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SELECTIONS FROM THE WORKS OF EMINENT THEOLOGIANS
BELONGING TO ORTHODOX CHURCHES.
With Introductory and Occasional Remarks.
BY JOHN WILSON,
AUTHOR OF SCRIPTURE Proofs and sCRIPTURAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF UNITARIANISM.”
WALKER, WISE, AND COMPANY,
PUBLISHERS FOR THE
American Unitarian Association,
245, WASHINGTON STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by HENRY A. MILES, SECRE TARY OF THE AMERICAN UNITARIAN ASSOCIATION, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
ABOUT thirteen years ago, the author published in England a work entitled "The Concessions of Trinitarians," the object of which was to prove, from the comments and criticisms of distinguished divines belonging to Orthodox churches, the truth of Unitarianism in regard to the teachings of Scripture on the subject of the personality and relations of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Judging, shortly after his arrival in this country in 1846, that, from the kind reception which it had met with, and the small number of copies on hand, the book would soon be out of print, he thought it desirable to republish it on an enlarged scale; and, accordingly, since that time, he has devoted a considerable portion of his leisure hours to the examination of theological works, with the view of making such extracts as seemed best suited to effect his design.
The "Concessions" consisted of a selection of remarks on texts taken up according to the order in which they occur in the authorized version of the Bible, with an Introduction of seventy-six pages of miscellaneous matter. That Introduction forms the basis of the present volume, but has been subjected to so many changes in arrangement, and expanded so much in its character and plan, that it has been deemed advisable to designate this publication by a new title.
It is intended to print, at some future time, the remainder of the work, comprising two or three additional volumes. Each of these, though related to the others, and upholding with them one great presumptive argument for the soundness of the principles of interpretation adopted by Unitarians, will embrace the consideration of a certain number of the Sacred Books, and be issued by itself.
On the mode in which the writer has executed his task, so far as it may be judged of by this volume, it is not for him to pronounce an opinion; but he may be allowed to say, that, while he has sometimes omitted, in his quotations, sentences which seemed to him irrelevant, and, for want of room, has abridged others which he thought appropriate, he has been careful to do no injustice to his authors, and, to avoid even the appearance of unfairness, has not unfrequently lengthened his extracts beyond the measure required by the object he had in view. In noticing, therefore, errors or imperfections, it is hoped that readers will attribute them to any motive but that of a wish, on the part of the transcriber, to pervert the sentiments of others for the purpose of making them coincide with his own; feeling assured, as he does, that no object, however excellent in itself, or however well adapted to advance the well-being of man, should be promoted by any means but those of candor, simplicity, justice, and directness of aim:
If it be thought that the author has failed in the treatment of his subject, let the responsibility rest on himself, and not on the cause which he advocates, or on that section of the Christian church of which he is but an individual member. He has tried, through the assistance afforded him by his brethren of a different faith, to express and disseminate his own conceptions of biblical and Christian truth; but, though writing as a Unitarian, and agreeing essentially with
the opinions entertained in general by the Unitarian body, he does not presume to act as its representative. It is the glory of this denomination that it recognizes no standard but reason and Scripture; no leader but Christ; no human authority as its representative, even though he were a Milton or a Locke, a Priestley or a Price, a Channing or a Norton. With one heart and one voice, its collective members proclaim to the world their conviction of the great truth, that there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ,
two distinct and unequal persons or beings: the first of whom stands in the relation of Parent of all intelligences; the second, in that of Son and Servant of God, by whom he was sent into the world to be the Teacher, the Guide, and the Saviour of mankind.
As to the precise rank in the scale of creation to which Christ belonged, Unitarians differ in opinion, as they do in their modes of speaking of him; and on this point the author may be found to disagree with many of his brethren in this country. It is frankly acknowledged that there are several passages in the New Testament which seem to imply that Jesus existed before his birth as an intelligence inferior only to God; but, without wishing to be dogmatical on a subject which is not altogether free from indistinctness and difficulty, the writer would express his strong conviction, that, whatever Jesus was in a pre-existent state, the Scriptures represent him to have entered into this world, to have lived and labored, suffered and died, as a proper human being,—to have gone about his work of holy love and heavenly instruction, with all the instincts, affections, and properties of humanity; but distinguished above the greatest, the wisest, and the best of men, by his more copious reception of the divine spirit; by his higher acquaintance with the counsels and purposes of Heaven; by his more intimate communion and oneness with