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the doctrine of simple pre-existence), I have only one other expression to consider, viz.
75.] 1 John iv. 2. Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, ev σap, is of God.' In vs. 3. the words Christ hath come in the flesh,' are omitted by Griesbach. The expression occurs again in 2 John 7. It will scarcely admit of any explanation except in reference to the opinion of some early heretics, that the Christ was a man in appearance only, and suffered only in appearance. In opposition to this, the Apostle maintains that he who came from God was (as he asserted at the beginning of his Gospel) really a human being, subject to sufferings and to death; and in ch. v. lays great stress upon his having really died, without doubt regarding a conviction of the reality of his death, as of the very greatest consequence, in order to give its due influence to the allimportant fact that he rose again. To walk in the flesh, av capni,' 2 Cor. x. 3, means to be subject to the frailties and sufferings of humanity; to live in the flesh, av rapui,' Gal. ii. 20. Phil. i. has a similar meaning; and I cannot see why the expression come in the flesh,' should be supposed to refer to the possession of a nature different from that of man. All, however, must admit, that the reference is too obscure to justify the belief of so extraordinary a fact, without evidence of which we have seen it is destitute. If the Apostles, or if our Lord himself, had meant to teach a doctrine which most Christians, as they imagine, derive from their words, (viz. that he existed before his birth in at state of glory and happiness), what is more proba
ble than that we should somewhere or other have found the fact, not referred to merely, but stated plainly and explicitly, in some such way as we ourselves should express it, for instance by saying, 'Our Lord Jesus Christ before he was born in this world lived in heaven, and to save men he came down from heaven, became united with a human frame, was born and grew up as men do, lived, suffered, and died as a man, and at last was received back again into that state of glory and happiness in which he had before lived, and which he relinquished for the good of mankind.' In fact, however, this doctrine is no where taught; and the passages which are adduced to support it fully accord with the belief, that Jesus was, as he himself de clared, a MAN who communicated to the world the truths which he had heard from GOD,-on which plain, unambiguous, decisive declaration, I therefore rest my faith with full conviction.
Some appear to think, that, in order to establish the proper or simple humanity of our Lord, we must be able to show, that every passage in the N. T. is fully consistent with it; and that if this be not done, the doctrine of a superior nature must be admitted. It is much to be wished that they would adopt the same test as to their own opinions, with nearly the same strictness which they expect from us; but I must remark, that though this uniform consistency of the genuine writings of the Apostles with what we regard as Christian truth, may reasonably be expected, and will, at some future period, appear to every candid inquirer, yet it
is too much to expect that it should at once appear. Who doubts the doctrine of gravitation because we are not yet able to perceive how it explains every irregularity in the tides? It explains, and no other system can explain, the leading fundamental phænomena; and no one doubts, that at some future period, and when a more accurate acquaintance is obtained with the peculiar circumstances under which the apparent irregularities occur, that they also will be found to be perfectly consistent with the Newtonian system, and to receive from it an adequate explanation. I consider the Unitarian doctrine (that there is but one God, and that Jesus was a man from God), as standing in the same situation. It is founded upon, and alone explains, the leading facts and declarations of the Scriptures. Some expressions may scarcely appear consistent with it, and, taken alone, might admit of a better explanation upon some other system; but this other system is inconsistent with those leading facts and declarations, and cannot therefore be admitted. Now it is found that as our acquaintance extends with the phraseology of the Scriptures, and with the circumstances of the age and countries where they were written, those apparent difficulties diminish; and though we may not yet be able to give an adequate explanation of every one of those expressions agreeably to our views of Christian truth, we confidently expect that such explanations will be discovered, and that every part will be perceived to harmonize with what we deem ourselves authorized in regarding as the doctrines of the Gospel. With this conviction the Unitarian may consider him
self as justified in resting, without attempting to explain every expression which does not appear to accord with his system; and if he take a higher ground, as I have done in the foregoing pages, and show in what light he himself regards such passages, he still must wish to rest the convictions of others upon the leading facts and declarations, in short, upon the general tenor of the Scriptures.
It is my own conviction, not only that Unitarianism, and Unitarianism alone, is accordant with the general tenor of the New Testament, but that every expression in the New Testament admits of a just interpretation consistent with it; and that, therefore, Unitarianism is the doctrine of the Gospel : but if, as is probable, some of the foregoing interpretations should, after comparing Scripture with Scripture, appear to some of my readers to be inadmissible, I entreat them to bear in mind, that Unitarianism depends not upon them for its foundation. That rests principally upon various plain and positive declarations of Scripture, which, as it appears to us, no controversial skill can show to be consistent with any other opinion, than that the Father is the only true God, and that Jesus, the Son of God, was truly and properly a man, and therefore, as to nature, in all respects like his brethren.
I have already stated at some length those expressions and the arguments from them, which I at present consider as of most weight in the controversy, (see Chap. II. III.); but, as in the present chapter I have been concerned with an opinion whose advocates would in general agree with
me in those arguments, and yet are kept from admitting the doctrine of the proper or simple humanity of Christ, by a very small number of expressions which they regard as inconsistent with it, I shall here briefly adduce in a connected form those considerations which oppose their conclusions; and then leave the reader to decide which system has the most difficulties to contend with.
1. The Prophets speak of the Messiah as a MAN. Moses (in a prophecy which Peter, after the ascension and the effusion of the holy spirit, expressly applies to Christ,) says, ' A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your BRETHREN, Like unto me.' Isaiah speaks of him as a MAN of sorrows and acquainted with grief.' And the Baptist, while he acknowledged his superior dignity, spake of him as a MAN.
2. "The Jews expected that the Messiah would be a MANS."
3. The Gospels, throughout, represent Jesus as a MAN acting under a most honourable and important commission. They represent him as feeling the affections and wants of a MAN, as universally regarded and treated as a MAN, (by his enemies, by the people at large, and by his friends,) as experiencing the sufferings of a MAN, and at last dying
as a MAN.
4. Of the eight Apostles and Evangelists whose
"It is plain from this passage, (Matt. xxii. 45), that the Jews expected that the Messiah would be a man: for had they conceived of him to be God, equal with the Father, or some super-angelic being, they would have found no difficulty in answering our Saviour's question." See Note in Mr. Kenrick's Exposition, vol. i. p. 450.