Some of the principal objections, of the Unitarians examined.
One of the principal objections alleged by the Unitarians against the Deity of Christ, they endeavor to found on the following text: “And he said unto him, why callest thou me good, there is none good but one, that is God.” Matth. 19,17. On this Mr. J. Miller observes, p. 63,”When Christ said why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God; can it reasonably be understood that he meant himself, or that the term included himself as very and eternal God, with two other persons, each of whom was God, independent and supreme ?” &c.
Answer. Christ does not say that he is not good, but asked the ruler why he called him good; neither did Christ deny that he was God, but affirmed that God only was good. If the scribe had believed that Christ was God, he might have replied to Christ’s question: “why callest thou me good?” that he called him good, because he believed that he was God. But on supposition that the scribe had denied his Godhead, then his language would have been erroneous; seeing none is good but God. Christ in asking this question, neither denies nor affirms that he is good. Since the answer of the scribe (if he had made any) is not recorded, by what method can it be proven that he disclaimed being good? If a man were to call me a very wise man, and if I would ask him: why he called me so, I would thereby neither deny, nor affirm his assertion. I would only demand his reasons for such an assertion. Had the scribe believed the Godhead of Christ, his address would have been correct according to his belief. Now if on supposition Christ is not God, would he have had asked him: why callest thou me good? For this question would not have robbed him of his opinion, i.e. that Christ is God. Christ in that case with a view to correct such an error, would in all probability have made a different reply. But if on the contrary, the scribe had denied the Godhead of Christ, then his address would have been ironical. Now in that case Christ’s question: why callest thou me good? would have been pertinent to the point.
By such texts as speak of limited and created qualities in the person of Christ, of his humiliation and his exaltation, Unitarians endeavor to prove that Christ is not God. When they have proven that Christ has limited properties: such as ignorance with respect to the time of the judgment day, dependence on his father; and because he suffered and died, they presume that they have sufficiently proven that Christ is not God: seeing it is repugnant to God’s nature to be limited, and to suffer and to die. They manifestly, principally build their superstructure upon this datum: Christ possessed limited and created qualities; but God is unlimited and uncreated; therefore Christ is not God. If such a position be correct, I might in a similar manner prove that all men are void of sense, memory and judgment. I would arrange the argument thus : All men are formed out of the earth, but earth possesses neither sense, nor memory nor judgment; therefore all men are without sense, memory, and judgment. But would not all Unitarians, as well as all other rational men explode this as a barefaced sophism? For it might properly he replied: that all men being formed out of the earth does not prove that they are without reason; unless it be shewn, that men possess nothing else but an earthly body. The position of Unitarians is similar, and stands thus: Christ possessed the infirmities of human nature; sin excepted; he suffered and died; God is omnipotent and immutable; therefore Christ is not Cod. But this is a sophism. Forasmuch, as Christ having possessed the infirmities of humanity, does by no means prove that he has no other nature, nor qualities; and until it be shewn positively, that he possesses no other qualities; except those, which are peculiar to human nature, it is in vain to urge the human qualities possessed by him as an objection against his Deity.
I shall investigate some of those objections severally. The Unitarians say: 1. That the doctrine of two natures is a main prop in the edifice of the trinity.” It represents him (Christ) as speaking in two characters, sometimes as God, sometimes as man, without intimating in which character. Pursue this notion to its consequences; as man he might be mistaken like other men, he has in no single instance given a hint by which we can be certain in which character he spoke, but he uniformly acted and conversed as one being, possessed of one nature, and sustaining one character. By what rule shall we judge? One reads his words, and says it is God that speaks; another says it is man. Who shall decide? Or how shall it be proved that he did not utter the language, and speak with the wisdom of man only, when he published the doctrine of a future state, or any other of the doctrines of revelation. Do you say, that the divine nature always controlled the human in these cases? How do you know? You can only decide by an arbitrary opinion and any man may do the same,” The Unitarian Miscel. No. 17. p. 33. Again p.34: “Trinitarians are apt to dwell much on the humility of Christ in descending from the glory of the heavens, taking up his abode with men, submitting to the pains and hardships, &c.” Then conclude, “But how can they talk of the humility of the unchangeable God? Can the Being, who is the same from everlasting to everlasting, and whose perfections are as immutable as his nature, can such a being humble himself, lay aside his attributes, and take upon him the nature of frail, sinful man? &c.”
Unitarians readily perceive that if it be shewn, that Christ possesses two natures in one person, their principal objections will vanish; consequently in order to maintain their ground they deny that he possesses two natures. But upon this principle, how can they answer the question which our Saviour had put to the pharisees? I presume the Unitarians can as little answer it, as the pharisees. “While the pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, what think ye of Christ? Whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto my Lord: sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. If David then call him Lord, how is be his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, &c.” Matth. 22, 41-46. Whereas Christ is both David’s Lord and son, he by all means possesses two natures. As David’s Lord he is superior to him, but in so far as he is his son he possesses David’s nature. David was a true man, Christ is his son; therefore Christ is also a true man. Christ is not only David’s Lord but the Lord from heaven, 1 Cor. 15, 47. A mere son of David, i.e. a mere man cannot be the Lord from heaven. It is abundantly evident from the scriptures, and also admitted by Unitarians that God created the worlds by Christ; consequently he exists before creation; hence prior to David, assessing a sublimer nature than that which be derived from since his incarnation. Or, indeed is it possible for any one to imagine, that Christ as a mere man born of the virgin Mary about four thousand years after creation, could have been with respect to his nature before creation, and have created all things? Such a supposition contradicts itself, and I presume no Unitarian maintains it. It is manifest that Christ existed, before he was made the son of David. Now if Christ existed before the foundation of the world, did he, or did he not possess a nature? If he had no nature, then he was a non-entity. But to suppose this, would be an absurdity; hence, surely he had a nature. But did he then possess David’s nature? No. For David was not before the foundation of the world. But what nature did Christ possess after he was made David’s son? By all means he had David’s nature: for every son possesses the nature of his father. Thus since Christ exists before all creation, he has a sublimer nature than that of a mere man, and yet since he afterwards was made David’s son, he also possesses man’s nature; consequently he has two natures.
That Christ has two natures I shall illustrate in the following remarks: St. Paul says “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Rom. 9, 5. If Christ as concerning the flesh came of the fathers, then it is manifest that he in some other respect is not of the fathers. It would be absurd to affirm with respect to any mere man, that he came of human parents according to the flesh, forasmuch as that would be necessarily understood without such an addition. Hence when it is said that Christ as concerning the flesh came of the fathers, it is readily understood that he has another nature, which is not derived from the fathers. This text does not only prove that Christ derived a nature from the fathers but also that he is supreme God: “who is over all, God blessed forever.” It is vain to suppose that the phrase “God blessed forever,” has reference to God the Father implying a form of thanksgiving, and that the substantive verb be ought to be understood; so that the sense would be: Christ is over all, therefore God the Father be blessed for ever Amen. For the original is θεος ευλογητος. Eυλογητος is no participle, but an adjective. Adjectives do not like participles imply time; hence it is impossible according to correct criticism, to construe this phrase “God be blessed for ever.” It is said that Christ is over all; if so, then he is supreme God: for no being can be above all things; except God.
“And the Word was made flesh.” John 1, 14. This Word who was made flesh, was in the beginning, he was with God, and he was God, and all things were made by him. v. 1,2,3. The term Word is used for Son: for it is said of him, “and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” This Word existed before the foundation of the world, consequently prior to his incarnation. Thus this text also shews that Christ possesses two natures, the one he has before creation, and the other he assumed in the fulness of time. What the apostle in this text denominates flesh, is in other passages called man. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2, 5. “And being found in fashion as a man.” Phil. 2, 8. If Christ be a man, then he by all means possesses man’s nature.
He was made like unto his brethren:— “Wherefore it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, &c. Heb. 2, 17. He that was made in all things like unto his brethren, must possess our nature. Christ not only possesses human flesh and blood, but also all whatsoever pertains to man’s nature: such as a human soul and intelligence. Notwithstanding, he having our nature; yet he is without sin; seeing sin is no constituent part of man’s nature. It is a wrong disposition of the heart, or a volition which is contrary to God’s law.
It is said by St. Luke that the child Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” ch. 2, 52. The divine fulness in Christ was not susceptive of increasing in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man; because that is eternally and immutably perfect. If Christ had only a human body, he might have increased in stature, but not in wisdom: for wisdom cannot exist without an intelligent faculty. Hence to increase in wisdom, presupposes a created intelligent faculty. Christ has a soul: for he says, “my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Matth. 26, 38.
Christ does not only possess our nature, but it is also of the same origin: —”For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Heb. 2, 11. Although the manner of Christ’s birth was different from that of other men; nevertheless the genealogies as recorded by the Evangelists sufficiently evince that he is of Adam’s race. If Christ according to the flesh, did not as well as his brethren descend from Adam; (Luke 3, 23, 38) then God’s design under the Old Testament dispensation would have been nullified. In vain he would have preserved the Hebrews a distinct people from all others, and their correct genealogy; so that the Messiah might be recognized as an offspring of Abraham, of Judah, of David agreeably to the divine promise and prediction. Neither could any valid reason be assigned why the Hebrews received more particular favors than all other nations: provided the Messiah had not descended from them: for had they been cut off like other nations, or intermixed with their conquerors, his line of descent would have been destroyed, and God’s promises and predictions nullified. Had it been God’s design that the Messiah should be a man only, without any regard to his origin, he might like Adam have been made out of a lump of clay, and had the breath of life breathed into his nostrils; but since this has not been the case, it is manifest that he is not only a man, but a man of Adam’s race.
From the proceeding observations it is evident that Christ possesses two natures. Unitarians can by no means deny that Christ possesses flesh and blood, even if they do not admit that he possesses a human intelligence, or a perfect human nature consisting of a soul and body distinct from his pre-existent nature. Neither have I discovered in any of their writings, that they deny that Christ possesses flesh and blood. Since the scriptures ascribe to Christ divine titles, omnipotent power and infinite dominion, Unitarians suppose that he (notwithstanding they deny that he is God) possesses such by the divine fulness dwelling in his person. In short they admit that Christ has the Father’s fulness. Mr. Worcester in his Bible News, p. 75, 76 admits that Christ is almighty by the indwelling of the Father, or the fulness of the Godhead. Mr. J. Miller also admits that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, and that God was manifested in the flesh. See his letters to Isaac Lewis, p. 45. The Word fulness implies that which does not lack any thing, or is a repletion: for if the least should be wanting there can be no fulness. St. Paul says, “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, &c.” Gal. 4, 4. Like as the fulness did not exclude any part of the time prior to the birth of Christ, even so the fulness of the Godhead cannot exclude any thing pertaining to God: whether it be of substance or attributes. If any thing whatever pertaining to the eternal Godhead should be wanting, then surely there could not be a fulness of the Godhead. The divine essence, the attributes of eternity, infinity, omnipotence, &c. are necessarily included in the divine fulness: for otherwise the Godhead would not be replete. It is not only said that the divine fulness dwells in Christ, but that the Father himself is in him. “The Father, that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” John 14, 10. Since the Father himself dwells in Christ, it is evident that the divine fulness implies every thing pertaining to the Godhead: otherwise the Father himself would not be the eternal Godhead.
The Father’s fulness did not dwell in Christ only occasionally, so that it sometimes was separated from his person. Christ is the brightness of the Father’s glory: consequently he is God, the eternal, uncreated light reflected. Now if the Father ever had ceased to reflect himself, Christ would also have ceased to exist, because he is this divine luminous reflection. If the Father’s fulness had ever left Christ, then he would also have ceased to reflect himself in Christ’s person: for the divine fulness is all whatsoever pertains to the eternal Godhead. Therefore, the divine fulness is essential to Christ’s own Existence; so that without this fulness it could not properly be said that Christ was Christ. He says, “All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said l that he shall take of mine and shall shew unto you.” John 16,15. If all things that the Father hath are Christ’s, then surely the Father’s fulness must also be Christ’s fulness. If not then Christ’s assertion “that all things that the Father hath are his,” could not be justified: for the Father has a divine fulness; Christ has the very, the same fulness. Therefore Christ even in his sufferings, was nor without the Father. When he was about to enter into his sufferings he said, “Behold the hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet l am not alone, because the Father is with me.” John 16,32. Again, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” 2 Cor. 5, 17. Thus it is evident that the Father never was separated from Christ, even not in his sufferings.
Since it has been proven that Christ possesses two natures, it is hence evident that he also possesses two different kinds of properties. The divine nature is not without divine properties, such as omnipotence, omniscience, &.c. Neither is the human nature without human properties; such as being limited in knowledge and power, subject to mortality, &c. Since Christ possesses both divine and human properties in one person, the scriptures properly ascribe to him not only divine works and prerogatives: but also human weakness; such as limited knowledge, sorrows, pains and even death; and also an inferiority to, and a dependence upon his Father.
The objection that it cannot be known when Christ speaks as God, and when he speaks as man, can only properly be urged against those Trinitarians, who deny that the natures in Christ are so deeply and inseparably united, that the properties of each (yet without mixture or confusion) flow together in the same person. As if when Christ speaks as being almighty, this only should belong to the divine nature, or when he speaks of sufferings and death, it should simply mean that a mere man suffered and died, then he would speak in a twofold character, or as two persons; consequently it could not always be known when he speaks as God, and when as man. But the two natures are one person, consequently whatsoever Christ speaks and does, he speaks and does as a person. Thus when he says, that he does not know all things, i.e. the hour and day of the last judgment in his state of humiliation, it is not merely human nature that speaks, but Christ the God-man. But it can be plainly shewn that some of Christ’s properties and actions originate, or flow from one nature only; notwithstanding the other nature partakes of the same properties and actions, because of the inseparable personal union. St. Paul says, that “Christ was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.” Rom. 1,3, 4. This shews how one thing ascribed to the person, is the property of one nature only. The text does not say, that the flesh only was made of the seed of David, but Christ. The word Christ does not denote one, or the other nature only. For if either nature could be called Christ, then there would be two Christs, which is contrary to the scriptures. Christ is a personal appellation, including the two natures. But how was he of the seed of David, when he had an eternal pre-existence? The apostle says, that he was of the seed of David according to the flesh. It is the property of the flesh to be derived from David; yet it is properly said that Christ is of the seed of David, because his flesh is one thing with himself: for the Word was made flesh; hence whatsoever may be the properties and actions of the flesh, the divine nature is a partaker of the same.
Again, St. Peter says, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” 1 Epist. 3, 18. The flesh only is subject to mortality; whereas the divine nature in itself is immortal. The human nature of itself possesses no quickening power; hence to quicken is a work peculiar to divine nature. Nevertheless, the flesh and the divine nature are one person; consequently if the flesh died, the Godhead was a partaker of this death; because this flesh and blood of Christ is God’s own flesh and blood. It is not only said that he took part of flesh and blood. Heb. 2, 14; but also that “God purchased his church with his own blood.” Acts 20, 28.
St. Peter does not say, that the flesh only was put to death, but that Christ was put to death in the flesh: for the flesh of itself is not Christ. If the flesh only had been put to death, then the reading of the text would have to be, “the flesh was put to death in the flesh,” which would be absurd. But since it reads, Christ was put to death in the flesh, the indication is, that Christ as a person suffered and died according to his flesh; since the flesh was subject to mortality, and yet a constituent part of this divine person. If I were to say that a certain man had been wounded in his arm, I undoubtedly would be understood that the wound was not immediately received by any other member of the body; but yet, that the man himself had been wounded, because his arm is a part of himself. If the flesh be a part of Christ, and that died, then surely Christ personally died, since that which is a part of himself died.
Unitarians ask, “Can the Being who is the same from everlasting to everlasting, and whose perfections are as immutable as his nature, can such a being humble himself, lay aside his attributes, and take upon him the nature of a frail, sinful man?”
Answer. No well informed Trinitarian supposes that the Son of God as God, or according to his divine nature had ever humbled himself. When in the fulness of time, he assumed human nature, he could then in this, or according to this nature humble himself, without a change in his divine essence. For it must be admitted, that the human nature was most superlatively exalted by the eternal filial Godhead being assimilated to the same. The Godhead is immutable; hence the humanity did not render it higher nor lower. But the humanity is a changeable nature, it was therefore susceptible of being exalted and glorified with an uncreated divine glory by reason of the eternal Word having become one person with the same. Consequently God’s Son, could humble himself according to the humanity,
It is in vain to ask, how God (i.e. the Son) could lay aside his attributes? as I do not believe that he had ever laid them aside. To have laid his attributes aside, would suppose that he had changed and become destitute of such attributes. That he took upon himself human nature, and its infirmities; sin excepted, does not prove that he must also have laid aside his attributes. The human nature having been received into his person, neither changes, nor annihilates his divine nature. Is it impossible for God to take a human nature upon himself? Can such an impossibility be proven? Those who deny that God could take upon himself human nature, ought by all means to prove it. Merely to ask how the immutable God could take upon him the nature of a frail, sinful man? is no proof that he could not, nor that he did not take upon him human nature. I have not discovered in any of the writings of Unitarians, that they offer any proof either from the works of nature, or from the scriptures, that it is impossible for God to take upon him human nature. Let them do it if they be able; and if they succeed in it, they will utterly overthrow the doctrine of Christ’s eternal Godhead. But until they do this, it is in vain to say that it is absurd to believe that God could take upon him the nature of man.
2. Mr. Worcester observes, “But there is another argument which if possible, is still more weighty, to which we may now attend. You cannot be insensible, that it is plainly and abundantly represented in the scriptures, the SON of God did really and personally suffer and die for us. And that on this ground, both the love of God and the love of his SON are represented as having been manifested in a very extraordinary manner. And if the SON of God be truly the SON of God, a derived intelligence, these representations may be strictly and affectingly true. For on this hypothesis, the SON of God may be the same intelligent Being as the soul of the Man Christ Jesus who suffered on the cross.
But your theory will not, I suspect, be found to admit, or support, any thing more than the shadow of the suffering and death of the SON OF GOD.
Writers and preachers on your side of the question, do, indeed, often speak of the abasement, the sufferings, and death, of the Son of God, as though they believed these things to be affecting realities. But, after all, what is the amount of these representations, upon your hypothesis? You do not conceive that the Son of God became united to flesh and blood as the soul of Jesus Christ. So far from this, you suppose that the Son of God was personally the self-existent God; and instead of becoming the soul of a human body, you suppose he became mysteriously united to a proper man,who, as distinct from the Son of God, had a true body and reasonable soul. And I think, Sir, it will be found, that on this Man your theory lays the iniquities of us all; that this Man, and not the Son of God, endured the stripes by which we have healing. For while you maintain that the Son was personally the only living and true God, you very consistently affirm “he did not suffer in the least in his Divine nature, but altogether in his human nature.” And what is this but affirming that he did not suffer at all as the Son of God, but only the Man Jesus suffered, to whom the Son was united? As, on the Athanasian hypothesis, the Man Christ Jesus and the human nature are the same. You suppose the SON as incapable of suffering as the Father, and that he did not in reality suffer on the cross any more than the Father did; nor any more than either of them suffered while Cranmer was burning at the stake. How then does it appear, that “God spared not his own Son.”
You will probably plead, that the Man Jesus was united to the Person of the Son of God and that Person suffered in his human nature. But, Sir, as you predicate personality on the Son or Divine nature, and do not allow personality to the human nature, it will, I suspect, be difficult for you to prove that any Person suffered on the cross: for the sufferings fell simply on a nature to which you do not allow personality. As in your view, the Son was the self-existent God, and could not suffer in his Divine nature, HE could not suffer in any nature. The man was only an appendage to his Person, mysteriously connected; and yet so far was the union from being very intimate or essential, that the appendage or the Man might suffer the severest agonies, and the Son or real Person be at the same time in a state of infinite felicity.” Bible News p. 67-69.
Again he says, “It has been, and I think justly supposed, that the dignity of the Son of God gave value to the sufferrings of the cross. And if we consider the Son of God to be what his title imports, a derived Intelligence of Divine origin and dignity, the one by whom God created the world; if we consider this self-same Intelligence as personally and really suffering the death of the cross, we may perceive something, in view of which we may well exclaim, “Behold what manner of love .”‘
But if the sufferings of the cross did not really fall on that very Son, who had sustained pre-existent glory in the “form of God” but on a man who had existed less than forty years, who had acted in public character not more than four or five; how small the degree of condescension on the part of the sufferer, how small the display of the love of God, and of what diminished value are the sufferings of the cross! In the Assembly’s Catechism we are taught, that “Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, being made under the law; undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross; in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.”
Yet this same catechism teaches us to believe, that Jesus Christ was personally the self-existent God. I will then ask, whether there be one particular of what is said respecting the humiliation of Christ, which can possibly be true? Was the self-existent God ever born? Was he ever in a low condition? Was he ever made under the law? Did he ever suffer the wrath of God, or the cursed death of the cross? Was God ever buried? — If the self-existent God, has not passed through such scenes, then the SON of God has not, according to your doctrine respecting the Son. Therefore, according to your theory, all the abasement, which can be supported, falls on the Man to which the Son was united: And this Man you suppose had no existence until he was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary; of course, he had no glory to leave, or lay aside when he came into the world. As he never had been rich, it was impossible for him to become poor for our sake. He had no opportunity to say, “Lo I come to do thy will, O God.” and so far as his humiliation consisted in “being born, and that in a low condition,” there was nothing voluntary in it; and it could be no evidence of any love or condescension in him.
To make out your theory of the humiliation and abasement of the Son of God, you have to take into view two distinct intelligent Beings; one of which you affirm to be the self-existent God, and the other a proper Man. This God, or Son of God, you find had been in a state of pre-existent dignity and glory; and he, as you suppose, was united mysteriously to a Man; this Man was born in low circumstances, endured the miseries of this life, and suffered death on the cross; and by virtue of his union to the Son of God, he was enabled to bear a vastly greater weight of suffering than he could otherwise have endured.
But, Sir, is this all that is intended by God’s SPARING NOT HIS OWN SON? Is this the way in which the Son of God BARE our sins in his OWN BODY on the tree? What, sir, was the real condition of the SON of God, the self-existent God, from the birth of the Man Jesus till this Man rose again from the dead? According to your theory, the SON of God, during the whole of that period, was in a state of infinite glory and felicity, and as incapable of suffering the agonies of death as the Father. How then can it be true, that “Though a Sou, yet learned he obedience by the things which HE SUFFERED?” As it respects the real character of the SUFFERING SAVIOUR, what is your theory better than Socinianism enveloped in mystery? Bible News, p. 70-72.
Answer. Does Mr. Worcester suppose, when he asserts that Trinitarians maintain that Christ is personally the self-existent God, that they believe that Christ is God without the Father? If there should be any Trinitarian that has ever expressed such an idea, I hereby contradict and disavow such an opinion. I believe that Christ is truly God, but neither of, nor by himself. He is God by the Father. If he were God without the Father, he would also be a distinct being from him. But as Christ neither exists, nor is God without the Father, all such objections, which are calculated to confound the distinctive relations between the Father and Son, are urged in vain. As for instance Mr. J. Miller says, “If there be no God besides Jesus Christ, what Father is he equal with? Has the one eternal God an equal Father? Should it be answered that the one eternal God has no Father, with whom he is equal, and yet that the one eternal God is equal with the Father, I must answer that such language to me is unintelligible.
Does not equality imply distinction and plurality, and is it not contrary to all analogy and language, to declare a being equal with himself? Were there but one man in existence, could he have an equal? And if there be but one supreme God who is an infinite Spirit, can there be another equal to him?” p. 128.
Answer. I do not say that there is another God distinct from Christ, nor that he is a distinct God from the Father. I have already shewn, that the Father is an eternal uncreated light, and that Christ is the brightness thereof. Now it is self-evident, that a light and its brightness are not two lights; therefore the Father and Christ are not two supreme Beings. But a light and its brightness, though substantially the same, have different modes of existence: for the brightness being the light reflected, exists in the mode of reflection, and is thus distinguished from the light. Christ, though possessing the Father’s substance, yet he has a different mode of existence: for he exists in the mode of reflection; so that the distinction between the Father and Christ may easily be discerned. Christ is not only distinguished from the Father in this respect, but also with respect to his incarnation: for in the fulness of time he assumed a human nature. The Father was not made flesh. Neither can it be said that the eternal Godhead was made flesh in the Father’s mode of existence; but it was truly made flesh in the Son’s mode of existence, that is, God in so far as he is reflected; or properly the divine resplendence, i.e. the Son was made flesh. Thus it may be said that the Father is an invisible light, independent and self-existent, not only with respect to his substance; but also with respect to the mode of his existence; hence his nature is nothing but God; whereas Christ truly possesses the Father’s substance; yet his mode of existence is eternally and perpetually caused by the Father, i.e. he is reflected by the Father; or he is the resplendence of the invisible God, and the express image of his person, and has assumed a human nature, which the Father does not personally possess. Now Christ, because he is distinct in personality, may be equal with the Father, without supposing a plurality of Gods, nor that the selfsame person should be equal with himself. Objections of this kind are founded upon the supposition that there is no distinction between the supreme Being and divine persons. But when the distinction between the Father’s and Christ’s persons is shewn, then it may easily be understood, how Christ may have a father, be begotten, and sent and anointed by him, without supposing that the same person should be his own father, be begotten, sent and anointed by himself.
Mr. Worcester, in the above quotation, argues against those Trinitarians, who suppose that nothing more than the human nature of Christ suffered and died. Although, he does not believe that Christ is God; yet he supposes that he has a sublimer nature than that of a mere man, which existed before his incarnation. He maintains that not only an appendage of Christ, but that he personally suffered and died. His arguments against those, who suppose that a mere man died, in so far as they respect Christ’s personal sufferings and death, it must be confessed are cogent and conclusive. But it must be observed, that not all Trinitarians maintain that a mere man suffered and died. Lutherans in particular, utterly disavow such an opinion. They believe that Christ, hence not a mere man suffered and died.
Those who assert that Christ is God, and yet declare, that nothing more than a human nature suffered and died, contradict themselves in a most glaring manner. For if they be asked, whether Christ suffered and died? they will answer in the affirmative. If they be asked: who is Christ? their answer will be, he is the Son of God, true God and man in one person. Now if they be asked: whether his divine nature, or Godhead also was a partaker of sufferings and death? they will answer, by no means: for that would be impossible. Thus the contradiction is manifest. For if Christ suffered and died, and if he be God and man in one person, how could Christ ever have suffered and died, unless a God-man had suffered and died? To affirm that Christ died, and yet to assert that nothing but a human nature died, is virtually saying that Christ is nothing more than a human nature. This is truly denying Christ’s Godhead, even by those, who otherwise seem to contend for it. Why do such not speak consistently? If they cannot believe that the Godhead of Christ could be a partaker of sufferings and death, why do they not at once deny that he is God? when they must acknowledge that Christ suffered and died. Whatever Christ maybe, the same must have been a partaker of sufferings and death. Was he a mere man, then a man only suffered and died. Was he a sublime spirit, superior to any of the angels joined to a human body, then such a spirit was a partaker of sufferings and death. Was he God reflected, or the brightness of the Fathers glory made flesh, then this filial Godhead suffered and died in flesh.
The scriptures declare, that when Christ was crucified, a greater one than man was crucified. St. Paul declares, “But we speak wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Cor. 2, 7, 8. Again, St. Peter says, “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead, &c.” Acts 3, 14, 15. Can a mere man be the Lord of glory, and the Prince of life? The Lord of glory and Prince of life, are divine titles and cannot be attributed, to a mere creature. The apostles expressly declare, that the Lord of glory and Prince of life had been crucified and killed; hence not a mere man joined to God’s Son. Or indeed, will any Trinitarian who denies that Christ died in the full sense of the word, attempt to prove that the mere humanity of Christ was the Lord of glory and the Prince of life? If this can be done, I wish to see it attempted. But l presume no Trinitarian of the aforesaid opinion would assay to prove that the titles Lord of glory and Prince of life belong to a mere creature: for thereby he would surrender one of his arguments in behalf of the Godhead of Christ: as it is argued that the title LORD answers to the Hebrew JEHOVAH, which title is not attributed to a mere creature, but properly belongs to the supreme God.
I would ask those Trinitarians, whether Christ was God, or a mere man whilst he was dead? If they acknowledge that he was God whilst dead, then they must also acknowledge that the Godhead was a partaker of death. But if they deny that he was God whilst he was dead, then they must also deny that he had the power to raise himself up from the dead, and thus contradict the Scriptures. For how could a mere man raise himself from the dead? It requires the same power to raise a dead person, as to create a world. Although it be said, that the Father raised Christ from the dead; yet did he also raise himself: for he laid down his life, that he might take it again; he had power to lay it down, and he had power to take it again. John 10, 17, 18. Again Christ said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” John 5, 19. Now if Christ laid down his life that he might take it again, it is plain that he raised himself up from the dead. Moreover, since the Father raised up Christ; consequently he, because what things soever the Father doeth these he also doeth likewise, must have raised himself. Had the Godhead of Christ been separated from the humanity in death, then the Godhead would have been a distinct person from the humanity; hence had the Godhead thus separated, even raised the humanity, it could by no means be said that he raised himself, but the Son of God would only have raised up a mere man, with whom he at that time had no personal connection. But as the scriptures plainly shew that Christ raised himself, he must have been God-man even in death. Can one be raised from the dead: provided he be not dead? By no means. Could a God-man have raised himself, provided a mere man, but not a God-man had been dead? By no means. Since Christ raised himself from the dead, it is evident that his Godhead, even in death was not separated from his humanity. But if it be asked, how he could have been dead, provided his divine nature had not been separated? it may be answered the same as the souls of men animate their bodies, even so the human soul of Jesus animated his body; consequently in death his soul and body were separated; whereas his Godhead in the meanwhile was inseparably united with his dead body and disembodied soul. Now since the separation of the soul from the body, is death, and as Christ’s Godhead was one thing with his body and soul, it must follow that the same was a partaker of death. Christ at the same time was both immortal and mortal: He is immortal in so far as he is God; and mortal in so far as he assumed human nature. The humanity, because the Word was made flesh,is the filial Godhead’s own humanity; consequently its weakness and mortality had become the weakness and mortality of this Godhead. Although, the humanity being inseparably one thing with the Godhead, could not change the same; yet the humanity in this oneness yielded to the Godhead its weakness and mortality, of which the Godhead otherwise would have been destitute. I do not say, that the Godhead of Christ died according to the Godhead; but that the humanity having yielded its weakness and mortality to the Godhead, the same was a partaker of death. Thus indeed did Christ in the midst of death possess immortality; and yet, because, he assumed a weak and mortal nature, which suffered and died, it is evident that this divine person was truly a partaker of death, or as St. Peter expresses it, “he was put to death in the flesh.”
Because Christ humbled himself, was crucified, dead and buried, Unitarians suppose that he is not God; seeing that God is unchangeable, and can therefore, not be subject to any abasement, nor death. But it seems to me: provided, I understand them properly, that this same objection may be urged against their own hypothesis with equal force. I have already shewn, that Unitarians acknowledge that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Christ, that he is almighty by the indwelling of the Father, &c. Again, from the tenor of the writings of the Unitarians, I understand that they maintain, that although, he is not God, yet that he performed his miracles by the power of God in him; in short when he acted in a supreme, divine manner, or had all power in heaven and in earth it was by the indwelling of the Father, or his fulness. Now if upon the hypothesis of the Unitarians, the fulness of the Father dwell in him; if he be almighty by the indwelling of the Father, then it must follow that this divine fulness, or the Father himself must be closely united with Christ’s person. If not, how could all God’s fulness dwell bodily in him? how could he have all power in heaven and in earth, and have performed so many divine works? Neither could this divine fulness have left him even in death. If it had, he could not have raised himself from the dead, which was a miracle, which could not have been effected without omnipotent power. Now if the fulness of God dwelt bodily in Christ, I would ask Unitarians, when Christ abased himself, when he suffered and died, was not also this fulness abased, did it not suffer and die? It has already been shewn that the divine fulness includes all God’s essence, and perfections; hence the Godhead itself. This God as Unitarians (correctly) admit was in Christ; (or all his fulness bodily) and by whose indwelling he performed his miracles; how then shall it otherwise be concluded, than that this Godhead must also have been abased, have suffered and died when Christ was abased, when he suffered and died? could the divine fulness undergo such changes. Thus the same objections Unitarians urge against Trinitarians, (in this point) are equally against themselves. If they answer these objections, they have also answered for Trinitarians.
If Unitarians answer, that Christ in his state of humiliation did not at all times use his indwelling power, and majesty; or that he was not always assisted by his divine fulness, that therefore he could suffer and die, although he possessed such a fulness, Trinitarians may answer in a similar manner. They may answer, since the filial Godhead was made flesh, the humanity is a partaker of divine perfections; hence Christ in so far as it answered his mediatorial office in his state of humiliation, did not use his Godhead; or he kept back his power and glory. It is readily admitted, that if at all times his Godhead had exerted its omnipotence and glory upon him, that he could never have suffered, nor died. That the Godhead of Christ in this state of humiliation did not at all times exert his power in Christ’s person, does not prove that his Godhead must have been changed. One thing is, that Christ at all times was in possession of his eternal Godhead; but another is, when this Godhead did not at all times exert its omnipotence in his person. Christ according to the flesh was humbled. In order to effect this amazing humiliation it was not necessary that he should have been divested of his Godhead, it was sufficient if only his Godhead did not at all times exert his power and glory in his person.
If according to Unitarians, it was possible for all the fulness of the Godhead to dwell bodily in Christ, and yet for him to be humbled, to suffer and to die, without impairing, or changing the divine fulness; then surely there can be nothing absurd in maintaining, that since Christ is the filial Godhead made flesh, that he according to the flesh was humbled, and that he suffered and died, without changing his Godhead.
Some suppose that the divine nature of Christ was separated from the humanity, when he was suspended on the cross; hence imagine that a mere man died. They presume to prove this from our Saviour’s exclamation “Eloi, Eloi, lama, sabacthani?” Or “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”; Mark 15, 34. But it must be observed, that the divine personality of Christ is not his own God. The Father is called Christ’s God. See Joh. 20, 17. Christ says,”why hast thou forsaken me?” Me is a personal pronoun, and indicates Christ’s person. But who can imagine, unless he be blinded, that the mere humanity of Christ was his person, or Christ? It seems thus that not a mere man, but Christ was forsaken of God. It is manifest that these words were spoken in reference to the Father. But the Father in forsaking Christ, was by no means personally out of Christ: for the contrary position has already been established. To forsake, does not always imply a local or a personal separation. God forsakes the wicked, and leaves them to the hardness of their hearts; yet who can deny that they as well as others live, move and have their being in him? Acts 17, 23. All things are upheld by his power, hence also the wicked; notwithstanding he forsakes them. Now in forsaking the wicked, he is not locally separated from them. I shall by no means decide wherein God forsook Christ; whether he withdrew from him all inward comfort, or whether Christ exclaims, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? because he had no help against his enemies? See Ps. 22.
Although, the Father forsook Christ; yet did Christ also deny himself of happiness and glory for a little season. Christ laid down his own life, he made himself of no reputation and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Phil. 2, 8. The Father and Christ having the same omnipotent power, it must follow that when the Father withheld his power in assisting Christ in his sufferings, Christ’s own power was kept back from succoring himself.
Again, some very confidently assert, that if the divine nature of Christ had been a partaker of sufferings and death, that in the meanwhile universal nature could not have been sustained, that the universe would have been disordered, or annihilated. This objection is urged by some inconsiderate Trinitarians. But are they so blinded, that they cannot discriminate the difference between the Father’s and the Son’s persons? Do they suppose that the Father was also incarnate? Do they not know that the Son only was made flesh, and that the Godhead in this personal distinction suffered according to the flesh?
If the sufferings of the Godhead should cause convulsions in nature, then surely Christ the God-man must have suffered. Were not the most extraordinary convulsions and miracles exhibited at the time of Christ’s crucifixion? The earth quaked, the rocks burst, the veil of the temple at Jerusalem was rent, and the sun totally eclipsed. Dionysius Areopagita a heathen philosopher; he, when in Egypt, saw an eclipse of the sun, contrary to nature, at the passion of our Saviour Christ and said, “Aut Deus natures patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvetur.” That is, “Either the God of nature suffers, or the frame of the world is about to be dissolved.”
Although, God did not suffer in his substance; yet was the filial Godhead so intimately one thing with the flesh, that those extraordinary convulsions and miracles in nature at his death gave the most emphatical signs that more than a mere man was the august sufferer.
The above expression of Dionysius, ought to cause many professors of Christianity to blush, who profess Christ as God ; and yet, maintain that nothing but a mere man suffered and died.
3. Unitarians object that Christ is God, because he said he could do nothing of himself. “If” say they, “he had infinite power, would it be true for him to say, that he could of himself do nothing?” John 5,30. Unitarian Miscellany, vol. l, no. Ill, page 107.
Again, they ask, “If the Son possessed in himself all fulness, why should the Father have communicated any assistance to his humanity? Would he not have been personally sufficient of himself?” See Bible News, p. 126-127.
Answer. Notwithstanding, God upholds all creatures in their existence; yet they have created faculties. A creature may exert his own abilities, without an immediate exertion of omnipotence. One thing is, when God upholds all creatures in their existence; but another is, when a creature can act without a supernatural assistance, by reason of his created abilities. For if all a creature would do, was also done by the immediate assistance of God, then all the works of the creature would be the works of God: whether they be good or evil. The wicked works a creature does, are not done by the assistance of God. If so, God would do the wicked works himself. To assert this, would be a blasphemy. Creatures act, not only in some cases with respect to moral, but also with respect to natural actions, in consequence of their created abilities. Now, if Christ could do any thing without the Father, then it would follow that he like the creatures had a separate power, and that he would be a distinct being from the Father. But since he can do nothing of himself, but only can act in unity with the Father, it proves that be and the Father have the same uncreated power. The identity of power, proves the identity of being. Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” John 5, 19. The Father performed works of omnipotence, Christ performs the same works; hence must possess the same omnipotence. When two persons possess the self-same power, it is manifest that one cannot act with this power, but only in conjunction with the other.
Christ ranks himself with his Father in the performance of divine works. When Jesus performed a miracle on the sabbath, the Jews accused him with having committed a breach of the sabbath-day. He does not deny this charge. But he justifies his conduct in asserting that he done nothing more, than his Father also done. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” v. 17. God rested on the seventh day, (i.e the first sabbath) from all his works. This rest ascribed unto God by Moses, consists in this, that he did not work miraculously as he did in creating the world, (after the first sabbath) but suffers nature to work. Consequently every miracle is a breach of the sabbath, which God had sanctified: for it requires the same omnipotence without natural means to perform a miracle as it did to create the world; or, properly speaking the creation of the world was a miracle. Thus the import of these words is the following: God himself sometimes breaks the greater sabbath, of which the Jewish sabbath is a figure; he did not, when he had completed the works of creation, vow such a rest, that he should never be at liberty to work again, but he sometimes works yet, and Christ in conjunction with him. He that speaks as if he with the Father had broken the great sabbath, which was sanctified after the completion of creation, ranks himself with the Father as the creator of the world.
I do not say, that Christ possessed all the divine fulness in himself without the Father. The Father’s fulness is Christ’s fulness. Because the Father’s and Christ’s power is the same, Christ could not communicate any assistance to his humanity without the Father.
4. Mr. J. Miller says, “That the Trinitarian theory divides the supreme and indivisible Godhead; so much so, that one part can beget in the person of the Father, another part can be begotten in the person of the Son, and another part can proceed in the person of the Holy Ghost. This represents the Supreme Godhead as being completely divided among three persons, the first begetting, the second begotten, and the third proceeding. Hence it cannot be said of the whole Supreme Godhead, that it was either begetting, begotten, or proceeding; for were the whole begetting in the person of the Father, no part could be begotten in the person of the Son. Were the whole begotten in the person of the Son, no part could beget in the person of the Father, and were the whole proceeding in the person of the Holy Ghost, he could proceed from neither the Father nor the Son.” page 113.
Answer. The first section of this treatise partly answers this objection. I have there shewn, that the Father is an uncreated light, and that Christ is the brightness thereof. Is it impossible for a luminary to reflect itself without being divided? Is the reflection derogatory to its unity? When a luminary reflects itself, is a part only, or the whole luminary reflected? The fact proves that the whole luminary reflects itself, and it is thereby neither divided nor multiplied.
Mr. Miller does not only admit, that all the fulness of God dwells in Christ; but also that God gave him all power in heaven and in earth, p. 102. This he urges as an objection against the doctrine of Christ’s God-head. All power in heaven and in earth, is nothing less than omnipotence. The almighty power of God is seen by the visible creation, heaven and earth, and all things therein. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and God-head.” Rom. 1, 20. Since the works of creation manifest God’s eternal power, it follows, that if Christ has all power in heaven and in earth, that he has almighty power. Again, concerning the Father it is said, that he is the God of the spirits of all flesh. Numb. 16, 22. To be God of the spirits of all flesh, implies omnipotence. Jesus has the same power. He says, that power was given him over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as were given him. John 17, 2, Thus the power in heaven and in earth given to Christ, was nothing less than omnipotence.
Now let me ask Mr. M. Do you believe that there is more than one omnipotent power? Your answer is beyond all doubt in the negative. Had the Father omnipotent power, after he had given omnipotent power to Christ? If you say, the Father had no omnipotence, after he gave such to Christ, then you would suppose the Father changed, and became destitute of omnipotence. This I know, you will by no means affirm. But if you say, (which you cannot otherwise) that the Father, although, he gave Christ all power, yet retained his omnipotence, I would then ask has Christ a separate omnipotence from that of the Father’s? If the Father be omnipotent, and yet, according to your own concession has given all power in heaven and in earth to Christ, does it not prove, that there must be two omnipotent powers, the one in the Father, and the other which he gave to Christ? This conclusion is inevitable upon your theory. For you say, that the Father and Christ are separate and distinct beings. If so, they must possess separate and distinct omnipotent powers: for every distinct being has its distinct abilities. It matters not whether Christ derived this almighty power from God or not, it was his own power after it was given to him. According to your belief Christ derived his existence from the Father; and yet, you suppose him a separate being from the Father. As your theory supposes Christ a separate being from God, it must also suppose that there are two omnipotent powers. Now, Mr. M. please not to accuse Trinitarians with the doctrine of a plurality of infinities, and other attributes, and even Gods, when your own theory supposes that the Father is omnipotent, and that he also gave omnipotent power to Christ; and yet, supposes them to be distinct beings. Almighty power is an attribute, and prerogative of God. When he appeared to Abram, he said unto him “I am the almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Gen. 17,1. Hence, he who is almighty is God; seeing he possesses God’s attribute and prerogative. Whereas, you admit that Christ received almighty power, you must also admit that Christ, if not by nature; yet that he was made a God, and that too, a distinct God from the Father; hence that there are two Gods. But if you say, with Mr. Worcester that Christ is almighty by the indwelling of the Father and by his fulness, then you must acknowledge that the Father’s power is Christ’s power, in short that he has all glory by God’s fulness. But if you acknowledge this, you will overthrow your own theory, which supposes Christ a separate being from the Father. For if the Father’s power and glory are Christ’s power and glory, then they are one being. It is out of the question to suppose that the Almighty power of God could be abstracted from his being, and thus abstracted be given to another. Almighty power cannot exist, unless it be in God. If Christ be almighty, the Father must be identified with his person, and consequently they must be one being. Compare these remarks with what Mr. M. says, page 71.
5. Mr. Miller says, “That the Father of Christ is alone the Supreme God, is necessarily inferred from the consideration that Christ offered up prayers and supplications to him.”
Heb. 5, 7. ”Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications.”
He also quoted John 17, 5. Mark 14, 36. Luke 23, 34. ch. 23, 46. He then observes:
“It was indeed the practice of Christ frequently to address himself in language of supplication to the Father; but in doing this did he not address himself to the Supreme God? Had he made supplication to a God consisting of three co-equal persons, and if he himself was one of the supposed persons, he must as well have supplicated himself as the other persons. But is this an admissible supposition? does it not involve the most palpable incongruity? If then, our blessed Saviour addressed himself in his prayers and supplications to but one person, even God his Father, does it not necessarily follow that the Father is the Supreme God?
Christ not only addressed his Father as the one Supreme God, but he also directed his disciples to follow his steps.
Matth. 6, 9. After this manner, therefore pray ye; Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
May we not regard this as a safe, an excellent, and perfect model. But to whom is this prayer to be addressed but to the Supreme God? Is it not evident, then, that the Father of Christ is alone the Supreme God? As there is not the least intimation that the disciples were to address three distinct and Infinite persons in order to address the Supreme God, but the Father only, is not the idea that the Father alone is the Supreme God as necessary as it is rational? But is not prayer which is addressed to two other persons, each of whom is considered self-existent and Supreme God, an essential departure from this perfect model? , Does it not imply an egregious censure of Jesus Christ—a confident and criminal leaning to human wisdom, and a robbery of the Supreme God, the Father, of his just and unalienable due.” p. 87-89.
Again, “If Christ were not a distinct being from the Father, how could he pray to the Father ?”. Unitarian Miscell. Vol. 1. no. 1, p. 13.
Answer. When it is considered, that Christ is also a true man as well as the Son of God in one person constituting a mediator, it is easily perceived that he sustains another relation to the Father besides his personal and filial relation. In his mediatorial character, it was meet for him to pray to his Father. He was in a state of humiliation, and needed succor of his Father; and he also offered up prayers as a high-priest for the people. That Christ in his relation to God as a mediator offered up prayers, does not overthrow his divine and filial relation. By what does Mr. Miller prove, that if Christ was one of the supposed divine persons, that in supplicating the other persons, he must have supplicated himself? It is plainly said that he prayed to his Father, not to himself. His Father is a distinct person from him. If he were not a distinct person, then indeed it might seem somewhat strange that Christ should pray to him, as the self-same person would pray to the self-same person. By what can it be proven, that it would be absurd to believe that one person in the Godhead should pray to the other: especially when such has become incarnate, and sustains the relation of a mediator? I see nothing in the scriptures that would prove such a belief erroneous.
But if Mr. M. as well as other Unitarians presume that the above answer is not satisfactory; I shall answer according to their own theory.
Respecting the Holy Ghost Mr. M. says, “By the Holy Ghost, which the exalted Son of God received and sheds forth, I understand the Spirit of God, and not a person distinct from God. See 1 Cor. 2,11. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” Mr. Stone in relation to this text, says, “No one thinks that the spirit of a man means a person distinct from the man, nor can we think that the Spirit of God means a person distinct from God, for the words in the text are in the same relation. How often do we find in the Bible the expressions, my spirit, thy spirit, his spirit, applied both to God and man. The psalmist says, my spirit faileth. The Lord says of the Son l have put my spirit upon him. If in the latter text, my spirit, means a person, distinct from the speaker so it means in the former. If so, the psalmist consisted of two persons. This none will admit.” p. 107-108. See also Bible News, p. 206.
Answer. If as it is here supposed, that the holy Spirit of God bears the same relation to God as the spirit of a man bears to man, then it irrefragably follows, that the holy Spirit is apart of the Father’s person: for the spirit of a man is the most precious part of a man’s person. Thus according to Unitarians, since the Holy Ghost is not a distinct person, nor being from the Father, it is plain that he is a part of the Father’s person. Mr. Worcester calls him, “an emanation of the Divine fulness.”
Again, Unitarians say, “We believe the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, was the Spirit of God, and not a person, or being, or substance, distinct from God. When communicated to men, it was a supernatural gift; the energy and power of God operating on their minds, giving new light to their understanding, and increasing their natural intelligence and wisdom.
That the Holy Spirit is not a person, is evident from the various characteristics attributed to it in the scriptures. It is said to be poured out, shed forth, given without measure, and in portions. Men are said to drink into it, and it is at one time represented as being taken away, and at another as quenched. But none of these things are applicable to a person. And more especially, if the Holy Spirit were a person, and at the same time God, these characteristics would be absurd and impossible. You cannot say of God, that he is shed forth, taken away, or quenched.” &c. Unit. Miscell. vol. 1, no. 1, p. 17.
If according to this statement the Holy Ghost, when communicated to men, is the energy and power of God, then by all means as he is in the Father, he must also be a divine energy and power. Energy and power essentially belong to God. The Holy Ghost, therefore, since he is not a distinct person from the Father, and yet his energy and power, it is evident that he is a part of the Father’s person. According to the foregoing positions of Unitarians, it is impossible to conclude otherwise, than the Holy Ghost is a part of the Father’s person. For if as they affirm, the Holy Ghost is not a distinct person from the Father, he must be a part, or an appendage of the Father, or non-entity. That he is a non-entity none will admit. It is not my intention in this place to prove, or say any thing with respect to the personality of the Holy Ghost; but simply to shew that Unitarians maintain positions, which if true, will inevitably prove that the Holy Ghost is a part of the Father’s person.
Now since Unitarians, particularly Mr. Miller, suppose it absurd that Christ would have prayed to the Father, if he were a divine person, i.e. consubstantial to the Father, I would ask whether the Holy Ghost never prays to the Father? They will not answer contrary to the scriptures. The scriptures say, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Rom. 8, 26, 27: “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Gal. 4, 6. The former passage does not only prove that the Holy Ghost prays, but also that he is an intelligence: for a mind is ascribed to him.
Now, if the Holy Ghost be not a person, but that he, according to Mssrs, Miller and Stone, bears the same relation to God, as the spirit of a man bears to man, and is thus part of the Father’s person, does it not follow, that when the Spirit prays, a part of the Father prays to the other part of himself? Would Unitarians call this conclusion absurd? If they do, it proceeds from their own positions. If the Holy Ghost, who according to Unitarians, is even not personally distinct, and thus something belonging to God, can pray to God, without involving an absurdity; how strange it seems, that upon the supposition that Christ is consubstantial, he could not, although, being incarnate, pray to the Father without involving an absurdity! It seems more congenial to reason, that one divine person, especially, when incarnate, should pray to another divine person, than that either a part, or an attribute of the self-same person, should pray to the self-same person.
Unitarians suppose, also, that if Christ were consubstantial, he could not be sent by the Father. Why not? They admit the Holy Ghost to be something pertaining to God, or to the Father’s person. Is this Spirit not sent? If so, does not the Father send a part of himself?
6. Unitarians say, “Our Saviour said of himself, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him, that sent me.” (John 6, 38.) “But I have not spoken of myself; the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.” “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Let any read these passages seriously, and ask himself whether Christ, who is speaking, is the same being as the Father, who sent him, who taught him what he was to say, and to whose will he conformed? Would there be any meaning in these passages, if you were to suppose, that Christ alluded to himself, when he spoke of the Father, who sent him?” Unit. Miscell vol. 1, no. 1, p. 14.
Answer. It has already been proven that Christ possesses, not only a human body, but also a soul, or intelligence; hence a will. Christ, although, consubstantial to the Father, hence possessing a divine and supreme will; yet also, having a human will, or a will guided by a human intelligence, it is evident that he must have an own separate will distinct from the Father’s will; because the Father did not assume human nature.
The Father’s will which Christ came to do, was that of all which was given him he should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. v.39. This was effected by Christ’s sufferings and death and resurrection. Christ in his sufferings manifested a two-fold volition. “And he went a little further and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matlh. 26,39. Thus we see that Christ wills that the cup might pass from him; whilst, notwithstanding, he is willing that his Father’s will should be done. This indicates a two-fold will. The one influenced by a human intellect, desiring to be freed from sufferings and death; the other being the same as the Father’s will, would have the Father’s will done, which was to effect man’s salvation. This indicates a will peculiar to the Godhead, and a will peculiar to the humanity, the latter being subordinate to the former. This human will is Christ’s own will, separate from the Father’s will, because Christ only assumed human nature. The supposition exhibited in this objection is groundless: viz. when it is said: “Would there be any meaning in these passages, if you were to suppose, that Christ alluded to himself, when he spoke of the Father who sent him?” No Trinitarian of information believes that Christ, when speaking of his Father in the aforegoing texts alludes to himself. They believe Christ to be personally distinct from the Father; consequently do not blend Christ’s mediatorial actions with the commandments given him by his Father. They believe that as a mediator, Christ was sent and instructed by his Father, and in this respect subordinate to him. But does his subordination as a son, as a mediator, prove that his substance or divine nature is not consubstantial to the Father? By no means.
7. Unitarians proceed, p. 15: “There is another remarkable text proving the imperfection of his knowledge. When he foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, he said, “But of that day, and that hour, knoweth no man; no, not the angels, which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13,32.) This text alone is enough to show, that the knowledge of Christ was limited, and that he cannot be the same as God, nor have the attributes of God.”
Answer. It has already been shewn, that Christ possesses a human mind; hence a limited understanding. Christ in his humiliation according to his humanity, did not know the day and hour of the last judgment. But does it prove, that because, he according to his humanity in his humiliation did not know this particular, that therefore, he did not possess another nature according to which he was omniscient? By no means. As soon as it shall be proven, that Christ is omniscient, it is manifest that Christ was ignorant of some things in his humiliation according to the humanity. When I shall have proven this point, it will also devolve on Unitarians to shew how Christ could have been ignorant of some things, and yet be omniscient.
Unitarians admit, that all the fulness of the Godhead bodily dwells in Christ: and some also say, that he is almighty by the indwelling of the Father. How is it possible for all the fulness of God to be in Christ; and yet, that he should not be omniscient? Is not omniscience belonging to the divine fulness? How is it possible that a person, who is almighty by the indwelling of the Father, should not also be omniscient? Omnipotence includes omniscience: for it is impossible for a person to be omnipotent without being omniscient.
Jesus Christ says: “and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Rev. 2, 23. Again it is said, “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” John 2, 24, 25. To search the reins and hearts, and to know what is in man, requires omniscience.
It cannot be denied that the Holy Ghost is omniscient. Nor will Unitarians presume to deny it. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man, which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” 1 Cor. 2, 11. Since none can know the things of God, but the Spirit of God, it is evident that the holy Spirit is omniscient. Having taken it for granted, that the Holy Ghost is omniscient, Christ’s omniscience may be the more amply illustrated. Christ says concerning the Holy Ghost, “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16, 13,14. Now since the Holy Ghost is omniscient, and yet, does not speak of himself; but receives out of Christ’s fulness that which he shews unto others, it is evident, that Christ is an inexhaustible fountain of wisdom and omniscience. If it be asked, how this omniscient Spirit could receive every thing out of Christ’s fulness? he answers the question himself: —”All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” v.15. Now if the Father be omniscient, possessing wisdom without measure, then surely, the same is to be attributed to Christ: seeing all the Father has, is Christ’s. Indeed it would be strange, to suppose that the Holy Ghost is omniscient, and that he receives all things out of Christ’s fulness; and yet that Christ himself is not omniscient! “In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2,3.
Thus it is plain, that Christ has a nature according to which he is omniscient, notwithstanding, he said in his humiliation that he did not know the day and hour of the last judgment. It must be admitted that Christ was limited in knowledge; and yet, omniscient; if not, it cannot be conceived how the preceeding texts speaking of his limited knowledge and omniscience could ever harmonize.
8. Unitarians urge the text in John 14th ch. v.28: “My Father is greater than I,” against the doctrine of Christ’s Godhead. They conclude because Christ said that his Father was greater than he, that he is an inferior and a distinct being.
Answer. Christ spake of his going to the Father. “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.”
The Father was not in a state of humiliation, but was in all respects, constantly, in an uninterrupted state of glory. But Christ, although, being in the form of God; yet he made himself of no reputation, he descended to the deepest state of humiliation. But by going to the Father, he would lay aside the form of a servant, and entering into the heavens, and enthroned at God’s right hand he would be superlatively exalted. Christ whilst in his humiliation was less than the Father, for which reason he desired to ascend to him, that he might enjoy the same glory, which he had with him before the world was. John 17, 5.
Speaking after the manner of men, one man may be another’s servant, and in this relation be inferior to his lord; and yet, may possess a nature and qualities equal to his lord. If a servant were to say, my lord is greater than I: would any one conclude, that he was also inferior to his lord with respect to his nature and qualities? By no means: for many a servant is as noble in regard to his nature and qualities, as his lord. Although, the aforegoing text says, that the Father is greater than Christ; yet, it does not say, that the Father’s nature and qualities are superior. Christ was the Father’s righteous servant. Isa. 53, 11. As a servant he was less than the Father; but this relative inferiority by no means proves the inferiority of his nature and qualities. One thing is, to be greater in substance; but another is, to be greater in a relative standing. The latter does not necessarily suppose, nor include the former.
Since Unitarians maintain, that Christ’s inferiority to the Father has a reference to his nature and qualities, I would ask, whether this interpretation does not also oppose their own hypothesis? Although, they do not believe that Christ is equal with the Father; yet they believe that he is far superior to all men and angels. But was not Christ less than angels? “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, &c.” Heb. 2, 9. Was he not obedient to Joseph and Mary? See Luke 2, 51. Had not Pilate, and the wicked rabble of the Jews power over him? See John 19, 10 11. Would Unitarians admit that Christ was inferior to the angels, to his parents, and to Pilate, with respect to his nature and qualities? If they do, they cannot believe that he is the only begotten Son of God, superior to men and angels; and must thus necessarily oppose their own hypothesis. Christ even was not a man in his sufferings; the psalmist says, “I am a worm, and no man.” Ps. 22, 6.
Unitarians must necessarily admit, that Christ was less than angels and men, with respect to his humiliation, but not with respect to his nature and qualities. Now if it be correct to believe, that Christ may have been less than angels and men in his humiliation without being less in nature and qualities, why may it not also be correct to believe, that he could have been less than the Father in the same respect, without being inferior with respect to his nature and qualities? Whenever Unitarians shall shew a text, which proves that the Father is greater than Christ with respect to his nature and qualities, then it must be conceded that Christ is not consubstantial to the Father. The aforegoing text manifestly refers to Christ’s state of humiliation; hence proves nothing concerning his inferiority with respect to his nature and qualities.
It is however, readily admitted, that Christ is less than the Father according to the humanity.
That Jesus in the fulness of time, assumed a human nature, and that he has once been in a state of humiliation, is a doctrine sufficiently proven. But these premises, Unitarians urge, as objections against the doctrine of Christ’s Godhead. That Christ possesses the nature and properties of a man, does not prove, that he does not also possess a sublimer nature, even the nature and qualities of Jehovah. His created faculties; his human weakness in his humiliation, as little exclude from his person, his uncreated, divine majesty, and glory, as the body of a man, excludes from his person, his intellectual faculties. Unitarians are well convinced out of the scriptures, that Christ possesses all power in heaven and in earth, in short all the fulness of Jehovah. But since they deny that he is God, they suppose that he possesses this power and glory, because the Father at a certain period of time constituted him such a sublime character. Thus according to their own theory, Christ possesses the power and glory of God; though, not originally; yet, by the Father’s donation. They object that Christ is God, because he has limited qualities, and was subject to human weakness. But I may object in a similar manner against their hypothesis. I may say, Christ had limited qualities, he was weak; therefore it is absurd what Unitarians affirm: viz. that all power in heaven and in earth was given him, that all divine fulness dwells in him. For how can he who is limited, weak and mortal, possess all power in heaven and in earth? They would by no means admit this objection against their own hypothesis.
Whenever it shall be proven, that it is impossible for a divine person to assume a human nature, then only can this objection of Unitarians be valid. But how could this be established? There is nothing in the scriptures, contradicting such an incarnation. All things are possible with God; therefore how strange, that any one should suppose, that the incarnation of the filial Godhead was impossible.
God being immutable, Unitarians suppose, that Christ is not God; because they conclude that in suffering and dying, he suffered a change. Some Trinitarians for the same reason suppose that a mere man suffered.
Although, it has already been shewn, that Christ suffered in the flesh; yet, I would ask, is it utterly incompatible with God’s unchangeability for him to be grieved, or to suffer in any respect whatever?
Both Unitarians and Trinitarians, admit that the Holy Ghost is God; yet in different views. The Holy Ghost being God, is absolutely Immutable. Notwithstanding, St.Paul says, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Eph. 4, 80. To be grieved, is the same as to be afflicted, or to suffer. According to this, the immutable Spirit of God may be grieved, or afflicted. How he may be grieved; and yet, remain felicitous and immutable, I shall not now, attempt to explain. He did not assume a human nature in his person; hence, has not the medium of another nature wherein he might be grieved.
The scriptures declare that God is more merciful than man. None will deny this, since the scriptures abound with proofs relative to this position. But, what is mercy? It is an affection arising in the mind from the view of the misery of another, and is the result of love to that other. Or, more properly, it is a participation in another’s distress or sufferings; hence is a species of suffering. See Luke 10, 33-35.
When Ephraim was turning from his wicked ways, the Lord said, “Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” Jer. 31, 20. When one’s bowels are troubled for another one, it is an indication of a participation in suffering. That God’s mercy is such a commiseration, is also evident from Ps. 103,13 :—”Like as a father pitieth his children; so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” v. 14. How does a father pity his children? A kind father when he sees his child suffer, participates in the child’s suffering. This no father can deny. Again, the Lord saith, “As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, &c.” Ezek. 33, 11. The opposite to pleasure is grief. Now, since God pities those, who fear him, as a father pitieth his children, and as he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, it is plain, that he participates in the sufferings of his rational creatures. Although, it may not be said, that God’s mercy in every particulars, is like the mercy of man: for it is according to his nature, and infinitely greater; yet, it must resemble the mercy of man in its leading principle: otherwise the psalmist would not have compared it to the commiseration of a human father in regard to his children. Now, such tender feelings in God, such infinite commiseration towards his creatures, do not change his nature, nor deprive him of his power, wisdom, goodness, or any of his attributes. Such as would deny these plain statements, must view God as a being, who has no concern for his creatures, as an unfeeling tyrant.
Since God is merciful, and since mercy is a participation in another’s sufferings, it is plain, that he, notwithstanding, his immutability, is susceptible of a certain species of sufferings. Now, it seems very strange indeed, that all christians admit the infinite mercy of God the Father, which, as has already been shewn, is a species of suffering; and yet, that some of them utterly deny the possibility, and the fact of Christ’s Godhead suffering in his humanity, which was a complete medium by which his divinity could suffer. In the same manner that some attempt to prove, that Christ’s Godhead could not be a partaker of sufferings: viz. in consequence of his immutability, I might also attempt to prove, that the Holy Ghost cannot be grieved, and the Father cannot be merciful; since grief is the same as affliction, and to be merciful towards another, is to partake of that other’s sufferings. No one can say that the mercy of God changes him; hence if such a species of sufferings is not contrary to God’s immutability, Christ suffering in the flesh, can by no means be derogatory to his immutability.
Since the divine nature of Christ suffered in the humanity, we see an amazing display of love, which no creature can fully comprehend. Such an august person suffering, could bear away the sins of the world, which would have been impossible to have been done by the sufferings of a mere creature. If the sufferings of a mere creature had been sufficient to make an atonement for sin, why was it necessary that God’s own Son should become incarnate? would it not have been sufficient if some other holy person had become incarnate and suffered? Would not some of the holy angels, upon having been made flesh, have been adequate to this undertaking?
Christ partook of flesh and blood, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. Heb. 2,14. The devil is a mighty prince; hence, no mere man could conquer him. He was conquered through death; hence there must have been a greater person in death than a mere man. Had a mere man died, how could he have raised himself up from the dead? Jesus raised himself, he is the resurrection and the life; John 11, 25, therefore he was God even in death. Thus our redemption rests on a sure foundation.