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he asserts the unity of substance, by saying 'I and the Father are one,' &e.
In a similar style does this celebrated man treat the doctrine continually, appealing to the authority of Scripture alone. So that when Mr. Sparks ventures to say that the Fathers,—Athanasius being particularized by name— did not think the Trinity or the Deity of Christ was 'plainly set forth in Scripture,' we are constrained, in • the judgment of charity, to presume that he never read the authors whom he quotes; since we find it still more difficult to believe that he would publish such a statement after having read them. And we would hold this instance up to the view of every Theological student, as a strong example of the danger of relying on quotations taken at the second or third, or it may be at the twentieth hand—without examination. The only fair and safe course is to cite no author whom we have not read; and when it is not in our power to go to the original, and we are compelled, (as may often happen,) to take our quotations from those who have quoted them before us, we should always inform our readers where we found them ; for thus only can we avoid the sin of exhibiting the learning of others as our own, on the one hand, and the risk of being misled by their errors and misrepresentations on the other.
We have attached more importance to the mistakes of Mr. Sparks than we should have done, if he had not attained so high a rank as an author in a very different department, that his bare assertion, in the opinion of very many, would carry its own evidence along with it. And we have put the testimony against him in so plain a form that every man can decide the issue for himself. 'The
ipsam substantiae unitatem assignat, dicens: Ego et Pater unum Enntus.' &c.
opinion,' says Mr. S. ' that the Trinity is plainly taught in the Scriptures, has not generally prevailed till of late.'
He asserts that the testimony which might be brought 'from the early and later Fathers, would show with how little discretion the Trinity is now affirmed to be plainly taught in the Scriptures, and with how little regard to consistency it is imposed as a necessary article of faith.'
And he further tells us, after quoting certain disjoined scraps, 'From these sentiments of the Fathers, it may justly be inferred, that in their opinion no such doctrine as the Trinity, nor even the Deity of Christ is plainly set forth in the Scriptures.'
In each and all of which propositions, we have proved that he stands clearly and indisputably opposed to the Fathers themselves. May we presume, in conclusion, to express the hope, that this distinguished gentleman will read the Fathers, before he undertakes again to report their testimony?
We have conceived that it might be useful to the lovers of Scriptural'truth, if we should place together a few other passages from anii-tilttlturian writers; for even as the various doctrines of a ir;\:t Creed, when held in just connexion, shed mutual light upon each other, so do the several errors of a false faith, increase the deformity of the whole, and strengthen the energy of purpose with which we 'seek for the old paths, that we may walk therein.'
Elevated to a high rank as a natural philosopher, a chemist, and a lecturer on history, Dr. Priestly, in evil hour, concentrated the powers of his versatile genius upon theology; and produced sundry books to which his scientific fame drew much attention. From his greatest work, 'The History of the Corruptions of Christianity,' vol. 1. we take a few specimens of thought worthy of special recollection.
In page 311, he denies that we have any souls. 'It was from the principles of philosophy,' says he, 'and especially from that of Plato, that Christians learned that the soul was a thing distinct from the body, and capable of existing in a separate conscious state when the body was in the grave.' And in the note at the bottom of the page, he says ' To give my readers full satisfaction on this subject, I must refer them to my Disquisitions relating to I
matter and spirit, in which the doctrine of a soul is traced from the Oriental to the Grecian philosophy, and is shown to have been a principle w^tsi hostile to the system of revelation in every stage of its progress!'
Jesus Christ, this author held to be a mere mortal. 'It is most evident,' says he, pauo 2,' that the Apostles and all who conversed with our Lord, before and after his resurrection, considered him in no other light than simply as a man approved by God, by signs and wonders which God did by him.'
In page 143, Dr. Prievly comforts .himself in the assurance that his system will be acceptable to Jews and Mahometans! 'Light,' ..ay* be, 'having thus sprung up in the Christian world, after «o long a season of darkness, it will, I doubt not, inc.mw to the perfect day. The great article of the Unity of God, will, in time, be uniformly professed by all who bear the Christian name, and then, but not before, may vc hope and expect, that being also freed from other ccn-tot'cns and embarrassments, it will recommend itself to the (.tn fiance of Jews and Mahometans, and become the r.ligion of the whole world. But so long as Christian in general are chargeable with this fundamental error,cf worshipping more Gods than one, Jews and Mahometans will always hold their religion in abhorrence.'
In page 261, we are told ihal Scripture must give way to the dictates of reason. 'It is now, certainly,' says he, 'time to lay less stress on the interpretation of particular texts, and to allow more weiuht io general considerations, derived from the whole tenor of Scripture, and the dictates of reason, and if there should be found any difficulty in accommodating the one to the other, (and I think there is even less of this than might have been expected,) the former,' ( i. e. Scripture,) 'and not the latter' (i. e. reason,) ' should remain unaccounted for. Time may clear up obscurities in particular texts, by discovering various readings, by the clearer knowledge of ancient customs and opinions, &c. But arguments drawn from such considerations as those of the moral government of God, the nature of things, and the general plan of revelation, will not be put off to a future time.'
The opinion which this philosopher entertained about the honesty and truth of the primitive Christians, is somewhat startling. 'It is not a little amusing,' says he, p. 45, 'to observe how the Fathers of the second, third, and fourth centuries, were embarrassed with the heathens on the one hand, to whom they wished to recommend their religion by exalting the person of its founder, and with the ancient Jewish and Gentile converts, (whose prejudices against polytheism they also wished to guard against,) on the other. Willing to conciliate the one, and yet not to offend the other,' he.
It is certainly not to be wondered at, if a man who thought so meanly of the principles of the primitive martyrs and confessors, should deride the honesty of the clergy in his own day. We should therefore expect, in perfect consistency, such a passage as the following, which occurs in the same vol. p. 307. 'Things have been so long irt this situation, especially in England, where the minds of the clergy are more enlightened, and where few of them, in comparison, will even pretend that they really believe the articles of faith to which they have subscribed, according to the plain and obvious sense of them: and the legislature has been so often applied to in vain to relieve them in this matter, by removing those subscriptions, that we cannot now reasonably expect any reformation of this great evil,.