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error, and here as elsewhere “perfect love casteth out fear." But the Orthodoxist is always afraid lest he should wander from the well-trodden path—he dreads eccentricity and novelty more than aught besides—instead of fixing his eyes on the distant mark of his high calling and going boldly forward, he is anxiously watching his own footsteps to see that they are in the track. He is always more intent on plucking up tares, than on planting wheat. He is always saying, “Wilt thou that we go and gather them up?" And notwithstanding his master's, “not so,"—he thinks he shall be able to pull out the tares without rooting up also the wheat. But the words of the master will be always found to be wisdom, and deep philosophy; and so here we see, that the Orthodoxist can never set himself against an error, without also opposing some valuable doctrine or important truth.
When will men have confidence in truth? When will they learn that true reverence for its power demands that we should trust to its divine and unsupported omnipotence? We will here boldly say, that the great obstacle to the triumph of God's word over all that opposes itself, is not the open unbelief of enemies, but the lurking scepticism of its friends. And that this Orthodoxism which we have described, is essentially, a want of faith in the real power of christianity.
Art. VI.-NOTES ON PROOF TEXTS. Under this running title, we propose from month to month to remark on those passages of the scriptures which have a bearing on the differences of opinion, that exist between Unitarians and the Orthodox.
No text is more frequently referred to, for the purpose of proving Christ's equality with the Father, than John i. 1.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” What is the true meaning of this verse? Does it give any support to this doctrine? We think not.
Admitting, what to say the least, is very doubtful, but admitting that by the Word, is meant Christ, the passage would read thus—In the beginning was Christ, and Christ was with God, and Christ was God.”
In the beginning. This is by no means equivalent to saying that he existed from eternity. Eternity has no beginning. Perhaps the first verse of Genesis may help to explain this somewhat indefinite phrase. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. We do not understand from this
that the heavens and earth are eternal like Him, who in the beginning created them.
And Christ was with God. The preposition with, distinguishes Christ from God, and shows that they were different persons. He who is with another, is not that other with whom he is. Christ seated “on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” is not the same God, the same being, as the one at whose right hand he sits.
But, Christ was God. This phrase as the Trinitarian understands it, is embarrassed with difficulties. If Christ is with the Supreme God, and is also himself Supreme, then there are two Supreme Gods, and not one, as the scriptures teach. Besides, two Supreme Gods is a contradiction in terms. Divided supremacy is no supremacy.
Is the interpretation which the Trinitarian puts upon this phrase the correct one? We think not. To understand the truth here taught, we must understand the meaning of the words in which it is taught. Now we find the word God used in various senses in the Bible. We apply it to the Supreme alone. But it was not so with the Jews. Among many examples we may refer to Ex. 7. 1, where the Lord declares to Moses, that he has made him a God to Pharaoh. In the 82d Psalm, the Deity addresses the Judges of Israel by the title of Gods. “I have said ye are Gods; but ye shall die like men.” And from Christ, John 10. 35, we learn that they were called Gods, to whom the word of God came. Thus we see that the word God was of wide application; it being applied not only to Jehovah and to Christ, but to the chief rulers of Israel, and even to those to whom the word of God came. It therefore does not always imply the attributes of Deity. If it did, we should be compelled to regard some of the Judges of Israel as equal with the Father.
In the passage under consideration, is Christ called God in a supreme, or subordinate sense? The answer to this question will decide whether Christ was, or was not, equal with the Father; for if this doctrine be not taught here, it will be admitted, we presume, that it is taught no where.
There is nothing in the verse itself to decide whether Christ is called God in a supreme or subordinate sense.* We must
We ought to qualify these words. The confusion introduced into the verse itself, and the contradiction with the often repeated declaration that there is but one God, which would follow the idea that he was in any sense Supreme, would certainly suggest that he is called God in a subordinate sense. It may be worth the while to say, that Origen, one or the most eminent of the Christian Fathers, and who wrote Greek as his vernacular tongue, and who understood it better than any modern can, remarks on this passage, that the subordinate meaning of the term, is indicated in the original, by the absence of the article before the word God.
look to other passages to determine in which sense the word was used when applied to him. There is one other passage in which Christ is addressed by the same title. It is Heb. i. 8,9. “But unto the Son he saith, thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Nothing can be plainer than this. Christ is called God;—his reign is to last forever;-yet it goes on to say of him who is thus called God, that because he has loved righteousness and hated iniquity—therefore God, EVEN THY God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Here, of course, Christ is spoken of in his highest nature-(it was not as a mere man that he was called God, and to reign forever)-yet was there one superior to him, who had exalted him to his high dominion-his Father and our Father, his God and our God.
Here we learn that Christ when called God, was so called in a subordinate sense; that however exalted he might be, there was still one superior to him-his God. Having found in what sense Christ was called God, we may turn back to the first verse of John, and it will cease to be unintelligible or contradictory, as it is according to the Trinitarian mode of explaining it. It will read—In the beginning, (before Abraham, before the world was, was Christ, and Christ was with God-(with him in that heaven from which he came, and to which he returned)—and Christ was God-(
God in the same subordinate sense as we learn that he was from the Epistle to the Hebrews.) Thus understood, the passage is disembarrassed of confusion, and its seeming contradictions, and becomes intelligible, with an important meaning.
Admitting that by the Word is meant Christ, we ask in conclusion; 1. Does not the passage quoted from Hebrews, show that Christ, when spoken of in his most elevated character, is still called God only in a subordinate sense? 2. If so, must not an unprejudiced mind understand the word God to be used in a subordinate sense, when applied to him in the first verse of St. John's Gospel? If these questions are answered in the affirmative, as it seems to us they must be,-if we are to use what is clear in the declarations of scripture to interpret what is obscure,—it follows that this passage, instead of affording evidence for the equality of Christ with the Father, belongs to that class of passages, which, while they show the exalted dignity of the Saviour, -show also his subordination to the Supreme.
Art. VII.- Professor Stuart, Dr. Schleiermacher-Sabellius
Seldom have we felt greater pleasure in reading any writing from the camp of Orthodoxy, than we did while perusing the first article in the April number of the Biblical Repository. The high reputation for learning and liberality which this work acquired under its former accomplished editor, Robinson, seems likely to be maintained under its present superintendent. It soars as high as any other in the land above the influence of party feeling. Thus far, we think this Andover periodical much superior to the New-York Review of Woods, in the high qualities of comprehensive views and profound research. We have felt a little disappointment in tracing such a strong party bias in the last mentioned publication.
The article in the Biblical Repository to which we allude, consists of a translation by Professor M. Stuart of an essay published in Germany in 1822, by Dr. F. Schleiermacher of Berlin. The subject of this essay is a comparison between the Orthodox Trinity of Athanasius, and the Sabellian Trinity. Prefixed to the translation of this essay, is a long and very valuable criticism on the Nicene Trinity, and some remarks on the character of Schleiermacher, by the learned Andover Professor. These deserve to be well weighed. Such an article as this, is a star of good omen. Opinions and principles issuing from Andover, scatter themselves far and wide. The institution there, is a city set on an hill, in more senses than one, We will proceed to give our reasons for the satisfaction we feel with this article; and first a word with respect to the German professor, whose long name we will spare our readers the trouble of pronouncing, except when absolutely necessary.
Dr. F. Schleiermacher then, was one in whose character and writings we have long taken a deep interest. While carelessly turning over some new books in the library of Harvard University, we chanced to open his celebrated "Lectures on Religion, addressed to the Educated.” We found here clearness, depth and freedom of thought, united with earnestness, warmth and loftiness of feeling. We found here religion spoken of as a reality—a courageous confidence in its truth and power pervaded the work-yet no cant, no technical phraseology, but every thing natural, unconstrained and free. From the perusal of this book we were led to desire a nearer acquaintance with the writings of its author.
Last summer we heard from a friend, who had enjoyed a personal acquaintance with the Professor at Berlin, some further interesting particulars with respect to his character, and his death, which occurred February 12th, 1834. Such a general sorrow has not been manifested in Berlin since the death of the amiable and heroic Queen of Prussia. All classes mourned for him, for to all classes he had been a spiritual guide and friend. We quote from a letter which we received from the friend mentioned above, the following interesting passage. We cherished at that time the hope of giving a more elaborate view of the writings and character of this eminent man, than we can venture upon at present.
_“Do write an article, a sound one, on Schleiermacher. But you must not only treat him as theologian; he was a most amiable friend and loving father; though sometimes sharp in his controversies, he had never the least ill-will against his antagonists, and served them where he could; he was an untiring student as few men are; he was a firm man, a true patriot, full of noble courage in times of danger, and he never allowed his hope and trust in God to flag; he was a true pastor, and though engaged in manifold arduous occupations as professor of the University, author, and in many offices, his preaching and being a minister of the gospel, remained the chief business. Nothing could be more curious than to see his congregation, consisting of all kinds of persons, from a prince or princess, down to the poorest, generals, high civil officers, professors, ministers, students, citizens, ladies and women of all kinds-in short, a congregation as we never see them here, where the people separate much more in their church meeting, owing to the churches being wholly supported by private individuals. * *
* * Shortly before his death he said, “I wish to take the Lord's Supper-every one who believes in Jesus Christ take it with me." He was dying already, but his eyes lighted up once more, he broke the bread, gave it to his family and himself, so he did with the wine, said amen, and died. Before that he said, “I do not know how it is, every thing becomes so dim about me, but this only externally in the world of sense; every thing within, unites into the finest harmony, and the speculative powers are sharper. Oh! there will be much to know there!"
It appears from Professor Stuart's article, that Schleiermacher's views of the Trinity were essentially those held by many Unitarians, and totally distinct from the Orthodox views. He differed from all the creeds, symbols, and church confessions. His idea was this, that the divine Unity was God concealed, and the Trinity God revealed; (p. 316.) The Unity is God in himself. But as to the Trinity—the Father is God as revealed in the works of creation, providence and legislation; the Son is God in human flesh; the Holy Ghost is God the sanctifier.
Of course the Trinity has no objective reality; only as respects man is there a Trinity-in God himself there is none.