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Christ, when on earth, as challenging these things to iloiself, and as receiving them from others without reprobation or censure. They have further declared him to be the only Saviour of the World: a character evidently demanding infinite attributes; and, according to their account, challenged by JEHOVAH, as exclusively his own.
Beyond all this, they have informed us, that he was condemned to death, for declaring under the sanction of an oath, that he was the Son of God: a phrase which he knew was understood by them, to be no other than a declaration, that he was God. Yet, though knowing this ; and though directly charged with blasphemy; although on two occasions they attempted to stone him, and on a third pronounced him guilty of death; instead of explaining, softening, or at all modifying, the declaration, he proceeded directly, in two of the instances, to allege proofs, that he used this declaration with exact truth and propriety; proofs, which in themselves are a direct arrogation of the divine character. The Scriptures of truth they also declare to be his Word ; and inform us, that the Holy Ghost, who inspired them, received them from him ; and that Christ himself, when promising them the gift of inspiration, personally told them this wonderful truth. In this account they bave taught us, that the Scriptures, which they every where styled the Word of God, are no other than the Law of Christ himself; partly uttered by his own mouth, and partly taught by the Holy Spirit in conformity to his pleasure; and accordingly in his own name, and by his own authority, explained, altered, and annulled, by him, as he thought proper. And that the Holy Spirit, whom, as we shall see hereafter, they pronounce to be a divine person, was commissioned, and sent by him into the world, to execute his purposes; an act of authoriry on the part of Christ, to which there is no parallel in the Universe, except his own mission from the Father. Finally, in the view, which is given us of the heavenly system in the Revelation of St. John, we find the same exalted character completely recognized. In that world we behold him sitting on the throne of infinite dominion, styled the Throne of God and the Lamb; unfolding, and declared by the Heavenly Host to be worthy to unfold, the Book of God's counsels; which, they also declare, no being in the Universe to be worthy, or able, to do; being, together with the Father, the everlasting temple of Heaven; controlling all the affairs of this world, of heaven, and of hell; the light and glory of heaven; and the bestower of future and ever. lasting happiness. In all these wonderful characters he is also worshipped, in that glorious world, with the highest ascriptions, which were ever made, or which can be made, to Jehovah. Worthy, they cry, is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Every creature, says St. John, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earih, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in
them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him, thot sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for erit and ever.
Of all these things it is to be remarked, that they are expressed on every occasion, which admits them, and in every form of phraseology, which language can easily be supposed to allow; commence with the first chapter in the Bible; and terminate only with the last.
Now let me ask, Whether all these things are not a complete exhibition of Christ, as the proper object of Religious Worship? But the Apostles have directly, and fully, declared all these things. If, then, Christ is not God, have they not clearly so represented him, as to persuade mankind, that he is God; and that he is to be worshipped ?
How is it possible, that their readers, and especially the plain men, who constitute ninety-nine hundredths of them; how is it possible, that any men, acknowledging the Apostles to have used language as other men use it, and so as to be understood by those, for whom they wrote ; (an admission absolutely necessary to exculpate them from plain fraud) should distinguish between a person thus described, and the Being, who alone is the proper Object of Worship? What can their minds, what can any mind, add to this exhibition, to make such a Being more great, awful, lovely, glorious, and godlike? Do not these things include all, which we can conceive to be included in Infinite Perfection ? Has any thing, superior to these, been ever published to mankind ? Has any thing been published in any other instance, which can be compared with these?
But if Christ be not truly God, he cannot be worshipped without Idolatry. He himself says; and recites it as the command of God; Thou shalt worship Jehovah thy God, and Him only shalt thou serte. Can inspired men then, writing a Revelation, the great end of which was to inculcate the Unity of God, the Existence of but One God, and the supreme obligation, incumbent on all men, to worship him Only; can such men have been directed by the Spirit of God, so to write as they have actually written ? Could they, being Jeas, with the Old Testament in their hands, have so written, even of themselves, as naturally, not to say necessarily, to lead all their followers into the sin of Idolatry? That they have so written, as naturally to produce this consequence, if Christ be not God, is unquestionable: because the great body of their followers have actually understood them to assert the Deity of Christ, and have actually worshipped him. The Scriptures therefore, written for the professed purpose of preventing idolatry, have, according to the scheme of my opponents, been the direct cause of promoting, and establishing it
, among almost all those, who have believed them to be the word of God. Mr. Belsham accordingly pronounces the system, of which the worship of Christ is a leading principle, "a pernicious system ; a mischievous compound of impiety and idola
66 when com
try.” Lest it should be supposed, however, that those, who adopt
and the best model for imitation to every age succeeding." But Calvinists to a man, have been worshippers of Christ : as have also been almost all other members of the Church universal; and to this idolatry, if it be just, the Scriptures have led them. Of course the guilt of leading mankind into that gross
sin is, on this scheme, chargeable to the Prophets and Apostles. But can the Prophets and Apostles have led mankind into the abominable sin of idolatry? Can the principles, which lead to idolatry, be favourable to habitual and animated devotion ? Can the men, who have excelled in the practice of the most rigid and respectable virtues; who have been the highest honour to their own age, and the best models for imitation to succeeding ages; have been regularly guilty of this sin? Can the system, which asserts, or involves, these things, be truth?
Can all, or any of, the things, which I have asserted concerning Christ from the Scriptures, be true of a man ; or of any created being? Can a man, can an angel, be the First Cause, or Last End, the Preserver, Proprietor, Possessor, and Ruler, of all things? Can a creature be the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express Image of his person; the Light of the world, the Propitiation for sin, the Saviour of mankind, or the Object of religious worship? Can any religious man, on a death-bed, say, “Gabriel receive my spirit ?” or “ Lay not the sin of my murderers to their charge? Can Gabriel give life, raise the dead, or bestow immortal life? Can he judge the world, reward the righteous and the wicked, or be the glory, light, and temple, of heaven? What would be the impression, were a minister of the Gospel to say, I Baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of Gabriel, and of the Holy Ghost? or the Grace of Gabriel, the Love of God, the Father, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen? Would not these things beyond measure shock the minds of a Christian Assembly, as the most palpable blasphemy? Was there ever a minister, even an Arian, or a Socinian, who could bring himself thus to speak in such an Assembly? Would not this be, not merely comparing, or likening, one of the Angels to Jehovah, but placing him on the same level? Yet these things are said of Christ. . Robert Forsythe, Esq.
Why are they said of him, if his nature be like that of Gabriel: Why are they seemingly said? Was it not perfectly easy for the Omniscient God to have said, if he chose to say it, that Christ was a mere man, or a mere creature ? and so to have said this, that it would not have been misunderstood even by the plainest man? Did he not understand language sufficiently? Has it not been said in such a manner, as to be intelligible to all men, by Arius, Socinus, Zuicker, Price, Priestly, Belsham, and many others? Did any man ever mistrust, that they have not said it? Was not Jehovah more interested to say it, if it is true, than they were ? and so to say it, as to be easily, generally, and certainly understood ? Was he not more able ?
Did he not foresee all the doubts, difficulties, errors, misconstructions, and consequent sins and idolatries, if they have indeed been misconstructions and idolatries, arising from unhappy language, used in the Scriptures? Have not the Prophets who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost: have not the Apostles, who spake the things freely given to them of God, not in the words which man's wisdom taught, but which the Holy Ghost taught ; expressed the mind of God on this subject, and every other, in the very manner, chosen by God himself? Has not his infinite faith fulness and mercy, then, sufficiently guarded every honest mind against this erroneous sin ?
But if Christ be not the true God, the great body of Christians have, in every age of the Church, wholly misunderstood the Scriptures concerning this most important doctrine, and mistaken, intinitely, the real character of their Saviour. Of course, the Scriptures have been so written, as that the natural interpretation of them is a source of total and dreadful error; even of that, which they themselves denounce in terms of the highest reprobation ; viz. idolatry. For the interpretation, which has been given them by the great body of Christians, in every age and country in which they have existed, is beyond a controversy the natural interpretation. That men, who first make a philosophical system of religion, and then endeavour to reconcile the Scriptures to it, should understand them falsely, cannot be wondered at; but that they should be falsely understood by the great body of mankind, who for their religion come to them only; and yet the way of holiness be still a highway, in which wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err ; is a position, which is yet to be explained.
END OF VOL. I.