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that, which unavoidably leads to the conclusion that he has two natures; then, either it is to be believed, or the authority of the writers is to be cast off. In rejecting any doctrine, which the language of Scripture plainly teaches, common sense must cast off the divine authority of the Bible. To receive the Bible as a revelation from God, and yet to decide, a priori, what the Scriptures can, and what they cannot contain, and to make their language bend, until it conform with this decision, cannot surely be a proper part, for a sincere lover of truth and sober investigation. In saying then, that the doctrine which teaches that Christ has two natures, is “repugnant to common sense,” I presume you must mean, that the rules of exegesis, applied by common sense, lead unavoidably to the conclusion that Christ has but one nature. If this be your meaning, what I have to say in reply, will be contained in my next letter. In regard to the impossibility that Christ should possess two natures, and the absurdity of such a supposition, I have not much to say. If the Scriptures are the word of God, and do contain the doctrine in question, it is neither impossible, nor absurd. Most certainly, if it be a fact that Christ possesses two natures, it is a fact with which natural religion has no concern; at least, of which it has no knowledge. It can therefore decide neither for, nor against it. It is purely a doctrine of Revelation ; and to Scripture only can we look for evidences of it. If the doctrine be palpably absurd, and contradictory to reason, and yet it is found in the Bible; then reject the claims of the Bible to inspiration and truth. But if the laws of interpretation do not permit us to avoid the conclusion, that it is found there; we cannot, with any consistency, admit that the Scriptures are of divine authority, and yet reject the doctrine. How shall any man decide, a priori, that the doctrine cannot be true? Can we limit the omniscient and omnipotent God, by saying that the Son cannot be so united with human nature, so “become flesh and dwell among us,” that we recognize and distinguish, in this complex being, but one person, and therefore speak of but one 7 If you ask me how such a union can be effected, between natures so infinitely diverse as the divine and human ; I answer,

{as in the case of the distinction in the Godhead,) I do not know how this is done ; I do not undertake to define wherein that union consists, nor how it is effected. God cannot divest himself of his essential perfections, i.e. he is immutably perfect; nor could the human nature of Christ have continued to be human nature, if it had ceased to be subject to the infirmities, and sorrows, and affections of this mature, while he dwelt among men. In whatever way, then, the union of the two natures was effected, it neither destroyed, nor essentially changed either the divine or human nature. Hence, at one time, Christ is represented as the Creator of the Universe; and at another, as a man of sorrows, and of imperfect knowledge. (John i. 1–18. Heb. i. 10–12. Luke xxii. 44, 45. ii. 52.) If both of these accounts are true, he must, as it seems to me, be God omniscient and omnipotent; and still a feeble man and of imperfect knowledge. It is indeed impossible to reconcile these two things, without the supposition of two natures. The simple question then is; Can they be joined or united, so that in speaking of them, we may say the person is God, or man; or we may call him by one single name, and by this understand, as designated, either or both of these natures' On this subject, the religion of nature says nothing. Reason has nothing to say ; for surely no finite being is competent to decide, that the junction of the two natures is impossible or absurd. One person, in the sense in which each of us is one, Christ could not be. If you make God the soul, and Jesus of Nazareth the body of Christ; then you take away his human nature, and deny the imperfection of his knowledge. But may not God have been, in a manner altogether peculiar and mysterious, united to Jesus, without displaying at once his whole power in him, or necessarily rendering him supremely perfect? In the act of creation, God does not put forth all his power; nor in preservation; nor in sanctification; nor does he bring all his knowledge into action, when he inspires prophets and apostles. Was it necessary that he should exert it all, when in conjunction with the human nature of Christ? In governing the world from day to day, God does not surely exhaust his omnipotence, or 5

his wisdom. He employs only so much, as is necessary to accomplish the design which he has in view. In his union with Jesus of Nazareth, the divine Logos could not, of

course, be necessitated at once to put forth all his energy,

or exhibit all his knowledge and wisdom. Just so much of it,”

and no more, was manifested, as was requisite to constitute the character of an all sufficient, incarnate Mediator and Redeemer. When necessary, power and authority infinitely above human were displayed; when otherwise, the human nature sympathized and suffered, like that of other men. a Is this impossible for God? Is there any thing in such a doctrine, which, if found in the Bible, would afford an adequate reason for rejecting its claims to inspiration ? For my own part, I cannot see the impossibility, or the absurdity of such a thing. How shall we limit the Deity, as to the ways in which he is to reveal himself to his creatures? Can we not find mystery within ourselves, which is as inexplicable, as anything in the doctrine before us? We do not appropriate the affections of our minds, to our bodies; nor those of our bodies, to our minds. Each class of affections is separate and distinct. Yet we refer either, to

the whole man. Abraham was mortal ; Abraham was im

mortal; are both equally true. He had a mortal and an

immortal part; yet both made but one person. How is it

a greater mystery, if I say, Christ was God; and Christ was man. He had a nature human and divine, . One person indeed, in the sense in which Abraham was, he is not. Nor is there any created object, to which the union of Godhead with humanity can be compared. But shall we deny the possibility of it, on this account 2 Orshall we tax with absurdity, that which it is utterly beyond our reach to scan 7 I shrink from such an undertaking, and place myself in the attitude of listening to what the voice of Revelation may dictate, in regard to this. It becomes us here to do so; to prostrate ourselves before the Father of Lights, and say, Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear. Lord, what wilt thou have us to believe You may indeed find fault with us, that we speak of three persons in the Godhead, where there is but one nature ; and yet of but one person in Christ, where there are

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two natures. ... I admit that it is an apparent inconsistency in the use of language; and cannot but wish, that it had not, originally, been adopted. Still, it is capable of seme explanation. In the first case, person simply desiguates the idea, that there is some real distinction in the Godhead, in opposition to the opiuien that it is merely nominal. In the second, it designates Christ as he appears to us in the New Testament, clothed with a human body, and yet acting, (as we suppose,) not only as possessing the attributes of a mail, but as also possessing divine power. We see the attributes of human nature, in such intimate conjunction with , those of the divine, that we cannot separate the agents; at least, we know not where to draw the line of separation, because we do not know the manner in which the union is effected, or continued. We speak therefore . of one person—i.e. one agent. And when we say that the two natures of Christ are united in one person, we mean to say that Divinity and humanity are brought into such a connexion in this case, that we cannot separate them, so as to make two entirely distinct and separate agents. The present generation of Trinitarians, however, do not feel responsible for the introduction of such technical terms, in senses so diverse from the common ideas attached to them. They merely take them as they find them. For my own part, I have no attachment to them ; I think them injudiciously chosen, and heartily wish they were by eneral consent entirely exploded. They serve, perhaps, in most cases, principally to keep up the form of words without definite ideas; and I fear, they have been the occasion of many disputes in the Church. The things, which are aimed at by these terms, I would strenuously retain ; because I believe in the divine origin and authority of the Bible, and that its language, fairly interpreted, does inculcate these things. And candor, on your part, will certainly admit, that things only are worth any dispute. Logomachy is too trifling for a lover of truth.

LETTER III,

Reverend and Dear Sir,

My great object, hitherto, has been to show, that the real question at issue between us, in regard to a distinction in the Godhead and the divinity of the Saviour, cannot be decided, independently of the Scriptures. There is no such absurdity or inconsistency in either of these doctrines, as will justify us in rejecting them without investigation. The question whether they are true or not, belongs entirely and purely to Revelation. If you admit this; then the simple question between us is, what does. Revelation teach 7 We are agreed that the Bible is the word of God; that whatever “Christ taught, either during his personal ministry, or by his inspired apostles, is of divine authority.” We are agreed as to principles of interpretation, in most things that are of importance. We both concede, that the principles by which all books are to be interpreted, are those which apply to the interpretation of the Bible; for the very plain reason which you have given, that when God condescends to speak and write, for men, it is according to the established-rules of human language.— What better than an enigma would the Scriptures be, if such were not the fact An inspired interpreter would be as necessary to explain, as an inspired prophet or apostle was to compose, the books of Scripture.

From this great and fundamental principle of the Scriptural writings, viz. that they are composed agreeably to the common laws of human language, it results, that the grammatical analysis of the words of any passage; i.e. an investigation of their usual and general.meaning, of their syntactical connexion, of their idiom, and of their relation to the context, must be the essential process, in determining the sense of any text or part of Scripture. On this. fundamental process, depends the interpretation of all the classics, and of all other books. In conformity to this process, rules of interpretation are prescribed, which cannot be violated, without at once , lunging into the dark and boundless field of conjectural exegesis, I may obtain aid

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