Page images
PDF
EPUB

was error of the times.” Both the catholics and protestants, in France, in the year 1685, believed, indeed, that the Word which was made flesh, and dwelt among us, was God; but they did not believe that Jesus Christ was the supreme God according to the socinian exposition of those words. For the Socinians with all their boasts of being Unitarians, do not believe that Christ and his father are ONE: nor that two distinct natures are in him whose name is IMMANUEL.

If by “considering Jesus Christ as the supreme God, and addressing prayers to him,” the Dr. means only to say, “ that Mr. de Marolles and Mr. Le Fevre, believed that religious worship was due to the son of God, both from angels and men, this sentiment, if it be an error, has been the error of all times. David, as a prophet, speaking of him, said, Thy throne, () God, is for ever and ever: and of his church, he says, He is thy Lord; and worship thou him. According to our translation, Luke informs us, that they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. The translation of these words by Bishop Horsley, is this, “ They stoned Stephen invocating and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” His Lordship’s inference is, “ Jesus, therefore, was the God whom the dying martyr invocated in his last agonies; when men are apt to pray with the utmost seriousness, to him whom they conceive the mightiest to save.” This practice is. yet continued; and when the heavens shall pass

away

away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; on good grounds, it is still believed, that the deity of Jesus Christ will then be openly, and universally acknowledged: for then every eye shall see him, and hear him say, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

But, in order to make us the more indifferent, to the leading article of the creed of Mr. de Marolles, and of Mr. Le Fevre, concerning Jesus Christ, the Dr. says, “ that those particular men, were not by profession, theologians.” The fact is admitted; but his insinuation is inadmissable. Were the pastors of these men theologians? Were the best preachers in those days among the catholics, and among the protestants, theologians? Were Arnold, Bossuet, Bourdaloue, Massillon, Nicole, and Quesnel, theologians? Were Abbadie, Claude, Jurieu, Mestrezat, Du Bosc, Placette, and Saurin, theologians? Yet, all these theologians believed, not only that Jesus was the Messiah, the only begotten son of God, but that as such, being in the form of God, he thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Besides, have not thousands who never sat in the professors chair; have not thousands who never stepped into a pulpit, manifested that sound judgment of the character of Christ, as well as that affection for his person, and obedience to his will, which has seldom been exceeded by theologians of any denomination? Such dis

cernment

[ocr errors]

lantly

cernment of the character of Christ was promised, for it is said, they shall all KNOW ME, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; and this promise has been abundantly fulfilled. Let me add, that according to the learned Lampe, even St. John himself, was not called a theologian till the fourth century; and then, by such persons, and for such reasons, as Dr. Priestly cannot approve.

Stedfast, however, to his determined purpose, of denying that our Lord is by nature divine, he affirms, that “their opinion concerning Jesus Christ had no influence whatever, in enabling them to bear their sufferings.” This is a bold assertion; for when Mr. de Marolles was with the procurator general, he says, “I returned such answers to the questions which he put to me, as Jesus Christ inspired me with, according to his promise:” and, in a letter to Mr. Jurieu, he says, “ I fix my confidence upon the eternal rock. I put ALL my confidence in him. I expect help and succour from him ALONE. I persuade myself that nothing shall be able to move me, fixed upon so solid a foundation.” The confidence and hope of Mr. Le Fevre was as plainly and strongly expressed. The Dr's, assertion is not only bold, but unphilosophical. For, has his own opinions no influence on bis own conduct? Or are only his opinions well founded? Does he not know, that every opinion which the mind of man approves, whether well or ill founded, must have some influence on his be

haviour?

haviour? Can he suppose that opposite opinions, especially on the character of Christ, will produce exactly the same effects ?

If we aşk, how were these martyrs enabled to bear their sufferings with so much patience? We are told, they were supported by “ the principles of christianity in general, such are common to trinitarians, arians, and unitarians.” In confirmation of this, the Dr. says, “ Accordingly, we find that persons of all these denominations have borne persecution with equal firmnness.” Were this true, firmness is but one commendable quality under persecution: the faith, hope, charity, meekness, humility, and devotion, of the sufferer, must also be considered; and when we impartially compare Mr. de Marolles's and Mr. le Fevre's behaviour under all these considerations, with the conduct of arians, or unitarians, in similar circumstances, where shall we find their equal? If Dr. Priestley can inform us, let him name the men.

:. But, widely as I differ, and think it my honor to differ, from Dr. Priestley on theological subjects, I have read with pleasure, several of his observations on the sufferings of Mr. de Marolles and Mr. le Fevre. The following quotations from him, are, in my opinion, worth the readers attention.

“ A christian should at all times rejoice as though he rejoiced not, and weep as though he wept not; because the fashion of this world passes away, and the Lord, his judge, is at hand. He ought to consider nothing as properly his, or as deserving his attachment, but that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved for him in heaven, in that state which is called the new heavens, and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,"

away, of Of

: * In time of persecution, these christian 'sentia ments are perpetually obtruded upon us. Without any effort of our own, the occurrences of every day will suggest them; and though it is our duty not to court, but to shun persecution, as well as evils and trials of any other kind, lest we should not be able to acquit ourselves well in them, and might justly draw upon ourselves the punishment of our presumption and vain confidence; we should exert ourselves to do every thing in our power to acquire those sentiments and resolutions which are naturally produced by the circumstances attending persecution. The less our situation does for us, the more we should do for ourselves. Now it appears to me, that one of the best methods of doing this, is the reading the histories of persecutions, and of course, contemplating the lives and characters, of those who have distinguished themselves as martyrs in the cause of truth, Next to seeing and conversing with the men ourselves, and our being witnesses of their patient sufferings, this will have the greatest effect to dispose us to feel and act as they did.”

« PreviousContinue »