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want of candour and judgment in the Trinitarians, to catch at a shadow, that seems to make for their party, and to pay no regard to a thousand times the weight of evidence on the opposite side. And this is a good general answer, though we were capable of saying nothing more. But to come to particulars. It is no uncommon thing in any lan. guage, ancient or modern, for single persons to speak in the plural; but it was never yet heard of in any age of the world, that more persons than one spoke in the singu. lar. As to the passage, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,' about which the Trinitarians make so great a bustle; it is certain that the effect of God's purpose is described in the singular, in the verse immediately following: Gen. i. 27. 'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created HE him: male and fe. male created HE them.' Our Saviour himself observes, Mark x. 6. That from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.' This is still more strongly expressed by Math. chap. xix. 4. And he an.. swered and said unto them, have ye not read, that HE which made them at the beginning, made them male and female? This clearly obviates any pretence of inferring a plurality of persons in the divine nature, from the expression, Let us make man:' And, perhaps, to represent the dignity of human nature, which was made after the image of God, the deity may be represented as consulting with himself, when he undertook the creation of man; or perhaps declaring his purpose to the angels, as spectators of this memorable event: for we are told in Job, that at the creation, 'the morning stars sung together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.' This passage, therefore, being explained, there remains no difficulty in the rest, which may not be accounted for in a similar manner.
Having removed these objections, we return to the consideration of the texts quoted before; and they are so plain and express, that they are rather darkened than enlightened by many words. If God is more than one person, the sacred scriptures are one continued grammatical impropriety, almost from beginning to end, which would be strange and ridiculous, if not impious, to suppose. When God speaks to men, he must always be understood to speak after the manner of men; and as no instance can be produced amongst men, of several persons speaking in
the singular, every time that any of these personal pronouns are used concerning God, it is a demonstrative proof that he is one person. Besides, it is an absurdity in itself, and a gross perversion of language, to affirm, that one God can ever mean more than one person. A man might as well say, that one man meant several men, one angel several angels, as assert that one God includes several divine persons. For what is a divine person, but (as has been frequently observed by Unitarian writers) a periphrasis, or circumlocution, or, in plain English, a round about way of speaking, to denote one God. If then one divine person be one God, it follows with invincible evidence and force of argument, that three such divine persons are three Gods. Our adversaries themselves will allow, that to say three persons are one person, three beings are one being, or three Gods are one God, is a contradiction. If this is the case, it must also be a contradiction to affirm, that three divine persons are one God; for this (as before observed) is only saying the same thing in other words.
Again: it is allowed by the ablest of our opponents, to be a demonstrative argument for the existence of one God, or one infinite mind or spirit in opposition to polytheism, that one such God or Spirit, possessed of every possible perfection, is sufficient for the creation and preservation of all things, and that to suppose more is entirely unne. cessary. It is absolutely necessary to suppose one self. existent being, to account for the phenomena of nature; but it is by no means so to imagine more. It is an absur dity; for unity is certainly included in the idea of self-existence and infinity, and if we were to imagine infinity to reside in more subjects than one, none of these supposed subjects would be infinite, and the unity and absolute supremacy of the godhead would be destroyed. Apply this reasoning to the subject in hand, and it will be found equally strong, to prove that God is one person, as that there is one God. For the words God, Person, and Being, when applied to one infinite, intelligent agent, must ever be understood as convertible terms, and cannot be distin guished even in idea, although schoolmen, metaphysicians, and Trinitarian divines, have attempted to do it, and have invented childish, unmeaning, and irrational distinctions, to darken the argument, and hinder the truth from being distinctly perceived.
The doctrine of the proper and personal unity of the Supreme Being, is a doctrine of the last importance in religion, never to be given up, or departed from, on any pretence whatever. Under the old Jewish dispensation, God called upon his people to hear, to listen with the ut most attention, to this important truth : Hear, Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD;' or, as some critics translate it, Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God Jehovah is one and under the gospel dispensation, our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles, are still sounding the same awful truth in our ears. Moses and the prophets, Jesus and his apostles, were strangers to the doctrine of three consubstantial persons, or intelligent agents, forming one supreme godhead. This doctrine, as will more fully appear in the sequel, is not to be found in the scriptures; it has nothing better to support it, than the authority of
We should now proceed to the second division of our first proposition, which was to consider those passages of scripture, which absolutely restrict and appropriate this unity or one godhead to the Father; but this requiring to be treated at considerable length, cannot be entered upon at present. Now to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise, and only true God, be glory in the church, by Christ Jesus, Amen.
Learned men have translated Deut. chap. vi. 4. very differently. Le Clerc renders it, 'Jehovah is our God, Jehovah only. Others, Jehovah, our God Jehovah is one.' Dr. Waterland contends, that it should be, The Lord, our God, is the sole Lord, or the only God.' Any of these interpretations will do with the Unitarians. The two first suppose the word, Jehovah, to be a proper name. Mr. Madan has the following ridiculous interpretation: Jehovah, (subsisting in) our Aleim, (or plurality of persons) (is but) one Jehovah;' that is to say, there are three Jehovahs, and yet there is but one Jehovah. The con tradiction of this interpretation is evident.
JOHN Xvii. 3.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
THE last time we met together in this place, we entere upon the consideration of these words. We observed, that they contained a very important speculative truth, viz. That the knowledge of God and Christ, or the different characters and relations which they stand in to us, is ne cessary to the obtaining of eternal life. We observed far. ther, that it is obvious to every one's consideration who takes the words of our text in their just and natural sense, that the Father is here styled, and that by our Lord him. self, the only true God;' and Jesus Christ is distinguish. ed from him under the character of one that he hath sent, or as his messenger, legate, or ambassador.
We remarked, that this our text has ever been held de servedly dear, by those who maintain the proper unity of God, and that he is the Father only: and that on the other hand, those who oppose this important truth, and affirm that there are a plurality of co-equal and substantial per. sons in the Godhead, have endeavoured to explain away its natural and genuine meaning, and put a forced and ar bitrary construction upon it. We examined and obviated. the objections of the Trinitarians to our interpretation; and shewed that these words, only true God;' addressed by our Lord to the Father, are so strong and peremptory, as to render all the attempts of sophistry to set them aside or But explain them away, absolutely vain and fruitless.
we remarked that however clearly this passage might be in our favour, we did not intend to rest our cause solely upon it, but should only make use of it as the ground work and basis of our reasoning; and should, therefore, in support of the doctrine of our text, make an appeal to the scriptures at large, and endeavour to enforce and establish the following propositions.
First, that there is one person, or intelligent agent, who alone is God, supreme, almighty, and eternal; and that this one person is the Father, or, as he is sometimes called in scripture, the God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 'This is life eternal, that they might know THEE the only true God.'
Secondly, that Jesus Christ is not the most high God; but a being inferior to him, dependent upon him and acting by his command and authority; or in other words his Son, Servant, and Messenger: and by the Father's appoint ment the Messiah, or only mediator between God and man. 'That they might know Jesus Christ whom THOU hast sent.
And thirdly and lastly, to consider and answer the ob jections, that the Trinitarians make to our hypothesis, and urge in support of their own, founded on various places both of the Old and New Testament.
For the sake of greater order and distinctness, we proposed to arrange the passages of scripture by which our first proposition is supported into three classes, viz. . First, to consider those which assert the unity of God, or God's being one person, without limiting this unity to any particular subject.
Secondly, those which absolutely restrict, and appropri ate this unity or one Godhead, to the Father, and to him only.
Thirdly, those which ascribe such high titles and sublime epithets to the Father; as render it impossible to suppose that any being in heaven or in earth, can be equal to him, or compared with him.
The first of these subdivisions, we considered and dis cussed in the preceding discourse: and quoted many express passages of scripture to prove the unity of God, or that there is but one God. We shewed that the proper