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OF THE UNITY OF GOD.
HAVING treated of the attributes of God, I shall now proceed to prove that this God, who is possessed of all these great and glorious perfections is but one. As he is a fool that says there is no God, he is equally so, who says there are more than one ; and, indeed, as Tertullian observes, if God is not one, he is not at all. It is a truth agreed on by all, by Jews and Gentiles; by Jewish doctors, and heathen poets and philosophers; by Old and New Testament-saints ; by the holy angels; and even by the devils themselves; it must be right and well to believe it.
But I go on, I. To give the proof of this doctrine ; which may be taken from express passages of scripture, bo'h in the Old and New Testament, see Deut. vi. 4. Psal. Ixxxvi. 10. Mark xii. 29. Rom. iii. 30. 1 Tim. ii. 5.
The necessary existence of God is a proof of his unity. The existence of God must be either of necessity, or of will and choice; if of will and choice, then it must be cither of the will and choice of another, or of his own; not of another, for then that other would be prior and superior to him, and so be God, and not he; not of his own will and choice, for then he must be be. fore himself, and be and not be at the same instant; which is such an absurdity and contradiction as is not to be endured, It remains, therefore, that he necessarily exists; and if there can be but one God. God is the first Being, the cause of all other Beings; as therefore there is but one first Cause there can be but one God; there is but one independent Being, and therefore but one God; and there can be but one Eternal, and so but one God; before me, says he, was no God formed; neither shall there be after me, Isai. xliii. 10. God is infinite and incomprehensible. To suppose two infinites, the one must either reach unto, comprehend, and in, clude the other, or not; if it does not, then it is not infinite, and so not God; if it does reach unto, comprehend, and in. clude the other, then that which is comprehended, and includ. cd by it is finite, and so not God; therefore it is clear there
cannot be more infinites than one ; and if but one infinite, then but one God. Omnipo:ence is a perfection of God. To suppose
two almighties, either the one can lay a res raint upon the other, and hinder him from acting, or he cannot, if he can. not, then he is not almighty, the other is mightier than he; if he can, then he on whom the restraint is laid, and is hindred from acting, is not almighty, and so not God; and therefore there can be but one God. God is good essentially, originally, and inde. rivatively; the source and fountain of all goodness; There is none good but one, say's Christ, ihat is, God, Matt. xix. 17. and therefore but one God. God is a perfect being: now if there are more gods than one, there must be some essential difference by which they are distinguished from one another, and that must be either an excellency or an imperfection; if the latter, then he to whom it belongs is not God, because not perfect; if the former, he in whom it is, is distinguished from all others in whom it is not, and so is the one and only God. Once more, There is but one Creator; one King and Governor of the world. Were there more than one, the greatest confusion would be introduced subjects would not know whom they were to obey, and what their duty to be performed by them. I proceed,
II. To explain the sense in which this article of one God is to be understood. 1. It is not to be understood in the Arian sense, that there is one supreme God, and two subordinate or inferior ones. This is no other than what is the notion, of the better and wiser sort of pagans. Besides, if two subordinate and inferior deities may be admitted, consistent with one God, why not two hundred, or two thousand? 11. Nor is this article to be understood in the Sabellian sense, that God is but one person; for though there is but one God, there are three persons in the godhead, which the Sabellians deny; who are so called from one Sabellius, who lived in the middle of the third century; but of this more hereafter. III. Nor is this di ctrine to be understood in a Tritheistic sense, that is, that there are three essences or beings, numerically distinct, which
may be said to be but one, because of the same nature ; as three men may be said to be one, because of the same human nature; but this is to assert three Gods and not one; this the Trinita. rians indeed are often charged with, and they as often diny the charge. For they assert, that there is but one divine essence; though there are different modes of subsisting in it
persons; and these possess the whole essence undivided. And this unity is not an unity of parts, which makes one compositum, as the body and soul of man do ; for God is a simple and uncompounded Spirit ; nor an unity of genus and species, under which may be many singulars of the same kind, but God is one in number and nature, and stands opposed to the polytheism of the heatheus, who had gods mahy and lords many, 1 Cor. viii. 4, 5. Nor are those passages of scripture which assert the unity of God to be appropriated to one person only, to the exclusion of the others; but to be considered as including each.
The doctrine of the unity of the divine Being, is of great importance in religion especially in the affair of worship. God, the one only God, is the object of it. This is the sense of the first and second Commands, which forbid owning any other God but one, and the worship of any creature whatever, angels or men, or any other creature, and the likeness of them; which to do is to worship the creature, besides, or along with The Creator. But this hinders not but that the Son and Spirit may have acts of worship performed to them, equ.:lly as to the Father. This doctrine of the unity of the divine Being, as it fixes and settles the object of worship, so being closely attended to, it guides the mind right in the consideration of it, while worshipping, without any confusion and division in it; for let the direction, or address, be to which person it
may, as each may be distinctly addressed; be it to the Father, he is considered in the act of worship, as the one God, with the Son and Spirit; if the address is to the Son, he is consider. ed as the one God, with the Father and the Spirit; fif the address is to the Spirit, he is considered as the one God with
the Father and Son. This doctrine also serves to fix and set. ile the object of our faith, hope, and love; and carries a strong and powerful argument to promote unity, harmony and con. cord among the saints; for which it is used in Eph. iv, 3–6.
OF A PLURALITY IN THE GODHEAD.
My next work will be to prove that there is a plurality in the Godhead; or, that there are more persons than one, and that these are neither more nor fewer than three; or, that there is a Trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine essence.
I. Prove that there is a plurality of persons in the one God; or, that there are more than one. 1. From the plural names and epithets of God. His great and incommunicable name Jehovah, is always in the singular number, and is never used plurally ; the reason of which is, because it is expressive of his essence, which is but one ; it is the same with I AM that I AM; but the first name of God we meet with in scripture, and that in the first verse of it, is plural ; In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth, Gen. i. 1. and therefore must design more than one, at least two, and yet not precisely two, or two only; then it would haye been dual; but it is plural: and, as the Jews themselves say, cannot design fewer than three. The historian goes on to make mention of them; who, besides the Father, included in this name, are the Spirit of God, that moved upon the face of the waters, and the Word of God, verse 2. which said, Let there be light and there was light; and which spoke that, and all things, out of nothing; ste John i. 1-3. Another plural name of God is Adonim ; If I am (Adonim) Lords, where is my fear? Mal. i. 6. In Dan. iv. 17. the most high God is called the watchers and the holy ones; This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy Ones. This decree is ex. pressly called, the decree of the most High, v. 24. so that the watchers and holy Ones, are no other than the divine Persons in the Godhead. 11. A plurality in the Deity, may be proved
from plural expressions used by God when speaking of him. self, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, Gen. i. 25. the pronouns us and our, manifestly express a plurality of persons. That there were more than one concerned in the creation of man, is clear from Job xxxv. 10. Psal. cxlix. 2. Eccles. xii. 1. Isai. liv. 5. in all which places, in the original text, it is, my Makers, his Makers, thy Creators, thy Makers ; for which no other reason can be given, than that more persons than one had an hand herein ; as for the angels, they are creatures themselves ; nor can it be reasonably thought that God held a consultation with them about it ; for with whom took he council? Isai. xl. 14. Nor is it to be thought that God, in the above passage, speaks regio more, after the manner of kings; who, in their edicts and proclamations, use the plural number, to express their honour and majesty ; this courtly way of speaking, was not so ancient as the times of Moses ; none of the kings of Israel use it; nor even any of those proud and haughty monarchs, Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar ; the first appearance of it is in the letters of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Ezra iv. 18. and vii. 23. which might take its rise from the conjunction of Darius and Cyrus, in the Persian empire. “It is a very extravagant fancy, to suppose that Moses alludes to a custom that was not (for what appears) in being at that time, por a great while aster.” A like way of speaking is used concerning men, in Gen. iii. 22. And the Lord God said, Bez bold the man is become as one of us.
God sometimes uses he plural number when speaking of himself, with respect to some particular affairs of providence, as the confusion of languages; Go to, let us go dou and there confound their language; none but God could confound it. In another affair of providence, this plural way of speak. ing is used; I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shal 1 send, and who will go for us? Isai. vi. 8. In Isai. xli. 21-23 Jehovah, the King of Jacob, challenges the heathens, and the gods, to bring proof of their Deity, by prediction of futue events; and all along uses the plural number; shew us what