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'ment, and, as I think, all Scripture, at defiance!'-If Dr. Thomson's ideas were sufficiently clear to enable him to express his heresy without self-contradiction, so that he could be an "influential divine," our regret at what he has put forth in this hapless note would be greater than it is. But, though he has erected himself into being a “master in Israel,” by undertaking voluntary instruction in theology to the good people of Edinburgh, his dogmatism, which sets all argument and all Scripture at defiance,” is not likely to produce much effect. The pain, therefore, which we feel, is not for others, but for himself.
And how intolerable, that we, who stand up for the absolute • sinlessness of the flesh of Him who is “the Lord our righteous
ness,” and “the propitiation for our sins," should be talked of as on that account filling them with horror and amazement, and de
nounced, moreover, as "theological babes of the religious world.”' Ah, say you so ? Is this the cause of all? Has Dr. Thomson here • let the cat out of the bag ?' A correspondent in our last Number observed that someone had spoken of an half-infidelScotch Church, and that this offence was not to be forgiven. From this passage in his note, Dr. Thomson seems to have put a cap upon his own head which was never intended for it, and has vented his spleen upon Mr. Irving for the imaginary affront. We speak with the most positive certainty, when we affirm, that under the term
theological babes” Mr. Irving had not the most remote idea of including Dr. Thomson. For ourselves, we can assert, that, until this note appeared, we should as soon have thought of including St. Augustine, or Goodwin, or Mede, in that appellation, as Dr. Thomson. But now, what can we do? “A babe” is, or may be, a fine, healthy, vigorous, growing, thriving thing ; taking in as much milk as it can get; desirous of, and in time arriving at, strong meat; and ultimately, by these means, at the full stature and strength of perfect manhood. Such babes we ourselves desire to be, and would as willingly have sat at the feet of Dr. Thomson as of any one else, and have received instruction in Divine truth at his hands. But he has now compelled us, against our will, against our affections for him, against our prepossessions in his favour, to call in question, not merely his capacity to become Christian instructor, but even his title to be a theological babe. We can no longer range him with the Augustines, the Basils, the Tertullians, the Jeromes, the Henrys, the Gills, the Edwards, &c.; but are forced to place him side by side of those whom he has so often discomfited, -the Conders and the Ormes; the modest gentlemen who alone in the land write literature and religion, and whose purse-proud “ Dissenterism can no longer coalesce with pauperism. Oh! why did Dr. Thomson publish this note? If he had written it, or spoken it, to a friend, he might have received instruction in private, and
not undergone the mortification of public exposure: nothing is now left for him, but a recantation as full and explicit as, and more clear than, the false doctrine which he has taught.
For my own part, I shall be content to stand and suffer this reproach for the most catholic and orthodox doctrine" of the 'immaculate purity of Christ's human nature, and glory in being 'called “a theological babe," since that denomination is affixed 'to me because, for the honour of my Redeemer and the salva'tion of my own soul, I consider Christ as, in the strictest sense of the terms, and in every department of his person, and in all stages of his existence, God's holy Child Jesus.'-And thus ends note C. Once more we inform Dr. Thomson, that he does not rightly understand the point at issue ; and we say this because, if he does, his concluding paragraph does not contain the expressions of an honest man. For, by asserting that he is called a theological babe for standing up for the absolute sinlessness of the flesh of Christ, and “the immaculate purity of his human nature,” and " that, in the strictest sense of the terms, and in every department of his person, and in all stages of his existence, Christ was God's holy child Jesus,” he charges his adversary with holding the opposite, which is not the fact. The question at issue is not, Was the humanity of Christ pure and holý, &c. or not? but the question is, was the humanity of Christ the same as the humanity of other men, but preserved pure and holy by the Holy Ghost; or was it another and better humanity,—an immortal, impeccable, incorruptible humanity, independent of the work of the Holy Ghost ? Did Christ, in short, come in flesh or not?-Oh
yes, says Dr. Thomson, but not in such flesh as ours. Then the question to be solved is, What is the meaning of the word flesh ? Does it ever mean that which is incorruptible, immortal, impeccable, temptless? We shall not answer this in our own words, but in those of Matthew Henry :-"He (Christ) was made flesh, the meanest part of man. Flesh speaks man weak ; and he was crucified through weakness (2 Cor. xii. 4). Flesh speaks man mortal and dying (Psal. lxxvii.39); and Christ was put to death in the flesh (1 Pet. iii. 18). Nay, flesh speaks man tainted with sin (Gen. vi. 3); and Christ, though he was perfectly holy and harmless, yet appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. viii. 3), was made sin for us (2 Cor. v. 6). Wonder at this, that the Eternal Word should be made flesh, when flesh was come into such an ill name! that He who made all things, should himself be made flesh, one of the meanest things; and submit to that from which he was at the greatest distance !..... Having taken upon him the nature of man, he put himself into the place and condition of other men. The Word might have been made flesh and dwelt among the angels ; but, having taken a body of the same mould with us, in it he came, and resided in the same world with us..... When we look upon the upper world, the world of spirits,
how mean and contemptible does this flesh, this body, appear, which we carry about with us, and this world in which our lot is cast! and how hard is it to a contemplative mind to be reconciled to them! But that the Eternal Word was made fesh, was clothed with a body as we are, and dwelt in this world as we do, this has put an honour on them both,” &c.—On John i. 14.
Upon this same passage in John, Dr. Gill observes, “ Flesh here signifies, not a part of the body, nor the whole body, only, but the whole human nature, consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul; and is so called to denote the frailty of it, being encompassed with infirmities, though not sinful; and to shew that it was a real human nature, and not a phantom or appearance, that he assumed.”
It is very possible that we may have in some instances misunderstood Dr. Thomson's meaning, and thereby misrepresented his opinions : if so, we shall not only exceedingly regret having done this, but be anxious for an opportunity to express our contrition and make all possible reparation. Our aim has been to obtain accurate knowledge of the ideas he intended to convey ; and although, if we shall have failed in doing so, something must be put down to the score of our own stupidity, something must also be put down to the confused metaphors and inaccurate expressions of which our author has made use. We have not wished to extenuate any part of the fearfulness of the heresy; nor, on the other hand, to exaggerate any thing; far less to “set down ought in malice” against Dr. Thomson. The public services which he has rendered to the church in the Apocryphal controversy, and the calumnies which he endured from the affected delicacy of fastidious adulterators of God's word with respect to the strength of his language, and the amiable private character of the individual, all conspire to prejudice us very strongly in favour of any thing that comes from his pen : but in a question, not of doubtful interpretation, but of heresy; not about the date of the commencement of the Millennium, but concerning the person of the Lord Jesus ; not of minor, or only collateral importance, but on no less a subject than whether our nature be or be not redeemed from the thraldom of Satan and brought back to God, we feel that the whole scheme of Christianity is involved, in quite as great a degree as in a question concerning the Divinity of Messiah. It is a time to shew, that, in comparison of Christ, neither father nor mother, wife nor child, is worthy of a moment's consideration. It is the very heresy which is predicted as to arise in the church, and go from thence into the world ; instead of beginning in the world, and coming thence into the church. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God; Every spirit that confesseth that
Jesus Christiscome in the FLESH, is of God; and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the FLESH, is not of God: and this is that SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST, whereof have heard that it should come; and even NOW ALREADY IS IT IN THE WORLD. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God, heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us. HEREBY KNOW WE THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, AND THE SPIRIT OF ERROR.” 1 John iv. 1-6.
The Bible knows and speaks but of one kind of flesh-namely, that which is mortal and corruptible; that which every human being wears. Dr. Thomson admits the words, that Christ came in flesh of some sort; and describes properties in this flesh which make it altogether unlike our flesh,-a very different and far better kind of flesh. This is the very heresy against which we are warned in the Epistle of St. John. The Papists are more consistent, and pay more respect to the plain meaning of the words which declare that Christ's manhood was the same as the substance of his mother; and, being determined to make him immaculate, make his mother immaculate also. The heresy, as put forth in this note by Dr. Thomson, is either a compound of many, or else several different heresies are promulgated together. Essential incorruptibility, and incapacity of temptation, are attributes of Deity, and not of humanity; and therefore Dr. Thomson makes a confusion of the two natures. In the fifth century the Eutychian heresy arose, which
“ held that there was but one nature in Christ,” In the following century arose the APHTHAR DOCITES, or InCORRUPTIBLES; so called because they held that our Savour's body
was incorruptible, and exempt from passion :” and also “the Monothelites, who held that there was but one will in Jesus Christ.” We have seen that all these heretical opinions have been maintained in this note.
Some persons have a confused idea floating in their minds, that the nature which the Lord Jesus assumed was like that of Adam before he fell, and not like that of his mother Mary: but Dr. Thomson is as far removed in opinion from these persons, as he is from the orthodox view: for Adam's nature before he fell was not immortal, impeccable, and possessed of essential (that is, underived) holiness; but was mortal, peccable, and only holy as long as it was, by some power or other foreign to itself, so preserved. Nay, the thing that he calls the human nature of the Lord was not only different from and superior to the nature of any man, but above that of any angel or archangel, or any created intelligence of which it is possible to form an idea. Adam, before he fell, had no infirmities : Christ had infirmities :
therefore Christ had the nature of Adam after the fall, and not before it. The admission that the Lord Jesus had infirmities, is conclusive of the whole subject; and we suppose that it was from perceiving this that Dr. Thomson starts the novel idea of the infirmities of our nature being “imputed.” If the nature which the Deity assumed into union with himself was an essentially holy, immortal, impeccable nature, without a capability or capacity for disobeying God; then is that better nature-that holy, immortal, impeccable, &c. nature-only redeemed; and not our worse nature, the nature of man ; which is essentially unholy, mortal, peccable, and capable of disobeying God. - Had he taken the angelical nature, which was more excellent in itself, and suffered in that, his sufferings would have been esteemed the sufferings of that whole nature ; but not of the human nature, because not partaking of it; and so he could not have suffered for it, unless he had suffered in it.”—Charnock, v. 304.
In order to clear up the minds of some who, like Dr. Thomson, may never yet have considered the subject with the accuracy which it deserves, and especially requires from all who would become teachers of others, we shall beg them to consider, that sin, in the abstract, is not an adjunct, but a deficiency; not a positive, but a negative thing: so that Dr. Thomson is no more competent to write upon this question, than he would be on Algebra if he did not know the difference between plus and minus. Sin, therefore, is a necessary quality of creature, as much as corruptibility is a necessary property in matter. In this way it is that ignorance and involuntary acts are sins. When a responsible being proceeds to act, then he commits actual transgression. Since the fall of Adam, the weakness and sufferings of men have induced them to offend in many ways to which Adam could not have been tempted. This weak and infirm, because fallen, and in this sense sinful, flesh, the Son of God assumed ; and, ever acting in it by the Almighty power of the Holy Ghost, preserved it from sinning—that is, from becoming sinful in another sense.
But we have not space to go further at present into this subject. It only remains for us, in conclusion, to shew why we have coupled together these two notes of Dr. Thomson,—the one on the Millennium, and the other on the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ : and our reason is, that we suspect that those who deny the one will be given over to a judicial blindness, and become a prey to heresies upon many other subjects. We would desire to draw a wide difference between those who reject a truth, and those who only reject our poor and miserable manner of setting it before then. It is not of the latter, but of the former, that we speak. We do anticipitate the rise, and dissemination, and reception, to an awful extent, of many soul-destroying heresies; and we are convinced that the truth as it