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it has been said, that the apostle's words were the language of astonishment, and not of adoration ; as
i men often exclaim, my God! when greatly surprised. But are not such exclamations manifest violations of the third commandment, and certain proofs of irreverent contempt of the name of God? Who then can believe, that the apostles used such profane language before Christ, without meeting the least reproof for it?* Surely, such a solution must be improbable in the highest degree; and they, who can admit it, have no right to despise other men's credu. lity. But indeed, the words cannot admit of any such construction, consistently with the idiom of the original language.
That most august passage, with which John opens his gospel, has been so construed, in order to evade our inference from it, that the nominative case to the verbs used in it, must be changed again and again, without the least intimation given of it; contrary to all the rules of grammar. By others, the Word is supposed to mean nothing more, than the energy or power of God, which was eternally with him, and essential to him, by which he made the world, and which was manifested in the man Jesus: but can any one in his senses, suppose, that this was all the meaning of the apostle's introduction to his gospel, of the sublime things he says of the WORD, and of his " becoming flesh and dwelling among us?” If any one should think so for a moment, a second attentive perusal must surely convince him of his mis
* Mat. v. 37.
take. Aware of this, it is now deemed convenient to set it aside as no part of revelation !
The interpretation, given of another decisive evidence,* is grounded on a proposed different translation, implying that Christ did not think of such a robbery, as that of being equal with God.' But not to mention the various expressions used by our Lord, which certainly were thus understood by the Jews;
who can believe, that the apostle should propose to his brethren, as a perfect example of humility, the conduct of a mere man or creature, who barely did not claim equality with the eternal God; when at best, this could be no more than an exemption from the very summit of all possible pride and ambition ? His argument, (as well as the meaning of the words,) proves, that in the form of God, signifies, being truly God and appearing so; even as the form of a servant, and the fashion of a man, signify being truly man; and how could a mere creature s take upon him the form of a servant," seeing he must al. ways have been a servant of his Maker?
The apostle, speaking of the patriarchs,t said, of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." To evade this decisive testimony, it has been proposed to render the latter clause, “ God, be blessed for
Amen.” But where then is the meaning of the preceding expression, “as concerning the flesh?" Did ever a sensible writer use such language in speaking of the descent of any prince or hero? Does not the energy and propriety of the passage depend
* Phil, ü, 5–10.
of Rom. ix. 5.
on the contrast between the clauses “ of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came," and " who is over all God blessed for ever?" And does not such a change in the version render the passage unmeaning, or absurd ?
Stephen's dying address to Christ has lately been considered, as the words of a man, in an extasy of devotion, or in the agonies of death,' and therefore not of much weight in the arguments; as if modern reasoners could better direct our faith and worship, than this protomartyr, when “ full of the Holy Ghost," favoured with the visions of God, and replete with the light of Heaven!—“ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ : that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.
What shall we say to these words of Paul ? Could he, who was born in a stable, had not where to lay his head, and died on a cross, be rich before he was poor; if he did not exist before he became man -The words of Christ, which his disciples thought so plain," I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world and go to the Father," and many other declarations which he made, “ that he came down from heaven,” so pressed the ancient Socinians, as to induce them to feign that Jesus went to heaven to receive his instructions, previously to his entrance on his ministry, as Mahomet afterwards pretended that he did. But modern Socinians have given up this figment; they seem conscious of their inability to maintain their old ground; and therefore they now intimate that apostles and evangelists
* 2 Cor. viii. 9.
t John xvi. 28.
were mistaken, and that several books or parts of the Scripture are not authentic, or not divinely inspired. Thus they save themselves much trouble, by answering all our witnesses at once; and doubtless they act prudently in imitating the church of Rome; constituting themselves Judges of the Scripture, determining what parts of it are divine, and making their own scheme the standard by which it is to be interpreted: for neither of these systems can be supported, but by disregard to the word of God, or degradation of it.
I feel a confidence, that each of the arguments here adduced is separately conclusive: how great then must be their united force! Yet only a small part of the evidence can be contained in so brief an Essay, I would, therefore, conclude with observing, that the Scriptures were written to recover men from idolatry to the worship of the true God: and that idolatry consists in worshipping such as by nature are no gods." What then shall we think of all the texts here adduced, if Christ be not God? or what shall we say to John's conclusion of his first epistle, when, having mentioned Jesus Christ, he adds, “ This person (oulos) is the true God, and eternal Life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols ?***
* 1 John v. 20, 21.
The doctrine of Christ's Deity shown to be essential
to Christianity; and some objections to the doctrine briefly answered.
We are not in all cases capable of determining exactly what things are essential to our holy religion, and what are not: yet the Scriptures most evidently declare some particulars to be so; and I cannot but consider the doctrine of our Lord's Deity as one of these essentials, nor do I hesitate to say that Christianity itself must stand or fall with it. The greater decision is proper on this subject, as our opponents seem lately to have shifted their ground. They used to maintain, that Christ's divinity was the masterpiece of absurdities ;-directly contrary to every part of natural and revealed religion, and to all the rational faculties God has given us;' that by making more gods than one, it was a breach of the first commandment:' and much more to the same purpose. This was a direct charge of gross idolatry, which surely must be a mortal sin; and as the defenders of the doctrine denied, and even retorted, the charge, showing that another god is substituted by Socinians in the place of the God of the Bible; the cause was fairly at issue, allowed to be of the greatest possible