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argument against the doctrine? In all the discourses of the apostles, recorded in the Acts, this doctrine is no where advanced. Is not this a proof that it formed no part of the gospel they preached? Upon the whole, it appears evident, that the doctrine of the trinity owes its rise to a personification of the divine attributes; and that of the atonement, in the first place, to the folly of attributing human passions and frailties to the all-perfect Jehovah; and next, to a literal interpretation of some figurative passages in scripture.
Philo. If the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ were not a satisfaction for sin, how are we delivered from the curse and condemnation of the law? The law demands rigid justice, and is a stranger to mercy. No man, from Adam to Christ, was found able to fulfil its demands; nor do I conceive the law to have been given with an intention to have been fulfilled: it is a transcript of the divine mind; a manifestation of his eternal perfections; that by showing man the holiness and purity of God, he might see, as in a mirror, his distance from God, and his incapability of approaching to him. And thus it pointed to Jesus Christ, who would fulfil its precepts, and bear its penalties, as his substitute. The apostle calls it our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.
Criton. That the law of God is viewed in this light, by all who hold the vicarious sacrifice of Christ, I allow; but surely it is a most danger
ous view of it. A law given to those who cannot obey it, is neither wise nor good; and to punish them for a breach of it, must be both unjust and cruel. Jehovah, who is both wise and good, could never be the author of such a law. The apostle tells the converts at Rome, that what the law says, it says to them who are under the law; but asserts, that the Gentiles had not the law. Rom. ii. 14. and iii. 19. It follows, that if Christ bore any curse for those who violated the law, it was for the Jews only; for the Gentiles, who had not the law, could not incur its penalties. But how does it appear that the law was a stranger to mercy, when it says, that God will show mercy unto thousands of generations, of those who love him, and keep his commandments? The law, in denouncing judgments upon those who transgress its commands, did no more, than the gospel does upon those who will not obey its precepts. The law which the apostle wrote most about, was the ceremonial law, the law of circumcision, and other rituals; and being under subjection to these, he calls being under a yoke of bondage. Gal. v. 1. The Jews were of necessity under this law, until Christ came, but it was altogether done away by the gospel.
Philo. Indeed, Criton, your arguments are so agreeable, both to scripture and reason, that I must do violence to my understanding, not to be convinced by them. But pray, in what does the dignity of the character of Jesus Christ con
sist, and what came he into the world to perform?
Criton. Our Lord declares his own person and character; he says, This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John xvii. 3. I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which sent me. v. 30. v. 30. He applied the words of the prophet to himself. Isa. xlii. 6, 7. The spirit of the Lord, said he, is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted; to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. Luke iv. 18, 19, 21. He came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the gospel. It is true, he says, I and my Father are one, but he sufficiently explains himself, when he prays that his disciples may be one with him and his Father, even as they are one. John-xvii. 11. The apostle writes to the Hebrews, Chap. ii. That it became him, by whom are all things, to make the captain of our salvation, in all respects, like unto his brethren; that he might be made perfect through sufferings. His ministry, his miracles, and, above all, his resurrection, were incontesti
ble proofs of his being the true Messiah, that prophet which should come into the world, like unto Moses. Zeal for the glory of God, and good will to men, were displayed through all his holy ministrations. He taught that repentance, faith, and a holy life, were necessary for obtaining pardon for our sins, and acceptance with God. With what magnanimity did he reprove the vices and errors of the times in which he lived! With what commanding evidence did he support his heavenly Father's honour and his own character, and confute his adversaries! And with what compassion did he mourn over his obstinate hearers, and grieve at the hardness of their hearts! He went about doing good.
Philo. I am now well persuaded of the truth of the doctrines that you advance, nor shall I be ashamed to profess my belief in them, though I know that such a profession will expose me to much censure from my old acquaintance: for how largely soever different persuasions may talk of liberality towards one another, yet the greater part of them are sufficiently bigotted, to consider the unitarian christians so heterodox, as not to deserve a name amongst them. But would these orthodox professors examine their principles, as you have done, and impartially compare them with the word of God, I am persuaded, that if they did not, in justice to the truth, renounce them, they would at least be more candid towards those who differ from them for conscience sake.
Criton. That you will meet with opposition from your old friends, is what I am well assured of; for their rulers, ever fearful of decreasing in number, if they discover a member doubting of the truth of his principles, immediately seek to reclaim his wandering thoughts, by assuring him, that such doubts proceed from the wicked one, and are suggested by the father of lies. Nay, some of them will not scruple to charge you with holding principles which you detest; for how many are there, who say, that the whole body of unitarians are deists! They might with equal truth, call them Mahometans. Mr. Penn, in a letter to Abp. Tillotson, says, "I abhor two "principles in religion, and pity them that own "them: the first is, obedience upon authority, "without conviction; and the other, destroying "them that differ from me, for God's sake. "Such a religion is without judgment, though "not without teeth."
Trinity twin-sister to Transub
CALEB FLEMING has the following passage, in his "Survey of the Search after Souls," p. 101:
"The advantage given to popery by the trinitarian opinion, all may know who have ever conversed with a Romish priest. What I have