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concludes the Lord's prayer, saying, in the midst of the deepest prostrations, " Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be ,unto hun that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever," Rev. iv, 8, &c, and v, 12, &c. And both, in the unity of the Spirit, are adored as the same Jehovah, the same " Holy, Holy, Holy One, that liveth for ever and ever, who hath created all things, and for whose pleasure they are and were created, and before whose throne the elders [of the triumphant Church] cast their crowns," Rev. iv, 10, 11, and v, 14.
Thus St. John, whom you think favourable to your error, not only asserts (after our Lord) that all men are to " honour the Son as they honour the Father," but testifies that all the heavenly hosts actually worship the Son as they do the Father. So grossly mistaken are you, when you assert that our worshipping of Jesus Christ is an abominable idolatry, on account of which every true Christian is to forsake the Church of England. I wish, sir, that by advancing such unscriptural and antichristian paradoxes, you may not finally unfit yourself for the company of those who worship God and the Lamb, and for the bliss of those who sing with St. John, "To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen!" Rev. i, 5. Praying that this letter may be a mean of removing or shaking the prejudices you entertain against him who (in the unity of the Father and of the Holy Ghost) is "the true God and eternal life," 1 John v, 7, and 20,I remain, &c.
Doctor Priestley is confronted with St. Paid: and our Lord's Divine glory is seen in that apostle's writings.
Rev. Sih,—St. Paul, who, as a rigid Jew, detested the very name of idols, and who, as a zealous Christian, went through the world to make armies of idols fall before the living God,—St. Paul, I say, will peculiarly take care not to countenance idolatry. He wrote thirteen or fourteen epistles, and, if you are not mistaken, we shall find, at least in one of them, that our Lord was a mere man.
But how soon does this apostle rise against your error! In the very first chapter of his first epistle, he calls his Gospel indifferently "the Gospel of God" and "the Gospel of Christ," Rom. i, 1, 16; and to let us at once into the mystery of our Lord's Divine nature, he confirms St. John's doctrine of the Logos made flesh, and calls our Lord "the Son of God made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared with power the Son of God, according to the Spirit of holiness, [the holy and quickening Spirit essential to his Divine nature, 1 Cor. xv, 45,] by the resurrection from the dead." And therefore the apostle immediately points him out as being, in the unity of the Father, the Divine spring of grace and peace, saying, "Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ," Rom. i, 3, 4, 7. Far from seeing in this description a mere man, I already perceive Msiov Uiov, the proper Son of God, the very Prince of life, condescending to clothe himself with our flesh, our mortal nature, that he might make way for his Gospel, which is the Gospel of God. >
When the apostle hath thus led us to honour the Son as we honour the Father, he deplores the idolatry of the heathen, who honoured and "worshipped the creature," Rom. i, 25. A strong proof this, that St. Paul had no idea of your doctrine, which sees in Christ a mere creature. On the contrary, he holds him out as the great object of our faith and confidence: saying that "God [the Father] hath set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus," that is, who relieth on Jesus for salvation, Rom. iii, 25, 26. Now, sir, this faith, this religious reliance for pardon and eternal life, is the highest of all acts of worship, and therefore none is to be the object of it but " God our Saviour." So sure then as St. Paul never called us to believe in Moses, in himself, or in any mere man, but only in Jesus; our Lord, the object of our faith, is "God over all," and not a mere man as you unscripturally teach.
On our Lord's divinity rests the force of St. Paul's great incentive to Divine love: "God," saith he, "commendeth his love toward us, in that, when we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," Rom. v, 8. For if Christ be a mere man, God commended his love as much toward us by the death of Socrates, or of St. Paul, as by the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the same evangelical ground rests also this ravishing conclusion of the apostle: "As by one man's oflence death reigned by one, much more theywho receive abundance of grace shall reign in life, by one, Jesus Christ," Rom. v, 17. For if our Lord be a mere man as Adam was, why is he much more able to save than the first man was able to destroy 1 But upon St. Paul's evangelical principles of sound reasoning, Christ is by so much more able to save than Adam was to destroy, by how much the only begotten and proper Son of God is greater than a son by mere creation. For "the first Adam was [only] made a living soul, but the last Adam [is] a quickening Spirit, 1 Cor. xv, 45.
Take another instance of St. Paul's apostolic concern for our Lord's Divine glory, which you so zealously oppose. Christ had said to the woman of Samaria, "Salvation is of the Jews," because he, the Saviour, was of Jacob's posterity. In like manner St. Paul, speaking of the Israelites, adds, "Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came who is over all, God blessed for ever," o uv ein trtavruv Osog suXoyi)rog ug rxg aiuvag otfiijv, Rom. ix, 5. It was impossible to any but an inspired writer to crowd, in so few words, such a full description of our Lord's divinity, contradistinguished from his humanity. (1.) He is o uv, he exists essentially. "Before Abraham was," says he, "I am;" and therefore the name of Jehovah, the self-existent God, belongs to him, as he is one with the Father, and the Spirit. (2.) He is not only " with God," but he "is God:" yea, (3.) God "over all," God of all men and angels, God supreme over earth and heaven. (4.) God "blessed," praised and worshipped as God; suXovira, blessing, being the first action of adoration, which St. John saw performed in heaven, to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, Rev. v, 13. Nor is this adoration (5.) to end, like the extraordinary honours paid to a king at his coronation: it is to last for ever: and so far is St. Paul from repenting to have asserted our Lord's divinity in so strong a manner, that he sets (6.) the broad seal of his approbation to the whole description by an "Amen," which expresses both the fulness of his persuasion, and the warmth of the devotion with which he blessed and adored our Lord.
When the apostle hath considered the Son of God in his Divine nature, lest we should lose sight of his condescending love in becoming our brother, he concludes the epistle by showing him in his inferior character, as a Divine man by whom alone we have access unto God. "To God only wise," says he, "be glory through Jesus Christ for ever!" Rom. xvi, 27. This care of the apostle is a proof of his wisdom; for, having showed us the infinite height of the ladder by which we rise to glory, he kindly shows us that the foot of it is within our reach, reminding us that this very Jesus, who, in the unity of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, is "God over all," is nevertheless, in consequence of his union with our nature, a man who graciously mediates between God and us:—
And lest we should think that Divine man a mere man, St . Paul, in the context, represents him again as a wonderful person in whom, by virtue of an indissoluble union with Deity, are all the treasures of Divine wisdom and power. For whereas, in the first chapter of his epistle, he had wished the Romans "grace and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ;" in the last chapter he shows that in Christ dwells the fulness of the Godhead, and gives twice his blessing in the name of the Son only, saying, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all," Rom. xvi, 20, 24; an apostolic blessing this, which upon your plan would be both absurd and wicked. (1.) Absurd: for how can a mere man have grace enough to supply the wants of millions in all ages? And, (2.) Wicked: because it puts Christians upon believing in, and praying to Jesus Christ, for the fulness of Divine grace, which would be tempting them to gross idolatry, if he were a mere man.
But so far was St. Paul from entertaining any fear in this respect, that he begins his next epistle by describing true Christians as men who are "sanctified in [or by] Christ Jesus, and who in every place call upon the name of Jesus our Lord, both theirs and ours:" as people who "wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall confirm them unto the end, that they may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ," elsewhere called "the day of God," 1 Cor. i, 2, 7, 8. These words, sir, demonstrate our Lord's divinity, unless you can prove that all Christians, in all ages, and in every place, are to call upon a mere man for sanctifying and confirming grace unto the end of the world.
But opposing St. Paul to himself, you try to set aside this striking proof of our Lord's divinity, by saying after the apostle, "There is none other God but one. To us [Christians] there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things," 1 Cor. viii, 4, 6.
As you, sir, and your brethren, perpetually deceive the simple, by affirming that our Lord's divinity is inconsistent with these words, I shall not only rescue them out of your hands, but establish by them what you intend to destroy.
I. What appearance is there that St. Paul, having begun his epistle by pointing out our Lord as the object of our adoration and prayers, would contradict himself in the middle of that very epistle? If you do not believe that he wrote by Divine inspiration, you should at least allow that he wrote with common sense.
2. When he says, "There is none other God but one;"—"to us there is but one God," he no more means to overthrow the Godhead of our Lord, which is one with the Godhead of the Father, than he means to overthrow the Godhead of the Holy Spirit; but he evidently opposes the one Godhead of the Father, and of the Word, and of the Holy Ghost, to the multiplicity of heathenish deities, and of potentates, who, as living images of the supreme Potentate, are sometimes called gods, even in Scripture.
3. To be convinced that this is the true meaning of the two clauses on which you rest your contempt of our Lord's divinity, we need only consider them with the context. St. Paul speaks of eating the flesh of those beasts which have been "offered in sacrifice to idols;" and he says, "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, [is a mere vanity,] and that there is none other God but one, for though there be that are called gods, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) yet to us [Christians] there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, and we of him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, [the Word and Son of the Father,] by whom are all things, and we by him." He might have added, as he does, chap. xii, 4, and Eph. iv, 4, and "one Holy Ghost," the Spirit of the Father, in whom are all things, and we in him.
4. I have observed, in the last letter, that this expression, "one God the Father," far from excluding the divinity of the Son, is as consistent with it, as the idea of a king is consistent with that of a subject: for God being eternally and infinitely perfect, if paternity belong to his essence, so does sonship. The eternal Father hath then a co-eternal Son, his Word, who, in the unity of his Spirit, is the one God opposed by St. Paul to the many idols and gods of the heathen. "There are three [Divine subsistences] that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three [ekti Ev] are one," one Jehovah in whose names Christians are baptized.
5. That our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, is not excluded from the unity of the Godhead by the text, is evident to those who take notice that the apostle hath no sooner mentioned "one God the Father," but he mentions the Son as the "one Lord," in the unity of the Father and of the Spirit.
6. If you insist that this expression, ii$ ©eoj, one God, which is applied to the Father, necessarily excludes the Son; it will follow, by the same unscriptural rule, that this expression, eig Kupiog, one Lord, which is applied to the Son, necessarily excludes the Father; and thus to rob the Son of his supreme divinity, you will rob the Father himself of his supreme Lordship! So true it is, that Unitarian overdoing always ends in undoing; and that our Saviour spake an awful truth, when he said, "He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father!"
7. To be convinced that the one God, and the one Lord, are not to be separated, and that, while the former is viewed as the Creator, the latter is not to be looked upon as a mere creature, we have only to consider what the apostle saith of each. He calls the Father the Being "or whom are all things, and we in him;" and he assures us that the Son is the Being "Ry whom are all tliings, and we by him." Now if "all things are by the Son," he is prior to all the creatures that have been created, nay, he is the Creator of them all, and therefore you endeavour to substitute an absurd tenet to the second article of the Chris tian faith, when you teach that he is a mere man, who had no existence till he was born of the virgin. Thus the very scriptures by which you attack our Lord's divinity, when they are candidly considered with the context, and the tenor of the Bible, strongly confirm what you rashly deny: and St. Paul does not contradict himself when he exhorts the Corinthians to " flee from idolatry," and to "call upon the name of the one Lord by whom all things were made."
Nor will it avail to object, that St. Paul writes to these very Corinthians, that "as the head of the woman is the man, so the head of Christ is God," 1 Cor. xi, 3. For we who believe the divinity of our Lord, as it is set forth in the Scriptures and in the Nicene Creed, grant that as Eve was subordinate to Adam, so the Son is subordinate to the Father: but, at the same time, we assert, that as Eve, notwithstanding her subordination, was truly of one nature with Adam, the Son of God, notwithstanding his subordination to the Father, is of one nature with him also. Thus this second objection, when candidly weighed, becomes another proof of our Lord's divinity, especially if we consider what St. Paul says in the next chapter.
Speaking to the Corinthians of the idols which they once worshipped, he first opposes, to those dumb idols, Jesus Christ, the "Word made flesh," and observes, that "no man can say, [with a full and lively conviction,] that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost," 1 Cor. xii, 2, 3. And in the three next verses the apostle, holding out the doctrine of the trinity, says, (1.) "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit." !2.) "There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord." (3.) "There are diversities of operations, but the same God." And that the Spirit and the Lord are ineffably one with him, whom St. Paul calls the same God, I prove by the context. God, saith he, "hath set some in the Church as apostles, teachers," &c. God hath endued some with " gifts of healing, and diversities of tongues." Now, he who peculiarly sets some to be apostles, is the Lord Jesus, who called the twelve apostles and St. Paul. And he who peculiarly imparts gifts, whether of utterance, of tongues, or of healing, is the same Divine Spirit, whose unity is opposed to the diversity of his operations.
If you deny that God "who hath set some in the Church to be apostles," is peculiarly Jesus Christ, "the same Lord" who presides over the differences "of administrations;" and if you will still assert that the apostles never give to our Saviour any higher title than that of " a man approved of God," I once more prove the contrary, by reminding you, that St. Paul calls the Church sometimes "the Church of God," and sometimes "the Church of Christ;" and that, speaking to the clergy at Ephesus, he exhorts them to feed "the Church of God, which he [God] hath purchased with his own blood," Acts xx, 28. Now, sir, God who hath thus purchased the Church, is peculiarly " God the Son," our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in the unity of the Father, and of the Spirit, is "the same one God," whom Bible Christians worship in trinity, because "of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever, Amen," Rom. xi, 36.