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It cannot be a matter of surprize, that & being, described by them as a super-angelic spirit, superior to the highest order of angels, and excelling them all in wisdom and understanding, himself excelled by the one self-existent God alone, should be qualified to submit to an excruciating death, rather than commit sin, neglect his duty, or desert the cause of God's love and goodness for the salvation of man. We may rather venture to declare, that this extraordinary pre-existent incarnate Deity, this demi God, or God man, would have been inexcusably reprehensible, if he had been found unfaithful in the discharge of the merciful divine commission, with which he was intrusted. But, admitting, for argument sake, that your Messiah was such a. God-man, in that case, the absurdity of his proposing himself as an example to be imitated by his disciples, who were mere men, is so glaring, that it may well be termed truly exemplary: And yet he expressly informs them, that 'he leaves them an ensample,* and injoins them to ' follow his steps*'
It is true indeed, that, we are enjoined so * perfect, even as our heavenly father
k is perfect,' that is, not absolutely so, for he alone is all-perfect, but relatively, or to the extent of human perfection. But that we may not misunderstand our Lord, as though he meaned, that we should follow his example in the like general and limited fense, the evangelist John particularly directs us to copy Christ in that highest instance of his obedience, his death, viz. 'He,' Christ, 'laid down his life for us; and we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren,' John iii. 16. if by so doing, we can promote their welfare, or the goodness of the Christian cause. Accordingly, * many witnesses to the truth of the Gospel have, like the proto-martyr, Jesus, sealed their testimony with their blgod, have cheerfully submitted to death, the most severe trial of their constancy, rather than deny the truth of this merciful dispensation pf God to man. But, in this most signal instance of their love of God, they being mere men, and therefore, according to the Arian hypothesis, intelligent beings of an prder lower than Christ, have surpassed the higher being, the God-man, Jesus Christ, in moral worth and excellence; and instead $>f their looking up to him as their great exemplar.
emplar, he slioulddown on them with reverence and astonishment, and with a blusli acknowledge, that they, bis inferiors, in mental abilities, are not only his equals, in the practice of the most essential point of obedience to the will of God, but his superiors in this respect, and in a ratio proportioned to the elevated rank the Brians suppose him to hold, among created intelligent beings, above that of men, and, consequently, in a ratio immeasurably great, jn as much as he, is supposed by the Arians to be a being inexpressibly transcending every class of rational creatures in understanding and knowledge, and subordinate to none, in any one natural perfection, his own Creator, the one supreme God, excepted.
I should think this just representation of the unavoidable consequences of the preexistent hypothesis, of the Arians can have no other effect than to expose the great absurdity of it, even in their own estimation* and to. convince them that Jesus Christ was a non-pre-existent being, and a very man; who having exhibited, throughout the whole tenor of his life, sufferings, and death, the Uniform Conduct of a man without sin, and without guile, with great propriety, and a manifest consistency, injoins his disciples and brethren, or fellow-men, to imitate the illustrious example he has set them, in the complete practice of every species of moral rectitude.
On the other hand, the pre-existent sub-* ordinate Jehovah, or little God, and postexistent God-man of the Arian.fi, could not be an example, either to men, angels, or any other class of rational creatures throughout the universe; as also, admitting Jesus, on the general Socinian scheme, to be supernaturally born of a virgin, he could only be an example to a species of creatures thus miraculously created like himself. But, as well in these two supposed cases, as on the Athanasian plan, being confessedly without a compeer, or having none like to, or co-> ordinate with himself, he could not become an example to any one being whatever, in the strict literal and absolute sense, in which Jesus Christ proposes himself to men for ( their imitation,charging them to follow him, not at a distance, longo intervallo, as lulus did Æneas, but pasiibus asquis, exactly and
completely completely in every particular, the signal instance of his obedience unto death not only not excepted, but expressly injoined. *
On the footing then, as well of reason* as of Scripture, which never contradict, but ever support each other, the non-pre-existence and the natural conjugal birth of the man Christ Jesus are urtcontrovertibly established. There is one particular circumstance, which now occurs to me, in the supposed miraculous conception of Mary, which I think must fully expose its philosophical forgery. All the works wrought by the mighty power of God,given to Moses and Christ, in confirmation of the truth of their respective divine missions, which are usually stiled miracles, or wonders, because they are produced in an extraordinary manner, and instantaneoufly without the usual process of the intermediate steps observable in the common established course of things, were exhibited in open day-light, in the face of the world, that is, in the presence of a multitude of eyewitnesses to these marvellous transactions. But this pretended miracle of the supernatural conception was, like the miracles of