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ments for the pre-existence of Christ's human soul, drawn from various considerations of something inferior to Godhead ascribed to him before and at his incarnation." The first consideration, is, that it was Christ who appeared of old to the Patriarchs, and that such appearances are likened to that of an Angel, or a man, a glorious man distinct from God, and yet such an one in whom Jehovah had a peculiar indwelling, or with ■whom the divine nature had a personal union.
That it was the Son of God who appeared of old unto the fathers, who is termed " the angel of Jehovah's presence." Is. lxiii. 9.—who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Exod. iii. 6. who brought Israel out of Egypt, Exod. xx. 23. —and who went before the camp of Israel, Exod.xiv. 19. &c. &c. is an opinion that has been held by many learned men, but it is a mere opinion, and, as I humbly con. ceive, utterly incapable of any proof—nay, unless I be greatly mistaken, it is an opinion quite at variance with what Paul teaches when he says Heb. ii. 5. that, "Unto the angels God hath not put in subjection the world to come" (or state of the gospel church) of which he was discoursing: as well as with several other texts of the New Testament scriptures, such as, Acts viii. 38, 53. Gal. iii. 19. Heb. ii. 2. and others. Certain it is, that many things are ascribed to Jehovah in one place, which are in another said to be done by angels. Thus, he who spake unto Hagar is called "The angel of the Lord;" yet we are told "She called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou God seest me." Gen. xvi. 11,13. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is expressly ascribed to Jehovah, Gen. xix. 24. yet the angels say to Lot "Jehovah hath sent Ms to destroy it," ver. 13. The plagues inflicted upon Egypt
were attributed to Jehovah, Exod. vii.—xiii. Ps. lxxviii. 43—52. yet Jehovah is distinguished from the destroyer, Exod. xii. 23. and we are told the Lord did those things, by- sending evil angels among them. Ps. lxxviii. 49. The redemption of Israel out of Egypt is almost every where ascribed to Jehovah's immediate hand, Ex. xiii, 6. and this is asserted in the very preface of their law, ch. xx. 2. yet Moses ordered his Messengers to say to the King of Edom "When we cried unto the Lord he heard our voice, and sent an Angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt." Numb. xx. 16. In delivering the law, Jehovah is said to speak with Moses, Exod. xix. 6. to speak all these words, ch. xx. 1. to talk with Israel from Heaven, ver. 22. yet, we are expressly told that the word was spoken by angels, Heb. ii. 2. that it was an Angel that spake to Moses in Mount Sinai, and delivered to him the lively oracles, Acts viii. 38, 53. How, now, shall we reconcile these things'? We cannot say that a created angel was Jehovah, or that Jehovah was his own angel: and to affirm that any of these angels was the Son of God, or the human soul of Jesus Christ in his pre-existent state, is to subvert the whole of the apostle's reasoning in Heb. ii. 5. where his object manifestly is to contrast the state of tilings under the gospel with the former dispensation, and to shew that as the latter had been subjected to the administration of angels, so the former is now wholly under the rule, government and direction of the Son of God— all the holy angels being only his servants, employed by him in ministering to the heirs of salvation. Thus the Doctor's grand proof from the various appearances of Christ's human soul under the Old Testament state of things turns out to be a mere gratuitous assumption, But to proceed.
The next class of scripture texts to which the Doctor directs us for proofs of his sentiment, is that ■which speaks of Christ as humbling himself at his incarnation and so becoming a pattern of humility to his people. Thus Phil. ii. 5—7. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation," or, as he very properly translates h emptied himself', (namely of the form or majesty of Godhead which he had with the Father before his incarnation.*) The Doctor's gloss upon this text is so extremely curious that I beg leave to cite it. Having quoted the apostle's words "Who being in the form of God,&c." he adds, "that is, his human soul, which is the chief part of the man, being in union with his godhead [the very point which he had to prove!] was vested with a godlike form and glory in all former ages; thus he oftentimes appeared to the Patriarchs as the angel of the Lord, and as God or Jehovah, &c. This seems to be the form of God, which the apostle speaks of." p. 691. This gloss requires no refutation—for I have already shewn that the notion so current in the religious world, that it was the Son of God who appeared of old to the fathers, and who personated the angel of the Lord, is an unfounded supposition, and inconsistent with Paul's doctrine in Heb. ii. and other parts of scripture. All the Doctor's elaborate reasoning, therefore, on this and similar texts, such as 2 Cor. viii. 9. being founded on false premises, turns out a mere castle in the air. Indeed it were easy to follow him through the whole chain of his argumentation, and evince its futility, did my limits allow, and were
it at all necessary to do so; but I shall content myself for the present with noticing what he is pleased to denominate Sect. V. "A confirmation of the doctrine by Arguments drawn from the happy consequences and the various advantages of it." He is of opinion that the supposed pre-existence of Christ's human soul casts a surprising light upon many dark passages in the word of God, and helps us easily to explain and reconcile several difficult places in the Old and New Testament, which are very bard to be accounted for any other way, p. C08.
Now on this I remark that, were the principle in question ever once clearly and expressly taught by the inspired writers, it would be our duty to receive it submissively, and to abide by it at all hazards; but to invent an hypothesis unknown to the Scriptures, and, having assumed it as a first principle in our reasonings, then to make the word of God bend to it, is a most unwarrantable procedure, and pregnant with dangerous and destructive consequences. I may add, that it is in flat opposition to the excellent rules for investigating truth which the Doctor himself has given us, both in his Treatise on the art of Logic, and also in his Improvement of the Mind. "Take heed," says he, "lest some favourite hypothesis, be made a test of the truth or falsehood of all other propositions about the same subject. Dare not to build much upon such a notion or doctrine till it be very fully examined, accurately adjusted, and sufficiently confirmed. Some persons, by indulging such a practice, have been led into long ranks of errors; they have found themselves in a train of mistakes, by taking up some petty hypothesis—upon slight and insufficient grounds, and estaWishing that as a test and rule to judge of all other things." Improvement of the Mind, Part I. ch. xviii. Sect. 13. Alas, for poor human nature! how much easier is it to give advice than to take it. Dr. Watts's own conduct in the present instance is equally unphilosophical and unscriptural. Yet the Doctor was not a solitary instance of this perversity of judgment. It is common to all who have adopted this strange notion of the pre-existence of Christ's human soul. I have now before me, an Octavo Volume entitled "A Scriptural Display of the Triune God, and the early Existence of Jesus' Human Soul, By John Stevens (of York street) London, 1813. A great proportion of Mr. Stevens's book is occupied in adducing evidence of a distinction of persons in the Godhead, and of the essential Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ—on neither of which doctrines have I any dispute with him. But let any person impartially attend to the evidence by which he labours to establish the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ's human soul, and he will find it equally futile with that by which Dr. Watts attempts to prove it. For instance, Mr. Stevens meets with the following passage, Prov. viii. 22. &c. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning, &c. —then I was by him as one brought tip with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him—and my delights were with the sons of men." About thirty pages of his book are taken up in accommodating this text to the author's purpose, and every one must allow, indeed, that it required no little skill to accomplish it. But the thing is at last completely effected! Does the reader ask how? I will tell him. Tis by taking for granted two things; the first is that this passage in Proverbs has any respect whatever to the Son of God, for it is never once
* See Dr. Macknight's .Note on this text, where the reader will find a grand illustration of it, in perfect harmony with the scope of the New Testament, withoif paving recourse to the pre-existent scheme,
applied to him in all the Scriptures! and the second is, that it was the Human soul of Jesus which Jehovah possessed in the beginning before his works of old!! But having established these two points (without any scriptural evidence) all the rest follows in train. The human soul of Jesus united itself to the Logos, or the Word, John i. 1. and hence he was " the beginning"—" the firstborn of every creature"—and thus these gentlemen
"As they are disposed can prove it,
But let an unprejudiced mind examine the foundation of this superstructure, and he will find it all built upon stubble! In the eighth chapter of Proverbs, the speaker, or subject spoken of, is Wisdom—thatis, (says Mr. Stevens) the man Jesus or at least his human soul. Suppose new for argument sake we were to admit this arbitrary interpretation; let us see what follows. It is said in the context, ver. 12. "I wisdom dwell with prudence and find out knowledge of witty inventions." Now if Jesus be Wisdom, who is Prudence? and I may with equal propriety demand, who is Knowledge? We have no more authority to personify one of these qualities than we have another, for the existence of knowledge implies a subject in which it must exist. But the truth is that the whole is a mere petitio principii a begging of the question at issue—and will not bear examination. While on the other hand, if, by these epithets, wisdom, prudence, and knowledge, we understand the attributes of Deity denoted by those terms, they admit of an interpretation equally striking and familiar when applied to the divine purposes and counsels respecting the economy of man's redemption, a branch of knowledge in which the blessed God "hath abounded towards us in all wisdom andprudence." Eph. i. 0. whether we regard the plan of our salvation or the means by which that greatest of all the divine works was carried into effect.* But I must desist from further enlarging on this subject, and therefore only add, that both Dr. Watts and Mr. Stevens appear to me to err egregiously in their use, no less than in their interpretation of many texts of scripture, when they apply them to this their favourite hypothesis. I particularly refer to such passages as the following, viz. Col. i. 15—19. Rev. i. 5. Heb. i. 3. Rev. iii. 14. and others of similar import. These texts speak of Christ as " the first born of every creature"■'—" the first-begotten from the dead"— "the beginning" (or chief)—" the head of his body the church"— "the beginning of the creation of God." Now all these expressions, which are nearly synonymous in their import, have a manifest reference to that dominion which has been conferred upon the Son of God as the reward of his obedience unto the Heath in accomplishing the redemption of his elect—and in virtue of which he is constituted The Heir, or Lord of all things, Heb. i. 2. which compare with ch. ii. 7—9. It was in virtue of his deep humiliation and bitter sufferings that God not only raised his Son Jesus from the dead, but also exalted him to his own right hand, and made him both Lord and Christ, Acts ii. 36. constituting him "Lord of all," ch. x. 38. giving him all power and authority both in heaven and on earth. Matt, xxviii. 18. — angels, authorities and powers being made subject unto him, yea commanded to worship him. 1 Pet. iii. 22. Heb. i. 6. Thus we not only behold him as the first who rose from the dead
to inherit immortal life—and constituted head over all things to his body the church—but vested with universal dominion over the creation of God—" the Prince of the Kings -of the earth," Rev. i. b. "King of kings and Lord of lords," 1 Tim. vi. 5. Rev. xvii. 14. But all this is wholly independent of the strange and unscriptural doctrine of the preexistence of his human soul.
To the Editor of the New Evangelical
In your Number for September, you have an extract of a Letter from Halifax, Nova Scotia,' in which is tke following passage.
"The pews in the Methodist Meeting are sold, to the almost total exclusion of the poor; and also the exclusion of the poor blacks from the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, with the whites."
You candidly observe, that this is contrary to our general practice as a body; and it is indeed so much so, that the charges in the above extract are as new to us, as to your readers. The Committee for the management of our Missions have no knowledge of such exclusions either at Halifax, or any other Missionary Stations. I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
City Road, RlCHARD WATSON. Oct. 6, 1817.
The letter to which Mr. Watson refers, was written by Capt. Bromley, a gentleman of unimpeachable veracity, who is bending all his efforts to colonize the Indians in that quarter. Mre are glad to find the subject has attracted the notice of Mr. Watson, for we are sure if any abuse does exist in that quarter, he will spare no pains to correct it. Editox. A Brief account of the Reasons which have induced the Rev. T. C. Cowan, (Late of Trinity College, Dublin) to secede from the established church: Addressed to those who composed his congregation, while he officiated in the Parish church of St. Thomas, Bristol. London, Whittemore, Paternosterrow; and Bonner, Bristol, 1817. pp. 50. Octavo. Is. 6d. stitched. Among the various occurrences which mark the aspect of the present times, and concur to impress upon them a discriminatingcharacteristic, interesting to the friends of truth beyond all former precedent, may be fairly enumerated the frequent instances we meet with, of clergymen resigning their ministry in the national church, and casting their lot among the dissenters. We do not mention this as any matter of surprise, or regret; on the contrary we regard it as the natural operation of those principles which are universally diffusing themselves, and which, like "the leaven hid in three measures of meal will not cease their influence, till they have ultimately leavened the whole." Matt, xxiii. 38. The last twenty years has unquestionably been a remarkable ffira in the moral world. Knowledge of every kind has been gradually and increasingly diffusing itself— an ardent spirit of enquiry is become prevalent throughout the lettered and even unlettered world—men are every where divesting themselves of the shackles which for centuries had kept the human mind in bondage—the decrees of Popes, and Councils, and Synods have already lost much of that reverence which was formerly entertained for them—and all human authority in the concerns of the kingdom of heaven is daily diminishing. It is now pretty generally known that about two or three years ago, four or five ministers of evangelical sentiments, who resided in the vicinity of Taunton, relinquished their stations in the established church, under a conviction that its constitution is unscriptural, and that a conformity to its rites and ceremonies demanded sacrifices from them which were incompatible with preserving a •onscience void of offence both
• I remember, some years ago, perusing a work written by an old Baptist minister to illustrate the book of the Revelation, and was surprised to find how the good man made out the doctrine of Believers' baptism from almost every chapter in it! Mr. Stevenss optic faculty is scarcely less acute and penetrating, who can find the humaa toul of Jews Christ io the book of Proverbs.
towards God and man. It was perhaps fortunate for them, that they were not placed precisely in those circumstances which led the late Dr. Paley to apologise for retaining his situation in the establishment, namely, that " he could not afford to keep a conscience." But, be that as it may, the noble sacrifice to principle which they have made, evinces a disinterestedness of mind and a confidence in God which commands our veneration. It affords us satisfaction to find Mr. Cowan, the author of the pamphlet before us, following their example, and becoming "a companion with them in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." In his case, indeed, the circumstances are more trying, for we learn from his own narrative, that he has a family of NINE CHILDREN, p. 11. We must, however, endeavour to make our readers a little more particularly acquainted with his history, and the things which have led to his secession from the church of England.
We presume, from the circumstance of his having received his education in Trinity College Dublin, that Mr. Cowan is a native of Ireland. How long he has resided in this country we are not informed, but we collect from p. 9. of his pamphlet that he has been nearly eighteen years engaged in the work of the ministry.
There is some little confusion attending the representation which he gives us of the workings of his mind, previous to his quitting the establishment, but we suspect it to arise from an error of the press. Thus when in page 6, he says "Tt was not, however, from the convictions of conscience, that I entered into her service as one of her ministers." We apprehend he means to say that it was from the convictions of conscience, for in the same page, he adds,
"I voluntarily undertook the jacred office of a minister, but without thought as to its importance, and without any knowledge of its duties. This, however, was not all; at that time, from the force of early prejudice, it was my full belief, the Establishment was the exclusive residence of the God of the Bible, really conceiving the term Dissenter, was sj no