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were but imperfect, and 'tis plain that his own Apostles hardly believed it.
It is certain, that after the Resurrection of Christ, and the Days of Pentecost, the ApoAtles by degrees had more divine Light let into their Souls by the Holy Spirit, whereby they arrived at a fuller Knowledge of the Glory of his Person and his Godhead; yer 'tis very probable that the Idea which I have before described, is the highest they attained in his Life-time ; and that not only on the account of the Arguments I have used already, but because this Notion was fo fixed and rooted in their Minds, that they generally described our Lord Jesus Christ in this manner, in all their first Ministrations of the Gospel, and they thought it proper to teach others in the same Manner as they had learned. So St. Peter, Afts 2. 22. tells the Men of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth was a Man approved of God among you by Miracles, and Wonders, and Signs which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know, *. 24. whom God has raised up, having looped the Pains of Death.
Again, Aets 3. 13. The God of our Fathers hath glorify'd his Son Jefus, whom ye delivered up, &c. And he cites Mofes to shew what he was, v. 22. A Prophet sall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your Brethren, like unto me. So when he preach'd to Cornelius a Roman, Acts 10. 38. God hath anoint
ed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with Power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppress’d with the Devil, for God was with him, &c.
And St. Paul himself preached Christ under this inferior Character at first, tho’he came not a whit behind the chiefest of the Apostles in Knowledge, 2 Cor. 12. 11. and Gal. 2. 6. In his Sermon at Athens, he says, God hath appointed a Day in the which he will judge the World in Righteousness, by that Man whom he hath ordained'; whereof he hath given Assurance unto all Men, in that he hath raised him from the Dead, Aits 17:31. Thus they begun with the human Nature and the Offices of Christ, and the peculiar assisting Presence of God with him, before they taught any thing of the Mystery of his own Godhead or personal Union with the Divine Nature.
And indeed there is a good deal of Reason, why they should not at first reveal and display the glorious Doctrine of the Trinity and the Godhead of Jesus, though they had known it never so well. It was not fit they should break in all at once upon the blind Jewiss Nation, nor upon the blinder Gentiles, with the Blaze of Christ's Divinity. For (to speak humanly) it would have fill'd the Minds of Strangers with surprizing Doubts and Scruples, and raised in them an urter Prejudice against all further Attention to the Gospel, if they had been
told at first of Three Persons who were each of them the true God, and yet all Three but one God*. This was not proper to be the very first Lesson in Christianity. The great Work of the Conversion of the World was done by degrees, as human Nature could bear. Thus God hath treated Men in all Ages, and led them on from Faith to Faith, Rom. 1. 17. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ treated his Disciples, John 16. 12. I have yet many things to say to you, but ye
cannot bear them now. And thus the Apostles treated the Jews and Gentiles, to whom they preached, i Cor. 3. 2. and fed them with Milk and not with Meat, for thcy
were * There is a remarkable Instance to this purpose in the Conferences of the Danish Missionaries with the Heathens of Malabar. The Missionary Speaking of the Son of God, the Malabarian rePly’d; Who is his Son and is he also God? Mil. He is God blessed for ever. Malab. But pray Sir, recollect yourself, have not you been just now inveighing against Plurality of Gods? And now I find, you have yourselves more than one ; the Father is God, and the Son is God, then you have two Gods. Mis. We do not believe two Gods, but one only God; tho' at the same time, we firmly believe, that there are three Persons in one Divine Essence ; and yet these three Persons are not three, but one God: And this we believe as a great Mystery, &c. And then he goes on to explain it by the Understanding and the Will proceeding from the Soul, which are yet really one and the same thing with the Soul. Upon which the Malabarian makes this Reply ; I find, said he, that you, with your fubtil ways of arguing, can make a Trinity confitent with Unity; and if your Explication is absolutely necessary to make others understand what you mean, pray, allow us the same Advantage of explaining the Doctrine of our Religion, and putting it in the most favourable Light we can, for the excluding of the Absurdities imputed to us? And this once granted us, "twill follow, that our Plurality does not destroy the Unity of God, no more than your Trinity does. We worship the Gods upon no other account, than because they are the Vicegerents of the Almighty, whose Admi
were not able to bear it. Thus by Now degrees they led them from the Knowledge of Jesus, the Son of Man, to the Knowledge of Jesus the Son of God; from the Discovery of Jesus the Prophet, to the Discovery of Jesus the Messiah, the Priest and the King ; from the Revelation of Christ the Saviour of Men to the Revelation of Christ the eternal Life and the true God; from the Doctrine of the Presence of God with him, to the Doctrine of the personal Union with Godhead, in whom dwells all the Fulness of the Godhead bodily, and who is God over all blessed for ever by virtue of this glorious and personal Union with the eternal God.
nistration he imploys in governing the World, as he did employ them at the beginning, in creating and forming the fame. And our God appearing among Men at sundry times under different Shapes, had at every Apparition a different Name given him, which contributed very much to the multiplying of the Number of our Images ; whereas in truth, they are but different Reprefentations of the fame God, under different Aspects and Ap. pearances. See Conference Numb. 11. Now if the Apofles bad dealt so imprudently with the Heathens or with the Jews, by preaching the Doctrine of the Trinity at firf in the fulleft Expreffions, they had embarass'd the Minds of their Hearers, and exposed themselves and their Do&rine of Salvation by Jesus the Messiah to such Dificulties and wrangling Disputations. But you find no Controverfies of this kind raised in their first Preaching
QUESTION III. . Could the Son of God properly enter
into a Covenant with his Father to do and suffer what was necessary to our Redemption, without a buman Soul?
SE CT. I.
T is granted that the Generality of our
the Divine Nature or Godhead of Christ had an Existence before he was conceived by the Virgin Mary, and became incarnate ; yet whensoever they would represent the exceeding great Love of the Father in sending his Son into our World, that he might suffer and die for us, and when they would describe the transcendent Love of Christ, in his coming into our World, and his submitting to Death for our lakes, they usually represent it in such Language as can never agree to his Divine Nature in any Propriety of Speech, but only to the pre-existent human Soul of Christ, with its Descent into Flesh and Blood, and the Suf