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IN the first part I have endeavoured to shew, that these doctrines originated with the Gnostics, men who pretended to believe in the Gospel, but were really its worst and most inveterate enemies. In this part I proceed to prove, that the prophet of Nazareth, having a distinct foreknowledge of those wicked men, cautioned his faithful followers against them and their impostures; and caused to be recorded sayings and facts which hold forth the above doctrines as false

and unauthorized by him and his Apostles, to the end of time.

In the parable, wherein our Lord predicted the corruption of his religion (see Matt. xiii. 24) he intimates, that the tares sown by the enemy, appeared above ground, while the servants were yet asleep. This means that the impostors disseminated their heretical notions, before the Gospel was preached in the world at large, and before its faithful ministers were awakened from that slumber of prejudice, in which they indulged against its extension to the Gentiles. The servants, we are further told, applied to the householder for leave to gather the tares ; "But he said, Nay, least while ye gather the tares, ye root up the wheat also with them." This, in reference to the immediate situation of the Apostles, signifies, that they applied to their divine Master how to act with respect to the false doctrines which the deceivers had blended with the Gospel, and that in answer they were instructed merely to assert facts which they knew to be true, and leave those falsehoods to wither, or to flourish, until the season in which the divine Wisdom should deem them ripe for extirpation.

The evangelists acted conformably to this wise admonition. Having the impostures of the Gnostics ever before them, they set them aside by a judicious selection of facts, without at all mentioning then, their design being only visible from the nature and tendency of the works and discourses recorded by them. Had they adopted a different plan, the Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles, would have been debased and ren

dered voluminous, obscure, and uninteresting, by the fictions of deceivers, blended with them, instead of being, as we now happily find them, concise and simple systems of doctrine grounded on a few well-authenticated facts, adapted to all ages and nations.

The system of the Gnostics may be reduced to two points, which, with the inferences flowing from them, Jude has characterized, by saying, that they denied the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. They denied our Lord, by denying that he was a real man. From his being a God, it followed that the Messiah was not a descendant of David; that he wrought his miracles by his own inherent power, and not by the power of God; that he was not born at all, or not born like other men; and that he suffered on the cross, and rose from the dead only in appearance. From their denial of the moral perfections of God, it followed that Jesus was not the Son of God; that is, he was not the best instructed and accredited servant of God; that he did not come from God with authority to reveal a future state, and to call upon all men to repent and reform, as the only means of forgiveness for their past sins, and the only preparation for eternal life. Now, if the apostolic doctrine be opposed to the system of the Gnostics, we must expect to see the reverse of these proposi

The opinions of the Gnostics are detailed in the Introduction to my Illustrations of the Four Gospels, and im Eccles. Research. chap. xviii. p. 458,

tions asserted in all variety of ways, and in the most guarded manner; that is, we must expect to see the writers of the New Testament holding forth Jesus not as a God, but as the son of God, as a man born of men, and possessing the nature of men; as teaching and acting with the wisdom and power of the Almighty; as authorized. to preach the forgiveness of sins to the penitent, and eternal happiness to the righteous. And here it is necessary to observe, that, when the apostolic teachers hold forth Jesus as a man, they meant to represent him as a man only, because they oppose those false teachers who denied that he was a man; because he could not have been a man born of men, and possessing the nature of other men, if he were of a nature superior to men. The dogma that Christ was God and man is a fiction of subsequent days: at first, the question simply was, Whether he were a mere God or a mere man; and the Apostles, in asserting his humanity, intended to deny his divinity. I will now confirm these observations by a few passages from the Gospel of Matthew.

The descent of the Spirit and the testimony of God at the baptism of Jesus, set aside the doctrines of his Divinity and miraculous birth as false, and unfounded in the Christian scriptures. "And Jesus being baptized went up from the water, and behold the heavens opened to him, and he saw the spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him; and behold a voice from heaven saying, this is my beloved Son, whom I approve," Mat. iii. 16.

In this passage Jesus is held forth in the commencement of his ministry, not in a personal, but in a moral view; not as a God, but the preeminent y distinguished servant of God. The Father declares of him, not, "This is my equal," or,

This is the second person in the Trinity," but, "This is my beloved son; son;" a language familiar with the Jews, and as coming from the mouth of God, who cannot be a father in the sense man is, not liable to be misunderstood; for, in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the term, father, often means a founder, author, teacher. Thus it is said of Jabal, that he was the father of such as dwelt in tents; and, that Jubal was the father of those who handled the harp, Gen. vi. 20. Jehovah took the children of Israel under his immediate protection; and, for this reason, he calls Israel his son, even his first born son, Exod. iv. 22. Agrecably to the same figure those good men, who through Christ are instructed of God, are said to become sons of God, John i. 12.

In the Jewish and Christian scriptures God is not represented at a cold and awful distance, as a merely infinite and eternal Being; but is, as it were, brought near to our understandings and hearts, by those relations which are most honourable and endearing among men. Thus, he is frequently held forth as a father, a moral governor, a householder, directing the world which he had formed, by wise and righteous laws. Conformably to this figure, mankind are his family; his plan of governing them and of providing for their present and future happiness, is termed (osxovoμsa) œconomy; the holy men whom he has employed in the service and management of his

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