Barton W. Stone An Address to the Christian Churches, Second Edition (1821)

  SECTION I. Of Trinity.
  SECTION II. Of the Son of God.
  SECTION III. The Atonement.
  SECTION IV. On the Operations of the Spirit.
  SECTION V. On Faith.
  SECTION VI. On Church Government.
  SECTION VII. On Partyism and Party Names.
  SECTION VIII. Of Schism.
  SECTION IX. Of Heresy.
  SECTION X. On Shakerism.

AN

ADDRESS

To the Christian Churches

IN

KENTUCKY, TENNESSEE & OHIO

ON SEVERAL IMPORTANT DOCTRINES

OF RELIGION.

SECOND EDITION--CORRECTED & ENLARGED.


BY BARTON W. STONE, E. C. C.

Report, say they, and we will report.--JER.


LEXINGTON, KY.

Printed by I. T. Cavins, & co.
1821.


Introduction to Second Edition.


DEAR BRETHREN--

      I AM gratified at your favorable reception of my ADDRESS, which I published in Nashville. A second edition is, by many of you, called for. Being desirous to disseminate truth, I here present you the second edition, corrected and considerably enlarged. I am well assured that every sentence I write will be read with a critical eye. Not an error in orthography--not an uncouth expression will escape animadversion,---Strictures on trifles of this nature are disregarded by the more intelligent. These search for truth; nor are they offended if she be found in plain, homespun robes. I am fond of criticism, if made in a sober, christian spirit. From such, profit is derived. But censorious strictures, not calculated to convince the understanding, but to inflame the passions of the unthinking bigot, are injurious to the cause of truth. In this edition I have brought to view some of the doctrines of my brethren, who oppose us. I have taken them, not from individual authors, but from their own professed creeds and standards. My reason for bringing to view these doctrines, is, that you may better judge of the reasonableness of our objections to them, and whether our brethren have good cause for censuring us so harshly.

      In my animadversions on these doctrines, I hope I shall not err from a christian spirit; if I should, I shall patiently bear the merited reproaches of the righteous.

      I hope, brethren, that you will read this Address with Berean honesty. Try every doctrine by the Bible, the only infallible standard. The [iii] sentiments I have written I profess to believe but I do not profess them to be the sentiments of the Christian Church, of which I am a member. I, only, am responsible for the book.

      If in my first publications I have written any thing contrary to the doctrines of this book now presented to you, I cordially relinquish them. Yet I am not conscious that the sentiments in general expressed in my former publications are at variance with any expressed in this. It is true, some things expressed in my first productions were written unguardedly, in language not sufficiently plain to express my real meaning. I am convinced of this by the many objections made against them by opposing brethren. Yet, to many, the language is sufficiently definite, and conveys the meaning I designed.--But were I in error then, I will, when convinced, as zealously oppose it as any or my brethren. Yet I think it argues a want or candor, if not of christian honesty, to attach those errors to a man which he has publicly disclaimed; and hold him up to public execration for all expression or sentiment which he has relinquished. Do not all Protestants acknowledge that even the first reformers from popery were once wrong? and that every man reformed was once in an error? Do not all agree that it would be uncandid to attach to them their former errors, and exhibit them thus clad to public odium?

      It has been deemed disgraceful in every age for a man to change his opinions, or to depart from public sentiment. This was a reason why the primitive christians, among Jews and Gentiles, were so much despised and persecuted by their countrymen. This was one reason why the reformers from popery shared the same fate--why Wesley and others were so much hated and rejected. I am very far from thinking it a disgrace [iv] to give up an error for the truth. Speaking thus, I express the real judgment of every christian. For what christian will join with Jews and pagans to condemn the primitive christians for relinquishing their former opinions? What Protestant will now blame the reformers, Luther and others, for departing from the errors in which they had been raised. Shall we commend them for their conduct? shall we applaud their firmness--and yet execrate the same things in our contemporaries?

      The disgrace attached to a change of opinion has ever stood in the way of reformation from error.That man, who loves and pursues truth for truth's sake, must expect to lose the favor and smiles of his friends, and bear unmerited reproach and scorn.--This I experimentally know, and so do my brethren. In time to come we may be commended; yet we seek not the praise of men. But to be commended by our Lord and Master is our chief aim and highest wish. We do not believe that all the seals of the Book are yet opened; therefore we wish not to bind our own hands, nor the hands of our brethren with the fatal cords of authoritative creeds and confessions of men. We wish ever to be open to truth, and to follow it whenever it appears beaming from the Book of God. [v]


AN ADDRESS, &c.


DEAR BRETHREN:--

      I ONCE thought and published to the world, that I never expected to appear again as a writer in public; but a desire for your good, and the advice of many of my brethren in the ministry, have induced me once more to take up my pen.

      For what many of us have esteemed precious truths by which our souls have been edified in Christ Jesus, we have been severely censured by our brethren of every name, and driven from their communion as intolerable heretics. You well know the flood of opposition which has been poured forth against us, and is yet pouring. I am sorry to say, that opposition has not been so well directed as to answer any valuable purpose. It has rather tended to irritate and bewilder, than to convince and reclaim. We are not to be driven from our sentiments by bare assertions--ill-natured scurrility--heretical names, nor pathetic lamentations. These substitutes for argument have been frequently tried; but to me and many others, in vain. Should we be in an error, such things have a direct tendency to establish us in it. I should be in a fair way to receive conviction by a candid acknowledgment of the weight of my argument, should it be specious, than by scores of assertions of its error, or by evasive shifts to elude its force, or by artful endeavors to veil it by sophistry, or by eloquent trifling.

      We have borne the opposition against us with tolerable patience. But on a retrospect I fear we have sometimes deviated from that charity, [1] "which suffereth long and is kind--which envieth not--vaunteth not itself--is not puffed up--doth not behave itself unseemly--seeketh not her own--is not easily provoked--thinketh no evil--beareth all things--believeth all things--hopeth all things--endureth all things."

      Zeal in a good cause is certainly commendable and right; but zeal, untempered with charity, meekness and knowledge, is a dangerous thing. It was this that kindled the flames of the inquisition, and smiled at the tortures and groans of burning saints.--It was this that led Mary of England with her humble servants, to bathe their hands in the blood of innocence. It was this that so frequently crimsoned the earth with the blood of martyrs. It was even this that killed the Lord of glory and his inspired apostles. The mischiefs done by it are incalculable. Angry debates--bloody strifes--cruel persecutions--divisions of christians, &c. originated from this untempered zeal. If in this we have erred, as others, may our merciful God forgive us, and preserve us in future from such offences!

      Being well convinced of the fallibility of mortals--seeing the fluctuations of the great and good men among us from system to system, and then reverting to the relinquished system--viewing the confidence of every sect in the rectitude of their peculiar doctrines, and all believing and declaring they are honest--hearing every party pronouncing us wrong, and joining their general voice against us--seeing these things I determined to re-examine my views of the gospel. I have no interest in being wrong. Upon the rectitude of my faith and practice, my eternal interests depend; and the interests of many, I believe, are deeply involved in mine.

      I pay deference to the judgment of the great and pious men who have lived before us, or [2] contemporary with us. But great and good men have differed. Therefore from the Bible I wish to draw my sentiments, and by the Bible to have them judged.

      It is well known to you that there are many reports of a heretical nature in circulation against us as a people, and especially against us, your ministers, which I think are without any just grounds. With these reports the more credulous shield themselves against the plainest truths of the gospel when preached by us, or fly from us as incarnate fiends--these have not only dissolved with many the sacred ties of christian love, but have even destroyed the bonds of natural friendship for us--and by these the ears of many are stopt, and the heart hardened against the melting voice of mercy. Besides these common effects, the weak and fearful among ourselves are sometimes staggered, and checked in their progress to heaven. From attention to these reports, a stranger to us would be induced to think that we had denied every essential or fundamental doctrine of christianity.

      It is true we have ventured to deny what is termed the orthodox explanation of some very popular doctrines. But will any candid man say, that this is a denial of the doctrines themselves? Should any say, we deny their explanation of such doctrines, they would speak correctly. For instance: Calvinists say, the Methodists deny election, Methodists deny the charge and say, they believe in election. Had Calvinists said, the Methodists deny our explanation of that doctrine, they would have spoken the truth.

      The doctrines of the Bible, we believe, have never divided christians; but human opinions of those doctrines without charity, have always done the mischief. Man, poor, ignorant man, would dictate to the consciences of his fellows; [3] and if they do not receive his dogmas or opinions, they are branded with the odious names of heretic, infidel, &c, and their name and sentiments are trumpeted abroad, distorted, misrepresented and blackened--for what purpose? Professedly to promote the interests of religion--but intentionally, I fear, with many, just to excite the popular clamor and indignation against them, and to raise themselves on their ruins.--Poor, weak man wishes the world to believe him infallible. If not, why so tenacious of untenable principles? Why not abandon them when proved to have no foundation in truth? Why not relinquish them when refuted with the clearest evidence? It must be, because he cannot brook the idea of being accounted a fallible man. Yet all, but the Pope of Rome, and a few of his degenerate sons in our day, disclaim infallibility, at least in words.

      Believing mankind to be fallible creatures, we therefore feel a spirit of toleration and union for all those christians, who maintain the divinity of the Bible, and walk humbly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who live by faith in his name, though they, may hold opinions contrary to ours. We wish others to exercise the same spirit toward us, that we might be mutually edified--that the interests of our Redeemer's kingdom might be advanced--and that foul blot upon christianity, the division of christians, might be wiped away, and thus a powerful weapon against revelation be wrested from the hand of infidelity. We ardently desire to see this spirit universally prevail throughout the churches of the various denominations. And in order to clear the way on our part, I will endeavor to satisfy inquiries respecting those doctrines, which report says, some of us hold.

      I doubt not that, as with others, so with us, there are ignorant and unguarded persons, who [4] give false statements of doctrines held by the society with which they are particularly connected; but candor forbids us to impute such to the whole society. We do not wish to conceal from the world that there are Calvinists and Arminians in many doctrines in our communion, and yet we live in the closest bonds of christian union. In this we rather glory; because we see the practicability of christians living together in love and union, who differ in opinions. This has been considered almost impossible for ages past; hence the long but vain practice of church and state to enforce uniformity by laws and penalties, on the professors of christianity. To force a man to believe contrary to his convictions, is impossible. He may hypocritically profess what be secretly disbelieves.

      Having made these general observations, I proceed to state my views of those doctrines, said to be denied by us. [5]


SECTION I. OF TRINITY.

      That there is but one living and true God, is a plain doctrine of revelation. "We know that an Idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called Gods, whether in Heaven or in earth (as there be Gods many and Lords many). But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." 1 Cor. 8, 4-6. Also Deut. 6, 4. Mark 12, 29, &c.

      This doctrine is also contained in the creeds of every sect of christians with whom I am acquainted. "There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, without body, parts or passions." Conf. Fth. chap. 2, sec. 1st. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts. Meth. Dis. chap. 1, sec. 2.

      If then all agree, that there is but one only living and true God; all must agree that there are not two or three such Gods. If all agree that this one only God is an infinite spirit without parts; all must agree that this infinite spirit is not a compound of two or three spirits, beings, or Gods. These things are abundantly evident, concerning which there can be no dispute.

      The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. This is acknowledged by the celebrated Calvin, who calls the Trinity "a popish God, or idol, a mere human invention, a barbarous, insipid, and profane word; and he utterly condemns that prayer in the litany--O holy, glorious, and blessed Trinity, &c. as unknown to the prophets and apostles, and grounded upon no testimony of God's holy word." Admon. 1st. ad Polonos--Cardale's true Doct.--The language, like the man, I confess is too severe. [6]

      The doctrine of Trinity has long been a subject of endless controversy among theologists. I have thought the contest a war of words, while the combatants believed the same thing; seeing they all maintain the divine unity. On this doctrine many things are said, which are dark, unintelligible, unscriptural, and too mysterious for comprehension. Many of these expressions we have rejected; and for this reason we are charged with denying the doctrine itself. I shall state the doctrine, as generally stated and defended by our brethren, who oppose us, and give my reasons why I cannot receive it.

      It is commonly stated, that there are three persons in one God, of one substance, power and eternity. To me it is evident that they, who maintain this proposition, do not--cannot believe, that these three persons are three distinct spirits, beings or Gods, each possessed of the personal properties of intelligence, will and power; for this would not only contradict the scriptures, but also those sections of their creeds just quoted, which declare that there is but one only living and true God, without parts. They must understand the term persons in God, not in the proper and common sense of the word person; but in such a qualified sense as to exclude the notion of three distinct spirits or beings. What this qualified sense should be, has long puzzled divines; and in no proposition are they more divided. The cause of this perplexity is obvious, because no idea of it is to be found in revelation, nor reason. Revelation no where declares that there are three persons of the same substance in the one only God; and it is universally acknowledged to be above reason.--Imagination has been set afloat, taking different courses in different men, and wandering through the unknown fields of eternity, infinity and incomprehensibility. Their labors have been great; but after all their vast excursions, they have ended in mystery. [7]

      Some think, that by the three persons in the one God, is intended his power, wisdom and love, personified. This is mere supposition, and wants the authority of scripture. But should this be admitted, we should never know where to stop in forming persons in the one God. With equal propriety we might personify every perfection of the Almighty. The most rigid Unitarians believe that power, wisdom and love are in the one God; but they object to the notion of calling them three persons in God.

      Others, by three persons in God, seem to signify that the three persons are three offices in the one God, as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. If this be granted, then upon the same principle we may multiply persons in Deity; for he sustains many other offices as king, judge, lawgiver, &c.

      The doctrine, that there are three persons in one God, is principally founded on I John 5, 7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." From reading the context, it is plain, that the matter testified of, is that Jesus is the son of God. The Father testified this, when he spake from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." The Word or Son, testified the same by the many wonders he performed when incarnate. This also the Holy Ghost witnessed by the many miracles wrought thro' the apostles. These three are one. They are one, or agree in their testimony; as, in the next verse, the three witnesses on earth agree in one. To say these three are one God, would contradict the original; for the word hen, translated one, is in the neuter gender, and cannot agree with the word God. Nor is it correct to say, these three are one being; for Paul and Apollos are said to be one--1 Cor. 3, 8. "Now he that planteth and he that watereth are (hen) one." No one imagines that they were one being; but agree, that they were two distinct men engaged in one work, in one spirit. Our blessed Saviour prays the Father, that all believers might be (hen) one, even as he and the Father were (hen) one. Now as all believers are not one substance nor one [8] being; and as they are all one, even as the Father and Son are one; we must then conclude, that the Father and Son are not one substance, nor one being. This is farther evident from John 10, 30, "I and my Father are (hen) one," says Jesus. Yet in the same Evangelist he said, "My Father is greater than I." John 14, 28. If they were one substance, or one being, there could be no comparison; as one cannot be greater or less than itself. The fact is, all believers are one in spirit, purpose, and mind--and this is the oneness which our Lord prayed they might have--this was the oneness of Paul and Apollos.--This appears to me to be the oneness of the Father and the Son.

      The text, 1 John, 5, 7, the cause of so much altercation, has long been disputed, as being of divine authority. It is not found in Griesbach's Greek Testament, reckoned to be the most correct.--It is not found in the Syrian Christian's Bible, which Dr. Buchanan examined in the East.--Many learned men reject it, and even Dr. Doddridge doubts its divine authority. After all, I am unwilling to reject it; but am confident it cannot establish the notion of three persons in one God.

      The doctrine of a plurality of persons in the one God, is argued from the plural termination of the Hebrew word Elohim, translated God. As great stress is laid on this argument, I will particularly examine it. Here it will be necessary to introduce the rule in the Hebrew Grammar, by which we shall determine the point. "Pluralis pro singulari positus, denotat magnitudinem, et excellentiam"--which, literally translated, is, "A plural put for a singular denotes greatness and excellency."--Robertson's Heb. Gram., p. 240.

      Now, according to this rule, Elohim, God, is put in the plural; because the word expresses dignity and majesty. For the same reason, the Lord said unto Moses, "See, I have made thee Elohim, a God unto Pharaoh"--Exod. 7, 1. No one supposes, that because Moses was called Elohim in the plural, there must have been a plurality of persons in him; but he [9] was so called because of his dignity and greatness. For the same reason Aaron called the molten calf he made Elohim--Exod. 32, 4, 8--wishing, by expressing it in the plural, to attach dignity and majesty to it, and by this means to excite reverence in the minds of its worshippers.

      For the same reason, the Israelites called their idol Baal-berith, their Elohim, God--Judg. 9, 33.--And the Philistines called their idol Dagon, in the plural, Elohim, God--Judg. 16, 22, 24. Also the idol Ashteroth, Chemosh, Milcom, Baalzebub, Nisroch, &c. though each is in the singular; yet each is called Elohim, God, in the plural--1 Kings, 11, 32; 2 Kings, 1, 2, & 19, 37. No doubt that those idol worshippers expressed their particular idol in the plural, because of its supposed dignity, majesty and excellence.

      Again, we will apply the same rule to the plural word Adonim, master, "And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham, his master," his Adonim in the plural--Gen. 24, 9, 10, 51. So Potiphar is called Joseph's Adonim, master--Gen. 39, 2, 3, 7, 8, 16, 19, 20. So the captain of a guard was called in the plural Adonim, lord--Gen. 40, 7. So Joseph, the ruler of Egypt, was called Adonim, a lord--Gen. 42, 30, 33, & 44, 8. In all these places the plural is used for the singular, according to the well known rule; because the word expresses dominion, dignity and greatness.

      It would be unnecessary to multiply quotations. These surely are sufficient to prove to any unprejudiced mind, that the plural word, put for a singular, does not imply a plurality of persons. If it does, then there was a plurality of persons in Moses--in Aaron's calf--in each of the idols I have named--in Abraham--in Potiphar--in Joseph--and in the captain of Pharaoh's guard. There are surely none who will affirm it. If not, why, or how can they affirm, that there is a plurality of persons in the one God, because he is called Elohim?

      Another argument, considered of great weight to establish the notion of a plurality of persons in the [10] one God, is the use of the pronouns us and our, when applied to him. "Let us make man in our image"--Gen. 1, 26. This and similar texts I shall hereafter explain, as addressed by the Father to the Son, "By whom he created all things." I therefore, for the present, wave the farther consideration of it.

      That the scriptures speak of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is believed and admitted by christians of every name; and that these three are one in some sense, I think, none will deny. My view of this oneness I have expressed a few pages back. If they are one in any other sense, I shall rejoice to know it.

      It is possible that some, more attached to the unintelligible language of their ancestors than to the simple expressions of scripture, may retain notions or words contrary to what I have stated. They may so darken the doctrine by words without knowledge, as to bewilder and lose themselves, and then resolve it all into mystery; and lampoon and bite their fellow christians for not receiving their own inventions. But brethren, I hope "You have not so learned Christ, it so be ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus."

      Others, with whom bigotry outweighs a thousand good arguments, may be deterred from receiving this view of trinity by being told that it savors of Arianism, Socinianism, or some other reputed heresy. These and such like names have driven many into opposite extremes, and kept them from that happy medium, where truth commonly lies. I know not what the real sentiments of Arius were, having never seen his writings; nor have I seen his sentiments, but through the coloring of his enemies. They, who will put themselves to the trouble of reading this address, will clearly see whose doctrines, mine or those of my brethren who oppose us, most savor of those just mentioned.

      Others, who have labored through mazy volumes of scholastic learning on this doctrine, may be disposed to reject my view of it, because of its simplicity. They have been long taught that the doctrine was a high, incomprehensible mystery. However [11] mysterious it may be, the scriptures never call it a mystery. It is a term attached to it by man. The explanation of this doctrine, as given by some, is truly an incomprehensible mystery. They have said, "The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; and the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son." A part of this explanation is indeed a mystery, not found in revelation nor reason. We are told by some, that it is an evidence of an humble heart to believe it. Can any man believe it, whether he be humble or not? They, who profess to believe nothing without testimony, cannot; because the two last propositions are not in the Bible. They who profess to believe nothing before they understand it, cannot. Therefore it is as incredible as it is incomprehensible. So it appears to me. But if others receive it as an article of their faith, I judge them not, nor reject them from the arms of charity. But to make it a term of christian fellowship I think unwarrantable from the word of God. A person of a fruitful mind may form a very mysterious doctrine: For instance--He might affirm that the third person of trinity, the Holy Ghost, was an uncompounded compound of "seven spirits," or seven persons, all co-equal, co-essential, and co-eternal. To make this mystery pass for truth, he might run through heaven and earth to shew how many other mysteries exist. He might find a mystery in the existence, the eternity, and infinity of God--in the connexion of soul and body, &c. These mysteries, he might argue, are believed; and why not his mysterious doctrine too?--The answer is, because these are revealed but his doctrine is not;--these, though above reason, are not contrary to it; but his is both above and contrary to reason. If a doctrine be revealed, however mysterious it may be, I will humbly receive it. My reason shall ever bow to revelation; but it shall never be prostrated to human contradictions and inventions.--Pious and good men have received such doctrines. God loves and pities them; and so will I. [12]


SECTION II. OF THE SON OF GOD.

      We have also been charged with denying the Son of God; or in other words, his divinity; than which, I think, there can be no charge more unjust. This I hope to evince in the sequel of this section. The reason why we are thus charged, seems to be, because we have differed from what are termed the orthodox opinions on this subject. My reasons for thus differing I feel bound to state; and then shall endeavor to exhibit my own views as plainly as I can.

      There are three general opinions respecting the Son of God. One is, That he is the eternal Son of God--eternally begotten of the Father. Another is, that the Son of God never existed until he was born of Mary 1820 years ago. The third is that the Son of God did not begin to exist 1820 years ago; nor was he eternally begotten; but that he was the first begotten of the Father, the first born of every creature; brought forth before all worlds; and in the fullness of time was united with a body prepared for him; and in whom dwelt all the fullness of Godhead bodily. This last opinion I profess to be mine.

      In order to avoid obscurity in the investigation of this important subject, I will briefly notice the two former opinions, before I particularly state my own.

      The first opinion is, that "The Son of God, the second person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and of her substance. So that two whole, perfect and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition or confusion, which person is very God and very man, the only mediator between God and man." Conf. Fth., chap. 8, sec. 2. In the same book he is called, "The eternal Son of God."--Lar. Cat., Q. 36, 37. [13]

      "The Son of God, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and the manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us."--Meth. Dis., Art. 2.

      In these articles I find several opinions against which I object. If I misapprehend their true meaning my brethren, who wrote and subscribe to the articles, will readily excuse me; for they themselves acknowledge the articles to be mysteries, therefore beyond their own apprehension.

      That the Son of God was very and eternal God, and yet eternally begotten, is a doctrine to which I cannot subscribe; because the terms eternal Son--eternally begotten are not found in the Bible. As they are human inventions, by human reason they may be tried, without the imputation of impiety. According to the before cited articles, the Father and Son are one eternal substance. The voice of reason is, that the same individual substance cannot beget itself, nor be begotten by itself. Therefore the substance of the Son was never begotten nor born. If it be granted, that the substance of the Son was eternal, and therefore never begotten; but still urged that the Son was eternally begotten; then it must follow that, what was eternally begotten had no substance, and therefore, was not a real being. This is virtually to deny the Son.

      If language conveys ideas, it is plain that the act of begetting implies a previous agent; and that the agent and the act must precede the thing begotten; therefore the Son could not be eternally begotten.

      If the Son be very and eternal God, and as there is but one only true God; then it will follow that the Son begat himself and was his own Father!--that he was active in begetting, and passive in being begotten. I would humbly ask the advocates for eternal generation, did the Son of God exist before he was [14] begotten? If he did, he never was begotten at all--if he did not, he was not begotten from eternity; therefore not the very and eternal God. Did the Father from eternity beget a real, eternal being, or not?--If the Son was a real, eternal being, then there must have been two real, eternal beings, the Father who begat, and the Son who was begotten; if not two real, eternal beings, then the real being of the Son is denied.

      I again ask; Did not the Father send a real being, his own Son, from heaven into our world to save sinners? If a real being was sent from heaven, this being was either eternal or not--if eternal, it argues two eternal Gods; or that the same one God was sending and sent at the same instant--was active in sending and passive in being sent; which is impossible.

      I am confident that the advocates for the doctrine, that the Son was eternally begotten, do not--cannot believe that a real, intelligent being was begotten from eternity; nor that a real, eternal, and intelligent being was sent into the world by the Father. What then was begotten from eternity? What was sent by the Father into the world? Will it be answered, that it was a personal property--a divine perfection--a glorious effulgence?--that this was the Son of God?--that this was very God?--To say this is certainly a denial of the Son, as a real, proper person; For no one can suppose that a property--a perfection--or effulgence, is a real intelligent being.

      With the notion of the Son being very and eternal God, let us turn to Bethlehem, and humbly ask; Who is he that was born of the Virgin Mary! Our brethren, in the before cited articles, say that the second person of trinity, very and eternal God took man's nature in the womb of the virgin, and of her was born. Is it possible that our brethren believe that the very and only true God, was born of Mary? And is Mary acknowledged by Protestants to be the mother of the eternal God. Tertullian says, that he would not believe that the sovereign God descended into the womb of a woman though even the scripture itself should say it.--Cardale's true doc. page 184. [15]

      Let us turn to the cross and ask, who is he that suffers, bleeds and dies? The articles before quoted say, That the second person of trinity was united with our nature, that the two whole and entire natures, Godhead and manhood, were inseparably united, never to be divided, very God and very man in one person, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile the Father to us. Hence we must conclude that the very God suffered, yea, truly suffered!--that the very and only one God was crucified! yea, was dead!--and buried too!!--and continued three days and nights under the power of death!--for the two natures, Godhead and manhood, are inseparably united never to be divided--therefore as the human body was in Joseph's tomb, so must be the Godhead too!--All this was done and suffered by the very God, say our brethren in the forecited, articles, to reconcile the Father to us! Here is certainly the notion of two distinct Gods held forth--the one an unchangeable God; the other a changeable one--The one a living God; the other a dead, buried one--the one reconciling; the other reconciled! But as all acknowledge, that there is but one only living God; therefore we must conclude that the one that was dead was not that one only living and true God. And as all acknowledge the one only living and true God is without passions; therefore he that suffered such exquisite passion on the cross, was not the only living and true God.

      All must acknowledge that the only true God cannot suffer; for he was as happy during the suffering of Jesus, as he had been from eternity. I ask again, Who suffered on the cross? Our brethren say, that the Son was very and eternal God; then it follows that the Son did not suffer nor die; for very and eternal God cannot suffer nor die. I repeat the question, Who suffered on the cross? The answer must be, according to these opinions, not the Son of God who came from heaven, but a mere man, born of Mary thirty-three years before. How then is the love of God commended in his death? Let our brethren, who continually say that we deny Christ, and the virtue of his blood--let them beware lest they be [16] found, at least in words, doing it themselves.

      If the two natures, Godhead and manhood, be inseparably united, never to be divided, as our brethren say, Why did the Son of God on the cross cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"--Why did he say to the thief, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise," and yet his body in the tomb? How can we conceive of the Godhead lying with the manhood in the grave? How can the Son, in the end of the world, be subject to the Father? If the natures be inseparably united, then his soul was dead and buried with the body. This is materialism.

      It is also affirmed by our brethren, the Son of God "took to him a reasonable soul, as well as a true body." Sar: Cat. 2, 37--That he took a reasonable soul, is a doctrine without a shadow of Bible proof; the contrary of which is plainly declared. "A body hast thou prepared me--O God." Heb: 10, 5. "The word was made flesh." Joh. 1, 14. "Christ was the seed of David according to the flesh." Rom. 1, 3. "For as much as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same"--Heb: 2, 16. If there is one text to shew that the Son of God took to himself a reasonable soul, I should be glad to know it.

      Though the notions that the Son, the second person of trinity, was eternally begotten--that the very God was united with human nature in the womb of Mary, and born of her--that Godhead suffered, died and was buried--that the very God suffered thus to reconcile the Father to us--though these notions appear absurd to our limited capacities; yet I would humbly admit them, if the scriptures ever made such declarations. But as I find no such declarations in the Bible, I cannot admit them as articles of my faith. Some, better read in the divinity of the schools, than in that of Jesus and his disciples, may be ready to call this blasphemy. Of such I would ask: where did Jesus or his disciples ever teach or propose such doctrines? Search the scriptures.

      I am confident that mystery will be urged as the great argument to refute and cover these difficulties. But shall we cover ourselves in the mantle of mystery, [17] woven by our own hands? Shall we cling to a mystery which strikes at the very existence of the Son of God?--a mystery which destroys the efficacy of his blood--the commendation of God's love to sinners, and involves so many absurdities and contradictions? Mystery is one of the names of the whore of Babylon, written in large letters on her forehead. Her daughters have the same mark. Rev. 17. Charity would hold my pen from writing this; yet truth convinces her it is expedient.

      Long ago John had a vision of these things in the Isle of Patmos. He saw a star (an angel of the church) fall from Heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit--with this key (not the key of knowledge) he opened the dark cabinet of hell, and let out a flood of smoke (the doctrines of devils and commandments of men) which darkened the sun (the glorious sun of righteousness, whose existence, character and glory have long been obscurely seen.) O Lord, with the breath of thy mouth blow away the smoke from the air, that the Sun of righteousness may break forth with healing in his beams! Let the King be seen once more in his beauty, and thy truth in her white and spotless robes!

      The second opinion of the Son of God, that he never existed before 1820 years ago, when born of Mary, I will now consider. Though this opinion at first view appears infinitely variant from the one I have just noticed; yet by a little attention, we shall find them to be one and the same. I think, as I have already stated, that they, who maintain that the Son was eternally begotten, do not believe that a real, eternal, and distinct being from the Father was begotten, and sent into the world; but an effulgence, or personal property or perfection, or a something without a substance, called the Son of God.--This was united with a reasonable soul and true body 1820 years ago; and then, and not till then, had it a real and proper existence as a person. They, who maintain the second opinion, will not object to this notion, but will express their views in the strongest language, that in this man, miraculously conceived, dwelt all the fullness of Godhead [18] bodily, to enable him to do the work for which he was sent.

      My brethren who maintain that the Son was eternally begotten, may think I misrepresent their opinions. If I have, it is without design. When they so unequivocally express "That there is but one only living and true God without parts," I thence conclude that they do not believe that another real and eternal God was begotten from eternity, and sent down from heaven into the world. If they do, there is a pointed contradiction. If that, which was begotten from eternity, and sent into the world, be not a real, intelligent being, then call it by what name you please, it does not alter the matter, it is still not a real being. If so, the two opinions are one, which is that the Son of God had no proper or real existence till born of the Virgin Mary 1820 years ago. This doctrine I shall endeavor to refute, by stating and proving my own. Thus Trinitarians and Socinians, though always contending, are in my view, the same on this doctrine.

      My own views of the Son of God, are, that he did not begin to exist 1820 years ago; nor did he exist from eternity; but was the first begotten of the Father before time or creation began--that he was sent by the Father 1820 years ago into the world, and united with a body, prepared for him; and that in him dwelt all the fullness of Godhead bodily. These propositions I will endeavor to establish by arguments drawn from the oracles of truth.

      ARG. 1. The Son of God is called the first begotten--the first born of every creature--Heb. 1, 6.--"When he bringeth the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Col. 1, 15. "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature." He is also called the only begotten of the Father--John 1, 14. 3, 16, 18. And God is frequently called the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ--Eph. 1, 3. 1 Pet. 1, 3, &c. Now as the one only true God was never begotten nor born--then the expressions, the first begotten--the first born, cannot apply to the Son as very God. As [19] to the flesh he was not the first born, for millions were begotten and born before him: Hence I conclude that the Son of God was begotten before 1820 years ago, and yet not from eternity; but before creation began to be. Humbly would I suggest that Jesus is called the only begotten of the Father, because the Father begat him of and by himself, without the means of any other; but he begat and brought forth all other beings by his Son.

      Some have thought that these expressions, first born--first begotten, refer to the resurrection of Christ from the dead, as in Rev. 1, 5. Coll. 1, 18.

      But Jesus was called the first begotten when he was brought into the world; and this was prior to his resurrection. And the expression, the first born, in Col. 1, 15, evidently refers to a period anterior to creation. Should it be construed to signify his resurrection from the dead, then the Apostle would be chargeable with an uncommon tautology in 18th v.

      ARG. 2. The Bible informs us that "God created all things by Jesus Christ"--Eph. 3, 9.--"God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son--by whom also he made the worlds"--Heb. 1, 2.--"Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature? For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created by him and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist"--Col. 1, 15, 17. "All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made"--John 1, 3. "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him"--1 Cor. 8, 6. From these texts it is plain, that the one God, whose name is the Father, is the only efficient cause of all things; and that the one Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, is the instrumental cause of all things. This proves that there are two distinct beings; and that the Son, the first born of every creature, existed before all worlds, angels, and men, consequently before [20] he was united with the body prepared for him. To say the Son was very God, and yet that the Father created all things by him, is the same as to say, that one God created by another God. "But to us there is but one God, the Father."

      ARG. 3. "And now, Oh! Father, glorify thou me, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was," John 17, 5. The person praying was not very God; for he prays to God. He prays for a glory which he once had, but has not now; for he emptied himself of it--Phil. 2, 8, therefore cannot be very God, for God is unchangeable. The glory for which he prays, he had with the Father before the world was; therefore he must have existed before the world was. Hence it is evident, that a person, which was not very God, existed with the Father before the world was: and this person was the Son of God.

      ARG. 4. Prov. 8--22, 23, 24, "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth, &c." This by general consent has been applied to the Son of God. But the ideas of being set up and brought forth cannot apply to him as very God; for God was never set up or brought forth. The period of his being set up and brought forth was from everlasting, which is explained by the subsequent words, from the beginning or ever the earth was. This exactly comports with John 17, 5; and proves the pre-existence of the Son of God.

      The learned, by a glance at the Hebrew text, would read it thus: The Lord possessed me, the beginning of his way; the particle in being omitted, as not found in the original. This more exactly agrees with the doctrine of the Son, being the first begotten of the Father. The learned also know the Hebrew word olem, translated from everlasting, is much more frequently used for an indefinite than for infinite time. See Parkhurst's Heb. Lex. on the word olem. Hence the Latin olim, which every Tyro in Latin knows, refers, not to infinite, but to indefinite time.

      Some think that the Son of God is not intended in the text, but wisdom, a perfection of Deity. But upon a moment's reflection, can any affirm that the wisdom of God was ever brought forth, and therefore not eternal. The Hebrew word helel, translated brought forth, simply signifies a parturition or travailing in birth. To apply this to wisdom, as a perfection, would be unintelligible; but the application to the Son of God, perfectly accords with truth.

      ARG. 5. 2d Cor. 8, 9--"Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." The person spoken of in the text cannot be very God, for God is unchangeable. He cannot from being rich, become poor. The fact of Jesus being rich, and becoming poor, never took place in this world; for in the goods of time he never was rich, but always poor. Matt. 8, 9. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." Neither in this world was he rich in grace, and became poor; for though the fullness and riches of grace were in him, yet in grace he never became poor. If then the circumstance of the person being rich, and becoming poor, can neither apply to very God, nor to Jesus when in the world, then it follows that Jesus was rich before he came into the world, and therefore existed before he came into it. But it has been proved that this person was not very God--and it is evident that his body did not exist before the world was; therefore it was the Son of God, who existed in the bosom of the Father, rich in glory; yet for our sakes he emptied himself of it, or became poor.

      ARG. 6. John 1--15, 17. John the Baptist's testimony of Jesus. "He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for he was before me. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." John declares [22] that the Son of God was before him. Now as a man, he did not exist before John; for John was the elder. He explains his meaning of his fullness of grace have all we received. Have received is in the past time. Then John confesses that he, and all his contemporary brethren, and all the saints in all former ages received their grace from the fullness of Jesus. Lest any might think they received grace from Moses or from the law, he adds, that grace came by Jesus Christ. If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; if Enoch, Abel, and Adam, received grace, from whom did they receive it? Surely out of the fullness of the Son of God. If those ancient saints had the true knowledge of God, by whom was that knowledge made known? By the Son of God; he hath declared him. If then grace, and the knowledge of God, came by Jesus, and this grace and knowledge came to the first saints, then the Son of God was not only before John, but also before Abraham, before Adam; not his body, for this was the seed of Abraham, and that with which the Son was, 1820 years ago, united. If the old saints did not receive their grace and salvation from the Son of God, then, in heaven, they cannot sing the song of the redeemed, which John heard, ascribing their salvation, grace, and glory, to the Lamb.

      In this sense the Son of God is called the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last. Between the Alpha and Omega are all the letters, by which are formed words and sentences; and by these words and sentences are conveyed ideas and information. He is therefore called the Alpha and Omega, because from him we have received all the information and revelations, which infinite wisdom saw needful. He is not only the Alpha or beginning of this revelation to Adam, Abel, and the old saints, but he is also the Omega or ending of these revelations to the world--the first and the last, in revealing to a lost world the knowledge and grace of God. To apply this text, as is generally done, to the Being of the Son of God, as the first being, and therefore eternal God, is gloomy in the extreme. For if he is the first being he is also the last; and if the last [23] being there must be an end of all other beings--therefore the life of all the redeemed must come to a perpetual end.

      ARG. 7. The scriptures assert that the Son of God "ascended up where he was before." John 6, 62. But the same scriptures teach us that he ascended up to heaven--to the right hand of God, where Stephen saw him--above all the principalities and powers. Therefore we conclude that he was in heaven--at the right hand of God--far above all principalities and powers, before he ever descended into this world.

      ARG. 8. The scriptures speak of the humiliation of the Son of God. "He humbled himself," Phil. ii: 6. Humiliation is a change from a superior to an inferior state. Now God cannot be humbled--he cannot change. As man, we see no steps of humiliation in Jesus--he was born in a low state--lived and died the same; therefore as man, he never descended from a high state or condition to a low one. But view him as the Son of God, how astonishing the stoop! The Son of God! the first begotten of the Father--born of him in the ages of eternity, before time was born or measured by revolving spheres--before creation lived.--The Son of God! in the bosom of the Father, in immeasurable bliss.--The Son of God! by whom were made the innumerable worlds that bespangle the firmament--by whom were made all the happy orders of angels, principalities and powers, that blaze around the throne of God--that bow and worship at the feet of their maker, and from whose tongues roll ceaseless praise.--The Son of God! at whose smiles his holy creation is transported, at whose frowns his enemies tremble. The Son of God! enthroned at the right hand of the Father--behold the Son of God! a helpless, weeping babe in Bethlehem--wading thro' seas of distress through life, hated, insulted, persecuted by the poor creatures of his power, and objects of his love; view the Son of God, suffering, bleeding, dying on the cross. All nature shuddered at the sight. It is not a mere man that suffers and dies: it is the Son of God! Under the power of death, he lies in Joseph's tomb. Here is humiliation! a theme of astonishment and eternal praise. [24]

      ARG. 9. It is generally believed that the Father made a covenant with the Son, concerning the redemption of sinners, before the son came into the world; in which covenant the Father promised to hold his hand, help him in the great work, and preserve him till the salvation was accomplished, &c. Isaiah, 42, 6; 49, 8. We cannot see how the one only living and true God could covenant with himself; nor how the Father could make such promises to the Son as very God. But if we conceive the person to whom the promises were made, to be the Son of God, the application is easy, and natural.

      ARG. 10. Heb. 10, 5-7. "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me. Then said I, lo, I come, to do thy will, O God." The person, for whom the body was prepared, was not God; for he came to do the will of God. So he speaks John 6, 32. "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Hence it appears that a person existed in heaven previous to his union with the body prepared for him, and that this person was not very God; therefore it must be the Son of God.

      Other arguments I might advance to establish the proposition of the pre-existence of the Son of God; but I think those already adduced are sufficient. I now proceed to establish the doctrine of his divinity, as I find it revealed in the scriptures.

      Some have thought that the divinity of Christ is sufficiently established by proving as I have done, that he is the only begotten Son of God--begotten by and of the Father himself, and therefore he must be divine, as proceeding immediately from the divine nature. So the son of Adam was human, as proceeding from human nature. But waving this point, for the present, I shall come to the unequivocal language of inspiration.

      Jesus taught his disciples the doctrine of his divinity very particularly at the close of his ministry on earth. He had collected his little family together--had informed them of his exit from this world to his [25] Father, and the persecutions and afflictions they should endure for his name. At this intelligence they were sorrowful--Jesus then to comfort them, drew aside the veil of futurity, and pointed to them the glory which should follow their suffering. In the view of this, they appeared to forget the troubles of time; their sorrows were partially turned into joy--John 14, 8, 10. "Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus answered and said unto him, have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father, and how sayest thou then, shew us the Father? believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.--If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also; and from henceforth, ye know him and have seen him"--John 10, 38. What delightful astonishment must have seized Philip's mind! He had been always before looking for a God out of Christ! Happy for the world, had Philip's ignorance died that day; but it has been revived and has floated down the current of time to our day.

      Coll. 2, 9. "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." 2 Cor. 5, 19. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." 1 Tim. 3, 16. "God was manifest in the flesh." From these and many other texts of the same import, the divinity of Jesus is undeniably established. In him dwelleth, not a part, but all the fullness of Godhead or divinity bodily. Hence is Jesus called the mighty God--the everlasting Father--the great God--the true God, and even Jehovah. We know, we acknowledge, we worship no other God, but the God in Christ, for this is the true God, and eternal life--1 John 5, 20. In him centres all the glory of God and man--of heaven and earth--all the perfections of God, for all are included in the Father, that dwelleth in him, and in the fullness of Godhead.

      Should any ask how it is that the Father in all his fullness dwelleth in the Son? I reply in Paul's words [26] "Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifested in the flesh."--Matters of fact are stubborn things, and these prove the doctrine true. Read the history of his life, and see the astonishing works of Almighty power. With a word the diseased were instantly restored to health--the dead raised to life--tempests calmed--the devils subjected. All nature was obedient to his word, that very word, which first gave nature birth. Yet he attributes these very works to the divinity in him. "It is not I that speak, but the Father that dwelleth in me. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very work's sake"--John 14, 10, 11. If the Son, as Son, was God independent, why did he attribute these works to the Father in him, and not to his own Almighty, independent power?

      Should any ask, how can God be seen in Christ when the scriptures declare that, "No man hath seen God any time?"--1 John 4, 12. I answer; We see not his being or essence, for that is invisible; but we see his glory shining in the face of Jesus. 2 Cor. 4, 6. Hence is Jesus called the image of God--the image of the invisible God--the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, or more literally the character of his substance.--Were I sitting before a looking glass, and a person standing behind me, the person is invisible to me; but his image is seen by me in the glass. I know him as well by the image as if I saw his very person. So we behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord--and this glass is the face of Jesus. 2 Cor. 3, 18, & 4, 6.

      Some are offended with us, infering from these remarks, that we deny the equality of the Son with the Father. I have always thought this doctrine very obscure; as equality implies plurality; and one is not equal to itself. If God be one infinite spirit without parts, and if there be but one infinite and true God, then there cannot be another equal to him. This is the language of consistent reason; but if revelation speaks differently, reason must humbly submit. There are but two texts of scripture that I [27] recollect, which directly speak of the equality of the Son with the Father. These I will notice.

      John 5, 18.--"Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he had not only broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." The Jews concluded, because Jesus said that God was his Father, that he was making himself equal with God. So they at another time concluded, that he had a devil and was mad. Their conclusions respecting him are not to be received as true, because they were blind and knew him not. This of his making himself equal with God was undoubtedly wrong; for Jesus labors in the following verses to convince them of it:--19--"Then answered Jesus and said, verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do," &c. Surely if Jesus had been equal to the Father, he would not have used such language as this, directly calculated to mislead the people. In 20 v. Jesus speaks of the Father shewing him all things that himself doeth--26 v. As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself--v. 27. And hath given him authority to execute judgment--30. v. "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 him that sent me." These things surely do not look like equality.

      The other text is Phil. 2, 6, 7. "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation (emptied himself, Gr.), and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death--even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him," &c. To me it is evident, that the person spoken of in the text cannot be the one only living and true God; for God cannot be emptied, humbled and exalted without a change. They who are acquainted with the Greek, are well assured that our translation of this text is not the best. Dr. Doddridge is much [28] better, and certainly the most literal. "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be as God." Dr. Whitby confirms this reading by abundant quotations from the Septuagint, where the same Greek word isa is translated as instead of equal. See Whitby in loco. That form of God, which he had, was the glory he had with the Father before the world was. In this glory he thought it not robbery to be as God. Yet so great was his love to sinners that be emptied himself of this glory, put off the form of God, and took on him the form of a servant, and died for our redemption. But God hath highly exalted him to that same glory, for which to be restored Jesus prayed--John 17, 5.

      But Dr. Scott says, that "the learned bishop Pearson has shown that isa, especially used with einai, may express equality as well as ison, the proper Greek term for equal. Thus in Rev. 21, 16. "The length, and the breadth, and the height of it (esti isa) are equal." This may pass with the unlearned. But every man of but a small degree of learning must wonder at the learned bishop, and Doctor for this remark. Every Tyro in Greek knows that isa in Rev. 21, 16, is an adjective in the neuter plural, agreeing with the three neuter nouns before it, and properly signifies equal. But isa in Phil. 2, 6, is not an adjective, and has no subject with which it can agree. Every subject in the verse is in the singular number; but isa, as an adjective, is not found in the singular.

      There is a sense in which Jesus may be said to be equal with God, as in 1 Cor. 15, 24, 28--"Then cometh the end, when be shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all rule, authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him, that put all things (God excepted, v. 7,) under him, that God may be all in all."--If in the end, the Son is to be subject to God, it implies that now, or till the end come, he is not subject: but he is not superior, for God himself is not put under him: therefore he must be [29] equal. He is not equal in essence, being or eternity; else he could never be subject to the Father--and such an equality would destroy the unity of God. But he is equal in the great work of redemption; all power in heaven and earth being delivered to him, and all things in heaven, as principalities, powers, &c. being put under him, to accomplish the work, for which he was sent.

      The divinity of Jesus I have before proved. If this is what people mean by the equality of the Son with the Father, I am satisfied with the idea, but not with the expression. We have an abundance of scripture to establish the divinity of Jesus, without torturing such texts as those by which I have endeavored to prove his pre-existence as the Son of God. By pressing such texts to prove his divinity, has greatly darkened the truth, and added many to the number of its enemies.

      We are severely beaten by our brethren for believing that the Son of God is the instrumental cause of creation. If the scriptures convey not this idea as plainly as any other in the Bible, I must acknowledge that words cannot be the signs of ideas. For instance, "God created all things by Jesus Christ"--"With us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, and we by him." These and such like texts, have convinced my mind of the truth contested by our brethren. Let our brethren affix some more consistent idea to such texts, before they use such severity as they have done. Let them inform us how God will judge the world by Jesus Christ--how he reconciles the world by Jesus--How he justifies by faith, &c.--then we shall understand, how he made the world by Jesus Christ.

      Our brethren also accuse us of idolatry for worshipping the Son of God. They surely do the same; and for this they have the example of the primitive christians, who "all call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ"--1 Cor. 1, 2. They have the example of the redeemed in glory, for they all worship God and the Lamb. They have also the example of [30] angels, for said the Father concerning the first-begotten, "Let all the angels of God worship him"--Heb. 1, 6. With such examples as these, none should blush nor refuse to worship him. If it be idolatry in us, who is clear of it? The scripture says, "Thou shalt worship the Lord, thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Our brethren worship the Son as the only true God; we worship the same only true God in and through the Son. Our brethren do not believe that the Son is another eternal, distinct God from the Father; nor do we. When the redeemed in heaven worship God and the Lamb, do they worship two beings, or but one? When the angels were commanded by the Father to worship the Son, must they not worship the Father also? For my part, I feel free to give praise and thanksgiving to Jesus for what he has done and suffered for me--to love him for his perfection and goodness--to ask him for the grace that is treasured in him for sinners. But the same Jesus has taught me that the origin and fountain of all these things, is God. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son--and with him freely gave us all things." Till it can be proved that God and the Lamb are one being, I will imitate heaven in worshipping the Lamb, without the fear of being guilty of idolatry. But if they are two distinct beings, they cannot be supreme Gods; let those who worship both as supreme Gods, take heed lest they be guilty of what they so unblushingly impute to others.

      Our brethren think they sufficiently confute us when they prove the divinity of the Son of God by the divine names, titles, attributes, and worship ascribed to him. In this they are egregiously mistaken. For, these we ascribe to him as well as they. The difference is this. They ascribe these attributes and names to the Son, as in him from eternity. But we ascribe them to him because the Father dwells in him. For our authority, we have already produced the scriptures. Let our brethren prove that the Son was eternal and independent; then we will acknowledge that he was eternally divine. The divinity in him we acknowledge was eternal, because all the [31] fullness of Godhead was in him. But we cannot acknowledge two eternal, distinct beings, possessed of infinite power, wisdom, &c. Nor can they without contradicting the first article of their faith.

      The common prejudice of education may bear hard against some of these sentiments. Some may make their own notions the rule by which to judge them; but whether those notions may be correct, there may be no enquiry. Others, afraid of thinking wrong, and therefore never thinking for themselves at all, may fix upon the opinions of their party, as the standard of judgment. But the honest inquirer will bring these things to the bible, & judge according to this rule: this, dear brethren, I hope you will do.

      I shall close this section with a few remarks in order to rectify a mistake in some, respecting my candor, and veracity. I had casually observed in my former address, "that for nearly twenty years past, my mind had not wavered respecting its truth," meaning that the soul of the man Jesus Christ existed before all worlds. This doctrine I received when a student of divinity. This doctrine I preached soon after I came to this state, as the following certificates will shew--certificates of men whose piety and high respectability in society are undoubted. Some of them are ruling elders in the presbyterian church.


      We, the subscribers, certify that we have heard Barton W. Stone, at least twenty years ago, preach the pre-existence of the human soul of Jesus Christ; or that the human soul of Jesus existed before the foundation of the world. Witness our hands, this 20th day of Dec., 1818.

  John Hopkins,      
  Thomas Nesbil,      
  Moses Hall,      
  James Foster,      
  Robert Caldwell      
  David Knox,      
  John Edward,      
  Samuel M. Waugh.   [32]

      The last subscriber wrote his certificate a little more particular, but the same in substance. The original is preserved.

      But because the West Lexington Presbytery ordained me, and a minute of the ordination was taken and preserved, without any note of an exception to the Confession of Faith as made by me, it is infered by some that I must have declared that I sincerely received and adopted it. But if I then believed the doctrine of Christ, as I have stated in my Address, I must in making that declaration, have lied before God, or swerved from truth.

      It is well known by some of the members of that Presbytery, that I did make exceptions to the Confession of Faith, and declared to them that I would not receive it farther than I saw it agreeable to the word of God. This the following certificates will shew.


      We, the subscribers, do certify that we were present at the ordination of Barton W. Stone, at Caneridge, by the West Lexington Presbytery. That when the question was put to him by the Presbytery, "do you receive and adopt the Confession of Faith, &c." the said Stone answered aloud, "I do, as far as I see it consistent with the Word of God." Witness our hands, this 20th of Dec. 1818.

  Moses Hall,      
  John Snoddy,      
  David Knox.      

      The undersigned being present at the ordination of Mr. Stone, states, that when the within question{1} was proposed to Mr. Stone, he made some exception, which he believes was in the words stated within, or to the same effect. Dec. 20, 1818.

  John Hopkins.   [33]

PREBLE COUNTY (OHIO), JAN. 17, 1821.      

      We, the subscribers, do certify, that more than twenty years ago, B. W. Stone taught amongst us at Caneridge, the pre-existence of the Son of God; or, that the human soul of Christ (as he then termed it) existed before it was united with a body.

  David Purviance,      
  John Adams,      
  Peter Fleming,      
  James Fleming,      
  Elijah Mitchell.      

      We, the undersigned, do certify that we were present at the ordination of B. W. Stone, at Caneridge, and that when the usual question was proposed, "Do you receive and adopt the Confession of Faith, &c.?" he replied, "I do, as far as I see it consistent with the Word of God;" or in words to that import.

  John Adams,      
  John Ireland.      

      JANUARY, 17, 1821.

      I could procure scores to certify these facts were it necessary. But these are sufficient. The Presbytery have done me injustice in omitting a note of my exceptions in their minutes. The Synod have done me greater injustice in that noted minute of theirs, in which they declare to the world, that they have suspended me because I seceded from the Confession of Faith. Could I have seceded from a book I never received in any other sense than I yet receive it? I will receive any book, as far as I see it consistent with the Word of God. I stand on the same official ground now, that I did before their vote and minute of suspension. I cordially forgive them for all these injuries done me. [34]


SECTION III. THE ATONEMENT.

      The views many of us have on this doctrine, have subjected us to more reproach, than any thing else. It is commonly said of us that we deny the atonement--the fundamental and distinguishing doctrine of revelation. Yet many of the more intelligent of our opposers acknowledge, that as far as we have gone in this doctrine we are right; but they blame us for not going farther in it, that is, because we do not receive all the views they have of it. In treating this doctrine I shall first state the views which many of us have received of this doctrine; and then give my reasons why I cannot receive those farther views of our brethren who oppose us.

      We explain the word Atonement as signifying reconciliation; and for our authority we have plain scripture--the opinion of the translators of the new Testament--the etymology of the word--and the acknowledgment of our opposers. That we have the authority of scripture, see Lev. 16, 18, 20. "And he shall go out unto the altar, that is before the Lord, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about--and when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, &c."--Lev. 6, 30, and 8, 15, &c. That we have the authority of our translators, see Rom. 5, 10, 11. In the 10 v. they translate the Greek word reconciled; and in the 11 v. they translate the same word, in another form, atonement. That learned body believed that atonement and reconciliation meant the same thing.{2} This is the only text in the New Testament where the word atonement is mentioned: and it is evident that in this place it cannot mean satisfaction. If it does, then it follows [35] that we receive satisfaction, and not God, law, nor justice.

      We have also for authority, the etymology of the word. Lexicographers derive the word atone from the two words, at and one. (See Johnson and Bailey.) To be at-one signifies to be reconciled.--Acts 7, 26. "And the next day he shewed himself to them as they strove, and would have set them at one; that is, he would have reconciled them."--1 Macc. 1, 5.

      Before I enter fully upon the doctrine of atonement, I will state a few propositions, by which we may see the true application of the doctrine.

      1. That there does exist a close and sweet union between God and all holy beings.

      2. That there did exist a close, political union between God and Israel, while they were politically holy.

      3. That nothing but sin and uncleanness ever broke this union between God and his creatures.--"Your iniquities have separated between you and your God"--Isai. 59, 2.

      4. That whatever destroys the separation between God and his creatures, restores the union.

      5. The blood of victims or beasts destroyed the political separation between God and Israel under the Old Testament, and restored the political union between them.

      6. The blood of Christ destroys the moral separation between God and believers, and restores the union between them.

      7. God's holy nature cannot be in union with man's unholy nature.--2 Cor. 6, 14, 16. But when man, by faith in the blood of Christ, is sanctified, cleaned, or washed from sin, then, and not till then, are God and man united, reconciled or at-one.

      8. The atonement, reconciliation, or union, whether moral, political or ceremonial, never took place before the person or thing defiled was cleansed or sanctified.

      These propositions appear to me self-evident; but I shall now proceed to shew that they are the [36] doctrines of the law, and of the gospel. In order to do this I will take a particular view of the Mosaic covenant, as far as it respects the doctrine of atonement.


1st. OF UNPARDONABLE OFFENCES.

      There were some transgressions of the law, for which no pardon was to be granted; but the offender must be punished with death; as the following: Idolatry, Deut. 17, 2-7, 13, 1, 12. Lev. 20, 2, 6. Blasphemy, Lev. 24, 10-ult. Sabbath breaking, Exod. 35, 2-31, 13, 15. Num. 15, 35. Disobedience of Children to Parents, Exod. 21, 15, 17. Deut. 21, 18. Lev. 20, 9. Murder, Exod. 21, 12. Adultery, Lev. 20, 10, 11. Manstealing, Exod. 21, 16. Deut. 24, 7. False witness, which was to convict a man of a capital crime, Deut. 9, 16-ult. Presumptuous or wilful sins, Num. 15, 30, 31. Heb. 10, 28.

      For these sins there was no pity, no mercy to be shewn--no sacrifice admitted--no atonement made--no forgiveness to be granted by the government. Die the transgressor must without mercy under two or three witnesses. Heb. 10, 28. Paul to the Hebrews plainly declares that the legal sacrifices could not take away sin--could not purge the conscience--and indeed did not pertain to the conscience; but to the purifying of the flesh. By this we are taught that those sacrifices could not purge the offender from moral iniquity; and consequently no atonement was made for such offences under the law.

      This doctrine of Paul appears at first view to contradict a case in the law of trespass and false swearing respecting it. Lev. 6, 2, 7. But let it be observed, that in this case, the sacrifice offered, did not make atonement, nor was pardon granted to the offender, till he had made restitution of the thing stolen, with the addition of the fifth of the principal. Besides, this pardon was only political, and did not deliver the offender from future judgment and condemnation before God, the judge of all hearts. This I shall make appear presently. [37]

      By the express command of God those unpardonable offenders were to be put to death by the congregation of Israel. For by their iniquities the land and congregation are said to be defiled. Num. 35, 33, 34--18, 25. Deut. 21, 23. If the congregation were disobedient in not cutting off those offenders, then the political union between them and God was broken, for they were now defiled--his wrath and heavy judgment were upon them. But when they were obedient in cutting off those offenders, then the land and congregation were cleansed--union restored--or an atonement made; and made too by the death of the offenders--not for them, but for the congregation. Num. 35, 33, 25, 13--Josh. 7, 26--Deut, 13, 17--Judg. 19. Here let it be well observed, that this union, atonement, or reconciliation never took place till the congregation of Israel were cleansed.

      In God's dealing thus with Israel, he is to be viewed as their temporal king or political head. 1 Sam. 8, 6, 7, & 12, 17, 19. In this relation, although he granted no pardon to presumptuous offenders according to law; yet as a spiritual Saviour and Redeemer, he did shew mercy and grant pardon to those offenders who repented, believed in, and plead his gracious promise or covenant. In other words, they were justified by faith in the gospel preached to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law, and which was continued to be preached to the Israelites; and by which alone, without the deeds of the law, all the children of Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile, have been in every age justified. Lev. 26, 42--Deut. 4, 30, 31.--Num. 14, 19, 20--Gall. 3, 8--Heb. 4, 1, &c.


2dly. OF PARDONABLE OFFENCES.

      Though there were some transgressions of the law politically unpardonable; yet there were others pardonable according to law. These were sins of ignorance, and error and ceremonial uncleanness. Num. 15, 22, 29--Lev. 4, 1--Heb. 9, 7. This forgiveness [38] for such offences was merely legal, carnal and political, and was not a forgiveness or justification of the spirit by faith or by grace. This is evident by a little attention to the following particulars.

      1. Because the law, by which this justification was obtained, is called, "the law of a carnal commandment"--"weak and beggarly elements"--"the flesh--"weak and unprofitable"--"carnal ordinances"--Heb. 7--16, 18, and 9-9, Gall. 3-3.--4-3, 9. By this law the justification of the flesh could only be obtained. This is evident from the phrase carnal ordinances. The words in the original are justifications of the flesh.

      2. The justification of the spirit is of faith without the deeds of the law. It never was obtained by law, and never was designed to be. Acts 13, 49, "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." Rom. 3, 20. "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight." Though in the sight of men, who see not the heart, they were. "The law is not of faith"--Gal. 3, 12.

      3. The law made nothing perfect--it could not take away sin--it could not make him who did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience--it could not purge the conscience, but the flesh only.--Heb. 7, 11-19; 10, 1-11, and 8, 9--14.

      4. The law promised temporal blessings only. "The man that doeth these things shall live in them." That is, he shall not be cut off by death, as transgressors are, but live protected by the government, and enjoy its blessings. Lev. 18, 5. Rom. 10, 5. Lev. 25, 18-22. Deut. 6, 3-18-28. 7, 12-15. 8, 1. 11, 8-25. 28, 1-14. 30, 15. It promised no spiritual blessing; and for this reason the New Testament is said to be established on better promises. Heb. 8, 6. Had the law promised spiritual blessings, as eternal life--the spirit--righteousness, justification or grace, then the new Testament could not be said to be established on better promises. Gall. 3, 2-11-21. 2, 21. John 1, 17. 2 Cor. 3.

      If eternal life be not a promise of the law, how say some that it was promised to Adam for his obedience to this law? Eternal life has not been a promise of the law since the fall of man; to prove that it was a promise of the law before the fall, cannot be done by the Bible. Rom. 7, 10, has been objected to this idea. The commandment which was ordained unto life, I found to be unto death. The words was ordained are a supplement of the translators, and not in the original. It reads literally thus, The commandment which I found for life, the same I found unto death. Paul, like his countrymen, had been seeking righteousness and life by the law, but found at length that it condemned and slew him.

      I shall close this article with a few quotations from Doct. Doddridge. On Heb. 8, 6, he thus paraphrases: "which was established on better promises than those of the Mosaic law; for they only refer to the blessings of a temporal Canaan, to be enjoyed by the people, while they continued obedient to its precepts." On Heb. 9, 9, commenting on the sacrifices, he says, "They refer not to real expiation of guilt, but only to averting some temporal evils, which the law denounced on transgressors." To which he adds in a note: "They were never intended to expiate offences to such a degree as to deliver the sinner from the final judgment of God in another world; but merely to make his peace with the government, under which he then was, and to furnish him with a pardon, pleadable against any prosecution, which might be commenced against him in their courts of justice; or any exclusion from the privilege of drawing near to God, as one externally at peace with him, in the solemnities of his temple of worship."


3dly, OF BEARING INIQUITY OR SIN.

      The transgressor of the law is said to bear his iniquity--to bear his sin--his wickedness shall be upon him. Lev. 5, 1-3. Ezek. 18, 20, &c. The [40] person who bears sin, must, according to law, be cut off from his people. Lev. 7, 17-18. This cutting off was either entire, or for a limited time, according to the nature of the crime. If the crime was politically unpardonable, the offender was entirely cut off by suffering death; but if pardonable, he was only excluded from the congregation or from the privilege of drawing nigh to God in his sanctuary, and of worshipping there with his people. The time of their exclusion, is called the time of their separation. Lev. 15, 20-32.

      During this time of separation, while the person is bearing his iniquity, and is unclean, the external union between him and his God and people, is broken. Before he can have the privilege of being united with the congregation again, and of drawing nigh to God in his tabernacle, he must be purged from his iniquity, be justified, and his sin, which he was bearing, taken away. For no unclean person, whose iniquity is upon him, can have entrance there, lest he defile the tabernacle and the holy things. Lev. 15, 31, &c.

      In order then, that he may be cleansed from the iniquity which he bears, the law requires that he bring a sin offering before the door of the tabernacle--lay his hands on its head, and kill it. Then shall the priest make an atonement for him with the blood of the victim--it accepted for him--his sin forgiven and purged. Now seeing he is cleansed and forgiven, he may draw nigh to God in his tabernacle, and worship with his people. Now he is externally at peace with God and his government. Now the separation ceases and the union, atonement, or reconciliation, takes place between them. Here let it be observed again, that these things never took place till the person was cleansed by his sacrifice.

      Some have thought that the victim brought for sacrifice was a substitute in the sinner's stead--that his sins were imputed to it--that the victim was therefore imputatively guilty--its sufferings vicarious--its death accepted instead of the sinner's--and [41] for this reason the sinner was acquitted and forgiven. These opinions I cannot receive, for the reasons following:

      1st. Because there were no sins for which the law required death, which admitted of sacrifice or atonement. And for those sins, for which sacrifice was admitted, the law never required the death of the transgressor. Therefore the death of the victim should not be instead of the offerers, consequently it was not a substitute in his stead.

      2. Because the victim suffered death, when there was no sin confessed, and none to confess; consequently none imputed, and therefore the victim was not imputatively guilty. What sin had the woman after child birth to confess? or what sin had the leper to confess? or the man with a running issue? Yet for all these things the persons had to bring a sin offering, by which an atonement was made for them. Lev. 12, 6-8. 15, 30. 14, 18-31. 15, 15. 5, 6. Num. 6, 11.

      But it is said, that the transgressor had to lay his hand on the victim's head, and that this signified the confession of his sin, and the imputation of it to the victim. I answer: That the law of the sin offering was, that the offender should lay his hands on the victim's head. If this signified the confession and imputation of sin, I ask, did every woman after child birth, who brought her sin offering, and according to law, laid her hands on the victim's head--did she by this act confess her sin, because she had brought forth a child into the world? No: for in having children in lawful wedlock, she obeyed the institution of heaven. Did the woman who brought her sin offering for katamena, and laid her hands on the victim's head--did she by this act confess that she had sinned in this? Did the leper--the man with a running issue, by laying their hands on the heads of their sin offerings, confess that they had sinned in these things? I cannot think so.

      Laying on of hands rather signifies to consecrate or devote the thing to God. Thus the Levites were brought before the Lord, and the children of Israel [42] put their hands on them, and Aaron offered them unto the Lord. Num. 8, 10-26. By this the Levites were consecrated to the Lord for the service of the tabernacle. In the same manner by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery or eldership, the ministers of the Gospel are consecrated to the Lord for the work of the ministry. Acts 6, 6. 13, 3. 14, 23-26. 1 Tim. 4, 14. 5, 22. 2 Tim. 2, 6. So the victim, by the ceremony of the laying on of the hands, was consecrated or devoted to the Lord, for the service of the tabernacle, and support of the priesthood.

      But it may he said that the victim was accepted for the offerer, or in his room and stead. I answer: The victim was accepted or favorably received at the hand of the offerer, if it was of that description which the law required, and offered in a right manner. Lev. 22, 23. "A bullock or lamb, which hath any thing superfluous, or lacking in its part, thou mayest offer for a free will offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted." Lev. 22, 20, 25--Phil. 4, 18.

      Should any still insist that accepted for you means in your stead, and therefore the victim was a substitute: I answer; that a sheaf of wheat is said to be accepted for you. Lev. 23, 11. "And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, and it shall be accepted for him." Surely the sheaf was not a substitute, nor was sin imputed to it, and it accepted in the stead of the offerer!


4th OF ONE BEARING THE INIQUITY OF ANOTHER.

      It is said to bear iniquity signifies to be guilty and unclean--That when a person bears his own iniquity he is guilty and unclean--so when the priesthood are said to bear the iniquity of the congregation--of the tabernacle, &c. they are guilty of those iniquities by imputation or by transfer.

      There are so many difficulties attendant on this scheme, that I cannot receive it as true. For if the priesthood were guilty of the iniquities of the congregation by imputation, then they must suffer [43] the punishment of those iniquities. Should any of the congregation commit an unpardonable offence, the priesthood, to whom the sin is imputed, must suffer death. But this was not fact; for the priesthood were preserved, and the transgressor had to die for his own sin.

      Should it be said, the priesthood did not die for the sin of the transgressor, but the victims offered for sin, only suffered. I answer, that for unpardonable sins, sacrifice was not admitted, as proved before; therefore the unpardonable offences of the congregations were neither imputed to the priesthood, nor to the victims.

      The punishment of those iniquities which were pardonable and admitted of sacrifice, was a temporary exclusion from the congregation--from the holy things, and from the privilege of worshipping in the tabernacle. Now if these iniquities were imputed to the priesthood, and they became guilty, then must the priesthood be excluded from the congregation--the holy things--and from entering into the tabernacle. Now as those iniquities and uncleannesses were common in Israel, and almost perpetual, then must the priesthood be perpetually excluded. This we are sure was not true; for who would then officiate in the tabernacle?

      Should it be said that the iniquities of the congregation were not imputed to the priesthood, but to the victims offered in sacrifice; I answer, the impropriety of this I have already shewn. Besides, the sufferings of the victims by no means agree with the punishment of those iniquities which admitted of sacrifice. This was a temporary exclusion from the congregation; but that was death. If such iniquities had been imputed to the victim, and it excluded from the congregation, it would have looked more like the thing.

      Should it yet be said, that the iniquities of the congregation were imputed to the priesthood, but were immediately transferred from them to the victims offered by the people; so that the priesthood were [44] guilty in the first instance, but by a re-imputation the victims were guilty in the last instance; I answer: The priesthood were to bear the iniquity of all the holy things, that is, of the sacrifices, as I shall presently shew. Now if the sacrifices be guilty or unclean in themselves, or by imputation; and if the priesthood have to bear the iniquity of those sacrifices, then the priests are guilty and unclean, and the sacrifices clean. If then the sacrifice or victim suffer death, it cannot be for sin or uncleanness, for this is transferred to the priesthood. To me it is difficult to know how the priesthood can ever be purged from the iniquity or uncleanness imputed to them. It cannot be on the principle of sacrifice, and yet the law mentions no other.

      Seeing the difficulties with which this scheme is clogged, I will take a particular view of those texts which speak of one bearing the iniquity of another, and diligently and candidly inquire for the truth.

      Exod. 28, 39. "And it shall be on Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts." These holy things were the offerings which the children of Israel offered, hallowed or sanctified to the Lord. Lev. 22, 1-16. In this chapter it is stated who shall, and who shall not eat of the holy things or sacrifices. Comp. Num. 4, 15. To bear the iniquity of the holy things or sacrifices, means to purify and sanctify them. 1 Chro. 23: 13-28. "And Aaron and his sons were separated that he should sanctify the most holy things, he and his sons forever--to purify all holy things." Neh. 7, 65. "And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim." The way by which the priests sanctified the holy things or sacrifices, was by means of the altar, by blessing, and by prayer. 1 Sam. 9, 13. "For the people will not eat until he (Samuel) come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; and after that they eat that be bidden." "For whether is greater, the gift, or the [45] altar which sanctifieth the gift." Matt. 23, 19. 1 Tim. 4, 5. The verse under consideration is translated by a noted Hebrew critic thus: "That Aaron may bear away the iniquity of the holy things, &c." This reading exactly comports with the view I have stated of the text, as meaning to sanctify or purify.

      I have no doubt but another idea is included in the phrase, He shall bear the iniquity of the holy things, which is, to bear the burden of the holy things. For it was a very great burden to attend to, and prepare so many thousands of sacrifices for the altar.--The reason why bearing these burdens of the holy things, is called bearing the iniquity of them, is, because the holy things or sacrifices, were instituted in consequence of iniquity. Had there been no iniquity, there had been no need of these burdens.

      Another instance of one bearing the iniquity of another is found, Num. 18, 1. "And the Lord said unto Aaron, thou and thy sons, and thy father's house with thee, shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary."--To bear the iniquity of the Sanctuary, signifies the same as stated in the preceding text, that is, to sanctify the sanctuary and to bear the burden of it. For the sanctuary is said to be defiled with the uncleanness of the children of Israel. Num. 19, 20. It was the office and charge of the priesthood to sanctify, cleanse, purge, hallow, reconcile, & to make an atonement for it, with the altar, vessels, &c. Lev. 8, 10-30. 16, 9-20. Exod. 29, 36. 1 Kings, 8, 64. 9, 3. Heb. 9. How the priests did sanctify the sanctuary may be seen in Lev. 16, 18-20.

      That the idea of bearing the burden of the sanctuary is also included in the phrase, to bear the iniquity of the sanctuary, is evident from the following verses in that chapter. Comp. Num. 4. The service of the tabernacle was very burdensome. It was to be sanctified, taken down, set up, and carried with all its vessels, tables, altars, &c. through all their journeyings. All this service was to be done by the priesthood.--They had to attend continually on the altar, and keep every thing pertaining to the tabernacle in order. All [46] this burden was in consequence of iniquity. Hence it is called bearing the iniquity of the sanctuary.

      Another text on the same subject is Lev. 10, 17. "Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make an atonement for them." Here the phrase, to bear the iniquity of the congregation, is explained to make an atonement for them. Now the first or immediate effect of the sacrifice was purging or sanctifying; and the proximate effect was atonement or reconciliation. This I have already shewn. Atonement always implies sanctification. The sin offering was given to Aaron; and it was given to bear the iniquity of the congregation, that is, to sanctify them, and make an atonement for them.

      I shall notice one more text. Num. 18, 23. "But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity." This may be explained as the former, to sanctify the congregation by sacrifice. But if sacrificing did not pertain to the Levites, then it means, they were to bear the burden of the iniquity of the congregation. This burden was to prepare their sin offerings for the altar, &c., as mentioned before.

      I have already shewn the impropriety of construing these texts to signify imputation. I think there are but few who will dispute my explications, if they seriously consider them with the contexts.--But should any still maintain that for one to bear the iniquity of another, means imputation of iniquity, I ask, how will he explain the following texts? Num. 14, 33. "And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness." Lam. 5, 7. "Our fathers have sinned and are not, and we have borne their iniquities." In these cases surely we must understand that the children were burdened, distressed and grieved in consequence of their father's wickedness. Instances of this nature we daily see around us. Thus the children of a drunkard [47] often bear his iniquity, by suffering poverty and want. So the children of the debauchee often bear his iniquity by inheriting his disease.

      Lev. 16, 21-22, is a text on which great stress is laid to support the doctrine of imputation of sin.--"And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and shall confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited." On this text I will make a few remarks.

      1. The day on which this transaction took place was the great day of atonement. Compare Lev. 16, With Heb. 9.

      2. On this day the high priest entered into the holiest of all by the blood of a victim, having previous to his entering, offered the usual sacrifice for himself and for the errors of the people. Heb. 9, 7. By this was represented Jesus Christ, our great high priest, entering into heaven itself, by his own blood; having, previous to his entrance there, laid a foundation in the sacrifice of himself, for the purging of the sins of the world. Heb. 9, 12-15.

      3. After the high priest had been, by blood of others, into the holiest of all, and had returned from it to the congregation, then was the scapegoat sent away, bearing off the sins of the people into the wilderness. This represents Jesus Christ bearing away the sins of his people, after his resurrection and entrance into Heaven itself. This has been, and yet is his constant and delightful employment. Whosoever repents and confesses his sins, shall receive remission of them. Let it be well observed that the scapegoat was not sent away till the high priest had been into the holiest of all, which was the type of heaven. Comp. Rom. 5, 10, and 4, 25.

      4. Should this text be strained to signify imputation of sin, then it must follow that the imputation was after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and not [48] before; consequently it was not the reason of his death. But should any contrary to what I have stated insist that the sins of all Israel were imputed to the scape-goat, and borne away by him; I cannot see how the doctrine of universalism can be avoided. For as all the iniquities of Israel were laid on, and borne away, by the scape-goat; so all the iniquities of all those who had gone astray were laid on Christ, and consequently borne away by him. Isai. 53. But if all our iniquities were imputed to Christ and borne away by him; and if he suffered the punishment due to our sins; then the whole world are freed from all sin and punishment. But alas! the reverse is true.

      Should any say, the sins of the world were not really imputed to, and laid on Christ--he did not literally bear them--he was not really guilty; but these are figurative expressions: I ask, if the scape-goat with its ceremonies he figures of Christ and his works, are they not, on this principle, figures of figures? If they are figurative expressions, why say, that the satisfaction of Christ is real, proper and perfect? If the doctrine of imputation be not understood in the sense of old divines, but in a figurative sense, I should be glad to know and understand it: for it is probable I should have no objection against it.

      I will subjoin a few remarks on this subject, from the Hebrew; an imperfect knowledge of which, I have acquired since I published the first edition of my address.

      1st. The learned will not deny, that the word to bear sin--to bear iniquity, is universally expressed in the Hebrew by the word nasa, two texts only excepted. By the help of a Hebrew concordance on this word (nasa), I find it in twelve texts, applied to God himself, as bearing the iniquities of the people. It is true the translators have not translated the word, when applied to God, to bear iniquity; but to forgive, to pardon, to take away, iniquity. See Exod. 34, 7. Exod. 32, 32. Num. 14, 18. Josh. 24, 18. Psalms 25, 18. 33, 1-5. 85, 2. Isaiah 33, 24. In these texts the word nasa is translated forgive--forgiven. [49] In Job 7, 21, Mich. 7, 18, the same word is rendered to pardon. In Hos. 14, 2, it is translated take away all iniquity. This last translation of the word nasa, occurs more than thirty times in our Bible.

      Now, will any say, that when God is said to bear our iniquity so often, he is guilty and unclean by imputation, and therefore must bear the punishment of iniquity? Impossible! Our translators did not believe it, and therefore translated the word differently.

      2d. Joseph's brethren are exhorted by their dying father, to pray Joseph to bear (nasa) their trespass. It is translated forgive. Gen. 50, 17.

      3d. Pharaoh prayed Moses and Aaron to bear (nasa) his sin. This is also translated forgive. Exod. 10, 17.

      4th. Saul prayed Samuel to bear (nasa) his sin--i. e., pardon it. 1 Sam. 15, 25.

      5th. Abigail prayed David to bear (nasa) her trespass--translated, forgive. Comp. Exod. 23, 23. Num. 14, 19. Psalms 99, 8. Isaiah 2, 9, where nasa is rendered to pardon--to forgive.

      Surely from none of these cases can the doctrines of imputation of sin, and vicarious punishment be deduced. Yet when Christ is said (Isaiah 53, 12,) to bear (nasa) our iniquities; it is affirmed that our iniquities were imputed to him, and that he suffered the punishment due to them. This affirmation I cannot admit, unless the same be affirmed of God--of the angel in his presence--of Moses and Aaron--of Samuel--of David, and of the Levitical priesthood. This, I believe, none will do. On this point I shall be more particular hereafter.


5. OF SACRIFICES.

      The apostle to the Hebrews uniformly explains the effects of the legal sacrifice, by purging or cleansing. "For almost all things are, by the law, purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood is no remission." Heb. 9, 22. This same effect is described in the law by other words of the same signification, to hollow--to purify--to sanctify. These effects are equally applied to persons and things. Lev. 12, 6-8. 15, 30. 14, 52. Exod. 29, 36-37, &c. [50]

      From these, with preceding remarks, it appears to me evident that the first effect of the sacrifices was to purge, cleanse, or sanctify the transgressor, and the unclean. The consequence of this effect was that atonement or reconciliation took place between God and the purified offender. For I before proved that God and Israel were never at one, or reconciled, while Israel were guilty or unclean--their iniquities separated between them and their God. But when Israel cleansed themselves by sacrifice, the union was restored, or atonement made--the sin covered--cast into the depths of the sea, so as to be seen no more. Neh. 10, 43. Ps. 32, 1. Rom. 4, 7.

      It is almost too plain to remark, that the persons and things were the subjects defiled and impure. God and his government were pure and undefiled. There is no union or communion between purity and impurity. As I have proved that sacrifices were designed to purge from impurity, I must conclude their whole effect passed on man and things, and not on God; for they only were impure, and they only needed purging. But as soon as the defiled were cleansed or purged by sacrifice, then were they pure like their God--God is now reconciled with them without a change in himself; for his nature remains unchangeably opposed to impurity. The whole change has taken place in the person or things.

      How easy is the application of this to our case under the new testament. All mankind are polluted and unclean--all bearing iniquity--all guilty. God's holy nature stands in opposition to our unholy nature, and our sins have separated between us and our God. Jesus Christ, our great sacrifice, has died to cleanse us from sin and make reconciliation. When we by his blood are purged from sin, then we are righteous even as God is righteous--holy even as he is holy. Now we are at-one with God, and God with us.--Now the union, atonement, or reconciliation, has taken place between God and the believers. This leads me now to treat of the sacrifice of Jesus--its designs and effects. [51]


OF THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST JESUS.

      The design of the blood or sacrifice of Christ, is to purge and cleanse us from sin--Heb. 9, 14. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." Heb. 13, 12. "Wherefore Jesus, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate." Heb. 10, 10. "By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all." 1 John, i: 7--"The blood of Jesus Christ, his son, cleanseth us from all sin." Rev. 1, 5. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in. his own blood." Also Heb. 9, 23.

      These same effects of his blood are described in other words of the same import; as to take away sin--to put away sin--to bear away sin. For the sinner is ladened with iniquity, and bearing sin, till he is purged or cleansed from it. Then is it taken or put away from him. Heb. 9, 26, 28. "But now once in the end of the world, hath be appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear (Gr. bear away) the sins of many"--1 Pet. 2, 24. "Who his own self bare (Gr. bare away) our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed." Isai. 53, 4, 11, 12. "Surely he hath borne (borne away) our griefs, and carried (carried away) our sorrows. He shall bear (bear away) their iniquities." John 1, 29. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."

      I have deviated from the common translation of some of these texts; and my authority for doing so, is because those in Hebrews and Peter should be thus literally read. This reading is most agreeable with the context. In connexion with that in Hebrews, the apostle was laboring to convince the Jews, [52] that the legal sacrifices could not take away sin; but that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ could only do it--could only put away sin--could bear it away completely.--So of that in Peter, the context shews that it ought to be translated bear away our sins: For it is immediately added, That we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. To be dead to sin is to be freed from it. (See Dod. in loco.) This text in Peter is a quotation from Isai. 53--and therefore justifies the translation of those verses in that chapter, which I have given. This is the translation of Taylor, the Hebrew critic; and of Thompson, the translator of the Septuagint. But we have better authority than all this--the authority of inspiration itself. Matt. 8, 16, 17. "When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils; and he cast out the spirits with his word and healed all that were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sickness." That is, he took and bare them away, or healed the people of their diseases.

      I have often wondered why divines, leaving the plain explanation of Isaiah 53, as given by Christ, and his apostles, are yet continually pressing that chapter in support of the imputation of sin, and of vicarious punishment. This explanation of Christ bearing our infirmities--of bearing our sins, which I have taken, exactly comports with the priesthood bearing the iniquities of the congregation; which was to bear them away by purging or sanctifying them as I have already shewn. I wish it to be well remembered that the scriptures attach two ideas to the phrase of one bearing the iniquity of another. The first is to sanctify or take them away. The second is to bear the burden of iniquity; as the children of Israel bore the iniquities of their fathers, (Lam. 5, 7,) by suffering great distresses on account of their iniquities. Both of these ideas, without doubt, are included in Christ's bearing our sins and infirmities. He suffered pain, distress, persecution and death--not because, or on account of his sin, (for he had [53] none) but for, or because of ours. It was necessary that he should be tempted in all points, like as we are, that he might be a merciful high priest, and know how to succor us when tempted. Hence, as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same--the same flesh and blood, subject to the same afflictions, pain and death. He thus bore the burden of our sin, that he might bear away our sin and sanctify us, and so make an atonement or reconciliation between God and us. In bearing the burden of our iniquity, Christ not only suffered in body, but also in his soul. As the prophets, seeing the miseries, pains and distresses coming upon the wicked nations around, are said to bear their burden; the effects of this burden were, that the prophets' loins were filled with pain; pangs took hold of them, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth; they were bowed down at the hearing of those calamities, and dismayed at the seeing of them. Isai. 21, 3. So Jesus bore in his soul the sins of the world--So christians, in their measure, have fellowship in his sufferings. Phil. 3, 10.

      I proceed to state the effects of the blood or sacrifice of Christ. By it we are redeemed, bought, purchased and ransomed. Tit. 2, 14. "Who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity." 1 Pet. 1, 18. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conversation; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot." Eph. 1, 7. Col. 1, 14. "In whom we have redemption in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Hos. 13, 14. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death." Rom. 8, 23. "Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit: the redemption of our body." Gall. 3, 13. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; as it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." 1 Cor. 6, 20. 7, 23. "Ye are bought with a price." [54] 2 Pet. 2, 1. "Denying the Lord that bought them." Acts 20, 28. "Feed the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood." Matt. 20, 28. "Even as the Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto but to minister, and gave his life a ransom for many." 1 Tim. 2, 6. "Who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time."

      Many have taken these words, redeemed, bought, purchased, and ransomed, in their literal signification; as much so, as if our government should pay a sum of money to the Dey of Algiers, for the liberty of some American citizens detained by him in slavery. They represent Christ the purchaser--man the being purchased--the blood of Christ, the price given--but as to the person from whom the purchase was made, they have differed. It is said that St. Austin and his disciples maintained that Christ made the purchase from the devil.{3} This notion is too glaringly absurd to need refutation. Some represent the Father as the person from whom the purchase was made. But this not only wants the sanction of scripture, but is contrary to it; for the scriptures say, He hath redeemed us to or for God; but not from God. Rev. 5, 9. Others represent justice as that from which we are bought or redeemed. This notion equally wants the authority of scripture. Besides, the fullness of the Godhead was in Christ Jesus, and the work of God in Christ was to reconcile the world unto himself. If the fullness of Godhead, in Christ, or the undivided God was active in the work of our redemption and salvation, surely justice was not excluded from having a part in the work. If it was, how can the redeemed ascribe their salvation or redemption to the undivided God? On this principle [55] justice can have no claim to their praise for salvation. I would farther remark, that man was God's own property--his fall by transgression did not dissolve God's right in him. Satan had deceived and seduced him from his God; is it not an act of justice as well as of mercy for God to claim and deliver his own from the power of Satan? Who would dare to say, it would be an act of injustice?

      These expressions, redeemed, bought, &c., I do not understand literally, but metaphorically. So I am taught by the Bible. How often is God said to sell his people, when nothing more is intended, than that he suffered their enemies to prevail against them, and bring them into bondage and distress. Judges 2, 14. "And the anger of the Lord waxed hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of his enemies round about." See also Judges 3, 8. 4, 2, 9. 10, 7. 1 Sam. 12, 9. Deut. 32, 30. Ps. 44, 12.

      When the Lord has delivered these people thus sold, he is represented as having bought, purchased, and redeemed them. Exod. 15, 16. "Fear and dread shall fall upon them--till thy people pass over O Lord, till the people pass over which thou hast purchased;" Deut. 32: 6, "Do you thus requite the Lord? O foolish people and unwise! Is not he thy father that has bought thee?" Ps. 74, 2. "Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old." Deut. 7, 8. "The Lord hath brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." See also Deut. 9, 26. 24, 18. Exod. 6, 6, 15. 2 Sam. 7, 23, &c.

      These expressions, bought, purchased, &c. as mentioned in the preceding texts, are not to be taken literally, as if God had given a stipulated price to the oppressors of his people; but figuratively; and mean nothing more than deliverance or salvation from their enemies. So Moses understood them, and certainly he must be the best interpreter of his own writings. Read Exod. 3, 7, 8. 14, 3. 18, 10. 5, 23, &c. In these texts you will find the same work of redeeming, [56] buying, and purchasing, expressed by deliverance and salvation. In the same sense St. Stephen understood them: Acts 7, 25, 34, 35. So did the prophets: Isai. 50, 2. Jer. 15, 20. Mic. 4, 10. And so did St. Paul. Rom. 11, 26. compd. with Isai. 59, 20. This figurative sense of these words is in common use among us. Thus we say, that our liberty from British tyranny was purchased by the blood of our fathers. No one understands by this, that our fathers gave their blood as a stipulated price to Britain for our liberty.

      Another effect of the blood of Christ, is reconciliation, propitiation, or atonement. Rom. 5, 10. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son."--Rom. 3, 25. Eph. 2, 16. 2 Cor. 5, 18, 20. By the blood of Jesus we are justified and forgiven--brought nigh to God--obtain eternal life--delivered from the fear of death, and the power of the Devil. Rom. 5, 9. Eph. 1, 7. 1 Pet. 3, 18. John 6, 53. 1 Thes. 5, 10. Heb. 2, 14, 15. Rev. 12, 11.

      I have been thus particular in describing the effects of the blood of Jesus, because it has been often said that we denied the efficacy of his blood to redeem and save sinners.

      But it is mow asked, how does the blood of Jesus effect these things in us? Or how does his blood sanctify, wash, cleanse, or purify us from sin? How does it take away sin--redeem us from it, &c. I answer: By faith in his blood. This must be acknowledged by all; for it is taken as granted, that none but believers are sanctified from sin--none but believers are redeemed or saved from sin--they only are justified, reconciled, and have eternal life. Unbelievers are not partakers of those things. Therefore the effects of the blood of Jesus, which I have noticed, are experienced by believers only; the resurrection from the dead excepted.

      Hence arises another important inquiry, what connexion is there between faith in the blood of Christ, and sanctification, redemption from sin, &c? To this [57] I shall pay particular attention. By faith in the blood of Jesus, is not merely to believe that he died on Calvary. For a person may believe this, and be deeply affected with a rhetorical description of the tragical scene, and yet his heart remain unsanctified, and unwashed from one sin. The same person would weep at the description of Emmet's death, if a Curran were the orator. The quantum of religion is equal in both cases, that is, none at all unless sympathy be called religion. We must know the designs of the death of Jesus before we can be rightly affected with it. To believe therefore in the blood of Jesus, is to believe in the designs of it, as well as that it was shed. Into these designs I will now inquire.

      1st. By his blood, the law, which was against us, was taken out of the way--nailed to the cross and abolished--the law of commandments contained in ordinances. Eph. 2, 13, 15. Col. 2, 14. The Apostle to the Romans represents the law as the first husband, and the gospel the second. This first husband became dead by the body of Christ that we might be married to the second. Rom. 7. With the death of the law, we were delivered from its curse and transgression; for where there is no law there can be no transgression nor curse. Hence says Paul "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," by hanging on the cross--"And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that, by means of death for the redemption of transgressions under the first Testament"--Gall. 3, 13. Heb. 9, 15.

      By the abolition of the law, I do not think that the moral law of love to God and man was destroyed; for this must be unchangeably and eternally binding on all intelligent creatures. I see no connexion between the death of Christ and the destruction of moral law; but there is an intimate connexion between his death and the ceremonial laws; for these were types and shadows of Christ, the anti-type and substance. Though the moral law was not abolished by Christ, yet its political curse was; which I before [58] proved to be death, under Moses. For Christ did not come to judge or condemn the world--he did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. The woman brought to him guilty of adultery he did not condemn to death according to law; but preached to her mercy and forgiveness.

      2d. Another design of the blood or death of Jesus, was to introduce the everlasting Gospel with all its blessings to Jew and Gentile--to all the world. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, by his death, "that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith." Gall. 3, 13, 14. Now the blessing of Abraham was the gospel, preached to him four hundred and thirty years before the law. V. 8.--By his death therefore was the gospel introduced to the Gentiles, and it was not sent to them before. Before Jesus died he sent his apostles to preach, but forbade them to go to the Gentiles, or into any city of the Samaritans; because the time was not yet come for the Gentiles to have the gospel preached to them. But after he died and rose again, then he commissioned them to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; for now the blessing of Abraham is come upon the Gentiles, as well as Jews.

      In Heb. 9, 15, 17, the same thing is stated. "And for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of transgressions that were under the first Testament, they that are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a Testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the Testator. For a testament is of force when men are dead, otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." A man may make his will or last testament, in which he may bequeath certain portions of his estate to his children--but they have no right to it while the father lives. But as soon as he, the testator, is dead, every legatee has a full right to the bequeathed inheritance. So now, by the death of Jesus, the [59] testator of the new testament, every creature of the fallen family, in all the world, Jew and Gentile, have a right to all the blessings of the everlasting gospel. But alas! how many, like Esau, sell their birth-right for a morsel of vanity!

      3. Another design of the death of Jesus was to destroy death and the grave, and procure and confirm our resurrection. This was his purpose before he appeared in the flesh. Hos. 13, 14. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction." When he died and rose again, then was death abolished. 2 Tim. 1, 10--then he wrested the keys from death and the grave--those keys which would have locked up all the dead in eternal night--then by Jesus Christ came the resurrection of the dead--then was brought to light life and immortality.

      4. Another end of his death was to tear down the dark veil between earth and heaven. This was prefigured by the veil of the temple, which separated the worldly sanctuary, and the holiest of all. The holiest of all represented heaven. Heb. 4, 4, 15. 5, 19, 20. 9, 12, 24. The worldly sanctuary, where the people worshipped, represented this world. The high priest only was permitted to enter into the holiest of all, and that by the blood of a victim. "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest while as yet the first tabernacle was standing." Heb. 9, 8. So Jesus our great high priest entered into heaven itself, by his own blood, having torn away the veil, and made the way into the holiest of all, into heaven itself, manifest. Before this, the people were all their life time in bondage through fear of death, not so clearly understanding the resurrection and entrance into heaven: but now, seeing Jesus pass through death and the grave into heaven, they lose their fears, and like St. Stephen, they look into heaven and rejoice.

      5. Another end of his death was to display the love of God to sinners. Rom. 5, 8. "But God [60] commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." 1 John, 3, 16. "Hereby perceived we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us." 1 John, 4, 9, 10.

      Now to believe in the blood of Jesus, is, to believe those ends of it just stated, viz: That the law is abolished--the new testament, with all its fulness, introduced and confirmed to every creature--the resurrection procured--the dark veil between earth and heaven torn away--heaven opened--life and immortality brought to light--and the love of God to sinners displayed. These glorious truths the blood of Jesus speaks; for it has a voice, and speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. Heb. 12, 24. But the scriptures give his blood the voice; for without them we had not known its ends or designs. The word and the blood speak the same truths, and are confirmed one by the other. The New Testament in my blood, is the same New Testament in the word. Hence the same effects are attributed to each; as, by faith in the blood we are sanctified, cleansed, washed, purified, justified, reconciled, quickened, &c. so by faith in the word the same effects follow. John 17, 17. 15, 8. Gall. 2, 16. 2 Cor. 5, 19, &c.

      When the poor condemned sinner believes in Christ crucified--in the glorious designs of his death, he is encouraged to hope in God--he draws nigh with humble boldness to the throne of grace--obtains mercy and grace, receives the holy spirit of promise--is sanctified and redeemed from sin--becomes a new creature, being reconciled to God, his law and government, and enjoys the union and fellowship with the Father and the Son, and with the whole household of faith. He ascribes all to the free grace of God in Christ. From this we see the natural connection between faith in the blood of Jesus and sanctification, redemption, &c.

      I am far from thinking that every one must have a view of all these designs of his blood, before they can be christians. Some, in the death of Jesus, may only discover the love of God to sinners, and by this be [61] encouraged to trust in him. A father provides plentifully for a large family of children. Some of them may know the means by which the father got the provisions--others may not so well know, and the youngest may scarcely know any thing more than that the father's love provided these things. Yet they all eat and thrive, without quarreling about the means by which the provisions were obtained. O that christians would do likewise!

      If I am not egregiously mistaken, I think the candid and thinking part of all christians will agree in these views of the blood of Jesus. They may think they have farther views on this subject than I have stated; and if they will establish them to be true, by plain scripture, as I have done, I will cordially receive them. Testimony from any other source will avail nothing. Confident and bare assertions, the common cant of the day, will be considered "trifles, light as air.

      I am not ignorant that men have attached other ideas to the blood of Jesus besides those I have mentioned; as, that it satisfied law and justice--reconciled and propitiated God to sinners--took away original sin--purchased grace, salvation, and the holy spirit--opened the door of mercy, &c. These doctrines have been of long standing in the church, and for a long time it has been thought blasphemy to call them in question. So long and so constantly have they been proclaimed from the pulpit and from the press, that the real ends of the blood of Jesus have been partially overlooked and neglected. Indeed I have tho't that people, unacquainted with the bible, by attending to a great part of the preaching and systems of religion in the present day, would almost conclude that Christ died only to satisfy justice--appease the vengeance of God, and purchase grace. These things I do not believe to be contained in the bible; and for not believing them, we are considered as having denied the blood of Christ, and rejected the foundation stone of christianity.

      It is frequently said of us, that as far as we have [62] gone in the doctrine of atonement, we are correct; but we are blamed for not going farther, or for not receiving what they esteem true on this doctrine. To free ourselves from blame on this point, we are under the necessity of giving our reasons for not receiving those farther views of our brethren. It is a privilege all have claimed and exercised, not only to state their own views of doctrines, but also to state the views of others; that by comparing them they may more certainly come to the knowledge of the truth. If we admit candor to direct us in this work, it cannot fail to be profitable; nor can any honest person be offended that his doctrines should be fairly stated, and modestly examined. My brethren have taken more than this liberty with me; I hope for indulgence in modestly examining their systems on this doctrine; in doing which I shall shew my reasons why I cannot believe them.


ON THE SATISFACTION OF JESUS CHRIST.

      Our brethren, who oppose us, explain the word atonement to signify satisfaction. But as to the extent and application of it, they are not agreed among themselves. To me there appear to be three particular schemes on this subject, which I shall briefly consider.


1ST SCHEME.

      The first scheme is, that Christ, a substitute or surety, "By his obedience and death, made a proper, real and full satisfaction to God's justice, in behalf of them that are justified--and fully discharged their debt. By his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, he hath purchased reconciliation and procured the favor of God.--The sinner is justified, accepted, and accounted righteous in the sight of God for salvation, the obedience and satisfaction of Christ being imputed to him." Con. Fth. Chap. 11. Sec. 3. 8, 5. 11, 1. Lar. Cat. Q. 97, 71, 72, 38. [63]

      I have already published to the world some of my thoughts on this subject; but as very few of those books are now in our country, being dispersed thro' various parts; and as but very few of you have had the opportunity of reading them; I shall take the liberty to bring to view some of those things in a compendious form, and add other thoughts on the same points. In doing this, I shall not have deviated from the common practice of authors, who have written before me.

      1. This scheme appears to me to be unscriptural or not found in the bible. It is never said that the blood of Christ did satisfy God's law or justice, or that it was ever designed to satisfy them. It certainly belongs to those who oppose us, to prove the contrary. They never yet have done it; and if we may guess their future success by their former efforts, I almost conclude they never can. It is easier to declaim against some doctrines, than to refute them.--Many have chosen the former, and have gained their point with the unthinking and prejudiced.

      It is often said, "He shall magnify the law and make it honorable." This is considered as tantamount with satisfying the law. I answer, the text does not say, that he magnified the law by his blood or death, and therefore it proves nothing to the point. How he magnified the law, and made it honorable, may be seen in his sermon on the mount, where he shews the spirituality and extent of the law, and frees it from the glosses and appendages of human wisdom and guile. He made it honorable, by fulfilling every jot and tittle of it. Had it not been worthy of honor, he never would have done it this honor.

      But the learned have, after diligent search, found one passage where the word in Hebrew, commonly translated atonement, is translated satisfaction. Num. 35, 31-32. "Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer--And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge." I would ask the learned, by what authority did the translators of the bible render this word satisfaction in this [64] passage, and no where else; when commonly they have translated the same word atonement or reconciliation? It may prove that they believed the doctrine;--but it can be easily proved, that they believed many doctrines which were false. Had they given the common translation of the word, it would have perfectly accorded with the whole analogy of the law, and with the following verses of that chapter.

      2. This scheme destroys the ideas of grace and forgiveness. For if my surety or substitute has fully discharged my debt, having paid the real, proper and full demand for me, can it be grace in my creditor to forgive me. God is proposed as an example to us, how we should forgive one another. Eph. 4, 32. "Forgiving one another, even as God (en Christo) in Christ hath forgiven you." Matt. 6, 12--we are taught to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Now if God does not forgive us till our debts are paid, and he is our example, then must we do likewise! If my surety fully discharges my debts for me, though I am free from my creditor, yet I am now in debt to my surety, who, for the same reason, cannot forgive me; for he must forgive even as God does. On this principle there can be no forgiveness in the universe forever.

      As an answer to this objection to the scheme, nice distinctions between moral and pecuniary justice have been introduced. This appears to be an evasive subterfuge. For it will be granted that according to pecuniary justice there can be no forgiveness on this scheme; yet it is thought that according to moral justice there can. Let it then be called moral justice--(though I cannot detach the idea of morality from justice in any view)--let the debt be also called a moral debt. This debt was obedience to law in its precepts and penalties. This debt, according to the scheme, Christ really, properly, and fully paid in the room of the elect, and so satisfied justice. This satisfaction is imputed to the sinner for justification and forgiveness. This is the very thing against which I object. [65]

      3. This scheme imposes certain damnation on every one who ever sinned against the gospel in one instance, by unbelief or disobedience. For, according to the scheme, the curse of the law was death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. But Christ could not suffer more than eternal death, therefore his sufferings could only satisfy the demands of law properly and fully; consequently his sufferings could make no satisfaction for sins against the gospel. Now if God cannot forgive sin without a satisfaction, then it follows that every transgressor of the gospel, must be certainly damned.

      4. This scheme contradicts the simple doctrines of the gospel. The gospel invites all--proposes and offers pardon, eternal life, and salvation to all--and is to be preached to every creature. But if Christ be the substitute or surety of the elect only, then these blessings are procured for a part of mankind only, and cannot in truth and sincerity be offered to others.

      5. This scheme destroys the very ground or foundation of faith, and is itself a cause of unbelief. For if Christ be the surety of a part of mankind only, then no one knows who are of that favored number, till they have the evidence of their justification & acceptance with God; consequently cannot believe in him as their Saviour, until they are saved. This proves that the sinner is justified and saved before he believes in Jesus; and yet the scriptures plainly declare, that the sinner believes unto salvation and justification.

      6. This scheme conveys the notion of two independent Gods. For one God cannot purchase any thing from himself, or pay any thing to himself, so as to satisfy himself. A creature could properly purchase nothing from God; for a creature with all he possesses, belongs to God, and therefore can give him nothing which was not originally his before it was given. If those things were done, another independent God must have done them. "But with us there is but one God"--as proved before.

      7. This scheme veils the glory of God's grace to sinners. For the surety, and the person with whom [66] the surety is connected, are one in law. What the surety in this relation does or suffers, is considered as done and suffered by the sinner, with whom the surety is connected. When the sinner, in his surety, has fully discharged the debt against him, how can he see and praise the grace of God in this? It may be said, the grace of God is seen in giving his son to pay our debts. Suppose I am in debt to a man, and am unable to pay--the man insists upon payment before he can shew favor to me--at the same time gives me the full sum to pay him.--Might he not as well have forgiven me at first? The grace of God in forgiving is beautifully represented in Matt. 18, 23-27. "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, who would take an account of his servants--one was brought unto him, who owed him ten thousand talents--yet the king forgave him the debt, because he had nothing to pay, and humbly requested the favor." Law and justice demanded payment; yet it was not contrary to law or justice for the king to forgive. Just like this is the kingdom of heaven.--Comp. Luke 7, 41-42.

      8. This scheme represents God as changeable. For it represents him as full of wrath against the sinner; but by the blood of Christ he is appeased or reconciled to the sinner, though he remains unchanged and in the same state of rebellion against, God and his government. The scriptures represent God, as reconciling sinners to himself by the death of his son; but never represent him as reconciling himself to sinners by the death of Jesus--nor of his being reconciled to impenitent sinners. This I have before noticed.

      9. This scheme also contradicts stubborn facts.--For according to the scheme, the demands of law against the sinner were death temporal, spiritual, and eternal; and that Christ, the sinner's surety, suffered and satisfied the demands in the sinner's stead. If he fully satisfied these demands, why do the elect suffer temporal or spiritual death? Why does Christ live forevermore, and not suffering eternal death? [67]

      Adam, himself, suffered all the penalty law required or justice demanded. For God had said "in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die"--or more literally, dying thou shalt die.--[Margin.] For the very day he sinned, death (temporal death) seized on him, and preyed on the strings of life, till the last was cut; more than eight hundred years after he began to die. Law had its full demand, and justice was satisfied with his death, seeing it was all that was demanded. We grant this death would have been eternal, had not Christ, the resurrection, interposed. God did not say that Adam should die, and never live again. For had he said this, hope were cut off forever, or his truth fail. There could have been no resurrection forever. But it was not contrary to law for Christ to raise the dead. "For the law hath dominion over a man, as long as he liveth," but no longer. To talk of Christ, as surety, paying the debt of temporal death, in the room of Adam and his posterity, is strange indeed, seeing Adam has paid it himself, and so have his posterity who are dead. He died not to pay the demand of law, but to free them from its curse, already inflicted, which is death. To talk of spiritual death, as due to law, and demanded by justice, is awful, when rightly understood. Spiritual death is an alienation of soul from God--having no love to him nor his ways--no desire after him--no delight in him--dead in trespasses and in sins. Could a holy God, or a holy law require this of a creature, without requiring sin? Could justice demand it, or be satisfied with sin? Could the holy Jesus pay this debt without being really dead in sin? No: there never was a moment when Jesus did not love God, nor delight in him.

      But our brethren say the covenant made with Adam "was the moral law," Con. Fth., chap. 7, sec. 2. Chap. 19, sec. 1. 2. Lar. Cat. Q. 20. By which law "he and his posterity were bound to personal, entire, exact and perpetual obedience--life was promised upon the fulfilling, and death threatened upon the breach of it." That the covenant with Adam was [68] the moral law, is directly contradicted by Moses.--Deut. 5, 2-3. "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." If this covenant had been made with Adam, how could Moses say that it was not made with our fathers; if this law or covenant was given to Adam, he must have been a sinner when it was given; for St. Paul says, "The law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners." "The law entered that the offence might abound." "The law was added because of transgression"--1 Tim. 1, 9. Rom. 5, 20. Gal. 3, 19. "The gospel was preached to Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law." "Until the law, sin was in the world." Gal. 3. Rom. 5. I cannot, in the face of such authority, believe that the covenant made with Adam was the moral law, called the ten commandments. But to say that for Adam's obedience to this law, life was promised, is, I think, a groundless assertion.

      10. This scheme contradicts the gospel plan of justification by faith. For it represents the sinner as justified by the surety-righteousness of Christ imputed to him. This surety-righteousness was Christ's active obedience to the precepts of the moral law, and his passive obedience in suffering its penalties in the sinner's stead. This righteousness of Christ is entirely a law-righteousness; and if a sinner is justified by this righteousness imputed, he is justified by the works of the law. It matters not whether he or the surety has fulfilled it, for they are one in law as before observed. This is not the righteousness of faith; for the law is not of faith. Faith has no part in this justification; the elect sinner being as much justified before he believed, as afterward; for the works were finished near eighteen hundred years ago, when Christ died on the cross. Then the satisfaction was really, properly and fully made, and their debts fully discharged. If not, then something else is [69] necessary, and therefore the satisfaction of Christ is not full and complete. Hence some have asserted that faith only gives us the evidence of our justification, long ago effected by the satisfaction of Christ. This appears to be consistent with the scheme.

      Of that part of justifying righteousness, called the active obedience of Christ to the precepts of the law, in the sinner's stead, I would ask, was it the Adamic law which forbade to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? This tree was not in being in Christ's day--and therefore all equally fulfilled it, and needed none to do it for them. Was it the moral law which Christ obeyed in the sinner's stead? Or did he love God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself in the sinner's stead? If so, then as his passive obedience to the penal demands of the law, frees the sinner from obligations to suffer them, himself: so the active obedience of Christ to the precepts of the law, must free the sinner from obligations to obey them himself; that is, frees him from the obligations to love God and his neighbor! This is to make Christ the minister of sin. But was not Christ, as a man, under obligations himself to love God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself? As God, must he not love himself infinitely? What righteousness remains to be imputed to another?

      But there are many precepts of the law which Christ could not have fulfilled literally. How could he have fulfilled the peculiar duties of a wife to her husband, or a husband to his wife? How could he have fulfilled the duties of parents to children, or the duties of any relation which he did not sustain? His own personal righteousness was perfect; but viewed as the righteousness of a surety it was not. For if a wife, husband or parent should at anytime fail in their duty, they can never receive justification on this plan.

      The imputed righteousness of Christ is not once named in the Bible. Had it been the foundation stone of christianity, surely Christ and his apostles would not have omitted it. It does not make a man more holy in heart--In the final judgment of the [70] world, there is no mention made of it; but every man is then to be judged according to his works.--Matt. 25, &c.

      In defence of the imputed righteousness of Christ, the following texts are urged. "The Lord our righteousness"--"He was made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." If these prove imputed righteousness, they will also prove imputed wisdom, imputed sanctification, and redemption--imputed strength, salvation, &c. for he is called our strength, salvation, hope, and our all, as well as our righteousness.

      Rom. 10, 4, is also introduced as proof for imputed righteousness, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."--Christ is the end of the law in two particulars--One is, when he abolished the ceremonial law, having nailed it to his cross, and thus introduced everlasting righteousness, or the gospel to all the world. The other is that he is the end or design of the moral law, which is charity out of a pure heart. 1 Tim. 1, 5. The law commands this, but is too weak to effect it in fallen man; Christ, by the gospel, fully accomplishes this end or design to every one that believes. The text cannot fairly be construed to signify imputation of righteousness.

      Rom. 5, 19, is also introduced to prove the same doctrine, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."--From this text the universalists would prove restoration, alleging that the many in the one case is equal to the many in the other.--Others, to avoid this doctrine affirm that the many in the first case includes all mankind; but the many in the second place includes only a part.--This, I am constrained to say, is without authority, being merely arbitrary. Others take the many in each case to include all mankind, but apply it to the justification of all infants from original sin.

      I acknowledge myself to be of the same mind of the Greek fathers, Chrysostom, Occumenius, Theophylact and Theodoret, as quoted by Dr. Whitby, on [71] this text. They believed the many were made sinners metonymically, that is, by being made subject to mortality and death, the effects of Adam's sin; so that they are treated as sinners. On the other hand, by the same figures the many shall be made righteous by being raised from the dead to life at the last day, and so far treated as righteous. This is explained by 1 Cor. 15, 21; 22. "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead: For as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

      Adam's disobedience brought condemnation to temporal death on all the world. Christ's obedience brought justification from that death upon all the world, by raising them from the dead.--After all are raised from death, then must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, to answer for their own deeds, and not the deeds of Adam.

      I have now given my reasons why I cannot receive this first scheme of satisfaction: I proceed now to the consideration of what I have called the second scheme.


2d SCHEME.

      This scheme is, that "Christ, by his one offering of himself, made a perfect redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual--that he truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried to reconcile the Father to us--that he purchased his grace by the price he paid."--Meth. Dis. Art. 2 and 20. Art. Perf.

      This scheme is so interwoven with the first, that it will be necessary to shew the points of agreement and disagreement. 1st. They agree that the death of Christ did make a perfect satisfaction for sin.--2dly. That by his death the father was reconciled. 3dly. That by it grace and favor were purchased or procured. But they disagree as to the extent of the application of the satisfaction, reconciliation and grace obtained. The first limiting them to the elect; but the second without limitation extends them to all the world. By this point of difference, the second [72] clears itself of two very serious difficulties attendant on the first, i. e., of destroying the foundation of faith, and the simple doctrines of the gospel. But by clearing itself of these, it involves others of a very serious nature. These in the spirit of candor I shall now notice.

      If Christ made a perfect satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, then it follows, that the whole world must he saved. For all sins, both original and actual, include all sins against the gospel, against the law of Moses--of Adam and of nature. Now as the satisfaction for all these sins was perfect--and as the Father was reconciled to all the world by the death of Christ; then it follows, that God, his law and justice, are perfectly satisfied with all sinners, and have nothing against any in all the world. As this satisfaction was made by the death of Christ, then, long before millions existed, or the sins committed, it was made!--nearly eighteen hundred years ago!

      I am confident, that many in this scheme professionally, do not receive the consequences as just stated. They do not attach the idea perfect to satisfaction, for which they plead; but limit to original sin. Hence they say, that all infants are born in a justified state, Christ having taken away original sin from the whole world by making a perfect satisfaction for it. On this point I would humbly ask, did original sin deserve eternal death? If so, the sufferings of Christ not being more than eternal, could only satisfy for this sin perfectly: How then can an actual sinner against the law or gospel be saved?

      But if original sin be taken from the world, so that infants are born in a justified state, I ask, is the guilt of original sin taken away? If so, why do infants suffer sickness, pain or death? Is the principle to commit sin taken away? If so, why do children go astray from the womb speaking lies? If neither the principle nor guilt of sin be taken away, the doctrine appears to me without meaning.

      But if original sin was taken from all infants, and [73] they justified from it, then we must conclude that, previous to this, all infants were under condemnation, and that sin was upon them. This confirms the doctrine of the imputation of original sin to Adam's posterity. If the curse of original sin was natural death, then this is not taken away from infants, for they yet die. If the curse was eternal death or punishment, then we must conclude that the original constitution or law, which God gave to Adam, involved unoffending infants in eternal death or punishment! As this constitution must then have been agreeable to the will of God, and he is unchangeable, then it follows that it is yet agreeable to the will of God that unoffending infants should suffer eternally in hell. This would indeed draw a dark veil over the spotless character of God, from which we justly abhor.

      If Christ, by making a perfect satisfaction for original sin, has justified the world from that sin; then it follows, that as he has also made a perfect satisfaction for all the actual sins of the whole world, he has justified the whole world from all actual sins. This cannot be true. For we read of a sin unto death--the sin against the Holy Ghost--the sin of apostacy--for which sins there is no forgiveness forever. Therefore no satisfaction is made for them.

      Some think it a sufficient argument to prove the doctrine of satisfaction, to say, that God gave his creatures an infinite law--that the transgression of it is an infinite evil--and therefore requires an infinite satisfaction.--The premises are as far from being true, as the conclusion is from being logical. For to say, that God gave finite creatures an infinite law, is the same, as that he laid them under an absolute necessity of committing sin, seeing they have not infinite capacities to fulfil it. To say the law is infinite is contrary to scripture; for the bible represents the law as requiring to love God with all the heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. But will any say, to love with all the heart is infinite? Or that it is infinite to love our neighbor as ourselves?

      The justice of the law consists in this, that it [74] requires all the heart and nothing more nor less. It does not require a person of but one talent to love God with two--nor a person of but two talents to love him with five--It does not require men to love God equal with angels--much less does it require an infinite love and obedience. If the law was infinite, how can it be written on a finite heart?

      The notion of the law being made infinite was introduced to prove that sin was an infinite evil. I am very far from extenuating the real evil of sin; it will sink the impenitent into everlasting punishment; but to magnify its evil to infinity, I think, transcends divine authority. An apostle said "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound." Now if sin abounded infinitely high, how could grace be much more than infinite? But it is said, sin is infinitely distant from righteousness, therefore must be an infinite evil. I answer: Righteousness is as infinitely distinct from sin, as sin is from righteousness; must I therefore conclude that every righteous act is an infinite good? To say sin is infinite, is to destroy the distinction of greater and lesser evils.--But the bible says, "Is not thy wickedness great, and thine iniquities infinite?" Job 22, 5. But the text does not say, thine iniquity is an infinite evil--but thine iniquities are infinite, or innumerable, according to the old translations printed in London, Anno Domini 1600--The premises being unfounded in truth, I need say nothing of the conclusion, that an infinite satisfaction was necessary. I would only observe that infinite satisfaction by punishment is a phrase without application to any being in the universe; for finite creatures cannot give or suffer it; and God cannot.


3d SCHEME.

      I proceed now to examine what I have called the third scheme, which is, that Christ, by his death satisfied the law, not in the letter of it, for that was everlasting punishment; but in the spirit of it, which was punishment merely. By this the door of mercy was opened to sinners--the honors of law and government [75] secured, so that God can be just in justifying the ungodly.

      This scheme I understand thus: A soldier deserts--he is apprehended--tried by a court martial and condemned to death, according to military law. If he is spared the law is dishonored, government weakened, and licence given to others to commit the same crime. The court commiserates his case--an officer of dignity proposes to suffer in his stead--to be stripped naked, and publicly to receive five lashes on his bare back. Now the law is satisfied, not in the letter, for that was death, but in the spirit of it, which was punishment. This less degree of punishment in a person of such dignity as the officer, was equivalent to the death of a common soldier. Pardon is now granted to the soldier consistently with the honors of law and government. The application is easy.

      On this scheme I observe, that it differs not essentially from those just considered. Those make the satisfaction proper, full and perfect; but this makes it imperfect and defective, seeing it only satisfied the law in the spirit. Yet all admit the law had all the satisfaction it needed, to make it honorable in the exercise of mercy to sinners. This scheme appears to be a palliative of the two former, but as unfounded in truth. It is a pity that so much is said and written on the doctrine of Christ's satisfaction, and with so much untempered warmth, when the doctrine is not contained in the bible.

      It is often said, that God must shew his hatred of sin by punishing it either in the actual sinner or his substitute; for if he was to pardon the sinner without punishment, he would give wrong notions of himself--dishonor his law--disgrace his government--and give licence to sin. I answer: God has abundantly declared and manifested his hatred to sin thro' all his dispensations. Witness the rebel angels--the destruction of the old world--of Korah and his wicked company--the overthrow of Sodom, and the everlasting destruction of the wicked. But must we also see this hatred to sin in the death of his Son? Yes; [76] here we at once behold his hatred to sin, and love to sinners in the brightest colors. How great his hatred to sin, that in order to destroy it, he spared not his only Son from death! How great his love to sinners, in his delivering him up for us all! But must I see his hatred to sin in pouring out his wrath and heavy vengeance on the head of the innocent Jesus?--punishing sin in him in the stead of sinners?

      But it is often said, in proof that God killed his Son, "That it pleased the Lord to bruise him." I answer; in the same manner it pleased the Lord to tempt David to commit sin in numbering Israel--to afflict Job in taking off his all that was good, &c.--But a little attention to these facts will shew, that God had no active agency in doing these things; but barely suffered them to be done by our adversary the devil. It was a very early prophecy, that the serpent should bruise the heel of the promised seed, Christ. Gen. 3, 15. It is also a well known fact, that wicked men, instigated by Satan, did crucify the Son of God. Shall we yet ascribe the deed to God himself?

      But it is further said, to prove the same point, "awake, O sword, against my Shepherd--smite the shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." Zech. 14, 7. Matt. 26, 31. I answer: God smote the shepherd in the same manner as he smote the little ones in the text: for to turn his hand on the little ones, signifies to smite or slay them. See Acts 13, 11. 1 Sam. 24, 12. Deut. 13, 9. Ezek. 38, 12. Ezek. 6, 14. 1 Sam. 5, 6. Jer. 6, 12, and 51, 25, &c. But shall we ascribe all the persecutions, afflictions, and deaths of christians, to God? Nay; He only suffered these to be done, not interposing to prevent them.

      God's very nature is merciful, gracious, and forgiving, as well as just. Exod. 34, 6, 7. These perfections were in him from eternity, and were never effected by any thing Jesus exercised or suffered. They never had been called forth into exercise, had there not been such objects as the fallen family of Adam. Grace respects the helpless and unworthy--Mercy [77] respects the guilty and needy--and forgiveness the penitent. Though the very nature of God breathes forgiveness, yet the penitent soul only receives it; for it is a scriptural maxim that repentance precedes forgiveness--But the goodness of God leads to forgiveness. This goodness of God is eminently seen in Christ crucified and in the gospel; "They shall look on him whom they have pierced and mourn." Zech. 12, 10. But this gospel must first he believed, before this effect can be produced. Had Jesus never lived, died, and rose again according to the gospel, we had died in our sins.

      It is generally admitted that the law is a transcript of the holy nature of God, and therefore cannot stand in opposition to his nature. Does the nature of God breathe forgiveness to the penitent sinner, and can the law, the transcript of his nature, breathe vengeance? Did the holy nature of God move him to give us a Saviour, and did the same holy nature in his law oppose? Did the holy nature of God move him to give us the promises of life, pardon and salvation, and was the law against the promises of God? God forbid, says Paul--That very law would have given life, but it was too weak through the flesh. Can we suppose that the law is more opposed to sin than the nature of God, or than the gospel itself? Or can the stream rise higher than the fountain? Has God bound the law of his nature by the law of his hand? If then forgiveness be a perfection of God, and the penitent soul the proper object of forgiveness, what shall oppose the forgiving act?

      It may be said, though he repents, yet he has transgressed the law, and is therefore guilty.--This is implied; for if he were not a transgressor and guilty, he could neither be the subject of repentance nor forgiveness.

      But it is said that the judge of an earthly court, though he weeps for the criminal, yet by law, must pass the sentence of death.--Should he spare or pardon the criminal the law would be dishonored--government weakened, and licence given to commit sin. [78] I answer; If the judge or executive could really know that this criminal was a true penitent, it would appear morally wrong to kill him. The injury he has done cannot be repaired by his death, and the probability of his repeating the crime no longer exists. But as earthly judges cannot know the heart, they must determine according to testimony. But shall we limit the ways of God to our courts of justice? No: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways and thoughts higher than yours." Isai. 55, 7, 9.

      God knows the heart; therefore impenitent sinners cannot deceive him by hypocritical repentance. God will punish the impenitent; therefore no licence is given to commit sin. He will pardon the humble penitent; therefore law is not dishonored, nor his holy government weakened. In thus acting God will appear more glorious in the eyes of all holy beings. The threatening in Gen. 2, 17 was fulfilled in Adam himself--"dying thou shalt die."--Marg.--He began to die then, and at last died.

      Having now given my reasons why I cannot receive either of the three systems just examined, I shall close this subject with some remarks on the suretyship or substitution of Christ. This doctrine is common to the three schemes, and on which they principally hang for support.

      This doctrine is supported by two arguments, the strength of which I will briefly notice. The first is Heb. 7, 22, "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament." I need only remark, that in this text only is he called surety, but here he is called the surety of a testament, and not of mankind; therefore the text is not in point.

      The second argument for suretyship, is drawn from the Greek prepositions huper and anti, as [79] signifying in the room or stead of. There are two texts in the New Testament where huper is thus translated. 2 Cor. 5, 20. "We pray you in Christ's stead"--Phile. 13. "Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me." The argument is this; the preposition huper is translated in the stead of--but it is written, Christ died for us--suffered for us--was delivered up for us all, (the preposition for being translated from huper) therefore it means that Christ died and suffered in our stead.

      This argument is very inconclusive; because of the many hundred places where huper is used in the New Testament, I have never found it translated in the stead of, but in the two texts just quoted; and in neither of these is the death of Christ implicated.

      But if huper must signify substitution, then Paul and the other apostles suffered as substitutes for us. "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, (huper, in your stead) and fill up that which is behind, of the afflictions of Christ, in my flesh for his body's sake, (huper, in the stead of his body) which is the church." "I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you." (huper in your stead.) "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you."--(huper, in your stead.)-- Coll. 1, 24. Eph. 3, 12. 2 Cor. 12, 15, &c.

      Again: If huper signifies substitution, then christians are substitutes for one another, and in the same sense as Jesus was. 1 John 3, 16. "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us, (huper, in our stead) and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (huper, in the brethren's stead.) Rom. 16, 4.

      If huper must signify substitution, then were the christians substitutes for Christ, and suffered in his room and stead. Phil. 1, 20. "Unto you it is given in behalf of Christ; (huper, in the stead of Christ) not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." (huper, in his room and stead.) 2 Cor. 12, 10. "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's [80] sake"--(huper, in the stead of Christ.) See also John 13, 37-38. Acts 5, 11-9-16.

      If huper must signify substitution, then was Christ a substitute for our sins. Gall. 1, 4. "Who gave himself for our sins"--(huper, in the room of our sins.) 1 Cor. 15, 3. "Christ died for our sins"--(huper, in the stead of our sins.)

      Once more: If huper signifies substitution, then it will follow that Christ has entered into heaven in our room and stead. Heb. 6, 20. "Whither the forerunner is for us entered"--(huper, in our stead.)--This would not be a comfortable doctrine to a christian.

      But the scriptures have not left us in uncertainties on this point. They have explained the word huper by others which the nicest critic cannot pervert to signify substitution. Luke 22, 20. "This is the New Testament in my blood, shed for you"--(huper.) Matt. 26, 28. "This is the blood of the New Testament shed for many"--(peri.) Here huper is explained by peri, which never signifies substitution. Again, Rom. 14, 15. "Destroy not him with thy meat for whom (huper) Christ died." This is explained by idea with an accusative, which no where signifies substitution. 1 Cor. 8, 11. "And through thy knowledge shall thy weak brother perish for whom (dia hon) Christ died." The same is seen in 1 Cor. 25, 3. "Christ died for (huper) our sins." Rom. 4, 23. "He was delivered for our offences"--(dia paraptomata.)

      This argument for substitution drawn from the Greek preposition, anti, is more inconclusive than the former. They have for authority, the solitary translation of but one text. Matt. 2, 22--"Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the room of his father Herod," (anti.) But this does not signify substitution in the commonly received sense of the word. For neither the actions nor sufferings of Archelaus were imputed to Herod for his justification; nor those of Herod to Archelaus for his condemnation. This preposition is explained by another word (eneken) which no where [81] signifies substitution but is commonly translated for the sake of. Eph. 5, 31. "For this cause (anti toutou) shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife." Matt. 19. 5. Mark 10, 7. "For this cause (eneken toutou) shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave unto his wife," &c.

      That Jesus was the substitute, the federal head, the representative of mankind, is often asserted, but never proved from the bible. These names, nor the ideas attached to them by scholastic divines, I have not found in that book. Whenever I find them, either applied to Adam or Christ, I will receive them, but not before.


Sec. 4. ON THE OPERATIONS OF THE SPIRIT.

      The bible plainly teaches that the whole work of regeneration and salvation from sin, is the work of the spirit. Eph. 2, 10. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works."--Phil. 1, 6. "Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Phil. 3, 5, &c. "For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." John 3, 5, &c. From these and many similar texts it is plain, that God begins, carries on, perfects the whole work. It is a work infinitely beyond the power of man, who cannot make one hair white or black--who is unable to change his nature as the Ethiopian his skin, or the Leopard his spots.

      It is also plain that God begins, carries on, and perfects this work by means of his word. Is. 1, 18. "Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth." 1 Pet. 1, 18. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God." Rom. 1, 16. John 17, 17. 2 Cor. 7, 1. 2 Tim. 3-16-17, &c.

      It is equally plain that God does this whole work in us by means of the word believed by us, and not in unbelief. Rom. 1, 16. "The gospel, which is the [82] power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth." 1. Thes. 2, 11. "The word of God, which effectually also worketh in you that believe." Heb. 4, 2. "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."

      We have been frequently charged with denying the operations of the Spirit. I do not recollect of having ever known one among us that did deny them; yet some may have given cause for the charge, by using expressions which seemed to lean too far that way.--But I think the very reason why we have been thus charged, is because we have continually asserted and do yet firmly believe, that the bible gives us no grounds to expect these operations while we abide in unbelief. To assert the contrary we think dangerous.

      Some appear to make the scriptures every thing in regeneration; and others make them nothing.--These opinions seem to be extremes from the truth. Suppose God should extend his arm from heaven, and hand the bible to me a poor sinner, and thus address me: "Take this book--in it are all things necessary for you to know, believe and do--by this book convert, regenerate, quicken, and save yourself--never expect any other help, aid or assistance from me." On this plan I should think it folly and presumption to pray to God for his spirit, or for any thing--I should despair of salvation and eternal life.

      Again; suppose God should hand me, a poor sinner, the bible, and should thus speak: "Take this book--in it are all things necessary for you to know, believe and do--but you can neither know, believe nor do them, till I, in my sovereign time and way, give my holy spirit to enlighten and renew your minds.--On this plan I should think it folly to attempt to know, believe or do. To act consistently would be to lie inactive, and wait for that sovereign time, if that time should ever come.

      That which I think to be the truth, is this: [83] Suppose God, having handed me the bible, should thus speak: "Take this book--in it are all things necessary for you to know, believe, and do--believe them as the truths of heaven, and come to me and ask, and I will give you the holy spirit, and every promise of the New Testament." On this plan I should be encouraged to activity in every duty, in the confident expectation of help and salvation.


Sec. 5. ON FAITH.

      From the foregoing remarks on the operations of the spirit, it appears evident that there are two opinions on the doctrine of faith. One is, that a sinner cannot believe the gospel before some supernatural or immediate work of the spirit be operated in him, to enable him to believe. The other is, that the sinner can believe prior to this internal work. Of this opinion I profess to be, and my reasons for it I shall briefly give.

      If a sinner cannot believe the scriptures, it must be for one of two reasons--either, because, the scriptures are incredible in themselves, or that the sinner has not capacities to believe them. To say that the scriptures are in themselves incredible, and yet God command us to believe them on the pain of eternal damnation, is to make him a God of matchless cruelty, tyranny and injustice. To say that God requires sinners to believe them, when they have not capacities to believe, amounts to the same thing.

      To evade these awful consequences, the advocates of the doctrine say that man before he sinned, had sufficient capacities for believing God; but by sin he has become incapable--and that God has not lost his right to command, though we have lost our right to obey. I would just observe, that the scriptures were not given to perfect, but to fallen man. If God knew that his fallen creatures could not believe, would it not appear cruel to command them to do it, and inflict a more aggravated condemnation upon them [84] for not complying? As this is an important point, I will be a little particular in the consideration of it.

      The Bible teaches very plainly that faith precedes the gift of the spirit in us. John 7, 37, 38. "Verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." Gal. 3, 14. "That we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith." The Holy Ghost is one of the promises of the New Testament. Acts 2, 38, 39. Isai. 44, 3, &c. But it is evident that faith only receives the promise, "For the promise is given them that believe." Gal. 3, 22. Therefore, in the language of an apostle, we receive the spirit through faith.

      As faith precedes the receiving of the spirit, by us, it necessarily follows that it precedes the operation of the spirit in us. Is regeneration a work of the spirit in us? Faith certainly precedes this work. John 1, 12. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Gal. 3, 26. "For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus." Is eternal life a work of the spirit? This is also preceded by faith. John 20, 31. "These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, ye might have life through his name." Are salvation, justification, and sanctification the works of the spirit? The scriptures every where declare that all these are preceded by faith. An unbeliever is no where in the Bible said to have received the spirit, or his operations in them; but on the contrary, it is declared they cannot. John 14, 17. "Even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not."

      If then faith precedes the receiving of the spirit, as well as his operations in us, as I have just proved, then to assert that a sinner cannot believe the scriptures till the spirit operates in him, is anti-scriptural.

      But it is often said in support of this doctrine, that [85] faith is the gift of God, and that Jesus is the author and finisher of faith. Eph. 2, 8. Heb. 12, 2. But how does God give faith? Paul answers, "So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Rom 10, 17. Should I relate to my neighbor an incident in my knowledge, and he believe me, I surely am the author and giver of his faith--his faith came by hearing me relate the fact. So God, by his Son, has given to his word a revelation of himself, his will, &c. I believe, and rightly say, be is the author and giver of my faith; for I had never believed unless he had spoken these things.

      But if faith be the gift of God in the sense I oppose, then how could God address the sinner, and say, What more could I have done that I have not done? The sinner might justly reply, Lord, thou mightest have done more--for thou mightest have given me faith. When the Lord says, Why will you die? The sinner might answer, Because thou dost not give me faith. How could Jesus marvel at the unbelief of the Jews, if it was true they could not believe? He might as well have marvelled that they did not create new worlds; for according to the doctrine, each is equally beyond their power.

      The doctrine, that a sinner cannot believe, is inseparably connected with unconditional election and reprobation. For if God gives faith to one and not to another, what else is this, than to elect one and reprobate the other? Nothing to me appears to be a greater contradiction, than for a man to preach the gospel to every sinner--to hold out the offers of life and salvation--to intreat them to believe and accept of them--to thunder forth the more aggravated condemnation for disbelieving and rejecting--and yet immediately add, that sinners cannot believe till the spirit operate in some immediate, supernatural way upon them! Should this be a doctrine of the Bible, the sinner cannot believe it; for that supernatural operation is as much needed to enable him to believe this as any other doctrine of the bible.

      It is generally said that sinners must pray, and [86] strive for faith. But says Paul, "How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?" Rom 10, 14. And James says, "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering--For let not the man (the unbeliever) think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." Isai. 1, 6, 7.--We may ask for what is promised; but if faith were one of the promises of the New Testament, none of the fallen family could be saved on gospel principles. For I before proved, that the promises of the new covenant are given to them that believe; and to none else. Now if faith be a promise, how shall an unbelieving sinner obtain it? He must have faith before he can receive the promised faith; that is, he must have faith before he can have faith, which is an absurd impossibility.

      But it is warmly contended that a sinner cannot believe, because he is spiritually dead. The meaning of the doctrine is, that a sinner must be quickened or made spiritually alive before he can believe.--The Bible teaches as opposite to this as light is to darkness--it every where declares that this spiritual life is the fruit of faith. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3, 36. 20, 31, &c. If God declares that the unbeliever shall not see life, who dare contradict it? The sinner is dead indeed; but yet he can hear and believe unto eternal life. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." John 5, 25. We never read in the Bible of an unbeliever having eternal or spiritual life, and have no reason to expect it to those who have the gospel preached unto them.

      It is often affirmed, that a sinner cannot believe, because he is blind. By this is signified that a sinner must have spiritual sight to enable him to see before he can believe. To this I reply, that faith and sight are two very distinct ideas. "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor. 5, 7. This distinction between faith and sight the apostle to the Hebrews, 11 chap. [87] very plainly shews. There he defines faith as the evidence of things not seen. Of this truth he proceeds to give us many examples; as, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." Neither Paul nor his fellow christians had seen the worlds made, yet they believed the fact, and therefore believed things they did not see. By faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house. God had warned Noah of the flood one hundred and twenty years before it came--Noah believed--and therefore believed what he did not see. So Abraham believed there was such a country as Canaan, though he had never seen it, but God had told him--he therefore left his native land to seek it. I might mention many other cases to prove that faith depends not on sight for its existence, but is the evidence of things not seen. For says Jesus himself, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." John 20, 29.

      But if we cannot believe till we see and understand, then are all christians partial deists or infidels--for who can say that he sees and understands all the holy scriptures? That part, which he does not see and understand, he cannot believe, according to this doctrine; and therefore, as I have said, is partially an infidel.

      It is often asserted, that an unconverted sinner cannot believe. But the scriptures assert that God justifieth the ungodly that believe; for none but believers are justified. Rom. 3, 28. 4, 5, &c.--Therefore the ungodly sinner does believe: The sinner believes unto salvation and unto righteousness as well as unto justification. Mark 16, 16. Rom. 10, 10, &c. Therefore I conclude that a sinner can and must believe before he is saved, justified, made righteous, or converted.

      It is frequently said, that a sinner may have, without the supernatural operations of the spirit, the faith of miracles and a theoretic faith; but a saving or justifying faith they cannot have.--I have just proved [88] the contrary of this doctrine to be true. The apostles appear to have been ignorant of the many sorts of faith introduced in latter days. The apostle to the Hebrews considers them all as one. Heb. 10, 39, and chap. 11, 1--ult.

      Faith indeed is the same act of the mind, though the objects and effects of it be very different. Thus; I may believe in the law of Moses; and the effects of this faith may be conviction of sin and awful fears of hell. This some have called a legal faith. So, I may believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ; and the effects of this faith may be joy and peace. This, by some, is called an evangelical faith.--This faith may be so strong, that I may have full assurance of my acceptance with God. This, by others, is called the faith of assurance. This same faith may not be so strong as to give me assurance; but by it I may be led to trust in, or rely upon God. This is called the faith of reliance. Who does not see that these are different fruits of the same faith exercised on different truths?

      Some admit that an unconverted sinner has natural power to believe, but has no moral power; that is, they have no will or disposition to believe God's word. I answer: Faith depends not on the will, inclination or disposition, but on testimony. Were I from home, and a messenger should come and inform me that my wife was dead, I should believe it; not because I was willing, but because of the testimony of the messenger. Many sinners believe they are on the brink of ruin, not because they are willing and pleased that it should be so, but because of the testimony of truth.

      If we cannot believe the word of God till this will and disposition is wrought in us by his Spirit, then it follows that the word of God is neither the cause nor foundation of our faith; but that previous work is both the cause and foundation of it. This is the very ground of wild enthusiasm, and a blow at the vitals of christianity. But, if because sinners, perfectly unholy, are morally unable to believe God, how could [89] perfectly holy Adam disbelieve him, and believe the devil? Surely the moral inability was equal in both cases.

      Some, more disposed to cavil, than to weigh our arguments candidly, say that we are our own saviours; because we declare that man must believe the gospel prior to his receiving the spirit of his operations. I will answer such by a familiar figure. There is a beggar starving for want of bread--a rich man hands him bread--he stretches out his hand--eats and lives. Now, did the bread he ate, or the hand which received it, save his life? Every one will say it was the bread; yet even the bread, unless received by the hand, could not have done it.--Christ is the bread of life given to a perishing world; faith is the hand that receives him--the sinner lives. Now, did the bread of life save him, or faith that received it? All will answer, the bread of life.--Though faith cannot save him, yet without it he cannot be saved. There is no more merit in his faith, than in the hand of the beggar which received the bread.

      But the most powerful argument against the doctrine I defend, is, that it is supposed to contradict the experience of christians. Many will say, that they remember the time when they would have given a world to have believed, but they could not. I would just remark, that what has been generally called faith, I have called the fruit of faith. What these persons wanted, were the comforts of religion, and deliverance from sin. They already had faith in the law which condemned them; they so far believed the gospel, that in the hope of salvation they were led to the throne of grace, and prayed without ceasing. They longed for salvation, and would have given a world for it.

      Should this same person he asked, "how much would you give to believe in Mahomet?" He would answer, "not a cent." "Why?" "Because I believe him an impostor." "And why give a world to believe in Jesus?" "Because I believe he is able to save me." This is the truth, though reluctantly confessed by many. [90]

      Some object that we, by our faith, strip God of his glory, and attribute it to the creature. This objection I will answer by a familiar figure. Two artists try their skill to form the most complete image.--One forms the complete image of a man, with eyes, ears, mouth, and every feature and member in perfect symmetry. The image is presented to the view of spectators; they all admire the workmanship, and praise the skill of the artist. But none are so stupid as to give the praise to the image. The other artist tries his skill. He too forms the complete image of a man, as the former. But he superadds the faculties of seeing, hearing, understanding, believing, &c. He speaks to his image--it hears and understands him. He relates to it a fact--it believes him. He calls it to come to him--it obeys him. All the spectators extol the workmanship, and give the preference of skill to the last artist. Should any of the spectators degrade the workmanship of the image, they would degrade the skill of the artist. This last image I consider a true representation of mankind. God has made them capable of hearing, understanding, believing and obeying. Is it derogating from the glory of God to represent his creatures in this dignified point of view? But is it not rather derogating from his glory, to represent his creature man, by the first image, incapable of understanding, believing, or obeying him? Suppose the first artist should speak to his image, it cannot hear. He relates to it a fact--it cannot understand, nor believe him. He bids it come to him--it cannot move nor obey. He becomes enraged at his lifeless image, and stamps it in pieces with great fury. What would the spectators conclude, but that the man was irrational to be thus enraged at a dead image? Shall we impute such conduct to the holy God? Yet I am certain I have heard it done.

      Another objection often urged against our views of faith, as well as against some other doctrines we hold, is the authority of great men. The great bishop P------, thinks and writes differently. The learned [91] and pious N------, D. D. condemns the sentiments. The ingenious and scientific M------, A. M. calls the doctrine refined deism--a blow at christianity, &c. These objections are weighty with some. I remember that the Doctors and Rabbis once sent some men to take Jesus and bring him to judgment. These men, who were sent, were not so blinded by tradition or interest as not to feel the force of the truths they heard Jesus speak. They returned without him, convinced that he was the Christ. The Doctors, chagrined and enraged, address them "Have the rulers believed on him? But these men, who know not the law, are accursed."--Just so in the present day, Have the great bishops and learned Doctors believed these doctrines? No: They must be wrong, and they who believe them are a poor, ignorant herd, that know not the law, and are cursed.--The authority of one inspired writer, with me, outweighs a host of bishops and doctors. I detract not from their virtues; many of them I esteem; but they are fallible men.

      I might notice other minor objections to the doctrine of faith which I have received; but the short limits of an address admonish me to come to a close. But one more opinion I shall notice, which is, that the spirit is given to every man, whether believer or unbeliever. This opinion is taken from 1 Cor. 12, 7. "But the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man to profit withal." Whoever will for a moment read the connection with this verse, will see that the every man in the text is limited to the saints or members of the church, to whom were given the different gifts of the spirit. What is generally meant of every man having the spirit, is what I call the light of truth, which has, in a greater or less degree, enlightened the world, especially those who live in a christian land--By this light sinners are often made to tremble for fear of being convicted of their sin and danger. [92]


SECTION 6. ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT.

      It is commonly said of us, that we have no form of church government. We candidly acknowledge we have none but the Bible, and the form of government contained in it. This was the only one the head of the church thought proper and necessary to give--it is the only one the primitive christians had for centuries after the ascension or Christ; and, even by the acknowledgment of all our brethren who oppose us, it is the only infallible rule of faith and practice. If it be the only infallible rule, we certainly act wisely in rejecting others, which are acknowledged to be fallible.

      We also acknowledge, that authoritative creeds and confessions had an early introduction into the church, and have been of long standing; but whether they have been of advantage or disadvantage to the church let facts determine. From the time such forms were introduced, religion began to decline from that simplicity, spirituality, power and liberty, which had so adorned its professors before. It continued to decline for centuries, till it was almost sunk in corruption beneath paganism itself.

      At length Luther, Calvin and others, made a bold stand against the corruptions of the church. The Lord wonderfully preserved them, and prospered their labors. Light began to dawn, and pure religion began to revive and smile upon the benighted world. They rejected all human establishments of religion, and all books as authoritative but the Bible. The Bible--the Bible was their only religion, and love the only bond of union.{4} While they thus stood on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, they grew up into an holy temple in the Lord, and promised fair to ameliorate the condition of the unhappy world.

      But how soon these prophets blasted! The Reformers, just emerging from the chaos of Popery, [93] began to read the Bible for themselves. So long habituated to error and human glosses, it would have been almost a miracle for them to have thought alike on every point. The fact was, they differed in things of little note; but yet lived together in peace and brotherly love. On account of these small differences, the Papists charged them with a want of uniformity among themselves. To avoid the reproach, and remedy the supposed evil, they undertook the unhappy and vain project of making the people think alike. For this purpose forms and creeds were again introduced; which so far from answering the contemplated design, broke and divided the christians into opposing sects. Divisions and sub-divisions have since been multiplied--they still increase and will increase, till the cause be removed, and the original ground be re-taken by the church of God.

      The law-making business for the Church we have disclaimed as an unwarrantable intrusion upon the prerogative of Jesus Christ who is our only law-giver. His laws are simple, plain and easy to be understood--the way-faring men, though fools, shall not err therein. By these laws the church is directed how to receive members, that is, on the profession of their faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 8, 37. Rom. 14, 1, &c.--They direct how christians, thus received, should live--Rom. 14, and passim.--They also direct how they shall be treated who walk disorderly. Matt. 18, 15, 17.

      On the subject of church government I do not design to be particular; because one of our brethren{5} has lately published a tract on this point, which is in general circulation among us. On the Bible the church must and will ultimately settle, as the only foundation of faith, practice and discipline, all other books as authoritative being rejected. Till this be done, in vain we pray for christian unity, and in vain devise plans for its accomplishment. This sentiment daily gains ground, both in Europe and America, though opposed by the learned and eloquent scribes and orators of the day. [94]

      One great objection to receiving the Bible alone, without human helps or creeds, is that men will think and believe so differently, that they can never enjoy christian union among themselves. This objection is of great antiquity. It was this that induced the Popes to take the Bible from the laity, and cause them to submit to their own canons and decrees. It was this that caused so many sanguinary laws to be made in the state as well as in the church to enforce uniformity. It is this, which is yet the cause of so much altercation among christians. But all the creeds in the world will not prevent a free man from thinking and speaking his views of truth.--Should his views be a little different from the confession or standard of the party with which he may be connected, he must be excluded; if not the creed is a mere brutum fulmen.

      But it is further objected that heretics are to be excluded from the church. Granted: But by what law are they to be judged? Certainly by the bible. Rom. 16, 17. "Mark them who cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them."

      Among fallible mortals, who know so little, a tolerant spirit ought to prevail; especially among christians. A christian is to be judged by his fruit--if the fruit be good the tree is also good. If we determine a man to be good or bad, by his notions or opinions, we are sure to err, and contradict matters of fact. For how many have orthodox sentiments, and wicked practices; and how many are holy in their lives, but have erroneous opinions.--If, to the profession of faith in Jesus Christ, as the only Saviour of sinners, be joined a dependence on him alone for salvation--if to this be added a holy life according to the gospel, this man, thus professing and acting as a christian in the estimation of heaven.--If God deigns to receive and commune with such, who shall reject him?--What if he may have erroneous opinions? Yet they do not become principles of his heart or his life, so as to influence him to err in practice. [95]

      A person of this character should not be excluded from the arms of charity. Yet we should not spare his errors, but in the meekness of wisdom labor to correct them. By thus treating him as a brother, we can have access to his heart so as to impress it with truth. This I hope, dear brethren, we shall labor to do, from a disposition to please God rather than man. In this too there is danger of erring; but it is safest to err on the side of charity.

      One thing I have ever observed, that in every revival of pure religion, the spirit of toleration revives with it; and as religion declines, intolerance increases. Pure religion expands the souls of christians; but bigotry contracts them.


SEC. 7. ON PARTYISM AND PARTY NAMES.

      Often it is said of us, that we are laboring to establish a party. I deny the charge, with respect to myself with abhorrence of the thing. Our very profession is levelled at the destruction of partyism, as the bane of christianity. No wonder that those possessed of a party spirit, oppose us so warmly. We have publicly and sincerely professed the spirit of union with all christians.--We have neither made nor adopted any party creed, but have taken the bible only as our standard. We have taken no party names by which to distinguish ourselves from others, but the general name CHRISTIAN.--We have raised no bars from our communion, but what the bible has raised before us--and yet we are accused of partyism!

      If our opposing brethren think us possessed of a party spirit, let them put us to the test--Let them offer us the right hand of fellowship--let them invite us to join in the work and worship of the Lord--let them break down the bars of separation around their communion tables which they have raised against us, and then if we do not unite, let us be branded with the odious name, partyism. Till this be done, I hesitate not to say, that they act an ungenerous part who [96] thus accuse us. But if partyism be objected to us as a crime, let the objector, who is clear of it, cast the first stone at us.

      Partyism is a foul blot on christianity, and among the blackest stains on the character of its professors. An apostle calls such "carnal." Partyism is directly opposed to the plan of heaven, which is to gather into one, or unite all, in Christ Jesus. It is contrary to the express command of God--to the doctrine, example and prayer of Jesus--to the repeated exhortations of his inspired apostles--and to the very spirit of Christ in all his new born children; for they are born with heavenly love and union, with the whole family of Christ. But alas! How many are corrupted from the simplicity of the gospel! Enlisted into a party, they too, soon are taught to despise others, and to forget the good exhortation, "Let brotherly love continue."--How many happy souls, whom God had joined together, has partyism severed with an unhallowed hand?

      We have taken the nameChristians, not because we considered ourselves more pure than others; but because we knew it was the name first given to the disciples of Jesus by divine authority. It better agreed with our spirit, which is to unite with all christians, without regard to names or distinctions. There are party names too many already in the world, without our assuming another. But our brethren, unwilling for us to bear that name, have given us others we will not own--as New-lights and Schismatics. The name New-lights is not novel. It was long ago given to Whitefield, to Wesley, to the former Methodists, to the new-side Presbyterians, or New-Brunswick Presbytery, to the first Baptists in Virginia, and indeed to every sect of living christians in my remembrance for years past. To be called by the name of such worthies we need not blush. But this name, the least of all others, agrees with our profession. We have professed no new light; but that old unsullied light which shines in the bible.

      Did we profess as others, that we must be enlightened by some supernatural power, a power [97] extraneous from the word, before we could believe the word, then, with propriety, we might be called New-lights. Or did we profess a great many doctrines as true, which we could not prove by the Word of God, then we might be called so; but these professions we have never made; therefore the name does not apply to us. Of the name Schismatics I shall treat presently.

      But if our brethren will not admit us to their communion, unless we subscribe to their party-creeds, and assume their party names, we shall remain free, leaving the matter with the great judge of all.

      The pious christians of every name, see, and are grieved at the evils of partyism, and acknowledge it wrong. Will they blame us then for attempting to clear ourselves of the evil? They must acknowledge that we have taken the only solid ground to destroy the evil, and promote the contrary. If so, let them go and do likewise.

      The time is not far distant, when christians of every name shall be more solicitous for the salvation of souls, than for the promotion of a party. They will flow together, in love, to the standard of heaven, and encourage each other in the work of the Lord. They will piously blush at those things in which they may now be boasting, and fill the world with praise for such a great deliverance.


Sec. 8. OF SCHISM.

      We are constantly charged with schism, and are commonly called Schismatics by the partizans of the day; but with what justice I will now inquire. The first great schism took place when the Popes of Rome instituted their canons and laws, and caused the people to receive them instead of the holy scriptures.--Then the church schismatized from the Lord, and his holy word. They were schismatics indeed. The church in the east and west once disputed who should be the greatest; the issue was, that the eastern or Greek church broke from the western or Latin church, and were therefore schismatics. The Reformers, Luther, Calvin, and others, broke from the Latin or papal church, and were called schismatics. If [98] they were schismatics, what else must their descendants be? Calvin and his followers broke from Luther and his followers, and must therefore be schismatics. The Methodists are schismatics from the church of England; for before the American revolution, and for a short time after, they were considered members of that church, nor would they receive the ordinances from another hand. Afterward they established themselves into a separate church, and formed another discipline, and were called schismatics by some writers in the church of England, who wrote against them.{6} The Cumberland presbyterians broke from the Synod of Kentucky, and are called schismatics by that church.{7}

      If seceding from the jurisdiction of society be schism, and a crime, then who are clear of it? A partizan should blush to call his fellow-christian a schismatic; because, if a man of sense, he must be conscious that the name equally pertains to himself, and the reproach equally belongs to all. If schism be wrong, we should diligently inquire, how shall we clear ourselves of that wrong? I will freely give my opinion.

      Isai. 11, 10. "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious." The use of an ensign or standard, is to collect soldiers into their proper place. Let fifty regiments be in one promiscuous crowd--let the ensign or standard of each regiment be unfurled and raised, and a parade beaten on the drum--each regiment knows their colors, and instantly flows to it. Every party of christians have their particular standards to which they respectively flow. The Lord's standard is Jesus Christ and his doctrines, as exhibited in the gospel. This is raised by God himself in the midst, and all are called to flow unto it by the voice of heaven. Should any of the pious, under their party standards, be convinced that partyism is wrong--should [99] they be grieved at evil--should they long to be together and commune together, but cannot do it without giving umbrage to the party with which they are connected, and enlisting under the banners of that party to which they may go. In this situation should they agree to renounce all their party standards and names; yet to love and commune with all christians of every name, and flow to the standard of heaven. These christians would be called schismatics by the different partizans; but are they schismatics? Have they not taken the only method to avoid schism? This method we have taken, and therefore our profession is the only one which is clear of that evil, the candid being judges.--With what propriety can we therefore be called schismatics?


Sect. 9. OF HERESY.

      Much is said of heresy in this day; and the epithet heretic has been applied to every denomination of christians by each other. We in common with others have borne the name. Many speak much of heresy without knowing the true import of the word. "I think," says Dr. Doddridge, "that the word hairesis (heresy) signifies a sect of people separated from others, and forming what we call a distinct denomination." This agrees with Acts 28, 22, where the Greek word hairesis is translated sect. "These be they," says St. Jude, "who separate themselves." The doctrines of heretics are called heresies because they are of a divisive nature, and consequently contrary to the doctrines of Jesus Christ, which are of a uniting nature. "Mark them who cause divisions among you, contrary to the doctrine ye have learned, and avoid them." Rom. 16, 17.

      If this definition of heresy be correct (and the learned will hardly dispute it), let it be inquired, who are the heretics of our day? Candor cannot say that we are, for we are no distinct society voluntarily separated from others, but would sink into the general body of christians, if they would let us; but we are repelled at every point. Our doctrines are not of a divisive nature, but directly the contrary. The charge [100] of heresy seems to fall upon those very persons who object it against us. It is a a pity that the professors of christianity do not more accurately study the bible. If they will search, they will find the origin of heresy, its evils and consequences; and having Been these things, they will surely see the propriety of reforming immediately.


Sec. 10. ON SHAKERISM.

      I do not design an investigation of the doctrines of the Shakers; but to remove a frequent insinuation against us, which is, that our doctrines lead to Shakerism. By Shakerism I understand the peculiar doctrines of that denomination; as by Calvinism, we understand that system of doctrines, called by polemics, the five points; so, by Arminianism we understand that system of divinity, which denies those five points. Calvinism and Arminianism agree, except in those five particular points of doctrine. Now the peculiar doctrines of the Shakers are, that Christ has come the second time, in Ann Lees, without sin unto salvation--that we are not to obtain salvation by Ann Lees, and not by Jesus of Nazareth; that the final judgment is come and going on by the shakers--they forbid to marry--they deny the resurrection of the body from the dead, or from the grave--they hold to auricular confession of sin, &c.--Now to which of these doctrines or to any other peculiar doctrine of the shakers, does one doctrine we hold, lead? Did we profess to receive immediate inspirations and illuminations before we could believe the gospel, the objection would be weighty.

      But it is said, that the most of those who joined the shakers were of our communion. This may be fact; but presbyterians, methodists, and baptists, constitute a considerable part of them. This is a well known fact. But I would ask, who were the people, who joined them in such multitudes in the eastern states some years ago? We did not then exist as a people; therefore the different sects have to make their own apology, and repel the objection, which might be [101] equally made against them as us, that their doctrines lead to shakerism.

      I have made these few remarks, not for the wise, for they know; but for the less informed, who without inquiring may believe the insinuation, that our doctrines do lead to shakerism, and fly from us as from the face of a serpent.

      Now, brethren, I shall draw to a close. I have stated my views of doctrines in as plain, and unequivocal a manner as I could. I submit them to you. Compare them with the bible. Receive nothing as true, which the bible condemns. Reject nothing as false which the bible teaches to be true. Cultivate the spirit of love, peace, and unity, with all christians, and shew by your example what you would wish to see in them. Never prostrate your liberty to the views of a party. Like your Lord be always ready to embrace the humble christian of every name, in the tender arms of charity. Wait upon the Lord in his commands, and wait patiently for his coming.--May the God of love and peace be with you all. Farewell.

      Your servant in the bonds of the Gospel,

BARTON W. STONE.      


      {1} This certificate was written on the back of the last.
      {2} So, frequently, they translate the Hebrew word keper, reconciliation, which word is generally rendered atonement.
      {3} This absurd notion has been unjustly palmed upon me. I ever abhorred the idea. If ever my former writings conveyed this idea to any, I once more affirm, it was unintentionally done by me; nor do those writings, fairly construed, speak such a sentiment.
      {4} Chillingsworth by Nelson.
      {5} Elder David Purviance.
      {6} See Guiry's Hist. Episc.
      {7} See Blackburn's past. lett.

[An Address to the Christian Churches, Second Edition, pp. 1-102] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- p. 4: infallible If [ infallible. If p. 10: Ashberoth, [ Ashteroth, p. 15: certainly a deniel [ certainly a denial p. 17: appear absusd [ appear absurd p. 18: infiniately varient [ infinitely variant a real eternal, [ a real, eternal, p. 25: So he speaks [ So he speaks, p. 28: Therefore the Jews [ "Therefore the Jews I can of mine own [ "I can of mine own p. 48: Rom. 5, 10, and 4 25. [ Rom. 5, 10, and 4, 25. p. 54: prophets loins [ prophets' loins p. 58: eternally bending [ eternally binding p. 60: 2 Tim. 1 10-- [ 2 Tim. 1, 10-- bear down [ tear down p. 71: alledging [ alleging p. 73: pain or death. [ pain or death? p. 75: much more abound. [ much more abound." p. 76: paliative [ palliative p. 79: thou shalt die.-- [ thou shalt die."-- p. 81: And through thy knowledge [ "And through thy knowledge (huper) our sins. [ (huper) our sins." p. 82: by the word of God. [ by the word of God." p. 87: abideth on him. [ abideth on him." p. 92: condemns the sentiments, [ condemns the sentiments. Rabbies [ Rabbis p. 99: chnrch of England, [ church of England, croud-- [ crowd-- p. 100: acts 28, 22, [ Acts 28, 22, avoid them. [ avoid them." p. 101: by Armenianism [ by Arminianism and Armenianism [ and Arminianism confessiou of sin, [ confession of sin,

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