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Finding the practice of the primitive Christians, during the first three centuries, unfavourable to his sentiments, the Editor prudently keeps it out of view altogether, merely observing, (p. 625,) into that “ we do not even inquire. Paul tells us, that, even in his time, “the mystery of iniquity' had already begun to work; and John adds, that 'many antichrists' had already gone out into the world." The Editor must be well aware that those in whom the mystery of iniquity was found, and who were detected as antichrists, were not in the fellowship of true Christians, and consequently church histories treat of the practice of the latter entirely distinct from that of the former; and it is therefore evident, that the practice and professions of primitive Christians, who were, generally, the contemporaries of the apostles or their disciples, are worthy of inquiry for the regulation of the conduct of the Christians of these days. As to Mosheim, the Editor says, “Even Mosheim,
“ suspected as he is of being unfavourable to the truth, establishes their faith in Christ's deity in the very passage quoted, p. 247, by our author against this doctrine." It appears from this quotation, that they, when baptized, “made solemn profession of their confidence in Christ." The Jews, as well as alinost all the Gentiles, professed their belief in God; but the thing which was required of them by the apostles
was, that they should make profession of confidence in Jesus as the Christ of God in the rite of
baptism. If such a profession of confidence in Christ is admitted by the Editor as a sufficient acknowledgment of his deity, why should he be so hostile to those (whom he styles Unitarians) who are baptized in the name of Jesus, and also profess their solemn confidence in him? Still further am I surprised that, when the apostle John expressly wrote his Gospel
prove “ that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," (ch. xx. 31,) the Editor, so far from being satisfied with those who receive Jesus in the character expressed by these terms, (“ the Christ, the Son of God,”) in the sense which they uniformly bear in the Scriptures, requires them, moreover, to believe that Jesus Christ is the very and eternal God, and thus not only defeats the object of the apostle, but even contradicts him in express language.
The Editor then proceeds to say, Respecting Locke and Newton, our reply is precisely the same; their opinions in divinity are nothing to us." The Editor, elated by the general prevalence of the orthodox system, effected only by perversions of the sense of the divine writings, attempts to turn the authorities of these great men also to his own purpose. “ If” (says he) “ Locke, as our author affirms, (p. 305,) really thought that the faith which makes men Christians, includes their receiving Jesus Christ for their Lord and King, Locke knew that this included the belief of his omniscience and omnipresence, as, without this, his being their King was only a solemn mockery.". The Editor prudently
quotes here only a part of the sentence of Locke quoted by me, which he thought might give him an opportunity of making comments favourable to his creed; but it is fortunate for us that his works, being written and printed in English, are not liable to much critical perversion. Locke
“that the believing Jesus to be the Messiah, includes in it a receiving him for our Lord and King, PROMISED AND SENT FROM GOD." The phrase chosen by that celebrated author,“ sent from God," denies the deity of Christ beyond doubt, since one sent by another is of course different from him who sends him. To avoid every misconstruction being thrown upon his definition, Locke chose the term “ God," instead of any other term in the above phrase, that Jesus might be understood separately from God, without the least room for the sophistry that might represent him as God the Son, sent from God the Father. We, however, are not at a loss to discover what Locke meant by the terms “ Lord and King,” when referred to Jesus, as he fully explained them in his Paraphrase on the Epistles to the Corinthians. As to the term “ Lord," I refer to the note on 1 Cor. i. 2: “ What the apostle means by Lord, when he attributes it to Christ, vide viii. 6.” Paraphrase on viii. 6: “Yet to us Christians there is but one God, the Father and Author of all things, to whom alone we address all our worship and service and one Lord, viz. Jesus Christ, by whom all things come from God to us, and by whom we have access
to the Father.” As to the term King," I quote his paraphrase on ch. xv. 24, which clearly represents his sovereignty as finite : “ After that shall be the day of judgment, which shall bring to a conclusion and finish the whole dispensation to the race and posterity of Adam, in this world: when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God the Father, which he shall not do till he hath destroyed all empire, power, and authority, that shall be in the world besides."
The Editor says of Sir Isaac Newton, “ His belief of Christ's deity appears as clear as the light, from our author's own quotation, when he said that Christians of all ages are represented as worshipping God and the Lamb." Newton was too circumspect to leave his word liable to perversion by the popular opinion. He explains the sense in which Christians worship God, and also the sense in which they worship Jesus—the one as directly opposed to the other as the West to the East. Newton says, “ God for his benefaction in creating all things, and the Lamb for his benefaction in redeeming with his blood; God as sitting upon the throne and living for ever, and the Lamb exalted above all by the merits of his death.” The worship offered to the latter is therefore merely a manifestation of civil reverence, as I pointed out in p. 640.
To equalize a being exalted and worshipped for his meritorious death, with the eternal Supreme Sovereign of the universe, is only an attempt to bring the nature of the Deity on a level with a mortal creature, and by no means serves to elevate that creature to the rank of the Deity. If the Editor consider these quotations from Locke and Newton really orthodox, how inconsistent he must be in condemning those whose sentiments as to the person of Jesus Christ are precisely the same; to wit, that he is the anointed Lord and King promised and sent from God, is worthy of worship for his mediation and meritorious death, but by no means as a being possessed of a two-fold nature, divine and human, perfect God and perfect Man!
As to my remarks on certain abstruse reasonings resorted to by the orthodox, the Editor further says, that he needs them not, thereby avowedly relinquishing reason in support of the Trinity; but, happily, he asserts at the same time, that “ to us the Scriptures are sufficient.” I therefore entreat him to point out a single scriptural authority, treating of a compound God of three persons, and of a compound Messiah, one of these three persons, constituted of a two-fold nature, divine and human. The Editor alludes to the term “ antichrists,”
" found in the Epistle of John ; but I am glad that we most fortunately are furnished with the definition of this term by that inspired writer, which decides at once the question who are the real subjects of its application. 1 John iv. 3: “ Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist.”