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SERMON II.

DOCTRINES OF THE UNITARIANS COMPARED WITH THE SCRIPTURES.

2 Peter ii. 1. Jiut there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

1 HE varieties of opinion which from the earliest periods of the Christian era have obtained concerning him who is the only begotten of the Father, form a presumptive evidence, that there is in his nature something which is extraordinary, something which cannot be comprehended by the faculties, or defined in the common language of men. Of the eternal Father there is but one opinion, that he is God: of man there is also but one opinion, that he is man. Moses, Samuel, and David, and all the goodly fellowship of the prophets, however elevated by their office, or distinguished by their actions, have uniformly, and without variation, spoken of themselves, and been described by others, as men. Men in origin and descent; men in weakness and infirmity; men in their limited virtues and faculties; men in the execution of the power which they received in dependance upon the will of God; men in the manner of their deaths; they proved their descent from men; they were esteemed the fellows of men; and neither while they lived, nor when they died, were they represented in other terms than those which are appropriated to men. Very different from the language of Moses concerning himself, and from that of the Jewish writers concerning him, are the terms which the Apostles and Evangelists apply to Jesus of Nazareth ; terms not only of mysterious and recondite meaning, but in the highest degree contradictory and irrelevant, if they relate to an ordinary mortal prophet, and applicable only to one whose generation was eternal, whose nature is unsearchable. It is not necessary to refer to the early heresies concerning him, in which his divine and human natures were alternately divided and confounded, in which he was at one time so identified with the Father, as if the Father had suffered, and at another, so separated from humanity, as to be denied a corporeal existence. It is nevertheless of importance to observe the progress of error, and the order in which different articles of the faith have been successively called in question, of which it is a sufficient proof, that the beloved disciple defended the humanity before the divinity of Christ, his equality with man before his equality with God.

It will be shewn that the sacred writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, have declared the truth under every variety of expression, and they seem to have anticipated and precluded error, by the diversified but concurrent testimonies which they have produced concerning the Son of God. They foresaw and they foretold the damnable heresies which false teachers should privily bring in, and they warned their converts and disciples of the pernicious ways of those who should "deny the "Lord who bought them, and bring upon. "themselves swift destruction*: "and of those who should turn " the grace of our Lord "into lasciviousness, and deny the only "Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christb." They spake also of the irretrievable fall of some, who should "crucify to themselves "the Son of God afresh, and put him to "an open shame0, "and of the inconceivable punishment of such as should tread " under "foot the Son of God, and count the "blood of the covenant wherewith they "were sanctified an unholy thing, and do *' despite unto the Spirit of graced." "Be"ware," saith the Apostle, " lest any man ° spoil you through philosophy and vain "deceit, after the tradition of men, after "the rudiments of the world, and not after "Christ. For in him dwelleth all the ful"ness of the Godhead bodily6." In their earnest contest for " the faith delivered at "once to the saintsf;" in their holy zeal for the "acknowledgment of the mystery "of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of "wisdom and knowledge^" in prophesying of errors which should disfigure the simplicity of Christian truth, there is no censure of the worship which was paid to Christ immediately after the resurrection h; no precautionary admonition against the continuance of such worship; no restrictive interpretation of the sublime and lofty terms which are appropriated to the Messiah; no prediction, nor even the most distant insinuation, that there would be error or heresy, guilt or danger, in raising him above the condition of humanity. All their caution is employed against degrading the Son of man; all their eloquence in elevating the Son of God.

a 2 Peter ii. 1. bJude 4.

c Heb. vi. 6. rt Heb. x. 29.

<. Col. ii. 8, 9.

That the words of these holy men have on various occasions been misunderstood, and a meaning imputed to them which they were not intended to convey, is a po

* Jude 3. s Col. ii. 2, 3. h Matt. xxviii. 17.

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