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DEFENCE OF SOME QUERIES
SCHEME OF THE HOLY TRINITY :
IN ANSWER TO
A CLERGYMAN IN THE COUNTRY.
Compare the following Texts.
I am the Lord, and there is The Word was God, John i. 1. none else, there is no God beside Thy throne, O God, Heb. i. 8. me, Isa. xlv. 5.
Christ came, who is over all, Is there a God besides me? yea, God blessed for ever, Rom. ix. 5. there is no God; I know not any, || Who, being in the form of God, Isa. xliv. 8.
Phil. ii. 6. I am God, and there is none Who being the brightness of his like me; Isa. xlvi. 9. Before me glory, and the express image of his there was no God formed, neither 1 person, Heb. i. 3. shall there be after me, Isa. xliii. 10. 11
Query I.' Whether all other beings, besides the one Supreme God, be
not excluded by the texts of Isaiah, (to which many more might be added,) and consequently, 'whether Christ can be God at all, unless he be the same with the Supreme God 3
THE sum of your answer to this Query is, that “ the “ texts cited from Isaiah, in the first column, are spoken “ of one Person only, (p. 34.) the Person of the Father,
“p.39.) And therefore all other persons, or beings, (which “ you make equivalent,) how divine soever, are necessarily 6 excluded; and by consequence our Lord Jesus Christ is “ as much excluded from being the one Supreme God, as “ from being the Person of the Father.” (p. 40.)
You spend some pages in endeavouring to show, that the Person of the Father only is the Supreme God; and that the Person of the Son is not Supreme God. But what does this signify, except it be to lead your reader off from the point which it concerned you to speak to ? Instead of answering the difficulty proposed, which was the part of a respondent, you choose to slip it over, and endeavour to put me upon the defensive; which is by no means fair. Your business was to ward off the consequence which I had pressed you with, namely, this : That if the Son be at all excluded by those texts in the first column, he is altogether excluded, and is no God at all. He cannot, upon your principles, be the same God, because he is not the same Person : he cannot be another God, because excluded by those texts. If therefore he be neither the same God, nor another God; it must follow, that he is no God. This is the difficulty which I apprehend to lie against your scheme; and which you have not sufficiently attended to.
I shall therefore charge it upon you once again, and leave you to get clear of it at leisure.
I shall take it for granted, that the design and purport of those texts, cited from Isaiah, was the same with that of the first Commandment; namely, to draw the people off from placing any trust, hope, or reliance in any but God, to direct them to the only proper object of worship, in opposition to all things or persons, besides the one Supreme God. .“ Neither Baal nor Ashtaroth, nor any " that are esteemed Gods by the nations, are strictly and “ properly such. Neither princes nor magistrates, how6 ever called Gods in a loose metaphorical sense, are '“ strictly or properly such. No religious service, no “worship, no sacrifice is due to any of them: I only am
“God, in a just sense; and therefore I demand your ho“mage and adoration.” Now, upon your hypothesis, we must add; that even the Son of God himself, however divine he may be thought, is really no God at all, in any just and proper sense. He is no more than a nominal God, and stands excluded with the rest : all worship of him, and reliance upon him, will be idolatry, as much as the worship of angels, or men, or of the Gods of the Heathen would be. God the Father he is God, and he only, and “him only shalt thou serve.” . This I take to be a clear consequence from your principles, and unavoidable. .
You do indeed attempt to evade it by supposing, that when the Father saith, “there is no God besides me,” the meaning only is, that there is no Supreme God besides me. But will you please to consider,
1. That you have not the least ground or reason for putting this sense upon the text. It is not said, there is no other Supreme God besides me; but absolutely, no other.
2. If this were all the meaning, then Baal or Ashtaroth, or any of the Gods of the nations, might be looked upon as inferior deities, and be served with a subordinate worship, notwithstanding any thing these texts say, without any peril of idolatry, or any breach of the first Commandment. Solomon might sacrifice to Ashtaroth and Milcom, to Chemosh and Moloch, provided he did but serve the God of Israel with sovereign worship, acknowledging him Supreme. And this might furnish the Samaritans with a very plausible excuse, even from the Law itself, for serving their own Gods in subordination to the one Supreme God; since God had not forbidden it. ;
3. You may please to consider farther, that there was never any great danger of either Jew or Gentile falling into the belief of many Supreme Gods; or into the worship of more than one as Supreme. That is a notion too
silly to have ever prevailed much, even in the ignorant Pagan world. What was most to be guarded against was the worship of inferior deities, besides, or in subordination to, one Supreme. It cannot therefore reasonably be imagined, that those texts are to bear only such a sense, as leaves room for the worship of inferior divinities.
The sum then is, that by the texts of the Old Testament it is not meant only, that there is no other Supreme God; but absolutely no other : and therefore our blessed Lord must either be included and comprehended in the one Supreme God of Israel, or be entirely excluded with the other pretended or nominal deities. I shall close this argument with St. Austin's words to Maximin, the Afrian Bishop, who recurred to the same solution of the difficulty which you hope to shelter yourself in.
« b Repeat it ever so often, that the Father is greater, 16 the Son less. We shall answer you as often, that the “ greater and the less make two. And it is not said, Thy “ greater Lord God is one Lord; but the words are, The “ Lord thy God is one Lord: Nor is it said, There is none 6 other equal to me; but the words are, There is none other 66 besides me. Either therefore acknowledge that Father « and Son are one Lord God; or in plain terms deny « that Christ is Lord God at all.” This is the difficulty which I want to see cleared. You produce texts to show that the Father singly is the Supreme God, and that Christ is excluded from being the Supreme God: but I insist upon it, that you misunderstand those texts; because the interpretation you give of them is not reconcileable with other texts; and because it leads to such absurdities, as are too shocking even for yourself to admit.
6 Clama quantum vis, Pater est major, Filius minor, respondetur tibi; duo tamen sunt major et minor. Nec dictum est Dominus Deus tuus major Dominus unus est: sed dictum est Dominus Deus tuus Dominus unus est. Neque dictum est, non est alius æqualis mihi, sed dictum est, non est alius præter me. Aut ergo confitere Patrem et Filium unum esse Dominum Deum, aut aperte nega Dominum Deum esse Christum. August. I. ij. c. 23. p. 727.