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displayed in his works, and diffusing life and enjoyment through an infinite variety of channels to all the creatures of his intelligence and power. What, therefore, it may be asked, could be more rational or appropriate than the origin of the Sabbath, or what more salutary or beneficial than its tendency and design?
Again; it is to be observed, that the command enjoining the observance of the Sabbath was associated in the most solemn manner with others of a religious, moral and practical kind, all of which are admitted to be of universal obligation. It is one of the ten, of which Moses thus speaks to the people : “ These words Jehovah spake unto all your assembly in the Mount, out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice, and he added no more; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone, and delivered them to me.” Thus they were separated from the rest of the law by circumstances calculated to make the deepest impression on the mind, and afterward placed, by Divine command, in the ark, as a deposit the most sacred and inviolable. How comes it to pass, then, that one of these only is at present to be rejected ? Nine of them at least are allowed to be independent of the Jewish or any other ritual, and why this should be thus classed in the most solemn manner with them, and held equally sacred, if it were not intended to be equally independent, and also of perpetual and universal obligation, it is difficult to imagine. Milton's assertion, * that “ these commandments are evidently nothing more than a summary of the whole Mosaic law, as the fourth, in particular, is of the whole ceremonial, which, therefore, can contain nothing applicable to the gospel worship,” is perfectly unfounded. The chief features of the Jewish law were circumcision, sacrifices, and the Levitical rites and ceremonies. Had these been briefly mentioned in the ten commandments, there might have been some reason for considering them as containing a summary of the whole law. But under what pretence the command to observe the Sabbath can be represented as a summary of the whole of these extremely numerous, burdensome and expensive ceremonies, it is not easy to say. And upon this supposi66 Six
* Treatise, &c., B. II. Ch. vii.
tion, as the Mosaic law is now abolished, so the ten commandments being a sumpiary of it, all of them are now alike deprived of this divine sanction. The conclusion appears to be inevitable, that the observance of the Sabbath is thus solemnly classed with duties of universal and indispensable obligation, in order to shew that this observance was intended to be also universal and perpetual.
The remaining notices of the Sabbath in the Hebrew Scriptures are indeed numerous, but as they are of less importance than the preceding, I shall pass them over as briefly
as possible. In Exod. xxiii. 12, the observance of the Sabbath is enforced from a motive that well deserves regard : days shalt thou do all thy work, and on the seventh day shalt thou rest ; that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thine bandmaid, and the stranger may be refreshed.”. Those who are most disposed to think hardly of Jewish severity, and to quarrel with the Sabbath, will at least admire the humane and considerate purpose by which this institution is thus recommended.
In Exod. xxxi. 12, &c., the injunction to observe the Sabbath is repeated with the greatest solemnity, and at considerable length : even the punishment of death is annexed to the smallest infringement of that holy rest with which it was then required to be kept sacred. The true reason for its original institution, and which, as insisted on before, is applicable to all mankind, is also given : “ For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth."
But I am aware that it will be objected that the Sabbath is mentioned here, and in other places, as a perpetual covenant, and a sign between Jehovah and the children of Israel for ever," and that, therefore, it was peculiar to them. The answer to this, however, is easy. All other nations were devoted to the abominable vices and follies of idolatry; but the Sabbath, being appointed as a memorial of the creation of the world, the Jews, by observing it, would shew their belief in the one living and true God, and their adherence to his service : this would be the test by which the true worshipers of God would be distinguished from idolaters; so that this language is in favour of the universal obligation to the observance of the Sabbath, father than against it. It was inseparably annexed to the worship and service of the sole Creator of all things, and would be a sign, not to the Jews only, but to all others who lived in obedience to his commands, of their allegiance to him, and their submission to his will.
As this letter has already occupied too large a portion of your pages, I must defer my remarks on the remaining passages in the Old and New Testament on the Sabbath to a future opportunity.
Milton's Treatise of Christian Doctrine.
Clapton, January 15, 1826. In your last Volume, (p: 424,) I quoted Milton's satisfactory appeal to the recorded doctrine of Christ, who “bas shewn in so many modes how he and the Father are one.”
Thus, “ setting aside reason," and having course again to the language of scripture,” we found him explaining John X. 20, (I and my Father are one,) that favourite text of the orthodox, and proving, from the conclusive testimony of scripture, that they are not essence, as it is commonly interpreted.” accompany
Milton to the well-known passage on the heavenly witnesses, (1 John v. 7,) of which he says, that "according to the general opinion" it "affords the clearest foundation for the received doctrine of the essential unity of the three persons;" and further (in Chap. VI.), that " it is on the authority of this text, almost exclusively, that the whole doctrine of the Trinity has been hastily adopted.”
In assigning so much importance, in the judgment of the orthodox, to a passage which a great majority of learned modern Trinitarians have rejected as spurious, Milton was fully justified by what had passed in his own age and country. The Assembly of Divines were as ready to impose a religion, or at least the profession of it, on the people, under the authority of a Parliament who ought to have found other employment, as ever Laud had shewn himself, when sustained by the prerogative of an arbitrary zind misguided King. In 1648, the Assembly" presented co both Houses of Parliament,” as the result of their learned theological labours, their “ Confession of Faith, together with the larger and lesser Catechisms.” These are now before me, as printed in 1658, and as still imposed for the only Christianity they are allowed to profess, on all " shorter
the members of the Established Church of Scotland. The Trinity is defined in the proposition, that “there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” In the lesser or Catechism," designed for the initiation of youth, the only proofs appended to this proposition are the passage in
question (1 John v. 7) and the baptismal form (Matt. xxviii. 19). In the other declarations of doctrine, the
Trinity is further proved, at least to the satisfaction of the Assembly, by adding the narrative of Christ's baptism by Matthew, the apostolical benediction, (2 Cor. xiii. 14,) and the passage which Milton so fully considers (John x. 30). Thus, in Sir I. Newton's phrase, was this text (l John v. 7) accounted the main text for the business.”
Milton, however, remarks, that this text necessarily proves those to be essentially one who are said to be one in heaven, than it proves those to be essentially one who are said to be one on earth.” He adds, that “not only Erasmus," whose orthodoxy was indeed more than suspected, “but even Beza, however unwillingly, acknowledged, (as may be seen in their own writings,) that it John be really the author of the verse, he is only speaking here of an unity of agreement and testimony." Again (Chap. VI.) he refers to Beza as generally a staunch defender of the Trinity," (and he certainly advocated the burning of Servetus, for denying it,) who "understands the phrase unum sunt to mean, agree in one.” Milton might
added, that in the authorized English version of 1591, the words (ver. 7) are one, are explained in the margin, after Beza, to mean, like the eighth verse, agree in one. Calvin, also, as quoted by Father Simon, says in his commentary on the text, “ That expression, three are one, does not denote the essence, but the consent.” The same biblical critic, Simon, says of the text, that “ the most learned interpreters of the New Testament do not expound it with reference to the Trinity ;” and that “such ancient ecclesiastical writers as have applied it to that mystery, followed the custom of that time, which was to give the scripture such a theological sense as was accommodated to the faith then received in the church."-Milton proceeds to remark, that “ what it is they testify, appears in the 5th and 6th verses, namely, that he that overcometh the world is he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God, even
Jesus, Christ, that is, the anointed ; therefore he is not one with, or equal to him that anointed him. Thus the very record that they bear is inconsistent with the essential unity of the witnesses, which is attempted to be deduced from the passage."
The learned author of the Treatise was, however, suffi. ciently aware of " circumstances which in the opinion of many render the passage suspicious." He instances, “ that this verse is wanting in the Syriac and the other two Oriental versions, the Arabic and the Ethiopic, as well as in the greater part of the ancient Greek manuscripts, and that in those manuscripts which actually contain it, many various readings occur.” Here Dr. Sumner remarks, that “ with respect to the Greek manuscripts, Milton expresses himself cautiously;" for, as “it now appears, the clause is not found in any Greek manuscript written before the 16th century." I need scarcely remind the reader how much has been done since the age of Milton to settle this question, and that the result of critical investigation has been to the prejudice of the disputed text, though a learned Unitarian, very laudably devoted to biblical researches, has just now appeared in favour of its authenticity.
Milton next considers the Trinitarian argument, that
although scripture does not say in express words that the Father and the Son are one in essence, yet “the name and attributes and works of God, as well as divine honours, are habitually ascribed to the Son.” To this he replies, " that wherever they are attributed to the Son, it is in such a manner that they are easily understood to be attributable in their original and proper sense to the Father alone; and that the Son acknowledges himself to possess whatever share of deity is assigned to him, by virtue of the peculiar gift and kindness of the Father ; to which the apostles also bear their testimony (quicquid Filio Deitatis tribuitur, id omne Filium fateri se Patris dono singulari ac beneficio possidere, idemque apostolos testari).
“ Those who, while they believe in the unity of God, yet maintain that the Father alone is not God, insist, that wherever the name of God is attributed to the Father alone, the name of the Father, who is unity, (unius Patris nomen,) should be understood to signify the three persons, or the whole essence of the Trinity, not the single person of the Father.” This Milton censures as “on many accounts a ridiculous distinction, (distinctio absurda,) and
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