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he addressed the Father, and in his prayer he had these words, “ And this is life eternal, that they might know THEL, THE ONLY TRUE God, and Jesus Christ whom THOU hast sent.
I think, Sir, I may say, without hazard, that there is no intimation in the Bible of three self-existent Persons in one God, either in the manner in which Divine commands were communicated, or in the prayers of saints. But in giving commands, God uniformly made himself known as one individual Person; and as to an individual Person, the Prophets and Saints addressed their prayers to God.
Moreover, in all the remarkable manifestations of himself to mankind, God made himself known as ONE PERSON ONLY.-When he appeared to Adam after the fall, he manifested himself as one Person. And in pronouncing the curse upon the serpent, as one Person he spake, “ I will put enmity between thee and the woman. And unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow," &c.
As one Person, God manifested himself to Noah. “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come up before ME.
And behold, I, even I do bring a flood upon the earth. But with thee will I establish
covenant. In his various appearances to Abraham, he revealed himself as only one Person.-" I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward-I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth-I am the Almighty God, walk before me, and be thou perfect.”'
Similar to this, was the style and manner adopted by God in all his appearances to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In all the manifestations which God made of himself to Moses and the people of Israel, he uniformly represented himself as one Person. And thus he represented himself in his communications to the Prophets. It may also be observed, that in several instances God adopted forms of speech which not only implied a denial of the existence of any other God, but also of the existence of any other SELFEXISTENT PERSON. " See now that I, even I am He, and there is no God with me; I kill, and I make alive ; I wound, and I heal.” Deut. xxxii. 39.-" And there is no god else besides Me; a just God, and a Savior ; there is pone besides Me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” Isa, xlv. 21, 22, -"Remember the former things of old ;
for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.
When God reveals himself under the title of the HOLY One, or the Holy ONE OF ISRAEL, he represents himself not only as ONE GOD, but as one Person. " Thus saith the Lord, the Holy ONE of Israel, and his Maker, Ask ME of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye ME.
In conformity to the idea which God gave of himself, as being one Person only, all the sacred writers, in speaking of God, speak of him as one Person, by using a personal pronoun of the singular number, as He, His, Him, togeth-* er with corresponding verbs.
The Son of God, in the course of his ministry, spake of God as one Person. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," &c.--And the apostles uniformly spake of God as one Person only.--The Scribe who came to Christ, and received his approbation as not far from the kingdom of God, in the course of the conversation, and in reply to Christ, said, “There is ONE GOD, and there is none other but HE." And his remark was approved by Christ.
Nouns of " plural comprehension, such as Mr. Jones supposes the word God to be, admit the article the before them, as, the Council, the Senate ; and the pronouns, to agree with them, must be either neuter pronouns of the singular number, or personal pronouns of the plural num, ber. Speaking of a Council, we either say it adjcurned, or They adjourned-Of a Senate, It passed an act, or They passed an act. We do not say of a Council, He adjourned ; nor of a Senate, He passed an act-Nor does a Senate or a Council, speaking in the first person, say I will.
In view of these observations, Sir, suffer me to present to your notice some of the foregoing passages of Scripture, in a manner conformable to the Athanasian theory. I will begin with the passage in Genesis, so much quoted by Athanasian writers, and connect with it the following verse. The passage, to agree with your views, should read thus :...." And the God said, Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness. So the God creaced man in their own image, and after their likeness ; in the image of the God created they him.”.
If the pronouns us and our are pronouns for God only, the following pronouns should be also of the plural number.
Upon the same principle, the first commandment would read as follows......" Thou shalt have no other gods before"
When God said, “I am God, and there is none like ME,” would not your theory have required the following form ?....WE ARE THE God, and there is none like us.
Would not the words of Christ, to have corresponded with your views, have stood thus ?...." The God so loved the world, that THEY gave THEIR only begotten Son,” &c.
The words of the Scribe, “ There is one God, and there is none other but THEM' 'or but it.
A remarkable variation would also be requisite in the passage before quoted, in which God speaks of himself as the Holy ONE." Thus saith the Lord, the Holy ONE of Israel, and his Maker, Ask us of things to come, concerning our sons; and concerning the work of our hands, command ye us.
I would further suggest, whether another variation in this text would not render it still more conformable to Mr. Jones' scheme, and even to the language of Athanasians in general ? “ Thus saith the Lord, the HOLY THREE of Israel!"
This, I conceive, would have been a correct expression of your doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. Under the term LORD, or JEHOVAH, the Unity would have been implied, and under the terms Holy THREE, the Trinity would have been expressed.
Will you, Sir, be pleased now to consider what a great and surprizing change, must be made throughout the Bible, in respect to the pronouns and verbs agreeing with God, to have the language of the Bible conformable to the Athanasion doctrine? You cannot be insensible, that, in every instance in which a personal pronoun of the singular number is used as a substitute for the noun God, something is implied contrary to that doctrine. Of course, a very great. portion both of the Old Testament and the New, is, according to the natural import of language, opposed to that the ory. If the doctrine of three self-existent Persons in one God were true, and of such infinite importance as seems to be supposed by our good brethren, how can it be accounted for, that God himself, and all the sacred writers, should so uniformly adopt such forms of speech as would naturally
lead to the conclusion, that the one self-existent God is but one self-existent Person ?
Mr. Jones has indeed suggested the idea, that the singular pronouns and verbs are most commonly used as agreeing with God, to guard mankind against the idea of more Gods than one. But may I not, with as much propriety, suggest, that they are thus used to guard us against the idea of more than one self-existent Person? or that they were thus used, that in case any should adopt the opinion of a plurality of self-existent Persons, the error might be detected by the current and uniform language of Scripture?
If it be a truth, that there are three self-existent Persons in one God, it is doubtless a very important truth. Nor is it to be admitted, that God should constantly speak in a manner which tended to impress the contrary idea, to prevent our falling into the error of a plurality of Gods. Had it been a truth that there is but one God, and that this term is of“ plural comprehension,” comprizing three co-eternal Persons, it would certainly have been a very easy thing with God to have adopted language conformable to both parts of the proposition. The suggestion of Mr. Jones amounts to nothing less than this, that God made use of language which was calculated to lead us into one errors Jest we should fall into another.
Would it not, Sir, shock the feelings of a Christian audience, if a minister, in his prayers and preaching, should conform his language to the Athanasian theory, and the established rules of grammar? But if the theory be true, ought you not to adapt your current language, in prayer and preaching, to your theory? You cannot be insensible, that to use pronouns and verbs of the singul r number, in relation to God, has a direct tendency to impress the minds of your
hearers with the idea that God is but one Person. And if you believe the contrary, ought you not to avoid such forms of speech as naturally tend to mislead the minds of your hearers? You will probably retort the question, and ask, why I did not avoid such forms of speech while I was an Athanasian? I
was not aware of the inconsistency between my common forms of speech and the theory I had adopted. If this be your case, you may possibly be excused in respect to what is past ; but what will you do in time to come?
To evade the argument resulting from the use of singular pronouns and verbs, some will probably say, that each Person in the Trinity is God, and may say I am God; and that when a singular pronoun is used for God, one Person only is intended.
In reply, the following questions may be asked.
1. If each Person, as a distinct Person, may say I am God, will it not follow that there are as many Gods as Persons ?
2. If the term God be intended to imply three distinct Persons, and each of those three, as a distinct Person, may say I am God, will it not follow that there are as many as nine Persons in the Godhead? If the term God do really imply three Persons, then any one who affirms that he is God, affirms that he is three Persons; and three times three are nine.
3. If there be three self-existent and co-equal Persons in the Godhead, can it be proper for either of the three to say I am God, and there is no GOD BESIDES ME? When any one Person adopts this language, does he not naturally exclude every othei Person from the dignity which he claims for himself? Suppose three Persons to be united as co-equal in one Government, under the title of King, would it be consistent for either of those Persons to say I am King, and there is no King besides me? If any one of the three should say thus, would it not be untrue in itself, and a contempt of the other Persons ?
Supposing that you are of the number of Divines who venture to tell what is to be understood by the word Person as applied to the Godhead, and that by three Persons you mean " three Agents," I would here suggest some thoughts for your
consideration. Those who avow, that, by three Persons, they understand three distinct Agents, allow to each of these Agents self-existence, independence, infinite intelligence, and almighty power, as distinct Persons. Of course, the three Persons are three infinite Agents. I would now wish to be informed, what more wou d be necessary to constitute three infinite Beings. And I would ask you seriously to consider whether it be possible for you to form any idea of three infinite Agents, which does not involve the precise idea of three infinite intelligent Beings.