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Church of England Tract Society,
Instituted in Bristol, 1811.
A PLAIN STATEMENT
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A PLAIN STATEMENT
Divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
T has been objected to the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, that it is incomprehensible, and contrary to our reason: on the former account, not the proper object of our faith, though it were true; and on the latter, not to be believed on any testimony whatever. Both these objections appear to me to be without foundation, though constantly insisted on by those who oppose this doctrine.
The thing proposed to our belief in this doctrine is this: "That the glorious person, whom the evan'gelist St. John styles the WORD, who was in the beginning with God, and was God, was made flesh, and dwelt among us; thus uniting in His ' own person, in an inexplicable manner, the Divine ' and human nature.'
"We believe this fact," I say, “as a doctrine "of revealed religion," that the Divine and human nature are united in the person of Christ; "but
as to the manner" in which they are united, “we "believe nothing because we know nothing about "it; the sacred writers not having explained, that
is, not having revealed, or made it known unto "us." We are, therefore, unjustly charged with making a thing incomprehensible the object of our
faith; for the proposition which we believe is perfectly clear and intelligible: it is a plain fact, received upon Divine testimony, which is the best evidence in the world.
And as this proposition is not unintelligible, so neither is it contrary to reason: for who can prove, that it is impossible in the nature of things, that the Divine and human nature should be united in the same person? Yet good proof should be given of this before it be asserted that the divinity of Christ is a thing contrary to reason; and such proof I am persuaded can never be given.
But here it may be said, that this doctrine being founded upon that of the Trinity, is absurd and irrational; since it is impossible that three should be one, and one three. To this it hath often been replied, that the objection is full of ambiguity, and is either true or false as the terms are explained. If it mean, that three cannot be one, and one three, precisely in the same sense, the assertion is true; but it does not affect those who believe there is but one God, though subsisting in three persons (as they are usually called). And if it be asserted, that what is three in one respect cannot be one in another, the objection is without foundation. The plain state of the case is this: the same scriptures which constantly assure us that there is but one Supreme Being, whom we call God, do repeatedly ascribe the peculiar attributes and acts of God to the Father, the Son or Word, and the Holy Ghost; and, lest we should thence imagine that there are three Gods, they likewise inform us that these three are one. There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are ONE. (1 John v. 7.) So the apostles were commanded to teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matt. xxviii. 19.) And since it has pleased the one only true God to speak of himself as if he were three distinct persons, although we may not conceive what there is in the Divine essence to render this the fittest representation of Himself, we are bound to believe it upon His testimony who cannot lie, and who alone knoweth His own glorious and incomprehensible manner of existence. We have abundant evidence in the scriptures that there are three who bear record in heaven, and that these three are one, and therefore we believe that it is so; though how it is so we know not, and therefore do not believe any thing about it.
Those who deny the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ bring as many passages of scripture to prove that he was a man, and inferior to the Father; but these passages are really nothing to the purpose, for they do but prove what we ourselves contend for. We believe that the Eternal WORD not only took our nature upon Him, but also that He sustained the office of Mediator on our account: that through His own voluntary condescension He was sent by the Father into the world; fulfilled all righteousness in our nature, and became obedient even unto death: that in consequence of this humiliation He was highly exalted, made Head over all things to the church, and constituted Judge of quick and dead: and that, finally, when the work for which He undertook the office of Mediator shall be fully accomplished, He will then lay aside the peculiar dignities of His office or mediatorial kingdom, and reign in the preceding dignity of His nature for ever and ever.
There is not, therefore, the least contradiction