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Verse 31. «He that cometh from above is above all; he that is from the earth is from the earth, and speaketh from the earth. He who cometh from heaven is above all, and testifieth what he had seen and heard."
John, vi. 33. “ For the bread of God is that (or he, received version) which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world."
John, vi 35. “ I am the bread of life,"
John, vi. 38. “ I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him who sent me."
« Verse 41, 42. “ The Jews then murmured at hiin, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven : and said, is not this Jesus the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how then doth he say, I came down from heaven ?"
John, vi. 50, 51. “ This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat of it, and not die: I am the living bread which came down from heaven.”
Verse 62. “ If then ye should perceive the Son of man going up where he was before."
To these we are to add John, xvi. 28. “ I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father"_and
John, xvii. 5. “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thyself, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
“ These,” says Dr. Carpenter, “ are all the passages in which our Lord is spoken of, as having come down from heaven: and it only remains to be considered, whether they are inconsistent with the opinion that he was a man, in the usual signification of the term, having no actual existence before his human birth."
That such an opinion should for a moment be entertained, after all these texts, particularly the two last, will probably seem to most readers very extraordinary. Dr. Carpenter's reasoning to support it may, perhaps, seem equally so.
“On all these passages, the advocates for the pre-existence," Dr. Carpenter observes, 1 " say, their phraseology means, that he, jesus, existed before his human birth in a state or place called heaven; and that he came down from heaven when he became united with a human frame, so as in some sense to become a Man. This hypothesis assigns,” says the Doctor, “an apparently literal meaning to all these passages, except the first clause of John, iii. 13, No man hath gone up into heaven but he who came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven;' which it must be supposed has some figurative meaning, and therefore loses much of its value. But the radical defect of this interpretation is, that it is founded upon a supposition which is not proved, and, I venture to say, cannot be proved from any part of the Scriptures, that Jesus was in heaven before his human birth."— Vide Dr. Carpenter's Unitarianism, p. 250 to 260.
Here again we have this all-powerful argument, the Petitio Principii. These passages, if literally interpreted, affirm the pre-existence, but they must not be so interpreted; for (observe the reason,) “ the pre-existence is not proved from any part of the Scriptures." Undoubtedly it is not, and cannot, if no passages, however clearly and literally they express it, as these quoted are confessed to do, will be admitted as a a proof. But why should they not be admitted ? because Dr. Carpenter ventures to say it cannot be proved. This assertion must be irrefutable.
Another insuperable objection is, that this doctrine (as Dr. Carpenter assumes) is not consistent with the plain and obvious “ declarations of our Lord, the general tenor of the Gospel, and the express declarations of the apostles: all of which justify the belief, that as to nature, Jesus was, in a strict and proper sense, a human being, in all respects like unto his brethren." Now, in the passages already quoted, and many others, we have plain and obvious declarations of our Lord, and of the apostles ; and elsewhere inferences of the apostles, which clearly and plainly affirm, that Christ had originally existed before his human birth, had come down from heaven into the
1 Dr. Carpenter on Unitarianism, page 255.
world, and was to return again from the world into the heaven from whence he came. But all these are to go for nothing, because Dr. Carpenter affirms “ the doctrine cannot be proved,” and further, that “it is contrary to the general tenor of Scripture." He says in another place, “that he is the more particular in considering the phraseology of these passages, because, he apprehends that it is what furnishes, among those at least who are satisfied with what is called the plain and obvious sense of Scripture, the chief support of the doctrine of pre-existence.”
Here then, what is called the plain and obvious sense of Scripture says one thing: just before it was affirmed, the plain and obvious declarations of our Lord and his apostles say the direct contrary. This latter must, I suppose, be the sense which is really plain and obvious, in opposition to what is falsely called so. Now to the pas. sages quoted above, what is the sense Dr. Carpenter ascribes? why it is, that they must be interpreted not literally, “ that Christ was, once before his human birth, in a place or state called heaven, which, whatever be its modifications,” says the Doctor, may be called their literal meaning. They must not be thus interpreted, but only figuratively, as implying no more than that his doctrine and mission originated in the immediate interposition of God.”'
Really there are, in this whole train of assertions, so many palpable contradictions and arbitrary assumptions, the Petitio Principii reigns so conspicuously throughout, and the authority of the critic is made to set aside so completely the authority of the word of God, that it seems unnecessary to discuss minutely the numerous and strange inconsistencies and errors into which this system leads. “To go into heaven," is sometimes “to understand the counsels of God:” sometimes “one of two suppositions is to be adopted, either that Jesus was carried up from this earth into a place called heaven, (in the same manner as St. Paul, (2 Cor. xii. 14,) was really, or in imagination, taken up to the third heaven, to paradise ;)' or that Christ was in heaven while in his mountainous abode in the desert, and came down from heaven when he came forth from God, to discharge the great work his Father, who is in heaven, had given him to do,"
But here the Doctor finds, that what is called the literal meaning is sometimes per. plexing to his scheme; he therefore adds, “ If it be objected that the expressions employed express local motion, I reply, that is decidedly probable, that the spot WHERE JESUS WAS WITH GOD, WAS ONE OF THOSE VERY HIGH ROCKY ELEVATIONS WITH WHICH THE DESERT ABOUNDS." Here then is the great discovery, here is enough to explain the LOCAL MOTION : Going up a high rocky elevation, is going up into heuven ; is going out of the world. Coming down again from the same rocky elevation, is coming down from heaven, is coming into the world! This is Unitarian criticism : this is the “ plain and obvious sense of Scripture," in opposition to that which is only falsely so called; this is a “figurative interpretation,” which alone can be true.
Further, what is perhaps the most melancholy circumstance in the entire to a serious mind is, that the critic does not hesitate to ascribe to our divine Lord himself, such a use of language as leads to all this confusion and perplexity, Lest the supposed rocky elevation should not sufficiently do away every difficulty, the critic adds: & that if Jesus considered himself as in heaven, at the time he was with God in the desert, even though he referred only to a state, he would naturally employ, when speaking of that state, expressions which were commonly used in cunnexion with the word heaven," That is, when he meant to refer to a state, he would use expressions which would lead his hearers to understand not a state, but a place; or, in other words, utterly perplex and mislead them. May it be hoped the Doctor will, on consideration, retract this rash assertion.
1 Carpenter on Unitarianism, p. 260.
4 Ibid. p, 259,
2 Ibid. p. 255.
3 Ibid, p. 257 5 Ibid. p. 299,
NOTE X. Page 52. The prophecies here quoted to prove the Divinity of Christ, are such as in general
are admitted to apply to him exclusively. Doctor Carpenter, in the Appendix to his work on Unitarianism, No. II. p. 361, has endeavoured to obscure the evidence to the divinity of the Messiah arising from them. For a refutation of his objections, I refer the student to the Letters of Dr. Hale on the Trinity, Letter III. p. 101 to 110, also Letters V. and VI, in Vol. I. Vide also Bishop Chandler's Defence of Christianity, in proof of the exclusive appli. cation of these prophecies to the Messiah. Vide also Dr. Hale's Dissertations on the Principal Prophecies representing the Divine and Human Character of Christ, second edition, London, 1808; particularly the Tenth Dissertation on the Prophecy of Micah, v. 2 to 4, and the Seventh on Psalm ii., and the Eighth on Psalm cx., and the Ninth on Psalm xlv. Vide also Dr. Magee's elaborate Dissertation on the Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah, Illustrations, No. xliii. Vol. II.
NOTE XI. PAGE 54.
As to this remarkable passage, consult Whitby's excellent Comment; also Dr. Hale's Dissertations on the Prophecies, Dissertation III. on Heb. x. 1, 2.
NOTE XII. PAGE 58. " It has been admitted that the Apostle invoked Christ.” Doctor Carpenter, p. 212, observes in this passage, “ It appears to me clear, that the apostle addressed his request to Christ. The question is, (as before in the case of Stephen,) whether this affords a sufficient precedent for prayers to him, in opposition to his own precepts and example, and the precepts of the Old Testament?"
The reader may judge how erroneously it is supposed that any such opposition exists, by referring to p. 59, 60, supra. In truth, here is another instance of the Petitio Principië. But let us consider why this is not a precedent for prayer to Christ : “ Plainly it is not, (says Dr. Carpenter,) for the following reasons taken altogether :
First, the ninth verse implies what we know was occasionally the fact, that our Lord was sensibly present with Paul, when Paul spoke to him.” On this I observe, it seems plain to me, this fact is here mistaken; and even if it were not, the inference from it is altogether unfounded, vide supra, p. 58. "Secondly, our Lord had received from the Father the promise of the Spirit, and imparted it to his disciples ; if, therefore, he had thought right, he would certainly have miraculously cured the apostle.” This second reason I certainly do not understand. The fact it alleges is very true and very important, supplying an excellent reason why the apostle should address his prayer to Christ, and why any, and every human being, who wished to obtain the aid of Christ to supply his spiritual wants, should implore it. For if Christ, exalted to heaven, could hear and grant St. Paul's prayer, he might hear and grant that of any other human being; and until some diminution in Christ's power and will to hear and grant prayer is proved—which I venture to say Dr. Carpenter has not proved, and cannot prove—the same reason exists still, why every Christian, in every age and clime, should also pray to Christ for the supply of every spiritual want. But how Dr. Carpenter, from the fact stated above, draws an argument against prayer to Christ, I really do not see. His third reason, perhaps, may be more clear. - Thirdly, the reply of our Lord appears obviously to refer to the miraculous power by which the preachings of the apostles were rendered effectual ; and as it was of the utmost importance that the Gospel should be known to have a divine origin, the insufficiency of the mere human means and instruments was requisite, in order to
show that it was the power of God, and not the wisdom of man, which caused its extensive and rapid diffusion."
Here also I am at a loss to see the application of this reason. The fact it states is undoubtedly true. It is, in different words, the very cause our Lord assigned to the apostle, for not granting his urgent prayer; a prayer which, but for this cause, would have appeared as rational and expedient, as it was evidently pious and sincere. And with that cause this truly zealous, and at the same time truly humble servant of his Lord was completely satisfied; he bore with perfect resignation his own apparent defects and disqualifications for effecting the great objects of his apostolic labours, when assured that under his divine Master's all-wise providence, his own deficiencies would redound to the glory of the Gospel. This should teach every Christian, that however convinced in his own judgment of the importance of the objects of his prayer, he should, if he found his prayers for these objects not granted, acquiesce in the decisions of divine wisdom and goodness, assured that all things would ultimately “work together for good to those that love God.” And the condescension of our Lord, in explaining the reasons of the divine conduct, and thus exemplifying this important principle, should surely encourage the pious Christian, “in every thing to make known his requests to his God,” assured of the fulfilment of his gracious promise, in his last command to his apostles, prescribing the rite of admission into his church: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world :” and again, “ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them :"and the encouraging assurance, “ Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in in my name, I will do it.”
These are to me proofs of the duty and happiness of prayer to Christ, which Dr. Carpenter's three reasons, whether separate or together, cannot shake. And the instance of the apostle's prayer is an illustrious example of the spirit in which such prayer should be offered, and the humble submission with which the divine goodness and wisdom should be relied on, in every object of our prayers. In truth, all Dr. Carpenter's reasoning proceeds on the strange supposition, that because miracles have ceased, our Saviour has little further concern in the government of his church, or the salvation of his followers; though “he ever liveth to make intercession for us,” and, by the gracious promises recited above, has assured all his faithful followers of his never-ceasing care and protection.
NOTE XIII. Page 60.
“ Call upon thy Name." I am aware that the Unitarians distort this, and similar expressions, as meaning “those upon whom thy name is called,” or “who are called by thy name,” and thus evade their force, as expressing that Christians worshipped Christ. But these distortions are really so contrary to the idiom of the original Greek, that no sound scholar would ever attempt to maintain them, except under the bias of the strongest prejudice for a particular system. And sometimes they are so plainly contrary to the meaning of the context, as to make it absolutely contradictory or unintelligible. Thus in the passage from Rom. x. 12, 13. Here the object of the apostle is to prove, that faith in Jesus, felt in the heart and confessed by the lips, is essential to salvation, and that it will be sufficient for the salvation of all, both Jew and Greek. “ For the same Lord over all, (clearly meaning the Lord Christ,) is rich unto all that call upon him : for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” verse 12, závras vous iguelongkwaves, diev. verse 13, gas và 3; lv kazakýơnữai và đau koe ou Gues
Is not the sense here as plain as possible, not merely from the grammatical construction of the words, but from the evident tenor of the passage, which surely means, not that every one shall be saved who is called by the name of Christ, or counted among his worshippers, every nominal and professing Christian, for that were an incredible absurdity ; but they that believe in their heart, and confess with their mouth, VOL. III.
that God hath raised Christ,” and who thus convinced of his divine authority, call upon his name: to such sincere worshippers of every nation, Christ will be found rich. Thus the sense of the expression in the original is fixed in this passage, and the same words are used in the other passages quoted, and plainly in the same sense. This gloss of the Unitarians, therefore, must be abandoned.
NOTES TO DISCOURSE III.
NOTE XIV; PAGE 63.
Before I proceed with the notes to this discourse, it is necessary to declare, (which I do with perfect good faith,) that these discourses, and the notes to the first, were printed, before I read Mr. Wardlaw's Discourses on the principal points of the Socinian Controversy ; which, with his answer to Mr. Yates, I purchased within these few days, to assist me in forming these notes.
I make this declaration, not only in justice to myself, but to the cause we both are anxious to support. On reading Mr. Wardlaw's work, I was indeed most highly gratified, by finding the singular coincidence between the arguments contained in the third and fourth of my discourses, and those which occur in Mr. Wardlaw's; par. ticularly in the second discourse, fifth General Consideration, « On the high claims of Jesus on the love and obedience of his followers :” Third Discourse, Sect. II. « The divine attributes ascribed to Christ:" Discourse IV. « The divine works ascribed to him." In this last, particularly, the principle advanced so accurately agrees with that maintained in the third of these discourses, and the facts adduced to prove and exemplify it are so coincident, that I cannot but feel my hopes increased by the concurrence of Mr. Wardlaw's judgment, that the principle he has sanctioned will appear just and natural, the illustrations apposite, and the reasoning conclusive, to every fair and candid mind. To be thus supported in my views on this subject, by such a writer as Mr. Wardlaw, certainly is most satisfactory. I shall now freely avail myself of such additional illustrations from his works, as may be consistent with the limited object of these discourses.
In Discourse IV. from p. 104 to 111, Mr. Wardlaw gives an excellent comment on John i. I to 3, which most clearly exposes the various unnatural glosses put upon this passage by the Unitarians. He also confirms the proof that the Scriptures ascribe the creation to our Lord Christ. He refers to Heb. i. 10, « Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thine hands," &c. “ Now, (he observes) compare with this, verse 8, and it is certain this is spoken of him who is there addressed, 1 Unto the Son he saith, thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever : a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.' Now, if this be the case, (says Mr. Wardlaw,) the point is settled : here we have creation ascribed to the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, in the most precise terms, even the creation of the heavens and the earth themselves.” Vide Wardlaw's Discourses, p. 111, 112.
Another observation of Mr. Wardlaw seems of considerable importance, in answer to the objection, that the power exercised by our Lord is represented as given to him, as not original and inherent, but imparted and delegated ; which it is alleged is inconsistent with the true Godhead of Christ. To this Mr. Wardlaw replies' “ That there is no incongruity in this idea of delegated authority and dominion, when
Jesus is viewed as a divine mediator. Those who maintain this view of his person - and character, acknowledge such delegation as an essential article of their scheme; and, allowing him to be represented in the Scriptures, as voluntarily assuming the
1 Wardlaw's Discourses, p. 116 to 119,