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the divine perfections, the most gracious revelation of the divine purposes with respect to mankind.


22. It may however be said, that the Gospel of John being a history of our Lord while in the flesh, must, as far as respects his nature, principally refer to his human nature. It does indeed; but do the Epistles of John speak of more? Not in the slightest degree. He says, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God,' and, whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God';' but not in one genuine word of his Epistles, does he so much as intimate, that more than this and its consequences must be believed, in order to enjoy the blessings of the Gospel, or even that more than this was the fact. These Epistles were probably the last written books of the New Testament, the Revelation excepted. Lardner places them with much probability between A. D. 80 and 90; and it is reasonable to suppose that the Apostle had seen, or

k 1 John iv. 15.

1 Ch. v. 1.

There are three passages which may by some be considered as proving this assertion to be unfounded, ch. iii. 16. v. 7. 20. As to ch. iii. 16, even the Received Text has • Hereby perceive we love, because he laid down his life for us.'-It is probable that no one who has any claim to the character of a critic, is ignorant that the passage respecting the three heavenly witnesses, was not written in Greek till at least 1100 years after the Epistle was written. And as to ch, v. 20, one would suppose that no reader of the Gospel of John (ch. xvii. 5,) could doubt to which the word this refers, whether to Him that is true,' or, to His Son Jesus Christ. See however Chap. V.


heard of, most of the writings of the other Apos-. tles. If they were not explicit as to the proper deity of Christ, here we might expect to find a direct avowal of this astonishing doctrine; for is it probable that the Apostle would leave the world without placing the subject upon its just foundation, the authority of an Apostle? And even if they had said enough, is it probable that one who obviously was not remiss in speaking of the dignity and glory of his Lord, should write an Epistle on the subject of Jesus and his glad tidings, without even referring to his being "the very and eternal God," or to his having existed in a state of great glory and happiness before his human birth?

I lay considerable stress upon the striking deficiency of evidence as to the superior nature and pre-existence of Jesus Christ, in the undisputed Epistle of the beloved Apostle. He wrote to confirm the faith of the believers, and, as appears from several expressions, to censure heresies then beginning to prevail in the Church". Now from the account given in the Acts of the preaching of Peter and Paul, it can scarcely be doubted, that a large proportion of the Christian world must have embraced the Gospel, without knowing what are now called its peculiar doctrines; and it also ap

The Gnostics in general, believed that Jesus himself was not the Christ, and that a super-angelic spirit which alone they called the Christ, was united to him at his baptism. And many of them believed, that the Christ was not united with a proper human body, but with something which had only the appearance of one.-These are obviously the opinions which the Apostle censures and refutes.


pears from ecclesiastical history, that the Jewish believers in general were Unitarians: is it conceivable, that John should permit opinions which now are regarded by the party who call themselves Evangelical, as in direct opposition to his Gospel, and as degrading the Saviour of men, to pass without severe censure; or that he should satisfy himself with saying, These things I have written unto you, that ye may know that ye have everlasting life, who believe in the name of the Son of God;' and, Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God?'-I am willing to admit, that several passages in the New Testament, taken separately from their connexion, and interpreted by prevalent opinions without comparing them with other parts of Scripture, do then seem to imply, that our Saviour existed before his human birth, and even that he possessed a nature greatly superior to that of man; but where the Scriptural grounds are of that mysterious doctrine called the Trinity in Unity, (viz. that in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, POWER, and eternity?," that "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three Gods but one God",") I am totally at a loss to discover,-and the re-examination of the New Testament with an express reference to this subject, to which I have been led, has most strongly confirmed my con

This is Griesbach's text in ch. v. 18.

? Article I.

↑ Athanasian Creed.

viction, that this doctrine has no foundation in the Scriptures, that it is not Christian doctrine.


23. The last book in the New Testament (A. D. 95 or 96) is the Revelation of Jesus Christ which GOD GAVE HIM that he might show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass'.' This introduction leads to the expectation that nothing will be found in the book itself, inconsistent with the proper unity of the Deity, nothing which can lead to the supposition that God and Christ are different persons in one God. While in the spirit on the Lord's day, John sees his glorified Master, in appearance a man as when he sojourned among the sons of men3. He speaks as one who is head over all things to his church, and directs his servant to reprove those who were departing from the faitht. He speaks too as the agent in conferring rewards upon the faithful; Him that overcometh I will make a pillar in the temple of MY GOD, and he shall go out no more: and I will write upon him the name of MY GOD, and the name of the city of MY GOD, of the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from MY GOD; and, my new name"." What words can be more express to prove that, in this state of exaltation, he regarded God, as he regarded him when on earth, as his God and Father, as well as the God and Father of his disciples? He does indeed use language respecting himself, which must

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have delighted the heart of his faithful disciple; since it manifested the glory and happiness with which he was rewarded for his perseverance and victory, and proved that he had power to give like glory and happiness to those also who were faithful unto the end. John saw him too receive the homage of those who, by his endurance unto death, had been redeemed to God; and though the whole was a vision, yet, for the time, its effect upon the mind of this favoured disciple, must have been that of reality, and must have been transporting beyond conception. In the latter part of the vision, he sees an august personage, called the Word of God, who is usually considered as Jesus himself; and though this opinion seems to me attended with some difficulty, on the whole it is perhaps the most probable. If it be the case, as the passage refers to some awful period, when the judgments of God will be on all those nations which have not feared God and worked righteousness, the full explanation of it must be left to the event; but it obviously contains nothing inconsistent with Unitarianism.-On the whole since this sublime representation of the exalted state of Jesus. contains nothing in any way inconsistent with the

See particularly ch. iii. 21, &c.

2 Ch. xix. 11–16.



The words, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, and,' (ch. i. 11,) are rejected by Griesbach as spurious; and ch. i. 8, he reads 'saith the Lord God, who is. &c.Some interpret the expression the root of David,' ch. v. 5. xxii. 16, as referring to the pre-existence, or even the creating power of Jesus; but I am not aware that any consider it as a proof of those doctrines. That the expression means ‘a

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