Ralph Wardlaw.

Discourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy online

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of the infinite Jehovah, Ave are not so senseless as for a
moment to suppose. But we do affirm, that in the person
of Jesus, the human nature is, in some way unknown to
us, so united with the Divine, as to liave itself no distinct
subsistence apart from that union : — that, in this sense, he
is '' God manifest in the flesh."

Nothing -can be more disingenuous, than, either directly
or indirectly, to represent the matter in dispute between
Trinitarians and Antitrinitarians, to be, whether Jesus
Christ was a man ; — or to reason as if this were, in any
respect, the question at issue. I do not say that it is ever
formally stated in these terms ; but there is a fondness fre-
quently apparent, for mustering those passages that speak
of Jesus as a man, that is apt to have an imposing effect
on the mind of an unwary reader, leading him to conclude
that all these declarations of his humanity are so many
direct denials of his divinity. It should be remembered,
however, that about the manhood of Jesus there, is no dis-


pute. It is equally admitted on both sides ; and the proofs
of it are as valuable to those, who affirm his divinity, as to
those, >vho deny it. There were, indeed, some ancient
heretics, who denied the real humanity of Jesus ; wlio
considered him as a kind of phantom, and all his suffer-
ings as endured only in appearance. Against such, the
evidence of his proper manhood might with propriety be
directed ; but it is worse than futile, when pointed against
those, to whose system the reality of his human nature i»
as essential as that of his Divine. The simple and only
question evidently is, not, whether Jesus Christ was man^
but whether he was not also God.

Now this is a question, with regard to which, it is man-
ifest, our appeal must be made exclusively to the sacred
volume. The sole inquiry is, '^' What saith the Scripture?"
— And in making this appeal, in prosecuting this inquiry,
it is of unutterable importance, that our minds be duly im-
pressed with the sacred ness of the Mord of God. To wrest
the scriptures is, in the highest degree, dishonouring to
their Divine Author. It is doing to Him, >vhat is felt and
resented by a fellow-creature, as one of the grossest of in-
sults. By w ilfuUy perverting from its true meaning, (that
is, from the meaning Mhich, we are sensible, the Spirit of
Tnith intended it to convey,) any passage of the AA'ord of
God ; or by applying it to a purpose which it was not de-
signed to serve, we are guilty, not of a slight and venial
fault, but of a crime of deep and aggravated enormity ; a
crime, the very thought of which should make us tremble.
It is nothing less, than imputing to the xVutlior of Truth,
sentiments contrary to w hat he meant to express ; making
the God of immutable veracity a liar ; attempting to im-
press the seal of heaven on falsehood and forgery. This
is high treason against the Divine Majesty. It is conduct
which cannot be guiltless ; which cannot be safe ; but
which, while it is deeply criminal, must be perilous in no-


common degree. — Let us then beware, on this and on eve-
ry other subject, of using, on either side, such freedoms with
the Word of the Most High God, as we should reckon it
base to use with the writings of a fellow-man. For if we
do " wrest the Scriptures," it must be, as we are assured,
*^ to our own destruction.''*

It is my intention, in this discourse, to confine my-
self to certain general views of the subject, which seem to
contain in them very powerful evidences of the truth to be
established ; and afterwards to enter into a more particu-
lar examination of some of those passages of Scripture,
which form the more direct and immediate proofs.

It will be thought necessary, however, that I should at
present say a little, in vindication of myself, for applying
to Jesus Christ the words, which I have selected, as the
ground of this discouse.

The whole verse runs thus : — ^^ *ind we Icnoiv that the
Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding
that we may know him that is true ; and ive are in him thai
is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ : this for he J is the
true God, and eternal life.'' — I am quite aware of the am-
biguity arising here, from the appearance of a double ante-
cedent. By " him that is true/' it is said, we are to un-
derstand the Father : and to this appellation, which is the
remote antecedent, the expression " this is the true God"
may refer, as well as to ^^ his Son Jesus Christ," which
is the immediate antecedent.

On this subject, let me request your attention to the fol-
lowing brief remarks. — It is the established general rule,
that the personal, or the demonstrative pronoun, sliould be
considered as referring to the immediate antecedeiit. — To
this general nile there are two cases of exception : Isty
When obvious and indisputable necessity requires the con-

* 2 Peter Hi. 16.


trary.^ — But in the instance in our text, no sucli neces-
sity can he pleaded, except on tiic previous assiniqnion of
the certainty that Jesus Christ is not the true God. Were
this antecedently demonstrated, it might justify a deviation
from ordinary practice. But to proceed on such an as-
sumption, is to bei; the question in dispute. — 2dly, When
the immediate antecedent holds no prominent place in tiie
sentence, but is introduced only incidentally, the remote
being obviously the chief subject, having the entire, or
greatly preponderating emphasis, in tiie mind of tiie writ-
er. — It requires only the reading of the verse, to satisfy
any candid mind, that this is not the case here ; and that
no reason exists on tJiis ground, for any departure from
the general rule. The Son of God stands /rsf and last in
the part of the verse which precedes our text.

These observations are not at all affected ])y the differ-
ence in the translation of the verse, as given by our oppo-
nents in their

Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 4 of 36)