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INTRODUCTION.

That the official character which all Christians believe to have been sustained by Jesus of Nazareth, was the object of prophecy and of solicitous expectation, under the earlier schemes of divine revelation, is a position which it is difficult to suppose that any deny who make serious pretensions to the name of Christian. If this be admitted, it seems an easy and obvious consequence, that any rational inquiry into the person, or functions, proper to that character, should begin by collecting every descriptive particular from the records of the Old Testament, by singly scrutinizing their import, and by a just comparison and combination of them all. Whether such a course of inquiry would be, of itself, sufficient to determine the great question at issue, or not; it could not fail to be an useful preparative to the examination of the Christian scriptures. The writers of the New Testament evidently suppose in their readers an acquaintance with the facts and doctrines of the preceding dispensations: they build upon them as the foundation of the Christian system, and they rarely appear solicitous to deliver anew those facts and doctrines which it was thus their habit to regard as known and admitted.

Obvious and natural as this line of investigation appears, the author of the Calm Inquiry has scarcely given it a place in his volume. He has introduced a very brief section on the question, whether “ the Jews expected a pre-existent Messiah :"* but the question is instituted solely in relation to the contemporaries of Jesus and the apostles, a subject materially differing from that now proposed. I say nothing at present of the summary proceeding by which a question, certainly not trivial nor very easy, is dispatched in a few lines: the argument will, in its place, come before us. In another place, f indeed, he approaches more nearly to the view of the question on which we are now entering : but, in this instance, he only mentions five or six passages

from the prophets; passages which are of the most weak and dubious kind as arguments in this controversy; and which, after a bare recital and two

Calm Ing. p. 10. † P. 311. The passages cited are Is. Ixiii. 8, 9. Hos. i. 7. Ezek. xxxiv. 23, comp. with Zech. xii. 7. Hos. iii. 5, comp. with Micah iv. 7.

or three short remarks, are dismissed with a coronis not surely very “ calm” nor very candid :“ Such arguments admit of no reply. One can only wonder that learned men can impose upon themselves by such slender and miserable sophisms.” Unmoved, however, by this scorn, we shall pursue the course of investigation which the reason of the case requires.

But, though the Calm Inquiry will not assist us far in this part of our pursuit, the reader will find that the interpretations of the author, and of other Unitarian writers, will be introduced and considered in their places.

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