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pretty satisfactorily settled, in the columns of the Boston Recorder.
With these “ matters and things," we, as Hopkinsians, should have little concern, if they had not been introduced to illustrate and confirm the belief of the Synod, that “the Hopkinsian views of the atonement, lead directly to Socinianism.” But since they are introduced with this view, we must take some notice of them.
We, then, admit, that Dr. Hopkins lived and died within seventy miles of the Cradle of Socinianism”—that Dr. Priestley “arrived in the United States, about the time Dr. Hopkin's system of Divinity was published”—and that some who formerly used Dr. Watts’s Psalms and Hymns, have become Unitarians. But, we do not clearly see, all this proves the tendency of Hopkinsian views, to Socinianism; while it is within our knowledge, that the Hopkinsians have uniformly been some of the most strenuous advocates of the Deity and Atonement of Christ—that rarely an individual of them has gone over to the Unitarian ranks—that scarcely a Unitarian congregation, so far as we can recollect, exists in any Parish or Society, in which Hopkinsian sentiments have ever been taught—and that, as soon as any Church or Society have become avowedly Unitarian, they have uniformly laid aside the Psalms and Hymns of Dr. Watts. Indeed the Version of Watts, is, throughout, so irreconcileable with every form of Anti-Trinitarianism, that the use, or discontinuance, of that Version, forms a line of demarkation between Trinitarians, and Unitarians ; and the continued use of it, is believed to have had, and still to have, a salutary influence in preserving the Churches from the inroads of Arian and Socinian errors. Those ministers, and others in New-England who have exchanged Orthodoxy for Unitarianism, have scarcely, any instance, touched the borders of Hopkinsianism : their progress has been from Calvinisng to Arminianism or Antinomianism, and from thence to Arianism and Socinianism. This, with a very few exceptions, has been their downward course, in years past.
But lest “ the Narrative" should fail to produce conviction of the Socinian tendency of Hopkinsian views of the Atonement; the Synod endeavor to make it appear a priori. The following is their singular method of reasoning: “If Christ did not die to satisfy the law and justice of God, and purchase salvation for his people ; but if, as Hopkinsians say, he died merely to make a display of the hatred of God against sin, so that this being done, he may in sovereignty extend mercy to some or all or none of the human race, as seems best to his infinite wisdom ;-then, as the hatred of God against sin is displayed in the punishment of Devils and finally impenitent sinners, and in the declarations of his word; where is the absolute necessity for an atonement made by a Divine Saviour? The ends of his government can be answered without it. But it does not agree with our ideas of God to suppose, that he would inflict any sufferings on Christ without an absolute necessity. His sufferings, therefore, were not expiatory ; but were merely incidental to the discharge of his duties, as a “ Teacher sent from God.” But that an atonement may be made for sin is the great reason which calls for a Divine Saviour. As, therefore, we have seen that this reason does not exist, we may safely conclude that Christ is not Divine ; and any thing in the scriptures apparently to the contray must be charged to the account of metaphor and figure.” Now, this only shows the conclusion, to which, in the opinion of the Synod, speculative men, who are fond of carrying their principles out, will arrive, from such premises as the Hopkinsian ideas furnish them.' But the reasoning is altogether sophistical. It is true, that God's hatred of sin is displayed in the punishment of the finally impenitent: but would it be displayed, if half, or more of the sinners of our race, should be saved without the * declaration of his righteousness,' which was made by the sufferings of Christ? How, on this supposition, would it appear, that God hates the sins of those whom he saves ? Who would feel bound to give credence to the “declarations of his word,” if thus contradicted by his conduet? Besides, the Synod should have known, that the sentiment of Hopkinsians is, that as clear and full a display of God's hatred of sin, as would be made by the condiga punishment of all men, must be made, before one sinner can be consistently pardoned; which could be made by him only who is “God manifest in the flesh.”
Instead of the “Hopkinsian views of the Atonement,” we most firmly believe” the views of it, entertained by this very Synod, and other modern Calvinists, lead, if not "directly,” yet indirectly, to Socinianism. From the Eternal Generation of the Son, the Arians have pretty naturally inferred his inferiority to the Father; and from the eternal Procession of the Holy Ghost, they have as naturally inferred his inferiority to both the Father and the Son. That Christ died for the Elect only, whose sins are imputed or transferred to him, as the sin of Adam had been to them, so that they are no longer deserving of punishment, though justified freely by, grace; while the Nonelect are invited to partake of a salvation which is not provided for them, or to be had on any condition which they can perform—these views are so repugnant to the reason and common sense of “speculative men,” that many have been driven by them to discard the doctrine of Original Sin, and of Native Depravity, and consequently, the Atonement and Divinity of Christ. From such Calvinistic views, some of the leading Unitarians in New and Old England, have departed; and probably it is from similar views, that the successors of Calvin himself, at Geneva, have descended to the lowest grade of Socinianism.
But we are anticipating the few remarks which we have to make upon the principal part of the Synod's “ Warning," viz.
“THE TESTIMONY." In this Testimony, the Synod state their views of some of the leading doctrines of the gospel, under the following heads : The doctrine of the Trinity-The Eternal Sonship of Christ- The Mediatorial Person of Christ and the Mediatorial Righteousness of Christ. Respecting the first head,
The Doctrine of the Trinity, We have no controversy with the Synod. They make a scriptural statement of the doctrine, and give a satisfactory answer to some popular objections against it. A single observation, on the 16th page, strikes us, as a needless concession. “We are not to understand the word person, in that gross, carnal sense, when used in reference to God, as when used in reference to men.” We are not aware, that the term person, as applied to men, is used in a more gross or carnal sense, than the term being. The term person denotes an individual, intelligent agent, whether applied to men, to angels, or to God; and, in either application, means precisely the same thing. The difference between human, angelic, and Divine persons, does not lie in their personality, any more than in their consciousness. Adam is the same person now, that he was before he died, and will be the same person, after the resurrection : and Christ was the same person before his incarnation, as he is now, and will be through eternity: He is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.' There are a few other expressions, which we should not use: but, on the whole, we consider this section of the Testimony, as ably written, and as giving a scriptural view of the great and incomprehensible doctrine of the Trinity, which lies at the foundation of the scheme of Redemption, and presents the only proper object of religious worship. We pass to the second head of the Testimony,
“ The Eternal Sonship of Christ." Under this head, the Synod quote, what we suppose to be an article in the Creed of the Associate Reformed Church, viz. “The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; and the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son." p. 21. In accordance with this article, they propose 'to adduce some considerations to show, that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; or that the Sonship of Christ is eternal and Divine:' and“ this point will be gained,” they think, if they can show, that Christ“ was and is the Son of God, and that the name of Son properly belongs to him, prior" to his Incarnation. Now, although we would not express a “ wish to palm ourselves upon the Church, as the distinguished friends of Orthodoxy ;" yet we venture to say, that we do not think the Synod have gained their turning “point." Let us examine their arguments.
“1. Our first argument is drawn from such passages of scripture as speak of God's sending or giving his Son. If God sent his Son, then he had previously a Son to send." Undoubtedly it is true, that the Father had a Son, before he sent him forth ; but it does not from hence follow, that he must have had a Son eternal ages before he sent him ; it might have been but a few years, or a few days before he sent him. And it seems to us, that the very passage, Gal. iv. 4. which the Synod quote, as " deserving of particular consideration," proves, that the time when the Father had a Son, was at the incarnation of Jesus: “When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law,” &c. If the Son of God was made of a woman; then he was not a Son, until he was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost. And this is the reason, which the Angel expressly assigned to Mary, why her child should be called the Son of God, Luke i. 35. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” This is the only reason given in sacred scripture for Christ's being so called. If the Son of God was made under the law; then Christ was not a Son till his incarnation ; for he was under the law as to his human nature only. Christ's being made of a woman, and made under the law—instead of being “ two leading ideas which enter into God's sending his Son," as the Synod sayare two leading ideas which enter into God's making his Son. Christ became the Son of God, when he was made flesh: He was properly sent of the Father, when, thirty years after, he entered on his public ministry.
It is a little curious to observe here, that the Synod, who are so confident that Hopkinsian views lead to Socinianism, should reason from those passages, which speak of Christ's being sent, against our views of his Sonship, much as the Unitarians do, against his Divinity. The author of Bible-News, and other Unitarians, say, 'Is not a Son who is sent, inferior to his Father, who sends him? As Christ, therefore, was a Son before he was sent or became incarnate, he must, in his nature, be inferior to the Father.' And if, as the Synod say, "being made of a woman is a leading idea in God's sending his Son,' or, in other words, if Christ's being sent, means his becoming incarnate ; we see not how the argument of the Unitarians can easily be answered. But if, according to our view of the subject, Christ became a Son by his incarnation, and was not sent, till he began his public ministry; the Unitarian sophism falls to the ground.
“ 2. The second argument of the Synod is, that “ The Divinity of Christ is represented in scripture, as being prior to his assumption of the Mediatorial office; and as making that office, and the discharge of its duties, an exercise of gracious condescension, Phil. ii. 6, &." Concerning this we have no dispute. “But, add the Synod, the same is true of his Sonship-He maketh the Son a High Priest—Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. Heb. vii. 28. and v. 8." Here we are unable to see either the force of the argument, or the relevancy of the passages quoted. Because the Son was made a High Priest, how does it hence follow, that he was the Son of God from eternity? And though, as we suppose, he became a Son at his incarnation ; yet why might he not learn obedience by the things which he suffered? And was it not an act of “gracious condescension” for him, who was “conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, and born without sin," and whose human nature was in personal union with the Divine, to become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ?
“3. It is the real Divinity of Christ which gives dignity to his official character. Rom. ix. 5.” Very true. “But, say the Synod, this dignity is also represented as flowing from his Sonship.” To prove this, they adduce Heb. iv. 14. We have a great High Priest, Jesus the Son of God. But what is this to the purpose ? Cannot Jesus, the Son of God, in personal union with the Second Person in the Godhead be a great High Priest, unless he were eternally the Son of God?
“4. The exalted merit of Christ's blood results from his proper Divinity. Acts xx. 28." Granted. But, add they, this merit is also ascribed to his being the Son of God." The passage adduced to prove this, is I. John i. 7. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. But this passage neither asserts nor implies, that the merit of Christ's blood arises from his being the Son of God: it simply informs us whose blood it is, that cleanseth from sin, viz. the blood of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. The passage says nothing of the merit of Christ's blood ; nor does any other passage in the Bible.
“5." The argument here is, in substance, this; that the expressions in scripture—God spared not his own Son--gave his only begotten Son, &c.—which are designed to set forth the greatness of his love-would be improper, and calculated to excite too strong emotions in the breast of Christians, upon supposition Jesus Christ is not the Son of God by an eternal, natural, and necessary relation. Here the Synod reason again, in the same strain, and use nearly the same terms, as the Rev. Noah Worcester, in his Bible News. But though the Synod would not understand the word person, in a “gross, carnal sense;" yet they seem not to hesitate to understand the passages, which speak of God's paternal love, in such a sense. Here, we must not make any allowance for figurative language, or apply any "fretting criticisms;" but must understand every expression in the most literal sense ; and however absurd in itself, and repugnant to all our