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from being also, the God of christians. So argue Origen and Novatian; especially if we consider, first, that he is here styled that one Lord, by whom are all things, i. e., "by whom all things are created." Ephes. iii: 9. "All things which are in heaven or in earth." Coloss. i: 16. For "he that made all things is God." Heb. iii: 5. And "by the works of the Creation is the Godhead known." Rom. iii: 20. And this is elsewhere made the very description of God the Father, that it is he, by whom are all things. Rom. xi: 35, and Heb. xi. 10. And next, that all things were created not only by this Lord, but (es avrov) "for him" also. Col. i: 16. Now, this is the very thing which the apostle here ascribes to God the Father. "Secondly, to the other argument I answer, that we and all the ancients assert, as truly as our opponents can do, the unity of the Godhead, and that Christ Jesus is not another God, but only another person from the Father; and that the application of the word God here to the Father, doth not necessarily exclude the Son from being God also, but only from being the fountain of the Deity, as the Father is. Thus, when these words, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, (Revel. i: 17; ii: 8, and xxii: 13,) are by St. John, applied to Christ, it cannot be concluded hence, that the Father is not also Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, as he is often called in the Old Testament; and though our Saviour be the proper title of our Lord Jesus, as his very name informs us, yet is the Father in Scripture styled our Saviour, (1 Tim. i: 1, and ii: 3,) and the Saviour of all men, iv: 10. The primitive fathers considering God the Father as the fountain of the Deity, and Jesus Christ as God of God, frequently assert two things, which may illustrate this passage:
First, That christians acknowledge one God only, even the Father, and yet that Jesus Christ was truly God, of the substance of the Father.
Secondly, That God the Father was the Creator of all things, and yet that all things were created by the Word."
And here, also, in describing this God, as he exists tri-personally, the Son is associated with the Father by the term Lord, which is equivalent to Jehovah or Supreme Divinity, and by the attribution to him of the same universal, infinite and divine dominion. And so also, in the only other very distinct allusion to the unity of God in the New Testament in 1 Tim. ii: 3, 5. The apostle in verse 3, speaks of God our Saviour,
and attributes to our Saviour as God sovereign power and dominion, and then adds: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," where with God, who in his essence is called one, Christ is again associated in the statement of the object of christian worship and adoration. The Apostle, in effect says, pray for all men; because all, without exception, are accountable to one supreme moral authority, and have only one way of hope and salvation. To all men, there is no other than one Saviour, the only Deliverer from the guilt of sin and the wrath to come.
Thus, it appears that even in affirming the unity of God, the New Testament, as well as the Old, never teaches the absolute and personal unity of God, but only the unity of his essence in contrast with all false Gods. So far from doing so, we have seen that even in declaring the unity of God the New Testament holds forth Christ as associated in the one Godhead, as "the true God and eternal life;" and in another passage, as "the blessed and ONLY potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who "ONLY hath immortality." Such is the union between the Father and the Son, that in respect of their essential glories, what is asserted of the one, is to be understood of the other. Jesus, therefore, not only says, "I and the Father are one;" but also affirms that "he who honours the Son, honours the Father also." And again, he says, "ALL that the Father hath, is mine, his nature, essence, or Godhead. that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also."
It will afterwards be shown that Scripture attributes to the Holy Spirit, as well as to the Son, everything which is ascribed to the Father, and that he therefore, is also, "the only true God." But, at present, it is enough to have proved this of the Son, and that too, from the very passages adduced to establish the absolute, personal, and metaphysical unity of God.
We thus perceive that, on the one hand, we are taught in Scripture, that there is one only true God. On the other hand, we are equally taught in Scripture, that the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are alike this one only true God. Hence, devoutly receiving the Bible as the divine word of inspiration, and presuming not to be wise either above what is written, or contrary to what is written, we conclude from these several declarations of Scripture, that there is one only true God, the maker of heaven and earth, but that this one only true God, mysteriously exists in three persons, or hypostases, as he
himself terms it, and that the Supreme Being is one, in regard to his substance or his proper divine nature; but that he is three, in regard to his component persons or hypostases.
A christian is bound therefore, to believe, that there is one only true God, and that the Almighty Father of heaven and earth is that God.
This tenet, at once separates him from those who worship the multifarious rabble of Pagan divinities; for, if he admit as the very foundation of his creed, the existence of one only true God, he must of necessity, reject from his creed a plurality of false gods.
But, as a christian is bound to believe, that there is one only true God; so is he likewise bound to believe, that the one only true God hath sent Jesus of Nazareth in the character of the promised Messiah; and that as such, HE is God manifest in the flesh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the mighty God, the everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace,-the co-equal person, with the Father and the Holy Ghost in the ever-blessed triune Jehovah. This is the God to whom as a christian, every believer is dedicated, into whose name (or nature and glory,) he is baptized, in whom he is to believe, and whom he is to love, honour, worship and obey with all his heart, and soul, and strength, and mind.
The former article of his belief separates the christian from polytheistic Gentiles. The latter article of his belief separates him from the Jews; for though they have ever firmly expected the promised Messiah, they have generally, as pertinaciously denied that the Messiah has come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, that he is God,-that the Holy Ghost is God,-and that God is a triune Jehovah, consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in one essential nature.
We must never forget, however, that mere doctrinal knowledge, however essential, will stand us in little avail, unless it is manifested in our practice. That same Divine person, who declared the knowledge of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be eternal life, declared also, no less unequivocally, "Not every one, that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven."*
Unitarians may say, that to know Jesus Christ, is to know the will of God, as delivered by Jesus Christ. But it is not
*1 Peter, i: 5-7, and ix: 11.
knowing the will of God, but God himself as a Saviour, that will secure us eternal life. To know Jesus Christ is, therefore, to know him as he is represented in the Gospel, as God and man; and as having become such for our redemption; and to believe in, love, and obey him as such, and thus we perceive the plain, practical, and fundamental character of the doctrine of the trinity.
"This does God's book declare in obvious phrase,
So plain, so perfectly distinct, that none
Can miss their meaning, blazed in heavenly light.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, NOT THEORETICAL OR SPECULATIVE, BUT PRACTICAL IN ITS NATURE, AND FUNDAMENTAL IN ITS IMPORTANCE.
In our previous article on the doctrine of the Trinity, we laid it down that this was a question plainly above and beyond the capacity and limits of the human mind, and altogether incomprehensible, undiscoverable, and indeterminable, by the human reason. It is purely a question of revelation; and the only proper inquiry respecting it is, whether, how far, and for what purposes, it is revealed. To say it is impossible for God to exist as a Trinity in Unity, is, therefore, contrary to reason; which has no premises from whence to conclude one way or the other and to say, that the doctrine of the Trinity is contradictory, is to contradict the very term Trinity itself, which affirms that in God there is a unity of such an infinite and unfathomable nature, as to admit and require a trinity, and a trinity which can only co-exist in a unity.
"When," says Milton, whom Unitarians so proudly and yet so deceitfully appeal to as a Unitarian, in the posthumous work on Christian Doctrine attributed to him,* "when we speak of knowing God, it must be understood with reference to the imperfect comprehension of man; for to know God as he really is, far transcends the powers of man's thought, much more of his perception." "Our safest way," he adds, "is to form in our minds such a conception of God, as shall correspond with his own delineation and representation of himself in the sacred writings. For, granting that both in the literal and figurative descriptions of God, he is exhibited, not as he really is, but in such a manner as may be in the scope of our comprehensions, yet we ought to entertain such a conception of him, as he, in condescending to accommodate himself to our capacities, has shown that he desires we should conceive. For it is on this very account that he has lowered himself to our level, lest in our flights above the reach of human understanding, and beyond the written word of Scripture, we should be tempted to indulge in vague cogitations and subtleties."
*Vol. i., page 19, Treatise on Christian Doctrine, supposing this to be Milton's.
†Vol. i., p. 20.