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Isaiah liii. 8. Instead of, Who shall declare his generation ? as if referring to some eternal generation of Christ, as is pretended ; we should read, and the men of his generation who shall be able to describe 2 Jeremiah xxiii. 6. Instead of, This is the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord or Jehovah our righteousness, as though Christ was Jehovah ; we should read, This is the name by which the Lord shall call him, “our righteousness :” this is the honest translation of a worthy and learned divine of the church of England, now living. Zechariah xii. 10. Instead of they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced ; as though God could be pierced or stabbed, it being God who is speaking ; read, they shall look upon him, whom they have pierced. This is also the rendering of some eminent dignitaries in the church ; as also the following; Zechariah xiii. 7. Instead of, Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LoRD of hosts; as if Christ was fellow with the LoRD of hosts ; read Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is near unto me, saith the Lord of hosts. Micah v. 2.-whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Almighty God is here the speaker, and it is generally believed by christians, as it was by the jews before Christ, that the words are spoken concerning the Christ, the Messiah, as being to be born at Bethlehem, the place specified in the foregoing clause of the passage. But the words, as Calvin and other interpreters agree, agree, are to be understood, not of Christ as actually going forth from everlasting; but only of him, as destined in the divine mind, or by the Almighty being, before his birth, for some great design. So that this passage is no proof that Christ had any existence at the time, or before he was born of Mary. But I beg your and the company's pardon, Volusian, for interrupting the satisfaction, which I believe we have all received, in the natural account of your disquisitions and conclusions, in this your most important search of the scriptures, and endeavour to arrive at some fixed settlement, who is the Being you are to worship; whether three divine Persons, or oneonly. And I hope you will gratify us with the continuation of the thread of your inquiry. Volus 1 AN. I must be so far honest to you, as to own, says Volusian, that I really look upon myself as the person "obliged by your desire to hear the farther process and result of my scriptural researches, as it shews that you so far approve the methods I have taken; and I shall hope to be corrected, if in any thing you shall perceive me to have made any material mistakes. I go on then where I left off. Not having found any second divine person or God, who was afterwards to become man, nor a third divine person, stiled the holy ghost or holy spirit, in the Old Testament, I proceeded, much agitated, to the reading of the New : which I had always looked upon as more particularly teaching two other persons, to be gods, beside the Father, who also were his equals, and equally to be worshipped. And I frankly D 3 confess,
confess, I was bewildered; I could not now telf what to think or expect. For it appeared impossible, if the two revelations, that by Moses and the prophets, and the last by Jesus Christ, came from God, that they should flatly contradict each other in an article of the first importance. In this state of mind, , then, I was not so much astonished and disappointed, as I should otherwise have been, when, on examining for myself into the writings of the first three evangelists and historians of the life of Christ, I could find not the least trace of their looking upon, and considering him as God. They all uniformly agree in describing the holy Jesus as a human being, of a particular tribe and samily among the jews : two of them mention his being born of Mary, by the extraordinary power of God, and the omission of this circumstance by the two other historians, is easily accounted for. They relate that at first, he was like all other children, a puny, senseless babe; growing like them in strength and understanding, as he grew. in years, and making also gradual improvements in piety and virtue. When he was called forth by God to shew himself to the world, we find him indued with extraordinary gifts and powers, to fit him to act his part as a teacher and saviour come from God, and enable him to give proofs of his divine authority, that men might listen #3 and obey him. And at the last, having finished the work assigned to him, he willingly gave up his life, for the benefit of mankind, in testimony of the truths he taught, and of his mission from God.
If Matthew mentions among this heavenly teacher's last words, that he commanded to “make disciples of all nations, and baptize them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit:” no one, who had not already imbibed such notions elsewhere, would understand him as telling them, in such an indirect manner, at parting with them, what he had never spoken of before, namely, as some will have it, that himself was a second god equal to the Father, and that the holy ghost, or holy spirit, was a . third god. But they would surely apprehend his intentions to be, agreeably to his usual meaning elsewhere, in the use of these words, Son, and holy spirit, thereby to signify, that mankind were to be initiated by baptism into his religion, which came from the supreme Father of all ; which himself, his beloved Son taught by authority from him; and which was confirmed by the holy spirit, or the gifts of miraculous powers, first imparted to himself, and afterwards to his apostles and followers ; which were so many proofs of their divine mission and authority.
It was a circumstance that made deep impression. on my mind, in reading these three first historians, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that they plainly shew by their writings, that they lived without any idea of their lord and master Jesus being any other than one of the human race, being most highly favoured and distinguished by Almighty God; and also that they were desirous, and published their respective histories, with a view, that his followers, and all others in succeeding ages, might by reading them think thus - of of him. How would they have been affected with concern, to hear christians familiarly calling, and invoking the holy Jesus, as God equal to the Father; him, whom they introduce rebuking a man, for even insinuating, that himself was any thing above the condition of a creature of limited and imperfect goodness: Why callest thou me good 2 there is none good but one, that is God (a). The impressions I received from the attentive perusal of these three former evangelists, contributed to soften the prejudices which I had entertained, that Jesus was the logos, the word, spoken of in the beginning of John's gospel, and therefore God. I could not take it into my thoughts, but that all the apostles, and evangelists, must know, who their master Jesus was, whether God or man; and must agree about it. . As to the blessed Jesus being possessed of two natures, a human nature and a divine nature, by one of which he was the most high God, and by the other a mortal creature at the same time : this is a sort of theology to which Christ and his apostles were intire strangers. It fixes an odious duplicity upon our Saviour's character, of which every honest man would be ashamed ; that, for instance, when in one place, he says (b) “ of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no not the angels, which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father;” he meant only that he was ignorant of it in his human nature,