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among chriftians, true chriftianity cannot flourish: the entirely banishing of it from the minds of chriftians, would be rendering a fignal fervice to the gofpel. And, my chriftian brethren, thoroughly perfuaded I am, and therefore I think myself in duty bound, openly and publicly, to declare my own conviction, that the New Teftament, rightly understood, does not afford any real foundation, for either an Athanafian, Arian, or any notion, of a trinity at all. I am, for my own part, entirely fatisfied, that the whole notion of a trinity of divine perfons, or three perfons in the godhead, equal, or unequal, is without real ground in fcripture: nor can I perceive how fuch a fentiment can poffibly be reconciled to that great, important, fundamental principle of religion, natural, and revealed, the unity and fimplicity of the divine nature. So difficult was it to fix upon any fatisfactory scheme with regard to the trinity, after the rife of the controverfy, that befides all the diverfity of private fentiments, they drew up one creed after another, in various public councils and determined the affair at laft by a majority of votes at Nice in Bithynia, a way not less abfurd, than deciding what shall be true or falfe, by the throw of a die. But when, or how, the trinity doctrine fprung up and gained an establishment among chriftians, is not very material. Whereever it is to be found, it merits no regard, if it be not contained in the New Teftament: and whe

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ther it be contained there, every one ought to examine and judge for himself.

Happy would it have been for the chriftian world, if, inftead of entering into curious unprofitable difquifitions concerning our Saviour's metaphyfical nature, forming intricate schemes and fyftems relating to his effence, origination, commencement of existence, incarnation, and introducing a groundlefs, confounding notion of a trinity of divine perfons, coequal, or subordinate; happy, I say, if, instead of this, the profeffors of christianity had contented themselves with, and properly attended to, the plain evangelical description of our bleffed Saviour's perfon and character, fuitably regarded his moft divine and amiable moral qualities, the nature and defign of the great office affigned him by the Father of the universe, the ultimate intention and important end of his coming into the world, the fignal and illuftrious evidences of his heavenly miffion and divine authority, agreeably to the description here given by St. Peter- A man approved of God, &c.

I would take occafion, from this declaration of St. Peter, to reprefent and inculcate what I apprehend to be the fcripture doctrine concerning the perfon and character of our bleffed Saviour. It may be useful, in this difquifition, to have a view to three ftates, and confider what the fcripture fuggefts as to a pre-existent ftate, what is faid concerning

concerning our Saviour during his abode on earth, and what with reference to a fubfequent ftate of glory and exaltation. A due, impartial confideration of these, may lead us to the true fcripture idea of Chrift. Various have been the opinions of chriftians upon this head: many fierce and angry controverfies have arisen from those different judgments, whereby the minds of men have been greatly perplexed, and the world fometimes thrown into confusion: all which might have been prevented; if the plain representation of fcripture had been only attended to, without presuming to give licence to fancy and imagination, indulging abftrufe and curious fpeculations, and infolently impofing their particular fentiments and explications upon others.

There have been two principal fentiments, or opinions relating to the perfon of the Son of God, before his miffion into our world, and taking upon him the great character of mediator. Some represent him as a being, ineffably emaning from, or fubfifting in the effence of the Diety, coeternal and confubftantial with him: others, as a being, after an inconceivable manner, produced by the will and power of God, little inferior to the great fupreme though produced, in time, and of a different fubftance: both, however, agreeing to call him a fecond person in the divine nature. Concerning the incarnation of this Son of God, there have been alfo two principal opinions, fome affirming.

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firming, that he affumed the whole, complete human nature, body and foul, by a myfterious, inexplicable union: others, that he took a body only and fupplied the place of Mind, faying, he took flesh only as a covering for his Deity: both fuppofing him, by conjunction with human flesh, to be fo debilitated, weakened, and hindered in the exertion of his glorious original powers and faculties, as to be under the continual direction and guidance of the holy fpirit, during his ministry upon

earth.

But none of these fentiments, I am fully perfuaded, have a real foundation in the New Teftament and they are fentiments fo difagreeable, fo perplexing, fo difficult to underftand, define and place in a good light, they have occafioned fuch contention and animofity among chriftians, given fuch handle to the enemies of revelation, fo greatly increafed the difficulty of defending chriftianity, and taken off men's attention from the great end of the gospel, rational piety, found morals, and a good life; that one would not admit them without neceffity. But they are indeed, as it appears to me, imaginary, and must be given up, if we mean to be rational, fcriptural christians. True, genuine, unfophifticated chriftianity is fo excellent in itself, fo happy in its tendency, and was attended with fuch glorious, divine atteftations, that it could not be gainfayed. A greater fervice, therefore, cannot be rendered to the gofpel and mankind, than. refcuing

refcuing chriftianity from all human additions and adulterations.

As the great difficulty and embarrassment upon this fubject has been occafioned by a fuppofed pre-existence of the Son of God, it may be proper, before I proceed to the more direct confideration of the account here given by St. Peter of our bleffed Saviour's perfon and character, to fuggeft what I apprehend requifite, with reference to the existence and ftate of Chrift, previous to his coming into the world.

Now, with refpect to this pre-exiftent ftate (fuppofing there were in scripture sufficient ground to conclude it fact) I do not perceive it to be of any moment that we should form any judgment concerning it it would be a matter only of curious fpeculation: it would be of no avail: it is in no degree requifite towards producing any one inftance of rational regard to our great and glorious Saviour. All the difputes relating to what our Saviour was before his being fent into this world, to say the leaft, are impertinent and foreign, having no connection with real christianity, nor being of any confequence as to true chriftian faith and practice. However, as this is a matter of pure revelation, and nothing can be known concerning it but from fcripture, it is extremely wrong to indulge fancy and conjectural fpeculation, and especially to lay ftrefs upon a deter

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