« PreviousContinue »
“ After a general laugh had subsided, my erring opponent next turned his attention to undeniable abuses, which we all deplore. I have not, however, space to enter further into the conversation which ensued. It was impossible, as it is with infidels in general, to keep him to a question, and I was obliged repeatedly to reprove him for swearing, a strange and inconsistent thing for an atheist to do.
"Here was a poor ignorant man, destitute of all self-government, imagining himself capable of setting in order the affairs of a great nation; imagining, in the midst of his weakness, that he had
' Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear
is since dead, and laid in state for some days at a public-house adjoining my district. The room was decorated with flags, one out of the window. He belonged to the
- Would that I could record he belonged to the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus, Gal. iii. 26."
In arguing with unbelievers, in enduring the foolish contradictions, and ofttimes insults of sinners, I have often thought of the words of Herbert :
“Be calm in arguing, for fierceness makes
Error a fault, and truth discourtesy ;
More than his sickness or his poverty ?
The next case I have the happiness to detail is that of the truly hopeful conversion of a confirmed Socinian, a man of great general intelligence :
The person alluded to is a German by birth, an aged man, on the verge of eighty. I became introduced to Mr. E--- about three years since, being sent for to visit a member of his family who was very ill, and desirous to receive religious instruction. I find the first entry in my reports respecting him, under date, July, 1848, as follows:
"I interrogated the father, Mr. E., respecting repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. With a frankness with which I could not but feel pleased, deeply as I regretted the occasion of its exercise, Mr. E. informed me he held Socinian views. 'I believe,' said he, in the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible, but the idea of God's having a Son, does appear to me most derogatory to the majesty of the Almighty ; I cannot believe Christ to be more than a good man, and an example to us.' I felt deeply grieved to hear such were his views, and I said, 'A religion without a sacrificial Saviour could not make a man “just before God,” even according to the law of Moses, (Lev. xvii
. 11,) nor,' I added, “could such a religion yield lasting joy and peace, as our Saviour Christ saith, “Let not your hearts be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me,” (John xiv. 1.)' Mr. E. said he hoped I would not be offended, but that he always considered it best frankly to state his mind.
“I directed my aged friend's attention to those
passages in the Gospels, in which our Saviour emphatically asserts his own proper divinity, and to those numerous passages also, both in the Old and New Testaments, where divinity is ascribed to
To these citations and their exposition Mr. E. listened with great attention, and replied that he considered our Saviour had asserted the possession of such attributes, although he knew the fact was not so, from a benevolent motive-to add weight to his teachings and admonitions--that he might obtain the greater power over the minds of men for their benefit.'
* In attempting to convey this cardinal truth, it is well to dwell upon the fact that our Saviour asserts his pre-existence as coming down from heaven (John iii. 13.) Socinians have attempted to evade the force of this argument by stating that our Redeemer was taken up into heaven previous to com. mencing his public ministry to be instructed in his future duties. This, of course, is merely one of the desperate shifts error is ever reduced to, and is an absurdity. Our Lord declares himself to have existed before Abraham, (John viii. 58.) Our Lord's language was unmistakeable ; he asserted his Godhead, and the Jews so understanding him, took up stones to stone him, (ver. 59,) the punishment awarded by the law to a blasphemer, (Lev. xxiv. 16); and again, in John x. 30, our Lord declared himself and his Father to be one. The Jews again, who perfectly understood him as asserting his Godhead, and not merely any assimilation and conformity with the mind of God, a doctrine they admitted, treated him as a blasphemer again, and “took up stones again to stone him,” John x. 31. Our Lord also asserted his omnipresence, declaring himself as being “in heaven” whilst yet before the eyes of his disciples on earth (John iii. 13 ;) and that where two or three meet together in his name he is in the midst of them, (Matt. xviii. 20 ;) and that he would be with his
“I met this specious idea, by alluding to the most emphatic instruction given in the Gospels to practice undeviating truth, and alluded to the case of Ananias and Sapphira also. I said, “ As Mr. E. believed Jesus Christ to be “a teacher sent from God," it would be falsifying his own teachings for our Saviour to have pursued such a course.' I afterwards lent him the late philanthropist's, Joseph John Gurney's, Portable Evidences,' which contain much fulness upon this subject considering the size of the work; and I pray
be perfectly illuminated, to discern the offices and glory of that Redeemer, whose name, 'Immanuel,' (Isaiah vii. 14,) being interpreted is, God with us.
disciples " to the end of the world,” (Matt. xxviii, 20.) Thus our Lord also proclaims his omniscience.
Our Lord also asserts his omnipotence as having “ life in himself,” and “quickening (or giving life) to whom he will,” (John v. 21, 26 ;) the Jews, therefore, “sought the more to kill him,” because he made “himself equal with God,” (ver. 18.) To the same effect are the numerous predictions relative to Messiah in the Old Testament, and the testimony of the apostles, especially John i. and Hebrews i. The concluding canon of Revelation is also vocal with this cardinal and
“ Against the Cross, death's iron sceptre breaks !
From famished ruin plucks her human prey!
-prohibits our despair !
"Thus commenced my acquaintance with this aged Socinian.
“On a subsequent occasion, being alone with him, I had a better opportunity of inquiring more particularly as to the state of his mind, and found ħe was dark and unhappy.
“ It is not the grasp of a man Christ Jesus, that can enable the conscience at all awakened to await fearlessly and with confidence the time when we shall come to 'appear before God.' The soul at all awakened must feel it has hold on a GoD Christ Jesus also, to enable that soul to meditate on death and judgment in peace. Mr. E. was much affected, but said, with his accustomed mildness, he could not help his condition, and that it would be hypocrisy for him to profess what he did not believe.
"A commonly repeated objection to our Saviour's divinity was, that he considered it derogatory to the majesty of God to suppose him to have a son. To this objection I replied, “That all creation might be spoken of under the idea of offspring—as emanation—and that there was nothing in the nature of the case to render the fact of God dwelling in a visible form derogatory to the Divine character, more than for God to be present amongst his works, and to enter and to influence the human heart, a doctrine which Socinians admit. Further,' I remarked, that the idolatry of many nations was a proof that the idea of a visible and incarnate deity, was a truth the human mind had ever grasped after. But to tread on surer ground,' I further observed, 'revelation must be our only guide, and that dogmatically to pronounce it derogatory to the Divine character, to invest a human form, was illogical, if revelation asserted it, because the mental capacity