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happening as aforesaid ? The coming and going of the Word indeed is often mentioned; but the Word is not a personal expression : and whatever is recorded to have been done, directed, or decreed supremely before these last times, or days, the period here mentioned, is represented to have been so done by God, or which is the same thing by his Word or Spirit; by the Word incarnate in Christ, not conceived like our words by the speaker; or by the Spirit with which he is identified :-God himself, however expressed or presented, being described not only in the past but in every state as THE FIRST CAUSE AND PRIMITIVE OR PRINCIPAL AGENT; so that all the greatness, and the power, and the victory, and the majesty over all that is done or achieved in Heaven or in earth might be fairly ascribed to him, and to him alone. And for this important doctrine, notwithstanding so many authorities have been here before cited, one alone might suffice with those who are willing to admit their foundation, being the Word of God to Israel his people, by Moses his distinguished servant, “Hear, O Israel; THE LORD OUR God is one Lord " (Deut. vi. 4). Thus he owns himself first; and Israel will not own a second. For though there be that are called Gods, whether in Heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many) yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (Cor. I. viii. 5, 6)—that is, of subjectively, by mediately-mediately by God the Word, or by the divine Word, the Word of God--whether pure as every word of God is originally (Prov. xxx. 5), or incarnate in Christ, the fulness of grace and truth; and in all but those to whom it is made of none effect by a false and faithless tradition (Matt. xv. 6).
If through such faithless tradition errors like the forementioned are multiplied in religion,--the Word is hindered in its progress, truth is diverted from its proper channel, and people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. iv. 6), it is no more than might happen by the civil constitution of a country, however pure and beneficentthe people perishing for want of justice. Therefore we should learn to judge the Word, as we would the constitution, by what it says, more than by what is said of it. From the time that “ the Word of the Lord was published throughout all the region ” (Acts xiii. 49) the same, or its transcript, is become a fair object of research as far as it may be levelled and addressed to the capacity of its inhabitants : but for what it does not assert it is not accountable. We cannot find any where, that it asserts itself or the Word of the Lord, to be an eternal person, if it clearly and credibly asserts its own eternity as well as incarnation in Christ and subsequent publication as aforesaid. Such an assertion was never to be expected from “the Word of truth.” For if the truth itself could be
personified in any man so entirely that the man should be truth itself, and nothing could be more truth than he was, —that would neither make truth a person nor destroy the man's proper identity, nor make him to be two persons instead of one: but the man would still be one man and one person like others, as much as if, like others also, truth and he were two. So it was with Christ and the divine Word, which according to him is Truth (John xvii. 17). And as he is the Image of the Father by the same Word (Cor. II. iv. 4), so must he have himself likewise his proper image or presence, whether personal or impersonal, mortal or immortal-in every state---past, present, and to come: his past or preexisting image being described in the Word only,--his mortal or present, also in personwhether primitive or derivative, real or representative, single or collective; the primitive, real and single person being that which he took in the womb of the blessed virgin, and in which he was presented to his cotemporaries, ---the derivative, representative and collective being now considered as the Church, or the church as his derivative, representative and collective person (Cor. I. xii. 27; Eph. i. 23; and iv. 4, 12, 16; and v. 23; Col.i. 18, 24). But hereafter,“ when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption
and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (“for as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly ”)–(Cor. I. xv. 54, 49), we shall not only see him as he is, but see him also as we shall be seen (John I. iii. 2),—the Fulness of the Godhead, he; we, the emanation, with which we are endued by him (John i. 16). Then will the Father be worshipped in the Son and in the Spirit, when the true worshippers shall “worship the Father in Spirit and in truth” (Ib. iv. 24). And this is going perhaps to the extent of our licence.
Closing the account of such a person, his modes and institutions with a review of all the objections that one has ever heard or can think of against either, as well as against the inferior authorities by which they are supported, may not be thought the way to recommend them; but it is no more than he requires : “ Search the Scriptures: (says he) for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me” (John v. 39). There is no scripture, whether in the style of prophecy or of record that can be received implicitly or applied without judgment. Judgment and criticism are the digestive organs of the mind: and whatever food is proffered them, or whatever quarter it comes from; be it a prophecy of good or evil—be it a record of persons or things, and of things past, present, or to come-pretending to come from one quarter or from another,-it can never be digested and make increase of the mind and soul by any other means than the organs aforesaid.
Of the Godhead however we do not presume to question any thing—"Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!” (Isai. xlv. 9). We do not presume to judge aught of the divine Principle; “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (Tim. I. vi. 16); the Fountain of eternal life: we judge nothing of this in itself: we do not dare to look into the ark (Sam. I. vi. 19); to “ break through unto the Lord, to gaze" (Exod. xix. 21)—but judging of the same externally, or in his manifestation, as Pilate or any other man might
judge, namely of his human properties however combined, we dare, as being plainly encouraged by himself, to make the best judgment on the subject that we are able (John v. 39). According to the ability that God has given us therefore we have ventured to examine, both what may be the Word, and what the Subject may be in relation thereto: articles of impeachment have been drawn up and exhibited against him; which, however daring it may seem, is fairer treatment than he experienced once from his own countrymen, or experiences now very often either from others- there being many still who are apt to condemn him without a fair trial.-And, to declare the result of these proceedings freely, WE “FIND IN HIM NO FAULT AT ALL” (Ib. xviii. 38), but in his word, the Word of life-even life eternal (Ib. xvii. 3). And as a man does any thing thereafter, he will not need to be told, that the doctrine is of God both in form and in substance: for on consulting again his own experience he will feel it practically, and also feel his practice reacting on his principles, whether spiritual or intellectual,—the discovery at the same time, instead of elating being rather calculated to humble him, and to instil modesty, and abate presumption through a feeling of dependence.
Judging of the tree indeed only by its fruit, we may know " whom we have believed.” And that is not the only, though the most proper criterion by which trees are distinguished: but some will be known afar off by their superior stature, so is the Tree of life; some are seen and admired through many generations, so is the Christian institution: and, what cannot be said of any natural production, it also thrives by time, and proves its divinity by duration. It embodies the sentiments of its Author in principle, as a fruit, the virtues of the plant by which it is produced,—and his life in miniature, like the seed of “ a tree whose seed is in itself:” whereby may be known both its Author and his. Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. xv.
13), says he: and so we have found by many that were planted in a Christian soil. The zeal of his servants has been directed against counterfeits, as well as against objections,—to repel falsehood, as well as to demonstrate the truth: and if by such an impartial process we should seem to detect, even in the Subject's undoubted teaching or record some traces of humanity, as above supposed, it will only prove, that both the teacher and his recorders were human, if his doctrine and record were, like himself, substantially divine. “Out of the mouth of very babes and sucklings” .... let it be remembered. And let the enemies of the truth of Christ which is in us (Cor. II. xi. 10) exult as they will over the simplicity of the “ babes” or “ little ones," who are sprinkled and ordained for the service of the same,- let them carry their scom if they will up to the very bason of the Fountain of truth,-let them cavil at the form or circumstance of a miracle they cannot help owning, or at a respite in judgment too merciful for their deserving, as well as too just for their conception,not considering an expression before cited, “Who is blind, as he that is perfect?” let them conclude that even those traits of the Subject which exhibit his humanity in perfection, and but for which his humanity might have been disputed, are a scandal to divinity,—that all his predictions and records, or the predictions and records concerning him, are only an heap of repetitions, imitations and incongruities,--all this if they will: but in the midst of all, and in many an inverted objection which we have had occasion to notice, shall be found a providential confirmation of the evidence here given. For only admitting the principal circumstances of the record, as every one must before he can proceed, to found objections thereon, he cannot help acknowledging so far the truths contended for, and binding himself thereby to an insuperable dilemma, if he have not the candour to own it.
Or some of them, namely of the enemies of the truth aforesaid, may think they have too much evidence of the