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underrated the importance of the doctrine here discussed. May not this be fairly surmised from the disproportion between the limits within which they would restrict its evidence, and the space which that evidence actually occupies? That they and the writer are at odds on the matter is evident from the very nature of the objection. His competency, however, to form a correct estimate will probably be denied ; since a student can rarely judge accurately on a topic which for any length of time has engrossed his attention. But, on the other hand, it should be recollected, that by some of the most accomplished and profound theologians, both in and out of the English church, great stress has been laid upon our Lord's eternal filiation, and its importance to general correctness of belief has often been collaterally insisted on. Supposing then this appreciation to be correct, and there certainly is strong presumption in its favour, it is evident that such as urge the objection under consideration have never yet correctly apprehended the merits of the case, nor given due regard to the doctrine, either in itself, in its proofs, or in its relations to the grand scheme of scriptural theology.
Of this evil, which it is to be feared is by no means rare, one of the principal causes is the almost total absence of available works upon the subject. Such an allegation will perhaps occasion some surprise ; indeed it most likely anticipates an objection to the present undertaking, founded upon the supposed number of existing treatises of the same class. But the fact is, that, putting out of the question books of comparative rarity and the productions of foreign theologians, all that we have left are some half a dozen polemical pamphlets; which, however well adapted to the exigences which they were designed to meet, are not sufficiently ample, critical, and comprehensive; and have not secured to themselves the permanent interest which either their subject or their arguments merited.
With one or two exceptions, even these, to the mass of readers, are now inaccessible. Mr. Watson's Letter is perhaps the only one to be procured in the ordinary way, and this is less valuable as an exhibition of the evidences by which the doctrine is supported, than as a vigorous and happy development of the relation of human reason to the truths of Scripture, and to scriptural interpretation. The pamphlet of Mr. Scott deserves to be named with the utmost respect, and as a compendious statement of the argument is not at all interfered with by the present volume ; but this valuable little work is, or at least till very lately was, out of print. By the writer of these pages, in common with many others, its republication would be hailed with much satisfaction.
Of the productions of late years, the most voluminous work upon the subject is that of Dr. Kidd, a treatise replete with ingenious reasoning, and often remarkable for the elegance and force of its illustrations. It does not appear to have ever had a very extensive circulation, and is now of some scarcity. So at least the writer concludes from his own experience, not having succeeded in obtaining a copy, in spite of much research and inquiry, until the present volume had been some time in the printer's hands. In other respects, the work is scarcely adapted to the generality of readers ; especially as the venerable author calls to his aid, and that it is apprehended without the slightest necessity, a class of arguments partially independent of the simple testimony of Scripture, which, however plausible and apparently conclusive, tend on the whole to enfeeble the assurance
derived from the accumulation of inspired evidence alone.
Such is the present literary position of the doctrine ; and, under these circumstances, the writer of these pages humbly proffers his assistance to the assiduous Christian student, and especially to his younger brethren in the ministry. On his own account he may be allowed to say, that his undertaking originated in no silly conceit of his capabilities, but in a deeply painful process of sceptical reasoning, which at one time led as nearly as possible to the rejection of the doctrine in question. Deeply painful he confesses it to have been; for though he calls no man master, yet certainly variance with the church of God at large was a strong presumption of
It was in his judgment a grave thing to have against him the voices of eighteen centuries, and to slight those venerable confessions of belief, and those solemn hymns, which even during the darkest ages had faithfully conserved the faith of the Holy Trinity. Antiquity is no infallible warranty of a doctrine, and, in respect of this, he doubted, he feared, he had all but concluded that it was not true. Still he could no more recklessly discard it than he could have played the barbarian over the marble of a Grecian shrine, maugre its former idolatrous uses.
This was something, but this was not the whole ; nor was it even the weightiest cause of his concern. Some men there are happily endowed with such calm deliberateness, such perfect mastery of the understanding and the imagination, that they can terminate a process of reasoning just where they please, draw a veil over whatever argumentative results are likely to prove unpleasant, and prescribe effectual limits, whether to the advance of unbelief or the progress of faith. The writer
of these pages has no such ability; and hence his regrets were not excited by the simple sacrifice of the doctrine in question, however reluctant he might have been to proceed thus far. But this was a point at which he knew he could not pause. It was but a beginning, an earnest of future deviations more serious, a first step in the “ facilis descensus Averni." He consciously stood on the margin of a gulf, the depths of which were enveloped in the shadow of death. Arianism had been his next resting-place; and that he had sufficient selfdistrust to regard as a break merely in the fall to deeper and more deadly error.
Stimulated by apprehensions so painful, he employed every aid which he could command, and he is compelled
inconsiderable success. He at length turned to the point at which he ought to have set out, and with a firm resolution to rest satisfied with nothing short of a complete investigation, he examined and classified every passage of Scripture which seemed to pertain to the subject.
Thus was the present work originated. Should it fall into the hands of any one in like circumstances, he will find in it what its author was compelled to elaborate for himself, but what eventually proved perfectly adequate to his own conviction. Nothing short of the perplexity and discomfort here described would have induced him to offer his aid to the researches of others. But under these circumstances, it is presumed, no charge of arrogance or obtrusiveness can be justly advanced against the effort to fill up what is evidently still a blank in our theological literature.
Once more; the mysteriousness of the doctrine here investigated may possibly be urged as an objection to the undertaking. But this, though correct, is beside
the mark. Our inquiry is of a matter of fact, and is determinable by evidence. It amounts in short to this, What does revelation teach us respecting a particular aspect of our Redeemer's character? Nothing surely can be more simple, nor is the author aware that he has diverged from this precise purpose, except in cases where the arguments on the other hand, which are almost exclusively metaphysical, have required something beyond a collateral or indirect reply. Whatever is revealed we certainly have a right to examine ; and thus much, supposing our abilities and opportunities to allow, it is our duty to examine. Readily admitting the danger of unwarranted speculation on divine mysteries, still, where the Spirit of truth leads, we need not fear in humbleness and docility to follow.
Besides, it may fairly be put to objectors of this class, What aspect of our Lord's person is not mysterious, or, may it not be added, what event in his history? Is it his eternal Deity? Is it his incarnation ? the hypostatical union ? the passion, resurrection, or ascension ? Are these, or are the stupendous functions of his Mediatorship so very plain, so devoid of obscurity and problem, so within the reach of the ordinary human mind, that any man, or all men, may venture on their study? Let the proscription be equitable only, and if on account of its recondite character we are forbidden to inquire into the evidences of the eternal filiation of Christ, let it be understood that the same prohibition must, in all consistency, extend to the whole of our Saviour's person, to the entire of his history; in short, to the New Testament itself. But if this would render too palpable the refined Popery of the objection--for this in reality is its spirit, -if, in all other respects, it is our duty and our joy to meditate on our Redeemer's person and history; if the