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greatly modified and altered from the times of S cinus to our own, that it is difficult to ascertai what is acknowledged, and what is disavowed so that in an endeavour to disprove any of the tenets, we may unintentionally hurt the feelings some, who have not altogether been carried awa by those muddy inundations, which the unhapp dexterity of philosophy, falsely so called, has le loose upon the Christian world.
Much of the great mystery of godliness, Go manifest in the flesh, with all the firmament of say ing truth and love, whereof it is the radiant centr must remain inexplicable to our present capacitie But to argue from thence that this mystery is cunningly devised fable, is as illogical, as it woul be to maintain that there is no bottom to the se: because we have no plumb-line with which it ma be fathomed. A first Cause without a beginninga Being which neither made itself, nor was mad by any other-infinite without extension-inhabit ing every place, yet circumscribed in no placeeternally and perpetually existing, without an succession of time-a present, without any pas or future :*-these and many other inexplicabl secrets of the divine nature, hinder not from ou * Leslie's Works, II. 31. 8vo.
belief in a God. Our inability, therefore, to explain the Triunity of his Essence, can be no reason for rejecting the revelation of it contained in his Word; even if we were deprived of those shadows and resemblances of this divine truth, which may be seen in the one nature of man, communicating itself to many individuals of the species. There is one human nature, but many human persons.
It is an old and hackneyed artifice of Unitarians to represent the doctrines of our Catholic faith, not as furnished forth by the plain and simple declarations of Scripture, but as a distortion or transformation of those statements, into the orthodox code of belief, by the magic wand of a scholastic theology, waved over them by men, who brought the subtilties of Gentile philosophy within the Church of Christ. These objectors continually declare, that in all interpretations of Scripture, clearness and simplicity must be the great aims of the expositor; no regard being paid to logical subtilties and nice refinements. It had been well if this useful canon, so fitly proposed, had been practically obeyed. But we need only take a very cursory view of the many laborious defences of Unitarianism, to observe that this pretended simplicity is, in effect,
a most refined intricacy of argument, or a most mournful abuse of language. Its champions reason with the greatest dexterity upon those subjects, which, transcending the limits of human understanding, are generally received upon the authority of revelation, as matters of simple faith. They are acute disputants, when they ought to be silent and submissive believers. Perhaps it may be added, that less real sagacity and strength of judgment than might be expected, are often discernible in those discussions which lie within the legitimate sphere of reason, and are properly amenable to its tribunal.*
Dr. Priestley, Mr. Lindsey, Mr. Belsham, not to mention earlier writers, have laboured hard, to show that the Fathers of the three first centuries were Unitarians, and believers in the simple humanity of Jesus Christ. If their attempted proofs had been valid, and their position could have been maintained, then, having declared that such was the Apostolic doctrine, and the doctrine taught by those who lived between the Apostolic day and the Council of Nice, the foundations of that faith which believes Him to be over all, God blessed for ever* Mosheim IV. 456.
more, would have been shaken to the ground. But the hardy misquotations, the inconsequential reasonings, and the perversion of obvious meanings, have been successfully opposed by the gigantic learning and unwearied labours of Bull, Waterland, Burgh, Horsley, Burton, and others. The vessel which had been sedulously turned upon the Unitarian wheel has been so entirely and effectually broken, "that there is not found, in the bursting of it, a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit."*
From this unfortunate attempt, the unsanctified labour was turned to dishonour the word of God. Reason, emancipated from all restraint, has been left to deal with the Bible as with a mere human production; and to reject or receive whatever portion it pleased. The text is declared to be filled with interpolations, errors and absurdities. The sacred writers are accused of ignorance, contradictions and deceit. The irresistible conclusion follows, that Christ, upon their showing, was only a philosopher, a wise teacher, a virtuous being, an excellent example, and a patient martyr. Man is
* Is. xxx. 14.
left to his own reason, and to his own merits, for his hopes and his salvation.*
It might have been expected, that a system which opposed the course and current of Catholic doctrine, would have been defended by learning the most profound, research the most extensive, and eloquence the most attractive. In the earlier periods of its history, indeed it found champions whose attainments, as they were of a high and noble order, were worthy of a more sacred and happy direction. But as that system sunk deeper and deeper still into the abyss of modern Unitarianism, it seemed to drag down in its fall the energies of its advocates, and to diminish their powers, if it could not quench their zeal. The admiration now expressed for some of its defenders, exhibits the more stinted measure of learning in the Unitarian body; as the pure, clear fount of poetry in England, had almost disappeared, during that interregnum, in which Hayley claimed to have drank deeply of its waters, and had his claim allowed.
Unitarianism may boast its descent from the earliest ages of the Christian dispensation; and, * Palmer on the Church, II. 52.