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it, that when he is directing men how they should pray, and whom they should worship, at future periods, he names the Father, and him only, as the object of prayer and religious worship, even when he adverts to himself upon the occasion, and commands his disciples to pray
to the Father in his name, without ever intimating to them in the slightest manner that they might also pray to himself? But supposing that from humility, or any similar cause, he did not direct that his followers should, either then, or at any future period, pray
to himself; none of these causes will account for his never praying to the Holy Ghost, nor requiring any
of his followers to pray to him, then, or at any future time, supposing the Holy Ghost to be a person equal to the Father, and equally God with him. Still less will they account for the singular fact, that none of the apostles, after our Lord's ascension, appear to have ever prayed to the Holy Ghost, or to have commanded any of their disciples to do it; nor do we find that any of them ever did. It was never disputed among Christians, that it is the indispensable duty of mankind to pray to God; but in this case we have a person supposed to be God, whom no one was ever commanded to pray to, and to whom, in point of fact, it does not appear
pray, during the life of the great founder of Christianity, nor during the lives of his apostles, whom he commissioned to preach, and explain his doctrines.
Let the trinitarian solve this difficulty, for it goes to
the root of his system. The first Christians were commanded to pray for the Holy Spirit, but never to the Holy Spirit, and they were never directed to pray for it to any one but the Father. It is stated, that it should be poured out upon them, and that they who possessed it should perform miracles, and signs, and wonders ; from which it appears to me to be obvious, that it only means a power, and not a person. Thus Elisha is represented as having requested, that he might have a double portion of the spirit of Elijah, and it is said that the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha; meaning manifestly, not a person belonging to Elijah called his spirit, making two persons in one being, but the same power which Elijah had possessed before he was separated from Elisha. The spirit of God, instead of being a distinct person, is expressly compared to the spirit of a man, in 1 Cor. ii. ll, where it is said ; “For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man which is in him ? In like manner also none knoweth the things of God, but the Spirit of God." Upon the whole, therefore, I conceive myself fully justified in considering the making of the Holy Spirit a person, to be a great corruption, introduced into Christianity by human invention, without any warrant for it in the sacred writings.
You tell me, that as to the figurative term “the word,' I shall readily admit that the term · Father' is figurative too.
I accede to this, believing both to be figurative. I consider the term “the word' to be figura
tively applied to Christ, and that he is figuratively called the word,' meaning the word of God; because that he, the greatest and most illustrious of God's messengers and prophets, came to declare the word of God more fully, and completely, to mankind, than all his predecessors : so that not the Jews only, to whom alone the dispensation he came to supersede was 'addressed, but all the nations of the earth, might know, and be well assured, of God's gracious designs by the ministration of this his most favoured minister and prophet, to raise them all from the dead, and to confer upon them immortal happiness in a future state: and it appears to me, to be not at all more strange, that he should therefore be called figuratively the word of God, than that Quintus Fabius Maximus should have been called the shield of Rome,' because he more successfully defended the Romans against the Carthaginians than any of their generals who had preceded him.
I consider the word • Father' to be figurative as applied to God, not as having begotten either Christ, or other men, who are also frequently called his sons, in the literal sense of the word, which would be absurd; but because he has created both ourselves and Christ, whose brethren we are declared to be, and joint heirs with him in a future state, and has protected, provided for, and instructed us with a paternal love, infinitely exceeding that, which any human father has for his offspring. The word “begotten' is also frequently used figuratively, and applied in like manner
both to Christ and other men: for instance, in the epiștle of Paul to Philemon, ver. 10, where the apostle calls Onesimus his “son, whom he had begotten in his bonds;" and in 1 Peter, i. 3, where that apostle blesses “ the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, (he says) according to his great mercy, hath begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
You state, that when you urged, that the Jews accused Christ of blasphemy, for saying that he was the son of God, you did not mean to assert, that the mere word “blasphemy'shewed they considered the term “son of God’ to mean one truly divine; but that their own interpretation of the charge shewed, that they took the word in the highest sense, — "thou being a man makest thyself equal with God." I cannot by any means admit this, and for the best possible reason, namely, that our Lord himself, whom I prefer to every other commentator, demonstrates by his reply, that he did not consider them as having put this construction upon his words ; but merely as having supposed, without foundation, that he made himself a God, in the inferior sense of the word; for he replies, “ Is it not written in your law, I said
Gods ? If he called those Gods, to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I was the son of God?” The meaning of which, as I have observed already, is
plainly this : If I had said I was God, or a God, the prophets of old, to whom the word of God came, were so called: but you are mistaken ; I said no such thing, but merely that I was the son of God; and do ye stone me for this ?-If you can suppose him to have considered them, as having rightly understood him to have meant by the words “I and my Father are one (év),” that he only thereby denoted himself to be the son of God,—which he declares to have been his ineaning, ----still his reply clearly shews, that he did not think, that when they imagined, from his using these words, and meaning by them that he was the son of God, he made himself God, or a God, they thereby considered him as making himself equal to, or as one being with, Jehovah The most High; for in that case he could never have replied in his own justification, that the prophets were called Gods; it being universally agreed that they were never called so in any
any such sense as this, and consequently their objection would, upon that supposition, have remained in its full force, without any adequate answer to it. It should be rernarked, too, that when he shews them, that by saying 'he and his Father were one,' he only designed to represent himself as the son of God; and the context, taken altogether, proves that nothing like equality or unity of being could be intended; the unity of which he had spoken could only have been an unity of design, and intention, with his Father, whose will, and not his own, he had come to do in all things.