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But Jesus was tempted, though, supported by God, he did not yield; he heard the invitation at least, though with virtue superior to all the children of men, he turned not aside one single step from his way; he contended for a little, though he was speedily victorious. The conclusion, in my mind, is irresistible, that Jesus was not omniscient. Omniscience could not have been tempted; omniscience could have seen no enemy, could have fought no battle, and could, therefore, have gained no victory. "If thou be the son of God," said the tempter, 66 command that these stones be made bread." The man of sorrows, who had not where to lay his head, the partaker of all our wants and woes, might, as such, have been tempted for a moment to employ his miraculous powers in ministering to his own necessities. In him it might have been virtue, high and exalted virtue, feeling that he could have acted otherwise, to pursue his rugged path regardless of himself, to refuse to convert the stones that strewed it into the means of sustenance and comfort, to choose rather to live upon the words that proceeded from his Father's mouth, and to regard the performance of his Father's work, and the completion of his will, in the most distressing circumstances of privation and pain, as meat and drink sufficient for him. To one who was "in all things made like unto his brethren," the temptation might have been great; but what could it have been to one who felt himself essentially united with the very source of life; who was living, as it were, at the same moment, in the past, the present, and the future; who was feeding on those thoughts that must give to all other food the power to nourish and sustain; who was
actually, not figuratively, one with that great First Cause, in whom all creatures live, and move, and have their being? Is it possible to suppose that the human nature, thus pervaded and supported by the divine, not to say identified with it, could yet feel our wants, and even entertain the passing thought of supplying them in a manner inconsistent with perfect rectitude of will?
"If thou be the Son of God," said the tempter, a second time, to Jesus, as he stood on the pinnacle of the temple, "cast thyself down; for it is written he shall give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." To one entrusted with powers from above, the thought might perhaps have occurred of making a needless, but magnificent display of them, and illustrating the extent of his authority by a use of it, calculated rather to attract attention and confer honour upon himself, than to accomplish the great object for which it was bestowed. Such an one might perhaps have felt a momentary desire to grant the astonished multitudes that sign from heaven which they afterwards so frequently requested; and by the same power which could heal the sick, and raise the dead, and work hourly miracles of love and mercy, to descend through the air, upborne by angels, from the highest pinnacle of the temple. In a mere finite being it might have been virtue to resist the thought that would have prompted a vain and needless display, to suppress every movement of self-love, every rising desire of personal distinction and public applause, and to cherish that unaffected modesty and lowliness of spirit, which always led our Lord and
Master to prefer usefulness to fame, and his Father's glory to his own; teaching him, even when he was to triumph, to choose the meek and lowly triumph of humility, still to decline the wings of angels, and to select for his solemn entrance into the holy city, the humble conveyance of the young ass's colt. But where, let me ask, would have been the temptation, and where, consequently, the conquest over it, to an infinite and omniscient being? Is it credible that such a being could have felt the slightest inducement, either from motives of self-aggrandizement or self-preservation, to employ his boundless powers in any other than the wisest and the fittest way? Could he, who was in closest union with the Godhead, who was God, have ever wished for any greater safety, or sought for any brighter glory, than a single glance upon himself must have proved to be essentially his own?
The promise of temporal power, even of all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, was the third temptation. To a finite creature, that promise might, doubtless, have appeared great and dazzling. But such, alas! the favour of God, and the happiness of heaven, are often sacrificed for a much smaller price. But what could it have been to Him whose eye had traversed the infinite of space; who, from the height of his own mind, infinitely higher than that mountain summit to which the tempter ignorantly carried him, had beheld, not all the kingdoms of the world, but all the worlds of the universe, and the glories of them; before whom they stood revealed at the very moment; and who felt himself in essential union with their infinite possessor? Surely no finite temporal authority, if we could suppose such an
offer made to him who was already Lord of all, could have been the slightest temptation to omniscience and omnipotence combined. From his lips there might have been eternal truth, but there could not have been human virtue, in the answer, "Get thee hence, thou adversary, for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." But Jesus we are told, was "tempted in all points like as we are." This alone, seems to me, to prove, beyond all doubt, that Jesus was not omniscient.
I observe, in the last place, and I shall merely observe, that all those passages of scripture, which imply the limitation of any other of the attributes of Jesus, will also imply that of his knowledge. He who was not infinite in all, could not have been so in any. Thus all the evidence which the scriptures contain, of the undivided personal unity of the Godhead, of the inferiority of the Son to the Father, all the evidence, in short, that unitarianism is the doctrine of the gospel, will bear upon the point now under consideration. Our text, we have endeavored to show, clearly inculcates that important and leading doctrine of the gospel, for which, as Unitarians, with sincerity and earnestness, yet with meekness. and charity, we think it our duty to contend.
What remains, then, christian friends, but that you be exhorted not to receive, without examination, my opinions, or those of any other man, or body of men, but like the noble Bereans, "to search the scriptures daily, whether these things be so." It is possible that I, and those who think with me, notwithstanding our firm conviction to the contrary, may yet be wrong, if not on all
points, at least on some. To the credit of sincerity we lay strong claim, a claim which we think that no one has a right to question without proof; but to infallibility we make no pretension. We do not therefore refuse, but, on the contrary, invite the most impartial and rigid scrutiny into our opinions, and the grounds of them. If you think that we are wrong, we only say, prove that we are so, and we shall be happy to relinquish our errors; nor will any false shame, we trust, forbid us to acknowledge them frankly, and to thank you cordially for having pointed them out.
Be it always ours, brethren, to seek the truth with diligence, to hold it fast, when found, with modest firmness, to profess it with charity, and to defend it with meekness. Finally, let us implore the Father of lights, and the Giver of wisdom, to guide and assist our inquiries, and above all, to direct and sanctify them to their only valuable end, the attainment of a more fervent piety, a more extensive benevolence, a deeper humility, a stricter self-government; in one word, a daily growing conformity to the pure and perfect example of that beloved Son of God, in whom we recognise, revere, and love the brightest resemblance, the express moral image of the Father.
Let not our trinitarian brethren be surprised; these are my words; I say revere and love. We trust that we do revere the Lord Jesus, as the appointed head over all things to his church, our Lord and Master and our future judge. We trust that we can truly say, in the words of the apostle, "Him, having not seen, we love." Dear to our hearts, assuredly most dear, if we are what