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LETTER VII,

The Evangelists and Apostles bear Testimony to the

Divinity of Christ.

Rev, Sir,

66

In your History of the Corruptions of Christianity, (vol. i. p. 144,) you assert, that “they (the Apostles after their supernatural illumination] never gave him [our Lord] any higher title than that of a man approved of God.” (Acts ii. 22.) Now, Sir, if this assertion be true, the Scriptures are on your side ; but if all the Apostles, whose writings are come down to us, rise against it, you will please to remember, that your doctrine is built upon the sand.

We grant you, Sir, that St. Peter, considering the furious prejudices of the Jews, in the beginning of his first sermon, did not preach to them the Divinity of Christ, which would have been an absurd step; because, far from being disposed to believe that our Lord was

very God of very God,” many of them did not so much as believe that he was a good man. Wisdom therefore forbade that Apostle to dazzle his hearers at once, by the glorious light ot this doctrine. Hence he at first called his Divine Master, ' a man approved of God.' But did he not, before he concluded, represent him as taken up to the very throne of the Father, and placed on the highest seat in heaven, at the right hand of the Majesty on high, as one whom the Father will see honoured with himself, by all men and all angels ? In a word, did not Peter apply to our Lord these words of the royal Prophet, (Psalm cx. 1,) « The Lord said anto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool ?' (Acts ii. 34.) Words these so strongly expressive of a dignity superior to

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that of any mere man, that they represent the Father himself, as determined to see the partner of his throne worshipped by all the creation, according to the Psalmist's prophecy, · They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him ; all nations shall serve him.' (Psalm lxxii. 9, &c.)

St. Peter, in his second discourse to the Jews, far from calling our Lord a mere man, as you do, calls him the Prince of Life,' and names him emphatically

the Holy One,' a sacred title, which, in the scriptures is never given to any mere mun; but in the Old Testawent is twenty-vine times appropriated to Jehovah, the Lord God of Israel.' (Acts iii. 14, 15.)

Proceed, Sir, to St. Peter's third and last discourse, handed down to us, and you will also find that, far from intimating to his hearers that Jesus Christ is a mere man, he has no sooner mentioned the Savionr's adorable name, but he makes a solemn pause, guards Cornelius agaiust the error into which you are fallen, and speaking of him whom you debase to a mere man, cries out, “ He himself is Lord of all!' AUTOS 651 Wartwv Kuplos. (Acts X. 36.) Now, Sir, he who hath the title of Lord of all, hath certainly a title higher than that of a mere man, 'approved of God ;' for he hath the title of Lord of men and angels, Lord of earth and heaven. St. Peter therefore hath already confuted your unscriptural assertion.

But let us hear the testimony of the other inspired authors of the New Testament, and let us see, Sir, if they confirin your assertion better than he, whom you have quoted with so little attention. Do not they represent our Lord as the Divine Son of God ? (1.) By his eternal generation, as the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God. And (2.) by his being conceived of a pure virgin (as to his human nature) by the miraculous interposition of the Holy Ghost. Thus, although he was a real man, yet he was really a divine man, as appears by these following scriptures:

When the Angel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary, to inform her that she should bear a Son, who should be ' The Son of the Highest,' and Emmanuel, “God with us,' she replied, “ How shall this be, seeing I kuow not a man?' The heavenly messenger replied, “ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of

the Highest shall over-shadow thee; therefore that 1 holy [conception) which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.' (Luke i. 32, &c.)

Lest this capital doctrine should stand upon the testimony of one Evangelist only, St. Matthew says, “Before Joseph and Mary came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.' And when Joseph entertained suspicions coucerning her virtue, 'the Apgel of the Lord appeared to him iu a dream, saying Joseph, thou Son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy (espoused) wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. Thus was fultilled that which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet : Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, or God with us.' (Matt, i. 18, 20, 23.) Hence it appears, that, even without taking the incarnation of the Word into the account, the human nature to which the Logos condescended to unite himself, when he took upon him the form of a servant, vore a stamp of divinity; and therefore our Lord, far from being a mere man, was in his whole complex person fitted for divine honours by his ineffable generations, both as inmortal Son of God, and mortal Son of David. Aud if this was the case, even when he lay in the manger and hung on the cross, how much more now that he shines in the midst of his everlasting throne, where mortality is so completeely swallowed up of life, and his refulgent manhood so gloriously taken up into God!

By preaching this wonderful generation of our Lord, Philip, the Evangelist, kindled Christian faith in the heart of a pious Ethiopian, who meditated on these words of Isaiah, “Who shall declare [or fully explain] his [the Messiah’s] generation ?,' &c. If we believe you, Sir, you are the man raised to explain this mystery. You teach that the Logos, “the Word made flesh,' had no glory, no glorious existence' with the Father before the world began :' Thus, indirectly charging falsehood upon our Lord's Sacerdotal prayer, you make an end of his eternal generation. As for his human generation, you boldly cut the knot, by declaring that the Messiah was a mere man, naturally born of an honest tradesman and of Mary his wife. And thus you deny the Lord who bought you, both with repect to his eternal Godhead, and to the glory of his manhood.

When you have so deeply wounded our Lord's glory, you think to salve the matter over by treating the Evangelists with as little ceremony as you treat their Divine Master, “I have frequently avowed myself (do you say to Dr. Horsley, not to be a believer of the inspiration of the Evangelists and Apostles, as writers : I therefore hold the subject of the miraculous conception to be one, with respect to which any person is fully at liberty to think, as evidence shall appear to him, without impeachment of his faith as a Christian.” Thus, Sir, you are so pressed by scripture, that honestly pulling of the mask, you give up the veracity or the wisdom of the sacred writers, as incompatible with your doctrine. We thank you for this declaration; and we look upon it as a public acknowledgment, that if Socinus and Mr. Lindsey are for you, the Evangelists and Apostles are for us. To convince you still more of it, I shall continue to try by scripture your assertion, that the apostles never give our Lord any higher title than that of a man approved of God.'

We have already seen what St. Peter, St. Matthew, and St. Luke say on the subject: Let us hear St. Mark: Taking us to the holy mount, with St. Peter, he shews us our Lord transfigured, while some beams of the divine glory, of which he had' emptied himself,' shine through the veil of his flesh, insomuch that his very garments become gloriously resplevdent. And while the greatest Prophets, Moses and Elias, attend him, the Father speaks from the excellent glory,' or from a cloud refulgent with divine glory, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I delight, hear him.' (Mark ix. 7; and 2 Pet. i. 7.) Nor is it here so much St. Peter and St. Mark, who speak, as matter of fact, and the first of the three witnesses in heaven : We hope, therefore, Sir, that you will either recant your assertion, or shew that the Father ever gave such a testimony to Moses his servant, to Abraham his friend, to any of the men whom he hath approved of in all ages, or to John the Baptist, who was so great in the sight of the Lord,' that' among them that are born of women, there hath yot risen a greater than he ;' and nevertheless this greatest of men said, "There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.' (Mark i. 7.)

I grant you however, Sir, that you will find in St. Mark some of the favourite expressions of your system : Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary? the brother of James and Simon ? and are not his sisters with us?' (Mark vi. 3.) But before you adopted such a system, should you not, Sir, have gone on to the end of the verse, and taken notice that the people, who thus speak, are those who are offended at our Lord,' those who stumble against the precious cornerstone laid in Sion,' even those proud, unbelieving stnbborn Jews, to whom our Lord declared it would be more tolerable for the sinners of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for them ? But if you will know farther what St. Mark's own sentiments were on the subject, we consider, he will tell you, after the second witness in heaven : « The Son of Man [the Messiah, even whilst he appears in the form of a servant] is Lord also of the sabbath. Supreme and divine Lawgiver, he hath power to dispense with his own law, and of consequence with the fourth commandment. (Mark

And who hath this supreme Lordship, but the 'Lord God of Sabaoth,' the ‘Lord of the sabbath' and

ii. 28.)

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