Ralph Wardlaw.

Discourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy online

. (page 10 of 36)
Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 10 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ry — as the creation of the material universe. Interesting
however as the views are, which tliis department of the
argument presents to the Christian mind, I must forbear :
— and shall proceed to the consideration of certain other
works, which are ascribed to him as Mediator ; and to
which he is not, and cannot be, competent, unless consid-
ered as '^ Immannel, God with iis.^'

On the principle of selection, I shall confine myself to
two — the Government of the Would, and the Final

That these Avorks ave ascribed to Jesus in his exalted
state, no consistent believer of the Bible can entertain a
* Isaiah xlviii. 13. xliv. 24.


doubt. In the immediate prospect of ascending to the right
hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, he said
himself to his disciples : "All power is given unto me in
heaven and in earth." — *• He is Lord of all ;" " Lord of
the living and the dead ;" " exalted far above all princi-
pality, and power, and miglit, and dominion, and every
name that is named, both in this world, and in that which
is to come — having all things put in subjection under his
feet."* — And a part of the exercise of his sovereign do-
minion, is the administration of judgment, at the great day
of final retribution. The testimonies of the Word of God
on this point are many and explicit. " We shall all stand
before the Judgment-seat of Christ:" — " God hatii appoint-
ed a day in the which he will judge the world in right-
eousness by tiiat man whom he hath ordained ; whereof
he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath rais-
ed him from the dead :" — " The Father judgeth no man,
but hath committed all judgment unto the Son ; that all
men should honour the Son even as they honour the Fa-
ther : he that honoureth not tlie Son, honoureth not the
Father who hath sent him : — he hatli given him authority
to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man :"
— " He commanded us to preach to tiie people, and to tes-
tify, that it is lie who was ordained of God, to be the judge
of living and dead :" — " I charge thee before God, and
the liOrd Jesus Clirist, who shall judge the living and the
dead at his apj)caring and his kingdom :'' — " When the
Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy an-
gels with him, then shall he sit upon tlie throne of his glo-
ry. And liefore him shall be gathered all nations : and
he shall se])arate them one from another, as a shepherd di-
videth his sheep from the goats : and he shall set the sheep
on his right hand, but the goats on tiie left. Then shall

* Matth. xxviii. 18. Acts. x. 36. Rom. xiv. 9. Epii. i. 20 — 22.


the King say to them on his right hand, ^ Come, ye bless-
ed of my Father, inherit the kingdom, prepared for you
from the foundation of the world :' — then shall he say al-
so to them on his left hand, ' Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'
- — And these shall go away into everlasting punishment ;
but the righteous into everlasting life.''*

Figurative language is a convenient, and therefore a
favourite resort, of the opposers of our Lord's Divinity. —
Plain and express as these ascriptions of dominion and
judgment to Jesus Christ appear to be, they are all, on this
principle of interpretation, readily set aside. His advance-
ment, in his state of exaltation, to the government of the
world, is pronounced '^ a notion unscriptural and most in-
credible." All that is said on this subject, it is alleged,
means ^^ not the personal authority of our Divine Master,
but the prevalence of his religion in the world :" — " and
a consistent Unitarian, acknowledging Jesus as a man in
all respects ^ like unto his brethren,' regards his kingdom
as entirely of a spiritual nature, and as consisting in the
empire of his gospel over the hearts and lives of its pro-
fessors."! — And as to his " judging the living and the
dead at his appearing and kingdom," while difficulty is
felt and acknowledged, and a great deal is said with a
view to remove, or at least to alleviate it, it is at last ^^ con-
jectured, that when Christ is represented as appointed by

* Rom. xiv. 10. 2 Cor. v. 10. Acts. xvii. 31. John. v. 32, 28, 27.
Acts. X. 42. 2 Tim. iv. 1. Matth. xxv. 31 — 46.

t Belsham's Review of Wilberforce, p. 74. — Calm Inquiry, pages
319, 320. — " Agreeably to the prejudices and imaginations of Jews
and Gentiles, the subjection of all mankind to the rules of piety and
virtue delivered by Christ, is shadowed out under the imagery of a
mighty king, to whom all power is given in heaven and earth," &c*
Lindsey's Sequel, p. 473, as quoted by Mr. Belsham in a note, p. 321
of Calm Inquiry.


God to judge the world, nothing more may be intended by
this language, but that the final states of all and every in-
dividual of mankind shall be awarded agreeably to the de-
clarations of the gospel /"'*■

There is this peculiar convenience in such a principle
of interpretation, when applied to this extent, that it pre-
cludes, in a great degree, the possibility of refutation.
When one text of Scripture is alleged to have a figurative
and not a literal meaning, the only effectual method of de-
tecting and exposing the misinterpretation, is a comparison
of it w ith other passages, of a kindred description, which,
from their connexion, are evidently intended to be literally
understood. — But wlien a whole series of texts, so plain
and pointed as those which have been quoted, are assert-
ed; or conjectured, to be entirely figurative ; — what are we
to do ? AVe have no jjlainer lexis to m hich we can refer,
in the way of comparison and mutual illustration : — no
passages more evidently literal, to prove the alleged fig-
urative ones to be literal also. AVe can do nothing, in
such a case, but leave the texts to the impartial judgment
of the candid reader of the Scriptures. I shall do so, in
the present instance, with one general observation : — that
if such are the principles according to which the Bible is
to be interpreted, the careless infidel is furnished with the
most plausible apology M'hich can be urged for declining
the trouble of examining it ; — that there is no possibility
of arriving at any certain knowledge of its contents.

But all this authority, it is further replied, even on the
supposition of its being really possessed and exercised by
our Lord in person, is represented as given to him ; as
not original and inherent, but imparted and delegated ;
which, it is alleged, is quite inconsistent with the idea of
liis own supreme, underived God-head.

Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 10 of 36)