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A Recapitulation of the contents of the Work in which the
different scriptural points, forming the basis of argument, are briefly treated on, in order to bring the whole contents of this Treatise before the reader in a clear and condensed point of view. The birth of Christ, as proclaimed alike to Jew and Gentile, connected with the meaning of the word
Image” already treated on. The meaning of the words “ Image and Likeness," as attached to each word repectively, by God the Word made flesh.
Previous to entering on a short and continuous detail of the contents of this small volume, it appears requisite, and indeed a matter of necessity to bespeak the attention and indulgent consideration of the reader, whatever may be his religious tenets, to the following considerations :
The primitive fathers of the church, very generally, and justly regarded as of considerable eminence and authority in the times in which each respectively lived, have assigned no definite meaning to those points of argument, attempted to be scripturally established in this work, and to the end that I may not appear to be personally invidious, it only remains necessary to add, that commentators, down to the present day, regard the subjects forming the most prominent points of disquisition in this treatise as incomprehensible, but with all-becoming respect and just veneration, both with respect to the writings of the fathers, who were the burning and shining lights of the church, when our western part of the world was about to emerge by the light of the gospel, from a long continued night of ignorance and error; yet with the sacred writings in our hands, and our eternal destiny at stake, we evidently have individually the like interest in revelation, with those venerable fathers themselves, whose anxious solicitude for our spiritual welfare in time and in eternity, induced them to offer us, as a most valuable bequest, and proof of their care for the church of Christ in their written opinions, in order to instruct and enlighten us in the fundamental truths of our alone divine, and sacred christian faith ; and therefore, although entertaining a becoming respect for that kindred and christian affection, which undoubtedly, in a very extraordinary manner animated them to take so deep an interest in the glory of
Christ, and our future salvation ; yet I cannot think, on very strictly examining the Bible, that the writings of the fathers should be made a stop short, to the prosecution of all farther enquiry concerning the written word and will of the Deity, and to me it is perfectly evident, that those venerable fathers of the church, though exhibiting intense anxiety for the future interest of the christian faith, never themselves could be so arrogant, as for one moment to think, that their own writings were to constitute the “ plus ultra” of the christian's enquiry after the truth of God. The respect due to their christian humility must teach us this.
Nor am I singular in advancing and advocating opinions of this kind, in the following extract, which is made the introduction to a work of great eminence, written by the Reverend Samuel Johnson, M. A., called “ The Scripture of Christ's Divinity,” I find the following remarks perfectly in keeping with my own confirmed views on the same subjects.
“ Search the scriptures, for they are they which testify of me." John v. 39.
“We must not be carried away with a notion, that the first interpretors of the holy Bible have left no room for new discoveries, or that it is impossible to clear up those difficulties which have not, as yet been explained. In matters of this nature, we ought not to be biassed by authority and numbers. The majority of commentators take the easiest course, and the easiest course is to copy after others, and take what they say for granted. But let a man carefully examine one single chapter, and he will soon be convinced how much the inspired writings stand in need of some further illustrations.”—Calmet's Genl. Pret. to his Crit. Dissert.
If in presuming to extend scripture exposition beyond those points, where the fathers, without exception, thought proper to desist, I shall be found to stand charged with being the propagator of new doctrines in religion. You have the names of those men of eminent respect and high estimation, and whose approbation of my assumed presumption, I wish to continue in the possession of. From the confirmed christian, I request what I am willing to suppose will be readily and voluntarily conceded, viz. A comparison between the sentiments maintained throughout this whole work, and
the written word of God, and a decision agreeable to his conscientious convictions.
We will now turn our attention to a recapitulation of the contents of this illustration, and attempt to pourtray the contents of the work before the reader in as small a compass as the scriptural proofs of its truth will admit of, and finally, take the liberty of saying somewhat for the solemn reflection of persons professing the errors of Antinomianism, and thus guard youth from adopting that frightful and impious heresy.
Having already ascribed to the omniscience and omnipotence of God, the word made flesh, the entire glory of creating all things that were created and made: the first occurrence that presents itself in the divine record, is a manifest and striking display of the truths of christianity, wherein the calculation of the natural day by the “ Evening and the Morning," such being the times assigned for the death and resurrection of the Christ; the Deity herein bringing Christ before us in the hypostatical union, and prophesying by action, the institution of the law and the gospel, the shedding of the blood of the inferior creatures in the Levitical sacrifices, of which the blood of Christ is