphanius.
Will Dr. Tattershall permit me to lay before him a passage of Jerome,
which has been under his eye recently, for he has quoted a sentence from
Jones which occurs on the adjacent page; it runs thus. “Matthew, also
called Levi, who became from a publican an Apostle, was the first who
composed a gospel of Christ; and for the sake of those who believed in
Christ among the Jews, wrote it in the Hebrew language and letters; but
it is uncertain who it was that translated it into Greek. Moreover the
Hebrew (copy) itself is to this time preserved in the library of
Cæsarea, which Pamphilus, the martyr, with much diligence collected. The
Nazarenes, who live in Beræa, a city of Syria, and make use of this
volume, granted me the favour of writing it out; in which (Gospel) there
is this observable, that wherever the Evangelist either himself cites,
or introduces our Saviour as citing, any passage out of the Old
Testament, he does not follow the translation of the Seventy, but the
Hebrew copies: of which there are these two instances, viz., that ‘Out
of Egypt I have called my son;’[125] and that, ‘He[126] shall be called
a Nazarene.’”[127]

Here Jerome, I presume, _does_ admit the Nazarene Gospel to be that of
Matthew; and the harmony on this point, between him and Epiphanius, is

Besides alleging the above contradiction, Dr. Tattershall notices a
supposed _variance_ (not amounting to inconsistency) between these two
Fathers on another point. From a statement of Jerome, he “thinks it may
be fairly inferred,” that _he knew_ the first two chapters of Matthew’s
Gospel to be wanting in the Nazarene record. But it is denied that
Epiphanius gives any countenance to the notion of their absence. Now I
conceive that if this statement be precisely reversed, we shall have the
true state of the case before us. Epiphanius gives us testimony to the
absence, Jerome to the presence, of these chapters in the Nazarene

First, as to Epiphanius: he makes the following statements bearing on
this point:

(1.) He says that “the beginning of their (the Ebionites’) Gospel was
this: ‘It came to pass in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa, that
John came baptizing with the baptism of repentance in the river
Jordan.’”[128] Is it not evident from this, that the initial event of
this narrative was the advent of the Baptist, and that the previous
account of the birth of Christ was absent? So, at least, it has been
hitherto supposed.

(2.) He says in positive terms, “They have taken away the genealogy from
Matthew, and _accordingly_ begin their Gospel, as I have above said,
with these words; ‘It came to pass,’ &c.”[129] It cannot be imagined
that this will bear any but the common interpretation, that the Gospel
began with the substance of our third chapter. The introduction of the
miraculous conception, after John’s mission, would be an incredible
disturbance of arrangement.[130]

(3.) He says, “That Cerinthus and Carpocrates, using this same Gospel of
theirs, would prove from the beginning of that Gospel according to
Matthew, viz. by its genealogy, that Christ proceeded from the seed of
Joseph and Mary.” But to what purpose would these heretics have put this
construction upon the genealogy, and argued from it the mere humanity of
Christ’s origin, if it was immediately followed by a section, flatly
contradicting what they had been labouring to prove? It is impossible
then to get rid of Epiphanius’s testimony to the absence of these

Secondly, let us turn to Jerome. Dr. Tattershall conceives that because
this author speaks of certain men without the spirit and grace of God,
as having had some concern in the composition of this gospel, we may
conclude that the introductory chapters were wanting from the copy which
he used. The inference is not very obvious; and is at once destroyed by
the fact, that Jerome’s quotations from the Nazarene Gospel, contain
passages of Matthew’s introductory chapters. In a passage, _e.g._, which
I have adduced above, occur two instances; “Out of Egypt I have called
my son;” and, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

_This_ discrepancy between these two fathers would have furnished Dr.
Tattershall with a more powerful argument against the Editor’s note,
than any which he has adduced; and have enabled him to show that Jerome,
being cited for one purpose, establishes precisely the reverse.

III. Dr. Tattershall adduces in evidence against the worth of the
Nazarene Gospel, the absurd chronological mistake in its first sentence,
which assigns the Baptist’s appearance to the days of Herod, king of

On this I have only to observe, that it might have been well to state,
that the blunder is commonly attributed to Epiphanius himself, rather
than to the Gospel which he cites. Whatever that work may have been, it
was produced near the spot where the Herods lived, in times when the
remembrance of them was fresh, for the people over whom they reigned; so
that a mistake of that magnitude, in its first verse, must be regarded
as of improbable occurrence. On the other hand, Epiphanius, it is
admitted, _had never seen this Gospel_, and therefore cited it from
hearsay; he wrote in the latter part of the fourth century, and is
remarkable for inaccuracy of every kind, and especially with regard to
time. There is then no improbability in the supposition that Epiphanius
confounded Herod the king, with Herod the tetrarch, and with the purpose
of explanation, inserted a mistake, by adding the words, “King of
Judæa.” Eichhorn says, “Two different Herods are confounded
together,—the King Herod under whom John was born, and Herod Antipas,
under whom the Baptist publicly appeared;—an evident mark of a later
annotating or correcting hand, unguided by a knowledge of the true
chronology, as contained in Luke, and so substituting one Herod for
another.”[131] For the foregoing reasons, it appears to me that Dr.
Tattershall has not, by making his strictures sound, earned the right to
render them severe.

The evidence bearing upon the introduction of Luke’s Gospel, is much
simpler and less confused; and to Dr. Tattershall’s estimate of it, no
valid objection, I think, can be urged.



            _On the Chronological Inconsistency between the
         introductory chapters of Matthew, and those of Luke._

In his note on this subject, Dr. Tattershall points out, as an example
of carelessness in the Editors of the Improved Version, the following
discrepancy between two of their statements. In their note on Matthew i.
16, they say, “If it be true, as Luke relates, that ‘Jesus was entering
upon his thirtieth year, in the fifteenth year of the reign of
Tiberius;’” and in their note on Luke i. 4, they say, “The Evangelist
(Luke) _expressly affirms_ that Jesus _had completed_ his thirtieth
year,” &c. It would have been only just to add, that in the more recent
editions of the Improved Version, this inconsistency does not exist. The
fourth edition (1817) lies before me; and in it the latter note stands
thus: “The Evangelist expressly affirms that Jesus had entered upon, or,
as Grotius understands it, had completed his thirtieth year,” &c.

To all the other strictures contained in Dr. Tattershall’s note, “the
Unitarian Editors” appear to me to be justly liable.[132] The inaccuracy
of their chronology was long ago perceived, by more friendly critics
than their present assailants; and sounder calculations of the dates of
our Lord’s birth, and ministry, were instituted and published by Dr.
Carpenter, in the admirable dissertation prefixed to his “Apostolical
Harmony of the Gospels.” Not being aware of any method, at all
satisfactory, by which the notes in the “Improved Version,” referring to
this point, can be defended, I do not profess to understand why they
appear again and again without remark or correction, in the successive
editions of that work.

Dr. Tattershall, I perceive, adopts the usual mode of reconciling the
chronology of Matthew and Luke; and supposes that the reign of Tiberius
must be reckoned, not from his succession to the dignity of Emperor, on
the death of Augustus, but from his previous association with Augustus,
in the tribunitial authority. Widely as this explanation has been
adopted, it cannot be denied that it has been invented to suit the case;
that such a mode of reckoning would never have been thought of, had it
not been for this discrepancy between the two Evangelists; and that it
has nothing to support it but the evidence which belongs to all
hypotheses, viz., that if true, it removes the difficulty which it was
designed to explain. Even the industry of Lardner has failed to present
us with any instance in which a Roman historian has reckoned the reign
of Tiberius, from this association with his predecessor; or with any
distinct trace that such a mode of computation was ever employed. And it
is notorious that all the Christian Fathers calculated the fifteenth
year of Tiberius from the death of Augustus. Should Dr. Tattershall be
in possession of any evidence in support of this mode of reckoning, more
satisfactory than that which has hitherto been adduced, he would render
an important service to biblical literature by producing it.



It is so universally understood that we are indebted to Mr. Thirlwall
for the admirable translation of Schleiermacher’s Essay, that I conceive
there can be no impropriety in speaking of the work as his; though his
name does not appear in the title-page;—a circumstance of which I was
not aware, till making this extract for the press. The whole note from
which are taken the words in the Lecture, is as follows:—“The arguments
by which Hug attempted to reconcile the two Evangelists on the residence
of Joseph, are extremely slight and unsatisfactory. He admits that St.
Matthew supposes Bethlehem to have been Joseph’s usual dwelling-place.
But, he asks, was St. Matthew wrong? This, however, is not the question,
but only whether he is consistent with St. Luke. Now, nothing can be
more evident than that, according to the account of the latter, Joseph
was a total stranger at Bethlehem. Bethlehem was indeed, as Hug remarks,
_in one sense_ his own city, but clearly not in the sense that Matthew’s
account supposes. Here too, therefore, Schleiermacher’s position seems
to remain unshaken.”—(See note on p. 44, of Translation of
Schleiermacher’s Critical Essay on St. Luke’s Gospel.)


Footnotes for Lecture II.

Footnote 48:

  Galatians iii. 24.

Footnote 49:

  Acts xxvi. 26.

Footnote 50:

  John xiv. 23.

Footnote 51:

  John vi. 44.

Footnote 52:

  John xviii. 37.

Footnote 53:

  John x. 37.

Footnote 54:

  John x. 27.

Footnote 55:

  John vii. 17.

Footnote 56:

  Lectures on the Criticism and Interpretation of the Bible. Preliminary
  Lecture II. p. 35.

Footnote 57:

  Preliminary Lecture I., pp. 4, 5.

Footnote 58:

  Jer. xxxvi. 23. See Rev. Dr. Tattershall’s Lecture on the Integrity of
  the Canon. Introduction.

Footnote 59:

  Rev. F. Ould’s Letter of February 11, 1839.

Footnote 60:

  The Improved Version was published in August, 1808. Rev. T. Lindsey,
  who had been labouring under the effects of paralysis ever since 1801,
  died November 3rd, the same year.

Footnote 61:

  See Note A.

Footnote 62:

  See Note B.

Footnote 63:

  Evidence of Christianity, part III, chapter 2.

Footnote 64:

  See Note C.

Footnote 65:

  See Note D.

Footnote 66:

  Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion, part II. ch. ii. § 1.

Footnote 67:

  Matt. xiii. 58.

Footnote 68:

  John iv. 18.

Footnote 69:

  John x. 32.

Footnote 70:

  John x. 37.

Footnote 71:

  Luke x. 17.

Footnote 72:

  Acts ii. 1-4.

Footnote 73:

  Pp. 236, 237.

Footnote 74:

  John xix. 35.

Footnote 75:

  xxi. 24.

Footnote 76:

  Luke i. 2.

Footnote 77:

  Acts ii. 1-4.

Footnote 78:

  1 Cor. xiv. 18.

Footnote 79:

  1 Cor. xiv. _passim_: especially 4, 5, 13, 19, 23.

Footnote 80:

  1 Cor. xii. 8, 10.

Footnote 81:

  Acts vi. 1-4.

Footnote 82:

  Luke i. 15.

Footnote 83:

  Matt. xii. 3.

Footnote 84:

  John xiv. 16, 17, 26.

Footnote 85:

  Discourses on the principal Points of the Socinian Controversy, p.
  341. Disc. xi.

Footnote 86:

  1 John ii. 20.

Footnote 87:

  2 Pet. i. 21.

Footnote 88:

  Unwilling to repeat what I have already said, in a former publication,
  I have contented myself with a brief and slight notice of this
  celebrated text. It is discussed in a less cursory manner in the notes
  to the first Lecture in the “Rationale of Religious Inquiry.” I would
  only add, that Schleusner considers the word θεὀπνευστος, as
  belonging, not to the predicate, but to the subject, of the sentence.
  See his Lexicon in Nov. Test. in verb. “In N. T. semel legitur 2 Tim.
  iii. 16. πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος, omnis scriptura divinitus inspirata,
  seu, quæ est originis divinæ.”

Footnote 89:

  Sermon on the Nature and Extent of the Right of Private Judgment p.

Footnote 90:

  P. 249.

Footnote 91:

  Schleiermacher’s Critical Essay on the Gospel of St. Luke.
  Introduction by the Translator, p. xv.

Footnote 92:

  Pp. xv. and xi.

Footnote 93:

  Evidences of Christianity, part III. ch. i.

Footnote 94:

  Matt. iv. 12-22.

Footnote 95:

  John i. 35-51.

Footnote 96:

  Mark i. 16-20.

Footnote 97:

  Luke v. 10, 11.

Footnote 98:

  Matt. xxvi. 69-end.

Footnote 99:

  Luke xxii. 56-62.

Footnote 100:

  John xviii. 15-25.

Footnote 101:

  xxvii. 32.

Footnote 102:

  xxiii. 26.

Footnote 103:

  xix. 17.

Footnote 104:

  xxvii. 37.

Footnote 105:

  xv. 26.

Footnote 106:

  xxiii. 38.

Footnote 107:

  xix. 19.

Footnote 108:

  xxvii. 44.

Footnote 109:

  xv. 32.

Footnote 110:

  xxiii. 39-43.

Footnote 111:

  Pp. 243, 244.

Footnote 112:

  See Monthly Repository of Theology and General Literature, 1809, pp.
  97, _seqq._; 152, _seqq._; 274, _seqq._; 384, _seqq._

Footnote 113:

  Reply to Magee, p. 302.

Footnote 114:

  Καὶ Ἐβιωναῖοι χρηματίζουσιν οἱ ἀπὸ Ἰουδαίων τὸν Ἰησοῦν ὡς Χριστὸν
  παραδεξάμενοι.—_Contr. Cels._, lib. ii. c. 1. Op. tom. i. pp. 385 C.
  386 A. Ed. Delarue. Paris. 1733.

Footnote 115:

  Οὗτοι δε εἰσὶν οἱ διττοὶ Ἐβιωναῖοι, ἤτοι ἐκ παρθένου ὁμολογοῦντες
  ὁμοίως ἡμῖν τὸν Ἰμσοῦν, ἤ οὐχ οὕτω γεγεννῆσθαι, ἀλλ’ ὡς τοὶς
  ἀνθρώποις.—_Contr. Cels._, lib. v. c. 61. Op. tom. i. p. 625 A.

Footnote 116:

  Οἱ ἀπὸ Ἰουδαίων εἰς τὸν Ἰησοῦν πιστεύοντες οὐ καταλελοίπασι τὸν
  πάτριον νόμον· βιοῦσι γὰρ κατ’ αὐτὸν, ἐπώνυμοί τε κατὰ τὴν ἐκδοχὴν
  πτωχείας τοῦ νόμου γεγενημένοι. Ἐβίων τε γὰρ ὁ πτωχὸς παρὰ Ἰουδαίοις
  καλεῖται.—_Contr. Cels._, lib. ii. c. 1. Op. tom. i. p. 385.

Footnote 117:

  Καὶ ἐπὰν ἴδῃς τῶν ἀπὸ Ιουδαίων πιστευόντων εἰς τὸν Ἰησοῦν τὴν περὶ τοῦ
  σωτῆρος πίστιν, ὅτε μὲν ἐκ Μαρίας καὶ τοῦ Ἰωσὴφ οἰομένων αὐτὸν εἶναι,
  ὅτε δὲ ἐκ Μαρίας μὲν μόνης καὶ τοῦ θείου πνεύματος, οὐ μὴν καὶ μετὰ
  τῆς περὶ αὐτοῦ θεολογίας, ὄψει πῶς οὗτος ὁ τυ φλός λέγι &c.—_Comment.
  in Matt._, tom. xvi. c. 12. Op. tom. iii. p. 733 A.

Footnote 118:

  Ἤδη δ’ ἐν τούτοις τινὲς καὶ τὸ καθ’ Ἑβραίους εὐαγγέλιον κατέλεξαν, ᾧ
  μάλιστα Ἑβραίων οἱ τὸν παραδεξάμενοι χαίρουσι.—_Hist. Eccles._, lib.
  iii. c. 25. vol. i. pp. 246, 247. Heinichen Lips. 1827.

Footnote 119:

  Εὐαγγελίῳ δὲ μόνῳ τῷ καθ’ Ἑβραίους λεγομένῳ χρώμενοι, τῶν λοιπῶν
  σμικρὸν ἐποιοῦντο λόγον.—Lib. iii. c. 27. vol. i. p. 252. Both
  passages are in Jones, Pt. II. ch. 25.

Footnote 120:

  Διό καὶ ὁ Ιωάννης ἐλθὼν ὁ μακάριος, καὶ εὑρὼν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους
  ἠσχολημένους περὶ τὴν κάτω Χριστοῦ παρουσίαν, καὶ τῶν μὲν Ἐβιωναίων
  πλανηθέντων διὰ τὴν ἔνσαρκον Χριστοῦ γενεαλογίαν, ἀπὸ Ἀβραὰμ
  καταγομένην, καὶ Λουκᾶ ἀναγομένην ἄχρι τοῦ Ἀδὰμ· εὑρὼν δὲ τοὺς
  Κηρινθιανοὺς καὶ Μηρινθιανοὺς ἐκ παρατριβῆς αὐτὸν λέγοντας εἶναι ψιλὸν
  ἄνθρωπον, καὶ τοὺς Ναζωραίους, καὶ ἄλλας πολλὰς αἱρέσεις, ὡς κατόπιν
  ἐλθὼν, τέταρτος γὰρ οὗτος εὐαγγελίζεται, ἄρχεται ἀνακαλεῖσθαι, ὡς
  εἰπεῖν, τοὺς πλανηθέντας καὶ ἠσχολημένους περὶ τὴν κάτω Χριστοῦ
  παρουσίαν, καὶ λέγειν αὐτοῖς (ὡς κατόπιν βαίνων, καὶ ὁρῶν τινὰς εἰς
  τραχείας ὁδοὺς κεκλικότας καὶ ἀφέντας τὴν εὐθεῖαν καὶ ἀληθινὴν, ὡς
  εἰπεῖν) Ποῖ φέρεσθε, ποῖ βαδίζετε, οἱ τὴν τραχείαν ὁδὸν καὶ σκανδαλώδη
  καὶ εἰς χάσμα φέρουσαν βαδίζοντες; ἀνακάμψατε. Οὐκ ἔστιν οὕτως, οὐκ
  ἔστιν ἀπὸ Μαρίας μόνον ὁ Θεὸς λόγος, ὁ ἐκ πατρὸς ἄνωθεν
  γεγεννημένος.—_Epiphan. adv. Hæreses_, Hær. 49 vel 69. § 23. Op.
  Petav. Colon. 1682, vol. ii. pp. 746, 747.

Footnote 121:

  Jewish Testimonies, I., Works: Kippis’s ed. 4to. vol. iii. p. 484.

Footnote 122:

  Acts xxi. 20. Wall’s Preface to Critical Notes on the N. T. p. 12.

Footnote 123:

  Hæres. 29, § 9, as cited by Jones, Part II., ch. 25, and by Dr.
  Tattershall, p. 89.

Footnote 124:

  Hæres. 30, § 13, as cited by Jones, Part II. ch. 25, and by Dr.
  Tattershall, p. 89.

Footnote 125:

  Matt. ii. 15.

Footnote 126:

  Matt. ii. 23.

Footnote 127:

  Catal. vir. illust. in Matth. Giving Jones’s translation, I do not
  think it necessary to quote the original Latin. See Jones on the
  Canon, Part II. ch. 25.

Footnote 128:

  Hær. 30, § 13, quoted by Jones, Part II. ch. 25.

Footnote 129:


Footnote 130:

  See Eichhorn’s Einleitung in das N. T. I., § 8; Leipzig, 1820.

Footnote 131:

  Einleitung in das N. T., I., § 8, 31; Leipzig, 1820. See also
  Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels, by Andrews Norton, Note
  A. sec. V. i. Boston, U. S., 1837.

Footnote 132:

  There is a misprint in Dr. T.’s note, p. 104. The sentence at the end
  of the third paragraph should close thus: “nine months _after_ that
  event, on one calculation, or three months _before_ it, on the other.”


                              LECTURE III.

                    BUT THE GIFT OF GOD TO ALL MEN.

                      BY REV. JOHN HAMILTON THOM.


                                                         2 _Cor._ iv. 6.

No fact can be more extraordinary than that a Revelation from God should
give rise to endless disputes among men, that “light” should produce the
effects of “darkness,” causing confusion and doubt. A Revelation in
which nothing is revealed! A Revelation that occasions the most bitter
controversies upon every question and interest it embraces! A Revelation
that perplexes mankind with the most uncertain speculations, and splits
the body of believers into sects and divisions too numerous to be told!
A Revelation in which nothing is fixed, in which every point is debated
and disputed from the character of God to the character of sin! A
Revelation which is so little of a Revelation, that after nearly two
thousand years the world is wrangling about what it means: this surely
is a fact that demands an explanation, which should make the Believer
pause and ask whether he may not be guilty, by some dogmatism about what
he calls essentials, of casting this discredit upon Revelation, making
the very word a mockery to the Unbeliever, who inquires in simplicity
“what is _revealed_? I find you disputing about everything and agreeing
about nothing;” and to whom the Believer is certainly bound to render an
account of this strange state of things, before he condemns his
infidelity. Can any two ideas be more opposed, more directly
inconsistent, than Christianity considered as a Revelation, a gift of
LIGHT from God, and Christianity as it exists in the world—the most dark
and perplexed, the most vexed and agitated of all subjects, no two
parties agreeing where the light is, or what the light is, or who has
it? Surely if Christianity is a Revelation, the things it has _revealed_
must constitute the essence of the Revelation, and not the things which
it has left _unrevealed_. Surely the illumination from God must be in
the clear Truths communicated, and not in the doubtful controversies
excited. Surely it is a mockery of words to call that a Revelation upon
which there is no agreement even among those who accept the Revelation.
A Revelation is a certainty, and not an uncertainty: and therefore we
must strike out of the class of revealed truths every doctrine that is
disputed among Christians. Many of these doctrines we may possess other
and natural means of determining; but it is clear that that which is so
far _unrevealed_ as to be constantly debated among believers themselves,
cannot yet be _revealed_ by God. Now the UNITY of God is not one of
these debated points. All Christians regard it as revealed; and
therefore _it_ remains as a part of the Revelation. But the doctrine of
the Trinity, an addition to the Unity, and as some think a mode of the
divine Unity, _is_ a disputed point; it does not manifest itself to all
believers; it does not make a part of the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; Christ’s life would teach no
man that there are three persons in the Godhead—neither would Christ’s
words; the doctrine is not anywhere stated in Scripture; it is deduced
by a process of fallible reasonings from a number of unconnected texts,
doubtful both in their criticism and in their interpretation; it is not
a declaration made by God, but an inference drawn by man, and, as many
think, incorrectly drawn; the doctrine of the Trinity therefore, whether
true or not, cannot be regarded as a _revealed_ Truth; what is still a
subject of controversy cannot be a portion of Revelation. If then,
turning away from our disputes, we could ascertain the universal ideas
which Christianity implants in _all_ minds which receive it; the images
of God, of Duty, and of Hope, which it deposits in _all_ hearts; the
impression of Christ taken off by every spirit of man from the Image and
Son of God;—these would be the essentials of the Revelation, for since
these are the only uniform impressions that Christianity has actually
made upon those who believe it, we must suppose that these were the
chief impressions which God intended it to make. This alone can be “the
light which, coming into the world, lighteth every man.”

But I may be answered here, that Christianity itself is a matter of
debate, and that if doubtful things cannot be revealed, then
Christianity itself is not a Revelation. To this I reply, that
Christianity is a matter of debate chiefly because Christ himself is not
offered to the hearts of men, because controversialists thrust forward
their own doctrinal conceptions as the essentials of Christianity,
presenting _themselves_, and not Jesus to make his own impression on the
heart. If not creeds, but Jesus the Christ was offered spiritually to
the souls of men, unbelief would be soon no more. No earnest and pure
mind would reject from its love and faith the serene and perfect image
of the living Jesus. Men can deny metaphysical doctrines: but they could
not deny the spiritual Christ. The spirit of God in every man would bear
witness to _him_ who was the fulness of that spirit, and would recognize
the heavenly leadership of the Son of God. If the essentials of
Christianity had not been made by Divines and Theologians to consist in
disputed doctrines, if it had been offered to faith on the ground of its
inherent excellence, its ample attractions for our spiritual nature, how
readily, how universally would it have been received by all who felt
that it had echoes within the soul, and that Jesus was indeed the
brightest image of God, and the very ideal of humanity! Who would not be
a Christian, if to be a Christian required faith only in such truths as
these:—that the holy and affectionate Jesus was the human image of the
mind of God, and that the Universal Father is more perfect and more
tender than his holy and gentle child, by as much as Deity transcends
humanity; that the character of the Christ is God’s aim and purpose for
us all, the result at which He desires each of us to arrive through the
discipline and sufferings of earth;—that traces of Immortality were upon
that heavenly mind; that his profound sympathy with the Spirit of God,
the surrender of his own immediate interests for the sake of the
purposes and drift of providence, the identification of himself with the
will of God, the constant manifestation of a style of thought and action
drawn on a wider scale than this present life, and that placed him in
harmony with better worlds,—that these marked him out as a being whose
nature was adjusted to more glorious scenes, whose soul was out of
proportion to his merely earthly and external lot, and whose appropriate
home must be the pure Heaven of God? Would any one refuse admission to
these spiritual views as they are given off to our souls from the pure
life of Jesus, if he was permitted to receive them from Christ himself,
and not obliged on his way to that Heavenly Image of grace, liberty, and
truth, to stoop his free neck to the yoke of Churches and of Creeds? But
men preach themselves, not Christ. They embody their own conceptions of
Christianity in formulas, and pronounce these to be essentials, instead
of suffering Jesus to make his way to the heart, and stamp there his own
impression. Hence the origin of unbelief. I quote the words of an
eminent Unitarian, himself converted from orthodoxy chiefly by the force
of the argument I am about to state: “Settle your disputes (says the
unbeliever), and then I will listen to your arguments in defence of
Christianity. Both of you, Romanists and Protestants, offer me salvation
on condition that I embrace the Christian faith. You offer me a
sovereign remedy, which is to preserve me alive in happiness through all
eternity; but I hear you accusing each other of recommending to the
world, not a remedy but a _poison_; a poison, indeed, which, instead of
securing eternal happiness, must add bitterness to eternal punishment.
You both agree that it is of the _essence_ of Christianity to accept
certain doctrines concerning the manner in which the Divine Nature
exists; the moral and intellectual condition in which man was created;
our present degradation through the misconduct of our first parents: the
nature of sin, and the impossibility of its being pardoned except by
pain inflicted on an innocent person; the existence or non-existence of
living representatives of Christ and his apostles; a church which
enjoys, collectively, some extraordinary privileges in regard to the
visible and invisible world; the presence of Christ among us by means of
transubstantiation, or the denial of such presence; all this, and much
more, some of you declare to be contained in, and others to be opposed
to, the Scriptures; and even here, there is a fierce contention as to
whether those Scriptures embrace the whole of that Christianity which is
necessary for salvation, or whether tradition is to fill up a certain
gap. I am, therefore, at a loss how to account for the invitation you
give me. To me (the unbeliever might continue) it is quite evident that
the ablest opponents of Christianity never discovered a more convincing
argument against REVELATION in general, than that which inevitably
arises from your own statements, and from the controversies of your
churches. God (you both agree), pitying mankind, has disregarded the
natural laws fixed by himself, and for a space of four thousand years,
and more, has multiplied miracles for the purpose of acquainting men
with the means of obtaining salvation, and avoiding eternal death,
_eternal death_ signifying almost universally, among you, _unending
torments_. But when I turn to examine the result of this (as you deem
it) _miraculous and all-wise plan_, I find it absolutely incomplete; for
the whole Christian world has been eighteen centuries in a perpetual
warfare (not without great shedding of blood), because Christians cannot
settle what is that faith which alone can save us. Have you not thus
demonstrated that the revelation of which you boast cannot be from God?
Do you believe, and do you wish me to believe, that when God had decreed
to make a _saving truth_ known to the world, he failed of that object,
or wished to make Revelation a snare?”[133]

Now not believing that Revelation has failed of its object, or that it
is a snare, and believing that under all the so-called Essentials, which
we regard as mere human additions, there is yet a true and universal
impression received from the spirit of Jesus, believing, in fact, that
our Controversies are about accidentals, and that under all our
differences there is, deeper down, the untroubled well of Christ
springing up into everlasting life, I would proceed to expose those
errors in the Trinitarian conception of Revelation which have laid it
open to the charge of _not being a Revelation_, of dividing mankind by
Controversies instead of uniting them by moral Certainty,—and to
contrast this Trinitarian Conception of Revelation with what, for the
following reasons, we hold to be the _true one_; because it represents
God as accomplishing what, from the very nature of a Revelation, he must
have intended to accomplish, namely, the communication of moral and
spiritual knowledge: because it removes the materials for doctrinal
strife and controversial rancour which never could have been God’s
object in sending a Revelation, but which are inseparable from
Trinitarian ideas of Revelation; and because it would realize that union
for which Christ prayed and Apostles intreated, a moral oneness with God
as revealed in Jesus, a unity _of spirit_ in the bond of peace.

Let us suppose, then, God having the design to send a Revelation to
Mankind. There are two methods, either of which He might adopt in the
execution of that intention. He might send them a written Revelation in
the form of a Book: or He might send them a living Revelation in the
form of a Man. He might announce to them His Will through _words_: or He
might send to them _one of like nature with themselves_, who would
actually work the Will of God before their eyes; one who, passing
through their circumstances of life and death, would show them in his
own person the character which God intended this present discipline to
create; and who, appearing again after death, morally unchanged, and
passing into the Heavens, would reveal to them, by these his own
destinies, the unbroken spiritual connection of the present with the
future, and the immortal home which God has with Himself for the spirits
of those holy ones who are no more on Earth. In the first case, then, we
suppose God to send a verbal Message to men, a communication by words
teaching doctrines, spoken first, and afterwards committed to writing:
in the second case we suppose that a pure and heavenly being,
manifesting the will and purposes of God through his own nature, which
is also our nature, is _himself the divine Message_ from our Father; one
who walks this earth amidst our sorrows and our sins,—transfiguring the
one and reclaiming the other—and gathering up into his own soul the
strength that is to be derived from both; who enters our dwellings,
sheds through them the divine light of heavenly love, plants the hope of
immortality in the midst of trembling, because loving and dying, beings,
and binds together the perishing children of Earth in the godlike Trust
of imperishable affections which Death can glorify but cannot kill; who
places himself in our circumstances of severest trial, and shows us the
energy of a filial heart, and the unquenchable brightness of a spirit in
prayerful communion with the God of Providence; who, that he might be a
revelation of a heavenly mind amidst every variety of temptation, passed
on his way to death through rudest insults, and showed how awful a thing
is moral greatness, how calm, how majestic, how inaccessible, how it
shines out through aggressive coarseness, a mental and ineffaceable
serenity, a spirit that has its glory in itself, and cannot be
touched;—who, having showed man how to live and to suffer, next showed
him how to die;—who in the spirit and power of Duty subdued this garment
of throbbing flesh to the will of God, and in the death agonies was
self-forgetful enough to look down from the cross in the tenderest
foresight for those he left behind, and to look up to Heaven, presenting
for his murderers the only excuse that heavenly pity could
suggest,—“Father forgive them! they know not what they do;”—and who
having thus glorified God upon the earth, and finished the work given
him to do, was himself glorified by God; taken to that Heaven which is
the home of goodness;—thus showing the issues to which God conducts the
tried and perfected spirit, that His Faithfulness is bound up with the
destinies of those that trust Him, and that His providence is the
recompense of the just, who live now by Faith.

Now the first thing that will strike you in comparing these two possible
methods of a Revelation is, that the written communication containing
doctrines is cold, formal, indistinct and distant, when contrasted with
the living presence of a pure and heavenly being, who places himself at
our side, enters into our joys and sorrows, shows us in action and in
suffering the will of God reflected on every form of life, and works out
before our eyes the vast idea of perfection. No message, no written
document, no form of words, could leave such distinct impressions or
quicken such sympathy and love, as the warm and breathing spirit who
entered into communication with us, whose influences we felt upon our
trembling souls, whose eye penetrated and whose voice melted us, and who
took us by the hand and showed us how children of God should prove their
filial claim, and through the vicissitudes of a Father’s providence pass
meekly to their Home.

Such a living Revelation could of course be preserved for _posterity_
only through the medium of written records, but then these records would
be chiefly descriptive; and their grand purpose would be faithfully to
convey to the men of other times the true image of that heavenly being;
to re-create him, from age to age, in the heart of life; to introduce
the Son of God with the power of reality into the business and the
bosoms of men; to impress upon the silent page such graphic characters
that they give off to the mind animated scenes, and bring the living
Christ before the gazing eye; and the written Revelation would perfectly
fulfil its mission, when by vivid and faithful narrative, without
comment or reflection of its own, it had placed us in the presence of
Jesus, and left us, like the disciples of old, to collect our
impressions of the Christ as we waited upon his steps, and watched the
spirit working into life, and caught the tones of living emotion; when
we walked with him through the villages of Galilee, and saw him arrest
the mourners, and touch the bier, and restore the only son of the
widowed mother; when we retired with him to the lone mountain, and
witnessed how the spirit ascended to God before it entered into the
conflicts of temptation; when we stood with him in the Temple Court, and
beheld how much more noble than the Temple is the Spirit that sanctifies
the Temple, and how the Priest in his strong hold quailed and trembled
under the thrilling tones and simple majesty of Truth; when we followed
him to his home, not neglecting to observe how his eye, that was never
cold to goodness, fell upon the widow and her mite as he left the
Temple; when we leaned with the loved disciple on his bosom, and watched
his last offices, and listened, with hushed hearts, for his last words;
when we saw him kneel at the disciples’ feet, that the spirit of
equality and brotherhood might enter into their hearts; and break the
bread of remembrance and distribute the parting cup,—that bound up with
such symbols of self-sacrifice, he, the living Christ, might come back
in moments of severe Duty, and pour his own spirit of self-denial
through deathless memories; when we listened to his last prayers and
consolations, and observed that, in that awful pause between life and
death, he was the comforter; when we watched with him in Gethsemane’s
garden, and beheld the tears of nature, the holy one and the just,
beneath the awe of his mission, trembling and melted before God; when we
stood by him in Pilate’s hall, and saw the moral greatness of the
unassailable spirit unobscured by bitterest humiliation; when we drew
nigh to his cross, and witnessed the crown placed upon a glory that in
mortal form could rise no higher—“It is finished.” To place us by its
vivid descriptions in such communication with Jesus himself, is the
great purpose of the historical record of Christianity; and in
proportion as it makes this intercourse real and intimate, does the New
Testament become to us the instrument and vehicle of a Revelation.
Without this reproduction in our hearts of Jesus, the same yesterday,
to-day, and for ever, the Scriptures are but a dead letter, barren
symbols, perverted to mere verbal and logical uses, that awake no life,
and serve no spiritual purpose.

The next observation that could not fail to strike you in contrasting
the two methods of Revelation which I have supposed, a written
communication containing doctrines, and a living character representing
the will of God, is the great uncertainty and liability to _various_
interpretations of the written method of Revelation when compared with
the acted Revelation, the will of God embodied in Christ Jesus. Nothing
is so unfixed as the meaning of words; nothing is so fixed as the
meaning of actions. Nothing is so vague as language; nothing is so
definite as character. You may fail to collect the exact ideas of a
written communication; but you _cannot fail to understand_ a living,
feeling, acting, suffering, and dying man, who, on his own person, works
out the will of God before your eyes; and, instead of communicating with
you through writing, communicates with you through a character that can
have no two meanings, and that requires no doubtful application of
scientific rules of interpretation to make it plain. Place me in the
presence of Christ, and the Revelation is impressing itself on my
answering heart, and exhibiting itself before my living eyes. Place me
before some lengthened statement in words, and I may draw from them a
variety of senses, and perhaps fix upon, as their true sense, one that
their Author did not intend. Who will protect me from error in all my
applications of the difficult science of interpreting words? How, for
instance, shall I be certain that I do not impress my own limited
conceptions upon the most solemn and inspired language? How shall I rise
through words, which are mere symbols, to conceptions, which, not being
in my own soul, mere words do not suggest? If I saw a living being
embodying these sublime conceptions before me, or read a description of
him that brought him vividly before the soul, then the words would be no
longer clothed with my poor meanings, but would bring before me the
living forms of goodness and of greatness into which they expanded when
represented by that heavenly mind. To illustrate my meaning by a single
instance: Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Now how poor would be my
conception of that duty, if I had only these words, if I had not his own
acted interpretations of their fulness, if I could not stand by his
cross, and witness his own exhibition of this heavenly spirit. The
precept would be narrowed to my own littleness if I had not the
illustration of the living Christ. It is possible to put a limitation
upon the revelation of mercy as it is written in the dead words: it is
not possible to put any limitation on “the word made flesh,” the
Revelation of Mercy breathing from the dying Jesus. Such then is the
greater clearness, and freedom from uncertainty, of the meaning of God,
when that meaning is revealed on the person of a living being, than when
it is a statement of Doctrines expressed through a medium so indefinite,
so susceptible of a variety of interpretations, as written language.

That there is a distinct branch of study called the Art of
Interpretation; that its principles are derived from the profoundest
acquaintance with the Mind; that it is in fact a practical Metaphysics,
which even, when most fully understood, requires, for its correct
application to ancient writings, the most varied and extensive
knowledge, and the utmost natural acuteness, disciplined by long
practice,—these things, which every one knows, scholar or no scholar,
are standing and undeniable proofs of the inherent ambiguity of
language, of the variety of meanings, which no skill in the use of words
can possibly prevent, and out of which we have to make a selection of
some one, when we apply ourselves to interpret a document. Now were I to
enter into a full enumeration of the considerations that should
determine an interpreter of the New Testament, and out of all the
possible meanings direct his selection of that one which he adopts, I
should have to present you with a disquisition on perhaps the most
profound and difficult department of literary inquiry. I should have to
speak of Archæology and original languages, themselves even in their
most general character, the study of a life; I should have to speak of
one form of those original languages, peculiar and a study in itself,
the Hellenistic Greek, in which the New Testament is written, and in the
interpretation of which we are left without the aid that is derived from
the usages of language by other authors: I should have to speak of the
particular writer whose words we were examining, of the character of his
mind, of the peculiarities of his style, whether he wrote oratorically
or scientifically, whether we were to tame down his metaphors, or
whether we were to regard them as literally descriptive; I should have
to speak of the age and country in which he lived, of the state of
opinion and philosophy in his times, of the colourings which his words
or thoughts were likely to adopt from the then prevailing theories, of
the particular purpose for which he was writing, and of the particular
minds, their circumstances and states of knowledge to which the writing
was addressed; and after all this I could not allow any man, however
erudite, to be a competent Interpreter who was not richly endowed with
that noble but most rare Faculty which can re-create the past and place
us in the heart of a by-gone world, that Historic Imagination which
throws itself into the sympathies of Antiquity and re-produces the
living forms of Society that kindled the very thoughts and modified the
very language now submitted to our minds; and in addition to all this I
should demand, also, as an essential requisite for an Interpreter, a
mind emptied of all prejudice, a calm and sound judgment.

Now it is most evident that a result depending on so many qualifications
will be necessarily uncertain; that in every separate man who comes to
the study of the New Testament, according as these instruments of
interpretation exist in different degrees of perfection will they derive
various meanings from the written document; and that consequently, since
nowhere do these requisites for a perfect interpretation exist in
perfection, there is no one of the contested meanings that can be relied
upon with an absolute confidence. It is also to be noticed, that this
uncertainty attending the meaning of words does not attach to the
_narrative_ or _historical_ portion of a document, but is very much
confined to that portion of it which contains doctrinal ideas,
philosophical theories, or metaphysical statements. The descriptive
portion of an ancient writing (and especially when, as in the case of
Christ, the description is of a moral nature, and is addressed to the
affections and the soul, which are the same in all ages,) will convey a
uniform and universal impression, whilst the didactic portion of the
very same writing will suggest as many meanings as there are varieties
of intellectual texture and complexion in the minds that read it. The
character of Jesus shines out from the Gospels to be seen of all men,
full of grace and truth. No one mistakes that. It does not depend upon
the skilful application of the science of Interpretation. The symbols of
language that reveal the living Jesus are of universal significance, and
finding their way at once to every heart, stamp upon it a faithful image
of the Christ. But doctrinal conceptions cannot be conveyed in this way:
there is no universal and unchanging language for metaphysical ideas—and
consequently it is impossible that any written communication on such
subjects should be free from a variety of interpretations. And
especially must this be so, when, as is the case with the Trinity, the
doctrine is nowhere expressly stated in the document, but is only
inferred by connecting together into a system a number of ideas which it
seems to contain. Let me give you an illustration that was lately
brought before me of the impossibility of a Revelation of doctrines
being made to man, by means of written language, upon such subjects as
the Trinity, the modes in which the essence of the Deity enables him
personally to subsist. I heard it stated on a late occasion by Dr.
Tattershall, that the Trinity existed as one nature in three
personalities; and that to ask how three could be one and one three, was
to ask an unmeaning and irrelevant question, because that the Trinity
was three and one in different senses, three in Person but one in
Essence. I turn now to Dr. Sherlock, and I find these words: “To say,”
says Dr. William Sherlock, “that there are three divine persons, and not
three distinct infinite minds, is both heresy and nonsense.” “The
distinction of persons cannot be more truly and aptly represented than
by the distinction between three men; for Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
are as really distinct persons as Peter, James, and John.” Here then we
have Dr. Tattershall charging Sherlock with polytheism; and we have
Sherlock charging Dr. Tattershall with Heresy and nonsense. That is,
neither of these Trinitarians regards the other as having the true
faith. Is it not evident then, that the doctrine of the Trinity, seeing
how Trinitarians themselves charge one another with heresy, cannot be a
doctrine of _Revelation_, cannot be a part of that universal Gospel
which was preached to the poor, and revealed unto babes?

It was stated in Christ Church, by the Rev. Mr. Byrth, that the
controversy between us was solely a question of Interpretation. It is
so, because in the case cited, our dispute is about doctrines. The
question of _Unitarianism_ or _Trinitarianism_ must be decided by
Interpretation after Criticism has fixed the Text to be interpreted; but
I deny, altogether, that the question of _Christianity_ or
_No-Christianity_ is to be decided by any such imperfect and doubtful
instrument. Though no one honours Scholarship more, or has a profounder
veneration for its noble functions, and altogether renouncing the
vulgarity of depreciating its high offices, and maintaining, wherever I
have influence, especially for our own Church and in our own day, the
necessity for a learned Ministry, able to refresh their souls at the
original wells and unfrighted by confident dogmatism to give a reason
for the faith that is in them, I yet declare, that Christianity is a
religion for the people; that the Gospel was originally preached to the
poor; that Christ is manifested to the heart and soul of every man whom
he attracts by heavenly sympathy; that when not many wise, not many
learned were called, the lowly but honest in heart, recognized the
divine brightness, and sat at the feet of Jesus docile and rejoicing;
and I protest altogether against any learned Aristocracy, any literary
Hierarchy, any priestly Mediators, having more of the true light that
lighteth every man than the humblest of their brethren, who has taken to
his heart the free gift of God, and loves the Lord Jesus with sincerity.

Now, strange to say this principle was broadly admitted. It was broadly
admitted that Christianity is not the property of scholars or critics,
but the gift of God to all men; and yet, with a remarkable
inconsistency, it was added, that “the all men” to whom Christianity is
the gift of God, must find in it the doctrine of the Trinity, else they
are no Christians at all. That is, Christianity is the gift of God to
those who, by the aids of interpretation and criticism, become
Trinitarians, and to all those who, following their leaders, accept this
doctrine; but is not the gift of God to Unitarians, who, though loving
Jesus as their Light on Earth and their Forerunner amid the skies,
cannot so read either the written Gospel or the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, as to collect from them
the doctrine of a Trinity. If Trinitarianism is Christianity
exclusively, then Christianity _is not_ the gift of God to all men; for
many, in all ages of the Church and in the first century, perhaps,
without exception, have accepted Christ, but knew no Trinity. If
Trinitarianism is Christianity exclusively, then Christianity is the
property of critics and scholars, for that doctrine is not a
self-evidencing Truth, it does not shine out from the Gospels so that no
honest mind and pure heart can fail to receive it, and, if capable of
being proved at all, it can only be proved by a most technical and
subtle logic, by far-fetched inferences from disconnected texts, every
one of which is open to a hostile criticism, and by a most scholastic
and indirect system of interpretation, which is a task, and that a most
painful one, for plain men to comprehend. My audience will be enabled to
judge of this matter for themselves when I tell them that one of the
strongest reliances of modern Trinitarians, until proved to be
completely fallacious, was the power of the Greek article; and that one
of the texts long used in this controversy, and still used,[134] owes
its whole importance to an accident so minute as this, whether the
letter O was written with a central dot, or without the dot; so that the
chance touch of a transcriber might put in or put out one of the
principal proofs of the doctrine of the Trinity. Now I further declare,
that all the strongest evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity is
exactly of the same critical nature—that the only text of the slightest
difficulty, cited in Christ Church on Wednesday evening, owes its whole
force to a question of punctuation; and that the best critics and
scholars, and they Trinitarians, for true scholars never degrade their
high calling, nor enter the solemn sanctuary open to them alone, to
falsify the oracle, give many authorities against the Trinitarian, and
in favour of the Unitarian, Interpretation.[135] Now will any man tell
me that the doctrine of the Trinity, which, if true, is the most awful
Truth that ever bowed down the heart, that the God of Heaven walked this
earth, a partaker of our sufferings and our sorrows, and lived our life,
and died our death, would be left to be proved by evidence of this
nature, by a controversy nearly two thousand years after the Revelation,
about the force of the Greek article and the punctuation of a Greek
manuscript? Is this the light that lighteth every man that cometh into
the world? There could have been no difficulty in revealing this
doctrine, in words at least, if it was intended to be revealed. The
Athanasian Creed is at least explicit enough, and leaves us in no doubt
of the purpose of its Author. Now I conclude that if Trinitarianism
alone is Christianity, and if such are the processes of criticism and
interpretation by which alone that doctrine can be proved, then
Trinitarianism _is the property of Critics and Scholars, and those who
implicitly trust them_; and Christianity requiring us either to be
Critics or to prostrate ourselves before Critics, not agreed among
themselves, is not the free “gift of God to all men.” The rightful
privileges of critics and scholars are large enough, and let no man
disown them; but I do disown this literary Hierarchy arrogating to
themselves sole access to the oracles of God, and limiting Christ’s free
approach to the souls of the people to long processes of inferential
reasoning and the winding ways of a syllogism. I entreat them to stand
aside, and let the living Jesus come into communication with the living
heart, and not place themselves, like the multitude who threatened the
blind beside the way, between the ready mercy of the Heavenly Teacher
and the humblest follower who seeks his face, that a ray of the light
that shineth there may fall upon eager and wistful, though dimmed and
earth-stained, eyes. “And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto
Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side begging. And hearing
the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that
Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus thou son of
David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he
should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David,
have mercy on me. And Jesus stood and commanded him to be brought unto
him: and when he was come near he asked him, saying, What wilt thou that
I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.”

I trust that you will perceive now the essential distinction between a
Revelation by words, of doctrines, and a Revelation by a living being;
between the uncertain meaning that is arrived at by the interpretation
of language, and the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining
on the face of Jesus Christ. In the one case we have a statement of
doubtful doctrines in written words; in the other we have a living
Character. In the one case we have the dead letter; in the other we have
the “word made flesh.” In the one case we have the Mind of God stated in
propositions; in the other we have the Image of God set up in our
hearts, and the purposes of God for man, both while on earth and beyond
the grave, realized before us, to be seen of all men. If Christianity is
a scheme of doctrines in a written communication from God, then of
course it is subject to all the necessary ambiguities of language; and
expositors will be busy upon it, to draw out of it all the meanings it
can possibly contain; and every fresh interpretation will be regarded by
some as part of the Revelation from Heaven, and never will men rest lest
there should be some lurking sense in it that they have not reached, and
every interpreter will thrust in the face of the world, _as the
essential and saving meaning_, his own reading of the document. And as
language is a thing that is never fixed, but is always gathering fresh
imports from the developments of Time, this is a process that must go on
for ever, and the document will speak a new Message to the men of every
age, and the Doctrines that constitute Salvation will be always the
subject matter of a controversy. But if Christianity, instead of a form
of written words, is a character sent to us by God, to manifest his will
in the flesh, and to reveal living Truth in a living being; if Jesus
himself is the record we are to study; if it is not an inspired Book but
an inspired Life that is the gift of God; if his works of Power and
Love, his actions and his sufferings, his holy living and dying, are the
full and spiritual Scriptures imprinted on humanity by God’s own hand,
then the whole work of a Christian is to understand and love that
Character,—then is the Revelation like a light shining in a dark place,
“a salvation prepared before the face of all people,” “a light to
lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of his people Israel,” a ray
of God’s light shining into the heart of man, touching the mountain tops
of humanity and piercing the deep valleys, that all flesh may see it

It is in remarkable consistency with these views that very little is
said in the popular systems of Christ’s character. The doctrinal ideas
respecting Jesus are all in all: the moral and spiritual ideas are
looked upon as not peculiarly Christian. A vast deal is said about his
Rank, his Merits, his Mediatorial Distinction: very little is said about
his Life, his Example, his Revelations of Duty and of Destiny. The
Trinitarians taunt us with having no use for Christ in our system.
Certainly we believe in a God who does not require their Christ. We do
not speak of Atonement therefore. But we might retort, that if we
neglect their metaphysical Christ, they neglect our moral and spiritual
Christ. They speak little of his character, his life, his example, as a
model for humanity: nor could they in consistency with their system.
Jesus, as God and man, is powerless as an exhibition of what man may be.
He is no revelation of Humanity to Humanity. Humanity with Deity
attached to it, or indwelling, is Humanity no more.

If Christianity is a system of doctrines to be deduced from words, and
if our salvation depends upon the certainty of our deductions, then is
it not clear that God would be requiring an absolute Truth of
Interpretation which he has not given us the means of attaining, and
that the Revelation, even to “Critics and Scholars,” would be an
_uncertain property_? But if Christianity is an inspired Life, the
Duties and the Destinies of Man shown forth on the Son of God, the word
made flesh, the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, a
character perfectly reflecting the purposes of Providence, and preserved
for us, in faithful narratives that still enable us to have the image of
Jesus formed within us, then is it not clear that the Revelation is
perpetuated in our hearts, and that the Christ with us still, the same
yesterday, and to-day, and for ever, is the gift of God to all men? “Lo,
I am with you always, to the end of the world.” Now this is Christ’s own
account of himself as a Revelation. “I am the Light of the world.” “I am
the Resurrection and the Life.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the
life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me, ye
should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him and
have seen him.”[136] “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he
seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth
the Son likewise.”[137] “Whoso hath seen me hath seen the Father also.”
And to crown all this scriptural evidence, this is God’s own account of
his Christ as a Revelation, authenticating him at the opening of his
Mission, and repeated again as His seal upon its close, “This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

I have shown that there is no doctrinal certainty in Christianity
considered as a _written_ Revelation: but neither is there _any moral
certainty_ as to the Will of God and his practical requirements conveyed
by mere words. When God tells me in words to love Him and to love my
neighbour, I do not know what practical forms these feelings are to
assume, neither do I know how all the influences of my present life are
to control me in the exercise of these affections. But I understand what
God means when I see Jesus interpreting for me this will of God by his
own character, and combining in his own life, through all circumstances,
the perfect love of God and Man. Now I maintain, that no system of
Doctrine could be a Revelation to me of the purposes and ends of life.
It is a practical question, and practically must it be solved. He who
will work out for me on this scene of things the great designs of my
being, and show to me, in action and in suffering, in sympathy and in
struggle, in the throbbings of life and in the hushed sublimities of
death, the right attitudes of my nature, the fitting dignities of
enlightened and heaven-bound man,—he who is not the Prophet merely of
divine Truth but the Impersonator of his own views, who stands
successively in each practical position and robes himself in the living
glories of duty,—he alone can pretend to be a Revelation of character,
as God wills it, having stamped upon his views illustrations of Reality.
And he alone can pretend to have unravelled the mystery of our
Discipline, who himself passes through our trials, and transmutes them
into the nurseries of Power, the pregnant schools of Character—who shows
us the outward circumstance, as a torch to the Spirit, lighting up the
energies of Duty’s inviolable will,—who moves amid the evil that is in
the world, and is not overcome by it, but overcomes it with good,—who
encounters sin and sinners, and treats them with the pity of a brother,
yet with the holiness of one whose Father is the spiritual God,—who
stands amid baffled purposes of good, the broken projects of benevolence
in the unquelled trusts of Faith, seeing, though afar off, the Harvest
of this unpromising Spring,—in whom the worst aspects of Humanity only
draw out the unselfishness of Charity; and the clouded countenance of
God, veiled to sight though not to Faith, the perfect peace of a filial
Spirit. He who passes for us through all this variety of mortal
circumstance, and exhibits each, even the most dark and unpromising, as
full of the materials of our Education, contributing to the formation of
that perfect mind which is the end and heaven of our being, is indeed a
perfect Revelation, “unimproved and unimprovable,” though improving _us_
to the end of Time, an embodied Scripture, the word made flesh and
dwelling amongst us.

Christianity will be a matter of controversy so long as men look to it
for what they are _to think_, and not for what they are _to trust in and
be_. Creeds will divide the world, so long as Christianity is regarded
as a Revelation of Doctrines, and not as a Revelation of Character, of
Practical Interests, of Destinies and of Duties. In the one case it will
be the “property of Critics and Scholars,” held by an uncertain tenure;
in the other case, it will be “the gift of God to all men.” Strange that
all Protestants do not feel the force of this argument! And as for Roman
Catholics, if we had any controversy with them, the argument has only to
take another step to hold them too in its grasp.

And now I shall be obliged to speak of Critics and Scholars in a way
that Critics and Scholars should never expose themselves to be spoken
of. I have a most painful duty before me, very different from the one I
had been led to expect,—which I had hoped would have been to answer
calm, learned, judicious reasonings, instead of simply to resist
pretension, a task, which if much easier, is yet one that neither
elevates nor instructs. Nothing could justify me in using in this place
the language of grave remonstrance, but the consciousness that thereby
instead of indulging I am wounding my own feelings, and the conviction
that, in this case, Duty to Truth and to the Public requires it from me.
Every one must have felt that the declaration before the world, of “the
Unitarian Interpretation of the New Testament, based upon defective
Scholarship, or on dishonest or uncandid criticism,” ought to have been
amply supported, or never made. To fail in the proof was to pass not
only intellectual but the severest _moral_ condemnation on such a
statement. I know of no abuse of Power and Place more immoral, than when
a Scholar uses his Scholarship to libel others before the unlearned,
than when a Preacher uses his sacred and elevated standing to make
assertions that are taken upon his word, but which are not correct, and
of which nothing but the _certainty_ that they were correct could
justify the utterance. If I cannot take example from what I witnessed in
Christ Church on Wednesday evening, let me at least take warning. I will
not pray to be preserved meek and truthful, and then regard my prayer as
an indemnity for unlicensed speech. I will not commit here the
disrespectful impropriety of quoting Greek. Neither will I pay this
audience the false compliment of pretending to make such subjects
intelligible and interesting to them, but I will make some statements
that shall go forth to the world, and there find fitting judgment. There
are some points, however, to which I shall have to advert, of which
every one may judge.

1. It was stated by the Preacher that he could not himself believe the
mysterious statements of the New Testament unless he first believed in
their inspiration, and that this alone could command his faith. Now
there was great candour in this, but no Scholarship. You cannot prove
the Inspiration of the Bible except by first proving the truth of the
Bible, for there are no proofs of Inspiration except what the Bible
itself contains. To believe in the truth of the Bible, because it is
inspired, and then to prove it inspired because it is true, is an error
in reasoning inexcusable in the divines of the Church of England, for an
eminent Bishop of their own Church, Bishop Marsh, has abundantly exposed

2. It was stated that every Unitarian Minister in England was as much
bound by the Improved Version, as every Clergyman of the Establishment
was by the Articles of the Church. The Preacher has written his name
beneath those Articles; as long as he remains in the Church he has, to
use Milton’s expression, to those Articles subscribed “Slave;” he has
entered into a vow to preach nothing contrary to them; he belongs to a
body of men organized to prevent all dissent from those Articles, and
pledged to oppose and avenge every attempt to break up the dogmatical
principle of their Church Union, and yet he stated solemnly before an
assembled multitude that no Clergyman of the Church was more bound by
the Articles of the Church than was every Unitarian Minister by a Book
which one man edited on his sole literary responsibility, and which
other men contributed to publish, simply because they expected from it
some valuable scriptural aid. Now when a man is capable of making such a
statement, when his judgment will allow him to do so, his credibility as
a witness to facts I do not dispute, but _his opinion_ on any question,
merely as coming from him, I cannot feel deserving of my confidence. I
might quote passages of contemporary Unitarian criticism reflecting on
the Improved Version; I might quote Dr. Carpenter in his answer to
Archbishop Magee, ascribing the whole responsibility to Mr. Belsham; I
might quote Mr. Yates in his able answer to Mr. Wardlaw, exposing the
false impression made by Dr. Magee, that the Improved Version was the
Unitarian Version: but I cannot so misuse your time. The Unitarians,
most of whom never saw the work, and whose pride it is that their
Ministers study the Scriptures freely, and lay before them the results,
will smile at the idea of these Ministers being as much bound by the
Improved Version as the Clergy by the Articles of the Church, though in
a graver spirit they must morally condemn an assertion so recklessly
made. It was stated that all Protestant Christians were satisfied with
the received Version up to the time of the Improved Version, and, to
advance no other proof of the ignorance displayed by such a statement,
in the next breath it was declared that the Improved Version was on the
basis of Archbishop Newcome’s Translation, the title of which is this,
“An Attempt towards revising our English Translation of the Greek
Scriptures.” But what means this attempt to fasten us down to the
Improved Version? Is it not clear that these clergymen wish us to fight
the battle upon a disadvantageous ground? Is it not clear that they wish
us to take up some weak position, and defend that, rather than meet us
in the strongest positions that criticism and scholarship enable us to
assume and to maintain? Is not our controversy between Unitarianism and
Trinitarianism, and what can be more unworthy of critics and scholars
than to conduct that controversy on any ground but that of the original
Scriptures? We do not think of fixing _them_ down to any particular
critic of their own church, many of whom we could advance who abandon
almost every position they maintain; we freely give them advantage of
the best criticism and the best scholarship they can anywhere obtain;
and we do confess that we hold it very uncandid towards us, and very
unconfiding in their own strength, and very disloyal towards Truth, to
tell opponents, I wish I could say fellow inquirers, that they are not
to defend their cause by the best arguments known to them, but by a
certain set of arguments published in a certain book more than thirty
years ago, and before some of _us_ now engaged in this controversy were
born. Our controversy is not about the Improved Version, but about the
Greek Testament; and I must certainly regard any attempt to intercept us
in our appeal to the original Scripture, by thrusting any other Version
in our faces, as a sign either of great weakness or of great unfairness.
Where would the Lecturers at Christ Church have got matter of indictment
against us, if it had not been for this Improved Version?

3. It was stated that minute examination of the Scripture Evidence for
Trinitarianism hardly influenced the result, for so thoroughly were the
Scriptures imbued with its doctrines, that if but a fragment of them
remained, the mysterious truths that pervade the whole would be found in
that fragment. Now I doubt not that men can say these things sincerely,
and yet methinks they ought to ask themselves before they mislead a
multitude, is there Reality in these statements? Now I can not only
mention fragments, but whole books, in which Trinitarians themselves
will confess that there is not a trace of these doctrines; the whole
Gospel of St. Mark; the whole Gospel of St. Luke, for the portions
respecting the miraculous generation cannot be proof of the Deity of the
person so generated; the whole of the book of Acts; and very many of the
Epistles. We have the Gospel which the Apostle Peter delivered to the
Gentiles, when he gave them his exposition of Christianity, and we find
from it that Cornelius and the Gentiles might have believed _all_ that
the Apostle taught them, and yet, according to the Trinitarians, be lost
everlastingly from the scantiness of their faith. Here then is the
Gospel which Peter delivered to the Gentiles, containing the whole
account he gave them of the doctrine of Christ: “Then Peter opened his
mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of
persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh
righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the
children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of
all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all
Judæa, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power:
who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the
devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he
did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem: whom they slew and
hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him
openly: not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God,
even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is
he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him
give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth
in him shall receive remission of sins.”[138] Now you will know what
weight, what measure of calm and considerate truth attach to the
assertions made at Christ Church, when you compare this account of
Christianity by the Apostle Peter, with the bold statement that if only
a fragment of the New Testament remained, it would contain and show
forth the mysterious doctrines of Trinitarianism.

4. It was stated that a slight degree of evidence might affect the
introductory chapters of Matthew and Luke, if the statements they
contain were not supported by the rest of the Gospels, but that so full
were the Gospels of the peculiarities of these chapters, to remove them
would be like removing the Portico from a Temple. The only evidence
brought to support this large declaration was the last verse of the
Gospel of St. Matthew, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of
the world.” Now I am not concerned in the correctness or the
incorrectness of the Improved Version’s translation of this passage, Lo,
I am with you alway, to the end of the age, or dispensation, that is,
till the new dispensation was fully established: for in the first place
I have no difficulty in believing that the spirit and power of Jesus was
with his followers when in the strength of love and trust they lived and
died for him and for his truth, and that thus spiritually he still is
with all who give him a place in their hearts, even unto the end of the
world; and, in the second place, translate this passage in any way you
will, and it contains no assertion of the Deity of Jesus, and no
confirmation of the miraculous conception. But when I hear it
confidently asserted in the presence of a crowd ready to take the
Preacher’s word for anything he chooses to assert about Greek, that
_any_ scholarship is utterly contemptible that interprets the “end of
the world” to mean “the end of the era or age,” or that puts any other
interpretation on these words than that of the received version, I
confess I am amazed at the boldness with which men not habitually under
correction will make rash statements, even at times when they must know
that watchful eyes are upon them. I turn to Schleusner’s Lexicon of the
New Testament, I look for the word in question, and I find from that
authority that the word signifies primarily, an undefined period of
considerable extent, and, secondarily, the state of things existing
within that period; I find him quoting the very passage in question
which we are told _every scholar_ would translate “to the end of the
_world_,” and explaining it to mean “to the end of the lives” of the
Apostles; I find that in other cases where this word is used, a limit is
put upon its meaning, restricting it to the signification of “age or
dispensation,” and rendering it impossible it should mean the “end of
the world,” in our sense, by such a clause as this, “Verily I say unto
you, _this generation_ shall not pass until all these things be
fulfilled;”[139] I find in our common version the plural[140] of this
word translated exactly as the singular, where if “dispensations” was
substituted for “world,”[141] all difficulty would disappear; I find the
interpretation of the Improved Version given by such scholars as Hammond
and Le Clerc, and adopted consistently and throughout by Bishop Pearce,
who argues for it against the common rendering, and whether it is true
or not, which is really a matter of no importance, I do calmly but
solemnly protest against any man so abusing his actual place and his
reputation for learning, as to proclaim to a multitude that no scholar
would countenance such a translation, and that no interpreter would
adopt it, except for the sake of an _à priori_ meaning. No man who
understood the dignity and the privileges of scholars would in this way
forfeit them.[142]

5. It was stated that _no scholar_ would translate the first verse of
the Gospel of St. John thus: “In the beginning was the word, and the
word was with God, and the word was a God.”[143] Now for myself I do not
agree with this translation. I think that the Logos, or Word, is a very
usual personification of the Power and Wisdom of God. (See Prov. viii.)
I think that this verse has no reference to Jesus whatsoever; that in
the first place God alone is spoken of; his Power and Wisdom are
described as belonging to and dwelling with him; that He is described as
purposing to communicate or reveal these to men, for of course it is not
God himself, but only a portion of his Knowledge and Will that can be
revealed to us; and then for the first time in the fourteenth verse is
Jesus introduced, as the person through whose character these attributes
are to be communicated, “the Word was made _flesh_ and dwelt amongst
us.” I dissent therefore from the translation which Mr. Byrth condemned;
but when I am told that NO SCHOLAR would tolerate such a translation, I
turn to my books, and I find Origen and Eusebius not only tolerating but
actually adopting and insisting upon this very translation. I recollect
that Greek was _the vernacular tongue_ of these eminent men; and when I
am told by an Englishman, in this nineteenth century, that no Greek
Scholar would do what Origen and Eusebius _have done_, I think it is not
disrespectful to decline his authority in all matters that require
calmness and accuracy.

6. It was stated that _no scholar_ could translate the fifth verse of
the ninth chapter of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans thus: “Whose are
the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came: God who is
over all be blessed for ever.” Perhaps the more correct rendering would
be, “whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ
came (_i.e._ from among whom the Messiah was to be born); he who was
over all, was God blessed for ever:” or with more fidelity, because with
more rapidity, our language not admitting, like the Greek, the ellipsis
of the substantive verb—“He who was over all, being God blessed for
ever.” With regard to the ellipsis of the substantive verb, nothing can
be more common. It occurs again and again in the verses that lie on each
side of the text in question. And in ascriptions of praise it is almost
uniform. And nothing can be more natural than that the Apostle should
state as the closing distinction of the Jews, that over all their
dispensations it was God who presided, the God of their signal
Theocracy. Now when I am told that no scholar would so translate, let me
simply name to you some of the Scholars who _do_ adopt this translation:
Erasmus, Bucer, Le Clerc, Grotius, and Wetstein; the first three most
learned Trinitarians, and the last two, if not of unquestioned
orthodoxy, only of suspected Heresy. Let me now give you some quotations
from other Scholars of an earlier date, from the Christian Fathers, even
when adopting the received translation of this passage. Tertullian,
whose temper rather than his learning has been preserved in controversy,
says, “We never speak of two Gods or two Lords; but following the
Apostle, if the Father and the Son are to be named together, we call the
Father, God, and Jesus Christ, Lord.” “But when speaking of Christ
alone, I may call him God, as does the same Apostle; _of whom is Christ,
who is God over all blessed for ever_. For speaking of a ray of the sun
by itself,” continues Tertullian, “I may call it the sun; but when I
mention at the same time the sun, from which this ray proceeds, I do not
then give that name to the latter.” “Some of the earlier GREEK FATHERS,”
who I suppose it will be admitted knew Greek, “expressly denied that
Christ is ‘the God over all.’” “Supposing,” says Origen, “that some
among the multitude of believers, _likely as they are to have
differences of opinion_, rashly suppose that the Saviour is God over
all; _yet we do not_, for we believe him when he said, ‘The Father who
sent me is greater than I.’” Even after the Nicene Council, Eusebius, in
writing against Marcellus, says: “As Marcellus thinks, He who was born
of the holy virgin, and clothed in flesh, who dwelt among men, and
suffered what had been foretold, and died for our sins, was the very God
over all; for daring to say which, the Church of God numbered Sabellius
among Atheists and Blasphemers.”[144]

I have one other observation to make upon this verse. The translation of
the passage depends very much on a question of punctuation, and, so far,
is a question for Critics and Scholars. Now we have seen already the
high authorities that give the punctuation in favour of the Unitarian
rendering.[145] I say nothing of the conjectural readings of these two
passages, because, though brought by the Preacher as instances of
unlicensed Conjecture, he treated them chiefly as mistranslations, with
the view, I suppose, of introducing the same passages over and over
again, to multiply the instances of Unitarian alterations. The
conjecture is not adopted by the improved version; and yet, for allowing
some little weight to the authority of Dr. Whitby in the latter case,
for it allows none whatever to the conjecture of Crellius in the former,
it is charged with two sins: first, the sin of adopting the conjecture;
and secondly, the sin of mistranslation after _rejecting_ the
conjecture. This is a method of multiplying sins, or rather charges.
Indeed, if I understood the Preacher, he admitted that Crellius and
Slichtingius, in the then state of Biblical knowledge, might very
justifiably have made the conjectures, _for they were Scholars_: but
that now, with all our new lights, such a conjecture is inadmissible;
that is to say, Biblical Literature was not far enough advanced in their
day to enable them to discover in these texts, what yet if they did not
discover there, or somewhere else, they must perish everlastingly. And
yet we were told that Christianity was not the property of critics and
scholars, but the gift of God to all men.[146]

Now when I examine into these things, my duty to scholarship, my
reverence for its high functions, my duty to Truth, my duty to the
public, who ought not, in matters not of opinion but of knowledge, to be
misled by their Teachers, and my duty to the Pulpit, which suffers in
power and credit by every unwarrantable statement that proceeds from it,
all oblige me to declare that the impression which I carried away from
Christ Church, that the supposed ignorance of a vast assembly was
sported with, and their confidence abused, has been more than confirmed.

So much for scholarship and candour together. I have now to speak of
“candour” alone.

1. A sentiment was quoted from Coleridge, expressing his belief, that if
Jesus was not God, _he was a deceiver_: and then the Preacher asked his
audience, “Can the advocates of a system that makes Jesus a deceiver be
Christians?” thus identifying Unitarians with the sentiment of
Coleridge. How long will controversalists condescend to such practices?
From any controversy so conducted no good can come: but great scandal to
Religionists, and deep pain to all who love Religion and Truth better
than their own party.

2. Advantage was taken of some words of my Colleague, the Minister of
this Chapel, to produce the impression that Unitarianism, as a religious
faith, was merely negative. Now the words themselves not only bear no
such meaning, but guard against it; and the whole speech from which they
were extracted is rich in the overflowings of the true, working, onward
spirit of our faith, as you who have the privilege of worshipping here,
well know everything from the same mind must necessarily be. The words
quoted were these: “I conceive that, _controversially_, our system is
correctly described as purely negative;” and the whole object of the
speech was to enforce the peaceful and fruitful view that the power of
our religion proceeds not from what we disbelieve, but from what we
believe. No man who read the speech could be ignorant of this; and it is
remarkable, that the very next words, containing a passage quoted by Mr.
Byrth, are these: “Let us place the utmost reliance upon positive
religious principles; and especially let us act on our own internal
convictions.” My valued friend is abundantly equal to the task of
defending himself, and not often should I do him the disservice of
appearing for him, but as this statement was made in a lecture which it
was my duty to answer, and as I am always confirmed in any view of my
own that I can identify with him, I shall, to show that the present is
no forced advocacy,[147] extract a few sentences from an Article, which
nearly at the time he was speaking, it happened to be my duty to be
writing. “We are not devotional, we are not practical, in our
_combative_ aspects. We are on preliminary, not on Christian ground. We
are not improving, we have not a Religion, until we have ceased
contending and commenced cultivating. Moral progress proceeds from
cultivation of the faith we rest in, producing its fruits in the warmth
of love. We must pursue what is our own, and forget our controversial
attitudes. They never will nourish the inner life of a Congregation, nor
keep its interest alive. They give us no character of our own. They feed
no intense yearnings. They make no devoted disciples. We must _proceed_
upon our own views, not defending them, but loving them and studying
them. We must pursue a more independent course of DEVELOPEMENT. We must
understand our own mission, which is not to battle but to advance; not
to be dogmatists of any kind, but cherishers of Spirit and of Truth. Our
Union must be a moral one, a sympathy of Spirit. We can have no
intellectual or doctrinal union. We must give up therefore the idea of
aggregate life, as a Body devoted to a uniform Belief, and held together
by the forms of an uniform Ecclesiastical Government. The whole body can
flourish only by the members having each life in himself. Our union must
be one of sentiment and first principles; our life one of
individualities.” And again, speaking of Unitarian Ministers: “They
should present a Christianity qualified by its energy to meet both the
strength and the weakness of the spiritual being, to inspire a devoted
love, and to lead souls captive. They should take their stand upon no
combative ground. They should eschew a religion of negations. FAITH
should be their great power; a faith that appeals to the faith of their
hearers, nourishing it where it is, creating it where it is not. With no
other bond of union than this power to satisfy the deep spiritual wants
of those to whom they minister, they above all others should cultivate a
Christianity that has positive attractions for the spirit of man, a
Christianity that is fitted to draw upon itself the warmest and purest
affections; a Christianity that engages to do for us what it did for
Christ, to elevate the diviner tendencies, whilst it supports the
weakness of our frail yet noble nature. From the absence of creeds, and
its want of a mystical or fanatical interest, no sect, so much as
Unitarianism, requires a sympathetic, generous, deep-hearted faith, an
affirmative and nutritive Christianity, to lay hold upon the religious
affections, and feed the religious life of its Churches. There is no
other sect to which coldness in Religion could be so fatal.”[148]

I have now gone through all the evidence adduced on Wednesday evening,
in support of the allegation, “The Unitarian interpretation of the New
Testament based upon defective Scholarship, or on dishonest or uncandid
Criticism.” Such a declaration, again I say, should never have been
made, or should have been adequately sustained. To fail in the proof is
to pass upon the statement not intellectual only, but moral
condemnation. We were told by the preacher that when the time came to
support the allegation, he would not use irritating language, but sound
argument. I grieve to say that pledge was not redeemed. And the moral
condemnation of advancing such a charge, and leaving it unproved, falls
upon him. I understand that the lecture was continued yesterday evening;
when the press puts it into my hands I shall have an opportunity of
seeing what additional comments it may require. But when I was told by
the preacher himself, on Wednesday evening, that on the evidence then
adduced, and which I have now presented to you, he regarded his charge
made out not only in one but in both its clauses, that in short he had
been too forbearing, for that instead of the disjunctive he might have
used the copulative conjunction, and made his accusation to be this,
“The Unitarian Interpretation of the New Testament based upon defective
scholarship, _and_ on dishonest _and_ uncandid Criticism,”—I held myself
discharged from all further duty of attention.

And now, after the “expostulations” to which you have been subjected
elsewhere, your convictions treated as sins, and the exercise of your
conscientious judgment represented as exposing you to the wrath of a
holy God, (strange combination of ideas, wrath and holiness!) I may,
perhaps, not unbecomingly address a few words to you my
fellow-believers. Trinitarians have the power to deny you the _name_ of
Christians; but they have not the power to deny you the Reality. They
cannot prevent you _being_ Christians; and it is a light thing for you
to be judged by man’s judgment, provided only you can disprove the
judgment by preserving your Christianity unprovoked, by retaining your
Christian love towards those who deny you the Christian name. The worst
operation of persecution and fanaticism is its tendency to produce a
reaction. The worst working of an Evil Spirit is that it calls up other
evil spirits to oppose it. The temper we complain of has a tendency to
provoke the same temper in ourselves. And yet an evil spirit cannot be
conquered by an evil spirit. This is one of the divine prerogatives of
the spirit of goodness. You must overcome evil with good. You must be
prepared to expect that men who deem themselves your religious
superiors, will comport themselves accordingly. You must regard it as
only natural that men who hold themselves to be the favourites of God,
and never expect to meet you in heaven, should treat you with little
respect on earth. Nay, you must even have some tenderness for the
feelings of irritation which this very faith cannot fail to generate in
the kindlier nature of those who hold it. Holding you to be lost, and
having human hearts, how can they avoid assailing you with eager,
anxious, and even persecuting aggression? I blame them not for this: I
only wonder there is so little of it: that they leave us to our fate,
with so little effort, to use their own favourite figure, to pluck the
brands from the burning. Nay, my friends, more than this, their
confidence in their own salvation depending on the dogmatical assurance
with which they hold certain doctrinal ideas, they are naturally alarmed
lest this _essential faith_ should in any way be disturbed in their
bosoms, and they come to look upon every freer mind as a tempter and an
enemy. And as their Faith is by their own boast not a _rational_ Faith,
as it has no roots in their intellectual nature, they feel that their
danger is all the greater, and that their caution must be all the more.
They are not happy in their exclusive faith. How can they if they have
Christian hearts? It rests upon an evidence out of themselves, so that
they cannot, at all times, be confident in it. It presents to them many
unhappy images, a vindictive God,[149] an exclusive Heaven, a condemned
world, fellow-beings against whom their religious feelings are
embittered, but towards whom their hearts still yearn. All these are
reasons why you should exercise forbearance. You have an easier part.
You have a faith that supports you in meek Hope and Trust for all. Your
hearts are at peace both with Man and God. You can wait in patience
until Heaven does justice unto all. Having this more blessed and
peaceful faith, you must also make it more fruitful, and thus be enabled
to meet the question, “What do ye more than others?”

For ourselves, let us pursue our own way, and love our own Christ in
meek faith and trust. Doctrines are uncertain: but the spirit of Jesus
is not uncertain. You know what that is; and that its fruits are, “love,
joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance.” Love, venerate, obey in all things, the Heaven-sent and
Heaven-marked Christ; cherish the growth of his spirit in your souls;
place him before you in moments of trying duty; and in all times of
nature’s languishing see him at the open gate of Heaven, inviting you to
be faithful to the end, that you may join him at the resurrection of the
just. Do this and your souls shall live. To be this is to be Christians.
Others may hold a different language; but you owe no allegiance save to
God in Christ. One is your master, and all ye are brethren.




                            See pp. 30, 31.

              συντελειαν του αιωνος—the end of the _age_.

“Hanc ob causam Judæi universum tempus in duas magnas periodos
dispescere consueverunt, alteram Messiæ adventum antecedentem (αιων
οὑτος vel ὁ νυν αιων), alteram consequentem (αιων μελλων vel ερχομενος
vel εκεινος). Postremam illius (αιωνος τουτου) partem, ævo Messiano
annexam, nominarunt ὑστερους καιρους, καιρον εσχατον, εσχατα των χρονων,
εσχατας ἡμερας, _exitumque ejus_ τα τελη των αιωνων vel συντελειαν του
αιωνος.”—_Bertholdt._ _Christologia Judæorum Jesu Apostolorumque ætate._
pp. 38, 39.

                  *       *       *       *       *

“On this account the Jews were accustomed to divide TIME into two great
Periods, one preceding the advent of the Messiah, and called ‘this
world,’ ‘this age,’ or, ‘the world that now is,’ ‘the age that now is;’
the other subsequent to the advent, and called ‘the world to come,’ ‘the
age to come,’ ‘that world,’ ‘that age.’ The latter portion of the former
Period, that immediately adjoining the Messianic Age, they called ‘the
latter times,’ ‘the last time,’ ‘these last days,’—and its close (_that
is, the close of the Ante-Messianic Period_), ‘the ends of the world,’
or, ‘the end of the world,’ ‘the end of the age.’”


                _The Introduction of St. John’s Gospel._

                            See pp. 31, 32.

“In the beginning was the LOGOS, and the LOGOS was with God, and the
LOGOS was God.”

“There is no word in English answering to the Greek word Logos, as here
used. It was employed to denote a mode of conception concerning the
Deity, familiar at the time when St. John wrote, and intimately blended
with the philosophy of his age, but long since obsolete, and so foreign
from our habits of thinking, that it is not easy for us to conform our
minds to its apprehension. The Greek word _Logos_, in one of its primary
senses, answered nearly to our word _Reason_. It denoted that faculty by
which the mind disposes its ideas in their proper relations to each
other: the Disposing Power, if I may so speak, of the mind. In reference
to this primary sense, it was applied to the Deity, but in a wider
significance. The Logos of God was regarded, not in its strictest sense,
as merely the Reason of God, but under certain aspects, as the Wisdom,
the Mind, the Intellect of God. To this the Creation of all things was
_especially_ ascribed. The conception may seem obvious in itself; but
the Cause why the creation was primarily referred to the Logos, or
Intellect of God, rather than to his goodness or omnipotence, is to be
found in the Platonic Philosophy, as it existed about the time of
Christ, and particularly as taught by the eminent Jewish philosopher,
Philo of Alexandria.

“According to this philosophy, there existed an archetypal world of
IDEAS, formed by God, the perfect model of the Sensible Universe;
corresponding, so far as what is divine may be compared with what is
human, to the plan of a building or city, which an architect forms in
his own mind before commencing its erection. The faculty by which God
disposed and arranged the world of IDEAS was his Logos, Reason, or
Intellect. This world, according to one representation, was supposed to
have its seat in the Logos or Mind of God; according to another, it was
identified with the Logos. The Platonic philosophy further taught, that
the Ideas of God were not merely the archetypes, but, in scholastic
language, the essential forms of all created things. In this philosophy,
matter in _its primary state_, primitive matter, if I may so speak, was
regarded merely as the substratum of attributes, being in itself devoid
of all. Attributes, it is conceived, were impressed upon it by the Ideas
of God, which Philo often speaks of under the figure of _seals_. These
Ideas, indeed, constituted those attributes, becoming connected with
primitive matter in an incomprehensible manner, and thus giving form and
being to all things sensible. But the seat of these ideas, these
formative principles, being the Logos, or intellect of God; or,
according to the other representations mentioned, these Ideas
constituting the Logos, the Logos was, in consequence, represented as
the great agent in creation. This doctrine being settled, the meaning of
the Term gradually extended itself by a natural process, and came at
last to comprehend _all the attributes of God manifested in the creation
and government of the Universe_. These attributes, abstractly from God
himself, were made an object of thought under the name of the Logos. The
Logos thus conceived, was necessarily personified or spoken of
figuratively as a person. In our own language, in describing its
agency,—agency, in its nature personal, and to be ultimately referred to
God,—we might indeed avoid attaching a personal character to the Logos
considered abstractly from God, by the use of the neuter pronoun _it_.
Thus we might say, All things were made by _it_. But the Greek language
afforded no such resource, the relative pronoun, in concord with Logos,
being necessarily masculine. Thus the Logos or Intellect of God came to
be, figuratively or literally, conceived of as an intermediate being
between God and his creatures, the great agent in the creation and
government of the universe.” * * *

“The conception and the name of the Logos were familiar at the time when
St. John wrote. They occur in the Apocryphal book of the Wisdom of
Solomon. The writer, speaking of the destruction of the first-born of
the Egyptians, says (xviii. 15):

“‘Thine almighty Logos leapt down from heaven, from his royal throne, a
fierce warrior, into the midst of a land of destruction.’”

In another passage, likewise, in the prayer ascribed to Solomon, he is
represented as thus addressing God (ix. 1, 2):

                “God of our fathers, and Lord of mercy,
                 Who hast made all things by thy Logos,
                 And fashioned man by thy Wisdom. * * *

“St. John, writing in Asia Minor, where many, for whom he intended his
Gospel, were familiar with the conception of the Logos, has probably,
for this reason, adopted the term Logos, in the proem of his Gospel, to
express that manifestation of God by Christ, which is elsewhere referred
to the spirit of God.”

“But to return: the conception that has been described having been
formed of the Logos, and the Logos being, as I have said, necessarily
personified, or spoken of figuratively as a person, it soon followed, as
a natural consequence, that the Logos was by many _hypostatized_, or
conceived of as a proper person. When the corrective of experience and
actual knowledge cannot be applied, what is strongly imagined is very
likely to be regarded as having a real existence; and the philosophy of
the ancients was composed in great part of such imaginations. The Logos,
it is to be recollected, was that power by which God disposed in order
the Ideas of the archetypal world. But in particular reference to the
creation of the material universe, the Logos came in time to be
conceived of by many as hypostatized, as a proper person going forth, as
it were, from God in order to execute the plan prepared, to dispose and
arrange all things conformably to it, and to give sensible forms to
_primitive matter_, by impressing it with the ideas of the archetypal
world. In many cases in which the term ‘Logos’ occurs, if we understand
by it the Disposing Power of God in a sense conformable to the notions
explained, we may have a clearer idea of its meaning than if we render
it by the term ‘Reason,’ or ‘Wisdom,’ or any other which our language
offers.” * * *

“From the explanations which have been given of the conceptions
concerning the Logos of God, it will appear that this term properly
denoted an attribute or attributes of God; and that upon the notion of
an attribute or attributes, the idea of _personality_ was superinduced.”
* * *

“It was his (St. John’s) purpose in the introduction of his Gospel, to
declare that Christianity had the same divine origin as the Universe
itself; that it was to be considered as proceeding from the same power
of God. Writing in Asia Minor, for readers, by many of whom the term
‘Logos’ was more familiarly used than any other, to express the
attributes of God viewed in relation to his creatures, he adopted this
term to convey his meaning, because from their associations with it, it
was fitted particularly to impress and affect their minds; thus
connecting the great truths which he taught with their former modes of
thinking and speaking. But upon the idea primarily expressed by this
term, a new Conception, the Conception of the proper personality of
those attributes, had been superinduced. This doctrine, then, the
doctrine of an hypostatized Logos, it appears to have been his purpose
to set aside. He would guard himself, I think, against being understood
to countenance it. The Logos, he teaches, was not the agent of God, but
God himself. Using the term merely to denote the attributes of God as
manifested in his works, he teaches that the operations of the Logos are
the operations of God; that all conceived of under that name is to be
referred immediately to God; that in speaking of the Logos we speak of
God, ‘That the Logos is God.’

“The Platonic Conception of a personal Logos, distinct from God, was the
Embryo form of the Christian Trinity. If, therefore, the view just given
of the purpose of St. John be correct, it is a remarkable fact, that his
language has been alleged as a main support of that very doctrine the
rudiments of which it was intended to oppose.”—_Norton on the Trinity._

I shall now give a paraphrase of the Introduction of St. John’s Gospel
in harmony with the Conception that the Logos is described first as
dwelling in God—and afterwards as manifested through Christ—the Logos
made flesh—“God manifest in the flesh,” an expression which is so far
from implying Trinitarianism, that it exactly expresses the Unitarian
idea of Christianity as a revelation of God—of Deity _imaged_ perfectly
on the human scale—of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God on
the face of Jesus Christ.

                     _Proem of St. John’s Gospel._

“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the
Logos was God. It was in the beginning with God. By it all things were
made, and without it was not any thing made, that was made. It was life
(the source of life)—and the source of life or blessedness was the light
of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended
it not. There was a man sent from God. This man came as a witness to
bear testimony concerning the light; that all men through him might
believe. He was not the Light, but he was sent to bear testimony
concerning the Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world. It was in the world, and the world was made
by it, and the world knew it not. It came unto its own, and its own
received it not. But to as many as received it, it gave power to become
the Sons of God (LOGOI)—being born, not of favoured races, nor through
the will of the flesh, nor through the will of man, but being children
of God. And the Logos became flesh (was manifested through a man, the
Mind or Spirit[150] of God shown on the human Image), and dwelt amongst
us, and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full
of grace and truth.”


                        Romans. ix. 5, page 32.

“Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came;
God who is over all be blessed for ever.” Amen.

 Ὧν οἱ πατέρες, καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα· ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς
εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.

The objections made to our rendering of this passage are these:—

1. That ὁ ὠν coming first in the sentence must refer to the nominative
(χριστὸς). But there is no grammatical rule to prevent ὁ ὠν _commencing_
a sentence and referring to a _subsequent_ nominative; so that to say it
_must_ refer to the preceding χριστὸς is only to take the desired
interpretation for granted.

2. That another article is required before θεος, and the position of the
words to be Ὁ δε θεος ὁ ὠν ἐπὶ πάντων, κ. τ. λ. If θεος had been placed
first in the sentence the article would have been used, but the
qualifying expression ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων more than supplies its place. A
passage from Philo exactly parallel is cited by the Rev. W. Hincks in
his very able Review of Dr. J. P. Smith’s Scripture Testimony to the
Messiah του προς ἀληθειαν οντος θεου. Ed. 1610, (apud Middleton,) p.
860. Also Clem. Rom. ad Cor. cap. xxxii. ὁ παντοκρατωρ θεος, where
παντοκρατωρ is equivalent to ὁ ὠν ἐπὶ πάντων. Eusebius has this passage,
τὸ τῆς φυχῆς ὄμμα πρὸς τὸν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸν καθαρῶς τείναντες. See
Jortin. Eccles. Hist. vol. ii. 235.

3. That εὐλογητὸς ought to come first in the sentence. But the words
“for ever,” εἰς τοὺς αιῶνας, whenever used, are placed at the end of the
sentence, and this naturally draws εὐλογητος to the same position, to
avoid awkwardness or ambiguity. In the cases where θεος has dependent
words, then ευλογητος comes first, that the words connected by
construction may not be awkwardly separated: in the case of ευλογητος
having dependent words, as here, then θεος would naturally come first.

In the only three cases in which εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας occur in the
New Testament they follow one another in this fixed order.

In the Septuagint, contrary to the statement of Whitby, there is one
clear instance of a similar construction: Κυριος ὁ θεος ευλογητος, Ps.
lxviii. 19.

Finally, ευλογητος is nowhere in the New Testament applied to Jesus.

4. That our rendering requires another substantive verb. Of such
ellipsis examples might be given without number. See Rom. x. 12. 2 Cor.
v. 5. Ephes. iv. 6, a case exactly in point. Rev. xiv. 13.

5. That there is an antithesis intended by St. Paul between “as
concerning the flesh,” and “God over all”. But the sentence is not an
antithesis but a climax closed by Christ, as the consummation: and at
the close of a climax of blessings and privileges, acknowledgment almost
spontaneously bursts out to God.


_Comments on the Rev. Mr. Byrth’s Lecture entitled “The Unitarian
  Interpretation of the New Testament based upon defective Scholarship,
  or on dishonest or uncandid Criticism.”_

Page 108.—“It does appear to me extraordinary, that my opponents should
appear to complain of the introduction of critical and scholastic
considerations into this discussion.” We make no such complaint. We
complain that the _essence_ of Christianity should be derived from the
Criticism and Interpretation of _controverted_ passages. Will my
reverend opponent state a single argument for Trinitarianism, or adduce
a single scriptural evidence, not _fairly_ open to hostile Criticism or
Interpretation? To _us_ the Revelation is not derived from any thing
doubtful; it is derived from those impressions of Jesus the Christ which
Trinitarianism itself receives. To us the Revelation is the Person, (in
which we include his Life, Character, Destinies,) of the man Christ
Jesus. We know our God when we know that he who was as full of grace as
of truth was the Image of our Father’s Mind: we know God’s will for man
when we look upon him who was perfected human nature: we know the
connections of Heaven with Duty when we see the crucified made the
glorified, and taken to the bosom of his Father.


Page 115.—“It does not, however, follow that, because the Unitarian
interpretation of the New Testament bears this character, all Unitarians
are defective Scholars, or uncandid or dishonest Critics. Many of them
may have received their opinions through the channel of traditional
education; and may never have deemed it obligatory upon them to examine
the matter for themselves.” So, we have the choice of any one of three
characters, _viz._, BAD SCHOLARS, DISHONEST CRITICS, or _So-called
Christians, who know nothing and care nothing about the matter_. Does
Mr. Byrth really think that this last refuge removes the insult of his
Title, or softens its indictment? Some of _us_, confined to a choice
among these three descriptions, _preach_ Christianity, and are therefore
certainly bound to “examine the matter” for ourselves; nor is it to us
that the suspicion usually attaches of receiving our “opinions through
the channels of a traditional education.”

“The dogmata are too few, too general, too unimportant, to elicit
inquiry, or to excite anxiety as to their truth.” There is some truth in
this, though not exactly of the kind the author contemplated. The
interest of Trinitarianism depends greatly on the number of its dogmata,
their intricacy, their supposed necessity to salvation, the exactness of
their right mutual positions. There is much in a saving _Theology_,
having an intricate scheme, and whose main principles and evidences are
external to the mind of the believer, and therefore constantly agitating
him with apprehension as to whether he has disposed them according to
the precise conditions of orthodoxy, to occupy and sometimes oppress
minds that have little affinities with a saving _Religion_, a simple
spirit of Worship, Duty, and Trust immortal. _But is it true_ that these
Unitarian doctrines are “unimportant”—The Fatherhood of God—the
Brotherhood of Man—the relations of Jesus to God as His Image, and to
Man as his Model—the retributions of Eternity—the Heaven of Duty?


Page 119.—See the Note.—Surely Mr. Byrth will perceive the unfairness of
concluding a Book to be _our_ Standard, merely because some _other_
parties, very unfavourably disposed towards us, choose to represent it
as such.


Page 124.—See the Note.—“I have been charged with almost or altogether
suppressing, in the delivery of this Discourse, the word
‘controversially.’” I eagerly assure Mr. Byrth that no such charge was
ever made, nor could be made with truth, and I am much grieved that any
rumour has conveyed to him the pain of such an impression. Though using
hard words to his opponents, and giving them the choice of _any one_ of
three _bad_ characters, I believe him perfectly incapable of
“dishonesty.” Believing me to have made such a charge, whilst I do not
excuse him for so believing upon hearsay, I feel obliged by his
forbearance, and for a courtesy in denying the charge, which if made I
should not have deserved. I complained that the “controversial”
attitudes of Unitarianism were confounded with _its own peaceful and
positive ones_, two things that were most carefully separated in the
speeches from which Mr. Byrth took extracts; and that he represented as
a description _of Unitarianism_, what was distinctly stated to be
Unitarianism, “controversially” described. Mr. Byrth, though giving the
_word_ “controversially,” overlooked its _meaning_.


Page 132.—“Epiphanius asserts that the Ebionites,” &c.: also the note
marked †.

As it is exceedingly inconvenient to repeat subjects and answers, and so
never to get rid of a topic, I refer Mr. Byrth and my readers to note B,
on the Ebionites and their Gospel, in the Appendix to the Second Lecture
of our Course.


Page 140.—See the Note.—“I cannot but express my satisfaction that in
the _very place_ where this book was thus regarded as an authority, and
thus earnestly recommended, it is now renounced and disclaimed.”

I do not know what Mr. Byrth includes in “renouncing” and “disclaiming.”
If these words mean “rejecting as a standard authority,” then in the
place alluded to was the Improved Version _always_ renounced and

The praise quoted in the note certainly requires much qualification.
Nevertheless the Improved Version is neither renounced nor disclaimed.
We have no predilection for the rude principle of taking things in the
mass, or leaving them in the mass, without discrimination. And I fancy
that if our opponents were in these matters _as much at liberty_ as
ourselves, there are some of their _standards_ which would soon be
thoroughly sifted.


Page 143.—“For even they would scarcely think highly of the scholarship
of Bishop Pearce.”

I have quoted Bishop Pearce, not for his learning, though unquestionably
that was respectable, but for the sake of stating that the acceptance by
a Bishop of the English Church of a certain interpretation ought to have
screened “a reputed heretic” from the charge of accepting the same
interpretation solely for the sake of an _a priori_ meaning.


Page 146.—“Epiphanius has little authority with any one else.” Mr. Byrth
is quite right in his estimate of Epiphanius. But it is hardly wise for
those who, like Mr. Byrth, rest their faith upon external testimonies,
to look too closely into the characters of the witnesses, or raise
doubts respecting them in the public mind. We know how much of the
weight of these testimonies rests upon Eusebius—and I doubt not Mr.
Byrth knows very well that he is clearly convicted of having
interpolated one passage in Josephus, and corrupted another. How can we
tell how far this process of reconciliation was carried? Why is it that
we have not the works of the Heretics, of whose _names_ ecclesiastical
History is so full?


Page 147.—See the Note.—Mr. Byrth seems to think it impossible to have
worded the Title of his Lecture so as not to have insulted _some one_.
Will he allow me to suggest what the Title might have been without
offence, though not with exact truth of description—“Some of the
interpretations of the Improved Version of the New Testament based upon
defective Scholarship.” To attribute “dishonesty” and want of “candour,”
Mr. Byrth will I am sure feel to be too vulgar to be altogether worthy
of his character as a Critic and a Scholar. In the text of his Lecture
(p. 122), he indeed states his belief that Unitarian Interpretation, _of
every kind_, wants scholarship, or wants honesty—and it was to the proof
of this statement that he ought to have applied himself, or else to have
altered the Title of his Lecture.


Page 148.—Luke iii. 23.—“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty
years of age, being (_as was supposed_) the son of Joseph.”

This passage was not introduced into the first part of Mr. Byrth’s
Lecture as originally delivered. I state this only to excuse myself for
having taken no notice of it in the body of my Lecture. This is the case
also with some other passages. There were also expressions and
sentiments of Mr. Byrth spoken, but not printed. I would not state this
were it not necessary to justify some passages in my own Lecture. I
refer especially to an oratorical use that was made of a most
objectionable and irreverent sentiment of Coleridge’s, full of the very
spirit of dogmatism and presumption. P. 161.

With regard to Luke iii. 23. The rendering of the Improved Version is
that of Bishop Pearce, who I suppose had no heretical reason for
preferring it. I confess it does not seem natural. Dr. Carpenter thinks
the words “as he was supposed,” put in to guard against some Gnostic or
Platonic error, and for the purpose of stating distinctly that he _was_
the son of Joseph, as he was supposed to be. The same writer acutely
remarks that it is most improbable, indeed next to impossible, that any
writer should trace our Lord’s descent from David _through Joseph_, and
then declare that Joseph was only _supposed_ to be his father, thus
nullifying his own genealogy. Kuinoel gives a suggestion of Boltenius,
to which he evidently inclines that ὡς ἐνομίζετο applies not to the
supposed descent of Jesus from Joseph but to the _whole_ genealogy. I
annex his note.

“_Boltenius_ ad h. l. suspicatus est, verba ὡς ἐνομίζετο, non tantum eo
referenda esse, quod Judæi falso putaverint, Josephum esse Christi
parentem, sed spectari quoque his verbis genealogiam ipsam h. l.
exhibitam, eaque reddenda esse: _hanc putabant esse Jesu genealogiam,
erat pater ejus Josephus, hujus pater Eli_, etc., ut adeo Lucas
professus sit, se inseruisse genealogiam, prouti ea in manus ipsius
venisset, seque authentiam illius acrius defendere nolle. Hac ratione
admissa, explicari forte etiam posset, quî factum sit, ut Lucas
genealogiam ipsi suspectam, in Evangelio infantiæ Jesu propositam, ad
calcem illius fortasse adjectam, h. l. inseruerit, quod nempe aliquamdiu
dubius hæsisset, an eam reciperet. Alii opinati sunt, hanc genealogiam,
cum diversa sit ab ea quæ in Matthæi commentariis reperitur, cum laxiori
vinculo superioribus annexa sit, non a Luca ipso, sed serius additam


Page 149.—See the Note.—“Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary: of
whom (Mary) was born (or was begotten) Jesus who is called the Christ.”
“Now is it possible to declare, in plainer terms, that, though Jesus was
born of Mary, who was married to Joseph, yet that Joseph _did not beget
him_.”—_Magee._ Great is the ingenuity here, wonderfully misapplied. Is
it not clear that St. Matthew was tracing the descent of Jesus from
David, and that he brings down the chain to the very last link, namely
Joseph, that is, the very Joseph necessary to be included, the husband
of the mother of Jesus? _That_ Joseph, the very husband of Mary, from
whom Christ was born, being thus shown to be a lineal descendant of
David, the Evangelist stops. What could he do more? His object being to
trace the descent of Jesus from David, what could be more natural than,
when he arrived at Joseph, to say—here is the unbroken succession, for
this is the very man who was the husband of that Mary from whom Jesus
was born. Of course the writer could not alter the form of expression
until he arrived at the very man whom he wished to identify as the
husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus—and the reason for altering it then
is very obvious.

If Joseph was not the father of Jesus, the genealogy is vitiated, for it
is _through Joseph_ that the descent is traced.


Pages 157, 158.—“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and
the world knew him not.” “He was in the world, and the world was
enlightened by him, and yet the world knew him not.”—I. V. This
interpretation cannot, I think, be defended. I am sorry it was ever
given. Yet Mr. Byrth’s sarcasm is quite powerless against it, “what kind
of light is that which blinds the eyes which it was intended to
illuminate?” in the face of the text—“the light shineth in darkness, and
the darkness _comprehendeth_ it not;” unless he adopts the
interpretation of some of the Fathers,—“And the darkness did not
insinuate itself into the light, interpenetrate and quench it.”


Page 161.—The liberality of ROBERT HALL. We desire to speak with respect
of this great and good man. But perhaps it would be impossible to name a
man more illiberal as a controversialist, and who allowed himself such
an unmeasured use of uncharitable language. It was only the other day I
learned an anecdote of him from the person to whom the words were
spoken, descriptive at once of his vigour and his rancour: speaking of
the Unitarians he said—“they are inspired from _beneath_,”—with a look,
said my informant, never to be forgotten. Many passages might be brought
from his writings, especially his Reviews, demonstrative of this
temper,—but the passage given by Mr. Byrth himself, in which he is
satisfied to rest conclusions so momentous and fearful upon reasonings
so arbitrary and vague, is quite enough. When any man acquainted with
the state of Theological opinion in the world, and with the
impossibility of uniformity, can fix upon his own opinions as essential,
and run a doctrinal line between Heaven and Hell, we require no further
tests of his “liberality,” unless indeed he is, what Mr. Hall was not,
only a traditional believer.


I have already remarked that some of my observations apply more to the
spoken than to the printed lecture. Were it possible to efface the
impressions made by the speaker, and which required to be counteracted,
gladly would I efface every word of personal reference from my pages.
Even now, with the recollection fresh upon my mind, of the unsparing
contempt, both literary and moral, expressed by words and tones, not
conveyed by the printed page, when the speaker, feeling that the
sympathies of his audience were with him to the full, and that their
knowledge of the subject required from him _the broadest statements_, to
render it intelligible, gave himself to the excitement of the moment,—I
have more than doubted whether it would not have been better to have
avoided every personal allusion. I believe that I have in no case
overstated or misrepresented what was _said_. I deeply grieve to fix
upon my pages the suggestions, perhaps, of momentary excitement, which
Mr. Byrth’s better feeling has, in some instances, refused to record—and
that the obligation I was under to remove an impression actually made,
does not permit me to give full effect to this working of a kinder
spirit, the manifestations of which, in other ways, I have respectfully
to acknowledge.


                       Footnotes for Lecture III.

Footnote 133:

  “Heresy and Orthodoxy,” by Rev. J. B. White, pp. 8, 9.

Footnote 134:

  Scholz retains θεος.

Footnote 135:

  See Griesbach. Chrysostom omits “_who is God over all_.” Clement, in a
  passage evidently imitated from this, omits the doxology, which he is
  not likely to have done if he understood it as referring to Christ. In
  addition to other authorities for pointing the passage in consistency
  with the Unitarian Interpretation, Griesbach quotes “Many Fathers who
  denied that Christ could be called ‘the God over all.’ Multi patres,
  qui Christum τὸν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸν appellari posse negant.” In an
  edition of Griesbach, printed by Taylor and Walton in 1837, this
  punctuation is given, and is stated also to be the pointing of Scholz.

Footnote 136:

  John xiv. 6, 7.

Footnote 137:

  John v. 19.

Footnote 138:

  Acts x. 34-43.

Footnote 139:

  Matt. xxiv. 3, 34.

Footnote 140:

  “The mistranslation of the word αἰῶνες, by the English word ‘worlds,’
  in the commencement of the Epistle to the Hebrews. For giving this
  sense to the original term, there is not, I think, any authority to be
  found either in Hellenistic or classic Greek.”—_Norton on the

Footnote 141:

  Heb. ix. 26.

Footnote 142:

  Whitby, from whose armoury I find so many weapons have been taken,
  contends also for “the end of the world,” on the ground that Christ’s
  miraculous assistance was continued sensibly _till the beginning of
  the fourth century_.

Footnote 143:

  John x. 34, 35, 36.

Footnote 144:

  Wetstein, quoted by Norton.

Footnote 145:

  See note, page 19. I have no access to the text of Scholz, except in
  the edition published by Taylor and Walton. This places a period after
  σάρκα, _flesh_; which, however, it also gives in the text as the
  pointing of Griesbach, contrary to the only other edition I have at
  present the opportunity of examining.

Footnote 146:

  See Appendix for a fuller examination of these two passages, viz., the
  Proem of St. John’s Gospel, and Rom. ix. 5.

Footnote 147:

  And especially since Mr. Byrth has alluded to the disapprobation with
  which the sentiment was received.

Footnote 148:

  Christian Teacher, New Series, No. I, pp. 31, 32.

Footnote 149:

  By this I mean a God who cannot forgive except by one
  process—advantage of which must be taken by an act of faith—it being
  always uncertain whether the faith is right or sufficient.

Footnote 150:

  We find in the first beginnings of the Trinity, the Logos and the Holy
  Spirit identified. This is even angrily contended for by Tertullian.
  “What! when John said that the Logos was made flesh, and the angel”
  (respecting the miraculous conception) “that the Spirit was made
  flesh, did they mean any thing different?”—_Tertullian, Advers.
  Praxeam._ Cap. xxvi.


                              LECTURE IV.

                          THE MAN CHRIST JESUS.”

                           BY REV. HENRY GILES.

    JESUS.”—1 _Tim._ ii. 5.

The passage I have read suggests the subject of my lecture, the position
in which we stand to our opponents will suggest the tendency of the
commentary. The text announces the two great truths on which our entire
system of Christianity is based, and ours in all essential points, we
think, coincides with simple, with evangelical Christianity. The truths
propounded in the text are, the Unity of God, and the Unity of Christ.—A
unity in each case absolute and perfect, without division of nature or
distinction of person. We believe that God is one,—that he is one being,
one mind, one person, one agent. And this belief, and no other, we can
deduce from the works of creation, and the teachings of the Scriptures.

That God is one universally and absolutely, we have impressed upon us
from the order of creation; that he is great, we learn from the
magnitude of his works; and that he is good, we learn from their
blessedness and beauty. This sublime truth is illustrated in every
region of existence, so far as we know it, and every illustration is an
argument. It is written on the broad and immortal heavens in characters
of glory and light; it is manifested in that mighty law which binds atom
to atom into a world, and world to world in a system, and system to
system, until from that wonderful universe which science can traverse,
we arise to him, whom no knowledge can fathom, whom no limits can bound,
and in contemplating whom science must give place to faith.

The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament showeth his
handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth
knowledge—and that God is one, is proclaimed in this speech, and
manifested in this knowledge. It gleams in the light, it breathes in the
air, it moves in the life of all created nature; it is the harmony of
creation, and the spirit of providence, the inspiration of reason, and
the consistency of wisdom. The existence of one Supreme Intelligence is
the Testimony of Nature, and to the same import are the testimonies of
Scripture. We are told, and told it in every variety of tone, that to
believe one God in three persons is absolutely needful to Salvation, yet
we may read from Genesis to Revelations without finding such a doctrine
either as a statement of truth, or a means of sanctity: but the simple
and unqualified declaration that God is one, without any of these
dogmatical distinctions which men of later ages have invented, I need
not tell a Bible-reading audience, are interwoven with the whole texture
of revelation. It was that for which Abraham left his home, and went
forth a wanderer from his family and his nation; it was that for which
Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and for which
he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God; it was that
over which he had long thought in his shepherd-life in an Arabian
wilderness; it was that with which he was more deeply inspired in the
solemn retirements of Mount Horeb; it was that to which all his laws and
institutions pointed. Our Saviour took the doctrine as a known maxim—and
in this his disciples followed him. We have then the truth brought down
to us through Scripture, in patriarchal tradition, in Mosaic
legislation, in the poetry of prophets, in the words of Christ, in the
preaching of apostles,—and we have it brought down to us without one of
those distinctions with which it has been since surrounded by
theological ingenuity. We are zealous in the assertion of it, not for
its mere metaphysical correctness, but for its moral power and its moral
consistency. It does not divide our hearts, and it does not confuse our
heads. It leads our minds up to one spirit, infinite in power, infinite
in wisdom, and infinite in goodness. Without confusion or perplexity we
can trace God in all and all in God: in the atom that trembles in a
sunbeam, as in the planet that moves in boundless light, from the blush
of a flower to the glory of the heavens—from the throb of an insect to
the life of an immortal. The Unitarian faith in the universal father is
clear, simple, and defined; inflicting no violence on our
understandings, and raising no conflicts in our affections. One, and one
in the strictest sense, is our parent, one is our sovereign, one is our
highest benefactor, one is our protector and our guide, one is our
deliverer and sanctifier; one has bestowed all we possess, one alone can
give all we hope for; one is holy who demands our obedience; one is
merciful who pities our repentance; one is eternal in whose presence we
are to live, and therefore whether we present our adorations in
dependence, or bow down in submission, or send forth our praises in
gratitude, there is one, and but one, to whom our aspirations can
ascend, and to whom our hearts can be devoted. Thus impressed, we must
feel united to one Father in filial obedience, and to all men in a
common and fraternal relationship; we cannot look upon some as selected,
and upon others as outcasts; we cannot look upon some as purchased, and
upon others as reprobate; we cannot look upon some as sealed with the
spirit of grace for ever unto glory everlasting, and upon others as
abandoned, unpitied, and unprotected, the victims of an everlasting
malediction. We regard men as bound in a community of good, consequently
as bound in a community of praise; we regard them as struggling in like
trials, and therefore indebted to each other for mutual sympathy; we
regard them as heirs of the same glory, and on the level of their
heavenly hopes, standing on a basis of sacred and eternal equality. If
these sentiments are false, they are at least generous, and it is not
often that generosity is found in company with falsehood. Alas, how many
heart-burning enmities, how many deadly persecutions have been caused by
different apprehension of God’s nature or God’s worship; how often have
these differences broken all the fraternal bonds of humanity, made man
the greatest enemy to man,—more savage and cruel than the beast, yea,
and cruel in proportion to the zeal he pretended for his God. But never
could this have been, had men believed in God, had men believed in
Christ—had they believed in God as an impartial and universal Father,
had they believed in Christ as an equal and universal brother.—Then we
could have all sent our mingled prayers to the skies, and with a
Christianity as broad as our earth, and as ample as our race, and
generous as the soul of Jesus, we could have taken all mankind to our
heart. We maintain it not in mere abstract speculation, but because we
consider it a positive and a vital truth. Were the point metaphysical
and not moral, we conceive it would be little worthy of dispute—and in
that sense I for one would have small anxiety, whether God existed in
three persons or in three thousand. In like manner we hold the simple
and absolute unity of Christ; a unity of nature, a unity of person, and
a unity of character. But as this topic is to occupy so large a space in
the present lecture, I shall here forbear from further comments.

The statement of our subject in a text, was alluded to by the Christ
Church Lecturer, in a tone that at least approached to censure. But we
consider it amongst our privileges, that we can express our main
principles in the simple and obvious language of Scripture; and if in
this case deep scholarship and acute criticism be needed to give it to
common minds a meaning different from that in which we understand it,
the fault certainly is not ours.—Neither, indeed, is ours the blame, if
a similar phraseology pervades the whole Christian Scriptures; that in
every page we read of God and Christ, and never of God in three persons,
or of Christ in two natures. To find out such distinctions, we leave to
Scholastic ingenuity; to give them definition and perpetuity, we consign
to the framers of creeds and articles—and to receive and reverence them
we turn over to the admirers of Athanasian perspicuity. We take the New
Testament as the best formulary; we are satisfied with a religion direct
and simple in its principles, and we long not for a religion of
deducibles. We have been accused of tortuous criticism; and although we
desire not to retort the accusation on our opponents, so far I mean, as
it implies moral delinquency, we cannot forbear observing that the
intellectual sinuosities by which some of these deductions have been
drawn from the New Testament is to us, certainly, a subject of not a
little admiration. Our motive in selecting this text was the best of all
which governs men in the use of language, simply that with greatest
brevity and greatest perspicuity, it enunciates our opinions. Our
opponents, however, have no right to complain; the advantage of being
first in the field was on their side, and the struggle was not provoked
on our part but on theirs: they of course selected their own subjects,
and they suggested ours. They could, therefore, have had no uncertainty
either as to our views or interpretation of the text. I would not allude
to a matter so small, were it not for the contradictory delinquencies
with which Unitarians are accused—one time they are charged with
dreading an appeal to Scripture, and when by the very title of their
subject, they tacitly appeal to Scripture, there is wanting still no
occasion to blame.

What, in Unitarian views, is Christ the Man, and what is Christ the
Mediator, shall make the subject of the present Lecture.

I.—First, I beg your attention to the enquiry as to what we believe of
Christ as man. To this we answer, that in his nature we think him simply
and undividedly human; that in his character we regard him morally
perfect. We cannot recognize in Christ a mixture of natures, and we
wonder that any who read the gospel’s records can. That he was simply
and merely human, is a conclusion which meditation on these Records but
fixes more profoundly on our understandings, and makes more precious to
our faith. We derive the conclusion from Christ’s own language—“Ye seek
to kill me,” he says, “a _man_—which hath told you the truth, which I
heard of God.”—Again, when a worldly and ambitious individual, mistaking
the true nature of this kingdom, desired to become his disciple: “The
foxes, said Jesus, have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but
the Son of man hath not whereon to lay his head.” Instances, too many to
repeat, might be enumerated; but the only other I shall adduce is that
in which Christ’s human nature speaks from its deepest sorrows, and its
strongest love: when Jesus, as he hung upon the Cross, saw his mother
and the disciple whom he loved standing by, he saith unto his mother,
“Woman, behold thy son.” It is vain to tell us of an infinite God veiled
behind this suffering and sweetness, the mind repels it, despite of all
the efforts of theology.[151]

The impression of a simple humanity was that which he left on the mind
of his countrymen. What other impression could they have of one whom
they daily saw amongst them as of themselves? who came weary to rest in
their habitations; who came hungry to sit at their boards; whom they met
in their streets sinking with fatigue; whom they might see upon their
wayside asking drink from a well; one whom they saw weep over their
troubles and rejoice in their gladness. Nay, the very intenseness of his
humanity became a matter of accusation. To many it seemed subversive of
religion. That spirit which sympathized with human beings, in their joys
and woes, which not only loved the best, but would not cast out the
worst, was what those of strait and narrow hearts could not understand.
He came eating and drinking, and they called him a man gluttonous and a
wine-bibber. Had he said long prayers at the corners of their streets,
and been zealous for the traditions of the fathers, they would have
revered him as a saint. Those who were panoplied in their own spiritual
sufficiency knew not how he could be the friend of sinners; how he could
associate with the deserted and the excommunicated; how he could take to
his compassion the weary and the heavy-laden. The pharisee who proudly
asked him to his house, but gave him no salute, no oil for his stiffened
joints, and no water for his parched feet, had nothing within him
whereby to interpret the feeling of Jesus towards her who anointed his
head with ointment, washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with
the hairs of her head. Yes, it was this truth and fulness of humanity
which made Jesus hateful to the pharisees, but loved and blessed by the
poor; it was this that made the common people hear him gladly, and gave
his voice a power which they never felt in the teachings of the scribes;
which drew crowds around him, in wilderness and mountain, that hung
raptured on the glad tidings which he preached. The flatterers of Herod
on a particular occasion cried out, “It is the voice of a god and not of
a man;” but no one ever thought of insulting Jesus with such an

The guilt of the Jews in crucifying Christ has been alluded to in the
present controversy. But this is only an additional proof that Jesus
left no other conviction on the minds of his countrymen than that he was
simply a man. That our views diminish this guilt has been urged as a
powerful objection against us; but, with reverence I say it, the
objection turns more against Christ himself. Either then he was simply
man, or being Deity, he suppressed the evidence which would prove it,
and allowed this people to contract the awful guilt of killing a
God-man. If the first be true, the guilt asserted has no existence; if
the second, I leave you to judge in what light it places the sincerity
and veracity of an incarnate Deity. There is neither declaration nor
evidence afforded by Christ by which the Jews could think him more than
man. On the contrary he disclaims expressly the far lower honour at
which they thought his presumption aimed, by a quotation from their own
Scriptures: “It is written in your law” he observes, “I said ye are
Gods. If he called them Gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the
Scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him whom the Father hath
sanctified and sent into the world, thou blasphemest, because I said I
am the Son of God.”[152] There is then no declaration, nor yet is there
evidence. Miracles were not such: for the Jewish mind and memory were
filled with instances of these, and to the performers of which they
never thought of attributing a nature above humanity. If Christ was
more, the fact should have been plainly manifested, for the idea of a
God in a clothing of flesh was one not only foreign but repugnant to
every Jewish imagination. The difference between the Jews and pagans in
this particular is not a little striking. Jesus raised the dead before
their eyes, and yet they thought him but a man having great power from
the Creator. Paul, in company with Barnabas, healed a cripple at Lystra,
and the populace cried out, “The Gods are come down to us in the
likeness of men.” When Paul in Melita shook without harm the viper from
his hand, the spectators who at first considered him a murderer, changed
their minds, and said that he was a God. In proportion then to the
natural and religious repugnance which the Jews had to humanize the
divinity, should there have been clearness in the proof of it on the
part of Jesus. No such proof was given.

The greatest miracles of Jesus disturbed not the conviction of the Jews
in his simple human nature. The woman of Samaria, wondering at once at
his charity and his knowledge, called her neighbours to see a _man_ who
told her all things whatsoever she did. She asked them, then is not this
the Christ? The blind man awakened by his touch from thick darkness into
the marvellous light of God’s creation describes him but as a _man_ who
anointed his eyes. The Jewish officers struck dumb before his wisdom,
declare that never _man_ spake like this _man_. The Jews who stood
around him and saw Lazarus, whose body had been already dissolving, come
forth quickened from the grave, beheld in him but the powerful and the
loving friend. The multitudes of Judea, who in desert and city were
amazed at his wonderful works, simply “glorified God who had given such
power unto men.”

Similar was the impression which he left upon his intimate friends. What
would have been their emotions had they a belief that continually they
were in the bodily presence of the incarnate God? How would they not
have bowed themselves in the dust, and stopped the familiar word as it
trembled on their lips? Instead of approaching with unfearing hearts,
how would they not have stood afar off and apart, and gazed with awe
upon a being who was pacing a fragment of the world he created, instead
of clinging to him as one of themselves? Whenever they saw his
mysterious appearance, would they not call on the mountains to fall upon
them, and the hills to cover them? But not so was it. The lowly, the
humble, and the poor rejoiced to see him, and were glad when he entered
their habitations. They were consoled by the benediction of peace with
which he sanctified his approach and his departure. For him was the
gratulations of loving friends, and for him were the smiles of little
children. In Bethany, Martha, when he came, was busy in much serving,
and the meek and gentle Mary sat at his feet to drink in his heavenly
wisdom. At the last supper John leaned upon his bosom. At the cross,
when the head of Jesus bent heavily in anguish, and solitary torture was
wearing away his life, there again we meet the same disciple, there also
we meet the mother of Jesus and the grateful Magdalene, all three
oppressed with darkest affliction and despair. Some of them we again
behold at the sepulchre in utmost alarm. Now this grief at the cross and
this perplexity at the tomb is consistent with no other supposition than
that they regarded him simply as a man. Why else should they have been
afflicted? What though his enemies were strong, if knowing him to be
God, they must also have known that his power was boundless and his
triumph certain. This sorrow and uncertainty, I repeat, can have no
other foundation than a belief in his simple humanity. And surely if his
mother had only such impression, it is hard to expect that the Jews at
the time, and many Christians since, could have had any other.

I anticipate the objection that the glories of his deity were concealed,
and that this concealment was necessary to his mediatorial work. I
answer then, that when he had departed, and when such a secresy was no
longer needful, his apostles on some of the most solemn occasions merely
asserted his humanity, on occasions, too, when, if he were God as well
as man, the whole truth were to be expected. Paul,[153] in announcing
him as the great and final judge of the world, calls him no more than
man. Nor does his language assume a higher import when he speaks of him
as the pattern and pledge of immortality.[154] No other conclusion is to
be drawn from the address of Peter to Cornelius; and if a belief of
Christ’s deity be necessary to salvation, the centurion might, for
anything Peter asserted, have gone direct to perdition.[155] Still more
remarkable is it, that in this apostle’s first public address after the
departure of his master to the skies, we have nothing more than the same
declaration. The occasion and the circumstances not only justified, but
demanded the highest announcement that could be made respecting Christ.
The disciples had just seen him taken up into heaven, and the awe of the
ascension was yet upon their hearts. He who had trod this weary earth in
many sorrows was taken from their sight. They who had recently seen his
blood streaming warmly on Calvary, had come fresh from the glory of
Olivet. He who had been their suffering companion and instructor was now
their blessed and triumphant master. Alone in the midst of a gainsaying
and persecuting world, with gladness solemnized by reverence, and
victory tempered by grief, they had assembled to await the promised
Comforter. After that event they were to be separated, and each was to
take his own path in the moral wilderness that stretched far and
desolately before him. The Spirit of Promise came. The cloven tongues of
fire fell upon them: that beautiful emblem of the eloquent spirit of the
gospel that was to carry light and heat to the hearts of all
generations, and through every language of earth; that beautiful emblem
of a Christianity which might exist in many forms, but be at the same
time enlightened and enflamed by the soul of a common charity.
Multitudes from all nations were collected in the Holy City;—under the
influence of recent and solemn events Peter rises to address them. The
tragedy of Calvary was yet fresh in the general imagination, the stain
of a slave and malefactor’s death was still dark on the forehead of
Christianity. This surely was the time to cover the ignominy that lay on
the humanity of Jesus by proclaiming the resplendent glory of his
godhead. This was especially to be expected from Peter. He had on a
preceding occasion spurned the idea of such a shameful death, though
coming from Christ’s own lips; now was the time to pour the glory of the
God over the humiliation of the man; he too, who in an hour of weakness
denied his master, was the one who in the time of his strength and
repentance would be most ready to vindicate and assert his highest
honour. It is said that the apostles were not thoroughly inspired, and
did not fully know Christ before the day of Pentecost. But this was the
day of Pentecost. If, besides, it was the speaker’s object—as indeed it
must have been—that Christ should be rightly and widely known, now was
the opportunity to send forth his name and nature through every kingdom
and in every tongue. If, according to the doctrine some time since
propounded in Christ Church, the sin of the Jews was dark in proportion
to the grade of being in which we place the Saviour, now was the time,
while the event was recent, to strike their hearts with terror and
compunction. Contrast, then, these natural, these fair and unexaggerated
expectations, with the actual speech of Peter, and without a word of
comment the contrast is itself the strongest argument. “Ye men of Israel
hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by
miracles, and wonders, and signs which God did by him in the midst of
you, as ye yourselves know: him being delivered by the determinate
counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands
have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the
pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of
it.” (Acts ii. 22, 24.) Had you been listeners to this address, I ask
your candour, I ask your intellect, could you conceive that the apostle
was speaking, not of a glorified man, but of an incarnate Deity? No,

The testimony of Peter thus clearly given, is more and more confirmed as
we look upon the life of Jesus. In every stage of that life we see him
human, and though in all moral purity and moral grandeur, yet _simply_
human. We are not ashamed of our belief. No, we glory in it, and we
rejoice in it. We glory in it, for it is the proof that the elements of
our nature can be moulded into such beauty; and we rejoice in it, for it
is the proof that he who left a religion for the immortal heart of man
was himself purely and simply of the nature he would sanctify. We see
him as the infant cradled in Bethlehem, the nurseling hanging on a
mother’s care, and we escape the moral and intellectual confusion of
joining the omnipotence of a God with the feebleness of a babe. We see
him in maturer years in his social relations and social intercourse
casting a holy light around him, and spreading the influence of all that
is most blessed in human affections. We destroy not the virtue of the
man by absorbing it in the glory of the God. Human, and _only_ human, we
see him in goodness, in duty, and in suffering. Even in his most
marvellous works of mercy, so harmonious is his power with our common
nature, that we feel as if they were merely ordinary acts of kindness.
When he compassionated the widow’s anguish and restored her son; when
pitying the blind, he opened their eyes to the joy and beauty of light;
when to the ears of the deaf he gave an inlet to the music of nature and
the voice of friendship; when he cast out the dumb spirit and unclosed
sealed lips in hymns of gratitude and praise; when he fed multitudes on
the mountain’s brow; when lepers went clean from his presence to their
fellows and their homes; when parents clung to their restored children,
and friends who had separated in despair met again in hope,—wonderful as
are all these events, we connect them with the _man_ Christ Jesus, the
real, simple, holy, and perfect man.

The lecturer in Christ Church stated three peculiarities which
distinguished the Unitarian from the orthodox belief in Christ’s
humanity. The third of these was his pre-existence. The Lecturer defined
with admirable accuracy the essentials of humanity, one of which, as
would be universally admitted, was _to be born_. I was therefore not
prepared to hear the proper humanity of Christ before he was born most
zealously defended. I look upon it, however, as a mere oversight, and no
doubt it will be corrected in the printed lecture.

The main point is, however, that of Christ’s pre-existence, which
independently of mistake in arrangement or expression is a fair topic of
argument and discussion. The Lecturer quoted a number of texts from the
evangelist John,—from any other of the gospel-writers he could not have
taken the shadow of a proof: these he seemed to think invincible
evidence. Good scholars, however, and candid critics, aye, and honest
Christians, have found such explanations of these expressions as
satisfied both their intellects and their conscience. Orthodox
commentators are aware that the idiom of the New Testament frequently
uses the tense grammatically past to signify events which are actually
future. I ask those critics what they have urged, what they usually
urge, against Roman Catholic controversialists, who, in proving the
doctrine of transubstantiation, quote the text, “This is my body which
is broken for you.” What says the Protestant opponent? Oh, it is a mere
idiomatic expression, by which an event is represented as complete which
is yet to be accomplished. In like manner and with a like
interpretation, we hear the orthodox use the phrase, “The lamb _slain_
from the foundation of the world.” They have in this case no scruple to
speak of that as actually existing which was merely contemplated in
eternal foreknowledge. If it be said that all events are present to the
mind of God, so we answer are all persons; and so was Christ. This view
of the subject has satisfied many reflective, and whatever our opponents
may think, many able and honest minds. But I avail myself of this
opportunity to state distinctly and plainly, that though challenged by
our opponents in the title of their subject to discuss this point, it is
one on which Unitarians have great differences of opinion, but one which
would not disturb a moment’s harmony in Unitarian Churches. Personally
the Lecturers in the present controversy, on our side, do not believe
the pre-existence of Christ; but there are congregations and individuals
amongst us, with whom we hold, and wish to hold, kindly, brotherly, and
Christian communion, who cling to this doctrine most sacredly and most
reverently. We all agree in maintaining the absolute unity of God, and
if I may so speak, the CREATURESHIP of Christ. We desire to bind our
charity to no dogmas, and we simply say, with the Apostle, “Let every
man be persuaded in his own mind.”

On this point, and indeed in this discussion generally, I have observed
with great pain a disposition on the part of our opponents to connect
the venerable name of Priestley with odium. It is an unworthy office for
men of education in the nineteenth century. We take not the authority of
Priestley, nor of any other, except Jesus. One is our Master, even
_Christ_: and all we are brethren. But in venerating Priestley, yea, and
in loving his memory, we are guilty of no Sectarianism, we but agree
with the generous, the excellent, the enlightened of the earth: we but
agree with Robert Hall, a stern but eloquent Trinitarian, who in
allusion to the Birmingham riots, deprecated in glowing language the
insults offered to philosophy in “the first of her sons.” Both his
critical and his religious opinions are fair subjects for investigation
and opposition. But great sacrifices and honourable consistency should
render his moral character sacred, if any thing could melt the stony
heart of polemical austerity. When we hear, as lately we did hear, that
Priestley sought not for truth, but for arguments to sustain a system,
we are not only impelled to ask, with Pilate, “What is truth?” but also
to inquire, “Who are those who seek it?” One thing we do know, that if
he gave himself to a system, it was a devotion to one which had little
wherewith to recompense him; and we know also that as far as the good
things of this world is concerned, that he might have turned his
devotion to a far better purpose. Instead of having his home and his all
shattered in the storm of popular turbulence, instead of being left
houseless in the land of his nativity, he might have been great amongst
the heads of colleges, or first upon the bench of Bishops; instead of
being expatriated amidst vulgar execration, he might have spent his life
fairing sumptuously every day, clothed in purple and fine linen, with a
dignified hypocrisy; instead of burying his later sorrows in a foreign
land, and dropping there his last and most bitter tears, and leaving
there his venerable dust, and his still more venerable memory, to the
shame of England, and to the immortal honour of his most generous and
hospitable entertainers, we might now have had proposals for a national
monument to him, long lists of subscribers’ names, and loud clamours of
exulting praise. One consolation at least was left: his right hand was
clean, and had he been dragged to the stake he need never have thrust it
in the flame for having been the instrument to give signature to a lie,
from a beggarly, a dastardly, and a cowardly fear of death. If he could
look from where he lives in heaven, he would have a still nobler
consolation, in being aware that, despite of bigots, his name is
treasured in venerated recollection with the pious and philosophical of
all sects and parties—that to give him due and most beautiful
praise[156] was amongst the last earthly acts of a kindred spirit, but
of another soil, that fanatics may rant and rage, but the good will
love.—That when this, with such controversies in general, sink into the
common and oblivious grave to which all polemical divinity is doomed,
the good his invention have given to mankind will survive, and the
witness he has left of an upright conscience will be an everlasting

The conviction of his reason, it is true, was so strong against the
pre-existence of Christ, that he would suppose the apostle misunderstood
the Saviour’s words, or the amanuensis mistranscribed the apostle’s
language. This was urged as a mighty accusation, as a most blasphemous
transgression. There are here an opinion and an alternative. The opinion
is the belief in Christ’s simple humanity; the alternative is merely to
suppose the want of memory in an evangelist, or the want of accuracy in
a copyist. Place in contrast to this Coleridge as quoted by our
opponents. He has also an opinion and an alternative—his opinion is,
that Christ was God, and his alternative is, that if _not God_ he was a
_deceiver_. If Dr. Priestley was wrong, he left not only Christ but his
apostles morally blameless—if Coleridge mistook, he attributed directly
and without compromise the want of even common honesty to the Author of
our religion: I leave you to judge between the two cases. I do not wish
to disparage erring and departed genius; but when the name of Coleridge
is called up in my mind in connection with that of Priestley, it is not
in human nature to avoid comparison. The one steeped the best part of
his life in opium, the other spent it in honourable toil; the one
squandered his brilliant and most beautiful genius in discursive efforts
and magical conversations, the other with heroic self denial shut
himself up in dry and laborious studies for the physical good, and the
moral wants of mankind; the one wrote sweet and wild and polished poesy
for their pleasure, the other has left discoveries for their endless
improvement. Yet orthodoxy builds for one the shrine of a saint, but
like those who in other days dug up the bones of Wickliff to be burned,
drags forth the memory of the other from the peaceful and forgiving
past, to inflict an execution of which we might have supposed his
lifetime had a sufficient endurance. Tranquil in the far-off and quiet
grave be the ashes of the Saint and Sage: his soul is beyond the
turmoils and battles of this fighting world. When these who are now in
strife shall be at last in union, his will not be the spirit to whom
that blessed consummation will give least enjoyment.

The preacher in Christ Church made some lengthened observations on the
two-fold nature of Jesus. This topic will more properly be included in
another lecture. I only mention it here for the purpose of making a
passing remark. The preacher’s language implied that among our reasons
for rejecting the doctrine is, that it is a mystery. Now we maintain
that a mystery is properly no doctrine, for it can be neither affirmed
or denied. The lecturer observed that there are mysteries in life and
nature. If by such he meant facts which we do not fully comprehend, or
ultimate facts beyond which we cannot penetrate, he is right. But of
these we assert nothing, of these we deny nothing. Intellectually or
spiritually they are in no sense subjects of contemplation. The
preacher, if my memory deceives me not, maintained that philosophy has
also mysteries. The principles or phenomena of Philosophy are not
mysteries—and so far as they are mysteries they are not philosophy. We
reject not the doctrine proposed to us on any such ground. We reject it,
not because we do not understand the terms in which it is expressed, but
because we _do_ understand them, and find them equally repugnant to
reason and to Scripture. We reject it because it does equal violence to
faith and intellect; we reject it, not only from the want of
consistency, but the want of evidence.

The apology for mystery made by the defenders of the incarnation has
been as often, as ably, and as successfully used by the advocates of
Transubstantiation. Among other questions, we are asked by both
parties—it is a favourite illustration—if we know how a grain of wheat
germinates and fructifies! Without hesitation we reply—no. And not only
do we not understand this _how_, but many others which might seem very
much simpler. But where, I ask, is the analogy? A grain of wheat is
buried in the earth, and the spirit of Universal Life prepares it for
reproduction, and in the harvest it comes forth abundantly multiplied,
to make glad the hearts of men. On this point I am equally willing to
confess my ignorance and my gratitude. All the facts are not known to
me, but such as I do know are perfectly consistent with each other. If I
am told that I know not how a grain of wheat germinates, I admit it
without hesitation; but I should certainly be startled if I were also
told, that besides being a grain of wheat it was also, by a mysterious
compound of natures, the Planet Herschel, or the archangel Michael. And
yet this does not amount by infinite degrees of self-contradiction to
the assertion, that the same being is God and man; that one part of the
nature is weary, and hungry, and thirsty, bowed down by every want and
grief, while the other is resting in peace and blessedness—that in the
same person there is one mind which is ignorant of that which is to come
in a day, and another in which reside the secrets of the universe, of
time, and of eternity.

The preacher, in speaking to Unitarians specially, commenced his address
to us in a tone of exhortation, and closed it in that of rebuke. And
what was the ground and subject of rebuke? Why, the smallness of our
numbers. He exhorted us on our want of humility, of modesty, in opposing
the whole Christian world. I wondered, if I were in a place of
Protestant worship, or if I heard an advocate for the right of private
judgment. My mind, as by a spell, was thrown back upon the early and
infant history of Christianity; I saw the disciples going forth on that
opposing world, of which their master had given them no enticing
picture; I saw Peter at Antioch, and Paul harassed and toil-worn at Rome
and Athens; I heard the cry of the vulgar, and the sarcasms of the
philosophical, going forth in prolonged utterance in condemnation of the
strange doctrine; I visioned before me the little knots of Christians,
bound to each other in love, holding their own faith, despite of
multitudes and despite of antiquity, fronting the world’s scorn and the
world’s persecution. I thought of Luther, standing, as he confessed,
against the world, an admission which was made one of the strongest
arguments against him,—an argument that there are piles of divinity to
maintain on the one side, and to repel on the other. I thought on the
persecution of the Waldenses and the Albigenses; I saw them, few, and
scattered, and shivering, and dying, in their Alpine solitudes: for
persecution, like the sun, enters into every nook. I thought of the
early struggle of Protestantism in this country,—of Latimer, of Cranmer,
and of Ridley; I thought of these honest and right-noble beings given,
by a barbarous bigotry, to a death of infamy; delivered over to the
fires of Smithfield; perishing amidst vulgar yells; not only abandoned,
but condemned, by episcopal domination. I remembered having read, in the
Life of Saint Francis Xavier, precisely similar objections made against
him by the bonzas of Japan. I also considered how many societies at
present send missionaries to the Heathen. I considered that, amidst the
populousness of India, the Brahmins might make a similar objection with
much greater force. Our fathers, they might say, never heard these
things; our people repudiate them.

But notwithstanding such general objections, we do not withhold our
admiration from Xavier and such self-denying men who were willing to
spend and be spent so that they might make known the glory of Christ; we
rejoice in seeing men thus forget their persons in love to their
principles, and in Doctor Carey standing alone, preaching under a tree
opposite to Juggernaut—we recognize with joy the impersonation of
Christian sincerity and Christian philanthrophy. If numbers were the
proof of truth, what changeful shapes might not truth assume to meet the
humour of the multitude! And we hear the immortal Chillingworth—the
first of logicians, the most charitable of polemics—thus replying to one
of his assailants: “You obtrude upon us,” says he, “that when Luther
began, he being yet but one, opposed himself to all, as well subjects as
superiors. If he did so in the cause of God it was heroically done of
him. This had been without hyperbolizing, _Mundus contra Athanasium et
Athanasius contra mundum_. Neither is it so impossible that the whole
world should so far lie in wickedness (as St. John speaks,) that it may
be lawful and noble for one man to oppose the world. But yet were we put
to our oaths, we should not surely testify any such thing for you; for
how can we say properly that he opposed himself to all unless we could
say also that all opposed themselves to him?” The same noble writer goes
on to say “that though no man before him lifted up his voice as Luther
did, yet who can assure us but that many before him both thought and
spake in the lower voice of petitions and remonstrances in many points
as he did?”—One fact at least must be conceded, and we are entitled to
any advantage it implies, that it is more painful and self-sacrificing
to be of the few than of the many, that there is far more to endure in
being a little flock, than of the great multitude; and that in
maintaining with all honesty our opinions in the face of the world’s
odium and the world’s revilings, in despite of popular outcry and
theological accusation, if no other virtues, we can surely claim those
of sincerity and fortitude, of moral courage and moral consistency.

The preacher alluded to the ransom which Christ paid for sinners, and
compared it to that which anciently was given in exchange for slaves.
The question is, to whom were mankind slaves? To whom or what was the
purchase-ransom to be paid? Was this slavery to sin, to Satan, or to
God? Whosoever or whatsoever held the captive, must, of course, receive
the price of redemption. To which of these was it due, and how holds the
analogy? I leave the subject with the lecturer.

I now turn to what is greatly more agreeable in this discussion, the
statement that we hold Christ to have been morally perfect. To this we
assent with all our conscience, with all our hope, and with all our
hearts. We regard him as pure and perfect in every thought and word. We
see him with a holy piety illuminating his whole character and conduct.
We see him, in solitude and society, holding communion with his Father
and our Father, his God and our God. We see him in darkest moments, in
periods of deepest anguish, maintaining a hopeful and a trustful spirit;
in every affliction holding true to his love for God and man. We see him
with a patience that toiled for all, and never tired. We see him
plodding through every thankless labour, which here can find no
recompense, except it be that wherein the act itself is a blessing to
the Spirit. We see him in vexation and sorrow; and, whilst we gaze upon
his tranquil brow, we feel our stormy passions silenced into peace. We
see him in his struggles and temptations, and we feel how poor and
pitiful are our deepest griefs or sorest trials compared with his. We
regard him in the greatness of his benevolence, and we hear from his
lips such words as never man spake before. We behold him, whose soul was
never tainted with sin, turn most mercifully on the repentant sinner,
striking the heart with rending anguish, yet filling the eye with
sweetest and most hopeful tears. We see him with a bosom throbbing with
all human charities, and an ear open to every cry of woe and
wretchedness. We see him in all unselfish sacrifices, and all generous
labours; and regarding our nature in him as most lovely, most glorious,
and most triumphant, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
We see him as the most perfect image of his Father; and the first, among
all his brethren, filled with the inspiration of God, and spreading it
forth abundantly on the souls of men.

Amongst other wrongs to Christ, we are accused of taking away all
motives of love to him. It may be fair, then, to ask, for what do
Trinitarians love him? And it may be also fair to ask, what is it in him
that moves their affections which may not equally move ours? They cannot
love Christ the God in the same sense or on the same grounds on which
they love Christ the man. For what, then, do they love Christ the man,
or Christ the mediator, for which, in that aspect, we may not love him
as deeply and as truly? Is it for his many and great labours? On even
the orthodox doctrine, these were the toils of the manhood and not of
the godhead. Is it for his sufferings? The God could not suffer, could
not be weary, could not be persecuted, could not die, could neither be
hooted nor crucified; if, therefore, all the strongest motives of love
to Christ be founded in his humanity, then I assert we have all these
motives. On any supposition, it was not the second person of the godhead
that bent his bleeding head on Calvary, it was the _man_ Christ Jesus.
If it be said that Unitarian views do not move the heart, we have only
with sorrow to confess, that no views of Christ’s nature or character
move us practically as they ought; and for the small results which his
doctrines have produced amongst us, we, with others, have reason to bend
down our heads in deepest humiliation: but we solemnly deny that our
convictions about Christ have any tendency to produce such an effect. In
the case of wrong, the fault is in ourselves, and not in our doctrines.

II. Having thus explained our views on Christ as a man, I shall occupy
the remaining part of this discourse by stating, as briefly as I can,
the difference between Trinitarians and ourselves on his character as a

What are the religious needs of man? says the Trinitarian. Consequently,
What is the office of the Messiah? If we take the Calvinistic scheme,
and at present that is the most popular, the reply would be, or should
be, thus:—There is a decree of eternal election and reprobation by which
millions, before the foundation of the world, were destined to be saved
or lost. The numbers were fixed, and could neither be enlarged or
diminished. For the salvation of the elect, and these only, the second
person in the godhead became incarnate: them he purchased with his
blood, and the rest were left to perish. The elect entered into life
with the seal of predestination on their birth, redeemed, to be
justified, to be sanctified, and finally to be glorified. _The
remainder_ came into the same life burdened with the imputation of a sin
committed centuries previous to their existence. Foredoomed to
perdition, overpassed by the Father, and disregarded by the Son, and
unvisited by the Holy Spirit, they die in their sins, enter on their
predetermined destiny, and, to use the tremendous language of the
Athanasian Creed, “perish everlastingly.”

In this statement, I do no wrong to Calvinism, and scarcely justice. It
might easily be made more dark, and without a whit of controversial
exaggeration. But if this be a true idea of Christianity, it is a system
of terror and not of mercy, an anathema and not a blessing, the fiat of
universal wrath and not the words of universal mercy, the proclamation
from an austere and angry Deity and not a remedy for a weak and erring
humanity. Orthodoxy in this scheme, instead of endearing Christ to the
human heart, alienates and removes him from it; instead of making him an
encouragement, renders him a terror; instead of placing him before us as
the impersonation of almighty clemency, through him proclaims an
almighty vindictiveness; places Jesus out of the sphere of human
affections, and wrenches him from the worn and suffering heart of man.
On the orthodox principle, he is out from us, and not of us. He is alone
in his own mysterious nature. Our affections are perplexed, and our
heads are bewildered. To offer our sympathy, or to look for his, would
be the very climax of presumption. He is in no proper sense identified
with us, or allied to us. His example is more an accident than an
essential of his work. The substance of his work, on the orthodox
scheme, might have taken place in the most secret recesses of the
universe; and God would be satisfied, and the elect would be

What, says Unitarianism, are the moral wants of man? Consequently, what
is the mediator he requires?

Religion, we maintain, was made for man, and not man for religion. The
mediator, therefore, which we require, is one who would guide and not
confound our nature; who would ennoble but not perplex it. We would look
for a mediator by whom we should receive the light and truth of God and
heaven to our souls. We need to see the capacities, the duties, and the
destinies of our kind, in one who is perfectly, but yet simply, of
ourselves. Our sorrows, our sufferings, and our darkness, we regard as
but so many reasons why our Redeemer and Saviour should be entirely of
our own kind. We require one who would manifest to all that God is
really interested in us. We require one who would show that we are not
shut out from communion with the infinite, the invisible, and the
future. We require one who would correct our evils, and yet resolve our
doubts. We require one who could sympathize with our weakness. We
require one who would show us of what our nature is capable, and thus
flash upon us the guilt of our deficiencies, or inspire us with the hope
of advancement. We are feeble, and need strength; we are tempted, and
need support. Jesus proves to us that the strength is in us, if we use
it; and that the support is at hand, if we choose to apply it. In our
transgressions, we are but too much inclined to yield to, or justify
ourselves with, a guilty sophistry; but our views of Jesus leave us no
room for such delusion. Whilst Trinitarianism places most of our
religious wants afar off and outside us, Unitarianism fixes them within
us. Whilst Trinitarianism demands a Christ which shall reconcile God to
us, Unitarianism holds a Christ which shall conform us to God:—to us his
word and work is a spirit of life, his word and work to them but dogma
or mystery.

Upon our views, Christ is properly a mediator; on those of orthodoxy, he
can bear no such character: compounded of Deity and humanity, he is
truly of neither. It is said that we have no need of Christ; that, in
fact, he has no purpose in our system; that he might be taken from it
without creating any loss. We maintain the contrary. We maintain that
Christ is our all in all; that he is the impersonation of our religion,
that he is bodily our Christianity. Whilst others principally regard him
in the retrospect, we have him as a present and a living reality. Whilst
others trust him for what he has done, we love him for what he was.
Whilst others make his nature the subject of hard and abstruse dogmas,
we hold it forth as the subject of affectionate contemplation. Whilst
others propose faith, we propose imitation as the greatest virtue. We
look upon him as the Instructor in our moral doubts; the enlightener of
our ignorance, which, in so many cases, press down our hearts respecting
the general course of Providence and our future destiny; of our
ignorance respecting God, and all that belongs to the future, the Past,
and the Invisible.

The Past, yea, and the present also, is filled, we confess, with
difficulties that alarm our fears, and call forth our sorrows. And it is
only when we look to Christ as really and simply human that we have any
tangible consolation, or any solid support. The trials or temptations or
sufferings of a God are not only repugnant to our reasons, but foreign
to our hearts. Such ideas can create no confidence, and therefore can
afford no ground of sympathy—and no ground of hope, of strength, or of
consolation. If one who is a God—were temptation to such a being
possible—overcomes temptation, on what grounds can any other conclude he
can resist it?—If one who is a God resists indignity with quietude and
calmness, on what ground can another make such conduct an example?—If
one who is a God meets agony and death with confident and fearless
mind—knowing that his life is safe in eternal beatitude—on what possible
principles of reason or expectation can this be a consolation or hope to
feeble mortals?—If a God by his own inherent power rise from the dead,
by what logic of faith or intellect are we to conclude _man_ as _man_ is
to live for ever? It is only then upon our principles that I think he
can properly fulfil the offices that pertain to his character as
Mediator, that he can be our Teacher, that he can be our Exemplar, that
he can be the Discloser of our duties and our destinies, that he can be
at the same time a revealer and a revelation, that he can be the
foundation of our hope and the source of our strength:—that he can, I
say, be our Teacher; for what is necessary to the position of a moral
instructor? not merely to be able to announce truth, but to announce it
with living effect. The being who suffered no pain would have no power
in preaching fortitude. Sympathy is necessary to confidence, and
confidence is necessary to moral influence. Christ in his simple
humanity has a power which we could not give to him, supposing he was of
a compound constitution. Without this belief that he was simply and
naturally man, his instructions have small effect, and his actions have
no reality.—Moreover, I assert it is only in this view he can be our
exemplar, I mean the ideal, or representative of what we ought to be, or
of what in a more perfect condition we will be: for it is utterly and
outrageously absurd to propose as the pattern of human conduct or human
hopes, one who had in the same person the might and security of a Deity
with the dangers and the trials of a man: and in truth it is
outrageously absurd to say he could have such dangers and trials at
all,—it would not be a mystery but a mockery:—and, lastly, I contend,
that it is our views—weakly I have expressed them—which bring to the
human spirit most of strength and most of comfort. They give consistency
and sublimity to his communion with God, and to his revealings of
another world. They give immeasurable value to his miracles. They put
the seal of divine confirmation on his resurrection as the pledge of
human immortality. He is then our Instructor in every doubt; our
Consolation in every sorrow; our Strength in the griefs of life, and our
Support in the fears of death. We see him in his own ennobling and
sanctifying human nature, and by his impressive and vital energy sending
out from him the power for its redemption.

The character of God, as revealed in Christ’s teaching, and manifested
by Christ’s life, in the Unitarian faith, is not only discerned with a
clearer light, but commands a more sacred reverence, as well as a more
willing love. He that hath seen me, says the Saviour, hath seen the
Father. Now we believe this expression to be full of profoundest truth,
if we receive it as a moral revelation; but orthodoxy reduces it to a
mystical enigma, and robs it of meaning and of value. We discern God
through Christ as a Father, universal, merciful, good, holy, and
all-powerful. This we collect from the teachings of Christ; we could
never deduce it from the teachings of Calvinism. If we turn to the
teachings of Christ, we hear of a Father impartial and unbounded; if we
turn to the teachings of Calvinism, we read of a God that, in any
benignant sense, is but father to a few, and these few purchased by the
agonies of innocence; if we turn to the teachings of Christ, we are
instructed of a Father who is merciful, and that mercy is proposed to us
as the most perfect object of imitation; if we turn to the teachings of
Calvinism, we are told of a Father who properly cannot be merciful at
all, for the good he gives has been purchased, and is the equivalent of
a price; a Father, I repeat, whose good-will is paid for; the primary
element in whose character, as drawn in many popular creeds and
formularies, is a stern wrath, falsely called justice; the imitation of
which, in the creature, would turn earth into a darker hell than ever
theology visioned. If we turn to the teachings of Christ, we find in
them a Father supremely good, holding towards all his creatures a
benignant aspect; who, when his children ask for bread will not give
them a stone,—who casts with equal hand the shower and the sun-shine;
who rules in the heavens with glory, and in earth with bounty; who hears
the raven’s cry as well as the Seraph’s song. If we turn to Calvinism we
are informed of a Deity who has seen the ruin and the wreck of his own
workmanship, and pronounced a curse over that which he did not choose to
prevent; we are told that all creatures sicken under that original
curse; that earth feels it to her centre; that it spreads a frown over
heaven, and roars with a voice of destruction in the thunder and the
tempest; that living creatures throughout all their countless tribes,
suffer by it; that it pursues man from the first tears of infancy to the
last pang of death. If we turn to the teachings of Jesus, we are taught
that God is most holy; we are placed before that invisible Being who
searches the heart, and sees it in its last recesses. Thus piercing to
the very source of action, Christ makes guilt and holiness inward and
personal, inflicts on the criminal the full penalty, and secures to
rectitude its great reward: covering the one with moral hideousness, and
the other with exceeding beauty. If we turn to the teachings of
Calvinism, sin is contracted by imputation, and righteousness is
acquired by imputation also. The lost endure the penalty of guilt in
their own persons, the elect endure it by substitution, in the person of
another. If we turn to the teachings of Jesus, we have a Father whose
power is infinite as his goodness, in which we trust for the redemption
and perfection of the universe. If we turn to the teachings of
Calvinism, we see God consigning a vast portion of his rational creation
to eternal sin and misery, and therefore, if we would save his
benevolence we are constrained to sacrifice his power. Christ, Saint
Paul declares, is the image of God; but if the Father be the avenger,
and Christ the victim, he is not his image, but his contrast, and then
our souls, instead of ascending to God in love, turn from him, and fix
all their sympathies on Christ. As Unitarians apprehend him, we conceive
him in perfect union with the Father, imaging, with resplendent
sweetness, the attributes of his Father’s character. In the compassion,
in the benevolence, in the purity, and in the miracles of Christ, we
have revealed to us the goodness, the holiness, and the power of God;
upon the calm and gracious countenance of Jesus we may read the glory of
God, and, as in a stainless mirror, behold the scheme of his providence.

Place these views side by side with common experience and human feeling,
and which, I ask, is the most consistent? Who, in a healthy state of
mind, has any compunction because Adam sinned—but who, with his moral
emotions awakened, is not anxious to know what is the duty of man here,
and what his destiny hereafter? By which scheme, I inquire, are these
momentous problems best resolved? Testing these views by the common
experience to which I have appealed, taking its ordinary convictions as
the standard, I may fairly inquire, whether our principles are not
consistent in their hopes, and high and pure in their consolations?
Comparing each with the history and life of Christ, I have no doubt of
what would be the result, if system or dogmatism did not interfere with
our convictions. Regarding Christ as our perfect, immortal, but human
Brother, we have the living evidence that God is our Father, and Heaven
is our Home.—Our views of Christ makes his history of most precious
value to us—his life, his death, his crucifixion and his
resurrection—Christ becomes to us the great interpreter of Providence,
equally of its fears and hopes. He becomes to us the symbol of humanity,
equally of its grief and glory—near his cross we weep over death, and at
his tomb we rejoice in the certainty of life. In Christ crucified, we
see our nature in its earthly humiliation; in Christ glorified, we
behold it in its immortal triumph. As Jesus on the cross sets forth our
sorrow, so Jesus from the tomb sets forth our hope. Identified with
Jesus in the one, we are also identified with him in the other. We
behold “the man,” and in that man we behold the two solemn stages of our
nature, the struggle of affliction and the glory of success.—We see the
man of sorrow and the man of joy—the man of earth, and the man of
heaven—the man of death and the man of immortality. We are made more
assured of that doctrine to which we fly in every painful turn of
life—and in which we seek a deeper and kinder refuge as years and
troubles gather over us. Without this persuasion we feel ourselves
creatures weak and desolate; when our pleasures here have sunk, when our
hopes here have long since died, how much would we, in this wilderness,
desire to lay our heads, as Jacob did, on a cold stone, if like Jacob we
beheld an opened heaven; but how much more sweetly may we look upon the
risen and the living face of Jesus. He was of ourselves. He was
identified with us. I see then in Jesus, not the illustration of an
argument or of a theory. I see in him the embodiment of human goodness,
human affections, and human hopes, and human capacities, and human
destinies. When, especially, I think of human suffering, some necessary
and some blameless,—when I behold the ignorant and the vicious, the
ignorant and the wretched pining away in a crowded solitude,—when I see
the man of weary years and many adversities, seeking at last but some
spot in which to die,—when I see a sickened wretch, tired of existence,
poor, indigent, cold and naked, the victim of almost every want and
grief, toiling through life and shivering into death,—when I see
laborious age, after few enjoyments of either soul or sense, lying at
last on the bed where the weary are at rest, where at last the still
small voice of Christ is more desired than all the logic of
polemics,—when I see multitudes with dead, or dormant, or perverted
energies—benevolent ardour wasted, or most honourable philanthropy
defeated,—when I consider the thousands, and the tens of thousands of
human beings chained to a dark fatality in the destiny of moral and
physical circumstances—the ignorance, the bondage, the cruelties, the
unrevealed wretchedness without a name heaped on the heads of myriads,
generation after generation,—when I think of unspeaking and unspeakable
agonies lurking in every corner of civilized society—hereditary penury,
unavoidable ruin, unforeseen misfortune, the pangs of noble minds
struggling in vain against dependence; the writhings of dying hearts,
concealing their last sighs from watching friends, the stifled laments
of honest virtue cast forth on over-grown cities and populations, where
sufferer after sufferer sink unheard in the noise of indifferent
millions,—when I remember unrewarded toil, fine spirits crushed, and
fair names blighted,—when I see the enjoyment of the worthless and the
prosperity of the vicious, the success of the worst passions, and the
basest plans, the triumph of wickedness over truth and virtue,—when I
reflect seriously and solemnly on the strange sights which this world
has seen—the persecutor on the throne and the martyr at the stake, the
patriot on the scaffold and the tyrant on the bench—the honest man
ruined, and the villain the gainer,—I have before me, I admit, a dark
and startling problem. In the dying Christ I have the difficulties: in
the risen Christ I have their solution. In Christ on the cross I see our
crucified humanity—in Christ risen and ascending I see the same humanity
glorified; at the cross of Jesus my heart would sink, but at his empty
grave my hope is settled and my soul at ease. I go to that vacant tomb,
and there I am shown that the bands of death are loosed, and the gates
of glory are lifted up. Near Jesus on the cross, I have but thick clouds
and darkness; in Jesus risen the shadows are melted, and the gloom is
lost in brightness, and the sun which burst it shines forth more
resplendent—the blackness of the sky breaks forth into light, and the
wrath of the ocean softens into peace, the curtain of mist is folded up,
and a lovely world bursts upon my gaze. When I stand at the cross I have
man imaged in fears, in struggles and in death. I have around me our
nature in its crimes and passions; but when I see the ascending and
glorified Christ, I behold humanity in its most triumphant hopes:—When I
stand over the silent tomb of Jesus, and would weep, as if all beneath
and beyond the skies were hopeless, a light shines out from the
darkness, and throws a halo of peace about the desponding soul. In
Christ crucified, believing him human, simply human, I feel around me
the right of man—in Christ risen, believing him also human, I exult in
unclouded and unsetting light:—near Christ crucified, I tremble with
exceeding fear; near Christ glorified, I am comforted with exceeding
joy—and in each case because I feel he is truly and simply human.

In both parts of his life and history we have opposing aspects of
Providence. But if in his sufferings we have the pillar of cloud, in his
glory we have the pillar of fire; and in this wilderness pilgrimage we
are saddened and solemnized by the one,—enlightened and guided by the
other. Christ crucified and Christ glorified, united in our faith and
feelings, identified with our nature, our history, and our race, opens
views to the Christian’s soul, not only of consolation but of triumph,
that defy expression. It pours light and hope and dignity on universal
destiny and on every individual condition. In analogy with God’s
material creation in its workings, it shows glory arising out of
humiliation, and renovated beauty from apparent destruction—it shows in
man as in nature—the world of grandeur, of purity, and of softness—born
in the throes of chaotic formation; the streams of spring filled with
the year’s rejoicing gushing out of the frozen fountains of winter; the
fresh, and bright, and peaceful morning generated in the midnight storm.
If these views of Christ are seated in our hearts and faith: if we truly
identify ourselves with one as with the other: feeling that in each case
Christ is simply and perfectly our brother,—what can deaden our hope,
and what can sever us from duty? Though friends be absent and enemies be
fierce, and pain wreck our frames and poverty lay bare our dwellings,
and disappointment wait on our struggles, and grief thicken heavily on
our souls, in Christ suffering there is our worst extremity; in Christ
glorified there is that worst extremity redeemed into the fulness of
salvation; in Christ we see personified our entire humanity, except its
sins; in him we behold its subjection and its triumph. View its pains in
his humiliation, and its future prospects in his victory, and what a
glory does it not spread upon our race? Is there a single track of the
past on which it does not rain showers of light—on which it does not
leave the persuasion of immortal and universal existence? By Christ’s
doctrines and his life we are led to the conclusion that no human
existence has been ever spent in vain; that of all the vast ocean of
intelligent beings with which generations have flooded the earth; that
in that vast universe of life, one heart has never panted without a
purpose; that no thought ever started into being, not a throb of misery,
not a solitary charity, not a silent prayer, not an honest effort, not a
fervent wish or desire, not a single good intention, not a single
instance of sacrifice or worth, ever existed to be destroyed, but that
on the contrary they have been transferred to more genial scenes in
another world, and left seeds for better fruits in this. Believing on
Christ the crucified and the glorified, and still regarding him as the
image of God, it is pleasant to dwell equally upon the past and upon the
future; to think of the good and true who suffered here for virtue,
collected hereafter in all the unity of peace, having escaped the
fightings of earth, settled in the joys of heaven. But why confine
ourselves to the excellent and the great? The glory of Christ proclaims
life to all; it attracts to itself whosoever lived or suffered on earth,
all that ever will live or suffer. Into what a glory has Christ then not
entered: go to the most seclusive church-yard: worlds there moulder in
the smallest space; within its range as many sleep as might have peopled
an empire, and in a few steps we may walk over millions. Beneath those
pacings what parents and children, and companions, have mouldered? What
friendships, and hopes, and energies have melted in this simple dust?

But why say a Church-yard? All earth is a grave. The world is sown with
bodies: is futurity as filled with souls? Is this spot on which we
breathe for a moment a mere speck between two eternities of infinite
nothingness? Have the generations as they vanished, sunk into eternal
sleep, so that “_It is finished_,” should be the proper epitaph of all
departed humanity? Christ alone gives the full solution of this awful
problem; and this solution is clear and consolatory, as we feel him to
be of ourselves. He is thus the great type of our death and of our life,
throwing light over the grave, and opening to our faith a growing and
everlasting future,—where all exist, the great and good to more perfect,
and the evil to be redeemed,—and where every stream that flows on to
eternity will bear along with it a fresh burden of joy and beauty. Jesus
the crucified, and Jesus the glorified, of simple but holy humanity, is
the great interpreter of the past and the future, and by him
interpreted, how glorious are the words, all our memories on earth and
our hopes in heaven.



I think it right to state here that one or two passages are printed in
the lecture, which, as time was failing, I passed over in the delivery.
They affect in nowise the general import or argument. I thought it
possible that one sentence in reference to Mr. Jones’s lecture would
require to be expunged; but having now read the lecture in print, I see
the sentence may stand. Mr. Jones defined with clearness and accuracy
his belief in Christ’s humanity—that Christ was really a man, “that he
had a corporeal and mental existence like our own,” “that he possessed a
body of flesh and blood, such as is common to our race,” “that in that
body dwelt a rational soul, to whose volitions it was subject,” “that he
was conceived in the womb, and born a helpless infant, and dependent on
the care of his parents through the whole of his childhood and
youth.”[158] Here, then, we have a set of qualities in the man Christ
Jesus, which from their very nature must have commenced with his earthly
life. Thus defined, the lecturer afterwards goes on to say that “though
there was nothing in his corporeal or mental powers essentially
different from other men, yet were _there certain peculiarities_
connected with his _perfect manhood_, which it is of momentous
consequence that we should know and believe.”[159] “First, he possessed
_moral perfection_.” On this all Unitarians are agreed. Secondly, the
lecturer noticed the _miraculous conception_. On this we have
differences amongst us. Now _a third_ peculiarity was also marked, which
by the order of the lecturer’s argument we are entitled to rank with the
others as belonging to the manhood of Christ. Mr. Jones is still
speaking of _the man_ Christ Jesus, and yet the _third peculiarity_ is
alleged to be _his pre-existence_. But if to have been born of a woman,
if to have had a corporeal and mental existence like our own, were
essentials of his humanity, then this is a flat contradiction; if this
attribute were meant to apply to him as God, we should have been told
so; and even then, the distinction would be wholly powerless, for no one
thinks of comparing other men with Jesus as God. Mr. Jones does not
introduce that portion of his subject until we have passed over several
pages.[160] The analogy of body and soul in man is incessantly used to
illustrate a two-fold nature in Christ. Nothing can be more fallacious.
It breaks down at every step; for if it be used to signify the possible
union of two different elements in one being, then Christ is not
two-fold but three-fold, there are in his person the divine soul and the
human soul, and in addition to all, the human body. If it be used to
signify the union of two natures in one person, the soul and body are
not two distinct natures, in the sense required, and therefore can
neither illustrate nor prove the dogmatical complexity ascribed to
Christ. Every nature that we know is composite, but it is one thing to
be compounded of various qualities, and another to be a union of
irreconcileable ones. If man had _two_ souls in one body, so perfectly
united as to make a single person, and yet that one should be ignorant
of what the other knew, then we should have an illustration that would
be correct and intelligible. Mr. Jones uses the following illustration,
to shew that we distinguish between the body and the soul when we do not
express the distinction in words. “If we say,” he observes, “that a
neighbour is sick, or in pain, or hungry, or thirsty, or in want, we
mean that his _body_ is sick, or in pain, or hungry, or thirsty, or in
want, and no one for a moment supposes that we refer to his soul. And
if, on the other hand, we say that a man is learned, or ignorant, wise
or unwise, happy or miserable, humble or proud, it is equally obvious
that we refer to the _soul_, and not to the _body_.”[161] No such
distinction is known either in grammar or philosophy, and the laws of
thought as well as those of language equally repudiate it. A man may be
healthy or sick by _means_ of the excellence or defect of his body, but
the assertion is made of the man as a _person_. He may in like manner be
wise or ignorant by _means_ of the excellence or defects of the
faculties of his soul; but again, the assertion is of _the person_. And,
indeed, if we were to speak with severe and metaphysical precision,
every instance which the preacher has adduced should be predicated of
the Soul, for so far as they are sensations, they belong properly to the
soul; and the body is but their medium or instrument. By the laws, then,
both of thought and language, whatever Christ affirms of himself, he
affirms of his _person_, be the elements what they may that enter into
its constitution. But how are we to think of the dogma for which such
hair-splitting distinctions are adduced; distinctions which, had not the
solemnity of the subject forbidden the use of ridicule, might be shown
by all forms of speech to be as incongruous as they are puerile, and as
ridiculous as they are false.

                     Note on John xii. See page 8.

On the supposition of our Lord’s simple humanity, this chapter exhibits
a most sublime revelation of his nature. On any other hypothesis it
loses all its moral beauty, and leaves us nothing but inconsistency. The
belief of his simple human nature gives a more sacred awe to the
circumstances in which he was placed, explains to us those struggles and
workings of his inmost soul, which were deepening the bitterness of his
hour of travail. We can then appreciate the grandeur with which, in the
spirit of duty, he arose to meet the approaching storm; and we can also
appreciate the tenderness and sensibility with which he shrunk for a
moment from the anguish that awaited him. To say that the godhead
withdrew its support from him is a solution unintelligible in any sense.
For through every moment of his existence he must have been conscious of
his proper Deity, or he was not; if he was, why tremble? if not, then
during that period his godhead was virtually extinguished, and he
remained simply man. But every utterance of his in this profound chapter
is truly human,—breathings of that nature from its inmost recesses,
strong in duty, but struggling with fear and grief.

There is no period of our Lord’s mission in which we see so profound a
solemnity around him. He had come from the quiet and hospitable home of
his friends in Bethany, had made his public and triumphant entry into
Jerusalem, but the awful close and consummation was at hand; he knew
that these hosannahs would scarcely have died on the ear, before their
change into hootings and revilings; and the hands which spread the palm
were ready to drag him to the cross. The next day was big with sorrows
and tortures. The mysteries of death and the grave were to be resolved;
and it is no dishonour to our Lord to suppose such a prospect should
fill his heart with trouble; for the most finely constituted nature is
ever the most sensitive, and those who perceive clearly and vividly,
apprehend circumstances which it never enters into coarser minds to
discern. In proportion as our personal sensations are acute, is the
victory of duty noble that overcomes them, in the same proportion also
is the strength of submission, or the beauty of patience. With these
views, we can well interpret for our consolation and example the
anguished exclamation of Christ,—“Now is my soul troubled, and what
shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I
to this hour.”

If Christ were God as well as man, words like these are absolutely
unaccountable; and as we cannot be so profane as to think that Christ
spoke for mere effect, we have only to conclude that it was the fervent
and simple exclamation of a being who felt he needed help from Heaven.
This were impiety of the darkest die, if Jesus in one portion of his own
person was infinite and omnipotent.

                          NOTE 1, see page 18.

“Priestley, loaded with glory, was modest enough to be astonished at his
good fortune, and at the multitude of beautiful facts which nature
seemed to reveal to him alone. He forgot that her favours were not
gratuitous, and that if she had so well explained herself, it was
because he had known how to constrain her by his indefatigable
perseverance in questioning her, and by a thousand ingenious means of
wresting from her her answers. Others carefully conceal what they owe to
accident. Priestley seemed to wish to ascribe to it all his merit. He
records, with unexampled candour, how many times he had profited by it
without knowing it, how many times he was in possession of new
substances without having perceived them; and he never concealed the
erroneous views which sometimes directed his efforts, and which he
renounced only from experience. These confessions did honour to his
modesty, without disarming jealousy. Those whose views and methods had
never led them to discovery, called him a mere maker of experiments,
without method, and without an object:—“It is not astonishing,” they
added, “that among so many trials and combinations he should find some
that were successful. But real natural Philosophers were not duped by
these selfish criticisms.”—After some remarks on Priestley’s changes in
religious opinions, and tracing rapidly his progress from fiercest
Calvinism to simple humanitarianism, he thus beautifully describes the
close of his laborious life:—“His last moments were full of those
feelings of piety which animated his whole life, and the improper
controul of which had been the foundation of all his errors. He caused
the gospel to be read to him, and thanked God for having allowed him to
lead an useful life, and granted him a peaceful death. Among the list of
the principal blessings, he ranked that of having personally known
almost all his contemporaries. ‘I am going to sleep as you do,’ said he
to his grand-children, who were brought to him, ‘but we shall wake again
together, and, I hope, to eternal happiness;’ thus evincing in what
belief he died. These were his last words. Such was the end of that man,
whom his enemies accused of wishing to overthrow all morality and
religion, and yet whose greatest error was to mistake his vocation, and
to attach too much importance to his individual sentiments in matters
when the most important of all feelings ought to be the love of

The Edinburgh Review,[163] from which this extract is taken, introduces
it with the following liberal and generous remarks:—

“We cannot pass unnoticed the _Eloge_ of Dr. Priestley, which brought
his biographer into the field of theological discussion, and which
deserves to be studied in a country where the Character of that
extraordinary man, both as a Philosopher and a Christian, has been so
greatly misrepresented.”

The conclusion of the following extract is earnestly recommended to the
consideration of those pious men who have been misled by the intolerant
spirit of the day; and who, on lending their aid, without being
conscious of what they are doing, to break the cords of affection which
ought to unite the professors of our common Christianity.

                          NOTE 2, see page 26.

A great mass of the religious world, in the orthodox meaning of that
phrase, is now called _evangelical_, and although that term, I admit,
does not necessarily imply absolute Calvinism, yet, in point of fact,
the greater number of those whom it designates are Calvinists. The
opponents of Calvinism are often accused of misrepresenting it. For this
reason I have endeavoured here to make it speak for itself—by some of
its principal formularies, by one or two of its popular writers, and by
the author of it himself, in his own words,—Many will say _they_ hold no
such sentiments: for the sake of human nature I sincerely believe them;
if I thought such a faith (the terms being understood) could be
extensively entertained, confidence in my species would be turned into
fear. But, notwithstanding, many opinions which they do hold, logically
pursued, lead directly to the conclusions contained in the extracts, the
writers of which were perfectly consistent with their system. Numbers
who are called Calvinists, I am aware, not only do not believe its worst
doctrines, but do not understand them. In the statement, however, of
opinions, we cannot be guided by individual feelings, except in cases
where we have individual protest to the contrary. The members of the
Church of England may object to the Westminster confession of Faith, not
being a formulary of their Church: it is, however, the sworn authority
of a large body of clergy with whom, when purpose needs, they refuse not
to hold friendly communion. It is, however, an accurate digest of
Calvinism: in that relation I have used it,—to such of the English
clergy as are not Calvinists it can have no reference. I wish to quote
it as a theological, and not as an ecclesical authority. But the
seventeenth article of the English Church, though softened in
expression, is the same in sense. Burnet I know has made the
unsuccessful effort to suit it to both sides for the sake of tender
consciences; but that must be a most convenient and comprehensive
latitude of phraseology which can sound all the notes of the theological
scale, from high Calvinism down to low Arminianism. That the meaning of
the article is properly Calvinistic, is plain from the times in which it
was composed, from the opinions of the men who drew it up, and from the
terms in which it is expressed. Yet many thousand ministers with all
varieties and shades of opinions, solemnly affirm they believe it,
although the law demands that the articles shall be taken in their plain
and grammatical sense. This is one proof of the consistency of creeds. I
quote one author, Boston, who seems actually to feast and luxuriate
amidst the dark monstrocities which he pictures; his spirit appears to
bound, and his heart to exult within him, at the sound of the dreadful
trumpet which calls the wicked to their final doom; and one can almost
imagine the rapture of his eye, as in fancy he saw the flame kindling,
and the smoke of torment arising in which they were to burn for ever. In
his description of hell he displays no ordinary degree of graphic and
geographical talent, and when he comes to paint the sufferings of damned
bodies, he is so accurate and anatomical, that as Paley at 60 learned
anatomy, to write on natural theology, you would suppose that Boston
learned it to enlarge with correctness on the physical tortures of the
lost. I wish not to fix his opinions upon any man or body of men;
substantially, however, they are no more than Calvinism, though some
might object to his mode of expressing them. This I may fairly say to
any of those who do not agree with Boston in their Calvinism, and would
yet fix the Improved Version on us, that _they_ are as bound to receive
the one as _we_ the other. Nay, more so, inasmuch as Boston’s work is in
a wider circulation, and with the evidence of most extensive approval.
It is published by the London Tract Society, and I have an edition
before me as late as 1838; it is sold by every evangelical bookseller,
and it is to be found on the shelves of every evangelical circulating
library. We are accused of rebellion against God and Christ; but let any
one read dispassionately the extracts contained in this, and reflect on
the sentiments to be deduced from their collective testimony, and then
let him say whether deeper injury was ever done to God, or Christ, or
man, than is inflicted by these repulsive dogmas. By these descriptions,
if God is a being of love or justice, then language has no meaning, or
we are to interpret the terms by their contradictories. If you were only
to disguise the words, but preserve the sentiments, and attribute the
character implied in them to the parent of the most zealous of
Calvinists, he would spurn the aspersion with honest indignation. And,
if we mean not by goodness in God, something analogous to goodness in
man, what is it that we can mean? The abstractions in which these dogmas
are involved by scholastic mysticism, blinds the mind to their ordinary
import. But let us suppose an illustration. Take the case of a human
father, who, granting he had the power, should pre-ordain his child to
misery; should attribute a guilt to him, he never knew; should require
from him what he had no power to accomplish, and condemn him because he
had not fulfilled it; should place him in circumstances in which he was
sure to grow worse, and yet withhold the help that could make him
better; should, as the son sunk deeper in iniquity, heap heavier
malediction on the wretch he abandoned; should see without pity the ruin
that continually grew darker, and gaze ruthlessly on the suffering that
was finally to be consummated in despair.—Suppose further, and you
render the picture complete, that such conduct was defined as the
vindication of parental dignity, the very glory of justice; and he who
practised it as a father of exceeding love. But we will go further, and
suppose this father has the power to cast his child into misery
everlasting, and that he does it; must we close the analogy here? No: we
can carry it one step higher: swell out this being into infinite
existence, make him omnipotent and omniscient, place him on the throne
of the universe, and put all creatures within his boundless control, he
is then the God of Calvin’s theology. This view I give not rashly, nor
without foundation; it is more than justified by the quotations that I
bring forward. _Our_ faith is characterized as a blasphemous heresy: we
employ no epithet, but we are not afraid to have it contrasted with
Calvinistic orthodoxy.

                          _Character of God._

“Predestination is the everlasting purpose of God; whereby (before the
foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his
counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he
hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them to everlasting
salvation, as vessels made to honour.”—_From the 17th Article of the
Church of England._

“By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and
angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained
to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestined and
fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their
number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or

“The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable
counsel of his own will; whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he
pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to
pass by and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the
praise of his glorious justice.”

“As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for
former sins doth blind and harden, from them he not only withholdeth his
grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings,
and wrought upon in their hearts, but sometimes also withdraweth the
gifts which they had, and exposeth them to such objects as their
conception makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their
own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby
it cometh to pass, that they harden themselves, even under those means
which God useth for the softening of others.”—_Westminster Confession of
Faith_, ch. iii, § 3, 4, 7; ch. v, § 6.

“God, in his providence, permitted some angels wilfully and
irrecoverably to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that
and all their sins to his own glory; and established the rest in
holiness and happiness, employing them all, at his pleasure, in the
administrations of his power, wisdom, and justice.”—_Larger Catechism_,
q. 19.

“I grant, indeed,” says Calvin, “that all the children of Adam fell, by
the _will_ of God, into that misery of state whereby they be now bound;
and this is it that I said at the beginning, that at length we must
alway return to the determination of the will of God, the cause whereof
is hidden in himself. The angels which stood fast in their uprightness,
Paul calleth the elect. If their steadfastness was grounded on the good
pleasure of God, the falling away of the others proveth that they were
forsaken; of which thing there can be no other cause alleged than
reprobation, which is hidden in the secret counsel of God.”—_Inst._
note, b. iii, ch. 23, § 4.

“Predestination, whereby God adopteth some into the hope of life, and
adjudgeth some to eternal death, no man, that would be accounted godly,
dare deny.” “Predestination we call the eternal decree of God: he had it
determined with himself what he willed to become of every man. For all
are not created to like estate; but to some eternal life, and to some
eternal damnation, is fore-appointed. Therefore every man is created to
one or the other end. So we say he is predestinated to life or to
death.”—_Ibid._ b. iii, ch. 21, § 5.

“The Scripture crieth out that all men were in the person of one man
made bound to eternal death. Since this cannot be imputed to nature, it
is plain it proceeded from the wondrous counsel of God. But it is too
much absurdity that these, the good patrons of the righteousness of God,
do so stumble at a straw and leap over beams. Again I ask, how came it
that the fall of Adam did wrap up in eternal death so many nations, with
their children, being infants, without remedy, but because it so pleased
God? Here their tongues, which are otherwise so prattling, must be dumb.
It is a terrible decree, I grant; yet no man shall be able to deny but
that God foreknew what end man should have ere he created him, and
therefore foreknew because he had so ordained by his decree.”—_Ibid._ b.
iii, ch. 23, § 7.

These quotations, did space permit, or the patience of my readers, might
be multiplied to a much greater extent; and might do something, perhaps,
to illustrate the character of the persecutor of Servetus. His actions,
as a man, were not inconsistent with his ideas of God as a theologian.

“Who can fully describe,” asks Boston, “the wrath of an angry God? None
can do it.” “Wrath,” he says, “is a fire in the affections of man,
tormenting the man himself; but there is no perturbation in God. His
wrath does not in the least mar that infinite repose which he hath in
himself.” Then, speaking of man generally, he says, “There is a wrath in
the heart of God against him; there is a wrath in the word of God
against him; there is a wrath in the hand of God against him.” We have
here his statement of wrath in God as an agent; and, through pages of
gloomiest description, he makes man its unsheltered object. “There is a
wrath on his body. It is a piece of accursed clay, which wrath is
sinking into, by virtue of the first covenant. There is a wrath on the
natural man’s enjoyments. Wrath is on all he has: on the bread he eats,
the liquor he drinks, and the clothes he wears.”—_Boston’s Fourfold

                   _Character and Condition of Man._

“With such bondage of sin then as will is detained, it cannot move
itself to goodness, much less apply itself.”—_Calvin Inst._, b. ii, ch.
3, § 5, London Edition, 634.

“Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they
may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and
others, yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor
are done in a right manner, according to the word, nor to a right end,
the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or
make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet their neglect of them
is more sinful and displeasing unto God.”—_Westminster Confession of
Faith_, ch. xvi. § 7.

“Man in his depraved state is under an utter inability to do anything
truly good.”—_Boston._

The same doctrine is taught more leniently in the 13th article of the
Church of England, so that amongst the theologians, “the natural man,”
as they call him, is in a sad condition, for act as he will he cannot
but sin: if he does good works, he commits sin, and if he neglects them
he is guilty of still greater sins. Quotations in the spirit of those
already adduced might be swelled into volumes from the vast treasures of
Calvinistic divinity. But I shall close these by an extract from the
author I have before mentioned and quoted from, an author, as I have
said, highly popular and largely circulated; and here is a passage of
his on Christ and the last judgment.—“The judge will pronounce the
sentence of damnation on the ungodly multitude. Then shall he say also
to them on the left hand, ‘Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting
fire prepared for the devil and his angels:’ ... The Lamb of God shall
roar as a lion against them; he shall excommunicate and cast them out of
his presence for ever, by a sentence from the throne, saying, ‘Depart
from me, ye cursed.’ He shall adjudge them to everlasting fire, and to
the society of devils for evermore. And this sentence also we suppose,
will be pronounced with an audible voice by the man Christ. And all the
saints shall cry, ‘Hallelujah! true and righteous are his judgments!’
None were so compassionate as the saints when on earth, during the time
of God’s patience: but now that time is at an end; their compassion for
the ungodly is swallowed up in joy in the Mediator’s glory, and his
executing of just judgment, by which his enemies are made his footstool.
Though when on earth the righteous man wept in secret places for their
pride, and because they would not hear, yet he shall rejoice when he
seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked
(Ps. lviii. 10). No pity shall then be shown them from their nearest
relations. The godly wife shall applaud the justice of the judge in the
condemnation of her ungodly husband: the godly husband shall say _Amen_
to the condemnation of _her_ who lay in his bosom; the godly parent
shall say _Hallelujah_ at the passing of the sentence against their
ungodly child; and the godly child shall, from the bottom of his heart,
approve the condemnation of his wicked parents,—the father who begat
him, and the mother who bore him. The sentence is just, they are judged
according to their work.”—Rev. xx. 12.

It were surely preferable to labour under the blindest mistakes
concerning the essence of God, or the person of Christ, than be guilty
of believing such atrocious representations as these of their moral
character. The zealous may scout us if they choose, as infidels; but if
Calvinism and Christianity were identical, infidelity would be virtue,
it would be but the righteous rebellion of human nature against creeds,
in vindication of the truth of its own affections, and the rectitude of
its God.


                       Footnotes for Lecture IV.

Footnote 151:

  See Note on John xii.

Footnote 152:

  John x. 34-36.

Footnote 153:

  Acts xvii. 30, 31.

Footnote 154:

  1 Cor. xv. 21, 47.

Footnote 155:

  Acts. x.

Footnote 156:

  Cuvier. See Note 1.

Footnote 157:

  See Note 2.

Footnote 158:

  Lect. pp. 219, 220.

Footnote 159:

  Lect. p. 222.

Footnote 160:

  Lecture, p. 233.

Footnote 161:

  Lecture, p. 244.

Footnote 162:

  Cuvier’s Eloge on Priestley.

Footnote 163:

  No. 126, 1836.


                            THE PROPOSITION

                         “THAT CHRIST IS GOD,”

                     AND THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES.



The length of the following Discourse rendered it necessary to omit
large portions of it in the delivery; the remainder has undergone no
alteration in preparing the Lecture for the press.

It is one of the duties of the controversialist to drop each subject of
debate so soon as everything materially affecting it has been advanced;
and to seize the time for silence, as promptly as the time for speech.
This consideration would have led me to abstain from any further remarks
respecting the Improved Version, did it not appear that it is considered
disrespectful to pass without notice any argument adduced by our
opponents. In briefly adverting to Mr. Byrth’s strictures on my former
Lecture, contained in the preface to his own, I am more anxious to avert
from myself the imputation of discourtesy to him than to disprove his
charge of “PITIFUL EVASION;” which even the accuser himself, I imagine,
cannot permanently esteem just.

Notwithstanding the criticisms of my respected opponent, I still
maintain that a Subscriber to the British and Foreign Unitarian
Association is no more responsible for the alleged delinquencies of the
Improved Version, than is a Subscriber to the British and Foreign Bible
Society for the known departures from the true standard of the text
which its funds are employed to circulate. Mr. Byrth appears to
enumerate three particulars, in which he thinks that the parallelism
between these two cases fails:

First; “The Authorised Version does not profess to be a _systematic
Interpretation_. It is not, in one word, a _Creed_ and an _Exposition_.
It is only a literal _translation_, without note or comment.” So much
the worse, must we not say? Whatever deception a false text can produce,
is thus wholly concealed and undiscoverable; the counterfeit passes into
circulation, undistinguished from the pure gold of the Divine Word,
bearing on its front the very same image and superscription. Did this
version “_profess_ to be a _systematic Interpretation_,” readers would
be on their guard; but while professing to be “without note or comment,”
it inserts “a note” or gloss (in the case of the Heavenly Witnesses)
into the _text itself_. The doctrinal bearing of this and other
readings, in which Griesbach’s differs from the Received Text, makes the
Authorised Version, _quoad hoc_, a creed, while it disclaims this

Secondly; To constitute the Parallelism, the Bible Society ought to be,
“The Trinitarian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,” avowedly
publishing an “Improved Version of the Scriptures,” &c. So long, then,
as Churchmen abstain from proposing “an Improved Version,” and designate
their societies by neutral names, they may be acquitted, “in foro
conscientiæ,” for retaining any corruptions which may happen to exist in
the _un-improved_ Translation. It is easy to conjecture that, on this
principle, it will be long before the Church incurs the needless guilt
of an “Improved Version.” Surely the frank avowal, by the words
“Trinitarian Society,” of a party purpose, would rather abate than
augment the culpability of retaining a Trinitarian gloss; since the
reader would have fair warning that the work was edited under
Theological bias. And one of the most serious charges against “the
Improved Version” was precisely this: that its first edition was without
party badge (the word _Unitarian_ not appearing in the title); so that
it might possibly deceive the unwary.

Thirdly; The parallelism is said to fail _in extent_; the peculiarities
of the Improved Version being much more numerous, and sustained by less
evidence, than the false readings of the Authorized Translation. I
cannot concur in this remark, so far as it affects the evidence against
1 John v. 7. But I pass by this matter of opinion, to protest against
the unjust exaggeration of a matter of fact, contained in Mr. Byrth’s
supposition of a Trinitarian counterpart to the Improved Version. He
speaks of “a text corrected on the principle of” “_Theological_
criticism and conjecture:”—he knows that _not one text_ is so corrected;
that Griesbach’s second edition is followed without variation; that any
proposed deviations from it are only typographically indicated, or
suggested and defended in the notes. He speaks of the retention of
“questionable passages,” without “notice that their authenticity had
ever been doubted;” and the expunging of as many perplexing doctrinal
texts as possible:—he knows that _not one word_ of the most approved
text is expunged, or of any less perfect text retained; and that notice
is given of every deviation on the part of the Editors, in questions
either of authenticity or of translation, from their standards,
Griesbach and Newcome, and from the Received Text. Mr. Byrth is aware
that his opponents in this controversy do not altogether admire the
Improved Version; but it is not fit that advantage should be taken of
this to publish extravagant descriptions of it, in which the accuracy of
the scholar, and even the justice of the Christian, are for the moment
lost in the vehemence of the partisan.

It is desirable to add, that the Society which originally published the
Improved Version, has long since been merged in the British and Foreign
Unitarian Association. In this larger body three other societies (of
which one, at least, surpassed in scale and influence the unfortunate
object of our opponent’s hostility) are consolidated; and its
subscription list contains the names of those who previously supported
_any_ of the constituent elements of the Association. Hence it can, with
no propriety, be called “The Society instituted for the circulation” of
the Improved Version. It cannot be alleged that a subscriber is bound to
anything more than a general and preponderant approbation of the complex
objects of the Association; nor does he, by retaining his name on the
list of its supporters, forego his right of dissenting from particular
modes of action which its Directors may adopt.

May I assure Mr. Byrth, that I did not intend to insinuate, that his
strictures were produced “second-hand:” except in the sense that many of
them had, in fact, been anticipated. I expressly guarded myself against
any construction reflecting on the originality and literary honour of
our opponents.

The remaining animadversions of Mr Byrth, involving no public interest,
and having merely personal reference to myself, I willingly pass by;
knowing that they can have no power but in their truth; and in that case
I should be sorry to weaken them.


                               LECTURE V.

                         CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES.

                        BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU.

   viii. 5, 6.

Scarcely had Christ retired from our world, before his influence began
to be felt by mankind in two different ways. He transformed their
_Worship_, and purified their interpretation of _Duty_. They have ever
since adored a holier God, and obeyed a more exalted rule of right.
Looking upward, they have discerned in heaven a Providence more true and
tender than they had believed; looking around, they have seen on earth a
service allotted to their conscience, nobler and more responsible than
they had thought before. Watched from above by an object of infinite
trust and veneration, they have found below a work of life most sacred,
to be performed by obedient wills beneath his sight. Faith has flown to
its rest _there_, and conscience has toiled in its task _here_, with a
tranquil energy never seen in a world not yet evangelized.

To suppose that a set of moral precepts, however wise and authoritative,
could ever have produced, in either of these respects, the effects which
have flowed from Christianity, seems to me altogether unreasonable. Had
Christ done no more than leave in the world a sound code of ethics, his
work would probably have expired in a few centuries, and have been very
imperfect while it endured. A few prudential and dispassionate minds
would have profited by its excellence; but never would it have trained
the affections of childhood, or overawed the energy of guilt, or refined
the rugged heart of ignorance, or consecrated the vigils of grief.

The power of Christ’s religion is not in his precepts, but in his
person; not in the memory of his maxims, but in the image of Himself. He
is his own system; and, apart from him, his teachings do but take their
place with the sublimest efforts of speculation, to be admired and
forgotten with the colloquies of Socrates, and the meditations of Plato.
Himself first, and his lessons afterwards, have the hearts of the people
ever loved: his doctrines, indeed, have been obscured, his sayings
perverted, his commands neglected, the distinctive features of his
instructions obliterated, but he himself has been venerated still; his
unmistakable spirit has corrected the ill-construed letter of the
Gospel; and preserved some unity of life amid the various, and even
opposing developments of Christian civilization.

The person of Christ may be contemplated as an object of religious
reverence, or as an object of moral imitation. He may appear to our
minds as the representative of Deity, or as the model of humanity;
teaching us, in the one case, what we should believe, and trust, and
adore in heaven; in the other, what we should do on earth:—the rule of
faith in the one relation, the rule of life in the other.

Did his office extend only to the latter, were he simply an example to
us, displaying to us merely what manhood ought to be, he might indeed
constitute the centre of our morality; but he would not properly belong
to our religion: he would be the object of affections equal and social,
not devout; he would take a place among things human, not divine; would
be the symbol of visible and definite duties, not of unseen and
everlasting realities. A Christianity which should reduce him to this
relation, would indeed be a step removed above the mere cold preceptive
system, which depresses him into a law-giver; but it would no more be
entitled to the name of a _religion_, than the Ethics of Aristotle, or
the Offices of Cicero.

It is then as the type of God, the human image of the everlasting Mind,
that Christ becomes an object of our _Faith_. Once did a dark and
doubting world cry, like Philip on the evening of Gethsemane, “Show us
the Father, and it sufficeth us:” but now has Christ “been so long with
us” that we, “who have seen him, have seen the Father.” This I conceive
to have been the peculiar office of Jesus; to _show us_, not to _tell
us_, the spirit of that Being who spreads round us in Infinitude, and
leads us through Eternity. The universe had prepared before us the
_scale_ of Deity; Christ has filled it with his own _spirit_; and we
worship now, not the cold intellectual deity of natural religion; not
the distant majesty, the bleak immensity, the mechanical omnipotence,
the immutable stillness, of the speculative Theist’s God: but One far
nearer to our worn and wearied hearts; One whose likeness is seen in
Jesus of Nazareth, and whose portraiture, suffused with the tints of
that soul, is impressed upon creation; One, therefore, who concerns
himself with our humblest humanities, and views our world with a
domestic eye, whose sanctity pierces the guilty mind with repentance,
and then shelters the penitent from rebuke; who hath mercy for the
victims of infirmity, and a recall for the sleepers in the grave. Let
Messiah’s mind pass forth to fill all time and space; and you behold the
Father, to whom we render a loving worship.

In order to fulfil this office of revealing, in his own person, the
character of the Father, Christ possessed and manifested all the _moral_
attributes of Deity. His absolute holiness; his ineffable perceptions of
right; his majestic rebuke of sin; his profound insight into the corrupt
core of worldly and hypocritical natures, and to the central point of
life in the affectionate and genuine soul; his well-proportioned mercies
and disinterested love, fill the whole meaning of the word Divine: God
can have no other, and no more, perfection of character intelligible to

These moral attributes of God, we conceive to have been compressed, in
Christ, within the physical and intellectual limits of humanity; to have
been unfolded and displayed amid the infirmities of a suffering and
tempted nature; and, during the brevity of a mortal life, swiftly
hurried to its close. And this immersion of divine perfection in the
darkness of weakness and sorrow, so far from forfeiting our appreciation
of him, incalculably deepens it. The addition of infinite force,
mechanical or mental, would contribute no new ingredient to our
veneration, since force is not an object of reverence; and it would take
away the wonder and grandeur of his soul, by rendering temptation
impossible, and conflict a pretence. Since God cannot be pious, or
submissive to his own providence, or cast down in doubt of his own
future, or agonized by the insults of his own creatures, such a
combination seems to confuse and destroy all the grounds of veneration,
and to cause the perfection of Christ to pass in unreality away.

To this view, however, of the person of Christ, Trinitarians object as
defective; and proceed to add one other ingredient to the conception,
viz., that he possessed the physical and intellectual attributes of
Deity;—that he is to be esteemed no less eternal, omnipotent and
omnipresent, than the Infinite Father; the actual creator of the visible
universe, of the very world into which he was born and of the mother who
bare him, of the disciples who followed and of the enemies who destroyed
him. These essential properties of Deity by no means, we are assured,
interfered with the completeness of his humanity; so that he had the
body, the soul, the consciousness, of a man; and, in union with these,
the infinite mind of God. But in a question of mere words, in which the
guidance of ideas is altogether lost, I dare not trust myself to my own
language. To disturb the juxtaposition of charmed sounds, is to endanger
orthodoxy; and, in describing the true doctrine, I therefore present you
with a portion of that unexampled congeries of luminous phrases,
commonly called the Athanasian Creed. “The Catholic faith is this: that
we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding
the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the
Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the
Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one;
the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is
the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost: ... the Father eternal, the Son
eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal; and yet they are not three
eternals, but one eternal.... So the Father is God, the Son is God, and
the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God....
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one
Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And, in this Trinity, none is afore
or after other; none is greater or less than another; but the whole
three persons are co-eternal together and co-equal.”

Of the second of these three persons, the second article of the Church
of England gives the following account:—

“The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of
the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the
Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her
substance; so that two whole and perfect natures,—that is to say, the
Godhead and the Manhood,—were joined together in one Person, never to be
divided; whereof is One Christ, very God and very Man; who truly
suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to

In opposition to this theory, we maintain the Personal Unity of God, and
the simplicity of nature in Christ. It is my duty at present to submit
these contrasted schemes to the test of Scripture. In order to effect
this, I advance these three positions:

(1.) That if the Athanasian doctrine be found in Scripture, then, on our
opponents’ own principles, Scripture does not contain a revelation from

(2.) That if it be really in the Bible, certain definable traces of it
there may justly be demanded; and, before opening the record, we should
settle what these traces must be.

(3.) That such traces cannot be found in Scripture.

I. “If,” says Bishop Butler, “a supposed revelation contain clear
immoralities or contradictions, either of these would prove it
false.”[164] This principle, generally recognized by competent
reasoners, has been distinctly admitted in the present discussion; and
Dr. Tattershall, in particular, has employed much ingenuity to prove
that the doctrine of the Trinity, containing no absurdity or
contradiction, involves in no danger the authority of the writings
supposed to teach it. But no subtlety can avail to remove the inherent
incredibility of this tenet, which even its believers cannot, without
uneasiness, distinctly and steadily contemplate. Long usage and Church
authority alone prevent men from perceiving that the propositions,
announcing it, are either simple contradictions, or statements empty of
all meaning. The same remark is applicable to the notion of the two
natures in Christ.

Before proceeding to justify this assertion, let me guard myself from
the imputation of rejecting this doctrine _because it is mysterious_; or
of supporting a system which insists on banishing all mysteries from
religion. On any such system I should look with unqualified aversion, as
excluding from faith one of its primary elements; as obliterating the
distinction between logic and devotion, and tending only to produce an
irreverent and narrow-minded dogmatism. “Religion without mystery” is a
combination of terms, than which the Athanasian Creed contains nothing
more contradictory; and the sentiment of which it is the motto, I take
to be a fatal caricature of rationalism, tending to bring all piety into
contempt. Until we touch upon the mysterious, we are not in contact with
religion; nor are any objects reverently regarded by us, except such as,
from their nature or their vastness, are felt to transcend our
comprehension. God, of whose inscrutable immensity creation is but the
superficial film; Christ, the love of whom surpasseth knowledge;
futurity, veiled in awful shadows, yet illumined by a point or two of
light; these, which are slightly known, and greatly unknown, with
something definite, representing a vast indefinite, are the peculiar
objects of trust and veneration. And the station which the soul
occupies, when its devout affections are awakened, is always this: on
the twilight, between immeasurable darkness and refreshing light; on the
confines, between the seen and the unseen; where a little is discerned,
and an infinitude concealed; where a few distinct conceptions stand, in
confessed inadequacy, as symbols of ineffable realities: and we say,
“Lo! these are part of his ways; but the thunder of his power, who can
understand?” And if this be true, the sense of what we do not know is as
essential to our religion as the impression of what we do know: the
thought of the boundless, the incomprehensible, must blend in our mind
with the perception of the clear and true; the little knowledge we have
must be clung to, as the margin of an invisible immensity; and all our
positive ideas be regarded as the mere float to show the surface of the
infinite deep.

But mystery, thus represented, offers anything but objects of belief: it
presents nothing to be appreciated by the understanding; but a realm of
possibilities to be explored by a reverential imagination; and a
darkness that may be felt to the centre of the heart. Being, by its very
nature, the blank and privative space, offered to our contemplation,
nothing affirmative can be derived thence; and to shape into definite
words the things indefinite that dwell there is to forget its character.
We can no more delineate anything within it than an artist, stationed at
midnight on an Alpine precipice can paint the rayless scene beneath him.

There cannot, however, be a greater abuse of words, than to call the
doctrine of the Trinity a mystery; and all the analogies by which it is
attempted to give it this appearance, will instantly vanish on near
inspection. It does not follow, because a mystery is something which we
cannot understand, that everything unintelligible is a mystery; and we
must discriminate between that which is denied admittance to our reason,
from its fulness of ideas, and that which is excluded by its emptiness;
between a verbal puzzle and a symbolical and finite statement of an
infinite truth. If I were to say of a triangle, each of the sides of
this figure has an angle opposite to it, yet are there not three angles
but one angle, I should be unable to shelter myself, under the plea of
mystery, from the charge of bald absurdity; and the reply would be
obviously this: ‘Never was anything less mysterious put into words; all
your terms are precise and sharp, of definable meaning, and suggestive
of nothing beyond: the difficulty is, not in understanding your
propositions separately, but in reconciling them together; and this
difficulty is so palpable, that either you have affirmed a direct
contradiction, or you are playing tricks with words, and using them in a
way which, being unknown to me, turns them into mere nonsense.’ If to
this I should answer, that the contradiction was only apparent, for that
the _three_ and the _one_ were affirmed _in different senses_; and that
it would be very unfair to expect, in so deep a mystery, the word
_angle_ to be restrained to its usual signification; I should no doubt
be called upon to explain _in what novel sense_ this familiar term was
here employed, since, in the interval between the expulsion of the old
meaning and the introduction of the new, it is mere worthless vacancy.
And if, then, I should confess that the strange meaning was some
inscrutable and superhuman idea, which it would be impossible to reach,
and presumption to conjecture, I should not be surprised to hear the
following rejoinder; ‘you are talking of human language as if it were
something more than an implement of human thought, and were like the
works of nature, full of unfathomable wonders and unsuspected relations;
_hidden properties of things_ there doubtless are, but _occult meanings
of words_ there cannot be. Words are simply the signs of ideas, the
media of exchange, invented to carry on the commerce of minds,—the
counters, either stamped with thought, or worthless counterfeits. Nay
more, in this monetary system of the intellectual world, there are no
coins of precious metal that retain an intrinsic value of their own,
when the image and superscription imprinted by the royalty of
intelligence are gone; but mere paper-currency, whose whole value is
conventional, and dependent on the mental credit of those who issue it:
and to urge propositions on my acceptance, with the assurance that they
have some invisible and mystic force, is as direct a cheat, as to pay me
a debt with a bill palpably marked as of trivial value, but, in the
illegible types of your imagination, printed to be worth the wealth of

“Verbal mysteries,” then, cannot exist, and the phrase is but a fine
name for a contradiction or a riddle. The metaphysics which are invoked
to palliate their absurdity, are fundamentally fallacious; and equally
vain is it to attempt to press natural science into the service of
defence. In the case of a Theological mystery, we are asked to assent to
two ideas, the one of which _excludes the other_; in the case of a
natural mystery, we assent to two ideas, one of which _does not imply
the other_. In the one case, conceptions which destroy each other are
forced into conjunction; in the other, conceptions which had never
suggested each other, are found to be related. When, for example, we say
that the union, in our own constitution, of body and mind is perfectly
mysterious, what do we really mean? Simply, that in the properties of
body there is nothing which would lead us, antecedently, to expect any
combination with the properties of mind; that we might have entertained
for ever the notions of solidity, extension, colour, organization,
without the remotest suspicion of such things as sensation, thought,
volition, affection, being associated with them. The relation is
unanticipated and surprising; for thought does not imply solidity: but
then neither does it exclude it; the two notions stand altogether apart,
nor does the one comprise any element inconsistent with the other. It is
evident that it is far otherwise with the union of the two natures in
Christ; the properties of the Divine nature, omnipotence, omniscience,
omnipresence, directly exclude the properties of the human
nature,—weakness, fallibility, local movement and position; to affirm
the one is the _only method we have_ of denying the other; and to say of
any Being, that besides having the omniscience of God, he had the
partial knowledge of man, is to say that _in addition_ to having _all_
ideas, he possessed _some_ ideas. All the natural analogies at which
theologians hint in self-justification, fail in the same point. They
tell me truly that it is a mystery to me how the grass grows. But by
this is meant only, that from the causes which produce this phenomenon,
I could not have antecendently predicted it; that if I had been a fresh
comer on the globe, the meteorological conditions of the earth in spring
might have been perceived by me without my suspecting, as a sequence,
the development of a green substance from the soil. We have again an
example of an unforeseen relation; but between the members of that
relation there is not even a seeming contradiction. Nor do I know of any
other signification of the word mystery, as applied to our knowledge or
belief, except in its usage to express magnitudes too great to be filled
by our imaginations; as when we speak of the mysterious vastness of
space, or duration of time: or, viewing these as the attributes of a
Being, stand in awe of the immensity and eternity of God. But neither in
this case is there any approach to the admission of ideas which exclude
each other; on the contrary, our minds think of a small portion,—take
into consideration a representative sample, of those immeasurable
magnitudes, and necessarily conceive of all that is left behind, as
perfectly similar, and believe the unknown to be an endless repetition
of the known.

It is constantly affirmed that the doctrines of the Trinity, and of the
two natures in Christ, comprise no contradiction; that it is not stated
in the former that there are three Gods, but that God is three in one
sense, and one in another; and in the latter, that Christ is two in one
sense, and one in another.

I repeat and proceed to justify my statement, that if, in the
enunciation of these tenets, language is used with any appreciable
meaning, they are contradictions; and if not, they are senseless. I
enter upon this miserable logomachy with the utmost repugnance; and am
ashamed that in vindication of the simplicity of Christ, we should be
dragged back into the barren conflicts of the schools.

“If,” says Dr. Tattershall, “it had been said that He is ONE GOD and
also THREE GODS, then the statement would have been self-contradictory,
and no evidence could have established the truth of such a
proposition.”[165] Now I take it as admitted that this being is called
ONE GOD; and that there are THREE GODS, is undoubtedly affirmed
_distributively_, though not _collectively_; _each_ of the three persons
being separately announced as God. In the successive instances, which we
are warned to keep distinct, and not confound, of the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost, _proper Deity_ is affirmed; in three separate cases,
all that is requisite to constitute the proper notion of God, is said to
exist; and this is exactly what is meant, and all that can be meant, by
the statement, that there are three Gods. I submit then that the same
creed teaches that there _are three Gods_, and also that there are _not
three Gods_.

From this contradiction there is but one escape, and that is, by
declaring that the word God is used in different senses; being applied
to the triad in one meaning, and to the persons in another. If this be
alleged, I wait to be informed of the new signification which is to be
attached to this title, hitherto expressive of all the ideas I can form
of intellectual and moral perfection. _More_ than this, which exhausts
all the resources of my thought, it cannot mean; and if it is to mean
_less_, then it withholds from Him to whom it is applied something which
I have hitherto esteemed as essential to God. Meanwhile, a word with an
_occult meaning_ is a word with no meaning; and the proposition
containing it is altogether _senseless_.

But the favourite way of propounding this doctrine is the following:
that God is three in one sense, and one in another; Three in Person, but
only One _Individual_, _Subsistence_, or _Being_. The sense, then, if I
understand aright, of the word _Person_, is different from the sense of
the words _Individual, Being, or Subsistence_; and if so, I may ask what
the respective senses are, and wherein they differ from each other. In
reply I am assured, that by _person_ is to be understood “a subject in
which resides” “an entire set or series of those properties which are
understood to constitute personality; viz. the property of _Life_, that
of _Intelligence_, that of _Volition_, and that of _Activity_, or _power
of Action_.”[166] Very well; this is distinct and satisfactory; and now
for the _other sense_, viz. of the words _Individual_, _Being_, and
_Subsistence_. About this an ominous silence is observed; and all
information is withheld respecting the _quite different meaning_ which
these terms contain. Now I say, that their signification is the _very
same_ with that of the word Person, as above defined; that when you have
enumerated to me a complete “set of personal attributes,” you have
called up the idea of an _Individual_, _Being_, or _Subsistence_; and
that when you have mentioned to me these phrases, you have made me think
of a complete set of personal attributes; that if you introduce me to
two or three series of personal attributes, you force me to conceive of
two or three beings; that a complete set of properties makes up an
entire subsistence, and that an entire subsistence contains nothing else
than its aggregate of properties. To take, for example, from Dr.
Tattershall’s list of qualities which are essential to personality; tell
me of two _lives_, and I cannot but think of two individuals; of two
_intelligences_, and I am necessitated to conceive of two intelligent
beings; of two _wills_ or powers of action, and it is impossible to
restrain me from the idea of two Agents; and if each of these lives,
intelligences, and volitions, be divine, of two Gods. The word
substance, in fact, will _hold no more_ than the word person; and to the
_mind_, though not to the ear, the announcement in question really is,
that there are three persons, and yet only one person. Thus men “slide
insensibly,” to use the words of Archbishop Whately, “into the
unthought-of, but, I fear, not uncommon, error of Tritheism; from which
they think themselves the more secure, because they always maintain the
Unity of the Deity; though they gradually come to understand that Unity
in a merely _figurative_ sense; viz. as a Unity of substance,—a Unity of
purpose, concert of action, &c.; just as any one commonly says, ‘My
friend such-an-one and myself are one;’ meaning that they pursue the
same designs with entire mutual confidence, and perfect co-operation,
and have that exact agreement in opinions, views, tastes, &c., which is
often denoted by the expression _one mind_.”[167]

No doubt this excellent writer is correct in his impression, that the
belief in three Gods is prevalent in this country, and kept alive by the
creeds of his own church. And how does he avoid this consequence
himself? By understanding the word Persons, not in Dr. Tattershall’s,
which is the ordinary English sense, but in the Latin signification, to
denote the _relations_, or _capacities_, or _characters_, which an
individual may sustain, the _several parts_ which he may perform; so
that the doctrine of the Trinity amounts only to this, that the One
Infinite Deity bears three relations to us. This is plain Unitarianism,
veiled behind the thinnest disguise of speech. Between this and
Tritheism, it is vain to seek for any third estate.[168]

The contradiction involved in the doctrine of the two natures of Christ
is of precisely the same nature and extent. We are assured that he had a
perfect human constitution, consisting of the growing body and
progressing mind of a man; and also a proper divine personality,
comprising all the attributes of God. Now, during this conjunction,
either the human mind within him was, or it was not, _conscious_ of the
co-existence and operation of the divine. If it was not, if the earthly
and celestial intelligence dwelt together in the same body without
mutual recognition, like two persons enclosed in the same dark chamber,
in ignorance of each other, then were there two distinct beings, whom it
is a mockery to call “one Christ;” the humanity of our Lord was
unaffected by his Deity, and in all respects the same as if disjoined
from it; and his person was but a movable sign, indicating the place and
presence of a God, who was as much foreign to him as to any other human
being. If the human nature had a joint consciousness with the divine,
then nothing can be affirmed of his humanity separately; and from his
sorrows, his doubts, his prayers, his temptations, his death, every
trace of reality vanish away. If he were conscious, _in any sense_, of
omnipotence, nothing but duplicity could make him say, “of mine own self
I can do nothing;” if of omniscience, it was mere deception to affirm
that he was ignorant of the time of his second advent; if of his
equality with the Father, it was a quibble to say, “my Father is greater
than I.” I reject this hypothesis with unmitigated abhorrence, as
involving in utter ruin the character of the most perfect of created

The intrinsic incredibility then of these doctrines, involving, as they
do, “clear immoralities and self contradictions,” would throw discredit
on the claims of any work professing to reveal them on the authority of
God. And whether we listen to the demands of Scripture on our
reverential attention, must depend on this:—whether these tenets are
found there or not. And to this enquiry let us now proceed.

One remark I would make in passing, on the supposed value of the theory
of the two natures, as a _key_ to unlock certain difficult passages of
the Bible, and to reconcile their apparent contradictions. Christ, it is
affirmed, is sometimes spoken of as possessing human qualities,
sometimes as possessing divine; on the supposition of his being simply
man, one class of these passages contradicts us; on the assumption of
his being simply God, another. Let us then pronounce him both, and
everything is set right; every part of the document becomes clear and

Now which, let me ask, is the greater difficulty: the obscure language,
which we wish to make consistent, or the prodigious hypothesis, devised
for the reconcilement of its parts? The sole perplexity in these
portions of Scripture consists in this,—that the divine and the human
nature are felt to be incompatible, and not to be predicable of the same
being: if we did not feel this, we should be conscious of no opposition;
and the ingenious device for relieving the bewilderment, is to deny the
incompatibility, and boldly to affirm the union. If you will but believe
_both_ sides of the contradiction, you will find the contradiction
disappear! What would be thought of such a principle of interpretation
applied to similar cases of verbal discrepancy? It is stated, for
example, in the Book of Genesis, that Abraham and Lot received a divine
communication respecting the destruction of Sodom; and the bearers of
the message are spoken of, in one place, as Jehovah himself; in another,
as angels; in a third, as men.[170] What attention would be given to any
interpreter who should say; ‘it is clear that these persons could not be
simply God, for they are called men; nor simply men, for they are called
angels; nor simply angels, for they are called God: they must have had a
triple nature, and been at the same time perfect God, perfect angel, and
perfect man?’ Would such an explanation be felt to solve anything? Or
take one other case, in which Moses is called God with a distinctness
which cannot be equalled in the case of Christ: “Moses called together
all Israel, and said to them: ... I have led you forty years in the
wilderness; your clothes have not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is
not waxen old upon thy foot. Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye
drunk wine or strong drink; that ye might know that _I am the Lord your
God_.”[171] What relief, let me ask, should we obtain from the
difficulty of this passage, by being told that Moses had two natures in
one person, and must be received as God-man? Who would accept “a key”
like this, and not feel that in loosening one difficulty, it locked fast
another, and left us in labyrinthine darkness?

II. When a Trinitarian, and a Unitarian, agree to consult Scripture
together, and to bring their respective systems to this written
standard, it is essential that they should determine beforehand what it
is that they must look for: what internal characters of the books are to
be admitted in evidence; what kind and degree of proof each is entitled
to expect. Each should say to the other before the Bible is opened,
“Tell me now, distinctly, what are the marks and indications in these
records, which you admit would disprove your scheme: what must I succeed
in establishing, in order to convince you that you are mistaken?” The
mutual exchange of some such tests is indispensable to all useful
discussion. I am not aware that any rules of this kind have ever been
laid down, or I would willingly adopt them. Meanwhile I will propose a
few; and state the phenomena which I think a Unitarian has a right to
expect in the Bible, if the Athanasian doctrine[172] be revealed there,
and its reception made a condition of salvation. If the criteria be in
any respect unreasonable, let it be shown _where_ they are erroneous or
unfair. I am not conscious of making any extravagant or immodest
petition for evidence.

If, then, the existence of three Persons, each God, in the One Infinite
Deity,—and the temporary union of the second of these Persons, with a
perfect man, so as to constitute One Christ,—be among the prominent
facts communicated in the written Revelation of the Bible, we may expect
to find there the following characters:

(1.) That somewhere or other, among its thousand pages, these doctrines
so easily and compendiously expressed, will be plainly stated.

(2.) That as it is important not to confound the three persons in the
Godhead, they will be kept distinct, having some _discriminative and not
interchangeable titles_; and, moreover, since each has precisely the
same claim to be called GOD, that word will be assigned to them with
something like an impartial distribution.

(3.) That as, in consistency with the UNITY, the term God will always be
restricted to _one only being or substance_; so, in consistency with the
TRINITY, it will _never_ be limited to ONE PERSON to the exclusion of

(4.) That when the PERSONS are named by their _distinctive divine
titles_, their equality will be observed, nor any one of them be
represented as subordinate to any other.

(5.) That since the MANHOOD of Christ commenced, and its peculiar
functions ceased, with his _incarnation_, it will never be found
ascribed to him in relation to events, before or after this period.

All these phenomena, I submit, are essential to make scripture
consistent with Athanasianism; and not one of these phenomena does
scripture contain. This it is now my business to show.

III. (1.) Is then our expectation realized, of finding somewhere within
the limits of the Bible, a plain, unequivocal statement of these
doctrines? Confessedly not; and notions which, in one breath, are
pronounced to be indispensable to salvation, are in another admitted to
be no matters of revelation at all, but rather left to be gathered by
human deduction from the sacred writings. “The doctrine of the Trinity,”
says a respectable Calvinistic writer, Mr. Carlile of Dublin, “is rather
_a doctrine of inference and of indirect intimation_, deduced from what
is revealed respecting the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and
intimated in the notices of a plurality of persons in the Godhead, than
a doctrine directly and explicitly declared.” And elsewhere the same
author says, “_A doctrine of inference ought never to be placed on a
footing of equality with a doctrine of direct and explicit
revelation._”[173] If this be so (and the method of successive steps by
which it is attempted, in this very controversy, to establish the
doctrine of the Trinity, proves Mr. Carlile to be right), then to deny
this mere _inference_ is not to deny a _revelation_. But why, we may be
permitted to enquire, this shyness and hesitancy in the scriptures in
communicating such cardinal truths? Whence this reserve in the Holy
Spirit about matters so momentous?[174] What is the source of this
strange contrast between the formularies of the Church of England, and
those of the primitive Church of Christ? The Prayer-book would seem to
have greatly the advantage over the Bible; for it removes all doubts at
once, and makes the essentials most satisfactorily plain; compensating,
shall we say, by “frequent repetitions,” for the defects and ambiguities
of Holy Writ? Nay, it is a singular fact, that in the original languages
of the Old and New Testaments, _no phraseology exists in which it is
possible to express the creeds of the Church_. We give to the most
learned of our opponents the whole vocabulary of the Hebrew and the
Greek Scriptures, and we say, “with these materials translate for us
into either language, or any mixture of both, your own Athanasian
Creed,” They well know, that it cannot be done: and ought not then this
question to be well weighed? if the terms _indispensable_ for the
expression of certain ideas are absent from the Bible, how can the ideas
themselves be present? Scarcely can men _have_ any important notions
without the corresponding words,—which the mind coins as fast as it
feels the need; and most assuredly they cannot _reveal_ them. Let us
hear no more the rash assertion that these tenets may be proved from any
page of scripture; we frankly offer every page, with unrestricted
liberty to rewrite the whole; and we say, with all this, they cannot be

(2.) Let us proceed to apply our second criterion, and ascertain whether
the divine persons, whom it is essential to distinguish, _are_ so
distinguished by _characteristic titles_ in scripture; and share among
them, with any approach to equality, the name of GOD.

It is self-evident, that a _verbal revelation_ can make known
_distinctions_ only by _distinctive words_; that if two or more objects
of thought receive interchangeable names, and the term which had seemed
to be appropriated to the one is transferred to the other, those objects
are not discriminated, but confounded. We require, then, separate words
in scripture to denote the following notions; of the One Divine
Substance, or Triune Being; of the First, of the Second, of the Third
person, in this infinite existence;—of the Divine Nature and of the
Human Nature of Christ. For the Trinity, it is acknowledged, there is no
scripture name; unless, indeed, the plural form of the word God in the
Hebrew language is to be claimed for this purpose; and thus an attempt
be still made to confirm our faith by argument which an orthodox
commentator calls “weak and vain, not to say silly and absurd.”[175]
“From the plural sense of the word Elohim,” says the great Calvin, “it
is usual to infer that there are three persons in the Godhead. But as
this proof of so important a point appears to me by no means solid, I
will not insist upon the word. Let me then warn my readers against such
VIOLENT INTERPRETATIONS.”[176] “I must be allowed,” says Dr. Lee, Arabic
Professor in the University of Cambridge, “to object to such methods of
supporting an article of faith, which stands in need of no such
support.”[177] Of the first person in the Trinity, the word “_Father_,”
it is to be presumed, may be considered as the distinctive name; of the
Second person, the terms _Son_, _Son of God_, and _the Word_ or _Logos_;
of the Third person, the phrase _Holy Ghost_, _Spirit_, _Paraclete_; and
of the human nature of Christ, as distinguished from the Second
distinction in the Trinity, the names _Jesus of Nazareth_, _Son of Man_,
the _Man Christ Jesus_. If these names be _not_ distinctive, there
certainly are no others; and if there be none at all, then the
_distinctions themselves_ are not impressed upon the record; they are
altogether destitute of signs and expressions, and must be pronounced
purely imaginary. Meanwhile we will assume the titles, which I have just
enumerated, to be appropriated to the purposes which have been assigned.
To the use of the words _Father_ and _Son_ I shall have particular
occasion to revert.

The usage of the word _God_, in the New Testament, presents us with some
remarkable phenomena. The Athanasian doctrine offers to our belief four
objects of thought, to which this word is equally and indifferently
applicable; the Triune Divine Being; and each of the three Persons; and
its advocates profess to have learned from Scripture the well-adjusted
equipoise of these claims upon the great and sacred name. We are hardly
then prepared by its instructions, distinct and emphatic as they are,
for the following fact; allowing every one of the Trinitarian
interpretations to be correct, the word God is used in the New Testament
TEN times of Christ; and of some other object, upwards of THIRTEEN
HUNDRED times.[178] Whence this astonishing disproportion? _Some
cause_,—something corresponding to it in the minds of the writers, it
must have had; nor is it easy to understand, how an equal disposition of
the Divine Persons in the habitual conceptions of the Authors, could
lead to so unequal an award of the grand expression of Divinity.

Even the few instances, which for the moment I have allowed, will
disappear on a nearer examination. This appears to be the proper place
to pass under review the most remarkable passages, which, under
Trinitarian exposition, _appear_ to sanction the doctrine of the proper
Deity of Christ.

(a.) The evangelist Matthew applies to Christ[179] the following words
of the prophet Isaiah, which, in order to give the truest impression of
the original, I will quote from the translation of Bishop Lowth: “Behold
the Virgin conceiveth, and beareth a son; and she shall call his name
Emmanuel.”[180] As this name is significant, and means “God with us,” it
is argued, that it could not be assigned to any one who was not properly

Now even if this name were really assigned by the prophet to Christ, the
most superficial Hebraist must be aware that it teaches us nothing
respecting the nature and person of our Lord. “The fact is
unquestionable,” says Dr. Pye Smith, “that the gratitude or hope of
individuals, in the ancient scriptural times, was often expressed by the
imposition of significant appellations on persons or other objects, in
the composition of which Divine names and titles were frequently
employed; these are, therefore, nothing but short sentences, declarative
of some blessing possessed or expected.”[181] Thus the name _Lemuel_
means _God with them_; _Elijah_, _God the Lord_; _Elihu_, _God is he_.
So that to use the words of one of the ablest of living Trinitarian
writers, “to maintain that the name Immanuel proves the doctrine in
question is a fallacious argument.”[182]

But, in truth, this name is not given to the Messiah by the prophet; and
the citation of it in this connection by the evangelist is an example of
those loose accommodations, or even misapplications, of passages in the
Old Testament by writers in the New, which the most resolute orthodoxy
is unable to deny; and which (though utterly destructive of the theory
of verbal inspiration) the real dignity of the Gospel in no way requires
us to deny. Turning to the original prophecy, and not neglecting the
context and historical facts which illustrate it, we find that Jerusalem
was threatened with instant destruction by the confederated kings of
Syria and Samaria; that, to the terrified Jewish monarch Ahaz, the
prophet is commissioned to promise the deliverance of his metropolis and
ruin to his enemies; that he even fixes the date of this happy reverse;
and that he does this, not in a direct way, by telling the number of
months or years that shall elapse, but by stating that ere a certain
child, either already born, or about to be born within a year, shall be
old enough to distinguish between good and evil, the foe shall be
overthrown; and that this same child, whose infancy is thus
chronologically used, shall eat the honey of a land peaceful and fertile
once more. Nor is this interpretation any piece of mere heretical
ingenuity. Dr. Pye Smith observes: “It seems to be as clear as words can
make it, that the Son promised was born within a year after the giving
of the prediction; that his being so born at the assigned period, was
the sign or pledge that the political deliverance announced to Ahaz
should certainly take place.”[183] Without assenting to the latter part
of this remark, I quote it simply to show that, in the opinion of this
excellent and learned Divine, the Emmanuel could not have been born
_later_ than a year after the delivery of the prophecy. It will
immediately appear that there is nothing to preclude the supposition of
his being already born, at the very time when it was uttered.

Who this child, and who his mother, really were, are questions wholly
unconnected with the present argument. As the _date_, and not the
_person_, was the chief subject of the Prophet’s declaration, any son of
Jerusalem, arriving at years of discretion within the stated time, would
fulfil the main conditions of the announcement; and as a sign of Divine
deliverance, might receive the name Emmanuel. In fact, however, the
child, in the view of Isaiah, seems to have been no other than the
King’s own son, Hezekiah; and the Virgin Mother to have been, in
conformity with a phraseology familiar to every careful reader of the
Old Testament, the royal and holy city of Jerusalem. Amos, speaking of
the city, says, “The virgin of Israel is fallen,”[184] Jeremiah,
lamenting over its desolation, exclaims, “Let mine eyes run down with
tears night and day, and let them not cease; for the virgin daughter of
my people is broken, with a great breach, with a very grievous
blow.”[185] Micah, apostrophizing the citadel, bursts out, “O
tower,”—“stronghold of the daughter of Zion,”—“is there no king in thee?
Is thy counsellor perished? For pangs have taken thee, as a woman in
travail.”[186] The fact that Hezekiah was already born, seems to confirm
rather than to invalidate this interpretation. A living child to his
parents, he was yet the city’s embryo king. What sign more fitted to
reassure the terrified and faithless monarch than this; that, ere his
own first-born should reach the years of judgment, his twofold enemy
should be cast down? What language, indeed, could be more natural
respecting an heir to the throne, of whom great expectations were
excited in grievous times? The royal city dreamt of his promised life
with gladness; he was the child of Jerusalem, in the hour of her anguish
given to her hopes; in after years of peace fulfilling them.[187]

(b.) This prince appears evidently to have been the person described
also in another passage, from which, though never cited in the New
Testament as applicable to Christ at all, modern theologians are
accustomed to infer his Deity. It is as follows: “Unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given; and his name shall be called wonderful;
counsellor; the mighty God; the everlasting Father; the Prince of
Peace.”[188] We have only to look at the terms in which this great one’s
dominion is described, and the characters that are to mark his reign, in
order to assure ourselves that he is some person very different from
Christ; the Northern district of Palestine is to be delivered by him
from the sufferings of an Assyrian invasion; he is to break the yoke
which Tiglath-Pileser had imposed on the land of Gennesareth; to destroy
the rod of the oppressor; to make a conflagration of the spoils of the
battle-field, and burn the greaves and blood-stained garments of his
country’s enemies.[189] It seems to me impossible to imagine a more
violent distortion of Scripture than the application of this passage to
Christ. But, be it even otherwise, there are only two of these titles
which can be thought of any avail in this argument. One is, the
“everlasting Father;” which if it proves anything, establishes that the
second person in the Trinity is the first person, or else that the word
_Father_ must be given up as a distinctive name, a concession
destructive of the whole doctrine. The other is the phrase, “the mighty
God,” or by inversion, “God the mighty;” on which I presume no stress
would have been laid if, instead of being presented to us in a
translation, it had been given in the original, and called GABRIEL. For
the word _God_, Martin Luther substitutes (Held) _hero_, as the juster
rendering.[190] But, in truth, it is sad trifling thus to crumble Hebrew
names to pieces, in order to yield a few scarce visible atoms of
argument to replenish the precarious pile of church orthodoxy, wasted by
the attrition of reason, the healthful dews of nature, and the sunshine
and the air of God.[191]

(c.) Let us turn to the Proem of St. John’s Gospel; that most venerable
and beautiful of all the delineations which Scripture furnishes, of the
twofold relation of Christ’s spirit, to the Father who gave it its
illumination, and to the brethren who were blessed by its light. To our
cold understandings, indeed, this passage must inevitably be obscure;
for it deals with some of the characteristic conceptions of that lofty
speculative reason, which, blending the refinements of Platonism with
the imaginative license of the oriental schools, assumed in early times
the intellectual empire of the church, and has kept the world ever since
in deliberation on its creations. I do not mean that the Apostle was a
Platonist, or a disciple of any philosophical system. But he wrote in
Asia Minor, where he was surrounded by the _influences_, in constant
familiarity with the _terms_, and accustomed to the _modes of thought_,
peculiar to the sects of speculative religionists most prevalent in his
time. At all events, it is _a fact_ that he uses language nowhere
employed by the other Evangelists or Apostles; and that this language is
the very same which is the common stock, and technical vocabulary of
Philo, the Platonizing Jew, and several Christian writers of the same or
a kindred school. Before, however, endeavouring to suggest the idea
which the Apostle did mean to convey, let me call your attention to that
which he did not.

There cannot be a more misplaced confidence, than that with which the
introductory verses of St. John’s Gospel are appealed to by the holders
of the Athanasian doctrine. Whatever explanation is adopted, which does
not throw contempt upon the composition of the Evangelist, is at all
events subversive of their system: and I do not hesitate to say, that
_this_ is the only thing which I can regard as certain respecting this
passage; that _it never could have been written by an Athanasian_. In
order to test this assertion, it is not necessary to look beyond the
first verse; and before we read it, let us allow the Trinitarian to
choose any sense he pleases of the word God, which is its leading term.
Let us suppose that he accepts it as meaning here “THE FATHER,” and that
the Word or Logos means GOD THE SON. With these substitutions the verse
reads thus:—

In the beginning was the Son; and the Son was with the Father; and the
Son was the Father. This surely is to “confound the persons.”

Let us then suppose the meaning different, and the whole Godhead or
TRINITY to be denoted by the word GOD. The verse would then read thus:—

In the beginning was the Son; and the Son was with the Trinity, and the
Son was the Trinity.

We are no nearer to consistency than before: and it is evident that
before the Trinitarian can find in the passage any distinct enunciation,
the term GOD must be conceived to bear two different meanings in this
short verse,—a verse so symmetrical in its construction as to put the
reader altogether off his guard against such a change. He must read it

In the beginning was the second person in the Trinity; and the second
person was with the first; and the second person was possessed of divine
attributes as such.

We might surely ask, without unreasonableness, why, when the _society_
or personal affinity of the Son in the Godhead, is mentioned in the
middle clause, the companionship of the _Father only_ is noticed, and
silence observed respecting the _Holy Spirit_; who at that moment could
not possibly have been absent from the conceptions of any Athanasian
writer. But independently of this, the awkwardness of the construction,
the violence of the leading transition of meaning, render the
interpretation altogether untenable. If it be true, never surely was
there a form of speech worse devised for the conveyance of the intended

In order to give the passage its true force, there is no occasion to
assign to the word GOD any but its usual signification; as the name of
the One infinite Person or Being who created and rules the universe. But
it is less easy to embrace and exhibit with any distinctness, the notion
implied in the phrase WORD or LOGOS. The ancient speculative schools,
seeing that the Deity had existed from eternity, and therefore in a long
solitude before the origin of creation, distinguished between his
intrinsic nature,—deep, remote, primeval, unfathomable,[192]—and that
portion of his mind which put itself forth, or expressed itself by
works, so as to come into voluntary and intelligible relations to
men.[193] This section of the Divine Mind, to which was attributable the
authorship of the divine works, they called the LOGOS, or the IMAGE of
God; both terms denoting the _expression_ or _power which outwardly
reveals_ internal qualities; the one taking its metaphor from the _ear_,
through which we make known our sentiments by speech; the other from the
_eye_, to which is addressed the natural language of feature and
lineament. If I might venture on an illustration which may sound
strangely to modern hearers, I should say that the Logos was conceived
of in relation to God, much as with us _Genius_ is, in relation to the
soul of its possessor; to denote that peculiar combination of
intellectual and moral attributes, which produces great, original,
creative works,—works which let you into the spirit and affections, as
well as the understanding, of the Author. Any one who can so possess
himself with the speculative temper of Christian antiquity, as to use
with reverence the phrase _genius of God_, would find it, I am
persuaded, a useful English substitute (though I am well aware, not a
perfect equivalent) for the word Logos. Dwelling within the blank
immensity of God, was this illuminated region of Divine ideas; in which,
as in the fancy and the studio of an artist, the formative conceptions,
the original sketches and designs, the inventive projects of beauty and
good, shaped and perfected themselves; and from which they issued forth,
to imprint themselves upon matter and life, and pass into executed and
visible realities. From the energy of this creative spirit, or blessed
genius of God, two very different orders of results were conceived to
flow:—the forms and symmetrical arrangements of the material universe,
by which, as by the engraving of a seal, Deity stamped his perfections
into _vision_: and the intuitions of pure reason and conscience in the
human soul, by which, as by a heavenly tone or vibration, Deity thrilled
himself into _consciousness_. And when I say _Deity_, I mean the _Logos
of Deity_; for this alone, it was conceived, stood in any relation to
us; the rest was an unexpressed and unfathomable Essence.

This portion of the Divine Infinitude was incessantly and vividly
personified; so as to assume, even in the writings of the Jew and
undoubted Monotheist Philo, the frequent aspect of a second God: though
scarcely have you taken up this idea from one series of passages, before
you are recalled and corrected by others, clearly showing that this is a
false impression, too hastily derived from the intensity of the imagery
and language. Indeed the distinction between a mere personification and
a positive mythological personage is very faint. When a writer
personifies an abstraction, _for the moment_ he conceives of this object
of thought as a person; and were this state of mind perpetuated, he
would _believe_ it to be a person. But his mental attitude changes; and
in a less excited hour, that which had constructed and painted itself
almost into a being, fades away again into an attribute. Hence the
fluctuation of writers, at once imaginative and speculative, like Philo
and some of the early Christian Fathers, between the logical and the
mythical method of speaking of the properties of the Divine nature. And
it may be remarked, that the Apostle John partook, though in a very
slight degree, of the same tendency. He was fond of abstract words:
calling our Saviour the _way_, rather than the _guide_; the _truth_,
rather than the _teacher_; the _light_, rather than the _illuminator_;
and so I conceive, in the commencement of his Gospel, the _inspiration_,
rather than the _inspired_ of God. And then, as if to remedy the
indistinctness of this mode of representation, he resorts to
personification: thus, at the dictation of his reverence, first reducing
the living person to an abstraction; and afterwards, at the bidding of
his imagination, recreating the abstraction into a person. The extent to
which this personification may be carried, by an author who certainly
had no notion but of One personal God, may be estimated from a few
sentences, referring to this very conception of the Logos, from the
Jewish Philo. The invisible and intellectual Logos, he says, is the
image of God, by whom the world was fashioned; his first-born son, his
vicegerent in the government of the world; the mediator between God and
his creatures; the healer of ills; God’s divine Son, whose mother is
wisdom. In another place, the Logos is the very same with the wisdom of
God; the most ancient angel, the first-born of God; to the resemblance
of whom every one, who would be a son of God, must fashion himself. He
is even the “second God,” “To the Archangel, and most ancient Logos,”
says this writer, “God granted this distinguished office, that he should
stand on the confines of creation, and separate between it and its
Creator. With the incorruptible being he is the suppliant for perishable
mortality. He is the ambassador of the Supreme to the subject creation.
He announces the will of the Ruler to his subjects. And he delights in
the office, and boasts of it, saying; I had stood between you and the
Lord as mediator; being neither unbegotten as God, nor begotten as you,
but between the two extremes, and acting as hostage to both,”[194] All
this sounds very mysterious; the important thing to bear in mind is,
that the writer is certainly speaking not of any separate divine person,
but of the impersonated attributes of One Sole Supreme.

St. John then, I conceive, does the very same; only he carefully warns
us against thinking of his personification as otherwise than identical
with the Supreme, by saying outright, that the Logos is God; and
therefore that whatever he may say about the former, is really to be
understood as spoken of the latter. The whole proem divides itself into
two ideas: that from the Genius or Logos of God have proceeded two sets
of divine works; the material world; and the soul and inspiration of
heaven shed upon the world through Christ. His object, I believe, is to
link together these two effects as successive and analogous results,
physical in one case, spiritual in the other, of the same divine and
holy energy. Having warned us, as I have said, in the very first verse,
that this energy is not really a person distinct from the Supreme, he
abandons himself without reserve to the beautiful personification which
follows; assuring us that thereby were all things made at first, and
thereby were all men being enlightened now; that our very world, which
felt that forming hand of old, had not discerned the blessed influence
which again descended to regenerate it: ungrateful treatment! as of one
who came unto his own, and his own received him not. Yet were there some
of more perceptive conscience and better hearts; and they, be they Jew
or Gentile, whose spirits sprung to the divine embrace, were permitted
to become, by reflected similitude, the Sons of God.

Thus far, that is, to the end of the thirteenth verse, there is no
mention of Jesus Christ as an individual; there is only the unembodied
personification of the abstract energy of God in the original design,
and the newer regeneration of the world. Nor should there be any
difficulty in this separation of the Divine Spirit from its positive and
personal results. Of the _Creative_ Mind of God we can easily think, as
not only prior to the act of creation, but still apart from the forms of
matter; and so can we of the _illuminating or regenerative_ Mind of God,
as not only prior to its manifestation in Christ, but apart from its
embodiment in his person. In the next verse, however, the heavenly
personification is dropped upon the man Jesus; the mystic divine light
is permitted to sink into the deeps of his humanity; it vanishes from
separate sight: and there comes before us, and henceforth lives within
our view throughout the Gospel, the Man of Sorrows, the Child of God,
with the tears and infirmities of our mortal nature, and the moral
perfection of the Divine. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among
us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the
Father), full of grace and truth.”[195]

(d.) The spirit of this exposition is directly applicable to another
passage, adduced to prove the deity of Christ: “God was manifest in the
flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the
Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”[196] It is
well known that in the most approved text, the word _God_ does not
exist, and the passage reads, “He who was manifest in the flesh,” &c.
Were it permitted to indulge personal wishes in such matters, I could
desire that the common rendering were the true one. I know of no more
exact description of Christ, than that he was a living and human
manifestation of the character of God.[197]

(e.) Let us now turn to the introductory verses of the Epistle to the
Hebrews; a passage which is claimed as the clearest disclosure of the
Deity of Christ; for no discoverable reason, except that from its great
obscurity, it _reveals_ less, perhaps, than any other portion of
Scripture, except the _Revelations_. From the earliest times it has been
justly regarded as exceedingly doubtful whether the Apostle Paul was the
author of this letter; the difficulties and darkness of which are of a
very different character from those which embarrass us in his noble
writings, and arise from mental habits far more artificial and less
healthy than his. But whatever be the authority of this work, and
whatever the doctrine of its introductory portion, it is so far from
giving any support to the Trinitarian sentiments, that it affords, even
in its most exalted language, arguments sufficient to disprove them. The
first verses of the epistle, altered slightly from the common
translation, in order to exhibit more faithfully the meaning of the
original, are as follows:—

“God who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past
unto the fathers by the prophets, hath, at the close of these days,
spoken unto us by his Son; whom he hath appointed heir of all things;
through whom also he made the ages of the world; who, being the
brightness of his glory, and the image of his nature, and ruling all
things by the word of his power, having by himself made purification of
our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high; being
become so much greater than the angels, as he hath obtained by
inheritance a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the
angels said he at any time, ‘thou art my son; I have this day begotten
thee?’ And again, ‘I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a
Son.’ And when ever he may again introduce his first-born into the
world, it (_i.e._ the Scripture) saith, ‘let all the angels of God pay
homage to him.’ And with reference to the angels, it saith, ‘who maketh
his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.’ But with
reference to the son, it saith, ‘thy throne, O God! is for ever and
ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom; thou
hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore, O God! thy God
hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’”

I terminate the quotation here, because I do not believe that the
following words have any relation to Christ. The writer’s argument not
only admits, but requires, that they should be referred to the supreme
God and Father of all.

Now observe with what distinctness the most lofty phrases applied to our
Lord in this passage, affirm his subordination, and deny his equality
with the infinite Father. At the very moment when he is addressed as
God, he is said to have _fellows_, and to be set above them as a reward
for his goodness; in the same breath which declares his throne to be for
ever and ever, he is described as having a God who anoints him with the
oil of gladness. He is greater than the angels, not by nature, but by
the gift of a better inheritance. He is not the original divine
effulgence, but an _emanation_ of that glory, an _image_ of that
perfection; and in constituting the worlds, or rather the great æras of
its appointed history, he is not the designer of its revolutions, but
the instrument of God in effecting them.[198] If this teaches the
supreme Deity of Christ, in what language is it possible to disclaim and
to deny supremacy?

With respect to the peculiar terms of dignity applied in this passage to
Christ, I would observe as follows:—

The words “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,” were originally
addressed by a poetical courtier to Solomon or some other Hebrew
monarch, on his accession and marriage;[199] nor can the slightest
reason be assigned for supposing that the ode in which the words occur
had any reference more remote than the immediate occasion of its
composition. The first half of the Psalm[200] is addressed to the
prince; the remainder to his bride,[201] who is exhorted to give her
undivided affection to the new relation which she has formed; to “forget
her own people, and the house of her father;” and who is consoled with
the hope, that “instead of her fathers she shall have her sons, whom she
shall make princes through all the land.” Those who can satisfy
themselves with the theological conceit, that this is a prophetic
allegory, descriptive of the relation between Christ and his Church,
appear to have placed themselves so far beyond the reach of all the
rules of interpretation, that argument becomes fruitless; _no possible
media of refutation exist_. They must belong to the class who have
succeeded in spiritualizing the Song of Solomon; to whom therefore it
has ceased to be a matter of the smallest consequence, _what words_ are
presented to them in Scripture, as they have attained the faculty of
seeing one set of ideas, wherever they look, and an incapacity to see
anything else. Bishop Young, convinced that the prophetic claims of this
Psalm must be relinquished, and that the term _God_ in it is addressed
merely to the Hebrew monarch, and therefore used in an inferior sense,
renders the passage thus; “thy throne O mighty prince, is for ever and
ever.”[202] And surely, even those who can persuade themselves that
scripture can have two intended meanings, and who imagine the poem in
question to have referred primarily to Solomon, and remotely to the
Messiah, must perceive that a word by which the Jewish prince might be
accosted, cannot imply the supreme deity of Christ. Christ is said, in
the common translation, to have made the worlds; but it is generally
admitted that the phrase does not denote the construction of the
material universe, and is even incapable of bearing this meaning. It
describes Jesus as the agent of God in bringing about the successive
states of our social world; in introducing the preluding revolutions,
and the final catastrophe of human affairs. If it be asked, _what ages,
what revolutions_, are thus attributed to the instrumentality of Christ?
the answer must be sought in the fact, that the author was a Hebrew,
writing to Hebrews. He seized on the grand Jewish division of time and
Providence into two portions—the period before, and the period after,
the coming of the Messiah; and these were the two AGES, frequently
called “the present world,” and “the world to come,” which Christ is
said to have constituted. Does any one inquire, in what way our Lord, if
he were not at least pre-existent, could administer the arrangements of
Providence in the former of these periods, that is, before his own
mission to mankind? I submit, in answer, a suggestion which seems to me
essential to the clear understanding of all the Christian records, and
especially of those which relate to the years after the ascension. The
advent of the Messiah was represented, _during those years, not as
past_, but as _still future_;[203] they were regarded as the close of
the old and earthly epoch, not the commencement of the new and heavenly;
so that all that Jesus of Nazareth had already done, the mighty changes
which he had set in operation,—were an action upon the _former_ of the
two great ages; nor _would the latter be introduced till he returned
from heaven_; to rule, for a period vast or even indefinite, as the
personal vicegerent of God over his faithful children here. This event,
which in our own days Millenarians are expecting soon, and which the
early Christians expected sooner, was regarded as the true coming of the
Messiah—the point of demarcation between the ages—the introduction of
“the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.”[204]
Meanwhile the old world was drawing to a close, of which a warning (like
that given to Noah before the flood)[205] had been given by the
preliminary visit, with unmistakable credentials, of him who was to be
the Messiah; he had come in the flesh, and retired in the spirit; and
was leaving time for the tidings of his appointment and his approach to
spread, by the voice of witnesses and preachers who published the
pledges of his power. Of those pledges, which marked him out as the
future prince of life and earth, none were so distinguished as his
resurrection and ascension, by which God had given assurance that he
would one day judge or rule the world in righteousness;[206] by which he
was declared to be the son of God with power;[207] and on the very day
of which he became the first-born or the begotten child of God;[208] and
sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.[209] Invested with
his office, he yet abstained from immediately coming to claim its
prerogatives; he continued sequestered in the heavens, allowing to the
world a time of preparation, a solemn pause before judgment;[210]
repressing the impatient moment of the great revolution, and by his
powerful word, bearing a while and upholding all things as they
are.[211] If this were really the conception of the apostles, it
follows, no doubt, that they prematurely expected the return of their
Lord; but that they did so, is no new assumption; and in adopting it I
protect myself by the authority of Mr. Locke, who says in a note on a
passage of the Epistle to the Romans, “It seems, by these two verses, as
if St. Paul looked upon Christ’s coming as not far off; to which there
are several other occurrent passages in his epistles.”[212]

If the foregoing interpretation of the introduction to this epistle be
true, it follows that all the power and dignity there ascribed to Christ
are described as _acquisition after his ascension_; that not till then
was he accosted with the title of divinity previously applied to
Solomon; not till then did he become greater than the angels, or receive
an anointment of gladness above his fellows; not till then did he
receive his heirship, his filiation, his vicegerency of God. Of his
supreme Deity scarcely could any more emphatic denial be conceived.[213]

(f.) The following passage is sometimes quoted as affirmative of the
Deity of Christ: “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us
an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him
that is true, in (or by) his Son Jesus Christ. _This_ is _the true God_,
and eternal life.”[214] But it is surely evident that with Calvin,
Newcome, Dr. Adam Clarke,[215] we must consider the concluding pair of
epithets as parallel respectively with the two penultimates. “By him
that is true,” says the Apostle, “I mean the true God,” “and this Jesus
Christ is eternal life.”[216] As to the pretence of over-nice
grammarians, that the pronoun “_this_” must refer to Jesus Christ as the
nearest antecedent, the Apostle John himself dismisses it with this one
sentence: “Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not
that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. _This_ (not Jesus Christ, it is
to be presumed) is a deceiver and an antichrist.”[217] The antecedent,
in this case, is not only _remote_, but _plural_.

(g.) I know of only one other set of passages requiring explanation from
a Unitarian; and of these I take the following as an example; giving,
you will observe, a translation slightly differing from the authorized
version, but to which no competent judge will probably object:—“Let this
mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form
of God, never thought his equality with God a thing to be eagerly
retained; but divested himself of it, and took on him the form of a
servant, and assumed the likeness of men; and being in the common
condition of man, still humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,
aye, and the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted
him &c.”[218] Elsewhere Paul briefly expresses this sentiment thus:
being rich, for your sakes he became poor.[219]

Now, in order to appreciate the striking beauty of this passage, it is
necessary to remember that the Apostle is writing to _Gentiles_; and to
enter into his remarkable conception respecting the relation of the
Messiah to them. This great object of promise was, according to the
original idea of him, a mere national appropriation of the Jews; made
their own by birth and lineage as well as by office. So long as these
peculiarities belonged to him, _he could not_, without breaking through
all the restraints of the sacred Mosaic law, stand in any friendly
connection with the Gentiles; nor did our Lord, during his mortal life,
ever extend his ministry beyond his native land. Moreover, there was
nothing, Paul conceived, to prevent his realizing at once, had he willed
it, all the splendid anticipations of the Hebrews; nothing to obstruct
his seizing, from the hills of Galilee, or the heights of Jerusalem, the
promised royal sceptre, and making himself, without delay, the Lord of
all below; nothing but his holy resolve to be no mere Jewish Messiah,
and his desire to embrace the Gentiles, too, within the blessings of his
sway. And how could this be accomplished? _Never_, so long as the
personal characteristics of the Israelite attached to him. He determined
then to lay these aside, which could be done by death alone. On the
cross, or in the ascension, he parted from the coil of mortality, in
which were enveloped all the distinctions that made him national rather
than human; the lineage, the blood, the locality, the alliance, passed
away; the immortal spirit alone remained, and departed to the rest of
God; and this his soul was not Hebrew, but was human; and so his
relations expanded, and the princely Son of David became, through death,
the divine Messiah of humanity. Writing then to Gentiles, the Apostle
reminds them of this; tells them of what attainable splendours Jesus had
deprived himself, what rightful glories he had resigned, what anguish he
had endured, to what death he had submitted, in order to drop his mortal
peculiarities which had excluded the nations from the peace of his
dominion, and to assume that spiritual state to which they might stand
related. It was not his Godhead, not the application of his miracles to
his personal advantage, but the dignities of the Prince of Israel, the
prerogatives and triumphs of God’s vicegerent, of which he emptied
himself, and for the Gentiles’ sakes became poor. He whose office made
him as God, became, by his pure will, a servant; he who, without the
slightest strain of his rights, might have assumed an equivalence to
Providence on earth, and administered at once the promised theocracy of
heaven, was in no eager haste to seize the privilege; but, that he might
call in those who else had been the exile and the outcast people,
entered first the shadow of suffering and shame; he who might have been
exempt from death, took the humiliation of the cross; showing a divine
and self-forgetful love, which disregards his own rights to pity others’
privations; and which gave a resistless force to the exhortation, “Look
not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of

(h.) In direct contrast with this past humiliation of Christ, is the
present glory and future dominion with which, in the verses immediately
following, the Apostle describes him as invested by the rewarding
complacency of God. And here the passage enters the same class with
three others,[221] of which the introduction of the Epistle to the
Hebrews is one, but the most remarkable is the following: “Christ, ...
who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature;
for by him were all things created, that are in Heaven and that are in
earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or
principalities, or powers, all things, were created through him and for
him; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he
is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the
first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have pre-eminence;
for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”[222]

Calvin himself warns us that “the circumstances of this place require us
to understand it as spoken,” not of the original formation of the
universe, but “of the renovation which is included in the benefit of
Redemption.”[223] Indeed a very superficial acquaintance with the
phraseology of the Apostle, is sufficient to convince us that the
language which we have here is _very unlike_ that in which he speaks of
the construction of the material system of things and _very like_ that
in which he describes the regeneration of the world by the faith of
Christ. Describing the natural creation, he makes no such strange
selection of objects as thrones, principalities, dominions, powers, with
unintelligible avoidance of everything palpable: but says plainly, “The
living God, who made Heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that
are in them.”[224] And characterizing, on the other hand, the effects of
the Gospel, he says, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
unto good works;”[225] and “If any man be in Christ, he is a new
creature; the old things have passed away, behold all things have become
new.”[226] Nor does the language of this passage appear so violently
figurative as commentators have usually supposed. Apply to it the
Apostle’s conception respecting the return of his Lord from Heaven, to
reign visibly upon earth, over a community holy and immortal, and the
obscurity will no longer be felt. That advent, introducing the future
age or world to come, would be attended by a revolution which could be
called no less than a “new creation.” No term less emphatic would
adequately describe the superseding of all existing arrangements, the
extinction of earthly rule, authority, and power;[227] the recal to
earth of the spirits of the just;[228] the immortalizing of the saints
who had not slept;[229] the gathering together the whole family of the
holy in Heaven or earth;[230] the everlasting destruction of the
faithless from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his
power;[231] the bowing of every knee before the Prince of Life;[232] the
opening of the kingdom that cannot be moved;[233] and the award of
recompense to those who, having suffered, should reign with him.[234]

Already were the elements of this blessed society drawing themselves
together, some in Heaven, others upon earth; the investiture with
immortality had commenced. Christ was the beginning, the first-born from
the dead: and the departed saints sharing his heavenly rest, and ready
for the Lord to bring with him;[235] the afflicted Church below, in
earnest expectation of the manifestation of those Sons of God, and
though waiting for the redemption of the body, yet risen together with
Christ to that spiritual mind which is life and peace;[236] all these
were kept by the power of God unto the salvation, which was ready to be
revealed in the last time.[237] The multitude of the holy was thronging
in, showing that no scant dominion was forming; but that it pleased the
Father that, in his vicegerent, all fulness should dwell, and whatever
is perfect be united. Lifted above the hostile reach of human might and
dominion, above all mean comparison with earthly names of dignity, he
sees all things already beneath his feet in the world as it is, and all
things prospectively submissive in the world as it is to be.[238] Nor
was Jesus, in his retirement above, unoccupied with the glories of his
commission, or indifferent to the recompense of his followers; rather is
he preparing and allotting to the glorified there, and the toiling here,
the privileges and powers of the everlasting age which shall take place
of the thrones and principalities of this. Over both portions of the
community of Saints, the seen and the unseen, the Heavenly and the
earthly, he is the living head, and his spirit filleth all.[239]

This vision of the Advent, with all the magnificent ideas which gathered
round it, seems to me to have given rise to the glorious “rapture” of
this passage; to have thrown in, at first, its light and darkness, and
when applied now to its interpretation, to disclose the dim outline of
its plan. And though, in form, the anticipation itself was at least
premature, in spirit it receives, in the providence of the Gospel, one
prolonged fulfilment; and many of its accompanying conceptions realize
themselves perpetually. Though as yet Christ comes not back to us, yet
do the faithful go to him, and there, not here, are for ever with the
Lord. Though with no visible sway he dwells on earth, he more and more
rules it from afar; wins and blesses the hearts of its people, bends
their wills, sends his image to be their conscience; and long has he had
a might and name among us, far above our principalities and powers, and
made the cross superior to the crown. And who can deny that he hath
united in one the family in heaven and earth, compelled death to fasten
innumerable ties of love between the kindred spheres, and trained our
rejoicing sympathies to see in creation but one society of the good,
whether they toil in service and exile here, or have joined the colony
above of the emancipated sons of God.

What then is the result of our inquiry into the scriptural use of the
word God? That it is once applied, by way of transference, to Christ, in
a passage of whose honours Solomon was the first proprietor. The views
of the writer, and the purpose of his letter, might make this secondary
application of the Hebrew poem right and useful. But now, how miserably
barren must be that religion, how unspeakably poor that appreciation of
Christ, which thinks to glorify him, by throwing around him the cast-off
dignities of a Jewish prince! All these convulsive efforts to lift up
the rank of Jesus, do but turn men from that greatness in him which is
truly divine. And after all they utterly fail—except in turning into
caricature the image of perfect holiness, and into a riddle the
statement of the grandest truths: for the scanty evidence will not bear
the strain that is put upon it. Nothing short of centuries of
indoctrination could empower so small a testimony to sustain so enormous
a scheme, and enable ecclesiastics, by sleight of words, to metamorphose
the simplicity of the Bible into the contradictions of the Athanasian

Our remaining criteria may be very briefly applied.

(3.) Our next demand from a Trinitarian Bible is this; that as there are
three persons equally entitled to the name of God, that word must never
be _limited_ to One of these, to the exclusion of the other two.

Yet do the Scriptures repeatedly restrict this title to the Father so
positively, that no more emphatic language remains, by which it would be
possible to exclude all other persons from the Godhead. If the texts we
shall adduce of this class _do not_ teach the personal unity of God, let
it be stated what terms _would_ teach it; or whether we are to consider
it as a doctrine incapable of being revealed at all, however true in
itself. Meanwhile, I would ask, whether the most skilful logician could
propose a form of speech, closing the Godhead against all but the
Father, more absolutely than these passages; “There is but One God, the
FATHER.”[240] “FATHER! ... this is life eternal, to know THEE THE ONLY
TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”[241] “The _true
worshippers_ shall worship THE FATHER in spirit and in truth; the Father
seeketh such to worship him; GOD is a spirit, and they that worship him
must worship him in spirit and in truth.”[242] “There is ONE GOD AND

If such passages as these do not deny the Deity of all persons but One,
it must be because the word “Father” is used in them to denote the whole
Trinity; and if this be so, then this name ceases to be distinctive of
the first person in the Godhead; no discriminative title of that person
remains; it becomes impossible for language to characterize him; and the
whole mechanism of speech, by which alone a verbal revelation could
disclose the distinctions in the divine nature, vanishes away. You must
either confess absence of the distinctions themselves, or show the
presence of distinctive names.

(4.) Our next demand from a Trinitarian Bible would be this; that when
the _persons_ are named, by their distinctive Divine titles, their
equality will be recognized, nor any one of them be represented as
subordinate to another.

If an Athanasian received a divine commission to prepare a Gospel,—a
statement of the essentials of Christianity,—for the use of some
unevangelized nation, he would not, we may presume, habitually represent
the Son, in his very highest offices, as inferior to the Father, as
destitute of independent power, as without underived knowledge, and
possessed only of a secondary and awarded glory. At all events, these
representations would not be made without instant explanation; and the
writer would accuse himself of rashly periling the mysteries of God, if
he committed himself to such statements without guard or qualification,
in broad unlimited propositions. Yet these are precisely the phenomena
of Scripture. It is perpetually maintained by Trinitarians, that the
miracles of Christ were acts of power, inexplicable except by proper
Deity, united with his humanity; and that his superhuman wisdom was an
expression of that Divine Nature which blended itself with his mortal
constitution. If so, his miracles were wrought and his teachings
dictated by that element of his personality which was God,—that is, by
GOD THE SON;[244] but this, our Lord unequivocally denies; “The Son can
do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do;” “I can of mine
own self do nothing.”[245] “The words which I speak unto you, I speak
not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the
works;”[246] “As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the
Father;”[247] “The works which the Father hath given me to
perform.”[248] These passages declare, with all the precision of which
language admits, that the wisdom and the might which dwelt in Christ,
were not those of the Son, but those of the Father; the incarnate God
had no concern with them, for they are ascribed exclusively to him who
never became incarnate. Indeed we ask, and we ask in vain, for any one
divine act or inspiration ascribed by our Lord to this humanized Deity
with whom his mortal nature was united: his teachings are one prolonged
declaration that the divinity that dwelleth within him was THE FATHER.
If he felt within him a co-equal Godhead, how could he make the
unqualified affirmation, “My Father is greater than all?”[249] Or can a
more specific disclaimer of Omniscience be framed than this; “Of that
day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels who are in Heaven,
NEITHER THE SON, but the Father?”[250] Dr. Adam Clarke, unable to resist
this overpowering text, expresses his suspicion that it is not
altogether genuine, and that the words, “neither the Son,” should be
expunged. It would appear that the temptations to “mutilation” are felt
by other parties than the Editors of the Improved Version. If it be
said, that in the passages which have been cited, the subordination
alleged of Christ, refers to his human nature, and his mediatorial
office, then it follows that his highest title may become the name of
what is called his lowest capacity; and if this be so, no medium of
verbal proof remains by which to establish any higher nature.[251] But
can any supposition be more monstrous than this; that whenever our Lord
used the familiar language of personality, and discoursed with the
peasants of Galilee, and the populace of Jerusalem, he was perpetually
performing a metaphysical resolution of himself into natures,
characters, and offices, and putting forth, now a phrase from the
divine, now another from the human capacity; here a sentence from the
pre-existent, and there another from the mediatorial compartment of his
individuality? And the absurdity is crowned, when writings, crowded thus
with mental reservations, are handed over to us as a _Revelation_.

(5.) Our last expectation from a Trinitarian Bible is this; that, since
with the incarnation began and ended the peculiar office of Christ’s
humanity, he will not be spoken of as man, in relation to the events
before or after this period.

The glory which our Lord is thought to have possessed before his
entrance into this world, was the essential, underived, inalienable
glory, which belonged to his Divinity; nor was his highest nature yet
blended with the suffering elements, or capable of being described by
the inferior titles, of his mediatorial office, or his mortal existence.
Yet is it under the designation of SON OF MAN that he is described,
according to the prevalent interpretation, as pre-existent; it is the
SON OF MAN who “was before,” in that state, whither he was to “ascend up
again;”[252] it was, “He that came down from Heaven,—even the SON OF
MAN, who is in Heaven.”[253] Whatever doubt there may be respecting the
precise import of this title, it certainly cannot be thought to denote
the separate divine nature of Christ, as it existed before the
incarnation. In perfect consistency with this language, it appears that
for the restoration of this original glory, Jesus declares himself
wholly dependent on the Father; “And now, O Father, glorify me with
thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world
was.”[254] Here, if there be truth in the Trinitarian hypothesis, it was
the man that prayed for a re-bestowal of that which the man never
possessed, and which the God never lost or could receive from another.
It must be admitted that no expression of dependence can be more solemn
and absolute, than that which pours itself forth in prayer; and if our
Lord was able to resume his former state, by the energy of his own
Omnipotence, this act of supplication loses all semblance of sincerity.
Yet, if here his dependence on the Father is acknowledged to be implied,
with what consistency can another passage, relating also to his
departure from earth to Heaven, be seized upon to prove that he _raised
himself_ from the dead, by that _inextinguishable_ and glorious power,
which, nevertheless, he entreats the Father to restore? If his proper
Deity brought back to life the crucified humanity, it was a mockery for
his manhood to concern itself in prayer, for the restoration of the
proper Deity. That his resurrection is not ascribed to inherent power of
his own, is evident, not merely from the habitual language of the
preachers of this great miracle, who declare without reserve that “this
Jesus hath _God raised up_;”[255] nor from the words of Paul, who calls
himself “an Apostle by Jesus Christ and _God the Father, who raised him
from the dead_;”[256] but even from the very text (when read without
curtailment) which is adduced to prove the contrary; “No man taketh it
(my life) from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it
down, and I have power to take it again; _this commandment have I
received of my Father_.”[257] “The Messiah is privileged to be immortal;
and my seeming fall by hostile hands will neither disprove my claim to
the office, nor deprive it of this peculiar feature; my mission gives me
a right to live, which will not be forfeited, though I exercise the
right to die. Let no one think that my life is forced from me without
consent of my own will; you can no more take it from me, than you can
restore it to me. It is by the arrangement of the Father, whose will is
also mine, that I take my Messianic immortality, not at once, but
through a process of suffering and death.”

If we pass forward beyond the mortal life, to the final exaltation of
Christ, he is still presented to us undivested of his humanity. Listen
to the modern preachers of Orthodoxy, and they will tell you that the
judicial capacity of the Saviour could be filled by Deity alone; that to
pass judgment on an assembled world, to read the secrets of all hearts,
and allot their final doom, are offices demanding nothing less than
Omniscience, Omnipotence, Independence.[258] But from the Apostle Paul
we learn, that “God will judge the world in righteousness by that MAN
whom he hath ordained;”[259] and our Lord himself says, “I can of mine
own self do nothing; as I hear I judge;”[260] “The Father hath given him
authority to execute judgment also, BECAUSE HE IS THE SON OF MAN.”[261]
Nor is it the presumption of heresy alone that esteems it possible for
God to confer on a human being the requisites for so august an office;
for it is Archbishop Tillotson who says, “We may promise to ourselves a
fair and equal trial at the judgment of the Great Day, because we shall
then be judged by a man like ourselves. Our Saviour and judge himself
hath told us, that for this reason _God hath committed all judgment to
the Son, because he is the Son of man_. And this in human judgments is
accounted a great privilege, to be judged by those who are of the same
rank and condition with ourselves, and who are likely to understand
best, and most carefully to examine and consider all our circumstances,
and to render our case as if it were their own. So equitably doth God
deal with us, that we shall be acquitted or condemned by such a judge
as, according to human measures, we ourselves should have chosen, by one
in our own nature, who was made in all things like unto us, that only
excepted which would have rendered him incapable of being our judge,
because it would have made him a criminal like ourselves. And therefore
the Apostle offers this as a firm ground of assurance to us that God
will judge the world in righteousness, because this judgment shall be
administered by a man like ourselves; He hath, saith he, appointed a day
wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he
hath ordained,” &c.[262]

It is, then, in his humanity, that this high prerogative belongs to
Jesus. Yet are our opponents right in their assertion that, if there be
any office attributed to him, requiring divine perfection, it is this;
no higher exaltation remains, no superior glory is referred to him from
which, with any better reason, we can conclude his equality with the
Father. Human in this, he is human in all things.

Not one then of the proper characteristics of a Trinitarian Bible can be
found in the Scriptures; and it is vain for the Athanasian system to
claim their support. This conclusion can be subverted only in two ways;
either by showing, that the criteria which I have laid down, for
ascertaining the theology of the sacred writings, are unreasonable and
incorrect; or by showing, that the application of them does not yield
any of the results which I have stated. I say _any_ of the results; for
if _all the phenomena_ which I have assumed as tests, would be necessary
to give a Trinitarian complexion to the Scriptures, the absence of even
a portion of them would decide the controversy against our opponents’
scheme, whatever difficulties might remain to embarrass our own. If the
_list of criteria_ be thought materially wrong, let it be shown where
and why; let it be explained how there can be a _verbal revelation_ of
“distinctions,” without any distinctive names; how, without such
discriminative words, we are to know, _unless we assume the whole
doctrine to be proved_, when the human nature of Christ speaks, or is
spoken of, when the divine; how the poor, who first had the gospel
preached to them, ascertained this with the requisite degree of nicety;
and above all, we would request to be furnished with a better set of
criteria; and to be distinctly informed, _what scriptural phenomena
would be required, in order to disprove the Trinitarian scheme_. If, on
the other hand, I have erred in the _application_ of my tests, let it be
shown how far into the substance of the argument the error extends. I
cannot hope that the exposition which I have given will be found free
from mistake and inaccuracy; and let these be exposed with such severity
as they may deserve. Only let it be remembered, that the real question
is not about the skill of the advocate, but respecting the truth of the
scheme; and when all the errors of the one have been cleared away, let
it be still asked, in what condition stands the evidence of the other. I
have purposely taken my principal station on the least favourable ground
of the Unitarian argument; I have exhausted the strongest passages
adduced against our theology: and I have done this the more readily,
because these portions of scripture appear to possess an excellence and
beauty, which are obscured by their unresisted controversial repetition,
and marred by the lacerations of Orthodoxy.

And may we not, without immodesty, ask any candid Trinitarian, are these
passages so very plain and easy, are they so numerous, are our
interpretations so irrational and ignorant, as to justify the imputation
of deceit, of blasphemy, of wilful mutilation of the word of God, which
we are condemned perpetually to hear? As to that excellent man, who on
Wednesday last, treated in this way our most cherished convictions, and
our most innocent actions, I have said nothing in reply to his
accusations; for I well know them to have failed in benevolence, only
from excess of mistaken piety. Had he a little more power of
imagination, to put himself into the feelings and ideas of others,
doubtless he would understand both his Bible and his fellow-disciples
better than he does. Meanwhile, I would not stir, with the breath of
disrespect, one of his grey hairs; or by any severity of expostulation
disturb the peace of an old age, so affectionate and good as his. He and
we must ere long pass to a world, where the film will fall from the eye
of error, and we shall know, even as we are known.[263]

In conclusion, then, I revert with freshened persuasion, to the
statement with which I commenced. Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God hath
presented to us simply in his inspired humanity. Him we accept, not
indeed as very God, but as the true image of God, commissioned to show
what no written doctrinal record could declare, the entire moral
perfections of Deity. We accept,—not indeed his body, not the struggles
of his sensitive nature, not the travail of his soul, but his purity,
his tenderness, his absolute devotion to the great idea of right, his
patient and compassionate warfare against misery and guilt, as the most
distinct and beautiful expression of the Divine mind. The peculiar
office of Christ is to supply a new _moral_ image of Providence; and
everything therefore except the _moral_ complexion of his mind, we leave
behind as human and historical merely, and apply to no religious use. I
have already stated in what way nature and the gospel combine to bring
before us the great object of our trust and worship. The universe gives
us the scale of God, and Christ his Spirit. We climb to the Infinitude
of his nature by the awful pathway of the stars, where whole forests of
worlds silently quiver here and there, like a small leaf of light. We
dive into his Eternity, through the ocean waves of Time, that roll and
solemnly break on the imagination, as we trace the wrecks of departed
things upon our present globe. The scope of his Intellect, and the
majesty of his Rule, are seen in the tranquil order and everlasting
silence that reign through the fields of his volition. And the Spirit
that animates the whole is like that of the Prophet of Nazareth; the
thoughts that fly upon the swift light throughout creation, charged with
fates unnumbered, are like the healing mercies of One that passed no
sorrow by. The government of this world, its mysterious allotments of
good and ill, its successions of birth and death, its hopes of progress
and of peace, each life of individual or nation, is under the
administration of One, of whose rectitude and benevolence, whose
sympathy with all the holiest aspirations of our virtue and our love,
Christ is the appointed emblem. A faith that spreads around and within
the mind a Deity thus sublime and holy, feeds the light of every pure
affection, and presses with Omnipotent power on the conscience; and our
only prayer is, that we may walk as children of such light.





               _On Impossibility, Physical and Logical._

In order to break the force of all reasonings respecting the inherent
incredibility of the Trinitarian doctrine, the principle has been
frequently advanced, that a statement which would be contradictory, if
made respecting an object _within reach_ of our knowledge, cannot be
affirmed to be so, if applied to an object _beyond_ our knowledge; since
in the one case _we have_, in the other _we have not_, some experience
to guide our judgment, and serve as a criterion of truth. Thus, it is
said, to affirm of man, that his nature comprises more than one
personality, might, without presumption, be pronounced a contradiction;
because we are familiar with his constitution; but knowing nothing of
the mode of God’s existence, except what he is pleased to reveal, we
cannot prove the same statement to be contradictory, when made
respecting _his_ essence.

This rule, like all the Trinitarian reasonings on this subject, derives
its plausibility from an ambiguous use of terms. It has _one sense_ in
which it is true, but inapplicable to this subject; and _another_, in
which it is applicable, but false. The rule is sound or unsound,
according to the meaning which we assign to the word _contradiction_; a
word which, in other arguments besides this, has made dupes of men’s
understandings. There are obviously two kinds of contradiction:—one
relating to _questions of fact_, as when we say, it is contradictory to
experience that ice should continue solid in the fire; the other,
relating to questions of mere _thought_, as when we say, it is
contradictory to affirm that force is inert, or that the diameters of a
circle are unequal. The former of these suggests something _at variance
with the established order of causes and effects_, and constitutes _a
natural or physical_ impossibility; the latter suggests a _combination
of irreconcileable ideas_, constituting a _logical or metaphysical
impossibility_, or more properly, a _self_-contradiction.

It is almost self-evident that, in order to pronounce upon a physical
impossibility, we must possess _experience,_ and have a knowledge of the
properties of objects and successions of events external to us; and that
to pronounce on a metaphysical impossibility, we require only to have
the ideas to which it refers; of the coincidence or incompatibility of
which with each other, our own _consciousness_ is the sole judge. When I
deny that ice will remain frozen in the fire, I do so after frequent
observation of the effect of heat in reducing bodies, especially water,
from the solid to the liquid form; and in reliance on the intuitive
expectation which all men entertain, of like results from like causes.
Experience is the only justification of this denial; and _à priori_, no
belief could be held on the subject; a person introduced for the first
time to a piece of ice and to fire, could form no conjecture about the
changes which would follow on their juxtaposition. And as our judgment
in such cases has its origin, so does it find its limits, in experience;
and should it be affirmed that, in a distant planet, ice did not melt on
the application of fire, the right of denial would not extend to this
statement, because, our knowledge does not extend to the world to which
the phenomenon is referred. The natural state of mind, on hearing such
an announcement, might be expressed as follows; “If what you affirm be
true, either some _new cause_ must be called into operation,
counteracting the result which else would follow; or, some of the causes
existing here are withheld: the sequence, I am compelled to believe,
would be the same, unless the antecedents were _somehow_ different. Were
the fact even a miracle, this would still be true; for the introduction
of a new or different divine volition would be in itself a change in the
previous causes. But I am not authorized to pronounce the alleged fact
impossible; its variance from all the analogies of experience, justifies
me in demanding extraordinary evidence in its favour; but I do not say
that, in the infinite receptacle of causes unknown to the human
understanding, there cannot exist any from which such an effect might

There is then, I conceive, _no physical_ impossibility, which might not
be rendered credible by adequate evidence; there is nothing, in the
constitution of our minds, to forbid its reception under certain
conditions of proof sufficiently cogent. It simply violates an
expectation which, though necessary and intuitive _before_ the fact, is
not incapable of correction _by_ the fact; it presents two successive
phenomena, dissimilar instead of similar; and between two occurrences,
allocated on different points of time, however much analogy may fail,
there can be no proper _contradiction_. The improbability that both
should be true, may attain a force _almost_, but never altogether
infinite; a force, therefore, surmountable by a greater. The thoughts
can at least entertain _the conception_ of them both; nor is it more
difficult to form the mental image of a piece of ice _unmelted_ on the
fire, than of the same substance melting away.

It is quite otherwise with a metaphysical impossibility or proper
contradiction. The variance is, in this case, not between _successive
phenomena_, but between _synchronous ideas_. We deny that the diameters
of a circle are unequal, without experience, without measurement, and
just as confidently respecting a circle in the remotest space, as
respecting one before our eyes. As soon as we have the ideas of
“circle,” “diameter,” “equality,” this judgment necessarily follows. Our
own consciousness makes us aware of the incompatibility between the idea
expressed by the word “circle,” and that expressed by the phrase
“unequal diameters;” the former word being simply _the name of a curve
having equal diameters_. The variance, in this case, is not between two
external occurrences, but between two notions within our own minds; and
simply _to have the notions_ is to _perceive their disagreement_. It
would be vain to urge upon us that, possibly, in regions of knowledge
beyond our reach, circles with unequal diameters might exist: we should
reply, that the words employed were merely the symbols of ideas in our
consciousness, between which we _felt_ agreement to be out of the
question; that so long as the words meant what they now mean, this must
continue to be the case; and that if there were any one, to whom the
same sound of speech suggested a truth instead of a falsehood, this
would only show, that the terms _did not stand for the same things_ with
him as with us. It will be observed that, in this case, we cannot even
attain _any conception_ of the thing affirmed; no mental image can be
formed of a circle with unequal diameters; make the diameters unequal,
and it is a circle no more.

A further analysis might, I believe, reduce more nearly under the same
class a physical and a metaphysical impossibility; and might show that
some of the language in which I have endeavoured to contrast them, is
not strictly correct. But the main difference, which the present
argument requires, (_viz._, that no experience can reconcile the terms
of a logical contradiction,) would only be brought out more clearly than
ever. I am aware, for instance, that the distinction which I have drawn
between my two examples,—that the latter deals with _ideas within us_,
the former with facts without us,—does not penetrate to the roots of the
question; that _external phenomena_ are nothing to us, till they become
_internal_; nothing, except through the perceptions and notions we form
of them; and that the variance therefore, even in the case of a physical
impossibility, must lie between our own ideas. I may accordingly be
reminded, that the notion of “melting with fire” is as essentially a
part of our idea of “ice,” as the notion of “equal diameters” is of our
idea of a “circle;” so that the final appeal might, with as much reason,
be made to our own consciousness in the one case as in the other. Might
it not be said, “so long as the word ice retains its meaning, the
proposition in question is a _self-contradiction_; for that word
signifies a certain substance that _will_ melt on the application of
heat?” This is true; and resolves the distinction which I have
endeavoured to explain into this form; the word “ice” may be kept open
to modifications of meaning, the word “circle” cannot. And the reason is
obvious. The idea of the material substance is a highly complex idea,
comprising the notion of many _independent_ properties, introduced to us
through several of our senses: such as solidity, crystalline form,
transparency, coldness, smoothness, whiteness, &c.; the quality of
fusion by heat is only _one among many_ of the ingredients composing the
conception; and should this even be found to be accidental, and be
withdrawn, the idea would still retain so vast a majority of its
elements, that its identity would not be lost, nor its name undergo
dismissal. But the notion of the circle is perfectly simple; being
_wholly made up_ of the idea of equal diameters, and of other properties
_dependent_ on this; so that if this be removed, the whole conception
disappears, and nothing remains to be denoted by the word. Hence, a
physical contradiction proposes to exclude from our notion of an object
or event one out of many of its constituents,—an alteration perfectly
akin to that which further experience itself often makes; a metaphysical
contradiction denies of a term _all_, or the _essential part_, of the
ideas attached to it. The materials for some sort of conception remain
in the one case, vanish in the other.

Now the terms employed in the statement of the doctrine of the Trinity
are _abstract_ words; “person,” “substance,” “being:” and the numerical
words “One” and “Three,” are all names for very simple ideas; not indeed
(except the two last) having the precision of quantitative and
mathematical terms; but having none of that complexity which would allow
them to _lose any meaning, and yet keep any_; to _change their sense
without forfeiting their identity_. The ideas which we have of these
words are as much within ourselves, and as capable of comparison by our
own consciousness, as the ideas belonging to the words _angle_ and
_triangle_; and when, on hearing the assertion that there are three
persons in one mind or being, I proceed to compare them, I find the word
“person” so far synonymous with the word “mind” or “being,” that the
self-contradiction would not be greater, were it affirmed that there are
three angles in one γωνία—the mere form of speech being varied to hide
the absurdity from eye and ear. To say that our ideas of the words are
wrong, is vain; for the words were invented on purpose to denote these
ideas: and if they are used to denote other ideas, which _we have not_,
they are vacant sounds. To assert that higher beings perceive this
proposition to be true, really amounts to this; that higher beings speak
English, (or at all events not Hebrew, or Hellenistic Greek,) but have
recast the meaning of these terms; and to say that we shall hereafter
find them to be true, is to say that our vocabulary will undergo a
revolution; and words used now to express one set of ideas, will
hereafter express some other. Meanwhile, to our present minds all these
future notions are nonentities; and using the words in question in the
only sense they have, they declare a plain logical contradiction. Hence,
every attempt to give consistency to the statement of the Trinity, has
broken out into a heresy; and the Indwelling and the Swedenborgian
schemes, the model Trinity of Wallis and Whately, the tritheistic
doctrine of Dr. W. Sherlock, are so many results of the rash propensity
to seek for clear ideas in a form of unintelligible or contradictory
speech. Σαφὴς ἔλεγχος ἀπιστίας τὸ πῶς περὶ Θεοῦ λέγειν.



                     _On the Hebrew Plural Elohim._

The perseverance with which this argument from the Hebrew plural is
repeated, only proves the extent to which learning may be degraded into
the service of a system. The use of a noun, plural in form, but singular
in sense, and the subject of a singular verb, to denote the dignity of
the person named by the noun, is known to be an idiom common to all the
Semitic languages. Every one who can read a Hebrew Bible is aware that
this peculiarity is not confined to the name of God; and that it occurs
in many passages, which render absurd the inference deduced from it. For
instance, from Ezek. xxix. 3, it would follow that there is a plurality
of natures or “distinctions” in the crocodile, the name of which is
there found in the plural, with a singular adjective and singular
verb;—התנים הגדול הרבץ בתוך יאריו, “The great crocodile that lieth in
the midst of his rivers.” So in Gen. xxiv. 51, the plural form אדונים,
Lord, so constantly used of a human individual, is applied to Abraham:
ותחי אשה לבו אדוניך, “And she shall be a wife to the son of thy
_masters_,” _i.e._, thy _master_ Abraham. It is unnecessary to multiply
instances, which any Hebrew Concordance will supply in abundance. I
subjoin one or two additional authorities from eminent Hebraists, whose
theological impartiality is above suspicion.

Schroeder says, “Hebræi sermonis proprietas, quâ Pluralis, tam
masculinus, quam femininus, usurpari potest de _unâ re_, quæ in suo
genere magna est et quodammodo excellens; ut ימים, _maria_, pro _mari
magno_; תנים, _dracones_, pro _dracone prægrandi_; אדונים, _domini_, pro
_domino magno et potente_; אלהים, _numina_, pro _numine admodum
colendo_; קדשׁים, _sancti_, pro _deo sanctissimo_; בהמות, _bestiæ_, pro
_bestiâ grandi_, qualis est _elephas_; מכות _plagæ_, pro _plagâ gravi_;
נהרותּ, _flumina_, pro _flumine magno_.” N. G. Schroederi Institutiones
ad fundamm. ling. Hebr. Reg. 100. not. i.

Simonis. “Plur. adhibetur de Deo vero; ad insinuandam, ut multis visum
est, personarum divinarum pluralitatem; quod etiam alii, maxime Judæi
rectè negant: quoniam vel ibi in plurali ponitur, ubi ex mente
Theologorum de unâ modo triadis sacræ personâ sermo est, velut Ps. xlv.
7, adeoque gentium unus aliquis deus pluraliter אלהים dicitur, ut
Astarte 1 Reg. xi. 33; Baal muscarum et quidem is, qui Ekronæ colebatur
2, Reg. i. 2, 3. Denique sanctam triadem si אלהים significasset, multo
notior usuque adeo linguæ quotidiano tritior sub prisco fœdere hæc
doctrina fuisset, quam sub novo. Ex nostrâ sententiâ hic plur. indicio
est, linguam Hebræam sub Polytheismo adolevisse; eo vero profligato
plur. hic in sensum abiit majestatis et dignitatis.” Eichhorn’s Joh.
Simonis’ Lexicon Hebr. in verb. אלה, p. 120.

Buxtorf. אלהים, plurale pro singulari: Lex Chaldaicum, Talmudicum et
Rabbinicum; in verb.

Gesenius. אלהים _pluralis excellentiæ_: Gott, von der Einheit; wie
בעלים, אדנים. Hebr. und Chald. Handwörterbuch: in verb.

Even Lewis Capel, in his defence of this verbal indication of the
Trinity, admits the absurdity of using the argument with
Anti-trinitarians: “Siquis ergo vellet adversus Judæos, Samosatenianos,
aliosque sanctissimæ Trinitatis præfractos hostes, urgere hoc
argumentum, eoque uno et nudo uti, frustra omnino esset: ni prius
demonstraret falsam esse quam illi causantur phraseos istius rationem,
evinceretque eam in voce istâ אלהים locum habere non posse: _quod forte
non usque adeo facile demonstrari posset_. Atque eatenus tantùm jure
possunt suggillari Theologi, si argumento illo nudo, et solo, non aliâ
ratione fulto, utantur ad Judæos et Samosatenianos coarguendos et
convincendos; non vero si eo utantur ad piorum fidem jam ante aliunde
stabilitam, porro augendam atque fovendam.” Lud. Cappelli Critica Sacra.
De nom. אלהים Diatriba. c. vii. Ed. 1650, p. 676.

May we ask of our learned opponents, _how long_ the mysterious contents
of this plural have been ascertained? Who was the discoverer, forgotten
now by the ingratitude of Learning, but doubtless living still in the
more faithful memory of Orthodoxy? And why those of the Christian
Fathers, who devoted themselves to Hebrew literature, were not permitted
to discern the Trinitarianism of the Israelitish syntax? They had not
usually so dull an eye for verbal wonders.

The celebrated Brahmin, Rammohun Roy, whose knowledge of oriental
languages can be as little disputed, I presume, as the singular
greatness and simplicity of his mind, says: “It could scarcely be
believed, if the fact were not too notorious, that such eminent scholars
... could be liable to such a mistake, as to rely on this verse (Gen. i.
26. And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness,) as
a ground of argument in support of the Trinity. It shows how easily
prejudice, in favour of an already acquired opinion, gets the better of
learning.” And he proceeds to argue on “the idiom of the Hebrew, Arabic,
and of almost all Asiatic languages, in which the plural number is often
used for the singular to express the respect due to the person denoted
by the noun.” Rammohun Roy was, I believe, the first to call attention
to the fact, obvious to any one who will read a few pages of the Koran,
that Mohammed, whose belief in the strict personal Unity of the Divine
Nature gave the leading feature to his religion, constantly represents
God as speaking in these plural forms. I extract a few instances from
Sale’s Koran. Lond. 1734:

“God said; when _we_ said unto the angels, worship Adam,” &c.

“God said; and _we_ said, O Adam, dwell thou,” &c.—Ch. ii. p. 31.

“_We_ formerly created man of a finer sort of clay; ... and _we_ have
created over you seven heavens; and _we_ are not negligent of what _we_
have created: and _we_ send down rain from heaven by measure; and _we_
cause it to remain on the earth,” &c. “And _we_ revealed _our_ orders
unto him, saying; ... speak not unto _me_ in behalf of those who have
been unjust.” “God will say, did ye think that _we_ had created you in
sport,” &c.—Ch. xxiv. pp. 281, 282, 287.

In the very passages in which Mohammed condemns the doctrine of the
Trinity, the same form abounds: “_We_ have prepared for such of them as
are unbelievers a painful punishment.” “_We_ have revealed our will unto
thee.” “_We_ have given thee the Koran, as _we_ gave the psalms to
David.” “O ye who have received the Scriptures, exceed not the just
bounds in your religion; neither say of God any other than the truth.
Verily Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the apostle of God, and his
Word, which he conveyed into Mary, and a spirit proceeding from him.
Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not, There are three
Gods: forbear this; it will be better for you. God is but one God. Far
be it from him that he should have a Son! Unto him belongeth whatsoever
is in heaven and on earth.”—Ch. iv. pp. 80, 81.



                  _On the Prophecy of an “Immanuel.”_

For the Interpretation which identifies “the Virgin” with the city of
Jerusalem, I am indebted to Rammohun Roy, who has justified it by
reasons which appear to me satisfactory. See his Second Appeal to the
Christian Public. Appendix II. Calcutta, 1821, p. 128 seqq. The use of
the definite article with the word (העלמה) points out _the_ Virgin as
some _known object_, who would be recognized by King Ahaz, without
further description. It will hardly be maintained that this prince was
so familiar with evangelical futurities, as to understand the phrase of
Mary of Nazareth. Nor does it seem at all likely that either the
prophet’s wife, or any other person not previously the subject of
discourse, should be thus obscurely and abruptly described. But if “the
Virgin” was a well-understood mode of speaking of Jerusalem, Ahaz would
be at no loss to interpret the allusion. And that this metaphor was one
of the common-places of Hebrew speech, in the time of the prophets,
might be shown from every part of their writings. “Thou shalt be built,
_O virgin of Israel_; thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and
shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.”[264] “Then shall
_the_ _Virgin_ rejoice in the dance.”[265] “The Lord hath trodden the
Virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a wine-press.”[266] And Isaiah
himself uses this expression respecting a foreign city: “Thou shalt no
more rejoice, O thou oppressed Virgin, daughter of Sidon.”[267] And
expressing to the invader Sennacherib, the contempt which God authorized
Jerusalem to entertain for his threats, he says, “_The Virgin_, the
daughter of Zion, hath despised thee and laughed thee to scorn.”[268]

It should he remembered, however, that the establishment of this
interpretation is by no means necessary to the proof of invalidity in
the Trinitarian application of the prophecy. The reasons which I have
adduced, together with the use in a neighbouring passage, of the phrase
“over the breadth of _thy land_, O Immanuel,”[269] appear to me to point
out some _prince_ as the Virgin’s Son. But many eminent interpreters
consider him as only one of the Prophet’s own children, “whom the Lord
had given him, for signs and for wonders in Israel.”[270] And the first
four verses of the next chapter certainly speak of Isaiah’s son in a
manner so strikingly similar, as to give a strong support to this
interpretation. But whatever obscurity there may be in the passage, the
one clear certainty in it is this: that it does _not_ refer to any
person to be born seven or eight hundred years after the delivery of the
prediction. And it is surely unworthy of any educated Theologian,
possessing a full knowledge of the embarrassments attending the
Trinitarian appeal to such texts, still to reiterate that appeal,
without any specification of the mode in which he proposes to sustain
it. Is it maintained that Jesus of Nazareth was the primary object of
the prophecy? Or will any one be found deliberately to defend the
hypothesis of a double sense? Or must we fear, that a lax and
unscrupulous use is often made of allusions which sound well in the
popular ear, without any distinct estimate of their real argumentative

It is no doubt convenient to cut the knot of every difficulty by the
appeal to inspiration; to say, _e.g._, that Matthew applies the word
Emmanuel to Christ, and with a correctness which his infallibility
forbids us to impeach. But are our opponents prepared to abide by this
rule, to prove its truth, to apply it, without qualification, to the New
Testament citations from the Hebrew Scriptures? Will they, for instance,
find and expound, for the benefit of the church, the prophecy stated by
Matthew to have been fulfilled in Jesus, “He shall be called a
Nazarene?”[271] The words are declared to have been “spoken by the
prophets.” But they are not discoverable in any of the canonical
prophecies: so that _either_ the Evangelist took them from some inspired
work now lost,—in which case the canon is imperfect, and Christianity is
deprived of the benefit of certain predictions intended for its support;
_or_, he has cited them so incorrectly from our existing Scriptures,
that the quotation cannot be identified. I cannot refrain from
expressing my amazement, that those, whose constant duty it is to
expound the New Testament writings should be conscious of no danger to
their authority, when it is strained so far as to include an infallible
interpretation of the Older Scriptures.



                           _On Isaiah_ ix. 6.

The translation of this passage is not unattended with difficulties: and
many of the versions which learned men have proposed leave nothing on
which the Trinitarian argument can rest. It is clear that divines ought
to establish the meaning of the verse, before they reason from its
theology. I subjoin a few of the most remarkable translations.

The Septuagint; “And his name shall be called ‘Messenger of a great
counsel;’ for I will bring peace upon the rulers, and health to him.”

The Targum of Jonathan; “And by the Wonderful in counsel, by the Mighty
God who endureth for ever, his name shall be called the Messiah (the
anointed), in whose days peace shall be multiplied upon us.” The
following allusion to the titles in this passage from Talmud Sanhedrim,
11 ch., will show to whom they were applied by Jewish commentators: “God
said, let Hezekiah, who has five names, take vengeance on the king of
Assyria, who has taken on himself five names also.”

Grotius; “Wonderful; Counsellor of the Mighty God; Father of the future
age; Prince of Peace.”

Editor of Calmet; “Admirable, Counsellor, Divine Interpreter, Mighty,
Father of Future time, Prince of Peace.”

Bishop Lowth; “Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Father of the
everlasting age, the Prince of Peace.”

Many other translations might be added: and even if the prophecy were
not obviously spoken of Hezekiah, we might reasonably ask, what
doctrinal certainty can be found in so uncertain an announcement? And
how is the fact accounted for that, important as it was to the apostles’
success to make the largest possible use of their ancient scriptures,
not one of them ever alludes to this prediction?



                        _On the Proem of John._

The objection which is most commonly entertained to the foregoing
interpretation of the Proem of St. John’s Gospel, arises from the
_strength and vividness_ of the personification of the Logos. A _real
personality_, it is said, must be assumed, in order to satisfy the terms
of the description, which could never have been applied by the apostle
to a mere mental creation.

I am by no means insensible to the force of this objection: though I
think it of less weight than the difficulties which beset every other
explanation. And it appears to be greatly relieved by two
considerations; first, that a considerable part of the difficulty arises
from a want of correspondence between the Greek and the English usage of
language; secondly, that this personification did not originate with the
apostle, but had become, by slow and definable gradations, an
established formula of speech.

1. The first of these considerations I will introduce to my readers in
the words of Archbishop Whately: “Our language possesses one remarkable
advantage, with a view to this kind of Energy, in the constitution of
its _genders_. All nouns in English, which express objects that are
really neuter, are considered as strictly of the neuter gender; the
Greek and Latin, though possessing the advantage (which is wanting in
the languages derived from them) of having a neuter gender, yet lose the
benefit of it, by fixing the masculine or feminine genders upon many
nouns denoting things inanimate; whereas in English, when we speak of
any such object in the masculine or feminine gender, that form of
expression at once confers _personality_ upon it. When ‘Virtue,’ _e.g._
or our ‘Country’ are spoken of as females, or ‘Ocean’ as a male, &c.,
they are, by that very circumstance, _personified_; and a stimulus is
thus given to the imagination, from the very circumstance that in calm
discussion or description, all of these would be neuter; whereas in
Greek or Latin, as in French or Italian, no such distinction could be
made. The employment of ‘_Virtus_,’ and Ἀρετὴ in the feminine gender,
can contribute, accordingly, no animation to the style, when they could
not, without a solecism, be employed otherwise.”[272]

Now let any one read the English Proem of John, and ask himself, _how
much_ of the appearance of personality is due to the occurrence, again
and again, of the pronouns “he,” “him,” “his,” applied to the Logos; let
him remember that _this much_ is a mere imposition practised unavoidably
upon him by the idiom of our language, and “_gives no animation to the
style_” in the original; and I am persuaded that the violence of the
personification will be tamed down to the apprehension of a very
moderate imagination. It is true that the Logos does not, by this
allowance, become impersonal; other parts of the personal conception
remain, in the _acts_ of creation and of illumination, attributed to
this Divine Power: and hence the substitution of the neuter pronouns
“it” and “its;” for the masculines “he,” “him,” “his,” though useful,
provisionally, for shaking off the English illusion to which I have
referred, cannot be allowed to represent the sentiment of the passage

There appears to be another peculiarity of our language and modes of
thought, as contrasted with the Greek, which exaggerates, in the Common
Translation, the force of the personification. The English language
leaves to an author a free choice of either gender for his
personifications: and the practical effect of this has been, that the
_feminine_ prosopopeia has been selected as most appropriate to abstract
qualities and attributes of the mind; and although instances are not
wanting of masculine representations of several of the human passions,
the figure is felt, in such cases, to be much more vehement and more
entirely beyond the limits of prose, than the employment of the other
gender. What imagination would naturally think of Pity, of Fear, of Joy,
of Genius, of Hope, as _male beings_? It may be doubted whether our most
imaginative prose writers present any example of a male personification
of an _attribute_: I can call to mind instances in the writings of
Milton and Jeremy Taylor, of this figure so applied to certain _material
objects_, as the Sun, the Ocean, but not to _abstract qualities or
modes_, unless when a conception is borrowed (as of “Old Time”) from the
ancient mythology. And accordingly, to an English reader, such a style
of representation must always appear forced and strange. But a writer in
a language like the Greek cannot choose the sex of his personifications;
it is decided for him, by the gender already assigned to the
abstraction, about which he is occupied; and both he and his readers
must accommodate their conceptions to this idiomatic necessity. In the
German, the _Moon_ is masculine; the _Sun_ feminine; and every reader of
that language knows the strange incongruities which, to English
perceptions, this peculiarity introduces into its poetical imagery. For
example, there is a German translation of Mrs. Barbauld’s Hymns in
prose; a passage of which, rendered literally into English would read
thus: “I will show you what is glorious. The Sun is glorious. When She
shineth in the clear sky, when She sitteth on the bright throne in the
heavens, and looketh abroad over all the earth, She is the most
excellent and glorious creature the eye can behold. The Sun is glorious;
but He that made the Sun is more glorious than She.” Again; “There is
the Moon, bending His bright horns, like a silver bow, and shedding His
mild light, like liquid silver, over the blue firmament.” In the Greek
literature, accordingly, the masculine personification of abstractions
is as easy and common as the feminine; and the former occurs in many
instances in which an English author, having free choice, would prefer
the latter: thus in Homer, Fear is a son of Mars:

           Οἷος δὲ βροτολοιγὸς Ἄρης πόλεμόνδε μέτεισι,
           Τῷ δὲ Φόβος, φίλος υἱὸς, ἅμα κρατερὸς καὶ ἀταρβὴς,

But in Collins, a nymph:

            “O Fear! ...
            Thou who such weary lengths hast past,
            Where wilt thou rest, mad nymph! at last?”[274]

And so in Coleridge:

         “Black Horror screamed, and all her goblin rout
         Diminish’d shrunk from the more withering scene.”[275]

Pindar must make Envy a masculine power:

                “Μὴ βαλέτω με λίθῳ τραχεῖ φθόνος.”[276]

Coleridge thus describes the same feeling, giving itself speech:

             “... Shall Slander squatting near,
             Spit her cold venom in a dead man’s ear?”[277]

And common as it is for English writers to give a feminine
personification to Wisdom and Genius, Philo expressly says they are of
the masculine gender (τῆς ἄῤῥενος γενεᾶς νοῦς καὶ λογισμὸς);[278] and
the husband of the other faculties of the soul.

The divine attributes are, I think, uniformly represented by the pronoun
_she_, in imaginative religious writers, like Bishop Taylor; mercy,
justice, goodness, thus assume, in the works of that great man, the same
form as Wisdom in the book of Proverbs; and it may be doubted whether,
if the apostle John had written in the English language and with English
feelings, the personification in his proem might not have presented
itself in the same shape. Any one who will read over the passage, with
this idea, will find, I think, that the figure, thus modified, appears
by no means inconceivable. Have we not, in the peculiarity of our
language to which I have alluded, one reason why English theologians
appear to have felt more difficulty than foreign divines in seizing the
true idea of the Logos; and why the disposition to consider it as an
objective and absolute Person has been much more prevalent among all
parties here, than on the Continent?

2. But a more important consideration, for the understanding of this
Proem, is this: that the Apostle is not the originator of the conception
respecting the Logos, but simply adopted it in the shape, towards which
it had been organizing itself for centuries. Three successive states of
the idea can be traced; in the Old Testament, it appears (in Prov.
viii.) as a mere transient personification of Divine Wisdom; in the
Apocryphal Books of Ecclesiasticus and of Wisdom, it presents itself in
a more permanent and mythical character; and, in the writings of Philo,
it assumes so embodied and hypostatized a form, as to perplex the
simplicity of his Monotheism. _From his writings, the whole Proem of his
contemporary John (except where the Baptist and Jesus are mentioned by
name) might be constructed._ This coincidence in phraseology so
remarkable, cannot be considered as accidental. Is it thought impossible
that John should say of an attribute of God, that it was with him from
the first? We reply, Philo _does_ say so; calling _Goodness_ the most
ancient of God’s qualities; _Wisdom_ older than the universe; Logos, the
Assessor (πάρεδρος and ὀπαδὸς) of God prior to all creations, a needful
companion of Deity, as the joint originator with him of all things.[279]
And the Son of Sirach says, in his personification of Wisdom: “I am come
out of the mouth of the most High, first-born before all creatures:” “He
created me from the beginning, and before the world.”[280] Is it said
that such a statement is unworthy of Revelation? We reply, it occurs in
the writings of Solomon: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his
way, before his works of old;” “then I was by him as one brought up with
him:”[281] where the feminine form (vv. 2, 3) totally excludes the idea
of Wisdom being anything more than a personification. Is it thought
impossible that an attribute of God should be called the only-begotten
Son of God? We turn to Philo, and find this same Logos entitled the most
Ancient Son of God (ὁ πρεσβύτατος υἱὸς θεοῦ), the First-begotten (ὁ
πρωτόγονος). Is it inconceivable that, through this transforming energy
of God, those who received it should be said to become Sons of God?
Philo says, “If you are not yet worthy to be denominated a Son of God,
be earnest to put on the graces of his First-begotten Logos,—the most
ancient angel, and, we may say, an archangel of various titles:” “for if
we are not prepared to be esteemed children of God, we may at all events
be thus related to the most Holy Logos, his eternal Image; for the most
Ancient Logos is the Image of God.”[282]

As all Theological considerations, suggested by heretics, are apt to be
dismissed with mere expressions of surprise and contempt, I am happy to
refer, in confirmation of the foregoing views, in the most essential
particulars, to an Orthodox Writer, whose accurate and various learning,
and sound and grave judgment, have given him a merited pre-eminence
among the Commentators on the Gospel of John. I allude to Professor
Lücke, whose “Commentar über das Evangelium des Johannes” I have had the
opportunity, since the delivery of this Lecture, of consulting. I wish
that I could lay before my readers the whole of his admirable history of
the rise and progress of the idea of the Logos; but I must content
myself with translating a few brief extracts.[283]

“The origin and germ,” he says, “of the theological Formula of the
Logos, are furnished in the Canonical Hebrew Books (alluding to certain
passages, especially Prov. viii. which he has been showing to be mere
poetical personifications of Divine Attributes). It obtained its full
development in the Jewish Theology, in the writings of the Alexandrine
Philo. And, in an intermediate state of formation, we find it in the
Greek Apocryphal books of the Old Testament.”

Lücke examines the conception in all these stages; and, from his
analysis of Philo’s mode of thought, I extract the following:

“According to Philo, God, in his interior Essence, is inconceivable,
occult, solitary (das absolute), self-comprised, and without relations
to any other existence.... Although the absolute cause of all that is,
God cannot, in his own essence, and immediately, operate on the
universe, either in the way of creation, preservation, or government.
Concealed in his absolute separation, God is manifest and an object of
knowledge in the world, only through his _Powers_ (δυνάμεις): these,
external forces of God in the universe, apart from his absolute essence,
are the necessary media of his presence in the universe.... These divine
δυνάμεις Philo calls sometimes _Ideas_, sometimes _Angels_, sometimes
_Logoi_. This identification of notions, powers, ideas, angels, logoi,
which is frequent in the writings of Philo, is of great importance for
the right apprehension of his doctrine of the Divine Logos. This Logos
he considers in a twofold relation. Sometimes he regards it as
_inherent_ (immanent), and refers it to him as a capacity (facultativ);
when it is the Divine νοῦς, analogous to the human. But this attributive
conception gives way to that of the λόγος ἐνδιάθετος, as a living,
energetic δύναμις, which tends to external action. Of this, Philo, in
the spirit of Platonism, conceives as ἰδέα ἰδεῶν, the Ideal of things,
the archetypal Idea, the pattern World, the νοητὸς κόσμος, which is
extant in God as a reality, before all outward creations of the actual
universe. In this sense the λόγος is the primary energy of God,—the
ἐννόησις, the λογισμὸς θεοῦ λογιζομένου.

But, at the same time, the λόγος is also προφορικός; and, as a forming
activity, goes forth out of God. But as this is only another relation of
the Divine Logos, _viz._, relation to the world, so is it the _product_
of the former; yet essentially one with it, like the οἶκος of the
inherent Logos,—as human speech is the resident point of the idea, its
_form of manifestation_. All living, active relations of God to the
world, all his objective manifestations, are comprised in this emanated
Logos. He forms the world or creates it, imprinting himself on matter as
a Divine seal (σφραγὶς). And as he has created the world (or otherwise,
_God through_ him, δι’ αὐτοῦ,) so he preserves it; he is the indwelling
and sustaining power, full of light and life, and filling everything
with Divine light and life. So in the _human world_, he is both the
natural divine power of every soul, the pure intellect, the conscience;
and the bestower of wisdom, and the watch of virtue. He is the same with
the Wisdom of God, the Holy Spirit of God in his objective manifestation
in the world; partly because animating and inspiring men, particularly
in the capacity of Prophetic Spirit.

“Hence the Logos is the eldest Creation of God, the Eternal Father’s
eldest Son, God’s Image, Mediator between God and the World, the Highest
Angel, the Second God, the High-priest, the Reconciler, Intercessor for
the World and Men, whose manifestation is especially visible in the
history of the Jewish people.”[284]

It ought to be added, that some able writers, as Grossman and Gfrörer,
conceive that Philo invested his Logos with a real personality. The
reasons for this opinion do not appear to me to be satisfactory. Even
those who adopt it assign to this hypostasis a rank wholly subordinate,
in Philo’s estimation, to the Supreme God: and Lücke strenuously
maintains that both the Alexandrine philosopher and the apostle John
apply the name _God_ to the Logos only in a figurative sense (ἐν
καταχρήσει). He considers the clause “the Word was God,” merely
incidental, and unimportant compared with the preceding clause, “the
Word was with God.” “John,” he observes, “sums up the purpose of the
first verse in the words of the second; οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν.
From his not taking up again the idea θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, we must conclude,
that he considered this position only an accessory. Thus the πρὸς τὸν
θεὸν is evidently to be the more prominently marked assertion.” “John
would say, the primeval Logos is πρὸς τὸν θεὸν; that is, is in such
communion with God, stands in such relation to him, that he may be
called θεός. Looking at the historical connection between the mode of
expression in Philo and in John, there is no room for doubt, that θεὸς
is to be taken in the sense in which Philo applies the name θεός to the
ποιητικὴ δύναμις τοῦ θεοῦ,—and explicitly calls the λόγος God—ὁ δεύτερος
θεός ; but to prevent misunderstanding, expressly subjoins that this is
only ἐν καταχρήσει. Though John, as we have seen, understands by the
Logos, a real Divine Person, he yet, as a Christian Apostle, held the
monotheistic conception of God in a still higher degree, and an
incomparably purer form (xvii. 3; 1 John v. 20) than Philo: and are we
then at liberty to suppose, that by him, less than by Philo, the
position θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος is meant simply ἐν καταχρήσει? It is true that
the substitution for θεὸς of the adjective θεῖος is at variance with the
analogy of New Testament diction: but must we not, with the Alexandrine
Fathers, especially Origen, conclude that θεὸς without the article, is
to be taken as marking the difference between the indefinite sense of
‘Divine nature,’ and the definite, absolute, conception of God,
expressed by ὁ θεὸς? Thus would John’s θεὸς correspond with Paul’s εἰκὼν
τοῦ θεοῦ. Such an accordance between the manner of Paul and of John is
an advantage which must appear an equally desirable result of exegesis,
whether we consider it in its dogmatical or its historical

From this extract it appears, that if the author does not approve of the
old Socinian interpretation, which considers the Logos as synonymous
from the first with Jesus Christ; it is not because he knows, that θεὸς
in the predicate cannot signify _a_ god; or slights Origen’s opinion on
the usage of N. T. and Hellenistic Greek. We have here an authority,
than which no higher can be produced from among the living or the dead,
in favour of a meaning which, to the fastidious scholarship of Liverpool
theologians, is absolutely intolerable. Lücke of course admits the
general rule, respecting the omission of the article with the
predicative noun; but he conceives (greatly to the horror, no doubt, of
those whose soul resides in syntax) that the good old Apostle would even
have committed a solecism in respect of a Greek article, for the sake of
clearing a great truth in respect of God. “If there had been any
intention to express the substantial unity of the Logos and God, we
should have expected the Apostle to write ὁ θεός. On account of the
equivocal meaning of θεὸς without the article, the article could not
possibly have been absent.”[286] It is vain to say that such corrupt
Greek as this cannot be ascribed to the Apostles. Here are examples from
John; ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀνομία; [287] Τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν ἡ ἀλήθεια: [288]
and here are others from Paul; ὁ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν: [289] Παντὸς
ἀνδρὸς ἡ κεφαλὴ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν. [290] Nay, we have an example in the
following text, of a total inversion of the rule, the article being
attached to the predicate, and _not_ to the subject; εἰ ἔστι Κύριος
(יהוה) ὁ Θεὸς.[291]

It will be perceived by the text of this Lecture that I do not adopt the
rendering of the Alexandrine Fathers; but I am anxious, in rejecting it,
to pass no slight on the learning of those who maintain it; and to show
that, out of England, orthodoxy can afford to be wise and just.

I think it right to add, that to the view which has been given of the
Proem, an objection of some weight occurs in the twelfth verse. The
clause ‘to them that believe on his name’ presents the question, ‘who is
denoted by the pronoun _his_,—the Logos or Jesus Christ personally?’
According to the interpretation which I have recommended, it should mean
the former; according to the analogy of Scriptural diction, certainly
the latter. Feeling the force of the difficulty, I yet think it less
serious than those which attend every other hypothesis: and incline to
think, that the clause is an anticipation of the personal introduction
of the Incarnate Logos which immediately follows; a point of transition
from the personification to the history.

In conclusion, may I take occasion to correct an erroneous statement in
Mr. Byrth’s Lecture;—that Samuel Crell was a convert to Trinitarianism
before his death. “He died,” we are told, “a believer in the Supreme
Divinity of Christ, and the efficacy of his atoning sacrifice.”[292] I
have before me the most authentic collection of Socinian Memoirs which
has been published, by Dr. F. S. Bock, Greek Professor, and Royal
Librarian at Königsberg. The work is principally from original sources;
and the testimony of the following passage will probably be received as
unimpeachable. It appears that a vague statement in the Hamburgh
Literary News gave rise to the report of Crell’s conversion: “Obiit
Crellius Amstelodami, a. 1747. d. 12. Maii, anno æt. 87. In _novis
litterariis Hamburg._ 1747, p. 703, narratur, quod circa vitæ finem
errorum suorum ipsum pœnituerit, hujusque pœnitentiæ non simulatæ haud
obscura dederit documenta, quod Paulo Burgero, Archidiacono
Herspruccensi in iisdem novis publicis Hamb. 1748, p. 345, eam ob
caussam veri haud absimile videtur, quia sibi Amstelodami degenti
Crellius, a. 1731, oretenus testatus fuerit, in colloquiis cum Celeb.
Schaffio Lugdunensi institutis, quædam placita, jam sibi dubia reddita
esse, adeo ut jam anceps circa eadem hæreat. Sed in iisdem novis 1749,
p. 92, et p. 480, certiores reddimur: Crellium ad ultimum vitæ suæ
halitum perstitisse Unitarium, quod etiam frater ipsius, Paulus, mihi
coram pluribus vicibus testatus est.”[293]



In the rendering which I have given to this passage the word ἁρπαγμὸς is
considered as equivalent to ἅρπαγμα. The interpretation, however, in no
way requires this; and if it should be thought necessary to maintain the
distinction between them, to which the analogy of Greek formation, in
the case of verbal nouns, undoubtedly points, and to limit the former to
the active sense of the “operation of seizing,” the latter to the
passive sense of “the object seized;” the general meaning will remain
wholly unaffected. The only difference will be this; that the _whole_ of
the sixth verse must, in that case, be considered as descriptive of the
rightful glory of Christ; and the transition to his voluntary
afflictions will not commence till the 7th. The signification of this
doubtful word simply determines, whether the clause in which it stands
shall be the last in the account of our Lord’s dignity, or the first in
the notice of his humiliation. The rendering, however, which I have
adopted, is confirmed by the use made of this passage in the most
ancient citation from this epistle. In the letter of the churches of
Vienne and Lyons, the 6th verse is quoted, without the sequel, and the
fact that Christ thought it not ἁρπαγμὸν to be equal with God, is
adduced as an example of _humility_; “who showed themselves so far
emulators and imitators of Christ; who being in the form of God thought
not his equality with God, a thing to be eagerly seized.”—Euseb. Eccl.
Hist. Lib. V. § 2. Heinichen, vol. ii. p. 36.

With considerable variation of expression, the same idea occurs in the
(1st) Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians. “Christ is theirs
who are humble. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the sceptre of the majesty of
God, came not in the show of pride and pre-eminence, though he could
have done so; but in humility. Ye see, beloved, what is the model which
has been given us.” C. xvi. If the Trinitarian view of the mediatorial
office of Christ be correct, it is not easy to perceive how he could
have come in the show of pride and pre-eminence; had he not laid aside
the glories of his Deity, and clothed himself with a suffering humanity,
his mission, as commonly conceived, could have had no existence, nor any
one purpose of it have been answered. But he might have been the great
Hebrew Messiah, had he not chosen rather, by a process of suffering and
death, to put himself into universal and spiritual relations to all men.


                        Footnotes for Lecture V.

Footnote 164:

  Analogy of Religion, part ii. ch. 3.

Footnote 165:

  Sermon on the Integrity of the Canon, p. 80.

Footnote 166:

  Dr. Tattershall’s Sermon on the Integrity of the Canon, p. 81.

Footnote 167:

  Elements of Logic. Appendix, in verb. Person.

Footnote 168:

  See Note A.

Footnote 169:

  See Mr. Jones’s Lecture on the Proper Humanity of our Lord Jesus
  Christ, pp. 241, 242.

Footnote 170:

  Genesis, xviii. 1, 2, 22; xix. 1, 10, 15.

Footnote 171:

  Deut. xxix. 2, 5, 6.

Footnote 172:

  It is hardly necessary to observe, that I use the word “Athanasian” to
  denote the doctrine of the _Creed_ so called; not of St. Athanasius
  himself, who is known to have had no hand in the composition of that

Footnote 173:

  Jesus Christ, the great God our Saviour, pp. 81, 369.

Footnote 174:

  It is orthodox, at the present day, to affirm that the mysteries of
  the Godhead and Incarnation of our Lord were explicitly taught by
  himself throughout his ministry, as well as by his apostles
  afterwards; and Mr. Jones (Lecture, p. 237) assures us that he
  “received _divine homage_, whilst on earth, from inspired men and
  angelic spirits.” This shows how much more clear-sighted is modern
  orthodoxy than was ancient: for the Fathers thought that a great part
  of the “mystery” of these doctrines consisted in the _secrecy_ in
  which they were long wrapped. “In the silence of God,” Ignatius
  assures us, were the Incarnation and the Lord’s death accomplished;
  and the ecclesiastical writers of the first six centuries seem not
  only to have admitted that our Lord concealed his divinity from his
  disciples, and enjoined on his apostles great caution in this matter,
  but to have discerned in this suppression a profound wisdom, of which
  they frequently express their admiration. They urge that the Jews
  could never have been brought round to the faith, if these doctrines
  had not been kept back for a while,—a strange thing, by the way, if
  the whole ritual and Scriptures of this people were created to
  prefigure these mysteries. But Ignatius threw out a suggestion, which,
  from the eagerness wherewith it was caught up by succeeding writers,
  was evidently thought a happy discovery: it was necessary _to conceal
  these mysteries from the Devil, or he would have been on his guard,
  and defeated everything_. The hint of the venerable saint is brief:
  “The Virginity of Mary, and the Birth and Death of the Lord were
  hidden from the Prince of this world.” But the idea is variously
  enlarged upon by the later Fathers; for, as Cotelier observes, “Res
  ipsa quam Ignatius exprimit, passim apud sanctos Patres invenitur.”
  Jerome adds, that the vigilance of the Devil, who expected the Messiah
  to be born in some Jewish _family_, was thus eluded; and the Author of
  an anonymous fragment of the same age, cited by Isaac Vos, suggests
  that, if Satan had known, he would never have put it into men’s hearts
  to crucify Jesus. And Jobius, a monk of the sixth century, quoted by
  Photius in his Bibliotheca, and complimented by the learned Patriarch
  as τῶν ἱερῶν γραφῶν μελέτης οὐκ ἄπειρος, says, “It was necessary to
  keep in the shade the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, both for
  the sake of conciliating the hearers, and in order to escape the
  notice of the Prince of Darkness.”—See S. Ignat. Ep. ad Magnes. ch.
  xix.; Patr. Apost. Le Clerc’s Ed. Notes; and Priestley’s Early
  Opinions, b. iii, ch. 3, 4.

Footnote 175:

  Lambertus Danaus, cited by Drusius, in his Diss. de nom. Elohim. Crit.
  Sacr. Tractatt. t. 1. See also Drus. de quæsitis per Epist. 66.

Footnote 176:

  Comment. in Gen. i. 1. Calvin adds, “Imagining that they have here a
  proof against the Arians, they involve themselves in the Sabellian
  error: because Moses afterwards subjoins that _Elohim spake_, and that
  _the Spirit of Elohim brooded over the waters_. If we are to
  understand that the three Persons are indicated, there will be no
  distinction among them: for it will follow that the Son was
  self-generated, and that the Spirit is not of the Father, but of
  himself.” For further notice of this point see Note B.

Footnote 177:

  Grammar of the Hebrew Language, art. 228, 6. Note.

Footnote 178:

  See Scripture Proofs and Scriptural Illustrations of Unitarianism, by
  John Wilson, second edition, 1837, p. 33, where will be found a
  curious table, exhibiting the usage of the word _God_, in every book
  of the New Testament. Mr. Wilson has collected his materials with
  great industry, and arranged them with skill.

Footnote 179:

  Matt. i. 23.

Footnote 180:

  Isaiah vii. 14. The whole passage is as follows:

                “Behold the virgin conceiveth, and beareth a son;
                 And she shall call his name Emmanuel.
                 Butter and honey shall he eat,
                 When he shall know to refuse what is evil,
                     and to choose what is good:
                 For before this child shall know
                 To refuse the evil, and to choose the good;
                 The land shall become desolate,
                 By whose two kings thou art distressed.”

Footnote 181:

  Quoted from Wilson’s Illustrations, p. 117.

Footnote 182:

  Letters on the Trinity, by Moses Stuart, Professor of Sacred
  Literature in the Theological Seminary, Andover, U.S. Belf. ed. p.

Footnote 183:

  Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, 2nd edit. vol. i. p. 382.

Footnote 184:

  Amos v. 2.

Footnote 185:

  Jeremiah xiv. 17.

Footnote 186:

  Micah iv. 8, 9. See the whole context.

Footnote 187:

  See Note C.

Footnote 188:

  Isaiah ix. 5, 6.

Footnote 189:

  Isaiah viii. 23-ix. 4. Compare 2 Kings xv. 29; 1 Chronicles v. 26.

Footnote 190:

  Martin Luther’s Version, _in loc._

Footnote 191:

  See Note D.

Footnote 192:

  Λόγος ἐνδιάθετος.

Footnote 193:

  Λόγος προφορικός.

Footnote 194:

  Phil. Jud. Op. Schrey et H. J. Meyer. Francof. 1691. De Mundi opific.
  p. 5. C. p. 6. C. Leg. Alleg. p. 93. B, C, D. De somniis, pp. 574. E.
  575. C. E. 576. E. De confus. Ling. p. 341. B. C. Quis rer. div.
  hæres. p. 509. B. C. Euseb. Prep. Evang. VII. 13.

Footnote 195:

  See Note E.

Footnote 196:

  1 Tim. iii. 16.

Footnote 197:

  Εἷς θεός ἐστιν, ὁ φανερώσας ἑαυτὸν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ
  αὐτοῦ.—S. Ignatii Epist. ad Magnes. c. viii.

Footnote 198:

  Δι’ οὗ, not ὑφ’ οὗ.

Footnote 199:

  Psalm xlv.

Footnote 200:

  v. 1-9.

Footnote 201:

  v. 10-17.

Footnote 202:

  New Translation of the Psalms, by Dr. M. Young, Bishop of Clonfert;
  _in loc._ Comp. Preface.—When resident in Dublin, I enjoyed the
  advantage of consulting this posthumous work, suppressed before its
  publication, for reasons sufficiently obvious to those who know the
  work, and have noticed the reception which orthodoxy gives to honest
  and impartial biblical criticism and exegesis. See Mr. Wellbeloved’s
  Bible _in loc._ where Bishop Young’s translation is cited. May I
  venture to refer our learned opponents to the last-mentioned work,
  whenever they think proper to examine what kind of Old Testament
  theology a Unitarian may hold? It would be curious to know, probably
  perplexing even to “ordained clergymen” to determine, on which horn of
  the dilemma the Rev. Hebraists in Christ Church must fix Mr.
  Wellbeloved;—“_defective scholarship?_”—or “_uncandid and dishonest

Footnote 203:

  See Acts iii. 19-21; xiii. 33-37; xxvi. 6-8. Hebrews ii. 5. Titus ii.
  12, 13. 1 Tim. iv. 1. James v. 3, 7, 8. 1 Cor. x. 11. Phil. iv. 5. 2
  Thess. ii. 2.

Footnote 204:

  2 Pet. iii. 13.

Footnote 205:

  1 Pet. iii. 20.

Footnote 206:

  Acts xvii. 31.

Footnote 207:

  Rom. i. 4.

Footnote 208:

  Acts xiii. 30-34. comp. Heb. i. 5.

Footnote 209:

  Heb. i. 3.

Footnote 210:

  2 Pet. iii. 9.

Footnote 211:

  Heb. i. 3.

Footnote 212:

  Paraphrase on the Epistles; Rom. xiii. 11, 12. Note.

Footnote 213:

  From the word GOD, supposed to be addressed to Christ, in the clause
  “Thy throne, O God, &c.,” the Deity of our Lord, as _a second person
  in the Trinity_, is inferred. Yet this word, in the original, is
  ELOHIM, whose plural form, we are told, is intended to prevent our
  thinking of only One Person, and which cannot mean less than _the
  whole Trinity_.

Footnote 214:

  1 John v. 20.

Footnote 215:

  Notes _in loc._

Footnote 216:


Footnote 217:

  2 John 7.

Footnote 218:

  Phil. ii. 5-8.

Footnote 219:

  2 Cor. viii. 9.

Footnote 220:

  See Note F.

Footnote 221:

  These texts naturally arrange themselves thus:

          Philippians ii. 5-8.
          2 Corinthians viii. 9.

          Phil. ii. 9-11.
          Eph. i. 20-23.
          Col. i. 15-19.
          Heb. i.

Footnote 222:

  Col. i. 15-19. Comp. Eph. iii. 19; where the apostle desires that _the
  Ephesians_ may “_be filled with all the fulness of God_.”

Footnote 223:

  Note _in loc._

Footnote 224:

  Acts xiv. 15.

Footnote 225:

  Eph. ii. 10.

Footnote 226:

  2 Cor. v. 17.

Footnote 227:

  1 Cor. xv. 24.

Footnote 228:

  1 Thess. iv. 14.

Footnote 229:

  1 Cor. xv. 51. 1 Thess. iv. 17; v. 10.

Footnote 230:

  Eph. i. 10.

Footnote 231:

  2 Thess. i. 9.

Footnote 232:

  Heb. i. 6; Phil. ii. 10.

Footnote 233:

  Heb. xii. 28.

Footnote 234:

  2 Tim. ii. 12.

Footnote 235:

  1 Thess. iv. 14.

Footnote 236:

  Rom. viii. 19, 23, 6.

Footnote 237:

  1 Pet. i. 5.

Footnote 238:

  Eph. ii. 21, 22.

Footnote 239:

  Eph. ii. 23.

Footnote 240:

  1 Cor. viii. 6.

Footnote 241:

  John xvii. 3.

Footnote 242:

  John iv. 23, 24.

Footnote 243:

  Eph. iv. 6.

Footnote 244:

  This is the source to which our opponents in the present controversy
  have explicitly referred the divine wisdom of Christ. Mr. Jones says,
  “Unaided by the fulness of _the Godhead which dwelt within him
  bodily_,” (did _the Father_, according to the Creeds, dwell in him
  bodily?) “his human soul was, necessarily, finite in its operations.”
  And again, “Nor could he, as we have already intimated, know anything
  beyond the ken of a finite intelligence, except it were _revealed to
  him by the_ ETERNAL WORD, with which he was mysteriously united.”
  Christ says, “as MY FATHER _hath taught me_, I speak these things.”
  Was his “_Father_” “the _eternal Word_?”—See _Lect. on the Proper
  Humanity, &c._ pp. 221, 243.

Footnote 245:

  John v. 19, 30.

Footnote 246:

  Ib. xiv. 10.

Footnote 247:

  Ib. vi. 57.

Footnote 248:

  Ib. v. 36.

Footnote 249:

  Ib. x. 29.

Footnote 250:

  Mark xiii. 32.

Footnote 251:

  With respect to the meaning of the name, “THE SON,” our opponents
  appear to vary their statements in a way which serves the ends of
  controversy more than those of truth. Mr. Jones says that in the
  passages which I have adduced, the Trinitarian hypothesis “finds no
  hindrance whatever,” because the word SON denotes in them our Lord’s
  _human and Mediatorial_ character. Mr. Bates denies that the word can
  have any such meaning. In defending the supreme Divinity of Christ, as
  well as of the Holy Spirit, from what is incorrectly called the
  Baptismal _Form_, (“baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the
  Son, and of the Holy Ghost,”) he begs us to observe that it is _not
  into the name of Christ the Mediator_ that converts are to be
  baptized. “Our Saviour’s words,” he affirms, “not only fail to
  sanction, but _expressly exclude_, such a construction; for he does
  not say, ‘the name of the Father and of _myself_,’ but ‘of THE SON,’
  that is, of THE ETERNAL WORD.” Mr. Bates’s Lecture is not published;
  but he is aware that this statement is correct. Since this name “_the
  Son_” “expressly excludes” the Mediatorial character, and _must_ mean
  the Eternal Word, may we ask Mr. Bates, how it is the Eternal Word did
  not know the day and the hour, and could do nothing of himself?—_Mr.
  Jones’s Lect._ p. 242.

Footnote 252:

  John vi. 62.

Footnote 253:

  Ib. iii. 13.

Footnote 254:

  John xvii. 5.

Footnote 255:

  Acts ii. 32.

Footnote 256:

  Gal. i. 1.

Footnote 257:

  John x. 18.

Footnote 258:

  Wardlaw’s Discourses, iv. p. 117.

Footnote 259:

  Acts xvii. 31.

Footnote 260:

  John v. 30.

Footnote 261:

  John v. 29. It is very difficult to determine whether this class of
  passages is rightly interpreted as referring to a final and collective
  judgment of mankind. The discussion of this point does not properly
  belong to our present subject; and the assumption, for the sake of
  brevity of argument, of the usual interpretation, does not imply
  assent to it.

Footnote 262:

  Tillotson’s Sermons, xlvi. Lond. 1704. pp. 549, 550.

  I am aware that the name of this admirable writer is not likely to
  have much weight with our opponents; for in speaking of Socinian
  writers he has indulged in a spirit of justice, which the modern
  Orthodoxy of his Church appears to consider altogether old-fashioned.
  The Archbishop gives the following character of the school which took
  its name from the Socini; “And yet to do right to the writers on that
  side, I must own, that generally they are a pattern of the fair way of
  disputing, and of debating matters of religion without heat and
  unseemly reflections upon their adversaries, in the number of whom I
  did not expect that the Primitive Fathers of the Christian Church
  would have been reckoned by them. They generally argue matters with
  that temper and gravity, and with that freedom from passion and
  transport, which becomes a serious and weighty argument; and for the
  most part they reason closely and clearly, with extraordinary guard
  and caution, with great dexterity and decency, and yet with smartness
  and subtilty enough; with a very gentle heat, and few hard
  words;—virtues to be praised wherever they are found, yea even in an
  enemy, and very worthy our imitation.” Yet the Archbishop, as if aware
  that his candour might, by a very natural process, excite suspicion of
  his Orthodoxy, raises himself above imputation by adding, “In a word,
  they are the strongest managers of a weak cause, and which is
  ill-founded at the bottom, that perhaps ever yet meddled with
  controversy; insomuch that some of the Protestants and the generality
  of the Popish writers, and even of the Jesuits themselves, who pretend
  to all the reason and subtilty in the world, are in comparison of them
  but mere scolds and bunglers; upon the whole matter, they have but
  this one great defect, that they want a good cause and truth on their
  side; which if they had, they have reason and wit and temper enough to
  defend it.”—_Sermon_ xliv. p. 521.

Footnote 263:

  Mr. Stewart recommends to our imitation the conduct of a Jewish child
  who became anxious to pray, like his companions, to Jesus Christ, not,
  apparently, from any impulse of the affections, or any convictions of
  duty; but from a prudent desire to run no risk of offending any
  possible power. “When I go to heaven and see Jesus Christ, if he is
  God,” calculates the boy, “I shall be ashamed to look him in the
  face.” Is it possible that this principle of making sure of one’s
  self-interest without regard to sincerity and truth, can be published
  without a blush, from a Christian pulpit? And is Christ so little
  known as yet, that such hollow worship is thought to be a passport to
  his favour, instead of winning from him a rebuke that, in truth, must
  make ashamed? Is the Infinite hearer of prayer,—whatever be his name
  or names,—one who will turn away from a contrite and trustful
  supplication of the soul, unless his titles are all set right upon the
  lips? What then would become of the millions of entreaties and of
  cries that daily rise from the grieving earth to the blessed God?
  Impossible! ’twould make Heaven a vast Dead-letter Office, for
  returning petitions on account of a wrong address.

Footnote 264:

  Jer. xxxi. 4.

Footnote 265:

  Jer. xxxi. 13.

Footnote 266:

  Lam. i. 15.

Footnote 267:

  Is. xxiii. 12.

Footnote 268:

  2 Kings xix. 21.

Footnote 269:

  Is. viii. 8.

Footnote 270:

  Is. viii. 18.

Footnote 271:

  Matt. ii. 23.

Footnote 272:

  Elements of Rhetoric, part iii. ch. ii. § 3.

Footnote 273:

  Il. xiii. 298.

Footnote 274:

  Ode to Fear.

Footnote 275:

  Sonnet xii.

Footnote 276:

  Olymp. viii. 73.

Footnote 277:

  Juvenile Poems, p. 59.

Footnote 278:

  De vict. p. 838. D.

Footnote 279:

  Quod Deus sit immut. p. 309. A. De charit. p. 609. A. De Temul. p.
  244. D. Leg. Alleg. p. 93. B.

Footnote 280:

  Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 5, 12.

Footnote 281:

  Prov. viii. 22, 30.

Footnote 282:

  Κᾂν μηδέπω μέντοι τυγχάνῃ τὶς ἀξιόχρεως ὢν υἱὸς θεοῦ προσαγορεύεσθαι,
  σπούδαζε κοσμεῖσθαι κατὰ τὸν πρωτόγονον αὐτοῦ λόγον, τὸν ἄγγελον
  πρεσβύτατον, ὡς ἀρχάγγελον πολυώνυμον ὑπάρχοντα.... Καὶ γὰρ εἰ μήπω
  ἱκανοὶ θεοῦ παῖδες νομίζεσθαι γεγόναμεν, ἀλλά τοι τῆς ἀϊδίου εἰκόνος
  αὐτοῦ λόγου τοῦ ἱερωτάτου· θεοῦ γὰρ εἰκὼν, λόγος ὁ πρεσβύτατος. De
  conf. ling. p. 341. B. C.

Footnote 283:

  I have an impression of having seen advertised an English translation
  of this work; but I have no means of ascertaining the fact.

Footnote 284:

  For the sake of brevity I have given rather an abstract than a
  translation. Commentar. üb. das Evang. des Johan. von Dr. Friedrich
  Lücke. Band. i. p. 232-p. 238. Bonn. 1833. It is possible that
  Professor Lücke’s Orthodoxy, which, in conformity with the prevailing
  estimate of his countrymen, I have ventured to assume, may be called
  in question. It is always difficult to take the “regula fidei,”
  recognized in one Country, and apply it, with any exactitude, to the
  sentiments of another, especially when the one is remarkable for the
  hard and literal character of its theological conceptions; and the
  other, for the excessive refinements by which it has discriminated the
  shades of religious belief. If tried by the only German standard which
  has any near correspondence with English Evangelicism, I mean the
  severe school of Guerike, Tholuck, Hahn, Olshausen, Lücke would, no
  doubt, be pronounced deficient in the faith. But he belongs to the
  class which approaches most nearly to them, both in the interpretation
  of Scripture, and in the estimate of its authority. He does not, with
  them, refuse to compare the doctrines of Scripture with the
  conclusions of Reason, and insist that the authority of the former
  supersedes all recourse to the latter; but having ascertained first
  the _fact_ and the _meaning_ of Revelation, he then permits the
  comparison with philosophy, and declares their entire consistency. He
  thus belongs to the Scriptural section of what is called the
  Philosophical School of German Theology. He is decidedly Trinitarian
  and Anti-rationalist; and his orthodoxy has never been suspected, as
  has that of Schleiermacher, the father of his school. He was Professor
  of Theology in Göttingen before the recent political divisions in

Footnote 285:

  Pp. 263, 266, 267.

Footnote 286:

  P. 265.

Footnote 287:

  1 John iii. 4.

Footnote 288:

  1 John v. 6.

Footnote 289:

  2 Cor. iii. 17.

Footnote 290:

  1 Cor. xi. 3.

Footnote 291:

  1 Kings xviii. 21. There would be no difficulty in increasing the
  number of instances exemplifying this solecism.

Footnote 292:

  P. 157.

Footnote 293:

  Historia Antitrinitariorum, maximè Socinianismi et Socinianorum; Fred.
  Sam. Bock, Tom. I. P. i. pp. 167, 168.




                       INCONSISTENT WITH ITSELF,

                                AND WITH




It will be apparent, from the unusual length of the following discourse,
that its limits have been much extended since its delivery. The
additional portions furnish, in detail, the interpretation which appears
to me to reach the true meaning of the New Testament language,
respecting the death of Christ. Few passages, I believe, relating to
this subject, will be found unnoticed: and it is probable that, in the
desire to avoid omission, I have been guilty of some prolixity and

The friendly diversity of opinion, which prevails among Unitarian
Christians, is perhaps more considerable in reference to the subject of
this Lecture, than to any other of the leading topics of theological
belief. The reader will do justice to all parties, by bearing this in
mind, while attending to the following pages; and by regarding every
statement which he disapproves, as the mere expression of individual

It is impossible for me to leave unnoticed the charge of uncharitable
violence and “vulgar personality,” which Mr. M‘Neile has preferred
against me, on the ground of certain strong expressions, contained in my
first Lecture, respecting the late Archbishop Magee. I readily
acknowledge that the instances are rare, which can justify the language
which I employed; and I would never employ such, did I not feel that it
was not simply justified, but demanded. He must be an unworthy
controversialist, who has no generous delight in admiring and respecting
a doctrinal adversary; no concern and shame at the moral obliquities
which prove an opponent wrong, without proving himself to be right. If
Mr. M‘Neile could enable me to look with his eyes of confidence and
regard on “the illustrious Prelate,” I should esteem it a privilege to
recal every word which I have put on record respecting him. But a
careful study of his Treatise on the Atonement, with the habit of
_testing his citations_, has revealed to me a system of controversy
which, before, I should have esteemed incredible; and which no terms of
censure can too severely describe. Polemical discipline, it has been
observed with too much truth, is, of all influences, the most dangerous
to the moral sense.

It seems to have been thought wrong in me, by my respected opponents, to
state my _general impression_ of Archbishop Magee’s controversial
character, without justifying it by specific arguments. And so it would
have been, if this work had really been “unanswered:” but every quality
which I ascribed to it, has been shown to belong to it, by Dr.
Carpenter; _his_ work has received no reply; and surely a bystander may
express a judgment on the merits of a controversy, and the polemical
characters of its conductors, without the slightest obligation to lay
open the contents of the discussion in self-justification. This appears
to be Mr. Buddicom’s opinion, if we may judge from the pungent sentence
in which he has characterized, without proof, one of Mr. Harris’s
Discourses.[294] In the present publication, however, I have supplied
the deficiency which is the subject of complaint; and have shown, not
only that the late Archbishop of Dublin dealt in terms of insult, which,
if spoken instead of written, no cultivated and Christian society would
endure; but that, with a shocking eagerness to blast the character of
his opponents, he corrupted the text of their writings, and drew his
arguments from garbled quotations. If any one can convince me of mistake
in what I have advanced, I shall most unfeignedly rejoice and retract.
But till then I cannot qualify any expressions, however strong, which I
have employed; for they are not the utterance of passion, but the
measured language of conviction. Most unwillingly would I ever incur the
risk of wounding “the feelings of the living,” by animadversions on the
character of the dead. But, surely, personal attachments to the man must
not be allowed to silence all public estimate of the author; and against
the attempt, on this ground, to hold me up as the assailant of private
affections, and the insincere professor of charity, I protest, as cruel
and unjust. It is not true that I attacked “the name and memory” rather
than “the book,” of the late Archbishop: the words which I used
described nothing but his work: and that they were words of moral
reprehension, arose necessarily from the nature of the complaint which
we have to prefer against its contents. I do not understand the
diplomatic arts by which a man may be analyzed into a plurality of
characters, and permitted to do wrong in one capacity, while his
reputation takes a quiet shelter among the rest: nor have I the
ingenuity to rebuke falsehood in a book, yet save the veracity of the
author. If the “outrage” consisted in publishing an impression,
unsustained by evidence, I only fear, that the addition of the proof
will be found to bring no mitigation of the pain.

Let me add, that I entirely acquit our Rev. opponents of any approbation
of the controversial arts employed by the Prelate whom they defend.
Their admiration of his book arises, I am aware, from ignorance of its
real character; to understand which requires a much greater acquaintance
with Unitarian literature than they appear, in any instance, to possess.

Lest it should be thought disrespectful in me to pass without notice the
strictures on my last published Discourse, contained in the Ninth
Lecture of the Trinitarian series, I will ask the indulgence of my
readers for a few moments more.

Mr. Bates accuses me of making a mutilated quotation from Deut. xxix.
1-6. The whole passage stands thus; the part which I did not cite being
included in brackets: [“1. These are the words of the covenant, which
the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land
of Moab, beside the covenant, which he made with them in Horeb. 2. And]
Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, [ye have seen all that
the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and
unto all his servants, and unto all his land; 3. The great temptations
which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: 4. Yet
the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and
ears to hear, unto this day. 5. And] I have led you forty years in the
wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not
waxen old upon thy foot. 6. Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye
drunk wine, or strong drink; that ye might know that _I am the Lord your

My object was to show, that, if no latitude is to be allowed in the
application of mere grammatical principles of interpretation, we must
admit “that Moses is called God with a distinctness which cannot be
equalled in the case of Christ.” For this purpose, I had no occasion to
quote more than the 5th and 6th verses, containing the phrase, “I am the
Lord your God;” the only question being, _who is the speaker,
grammatically denoted by the first personal pronoun “I.”_ To make this
evident, I went back to the opening of the sentence, which determined
this point: “MOSES called together all Israel, AND SAID to them.” The
omitted clauses of his speech have no relation whatever to the matter in
debate, and have no effect, but to _separate the parts_, without
_altering the nature_, of the grammatical construction. So far from
proving that Moses speaks, as if _personally identified_ with the Lord,
because teaching in his name, they prove just the reverse; for Jehovah
is introduced in them in the _third person_, not the _first_; “ye have
seen all that THE LORD (not ‘I’) did before your eyes,” &c. The first
verse I did not quote, because it seems to belong to the preceding
chapter, and to have no reference to the words cited. The only
delinquency in this matter which I have to confess is, that I wrote by
mistake, “Moses called TOGETHER,” instead of “UNTO, all Israel.” Mr.
Bates draws attention to this by Roman capitals, as if to hint at
something very remarkable in the error. I can only say, that after
repeated examination of the word “UNTO,” I can discover no mysterious
significance in it; if it be an orthodox tetragrammaton, my disregard of
its claims was wholly inadvertent. As to the argument itself which this
passage was adduced to enforce, I cannot perceive that it is in any way
affected by the Lecturer’s remarks: nor can any one reasonably doubt
that if the New Testament had contained such a passage as this, “The
Lord Jesus called unto the multitudes and said, ... I have led you into
a desert place, and fed you with the five loaves; that ye might know
that I am the Lord your God;” Trinitarians would have appealed to it as
a triumphant proof of the Deity of Christ, whatever number of clauses
might have severed the beginning from the end of the sentence, and
however often the name of the Lord, in the third person, might have
occurred in the interval.

Nor have I been successful in discovering in what way I have
misapprehended Mr. Bates’s meaning respecting the word “SON,” in the
following verse; “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” I may
doubtless have misstated his words; and if in his eyes the misstatement
has any “serious inaccuracy,” I sincerely regret its occurrence. Nothing
but the constant habit of short-hand writing, enabling me to take
verbatim reports of public addresses, would have given me confidence
enough in my correctness to found an argument on an unpublished verbal
criticism. Even short-hand, however, being fallible, I relinquish the
words: and the more willingly, because Mr. Bates’s own report appears to
me absolutely identical in meaning with my own. _He says_, that the
baptism enjoined in the verse just cited cannot, so far as our Lord is
concerned, be “baptism in the name of a Mediator;” “our Lord’s words
prevent such misapprehension: he says not ‘In the name of the Father and
in my name’ (my mediatorial name); but ‘In the name of the Father and of
THE SON,’—the only begotten, co-essential, co-eternal, and co-equal,
with the Father and the Holy Ghost.” _I represented him as saying_, that
our Saviour’s words “_expressly exclude such a construction_; for he
does not say, the name of the Father, and _of myself_, but of THE SON,
that is the ETERNAL WORD.” The difference between “preventing such
misapprehension” and “excluding such construction” is not very obvious.
I understand the argument to be, that there is something _in the form of
expression in the second clause_, forbidding us to think of anything
less exalted than our Lord’s Divine Nature; the only expression
contained in the clause is “THE SON;” this term then, I imagined, was
limited by the Lecturer to Christ’s Divine Nature; and must have been
replaced by some other phrase, if his mediatorial character had been the
subject of discourse. In drawing a _general_ conclusion from this
_particular_ statement, I only gave the Lecturer credit for
understanding the bearing of his own argument; for of course, all
reasoning _from the intrinsic force of an expression_ must be
co-extensive with the occurrence of that expression. If I have not
correctly explained Mr. Bates’s argument, it evades my apprehension


                              LECTURE VI.



                        BY REV. JAMES MARTINEAU.


The scene which we have this evening to visit and explore, is separated
from us by the space of eighteen centuries; yet of nothing on this earth
has Providence left, within the shadows of the past, so vivid and divine
an image. Gently rising above the mighty “field of the world,” Calvary’s
mournful hill appears, covered with silence now, but distinctly showing
the heavenly light that struggled there through the stormiest elements
of guilt. Nor need we only gaze, as on a motionless picture that closes
the vista of Christian ages. Permitting history to take us by the hand,
we may pace back in pilgrimage to the hour, till its groups stand around
us, and pass by us, and its voices of passion and of grief mock and wail
upon our ear. As we mingle with the crowd which, amid noise and dust,
follows the condemned prisoners to the place of execution, and fix our
eye on the faint and panting figure of one that bears his cross, could
we but whisper to the sleek priests close by, how might we startle them,
by telling them the future fate of this brief tragedy,—brief in act, in
blessing everlasting; that this Galilean convict shall be the world’s
confessed deliverer, while they that have brought him to this, shall be
the scorn and by-word of the nations; that that vile instrument of
torture, now so abject that it makes the dying slave more servile, shall
be made, by this victim and this hour, the symbol of whatever is holy
and sublime; the emblem of hope and love; pressed to the lips of ages;
consecrated by a veneration which makes the sceptre seem trivial as an
infant’s toy. Meanwhile the sacerdotal hypocrites, unconscious of the
part they play, watch to the end the public murder which they have
privately suborned; stealing a phrase from Scripture, that they may mock
with holy lips; and leaving to the plebeian soldiers the mutual jest and
brutal laugh, that serve to beguile the hired but hated work of agony,
and that draw forth from the sufferer that burst of forgiving prayer,
which sunk at least into their centurion’s heart. One there is, who
should have been spared the hearing of these scoffs; and perhaps she
heard them not; for before his nature was exhausted more, his eye
detects and his voice addresses her, and twines round her the filial arm
of that disciple who had been ever the most loving as well as most
beloved. She at least lost the religion of that hour in its humanity,
and beheld not the prophet but the son:—had not her own hands wrought
that seamless robe for which the soldiers’ lot is cast; and her own lips
taught him that strain of sacred poetry, “My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?” but never had she thought to hear it _thus_. As the cries
became fainter and fainter, scarcely do they reach Peter standing afar
off. The last notice of him had been the rebuking look that sent him to
weep bitterly; and now the voice that can alone tell him his
forgiveness, will soon be gone! Broken hardly less, though without
remorse, is the youthful John, to see that head, lately resting on his
bosom, drooping passively in death; and to hear the involuntary shriek
of Mary, as the spear struck upon the lifeless body, moving now only as
it is moved;—whence he alone, on whom she leaned, records the fact. Well
might the Galilean friends stand at a distance gazing; unable to depart,
yet not daring to approach; well might the multitudes that had cried
“crucify him” in the morning, shudder at the thought of that clamour ere
night; “beholding the things that had come to pass, they smote their
breasts and returned.”

This is the scene of which we have to seek the interpretation. Our first
natural impression is, that it requires no interpretation, but speaks
for itself; that it has no mystery, except that which belongs to the
triumphs of deep guilt, and the sanctities of disinterested love. To
raise our eye to that serene countenance, to listen to that submissive
voice, to note the subjects of its utterance, would give us no idea of
any mystic horror concealed behind the human features of the scene; of
any invisible contortions, as from the lash of demons, in the soul of
that holy victim; of any sympathetic connection of that cross with the
bottomless pit on the one hand, and the highest Heaven on the other; of
any moral revolution throughout our portion of the universe, of which
this public execution is but the outward signal. The historians drop no
hint that its sufferings, its affections, its relations, were more than
human,—raised indeed to distinction by miraculous accompaniments; but
intrinsically, however signally, human. They mention, as if bearing some
appreciable proportion to the whole series of incidents, particulars so
slight, as to vanish before any other than the obvious historical view
of the transaction; the thirst, the sponge, the rent clothes, the
mingled drink. They ascribe no sentiment to the crucified, except such
as might be expressed by one of like nature with ourselves, in the
consciousness of a finished work of duty, and a fidelity never broken
under the strain of heaviest trial. The narrative is clearly the
production of minds filled, not with theological anticipations, but with
historical recollections.

With this view of Christ’s death, which is such as might be entertained
by any of the primitive Churches, having one of the gospels only,
without any of the epistles, we are content. I conceive of it, then, as
manifesting the last degree of moral perfection in the Holy One of God;
and believe that in thus being an expression of character, it has its
primary and everlasting value. I conceive of it as the needful
preliminary to his resurrection and ascension, by which the severest
difficulties in the theory of Providence, life, and duty, are alleviated
or solved. I conceive of it as immediately procuring the universality
and spirituality of the Gospel; by dissolving those corporeal ties which
give nationality to Jesus, and making him, in his heavenly and immortal
form, the Messiah of humanity; blessing, sanctifying, regenerating, not
a people from the centre of Jerusalem, but a world from his station in
the Heavens. And these views, under unimportant modifications, I submit,
are the only ones of which Scripture contains a trace.

All this, however, we are assured, is the mere outside aspect of the
crucifixion; and wholly insignificant compared with the invisible
character and relations of the scene; which, localized only on earth,
has its chief effect in Hell; and though presenting itself among the
occurrences of time, is a repeal of the decretals of Eternity. The being
who hangs upon that cross is not man alone; but also the everlasting
God, who created and upholds all things, even the sun that now darkens
its face upon him, and the murderers who are waiting for his expiring
cry. The anguish he endures is not chiefly that which falls so
poignantly on the eye and ear of the spectator; the injured human
affections, the dreadful momentary doubt; the pulses of physical
torture, doubling on him with full and broken wave, till driven back by
the overwhelming power of love disinterested and divine. But he is
judicially abandoned by the Infinite Father; who expends on him the
immeasurable wrath due to an apostate race, gathers up into an hour the
lightnings of Eternity, and lets them loose upon that bended head. It is
the moment of retributive justice; the expiation of all human guilt;
that open brow hides beneath it the despair of millions of men; and to
the intensity of agony there, no human wail could give expression.
Meanwhile, the future brightens on the Elect; the tempests that hung
over their horizon are spent. The vengeance of the lawgiver having had
its way, the sunshine of a Father’s grace breaks forth, and lights up,
with hope and beauty, the earth, which had been a desert of despair and
sin. According to this theory, Christ, in his death, was a proper
expiatory sacrifice; he turned aside, by enduring it for them, the
infinite punishment of sin from all past or future believers in this
efficacy of the cross; and transferred to them the natural rewards of
his own righteousness. An acceptance of this doctrine is declared to be
the prime condition of the divine forgiveness; for no one who does not
_see_ the pardon, can _have_ it. And this pardon again, this clear score
for the past, is a necessary preliminary to all sanctification; to all
practical opening of a disinterested heart towards our Creator and man.
Pardon, and the perception of it, are the needful preludes to that
conforming love to God and men, which is the true Christian salvation.

The evidence in support of this theory is derived partly from natural
appearances, partly from scriptural announcements. Involving, as it
does, statements respecting the actual condition of human nature, and
the world in which we live, some appeal to experience, and to the
rational interpretation of life and Providence, is inevitable; and hence
certain propositions, affecting to be of a philosophical character, are
laid down as fundamental by the advocates of this system. Yet it is
admitted, that direct revelation only could have acquainted us, either
with our lost condition, or our vicarious recovery; and that all we can
expect to accomplish with nature, is to harmonize what we observe there,
with what we read in the written records of God’s will; so that the main
stress of the argument rests on the interpretation of Scripture. The
principles deduced from the nature of things, and laid down as a basis
for this doctrine, may be thus represented:

That man needs a Redeemer; having obviously fallen, by some disaster,
into a state of misery and guilt, from which the worst penal
consequences must be apprehended; and were it not for the probability of
such lapse from the condition in which it was fashioned, it would be
impossible to reconcile the phenomena of the world with the justice and
benevolence of its Creator.

That Deity only can redeem; since, to preserve veracity, the penalty of
sin must be inflicted; and the diversion only, not the annihilation, of
it, is possible. To let it fall on angels, would fail of the desired
end; because human sin, having been directed against an infinite Being,
has incurred an infinitude of punishment; which, on no created beings,
could be exhausted in any period short of eternity. Only a nature
strictly infinite can compress within itself, in the compass of an hour,
the woes distributed over the immortality of mankind. Hence, were God
personally One, like man, no redemption could be effected; for there
would be no Deity to suffer, except the very One who must punish. But
the triplicity of the Godhead relieves all difficulty; for, while one
Infinite inflicts, another Infinite endures; and resources are furnished
for the atonement.

Amid a great variety of forms in which the theory of atonement exists, I
have selected the foregoing; which, if I understand aright, is that
which is vindicated in the present controversy. I am not aware that I
have added anything to the language in which it is stated by its
powerful advocate, unless it be a few phrases, leaving its essential
meaning the same, but needful to render it compact and clear.

The scriptural evidence is found principally in certain of the
apostolical epistles; and this circumstance will render it necessary to
conduct a separate search into the historical writings of the New
Testament, that we may ascertain how they express the corresponding set
of ideas. Taking up successively these two branches of the subject, the
natural and the biblical, I propose to show, first, that this doctrine
is inconsistent with itself; secondly, that it is inconsistent with the
Christian idea of Salvation.

I. It is inconsistent with itself.

(1.) In its manner of treating the principles of natural religion.

Our faith in the infinite benevolence of God is represented as destitute
of adequate support from the testimony of nature.[295] It requires, we
are assured, the suppression of a mass of appearances, that would scare
it away in an instant, were it to venture into their presence; and is a
dream of sickly and effeminate minds, whose belief is the inward growth
of amiable sentimentality, rather than a genuine production from God’s
own facts. The appeal to the order and magnificence of creation, to the
structures and relations of the inorganic, the vegetable, the animal,
the spiritual forms, that fill the ascending ranks of this visible and
conscious universe;—to the arrangements which make it a blessing to be
born, far more than a suffering to die,—which enable us to extract the
relish of life from its toils, the affections of our nature from its
sufferings, the triumphs of goodness from its temptations;—to the
seeming plan of general progress, which elicits truth by the
self-destruction of error, and by the extinction of generations gives
perpetual rejuveniscence to the world; this appeal, which is another
name for the scheme of natural religion, is dismissed with scorn; and
sin and sorrow and death are flung in defiance across our path;—barriers
which we must remove, ere we can reach the presence of a benignant God.
Come with us, it is said, and listen to the wail of the sick infant;
look into the dingy haunts where poverty moans its life away; bend down
your ear to the accursed hum that strays from the busy hives of guilt;
spy into the hold of the slave-ship; from the factory follow the wasted
child to the gin-shop first, and then to the cellar called its home; or
look even at your own tempted and sin-bound souls, and your own
perishing race, snatched off into the dark by handfuls through the
activity of a destroying God; and tell us, did our benevolent Creator
make a creature and a world like this? A Calvinist who puts this
question is playing with fire. But I answer the question explicitly: all
these things we have met steadily and face to face; in full view of
them, we have taken up our faith in the goodness of God; and in full
view of them we will hold fast that faith. Nor is it just or true to
affirm, that our system hides these evils, or that our practice refuses
to grapple with them. And if you confess, that these ills of life would
be too much for your natural piety; if you declare, that these rugged
foundations and tempestuous elements of Providence would starve and
crush your confidence in God, while ours strikes its roots in the rock,
and throws out its branches to brave the storm, are you entitled to
taunt us with a faith of puny growth? Meanwhile, we willingly assent to
the principle which this appeal to evil is designed to establish; that,
with much apparent order, there is some apparent disorder in the
phenomena of the world; that from the latter, by itself, we should be
unable to infer any goodness and benevolence in God; and that were not
the former clearly the predominant result of natural laws, the character
of the Great Cause of all things would be involved in agonizing gloom.
The mass of physical and moral evil we do not profess fully to explain;
we think that in no system whatever is there any approach to an
explanation; and we are accustomed to touch on that dread subject with
the humility of filial trust, not with the confidence of dogmatic

Surely the fall of our first parents, I shall be reminded, gives the
requisite solution. The disaster which then befell the human race, has
changed the primeval constitution of things; introduced mortality, and
all the infirmities of which it is the result; introduced sin, and all
the seeds of vile affections which it compels us to inherit; introduced
also the penalties of sin, visible in part on this scene of life, and
developing themselves in another in anguish everlasting. Fresh from the
hand of his Creator, man was innocent, happy and holy; and he it is, not
God, who has deformed the world with guilt and grief.

Now, _as a statement of fact_, all this may or may not be true. Of this
I say nothing. But who does not see that, _as an explanation_, it is
inconsistent with itself, partial in its application, and leaves matters
incomparably worse than it found them? It is inconsistent with itself;
for Adam, perfectly pure and holy as he is reputed to have been, gave
the only proof that could exist of his being neither, by succumbing to
the first temptation that came in his way; and though finding no
enjoyment but in the contemplation of God, gave himself up to the first
advances of the devil. Never surely was a reputation for sanctity so
cheaply won. The canonizations of the Romish Calendar have been
curiously bestowed, on beings sufficiently remote from just ideas of
excellence; but, usually, there is _something_ to be affirmed of them,
legendary or otherwise, which, _if true_, might justify a momentary
admiration. But our first parent was not laid even under this necessity,
to obtain a glory greater than canonization; he had simply to do
nothing, except to fall, in order to be esteemed the most perfectly holy
of created minds. Most partial, too, is this theory in its application;
for disease and hardship, and death unmerited as the infant’s, afflict
the lower animal creation. Is this, too, the result of the fall? If so,
it is an _unredeemed_ effect; if not, it presses on the benevolence of
the Maker; and by the physical analogies which connect man with the
inferior creatures, force on us the impression, that his corporeal
sufferings have an original source not dissimilar from theirs. And
again, this explanation only serves to make matters worse than before.
For how puerile is it to suppose, that men will rest satisfied with
tracing back their ills to Adam, and refrain from asking, who was Adam’s
cause! And then comes upon us at once the ancient dilemma about evil;
was it mistake, or was it malignity, that created so poor a creature as
our progenitor, and staked on so precarious a will the blessedness of a
race and the well-being of a world? So far, this theory, falsely and
injuriously ascribed to Christianity, would leave us where we were: but
it carries us into deeper and gratuitous difficulties, of which natural
religion knows nothing, by appending eternal consequences to Adam’s
transgression; a large portion of which, after the most sanguine
extension of the efficacy of the atonement, must remain unredeemed. So
that if, under the eye of naturalism, the world, with its generations
dropping into the grave, must appear (as we heard it recently
described)[296] like the populous precincts of some castle, whose
governor called his servants, after a brief indulgence of liberty and
peace, into a dark and inscrutable dungeon, never to return or be seen
again: the only new feature which this theory introduces into the
prospect is this; that the interior of that cavernous prison-house is
disclosed; and while a few of the departed are seen to have emerged into
a fairer light, and to be traversing greener fields, and sharing a more
blessed liberty than they knew before, the vast multitude are discerned
in the gripe of everlasting chains, and the twist of unimaginable
torture. And all this infliction is a penal consequence of a first
ancestor’s transgression! Singular spectacle to be offered in
vindication of the character of God!

We are warned, however, not to start back from this representation, or
to indulge in any rash expression at the view which it gives of the
justice of the Most High; for that, beyond all doubt, parallel instances
occur in the operations of nature; and that if the system deduced from
Scripture accords with that which is in action in the creation, there
arises a strong presumption that both are from the same Author. The
arrangement which is the prime subject of objection in the foregoing
theory, _viz._, the vicarious transmission of consequences from acts of
vice and virtue, is said to be familiar to our observation as a _fact_;
and ought, therefore, to present no difficulties in the way of the
admission of a _doctrine_. Is it not obvious, for example, that the
guilt of a parent may entail disease and premature death on his child,
or even remoter descendants? And if it be consistent with the divine
perfections, that the innocent should suffer for others’ sins at the
distance of one generation, why not at the distance of a thousand? The
guiltless victim is not more completely severed from identity with Adam,
than he is from identity with his own father. My reply is brief: I admit
both the fact and the analogy; but the fact is of the exceptional kind,
from which, by itself, I could not infer the justice or the benevolence
of the Creator; and which, were it of large and prevalent amount, I
could not even reconcile with these perfections. If then you take it out
of the list of exceptions and difficulties, and erect it into a cardinal
rule, if you interpret by it the whole invisible portion of God’s
government, you turn the scale at once against the character of the
Supreme, and plant creation under a tyrant’s sway. And this is the fatal
principle pervading all analogical arguments in defence of Trinitarian
Christianity. No resemblances to the system can be found in the
universe, except in those anomalies and seeming deformities which
perplex the student of Providence, and which would undermine his faith,
were they not lost in the vast spectacle of beauty and of good. These
disorders are selected and spread out to view, as specimens of the
divine government of nature; the mysteries and horrors which offend us
in the popular theology are extended by their side; the comparison is
made, point by point, till the similitude is undeniably made out; and
when the argument is closed, it amounts to this: do you doubt whether
God could break mens’ limbs? You mistake his strength of character; only
see how he puts out their eyes! What kind of impression this reasoning
may have, seems to me doubtful even to agony. Both Trinitarian theology
and nature, it is triumphantly urged, must proceed from the same Author;
aye, but what sort of Author is that? You have led me in your quest
after analogies, through the great infirmary of God’s creation! and so
haunted am I by the sights and sounds of the lazar-house, that scarce
can I believe in anything but pestilence; so sick of soul have I become,
that the mountain breeze has lost its scent of health; and you say, it
is all the same in the other world, and wherever the same rule extends:
then I know my fate, that in this Universe Justice has no throne. And
thus, my friends, it comes to pass, that these reasoners often gain
indeed their victory; but it is known only to the Searcher of Hearts,
whether it is a victory against natural religion, or in favour of
revealed. For this reason, I consider the “Analogy” of Bishop Butler
(one of the profoundest of thinkers, and on purely moral subjects one of
the justest too,) as containing, with a design directly contrary, the
most terrible persuasives to Atheism that have ever been produced. The
essential error consists in selecting the difficulties,—which are the
rare, exceptional phenomena of nature,—as the basis of analogy and
argument. In the comprehensive and generous study of Providence, the
mind may, indeed, already have overcome the difficulties, and with the
lights recently gained from the harmony, design, and order of creation,
have made those shadows pass imperceptibly away; but when forced again
into their very centre, compelled to adopt them as a fixed station and
point of mental vision, they deepen round the heart again, and, instead
of illustrating anything, become solid darkness themselves.

I cannot quit this topic without observing, however, that there appears
to be nothing in nature and life, at all analogous to the vicarious
principle attributed to God in the Trinitarian scheme of redemption.
There is nowhere to be found any proper transfer or exchange, either of
the qualities, or of the consequences, of vice and virtue. The good and
evil acts of men do indeed affect others _as well_ as themselves; the
innocent suffer _with_ the guilty, as in the case before adduced, of a
child suffering in health by the excesses of a parent. But there is here
no endurance _for_ another, similar to Christ’s alleged endurance in the
place of men; the infliction on the child is not deducted from the
parent; it does nothing to lighten his load, or make it less than it
would have been, had he been without descendants; nor does any one
suppose his guilt alleviated by the existence of this innocent
fellow-sufferer. There is a nearer approach to analogy in those cases of
crime where the perpetrator seems to escape, and to leave the
consequences of his act to descend on others; as when the successful
cheat eludes pursuit, and from the stolen gains of neighbours constructs
a life of luxury for himself; or when a spendthrift government,
forgetful of its high trust, turning the professions of patriotism into
a lie, is permitted to run a prosperous career for one generation, and
is personally gone before the popular retribution falls, in the next, on
innocent successors. Here no doubt the harmless suffer _by_ the guilty,
in a certain sense _in the place of_ the guilty; but not in the sense
which the analogy requires. For there is still no substitution; the
distress of the unoffending party is not struck out of the offender’s
punishment; does not lessen, but rather aggravates his guilt; and
instead of fitting him for pardon, tempts the natural sentiments of
justice to follow him with severer condemnation. Nor does the scheme
receive any better illustration from the fact, that whoever attempts the
cure of misery must himself suffer; must have the shadows of ill cast
upon his spirit from every sadness he alleviates; and interpose himself
to stay the plague which, in a world diseased, threatens to pass to the
living from the dead. The parallel fails, because there is still no
transference: the appropriate sufferings of sin are not given to the
philanthropist; and the noble pains of goodness in him, the glorious
strife of his self-sacrifice, are no part of the penal consequences of
others’ guilt; they do not cancel one iota of those consequences, or
make the crimes which have demanded them, in any way, more ready for
forgiveness. Indeed, it is not in the good man’s _sufferings_,
considered as such, that any efficacy resides; but in his _efforts_,
which may be made with great sacrifice or without it, as the case may
be. Nor, at best, is there any proper annihilation of consequences at
all, accruing from his toils; the past acts of wrong which call up his
resisting energies, are irrevocable, the guilt incurred, the penalty
indestructible; the series of effects, foreign to the mind of the
perpetrator, may be abbreviated; prevention may be applied to new ills
which threaten to arise; but, by all this, the personal fitness of the
delinquent for forgiveness is wholly unaffected; the volition of sin has
gone forth; and on it, flies, as surely as sound on a vibration of the
air, the verdict of judgment.

Those who are affected by slight and failing analogies like these, would
do well to consider one, sufficiently obvious, which seems to throw
doubt upon their scheme. The atonement is thought to be, in respect to
all believers, a reversal of the fall: the effects of the fall are
partly visible and temporal, partly invisible and eternal; linked,
however, together as inseparable portions of the same penal system. Now
it is evident, that the supposed redemption on the cross has left
precisely where they were, all the _visible_ effects of the first
transgression: sorrow and toil are the lot of all, as they have been
from of old; the baptized infant utters a cry as sad as the unbaptized;
and between the holiness of the true believer and the worth of the
devout heretic, there is not discernible such a difference as there must
have been between Adam pure and perfect, and Adam lapsed and lost. And
is it presumptuous to reason from the seen to the unseen, from the part
which we experience to that which we can only conceive? If the known
effects are unredeemed, the suspicion is not unnatural, that so are the

I sum up, then, this part of my subject by observing, that besides many
inconclusive appeals to nature, the advocates of the vicarious scheme
are chargeable with this fundamental inconsistency. They appear to deny
that the justice and benevolence of God can be reconciled with the
phenomena of nature; and say that the evidence must be helped out by
resort to their interpretation of scripture. When, having heard this
auxiliary system, we protest that it renders the case sadder than
before, they assure us that it is all benevolent and just, because it
has its parallel in creation. They renounce and adopt, in the same
breath, the religious appeal to the universe of God.

(2.) Another inconsistency appears, in the view which this theory gives
of the character of God.

It is assumed that, at the æra of creation, the Maker of mankind had
announced the infinite penalties which must follow the violation of his
law; and that their amount did not exceed the measure which his
abhorrence of wrong required. “And that which he saith, he would not be
God if he did not perform: that which he perceived right, he would be
unworthy of our trust, did he not fulfil. His veracity and justice,
therefore, were pledged to adhere to the word that had gone forth: and
excluded the possibility of any free and unconditional forgiveness.” Now
I would note in passing, that this announcement to Adam of an eternal
punishment impending over his first sin, is simply a fiction; for the
warning to him is stated thus; “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou
shalt surely die;”[297] from which our progenitor must have been as
ingenious as a theologian, to extract the idea of endless life in Hell.
But to say no more of this, what notions of veracity have we here? When
a sentence is proclaimed against crime, is it indifferent to judicial
truth, _upon whom_ it falls? Personally addressed to the guilty, may it
descend without a lie upon the guiltless? Provided there is the
suffering, is it no matter _where_? Is this the sense in which God is no
respecter of persons? Oh! what deplorable reflection of human artifice
is this, that Heaven is too veracious to abandon its proclamation of
menace against transgressors; yet is content to vent it on goodness the
most perfect. No darker deed can be imagined, than is thus ascribed to
the Source of all perfection, under the insulted names of truth and
holiness. What reliance could we have on the faithfulness of such a
Being? If it be consistent with his nature to _punish_ by substitution,
what security is there that he will not _reward_ vicariously? All must
be loose and unsettled, the sentiments of reverence confused, the
perceptions of conscience indistinct, where the terms expressive of
those great moral qualities which render God himself most venerable, are
thus sported with and profaned.

The same extraordinary departure from all intelligible meaning of words
is apparent, when our charge of vindictiveness against the doctrine of
sacrifice is repelled as a slander. If the rigorous refusal of pardon,
till the whole penalty has been inflicted (when, indeed, it is no pardon
at all) be not vindictive, we may ask to be furnished with some better
definition. And though it is said, that God’s love was manifested to us
by the gift of his Son, this does but change the object on which this
quality is exercised, without removing the quality itself; putting _us_
indeed into the sunshine of his grace, but _the Saviour_ into the
tempest of his wrath. Did we desire to sketch the most dreadful form of
character, what more emphatic combination could we invent than this;
rigour in the exaction of penal suffering; and indifference as to the
person on whom it falls?

But in truth this system, in its delineations of the Great Ruler of
creation, bids defiance to all the analogies by which Christ and the
Christian heart have delighted to illustrate his nature. A God who could
accept the spontaneously returning sinner, and restore him by corrective
discipline, is pronounced not worth serving, and an object of
contempt.[298] If so, Jesus sketched an object of contempt when he drew
the father of the prodigal son, opening his arms to the poor penitent,
and needing only the sight of his misery to fall on his neck with the
kiss of welcome home. Let the assertions be true, that sacrifice and
satisfaction are needful preliminaries to pardon, that to pay any
attention to repentance without these is mere weakness, and that it is a
perilous deception to teach the doctrine of mercy apart from the
atonement; and this parable of our Saviour’s becomes the most pernicious
instrument of delusion; a statement, absolute and unqualified, of a
feeble and sentimental heresy. Who does not see what follows from this
scornful exclusion of corrective punishment? Suppose the infliction not
to be corrective, that is, not to be designed for any good, what then
remains as the cause of the Divine retribution? The sense of insult
offered to a law. And thus we are virtually told, that God must be
regarded with a mixture of contempt, unless he be susceptible of
personal affront.[299]

(3.) The last inconsistency with itself which I shall point out in this
doctrine, will be found in the view which it gives of the work of
Christ. Sin, we are assured, is necessarily infinite. Its infinitude
arises from its reference to an Infinite Being; and involves as a
consequence the necessity of redemption by Deity himself.

The position, that guilt be estimated not by its amount or its motive,
but by the dignity of the being against whom it is directed, is
illustrated by the case of an insubordinate soldier, whose punishment is
increased, according as his rebellion assails an equal, or any of the
many grades amongst his superiors. It is evident, however, that it is
not the dignity of the person, but the magnitude of the effect, which
determines the severity of the sanction by which, in such an instance,
law enforces order. Insult to a monarch is more sternly treated than
injury to a subject, because it incurs the risk of wider and more
disastrous consequences, and superadds to the personal injury a peril to
an official power which, not resting on individual superiority, but on
conventional arrangement, is always precarious. It is not indeed easy to
form a distinct notion of an infinite act in a finite agent; and still
less is it easy to evade the inference, that if an immoral deed against
God be an infinite demerit, a moral deed towards him must be an infinite

Passing by an assertion so unmeaning, and conceding it for the sake of
progress in our argument, I would inquire what is intended by that other
statement, that only Deity can redeem, and that by Deity the sacrifice
was made? The union of the divine and human natures in Christ is said to
have made his sufferings meritorious in an infinite degree. Yet we are
repeatedly assured, that it was in his manhood only that he endured and
died. If the divine nature in our Lord had a joint consciousness with
the human, then did God suffer and perish; if not, then did the man only
die, Deity being no more affected by his anguish, than by that of the
malefactors on either side. In the one case the perfections of God, in
the other the reality of the atonement, must be relinquished. No doubt,
the popular belief is, that the Creator literally expired; the hymns in
common use declare it; the language of pulpits sanctions it; the
consistency of creeds requires it; but professed theologians repudiate
the idea with indignation. Yet by silence or ambiguous speech, they
encourage, in those whom they are bound to enlighten, this degrading
humanization of Deity; which renders it impossible for common minds to
avoid ascribing to him emotions and infirmities, totally irreconcileable
with the serene perfections of the Universal Mind. In his influence on
the worshipper, _He_ is no Spirit, who can be invoked by his agony and
bloody sweat, his cross and passion. And the piety that is thus taught
to bring its incense, however sincere, before the mental image of a
being with convulsed features and expiring cry, has little left of that
which makes Christian devotion characteristically venerable.

II. I proceed to notice the inconsistency of the doctrine under review
with the Christian idea of salvation.

There is one _significant scriptural fact_, which suggests to us the
best mode of treating this part of our subject. It is this; that the
language supposed to teach the atoning efficacy of the cross, does not
appear in the New Testament till the Gentile controversy commences, nor
ever occurs apart from the treatment of that subject, under some of its
relations. The cause of this phenomenon will presently appear; meanwhile
I state it, in the place of an assertion sometimes incorrectly made,
viz., that the phraseology in question is confined to the epistles. Even
this mechanical limitation of sacrificial passages is indeed nearly
true, as not above three or four have strayed beyond the epistolary
boundary, into the Gospels and the book of Acts: but the restriction in
respect of subject, which I have stated, will be found, I believe, to be
absolutely exact, and to furnish the real interpretation to the whole
system of language.

(1.) Let us then first test the vicarious scheme by reference to the
sentiments of Scripture generally, and of our Lord and his apostles
especially, where this controversy is out of the way. Are their ideas
respecting human character, the forgiveness of sins, the terms of
everlasting life, accordant with the cardinal notions of a believer in
the atonement? Do they, or do they not, insist on the necessity of a
sacrifice for human sin, as a preliminary to pardon, to sanctification,
to the love of God? Do they, or do they not, direct a marked and almost
exclusive attention to the cross, as the object to which, far more than
to the life and resurrection of our Lord, all faithful eyes should be

(a.) Now to the fundamental assertion of the vicarious system, that the
Deity cannot, without inconsistency and imperfection, pardon on simple
repentance, the whole tenor of the Bible is one protracted and
unequivocal contradiction. So copious is its testimony on this head,
that if the passages containing it were removed, scarcely a shred of
Scripture relating to the subject would remain. “Pardon, I beseech
thee,” said Moses, pleading for the Israelites, “the iniquity of this
people, according to the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast
forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now; and the Lord said, _I
have pardoned according to thy word_.”[300] Will it be affirmed, that
this chosen people had their eyes perpetually fixed in faith on the
great propitiation, which was to close their dispensation, and of which
their own ceremonial was a type?—that whenever penitence and pardon are
named amongst them, this reference is implied, and that as this faith
was called to mind and expressed in the shedding of blood at the altar,
such sacrificial offerings take the place, in Judaism, of the atoning
trust in Christianity? Well then, let us quit the chosen nation
altogether, and go to a heathen people, who were aliens to their laws,
their blood, their hopes, and their religion; to whom no sacrifice was
appointed, and no Messiah promised. If we can discover the dealings of
God with such a people, the case, I presume, must be deemed conclusive.
Hear then, what happened on the banks of the Tigris. “Jonah began to
enter into the city,” (Nineveh,) “and he cried and said, yet forty days
and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God,
and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them
even unto the least of them.” “Who can tell,” (said the decree of the
king ordaining the fast), “if God will turn and repent, and turn away
from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that
they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he
had said he would do unto them; and he did it not.”[301] And when the
prophet was offended, first at this clemency to Nineveh, and afterwards
that the canker was sent to destroy his own favourite plant, beneath
whose shadow he sat, what did Jehovah say? “Thou hast had pity on the
gourd, for which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which
came up in a night and perished in a night; and should not I spare
Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand
persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left
hand?”[302] —and who are not likely, one would think, to have discerned
the future merits of the Redeemer.

In truth, if even the Israelites had any such prospective views to
Calvary, if their sacrifices conveyed the idea of the cross erected
there, and were established for this purpose, the fact must have been
privately revealed to modern theologians; for not a trace of it can be
found in the Hebrew writings. It must be thought strange, that a
prophetic reference so habitual, should be always a secret reference;
that a faith so fundamental should be so mysteriously suppressed; that
the uppermost idea of a nation’s mind should never have found its way to
lips or pen. “But if it were not so,” we are reminded, “if the Jewish
ritual prefigured nothing ulterior, it was revolting, trifling, savage;
its worship a butchery, and the temple courts no better than a slaughter
house.” And were they not equally so, though the theory of types be
true? If neither priest nor people could _see at the time_ the very
thing which the ceremonial was constructed to reveal, what advantage is
it that divines can see it _now_? And even if the notion was conveyed to
the Jewish mind, (which the whole history shows not to have been the
fact,) was it necessary that hecatombs should be slain, age after age,
to intimate obscurely an idea, which one brief sentence might have
lucidly expressed? The idea, however, it is evident, slipped through
after all; for when Messiah actually came, the one great thing which the
Jews did _not_ know and believe about him was, that he could die at all.
So much for the preparatory discipline of fifteen centuries!

There is no reason then why anything should be supplied in our thoughts,
to alter the plain meaning of the announcements of prophets and holy
men, of God’s unconditional forgiveness on repentance. “Thou desirest
not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou delightest not in burnt
offering; the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a
contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”[303] “Wash you, make you
clean,” says the prophet Isaiah in the name of the Lord; “put away the
evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do
well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead
for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord;
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they
be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”[304] Once more, “When I say
unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do
that which is lawful and right; if the wicked restore the pledge, give
again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life without
committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.”[305] Nor
are the teachings of the Gospel at all less explicit. Our Lord treats
largely and expressly on the doctrine of forgiveness in several
parables, and especially that of the prodigal son; and omits all
allusion to the propitiation for the past. He furnishes an express
definition of the terms of eternal life; “Good master, what good thing
shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, why
callest thou me good; there is none good save one, that is God; but if
thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” And Jesus adds, “if
thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor,
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”[306] This
silence on the prime condition of pardon cannot be explained by the
fact, that the crucifixion had not yet taken place, and could not safely
be alluded to, before the course of events had brought it into prominent
notice. For we have the preaching of the Apostles, after the ascension,
recorded at great length, and under very various circumstances, in the
book of Acts. We have the very “words whereby,” according to the
testimony of an angel, “Cornelius and all his house shall be saved;”
these, one would think, would be worth hearing in this cause: “God
anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with power; who went
about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for
God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both
in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a
tree; him God raised up the third day, and showed openly; not to all the
people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat
and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to
preach unto the people, and to testify, that it is he who was ordained
of God to be the judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets
witness, that, through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall
receive remission of sins.”[307] Did an Evangelical missionary dare to
preach in this style now, he would be immediately disowned by his
employers, and dismissed as a disguised Socinian, who kept back all the
“peculiar doctrines of the Gospel.”

(b.) The emphatic mention of the resurrection by the apostle Peter in
this address, is only a particular instance of a system which pervades
the whole preaching of the first missionaries of Christ. _This_, and not
the cross, with its supposed effects, is the grand object to which they
call the attention and the faith of their hearers. I cannot quote to you
the whole book of Acts; but every reader knows, that “Jesus and the
resurrection” constitutes the leading theme, the central combination of
ideas in all its discourses. This truth was shed, from Peter’s tongue of
fire, on the multitudes that heard amazed the inspiration of the day of
Pentecost.[308] Again, it was his text, when passing beneath the
beautiful gate, he made the cripple leap for joy; and then, with the
flush of this deed still fresh upon him, leaned against a pillar in
Solomon’s porch, and spake in explanation to the awe-struck people,
thronging in at the hour of prayer.[309] Before priests and rulers,
before Sanhedrim and populace, the same tale is told again, to the utter
exclusion, be it observed, of the essential doctrine of the cross.[310]
The authorities of the temple, we are told, were galled and terrified at
the apostle’s preaching; “naturally enough,” it will be said, “since,
the real sacrifice having been offered, their vocation, which was to
make the prefatory and typical oblation, was threatened with
destruction.” But no, this is not the reason given: “They were grieved
because they preached, through Jesus, the resurrection from the
dead.”[311] Paul, too, while his preaching was spontaneous and free, and
until he had to argue certain controversies which have long ago become
obselete, manifested a no less remarkable predilection for this topic.
Before Felix, he declares what was the grand indictment of his
countrymen against him; “touching the resurrection of the dead, I am
called in question of you this day.”[312] Follow him far away from his
own land; and, with foreigners, he harps upon the same subject, as if he
were a man of one idea; which, indeed, according to our opponents’
scheme, he ought to have been, only it should have been _another idea_.
Seldom, however, can we meet with a more exuberant mind than Paul’s; yet
the resurrection obviously haunts him wherever he goes: in the synagogue
of Antioch, you hear him dwelling on it with all the energy of his
inspiration;[313] and, at Athens, it was this on which the scepticism of
Epicureans and Stoics fastened for a scoff.[314] In his epistles, too,
where he enlarges so much on justification by faith, when we inquire
what precisely is this faith, and what the object it is to contemplate
and embrace, this remarkable fact presents itself: that the one only
important thing respecting Christ, which is _never once_ mentioned as
the object of justifying faith is _his death, and blood, and cross_.
“Faith” by itself, the “faith of Jesus Christ,” “faith of the Gospel,”
“faith of the Son of God,” are expressions of constant occurrence; and
wherever this general description is replaced by a more specific account
of this justifying state of mind, it is _faith in the resurrection_ on
which attention is fastened. “It is Christ that died, _yea rather, that
is risen again_.”[315] “He was delivered for our offences, and _raised
again for our justification_.”[316] “Faith shall be imputed to us for
righteousness, if we believe on _him that raised up Jesus our Lord from
the dead_.”[317] Hear too, the Apostle’s definition of saving faith: “If
thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in
thy heart _that God hath raised him from the dead_, thou shalt be
saved.”[318] The only instance, in which the writings of St. Paul appear
to associate the word faith with the death of Christ, is the following
text: “whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his
blood;”[319] and in this case the Apostle’s meaning would, I conceive,
be more faithfully given by destroying this conjunction, and disposing
the words thus: “whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation by his
blood, through faith.” The idea of his _blood_, or _death_, belongs to
the word ‘propitiation,’ not to the word ‘faith.’ To this translation no
Trinitarian scholar, I am persuaded, can object;[320] and when the true
meaning of the writer’s sacrificial language is explained, the
distinction will appear to be not unimportant. At present I am concerned
only with the defence of my position, that the death of Christ is never
mentioned as the object of saving faith; but that his resurrection
unquestionably is. This phenomenon in Scripture phraseology is so
extraordinary, so utterly repugnant to everything which a hearer of
orthodox preaching would expect, that I hardly expect my affirmation of
it to be believed. The two ideas of _faith_, and of our _Lord’s death_,
are so naturally and perpetually united in the mind of every believer in
the atonement, that it must appear to him incredible, that they should
never fall together in the writings of the Apostles. However, I have
stated my fact; and it is for you to bring it to the test of Scripture.

(c.) Independently of all written testimony, moral reasons, we are
assured, exist, which render an absolute remission for the past
essential to a regenerated life for the future. Our human nature is said
to be so constituted, that the burden of sin, on the conscience once
awakened, is intolerable: our spirit cries aloud for mercy; yet is so
straitened by the bands of sin, so conscious of the sad alliance
lingering still, so full of hesitancy and shame when seeking the relief
of prayer, so blinded by its tears when scanning the heavens for an
opening of light and hope, that there is no freedom, no unrestrained and
happy love to God; but a pinched and anxious mind, bereft of power,
striving to work with bandaged or paralytic will, instead of trusting
itself to loosened and self-oblivious affections. Hence it is thought,
that the sin of the past must be cancelled, before the holiness of the
future can be commenced; that it is a false order to represent
repentance as leading to pardon; because to be forgiven is the
pre-requisite to love. We cannot forget, however, how distinctly and
emphatically he who, after God, best knew what is in man, has
contradicted this sentiment; for when that sinful woman, whose presence
in the house shocked the sanctimonious Pharisee, stood at his feet as he
reclined, washing them with her tears, and kissing them with reverential
lips; Jesus turned to her and said, “her sins, which are many, are
forgiven; _for_ she loved much.”[321] From him, then, we learn what our
own hearts would almost teach, that love may be the prelude to
forgiveness, as well as forgiveness the preparative for love.

At the same time let me acknowledge, that this statement respecting the
moral effects of conscious pardon, to which I have invoked Jesus to
reply, is by no means an unmixed error. It touches upon a very profound
and important truth; and I can never bring myself to regard that
assurance of divine forgiveness, which the doctrine of atonement
imparts, as a demoralizing state of mind, encouraging laxity of
conscience and a continuance in sin. The sense of pardon doubtless
reaches the secret springs of gratitude, presents the soul with an
object, strange before, of new and divine affection; and binds the child
of redemption, by all generous and filial obligations, to serve with
free and willing heart the God who hath gone forth to meet him. That the
motives of self-interest are diminished in such a case, is a trifle that
need occasion small anxiety. For the human heart is no labourer for
hire; and, where there is opportunity afforded for true and noble love,
will thrust away the proffered wages, and toil rather in a free and
thankful spirit. If we are to compare, as a source of duty, the grateful
with the merely prudential temper, rather may we trust the first, as not
the worthier only, but the stronger too; and till we obtain emancipation
from the latter,—forget the computations of hope and fear, and
precipitate ourselves for better for worse on some object of divine love
and trust,—our nature will be puny and weak, our wills will turn in
sickness from their duty, and our affections shrink in aversion from
their heaven. But though personal gratitude is better than prudence,
there is a higher service still. A more disinterested love may spring
from the contemplation of what God is in himself, than from the
recollection of what he has done for us; and when this mingles most
largely as an element among our springs of action; when, humbled indeed
by a knowledge of dangers that await us, and thankful, too, for the
blessings spread around us, we yet desire chiefly to be fitting children
of the everlasting Father and the holy God; when we venerate him for the
graciousness and purity and majesty of his spirit, impersonated in
Jesus; and resolve to serve him truly, _before_ he has granted the
desire of our heart, and because he is of a nature so sublime and
merciful and good; then are we in the condition of her who bent over the
feet of Christ; and we are forgiven, because we have loved much.

(2.) Let us now, in conclusion, turn our attention to those portions of
the New Testament, which speak of the death of Christ as the means of

I have said, that these are to be found exclusively in passages of the
sacred writings which treat of the Gentile controversy, or of topics
immediately connected with it. This controversy arose naturally out of
the design of Providence to make the narrow, exclusive, ceremonial
system of Judaism, give birth to the universal and spiritual religion of
the Gospel; from God’s method of expanding the Hebrew Messiah into the
Saviour of humanity. For this the nation was not prepared; to this even
the Hebrew Christians could not easily conform their faith; and in the
achievement of this, or in persuading the world that it was achieved,
did Paul spend his noble life, and write his astonishing epistles. The
Jews knew that the Deliverer was to be of their peculiar stock, and
their royal lineage; they believed that he would gather upon himself all
the singularities of their race, and be a Hebrew to intensity; that he
would literally restore the kingdom to Israel; aye, and extend it too,
immeasurably beyond the bounds of its former greatness; till, in fact,
it swallowed up all existing principalities and powers, and thrones, and
dominions, and became co-extensive with the earth. Then in Jerusalem, as
the centre of the vanquished nations,—before the temple, as the altar of
a humbled world, did they expect the Messiah to erect his throne; and
when he had taken the seat of judgment, to summon all the tribes before
his tribunal, and pass on the Gentiles, excepting the few who might
submit to the law, a sentence of perpetual exclusion from his realm;
while his own people would be invited to the seats of honour, occupy the
place of authority and sit down with him (the greatest at his right hand
and his left) at his table in his kingdom. The holy men of old were to
come on earth again to see this day. And many thought that every part of
the realm thus constituted, and all its inhabitants, would never die:
but like the Messiah himself, and the patriarchs whom he was to call to
life, would be invested with immortality. None were to be admitted to
these golden days except themselves; all else to be left in outer
darkness from this region of light, and there to perish and be seen no
more. The grand title to admission was conformity with the Mosaic law;
the most ritually scrupulous were the most secure; and the careless
Israelite, who forgot or omitted an offering, a tithe, a Sabbath duty,
might incur the penalty of exclusion and death: the law prescribed such
mortal punishment for the smallest offence; and no one, therefore, could
feel himself ready with his claim, if he had not yielded a perfect
obedience. If God were to admit him on any other plea, it would be of
pure grace and goodness, and not in fulfilment of any promise.

The Jews, being scattered over the civilized world, and having
synagogues in every city, came into perpetual contact with other people.
Nor was it possible that the Gentiles, among whom they lived, should
notice the singular purity and simplicity of the Israelitish Theism,
without some of them being struck with its spirit, attracted by its
sublime principles, and disposed to place themselves in religious
relations with that singular people. Having been led into admiration and
even profession of the nation’s theology, they could not but desire to
share their hopes; which indeed were an integral part of their religion,
and, at the Christian era, the one element in it to which they were most
passionately attached. But this was a stretch of charity too great for
any Hebrew; or, at all events, if such admission were ever to be thought
of, it must only be on condition of absolute submission to the
requirements of the law. The Gentile would naturally plead, that as God
had not made him of the chosen nation, he had given him no law, except
that of conscience; that, being without the law, he must be a law unto
himself; and that if he had lived according to his light, he could not
be justly excluded on the ground of accidental disqualification.
Possibly, in the provocation of dispute, the Gentile might sometimes
become froward and insolent in his assertion of claim; and, in the pride
of his heart, demand as a right that which, at most, could only be
humbly hoped for as a privilege and a free gift.

Thus were the parties mutually placed to whom the Deliverer came. Thus
dense and complicated was the web of prejudice which clung round the
early steps of the Gospel; and which must be burst or disentangled ere
the glad tidings could have free course and be glorified. How did
Providence develop from such elements the divine and everlasting truth?
Not by neglecting them, and speaking to mankind as if they had no such
ideas; not by forbidding his messengers and teachers to have any
patience with them; but, on the contrary, by using these very notions as
temporary means to his everlasting ends; by touching this and that with
light before the eyes of apostles, as if to say, there are good
capabilities in these; the truth may be educed from them so gently and
so wisely, that the world will find itself in light, without perceiving
how it has been quitting the darkness.

So long as Christ remained on earth, he necessarily confined his
ministry to his nation. He would not have been the Messiah had he done
otherwise. By birth, by lineage, by locality, by habit, he was
altogether theirs. Whoever then, of his own people, during his mortal
life, believed in him and followed him, became a subject of the Messiah;
ready, it was supposed even by the apostles themselves, to enter the
glory of his kingdom, whenever it should please him to assume it;
qualified at once, by the combination of pedigree and of belief, to
enter into life, to become a member of the kingdom of God, to take a
place among the elect; for, by all these phrases, was described the
admission to the expected realm. If, then, Jesus had never suffered and
died, if he had never retired from this world, but stayed to fulfil the
anticipations of his first followers, his Messianic kingdom might have
included all the converts of the Israelitish stock. From the exclusion
which fell on others, they would have obtained salvation. Hence, it is
never in connection with the first Jewish Christians that the _death of
Christ_ is mentioned.

It was otherwise, however, with the Gentiles. They could not become his
followers in his mortal lifetime; and had a Messianic reign _then_ been
set up, they must have been excluded; no missionary would have been
justified in addressing them with invitation; they could not, as it was
said, have entered into life. The Messiah must cease to be Jewish,
before he could become universal; and this implied his death by which
alone the personal relations, which made him the property of a nation,
could be annihilated. To this he submitted; he disrobed himself of his
corporeality, he became an immortal spirit; thereby instantly burst his
religion open to the dimensions of the world; and, as he ascended to the
skies, sent it forth to scatter the seeds of blessing over the field of
the world, long ploughed with cares, and moist with griefs, and softened
now to nourish in its bosom the tree of Life.

Now, how would the effect of this great revolution be described to the
proselyte Gentiles, so long vainly praying for admission to the
Israelitish hope. At once it destroyed their exclusion; put away as
valueless the Jewish claims of circumcision and law; nailed the
hand-writing of ordinances to the cross; reconciled them that had been
afar off; redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every tongue, and
kindred, and people, and nation; washed them in his blood; justified
them _by his resurrection and ascension_; an expression, I would remark,
unmeaning on any other explanation.

Even during our Lord’s personal ministry, his approaching death is
mentioned, as the means of introducing the Gentiles into his Messianic
kingdom. He adverts repeatedly to his cross, as designed to widen, by
their admission, the extent of his sway: and according to Scripture
phrase, to yield to him “much fruit.” He was already on his last fatal
visit to Jerusalem, when, taking the hint from _the visit of some Greeks
to him_, he exclaimed: “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be
glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall
into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but _if it die, it bringeth
forth much fruit_.” He adds, in allusion to the death he should die;
“and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw _all men unto
me_.”[322] It is for this end that he resigns for awhile his life,—that
he may bring in the wanderers who are not of the commonwealth of Israel:
“Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring,
and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one
shepherd: _therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my
life_, that I may take it again.”[323] Many a parable did Jesus utter,
proclaiming his Father’s intended mercy to the uncovenanted nations: but
for himself personally he declared, “I am not sent, but to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel.”[324] His advent was a promise of _their_
economy; his office, the traditionary hope of their fathers; his birth,
his life, his person, were under the Law, and excluded him from
relations to those who were beyond its obligations. On the cross, all
the connate peculiarities of the Nazarene ceased to exist: when, the
seal of the sepulchre gave way, the seal of the law was broken too; the
nationality of his person passed away; for how can an immortal be a Jew?
This then was the time to open wide the scope of his mission, and to
invite to God’s acceptance those that fear him in every nation. Though,
before, the disciple might “have known Christ after the flesh,” and
followed his steps as the Hebrew Messiah, “yet now henceforth was he to
know him so no more;” these “old things had passed away,” since he had
“died for all,”—died to become universal,—to drop all exclusive
relations, and “reconcile the world,” the Gentile world, to God.[325]
Observe to whom this “ministry of reconciliation” is especially
confided. As if to show that it is exclusively _the risen Christ_ who
belongs to all men, and that his death was the instrument of the
Gentiles’ admission, their great Apostle was one Paul, who had not known
the Saviour in his mortal life; who never listened to his voice, till it
spake from heaven; who himself was the convert of his ascension; and
bore to him the relation, not of subject to the person of a Hebrew king,
but of spirit to spirit, unembarrassed by anything earthly, legal, or
historical. Well did Paul understand the freedom and the sanctity of
this relation; and around the idea of the Heavenly Messiah gathered all
his conceptions of the spirituality of the gospel, of its power over the
unconscious affections, rather than a reluctant will. His believing
countrymen were afraid to disregard the observances of the law, lest it
should be a disloyalty to God, and disqualify them for the Messiah’s
welcome, when he came to take his power and reign. Paul tells them, that
while their Lord remained in this mortal state, they were right; as
representative of the law, and filling an office created by the religion
of Judaism, he could not but have held them _then_ to its obligations;
nor could they, without infidelity, have neglected its claims, any more
than a wife can innocently separate herself from a living husband. But
as the death of the man sets the woman free, and makes null the law of
their union, so the decease of Christ’s body emancipates his followers
from all legal relations to him; and they are at liberty to wed
themselves anew to the risen Christ, who dwells where no ordinance is
needful, no tie permitted but of the spirit, and all are as the angels
of God.[326] Surely, then, this mode of conception explains, why the
death of Jesus constitutes a great date in the Christian economy,
especially as expounded by the friend and apostle of those who were not
“Jews by nature, but sinners of the Gentiles.”[327] Had he never died,
they must have remained aliens from his sway; the enemies against whom
his power must be directed; without hope in the day of his might;
strangers to God and his vicegerent.

But, while thus they “were yet without strength, Christ died for” these
“ungodly;”[328] died to put himself into connection with them, else
impossible; and rising from death drew them after him into spiritual
existence on earth, analogous to that which he passed in heaven. “You,”
says their Apostle, “being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of
your flesh, hath he quickened together with him;” giving you, as “risen
with him,” a life above the world and its law of exclusion,—a life not
“subject to ordinances,” but of secret love and heavenly faith, “hid
with Christ in God;” “blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that
was against us, which was contrary to us, and taking it out of the way,
nailing it to his cross.”[329] God had never intended to perpetuate the
division between Israel and the world, receiving the one as the sons,
and shutting out the other as the slaves of his household. If there had
been an appearance of such partiality, he had always designed to set
these bondmen free, and to make them “heirs of God through Christ;”[330]
“in whom they had redemption through his blood” from their servile
state, the forgiveness of disqualifying sins, according to the riches of
his grace.[331] Though the Hebrews boasted that “theirs was the
adoption,”[332] and till Messiah’s death had boasted truly; yet in that
event, God “before the foundation of the world,” had “blessed us”
(Gentiles) “with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places;” “having
predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ,
according” (not indeed to any right or promise, but) “to the good
pleasure of his will,”[333] “and when we were enemies, having reconciled
us, by the death of his son;”[334] “that in the fulness of times he
might gather together in one _all things_ in Christ;”[335] “by whom we”
(Gentiles) “have now received this atonement” (reconciliation);[336]
that he might have no partial empire, but that “in him might all fulness
dwell.”[337] “Wherefore,” says their Apostle, “remember that ye,
_Gentiles in the flesh_, were in time past without Messiah, being aliens
from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of
promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; but now in Christ
Jesus, ye, who sometime were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of
Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken
down the middle wall of partition between us” (not between God and man,
but between Jew and Gentile); “having abolished in his flesh the enmity,
even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances; for to make in
himself, of twain, one new man, so _making peace_; and that he might
reconcile both unto God, in one body, by the cross, having slain the
enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you who were afar off, as
well as to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by
one spirit unto the Father.”[338]

The way, then, is clear and intelligible, in which the death and
ascension of the Messiah rendered him universal, by giving spirituality
to his rule; and, on the simple condition of faith, added the
uncovenanted nations to his dominion, so far as they were willing to
receive him. This idea, and this only, will be found in almost every
passage of the New Testament (excepting the Epistle to the Hebrews)
usually adduced to prove the doctrine of the Atonement. Some of the
strongest of these I have already quoted; and my readers must judge
whether they have received a satisfactory meaning. There are others, in
which the Gentiles are not so distinctly stated to be the sole objects
of the redemption of the cross: but with scarcely an exception, so far
as I can discover, this limitation is implied; and either creeps out
through some adjacent expression in the context; or betrays itself, when
we recur to the general course of the Apostle’s argument, or to the
character and circumstances of his correspondents. Thus Paul says, that
Christ “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time;” the
next verse shows what is in his mind, when he adds, “_whereunto_ I am
ordained a preacher, and an apostle, a teacher of THE GENTILES in faith
and verity:” and the whole sentiment of the context is the _Universality
of the Gospel_, and the duty of praying for Gentile kings and people, as
not abandoned to a foreign God and another Mediator; for since Messiah’s
death, to _us all_ “there is but One God, and One Mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus:” wherefore the Apostle wills, that _for
all_, “men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath, and
doubting,”—without wrath at their admission, or doubt of their
adoption.[339] And wherever emphasis is laid on the _vast number_
benefited by the cross, a contrast is implied with the _few_ (only the
Jews) who could have been his subjects, had he not died: and when it is
said, “he gave his life a ransom _for many_;”[340] his blood was “shed
_for many_, for the remission of sins;”[341] “thou wast slain, and hast
redeemed us by thy blood, _out of every kindred, and tongue, and people,
and nation_; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and we
shall reign on the earth;”[342] “behold the Lamb of God that taketh away
the sin of _the world_;”[343] —by all these expressions is still denoted
the efficacy of Christ’s death in removing the Gentile disqualification,
and making his dispensation spiritual as his celestial existence, and
universal as the Fatherhood of God. Does Paul exhort certain of his
disciples, “to feed the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with
his own blood?”[344] We find that he is speaking of the _Gentile_ church
of Ephesus, whose elders he is instructing in the management of their
charge, and to which he afterwards wrote the well-known epistle, on
their Gentile freedom and adoption obtained by the Messiah’s death. When
Peter says, “ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things,
as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition
from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb
without blemish and without spot,”[345] we must inquire _to whom_ he is
addressing these words. If it be to the Jews, the interpretation which I
have hitherto given of such language will not apply, and we must seek an
explanation altogether different. But the whole manner of this epistle,
the complexion of its phraseology throughout, convinces me that it was
addressed especially to the _Gentile converts_ of Asia Minor; and that
the redemption of which it speaks is no other than that which is the
frequent theme of their own apostle.

In the passage just quoted, the form of expression itself suggests the
idea, that Peter is addressing a class which did not include himself;
“YE were not redeemed, &c.:” further on in the same epistle the same
sentiment occurs, however, without any such visible restriction.
Exhorting to patient suffering for conscience sake, he appeals to the
example of Christ; “who, when he suffered, threatened not, but committed
himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who, his own self, bare _our_
sins in his own body on the tree; that we, being dead to sin, should
live unto righteousness:” yet, with instant change in the expression,
revealing his correspondents to us, the Apostle adds, “by whose stripes
YE were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned
unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls.”[346] With the instinct of a
gentle and generous heart, the writer, treating in plain terms of the
former sins of those whom he addresses, puts himself in with them; and
avoids every appearance of that spiritual pride, by which the Jew
constantly rendered himself offensive to the Gentile.

Again, in this letter, he recommends the duty of patient endurance, by
appeal to the same consideration of Christ’s disinterested
self-sacrifice. “It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer
for well doing than for evil doing: for Christ also hath once suffered
for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” And
who are these “unjust” that are thus brought to God? The Apostle
instantly explains, by describing how the “Jews by nature” lost
possession of Messiah by the death of his person, and “sinners of the
Gentiles” gained him by the resurrection of his immortal nature; “being
put to death in flesh, but quickened in spirit; and _thereby he went and
preached unto the spirits in prison, who formerly were without faith_.”
This is clearly a description of the Heathen world, ere it was brought
into relation to the Messianic promises. Still further confirmation,
however, follows. The Apostle adds: “forasmuch, then, as Christ hath
suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same
mind; for the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the
will _of the Gentiles_; when _we_ walked in lasciviousness, lusts,
excess of wine, revellings, banquettings, and _abominable
idolatries_.”[347] If we cannot admit this to be a just description of
the holy Apostle’s former life, we must perceive that, writing to Pagans
of whom it was all true, he beautifully withholds from his language
every trace of invidious distinction, puts himself for the moment into
the same class, and seems to take his share of the distressing

The habitual delicacy with which Paul, likewise, classed himself with
every order of persons in turn, to whom he had any thing painful to say,
is known to every intelligent reader of his epistles. Hence, in _his_
writings too, we have often to consider _with whom_ it is that he is
holding his dialogue, and to make our interpretation dependent on the
answer. When, for example, he says, that Jesus “was delivered for _our_
offences, and was raised again for _our_ justification;” I ask, “for
whose?—was it for every body’s?—or for the Jews’, since Paul was a
Hebrew?” On looking closely into the argument, I find it beyond doubt
that neither of these answers is correct; and that the Apostle, in
conformity with his frequent practice, is certainly identifying himself,
Israelite though he was, with _the Gentiles_, to whom, at that moment,
his reasoning applies itself. The neighbouring verses have expressions
which clearly enough declare this; “when we were _yet without
strength_,” and “_while we were yet sinners_,” Christ died for us. It is
to the _Gentile Church_ at Corinth, and while expatiating on their
privileges and relations as such, that Paul speaks of the
disqualifications and legal unholiness of the Heathen, as vanishing in
the death of the Messiah; as the recovered leper’s uncleanness was
removed, and his banishment reversed, and his exclusion from the temple
ended, when the lamb without blemish, which the law prescribed as his
sin-offering, bled beneath the knife, so did God provide, in Jesus, a
lamb without blemish for the exiled and unsanctified Gentiles, to bring
them from their far dwelling in the leprous haunts of this world’s
wilderness, and admit them to the sanctuary of spiritual health and
worship: “He hath made him to be a sin-offering for us (Gentiles), who
knew no sin; that we might be made the justified of God in him;”[348]
entering, under the Messiah, the community of saints. That, in this
sacrificial allusion, the Gentile adoption is still the Apostle’s only
theme, is evident hence; that twice in this very passage, he declares
that he is speaking of that peculiar “reconciliation,” the word and
ministry of which have been committed to himself; he is dwelling on the
topic most natural to one who “magnified his office,” as “Apostle of the

To the same parties was Paul writing, when he said, “Christ, our
passover, is sacrificed for us.”[349] Frequently as this sentence is
cited in evidence of the doctrine of Atonement, there is hardly a verse
in Scripture more utterly inapplicable; nor, if the doctrine were true,
could anything be more inept than an allusion to it in this place. I do
not dwell on the fact that the paschal lamb was neither sin-offering nor
proper sacrifice at all: for the elucidation of the death of Jesus by
sacrificial analogies is as easy and welcome, as any other mode of
representing it. But I turn to the whole context, and seek for the
leading idea before multiplying inferences from a subordinate
illustration. I find the author treating, not of the _deliverance_ of
believers from curse or exclusion, but of their duty to keep the
churches cleansed, by the expulsion of notoriously profligate members.
Such persons they are to cast from them, as the Jews, at the passover,
swept from their houses all the leaven they contained; and as, for eight
days at that season, only pure unleavened bread was allowed for use, so
the church must keep the Gospel-festival, free from the ferment of
malice and wickedness, and tasting nothing but sincerity and truth. This
comparison is the primary sentiment of the whole passage; under cover of
which, the Apostle is urging the Corinthians to expel a certain
licentious offender: and only because the feast of unleavened bread, on
which his fancy has alighted, set in with the day of passover, does he
allude to this in completion of the figure. As his correspondents were
Gentiles, their Christianity first became possible with the death of
Christ; with him, as an immortal, their spiritual relations commenced;
when he rose, they rose with him, as by a divine attraction, from an
earthly to a heavenly state; their old and corrupt man had been buried
together with him, and, with the human infirmities of his person left
behind for ever in his sepulchre; and it became them, “to seek those
things which are above,” and to “yield themselves to God, as those that
are alive from the dead.” This period of the Lord’s sequestration in the
heavens, Paul represents as a festival of purity to the disciples on
earth, ushered in by the self-sacrifice of Christ. The time is come, he
says; cast away the leaven, for the passover is slain, blessed bread of
heaven to them that taste it! let nothing now be seen in all the
household of the church, but the unleavened cake of simplicity and love.

Paul again appears as the advocate of the Gentiles, when he protests
that now between them and the Jews “there is no difference; since all
have sinned and come short of the glory of God:” that the Hebrew has
lost all claim to the Messianic adoption, and can have no hope but in
that free grace of God, which has a sovereign right to embrace the
Heathen too; and which, in fact, has compassed the Gentiles within its
redemption, by causing Jesus the Messiah to die; “by whose blood God
hath set forth a propitiation, through faith; to evince his justice,
while overlooking, with the forbearance of God, transgressions past;—to
evince his justice in the arrangements of the present crisis; which
preserve his justice (to the Israelite), yet justify on mere
discipleship to Jesus.”[350] The great question which the Apostle
discusses throughout this epistle, is this: “on what terms is a man now
admitted as a subject to the Messiah, so as to be acknowledged by him,
when he comes to erect his kingdom?” “He must be one of the circumcised,
to whom alone the holy law and promises are given,” says the Jew. “That
is well,” replies Paul: “only the promises, you remember, are
conditional on obedience; and he who claims by the law must stand the
judgment of the law. Can your nation abide this test, and will you stake
your hopes upon the issue? Or is there on record against you a violation
of every condition of your boasted covenant; wholesale and national
transgression, which your favourite code itself menaces with ‘cutting
off?’ Have you even rejected and crucified the very Messiah, who was
tendered to you in due fulfilment of the promises? Take your trial by
the principles of your law, and you must be cast off, and perish, as
certainly as the Heathen whom you despise; and whose rebellion against
the natural law, gross as it is, does not surpass your own offences
against the tables of Moses. You must abandon the claim of right, the
high talk of God’s Justice and plighted faith;—which are alike
ill-suited to you both. The rules of law are out of the question, and
would admit nobody; and we must ascend again to the sovereign will and
free mercy of him, who is the source of law; and who, to bestow a
blessing which its resources cannot confer, may devise new methods of
beneficence. God has violated no pledge. Messiah came to Israel, and
never went beyond its bounds; the uncircumcised had no part in him; and
every Hebrew who desired it, was received as his subject. But when the
people would not have him, and threw away their ancient title, was God
either to abandon his vicegerent, or to force him on the unwilling? No:
rather did it befit him to say; ‘if they will reject and crucify my
servant,—why, let him die, and then he is Israelite no more; I will
raise him, and take him apart in his immortality; where his blood of
David is lost; and the holiness of his humanity is glorified; and all
shall be his, who will believe, and love him, as he there exists,
spiritually and truly.’” Thus, according to Paul, does God provide a new
method of adoption or justification, without violating any promises of
the old. Thus he makes Faith in Jesus,—a moral act instead of a
genealogical accident,—the single condition of reception into the Divine
kingdom upon earth. Thus, after the passage of Christ from this world to
another, Jew and Gentile are on an equality in relation to the Messiah;
the one gaining nothing by his past privileges; the other, not visited
with exclusion for past idolatry and sins; but assured, in Messiah’s
death, that these are to be overlooked, and treated as if cleansed away.
He finds himself invited into the very penetralia of that sanctuary of
pure faith and hope, from which before he had been repelled as an
unclean thing; as if its ark of mercy had been purified for ever from
his unworthy touch, or he himself had been sprinkled by some sudden
consecration. And all this was the inevitable and instant effect of that
death on Calvary; which took Messiah from the Jews, and gave him to the

With emphasis, not less earnest than that of Paul, does the apostle John
repudiate the notion of any _claim_ on the Divine admission by law or
righteousness; and insist on humble and unqualified acceptance of God’s
free grace and remission for the past, as the sole avenue of entrance to
the kingdom. This avenue was open, however, to all “who confessed that
Jesus the Messiah had come in the flesh;”[351] in other words, that,
during his mortal life, Jesus had been indicated as this future Prince;
and that his ministry was the Messiah’s preliminary visit to that earth
on which shortly he would re-appear to reign. The great object of that
visit was to prepare the world for his real coming; for as yet it was
very unfit for so great a crisis; and especially to open, by his death,
a way of admission for the Gentiles, and frame, on their behalf, an act
of oblivion for the past. “If,” says the apostle to them, “we walk in
the light, _as he is in the light_” (of love and heaven), “we have
fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin:”[352] the Israelite will embrace the Gentiles
in fraternal relations, knowing that the cross has removed their past
unholiness. Nor let the Hebrew rely on anything now but the divine
forbearance; to appeal to rights will serve no longer: “if we say we
have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”[353] Nor
let any one despair of a reception, or even a restoration, because he
has been an idolater and sinner: “Jesus Christ the righteous” is “an
advocate with the Father” for admitting all who are willing to be his;
“and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only (not
merely for our small portion of Gentiles, already converted); but also
for the _whole_ world,”[354] if they will but accept him. He died to
become universal; to make all his own; to spread an oblivion, wide as
the earth, over all that had embarrassed the relations to the Messiah,
and made men aliens, instead of Sons of God. Yet did no spontaneous
movement of their good affections solicit this change. It was “not that
we (Gentiles) loved God; but that he loved us, and sent his Son, the
propitiation for our sins;” “he sent his only-begotten Son into the
world, that we might live through him.”[355] That this epistle was
addressed to Gentiles, and is therefore occupied with the same leading
idea respecting the cross, which pervades the writings of Paul, is
rendered probable by its concluding words, which could hardly be
appropriate to Jews: “keep yourselves from idols.”[356] How little the
apostle associated any vicarious idea even with a form of phrase most
constantly employed by modern theology to express it, is evident from
the parallel which he draws, in the following words, between the death
of our Lord and that of the Christian martyrs; “hereby perceive we love,
because _Christ_ laid down his life _for us_; and we ought to lay down
our lives _for the brethren_.”[357]

Are then the _Gentiles alone_ beneficially affected by the death of
Christ; and is no wider efficacy _ever_ assigned to it in Scripture? The
great number of passages to which I have already applied this single
interpretation, will show that I consider it as comprising _the great
leading idea_ of the apostolic theology on this subject; nor do I think
that there is (out of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which I shall soon
notice) a single doctrinal allusion to the cross, from which this
conception is wholly absent. At the same time, I am not prepared to
maintain, that this is the _only_ view of the crucifixion and
resurrection ever present to the mind of the apostles. Jews themselves,
they naturally inquired, how _Israel_, in particular, stood affected by
the unanticipated death of its Messiah; in what way its relations were
changed, when the offered Prince became the executed victim; and how far
matters would have been different, if, as had been expected, the
Anointed had assumed his rights and taken his power at once; and,
instead of making his first advent a mere preliminary and warning visit
“in the flesh,” had set up the kingdom forthwith, and gathered with him
his few followers to “reign on the earth.” Had this—instead of
submission to death, removal, and delay—been his adopted course, what
would have become of his own nation, who had rejected him;—who must have
been tried by that law which was their boast, and under which he came;
who had long been notorious offenders against its conditions, and now
brought down its final curse by despising the claims of the accredited
Messiah? They must have been utterly “cut off,” and cast out among the
“aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” “without Messiah,” “without
hope,” “without God;” for while “circumcision profiteth, _if thou keep
the law_; yet if thou be a _breaker of the law_, thy circumcision is
made uncircumcision.”[358] Had he come _then_ “to be glorified in his
saints, and to be admired in all them that believe;”—had he then been
“revealed with his mighty angels” (whom he might have summoned by
“legions”);—it must have been “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them
that knew not God, nor obeyed the glad tidings of the Lord Jesus
Christ;” to “punish with everlasting destruction from the presence of
the Lord and the glory of his power.”[359] The sins and prospects of
Israel being thus terrible, and its rejection imminent (for Messiah was
already in the midst of them),—he withheld his hand; refused to
precipitate their just fate; and said, “Let us give them time and wait;
I will go apart into the heavens, and peradventure they will repent;
only they must receive me then spiritually, and by hearty faith, not by
carnal right, admitting thus the willing Gentile with themselves.” And
so he prepared to die and retire; he did not permit them to be cut off,
but was cut off himself instead; he restrained the curse of their own
law from falling on them, and rather perished himself by a foul and
accursed lot, which that same law pronounces to be the vilest and most
polluted of deaths. Thus says St. Paul to the Jews: “he hath redeemed us
from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written
‘cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’”[360] In this way, but for
the death of the Messiah, Israel too must have been lost; and by that
event they received time for repentance, and a way for remission of
sins; found a means of reconciliation still; saw their providence, which
had been lowering for judgment, opening over them in propitiation once
more; the just had died for the unjust, to bring them to God. What was
this delay,—this suspension of judgment,—this opportunity of return and
faith,—but an instance of “the long-suffering of God,” with which “he
endures the vessels of wrath (Jews) fitted to destruction; and makes
known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy; which he had
afore prepared unto glory?”[361] If Christ had not withdrawn awhile,—if
his power had been taken up at once, and wielded in stern and legal
justice, a deluge of judgment must have overwhelmed the earth, and swept
away both Jew and Gentile, leaving but a remnant safe. But in mercy was
the mortal life of Jesus turned into a preluding message of notice and
warning, like the tidings which Noah received of the flood; and as the
growing frame of the ark gave signal to the world of the coming
calamity, afforded an interval for repentance, and made the patriarch,
as he built, a constant “preacher of righteousness;”[362] so the
increasing body of the Church, since the warning retreat of Christ to
heaven, proclaims the approaching “day of the Lord,” admonishes that
“all should come to repentance,”[363] and fly betimes to that faith and
baptism which Messiah’s death and resurrection have left as an ark of
safety. “Once in the days of Noah, the long-suffering of God waited
while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were
saved by water: a representation, this, of the way in which baptism
(not, of course, carnal washing, but the engagement of a good conscience
with God,) saves us now, _by the resurrection of Jesus Christ_; who is
gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels, and
authorities, and powers, being made subject to him.”[364] Yet, “the time
is short,”[365] and must be “redeemed;”[366] “it is the last hour;”[367]
“the Lord,” “the coming of the Lord,” “the end of all things,” are “at

I have described _one_ aspect, which the death of the Messiah presented
to _the Jews_; and, in this, we have found another primary conception,
explanatory of the scriptural language respecting the cross. Of the two
relations in which this event appeared (the Gentile and the Israelitish)
I believe the former to be by far the most familiar to the New Testament
authors, and to furnish the true interpretation of almost all their
phraseology on the subject. But, as my readers may have noticed, many
passages receive illustration by reference to either notion; and some
may have a meaning compounded of both. I must not pause to make any
minute adjustment of these claims, on the part of the two interpreting
ideas: it is enough that, either separately or in union, they have now
been taken round the whole circle of apostolic language respecting the
cross, and detected in every difficult passage the presence of sense and
truth, and the absence of all hint of vicarious atonement.

It was on the _unbelieving_ portion of the Jewish people, that the death
of their Messiah conferred the national blessings and opportunities to
which I have adverted. But to _the converts_ who had been received by
him during his mortal life, and who would have been heirs of his glory,
had he assumed it at once, it was less easy to point out any personal
benefits from the cross. That the Christ had retired from this world was
but a disappointing postponement of their hopes: that he had perished as
a felon, was shocking to their pride, and turned their ancient boast
into a present scorn: that he had become spiritual and immortal made him
no longer theirs “as concerning the flesh,” and, by admitting Gentiles
with themselves, set aside their favourite law. So offensive to them was
this unexpected slight on the institutions of Moses, immemorially
reverenced as the ordinances of God, that it became important to give
some turn to the death of Jesus, by which that event might be harmonized
with the national system, and be shown to _effect the abrogation of the
Law, on principles strictly legal_. This was the object of the writer of
the Epistle to the Hebrews; who thus gives us a third idea of the
relations of the cross,—bearing, indeed, an essential resemblance to St.
Paul’s Gentile view, but illustrated in a manner altogether different.
No trace is to be observed here of Paul’s noble glorying in the Cross:
so studiously is every allusion to the crucifixion avoided, till all the
argumentative part of the epistle has been completed, that a reader
finds the conclusion already in sight, without having gained any notion
of _the mode_ of the Lord’s death, whether even it was natural or
violent,—a literal human sacrifice, or a voluntary self-immolation. Its
ignominy and its agonies are wholly unmentioned; and his mortal
infirmities and sufferings are explained, not as the spontaneous
adoptions of previous compassion in him, but as God’s fitting discipline
for rendering him “a merciful and faithful high priest.”[369] They are
referred to in the tone of apology, not of pride; as needing rather to
be reconciled with his office, than to be boldly expounded as its grand
essential. The object of the author clearly is, to find a place for the
death of Jesus among the Messianic functions; and he persuades the
Hebrew Christians that it is (not a satisfaction for moral guilt, but) a
commutation for the Mosaic Law. In order to understand his argument, we
must advert for a moment to the prejudices which it was designed to
conciliate and correct.

It is not easy for us to realize the feelings with which the Israelite,
in the yet palmy days of the Levitical worship, would hear of an
abrogation of the Law;—the anger and contempt with which the mere bigot
would repudiate the suggestion;—the terror with which the new convert
would make trial of his freedom;—the blank and infidel feeling with
which he would look round, and find himself drifted away from his
anchorage of ceremony; the sinking heart, with which he would hear the
reproaches of his countrymen against his apostacy. Every authoritative
ritual draws towards itself an attachment too strong for reason and the
sense of right; and transfers the feeling of obligation from realities
to symbols. Among the Hebrews, this effect was the more marked and the
more pernicious, because their ceremonies were, in many instances, only
remotely connected with any important truth or excellent end; they were
separated by several removes from any spiritual utility. Rites were
enacted to sustain other rites; institution lay beneath institution,
through so many successive steps, that the crowning principle at the
summit easily passed out of sight. To keep alive the grand truth of the
Divine Unity, there was a gorgeous temple worship: to perform this
worship there was a priesthood: to support the priesthood, there were
(among other sources of income) dues paid in the form of sacrifice: to
provide against the non-payment of dues there were penalties: to prevent
an injurious pressure of these penalties, there were exemptions, as in
cases of sickness: and to put a check on trivial claims of exemption, it
must be purchased by submission to a fee, under name of an atonement.
Wherever such a system is received as divine, and based on the same
authority with the great law of duty, it will always, by its
definiteness and precision, attract attention from graver moral
obligations. Its materiality renders it calculable: its account with the
conscience can be exactly ascertained: as it has little obvious utility
to men, it appears the more directly paid to God; it is regarded as the
special means of pleasing him, of placating his anger, and purchasing
his promises. Hence it may often happen, that the more the offences
against the spirit of duty, the more are rites multiplied in
propitiation; and the harvest of ceremonies and that of crimes ripen

At a state not far from this, had the Jews arrived, when Christianity
was preached. Their moral sentiments were so far perverted, that they
valued nothing in themselves, in comparison with their legal exactitude,
and hated all beyond themselves for the want of this. They were eagerly
expecting the Deliverer’s kingdom, nursing up their ambition for his
triumphs: curling the lip, as the lash of oppression fell upon them, in
suppressed anticipation of vengeance; satiating a temper, at once fierce
and servile, with dreams of Messiah’s coming judgment, when the blood of
the Patriarchs should be the title of the world’s nobles, and the
everlasting reign should begin in Jerusalem. Why was the hour delayed,
they impatiently asked themselves? Was it that they had offended
Jehovah, and secretly sinned against some requirement of his law? And
then they set themselves to a renewed precision, a more slavish
punctiliousness than before. Ascribing their continued depression to
their imperfect legal obedience, they strained their ceremonialism
tighter than ever: and hoped to be soon justified from their past sins,
and ready for the mighty prince and the latter days.

What then must have been the feeling of the Hebrew, when told that all
his punctualities had been thrown away; that at the advent, faith in
Jesus, not obedience to the law, was to be the title to admission; and
that the redeemed at that day would be, not the scrupulous
Pharisee,—whose dead works would be of no avail; but all who, with the
heart, have worthily confessed the name of the Lord Jesus? What doctrine
could be more unwelcome to the haughty Israelite? it dashed his pride of
ancestry to the ground. It brought to the same level with himself the
polluted Gentile, whose presence would alone render all unclean in the
Messiah’s kingdom. It proved his past ritual anxieties to have been all
wasted. It cast aside for the future the venerated law; left it in
neglect to die; and made all the apparatus of Providence for its
maintenance end in absolutely nothing. Was then the Messiah to
supersede, and not to vindicate the law? How different this from the
picture which prophets had drawn of his golden age, when Jerusalem was
to be the pride of the earth, and her temple the praise of nations,
sought by the feet of countless pilgrims, and decked with the splendour
of their gifts! How could a true Hebrew be justified in a life without
law? How think himself safe in a profession, which was without temple,
without priest, without altar, without victim?

Not unnaturally, then, did the Hebrews regard with reluctance two of the
leading features of Christianity; the death of the Messiah, and the
freedom from the law. The epistle addressed to them was designed to
soothe their uneasiness, and to show, that if the Mosaic institutions
were superseded, it was in conformity with principles and analogies
contained within themselves. With great address, the writer links the
two difficulties together, and makes the one explain the other. He finds
a ready means of effecting this, in the sacrificial ideas familiar to
every Hebrew; for by representing the death of Jesus as commutation for
legal observances, he is only ascribing to it an operation, acknowledged
to have place in the death of every lamb slain as a sin-offering at the
altar. These offerings were a distinct recognition on the part of the
Levitical code, of a principle of _equivalents_ for its ordinances; a
proof that, under certain conditions, they might yield: nothing more,
therefore, was necessary, than to show that the death of Christ
established those conditions. And such a method of argument was attended
by this advantage, that while the _practical end_ would be obtained of
terminating all ceremonial observance, the Law was yet treated as _in
theory_ perpetual; not as ignominiously abrogated, but as legitimately
commuted. Just as the Israelite, in paying his offering at the altar to
compensate for ritual omissions, recognized thereby the claims of the
law, while he obtained impunity for its neglect; so, if Providence could
be shown to have provided a legal substitute for the system, its
authority was acknowledged, at the moment that its abolition was

Let us advert then to the functions of the Mosaic sin-offerings, to
which the writer has recourse to illustrate his main position. They were
of the nature of a _mulct or acknowledgment rendered, for unconscious or
inevitable disregard of ceremonial liabilities, and contraction of
ceremonial uncleanness_. Such uncleanness might be incurred from various
causes; and while unremoved by the appointed methods of purification,
disqualified from attendance at the sanctuary, and “cut off” “the
guilty” “from among the congregation.” To touch a dead body, to enter a
tent where a corpse lay, rendered a person “unclean for seven days;” to
come in contact with a forbidden animal, a bone, a grave; to be next to
any one struck with sudden death; to be afflicted with certain kinds of
bodily disease and infirmity; unwittingly to lay a finger on a person
unclean, occasioned defilement, and necessitated a purification or an
atonement.[370] Independently of these offences, enforced upon the
Israelite by the accidents of life, it was not easy for even the most
cautious worshipper to keep pace with the complicated series of petty
debts which the law of ordinances was always running up against him. If
his offering had an invisible blemish; if he omitted a tithe, because
“he wist it not;” or inadvertently fell into arrear, by a single day,
with respect to a known liability; if absent from disease, he was
compelled to let his ritual account accumulate; “though it be hidden
from him,” he must “be guilty, and bear his iniquity,” and bring his
victim.[371] On the birth of a child, the mother, after the lapse of a
prescribed period, made her pilgrimage to the temple, presented her
sin-offering, and “the priest made atonement for her.”[372] The poor
leper, long banished from the face of men, and unclean by the nature of
his disease, became a debtor to the sanctuary, and on return from his
tedious quarantine, brought his lamb of atonement, and departed thence,
clear from neglected obligations to his law.[373] It was impossible,
however, to provide by specific enactment for every case of ritual
transgression and impurity, arising from inadvertency or necessity.
Scarcely could it be expected that the courts of worship themselves
would escape defilement, from imperfections in the offerings, or
unconscious disqualification in people or in priest. To clear off the
whole invisible residue of such sins, an annual “day of atonement” was
appointed; the people thronged the avenues and approaches of the
tabernacle; in their presence a kid was slain for their own
transgressions, and for the high-priest the more dignified expiation of
a heifer: charged with the blood of each successively, he sprinkled not
only the exterior altar open to the sky, but, passing through the first
and Holy chamber into the Holy of Holies, (never entered else), he
touched, with finger dipped in blood, the sacred lid (the Mercy-seat)
and foreground of the Ark.[374] At that moment, while he yet lingers
behind the veil, the purification is complete; on no worshipper of
Israel does any legal unholiness rest; and were it possible for the
high-priest to remain in that interior retreat of Jehovah, still
protracting the expiatory act, so long would this national purity
continue, and the debt of ordinances be effaced as it arose. But he must
return; the sanctifying rite must end; the people be dismissed; the
priests resume the daily ministrations; the law open its stern account
afresh; and in the mixture of national exactitude and neglects,
defilements multiply again till the recurring anniversary lifts off the
burden once more. Every year, then, the necessity comes round of “making
atonement for the Holy sanctuary,” “for the tabernacle,” “for the
altar,” “for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.”
Yet, though requiring periodical renewal, the rite, so far as it went,
had an efficacy which no Hebrew could deny; for ceremonial sins,
unconscious or inevitable (to which all atonement was limited[375]), it
was accepted as an indemnity; and put it beyond doubt that Mosaic
obedience was commutable.

Such was the system of ideas, by availing himself of which the author of
the Epistle to the Hebrews would persuade his correspondents to forsake
their legal observances. “You can look without uneasiness,” he suggests,
“on your ritual omissions, when the blood of some victim has been
presented instead, and the penetralia of your sanctuary have been
sprinkled with the offering: well, on no other terms would I soothe your
anxiety; precisely such equivalent sacrifice does Christianity exhibit,
only of so peculiar a nature, that for _all_ ceremonial neglects,
intentional no less than inadvertent, you may rely upon indemnity.” The
Jews entertained a belief respecting their temple, which enabled the
writer to give a singular force and precision to his analogy. They
conceived, that the tabernacle of their worship was but the copy of a
divine structure, devised by God himself, made by no created hand, and
preserved eternally in heaven: this was “the true tabernacle, which the
Lord pitched, and not man;” which no mortal had beheld, except Moses in
the mount that he might “make all things according to that
pattern;”[376] within whose Holy of Holies dwelt no emblem or emanation
of God’s presence, but his own immediate Spirit; and the celestial
furniture of which required, in proportion to its dignity, the
purification of a nobler sacrifice, and the ministrations of a diviner
priest, than befitted the “worldly sanctuary”[377] below. And who then
can mistake the meaning of Christ’s departure from this world, or doubt
what office he conducts above? He is called by his ascension to the
Pontificate of heaven; consecrated, “not after the law of any carnal
commandment, but after the power of an endless life;”[378] he drew aside
the veil of his mortality, and passed into the inmost court of God: and
as he must needs “have somewhat to offer,”[379] he takes the only blood
he had ever shed,—which was his own,—and like the high-priest before the
Mercy-seat, sanctifies therewith the people that stand without,
“redeeming the transgressions” which “the first covenant” of rites
entailed.[380] And he has not returned; still is he hid within that
holiest place; and still the multitude he serves turn thither a silent
and expectant gaze; he prolongs the purification still; and while he
appears not, no other rites can be resumed, nor any legal defilement be
contracted. Thus, meanwhile, ordinances cease their obligation, and the
sin against them has lost its power. How different this from the
offerings of Jerusalem, whose temple was but the “symbol and shadow” of
that sanctuary above.[381] In the Hebrew “sacrifices there was a
remembrance again made of sins every year;”[382] “the high-priest
annually entered the holy place;”[383] being but a mortal, he could not
go in with his own blood and _remain_ but must take that of other
creatures and _return_; and hence it became “not possible that the blood
of bulls and of goats should _take away_ sins,”[384] for instantly they
began to accumulate again. But to the very nature of Christ’s offering,
a perpetuity of efficacy belongs; bearing no other than _his own_
blood,” he was immortal when his ministration began, and “ever liveth to
make his intercession;[385] he could “not offer himself often, for then
must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world,”—and “it
is appointed unto men _only once_ to die:” so that “_once for all_ he
entered into the holy place, and obtained a redemption that is
_perpetual_;” “_once_ in the end of the world hath he appeared, and by
sacrificing himself hath absolutely _put away_ sin;” “this man, after he
had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand
of God,” “for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are
sanctified,”[386] The ceremonial then, with its periodical
transgressions, and atonements, is suspended; the services of the outer
tabernacle cease, for the holiest of all is made manifest;[387] one who
is “priest for ever” dwells therein: one “consecrated for evermore,”
“holy, harmless, undefiled, in his celestial dwelling quite separate
from sinners;[388] who needeth not _daily_, as those high priests, to
offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s;
for this he did _once for all_ when he offered up himself.”[389]

Nor is it in its perpetuity alone, that the efficacy of the Christian
sacrifice transcends the atonements of the law; it removes a higher
order of ritual transgressions. It cannot be supposed, indeed, that
Messiah’s life is no nobler offering than that of a creature from the
herd or flock, and will confer no more immunity. Accordingly, it goes
beyond those “_sins of ignorance_,” those ceremonial inadvertences, for
which alone there was remission in Israel; and reaches to _voluntary_
neglects of the sacerdotal ordinances; ensuring indemnity for legal
omissions, when incurred not simply by the accidents of the flesh, but
even by intention of the conscience. This is no greater boon than the
dignity of the sacrifice requires; and does but give to his people below
that living relation of soul to God, which he himself sustains above.
“If the blood of bulls and of goats ... sanctifieth to the purifying of
the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the
eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purify (even) your
conscience from dead works (ritual observances) to serve the living
God!”[390] Let then the ordinances go, and the Lord “put his laws _into
the mind_ and write them _in the heart_;” and let all have “boldness to
enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by this new and living way
which he hath consecrated for us;” “provoking each other to love and to
good works.”[391]

See, then, in brief, the objection of the Hebrews to the gospel; and the
reply of their instructor. They said; “What a blank is this; you have no
temple, no priest, no ritual! How is it that, in his ancient covenant,
God is so strict about ceremonial service, and permits no neglect,
however incidental, without atonement; yet in this new economy, throws
the whole system away; letting us run up an everlasting debt to a law
confessedly unrepealed, without redemption of it, or atonement for it?”

“Not without redemption and atonement,” replies their evangelical
teacher; “temple, sacrifice, priest, remain to us also, only glorified
into proportions worthy of a heavenly dispensation; our temple, in the
skies; our sacrifice, Messiah’s mortal person; our priest, his
ever-living spirit. How poor the efficacy of your former offerings! year
after year, your ritual debt began again: for the blood dried and
vanished from the tabernacle which it purified; the priest returned from
the inner shrine; and when there, he stood, with the interceding blood,
before the emblem, not the reality of God. But Christ, not at the end of
a year, but at the end of the great world-era of the Lord, has come to
offer up himself,—no lamb so unblemished as he; his voluntary and
immortal spirit, than which was nothing ever more divinely consecrate,
becomes officiating priest, and strikes his own person with immolating
blow; it falls and bleeds on earth, as on the outer altar, standing on
the threshold of the sanctuary of heaven: thither he ascends with the
memorials of his death, vanishes into the Holy of Holies of the skies,
presents himself before the very living God, and sanctifies the temple
there and worshippers here: saying to us, ‘drop now for ever the legal
burdens that weigh you down; doubt not that you are free, as my
glorified spirit here, from the defilements you are wont to dread; I
stay behind this veil of visible things to clear you of all such taint,
and put away such sin eternally. Trust then in me, and take up the
freedom of your souls: burst the dead works, that cling round your
conscience like cerements of the grave; and rise to me, by the living
power of duty, and loving allegiance to God.’”

So far then, as the death of Christ is treated in scripture
dogmatically, rather than historically, its effects are viewed in
contrast with the different order of things which must have been
expected, had he, as Messiah, _not_ died. And thus regarded, it
presented itself to the minds of the Apostles in three relations;

First, to the Gentiles, whom it drew in to be subjects of the Messiah,
by breaking down the barriers of his Hebrew personality, and rendering
him spiritual as well as immortal.

Secondly, to the unbelieving Jews; whom his retirement from this world
delivered from the judgment due to them, on the principles of their own
law, both for their _general_ violation of the _conditions_ of their
covenant, and for their positive rejection of him. His absence re-opened
their opportunities; and to tender them this act of long-suffering, he
took on himself the death which had been incurred by them.

Thirdly, to the believing Jews; the terms of whose discipleship the
Messiah’s death had changed, destroying all the benefits of their
lineage, and substituting an act of the mind, the simpler claim of
faith. It was therefore a commutation for the Ritual Law, and gave them
impunity and atonement for all its violations.

With the last two of these relations, beyond their remarkable historical
interest, we have no personal concern. The first remains, and ever will
remain, worthy of the glorious joy, with which Paul regarded and
expounded it. God has committed the rule of this world to no exclusive
Prince, and no sacerdotal power, and no earthly majesty; but to one
whose spirit, too divine to be limited to place and time, broke through
clouds of sorrow into the clearest heaven; and thither has since been
drawing our human love, though for ages now he has been unseen and
immortal. An impartial God, a holy and spiritual Law, an infinite hope
for all men,—are given to us by that generous cross.

It is evident that all three of the relations which I have described,
belonged to the death of Jesus, _in his capacity of Messiah_; and could
have had no existence, if he had not borne this character, but had been
simply a private martyr to his convictions. The foregoing exposition
gives a direct answer to the inquiry, pressed without the slightest
pertinence upon the Unitarian, why the phraseology of the cross is never
found applied to Paul or Peter, or any other noble confessor, who died
in attestation of the truth; why “no record is given that we are
justified by the blood of Stephen; or that he bare our sins in his own
body, and made reconciliation for us.”[392] I know not why such a
question should be submitted to us; we have assuredly no concern with
it; having never dreamt that the Apostles could have written as they did
respecting the death on Calvary, if they had thought of it only as a
scene of martyrdom. We have passed under review the whole language of
the New Testament on this subject; and in the interpretation of it have
_not even once_ had recourse to this, which is said to be our only view
of the cross. We have seen the apostles justly announcing their Lord’s
death, as a _proper propitiation_; because it placed whole classes of
men, without any meritorious change in their character, in saving
relations: declaring it a _strict substitute_ for others’ punishment; on
the ground that there were those who must have perished, if he had not;
and that he died and retired, that they might remain and live:
describing it as a _sacrifice which put away sin_; because it did that
for ever, which the Levitical atonements achieved for a day: but we have
not found them ever appealing to it either as a satisfaction to the
justice of God, or an example of martyrdom to men. The Trinitarians have
one idea of this event themselves; and their fancy provides their
opponents with one idea of it; of the former not a trace exists, on any
page of Scripture; and of the latter, the Unitarian need not avail
himself at all, in explaining the language, whereof it is said to be his
solitary key.

Nowhere, then, in Scripture do we meet with anything corresponding with
the prevailing notions of vicarious redemption; everywhere, and most
emphatically in the personal instructions of our Lord, do we find a
doctrine of forgiveness, and an idea of salvation, utterly inconsistent
with it. He spake often of the unqualified clemency of God to his
returning children; never once of the satisfaction demanded by his
justice. He spake of the joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth;
but was silent on the sacrificial faith, without which penitence is said
to be unavailing. Nor did he, like his modern disciples, teach that
there are _two separate salvations_, which must follow each other in a
fixed order; first, redemption from the penalty, secondly from the
spirit, of sin; pardon for the past, before sanctification in the
present; a removal of the “hindrance in God,” previous to its
annihilation in ourselves. If indeed there were in Christianity two
deliverances, discriminating and successive, it would be more in
accordance with its spirit to invert this order;—to recal from
alienation first, and announce forgiveness afterwards; to restore from
guilt, before cancelling the penalty; and permit the _healing_ to
anticipate the _pardoning_ love. At least, there would seem, in such
arrangement, to be a greater jealousy for the holiness of the divine
law, a severer reservation of God’s complacency for those who have
broken from the service of sin, than in the system, which proclaims
impunity to the rebel will, ere yet its estrangement is renounced. If
the outward remission precedes the inward sanctification, then does God
admit to favour the yet unsanctified; guilt keeps us in no exile from
him: and though the holy Spirit is to follow afterwards, it becomes the
peculiar office of the cross to lift us as we are, with every stain upon
the soul and every vile habit unretraced, from the brink of perdition to
the assurance of glory: the divine lot is given to us, before the divine
love is awakened in us; and the heirs of heaven have yet to become the
children of holiness. With what consistency can the advocates of such an
economy accuse its opponents of dealing lightly with sin, of deluding
men into a false trust, and administering seductive flatteries to human
nature?[393] What! shall we, who plant in every soul of sin a Hell,
whence no foreign force, no external God, can pluck us, any more than
they can tear us from our identity;—we, who hide the fires of torment in
no viewless gulf, but make them ubiquitous as guilt;—we, who suffer no
outward agent from Eden, or the Abyss, or Calvary, to encroach upon the
solitude of man’s responsibility, and confuse the simplicity of
conscience;—we, who teach that God will not, and even cannot, spare the
froward, till they be froward no more, but must permit the burning lash
to fall, till they cry aloud for mercy, and throw themselves freely into
his embrace;—shall we be rebuked for a lax administration of peace, by
those who think that a moment may turn the alien into the elect? It is
no flattery of our nature, to reverence deeply its moral capacities: we
only discern in them the more solemn trust; and see in their abuse the
fouler shame. And it is not of what men _are_, but of what they _might
be_, that we encourage noble and cheerful thoughts. Doubtless, we think
exaggeration possible (which our opponents apparently do not) even in
the portraiture of their actual character: and perhaps we are not the
less likely to awaken true convictions of sin, that we strive to speak
of it with the voice of discriminative justice, instead of the
monotonous thunders of vengeance; and to draw its image in the natural
tints provided by the conscience, rather than in the præternatural
flame-colour mingled in the crucibles of Hell.

In making _penal_ redemption and _moral_ redemption separate and
successive, the vicarious scheme, we submit, is inconsistent with the
Christian idea of salvation. Not that we take the second, and reject the
first, as our Trinitarian friends imagine; nor that we invert their
order. We accept them both; putting them however, not in succession, but
in super-position, so that they coalesce. The power and the punishment
of sin perish together; and together begin the holiness and the bliss of
heaven. Whatever extracts the poison, cools the sting: nor can the
divine vigour of spiritual health enter, without its freedom and its
joy. That there can be any separate dealings with our past guilt and
with our present character, is not a truth of God, but a fiction of the
schools. The sanctification of the one is the redemption of the other.
The mind given up to passion, or chained to self, or any how alienated
from the love and life divine, dwells, whatever be its faith, in the
dark and terrible abyss: while he, and he only, that in the freedom and
tranquillity of great affections, communes with God and toils for men,
understands the meaning, and wins the promises, of heaven. Am I asked,
‘What then is to persuade the sinful heart, thus to draw near to
God;—what, but a proclamation of absolute pardon, can break down the
secret distrust, which keeps our nature back, wrapped in the reserve of
conscious guilt?’ I reply; however much these fears and hesitations
might cling round us, and restrain us from the mystic Deity of Nature,
they can have no place in our intercourse with the Father whom Jesus
represents. It needs only that Christ be truly his image, to know “that
the hindrance is not with him, but entirely in ourselves:”[394] to see
that there is no anger in his look; to feel that he invites us to
unreserved confession, and accepts our self-abandonment to him; that he
lifts the repentant, prostrate at his feet, and speaks the words of
severe, but truest hope. Am I told, ‘that only the gratitude excited by
personal rescue from tremendous danger, by an unconditional and entire
deliverance, is capable of winning our reluctant nature, of opening the
soul to the access of the Divine Spirit, and bringing it to the service
of the Everlasting Will?’ I rejoice to acknowledge, that _some_ such
disinterested power must be awakened, some mighty forces of the heart be
called out, ere the regeneration can take place that renders us children
of the Highest; ere we can break, with true new-birth, from the shell of
self, and try and train our wings in the atmosphere of God. The
permanent work of duty must be wrought by the affections; not by the
constraint, however solemn, of hope and fear; no self-perfectionating
process, elaborated by an anxious will, has warmth enough to ripen the
soul’s diviner fruits; the walks of outward morality, and the slopes of
deliberate meditation, it may keep smooth and trim; but cannot make the
true life-blossoms set, as in a garden of the Lord, and the foliage wave
as with the voice of God among the trees. I gladly admit that to a
believer in the vicarious sacrifice, the sense of pardon, the love of
the great deliverer, may well fulfil this blessed office, of carrying
him out of himself in genuine allegiance to a being most benign and
holy. And perceiving that, if this doctrine were removed, there is not,
_in the system of which it forms a part_, and which else would be all
terror, anything that could perform the same generous part, I can
understand why it seems to its advocates, an _essential_ power in the
renovation of the character. But great as it may be, within the limits
of its own narrow scheme, ideas possessed of higher moral efficacy are
not wanting, when we pass into a region of nobler and more Christian
thought. Shall we say that the view of the infinite Ruler, given in the
spoken wisdom or the living spirit of Christ, has no sanctifying power?
Yet where is there any trace in it of the satisfactionist’s redemption?
When we sit at Messiah’s feet, that transforming gratitude for an
extinguished penalty on which the prevailing theology insists, as its
central emotion, becomes replaced by a similar and profounder sentiment
towards the eternal Father. If to rescue men from a dreadful fate in the
future be a just title to our reverence, _never to have designed_ that
fate claims an affection yet more devoted; if there be a divine mercy in
annihilating an awful curse, in shedding only blessing there is surely a
diviner still. Shall the love restored to us after long delay, and in
consideration of an equivalent, work mightily on the heart; and shall
that which asked no purchase, which has been veiled by no cloud, which
has enfolded us always in its tranquillity, nor can ever quit the soul
opened to receive it, fail to penetrate the conscience, and dissolve the
frosts of our self-love by some holier flame? Never shall it be found
true, that God must threaten us with vengeance, ere we can feel the
shelter of his grace!

In truth, the Christian idea of salvation cannot be better illustrated,
than by the doubt which has been entertained respecting the proper
translation of my text. Some, referring it to spiritual redemption,
adhere to the common version; others, seeing that the apostle Peter is
explaining “by what power, or by what name” he had cured the lame man at
the temple gate, refer the words to this miracle of deliverance, and
render them thus; “neither is there _healing_ in any other; for there is
none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we can be
_healed_.” It matters little which it is; for whether we speak of body
or of mind, Jesus “_saves_” us by “_making us whole_;” by putting forth
upon us a divine and healing power, through which past suffering and
present decrepitude disappear together; which supplies the defective
elements of our nature; cools the burning of inward fever; or calls into
being new senses and perceptions, opening a diviner universe to our
experience. The deformed and crooked will, bowed by Satan, lo! these
many years, and nowise able to lift up itself, he loosens and makes
straight in uprightness. The moral paralytic, collapsed and prostrate
amid the stir of life, and incapably gazing on the moving waters in
which others find their health, has often started up at the summons of
that voice, though perchance “he wist not who it was;” and going his
way, has found it to be “the sabbath,” and owned the “work” of one who
is in the spirit of “the Father.” From the eye long dark and blind to
duty and to God, he has caused the film to pass away, and shown the
solemn look of life beneath a heaven so tranquil and sublime. Even the
dead of soul, close wrapped in bandages of selfishness,—that greediest
of graves,—have been quickened by his piercing call, and have come
forth; to learn, “when risen,” that only in the meekness that can obey
is there the power to command, only in the love that serves is there the
life of heart-felt liberty. To call, then, on the name and trust in the
spirit of Christ, is to invoke the restoring power of God; to give
symmetry and speed to our lame affections, and the vigour of an athlete
to our limping wills. There is not any Christian _salvation_ that is not
thus identical with Christian _perfection_: “nor any other name under
heaven given among men, whereby we may be (thus) _made whole_.” Let all
that would “be perfect be thus minded;”[395] seek “the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ;”[396] and they shall find in him a
“power to become the Sons of God.”[397]




          _Relation between Natural Religion and Revelation._

It is not easy to determine, with any precision, what is Mr. M‘Neile’s
estimate of the capabilities and defects of natural religion. It is
subjected to a vague and indistinct disparagement throughout his
lecture; the _impression_ is left, that the character of God cannot be
vindicated by appeal to his works; but I do not perceive that the
lecturer commits himself to any logical proposition on the subject. One
of his coadjutors,[398] however, has supplied this deficiency; and
taking, as an antagonist, a sentence from the second Lecture of the
present series, has argued at length, that “The moral Character and
Unity of God are not discoverable from the works of Creation.” He
affirms that “to talk of ‘discerning the moral attributes of God on the
material structures of the universe,’ is not only idle, but
unreasonable:” and the justification which he offers of this bold
statement seems to comprise the two following arguments:—

That the universe is analogous to a cathedral or other human edifice;
which discloses something of the Architect’s genius and power, but
nothing of his moral qualities: and

That the mixture of good and evil in the world perplexes the mind with
opposite reports of the Creator’s character.

If scepticism were a just object of moral rebuke, in what terms might we
not speak of this “infidel” rejection of God’s ancient and everlasting
oracles of nature? For the serious doubts and perplexities of the devout
student of creation, an unqualified respect may be entertained. But it
is to be regretted that the necessities of a system should tempt the
expounder of revelation to assail, with reckless indifference, the
primitive sentiments of all religion. The aversion of orthodoxy to the
theology of the unsophisticated reason and heart is, however, to be
classed among the natural antipathies. Among all the extravagances of
modern English divinity, unknown to the sound and healthy era of our
national church, it is perhaps the most significant; indicating that
final obscuration of Christianity, in which it cannot be made to shine
without putting out every other light. This destructive mode of
argumentation, which discredits everything foreign to the favourite
system, is the evident result of fear, not of faith: it is a theological
adoption of the Chinese policy; and keeps the Celestial Empire safe, by
regarding every stranger as a possible spy; and excluding all alien
ideas as forerunners of revolution. The citadel of faith is defended, by
making the most dreadful havoc of every power which ought to be its
strength and ornament. Put out reason, but save the Trinity; suborn
experience, but prove depravity; disparage conscience, but secure the
Atonement; bewilder the sentiments of justice and benevolence, only
guard the everlasting Hell;—have long been the instructions of orthodoxy
to its defenders: and now we are asked to silence the anthem of nature
to the God of _love_, that priests without disturbance may prove him the
God of _vengeance_; and to withdraw our eye from the telescope of
science, which reveals the ONENESS of the Creator’s work, that we may
examine, through a church microscope, the _plurality_ of a Hebrew noun.
Can those who taunt the Unitarians with the _negative_ character of
their system, give a satisfactory account of the _positive_ merits of a
religion which _dis_believes reason, _dis_trusts the moral sense,
_dis_likes science, _dis_credits nature, and for all who are without the
Bible and a fit interpreter, _dis_owns the moral character of God?

In commenting upon Mr. James’s position on this last point, I will
confine myself to three observations:—the first, relating to the
consequences of his doctrine, if true; the others explaining, by
separate reference to his two arguments, why I conceive it to be false.

(1.) If there is no trace in nature of the moral attributes of God,
there can be no disclosure of them in Scripture. The character of the
Revealer is our only guarantee for the truth and excellence of the
Revelation: and if his character is antecedently unknown, if there is
nothing to preclude the idea of his being deceitful and malignant, how
can we be assured that his communication is not a seduction and a lie?
It is not the præternatural rank, but the just and holy mind, of a
celestial Being, that entitles his messages to reception: and surely it
is this alone which, in our opponents’ own system, makes the whole
difference between the suggestions of Satan and the inspiration of God.
But let us hear, in this matter, the judgment of one who adorned the
English church in times when solidity of thought and truth of sentiment
were still in esteem among her clergy. Archbishop Tillotson observes;
“Unless the knowledge of God and his essential perfections be natural, I
do not see what sufficient and certain foundation there can be of
revealed religion. For unless we naturally know God to be a Being of all
perfection, and consequently that whatever he says is true, I cannot see
what divine revelation can signify. For God’s revealing or declaring
such a thing to us, is no necessary argument that it is so, unless
antecedently to this revelation, we be possessed firmly with this
principle, that whatever God says is true. And whatever is known
antecedently to revelation, must be known by natural light, and by
reasonings and deductions from natural principles. I might further add
to this argument, that the _only standard and measure to judge of divine
revelations_, and to distinguish between what are true, and what are
counterfeit, are the _natural notions which men have of God, and of his
essential perfections_.”[399] And elsewhere, still more explicitly; “The
strongest and surest reasonings in religion are grounded upon the
essential perfections of God; so that even divine revelation itself doth
suppose these for its foundation, and can signify nothing to us, unless
these be first known and believed. Unless we be first persuaded of the
providence of God, and his particular care of mankind, why should we
believe that he would make any revelation of himself to men? Unless it
be naturally known to us, that God is true, what foundation is there for
the belief of his word? And what signifies the laws and promises of God,
unless natural light do first assure us of his sovereign authority and
faithfulness? So that _the principles of natural religion, are the
foundation of that which is revealed_; and therefore in reason nothing
can be admitted to be a revelation from God, which plainly contradicts
his essential perfection; and consequently if any pretends divine
revelation for this doctrine, that God hath from all eternity absolutely
decreed the eternal ruin of the greatest part of mankind, without any
respect to the sins and demerits of men, I am as certain that this
doctrine cannot be of God, as I am sure that God is good and just;
because this grates upon the notion that mankind have of goodness and
justice. This is that which _no good man would do_, and _therefore_
cannot be believed of infinite goodness; and therefore if an _Apostle_
or _Angel from heaven_ teach any doctrine which plainly overthrows the
goodness and justice of God, let him be accursed. For every man hath
greater assurance that God is good and just, than he can have of any
subtle speculations about predestination and the decrees of God.”[400]

It is somewhat curious, that in the position which they have assumed
with respect to natural religion, our reverend opponents are allying
themselves with Socinus: and that, in answering them, I should find
myself citing the words of an Archbishop of their own church in direct
reply to this great heresiarch. On the adjoining page to the first from
which I have quoted, Tillotson says, “God is naturally known to men: the
contrary whereof Socinus positively maintains, though therein he be
forsaken by most of his followers,—an opinion, in my judgment, very
unworthy of one who, not without reason, was esteemed so great a master
of reason; and (though I believe he did not see it) undermining the
strongest and surest foundation of all religion, which, when the natural
notions of God are once taken away, will certainly want its best
support. Besides that, by denying any natural knowledge of God and his
essential perfections, he freely gives away one of the most plausible
grounds of opposing the doctrine of the Trinity.” That which Socinus
could afford “freely to _give_ away,” our reverend opponents, it seems,
find it necessary violently to _take_ away.[401]

(2.) The _arguments_ by which Mr. James endeavours to justify his
repudiation of the primary sentiments of unrevealed religion, might be
sufficiently answered by a reference to any work treating of natural
theology, from the Memorabilia of Socrates to the last Bridgewater
Treatise. But as a phrase occurring in my first lecture appears to have
been concerned in their production, it is incumbent on me to show where
their fallacy lies.

The lecturer’s reasoning stands thus: The universe is a material
structure; and so is a cathedral; but a cathedral gives no report of the
moral character of its architect: neither, therefore, does the
universe:—an excellent example, when reduced to form, of the violation
of the first general rule of the syllogism, forbidding an undistributed
middle term.

Did it never occur to our reverend opponent that “the material
structures of the universe” are of various kinds, not all of them
resembling a cathedral; nay, that he himself (not being able “to sit in
a thimble,” or even “in the smallest compass imaginable,” “without
inconvenience from want of room,”)[402] is a “material structure,” in
one part of his human constitution?—a circumstance which might have
suggested the distinction between organized and unorganized nature.
Admitting even (what is by no means true) that the arrangements of the
latter terminate, like the design of a minster, in the mere production
of beauty, and indicate only genius and skill, the contrivances of the
former fulfil their end in the creation of happiness in the animal
world, and the maintenance of a retributive discipline in human life:
results which are the appropriate fruit and expression of benevolence
and equity. Even the beauty of creation, however, cannot be attributed
to sentiments as little moral in their character, as those which may
actuate the human artist; for He who has called into being whatever is
lovely and glorious, has created also percipient minds to behold it, and
transmute it from a material adjustment into a mental possession.

It is not even true that a work of art, like a cathedral, expresses no
moral quality. The individual builder’s character, indeed, it may not
reveal. But no architect ever produced a cathedral; he is but the tool
wielded by the spirit of his age; and Phidias could no more have
designed York Minster, than the associated masons could have adorned the
Parthenon. Ages must contribute to the origination of such works: and
when they appear, they embody, not indistinctly, some of the great
sentiments which possess the period of their birth.

(3.) The mixture of good and evil in the world is said to confuse our
reasonings respecting the Divine Being, by presenting us with opposite
reports of his character.

This argument is evidently inconsistent with the former. While _that_
declared the _silence_ of creation on the moral attributes of its
Author, this affirms its _double_ (and therefore doubtful) _speech_.
After all, then, there _are_ phenomena which depose to the character of
the Creator, if we can only interpret their attestation aright.

The rules for the treatment of conflicting evidence are plain and
intelligible; nor is there any reason why they should not be applied to
the great problems of natural religion. The _preponderant_ testimony
being permitted to determine our convictions, the evils and inequalities
of the world cannot disturb our faith in the benevolence and holiness of
God; but must stand over, as a residue of unreduced phenomena, to be
hereafter brought under the dominion of that law of love, which the
visible systematic arrangements of Providence show to be _general_.

Happily, no sceptical reasonings, like those on which I am
animadverting, can permanently prevent the natural sentiments of men
from asserting their supremacy. To use the words of Bishop Butler, “_Our
whole nature_ leads us to ascribe _all moral perfection_ to God, and to
deny all imperfection of him. And this will for ever be a practical
proof of his moral character, to such as will consider what a practical
proof is; _because it is the voice of God speaking in us_.”[403]

From the opposite appearances of good and evil in the world, Mr. James
derives an argument against the Unity of God, and affirms that “reason
thinks it _more reasonable_ to admit the existence of two almighty and
independent Beings, the one eternally good, the other eternally
evil.”[404] If the lecturer’s “_reason_” really recommends to him such
extraordinary conclusions, and insists on patronizing the Manichean
heresy, the intellectual faculty may well be in bad theological repute
with him. The constant origin of pain and enjoyment, good and evil, from
the _very same arrangements and structures_, renders the partition of
the creative work between two antagonistic principles not very easy of
conception; and it yet remains to be explained, how the laws which
produce the breeze can proceed from one Being, and those which speed the
hurricane from another; how hunger can have one author, and the
refreshment of food another; how the power of _right_ moral choice can
be the gift of God, and that of _wrong_ moral choice of a Demon.

The reverend lecturer attempts to weaken the argument from the unity of
the creation to that of the Creator. His eccentric remarks on comets I
must leave to the consideration of astronomers. The rest of the argument
is entitled to such reply as the following words of Robert Hall may give
to it. “To prove the unity of this great Being, in opposition to a
plurality of Gods, it is not necessary to have recourse to metaphysical
abstractions. It is sufficient to observe, that the notion of more than
one author of nature is inconsistent with that harmony of design which
pervades her works; that it solves no appearances, is supported by no
evidence, and serves no purpose but to embarrass and perplex our


             _Trinitarian and Unitarian Ideas of Justice._

It is only natural that the parable of the Prodigal Son should be no
favourite with those, who deny the unconditional mercy of God. The place
which this divine tale occupies in the Unitarian theology appears to be
filled, in the orthodox scheme, by the story of Zaleucus, king of the
Locrians; which has been appealed to in the present controversy by both
the Lecturers on the Atonement, and seems to be the only endurable
illustration presented, even by Pagan history, of the execution of
vicarious punishment. This monarch had passed a law, condemning
adulterers to the loss of both eyes. His own son was convicted of the
crime: and to satisfy at once the claims of law and of clemency, the
royal parent “commanded one of his own eyes to be pulled out, and one of
his son’s.” Is it too bold a heresy to confess, that there seems to me
something heathenish in this example, and that, as an exponent of the
Divine character, I more willingly revere the Father of the prodigal,
than the father of the adulterer?

Without entering, however, into any comparison between the Locrian and
the Galilean parable, I would observe, that the vicarious theory
receives no illustration from this fragment of ancient history. There is
no analogy between the cases, except in the violation of truth and
wisdom which both exhibit; and whatever we are instructed to admire in
Zaleucus, will be found, on close inspection, to be absent from the
orthodox representation of God. We pity the Grecian king, who had made a
law without foresight of its application, and so sympathize with his
desire to evade it, that any quibble which legal ingenuity can devise
for this purpose, passes with slight condemnation: casuistry refuses to
be severe with a man implicated in such a difficulty. But the Creator
and Legislator of the human race, having perfect knowledge of the
future, can never be surprised into a similar perplexity; or ever pass a
law at one time, which at another he desires to evade. Even were it so,
there would seem to be less that is unworthy of his moral perfection, in
saying plainly, with the ancient Hebrews, that he “repented of the evil
he thought to do,” and said, “it shall not be;” than in ascribing to him
a device for preserving consistency, in which no one capable of
appreciating veracity can pretend to discern any sincere fulfilment of
the law. However barbarous the idea of Divine “repentance,” it is at
least ingenuous. Nor does this incident of Zaleucus and his son present
any parallel to the alleged relation between the Divine Father who
receives, and the Divine Son who gives, the satisfaction for human
guilt. The Locrian king took a part of the penalty himself, and left the
remainder where it was due; but the Sovereign Law-giver of Calvinism
puts the whole upon another. To sustain the analogy, Zaleucus should
have permitted an innocent son to have both his eyes put out, and the
convicted adulterer to escape.

The doctrine of Atonement has introduced among Trinitarians a mode of
speaking respecting God, which grates most painfully against the
reverential affections due to him. His nature is dismembered into a
number of attributes, foreign to each other, and preferring rival
claims; the Divine tranquillity appears as the equilibrium of opposing
pressures,—the Divine administration as a resultant from the collision
of hostile forces. Goodness pleads for that which holiness forbids; and
the Paternal God would do many a mercy, did the Sovereign God allow. The
idea of a conflict or embarrassment in the Supreme Mind being thus
introduced, and the believer being haunted by the feeling of some
tremendous difficulty affecting the Infinite government, the vicarious
economy is brought forward as the relief, the solution of the whole
perplexity; the union, by a blessed compromise, of attributes that could
never combine in any scheme before. The main business of theology is
made to consist, in stating the conditions, and expounding the solution,
of this imaginary problem. The cardinal difficulty is thought to be, the
reconciliation of Justice and Mercy; and, as the one is represented
under the image of a Sovereign, the other under that of a Father, the
question assumes this form: how can the same being at every moment
possess both these characters, without abandoning any function or
feeling appropriate to either? how, especially, can the Judge remit,—it
is beyond his power; yet, how can the Parent punish to the uttermost?—it
is contrary to his nature.

All this difficulty is merely fictitious; arising out of the
determination to make out that God is both wholly Judge, and wholly
Father; from an anxiety, that is, to adhere to two metaphors, as
applicable, in every particular, to the Divine Being. It is evident that
both must be, to a great extent, inappropriate; and in nothing surely is
the impropriety more manifest, than in the assertion that, as Sovereign,
God is naturally bound to execute laws which, nevertheless, it would be
desirable to remit, or change in their operation. Whatever painful
necessities the imperfection of human legislation and judicial procedure
may impose, the Omniscient Ruler can make no law which he will not to
all eternity, and with entire consent of his whole nature, deem it well
to execute. This is the Unitarian answer to the constant question, “How
can God forgive in defiance of his own law?” It is not in defiance of
his laws: every one of which will be fulfilled to the uttermost, in
conformity with his first intent; but nowhere has he declared that he
will not forgive. All justice consists in treating moral agents
according to their character; the inexorability of human law arises
solely from the imperfection with which it can attain this end, and is
not the essence, but the alloy, of equity: but God, who searches and
controls the heart, exercises that perfect justice, which permits the
penal suffering to depart only with the moral guilt; and pardons, not by
cancelling any sentence, but by obeying his eternal purpose to meet the
wanderer returning homeward, and give his blessing to the restored. Only
by such restoration can any past guilt be effaced. The thoughts,
emotions, and sufferings of sin, once committed, are woven into the
fabric of the soul; and are as incapable of being absolutely obliterated
thence and put back into non-existence, as moments of being struck from
the past, or the parts of space from infinitude. Herein we behold alike
“the goodness and the severity of God;” and adore in him not the balance
of contrary tendencies, but the harmony of consentaneous perfections.
How plainly does experience show that, if his personal unity be given
up, his moral unity cannot be preserved!

The representation of God as a Creditor, to whom his responsible
creatures are in debt to the amount of their moral obligations, is no
less unfit to serve as the foundation of serious reasonings, than the
idea of him as a Sovereign. As a loose analogy, likely to produce a
vivid impression on minds filled with ideas borrowed from the
institution of property, it unavoidably and innocently occurs to us; but
to force any doctrinal sentiments from it, is to strain it beyond its
capabilities. Mr. Buddicom describes it as a favourite with the
Unitarians: “our opponents assert, that sins are to be regarded as
_debts_ and as _debts only_.”[406] I will venture to affirm that no
Unitarian who heard this believed his own ears, till he saw it in print;
so incredibly great must be the ignorance of Unitarian theology which
could dictate the statement. The sentiment attributed to us is one,
against which our whole body of moral doctrine is one systematic
protest, and which has place in our arguments against the vicarious
scheme, _only because it is the fundamental idea, on which that scheme
is usually declared to rest_. In one of the most recent and deservedly
popular Unitarian publications on this subject, I find a long note
devoted to the destruction of this pecuniary analogy, which, the Author
observes, “seems very incomplete and unsatisfactory. Punishment is
compared to a debt, supposed to be incurred by the commission of the
offence. To a certain degree there is a resemblance between the two
things, which may be the foundation of a _metaphor_; but when we proceed
to _argue_ upon this metaphor, we fall into a variety of errors.”[407]
That orthodoxy does incessantly “argue upon this metaphor,” is
notorious; and the present controversy is not deficient in specimens.
“All that the creature can accomplish is a debt due to the
Creator,”[408] says Mr. James, who reasons out the mercantile view of
redemption with an unshrinking precision, unequalled since the days of
Shylock; who insists on “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life,”
and condemns any alteration (of course, our Lord’s) of this rule, as
“false charity, or mistaken compassion;”[409] who inquires whether, in
the payment of redemption, an angel might not go for a number of men,
and decides in the negative, because “the highest created angel in
existence” (having as much as he can do for himself) “could not produce
the smallest amount of supererogatory obedience or merit to transfer to
a fellow angel, or to man;”[410] and who, in reply to the question,
“What price will God accept for the lives that are justly sentenced to
eternal death?” says, “the answer to this is very simple: he will accept
nothing but what will be a real equivalent—a full compensation—an
adequate price.”[411] In what bible of Moloch or of Mammon all this is
found, I know not; sure I am, it was never learned at the feet of

Unitarians object to the cruelty and injustice attributed to the Eternal
Father, in laying upon the innocent Jesus the punishment of guilty men.
Mr. Buddicom’s reply, though not new, is remarkable. “Do we, however,
assert anything as to the _fact_ of our Lord’s sufferings, which they
who deny his atonement do not also assert? If, then, it be a truth
historical, that he did suffer through life, agonize in the garden, and
die on the cross, does it not appear much greater cruelty in God, to
impose those sufferings, which Jesus is admitted to have undergone,
without any benefit to the transgressor, or any vindication of his own

I had always thought, and still think, that our Trinitarian friends _do_
assert a great deal “as to the _fact_” (_i.e._, the _amount_ and
_intrinsic character_, apart from the _effects_) “of our Lord’s
sufferings, which we cannot admit. A human being, says the Unitarian,
died on the cross, with such suffering as a perfect human being may
endure.” Will Mr. Buddicom be content with this description of “the
_fact_?” and does he merely wish to subjoin, that on the death of “this
man,” God _took occasion_ to forgive _all men_ who are to be saved at
all? If so, I admit that the imputation of cruelty is groundless; and
have only to observe, that there is no perceptible relation of cause and
effect between the occasion and the boon; and that the cross becomes
simply the date, the chronological sign, of a Divine volition,
arbitrarily attached to that point of human history. But then, how can
Mr. Buddicom defend (as he does) the phrase “_blood of God_”?[413]
Theology can perform strange feats, and to its sleight of words nothing
is impossible. The doctrine of the _communication of properties_ between
the two natures of our Lord, comes in to relieve the difficulty; and
having established that whatever is true of _either_ nature may be
affirmed of _Christ_, and by inference, even of the _other_, it proves
the propriety of saying, both that the Divine nature cannot suffer, and
yet that God bled.[414] Heterodoxy, however, in its perverseness, still
thinks with Le Clerc of this κοινωνία ἰδιωμάτων, that it is “as
intelligible, as if we were to say, there is a circle so united with a
triangle, that the circle has the properties of the triangle, and the
triangle those of the circle.”[415]


                     _The reading in Acts_ xx. 28.

No competent critic, I apprehend, can read without surprise Mr.
Buddicom’s note (H.) on the reading of this verse. The slight manner in
which Griesbach is set aside, to make way for the authority of critical
editions of the N. T. since his time; the vague commendation of the
edition of Dr. Scholtz, “which, it may well be hoped, leaves us little
more to expect or desire,”—as if there were nothing peculiar or
controverted in the critical principles of that work; the citation of a
passage from this Roman Catholic editor, in which the critic becomes the
theologian, and makes use of his own reading of Θεοῦ to prove “that
Christ is God;” together with the statement that the reading is of _no
doctrinal importance_; combine to render this a remarkable piece of
criticism. If the learned Lecturer had _defended_ his dissent from
Griesbach, or attempted to invalidate the reasoning of that Editor’s
elaborate note on the passage, some materials for consideration and
argument would have been afforded. But no reason is assigned for the
preference of Θεοῦ over κυρίου, except that Dr. Scholtz adopts it, and
says nothing about it; though Griesbach rejects it, and says a great
deal about it; and very conclusively too, in the opinion of most
scholars, not excepting Mr. Byrth. Surely the paradoxical preference
which Scholtz gives to the Byzantine recension is not a reason for
hoping that he has left us nothing more to expect, in the determination
of the text of the N. T.; still less is it a reason why his readings,
simply because they are his, should supersede Griesbach’s;—from whom, I
submit, no sober critic should venture to depart, without at least
intimating the _grounds_ of his judgment. I have not seen the critical
edition of the learned Roman Catholic; but unless its Prolegomena
contain some much better reasons than are adduced in his
“Biblisch-kritische Reise,” for his attachment to the Constantinopolitan
family of manuscripts, it may be safely affirmed, that Griesbach will no
more be superseded by Scholtz, than he was anticipated by Matthæi.

The text in question is not one, on the reading of which Griesbach
expresses his opinion with any hesitation. “Ex his omnibus luculenter
apparet, pro lectione θεοῦ ne unicum quidem militare codicem, qui sive
vetustate, sive internâ bonitate suâ testis idonei et incorrupti laude
ornari queat. Non reperitur, nisi in libris recentioribus, iisdemque vel
penitus contemnendis, vel misere, multis saltem in locis,
interpolatis.”—“Quomodo igitur, salvis criticæ artis legibus, lectio
θεοῦ, utpote omni auctoritate justa destituta, defendi queat, equidem
haud intelligo.” In the face of this decision, Mr. Buddicom reads θεοῦ:
and does any one then believe, that in Unitarians alone theological bias
influences the choice of a reading?

The attempt to elicit from the word κυρίου the same argument for the
Deity of Christ, which might be derived from the reading θεοῦ, I confess
myself unable to comprehend. Does Mr. Buddicom intend to assert, that
when any person is called κύριος (Lord) in the N. T., it means that he
is Jehovah? Or, when this is denoted, is there some peculiarity of
grammatical usage, indicating the fact? If so, it is of moment that this
should be pointed out, and illustrated by examples: the idiom not being
adequately described by saying that “the word” is “_put in the form of
an unqualified and unequalled preference_.”


             _Archbishop Magee’s controversial Character._

In the year 1815 a discussion arose out of the general controversy on
the doctrine of the Trinity, respecting the proper use of the word
UNITARIAN. Those who were anxious to be designated by this name were
divided in opinion as to the latitude with which it should be employed.
One class proposed to limit it to believers in the simple humanity of
our Lord, and to exclude from it all who held his pre-existence, from
the lowest Arian to the highest Athanasian. Another class protested
against this restriction; suggested that, both by its construction and
its usage, the word primarily referred, not to the _nature of Christ_,
but to the _personality of the Godhead_; that as Trinitarians denoted,
by the prefix (Tri) to their name, the _three persons_ of their Deity,
so by the prefix (_Un_) should Unitarians express the _one person_ of
_theirs_; that in no other way could the numerical antithesis, promised
to the ear, be afforded to the mind; and accordingly that under the
title _Unitarian_ should be included all Christians who directed their
worship to one personal God, whatever they might think of the nature of
Christ. It is evident that, in this latter sense, the name must
comprehend a much larger class than in the former. The discussion
between the two parties was conducted in the pages of the Monthly
Repository, at that time the organ of the English Unitarian theology.

Meanwhile the defenders of orthodoxy were not indifferent to the subject
of debate; nor at all more agreed about it than their theological
opponents. The majority regarded the word Unitarian as a _creditable_
name, which was by no means to be abandoned to a set of heretics,
hitherto held up to opprobrium by the title of _Socinian_. They
accordingly proposed to consider it as expressing the belief in _One
God_ (without reference to the number of persons), in contradistinction
to the belief in _many Gods_; so that its opposite should be, not as the
analogy of language seemed to require, _Trinitarian_, but _Polytheist_.
Thus defined, the appellation belonged to Trinitarians as well as to
others; and the assumption of it, by those who dissented from the
doctrine of the Trinity, was construed into a charge of Tritheism
against the orthodox. Another party, however, comprising especially
Archbishop Magee in the church, and the High Arians out of it, treated
the name as one, not of honour, but of _disgrace_;—were anxious to fix
it exclusively on Mr. Belsham’s school of humanitarians, and to rescue
the believers in the pre-existence of Christ, of every shade, from its
pollution;—and affected to regard every extension of it to these, as a
disingenuous trick, designed to swell the appearance of numbers, and to
act as “a decoy” for drawing “to Mr. Belsham” all who were “against
Athanasius.”[416] And so the poor Unitarians could please nobody, and
were in imminent danger of being altogether anonymous. If they did not
_extend_ their name so as take in every church, Athanasian and all, they
were guilty of false imputation on Trinitarians, and of monopolizing an
honour which was no property of theirs. If they did not _narrow_ it to
“Mr. Belsham’s class,” they were accused of “equivocation,” and of
cunningly dragging the harmless Arians into participation of their
disgrace. If they _denied_ that the whole Church of England was
Unitarian, they committed an act of impudent exclusion; if they
_affirmed_ that Mr. Locke and Sir Isaac Newton were Unitarian, they were
chargeable with a no less impudent assumption, and rebuked for
“posthumous proselytism.”

Of the three possible meanings of the word, the Humanitarian, the
Uni-personal, and the Monotheistic,—Mr. Aspland ably and successfully
vindicated the second; in opposition to Mr. Norris, a Trinitarian
controversialist, who insisted on the third, and declared he would call
his opponents _Socinians_; and amid the reproaches of Archbishop Magee,
who clung to the first, and denounced the wider application as a
“dishonest” “management of the term.” With these things in mind, let the
reader attend to the following passage from that prelate’s celebrated

“How great are the advantages of a well-chosen name! _Mr. Aspland_, in
his warm recommendation of the continuance of the use of the word
_Unitarian_, in that ambiguous sense in which it had already done so
much good to the cause, very justly observes, from Dr. South, that ‘the
generality of mankind is _wholly_ and _absolutely_ governed by _words_
and _names_;’ and that ‘he who will set up for a skilful manager of the
rabble, _so long as they have but ears to hear_, needs never enquire
whether they have any understanding whereby to judge: but with two or
three popular empty words, well tuned and humoured, may whistle them
backwards and forwards, upwards and downwards, till he is weary; and get
upon their backs when he is so.’ _Month. Rep._ vol. x. p. 481.—And what
does _Mr. Aspland_ deduce from all this? Why, neither more nor less than
this,—that the name _Unitarian_ must never be given up; but all possible
changes rung upon it, let the opinions of those who bear that name be
ever so various and contradictory.”[417]

Now what does the reader think of Mr. Aspland? He despises him, as the
deliberate proposer of an imposture; as one who sets up for “a skilful
manager of the rabble,” and who argues for the name “Unitarian,”
_because_ it may enable his party to “get upon the backs” of the
multitude. The Archbishop, I presume, _means_ to leave this impression.
Let us look then to the facts.

The quotation is from Mr. Aspland’s “Plea for Unitarian Dissenters.” The
author is expostulating with Mr. Norris, who had vowed still to fasten
the term _Socinian_ on dissentients from the doctrine of the Trinity;
and is urging the impropriety of irritating a religious body by giving
them a disowned and confessedly unsuitable designation. Mr. Aspland
introduces his reference to Dr. South by the following passage:

“It is not without design that you cling to a known error. The name of
Socinian is refused by us; this is one reason why an ungenerous
adversary may choose to give it: and again, the term having been used
(with some degree of propriety) at the first appearance of this class of
Unitarians, which was at a period when penal laws were not a dead
letter, and when theological controversies were personal quarrels, it is
associated in books with a set of useful phrases such as _pestilent
heretics_, _wretched blasphemers_, and the like, which suit the
convenience of writers who have an abundance of enmity but a lack of
argument, and who, whilst they are reduced to the necessity of
borrowing, are not secured by their good taste or sense of decorum from
taking, in loan, the excrescences of defunct authors; this is a second
reason why the name ‘Socinian’ is made to linger in books, long after
Socinians have departed from the stage.”

Then follows the note from which Archbishop Magee has quoted: but from
which he has omitted the parts inclosed in brackets.

[“Once more, I must beg leave to refer you to Dr. South, for an
appropriate observation or two, _on the fatal imposture and force of

“‘The generality of mankind is wholly and absolutely governed by _words_
and names; _[without_, nay, for the most part, even _against_ the
knowledge men have of things. The multitude or common route, like a
drove of sheep, or an herd of oxen, may be managed by any noise, or cry,
which their drivers shall accustom them to.

“‘And] he who will set up for a skilful manager of the rabble, so long
_as they have but ears to hear_, needs never enquire whether they have
any understanding whereby to judge: but with two or three popular, empty
words,’ ‘well-tuned and humoured, may whistle them backwards and
forwards, upwards and downwards, till he is weary; and get upon their
backs when he is so.’”[418]

And now, may I not ask, what does the reader think of Archbishop Magee?
Mr. Aspland indignantly CONDEMNS the “imposture” practised by false
names; and, by a garbled quotation he is held up as RESORTING to it. He
_really says_ to _his opponents_, “Call us Socinians no more, for you
must know it is unjust;” he is _represented as saying to his friends_,
“We will never cease to call ourselves Unitarians, for it is a capital
trick.” And thus, by scoring out and interlining, his own expostulation
against a base policy is metamorphosed into an indictment, charging him
with the very same. Mr. Byrth and Mr. M‘Neile are men, as I believe, of
honourable minds: and the latter has rebuked, as they deserve, “garbled
quotations.” I ask them to acquit me of “outraging the memory of
departed greatness.”

“My respected opponents know as well as I do,” “that dishonest
criticism, as well as dishonesty of every kind, consists not in the
number of the acts which are perpetrated, but in the unprincipled
disposition which led to the perpetration.”[419] I might therefore be
content with the example of “misrepresentation the most black” which I
have given. But from the list which lies before me, I think it right to
take one or two instances more, admitting of brief exposure.

In the Authorized Version, 1 Cor. xv. 47, stands thus; “The first man
_is_ of the earth, earthy: the second man _is_ the Lord from heaven;”
the substantive verb in both parts of the verse having nothing, as the
Italics indicate, to correspond with it in the original; but being
inserted at the discretion of the translators to complete the sense.
From the second clause Trinitarians usually derive an argument for the
pre-existence of Christ, conceiving that it teaches the _origin of our
Lord from heaven_. Some of their best commentators, however, understand
the clause as referring not to Christ’s _past_ entrance into this world,
but to his _future_ coming to judgment. Thus Archbishop Newcome renders,
“The second man _will be_ [the Lord] from heaven.” And Dr. Whitby
paraphrases, ”The second man is the Lord [_descending_] from heaven [_to
raise our bodies, and advance them to that place_];” and he defends this
interpretation in a note.[420] Mr. Belsham adopts this rendering, both
in the “Improved Version” and in his “Calm Enquiry,” giving, with the
sanction of the authorities I have cited, a _past_ verb to the first
clause, a _future_ verb to the second. The admirable Newcome and Whitby,
then, must share the Archbishop’s rebuke, for “the total inadmissibility
of this _arbitrary_ rendering of the Unitarians, and the _grossness_ of
their _endeavour to pervert the sense of Scripture_.” “Here,” he
observes, “we have a change of tense, which not only has no foundation
in either the Greek or Latin text, but is _in direct opposition to
both_; since in both the perfect sameness of the corresponding clauses
obviously determines the sameness of the tense.”[421] Of the
“unscholarlike exaggeration” of this criticism I say nothing, merely
wishing it to be observed in passing, that Mr. Belsham’s version is not
of Unitarian origin, and proves no doctrinal bias, much less any

But a question arises respecting the text, as well as the translation,
of this verse; the phrase “the Lord,” in the second clause, being marked
by Griesbach as probably to be omitted; and the word “heavenly” to be
appended at the close. The original of the common translation stands
thus: Ὁ πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος, ἐκ γῆς χοϊκός· ὁ δεύτερος ἄνθρωπος, ὁ κύριος ἐξ
οὐρανοῦ. With the probable emendations the latter clause would read
thus: ὁ δεύτερος ἄνθρωπος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ ὁ οὐράνιος: and Archbishop
Newcome’s translation, conformed to this text, becomes that of Mr.
Belsham; “The first man _was_ from the ground, earthy: the second man
_will be_ from heaven, heavenly.”

There are then two points to be determined respecting this passage—the
_reading_, and the _rendering_, which, in this case, is equivalent to
the _interpretation_ also. Mr. Belsham, in his Calm Inquiry, treats of
_both_; and is accused by the Archbishop, in the following passage, of
discussing the “unimportant matter” of the _text_ with great pomp; while
adducing, _in favour of his translation and the future tense_, no
authority _except the Vulgate_: “primus homo de terra, terrenus:
secundus homo de cœlo, cælestis.” The indictment and argument run
thus:—“The grand point to be established for the Unitarians is, as we
have seen, the use of the _future_ in the second clause of the
text:—‘the second man WILL BE from heaven:’—for, if we read ‘WAS from
heaven,’ _actum est_! it is all over with the Unitarians; inasmuch as,
in this passage, the origin of the BEING, without any possible pretence
as to the _doctrines_, is unequivocally the subject. How does _Mr.
Belsham_ proceed? Having made a good deal of flourish, as the Improved
Version had also done before him, about the words κύριος and οὐράνιος;
having also lumped together some irrelevant matter about the Polish
Socinians and _Dr. Price_; and having observed somewhat upon the
interpretation of _Newcome_, _Whitby_, and _Alexander;_ having, in
short, appeared to say a good deal, whilst he took care to preserve a
profound silence throughout (as the Improved Version also has done,)
respecting any arguments in favour of the _future tense_ in the second
clause—the single point on which the entire question rests,—he all of a
sudden, very calmly and composedly asserts, ‘The Vulgate renders the
text, “The first man was of the earth, earthy. The second man will be
from heaven, heavenly.”’ (Calm Inq. p. 121.[422]) He then triumphantly
concludes, and all is settled. In this manner, one text after another,
of those that proclaim our Lord’s pre-existence, is extinguished by the
_Calm Inquirer_ and his coadjutors. And so the cause of Socinian
expurgation goes forward.

“Perhaps, in the annals of dishonest controversy, another instance like
this is not to be found. A discussion of unimportant matter is _busily_
kept up: the main point of difference, and in truth the only one
deserving of attention, the _change of tense_, is passed over, as if it
were a thing not at all in dispute: the Vulgate is then quoted, _in
direct opposition to the truth_, as reading the words ‘WAS’ and ‘WILL
BE’ in the two corresponding clauses: and thus, indirectly, the false
rendering of the text by the Unitarians is sustained by a false
quotation from the Vulgate; and by a quotation which the author, if his
memory had lasted from one page to the other, must have known to be
false; since, in the preceding page, he had himself cited the very words
of the Vulgate:—‘Primus homo de terra, terrenus; secundus homo de cœlo,
cælestis:’—in which, words there is not only no justification of the
change from WAS to WILL BE; but there is, on the contrary, as in the
original Greek, a declaration, as strong as the analogies of language
will admit, that the tense employed in the first clause must pass
unchanged into the second. In a word, there is given by the Vulgate
itself a direct contradiction to the report which is made of it by the
_Calm Inquirer_. The man of ‘sound understanding,’ however, whom he
addressed in _English_ on the one page, being possibly not exactly
acquainted with what was contained in the _Latin_ on the other, and
being consequently unaware that his author was imposing on him a false
translation, would of course be fully satisfied on the authority of the
Vulgate (more especially as so much had been said to leave the general
impression of uncertainty as to the true reading of the _Greek_ text,
and the consequent opinion, that the Vulgate was the only ancient
authority to be relied on,) that in this passage could be found no proof
of our Lord’s pre-existence! What are we to think of the cause that
needs such support; and what of the interests that can attract such

We are to understand, then, that Mr. Belsham’s _only authority for the
tenses of his version_ is a wilful mistranslation of the Vulgate; and
that he cunningly conceals from the mere English reader the circumstance
that the Vulgate, having no verb, has no tenses. Now, as to the last
point, he _distinctly informs_ his reader that _there is no verb_ in the
Latin; and as to the former, _he never appeals to the_ RENDERING _of the
Vulgate at all but to the_ READING _only_. “How can this be?” I shall be
asked; “for the Archbishop cites his words, ‘The Vulgate RENDERS the
text,’ &c.” True, _but the Archbishop quotes him falsely_; and the real
words are, “The Vulgate READS the text,” &c. Let the original and the
citation appear side by side.

 _Mr. Belsham’s words._              _Archbishop Magee’s quotation._

 “The Vulgate READS the text, ‘The   “The Vulgate RENDERS the text, ‘The
 first man _was_ of the earth,       first man was of the earth, earthy.
 earthly. The second man _will be_   The second man will be from heaven,
 from heaven, heavenly.’             heavenly,’”[424]

 “This is not improbably the TRUE

The verbs, in both clauses, Mr. Belsham has printed in italics, to
indicate (in conformity with the usual practice in his work, and the
Improved Version, as well as in our common translation) the absence of
any corresponding words in the Latin text. This circumstance, which
destroys the whole accusation, his accuser has suppressed.

And as to the “preserving a profound silence throughout respecting any
arguments in favour of the future tense in the second clause,” it so
happens that the “somewhat” which is observed “upon the interpretation
of Newcome, Whitby, and Alexander,” is simply an appeal to these
authorities on this very matter of the future tense,—“the single point
on which the entire question rests.”

On the whole, can our upright and learned opponents tell, whether “in
the annals of dishonest controversy, another instance like” the
foregoing “is to be found?” I can assure them, that from the same work,
I could produce many more.

In our present controversy, our Rev. opponents have been misled by their
reliance on this unscrupulous adversary of the Unitarians: and by not
referring to his pages, have taken his heavy responsibilities on
themselves. In the first Lecture of the series, Mr. Ould has represented
Dr. Priestley as saying, that the sacred writers produced “lame
accounts, improper quotations, and inconclusive reasonings.”[425] Dr.
Magee has exhibited this sentence as a citation from Priestley’s 12th
Letter to Mr. Burn;[426] the fact being, that he wrote only six letters
to Mr. Burn; and that _neither in these, nor anywhere else, is such a
sentence to be found_. The first phrase, indeed (“lame account”) was
once applied by Dr. Priestley to the early chapters in Genesis; but
deliberately retracted with an expression of regret that it had been
used. Let the learned prelate pass sentence on himself: he says, “It is
surely _a gross falsification of his author_, to give, _as one continued
quotation_ from him (as the established meaning of the form here
employed, unequivocally implies), that which is an arbitrary selection
of words drawn violently together from a lengthened context.”[427] I can
assure our respected opponents, that their Lectures contain other
citations, drawn from the same source, which, after the most careful
search, I believe to be no less false. And is not an ungenerous use made
of obnoxious writings, when we find enumerated and quoted among
Unitarian authors, _Evanson_, whose scepticism received its most
effectual replies from Priestley and his friends; and _Gagneius_, who
was an orthodox professor of the Sorbonne, and preacher to Francis the

For other instances of Archbishop Magee’s flagrant injustice and
misrepresentation, I must refer to the “Examination of his charges
against Unitarians and Unitarianism,” by my learned and venerated friend
Dr. Carpenter, who has found it only too easy to fill a volume with the
exposure of a mere portion of them. I have purposely taken fresh
examples, not hitherto noticed, so far as I know, and it may be supposed
that the earlier gleaning by Dr. Carpenter would naturally yield the
most remarkable results; so that the cases now adduced cannot be thought
to be _peculiarly_ unfavourable specimens.

If our reverend opponents, _having read this Prelate’s work_, really
think my charge against him, of “abuse the most coarse,” an
“unwarrantable attack on the reputation of the dead,” I cannot hope to
justify myself in their estimation: there must be an irremediable
variance between their notion of “coarse abuse” and mine. I regret that
we cannot agree in a matter of taste which, to say the least, borders so
closely on morals as to be scarcely distinguishable from them, and to be
connected with the same strong feelings of approbation or disgust. With
what levity must a writer sport with moral terms, what indistinct
impressions must he have of moral qualities, who having pronounced an
opponent (I quote the language of the Archbishop of Mr. Belsham)
“_incapable of duplicity_,”[428] can yet proceed to charge him with
“artifice and dishonesty,”[429] with “_huddling up_ a matter,”[430] with
“_filching away_ a portion of evidence,”[431] with “_direct violations
of known truth_,”[432] and with “_bad faith_, unchecked by learning and
unabashed by shame!”[433] I cannot wonder at the spirit pervading Mr.
Byrth’s letter to my friend and colleague Mr. Thom, when I find that he
sees nothing coarse or abusive, but only the expression of “departed
greatness,” in accusing an opponent of “miserable stupidity,”[434] of
“downright and irremediable nonsense,”[435] of “proposing” a suggestion
“(_as he_ AVERS) with great diffidence,”[436] of furnishing
“twenty-eight pages of the most extraordinary quagmire;”[437] in begging
him to “rest assured, that to know the Greek language it must be
learned;”[438] in proclaiming that he “stands in a pillory”[439] erected
for him by a Bishop; that he belongs to “the family of Botherims in
Morals and Metaphysics,” and is “connected with that of Malaprops in
Mathematics;”[440] in ridiculing the idea of publishing his
portrait;[441] in asking him whether he has “lost his senses;”[442] and
hinting that, whereas he knows not “how to choose _between two bundles_”
of evidence, he is AN ASS.[443] Are we to consider it a condescension in
this distinguished Prelate, that he bends from his Episcopal dignity to
console the Dissenting ministers in their “contemplation of the
advantages of the national clergy,” and assures them that they have “not
only more of positive profit,” but, “in addition to this,” “the
indulgence of vanity, and the gratification of spleen,—qualities which,
time out of mind, have belonged to the family of _Dissent_;” nay,
further, that in preparation for their ministry, they have a much
lighter “outfit” “in point of expenditure,” since among Nonconformists,
in some cases at least, “the individual is his own University; confers
his own degrees and orders; and has little more difficulty in the way of
his vocation, than to find a new hat, a stout pony, and a pair of
saddle-bags.”[444] This is very smart, no doubt; but does the Church
exclude us from the Universities, that her Bishops may enjoy the
entertainment of making us their laughing-stock, and inditing lampoons
against us? Does she injure us first, that we may be insulted

Mr. M‘Neile speaks of the late Archbishop’s work as “a barrier in the
way of Unitarianism.”[445] It is so; and if its influence were only that
of fair argument, we should wish the barrier to stand in all its
strength. But the book has become a standard authority for every kind of
false and malignant impression respecting Unitarians, and prevents,
instead of advancing, the knowledge of what we are. To be held up as
entertaining “the _cool and deliberate purpose_ of falsifying the word
of God;”[446] as guilty of “machinations” to “subvert through _fraud_
what had been found impregnable by force;”[447] as “staking” our “very
salvation on the adoption of a reading which is against evidence;”[448]
as distinguished for “steady and immovable effrontery,”[449] and
“shameful disingenuousness;”[450] as discerning in our Lord “_that one_
HATED _form on which we are terrified to look_;”[451] as so “determined
to resist and subvert _one great truth_,” that we “set but little value
on every other,” and make a “_prevailing practice_” of “DIRECT AND
DELIBERATE FALSEHOOD:”[452] to be thus slandered by one, for whom his
station and accomplishments have procured, from the party spirit of the
age, a credit denied to any possible learning or excellence of ours;
this, being a grievous wrong to the character of Christianity as much as
to our own, we confess to be a trial hard to bear: and we may well feel
like the good man under successful calumny, which wounds himself a
little, but truth and virtue more. Meanwhile, injury may have its
compensations; and since, to prove his accusations, even this
distinguished Prelate had occasion to tamper with the evidence, we have
a fresh presumption that our cause is one, against which learning and
acuteness, under the restraints of justice, find themselves of no avail.


                       Footnotes for Lecture VI.

Footnote 294:

  Lecture, p. 450. Note.

Footnote 295:

  See Note A

Footnote 296:

  See Rev. H. M‘Neile’s Lecture; The Proper Deity of our Lord the only
  Ground of Consistency in the Work of Redemption, pp. 339, 340.

Footnote 297:

  Gen. ii. 17.

Footnote 298:

  “Either he” (“the Deity of the Unitarians”) “must show no mercy, in
  order to continue true; or he must show no truth, in order to exercise
  mercy. If he overlook man’s guilt, _admit him to the enjoyment of his
  favour, and proceed_ by corrective discipline to restore his
  character, he unsettles the foundations of all equitable government,
  obliterates the everlasting distinctions between right and wrong,
  spreads consternation in Heaven, and proclaims impunity in Hell. Such
  a God would not be worth serving. _Such_ tenderness, instead of
  inspiring filial affection, would lead only to reckless
  contempt.”—_Mr. M‘Neile’s Lecture_, p. 313.

  Surely this is a description, not of the Unitarian, but of the
  Lecturer’s own creed. It certainly is no part of his opponents’
  belief, that God first admits the guilty to his favour, and _then
  “proceeds”_ “to restore his character.” This arrangement, by which
  pardon _precedes_ moral restoration, is that feature in the orthodox
  theory of the Divine dealings against which Unitarians protest, and
  which Mr. M‘Neile himself insists upon as essential throughout his
  Lecture. “We think,” he says, “that _before_ man can be introduced to
  the only true process of improvement, he must _first_ have forgiveness
  of his guilt.” What is this “first” step of pardon, but an
  “overlooking of man’s guilt;” and what is the second, of
  “sanctification,” but a “restoring of character;” whether we say by
  “corrective discipline,” or the “influence of the Holy Spirit,”
  matters not. Is it said that the guilt is not overlooked, if Christ
  endured its penalty? I ask again, whether justice regards only the
  _infliction_ of suffering, or its _quantity_, without caring about its
  _direction_? Was it impossible for the stern righteousness of God
  freely to forgive the penitent? And how was the injustice of
  liberating the guilty mended by the torments of the innocent? Here is
  the verdict against sin,—“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And
  how is this verdict executed? The soul that had sinned does _not_ die;
  and one “that knew no sin” dies instead. And this is called a divine
  union of _truth_ and _mercy_; being the most precise negation of both,
  of which any conception can be formed. First, to hang the destinies of
  all mankind upon a solitary volition of their first parents, and then
  let loose a diabolic power on that volition to break it down; to
  vitiate the human constitution in punishment for the fall, and yet
  continue to demand obedience to the original and perfect moral law; to
  assert the absolute inflexibility of that holy law, yet all the while
  have in view for the offenders a method of escape, which violates
  every one of its provisions, and makes it all a solemn pretence; to
  forgive that which is in itself unpardonable, on condition of the
  suicide of a God, is to shock and confound all notions of rectitude,
  without affording even the sublimity of a savage grandeur. This will
  be called “blasphemy;” and it is so; but the blasphemy is not in the
  _words_, but in the _thing_.

  Unitarians are falsely accused of representing God as “overlooking
  man’s guilt.” They hold, that _no guilt is overlooked till it is
  eradicated from the soul_; and that pardon proceeds, _pari passu_,
  with sanctification.

Footnote 299:

  See Note B.

Footnote 300:

  Numb. xiv. 19, 20.

Footnote 301:

  Jon. iii. 5-10.

Footnote 302:

  Jon. iv. 10, 11.

Footnote 303:

  Ps. li. 16, 17.

Footnote 304:

  Is. i. 16-18.

Footnote 305:

  Ezek. xxxiii. 14-16.

Footnote 306:

  Matt. xix. 16-21.

Footnote 307:

  Acts x. 34-44.

Footnote 308:

  Acts ii. 24.

Footnote 309:

  iii. 15.

Footnote 310:

  iv. 10; v. 30.

Footnote 311:

  iv. 2.

Footnote 312:

  xxiv. 21.

Footnote 313:

  Acts xiii. 30.

Footnote 314:

  xvii. 18, 31.

Footnote 315:

  Rom. viii. 34.

Footnote 316:

  iv. 25.

Footnote 317:

  iv. 24.

Footnote 318:

  x. 9.

Footnote 319:

  iii. 25.

Footnote 320:

  Mr. Buddicom has the following note, intimating his approbation of
  this rendering: “Some of the best commentators have connected ἐν τῷ
  αὐτοῦ αἵματι, not with διὰ τῆς πίστεως, but with ἱλαστήριον and,
  accordingly, Bishop Bull renders the passage, ‘Quem proposuit Deus
  placamentum in sanguine suo per fidem.’”—_Lecture on Atonement_, p.

Footnote 321:

  Luke vii. 47.

Footnote 322:

  John xii. 23, 24, 32.

Footnote 323:

  John x. 16, 17.

Footnote 324:

  Matt. xv. 24.

Footnote 325:

  2 Cor. v. 15-18.

Footnote 326:

  See Rom. vii. 1-4.

Footnote 327:

  Gal. ii. 15.

Footnote 328:

  Rom. v. 6.

Footnote 329:

  Col. ii. 13; iii. 3.

Footnote 330:

  Gal. iv. 4-7.

Footnote 331:

  Eph. i. 7.

Footnote 332:

  Rom. ix. 4.

Footnote 333:

  Eph. i. 3-5.

Footnote 334:

  Rom. v. 10.

Footnote 335:

  Eph. i. 10.

Footnote 336:

  Rom. v. 11.

Footnote 337:

  Col. i. 19.

Footnote 338:

  Eph. ii. 11-18.

Footnote 339:

  1 Tim. ii. 1-8.

Footnote 340:

  Matt. xx. 28; Mark x. 45.

Footnote 341:

  Matt. xxvi. 28.

Footnote 342:

  Rev. v. 9, 10.

Footnote 343:

  John i. 29. For an example of the use of the word “_world_” to denote
  the Gentiles, see Rom. xi. 12-15; where St. Paul, speaking of the
  rejection of the Messiah by the Jews, declares that it is only
  temporary; and as it has given occasion for the adoption of the
  Gentiles, so will this lead, by ultimate reaction, to the re-admission
  of Israel; a consummation in which the Gentiles should rejoice without
  boasting or highmindedness. “If,” he says, “the fall of them (the
  Israelites) be the riches of _the world_ (the Gentiles), and the
  diminishing of them, the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their
  fulness! For I speak to you, Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of
  the Gentiles, I magnify my office; if, by any means, I may provoke to
  emulation them which are my flesh (the Jews,) and save some of them;
  for if the casting away of them be the _reconciling of the world_,
  what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?”

Footnote 344:

  Acts xx. 28. It is hardly necessary to say, that the reading of our
  common version “_church of God_” wants the support of the best
  authorities; and that with the general consent of the most competent
  critics, Griesbach reads “_church of the Lord_.” See Note C.

Footnote 345:

  1 Pet. i. 18, 19.

Footnote 346:

  1 Pet. ii. 23-25.

Footnote 347:

  1 Pet. iii. 17; iv. 3.

Footnote 348:

  2 Cor. v. 21.

Footnote 349:

  1 Cor. v. 7.

Footnote 350:

  Rom. iii. 22-26.

Footnote 351:

  1 John iv. 2.

Footnote 352:

  1 John i. 7.

Footnote 353:

  1 John i. 8.

Footnote 354:

  1 John ii. 1, 2.

Footnote 355:

  1 John iv. 9, 10.

Footnote 356:

  1 John v. 21.

Footnote 357:

  1 John iii. 16.

Footnote 358:

  Rom. ii. 25.

Footnote 359:

  2 Thess. i. 7-10.

Footnote 360:

  Gal. iii. 13: even here the apostle cannot refrain from adverting to
  his _Gentile_ interpretation of the cross; for he adds,—“that the
  blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ.”

Footnote 361:

  Rom. ix. 22, 23.

Footnote 362:

  2 Pet. ii. 5.

Footnote 363:

  2 Pet. iii. 9.

Footnote 364:

  1 Pet. iii. 20-22.

Footnote 365:

  1 Cor. vii. 29.

Footnote 366:

  Eph. v. 16; Col. iv. 5.

Footnote 367:

  1 John ii. 18.

Footnote 368:

  Phil. iv. 5; James v. 8; 1 Pet. iv. 7.

Footnote 369:

  Heb. ii. 17.

Footnote 370:

  Num. xix. 11-20; Lev. xx. 25, 26; Num. vi. 9-12.

Footnote 371:

  Lev. v. 14-19.

Footnote 372:

  Lev. xii. 1-8.

Footnote 373:

  Lev. xiv.

Footnote 374:

  Lev. xvi.; xxiii. 26-32; Ex. xxx. 10; Num. xxix. 7-11.

Footnote 375:

  In three or four instances, it is true, a sin-offering is demanded
  from the perpetrator of some act of _moral wrong_. But in all these
  cases a suitable punishment was ordained also; a circumstance
  inconsistent with the idea, that the expiation procurred remission of
  guilt. The _sacrifice_ appended to the _penal infliction_, indicates
  the two-fold character of the act;—at once a _ceremonial defilement_
  and a _crime_; and requiring, to remedy the one, an atoning rite,—to
  chastise the other, a judicial penalty. See an excellent tract by Rev.
  Edward Higginson, of Hull, entitled, “The Sacrifice of Christ
  scripturally and rationally interpreted:” particularly pp. 30-34.

Footnote 376:

  Heb. viii. 2. 5.

Footnote 377:

  ix. 1, 23, 24.

Footnote 378:

  vii. 16; viii. 1.

Footnote 379:

  viii. 3.

Footnote 380:

  Heb. ix. 15.

Footnote 381:

  viii. 5.

Footnote 382:

  x. 3.

Footnote 383:

  ix. 7, 25.

Footnote 384:

  Heb. x. 4.

Footnote 385:

  vii. 25.

Footnote 386:

  ix. 25-27, 12; x. 12, 14.

Footnote 387:

  ix. 8.

Footnote 388:

  vii. 17, 24-28.

Footnote 389:

  vii. 27. Let the reader look carefully again into the verbal and
  logical structure of this verse; and then ask himself, whether it is
  not as plain as words can make it, that Christ “once for all” _offered
  up_ “_a sacrifice first for_ HIS OWN SINS, and _then for the
  peoples_.” The argument surely is this; “he need not do the _daily_
  thing, for he has done it _once for all_; the never-finished work of
  other pontiffs, a single act of his achieved.” The sentiment loses its
  meaning, unless that which he did once is _the self-same thing_ which
  they did always; and what was that?—the offering by the High-priest of
  a sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people’s. With
  what propriety, then, can Mr. Buddicom ask us this question: “Why is
  he said to have excelled the Jewish High-priest in _not_ offering a
  sacrifice for himself?” I submit, that no such thing is said: but
  that, on the contrary, it is positively affirmed that Christ _did_
  offer sacrifice for his own sins. So plain indeed is this, that
  Trinitarian commentators are forced to slip in a restraining word and
  an additional sentiment, into the last clause of the verse. Thus
  Peirce; “Who has no need, like the priests under the law, from time to
  time to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins, and after that for
  the people’s. For this _latter_ he did once for all when he offered up
  himself; _and as to the former, he had no occasion to do it at all_.”
  And no doubt the writer of the epistle _ought_ to have said just this,
  if he intended to draw the kind of contrast, which orthodox theology
  requires, between Jesus and the Hebrew priests. He limits the
  opposition between them to _one_ particular;—the Son of Aaron made
  offering _daily_,—the Son of God _once for all_. Divines must add
  _another_ particular; that the Jewish priest atoned for _two_ classes
  of sins, his own and the people’s,—Christ for the people’s only.
  Suppose for a moment that this was the author’s design; that the word
  “_this_,” instead of having its proper grammatical antecedent, may be
  restrained, as in the commentary cited above, to the sacrifice for
  _the people’s_ sins; then the word “daily” may be left out, without
  disturbance to the other substantive particular of the contrast: the
  verse will then stand thus; “who needeth not, as those High-priests,
  to offer up sacrifice for his own sins; _for_ he offered up sacrifice
  for the people’s sins, when he offered up himself.” Here, all the
  reasoning is obviously gone, and the sentence becomes a mere inanity:
  to make sense, we want, instead of the latter clause, the sentiment of
  Peirce,—_for_ “he had no occasion to do this at all.” This, however,
  is an invention of the expositor, more jealous for his author’s
  orthodoxy, than for his composition. I think it necessary to add that,
  by leaving out the most emphatic word in this verse (the word _once_)
  Mr. Buddicom has suppressed the author’s antithesis, and favoured the
  suggestion of his own. I have no doubt that this was unconsciously
  done; but it shows how system rubs off the angles of Scriptural
  difficulties.—I subjoin a part of the note of John Crell on the
  passage: “de pontifice Christo loquitur. Quid vero fecit semel
  Christus? quid aliud, quam quod Pontifex antiquus stata die
  quotannis[a] faciebat? Principaliter autem hic non de oblatione pro
  peccatis populi; sed de oblatione pro ipsius Pontificis peccatis agi,
  ex superioribus