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this stupendous event had been communicated, could, after such communication, write or speak of him in terms which could lead their readers or hearers to suppose that they were ignorant of it, or even leave them in doubt whether they fully believed it. Now most competent judges agree, that the earliest of the Gospels was not written, in its present form at least, till A.D. 63 or 64, which is more than thirty years after the effusion of the Holy Spirit; that the book of Acts was not written till A.D. 63 or 64; and that the first written of the other books, vis. the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, was not written till A.D. 52.

In the foregoing paragraph, I have purposely omitted speaking of the fourth scheme, (that of simple pre-existence, because I am sensible that owing to the adoption among the Pharisees of the doctrine of the pre-existence of men in general, the mere circumstance that Jesus existed before his human birth, would not be so astonishing or confounding to the imagination of a Jew, as the suppositions considered before. Still, as no one of the present advocates for this opinion connects it with an hypothesis so unfounded both in reason and revelation as the pre-existence of all men, but all of them maintain that the state in which Jesus existed before his human birth, was a state of glory and happiness far superior to what is enjoyed by any in the present world, --that in fact Jesus, before his human birth, was not a man but a being of superior nature to that of man,-it seems to me that much of the weight which presses upon the former bypotheses, presses upon this of the simple pre-existence, as maintained by all who now maintain it, and as it ever will be, so long as the foundation for it is sought in the Scriptures.* According to this hypothesis, one who lived and died as a man, who did nothing that a man could not do if God were with him,t who taught nothing which man could not teach, if God communicated to him His will, I who, during his abode on earth, was regarded by his apostles and all his followers as a man, and was afterwards spoken of by them as a man,-was in reality a being of superior order, who had existed in a state of great glory and happiness, and was made man, in order to accomplish certain purposes which the advocates for this hypothesis must allow could at least as well have been answered by a proper human being, endowed with sufficient power by God, and sufficiently acquainted with his will respecto ing mankind. Now as this circumstance, if the matter of fact, must have been known to those who have recorded the words and actions of our Saviour before they committed their accounts to writing, it seems to me next to impossible, that tbree of them should have written respecting this illustrious super-human personage, not only without in any way declaring his superiority in nature to other men, but so as to give no room for the inference that they knew of such superiority ;- in fact just as we should expect persons of their age and country to write respecting one of whom they knew that he was a man from God pointed out by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him,'* and declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead ;'+ and as to his nature, no more than this.

* Because some of the strongest passages in favour of the preexistence, if they prove that point, prove also that the supposed prior existence was a state of great glory and happiness. John viii. 28. xiv, 10, 12.

John xii. 49.

But let us consider the doctrine of the New Testament writers respecting the nature of our Saviour more in detail. In doing this, I shall not think it necessary to take any farther notice of the first hypothesis, (that he was himself the supreme God,) because it is held by very few; and as far as it is distinct from the Sabellian scheme, (which I consider as Unitarianism under a different name and using different language,) is opposed by every argument which opposes the second hypothesis, as well as by several in addition.

Evidence of MATTHEW, A.D. 64. 1. The Apostle MATTHEW has formed an account of the miracles and discourses of our Lord, from the time when he began his public preaching in Galilee, till his crucifixion. He has also recorded the baptism and temptation of Jesus, and some of the events succeeding bis

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resurrection. In the chapters preceding the account of the preaching of the Baptist, is a Narrative* of miraculous circumstances supposed to have preceded the birth of our Saviour, and of some subsequent occurrences. This Narrative is generally believed to have made a part of the original Gospel, and consequently to have been written by Matthew : I feel satisfied that it was not written by Matthew,t and consequently, that it is destitute of authority. But if the contrary were the fact, it would afford no evidence in opposition to Unitarianism. It informs us that the birth of Jesus was miraculous, but gives us no ground to suppose that the offspring of divine power was possessed of any nature different from human nature ; on the contrary, what is said plainly implies, that Jesus first began to exist in consequence of that exertion of divine power.* We find from Matthew's own narrative, that Jesus presented himself at the baptism of repentance; and, though at first refused by the Baptist, (I imagine in consequence of the known purity and excellence of his character,)t that he actually submitted to it :-that after he had been declared to be the beloved Son of God,

* Apparently entitled “ The Account of the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” See Introd. to Matt. ch. i. I.

† These chapters “ were wanting in the Ebionite copies ofMatthew's Gospel. Now “ the Ebionites constituted a very large

proportion, if not the whole body, of the early Hebrew Christians : “ who, whatever might be their opinion of other books in the N.T., “ received the Gospel of Matthew as genuiue, and could have had “ nó objection to the account of the miraculous conception of Jesus, “ had it been found in their authentic copies. Also, as this narra“ tive contains the account of many extraordinary transactions, of

great publicity, which occurred in Judea at that time, it is abso“ lutely impossible that these Hebrew Christians should have been “ ignorant of them, or have denied facts which redounded so much “ to the credit of their Master and his religion. This narrative “ therefore could not have been written by Matthew in that Gospel “ which he composed for the instruction of the Hebrew converts." See B.'s masterly statements on this Introductory Narrative, in reply to the Quarterly Review of the Improved Version, inserted in the Monthly Repository for 1809, p. 415_-423. See also Williams's Free Enquiry.

The Gospel of Matthew was written in the then language of the Jews, the Syro-Chaldaic. It appears to me probable, that the Greek translator, or some early transcriber of his translation, prefixed “ The Account of the Birth of Jesus Christ,” without any intention that it should be considered as a part of the Gospel. Before the middle of the second century, however, it came to be considered as a part of Matthew's Gospel ; and thenceforwards was transcribed, translated, and quoted, as a part of it. Hence it is found in every MS. and Version now extant.

This Introductory Narrative contains, in the opinion of many who believe in the miraculous conception, more difficulties than all the N.T. besides : to myself it appears, that the writer's application of prophecy, and the inconsistency of his account with that of Luke, would make even less external evidence than we actually possess, a satisfactory ground for the conclusion, that it was not written by Matthew.

I regard the question almost entirely as a critical question : that it has no peculiar relation to Unitarianism, see the next note.

* The supposed miraculous conception of Jesus, is attended with what appear to me almost insuperable difficulties as far as the matter of fact is concerned ; but how, if really the fact, it would prove any thing respecting the nature of Jesus, I cannot perceive. If it had pleased the Supreme Being to have at once formed Jesus with all his powers of body and mind precisely as they were at thirty year of age, the circumstance would have been at least as miraculous, as what is now supposed to have been the fact; yet would any one say that such a formation would have proved, or even implied, that Jesus possessed a nature superior to that of man? If so, then Adam was not strictly and properly a man. Besides, the birth of Isaac, of Samuel, and of the Baptist was miraculous; and will any one say that they too possessed a superior nature ?

These cases are not precisely parallel; but in all of them the miraculous agency of of divine power is the same. If the supposed miraculous circumstances of the birth of Jesus do not of themselves prove that he possessed a superior nature, the narratives of them (particularly that of Luke) plainly imply, that Jesus first began to exist when the agency of God caused his bodily life to begin.

† Chap. iji. 14,

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