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and circumscribes the power of the deified mortal, and evinces a precarious title. * I have said ye are Gods,' but the addition of the following words, 'ye shall die,' clears up the prophet's meaning. Besides, this appellation is giv en by some others: no person assumes it himself. Christ declares, that he is the Son of God, the same with his Father. In his person, all the lineaments of the Divinity are united. Prophecies and oracles, predicting ' that God himself will come 1 to save us,' are applied to him. He declares himself to be the same: and St. Paul affirms, that he thought it no usurpation to be equal to the Most High.
In vain, then, it is alleged, that Christ and his Apostles applied these oracles and passages to the Son of God, m a figurative manner, or, to use the term of the schools, in an accommodate sense.
Lucifer himself, who attempted 'to raise his throne above 'the clouds, and make himself like unto the Most High,' could not have used a more impious and blasphemous figure, than to usurp the name and attributes of the sovereign Being; to require the same homage, adoration, and love, that are due to the Divinity. 'He that loves father and mother 'more than me, is not worthy to be my disciple.' 'Whoever 'loves his soul more than me, is not worthy to be my dis'ciple.' Did mortal before ever use such words?
All other figures and allegories are explained in some part of Scripture, or wrapped up in mysterious clouds, to be dispelled by the brightness of eternal day, after exercising our belief: but with regard to the Divinity of Christ, if it be a figure, it is a metaphor continued through a long chain of prophecies and oracles, without the least explication to unfold its mysterious sense, repeated almost in every page of the New Testament, and sealed with the blood of Christ, his Apostles, and Martyrs. When he appeared on earth to convert the Jews and Gentiles, and destroy idolatry, which blindfolded mankind, could he have taken more opposite steps to his mission, than to raise the dead, and change the course of nature, in proof of a doctrine insinuating his Divinity, if he had no real claim to the title? At a time when the credulous multitude were apt to enrol extraordinary men in the number of their Gods; when they worshipped the earth that nourished them; the air that refreshed them; the sun. that enlightened them; the moon that directed their steps in the obscurity of night; the fire that warmed them; the heroes that cleared the woods and forests of lions and serpents that annoyed them; the conquerors who delivered them from their enemies; the wise and generous princes who rendered their subjects happy, and the memory of their reign immortal. At a time when altars were erected at Athens, to the Unknown God; when the priests of Salamis raised the sacrifice knife, to offer victims in honour of Paul, whom they took for Mercury, on account of his eloquence, and the novelty of his doctrine; and in honour of Barnabas, whom they revered as Jupiter, on account of his venerable aspect: and when the sortileges of Simon, the magician, procured him ihe honour of a temple at Rome, and the appellation of the great God. At such a critical ptriod, when gratitude deifit d benefactors, and extraordinary powers laid the foundations of temples, and swelled the catalogue of false Gods; it was a dangerous and ill-timed doctrine, to preach that he was equal to God; that he was the Son of God; that eternal life consisted in the knowledge of himself and of his Father; to command his followers to lay down their lives, sooner than deny him, &c. and to confirm this doctrine by silencing the winds that subsided at his nod; by calming the stormy seas; changing the nature of the elements; restoring sight To the blind; the use of their limbs to the lame; forcing Death to surrender his spoils; and all nature to aqknowledge his power and empire. Shall a Paul and Barnabas tear their garments in being taken for something more than mortal men; and shall Jesus Christ, if he be not God, in a calm, deliberate manner, rob the Creator of all things, of his glory and the worship due to him, in affirming that himself and the God of heaven are one; in applauding the faith of the apostle who said that he was the Son of the living God: and in not checking the disciple who, after thrusting his hand into his side, exclaimed, 'my Lord, and my God!'
It is not only in the time of his liberty, when he visits the cities of Israel, healing their sick, raising their dead, feeding multitudes with a few loaves, and refusing the temporal sovereignty which the people offered him, that he attributes to himself the prerogatives of the divinity. It is in chains, in the the course of his trial, and on the cross: conjured by the high priest to tell whether he is Christ the son of God, he answers in the affirmative; and, in proof of his assertion, says that they shall see him on the right hand of God. 'Do you hear 'the blasphemy V cries out the other. Had he used any mental reservations on this occasion, by saying one thing and meaning another; by expressing outwardly, 41 am the son 'of God,' and restraining in his mind the sense of the words, to the quality of a messenger; he would not have answered according to the Pontiff's meaning, who knew but too well the difference between a messenger, such as any prophet may be, and a son, who must be of the same nature with his father. What a precedent for perjurers! And what blasphemy in St. Paul, who affirms, 'that he thought it no usurpation to make * himself equal to God!' ••" •
Common sense often supplies the room of metaphysical demonstrations. And common sense will inform you, that Jesus Christ is either the greatest impostor that ever appeared, or that he is literally what he declared himself to be, God and Man, for whom the martyrs suffered, whom the Christians adore, and to whom all knees are to bend one day.
If he is an impostor, in vain has the blood of impure vie-, tims been drained; in vain have the altars of false deities been overturned; in vain have their idols been crushed, and their temples destroyed; a new idol has been set up in their room, and the worship due to the sovereign Being has been transferred to an impostor. If this be the case, God, then, must have deceived mortals, in investing an impostor, during his life, and his disciples, after his death, with such extraordinary powers. And the miracles wrought in confirmation of their doctrine, and which could never be wrought but by his express and immediate power, must have been wrought with an express design to mislead his creatures into delusion and error. Reconcile this, if you can, to his goodness, wisdom, and providence; and behold the absurdities to which incredulity leads. .':
If you intend to reconcile those texts, that attribute to the same person, an eternal generation and birth in time; transcendant glory and profound humility; the power and majesty of a God, with the sufferings and death of a man: admit in the same person the divine and human nature. Then, all seeming contradiction vanish. His infirmities and sufferings are applicable to him, as Man; whilst his glorious characters and titles are to be attributed to his Godhead, disguised under a human veil. Thus, in Jesus Christ we find the God that created us, whereas he is the same with his father: the redeemer who purchased us, by paying our ransom: the spotless Pontiff, through whom we find access to the throne of mercy. His cross is folly to the Jew, and a scandal to the Gentile: but to the Christian it is^he power and wisdom of God. For if he was not man, he could not suffer; and if he were not God, his sufferings would not avail us. He becomes man, to suffer for our sake: and, as God he gives his sufferings an infinite price. •
IN the preceding letters, we have touched upon the weakness of reason, and#ie necessity of revealed religion; the obscurity in which mortals were involved, and the incongruity of denying religious mysteries, when the book of nature, open to our eyes, is scarce legible; our fall in Adam, ar.d our restoration in Christ.
It is now time to examine your opinion concerning the soul of man: an opinion which you deliver in the seventysecond page of your work, in these words: 'Hence, I con'elude that the soul dies with the body. It is an opinion *. conformable to reason, observation, and to the doctrine 'taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles.' Whatever arguments you might have drawn from observation, you should have passed over the authority of Christ and his apostles; an authority never adduced before in support of a doctrine which in every page they condemn. Or, at least, you should have first a bible of your own, and forced it on the world, as handed to you by the angel Gabriel.
Man must certainly be liable to error, when, in the blaze of revelation, and after the progress philosophy has made in the world, he still cries out, with the disciple Epicurus:
* We know not yet how onr soul's produe'd, • , * Whether by body born, or else iifns'd:
'Whether in death, breath'd out into the air,
• She doth coufus'dly mix and perish there,
'Or through vast shades and horrid silence go,
Your observation must be quite different from the observations of the greatest men the faculty of physic ever produced: men who were, and are still, as great ornaments to the literary world, As they are useful to mankind.
We observe, sir, within ourselves, a principle that is obeyed as a sovereign; that now finds fault with what it before approved; that covets with passion what it despises after
* Cretch'i Lucretius, Book 1.