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. It is really a laughable circumstance to contemplate the droll dilemma, in which these three sects of Platonizing Christians have plunged me; for, by omitting to confine their ideas of a man to a rational being, generated by a man on the body of a woman, and by extending it to the supposed offspring of a virgin alone, carnally unconnected with a man, they have imposed on me the difficult task of refuting their respective senseless systems of the Godhead manhood, the Demi-godhead manhood, and the sole virginsprung manhood, of Jesus Christ, so as not to offend against the strictest rules of the most delicate propriety and chastity. However, I hope, I have succeeded in my endeavors to expose the absurdity of them by a choice of expressions, which cannot give umbrage to the most exemplary moralist, a truly Christian character, which I am ambitious of acquiring, and of recommending to the practice of my fellow Christians, in words from the press in public, and not less so in private conversation ; and in deeds, by that weighty lesson of instruction, my . own personal example.
I have I have shewn, that the higher any set of theological theorists exalt the nature, person, or essence, of Christ, the lower they debase his moral character; and that those of his disciples and followers, who were to a man universally allowed to have been mere men, and who, like him, became obedient to God even unto death, and attested their conviction of the truth of his Gospel dispensation with their blood, being according to the Arian, and particularly according to the Athanasian, hypothesis, inferior to their master in mental ability, were superior to him in this his most signal instance of moral worth. But if we admit Jesus Christ to be a man, as he really was, begotten by a man, and born of a woman, his moral character and conduct are displayed to the greatest advantage, his godliness, philanthropy, and innocence, are eminently conspicuous in all the fullness of human perfection, he being the only man, who never failed in the discharge of every branch of virtuous obligation, the single individual of the human race, who, completely good to the
L utmost utmost extent of the ability of the human species, lived and died without fin. Hence being man, in the one only fense, in which he could be classed in the order of finite intelligent beings of that denomination, and at the same time a sinless man, . though tempted and beset with human passions, like as we are, he demonstrated to his fellow-men, that his and their God and father was not an unreasonable Pharaoh, who requires bricks to be made without straw, their duty to be done without granting the means and power to perform it, but an all-wise parent, who had imprinted in indelible characters a plain and unalterable rule of moral obligation on their hearts, called by Paul 'the law of their mind,' or the understanding, abundantly sufficient to restrain the impetuosity of that turbulent principle within them, the animal part of their nature, termed by the same apostle 'the law of their members,' or the appetites and passions; and to regulate and direct the motions of these springs of human action so, as to make them instrumental in promoting the interests of
virtue virtue and true religion, rather than subservient to • the law of sin/ For our appe* tites and passions are not, in fact, vicious in themselves, but become vitiated by man's vicious misgovernment and misapplication of them.
Hence too this man of the feed of David, the Messiah, or Christ Jesus the appointed savior, exhibited a most illustrious example of goodness, righteousness, and obedience, to his brethren the Jews, in particular, and to his fellow-creatures in general, and consequently was justified in recommending it to the imitation of his disciples, and in requiring the practice of the same absolute human perfection from them.
But, if according'to an unavoidable inference from the senseless and contradictory doctrine, (not to give it an harsher epithet) of the Athanasian Trinity in Unity, Christ Was (to speak as intelligibly as possible on a nonsensical subject) the supreme God in a tri^ . partite degree, or conjointly with the Father and Holy Spirit, and, though impassible in
L av his his divine, yet suffered in his human nature > if, agreeably to the chimerical Arian and Apollinarian hypotheses, which differ from each other more in name, than in reality, Christ pre-existed before all worlds as a super-angelic spirit, and a subordinate Jehovah, till anno mundi 4000 he post-existed as a Demi-God or God-man; if lastly, in conformity to the Socinian scheme, less wild than the two preceding systems, Christ drew his first existence from the womb of the virgin Mary, previously unconscious of receiving the vivifying feed of man, and thus became a new undefinable being, mother-full and fatherless, he could not, on the footing of these three different hypotheses, which equally represent him as a being of a different species from men, become an example of absolute moral perfection to men, and it would have been absurd in him to have proposed himself as such to their imitation. At best he could 'only have injoined them to be relatively perfect; for, consistently with these three varying accounts of his nature and essence, he could only be 3. pattern of absolute virtue,