[Please note that Spirit & Truth Fellowship International does not necessarily agree with the full content of this letter, however we think it is a very valuable and historical document that needs to be available online for all to read and study.]


You ask me to “consider deeply whether the whole strain of the New Testament, and of a great mass of passages in the Old, do not seem constructed on the principle of honoring Christ as much as possible. One,” you say, “calls him ‘Rabbi;’ one, the Son of God, and King; another, ‘one who knew all things;’ another, his Lord and his God. There seems,” you continue, “to have been no fear of overcharging the epithets of honor, or the ascriptions of power bestowed. Now the charge of Unitarianism is, plainly, that we think too much of Christ, and honor him too highly. But to honor him very highly is the spirit of all the New Testament.”

I freely grant that epithets of honor and ascriptions of power, are, throughout the Bible, lavished upon our blessed Master; but that is no reason why we should confound him with the Supreme God, who is constantly spoken of as a distinct Being from the Messiah. How can the Son be the Father? We are no where told that they are two distinct persons in one Being. It is true that Christ says, “I and my Father are one;” but he also, in prayer to his Father, explains his meaning by these remarkable words; “and the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.” And how could this be? Let our Lord reply; “that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be”—not one in each other, but—”one in us.” [1]

Further, Unitarians do not charge their orthodox brethren with giving too much honor to Christ; they charge them with mistaking altogether the declarations of the Bible concerning him. The Christ in whom Unitarians believe; who is a distinct being from the Supreme God; the Son, and not the Father; you do not sufficiently honor; therefore the charge made against you, by Unitarians, is just the reverse of the one you have put into their lips. What you call the human nature of Christ you certainly do not honor as the Unitarians honors his Master. When Christ declares, without qualification, that there was a certain day and hour of which he knew nothing, we, who are Unitarians, believe him. You, on the contrary, make him prevaricate, and, in one nature, deny what he certainly must have known in the other; and yet these two natures you declare to have been in constant and intimate union. You continually make him contradict himself. This is, in my view, sadly to dishonor him.

It is very natural that the Scriptures should seem to labor to honor Christ. It was to reveal the way of salvation by Christ that they were written. Patriarchs, prophets, evangelists, apostles, all hold up the Messiah to the view of a suffering, sinful world. In the glowing language of the east, they reveal the promised Saviour of mankind. Now, all that the Scriptures say of Christ Unitarians joyfully receive. They are not afraid of honoring their Master, but they are afraid of assigning to him that place which belongs to God alone.

You go on to say, “had I heard of some great unnatural attack of my friend’s upon her venerable parents, personally, it could not have surprised me more. She virtually attacks our common Lord and Redeemer, as I must testify, by this retrocession from her allegiance to Him; lessens infinitely his claims on her; lowers his title to her confidence—his right to command—her motives to love him. He did not leave His divine throne for her, she has discovered; did not take upon himself her nature; did not condescend to be a man. She has no duty to Him as ‘Lord of all;’ discards and repudiates all zeal for Him as once relinquishing and now wielding all power in Heaven and on earth. Is this my once pious friend? The whole character, tone, and depth of her piety, how changed, if these tidings be true!”

My dear Sir, why should you seek to make my heart sad, when the Lord has not made it so? I thank God that such assertions cannot deprive me of that peace of conscience which I feel at this moment; but such allusions to my venerable parents as the one you have made above, do make me sad indeed. God knows how it has wrung my heart to give them pain; but He also knows that I could not conscientiously act otherwise than I have done.

And what right have you to say that I have given up my allegiance to our common Lord? You require, before you will allow to me the title of Christian, far more than Christ or his apostles—the establishers of this religion—ever required. Now what right has any one to do this? In the New Testament I constantly find that men were commanded to believe that the Messiah was the Son of God; but in the present day a very different faith is required of us. Instead of saying, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” men are required to say, “I believe that thou art the living God himself.” The former is the Unitarian faith, the latter the Trinitarian; which of them is the more scriptural belief, it appears to me is very plain.

You cannot produce one passage of Scripture in which the primitive teachers of Christianity required a belief in Jesus as the Supreme Being. They called upon men to believe and confess that Jesus was the Christ; that is, the Anointed; he who was to come; who was typified and promised throughout the Old Testament, as the great Mediator between God and man. He was to be received as the glorious Saviour of the world—anointed and sent of God for this purpose, and therefore clothed with the authority of God himself. A knowledge of his original nature was never made a requisite before men could receive the salvation he came to bring. It was enough that they recognized his divine authority, and joyfully submitted to it. And what right have modern divines to require more than their Master ever did?

Should a father send a messenger to a child in a distant country, would it be absolutely necessary for that child to discover the original standing and respectability of the messenger before he would receive and honor his father’s message? Would not his chief inquiry be, does he really come from my father, with full power and authority to deliver and enforce his will? This point once satisfactorily ascertained, would not the message have equal weight whether the chosen messenger were originally rich or poor, honored or unknown?

I do not mean to say that the original dignity and importance of the messenger would be a matter of no consequence. Far from it. But I do mean to assert that his original character would not affect the abstract question of his authority, and of the child’s duty implicitly to obey what he is convinced is his father’s message. [2] Now Christ comes to us as the messenger of God. Through Him God was manifested in the flesh. He came to usher in the Christian dispensation. Well, if I acknowledge his authority—let it proceed from what source it may—let it be original, or derived from the Father, as he expressly teaches us it is—the effect upon me is just the same; and you have no right to take it for granted that I am no Christian, and that the whole character, tone, and depth of my piety are changed, when I acknowledge Christ as my spiritual Head and Lord just as fully and heartily as I ever did. “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand.”

[Please note that Spirit & Truth Fellowship International does not necessarily agree with the full content of this letter, however we think it is a very valuable and historical document that needs to be available online for all to read and study.]


1. John xvii. 21, 22. Back to top

2. The Trinitarian Bishop Watson says, “His (Christ’s) authority as a teacher, is the same, whether you suppose him to have been the Eternal God, or a being inferior to Him, but commissioned by Him.” Back to top

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