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The subject of God's complacency towards Christ, is one both highly interesting, and which can be understood only on Unitarian principles. We were, therefore, a little anxious, on reading the title of a sermon in the volume, “Jehovah's delight in Christ,” to learn what an orthodox authority would do with such a topic. The very language involves a distinction, and such a distinction as is destructive of orthodoxy. Jehovah's delight in Christ: well, then, how can Jehovah be Christ, or Christ Jehovah? If one being delights in another, they must, of necessity, be too distinct and separate intelligent agents. And this, unfortunately for the reader's orthodoxy, the Doctor's discourse implies throughout. It could do no less, if the subject was to be presented in an intelligible form. Every illustration on this supposition of “ Jehovah's delight in Christ," is an implication of the strongest nature, that they are two, and not one intelligent agent. The doctrine which the Doctor, in this case handles, pervades the New Testament, and, consequently, the fiction of the supreme Deity of Christ, clashes not only with the discourse in question, but with the general tenor of the “ Law and the Testimony." There occurs, in this same discourse, the most palpable contradiction which theological hardihood ever ventured to impose on human weakness and credulity. “On the crosa," says the Doctor, “ Jesus was made to endure the tokens of divine displeasure against the imputed guilt of men,” yet then,“ never was divine. complacency in him (Christ) more perfect.” If this is any thing but saying, that God was both pleased and displeased at the same time, and on the same occasion, with Christ, there is no meaning in language. To such incongruities will system drive even men of respectable abilities.
One of the most revolting principles of Calvinism, is fully set forth in the discourse of which we are now speaking: the delight of God in Christ is manifested in the perdition of those that perish, as well as in the salvation of those that are saved,” is a proposition which this divine lays down and labours to establish. There is, in these few words, enough to sink any system whatever. If proved from Scripture, Scripture is thereby disproved -if a part of Christianity, Christianity is not of God. But they are thank God-Calvinism, not the Gospel. The benevolent Jesus is not answerable for so foul a libel on the Creator. Man's damnation, God's delight! Horrid
idea. The God of Jesus delighting in the eternal torments of the vast majority of his creatures! If this be not blasphemy, it is something worse. “Hell shall bear testimony to this”-viz. God's delight in Christ—" as well as heaven. The lesson shall be read for ever by the fires of Tophet, as well as by the light of Paradise.' And this said of God who “is love," and Christ who was tenderness itself! This said in the 19th century, and men expected to believe it! This surely is, now-a-days, un peu de trop. We would advise Dr.Wardlaw to abandon Calvinism, and preach the Gospel, which he would do well to remember
-whenever his Calvinistic impressions are too strong for his good sense and humanity-means "good news," " glad tidings," peace on earth,” “good will to man.”
G. C. S.
To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer. SIR,
In the Pioneer for December last, appeared a letter signed “S.” containing “a few brief remarks" on the “Questions to Atheists and Deists,” which had been previously inserted. To these “ remarks,” I intended at the time to reply. But being constantly engaged in a laborious occupation, and frequently indisposed, it bas hitherto been delayed. However, as no other writer has undertaken the task; as we are all apt to think our own arguments unanswerable, if no one attempts to refute them; and as I should be sorry to find arguments against natural and revealed religion, considered in this light, I am induced, though at this distance of time, to request a space in the Pioneer, for the following observations.
The writer of the letter asserts, that “the party maintạiņing the affirmative side of a question, is bound, in all reason, to attempt proving his thesis.” Farther on, he observes, that the questions come from a wrong quarter;" and towards the conclusion, he
says, " as the religious man has something to teach, he ought to leave questions to those whom he intends to convince by his arguments.” So that the impropriety of putting questions to unbelievers, may be considered as the principal burden of bis epistle. It occurs at the beginning, middle, and end, and, of course, merits the first place in our consideration.
If no evidence bad ever been adduced in behalf of na
tural and revealed religion, it would then certainly be extremely preposterous to call upon those who rejected them, to assign reasons for so doing. But when such evidence has been frequently stated and illustrated in almost every possible form, and in a manner adapted to every capacity, from the bulky volumes of Abernethy, Lardner, Paley, and Priestley, to the penny tract by the society for promoting religious knowledge; when every writer against religion, either natural or revealed, from Herbert and Hobbes, to Paine, Taylor, and Carlile, has been distinctly, and, as we think, satisfactorily answered; when it has been ably shown what immense advantages Christianity has derived from opposition;* surely there could be no great impropriety in referring to the different branches of this evidence, and requesting those who were not convinced by it, to point out wherein it is defective. And I appeal to any impartial reader of your miscellany, whether this be not the sole drift of the questions.
“S.” complains that he should be referred to “masterly treatises which have been published in defence of natural and revealed religion." But if the subject could not be fairly discussed in any less elaborate form, what was to be done? To any one whose understanding has not been bewildered by the sophistry of such writers as Mr. Hume, the being of a God seems capable of short, clear, direct, and decisive proof. For such unsophisticated minds, Enfield's “ Natural Theology," Holding's “ Plain and Familiar Lectures," and Dr. Priestley's “ Institutes,” may, perhaps, be sufficient (the two last mentioned works treat on the evidences of Christianity, as well as of Natural Religion). To those who wish to investigate the subject more deeply, a tract entitled “ Further Evidences of the Existence of the Deity, by George Clarke,”+ cannot be too strongly recommended. It is a very judicious work, and the writer has considered some of the most striking arguments against the existence of an intelligent First Cause, advanced in the “System of Nature.” In Numbers 9 and 44 of the Library of Useful Knowledge,” entitled “ Animal Mechanics,” the same point, is, at least to my apprehension, incontestibly proved. Crombie's
* See “ Dissertations relating to the Genius and the Evidences of Christianity,” by Dr. Gerard.
† Sold by Faulder, Bond-Street, and Hunter, St. Paul's Church Yard. If out of print, it were much to be wished that it should be re-published.
“ Natural Theology," of which an able review is given in the Pioneer for May last, is an invaluable work; and, to mention no more, Priestley's “ Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever," ought to be attentively read by every one who aspires to the character of a philosopher, before he finally relinquisbes either natural or revealed religion. But after all
, perhaps it would be quite as reasonable to inquire, whether a stately mansion had an architect, as whether the world had a Creator.
As to the Evidences of Christianity, those who object to elaborate works on the subject, who are unable to procure them, or to devote sufficient time to their besides the two last mentioned books, may be referred to Dr. John Clarke's “ Answer to the question, Why are you a Christian?” Wright's “Essay on Miracles," his “ Essay on a Future Life;" Dr. Channing's “ Discourse on the Evidences of Revealed Religion;” and “Evidences of Revealed Religion, by Samuel Thompson;"--all short tracts. And yet I feel confident, thàt scarcely any one could rise from a careful and attentive perusal of them, even if bis mind were somewhat biassed against Christianity, and say, “ I really believe it to be false."
Those who have leisure and inclination to enter more deeply into the subject, may be referred to Paley's “Evidences of Christianity," his “ Horæ Paulinæ;" Blunt's “ Veracity of the Gospels and Acts;" Milman's “Sermons at the Bampton Lecture, on the Character and Conduet of the Apostles;” Sheppard's “Divine Origin of Christianity, deduced from some of those Evidences wbich are not founded on the Authenticity of Scripture;” a
History of the Transmission of Ancient Books to Modern Times, by Isaac Taylor, Jud.;” and “ The Process of Historical Proof,” by the same writer.
Those whose minds have been impressed with the plausible arguments of Mr. Hume, in his “Essay on Miracles," should, if they would do justice to the subject or themselves, read Dr. Campbell's Answer to him. If they have read Gibbon's History, they should likewise read Watson's reply to it. If they have read the Age of Reason, they should read Watson, or Wakefield's answer to that publication. If it be possible for their minds to have been perplexed with the observations of Taylor and Carlile, they should by all means read Mr. Beard's and Dr. J. P. Smith's answers to them.
But besides these' works, the inquirer into the truth of Christianity, if- be be indeed sincere and in earnest, will endeavour to attain some acquaintance with the Scriptures themselves; especially those of the New Testament. For this purpose, if he be unable to read the books in the original languages, he will procure the most correct translations of them: he will obtain some information of the geographical situation of the places mentioned; of the prevailing manners and customs of the people; and of the different opinions, sects, and parties existing, when the transactions related took place. Having obtained this necessary preliminary knowledge, he will proceed to the perusal of the Christian Scriptures, with attention and impartiality; and in so doing, I doubt not but be will find numerous proofs of the integrity of the writers, and of their competency for relating what they had seen and heard, as it would have been impossible for him to discover by any other means. Without some such qualifications as these, how can he be able to judge fairly whether the narratives are credible or not?
I have been induced to make these remarks, by observing how little knowledge unbelievers in general (at least those of them with whom I have conversed I know nothing personally of “ S.”), appear to have, either of the nature of Christianity, or of the evidence on which it is founded. Indeed, some who have undertaken to write against this religion, have fallen into mistakes, which a very moderate share of such knowledge would have prevented. In some instances, were it not for its
very serious results, this want of information would appear almost ludi
Unbelievers certainly know, that such a religion as Christianity, is professed in this part of the world, and that it is said to be contained in the New Testament; but whether it enjoins us to do good for evil, or evil for good, many of them can scarcely recollect; nor whether Jesus Christ was put to death in Palestine or in Persia.
But though so many works have been published in defence and illustration of the Scriptures, as well as of Natural Religion, probably I have not enumerated the bundredth part of those which now exist; yet, it seems, we must not presume to ask unbelievers, why they reject them! We must “ leave questions to those whom we intend to convince by our arguments”! Surely, Sir, this is one of the most extraordinary prohibitions that ever was