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not in his divine. I am ashamed to say, that I had been formerly imposed on by this senseless doctrine of the two natures: otherwise I should have thought it below all notice. Moreover John, as well as the other evangelists, in his gospel, stiles Christ directly a man, a human being, subject to sufferings and death. But God cannot suffer or die. How little have we learned, if we have not learned this? And yet how long have my eyes been shut against so plain a position, that Jesus who died could not be God, nay, must have been a mortal man. For we know not that any other intelligent beings in the universe have ever been subject to die, but those of our own species. Nay, after his master Jesus was, by the power and goodness of God, raised to life, John introduces him even then, stiling his apostles, brethren, i. e. men of the same nature and country with himself; adding moreover, that he had the same God and heavenly Father, in common with them. (a) “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” St. John therefore, who gives this account, from our Saviour's own mouth, after his resurrection, of his being only one of the human race, could never in the beginning of his gospel, speak of him as having been from all eternity, God, the Word, by whom all all things were made : but in language well understood
(a) John *. 17. by by those to whom he writes, he thereby intended the Word, Wisdom, Power of God, which is God himself, by which all things were made ; and which Word, as he goes on to say, became man, and dwelt among us; i. e. dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ, to whom it was imparted in an extraordinary degree. To mention only two phrases more, used by this evangelist, by which I had been much imposed on, for want of a little attention. If our Saviour says, (a) “I and my Father are one:” he speaks in the same terms of his apostles and followers being (b). one with himself, and with God. If he speaks of his (c) own coming down from heaven, coming forth from the Father, coming into the world, he himself explains his words at the time, to the attentive reader; that he meant thereby nothing more than his divine mission and authority from God, and that his language was not to be taken literally. But if there be any book of the New Testament, which affected me above others, as proclaiming in every page, that the blessed Jesus was no divine person, no second God or creator, equal to the Father, but only his creature of the human race, highly favoured and beloved; it was the book of the Acts of the Apostles; or rather, the account of the propagation of the religion of Jesus, by some few of the apostles and their friends, among jews and gentiles,
(a) John x. 30. (b) John xvii. 21, 22. () See and compare John vi. 38. i. 6, and viii. 42. xvi. 28.
after their master's resurrection, and being carried up to the heavenly regions. To allege a few out of many instances. Peter, in his first public discourse to the jewish people, in his own name and that of the rest of the apostles, speaks of Jesus as being a (a) man like all others, distinguished only by extraordinary gifts and powers from God; and after charging them with putting so holy a person to death, tells them that God had vindicated his innocency, by raising him to life in three days, and by making him both Lord and Christ. From which, by the way, we learn, that when we call Jesus our Lord we are to understand him to be only such a Lord, as almighty God hath made and appointed him. Soon after, the apostles, Peter and John, (b) in one and the same discourse, twice stile their master, Jesus, God’s servant. And it is observable, that they do this, after his having been taken up into heaven. We have next all the apostles, in their joint prayer, Acts iv. 24–31, by the mouth of Peter, with great solemnity, invoking God, as the sovereign lord and master, and in the same breath, stiling Jesus, twice, his servant. * It is to be noted, that the apostle John joined in this prayer, in twice stiling Jesus the servant of God. And this is another proof, that in the beginning of his gospel, nothing could be farther from his thoughts
(a) Acts ii. 22, 23, 24, 36,
than to speak of Jesus as God, the Word, by whom all things were made. It is a proof also, that if there be any texts in John's epistles, which speak of any other God but one ; or that make Jesus to be God, they must be spurious, or false readings. For it is impossible, that the apostle, or that any person of sense, in his right mind, should so directly contradict himself. The address of Stephen to Jesus, which I had been taught to consider as being a prayer to him as God; was a single request, offered in peculiar circumstances, when under the (a) impressions of a visible appearance or representation of Jesus before his eyes; and therefore cannot properly be called a prayer as to God; and particularly when at the very same time he calls Jesus, the Son of man. When the holy martyr kneeled down (b) after this, it was in solemn prayer, to the sovereign Lord of all, to forgive his murderers, after the example of his master Jesus in a similar situation. When our Lord, soon after this, is represented as appearing to Paul, and saying ; (c) “I am Jesus
whom thou persecutest;” it was acknowledging him
self to be the man, who went by that name upon earth.
We have next the manner, in which Christ was .
preached to the gentile world. The apostle Peter, in
an intercourse which he had by divine direction, with (a) Acts vii. 59, 55, 56. (b) Acts vii. 60. (c) Ib, ix. 5.
Cornelius, the Roman centurion, and his friends, does not inform them, that Jesus was God; but a man, (a) with extraordinary powers from God. There are few things that deserve more to be remarked and remembered, than the manner of St. Paul’s preaching the gospel in the Areopagus at Athens: where he informs his audience, that there was but one single person, who was God, the (b) sole creator of all things; and that there would be a day of future account, in which one of mankind, Jesus, whose doctrines he delivered to them, was appointed to be the judge; of which God had given the fullest assurance by raising him from the dead. This is a most important declaration. It enables us to understand those few passages in St. Paul's epistles, in which he has been supposed to contradict himself in this respect, so as to speak of Jesus Christ as God, or the object of prayer; and may satisfy us, that those passages are not genuine, or are misinterpreted by us. 2. It teaches us likewise, that in those instances, where this apostle ascribes a creation to Jesus Christ, he does not mean the creation of the universe, which he here ascribes to God alone ; but a moral and spiritual creation, the reformation of mankind by the gospel, as has been well shewn to be the just explication of his words, by many learned persons. It struck my mind very much in going over some of the preceding facts, that an argument might be formed from them, by which the mere ploughman, who
(a) Acts x. 38. ()-Ib, xvii. 24, 31.