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UNITARIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEL.
GALATIANS I, 6, 7. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you unto the grace of Christ unto another Gospel, which is not another : but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ.”
The term GOSPEL means literally “good news”-glad tidings of great joy. The GOSPEL OF Christ is therefore good news or glad tidings of great joy concerning Christ, that is the Messiah, called JESUS, because He came to save his people from their sins," and therefore described as a SAVIOUR-THE LORD. This last title when it is used without any limiting phrase, in the scriptural Greek ordinarily denotes the supreme being, and is the word regularly employed by the Septaugint to translate the name ADONAI and JEHOVAH. This usage has been followed by the writers of the New Testament as must be obvious to every reader of the original text, and is applied by them in the form of unqualified pre-eminence to the Lord Jesus Christ.*
Of this I have given numerous proofs in my previous discourse, and I might add to them a number of other passages.†
“In these passages,” says the Rev. Dr. Pye Smith, than whom an abler or more candid critic never wrote, “it is evident that the gospel is called “the word of the Lord," and "of the Lord Jesus” as its ordinary designation and used interchangeably with the phrase "the word of God,”—that not only is the appellation, The LORD, currently given to the Redeemer, but that it is combined with a peculiar and exalted knowledge, authority, power and influence, for the advancement of his kingdom and the protection of his servants;—and that the appellation, the attributives, and the style of dignity and authority, are in the characteristic manner of scripture, especially in the Old Testament, when it speaks of the Great Jehovah as the Protector, Guide and Saviour of his people. To those whose memories are familiar with that characteristic manner, the conformity must appear very striking."
The Saviour—the Messiah promised to the fathers; the Seed of the woman, who was to bruise the head of the serpent—the Seed of Abraham—the Shiloh of Jacob—the prophet like unto Moses, whom Isaiah, with holy rapture, described as "The child born, and the son given, whose name is the mighty God, the Prince of Peace;" and whom Jeremiah adored, and trusted in as “Jehovah our righteousness,"—This Saviour in all the glories of his Godhead, in which he is one with the Father,in all the realities of his human nature in which he is one with us ;—and in all the tremendous sufferings that characterized his death as the atonement for our sins,—is the sum and essence of the “glorious gospel.” This is glad tidings of deliverance from sin and woe, and of the enjoyment of holiness and blessedness through Jesus,-God in our nature, Jehovah Saviour,"who is the Seed of David according to the flesh" but "over all God blessed for ever,"—who was made sin for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,”—and who is exalted a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance and remission of sins, -by whom all who believe are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses, or by works of righteousness which they had done." This,-this, this is the GOSPEL OF Christ.
*Smith's Testimony to the Messiah, III, 25. * See given in do. do. p. 25-29.
This Gospel, as we have already seen, was even in the Apostles' days, corrupted and denied. It was corrupted by the Jews and the adherents to their Pharisaic spirit among the christians, who substituted for the work and merit of Christ as the only ground of salvation, "works of righteousness which they themselves had done," "and would not submit themselves to the righteousness of God."
This Gospel was corrupted by the Gentiles also, who endeavored to smooth down its asperities and to remove any thing which could “stagger the common reason and moral sense of mankind," and thus to commend it to the attention of the wise and prudent.” Against this corruption of the Gospel the Apostle warned the Colossians, when he said "beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
A third corruption of christianity was the attempt to render it palatable to the great mass of the people, by mingling with its simple ordinances the rite of heathenism, and this introduced Romanism, which is in truth Paganized christianity.
Thus, the addition of human doings, to the finished work of Christ on Calvary; or the attempt to derogate from the glories of his Divinity by the "philosophy,” that, instead of receiving the testimony regarding him, would inquire into the MODE of his existence, and thus discover what is not revealed; or the vain efforts to render, by the appendages borrowed from
human inventions, the simple and beautiful religion of the cross, more pleasing to the natural mind, are all but perversions of the Gospel of Christ.
Now, the system called Unitarianism, seems in our view, to concentrate the whole of the evil of these three, into one,denying the “Father and Son,” because unable by “vain philosophy" to comprehend now in the One Jehovah, there can be a distinction, so as to leave room for first, or second,-substituting “works of righteousness which we have done,” for the one work finished "once for all," on Calvary by Him, who is God manifested in the flesh,—and trying to recommend to the carnal mind which is enmity against God, that Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.
Dr. Gilman assures us that the Gospel, as contained in the New Testament, is “so genial, so plain, so welcome to every heart," that “even the very child blesses these Gospels." And yet the Apostle, even in his day, "marvelled" that the members of one of the earliest christian churches “were so soon removed from the grace of Him that called them unto another Gospel which is not another.” “But,” says he, “there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ." Now you will observe that what these false teachers propagated among the Galatians, they called the Gospel. But in the Apostle's estimation, it was totally different from that which he had proclaimed. It was, therefore, another gospel and yet it was not another, for it did not deserve the name of Gospel at all.
The disciple whom Jesus loved, so meek, and gentle, and full of love as he is, waxeth even stronger in his malediction, for "Whosoever,” says the Apostle John, “transgresseth, and abideth not in THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
Dr. Gilman would reprobate Calvinism, because it "fastens on men the brand of heresy for not being able to believe in the whole length and breadth of that complicated, cast-iron creed, --because it banishes those who reject the gospel heart-broken from the communion of their friends and neighbors, and sends them weeping into a stigmatised and miserable solitude for life,”—because it thus "interferes with the faith and practice of individual churches." Of this illiberal, bigoted and unchar-itable spirit of the Presbyterian Church, Dr. Gilman draws some very poetical and sentimental pictures of “innocent parties," "unprotected maidens," "beloved and respected wives, having a stigma of an intolerable nature fastened upon them, and sent home, if clerical, "unfunctional and ruined.”
Are we to understand then, that the Gospel of Unitarianism is so full of what they call charity and benevolence, liberality and candor, that it prescribes no doctrines to be believed, no duties to be performed, no heresies to be denied, and no vices to be abandoned, in order to be either "lay or clerical" believers of its faith and partakers of its rites? If not, then to whatever extent Unitarianism either prescribes or proscribes the one or the other, it exercises towards "them that are without,” what they will still regard as the intolerance of a bigoted exclusiveness. And if, on the other hand this is, as we would infer, the character of the Unitarian Gospel, then how certainly is it “another gospel and yet not another" than that of Christ and his Apostles.
True liberality, benevolence and charity, according to the Scriptures, consist not in partiality to the errors of men in points of practice and profession in which they are at variance with the Maker. God must be true though "every man should be proved a liar,” and there can be no true love to man which does not flow from love to God. Indifference to religious principle, and esteem for what is erroneous or vicious in men, is in direct opposition to that true benevolence which inspires good will to the persons of all men*—which leads us to esteem whatever is truly commendable in them,—which treats every man with candor, fairness and impartiality,—which hopeth all things and believeth all things concerning them that truth and justice will allow,—and which stirs us up to promote their real welfare, and above all, their spiritual and everlasting good. But all this is consistent with "a profound, conscientious attachment" to what we believe to be divine truth and as profound and conscientious aversion to what we believe to be subversive of that truth.
There may be a candor and charity which are destructive of all true benevolence, because they are treacherous to that truth which alone can sanctify the soul and introduce it into "the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Truth cannot be transformed by any charitable alembic, into error, nor error into truth, and we must either abandon the Bible and the Gospel altogether, or be willing to be charged with the bigotry, illiberality and intolerance of believing what it teaches to be TRUE and what it condemns to be FALSE. “Beware," says Christ, "of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing," -"deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ. And into an angel of light; therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness."
*Coleridge, after declaring that Unitarianism is no religion, &c., says: "I affirm a heresy often, but never dare denounce the holder a heretic."--Lit. Romanus, vol. 4, p. 222.
Our Saviour enjoined all matters of dispute to be brought before the church, and “if the offender neglect to hear the church, let him," says He, "be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." He enumerated certain things which should be worthy of ecelesiastical censure, and some which should endanger hellfire. He gave to his church the keys of doctrine and of discipline that they might loose and bind according to His word. He declareth that "Whosoever breaketh one of the least of His commandments and teacheth men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” His gospel is to be preached to every creature that being made disciples of it they might be "taught all things whatsoever he has commanded,” John, with our Saviour's approbation, told Herod who had married "his brother Philip's wife," "that it was not lawful for him to have her."† The Corinthian church are enjoined "in the name of the Lord Jesus and with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to deliver unto Satan an "unfortunate husband” and his "beloved wife,” and “not to keep company, or hold communion with any man or woman who is called a brother," when he or she becomes a fornicator, a railer, or a drunkard or an extortioner, or "an heretic.”
"Now we command you brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother
tI am aware that it can be, as I think, probably determined that Philip was yet alive, and that adultery may have been the crime charged against Herod. But as this is not incontrovertible, this passage, as well as the one in Leviticus, is regarded by many as proving the illegality of marriage with a wife's sister. Such was the unanimous opinion of christian countries and all churches, Orthodox and Unitarian, at the time when our Standards were drawn up, and is still the opinion of the large majority in Great Britain. But as the question is an open one and differently determined by the ablest minds, I am one of "the very respectable minority” in our church, now perhaps a majority, who think that the church should leave the matter to the decision of christian discretion and opinion in every part of the country., Dr. Gilman was bound, in all candor, to state that the General Assembly directed the restoration of the minister who, on this account, had been deposed. But this would have destroyed his argumentum ad invidium.