« PreviousContinue »
they had entertained similar ideas, would have
written as they have done. ~
gerous, on this or any other point, which depends purely on revelation, to advance beyond it. The 11th Letter, to which Mr. Fuller refers, brings forward, a great number of texts, quoted in his usual way, as the sound of the words and the popular application of them dictate. On which he
asks, “Which of the systems in question has the greatest tendency Q.
to promote such a spirit of love to Christ as is here exemplified ; g
that which leads us to admire these representations, and on various “ occasions to adopt the same expressions : or that which employs
us in coldly criticising away their meaning; that which leads us o
without fear to give them their full scope, or that which, while “we are honouring the Son, would affright us, lest we should in so “ doing dishonour the Father(1)?” The excellence of a system, them, - is to be tried, not by its foundation in sober truth, but by its power to move the affections, and to raise our feelings to the highest tone. Here Popery, with its decorations and pictures and shows, with the oratory of its preachers, holding in their hands and displaying to their hearers a crucifix, will have the advantage of the cold addresses of Protestantism. Here superstitious idolatry, by its pomp and splendor and sacrifices, will recommend, as more attractive than the simple spiritual worship of christianity, itself. But as Mr. Fuller observes(2), “all that appearance of reverence and devotion, “ which is the offspring of superstition, or is promoted by falsehood, “will be found to be something at a great remove from piety or “devotedness to love. Let me then adhere to that religion which “ is a reasonable service. Rom. xii. 3. Let me seek that my love “may abound in knowledge and all judgment.” Phil. i. 9. It is an apostolic exhortation, “be not children in understanding: in
“ understanding be men.” I Cor. xiv. 20, The careful exami
[(1) Calvinist and Socinian Systems compared, p. 216, 1st, edit.]
- [(2) P. 288.] nation
These remarks offer a solution of the difficulty, which X. Y. Z. intimates, when he says: “Nor do
nation of the sense of scriptures, hence, becomes a duty. But it falls under a censure with Mr. Fuller, as “coldly criticising away “ their meaning.” To have been correct he should not have said their meaning : but the meaning ascribed to them by himself and many other christians. This may not be their true meaning : unless, in their applications of scripture, they are governed by an unerring, infallible Spirit. Till this is proved to be the case, we may be allowed to doubt their sense; and the only way to settle the interpretation of disputed texts is that of investigating their meaning by a careful examination, directed by judicious and sober criticism: which Mr. Fuller may, if he please, call cold criticism; but which we shall still deem wisdom, and our duty to follow, that we may “ give them their true full scope,” and stop there. Mr. Fuller is superior to any fears of going beyond it: he is superior to any apprehensions of his emotions of gratitude and love to Christ infringing upon his regards to God, the Father. With him it is the proof of the excellence of a system, that it preserves him from being “af“frighted, lest in so doing he should dishonour the Father.” It may be so with him. Remembering the words of Christ, “My “Father is greater than I,” I envy not his security and confidence. He will permit others to think, that there is ground for holy fear and caution. He will permit others to recollect, and govern themselves by the recollection, that we are commanded to love God with an entire affection. He will permit others to regulate their views and affections, in this instance, by the example of Christ: who expressly declared; “I honour my Father. I seek not my own “glory.” Here he will permit others to preserve a subordinacy, a subserviency, in their regards even to their Lord and Saviour, to those higher regards, which they owe to “their Father and his “Father, to their God and his God:” because He is exalted, because every toague is to confess him, and every knee to bow to him, to the glory of God The Farh. R. It is, therefore, the excellence of
“I see why, on Unitarian principles, Jesus Christ is “ the object of a Christian's gratitude and love, any
“ more than, under the Jewish dispensation, Moses
“ was the object of these affections to the Jews.” From what has been advanced, it is plain, there was a marked difference between the two characters. Moses did not die for his country. He practised indeed a noble self-denial for their sake; but he did not sacrifice his life in their cause. Nor, as I recollect, is he ever once held up to the Israelites as the object of their love. He was the virtuous, disinterested lawgiver; a character deserving great respect: Christ was the suffering, dying friend; a character which insinuates itself into the heart, and constrains affection.
There is another material point of difference in the two cases. Moses promised an inheritance to the Israelites, but did not himself come to a share in the possession: and his personal connexion with them ceased at his death. Between Christ and his disciples there subsists a common interest, as well as one common nature; a joint participation in the same titles, privileges and inheritance: they are his brethren : after his resurrection he avowed the re
that system, which he would depreciate, that it makes that, in the government of the religious affections, the ultimatum, which is so in reason and the gospel: that it creates and cherishes a care to give supreme, unrivalled honour and glory to the one God the FATH = R. “ of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things”]
lation; on the great day he will avow it. His God
certainly does not easily and naturally harmonise, with the latter.
We next proceed to review the texts, which speak of our love of Christ. The first under this class is Mat. x. 37. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me . and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me: i.e. as the words are paraphrased by Dr. Clark, “when things come to this extremity, that a “man must either lose the friendship of the dearest “relations, or forsake his religion; all earthly and “ temporal considerations must yield to the one thing necessary, of securing an eternal interest. “For whosoever shall prefer the love of a father or “mother, or brother or sister, before true religion “ and virtue; cannot be a sincere disciple of Christ, “ or be accounted worthy to be admitted into the “ kingdom.” Or, as Dr. Doddridge glosses on the words, “he who loveth father or mother more than “ me, and is induced by his regard to them to dis“obey my precepts, or renounce my doctrine, is not “worthy of me.” The justness of this explanation of the love of Christ is established by the language used in the context, where our Lord enforces the confessing him before men, and warns against denying him before men; but especially by the cha
racteristics of a true disciple, which he lays down ver. 38. viz. “taking up his cross and following “ after him.” Such a love of Christ, it must be allowed,