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tion, so the declaration of the end for which he was manifested bespeaks him more, I will not say, than a mere man, but more than a mere creature. For how can a mere man, or mere creature, take away our sins, or destroy the devil's works?
But let us pass on to the famous passage, in which this apostle professedly characterizes the "spirit of truth," and the spirit of error, and let us see how it reads, if understood according to the Socinian doctrine. Chapter iv, 1: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world: hereby know we the Spirit of God. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ [the same mere man!] is come in the flesh, is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ [that is, that a mere man!] is come in the flesh, is not of God. And this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already it is in the world." Now, what a strange and uncouth phraseology is this, which, on the doctor's principles, the apostle uses! Whoever, speaking of the birth of a mere man, said he came in the flesh? Certainly, such a form of expression is unexampled in any author, ancient or modern, sacred or profane. The reason is plain: a mere man must come in the flesh, if he come at all: he cannot come, or be bom into the world otherwise. It is therefore unnecessary, and indeed ridiculous to mention that circumstance. It is just as if one were to say, "A man came clothed with skin, or with a head upon his body."
But to use such a phraseology concerning a being that might come otherwise, concerning an angel, for instance, or a departed spirit, would be at least good sense. To say that Gabriel came in the flesh, or that Elijah, or Moses rose again, and came in the flesh, however the assertion might offend our faith by its falsehood, it would not shock our common sense by its absurdity: it would be only like saying, A man came clothed in scarlet, which was a circumstance that might properly be mentioned, as he might have come clothed in raiment of another colour. Just so the apostle's relating and solemnly testifying that Christ came in the flesh, as it was a fact true in itself, so it was very necessary it should be mentioned, it being very possible, nay, and likely, that he should come otherwise, even without flesh, in the Spirit, in his spiritual and Divine nature, as indeed he had come from the beginning; whether to the patriarchs, in the early ages of the world, or to his Church in the wilderness, and to his prophets in after times.
But, says the doctor, (History of Corruptions, p. 142,) "This doctrine has staggered many, when they reflect coolly upon the subject, to think that so exalted a Being as this, an unique in the creation, [an only one,] a Being, next in dignity and intelligence to God himself, [he should rather say, one with God,] possessed of powers absolutely incomprehensible by us, should inhabit this particular spot of the universe, in preference to any other in the whole extent of, perhaps, boundless creation." It is worthy of observation, here, that the very doctrine which staggers the doctor and his friends, and seems so perfectly incredible to them, is the grand subject of all St. John's writings, and furnishes him (as it does the other apostles) with matter for the highest admiration and praise !" In this, says he, chap, iv, 9, was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten [' an unique in the creation,' an only one, as Dr. Priestley terms him] into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins! Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world!"
Though, as the doctor expresses it, (ibid.) "he existed before all creatures, yea, from eternity, by an eternal derivation from his eternal Father," though "he was the immediate Maker of the world, and of all things visible and invisible, and appeared inUt Divine character to the patriarchs and prophets;" yet, that he was born of the Virgin Mary, and made man, is a doctrine which is now and has been in every age, since Christianity was first established in the world, the grand foundation, as well as object of the faith of the people of God, the source of their love, and matter of their wonder and praise. That the Logos, the Wisdom, and Word, "which was in the beginning with God and was God; that Wisdom and Word, by which all things were made, hath been made flesh, and hath dwelt among us," while men beheld his glory, the glory of the "only begotten of the Father," full of grace and truth: that when he was rich, for our sakes he became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be made rich: that when in the form of God, and," as the apostle declares, " equal with God," as being his very Word and Wisdom, he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men: that, when he was " found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself still farther, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross:" this great mystery of godliness, while it hath filled them with wonder and amazement, at the condescension and love of this Divine and adorable Saviour, hath convinced them that, mean and worthless as they are, when compared with creatures of a more exalted rank, they are, however, not overlooked by their Maker, amidst the immensity of his nobler works: on the contrary, they see that they stand high in his esteem, and are the objects of his peculiar love and tender compassions.
What God may, or may not have done, for other creatures, in other worlds, they know not, and therefore pretend not to say; but they do not think their ignorance in this point can justify their disbelieving a fact sufficiently authenticated, and in consequence thereof, their ungratefully rejecting what, they have good proof, God, in infinite goodness, hath done for themselves, though they may not be able to assign a reason for his preferring of them to others, should there be a preference in the case. They consider that other beings, existing in other worlds, either may not have fallen as they had done, and, therefore, may not have needed to be visited in a similar manner by a Divine Redeemer; or, if they have, that some circumstances in their case might render their defection more inexcusable, and that therefore the Divine wisdom might not see fit to afford them the help he hath afforded man, formed out of the dust of the earth, weak and frail, even in his best estate, and seduced by the subtlety and fraud of his more powerful and crafty adversary.
Be this as it will, their firm belief of a mystery they cannot fathom, that " God has been manifest in the flesh;" that "to them a child has been born, to them a son has been given, whose name is Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God with us;" their conviction of this, I say, while it lays a foundation for the most absolute confidence in, and entire dependence upon their God and Saviour for whatever they want for time and eternity, binds their hearts to him, as by a thousand ties, and becomes a most powerful and perpetual obligation to love and obedience. This "love of Christ constraineth them, while they thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they who live, [viz. who live through his death,] should not henceforth live unto themselves, but to him that died for them and rose again." In the meantime, that the "Father sent the Son, his living Word and Wisdom, to be the Saviour of the world;" that "he so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," is matter of equal praise, and equally excites their admiration, and provokes their gratitude. And while with St . Paul they render thanks unto God for his unspeakable gift, they see every reason to conclude, with the same inspired apostle, that "he who hath not withheld his own Son, but hath freely delivered him up unto death for us all, will, with him also, freely give us all things!" Thus the doctrine of the incarnation of the Divine Word, though a subject of cavil to the reasoning pride of vain and all-assuming philosophy, is a firm ground of confidence, and perpetual source of consolation to the humble and devout follower of Jesus, the little child, to whom it hath pleased our heavenly Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, to reveal those things, which he hath hid from the wise and prudent!
But, saysthe doctor, (ibid.) "It cannot but be thought a little extra. ordinary, that there should be no trace of the apostles having ever regarded their Master in this high light. For, being Jews, they would certainly consider him, at first, as a man, like themselves, since no Jew ever expected any other for their Messiah. Indeed, it can never be thought that Peter and others would have made so free with our Lord, as they sometimes did, if they had considered him as their Maker." In answer to this, I would observe, what sort of a Messiah the Jews expected may be gathered, not only from the Scriptures of the prophets, which gave birth to that expectation, but from the ancient Chaldee, or Jewish paraphrase on those Scriptures, which expresses their faith, at the very time when the Messiah was expected. Not to refer to any other passage, their comment on Isaiah ix, 6, is sufficient to put this matter beyond dispute, and is as follows:—" The prophet saith to the house of David, that a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and he hath taken the law upon himself, that he might keep it; and his name shall be called God, before the face (or from the face) of the admirable counsel; the man that abideth for ever; the Messiah, whose peace shall be multiplied upon us in his days."
As to the apostles, whether there be "any trace of their having ever regarded their Master in this high light," the present quotations from their writings show. And as to St. Peter, in particular, once a Jew, and no doubt well acquainted with the notions of his countrymen, respecting the person and office of the Messiah, he hath spoken for himself already. In what light he might view his Master, when he first became his disciple, I will not say; but that he considered him as more than a man, when he wrote his epistles, is evident from the many passages we have quoted from them, which, if understood of a mere man, appear to be absolute nonsense.
The same must be said of the epistles of the other apostles. Many passages in them all, as these letters demonstrate, are truly nonsensical, if interpreted of a mere man; and these, not a few detached and unconnected sentences, but whole paragraphs and sections, yea, entire chapters, the principal doctrine of which is most irrational, as well as the argumentation perfectly inconclusive, on the Socinian hypothesis. For instance, what makes a greater figure in the writings of St. John, or is more frequently mentioned or expatiated upon, than the doctrine of the great love of God, manifested in his sending "his Son into the world that we might live through him?" But, if what he advances upon this subject be understood of a mere man, how unworthy is it, I will not say of the inspiration of an apostle, but of the reason and common sense of a man! We need not go far to seek examples of this. I appeal to the passage last quoted. Only suppose it to be spoken of a mere man, and how insipid and unmeaning! nay, how absurd and ridiculous does it appear!" In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent [a mere man whom I term] his only begotten Son into the world, [not that we are to suppose he had any existence prior to his being sent,] that we might live through him: [that is, through his teaching and example ! | Herein is love! not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent [a mere man called] his Son, to be the propitiation for our sins," that is, (says the doctor,) to die a martyr to confirm his doctrine! Beloved, if God so loved us, [and sent a mere man among us to teach us his will!] we ought also to love one another. We have seen, and do testify, that the Father sent the Son, [I mean that the eternal God sent a mere man!] to be the Saviour of the world." One mere man to save the whole human race!
The doctrine of the next chapter is yet more irrational, if more can be. Thus, verse 5: "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus [a mere man!] is [by adoption] the Son of God? This is he [the mere man] that came by water and blood, even Jesus; not by water only [in which he was baptized, an emblem of his own purity, and our regeneration,] but by water and blood: [atoning blood, the blood of one mere man, shed for the sins of millions!] and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; [that is, on the Socinian principles, the Self-existant Jehovah, a mere man, and the power of God !] and these three are one! [the eternal God, his power, and a mere man are one!] This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son, [is in a mere man!] He that hath the Son, [that hath this mere man dwelling in him! see 2 Cor. xiii. 5,] hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God, [that hath not this mere man, dwelling in him!] hath not life." Ver. 20: "We know that the Son of God is come, [that is, that a mere man hath been raised up to instruct us,] and [though a mere man !] hath given us an understanding to know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, in or by his Son Jesus Christ, [a mere man.] He [the mere man I speak of] is the true God and eternal life. [But though I give these high titles to a mere man, yet, let me add,] little children, keep yourselves from idols!" A necessary caution indeed! but very absurd in this connection.
The second epistle he inscribes to the elect lady, (or, as some rather think it should be rendered, to the elect Kuria, making Kuria a proper name,) and, like St. Paul, he prays for grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ; that is, on the Unitarian hypothesis, from the supreme God, and a mere man!" Many deceivers, (says he, ver. 7,) are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh:" I speak of that mere man, born in Bethlehem, who, having had no pre-existence, must come in the flesh, or not at all. "This is a deceiver and antichrist. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, [the doctrine of a mere man!] hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son, [both the eternal God, and a mere man!] If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. For he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deeds!" How far this caution concerns the abettors of the doctrine of Christ's mere humanity, the reader must judge.
The short Epistle of Jude is of a piece with the epistles of the other apostles. It is also written without common sense, as certainly without inspiration, on the supposition that he believed Jesus Christ to be a mere man. "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, [that is, the servant of a mere man,] to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in [the same mere man] Jesus Christ, and called. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ: [that is, denying the infinite Jehovah, and a mere man!] Verse 14: Enoch, also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord [that is, a mere man !] cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all. But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, [viz. the apostles of a mere man!] ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the mercy of a mere man !] unto eternal life." Praying, reverend sir, that this mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, which St. Jude mentions, may be extended to Dr. Priestley also, although he takes such pains to persuade himself and others that it is but the mercy of a mere man; and that whatever strange and unscriptural speculations he may amuse himself and others withal, he may not live and die without the experimental and practical acquaintance with the trinity, spoken of in these words • I remain, reverend sir, yours, &c.
LETTER X. Rrv. Sir,—In the foregoing letters I have reviewed all the epistles of the New Testament, and have selected most of the texts in which the Lord Jesus is spoken of; and, methinks, every reasonable man must