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moral law: 'to offend in
It is from this consideration, that a denial of one divine truth generally leads on to the denial of many others. It is by the gospel, as it is by the one point is to be guilty of all.' command, without violating the
You cannot break any authority of the law
giver; and this being once violated, there are no bounds that said, do not commit adultery, And if thou commit no adultery,
where to stop. He said also, do not kill. yet if thou kill, thou art a transgressor of the law.' The same principle which leads thee to despise the divine authority in one instance, would lead thee to do the same in all, as occasion might offer. It is much the same in reference to evangelical truth: we cannot reject one part of it, especially if that part be amongst its fundamental principles, without either rejecting, or becoming less attached to the rest.
At present there are two things which offer themselves to our consideration, in reference to the Deity of Christ; each of which, while they tend to confirm the truth of the doctrine, exhibits its importance. The one is, Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus: the other is, Trusting in him for salvation. These are of importance, or there is nothing in christianity which is so: but a denial of the Deity of Christ would render them both improper, if not impracticable.
Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus, is considered in the new testament as of equal importance with believing in him, having the same promise of salvation annexed to it.' Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.' And seeing it is asked, 'How shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed;'* it is strongly intimated, that all who truly believe in Christ, do call upon him. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the primitive christians. Paul's epistle to the Corinthians was addressed to them, in connection with 'all who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ
* Rom. x. 13, 14.
our Lord.'* Now as a rejection of the divinity of Christ renders it idolatry to worship him, or call upon his name; so it must involve a rejection of that by which primitive christians were distinguished, and which has the promise of salvation. And where these things are rejected, there is no longer any possibility of christian union: for how can those, who consider Christ to be a mere man, join in the worship of such as are employed in calling upon his name, and ascribing' blessing and honour, and glory and power, unto the Lamb for ever!' If there were no objection on the part of Trinitarians, there ought to be on the part of Arians and Socinians, to render their conduct consistent. If we be guilty of idolatry, they ought to come out from amongst us, and be separate, as the scriptures command christians to do, with respect to idolaters.§ But if they be so indifferent about the importance of religious principle, as not to scruple such matters, there is no reason that we should be the same; and we have no warrant to acknowledge those as fellow christians, who come not under the description given of such in the new testament; that is, who call not upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Trusting in Christ for salvation is represented in the gospel as equivalent, and of equal importance, with believing in him. In his name shall the gentiles trust-I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed uuto him, against that day.' But trusting in Christ must be intimately connected with a belief in his proper deity. Without this, all committing of ourselves to him, and trusting in his ability to keep that which we have committed to
↑ A certain Socinian is known to have declined taking any part in the family worship of a Trinitarian, and gave this reason for it: That he could not unite with those who call upon the name of Christ.
§ 2 Cor. vi. 16, 17.
|| Matt, xii. 21. 2 Tim. i. 12.
him, would be placing confidence in an arm of flesh; and would bring down the curse upon us, instead of the blessing. God has expressly appropriated trust to himself alone, and prohibited our placing it in a mere creature. "Thus saith the Lord, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord-Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.'*
Every creature is entirely dependent on the Creator, and is totally incompetent to answer the character of a Saviour, especially with respect to that salvation which mankind need. That there may exist a proper foundation for trust, the character of a Saviour must unite omnipresent and omnipotent power, to controul every intelligent creature, and every particle of matter in the universe, and render every thing subservient to the great purposes of salvation. Omniscient understanding, to know perfectly, and at all times, their hearts, their dangers, and their wants. Infinite wisdom, to select unerringly, from an infinite number of supposable schemes, for the accomplishment of the great object, that which is best, both with respect to the end, and the infinitude of antecedent means. Absolute immutability, to prosecute invariably the same designs; and infinite love, to rise above millions of provocations, and embrace perpetually the same good.
That scheme therefore which denies Christ to be possessed of these divine prerogatives, and considers him as a mere dependent creature, leaves no ground for its abettors to trust unreservedly and ultimately in him for salvation; for according to their principles, Christ cannot be an edequate object of trust.
Those who deny the divinity of Christ may plead, that they confide in the truth of his declarations; but they might also confide in the declarations of Peter or Paul, seeing that their testimony is equally true. But to com
* Jer. xvii. 5, 7.
mit our souls into their hands, would be unwarrantable and presumptuous; and it would be equally so to commit them into the hands of Christ, if he were a mere creature like them. To deny his proper divinity therefore, is to destroy the foundation of a sinner's hope, and to make void the distinctive evidence of primitive christianity :— Calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus, and committing our souls into his hands for salvation.
DEFENCE OF THE DEITY OF CHRIST,
In Reply to the Rev. Henry Davis.
SOON after the appearance of Mr. Fuller's celebrated work, on the Calvinistic and Socinian systems, the Rev. Henry Davis, pastor of the Independent congregation at Wigston in Leicestershire, published a small piece entitled "A Caution against Socinianism, in reply to Dr. Priestley." In this performance the author professed to comprise the principal arguments in favour of the preexistence and atonement of Christ. He at the same time stated his belief to be, "that God is so united to the derived nature of Christ, and does so dwell in it, that by virtue of this union, Christ may properly be called GOD; and that such regards become due to him as are not due to any created nature, or mere creature, be it in itself ever so excellent." Mr. Davis added, that "this appeared to him to be the doctrine taught by our Lord and his apostles, and that he was the more confirmed in this opinion, because some Socinians have acknowledged that it was the sentiment of most or all the christian fathers, before the council of Nice."
Mr. Fuller made no direct reply to this performance ;
but as he saw in it a tendency to betray the cause which it pretended to defend, he wrote the preseding article as a caveat against it, and also another on the doctrine of the Trinity; both of which were inserted in a periodical work then in the hands of the present Editor. The piece on the Trinity, having since been dismembered from the series, and reprinted in the uniform edition of the Author's works, is here omitted. The two following papers were written in reply to Mr. Davis, who in the same publication invited the attention of his unknown opponent to the subject. ED.
YOUR correspondent H. D. seems dissatisfied with the trinitarian doctrine of Christ's proper deity, and wishes to substitute the indwelling scheme in its place.-In writing the piece which occasioned his remarks, I did not once think of "Athanasius," nor of any human writer; but simply of stating what appeared to be the mind of God in his word. Neither was it my object to prove, concerning any denomination of professing christians, that they are not in a state of salvation; but merely that those principles which disown Christ's proper deity, be they held by whom they may, if fully embraced so as to be acted upon, do not consist with it.
Your correspondent asks, "How am I to conceive of this;" that is, of Christ's proper deity. "Am I to consider the deity of Christ as separate and distinct from the deity of the Father, and the Holy Spirit? Is there one deity of the Son, another of the Father, and another of the Spirit?" If he intend to ask, whether the proposition, Christ is true God, mean any thing different from the proposition, the Father is true God? I answer, it certainly does. But if, whether the deity of Father, Son, and Spirit, be one or more deities? He must know that the former, and not the latter, is the avowed principle of trinitarians. I have always supposed, that godhead is