« AnkstesnisTęsti »
without any distinction of persons, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, as it is the same who revealed himself to Moses and the rest of the prophets, and spake by them, and he has spoken to us by his Son. The 'Son,' here spoken of, is not a Person of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but the Son of God, the whole Deity, and, of course, is excluded from the Deity by the very terms of the proposition. He sustains the same relations, both to God and to man, as an organ of communication, as the ancient prophets. God spake through them, and spake through him, nor is there any difference intimated, except that he is called Son. They originated nothing, and he originated nothing. They spoke only what God commanded, and so did he. The Son then cannot be a person of the Trinity.
In the second place, the Trinitarian exposition of this passage overthrows itself by the inconsistency and contradiction of its parts. In one verse, the Son is said to have made the heavens and the earth; in another, to have been the instrument through whom God made the worlds; and in another part of the same verse, to be appointed heir of all things; and then in another, as having no power of his own, to defend himself, or punish his enemies, but to be invited by the Almighty to sit at his right hand while he makes his enemies his footstool. He is eternal, and created the world, and yet he is introduced into the world as God's first-begotten, and the angels worship him, not because they owe him any allegiance, but because they are commanded to do so by their superior and his.
After making the Son, God, the Creator of the world, still there is a God over him; he is not the supreme God, but the supreme God has anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows. The Creator of heaven and earth has fellows, above whom he is exalted by being anointed!
I do not hesitate to say, that with the Trinitarian exposition, this passage of the Bible presents a heterogeneous mass of ideas blended in utter confusion. No consistent whole can be made out of them, which shall explain all the parts, and make them agree with themselves and the rest of the sacred Scriptures. Of course, we are driven out of it, and, as we believe that this Epistle has a consistent and rational meaning, we are forced to seek it in some other exposition." pp. 97-99.
Our last extract presents an interpretation of Hebrews, ix. 14. Though probably new to many of our readers, they will see how well it is sustained by Mr. Burnap's remarks.
"There is an expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which is thought to prove, not only the Deity, but the eternity of the Holy Spirit. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who,
through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.' There is scarcely a text of the Bible, which has been more misapprehended than this. Eternal Spirit' has here no reference to the Holy Spirit, but to Christ's immortal spirit. This is made evident in the following way. The writer is contrasting Jesus with the Jewish high priest, and Christianity with Judaism. The high priest went once a year into the temple at Jerusalem, into the holy of holies, into the very presence of God. Christ went once for all into God's true temple in the heavens. The Jewish high priest was mortal; in a few years he died, and was succeeded by another. Christ went into the temple in the heavens, after his resurrection, in a state of immortality, ' by his immortal spirit, offered himself without spot to God;' not 'through the eternal Spirit.' This is made evident by several parallel expressions: But this man, because he continueth forever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.' 'After the similitude of Melchisedec, there ariseth another priest, who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.' 'Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost, them that come unto God through him, seeing that he ever liveth to make intercession for them.' What in one case is meant by his 'immortal spirit,' is expressed in the other cases by continueth forever,' endless life,' ever liveth.' This expression then, which may to some appear, at first sight, strong evidence for the personality and eternity of the Holy Spirit, has really nothing to do with the subject." pp. 249-251.
The speedy demand for a second edition of Mr. Peabody's Lectures, shows the favor with which they have been received by the public. And that favor is deserved. It is a volume which we would recommend to all who wish for information on those doctrinal points, which have been held in controversy between Unitarian and Orthodox Christians. Clear, forcible, direct, earnest, pervaded by an ever-present sense of religious responsibility; in simplicity of style, and in the tone of sentiment little as the views set forth resemble his these Lectures have again and again recalled to our minds the writings of Doddridge. We have already expressed our sense of their value, on the appearance of the first edition, and forbear making, at this time, any further remarks upon them. This edition is improved by an excellent introductory lecture on "The Scriptures."
Both of the volumes of which we have spoken are controversial in their character. Most of the longer treatises
in which Unitarians have set forth their reasons for not receiving the peculiar doctrines of Orthodoxy, were written years ago. Since then, a new generation has come up, and works like these are needed, to meet the exigencies of the day. They occupy an important place, and do much. to remove error and to clear up doubt.
It has been a common argument for the reception of the Calvinistic and Trinitarian doctrines, that it is safe to believe them, and dangerous to reject them. And for those who can really believe them, who find in them nothing to bewilder and confuse their conceptions of duty or God, nothing to obstruct the growth of a Christian life, or to intercept the force of Christian motive, belief in them is doubtless harmless. But for those whose belief goes no deeper than the lips, a confession of fear and a denial of the understanding, and for all who substitute them in the place of the really fundamental doctrines of Scripture, it is anything but safe to believe them. It would not be safe for any one to reduce them to practice. No parent could venture to bring up his children on the idea, that they were totally depraved and incapable of doing any good thing. No man would dare to imitate that sort of justice which Calvinism ascribes to God. The universal horror of mankind would reject a sovereign, or a court of justice, which should habitually act on the principles set forth in the Calvinistic doctrine of atonement.
Besides this, the common arguments of Infidelity derive their principal force from the assumption, that these doctrines form a part of the Christian revelation. Large numbers of infidels are such only because they have rejected these doctrines, supposing them to be the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. And what is worse, they drive multitudes into a state of semi-skepticism. They cannot believe, they do not reject Christianity. Their lives are made wretched by ceaseless, ever recurring doubts, the power of Christian motives is paralyzed, and they never know the comfort of Christian hopes.
Therefore it is, that so long as the creeds and forms of the dark ages usurp the place which belongs to the teachings of Christ, there will be need of works whose especial object it is to disencumber Christian truth of these additions of human error.
There has been of late among Unitarians an increased
interest of which the publication of these Lectures may be considered one of the indications-in doctrinal preaching. We shall devote the remainder of this article to a consideration of what doctrinal preaching ought to be, and of its importance in a practical point of view.
Popular usage has associated the word doctrine, to a great extent, with the distinctive tenets of the Orthodox sects. And among Unitarians, those discourses have been called doctrinal, whose purpose has been to controvert the Trinity, the five points of Calvin, or some peculiar article of faith taught in the prevailing creeds. But this, at any rate in the best sense of the words, is not doctrinal preaching. To attack opinions which we believe Christ never taught, is not preaching the doctrines of Christ. That is doctrinal preaching, not where error is assailed, but where Christian truth is set forth.
This Unitarians have felt, and it has been followed to some extent by a corresponding change in their preaching. It is impossible that their attention should not be drawn more or less to the mischief resulting from erroneous religious views. But of late, their minds have been fixed more on the practical importance of the positive articles of their faith. The same causes have in general made their preaching less controversial and more doctrinal.
This kind of preaching is greatly needed. We need to have the great doctrines of our faith proclaimed and enforced, not in the way of controversy, but as positive and infinitely important verities; and enforced, too, not as mere abstract truths, but in their practical relations and bearings. There may have been some ground for the charge — notwithstanding its great injustice in most respects that our preaching is the preaching of mere morality. Not that we do not believe in doctrines of infinite moment, and teach them from the pulpit, but we have too often preached morality separate from doctrine, and sometimes almost to its exclusion. For example, not long since the superintendant of a Sunday school wished to find some printed discourse, which he might read to the teachers, on the Paternal Character of God. And yet, though he looked through quite a number of volumes, he was not able, with a single exception, to find a discourse on that subject. There was an infinite abundance of sermons on the Divine Nature, on the Unity of God and the Trinity, on the Divine Sovereignty,
on the Omniscience and Omnipresence of God; but on this great doctrine respecting the Divine Character, which lies at the foundation of Christianity, and which, by determining the nature of the Divine government, determines down to the minutest point the nature of all Christian precept and promise, of all religious duty and hope, on this first and all-important Christian doctrine you can hardly find, in the whole circle of published sermons, a single discourse.
Perhaps it may be said, that though not often discoursed upon separately, the great doctrines are always implied. It may be true. But they should be more than implied. What can be the ultimate value of preaching which attends solely to the fruit on the branches, and gives no heed to the roots? These great doctrines should not be left to be merely inferred from some accidental illustration, or passed over with a commendatory sentence; they should stand in the front of the discourse, and from these should the morality of daily life be deduced and by them enforced.
What we need is a positive preaching of our great doctrines, not apologetically-not by way of attacking others — but affirmatively, and as what we believe them to be, the fundamental principles of our religion. The doctrine of Regeneration, for example; it is not sufficient to attack some supposed error, but its necessity, its absolute necessity to every sinner, is what should be urged without ceasing on the minds of men. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, which manifests itself in Providence, which speaks through the word of God, the comforter and helper and guide, ever present in Divine influence and spiritual aid, this is to be preached, and not forgotten in attacks on the Trinity. The doctrine of Retribution; let the Christian minister not think it enough to do away every error which others hold, but let him preach what he believes, — that there is a retribution, certain and fearful, that we do live under a righteous moral government, and that the way of sin is forever the way of ruin. Let him preach that which Christ so strenuously and constantly insisted on, the necessity of repentance and the certainty of the Divine forgiveness on repentance. And whatever the doctrines of the Gospel may be, let him preach them and give them a place proportioned to their magnitude and importance in our religion. As far as may be, giving little heed to the errors