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It was foreign from the desires of my heart to oeca. sion any schism, tumult or clamor among professed Christians ; and I cannot but deeply lament that any things of such a nature have been the consequence of publishing my sentiments. It is most sincerely hoped, that those who have been offended with me for thinking for myself and publishing the fruits of my inquiries, will yet allow themselves time for cool reflection and patient examination. For it is confidently believed, that the time is not far distant, when the doctrine, that Christ is really God's SON, will not, by Christian Ministers, be classed among "damnable her. esies."
There are things, respecting which, I must be allowed to express some astonishment, because, when the things are compared together, there seems to be something of the nature of a paradox.
So far as I am informed by reports, by private letters and by conversation, the sentiment that Christ is really God's SON, has, above every thing else in my Letters, been made the ground of objection among Trinitarian Ministers. It is on this very ground that they have taken the liberty to represent, that I have degraded the character of Christ, that I am an Arian, a Socinian, and a heretic.
In my own defence, and in opposition to their views, I exhibit evidence from Scripture, that believing in Christ, as the Son of God, is stated as a condition of salvation ; and that disbelief of this doctrine is what is termed making God a liar. Then, my Trinitarian brethren, turn right about, and consider me as really reprehensible, for so much as intimating that they do not “as fully as” I “do," believe that Jesus Christ is the SON of God.
But if they do, as fully as I do, believe that Jesus Christ is the SON of God, why the alarm ? Why the opposition? And why the cry of “damnable heresies 29 If believing, as I do, that Christ is really God's Son; and if, as they affirm, they do, as fully as I do, believe that he is the Son of God, why are they free from the charge of "damnable heresy ?" Is the very same sentiment, in them, a gospel truth, and in me a “damnable heresy 2" And if my sentiment be degrading to Christ, and they really believe the same, why is not their sentiment equally degrading to the Savior ?
They will reply, that they really believe that Christ is the Son of God; but not in the sense I havo given to the terms. But can any man candor hon estly say, that the sense I have given to the terms is not the highest sense which can possibly be given them, consistent with any analogy ? If, then, these Ministers do really believe, that Christ is God's Son, but not in the sense I have given to the terms ; they must believe that he is the Son of God in a lower sense of the terms. Consequently, if my sentiment be degrading to Christ, theirs must be still more degrading.
Moreover, as I have adopted the highesť ground of possible Sonship, if my sentiment be degrading to Christ, he was degraded by the testimony of his apostles, his own testimony, and the testimony of God, by the voice from heaven. For, whatever might be the particular sense, in which these witnesses used the term SON, we may be confident, it was not in any sense higher than the highest. It seems to me reasonable to believe, that the terms “THE Son of God,” were designed to express either the NATURE, or the DIGNITy of the Person to whom they were applied, or both together. I have supposed that they naturally express both his nature and his dignity ; but if in this I have been under a mistake, still I do not see any room for the charge of my having degraded the character of Christ; unless he has been degraded by every being who has called him The Son of God.
But is it a fact, that Trinitarians do believe, as fully us I do, that Jesus is "the Son of the LIVING God. Po The term Son is indeed used in different senses ; but is there any one sense of the term, in which a Son is not a distinct Being from him who stands related as Father? If not, then, in agreement with every analogy, I have believed the Son of God to be a distinct Being from his FATHER. But my Trinitarian opponents affirm, as their belief, that God and his Son are the same "individual Being." This: theory is a manifest contradiction to every analogy of Father and Son. Can they, then, with propriety say, that they believe, as fully as I do, that Christ is the SON of God ? And by what authority are they to be justified in giving a construction to the correlative terms Father and Son, which has no analogy in nature, or in the language of human beings?