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the church of Rome, her false miracles and corrupt morals, together with the air of mystery that reigns through the whole of her ceremonies and doctrines, accord too well with the prophetical character. We, my friends, with all the nations of Europe, once had communion with this mystery of iniquity; and it was the great object of the Reformation to separate the faith once delivered to the saints from all intermixture with this lying wonder, this deceivableness of unrighteousness. Much has been done, but something yet remains ; and it should be the care, as it is the interest of every Christian, to make the separation for himself as far as his knowledge enables him : for, if there is a want of faith that
exposes us to condemnation, there is also a false faith, which draws upon it's professors a like fate; a fate, from wbich a love of truth and a hatred of unrighteousness is the best, if not the only deliverance.
For myself, my friends, however willing to receive instruction from the experience of past generations, and the learning of the present, I cannot but entertain a strong apprehension of being misled by a too confident reliance upon human authority in matters of religious belief, when I review the history of the church, and compare it's condact and doctrines, during so many ages, with the precepts, the examples, the doctrines, and the warnings of Scripture. I prefer, in such moments, to follow the advice of our great Master and his disciples ; “ Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess., V, 21); “And why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right. (Lukę xii, 57); “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John, iv. 1.)
Having offered these few considerations, with a view to excite in you an increased attention to the purity of your faith, I take my leave for the present; proposing, in a subsequent Letter, to call your attention to some observations upon the nature of that great Being, whom, as I fear, too many of us either ignorantly worship, or, in our public devotions, set altogether aside. I am, with sincere affection,
TO trace the rise and progress of the apostacy mentioned in my last Letter, or to point out all it's peculiarities, would be foreign to my purpose. It is sufficient to remark, generally, that nearly all the deviations from Scriptare simplicity, whether in doctrine or practice, which are observable among Christians of the present day, are referable to this cause. Of these, the first and greatest must be ranked that doctrine, which strikes at the root of all religious truth, by denying the real and proper unity of the Godhead; a truth which it has been the chief object of divine revelation in all ages of the world to cherish and preserve.
That there is but one God may be proved from these few considerations. First, it is necessary that there be a God, but it is not necessary that there be more Gods than one; for then there can be no reason why there should not be an infinite number of Gods. Secondly, if there be more Gods than one, each must be distinguished by some peculiar property or perfection, which another has not, or has in an inferior
degree: but, as God comprizes in himself every property of Deity, and all possible perfection, so no being who possesses less can be God. Thirdly, there is no sign in the world of there being more than one God. The harmony of design observable in the works of creation, the singularly judicious adaptation of
every part to it's proper end, and the uniform tendency of the whole to promote the happiness of those beings, who are capable of enjoyment, are so many proofs from nature, concurring with those of revelation, to establish the fact of all creation being the production of one mind, one will, one power, and one benevolent disposition conjoined. These proofs of the unity of the Godhead are very necessary to be attended to, in order to guard us against the erroneous opinions ' to which a forgetfulness of them has given rise, as I shall in the sequel endeavour to show.
If, borrowing our ideas of the mode of his existence from Scripture, we contemplate God as a spirit, he must be one : for spirit cannot have parts, bounds, proportions, or form. It was doubtless to guard against the growth of contrary notions of the divine pature and existence, such as prevailed among the nations addicted to polytheism, that the Scripture writers adopted the term spirit, or air, to convey, as well as the poverty of the language will admit, some faint idea of the essence of the great First Cause. The equal and universal diffusion of that element, it's instrumentality to the support of animal and vegetable life, it's silent and irresistible action, and the impossibility of subjecting it to human laws and
control, all concur in pointing it out as a fit emblem of the one Omnipresent and Almighty Being, who, unseen and unfelt, sustains, animates, and controls the whole constitution and course of nature.
From the natural and reasonable proofs of there being but one God, and that God one, let us turn to the proofs afforded us by revelation.
“ The unity of the Godhead is expressly declared in many passages of Scripture : ‘Hear, O Israel ; the Lord our God is one Lord.' (Deut., vi, 4.) · Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else besides him.' (Deut., iv, 35.) 'He is God in Heaven above, and in the Earth beneath; there is none else.' (Deut., iv, 39.) 'I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God.' (Isa., xliv, 6.) 'We know that there is none other God but one.” (1 Cor., iv, 39.) “There is one God.' (1 Tim., ii, 5.) We, therefore, cannot but agree to the first assertion in this article (the first article of the church of England), in opposition to the sinful presumption of atheists, and to the false polytheism of the heathen, that there is ONE, AND BUT ONE LIVING AND TRUE GOD.
St. Paul, in his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, applies the epithets' living and true' to God: “Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God.' (1 Thess., i, 9.) And the prophet Jeremiah says, • The Lord is the true God; he is the living God.' • He is the living God;' that is, he hath life in himself' (Jer., X, 10); he is self-existent, deriving bis being from no exterior cause : ' In him we live.'