صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

has judiciously avoided the necessity which they lay under, of answering such objections as are ofter drawn from a false conception of the terms themselves.

If our Readers think it worth their while to consult Dr. Waterland's sermons preached on the same occasion with these of our Author, they will be abundantly convinced of the justness of this remark; though our Author hath thought proper to take no notice of this great champion in the caule, having in, his eye still more exceptionable writers.

The first of the forementioned pofitions the Doctor proposes to evince—from the representation given of what is generally termed the incarnation of the Son of God,-- from the teftimcny of the evangelists and apostles,--and from the testimony of Christ himself.

After having briefly observed, from the scripture account of the incarnation, that no mention is there made of any other than two natures, viz. the one perfectly human, the other perfectly divine, he concludes, against the Arians, that there is no ground for supposing that a Being who, in a pre-existant ftare, was distinct from and inferior to God, was united to humanity.

With regard to the testimony of the evangelists, he has Thewn, that they never ascribe our redemption to any other Being than God himself, operating in the man Christ Jesus. “They were far, says he, (speaking of the people who had seen a miraculous cure performed) from giving glory to any other Being than the Most High, nor could it ever enter their heads that it was not Gid, but some angel or demigod united to humanity, that wrought the cure.'

In another place, on our Saviour's restoring a dead person to life, he thus expresseth himself: ' It was man, the man Chrift Jesus, that touched the bier and said Young man arise ; but it was God alone that gave life to the dead. It was the power of the Almighty, and not of any finite Being, which accompanied and gave efficacy to the command.'

Having cited many texts to this purpose, from the evangelifts, he concludes his first lecture with the following vindication of the worship of the church of England, from the unjust reflections (as he conceives them to be) of both Socinians and Arians.

From the representation, therefore, which the evangelists have given us of Jesus Christ, and the power which manifested itself in hin, it appears, that we have good reason to afcribe, to the author of our salvation, eternal power and golhead. The socinians may declaim ever so much against rendering to a mere mortal that worship which is due to God alone; and they are justified in withholding it themselves. But if they suppose our church warrants such kind of worship, they are under a gross Ee2


mistake; and, in representing her in so odious a light, they want that charity towards her, which is above all faith, being the bond of perfectness. The church of England acknowledges no God but one only living and true God. She acknowledges the humanity of Christ, and has ever maintained that doctrine; at the same time fhe disallows of divine honours being rendered to him on that account. Whatever gratitude be due to him as man (and tbe higheft no doubt is due) her adoration neither terminates in, nor is in any measure directed to an arm of flesh, but respects the divinity itself, which was manifested in the flesh, even him, by whose power the fick were healed, the lame walked, the blind faw, and the deaf heard ; him whose mighty power stilled the raging of the winds and the waves by a word, which called forth Lazarus, after four days interment, from the grave, and (why need I mention any other instance of its perfectly divine efficacy?) which raised the man Christ Jesus from the dead; and which he exercises with full authority, to the well-governing of his church universal both now and ever.

• Let the Arians, on the other hand, express what abhorrence they will of the doctrine of the Trinity, as idolatrous; and ever so great astonilhment, that any should believe it; it would be extremely astonishing (but that we see an intemperate zeal will admit noccol confideration of any point) that they should confider it in this unfavourable light, and not see that their own notion borders more upon the error objected against. Which, I would ask, savours most of polytheism ? to suppose that there is one God, the great creator and father of all, that the same redeemed us in the person of Christ, and fanctified us by his holy Spirit, being one and the fame eternal and uncreated being ? or, that these, are three difinat beings and separately existent, the one uncreated and eternal, viz. our Creator; the other, a creature next to God in dignity, but not perfect God, viz, our Redeemer ; and the third, a ftill inferier Being to either, yet above the angels, viz. the Holy Ghost, our Sanzlifier ? I am sure the former is the doctrine of the church of England; and if the latter be not the doctrine of the Arians, I shall be forry to have misrepresented them: for in this view of it, the doctrine appears very unfcriptural, ta say the least of it. I mean not by this representation to retort the invidious refcation which has been caft upon our church; nor is it my intention, my brethren, in mentioning the same, to, excite in you a spirit of retaliation, but only to guard againft being misled by so injurious an objection, importing the heaviest of charges, into unfavourable fentiments of the established docuines, which, rightly understood, will be found to be pure and fcriptural. And it is your duty, therefore, to receive wbat has been said in the spirit of meekness and charity towards those that ffer from us. Let us hold our holy faith, firm and unmoved the subtle devices of those that would undermine it, or the


bold attacks of infidelity. For be affured, our faith, held in the bonds of peace and love, will be safer and better fecured to us, than it can be by the furious transports of a blind zeal. So pure a faith deferves our warm attachment to it, and a jealous concern for its support under the continual and various attacks of its adverfaries. But let not a suspicion of its danger ever betray us into an uncharitable opinion of our opponents, and in confequence thereof, into unchriftian and unwarrantable measures of defence; knowing this, that an opposition to the most orthodox faith, grounded on error alone, and not conducted by a spirit of contention, is far less culpable in the fight of Almighty God, than the maintenance of the fame on the principles of persecution.'

Having, in the next place, quoted many texts from the apostles in proof of the divinity of our Saviour, that have a plain and obvious meaning, others (says he) more commonly inlifted upon in treating this subject, I have purposely omitted; because how much stronger foever they may seem, at first view, than those I have produced in support of this tenet, yet the translation, the genuineness of the text, or the sense of them, has been with some reafon questioned by the learned, and occafioned, tho' without reason, some triumph to our opponents.'

Two instances of these he produces; and having fully shewn the insufficiency of them to answer the purpose for which they are generally brought, he observes, . It would be endless therefore, and can serve only as an handle to keep up an oppofition to the established doctrines of the church, to argue on dubious authorities and disputed passages of scripture. The errors of our opponents will be most effectually exposed, when the defence of our holy doctrines rests not on the mere found of words and fentences, picked out here and there from the most obscure and difficult passages, but on the whole authority of scripture, on the general constant tenor of the gospel. For whatsoever is inconsistent with that muft be false, as whatsoever is consistent therewith is truth; and truth thus entrenched within the strong mounds of scripture, which the holy spirit hath raised about her for her defence, the may be annoyed now and then from the outworks of the enemy, but is not to be circumvented by the subtile stratagems, nor forced by the rudest attacks of the sons of error and infidelity'

We come now to that part of the work which respects the teftimony arising from our Saviour's own account. It seems to be the substance of three lectures, and appears here under the title of A Critical Dissertation on the Logos. Our Author bath advanced a new interpretation of the three first verses and the 14th of St. John's Gorpet, in confirmation of which, he has ilJuftrated a variety of our Saviour's exprefions, as recorded by


E e 3

this evangelist. We are at a loss how to give our Readers the idea we could wish of this curious piece of criticism; but shall, however, present them with a view of his translation and fense of the former of the above mentioned paffages : referring them to the work itself, as the only sufficient specimen of the dextrous manner in which the Doctor has supported his interpretation, obviated the objections most likely to be made to it, and contrasted it in point of grammar, sentiment, and scripture-connection, with all the former interpretations that have been offered in illustration of this contested paffage of sacred writ.

Having given a concise view of the different explications of the evangelifts affertion concerning the Logos, by Trinitarians, Arians, Socinians, and Sabellians, he thus prepares the minds of his Readers for an equitable reception of his own, by the following sensible and candid remark:

« Were these different explications, says he, contended for by the enemies of revelation ; if each of these denominations endeavoured to expołe the opinions of the rest, in order to expose the weakness and absurdity of the Christian religion, this mutual contradiction among our adversaries were not to be regretted. But it is painful to consider that this difference is among ouro felves. For many, a great many, of each class, it cannot be doubted, have been well-wishers to our holy religion, and Ihewn themselves not more zealous than able in the general defence thereof. It were to be wished therefore, that such a sense could be clearly discovered to belong to this paffage, as should be liable to no exception with any denomination of sincere believers; and it is to be fufpected, from the great difference among themselves, that they are under one common mistake. This I shall endea. vour to point out, and offer an explication of the passage, against which, in point of doctrine, no objection can lie with those who believe Chriftianity at all.

The word here spoken of by the evangelist, is by all of them understood to relate to the person of Christ. The word was God, that is, (say they) Jesus Chrif was God or a God. But by the word, I apprehend, the evangelist means (what is meant by it in all other places of scripture) the gospel; and with a small but material variation of the construction of this so much disputed paffage, the following natural and easy fense of it will appear, that God is the original author of our salvation.

. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and God was the word. 2. It was in the beginning with God. 3. AH was done by hiin; and without him was not any thing done of that which has come to pass.

« This must be owned to be a more exact translation than the other, and is to be preferred on this account, viz. that it doth not neceifarily convey the idea of any disputable doctrine, but may


be understood in a sense to which no person, that believes Chriftianity at all, can have any objection.

• St. John seems to mean no more by these words than to preface his account of the gospel which be files the nord, with the high original of it. This was, he tells us, from God himfelf; for that in the beginning, before it was published to the world, it was with God, God was the word, the original author and giver of it. It was in the beginning with God, lay hid fr. m the foundation of the world in the eternal councis of the Almighty. All was done by him, the whole was from God, and without him was not any thing done of that which has come to pass; that is, every part of the gospel dispensation, published by Jesus Christ, was from God; and whatever works he wrought in confirmation of it, not one of them xde xv was of himself, or came to pass, xwpis Ty 688, without God.' : - In the next discourse our Author proceeds to maintain his third position, viz. That the Holy Ghost is of a nature perfectly divine, &c. but this we pass over for the sake of brevity; juft observing, that the Doctor, in his attempt to illustrate this point, reaps no small advantage from the wary manner in which he has expressed himself, as well as from his carefully distinguishing, with regard to those circumstances by which the opponents of the doctrine seem to have been misled.

The next discourse is introduced with some pertinent obfervations on the method of divine providence, in bringing all men to the acknowledgment of the true faith, that there is but one God and one Mediator betwixt God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

• It is the last of these positions (says he) which I propose to illustrate, the former having been already considered in the preceding lectures. Our Mediator, it is asserted in the text, was man, avApwros Xposos Intys, the man Christ Jesus. The perfect humanity of Christ is as essential and fundamental an article of our faith as that it was God himself, the perfeit divinity, who wrought and was manifeft in him. If we admit the fuppofition, that he was not really and truly man, but a being of a superior, though limited nature, residing only in the human body, we can have no consistent idea of the account given us, either of the incarnation, or of the mediatorial office of the Son of God.'

Having fully proved the consistency of his opinion, on this head, with the general strain of scripture, he proceeds to consider those texts which are commonly urged, as well by Trinitarians as Arians, in support of their different hypotheses. He differs from both in his explication of them, though it is the latter only which he prosessedly attacks. The texts relate to the creation of all things by Jesus Christ. Our Author thews that this afcription of the creation of all things to Christ cannot have a reference to the outward frame and system of things ; such an


[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »