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lishes one very clear prerogative of the Father above the Son, viz. That the Father is alone AUTO EOS or God of himself, that the Son owes every thing to the Father, and the Father nothing to the Son; and if this were consistently adhered to, and followed out, it would go a great way to reconcile parties as to the main point in controversy. For it would infallibly prove, that the Son was a being produced by the power and will of the Father; and consequently, that he could be considered in no other view than as a de. pendent being, or in other words a creature. But this is far from the meaning of the Trinitarians; for they affirm that, in the Trinity none is before or after another, none is greater or less than another, but that the glory is equal the majesty co-eternal; and that there are three persons in the godhead, of the same substance, power, and eternity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
This pre-eminence, therefore, that the consubstantial Trinitarians ascribe to the Father, of being the fountain of divinity, or the first person in order, is but an empty title that amounts to nothing: and by no means comes up to the force and emphasis of the words of our text. Had the words run only thus, This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the Father, who art God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent, it would have been enough in a fair and candid construction, to have determined the godhead solely to the Father; but when to this is added, that the Father is the true God, and the only true God, the expression is so strong and peremptory, as to render all the attempts of sophistry to set it aside or explain it away absolutely vain and fruitless.
Leaving then these gentlemen for a little, we shall proceed to the consideration of the obvious meaning of our text: but before we do this it may be proper to remark its con. nection with the two verses immediately preceding. St, John's Gospel xvii. 1. 2. 3. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee as thou hast given him power over all flesh; that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' These verses may be paraphrased in the following manner.
"Benevolent parent, the time of my last severe trial and
death is now approaching, when I shall need thine all-powerful aid. Continue to me, thy favoured child, the graci. ous and extraordinary protection and support, which I have hitherto so abundantly experienced, by raising me speedily to life again, and making me the happy means of bringing penitent and virtuous men to eternal life. It is only by the true knowledge and worship of thee, and a sincere obe dience to thy will, as taught by me, thy great prophet and messenger to man, that this eternal life is to be attained."*
But however clearly this passage may be in our favour, we do not propose to rest our cause solely upon it, but shall only make use of it as the ground-work or basis of our reasoning; and shall, 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 pro positions :
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 or authority; or in other words, his Son, Servant, and Messenger; and by the Father's appointment, the Messiah, or only mediator between God and man, 'that they might know Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.'
And thirdly, and lastly, we shall consider and answer the objections that the Trinitarians make to our hypothesis, and urge in favour of their own, founded on various places both of the Old and New Testament.
We shall be led to consider some of their objections occasionally in the progress of our argumentation; but it is our intention to reserve the greatest part of them to the sequel. We return then to our first proposition, which is,
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.' For the sake of greater order and distinctness,
* Lindsey's Sequel to his Apology, p. 249.
we shall arrange the passages of scripture by which this first proposition is supported, into three classes.
First, we shall 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 appropriate 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 division then of our first proposition is, to consider those passages of scripture which assert the unity of God, or God's being one person, without limiting this unity to any particular subject. Some of the most remarkable of these passages are the following:
Deut vi. 4. Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.' Math. xix. 16 and 17. 'And behold, one came and said unto him, good master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.' Mark, xii. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34. 'One of the scribes asked him, which is the first command of all? And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment, and the second is like, namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, 'Well, master, thou hast said the truth; for there is one God, and there is none other but HE:* and to love HIM with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul,
* In Mark xii. 32, The greatest part of the ancient MSS. want the word 90s God; also the Vulgate, Arabic, Syriac, Coptic versions, with Origen. If we follow them we must read as follows: "Of a truth, master, thou hast well said that he, (the Lord Jehovah, mentioned verse 29) is one, and that there is none other but he." Mill, Kuster, and Wetstein. Dr. Clarke and Mr. Lindsey also take notice of this.
and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as him.. self, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, thou art not far from the kingdom of God' Rom. in. 29, 30. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.' 1 Cor. viii. 4. There is none other God but one.' 1 Tim. ii. 5. There is one God, and one Mediator between God and Men, the Man Christ Jesus.' James ii. 19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou dost well; the devils also believe and tremble.'
To these places may be added, all those passages of scripture where God speaks of himself, by the singular personal pronouns, I and ME, or is addressed or spoken of by others, with the pronouns THOU, HE, HIM, which are also singular: as the following, Exod. xx. 2. "I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage.' Thou shalt have no other Gods before ME.' Gen. xvii. 1. The Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I AM the almighty God; walk before ME, and be thou perfect.' Isaiah xliv. 6. Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts, I AM the first, and I AM the last, and besides ME there is no God.' Isaiah xliv. 8. Is there a God besides ME? Yea there is no God, I know not any.' Psal. xlv. 2. 'O THOU that hearest prayer, unto THEE shall all flesh come.' Psalm Ixxxiii. 18. THOU, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth.', Or, as some render this passage,THOU, whose name is Jehovah, who alone art the most high over all the earth.' It would be easy to accumulate a vast number of passages of the like nature, but what we have already quoted, are sufficient for our purpose.
Sure I am, that nobody, whose understanding had not been perverted by a theological system, and the imbibing false ideas from human creeds and confessions of faith, would ever imagine from the perusal of these, and similar passages of sacred scripture, that the Supreme Being was any more than one person. But, say our opponents, the word used for God in the Hebrew, has a plural termination, although construed with a verb in the singular, and
is ELOHIM, or ALEIM, and from thence they would infer, that there are a plurality of persons in the godhead, the plural termination denoting this plurality of persons, and the verb singular, in construction referring to the unity of essence. To give an instance of this: when it is said in Genesis, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;' in the Hebrew, it is literally Gods HE created the heavens and the earth.' We reply, that in all languages, there are words of a plural termination, that have a singular signification, and that this is an idiom or peculiarity of the Hebrew language, and is acknowledged to be so by some of the best Trinitarian critics themselves : that the singular verb in construction does not refer to any fanciful unity of different persons in the same essence; but clearly proves, on the contrary, that the word ELOHIM or ALEIM, although of a plural termination, has a singular sense and meaning. As a proof of this, in the Septuagint, Vulgate, and other ancient versions of the Old Tes tament, as well as in our own, and the other modern ones, the word ELOHIM is always translated in the singular; and our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles, when they quote passages from the Old Testament, observe the very same rule. This last consideration, without adducing any more arguments, appears to me abundantly sufficient to ascer tain the singular signification of the word ELOHIM. Many ingenious conjectures are offered by learned men, to ac count for this irregularity in the Hebrew language; but as they are more curious than useful, we shall wave them at present.
But it is farther alledged by the Trinitarians, that God makes use of plural pronouns in speaking of himself: Gen. i. 26. And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' Gen. iii, 22. And the Lord God said, behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.’ Gen. xi. 7. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' Isaiah vii. 8. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' In regard to these passages, they are too few in number to counterbalance the many thousands on the opposite side, where either God speaks him. self, or is addressed or spoken of by others, with the personal pronouns, I, THOU, ME, HIM: and it shews great