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this further effusion of the spirit, to incorporate with them other sublime mysteries, about which they had before been silent The answer I receive is, that “Peter and the other apostles, said—the God of our “fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged “on a tree: him hath God exalted with His right “hand, to be a prince and a saviour, to give repent“ance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins; and we are “his witnesses of these things, and so also is the “holy spirit which God hath given to them that “obey him.” Still the same Unitarian principles, and these only, form the subjects of the apostle's preaching; which is concisely expressed in the 42nd verse, by saying: “Daily in the temple, and in every “house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus, “ the Messiah;” i. e. that Jesus was the Messiah. The supremacy of God the father, the humanity of Jesus, as a man crucified, his character as one exalted to be a prince and a saviour, are the doctrines of this discourse: and on the ground of these plain doctrines, the simple facts, unaided by the influence of those principles which form the Calvinistic or trinitarian
system, as I learn from v. 1, of the next chapter,
the number of the disciples in those days were multiplied. This was the doctrine then, that converted the world. Yet I am advanced no farther than the
Unitarian creed leads me. '"
The following chapters, viz. the 7th and Sth, of . " C 2 place
place us, with Stephen, before the council, to hear his defence of the christian faith, and to witness his martyrdom. His discourse is a brief review of the conduct of the God of glory to the Jewish nation, and before he could enter upon the principles of christianity, he is interrupted by his hearers and hurried away to death. [He “was stoned invoking”, “ and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit : and “he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” This proto-martyr was favoured with new and signal manifestations of the character and glory of his master, to support him in the moment of suffering. A supernatural vision was displayed before him. He saw the glory of God, some sensible token of the divine presence, and Jesus, standing at the right hand of God. “It was natural for him to commend “his spirit to that Jesus, for whose sake he was then “expiring;” and whom, if not at that instant visible to him, he had immediately before seen, represented in a state of high dignity and exaltation; “ and as “to the prayer for his enemies, his using the word “Lord, by no means implies that it was directed to “Christ; this is a title by which the great God “himself, whose glory he saw, is generally addressed.
[* Doddridge's translation. There is no word in the original to answer to the word, God, supplied by our translators, as appears by its being printed in Italic.]
“ The case of Stephen was a peculiar one *.” While his language was expressive of his ideas concerning the character of Christ, the form into which it was cast, was the effect of the presence of Christ
with him in vision. It arose from the impulse and
influence of extraordinary circumstances. It was not the language of one instructing others, with a view to bring them to the same sentiments he himself held, nor was it followed, as far as we can find, with any conviction in the minds of those who heard him, thus expressing himself.] Here thent I meet with nothing directly to our argument, except, that the divine being is uniformly spoken of as one person.
The eighth chapter records, in general terms only,
the preaching of Philip to the city of Samaria, and the conversation he had with the pious eunuch of AEthiopia: in each case faith and conversion were produced. But I am led to conclude, that the same general, Unitarian, principles were the grounds on which these excellent effects arose; for I am not informed of any other principles having been, on either occasion, inculcated. That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, was the simple principle on which
[* Cornish's judicious tract, entitled “A Letter to the Right * Reverend the Lord Bishop of Carlisle,” 1777, p. 23, 4.]
[+ “Dr. Toulmin finds Stephen before the council, but makes “ no mention of his death, in which he is described as praying to “Christ, saying, Lord jesus receive my spirit.—Lord, lay not this in “ to their charge.” Mr. Fuller's “Socinianism Indefensible,” P. 47.]
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the eunuch was baptized ; and of the Samaritans it is said, that, when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. I am not authorised, therefore, to suppose, that the tenor of his discourses, though successful, was different from those of Peter on
former occasions. [It calls for our attention, here, that the Apostles, in all their sermons, as the reader, on consulting 'THE Acts for himself, will perceive, did not extend the term Son of God to a higher character than that of a MAN, “approved of God by signs and “ miracles, and whom God had raised from the “ dead, made Lord and Christ, a Prince and Sa“ viour, and ordained to be judge of the world.” To these views they confine the delineation of the character which they exhibit. They neither declare, that this name implies true Godhead, nor do they connect with it any attributes, to lead us to understand it, as implying this. There are passages, which specify the grounds and reasons on which the name is properly applied to Jesus. But what are these grounds? They are the miraculous concepsion, Luke i. 31—35; the most plentiful measure of the gifts of the holy spirit conferred on Jesus, John i. 14, ch. iii. 34, ch. x. 36 ; his resurrection from the dead, Rom. i. 3, 4; and his exaltation to. universal dominion and authority, John iii. 35; ch. W. 21,
v. 21, 22; Ephes. i. 19, 20; Heb, i. 2; ch. iii. 5, 6*. These reasons, so far from implying an equality with God, the Father, are totally incompatible with such a principle. They plainly express a subordinate character, dependence and derived powers. “The name, Son of God,” says the excellent and candid Dr. Watts, “ is often used in the “Bible : but it is never once used, that I can find, “to signify true and eternal Godhead. And therefore, when Christ is called eminently and absolutely the Son of God, the meaning of it does not necessarily rise higher, than that He is the most eminent of all other beings (men or “angels) that are called the Sons of God +.” The Jews, it is true, charged Christ with making himself equal with God. But this was a malignant construction of his words; and our Lord in his reply shews that it was not justly grounded on his words; or on the name, Son of God. John x. 34, 5, 6. “Jesus answered “ them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are “Gods? If hecalled them Gods, unto whom the word “ of God came, and the scripture can not be broken: • Sayye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, “ and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, be“cause I said, I am the Son of God 2" Jesus
[* See the illustration of these reasons in Lardner's Sermons, vol. 2, p. 175–186: his “Letter on the Logos,” p. 30, &c. 12mo, edit. Watts's “Important Questions,” p. 11–16. Christie's “Discourses on the Divine Unity,” p. 50–56.]
[+ “Important Questions,” p. 8.]
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