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take the attitude of fellow-pilgrims, journeying the same road; each of us short-sighted, and beset with pitfalls on either hand; and who ought therefore to endeavour to be helpful to each other, each standing so much in need of help; and not to jostle and revile and thrust each other aside-least of all to trample on a stumbling or fallen brother. To those who entertain the same feelings towards us we offer the following remarks; and we hope to have grace given us to restrain the outbreakings of our own evil heart, and to conduct this great question with the firm decision of men confident in the truth, tempered by the kindly deportment which becomes Christians and gentlemen.
We have met with several instances in which a vague, indefinite apprehension has existed in the minds of well-meaning persons against every thing that comes from us-a dread of some lurking scorpion-a fear of some insidious poison. They have been requested to read our Journal ; which some have refused ; while others have returned it after the perusal, saying, “We quite agree with every thing contained in this ; but we are quite sure there must be something behind which we do not perceive, or we should not have this or that good man raising an outcry.' These persons we do now assure, with the most solemn earnestness, that we never have practised any
such base delusion; that we endeavour to state all that we mean—nothing short of it, nothing more than it;--and that we always use our words in the plain ordinary sense, without any ambiguity or mental reservation whatsoever.
We have ever strenuously maintained, and strongly asserted, that our blessed Lord Jesus Christ was entirely free from sin. If any one supposes that we have implied the contrary, he has mistaken if
any one says we have asserted the contrary he slanders us.-We have further maintained, that the person of Christ, our sinless Lord, consists of two natures, now for ever inseparably united, the Divine and the human. That, touching his Divine nature, he was Son of God; touching his human nature, he was Son of man; but that, seeing in his own person they were both united, the naming of either does also imply the other title. That “Son of God” necessarily implies derivation of being immediately from God : in which sense Adam is called “the son of God” (Luke iii. 38); and we at once see the absurdity of calling Adam son of man, as there was no man before him. That * Son of Man" necessarily implies derivation of being mediately, through man, not immediately from God; and that there would be as much absurdity in calling Christ Son of Man, if he did not derive his human nature from Adam but had received it by a new act of creation, as there would be in calling Adam son of man at his creation. That the Son of God taking human nature, or flesh, necessarily implies that it was fallen
flesh, because there was none other to take : that it was necessarily our nature, because us he came to save : and that his triumph consisted in doing that which had never been done before, making fallen sinful flesh perfectly sinless and holy, being “ holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners,” while living amongst them, and liable to all those temptations which they were unable of themselves to resist. That this sinlessness was derived from, and preserved by, the Holy Ghost, which dwelt in him without measure (John iii. 34); not from any inherent or natural holiness of his flesh : and that, in consequence of his triumph, he is now exalted to bestow the Holy Spirit upon all his faithful followers, “ according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. iv. 7), “from whom, which is the Head, the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (16). And that he, himself having been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin, is able to succour all those that are tempted in like manner; and, having a fellow-feeling of our infirmities, will bestow grace to help in time of need (Heb. ii. 18; iv. 15, 16).
These points of doctrine we profess to have derived from the Scriptures, and have quoted texts in proof of them: our opponents put a different interpretation on the texts we quote : to this we object, by bringing forward all the principal Creeds, Confessions, and Fathers, in support of our interpretation of Scripture. Now it is no answer at all, to say that the Fathers and authors of the Creeds were fallible men, for this is granted on all hands; but they are brought forward to guard against still greater fallibility, to a suspicion of which the opinions of any single thelogian, divine, or reviewer are necessarily open : for the creeds were not drawn up by single men, but by whole generations of churchmen ; and the writings of the best of the Fathers represent not only the theology of their own age, but are stamped with the approval of all succeeding generations. That they are erroneous in many respects, is no sufficient reason for rejecting their authority altogether; and we only use them in the interpretation of Scripture as preservatives against the still greater errors into which every man who leans wholly to his own understanding will inevitably fall.
In a theological point of view, the writings of the Fathers are of yet greater importance. They were gifted with the finest natural parts, as well as the most learned men of their several ages; and this learning and talent were often concentrated on one point, by the necessity of meeting some particular heresy, first broached at that time. This gave to their writings an exactness, defined and limited by a manifested and palpable error which lay beyond the boundary of truth, and kept them to those deep waters, in which the beacon warning of heresy enabled them to steer their course, and avoid the shoals and rocks and quicksands on which many a goodly vessel had split. In this point of view, the manifestation of error was a great help to them in seeking after truth: and in the same point of view we maintain that an acquaintance with those early controversies in the church is necessary now, for handling all the deep points of doctrine; and that any one, who confesses himself to be ignorant
, of these things, does in so doing confess himself disqualified from handling these points, and would be wise in abstaining from them. We have done our best to deduce the doctrines we hold from Scripture only: we have endeavoured to try them by comparison with the orthodox creeds, and with the writings of the orthodox fathers : we have looked into most of the modern divines of note, and found them to hold the same doctrine, whenever an occasion for expressing it occurred : and have, therefore, great confidence that our doctrines are true. Whether we bave always expressed our meaning so clearly as to prevent its being mistaken, or whether we may not sometimes have expressed the opposite of an error so strongly as to recoil beyond that middle path, between opposite errors, where the truth lies, we know not, for we are not aware of any such passage in our writings; but if there be, it is a sin of ignorance, which God we know will pardon, and are therefore little solicitous about the censure of man. But, setting ourselves out of the question, and pointing to the Creeds, the Fathers, and our fathers—to all the best divines of the Church of England, even coming down to Goode and Scott-we do hope that many, who have hitherto been misled by living authority, will be emancipated from their bondage by greater authority, and, thinking for themselves, weigh seriously the arguments we adduce. We shall use our utmost endeavour to conduct the controversy as a grave theological question, the exceeding importance of which ought to extinguish all personal feeling : and we would endeavour to regard our opponents as Christians, and as brethren, although in error; seeking therefore in love to reclaim them, and not contending for any ostentatious triumph, which may flatter and gratify our naturally evil hearts.
We began our discussion of this great question with the words of the Athanasian Creed, “That our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man: God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of his mother, born in the world.” This creed every member of the Church of England is required to repeat thirteen times in each year; and it is declared in the villth Article, that it, with the two other creeds, “ought thoroughly to be received and
believed ; for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scriptures." In the name of the Church of England, we call upon every one who professes himself a member, thoroughly to receive and believe that Christ, as man, was “ of the substance of his mother, born in the world.” To those who reject this appeal, and lightly esteem all creeds, we proceed to shew that the doctrine “ may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scriptures.” The point of difference between us and our opponents is this : We maintain that our Lord, “ touching his manhood," was “ of the substance of his inother;" therefore, as his mother's substance was certainly fallen, that he took the nature of fallen man. Our opponents say, that he took a nature similar to that of Adam before he fell; that his body was a fresh act of creation, and not derived from bis mother's substance.
The verbal, or nominal, difference lies in our asserting, and their denying, that the human nature of our Lord was the same with our nature, the nature of fallen man. But the real difference lies deeper than this : for our opponents assign properties to the human nature of Christ which Adam certainly had not even before he fell, and which we assert no created being ever had ; because these properties suppose, not merely the reconcilement of antagonists, which we can conceive, and which is possible, but a mixture of negations, the mere presence of one of which does ipso facto forbid the presence of the other—a supposition which is inconceivable to any one who rightly understands the terms. Mistake is sure to arise, if we do not constantly bear in mind that in the one person of Christ two natures were united; which, as natures, are for ever to be kept perfectly distinct from each other, not merely because it is so asserted, but because any intermingling of them at once destroys every correct idea we have of either nature. The person of Christ is
one altogether ; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of
Of God in the abstract we know nothing, literally nothing : we know him only by his acts; which, though they lead us to infer an agent, give us no direct or positive information concerning him. Anterior to revelation, we can do nothing more towards forming an idea of God than, to take some known perfection in man, and make it superlative to describe God; or to take some imperfection or limitation in man, and couple it with a negation in applying it to God: as, Most-High, All-mighty, Ever-lasting ; In-finite, Immortal, Un-changeable. Such being the plain fact, it is evident that those who will take their ideas of God from reason alone, have no grounds for inferring a personal God, still less an incarnation. But God has given us a revelation in his word, and in the WORD, his Son; and this revelation we may not
narrow or circumscribe by the deductions of our unassisted reason, which we have just shewn could teach us nothing concerning the personal God. By his word, God has revealed himself as the source of all existence, impersonated in three existences; and has further revealed, that in man's nature, whom be created for the express end of becoming his image or representation, would he most fully manifest himself. Christ, accordingly, came in the perfection of manhood; indwelt by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ; the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person; and able to say, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father,” for"in him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Christ is now both subject and object, both cause and effect, both Creator and creature, in his one person ; and manhood is advanced to the high dignity of becoming the full manifestation of Godhead to the whole creation ; a dignity in which the church shall ultimately partake, in making known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God. But from this consideration we are led into a still deeper mysterynamely, oneness in distinction ;-for as in the church the Holy Spirit is said to be grieved by their transgressions, and they to become temples of God by the indwelling Spirit; so in the person of Christ, consisting of two distinct natures, whatever He did, he did in both natures—as we shall shew by-and-by, in the words of Sibbes and Barrow. This is the mystery of mysteries, God manifest in the flesh ;-a mystery so great, that the words by which it is expressed involve a paradox : “ No man hath ascended up into heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in heaven” (John iij. 13): “ Before Abraham was, I am” (viii. 58). Here we might say, with Bishop Andrews, “ I hold ever best, to let every thing rest upon his own base, or bottom: natural, upon reason; supernatural, upon faith. And this is supernatural, in which tota ratio facti est in potentia facientis,'the power of the Doer is the reason of the thing done. God is the Doer ; cujus dicere, est facere, “to whom it is as easy to do it as to say it.'
If this view were rightly reflected on, it would end all dispute: for as the manifestation is ultimately to be made in the members of Christ, like as in him the Head; as our vile bodies are to be made like his glorious body, by a change in the identical fallen body, and not by the creation of a new one; so the same change must have taken place in his own body, the Head; both to constitute it of the same nature with our bodies, the members, and to be an assurance to us that we shall attain to the same glorious state,“ like to his glorious body” (Phil. iii. 21).
But since our opponents say that our Lord took a better human nature than ours-such as, they say, Adam had before he fell