To entertain all just, honorable, and worthy notions of Christianity, as it is represented to us in the writings of the new testament, is certainly a matter of the highest importance to mankind.
And it is no less certain, that all wrong and mistaken notions of it must be, more or less, hurtful and prejudicial to the interests of true religion.
Especially when they are received, as sacred Truths, or scripture Truths, and when those who have once imbibed them, or have been bred up in them , are afraid to examine them with the freedom and impartiality which they ought to do.
But so it is, and much to be lamented, that the scriptures have, at all events, been made to fit in with human systems, creeds and confessions, which have been taught and set up in lieu of them.
And these are not only contrary to the real meaning of the sacred writers, but in many respects absurd and inconsistent in themselves, and even repugnant to the most fundamental principles of all religion, both natural and revealed.
Such articles are consistent with human contrivance, and not the scriptures of truth, which are the only criterion by which to judge of the true, sound faith.
Now, since the doctrine of the UNITY, or of one God, is the first and chief article, and has been always allowed to hold the first place, in every creed, this will naturally introduce the immediate and present design of this paper, by leading us to make some interesting and serious reflections, which must, I think, be very plain and obvious to a common understanding.
If the Unity of God then, is the first and leading principle in religion, and the truth of this article was never once called in question by those who have been most divided in other matters, I may fairly ask, what a weak and groundless opinion must that be which many have entertained concerning "person of Christ," As if he, the man Christ Jesus, differed from all other men, in having two distinct natures, the human and the divine, or that of God and man, essentially and personally united!
This, I am truly persuaded, has led many pious, well-meaning persons, through the strength of custom and prejudice, or the want of honest and free enquiry, to put a wrong, and oftentimes very absurd sense upon many passages of the New Testament.
I would be far from entering into quarrelsome contention with any who may differ from me in their religious sentiments.
But I may be allowed to expostulate and reason a little upon the point itself, without giving reasonable or just offense to any, and especially, as I apprehend it to be a matter of moment, and what ought indeed to be maturely weighed, and well understood, if we would be ever able rightly to interpret that revelation which God has given us, or to set the doctrines of the New Testament in a consistent, easy, and amiable light.
I would therefore fain learn, where we have any ground to believe what is called the "hypostatic union," or a duplicity of natures in the person of Christ.
Was it not as man, and in that nature only, that Christ here prays to God as his Father in the Gospel of John? And had he not hereby taught us, even all his disciples and brethren, to pray in like manner to that same almighty Being, whom he expressly styles his God and our God, his Father and our Father (John 20:17)
The doctrine of his strict and proper humanity from this, as well as many other places, is very apparent to the understanding and reason of every man.
Or where it is that we are taught or instructed in any part of scripture, to speak of Jesus, as many of our divines have done, sometimes as God, at other times as man - a mere imaginary distinction this such as only tends to embarrass and confound, but it is far from conveying to the mind any one clear, rational, or instructive idea concerning, either the one God, or the one Lord Jesus Christ.
Does he then pray to himself? Reason and understanding recoils at such an unnatural perversion, such a distortion of ideas!
Let learned and inquisitive men argue and debate this matter as long as they will, this must always pass with me for an axiom, or an indubitable self-evident truth, that Jesus and his Father are two beings, two distinct natures.
("A Comment On Some Remarkable Passages Of Christ's Prayer At The Close Of His Public Ministry," by Rev. Paul Cardale, 1772)