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This, as far as I have been able to collect it, is a faithful transcript of the author's doctrine, And what there is in all this, of the nature of Sacrifice or Atonement, (at least so far as it affects those who have lived since the time of Christ,) or in what material respect, it differs from the Socinian notion, which represents Christ merely as our instructor and example, I profess myself unable to discover,
I have been thus full in my account of this writer's scheme, because by some strange oversight, and possibly from his artful accommodation of scripture phrases to his own notions, whereby he is enabled to express himself in the language of Scripture, his works have received considerable circulation, even among those whose opinions on this subject are of an opposite description. Nay, the erroneous tenets of this author, have been conveyed in, a collection of Theological Tracts, some time since published by an able and learned Prelate, in the sister country: and the candidates for orders in this, are by authority enjoined, to receive part of their theological instruction from his writings. Those who wish to see the errors of this scheme more amply reviewed and refuted, I refer to the examination of the doctrine, in the Scripture Account of Sacrifices, by. Mr. Portal, and in the Criticisms on modern Notions of Atonement by Dr. Richie: in the latter of which particy.
larly, the fallacy of the author's principles, and the gross ambiguity of his terms, are exposed with no less truth than ingenuity.
With respect to H. Taylor, who in his B. Mord. partly coincides with this writer in his explication of atonement, it is but justice to say, that he gives a view of the subject, in the main materially different: inasmuch as he represents Christ's concern for mankind, and his earnest intercession recommended by his meritorious obedience, to be the appointed means of his obtaining from God that kingdom, which empowers him to dispense forgiveness, &c.—Whereas Dr. J. Taylor makes the obedience of Christ (with regard to such as have lived since his time) the means of redemption, as being the means of man's improvement in virtue : and so far from attributing any efficacy to Christ's obedience, as operating through intercession, (to which, we find from Scripture, God has frequently bestowed his blessings, see Number IX. pp. 140, 141.) he considers the intercessions and prayers of good men for others, in no other light, than as acts of obedience, goodness and virtue. So that, in fact, the whole of his scheme, when rightly considered, (excepting only with respect to those whọ lived before Christ, in which part he seems inconsistent with himself, and on his own principles not easy to be understood) falls in with the notion of good works and moral obedience, as laid down by the Socinian. And here lies the secret of Mr. Belsham's remark, (Review, &c. p. 18.) that “ Dr. Taylor has, in general, well explained these Jewish phrases" (viz. propitiation, sacrifice, redemption through Christ's blood, &c.) “ in his admirable Key." ---As Mr. Belsham rejects the notion of redemption by Christ, and of faith in Christ, in toto, (see Review, &c. pp. 18. 104. 145.) it is not difficult to assign the cause of this commendation.
NO. XVII.-THE DOCTRINE OF ATONEMENT FALSE
LY CHARGED WITH THE PRESUMPTION OF PRO-
PAGE 21. (1) That men could not have been forgiven, unless Christ had suffered to purchase their forgiveness, is no part of the doctrine of Atonement, as held by the Church of England. What God could or could not have done, it presumes not to pronounce. What God declares he has done, that merely it asserts: and on his express word alone is it founded. But it is to be remembered, that on this, as on many other occasions, that a priori reasoning, which so frequently misleads those who object to the doctrines of our Church, is imputed by them to us, Not being themselves in the habit of bowing with humble reverence to the sacred word, they
consider not that we speak merely its suggestions: * and that if we do at
time philosophize, it is but to follow, not to lead the mean.
* The language of Witsius upon this subject is worth ata tending to. “Supposito extare Revelationem de mysteriis, at inquiri in sensum verborum quibus ista Revelatio mihi exponitur: non est in ista inquisitione ita procedendum, ut primo rationem meam consulam, quid ea, in idearum ac notionum suarum scriniis, rei de qua agitur simile aut ad. versum habeat, ut secundum eas quas ibi invenio notiones verba revelationis exponam, id unice operan dans, ut sen. sum tandem aliquem quantâ maximâ possum commoditate iis dem; qui istis meis prænotionibus optime conveniat. Sed attendendum est ad ipsa verba, quid in omnibus suis cir. cumstantiis significare apta nata sint, quidque, secundum Scripturæ stilum significare soleant; atque hâc viâ reperto sensu quem verba sine torsione per se fundunt, secure in eo acquiescendum est, omniaque rationis scita subjicienda sunt isti sensui quem iis me verbis docet Deus.” To these observations he subjoins an example of the opposite modes of investigating the sense of Scripture by the philosophizing and the humble enquirer, applying the former epithet to Socibus, and taking for the particular subject of investiga. tion the passage in Joh. i. 14. o doyos ougt syevero. Soci. nus ita procedit: nibil invenit in toto rationis suæ pepu, quod ipsi repræsentet, Deum ita humanæ unitum naturæ, ut ea unam cum ipso constituat personam; ideoque talem con. ceptum absurdum Deoque injuriosum esse sciscit. Id supponit ad horum verborum explicationem se accingens: idcirco omnes ingenii sui nervos intendit, ut sensum aliquem iis applicet, qui ab isthâc assertione remotissimus sit. Sollicitat verba singula, sollicitat nexum eorum, fectit, torquet, omnia agit; ne id dicere videantur quod dicunt. - Nos. longe aliterprocedendum existimamus. Accedimus ad hanc peri
ing of Scripture. To enter into the councils of the Almighty, and to decide what infinite wisdom must have determined, under a constitution of things different from the present, were a speculation not less absurd, than it is impious. Of this, even the few writers, whose language has, by a rigorous interpretation, been forced into a ground for the above charge against the doctrine of atonement, are perfectly innocent: for it never occurred to them, to suppose a constitution of
copam simplici atque humili mente audituri atque accepturi quidquid Deo nos placeat docere. Consideramus verba in nativo suo significatu, et prout passim in sacris literis usurpantur; expevdimus. quid Logos notet secundum phrasin Johannis, quid yineo dan, quid capš: consideramus quomodo alibi de hâc re sacræ literæ loquantur. Ex his omnibus for. mamus sensum, quem recipimus humili fidei obsequio firmiterque apud animum nostrum statuimus, Filium Dei humanam naturam tam arcte sibi junxisse, ut idem et Deus et homo sit: et quamvis nostra ratio nihil unquam huic rei simile invenerit, tamen cam verissimam esse, quia verba Dei hoc docent. Qui ita, ut Socinus, instituunt, eos ex suo peau multa in verbum Dei inferre necesse est : quâ re oi insignis fit injuria. Qui uti, nos illi cogitationes suas ex verbo Dei hauriunt, quibus rationis suæ penum locupletent, quod Deo gloriosum est."-Misc. Sacr. tom. ii. pp. 591, 592.-If the spirit which governed Socinus in his critical investigation of the sacred text, has been fairly described by Witsjus in the passage which has just been cited, it must be unnecessary to add, that his followers of the present day have in no repect departed from the example of their Master.