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The goodness of God may be brought in to support this truth. He that is God is good originally, and essentially; he is the fountain and cause of all goodness in and towards others; he is good, and he does good; all the streams of goodness flow from him ; and if what our Lord says is true, as it certainly is, “ there is none good but one, that is, God" :" then it follows, that if there is but one good, there is but one God.
I might go on to prove the unity of the divine being from the perfection of God. He that is God is perfect in his nature and works. If we suppose more gods than one, there must be some essential difference, by which they are distinguished one from another, and that essencial difference must be either an excellency, or an imperfection : if an imperfection, then he, to whom it belongs, cannot be God; because he is not perfect; if it is an excellency, he, in whom it is, is thereby distinguished from all others, in whom it is wanting; and so can only be God: take it which way you will, there can be but one God. Moreover, he, that is God, is El Shaddai, God all-sufficient; he stands in need of nothing, nor can he receive any thing from others : “ who hath “ first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again o ?” Now allsufficiency cannot be properly. said of more than one.
Besides, there is but one first cause of all things, and therefore but one God. Men, from the consideration of effects, arrive to the knowledge of causes, and from the consideration of them, to the cause or causes of them, until they come to the first cause of all things, in which they fix and center, and which they truly call God: and thus by the things that are made, the Gentiles may come to the knowledge of the eternal power and Godhead, or of the unity of the divine effence or being; so that they are without excuse. Now, as there is no reason to believe that there is any more than one first cause of all things; so neither is there any reason to believe that there is more than one God.
In fine, this may be concluded from the relations of God to his creatures. He is their creator, their king, their judge, and lawgiver : now there is but one creator, who is the first cause of all things. There is but one King of kings, and Lord of lords ; but one, whose is the kingdom, and who is the governor among the nations. From the government of the world, we have no reason to conclude that there is any more than one governor; neither are there any more lawgivers than one, who is able to save and to destroy; and but one judge of all the earth, who will do right. As God is one in his nature or essence, and cannot be multiplied or divided, so he is one in his relation to his creatures. But I go on ;
Matt, xix. 17.
• Rom, xi, 35,
2dly, That there is but one God may be sufficiently proved from the books of the Old and New Testament.
1. From the books of the Old Testament. That famous and remarkable paffage in Deut. vi. 4 fully expresses this truth: “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord « our God is one Lord.” This is one of the sections of the law which the Jews put into their Tephillin or Phylacteries, and bind on their foreheads and arms, to put them in remembrance of their duty. This place of P scripture they read every morning and night, with great devotion; and at every turn, object it to the Christians, aś asserting the unity of God, to the exclusion of the doctrine of a Trinity of persons; though to little purpose, as I shall shew hereafter. The prophecy of Isaiah abounds with proofs of this truth. In chap. xliii. 10. God says: “ Before me there was no God formed, neither shall " there be after me.” And in chap. xliv. 6. “ Thus faith the Lord, the “ Lord, the King of lfrael, and his redeemer, the Lord of hofts; I am the 6 first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God." And in ver. 8. the latter part : “Is there a God besides me ? yea, there is no God, I know “ not any." And in chap. xlv. 5, 6. “ I am the Lord, and there is none else, “ there is no God besides me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known “ me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, “ that there is none besides me, I am the Lord, and there is none else.” And ver. 14. latter part: Surely God is in thee, and there is none else, there is “ no God.” So ver, 18, 21, 22. The same may be observed in chap. xlvi. 9. “ Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none else, “ I am God, and there is none like me. These are some of the proofs of the unity of the divine being from the Old Testament, and therefore we need not wonder that the Jews so closely adhere to this article. 2. The New Testament is as full and as express for this as the Old Testa
Our Lord Jesus Christ not only cites that text in Deut. vi. 4. but addresses God after this manner, John xvii. 3. “ This is life eternal to know “ thee, the only true God.” And the apostles from him, as well as from the writings of the Old Testament declare, That there is but one God. The apostle Paul says, in Rom. iii. 30. “ It is one God, which shall justify the “ circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith :" and in 1 Cor. viii. 6. “ To us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, and
we in him; and one Lord Jesus, by whom are all things, and we by him.” So Epb. iv. 6. “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through “ all, and in you all :" and in that famous text; 1 Tim. ii. 5. “ For there is
? Vide Talmud, Beracot, fol. 2. 1, 2. & Maimon. Hilch. Keriat Shema, c. I. $. 1, 2.
9 Mark xii. 29.
« anę God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And to close this account, the apostle James commends persons for afsenting to this truth, when he says, chap. ii, 19. “ Thou believest that there is one “ God, thou dost well; the devils also believe and tremble.” I have not made any remarks on these texts of scripture, because I shall have occasion to consider them hereafter, and give the sense of them. I now proceed,
Secondly, To explain the sense of this article, or shew what we mean, when we say, that there is but one God. And,
1. We do not understand this in an Arian fense ; that there is but one supreme God, and two subordinate or inferior ones. Those phrases of Scripture, which express the unity of God, are not so much levelled against the notion of more fupreme gods than one', this being a notion which could never much prevail among the Gentiles; nor is there much danger of people falling into it, seeing the notion is so absurd and contradictory; but they are chiefly levelled against the vast number of petty and inferior gods, which men have been inclined to embrace and worship. Nor can any reason be given why two inferior gods should not stand as much excluded as two hundred, by these expressions ;; and why we may not as well allow of the latter as the former. Either thefe two inferior Gods are creators, or creatures; if they are creators, they are the one fupreme God; for to be a creator is peculiar to the supreme God: if they are creatures, as there is no medium between a creator and a creature, then “they are the gods that have not made the heavens and the
earth," and therefore shall “ perish from the earth and from under these hea". vens:" nor ought they to have religious worship and adoration given them; because to do to would be a breach of that divine command, “Thou shalt “ have no other gods before me ‘;" and would be serving the creature more than, or besides the creator, complained of in the Genciles, Rom. i. 25. Nor,
2. Do we understand it in a Sabellian sense, that God is but one person. For though there is but one God, yet there are three persons in the Godhead. Though the Father, Word, and Spirit are one, yet not one person ; because if so, they could not be three testifiers, And when our Lord says, “ I and my “ Father are one,” he cannot mean one person ; for he speaks of himself as distinct from the Father, and of the Father as distinct from himself; and as it would be absurd to say, I and myself are one; which he must mean if there is no distinction of persons ; so it would be contradictory to say, that I, who
! Vide Dr Waterland's fermons, p. 125, 126. And his first defence of queries, p. 4, 5. • Exod. xx. 3.
John X. 30
am one, and my Father, who is another, are one person : his meaning is, that they were one in nature, essence, power, and glory. Nor,
3. Do we understand it in a Tritheistic sense ; that is to say, That there are three essences, or beings numerically distinct, which may be said to be one essence or being, because they are all three of one and the same nature : just as three men may be said to be one man, because they are of the same human nature. But this is to make three gods, and not one ; their effences being numerically diftinct: Whereas,
We say, that there is but one divine essence, which is common and undivided to Father, Son, and Spirit ; and in this sense we assert that there is but one God. There is but one essence, though there are different modes of sublisting in it. A late writer has very wrongly represented us as holding", That the divine nature of Christ is distinct from the father of spirits ; that the divine nature is partly in the father, and partly in the son ; and that the fon of God, in his divine nature, is a part of God. This we cannot but complain of as an injury done us, and must insist that the author retract it. If he thinks that these are consequences justly deducible from our principles, he ought not however to represent us as holding them, when we at the same time utterly disavow them : this is not fair dealing. We say that the whole divine nature or essence is in the Father, and that the whole divine nature or effence is in the Son; and that the whole divine nature or essence is in the Holy Ghost; and that it is simple and undivided, and common to all three.
Moreover, when we, with the scriptures, assert that there is but one God, we mean that there is but one only true God, in opposition to all false gods, to the idols of the Heathens; to all nominal gods, or such that are only called so, and are not so really, are not gods by naturc : and allo, in opposition to all figurative or metaphorical gods : thus angels, civil magistrates, and judges, are called gods, because of their exaltation and dignity. Moses is said to be a god to Pharaoh, and to Aaron: a man's belly is called his god, when he indulges it in an Epicurean way: and Satan, because of his usurped dominion, is called the god of this world.
Again, when we say, there is but one God, we thereby design, and so do the scriptures, to include, and not exclude, the deity of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; which will appear by considering the forementioned scriptures. To begin with Deut. vi.
4. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;" which words are truly rendered by the author" of The great concern of Jew and Gentile ;":
6 Hear, - The great concern of Jew and Gentile, p. 27, 40, 41, 47, 50.
« Hear, O Israel, Jehovah, our Gods is one Jehovah.” And the same author justly observes, That “ those words spoken by Moses, in so remarkable a stile, " and after many ages, by Christ himself, when he appeared in the world, call “ for the special regard and attention of such, who in all nations, professed his “ worship, &c." But the account which this author gives of these words, I must be obliged to make some few strictures upon. His sense is this * : “ By “ the first mention of the name Jebovab, in this place, I consider him, says
he, as the only living and true God, who has one of his names Jealous, " and will not give his glory to another: by the second name or character, our *** Gods, I consider him in our nature, in his Christ, the man his fellow; « whom he has taken into union with himself, under the character of the “ Word; and having fo done, in the appointed time, made his soul an
offering for fin, for the gracious purpose of our redemption and salvation : " and by the third, that is, the fame sacred name, Jehovah, as the first; I “ understand the fame God, making himself known to his people through his “ Chrift, in whom he was to reconcile the world unto himself.” I agree with this author in the sense of his first name, Jebovah, as intending the only living and true God; but can by no means affent to his interpretation of the fecond name or character, as he calls it, our Gods; which he makes to be the same only living and true God, in our nature; which he has taken into union with himself, under the character of the Word. Now by the only living and true God, he means either God personally, or God essentially considered ; not God personally considered, because he disallows of a distinction of persons : I apprehend, therefore, that he means God essentially considered. Now let it be observed, that the divine nature or eflence, fimply and absolutely considered, was not united to the human nature; but as it was in such a mode of subsisting: or in other words, the divine nature, as it subfifted in the person of the Aéros, or Word, was united to the human nature. Otherwise, the Father and the Holy Ghost might be truly said to be incarnate, and to suffer, die, and rise again, as well as the Son : whereas it was not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost, but “ the Word that was made Aelh, and dwelt among us:" it was not the Father, but the Son that was “made of a woman, made under the law." And after all, it is somewhat shocking and surprising to me, that the human nature, being united to the divine nature, should make a plurality in the Deity, which is the only reason of this, plural expression, our Gods, hinted at by this author : for though the human nature, by its union to the divine nature, is greatly exalted and dignified, yet it is not deified; it is not transmuted into the same nature; it is not made a God of; nor does it give any plurality to the Deity. As for the author's sense of the third name, Jehovah, I must confess, VOL. III.
x Ibid. p. 7•