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him, and infeparable from him. Wherefore we who believe the WORD to be very God, muft neceffarily understand the former of thefe Texts of our Savior's human Soul, which exifted with God (that is, in God's Prefence, and beholding his Face, as Angels now do) before this World was. And if his human Soul did thus exift before the World was; certainly God's loving Chrift before the Foundation of the World, which is afferted in the later of thefe Texts, ought to be understood of his loving the Man Christ Jefus, viz. his preexisting human Soul.
And as for your felf, who do not believe the WORD, or Divine Nature of Chrift, to be very God, I will not difpute with you, whether it be conceivable, that the WORD or Divine Nature of Chrift could, upon your own Principles, ceafe to enjoy that Glory or Happinefs which he had before the World was: but what I infift upon with you, is this. I have by other Confiderations proved to you, that our Lord's human Soul did preexift. And if this be granted; I may fafely appeal to your felf, whether both thefe Texts do not naturally admit and require that Interpretation which I have given them.
However, I can't forbear adding, that Chrift is exprefly called the Lamb without blemish and without fpot, Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifeft in these last times, r Pet. 1. 19, 20. This certainly refpects his human Nature. Now St. Paul fays, that God hath called us according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Chrift Jefus, before the world began; but is now made manifeft by the appearing of our Savior Jefus Chrift, 2 Tim. 1. 9, 10. He fays alfo, that God bath chofen us in Chrift before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1. 4. and that
he promised eternal Life before the world began, Tit. 1. 2. The fame Apoftle cals the Wisdom of the Gospel the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the 1. world unto our glory, 1 Cor. 2.7. I conclude therefore, that our Lord's human Soul was then made, when the very God was preparing the Habitation of Mankind, whom he then purpofed to redeem by Chrift, and for whose fake Chrift was already decreed to be flain. And accordingly St. Paul affures us, that Chrift is πρωτότοκΘ- πάσης κλίσεως. For tho' I readily grant, that winx may fignify him that has the jus primogeniti, when it appears by other Confiderations, that he who is ftyl'd TON☺; was not the firft in order of Birth: yet in the prefent Cafe we ought not to recede from the natural and obvious Senfe of the Word; because the Tenor of Scripture is so far from obliging us to it, that it manifeftly forbids it. And indeed, when our Sayior fays of himself, that he is n de ulios Tÿ der, Rev. 3. 14. I can't but understand him in the fame Senfe, viz. as affirming himself, that is, his human Soul, to have been produced before any other created Being whatsoever.
Upon the whole, St. Paul is fo far from teaching (in this remarkable Paffage of his Epiftle to the Philippians, which we have largely examin'd). that the WORD, or Divine Nature of our Lord Jefus Chrift, is inferior to the very God; that he does not therein fpeak one Syllable of the WORD, or his Divine Nature, but only treats of the Humiliation and Exaltation of his Human Nature, from whence he draws an Argument for our Practice of Humility and Condefcenfion.
That during the Time of our Savior's Miniftry, the Difciples did not believe, that he was any thing more than a mere Man, conducted and affifted by the Spirit of God.
EFORE I proceed to the Examination of the fecond Text of Scripture, which is fuppos'd to teach, that the WORD, or Divine Nature of our Lord Jefus Chrift, is inferior to the very God; 'tis neceffary for me to prove, 1. That during the Time of our Savior's Miniftry, the Difciples did not believe, that he was any thing more than a mere Man, conducted and affifted by the Spirit of God; 2. That during the Time of our Savior's Miniftry, the WORD, or Divine Nature, was quiefcent in the Man Chrift Jefus.
FIRST then, during the Time of our Savior's Ministry, the Difciples did not believe, that he was any thing more than a mere Man, conducted and affifted by the Spirit of God.
Whether you will grant me this Propofition, I know not. You exprefly (a) declare, that Chrift's Difciples had not any the leaft Thought of his claiming to be God in any Senfe, when he utter'd what we read in John 5. 18. Nor do I remember, that you have any where faid or fuppofed, that they had afterwards, during the Time of his Ministry, different Sentiments. If I guefs aright, you will rather allow, that they continued of the fame Opinion till
(a) Reply to Mr. Nelfon's Friend, p. 136.
his Miniftry was ended. However, fince you have not inform'd us, whether you do grant this Propofition or no; and becaufe 'tis certain, that too many others will not grant it: therefore I think my felf obliged to evince the Truth of it. In order thereto I obferve,
First, That there is not in all the New Teftament any one Paffage, which either afferts or implys, that the Difciples believed him to have had any Divine Nature during his Miniftry. They did indeed efteem him a great Prophet, even the Meffiah, the greatest of Prophets: but yet at the fame time they esteem'd him a mere Man; and did not apprehend, that another Nature, fuperior to that of a Man, viz. the WORD of God, was perfonally united to the Man Christ Jesus.
I can't think of more than one Text, that can :poffibly be alleged against this Affertion, viz. John 16. 30. where the Difciples fay, Now are we fure, that thou knoweft all things. And if any Person fhould conclude from hence, that the Difciples then believ'd him to be ftrictly Omniscient, and that conEfequently he was more than a mere Man conducted and affifted by God's Spirit; I answer, 1. That the fame Spirit which did fo certainly discover the moft fecret Things to him and his Difciples, might discover, if he pleas'd, even all Things in the moft abfolute and unlimited Senfe, altho' our Savior himself were at the fame time no more than a mere Man. The Text does not fay, that the Difciples thought, that Chrift had inherently in himfelf, by the Neceffity of his own Nature, a ftrict Omniscience (which would indeed have proved, that he discover'd himself to be the very God) but it fays, that they thought he knew all Things (we will now fuppofe in the utmoft Extent of the Ex
preffion) and fo might a mere Man by the Communication of the Spirit. 2. That the Words of the Difciples do by no means imply, that they thought out Savior: endued with a ftrict Omnifcience. For let us obferve the Context. Our Savior had faid, A little while and ye shall not fee me: and again, a little while and ye shall fee me, because I go to the Father, V. 16. His Difciples did not understand this Saying, and therefore had fome privat Difcourfe about it, which they did not speak fo loud, as that our Savior fhould hear them. For fays the Evangelift, Then faid fome of his disciples among themfelves, What is this, that he faith unto us, A little while and ye shall not fee me and again, a little while and ye Shall fee me and because I go to the Father. They faid. therefore, what is this that he faith, A little while? We cannot tell what he faith, v. 17, 18. Our bleffed Lord therefore, who knew their Hearts, prevented their asking a Solution of the Difficulty that puzzled them, and which they would gladly have heard him refolve. For the Text fays, Now Jefus knew, that they were defirous to ask him, and faid unto them, Do ye enquire among your felves of that I said, A little while and ye shall not fee me, and again a little while and ye fhall fee me, v. 19? And then he proceeds to explain himself in fome following Verfes. After which his Difciples faid unto him, Lo, now Speakest thou plainly, and Speakeft no Proverb. Now are we fure, that thou knoweft all things, and needeft not that any man fhould ask thee: by this we believe, that thou cameft forth from God, V. 29, 30.
The all things therefore, which they perceiv'd from this Fact that our Lord knew, were only the Secrets of their Hearts (for they could conclude no more from that Inftance of his Knowledge) and the following Words declare as much. For he, in