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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 14 of 19)
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more Gods than one, or more than one self-existent Person?
The Father who is God in the Fountain, is God in the
Medium, and God in the Stream ; or to drop the meta-
phor, God the Father is God in the Son and God in the
Holy Ghost.

This view of the subject will readily account for what
has been noted by many writers, viz. that the self-same
works are, in Scripture, attributed to God, to the Son of
God, and to the Holy Ghost. God creates, governs, and
judges by his Son ; and the Son creates, governs, and
judges by the fulness of God or the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps, Sir, the above simile may be justified by St.
John's vision, [Rev. xxii. i.] u And he shewed me a pure
RIVER of Water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of
the Throne of GOD and of the LAMB."

Here you will observe, that distinct mention is made of
the Throne of God and of the Lamb ; but no mention of
the Throne of the Holy Spirit. We have, however, an
account of a River of water of life which proceedeth out
of the Throne, first of God, then of the Lamb .And what
is this River, but a stream emanating from the Fountain of
living waters, or those abundant effusions of the Divine ful-
ness which proceed from God through Christ, and give
life and felicity to the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem ?
And what are these effusions, different from that Holy
Spirit which "proceedeth from the Father ?" The River's
proceeding from God, and from the Lamb, perfectly accords
?yith our Savior's account of the Comforter.



142 On the Character of the Holy Spirit.

Here it may not be amiss to suggest some serious ques-
tions for your consideration, with a request that you would
Weigh them in an even ba^r.ce.

1. If the Holy Spirit be a distinct Person, co-equal with
the Father, is he not in the Scriptures exhibited in a man-
ner which appears degrading, and truly unaccountable ; as
bearing the same relation to God as an attribute ; or as the
hand or finger of God ; as being constantly subject to the
control or the will of another Person ; never exhibited as a
distinct object of worship or of love; never addressed in.
prayer as a Person, either by the saints, or by Jesus Christ,
though the Father was often addressed ?

2. If you, and those with you n sentiment, do really
view the Holy Spirit as a distinct Person equal with the
Father, are you not justly chargeable with want of respect,
yea with disrespect, towards the Holy Spirit ? How sel-
dom do we hear the Spirit mentioned in prayt-r, otherwise
than as something which is subordinate to the will of God,
which may be given, sent, or poured out, for our benefit ?
At the dose of your prayers, you often mention the Spirit,
as though you thought it to be a Person ; but this is fre-
quently the only instance in which, through the whole
course of a prayer, there is the least intimation that the
Spirit is viewed as a Person. But if, in your view, the
Scriptures do really authorize the belief that the Holy
Spirit is a distinct Person, and of equal dignity with the
Father, how will you be able to answer for your inconsis-
tency in treating the Father with so much more respect
than you do the Holy Ghost ? Has not the Holy Spirit
reason to accuse you of partiality f But in vindication of
your conduct, you may say, and that with great propriety,
that the Holy Spirit is not so much as named as a Person in
any prayer recorded in the Bible ; and that we are not re-
quired to address prayers to the Spirit as a' distinct Person.
But, Sir, if you have such ample ground on which you may
justify your apparent neglect of the Spirit, have you not
reason to examine the grounds of your faith ? Does not
the very ground on which you would justify your conduct,
afford reason to doubt the correctness of your theory ?

3. Do not your habitual, practical, and devotional views of
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, harmonize much
better with my present theory, than they do with your



On the Character of the Holy Spirit. 14$

own ? This may seem to you an extraordinary question ;
but it is proposed, Sir, with considerable confidence, that,
on due reflection, if you answer it at all, it must be in the
affirmative. My confidence in this matter results partly
from experience, and partly from observation. When you
approach the Thro? e of grace, and pour out your H 1 ART be-
fore God without any studied respect to theory, do you not
address God as one Peraon only f Do you not use the
terms God, and Father, as perfectly synonymous f When
you thank GOD for the manifestation of his love, in sending
his dear Son to die for our offences, do you not naturally
consider the Son as a Being properly distinct from the Fa-
ther, naturally subordinate to the Father, but exalted
with the Father's right hand? When you pray to God
that he would pour out His HOLY SPIRIT, is not this
your real prayer, that God would make a disp'ay of his
power, wisdom, and Irve, for the production of some
desirable effect ? Do you not mean to ask for some effi-
cient, productive emanation of his fulness ? If, in your
habitual and devotional views, the Spirit were a distinct
Person, co-tqual with the Father, would it not be more
mtural for you, in praying for the Spirit, to address your
petitions directly to the Holy Ghost, than to pray the Fa-
ther to send or pour out HIS SPTRIT f Does it not then ap-
pear that your devotional and habitual views are conforma-
ble to the theory 7 I have adopted, and in opposition to your
own ? How then will you be able to vindicate your con-
duct before God, from a charge of inconsistency, in sup-
porting a theory which is repugnant to your own habitual
and devotional views or, in indulgng habitual and devo-
tional views which are repugnant to the theory which you
profess to believe ? And pt rmit me to ask, which does
God consider the real sentiments of your heart^ those which
you express in advocating your theory, or those which you
habitua'ly and naturally express in your daily prayers to
him ?

It is, Sir, most sensibly fe>t, that the theories, prepos-
sessions, and learning, of the Christian world, are at present
not on my side. But no small consolation is derived, by
considering the general {Jenor and natural import of Bible
language very clearly in favor of each part of the theory
set forth in the foregoing Letters. It is also consoling to
consider the language of Christian devotion in such agree-



i44 On the Character of the Holy Spirit*

jnent with my views, that whatever may be objected against
them, may, with equal propriety, be objected against the
most devout feelings and language o^" my Brethren. And
so long as these things shall appear so much on my
side, nothing can deprive me of the pleasing expecta-
tion that the theory, now exposed to public view, will
be found substantially correct, approved of God, and
that which the whole family of Christ will ultimately re-
ceive, and rejoice in forever.






PART IV.



EXAMINATION OF DIFFICULT PASSAGES
OF SCRIPTURE.



LETTER I.

Rules of Interpretation stated and applied.

REV. SIR,

IN the preceding Letters, my views of many passages
of Scripture, which have been supposed to favor the Atha-
nasian theory, have been occasionally, given. But there
are others to which no distinct attention has been paid. It
is my wish to have error detected, if there be any in my
views. Suffer me, therefore, to lay before you my adopt-
ed Rules of interpretation, and give you a specimen of
their application.

RULE I. " The Scriptures were inspired, to instruct
Common readers, by using words according to their com-
mon acceptation, and not to confound them by an abuse of
language."

The language in which this Rule is expressed, is bor-
rowed from Dr. Spring's' sermon on the self- existence of
Christ, and is applied to the many thousands of texts in
which personal pronouns of the singular number are used
as substitutes for the nouns GOD, LORD GOD, &c. and
the inference is, that God is one Person only.

The same Rule is applied to the numerous texts in which
Christ is represented as the SON of God, God's OWN and
ONLY SON ; and the inference is, that Christ is not the self-
existent God, but the SON of the self-existent God.

RULE II. The terms used in Revelation must be -un-
derstood in a sense corresponding with some analogy known
to men.



146 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture.
ft

According to this Rule, also, it is inferred, that the Son
of God cannot be a self-existent Person. It is likewise con-
cluded, that there are no passages of Scripture which were
designed to teach us that three Persons are but one intelli-
gent Being; nor that there may be two intelligent Beings in
one Person. As extraordinary as it may seem, both of
these contradictory hypotheses pertain to your theory. God
you suppose to be three distinct Persons ; and yet but one
intelligent Being. You also suppose that Christ is both
God and a Man united in one Person. This, it is thought,
amounts precisely to the hypothesis of two intelligent Be-
ings in one Person. Is it not, Sir, extraordinary, that
great and good men should adopt two hypotheses so mani-
festly contradictory, while neither of them can be support-
ed by Scriptuie, nor illustrated by any anology in nature ?
But did not Christ say, /and my FATHER are ONE ?
Yes, Sir ; but he never said, I and my Father are but one
Intelligent Being* Nor have we any analogy which can
justify such an interpretation of the words. There are
many senses in which a Father and a Son may be one, be-
sides that of one Being. And in no other case, in which
the words are used by a Son, should we have the least sus-
picion that this is the intended import. God and Christ
may be of one nature as a Father and Son ; they may be
one in affection, in interest, and in operation ; they may also
be one in respect to fulness and authority, as has been al-
ready noted and explained.

When Christ made this declaration, the Jews accused
him of blasphemy, and of " making himself God." But
Christ in his answer, distinctly let them know that his
words imported no more than that he was truly the Son of
God, and as such united with the Father " Say ye of
Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the
world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son
of Gpd ?"

RULE HI. So far as the Scriptures may interpret them-
selves, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, such inter-
pretation is to be preferred to any human hypothesis.

This Rule has been found of extensive application. The
Divine names and titles given to the Son of God ; the Di-
vine works and honors ascribed to him, and his Divine
fulness, are all distinctly accounted for in the Scriptures,
on the ground of the Father's love and pleasure. There-



An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture* 147

fore these titles, these works, these honors, or this fulness,
may not be considered as evidence of the personal self-ex-
istence of the Son of God.

Ri LE IV. In many instances, it is necessary to take
into view the customs of the people to whom the Scriptures
were originally communicated, and to consider in what
light they would most naturally understand particular pass-
ages.

The prophecies respecting the Messiah were probably
originally written for the comfort and benefit of the good
people among the Israelites or Jews ; at least, this may be
supposed^ to be one principal object of the predictions. In
the prophecies, the promised Messiah was called by vari-
ous names, and some of them were Divine names,or names
of Divine import. He was not only called David, and
David the King, but it was predicted that his name should
be called EMMANUEL, WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR, the
MIGHTY GOD, the EVERLASTING FATHER, and the PRINCE
OF PEACE.

If we would know how a Jew would be likely to under-
stand these names or titles, we should consider a custom
which was common among the Jews, viz. that of giving
significant names to persons, places, altars, &c. At the
close of our great Bibles we have a table of the names
used in the Old Testament, with their several significations.
If you will examine this table, you will find that other Per-
sons had Divine names, besides the Messiah. See a few
of these names, with their signification Eliashib, the God
of conversion Elijah, God the Lord, or the strong Lord
Eliphalet, the God of deliverance Elisha, the salvation
of God Lemuel, God with them, or him. They also
gave Divine names, or names of Divine import, to places
and altars Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will see or provide
Jehovah- Nisri, the Lord my Banner El-elohe-Israel, God,
the God of Israel.

Now, Sir, imagine yourself to have been a Jew, living
in the days of the Prophets, and perfectly acquainted with
the custom of giving significant names ; then consider what
ideas you would naturally have taken from the various
names given to the promised Messiah. If you had heard
him called David, or David the King, would you have sup-
posed that the Man who killed Goliah was to appear again
as the promised Savior? If you had heard the Prophet






148 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture*

sav, respecting the promised Son, They shall call his name
Jfrnmanucl, would you have supposed that God himself was
to come as the promised Messiah ? Would you not rather
have supposed the Son to be one in whom God would make
some gracious manifestations of himself to men ? If you
had heard h : m called the Mighty God, and Everlasting Fa-
ther, would it not have been natural for you to suppose that
the Son was to be one in whom the Mighty God and Ever-
lasting Father would make surprizing manifestations of his
power and his kindness ? If you had heard him called,
" The Lord our Righteousness,^ what would have been
m re natural than for you to have supposed, that the Mes-
siah was to be one in whom Jehovah would display his
righteousness^ or one through whose righteousness men
should be benefited by Jehovah ?

Accustomed as the Jews were to believe in one God
only, and to speak of that God as only one Person ; ac-
customed as they were to the use of significant names of
high import ; would it not have been unspeakably more
natural for them to understand the names of the Messiah
as significant, importing some such ideas as I have men-
tioned, than to suppose that the SON to be born was the
VERY GOD who had promised to SEND HIM into the world ?

The Prophet did not say the SON shall BE Emmanuel,
but " they shall call his name Emmanual." He did not
say, the Son shall BE the Mighty God and Everlasting
Father, but " his name shall be called" &c. And this
phraseology .was probably used with direct reference to the
custom of the Jews in giving significant names. And the
Sun's having the Divine names thus given him by the spirit
of prophecy, is no proof that he is personally the self-exist-
ent God, any more than his being called David, or David
the King, is a proof that he was personally David the son
of Jesse.

It may be useful, in this connexion, to consider what ex-
pectations were in fact excited among the Jews, by the Di-
vine names given to the promised Messiah. And is there,
Sir, any evidence, that any Jew, whether learned or un-
learned, good or bad, ever understood the Divine names
given to the Messiah, as importing that He should be the
self-existent God ? If no such idea was excited in the
minds of pious Jews, by the use of those names, we may
reasonably suppose that no such idea was intended in the
predictions.



1 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture* 149

LETTER II,

A ffth Rule of Interpretation stated and applied.
REV. SIR,

PERMIT me now to state and apply another Rule of
interpretation.

RULE V. Particular phrases, terms, and epithets, are
to be understood in a sense which is consistent with the
general tenor of the Qospel, and the character of the ob-
jects to which they are applied.

There are two things respecting Jesus Christy which are,
in my view, supported by the general tenor of the Gospel,
viz.

1. That he is truly the Son of God.

2. That he obeyed, suffered, and died, to open the
way for our salvation.

These two points are not only supported by the general
tenor of the Gospel, but they appear to be essential to the
Gospel plan of salvation. If we deny these, do we not in
effect deny the Gospel ? If we deny these, do we not
make God a liar ?

If these are points unquestionably revealed, and sup-
ported by the general tenor of the Gospel, then all the
particular phrases, terms, and epithets, used in respect to
the Son of God, are to be understood in a sense which' is
consistent with these leading truths of the Gospel.

There are'several texts of Scripture which have been
understood as supporting the idea that the Son of God is
absolutely self-existent, independent, and immutable. But
as this doctrine is, in my view, inconsistent with what have
been stated as truths supported by the general tenor of the
Gospel, let us examine those texts, and see whether they
do necessarily import what you and others have imagined.

John x. 18. u I have power to lay it down, and I have
power to take it again. This commandment have I re-
ceived of my Father."

If, in any instance, the Son of God said any thing which
imported that he had independent* power, this is the instance
But Christ dicj not say, J have independent ]>Qi



150 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture.

Besides, it is believed, that in this case the word power is
the same as authority. And this authority or this com-
mandment Christ says he received of his Father. We may
add, the resurrection of Christ from the dead is abundant-
ly and explicitly attributed to God in distinction from the
Son " GOD raised HIM from the dead."

Micah v. 2. " Whose goings forth have been from of
old, from everlasting"

Whatever existed before the world, may be said to be
of old, from everlasting. In the viii. chapter of Proverbs,
Wisdom, or Christ under the name of Wisdom, is repre-
sented as using language similar to that in the text before
us " The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,
before his works of old : I was set up from ever lasting, from
the beginning, or ever the earth was." But Wisdom adds,
*' When there were no depths, I was brought forth" Be-
fore the hills, was I brought forth- " Then I was by him
as one brought up tvith him, and I was daily his delight"
Brought up zvith him as a Son with a Father ; and as a Son^
was dailv his delight. The Son was from everlasting, as
he was brought forth before there were either depths or
hills.

Rev. i. 17. "I am the First and the Last."

In the xliv. chapter of Isaiah, the Lord of Hosts adopts
this title, and says, u I am the First and the Last, and be-
sides me there is no God."

In view of these-texts, Mr. Jones forms this argument
u There is no God besides him who is the First and the
Last ; but Jesus Christ is the First and the Last : there-
fore, besides Jesus Christ there is no God." If this be
fair reasoning, we may draw another conclusion, viz.
" The GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST," is
not GOD. Is it not amazing, that Mr. Jones should reason
in such a manner ? In several instances, his conclusions
as fully exclude the FATHER from being GOD, as it is pos-
sible that language should do it.

In Isaiah, God did not say, Besides us there is no God ;
but, " Besides ME there is no God." His words therefore
as fully exclude every other Person as every other Being.

When Christ said, " I am the First and the Last," he
immediately added, " I am he that liveth, and was dead."
He is therefore to be considered as the First and the Last
in a sense which is consistent with his having been DEAXX



An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture. 151

There are several senses in which Christ may style himself
" the First and the Last" He may be so called as the con-
stituted Head and Chief of creation ; and as in his glory, as
well as the glory of the Father, all things will terminate
He may be so called as the Author and Finisher of faith j
or, as a Son, he may bear the Divine titles of his Father.

Heb. xiii. 8. " Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and
to-day, and forever."

This text, on which so much reliance has been placed,
has no verb in it ; and, therefore, considered by itself, it
contains no affirmation. For the beginning of the sentence,
and the sense of the text, we have to look back to the pre-
ceding verse, " Remember them who have the rule over
you, who have spoken untayou the word of God ; whose
faith follow, considering the END of their conversation,
Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for-
ever."

It is evident, that it is as the END of Christian conver-
sation that Christ is here brought into view. And by Je-
sus Christ, we may understand not merely his Person, but
his interest and glory. This END of our conversation is
of immutable and perpetual importance the same yester-
day, to-day, and forever.

Heb. i. 12. " But thou art the same, and thy years
shall not fail."

This text was quoted from the cii. Psalm, and there
was used in an address to God. This circumstance is wor-
thy of note, and in my view, is the only difficulty present-
ed by the text. Why were words, which were first ad-
dressed to God, quoted and applied to the Son ? Perhaps
you will not find me able to answer the question ; but if
so, it will not hence follow that it is unanswerable.

In the 5th verse, the Apostle quoted a passage from the
Old Testament, and applied it to Christ, which was origin-
ally used in respect to Solomon u I will be to him a Fa-
ther, and he shall be to me a Son." These words are to
be found three times in the Old Testament, and'each time
they are contained in a gracious promise of God to David
respecting his son Solomon. Why then did the Apostle
quote these words and apply them to Christ, as though
they had been originally used in respect to him ? The an-
swer must probably be this, that Solomon was a type of
Christ, May we not then suppose, that the words, which
' * -



1 52 An Exammat TO n of difficult passages of Scriptu, c .

were first addressed to God, were quoted by the Apostle
and applied to Christ as the Son and " image of the invisi-
ble God ?" 1

Let us now attend to the import of the text : " But thou
art tjie same, and thy years shall not fail." Here we have
exhibited a contrast between the material zvorldtmd its con-
stituted Creator. And what is the contrast ? One waxes
old and is liable to perish, and the other will remain the
same without end. This, it is conceived, is the most
which can be supposed to be necessarily implied in the text.
And what is here affirmed of Christ, agrees with what he
said of himself, <c I am the First and the Last. I am he
that liveth and was dead ; and, behold, I live forevermore."

You suppose the text imports absolute immutability.
But, Sir, was it no change in the Son of God to pass from
the form of God to the form of a servant ? Was it no
change to die, and to be raised again from the dead ? Is
he now, at the Father's right hand, in all respects the same
that he was when he cried with a loud voice, " My God,
my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?"

Permit me, Sir, to ask, whether the Greek word autos\
whkh in the text is translated same, is any where in the
New Testament used as importing absolute immutability,
unless it be in the two texts which I have been last consid-
ering ? If the clause had been translated " But thou art
//," meaning HE with peculiar emphasis and distinction,
would it not have been a literal and correct translation ?

But let the translation be as it is, only let the word same be
understood in a sense which will not contradict the Gospel
of Divine Love. It is my choice to believe that God has
spared not his own Son ; and not to believe that he made a
mere show of so loving the world, when he did not in re-
ality. It affords me far greater satisfaction to believe that
the Son of God was capable of personally doing and suffer-
ing according to the representations of Scripture, than I
could find in believing that there is a want of strict truth
and simplicity in the Gospel representations of Divine
Love.



An Examination of difficult Passages of Serif ture. 153

LETTER III.

Other Texts considered.

REV. SIR,

SOME texts, on which Mr. William Jones has placed
great reliance, may now be introduced.

John iii. 2, 9. " He that hath the Bride, is the Bride-
groom."

Isaiah liv. 5. " Thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord
of Hosts is his name."

Mr. Jones says, u The church, which is the Bride, can


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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 14 of 19)