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The subject continued. The atonement, &c. Further re> marks on Arianism, and the views of Doct. Watts.
We remark first upon atonement. It appears strikingly evident, that if man failed in point of obedience to that divine law which God was pleased to place him under, in his primeval state* that sin must require an atonement of an infinite nature.
Sin, did not consist in the non-performance of that law only, but in wilful disobedience to a known law, acknowledged to be such by the very character that broke it . And the magnitude of the offence, must at least, in some sense, be measured and considered, in proportion to the dignity and glory of the character offended.— Every act of disobedience against such a character, must he to the dishonour, and against the dignity of the character so offended. It is thought every rule of justice, with which we are acquainted, will defend this mode of reasoning. We are aware, however, that our opponents have contended, that a finite being is not capable of commuting a sin of an infinite magnitude. And, we are willing to acknowledge it. For finite beings cannot extend their powers, or influence, beyond their capacity; andtheir powers and capacity are very contracted and limited in comparison to the Supreme Being. And if that sin, committee! by eur first parents*,was infinite in point ef magnitude, thei.e could be but sin in the mri verse. And, if sin in general could amount to an infinity in point of magnitude, it is not seen, but by that rule of reasoning, it must destroy all good from the universe.
Notwithstanding, we can in all sincerity, subscribe to the above statements, still our opponents have not removed the difficulty. Consequently, we shall contend, that an atonement of an infinite nature, is necessary for sin. For the law alluded to was holy, and just, and good, and given by the Supreme Being, to a creature in his primeval state; when his body was sound in all its proportion of parts, and his soul in all its powers; and the offence was to the dishonor, and against an infinite, holy, wise, and just God; and this law thus broken, could never be repaired by man, by future obedience; of course guilt must eternally remain, in the very nature of things; and punishment, must run parallel with the guilt.
We have another reason to offer for our belief in the atonement's being infinite in its nature.— It is a serious doubt, whether an atonement of a finite nature, can be offered by a finite being to God. We acknowledge God to be the only selfexistent being in the universe; therefore all created beings angelic or human, are created by his power, and fashioned by his skill, and preserved by his grace, and mercy; therefore, must owe to him their best performances in their primeval state, and are unable to perform works of supererogation, or works intrinsically holy, or over and above the obligation that they are naturally uader to their Creator.
And if it be correct, that every creature which God hath made, are under the highest obligations to their God, to perform all the acts of obedience, which they can render to him, in their most exalted rank and station, which God hath assigned them in their primeval state—and if the nature of sin be as above stated, where in the universe shall we go to find a substitute, to stand in the place of man, to repair the injury done by man, to God's divine law; and which was to the honor of his declarative glory; if God hath not an only Son?
If this Son was not so united to humanity, as to make but one person, and made under the identical law, broken by man—we say, where shall we find a substitute? or where find a character to fulfil that law? or to offer to God an oblation for sin, and a sacrifice for the redemption of man? We are free to acknowledge we cannot tell.
The Father to become subject to his own law, and to render obedience to a law given to a mere creature, and offer an oblation to himself; we say, this appears to be absurd: if not very ridiculous, and blasphemous. For a just claimant to relinquish his claim, under a pretence of justice, by paying the demand in and by himself, certainly savors of absurdity in the very nature of things.
We now propose to make further remarks on Arianism. We have stated already a few things respecting Arius, and his system of doctrine, from whence he was, and at what period he arose.— Although many have adopted his system since the commencement of the fourth century, which is called by some historians the Arian era, or age. If we cejupare Arianism with scripture, we ifntt some insunnountable difficulties in its course.— If we can understand any thing from plain language, the Son, so often spoken of, in the NewTestament, was begotten, and not created. That he was with the father in all the works of creation. Not only so, but that, as some divines have been pleased to term it, he was the real operator in creation—not operator as to forming, but as Creator. And if any attributes are essential to real deity, it is most certain that the attributes of power and wisdom to create, belong to God exclusively.
Whether an atonement can be made by a creature, for another which has failed in point of obedience remains a serious doubt. It is possible, if not probable, that some writers have not done justice to the doctrines of Arius, and to neither his followers, their piety and virtues. We are conscious, that we ought to do justice to our opponents as far as in us lieth. The doctrine of Arius, may be considered far preferable to the doctrine of Socinius. And in our view Ariu9 has followed the line of truth further than Socinius; for Arius acknowledges, what we call the pre-existence of Jesus Christ; that is, that he existed before he came in the flesh; and that he was the first and noblest of all God's creatures, and placed at the head of the universe.
We think the pious and venerable Doct. Watts has offered some arguments in favor of that sentiment, beyond every argument we have heard advanced, or thought could be advanced in favor of that system. We now proceed to bring forward some of the Doctor's most powerful arguments, which, it is considered, he advanced if* favor of that sentiment; and then find out wherein the Doctor's mistake lay, and compare it with what is deemed the genuine sentiment of the apostles, of Moses, and the prophets. It would he well to add, in this place, that the Doctor did not profess to he, on this important point, an Arian, strictly speaking; neither do we allude to these statements, to mar the character of that very venerable and useful man, to whom, under God, the church of Christ are much indebted, for some of his most excellent performances; and we trust, he is sharing a long reward in glory, for his works of faith, and labors of love ; and may the same spirit,whichissovisibIeinall his works, govern our hearts, and dictate to the pen that indites. Nor are the ideas of the Doctor brought forward to aid the Arian system, but for the purpose of yielding all the concessions we can in conscience to that system of doctrine, and to see more clearly wherein the flaw of its arguments consists.
The Doctor takes up about 400 pages in endeavoring to show that the human soul of Jesus Christ, existed before the coming of Christ in the flesh, and then states, in similar terms with Arius, that the human soul of Jesus Christ, probably was the first being, and the most noble and excellent being that God ever created; and the being in whom the God-head resided, and was manifested in a peculiar manner. He then proceeds to speak of the quality, and faculties of this character in his pre-existent state, as well as in his state of glorification after his ascension. If we are not mistaken, he discovered something like omnipresence, to be a necessary qualifica- « rion, for our Mediator's process, in order to know