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Noah Worcester.

Bible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of online

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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 11 of 19)
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frequently and properly mention the Father and the Son as
two distinct Persons, or intelligent Beings.

But in general, we address our prayers to GOD as one
distinct Person and Being. We bless the name of this ONE



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. ,109

GOD for his kindness and love in giving his own Son to die
for our offences. And the forms of speech which we use
clearly convey the idea that God is one distinct intelligent
Being, and his Son another ; as distinct as any other father
and son, We beseech God to bestow favors through the
mediation and atonement of his Son. We plead with God
on the ground of what his Son has done and suffered for
us. We adore God for having exalted his Son as LORD of
all, and making him HEAD over all things to the church.
And, in conformity to the langtiagf* of Scripture, we make
use of thousands of expressions which denote as clear a dis-
tinction between GOD and HIS SON, as are ever made be-
tween Abraham and Isaac.

And, however inconsistent such a distinction may be
with the Athanasian theory, it is a distinction to which we
are naturally led by our intimacy with the language of the
Bible. And these forms of speech are, it is thought, a
correct expression of the habitual and practical views even
of Athanasians themselves, in their devotional exercises.-
Believing this to be the case, and that it is consistent with
the manner in which Divine honors are paid to the Son of
God by saints and angels in heaven, who can believe that
the Christian church have been guilty of u idolatry" in the
homage they have paid to the " LAMB of God ?"

In considering him as the self-existent God, it is thought
my brethren have been under a mistake ; but not in con-
sidering him as an object of Divine honors j nor is it ap-
prehended that in their habitual and devotional feelings they
have ascribed more honor than is due to his name. And
so far as they have fallen short of believing, feeling, and ac-
knowledging the awful realities of the personal abasement,
suffering, and death, of the SON of God, so far they have,
in my opinion, in one particular, fallen short of giving him
due praise.

The ten times ten thousand, and the thousands of thou-
sands, who were observed by John as paying honors to the
Son of God, did not say, Worthy is the Lamb who united
himself to a man that was slain; nor did they say, Worthy
is the u Messiah humanity" that was slain : but, " Wort
thy is the LAMB, that was slain, to receive," &c.

In a preceding verse, the Redeemed do not say, Thou
art worthy to take the book, and to loose the seven seals
thereof j for the man to -whom thou tvast united was slain :



On the real Divinity and Glcfry of Christ.

but, " Thou art worthy for THOU WAST SLAIN, and hast
redeemed us to God by THY blood." .

Must it not, Sir, appear on your hypothesis, either that
Divine honors were paid to the " Messiahs humanity" or
that the self-existent GOD was personally slain f As you
will deny both these positions, let me ask, how can you
consistently join the song of the redeemed, till you renounce
your theory ? Can you ever, consistently , say, Worthy is
the LAMB that was SLAIN ?

POSTSCRIPT TO LETTER VIII.

SO far as I have had opportunity to be acquainted with
the views of others, it has been, in general, professedly
conceded by Athanasians, by Arians, and by Socinians,
that there can be but one object of Divine honors ; and
that if Christ be not personally the self-existent God, to
worship, or to pray to him, must be idolatry.

But, Sir, are not GOD, and the Sou at his right hand,
two distinct objects ? Are net GOD, and the LAMB, two
distinct objects ? When God said respecting his Son,
" Let all the angels of God worship HIM" is the meaning
the same as though he had said, Let all the angels of God
worship ME ? Suppose an earthly King should exalt his
own sort, and give him the right hand as a co-partner with
him on the throne, and require all his subjects to " bo^v the
knee" and pay royal honors to the son ; wou'd not the fa-
ther and the son be still two distinct objects ? And have
we not reason to believe, that it is in allusion to such events
that we have it represented in the Scripture, that God hath
exalted HIS SON with his own right hand?

If God has, in very deed, given all things into the hands
of the Son, and exalted him to be LORD OF ALL, can it be
idolatry to worship him according to the rank assigned him
by God ? Can it be improper or criminal to pray to him
who is thus able to help us, and to praise and thank hirn
for what he w, and for what he has done for our sakes ?

When you say that it must be idolatry to worship or
pray to Christ, unless he be the self- existent God, do you
not implicitly accuse God of establishing idolatry ? For the
Divine honors to be paid to the Son are instituted by God.
Besides, do you not arbitrarily attach ideas to the terms
worship and prayer, which do not necessarily or naturally



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. Ill

belong to them ? viz. That rvorship and prayer imply, that
the object worshipped and addressed is acknowledged to
be personally the self-existent God, by him who worships
or prays.

But by what authority do you attach such ideas to the
words worship and prayer ? May not a child bow the
knee to his father, and ask forgiveness for an offence, or
pray for favors which the father can bestow ? May not a
subject do the same before a worthy King ? The word
"worship is used to express the reverence or respect paid by
an inferior to a superior ; and in proportion to the degree
of disparity, is the degree of homage and respect which is
due.

Shall it, Sir, be deemed consistent for a poor malefactor
to bow the knee to one whom the people have exalted as
PRESIDENT of the United States, and supplicate favor ?
And shall it be deemed a crime to make supplication to HIM
whom GOD hath exalted with his own right hand, to be a
Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and remission of
sins ? It is not indeed proper to pray to the President as
to the self-existent God ; but it is proper to address peti-
tions to him, and to pay homage to him according to his
rank or dignity. Nor is it in uiy view proper, in address-
ing prayers to Christ, to consider him as personally the
self-existent God. Yet it is proper to pay* to him, and
worship him as LORD OF ALL ; as a Being whom God hath
seen fit to " EXALT with his own right hand ;" and as one
in whom God, by all his fulness, dwells.

And how, Sir, can we be in subjection to God, unless we
cheerfully " bow the knee" to the SON, and acknowledge
him to be " LORD, to the glory of God the Father f n The
worship paid to the Son is called Divine ; not because it is
divinely required j but because in mv view the SON is a
Divine Person ; a Person of Divine Origin and Dignity^
of Divine Fulness and Authority.

If you, Sir, are surprized to find me thus approving the
idea of paying Divine honors to two distinct objects, will
you not be still more surprized, should it be demonstrated,
that, on your theory, Divine honors mu3t be paid to three
distinct objects ?

Your theory supposes throe self-existent Persons ; and
these three distinct Persons you consider as three distinct
Agents ; and each of these three distinct Agents you con-



112 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

sider as an object of Divine worship. As you disavow the
idea of three Gods, it would be ungenerous to accuse you
of worshipping three distinct Gods. But, that you profess to
worship three distinct objects, as God, how can you in truth de-
ny? Is not every distinct Person or Agent a distinct object of
contemplation ? And are not three distinct Persons as
clearly three distinct objects as three trees f Is it possible
for you, or any other man, to form an idea of three distinct
Persons which does not include three distinct objects ?

It has, Sir, been urged, on your side of the question,
that we can easily conceive of the F*TH?R as one distinct
Person, of the ^0/v as another distinct Person, and of the
HOLY GHOST as a third distinct Person ; and the difficulty
is, to conceive how these three distinct Persons can be but
one Being, or one God. This part of the hypothesis is ac-
knowledged to be mysterious find totally inconceivable. ~
Your worship, therefore, must be paid to the three Persons
as to three dutinct objects ; for if you worship the three
Persons at all, you must worship them according to youf
conceptions, and not according to what you do not conceive*
If you have no conception of the THREE, otherwise than as
three distinct Persons, you can have no conception of them
otherwise than as three distinct objtcts.

From my o\yn experience as an Athanasian, suffer me
to appeal, Sir, to your conscience, whether you ever did
conceive of the Father and the Son otherwise than as two
distinct objects. When you address the Father, and ask.
favors through the mediation of his Son, do you not corr
ceive of the Father and the Son as two distinct objects ?
And do you not consider yourself as addressing one of the
distinct objects, and not the other f When you address a
prayer directly to the SON, as the HEAD of the church, do
you not conceive of HIM as an object distinct from the FA-
THER ? And when you consider the three Persons as one
God, do you not consider them as being as distinctly THR ' E
OBJECTS as THREE MEMBERS of ONE COUNCIL ? Moreover,
do you not love the Son of God as a distinct object from the
Father, and the Father as a distinct object from the Son ?
I? you speak of the three Persons as three objects, if you
tanccnfeofthein as three objects, and if you love them as
distinct objects, is it not undeniable that you worship
them as three objects f



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ* 113

If you say that worshipping one of the THREE is wor-
shipping the whole, why are you not satisfied with the wor-
ship of Socinians ? They profess to worship one of the
three, as possessing all possible perfection. But with this
you are not satisfied. And why not ? Because, in your
view, the other two Persons are neglected and treated with
dishonor. The other two Persons, you say, are worthy of
the same honors as the Father. And does it not appear from
this, that you consider three distinct objects as worthy of
Divine honors ? Besides, is it not a common thing for
writers and preachers to take pains to prove that each of
the three Persons are worthy of equal honors ? And are
they not fond of using expressions of this import in prayer ?
Is it not, then, evident, that they do consider the three
distinct Persons as three distinct objects f When we have
but one object in view, we do not say equal honors are due
to that object ; it is, then, in view of three distinct objects
that they say that equal honors are due to the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost. And jvery time they say this,
they implicitly say there are three distinct objects equally
worthy of DIVINE HONORS.

On due reflection, Sir, must you not be sensible, that as
often as you worship three distinct Persons, you worship
three distinct objects f And that it is impossible for a hu-
man mind to conceive of three distinct Persons, otherwise
than as three distinct objects ?

Now, Sir, is it not clearly evinced that your theory does
imply the worsliip of three distinct objects AS GOD f Yet to
fix upon you the charge of worshipping three Gods, is not
in my heart ; doubtless while you worship the three distinct
objects, you do it conscientiously, believing that, in some
mysterious, inconceivable manner, these three distinct ob-
jects are so united as to be but one God. Such was the case
with me, and such it is believed is the case with you.

Suppose a venerable council, composed of A, B, and C,
by whose benevolence you have been benefhted You ad-
dress to them a letter of gratitude In the first place you
address them as one body or council; then you distinctly
thank A, as moderator, for proposing the plan ; you thank
J5, as an advocate^ who has exposed himself to insults for
your sake ; you thank C, for some special agency in carry-
ing into effect the result of council You then conclude
-with an ascription of equal thanks to A y B^ and 6 1 , as one
P



114 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

council. Let me ask, have you not distinctly addressed
three distinct objects f \

Is it not, then, in vain to pretend that you worship but
one object, while you, in your prayers, distinctly name THREE,
and thank each for some distinct agency f



LETTER IX.

The two Theories compared, in respect to Christ, considered
as a SUFFI-RPR on the Cross, as the SAVIOR of the World,
and the LORD of the Universe.

REV SIR,

PERHAPS it may be useful to enter into a more criti-
cal examination of your theory, as it respects the character
of HIM by whom the atonement was made for the sins of
the world.

For the purpose of examination, let it be admitted as
true, that the Father and the Son are two self-existent and
co-equal Persons, and that the incarnation of the Son im-
plies his union to such a proper Man as yqu suppose Jesus
of Nazareth to have been. L^t us in the next place make
the supposition, that the Man Jesus had been united to the
Father instead of the Son, in as strict a manner as it is pos-
sible that God and Man should be united. If the Father
be equal to the Son, a union of the Man to the Father wou'd
imply precisely the same dign'ty as a union with the Son.
Then suppose, that in that state of union with the Father,
the Man Jesus had suffered on the cross ; would not his
sufferings have been of precisely the same value as an atone-
ment, as in the case of his suffering in union with the second
Person ? This, It is presumed, you wil not deny.

Permit me now to ask, whether the sufferings and death
of that Man, could, with any propriety, be called the suf-
ferings and death of GOD the Father? Moreover, as on
your theory the value of the sufferings of the cross results
not from the dignity of the real sufferer, but from the dig-
nity of the PERSON to whom the Man was united, we will
further suppose, that this Man, in a state of union with the
Father, was called tlae Son of God ; would not the atone-
ment for the sins of the world have been precisely the same



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

that it is on your hypothesis ? The SUFFERER would be
precisely the same, and the Person with whom the Man.
was united would-be of precisely the same dignity. And,
on this supposition, wou'd there not be a far greater pro-
priety in saying that the Son of God diedftr us, than there
is on yours ? If that Man united with the Father shou d
be called the Son of God, and did i jally lay down his life
for us, it might then be a truth that a Son of God did die
for us. But on your theory, what propriety could there
be in such a representation, any farther than the Man is
considered as the Son of God ? But as you consider the
Son of God as having complete existence, and even self-
existence, distinct from the Man, the incarnation implied
a union of two intelligent Beings, as properly so as Gabriel
and Adnm. The first of these u suffered not in the least,'*
but on the Man was laid the iniquities of us all.

What then, Sir, is the difference in the character of him
who really bore our sins in his own body on the tree, con-
sidered on your theory, or on the Socinian theory ? You
may indeed suppose the Man to be more Intimately united
to God, than is supposed by Socinians. But a second self-
existent Person, or even a pre-existent Son of God, suffer-
ed no more according to your theory than according to
theirs. The sufferings, on both theories, were all really
endured by an intelligent be ng, a proper Mm, whose first
existence began less than forty years before his death ; a
man who never had possessed even the shadow of pre-
ex^tent dignity, riches, or glory, and who was in no higher
sense the Son of God, than Abraham or Moses. You may
indeed say, that " the Man Jesus was united to the Person
of the Son of God j" but this very assertion implies that
the Son and the Man were two distinct intelligences ; and
that the Man was not truly the Son of God, but another
intelligent being united to the Person of the Son of God.

Suffer me now, Sir, in an impartial manner, to exhibit
in contrast, the different theories we have adopted, as they
respect the character of HIM who was really slain for us,
and who bore our sins in his own body on the tree.

On your part, the case stands thus, The sufferings of
the cross were wholly endured by a Man, who was some-
how mysteriously united to 3 second self-existent Person,
whom you call the Son of God. Yet this Person you call
the Son of God, endured no share in the sufferings of the



116 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

cross ; the Man only suffered and died. This re 'I sufferer
had never enjoyed one moment of pre-existent dignity or
glorv. He knew nothing what it was to^be in the Father's
bosom ; and as he never had been rich, he knew nothing
what it was to become poor , in any other sense than is known,
by other poor children who are born into the world. His
i4 being born, and that in a low condition,'* was a matter
to which he had never consented. He lived, indeed, a life
perfectly exemplary, and died a death truly distressing.
But ths Son, to whom you suppose this Man was united,
was so far from sharing a part in the suffering of the cross,
that he only enabled the Man to bear a greater portion of
sufferings than he would otherwise have been able to endure.
But can this circumstance be considered as any real favor
to the Man f And indeed, Sir, can you see that this Man
ever received the least benefit from a union with your sup-
posed self-existent Sen, from the time he was born in the
manger, to the moment he expired on the cross ? So far
as the inspired writings have informed me, this Man de-
rived all the benefits which he did derive, from God the
Father. And why should it be thought to contribute great-
ly to the dignity of this Man to be united to a Person from,
\vhom he derived no manner of assistance, or support, un-
less t were to enable him to endure a greater portion of
real sufferings f

On the other hypothesis, the sufferer on the cross was a
very different character He was truly the Son of the liv-
ing Gorf) had long been in the bosom of the Father be^bre
the foundations of the earth were laid, u as one brought up
with him, and was daily his delight." He was highly hon-
ored by the Father in the great work of creation ; for God
created all things by him. In him it pleased the Father
that all fulness should dwell. He was as intimately united
to the Father, as it is possible the Man Jesus should be, on
your theory, to a second self-existent Person. He was
honored by the Father as the Angel of his Presence on the
most solemn and interesting occasions, and was tru y in the
JORM OF GOD : for he was the " IMAGE of the invisible
God." But while in this state of pre-existent glory, he be-
held our perishing state ; he saw that the blood of bulls and
of g^ats was not sufficient to take away sin ; and he said to
his Father, " Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a
BODY hast thou prepared me" u Lo I come to (Jo thy



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 11 ?

O God." He laid aside the FORM or GOD, and volunta-
rily became united to the body which God had prepared,
and was thus " made in the likeness of men" u And being
found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Such,
Sir, is the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the
world. This is the character, in view of -which, ten thou-
sand times ten thousand tongues sing, Worthy is the Lamb
that was slain.

Having thus carried out the two accounts, let us cast
them up, that we may clearly see the disparity. And as
you cannot deny that as much dignity may be derived from
a union with the one God, the Father, as from a union with
a second self-existent Person ; in respect to the character
of the real sufferer, the case will stand thus :

On your part, the sufferer is a Man with such dignity at
he may derive from a union with a second self-existent Per-
son.

On my part, the sufferer is that glorious SON, by whom
God created all things in heaven and earth, possessing all
the dignity which can result from the most perfect union
with the one God, the Fc.ther.

The difference, then, in the character of the sufferer, is,
at least, as great as all the difference between the constititt"
ed Creator of heaven and earth, and the mere Man or hu-
?nan nature of your Messiah.

You have, Sir, too much candor to deny, that the real
suffeiser is a character of unspeakably greater importance on
this theory, than on yours. But still you may think, that
Christ, considered as a complex object, or character, as the
Savior and Lord of all, is greater on your hypothesis than
he is on mine. 1 his, however, may appear to be only
Imagination.

We are perfectly agreed in one point, viz. That there is
but one infinite self-existent God. In your view, this infi-
nite God consists of three self-existent Persons ; in my view,
the one infinite God is but one self-existent Person. The
one Person, then, on my theory, must be equal to the
three Persons of your theory, in regard to fulness and suf-
ficiency. In your view, one of the three self-existent Per-
sons is united to the Man or human nature, and this self-
existent Person and the Man are the Savior and Lord of all
~In my view, the Savior and Lord of all is the Son of the



118 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

living God, and by nature " the brightness of the Fathers
glory, and the express image of his Person ;" so united to
the one infinite God, that in him dwellp, not merely one of
three Persons, but all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

As, in your view, the .Godhead consists of three distinct
Persons, each possessing independent fulness ; and as hut
one of these Persons is supposed to be united to the Man
Jesus ; inquiry might be made, whether your theory does
not naturally suggest the idea, that there is but one third of
the fulness of the Godhead implied in the complex character
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But it is needless to
urge th ; s. And on the ground already stated, the matter
is submitted to every impartial mind, whether the character
of the Lord Jesus does not appear vastly more impressive
and glorious on the theory now proposed, than on the
Athanasian hypothesis.

It may possibly be urged by some, that if Christ derived
his existence from God, as a Son from a Father, he must
be as incapable of suffering as the Father. This conclusion
is not admitted as resulting from the premises. But it
would sooner be admitted that it is possible with GOD to
render himself capable of suffering by union with a human
body, than that the SON of God did not sufftr on the cross.
3My knowledge of the Nature of GOD and his SON is all de-
rived from the Bible. This informs me, that Christ is
GOD'S OWN SON ; and that " though he were a SON, yet
learned HE obedience by the things which HE SUFFERED."
And who is so well skilled in the philosophy of Divine Na-
ture, as to be able to contradict this testimony in either
particular? Is it not more safe for us to receive the JUivitie
testimony as stated in the Scriptures, than to reject it by
philosophizing on unrevealed properties of DIVINE NA-?

TURE?

How often, Sir, have our brethren, on your side, urged
our ignorance of the DIVINE NATURE, as a reason why we
should not reject revealed doctrines concerning God and his
Son ? And yet, have not the same brethren, on the ground
of their supposed knowledge of the DIVINE NATURE, im-
plicitly denied and explained away two of the plainest truths
which are contained in the Bible ? Are there, Sir, any two
propositions more clearly affirmed in the Scriptures, than
these, viz. That Jesus Christ is God's SON j and, that the
SON of God suffered and died on the cross ? Yet how ma-



On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 119

ny millions of pages have been written, and how many
millions of sermons have been preached, to prove that Je-
sus Christ is so far from being properly the SON of God,
that he is the VERY GOD, the VF.RY BEING, whose SON the
Scriptures declare him to be ! Yea, the VFRY BEING who
proclaimed from heaven, " This is my beloved Son ."' And
have not the numerous, plain, and unequivocal representa-
tions of Scripture, respecting the sufferings and death of
the SON of God, been so explained away as to imply no


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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 11 of 19)