« PreviousContinue »
and severe; their triumphs splendid; and be their memories blessed and immortal! Their principles, justly stated and consistently maintained, are our glory. They are deduced from our Bibles, and graven in our hearts. They shall be transmitted from generation to generation, a rich inheritance, and last, like hope, which ends only in fruition, till Conformity and Nonconformity alike expire in the universal brotherhood of Christianity.
ZECHARIAH xiv. 9:
In that day shall there be One Lord, and his name One.
THE doctrine of the Divine Unity is of immense importance. It is the soul of Judaism, the foundation of Christianity, the noblest discovery of reason, the glory of revelation, the centre of religious truth, the antidote of infidelity, the deathblow of idolatry, the spring of Reformation, the guiding star of free inquiry, the companion of liberty, the parent of piety, the source of light in the mind and goodness in the heart, and the inheritor of supreme dominion over faith, to which it is directed by prophecy, and will be conducted by Providence, in all nations.
There can be but one God. It is impossible to associate a correct notion of the attributes of Deity with a plurality of possessors. An absolute monarch can have no coadjutors. Omnipotence,
infinity, and eternity, can neither be a divided portion, nor a common inheritance. The admission of one omnipotent excludes that of a second omnipotent; of one infinite that of a second infinite; of one eternal and uncaused being, that of another eternal and uncaused being: all addition or multiplication of divine persons is precluded by the very idea of God, who must be the sole possessor of absolute perfection.
The Divine Unity is not a barren speculation, or a solitary truth. This single proposition, standing as the representative of its kindred truths and genuine consequences, is the substance of Christianity. It is the sun in the firmament of religious knowledge; inferior doctrines are bound to it, as by the attractive power of nature; they shine in its light, and round it revolve in harmony. It would not be difficult, by fair argumentation, to trace this affinity; but without entering on so wide a field, we would observe that Scripture has blended the Divine Unity with whatever it has declared of most importance in faith or practice :—with the fatherly character of God; "to us there is one God, the Father;" "one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all:"-with his unrivalled goodness; "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one; that is God:" -with the limited and temporary dispensation of Judaism; "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is
one Lord :"-with the universality of Christianity; "The Lord shall be king over all the earth. In that day shall there be one Lord, and his name One:"-with the certainty of prophecy; "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure :"-with divine homage; "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve :"-with the mission of Christ, and eternal life: "This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God; and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent:"-with the impartiality of the Divine dealings; "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, seeing it is one God:"-with the mediation of the man Christ, and the universality of salvation; "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all :"-with the summary of our duty; "There is one God; and there is none other but he and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is better than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices:"-with the abhorrence of oppression, injustice and unkindness; "Have we not all one Father? and, hath not one God created
us?"-with the glowing language of devotion; "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever!"* Let not, then, the suspicion be harboured, or the charge adduced, that we over-rate this tenet, for we only follow the leading of Scripture in raising it to the highest elevation.
The discussion of Unitarianism has been much embarrassed, and its cause injured, by its being mixed up with the private opinions of its friends. There is gross mistake, or wilful injustice, in reckoning whatever is held by certain Unitarians essential to Unitarianism itself. The humanity of Christ is not essential to Unitarianism. though differing from most respectable authority, I have no hesitation in deeming such limitation most improper. It is inconsistent with the etymology and meaning of the term, and its historical use. Dr. Price was an Unitarian as well as Dr. Priestley: so is every worshipper of the Father only, whether he believe that Christ was created before all worlds, or first existed when born of Mary. Philosophical Necessity is no
* 1 Cor. viii. 6; Ephes. iv. 6; Matt. xix. 17; Deut. vi. 4; Zech. xiv. 9; Isaiah xlvi. 9, 10; Matt. iv. 10; John xvii. 3; Romans iii. 29, 30; 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6; Mark xii. 32, 33; Mal. ii. 10; 1 Tim. i. 17. The word "wise" is omitted, according to the corrected text of Griesbach.