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2. If it be admitted, that, when it is stated in the Scriptures that to us there is but on F God, that the term God is used “as the name of a nature” comprising a plurality of Persons, what evidence can we have that the number of Persons is limited to three ? Why may not that order of Persons, which is denominated by the “general name” God, be as great as the number characterized by the general name MAN ?—The advocates for the theory will doubtless say, that the Scriptures mention but three Persons; but do the Scriptures say that there are no more than three Persons in the Godhead : The Scriptures teach us, that there is on E God, and that there is none other but HE. And if such declarations do not limit the number of self-existent Persons, the limits are not ascertained in the Bible by anything with which I am acquainted.
3. Will it not follow, from this hypothesis, that in the sense that each of three Persons is called God, there are as many distinct Gods as there are distinct Persons —When the term Gop is used as “the name of a nature,” or as “a general name for the Divine nature,” it is easy enough to see, that in this sense there may be no more Gods than one ; but Mr. Jones does not suppose that it is always used in this sense; he supposes the same name is sometimes used person lly, and applied “sometimes to one of the three Persons, and sometimes to another.” This is precisely the case with the word Man. It is sometimes used “as the name of a nature,” comprehending the whole species ; yet at other times it is applied in a personal manner, sometimes to one Person, and sometimes to another.— john is a man, james is a man, and Peter is a man, &c. And when it is used in this sense, it admits of the plural number; and we may say three men, or three hundred men; yea, in this sense there may be as many Men as Persons— And in the sense in which the Father is God, and Christ is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, why are there not as many Gods as Persons : It is a clear case, that if each of three Persons is one Man, those three Persons are three Men. And analogy will teach us, that if there are three Divine Persons, each of whom is one God, then those three Persons are three Gods.
I am well aware, that this conclusion is not admitted by our Athanasian brethren; but if it do not fairly result from
Mr. Jones' premises, I shall rejoice to see the fallacy of the reasoning detected. On the whole, the hypothesis of Mr. Jones precludes the necessity of any distinction between Person and Being, or intelligent Person and intelligent Being ; and under the generic or general name God, it exhibits an order of suPREME and self. ExistENT INTELLIGENCEs, to each of whom the name God may be properly applied ; the number of this or DeR of DIVINE INTELLIGENCEs he supposes to be but THREE ; this, however, is only supposition; there is no certainty in the case. The Divine nature is doubtless as extensive as human nature ; and if it include more than one self-existent Person, it may be impossible for us to see why it may not comprise as many Persons as human nature. And as Mr. Jones supposed that not only the word GoD, but also the word LoRD, was used both as an “appellative” or general name, and also in a personal manner as applicable to each of the Divine Persons, the hypothesis seems to open the way for the re-admission of Lords many and Gods many. In speaking of the three Persons in the Trinity, Dr. Emmons says, “ There is a certain somethING in the Divine nature which lays a proper foundation for these personal distinctions. But what that somethING is, can neither be described nor conceived. Here lies the whole mystery of the Trinity.” Had the good Doctor understandingly and believingly read Mr. Jones on the subject, he would doubtless have been able to describe that “ certain somethinc,” as well as Mr. Jones has done. For the “something” appears from Mr. Jones to be simply this, the Divine nature, like human nature, may comprise a plurality of Persons. Thus I have endeavored to unfold the Athanasian mystery of the Trinity; the business of reconciling it with the Bible, I shall not undertake.
LETTER I. -jesus Christ truly the Son of God. s * REV: SIR,
THE first proposition which I proposed to establish was this, That the SUPREME BEING, or self-existent God, is only one PERson. And it is believed, that, in proof of this proposition, something has already been done.
My second proposition is,
That Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God.—If the second proposition should be supported, additional evidence will appear in favor of the first. For according to your theory, Jesus Christ is one of the three self-existent Persons, and is personally the self-existent God. But should it appear that he is personally and truly the Son of God, it will also appear that he is neither the self-existent God, nor a self-existent Person. For, to a discerning and unprejudiced mind, it must be obvious, that it is a natural impossibility that the same Person should be truly the self-existent God and truly the Son of the self-existent God. And so far as the natural import of language is to be regarded, the terms a self-existent Son imply a real and palpable contradiction. The term self-existent is perfectly opposed to the term Son, and the term Son is perfectly opposed to self. existence. If there be any term in our language which naturally implies derived existence, the term Son is of this import. And to affirm that a Person is a derived self-existent Being implies no greater contradiction than to affirm that a Person is a self-existent Son. And to affirm that Jesus Christ is personally the self-existent God, and at the same
time truly the Son of God, is percisely the same contradiction that it would be to affirm that the Prince of Wales is truly King George the Third, and also truly the Son of King George the Third. These things I have stated on the ground of the natural meaning of terms. That the things I have stated are true, according to the natural import of language, will not, it is believed, be denied by any person of good discernment and candor. * * * The proposition, that Jesus Christ is truly THE SoN or GoD, is so obvious in its natural import, and so plainly scriptural, that many may suppose it requires neither explanation nor proof. , Yet such is the state of things in the Christian world, that both explanation and proof are necessary. For although there is, perhaps, no one point in which Christians are more universaly agreed than in calling Christ the Son of GoD, there is scarcely any thing about which they are more divided than that of the intended import of those terms, But amidst the variety of opinions which have been formed on the subject, the natural import of the . words has been pretty uniformly rejected ; and almost every other possible, meaning has been affixed to them, in preference to that which the terms naturally excite. Indeed, it seems to have been generally taken for granted, that it is impossible with God to have a Sox. Athanasians appear to have taken this for granted ; and finding that divine titles, divine attributes, divine works, and divine honors, are ascribed to him in the Scriptures, they have set it down as an unquestionable truth, that Christ is so far from being the SoN of God, in the natural sense of the terms, that he is the very self-existent God; yea, that very GoD of whom the Scriptures declare that he is the SoN. Other denominations, taking for granted the same principle, have pronounced the Saviour to be a mere creature, more or less dignified and endued. And thus, on the one hand or the ether, almost every possible grade of intelligent existence and dignity has been allowed him, excepting that which is naturally imported by his title the Son of GoD. Two ideas are naturally suggested by the title the SoN of GoD, viz. DIvine ORIGIN and Divine DIGNITY. By Divine Origin, I do not mean that the SoN of God is a created intelligent Being ; but a Being who properly derived his existence and his nature from God. It has not,
perhaps, been common, to make any distinction between aerived existence and created existence; but in the present case the distinction appears very important. Adam was a created being , Seth derived his existence from the created nature of Adam ; and therefore it is said: “Adam begat a son in his own likeness.” And as Seth derived his existence from the created nature of Adam, so, it is believed, that the oNLY BEGoTTEN of THE FATHER DERIved. His existence from the self-existent nature of God. In this sense only do I mean to prove that the Son of God is a derived intelligence. ' - - - - - • *. * The hypothesis, that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, by properly deriving his existence and nature from God, will probably, by many, be pronounced a very great absurditv. And as, in my view, very much is depending on this point, you will suffer me to be particular in the examination.—That the terms the Son of God, as applied to Christ, do most naturallv denote that his existence and nature were derived from God, will, it is believed, be granted by all judicious and impartial inquirers. And it does not discover the greatest reverence for the Scriptures, nor the greatest sense of our own fallibility, hastily to reject, as absurd, the natural import of inspired language. . . If there be any ground on which the hypothesis may be pronounced absurd, it must be found either in the works are the word of God. But what do we find in the works of God, by which it may appear, that it is absurd to suppose that God has a Son who has truly derived his existence and nature from the Father?" In examining the works of God, we find reason “to suppose that God has given existence to various tribes of beings, with natures distinct from his own. . And is it not quite as difficult to conceive, that God should give existence to beings by proper creation, with nature distinct from his own, as that he should give existence to a Son truly deriving his nature from the Father * --> We also find, that God has endued the various tribes of creatures with a power of procreation, by which they produce offspring in their own likeness. Why is it not as possible that God should possess the power of producing a SoN in his own likeness, or with his own nature, as that he should be able to endue his creatures with such a power? May it not, then, be presumed, that no shadow of evidence can be produced from the works of God, to invalidate the