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C-y, to the previous message and deputation sent to him from Tennison's library, the place where that gentleman and his associates held their meetings.
The clergy-society at the Feathers was made up, as the like voluntary combinations of serious and inquisitive persons unknown to each other ever will be made up, of men differing in opinion from each other in many respects, but united in this, that subscription to human formularies of faith was an unjust imposition upon the consciences of men, and an invasion of Christ's authority, the only Lord of conscience, and head of his church.
As a body of men, they are no more chargeable with the private opinions than with the private conduct of each individual of their number. Some of them, without any just impeachment of their integrity, may think there is nothing amiss in repeating that subscription, of which they sought the removal. Others may not be able to allow themselves such a latitude. And it may be painful, and even impossible to some to reconcile
“ Ans. As to the Christian religion in general, we have the sure word of prophecy, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And as to particular establishments, I should apprehend, that the freer they were from errors, the more likely they would be to stand. At least I should think it would be right to run some risque, anıl place some trust ist the providence of God, rather than let errors of any consequence remain." -Dr. Clayton, Bishop of Clogher, o paxagitas, Dedication to Essay on Spirit, pp. xlv. xlvi.
their minds any longer to continue those ministrations in the church, to which their subscription and declarations bind them, when admitted to a cure of souls.
By a long train and series of thought and events, I have found myself unfortunately of this latter number, and after much balancing in my own mind, have believed it incumbent on me to make this apology for myself, who never thought of troubling the public with any thing of mine: willing, at the same time, I must own, when thus called to it, and even glad, at whatever cost, to bear my feeble testimony to the honour and true worship of the One God and Father of all, obscured or oppressed by high authority or dark superstition, in almost every Christian country; and thereby to leave, with my friends at least, a reasonable justification of my conduct for quitting an advantageous situation in the church, of some probable usefulness to others, and casting myself on the providence of God.
It may be some recommendation, if not of the truth of what is delivered, yet of the diligence and sincerity of the writer, that they are not sentiments taken up of yesterday, but the result of many years' painful and solicitous inquiry, not without frequent and earnest aspirations to the Father of Lights for direction and assistance; and to which, the prejudices of education and the suggestions of worldly ease and interest, were most opposed.
And as he hath been fearful of committing any mistakes himself, he hath been no less desirous not to mislead others, in what he here presumes to lay before the public.
Firmly persuaded, upon such evidence as he thinks no fair mind can resist, that the Lord Jesus came from God, in the writing of these sheets he hath been all along under the most serious impressions of the relation he bears, and the obligations he owes, to this divinely commisoned Saviour, who loved him (Gal. ii. 20,) and gave himself for him; the appointed judge of quick and dead, by whom his future lot is to be decided, and who hath given his faithful followers hope, after death, of “ being for ever with
1 Thess, iv. 17. But he dares not advance this divine Saviour to an equality † with his God and heavenly Father, who himself was sent to teach men, that the Father was the only true God; and whose high
* John xvii. 24 : “ Father, I will, that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” But it ought rather to be translated, Father, I desire,-as the phrase, I will, in our language, is ambiguous, and not clearly that of a supplicant. The French translations have it Je désire ; Je souhaite.
+ When Dr. James, the divinity professor at Cambridge, treated our Saviour's name with too much levity in drolling upon Mr. Whiston's and Dr. Clarke's supposed error about the Trinity, at the disputation of the latter for his degree of doctor in divinity; the famous Dr. Bentley made the following extempore tetrastic on the professor:
est aim, glory and felicity was, to be the beloved son and chosen messenger of the Father, and to be employed by him in teaching his will to men. John xvii. 3:-“ This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,' or Jesus whom thou hast sent, to be the Christ. And iv. 24:
My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
When the malicious Jews, perverting his words, accused him, John v. 18, not of making himself equal with, but like to God, as it ought to be translated; See Whitby on Philip. ii. 6, and afterwards, x. 33, were going to stone him for blas. phemy, because that he, being a man, made himself God, by which making himself God, and like to God, they meant nothing more than his
Tú ne mathematicum, male salse Jacobe, lacessis,
Histrio dum ringis serium habere virum ?
Whiston's Hist. Mem. of Dr. S. Clarke, p. 14. * Grotius's note on the text is happily expressed, “De se modeste in tertia persona loqnitur. Sepsus est: Et ut me agnoscant ut legatum tuum. Hac voce ostendit honorem sibi habitum ad Patrem redire. Nam regis interest, ut le. gatus honoretur.
assuming a divine power and authority without any warrant for it, as the context and his answer to them plainly shew: his defence of himself at both times was not, that he was God, but that he had his power and authority from him: v. 19, “ The son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do :” and X. 37, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not;" referring them to the miraculous works which he wrought, as a proof of the maliciousness of their accusation, and of his power and authority from God.
If he said, John v. 22, 23,“The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the son: that all men should honour the son even as they honour the Father;" he immediately explains himself, that the honour to be paid to him was not so much on his own account, as out of respect to God who had sent him, and the important office which he had committed to him;* he that honoureth not the son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
* This is Origen's interpretation of this passage, and the idea he had of the ground of the honour to be paid to Christ. For after asserting that the heathens can shew no authority from the God over all to worship their gods, dæmons, and heroes he says,
“ If Celsus in his turn should ask us concerning Jesus, we shall demonstrate that the honour we pay to him is appointed by God, namely, that all men should konour the son as they honour the Father."
Origen contr. Cels. L. viii, p. 384