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salvation than any other good man might have been commissioned to do. But how would this mystery be increased, if I could suppose that he had expressed himself more incautiously, or, at least, that he had been more misunderstood, than ever any messenger was, which God sent to make known his will to mankind! No other prophet ever became the rival of God ; the object of most extensive and long continued idolatrous worship, but Jesus. Either he is truly the only-begotten Son of God, in such a sense as imports a participation of divinity; or he is an idol. If he be the latter, how ill does he deserve the appellation of " a light to enlighten the Gentiles," who has actually, even if it could be unintentionally, led almost all Christendom astray, from the only living and true God ?
If the Socinians are right, all that worship Christ are idolaters ; all that trust in him, trust only in an arm of flesh ; and are exposed to the curse for so doing. If he be only the Son of man, in him there is no help. Was Paul of their mind, when he told the Corinthians, that he “determined not to know any thing among them, save Jesus Christ and him crucified ” ? When he said, “ Other foundation can no one lay, than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus?” When he said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ?” When he said, “ I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me?” Finally, when he said, " If any one love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him anathema maranatha”? What worse doom could he have denounced against them who love not God ?
If the Epistles of Paul had been unknown till within these last few years, and had been newly found in Abyssinia, and translated, would the Socinians have rejoiced at the discovery, and have claimed him as as a primitive Unitarian Christian ? or would they more probably have charged them with being forged by some rank Calvinist? I can have no doubt, in my own mind, which would have been their conclusion.
A LETTER TO RAM-MOHUN-ROY.
Bristol, Jan. 1, 1823.
THOUGH I have often heard with pleasure of your disposition to enquire after truth, and your examination of the scriptures; yet you can know nothing of me, unless you may recollect our brethren at Serampore or in Calcutta, as having mentioned me, as an old minister, who was concerned in the first establishment of the Baptist Mission. I hope, however, that you will read, with patience and attention, a very few remarks, which I feel inclined to make on your Third Number of the Brahmunical Magazine, in reply to No. 38, of the Friend of India. I profess to write, influenced only by the love of truth, and by sincere benevolence towards yourself; and I hope you will, so far at least, give me credit, as not to refuse noticing the remarks I shall now offer to your serious consideration.
How far you profess yourself convinced of the inspiration and divine authority of the Old and New Testament, I cannot ascertain. But if you have found in the Bible, a far superior kind of morality than you can find in any other writings whatever, it is surely worth while carefully to examine, if these writers were really authorized to make known the will of God to man, and did speak as they were inwardly moved by an influence truly divine and supernatural. For if, notwithstanding the purity of their morality, they spoke falsely, when they said, “ Thus saith the Lord,” and the Lord did not
speak by them, then they cannot be exempted from the character of impostors and liars : though it must, in that case, remain a strange and wonderful thing, that men who durst to make such high but such false pretensions, should yet give such a system of morality, and advance such sublime ideas of God's natural and moral perfections, as no other man ever attained to, but by their means.
Their honesty and simplicity indeed, in other respects, freely recording their own faults, &c, may well enhance our surprise, that they should thus speak lies in the name of the Lord ; but still nothing can excuse them, if they pretended to speak by inspiration, while they were not inspired.
If they were not divinely taught and commissioned to reveal the things of God, then we may borrow just as much as we please from their writings, and at the same time reject what we please.
But if, indeed, it can be satisfactorily proved, by innumerable miracles, often wrought in the presence of a multitude of enemies; by a variety of prophecies, many of which have been fulfilled by divine providence long after the delivery of the predictions, and some of which are still fulfilling; by the moral character of the penmen; and especially by the unparalleled character of Christ, which the Evangelists have drawn, without the addition of a single encomium on their master, or an invective against his enemies and murderers; by the goodness of the doctrine, and the importance of the discoveries made in the scriptures; and also by the blessed effects which they have had on the hearts and lives of all those who have received them with genuine faith; if, I say, by all these sources of evidence, it can be proved, that these writings are really a divine revelation ; then we ought not to refuse our assent to whatever they testify, on account of its being what we could not have discovered of ourselves, without such a revelation.
A true revelation may justly be expected to contain, not only many things clearly stated, of which a very sagacious man might have attained some vague idea without it; and which even persons of inferior capacity would have found out, by the exercise of their reasoning powers, if they had not
been criminally inattentive, and prevented from discovering them by the depravity of their hearts : but also many things which no human intellect could have discovered, without divine information.
When natural history and philosophy present us with so many mysterious facts, which we can neither deny nor explain ; when we cannot account for vegetation, magnetism, electricity, the voluntary motion of animals, the union of soul and body in man, &c. shall we object to a revelation strongly proved to be divine, because it tells us some things concerning the nature of God, which neither our senses nor our reason could have found out without it; and which, even now they are revealed, we cannot fully understand, as to the modus of them ?
The doctrine of the Trinity taken by itself, as detached from other doctrines of scripture, might seem an unprofitable speculation; but viewed in connexion with the whole plan of human redemption, it appears, indeed, to be of great importance.
Who dares to affirm, that it is impossible that there should be a distinction in the divine nature, which is more than nominal or official, and yet does not amount to the existence of three separate Gods?
Let it be particularly kept in mind, that we do not say that God is three in the same sense in which he is one; and therefore it does not involve any contradiction.
Indeed, if we should for a moment conceive of the existence of three Gods, yet co-equal, co-eternal, possessing the very same natural and moral perfections ; so that where one is, there the others are; what the one knows, that the others know; what the one loves, that the others love; what the one wills, the others will ; surely this would not only be infinitely different from three Beings of different abilities, and even of opposite dispositions; but it would soon seem more difficult to point out the difference between them, than their unity.
However, the scriptures teach us the unity of the godhead, or the divine essence; and yet teach us to believe a Trinity in the godhead, for which we cannot find a better term than
a distinction of persons : as there are three to whom the personal pronouns, I, thou, he, are applied. See John xiv. 16. Christ required his disciples to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; and the apostle Paul invoked spiritual blessings from the same divine persons. We also find divine attributes and divine works repeatedly ascribed to each of these persons, and the scriptures represent divine worship as being paid to them.
The terms “Father” and “Son,” are used to express the distinction between the First and Second Persons; and doubtless were chosen as the best adapted to our understandings, to point out the difference; yet not exactly corresponding with the application of these terms to creatures, who come into the world in succession. Yet it should be remembered that these terms are correlates; he is not a father, who has
We believe that the First Person was always the Father, and the Second was always the Son. We believe the Father to be God, and the Son to be God; but yet the Son is not the Father, because that is the term employed to express the distinction, not the unity.
We believe that the Holy Spirit formed our Lord's humanity in the womb of a virgin ; but we have no idea of a sexual intercourse, which would imply the previous incarnation of the Spirit. The formation of our Lord's humanity
a new thing in the earth,” effected in a peculiar and miraculous manner. Our Saviour properly called himself “ the son of man,” because he had really assumed our nature, by uniting to himself a human body and soul, though he had no human father, nor was descended from Adam by ordinary generation, and thus was totally uncontaminated with-sin, which has infected all our race.
The dove which appeared at the time of our Lord's baptism, and the tongues of fire which rested on the heads of the Apostles at the day of Pentecost, were visible symbols of the Holy Spirit; but the Spirit himself is omnipresent, as the Psalmist implies, when he asks,“ Whither shall I go from thy Spirit ?”
I have already suggested, that to us the doctrine of the