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of deep importance, and therefore have recorded it with great care, as being a full and perfect confirmation of the views they entertained themselves, and laboured to give others, of Jesus of Nazareth. But, methinks, every reasonable and unprejudiced man must allow, that it is a testimony which, if supposed to be borne of a mere man, is most ridiculous; nay, and absolutely false. For if Jesus Christ be a mere man, of no higher origin than John, inasmuch as he was born some months after him, it is not true that he was before him; much less is it true, that whereas John was from beneath, he was from above; and that whereas John was of the earth, he was from heaven. According to Dr. Priestley's hypothesis, they were equally from beneath, equally from the earth; and however Christ might be preferred before John, yet the reason of that preference could not be that which John assigns, viz. that Christ was before him, for in reality he was before Christ. As to the rest of his testimony, I make no remark upon it. It is obvious to the most inattentive observer, that it is impossible it should agree with a mere man, who, how much soever he might be honoured or exalted, could never, with any propriety, be said to be Above All, to have All Things Delivered Into His Hands, or to be the bridegroom of the Church, the owner and possessor of the bride; by believing in whom she obtained everlasting life; and much less could he be able to "baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire," to separate, with infinite discernment, between the precious and the vile, and " bum up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
I should now proceed to the testimony borne by Christ himself; but having already drawn this letter out to a sufficient length, I break off here, and subscribe myself, Rev. sir, yours, &c.
Rev. Sir,—According to the testimony of the evangelists, when Jesus was transfigured on the holy mount, there came a voice from the excellent glory, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him." In obedience to the Divine command, let us now attend, while this beloved Son of the Father bears record of himself, that we may learn from his own lips to form a right judgment of his person, made the subject of so much dispute and altercation. Dr. Priestley is fully persuaded that he is a mere man. In order that we may be able to determine whether the doctor's opinion be according to truth, let us bring it to the surest of all tests, the test of the doctrine taught by Christ himself. The doctor (I think) will not deny that he is the Amen, The Faithful And True Witness. Of consequence an opinion which cannot bear the test of his doctrine is not of God. Let us see, therefore, whether the testimony which he bears of himself be consistent with common sense, on the Socinian principles.
"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me t Jesus answered, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, thou art [a mere man? no! Thou art] the Son of God! Thou art the King of Israel! Jesus answered, and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up: he spake of the temple of his body." And is he who spake this a mere man? Can a mere man raise his own body from death? especially if, according to Dr. Priestley, he have no soul, but the whole of him be dead and insensible?
Again, chapter iii: "No man hath ascended up into heaven, but he [the mere man! says Dr. Priestley] that came down from heaven, even the Son of man, who [though a mere man and now upon earth] is in heaven! For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, [that is, if we believe the Socinians, a mere man, of no higher origin than others,] that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son [a mere man] into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him [that is, through one mere man] might be saved. He that believeth on him [a mere man] is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." I make no reflections on these solemn declarations of our Lord. Every reader must consider them as being both false and absurd, on the supposition of his being a mere man. Again, chapter iv: "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, [that is, according to Dr. Priestley, thou wouldst have prayed to a mere man!] and he [a mere man though he be] would have given thee living water." And who that reads these words, can doubt whether Jesus Christ encouraged prayer to be addressed to him? Again: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I [a mere man!] shall give him, shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up unto life eternal." Here again, if Jesus Christ be a mere man, he manifestly encourages idolatry. This he does also, chapter vii, 37 : "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink: he that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him should receive."
But what shall we say to the following words? In what light do they appear, if they be considered as proceeding out of the mouth of a mere man? Chapter v, 17: "My Father [the eternal God] worketh hitherto, and I [a mere man!] work." Verse 19: "Verily I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for whatsoever things he [the infinite Jehovah] doth, these also doeth the Son [a mere man !] likewise. For the Father [the eternal God] loveth the Son, [a mere man!] and showeth him [though but a man] all things that himself doeth; and will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son [a mere man!] quickeneth whom he will. For the Father [the great God] judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, [a mere man!] that all men should honour the Son, [that is, should honour a mere man!] even as they honour [the infinite Jehovah, viz.] the Father! He that honoureth not the Son, [this mere man!] honoureth not the Father who sent him! Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, [viz. the voice of a mere man!] and they that hear shall live. For as the Father [the everlasting Jehovah] hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son [that is, to a mere man!] to have life in himself, and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man;" that is, because he, a mere man, is a mere man! A strange reason truly. Our Lord goes on: "Marvel not at this, the hour is coming, in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, [the voice, says Dr. Priestley, of a mere man!] and shall come forth."
Methinks every reasonable man that considers this extraordinary passage, must allow, that if the Lord Jesus be a mere man, (I speak it with reverence,) he never can be acquitted of the crime which the Jews laid to his charge, (chap. x, 33,) I mean the henious crime of blasphemy. Are these expressions fit to be used by a mere man? or by any mere creature, however exalted? Put them into the mouth of Gabriel, and try how they sound. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Whatsoever things God doth, these doth Gabriel likewise. As God raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so Gabriel quickeneth whom he will. God hath committed all judgment unto Gabriel, that all men should honour Gabriel, even as they honour God. He that honoureth not Gabriel, honoureth not God. The dead shall hear the voice of Gabriel, and live. All that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth." Is not this language blasphemous, even from the mouth of the holy Angel Gabriel, who stands before God, and it seems is one of the highest order? If even he, or the Archangel Michael used it, would they not deserve, and would they not meet with the condemnation of the devil? And let it not be said, that the angels have no right to use this language, because they have not been exalted to the authority and power to which the Son of man is exalted. For if God will not give his glory to another, as he hath sworn he will not, it is certain no mere creature can be so exalted as to have a right to use such language, which would manifestly be to equal himself (as the Jews said) with God.
And then it is not here only that our Lord expresses himself in this manner. He is frequently speaking to the same purpose. Thus, ver. 39: "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and it is they that testify of me; and ye will not come to me [that is, according to Dr. Priestley, ye will not come to a mere man!] that ye might have life." Again, chap. vi, 32: "My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven, for the bread of God is he [the mere man, if we believe the doctor and Socinus, born of Joseph and Mary] who cometh down from heaven, [that is, that cometh from a place where he had never been !] and giveth life unto the world. I [a mere man !] am the bread of life; he that cometh to me [mere man as I am!] shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me, [a mere man!] and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out: for I [a mere man] came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I [a mere man !] will raise him up at the last day.
"The Jews then murmured at him, [as methinks Dr. Priestley and the Socinians must necessarily do,] because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven; and they said, [in language similar to that of Dr. Priestley,] Is not this Jesus, the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it that he [a mere man] saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus, therefore, answered, [it would be well if the abettors of the Socinian doctrine would weigh the answer,] Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come unto me except the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life: I am the bread of life. Ver. 50: This is the bread that came down from heaven; that a man may eat thereof and not die. I [a mere man, born of Joseph and Mary] am the living bread which came down from heaven: if a man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." The whole of this discourse is absurd and impious, on the Socinian principles.
Again, ver. 53: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life, and I [a mere man] will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh [mere man though I be] is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, [a mere man!] and I [a mere man!] dwell in him. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." Certainly if our Lord be no more than a man, he must have intended to mislead his hearers. He adds: "Doth this offend you? What, and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before V Now, if he be a mere man, who had no existence till
bom in Bethlehem, he asserts a falsehood here. He had never been in heaven before. As also, chap. viii, 19, 23: "If ye had known me [a mere man] ye would have known my Father also! Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world!" Are these the words of the faithful and true Witness? Are they the words of soberness and truth? Are these that follow ?" If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am." How distant from common sense, as well as piety, is language like this, proceeding from the mouth of a mere man!
Chapter tenth furnishes us with many examples of a similar kind. "I [a mere man!] am the door of the sheep: by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and shall find pasture. I [the same mere man] am come, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. [I say again, though a mere man,] ver. 14,I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, [a mere man,] so I [a mere man] know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep have I, which are not of this fold, them also I [a mere man] must bring in, and they shall hear my voice, [the voice of a mere man,] and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I [a mere man] may take it again; no man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself; I [a mere man!] have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." Ver. 27: "My sheep hear my voice, and I [a mere man!] know them, and they follow me, and [though a mere man] I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father that gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand; I and my Father [that is, if we believe Dr. Priestley, a mere man and the eternal God] are one!" Well might the Jews accuse him of blasphemy. Surely, if he be a mere man, he cannot be acquitted of that dreadful crime. For he speaks as though the almighty power of the Father were his own, to be used by him at his pleasure, for the protection of his sheep. Again, ver. 37: "If I [a mere man!] do not the works of the Father, believe me not: but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him."
And, methinks, his words to Martha appear very inconsistent with truth, if considered as proceeding from the lips of a mere man: "lam the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live." Divers passages, also, in the two next chapters, if understood as spoken by a mere man, seem equally ridiculous, as chap, xii, 26: "If a man serve me, [a mere man!] let him follow me. Yet a little while (ver. 35) is the light [viz. a mere man!] with you: while you have the light, believe in the light. Ver. 45: He that seeth me, seeth him that sent me:" that is, on the doctor's principles, he that seeth a mere man, seeth the eternal God!" I [a mere man!] am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. Chap, xiii, 3: Jesus, [that is, a mere man,] knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he [though a mere man, who had no existence till born in Bethlehem!] was come from God, and went to God," &c.
But more especially the discourses recorded in the three following chapters are worthy of our attention in this view. According to the Socinian doctrine, the Lord Jesus addresses his disciples in the following and such like language, just before his departure from them: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, [the Supreme Being,] believe also in me, [a mere man!] Verse 6: I [a mere man] am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had know me, ye would have known my Father also; [that is, if ye had known a mere man, ye would have known the supreme and everlasting God!] and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficetli us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, [a mere man] Philip? He that hath seen me, [that hath seen a mere man !] hath seen the Father! Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Verse 15: If ye love me, keep my commandments; [the commandments of a mere man!] I