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learned without it. I do not say that you go their lengths; but would seriously and affectionately entreat you to consider, whether you have not adopted their principle. Do you not make your ideas of the unity of God the standard by which to try the scripture doctrine of the trinity; forming, as you say, "the best ideas you can" of the latter subject, and holding nothing fast except the former. If the admission of Christ's proper deity, though taught as plainly, and much more frequently in the new testament than the other, cannot be understood so as, in your ideas, to be "fully consistent," it must be given up; and a "godlike form " of a man, as one of your writers expresses it, substituted in its place. But if, as you acknowledge, "the three divine persons spoken of in scripture be in some sense one God," why should you not suspect, or rather renounce, your own ideas of the unity, as if it must needs be confined to one person? And instead of “forming the best ideas you can" how this is, why should you not be content with believing that it is so, without pretending to pry into that above your comprehension. Nor ought it to be objected, that so abstruse a subject cannot be of any great importance. Can you communicate to me, or form to yourself any idea of self-existence, eternity, or infinity? Yet, if you do not believe them, you do not believe in God. Your own scheme also appears to be equally incomprehensible as ours; for you do not pretend to "explain how the Son and Spirit derive their nature from the Father." Here then you can admit of mystery, though, as to the question, "How the three divine persons spoken of in scripture are one God," you are for going about to "form the best idea that you can ;" and if none present themselves, conclude that proper deity belongs only to one of them-a singular method this of answering the question!
If you think that you believe "the three divine persons spoken of in scripture to be divine, and to be one God," do you not deceive yourself? You speak of "the Son and Spirit having a derived nature." If by derivation
you mean what is essential and eternal, as expressed by the term begotten, there is no dispute on this head. But if you mean that they were produced by the will and power of the Father, they are mere creatures; and however exalted, cannot be “divine." No Socinian, I apprehend, would deny that God dwelt in the man Christ Jesus, enabling him to perform all his mighty works. But he would tell you, and justly too, that this does not prove him to be any thing more than human. Dr. Watts, I am aware, spoke of the indwelling of the Father in such a way as that the Father and the human nature became one person;" and thus conceived that he maintained the proper deity of Christ. But whether he did or not, his conceit of the Father's assuming human nature, which the new testament invariably ascribes to the Son, or Word, or that eternal Life that was with the Father, leads on to the neglect, and by degrees to the disbelief, of this important truth. I scarcely remember ever to have heard a minister of your persuasion introduce the subject in the pulpit; and much less insist upon it with that earnestness and delight which is so frequently found in the writings of the new testament.
Have you not symbolized with the Socinians, till you have nearly, if not entirely, lost this great doctrine? Do you really consider Christ as any thing more than a Man extraordinarily inspired of God? If you do, how is it that you should feel yourself hurt when the contrary is maintained? I advanced nothing in the piece which first attracted your notice, but the divinity of Jesus Christ. I had not the remotest idea of opposing the Indwelling scheme. I thought nothing about it; but merely stated a doctrine which your writers, Watts and Doddridge, professed to maintain. Yet this excites your suspicions. Can it be a matter of doubt whereabouts you are? Excuse me if I enquire farther, Will your scheme allow you to worship Christ, I do not say "separately" but distinctly from the Father, as the martyr Stephen worshipped him, and prayed to him in his dying moments; and as all the
primitive christians worshipped him, calling upon his name? Finally: Can you in the full persuasion of this scheme trust in him for salvation, as one who is able to keep that which is committed to him? Does it not rather teach you to trust in the Father only, as dwelling in him?
These are serious things, and require to be answered in some other way than by exclaiming against the want of candour. Candour, sir, requires us to deal plainly and faithfully with each other. By the manner in which you, and writers on your side of the question, express yourselves, it would seem to be a matter of small account what we believe on these momentous subjects, provided we do but think well of one another. But surely that which affects the Object of worship, and the Foundation of hope, cannot be of trifling importance. Principles form the character in the sight of God: a handful of cockle may seem of but little consequence at seedtime, but it will appear different at harvest.
Your scheme requires you to symbolize with Socinians in denying our Lord Jesus Christ to be equal with the Father, and to explain away those scriptures which speak of him as such. Thus that glorious passage in Phil. ii. 5-7, is degraded and martyred: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. This is made to mean, that "his human soul, being in union with the Godhead," that is with the Father, "was invested with a godlike form and glory in all ages. Thus he oftentimes appeared to the patriarchs as the Angel of the Lord, and as God. This seems to be the form of God' which the apostle speaks of; nor did he think it 'any robbery,' or presumption so to do; that is, to appear and act as God. Yet he emptied himself,' or divested himself of this godlike form or appearance, this divine Shekinah; and coming in the flesh, he consented to be 'made in the likeness of other men;' nay, he took upon him the form of a servant,' instead of the form of God.'"*
*Palmer's Life of Watts, p. 86.
"The form of God' means the godlike form assumed by a man! A man, or human soul, thought it no presumption to appear and act as God!' A man consented to be made in the likeness of men. No, this was too gross; therefore the term 'other' is added to help out. A man was so humble and condescending, as to take upon him the form of a servant! And the existence of this man was necessary to the covenant of redemption; that is, till God had formed a creature out of nothing, he had no counsel, plan, or design, what should be done! And is this Dr. WATTS, the sweet singer of our Israel; the man who in his better days taught us thus to worship~
"Ere the blue heavens were stretched abroad,
From everlasting was the Word;
With God he was, the Word was God,
And must divinely be adored."
How are the mighty fallen!
By the several passages of scripture which you have introduced in support of the Indwelling scheme, it seems to me that you interpret that as being essential which is only economical, just as in other instances you make that to be economical which is essential. Referring to John xiv. 10, you say, "Our Lord appeals to his works to prove that he was in the Father, and the Father in him— the Father in me doeth the works." All that Christ said or did in the Father's name was indeed a proof of such a mutual indwelling, as that he who had seen the one had seen the other; but not of our Lord's deity consisting in the Father's dwelling in him. It might as well be alleged from this passage, that the deity of the Father consisted in that of the Son, who is said to be 'in him.' This and all other such passages, which ascribe the works of Christ to the power of the Father, are expressive of the economy of things, and not of the insufficiency of the Saviour.
I submit to your consideration the following brief statement of my views on this subject. The first measure in the execution of the great work of redemption was, that * Palmer's Life of Watts, p. 68.
he who was 'in the form of God,' and as such, 'equal with God, took upon him the form of a servant; and having taken that form, it was fitting in the account of Him who hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence, that he should act under it. Now it belongs to the character of a servant, that he receive his instructions from him whose servant he is: and thus did Christ. Though, considered as divine, he knew all things,' John xxi. 17; yet as a servant, and as being made in the likeness of men, he grew in knowledge, taught nothing, and knew nothing as it were, but what he had heard and learned of the Father. I speak to the world, says he, those things which 'I have heard of him'-Ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth which I have heard of God:' this did not Abraham-I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me.' John viii. 26, 40. xvii. 8.
Farther: It belongs to the character of a servant, that he act under the authority, and be directed by the will of him whose servant he is: and thus did Christ. Though as a Son, his throne was acknowledged by the Father himself to be for ever and ever, Heb. i. 8; yet as a servant he learned obedience. He was sent by the Father, and did every thing in obedience to his will. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do-I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who sent me--I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.' John v. 19, 30. vi. 38.
Finally: It belongs to the character of a servant, that he be supported in his work by him who employs him: and thus was Christ. As a divine person he was acknowledged to be most Mighty-the mighty God: Psal. xlv. 3. Isai. ix. 6: yet as a servant, and during his humiliation, he is commonly represented as doing what he did by the power of the Father. He ordinarily ascribes his miracles to this, and not to his own power. It was Father who was in him that did the works.' Thus he was 'God's servant whom he upheld, his elect in whom his soul delighteth.'