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above mentioned proposition, were viewed by them as Christians. Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, speaks of those of his time who affirmed that Jesus was the Messiah, though they regarded him as a man, born in the ordinary way.–From this latter opinion, he says, he dissents, but he does not hesitate to call those who asserted it, Christians. The great point with him was, that Jesus was the Messiah, and of this he felt sure. Though he might fail of proving the correctness of his opinions concerning his preexistence, it could be demonstrated that he was the Christ of God, that is, the Messiah, and this was enough. This was absolutely necessary to be believed; nothing else was so.
Such is the obvious purport of his language. We find him alluding to the subject in his parting words with Trypho, of whom he takes leave with the prayer, that all the Jews may be led
to think with us (Christians] that Jesus is the Christ of God,' a prayer in which no genuine Unitarian of his, or any age, would hesitate cheerfully to unite.
Justin wrote in the former part of the second century. For some time after his death the catalogue of articles deemed fundamental, was very short. The most ancient creeds which have been transmitted to us, of which we have specimens in Irenæus, Tertullian, and others, and in the document called the Apostles' creed, are exceedingly brief and general, and we discover in them no trace of what are now dignified with the name of the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel. In those times Christians were allowed much greater
liberty of judging and speaking than was afterwards enjoyed. In proportion as creeds were lengthened, this liberty was abridged, and pride, uncharitableness, schisms, and strife, were the consequence.
The Catholic church, however, with all its pretentions to infallibility, never went the length of denouncing as infidels those who acknowledged the divine mission of Jesus, however they might depart, in other respects, from the orthodox standard. They anathematized them as heretics, it is true, but heretic and infidel were never, until recently, regarded as terms of the same import. A hereticis an erring Christian, or one who is supposed to err. A person must be a Christian, therefore, before he can be denominated a heretic. If he afterwards renounce christianity, believing that it originated in delusion or craft, he becomes an apostate and infidel, but not before. He may reject the explanations, which others give of the instructions of Jesus, but as long as he reverences those instructions as having a divine sanction, he is a Christian,—not prehaps an orthodox Christian, in the opinion of some of his fellow men, but still a Christian. Orthodoxy, as the term is used, is exceedingly mutable. It is one thing at Rome, another in London ; one affair at Princeton, but quite another matter at Andover. Our Puritan Fathers had their standard, and Dr Beecher, we suppose, has his. Human opinions are undergoing perpetual modifications and changes. It is impossible to predict from the orthodoxy of one age, which will be deemed orthodox in the succeeding. A man must be a very shrewd calculator, and a very nice observer of the signs of the times, or he may inadvertently incur the imputation of heresy. If he stand still, when he should move onward, or aside, or move onward, when he should remain still, his reputation for orthodoxy is gone forever.
But we are digressing from our subject. Romish presumption, we observed, never went so far as to withhold the name of Christian from those who, acknowledgeing the divine authority of the religion of Jesus, dissented in several particulars from the catholic standard. It has denied them a title to be called sound Christians, but not to be called Christians. It has branded them as heretics, but not as unbelievers. In this respect it has stopped short of modern arrogance.
Nor does the practice of which we complain, derive sanction from the example of the most venerable names in the Protestant world, from the time of the reformation down to the present day.
It is unnecessary to quote from writers of the school of Chillingworth and Locke. They were convinced of the folly and iniquity of imposing human interpretations, and human senses' of the words of scripture, as necessary to be believed. They contended that a sincere acknowledgement of belief in Jesus as the Messiah, that a reverence for the Bible as a rule of faith, was enough.* But these men, it may be said, were
* That an acknowledgement of the position, Jesus is the Messiah, is all that was originally required to constitute a believer, is argued with great clearness and strength of reason by Locke, in his . Reasonableness of Christianity as delivered in the Scriptures.' To those
Unitarians. They were so. Upon the point under consideration, however, Trinitarian writers of eminence have been equally explicit. . St Peter's creed' says Jeremy Taylor, 'was no more than this simple enunciation, We believe, and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God; and to this, salvation is particularly promised, as in the case of Martha's creed, John xi. 27. "The believing this article,' he observes, is the end of writing the four Gospels, and proceeds to show that the scriptures pronounce this sufficient. Again, he quotes St Paul; This is the word of faith we preach, that if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thy heart, that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved ; and adds, “this is the great and entire complexion of a Christian's faith.' And a little after, he says, Now all that Christ, when he preached, taught us to believe, and all that the apostles in their sermons propound, all aim at this, that we should acknowledge Christ for our Lawgiver and our Saviour.'
The learned Grotius, also a Trinitarian, commends the liberality of the ancient church, which commencing with the precepts, promises, and example of Jesus, as of first importance, fitted to nourish a spirit of piety and virtue, proceeded to teach those great doctrines, which were calculated to inspire a proper deference for his authority, as the promise of him made to the not already familiar with the book, we recommend its careful perusal.
* Liberty of Prophesying.
fathers, his miraculous birth, the office he sustains as the future judge of quick and dead, the pardon of sins obtained through him, and the perpetuity of his church. With these, he says, the ancient church was content; but he adds, there are other questions, relating to the distinction and unity of the Father, Word and holy spirit, and the two natures of Christ and their properties, an exact knowledge of which is not necessary to constitute a Christian. On these subjects,' he continues, 'there not only exists in the writings of the ancients a diversity in modes of expression, but a certain latitude of sentiment is observable ; yet they did not cease, whether private men, or doctors and bishops, to hold intercourse, and cultivate a spirit of fraternal love and union.' *
The name of Doddridge, we suppose, is considered by Trinitarians as entitled to some respect, though the exclusive spirit common at the present day, derives no countenance from his example. Once I remember," says his biographer, Dr Kippis, ' some narrow minded people of his congregation gave him no small trouble on account of a gentleman, who was a professed Arian, and who otherwise departed from the common standard of orthodoxy. This gentleman they wished either to be excluded from the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, or to have his attendance on it prevented. But the Doctor declared, that he would sacrifice his place, and even his life, rather than fix any such mark of dis* De Dogmatis, Ritibus, et Gub. Eccles. Christ.