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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 15 of 19)
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no more have two Husbands, than Christ can have two
churches."

Whatever difficulty may be involved in the idea of two
Husbands to the church, the difficulty cannot be diminished
by supposing a greater number. Yet Mr. Jones' theory
plainly supposes three distinct Persons or agents, each of
whom is the Husband of the church.

The truth is, that there is in no other sense two Hus-
bands to the church, than there are two Creators, Saviors^
or Lords. As GOD creates and saves by his SON, so by his
Son he shows the kindness of a Husband to the Church.
The SON is the constituted Creator, Savior, and Lord; so
he is the constituted Head and Bridegroom of the church.
Accordingly, u The Kingdom of heaven is like unto a cer-
tain KING, who m?de a marriage for HIS SON."

Rom. ix. 5. " Whose are the Fathers, and of whom,
as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God
blessed for ever. Amen."

That Christ is, in this text, called God, will not be de-
nied. But if he be, we may reasonably suppose that it is
in the same sense that the Father calls him God, in his ad-
dress, Heb. i. 8, 9 that is, on the ground of a constituted
character. See Part II. Letter IV. But it is my prevail-
ing opinion, that the latter clause of this text ought to be
understood as an expression of gratitude and praise to God,
the Father, for giving his Son to come in the fl^sh, and
exalting him as Lord over all ; and that the verb be is un-
derstood in the original, and should be supplied in the
translation, so as to have the clause read, " God be bless-

17



154 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture*

ed forever. Amen." The verb be, you know, is often
understood in the Greek, and often supplied in the trans-
lation ; and it is so several times between the words blessed
and God. By comparing the Greek word in this text, with
other texts in which it is translated blessed, it appears to me
clearly to import gratitude and praise ; * and such excla-
mations of gratitude and praise to God, are common in the
\vritingsofthe apostle Paul. You will be pleased to ex-
amine and judge for yourself. As it respects the point in
question, it is to me a matter of perfect indifferency in
which of the two senses the text is understood.

2 Cor. v. 19. " God was in Christ, reconciling the
World 10 himself."

Mr. Jones says, " Were there no other passage of Scrip-
ture to be found, this alone is suffic : ent to overthrow the
whole doctrine of Arianism." Howev r true this observa-
tion may be as it respects Arianism, the text will be found
perfectly harmonious with my views. God is evidently
spoken of as one Person only ; and Christ as another Person
distinct from GOD. " GOD was in Christ, reconciling the
world to HIMSFLF." Himself is a proper pronoun for one
Person, and GOD is the antecedent. This one Person call-
ed GOD, was in another Person called CHRIST. If Christ
Were himself God, and, as Mr. Jones affirms, the onhj
true God, let me be informed rvhat God was in Christ.

In remarking on this very text, Mr. Jones says, " the-
word GOD, though of the singular number, is of plural com-
prehension ;" and he explains himself to mean that it com-
prizes three Persons. The import of the text would then
be, that three Persons called God, were IN CHRIST, recon-
ciling the world to himself. It may be asked, ought not
the pronoun to be themselves ? Besides, if by God be
meant three Persons, Christ is a fourth Person, and not one
of the three included in the name GOD. The same would
be true of the phrase, the Son of God.

1 John v. 2O. " And we are in him that is true, even in
his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal
life."

".

* Was not our word eulogize, from the Greek word, in this
text, which is translated blessed ? And if it were common to
speak of eulogizing God, might not the sense of the text be thus-
expressed, Whose are the Fathers, and of whom, as concerning
the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God be eulogized foi' :
ever. Amen ?



An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture. 155

With great confidence, this text has been urged as an
infallible proof that Jesus Christ is personally the true and
self-existent God. But let us, Sir, examine impartially, and
take the connexion into view " And \ve know that we are
of GOD, and the whole world Heth in wickedness. And
we know that the SON of GOD is come, and hath given us
an understanding that we may know HIM that is TRUE ;
and we are in HIM that is TRUE, even in HIS Son Jesus
Christ. This is the TRUE GOD, and eternal life."

Sometimes the sense of a passage is rendered obscure by
the repetition of pronouns ; and it is ever safe to substitute
the ^ouns for the pronouns. Let us do so in regard to this
29th verse. The apostle had mentioned GOD, in the pre-
ced ng verse. He goes on to say, " And we know that
the SON of GOD is come,and hath given us an understand-
ing, that we may know GOD that is true ; and we are IN*
GOD that is true, even in GOD'S Son Jesus Christ. This
is the TRUE GOD, and eternal life."

Now, it may be asked, which of the two is called the
41 TRUF GOD" in the last sentence, he that is represented as
the TRUE GOD repeatedly in the preceding part of the
verse, or the SON of the TRUE GOD who had come to give
us an understanding that we might know GoD that/5 true?
Unless we are to believe that John meant to teach us that
there are more true Gods than one, we must suppose the
TRUE GOD in the last sentence is the same Person as the
TRUE GOD in the preceding sentence, of whom CHRIST
was th^ SON.

Christ, in his praver to the Father, whom he styled the-
ONLY TRUE GOD, said, " I have manifested thy name to
the men thou gavest me out of the world." This perfect-
ly agrees with John's account, that "the SON of God is come,
and hath given us an understanding, that ive may know Him
that is true" As Christ was in the flesh ; as the only true
God was in Christ ; and as the business of the SON was to
give us an understanding of him that is true, or to manifest
the TRUE GOD ; so GOD was manifested in the jfesh.
[1 Tim. ili. 16.]

Isa. viii. 13, 14. " Sanctify the LORD OF HOSTS him-
self; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.
And HE shall be for a Sanctuary : but for a stone of stum-
Wing and for a ruck of offence to both the houses of Israeli*



156 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture.

1 Peter ii. 7. 8. " The STONE which the builders dis-
allowed, the same is made the head <jf the corner, and a
stone of stumbling, and a rock ofofence"

From these two texts, compared, Mr. Jones draws this
Conclusion, " Christ is the Lord of Hosts himself."

That by the Lord of Hosts is here meant the self-existent
God, is admitted. It is a'so admitted, that, in the text
quoted from Peter, Christ is called the stone of stumbling
and rock of offence. Isaiah says of the Lord of Hosts, that
<c he shall be for a stone of stumbling" &c. But how shall
he be thus ? By some act of his providence, or some man-
ifestation of himself. The event proved that the act or
manifestation predicted was that of sending his Son in the
likeness of sinful Jlesh. As God thus manifested himself in
the Person of his Son, He became a stone of stumbling, that
is, he did that at which his people stumbled. And at the
same time, his Son was a stumbling block or stone of stum-
bling. Accordingly, by the same prophet God said, " Be-
hold I LAY in Zion a STONE, a TRIED STONE, a PRECIOUS
CORNER STONE." [Isa. xxviii. 16.] This text is also quoted
an the New Testament, and applied to Christ. This pre-
cious corner stone was a stone of stumbling and rock of of-
fence : This STONE was LAID in Zion by the Lord of
HOSTS HIMSELF ; and by this ACT of HIS PROVIDENCE, HE
became a STONE of stumbling to the unbelieving 1 of " both
the houses of Israel."

Psalm Ixxviii. 56. " They tempted and provoked the
MOST HIGH GOD."

1 Cor. x. 9. " Neither let us tempt CHRIST, as some of
them also tempted."

u Therefore," says Mr. Jones, " CHRIST is the MOST
HIGH GOD."

Christ said to his disciples, " He that despiseth ME, de-
spiseth HIM that SENT ME." On the same ground we may
say, he that TEMPTED CHRIST, or the Angel ofGod^s Pre-
sence, TEMPTED GOD. But if we must hence infer, that
God and Christ are the same Person or Being, what will be
the inference from these words of Christ, " He that despiseth
YOU, despiseth ME ?" Must we not infer, that Christ and
his Apostles are the same Person or Being ?

In Rom. x. 19.. .21. We read, u First, Moses saith, I
will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people.
But Esaias is very bold and saith, I was faund of them that



An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture. 15?

sought me not. But to Israel he saith, All day long have
I stretched forth my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying
people." But if we look into the Old Testament, we find
that all these things were said by JEHOVAH, the GOD o^
ISRAEL. Moreover, we read, u As for Saul, he made
havock of the church, entering into every house, and halt
ing men and women, committed them to prison." But
Christ considered this as persecuting himself; and said to
him, u Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?" Now, Sir,
if it were safe to follow Mr. Jones in his method of draw-
ing conclusions, it might be inferred that Moses and Isaiah
were the GOD OF ISRAEL, yea, "the LORD OF HOSTS
HIMSELF,'' and that the men and women, persecuted by
Saul, were CHRIST HIMSELF.

If a King has an own Son, whom he delights to honor,
and who is united with him in government, whatever the
King does by his 6Xv, may be properly attributed to either
the Father, or the Son : And the disrespect shown to the
San may be considered as disrespect to both the Father and
the Son. Had these ideas been duly considered and ap-
plied by Mr. Jones, a great part of his inferences and con-
tusions would probably have never appeared in print. But
by disregarding such analogies, he compelled the BIBLE to
speak his mind.



LETTER V.

The Son of God not the same Person as the God of Israel.
REV SIR,

MUCH time and labor have been expended, and much
ingenuity displayed, in attempts to prove that Jesus Christ
is the very Person who is called the God of Abraham, and
the God of Israel, in the Old Testament. That he was
the Angel of God, and the Medium of Divine manifestations^
has been already admitted ; but that the Angel of God and
the God of Israel mean the same Person, is not admitted*
For the phrase the Angel of God as clearly presents to the
mind two distinct Btings, one of which is sent by the other+
as the phrase the Messenger of Divid. Besides, the God
of Israel said respecting this Angel, " B/eware of him, pro-



158 An Examination ofcfijjicult Passages of Scripture.



voice him not, for be w'll not pardon your transgressions ;
for MY name is in HIM." In these word's, the God of Is-
rael is, in the most decided manner, distinguished from.

Angel of his Presence, as any mhe Being or Agent.
That the Son of God is not the same Person as the God
of Abraham, or the God of Israel, may appear from the
following considerations :

1. It was the God of Israel who gave the promise of the
Messiah. He never promised that he would be the Mes-
siah ; but the Messiah was to be a Son whom the God of
Israel was to raise up.

2. The title given to Christ as the Son of God, will
naturally lead us to the same conclusion. It was the God
of Israel who proclaimed from heaven respecting the Mes-
siah, " This is my beloved Son" As Christ was made
known to the Jews as the SON of God, would they not
naturally be led to conclude, that if he were the Son of any
God, he was the Son of the God of Israel f And if you,
Sir, suppose that he is the very Person who was called the
God of Israel, please to inform me ofivhat God he was the
SON. Will it not follow inevitably from your hypothesis,
either that Christ was not the Sos OF GOD, or that the God
of Israel was the SON ef some OTIH R GOD ?

3. We have the most decided testimony, both of Christ
and his Apostles, that the Person who is called the God of
Abraham and the God of Israel, was the FATHER of CHRIST.
In John viii. 54. we have the testimony of Christ himself
" Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing ;
it is my FATHER that honoreth me, of whom ye say that
HE is YOUR G<^D." What God, Sir, did the Jews say was
their God? Was it not the God of Israel f If so, then
the God of Israel was the Father of Christ. And is not this
testimony of Christ sufficient to overbalance all the argu-
ments on your side of the question? And unless you can
persuade yourself, that Christ might be both the Father and
the Son of HIMSELF, must you not either relinquish your
hypothesis, or call in question his veracity f

Moreover, from this portion of Christ's testimony, we
may learn, that when he spake of GOD, he meant his FA-
THER ; and when he spake of his FATHER, he meant the
Goo OF ISRAEL. Therefore, whenever he spake of GOD,
or his FATHER, his language implied that he himself was
sot the Person who had been called the God of Israel.



An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture-

Let us now listen to the language of Peter, Acts iii. 13.
" The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the
God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus" This
testimony is too plain to need any comment.

Paul, in his address to the dispersed Israelites, whom,
he found at Antioch in Pisidia, said, " The GOD of this
people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people
where they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt." He
then rehearsed a number of events between that period and
the days of David ; and having mentioned David as a man
" after God's own heart," he added, "Of this man's seed
hath GOD, according to his promise, RAISED unto Israel a
SAVIOR, JESUS." [Acts xiii. 23.]

In the first verse of the Epistle to the Hebrews, we read
that " GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners
spake in time past unto the fathers, by the prophets, hath
in these last days spoken to us BY HIS SON." Was it not
the God of Israel who spake by the prophets f If so, Christ
was the SON of the GOD OF ISRAEL.

In support of the idea now before us, a very considera-
ble part of the New Testament might be quoted ; for at
the very foundation of the Gospel, this idea is laid, That
Jesus Christ is the _$ON of the God of Israel ; and this idea
runs through the writings of the Evangelists, and the ser-
mons and Epistles of the Apostles. The matter is so clear-
ly and so abundantly expressed, that it is amazing that any
one, either myself or others, acquainted with the Scrip-
tures, should ever entertain the idea that JESUS CHRIST
was the very Person who had been called the God of Israel.

In regard to the texts which have been relied on to prove
that Christ is the very Person who was called the
God of Israel, it may be observed, that the most of them
would be easily explained, and the argument set aside, by
only making a proper distinction between the ANGEL of
God as the MEDIUM of Divine manifestation, and the GOD
wha was manifested through that Medium ; or, by only
observing that whatever God does, by Christ, may be
properly attributed either to God or his Son. Many of
the principal texts of this class have been already examin-
ed ; and it is hoped enough has been said to convince you,
that the hypothesis that Christ is the Person who is calle4
the GOD OF ISRAEL, is without any solid foundation in
the Bible. But the circumstance, that this hypothesis has



16O An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture.

been so long and so generally admitted by pious Christians,
may be considered as evidence that it has had advocates
who were esteemed eminent for piety and ability. For it
is difficult to conceive, how any thing short of distinguish-
ed eminence of character, in its advocates, could ever have
given currency and popularity to an opinion so manifestly
repugnant to the express declarations of CHRIST and his
Apostles, and to the general tenor of the Gospel.

If you, Sir, should be disposed to say, that you never
implicitly denied that Christ is the SON of God, let me ask,
Is not an attempt to pr:ve that Christ is the very Person,
who is called the God of Israel, an implicit denial that he
is the SON of God ? Would not a serious attempt to prove
that Isaac was the very person who was called Abraham,
imply a denial that Isaac was the Son of Abraham ?



LETTER VI.

The Import of 1 JOHN V. 7.
REV, SIR,

IT is now proposed to consider that much disputed
text, \ John v. 7 " There are three that bear record in
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and
these three are one."

You are not insensible that the genuineness of this text
has been denied by some, and doubted by many. How-
ever, nothing is perceived in it which gives me occasion, or
inclination, to avail myself of these circumstances to get
rid of the text* Nothing in it appears at all inconsistent
with other parts of the Scripture.

But you will be pleased, Sir, to note, that the Apostle
does not say, There are three Persons who bear record
And we ought to be cautious in affirming more than he
affirms. In the very next verse it is added, " And there
are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the W..ter 9
and the Blood; and these three agree in one."

Bearing witness and bearing record are the same thing,
The last three bear witness as well as the first three ; but
no one supposes that Persons are intended by the Water
and the Blood,



Jn Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture* 161

The Holy Ghost in the first three, and the Spirit in the
second three, may be the same, only referring to different
testimonies or evidences of the truth* In the frst three,
the Spirit is connected with two Persons ; in the last three^
it is connected with two objects which are not Persons. Its
connexion, therefore, leaves the matter of personality whol-
ly undetermined ; for the evidence resulting from con-
nexion is perfectly equal for and against the supposition.

If you shall ask, How can the Holy Ghost be said to
bear witness, un'ess it be a Person ? It may be asked,
How can the Water and the Blood bear witness, unless they
are Persons f And both questions may be answered in
this manner They bear witness in the same sense that the
ivorks of Christ bore witness that he was the Son of God,
a><d sent of the Father. " The same -works that I do, bear
witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." We know
that actions and facts speak as loud as words, and are as
proper evidence for the support of truth.

It will further be observed, that, respecting the Father,
the Word, and the Holy Ghost, it is said these three are
one. But it is not said that these three are one Being or
one God, Nor is any such idea naturally implied or sug-
gested. How then are they one f They are one, as any
three witnesses, whether persons or things, are one, which
unite in bearing testimony to the same truth.

The observations already made may be sufficient to show
that this text contains nothing in favor of the supposition of
three self-existent Persons in ONE GOD, and nothing against
the theory which I have adopted. It may, however, be
useful to make some further remarks.

If the two verses, which have been under consideration,
were written by John, the truth of which is very willingly
admitted, the object of the Apostle in them was, to show
what abundant evidence had been given for the confirma-
tion of these truths, viz. That Jesus Christ is truly the
Son of God : that " God has given to us eternal life, and
that this life is in his Son." This will clearly appear to any
judicious person, who will be at the pains of examining
the connexion, beginning with the 4th verse and ending
with the llth. Alter having mentioned the three that bear
record in heaven, and the three that bear witr ess in earth,
the Apostle says in the llth verse," And this is the record"
that is, the thing testified by these witnesses, " This is the
W



162 An Examination of difficult Passages of Scripture*

record, that God hath given to us eternal life ; and this
life is in his Son." 1

The things which have been done in confirmation of
these truths, are the things intended by bearing witness or
record.

Among all the events which have excited the attention
or astonished the minds of angels and men, there are none
more extraordinary in their nature, or more interesting in
their consequences, than the incarnation, the pub he minis-
try, the death and resurrection, of the Son of God. It
appears highly important, that events of so extraordinary
a nature should be the subjects of prior promises and pre-
dictions, that they should be accompanied by signs and
wonders, and that some public memorials should be insti-
tuted to perpetuate the memory of those events to the end
of time.

Accordingly we find that those events were not only the
subject of promises, but of numerous and circumstantial
predictions, by which a general expectation of the coming
of the Messiah was excited. His birth was announced not
only by the appearance of a supernatural Star, but by An-
gelic Envoys from the Court of Heaven. According to
prophecy, John the Baptist came " to prepare the way of
the Lord," by preaching and administering the baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins. He understood his
business as the Herald of the Lord. A token was given
him beforehand, by which he was to know the Son of God
when he should come to be baptized, or inaugurated as
the Teacher sent from Heaven. At length the Savior
came to John to be baptized. And after his baptism, in an-
swer to his prayer, the Heaven was opened, and " the
Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon
him, and a voice came from Heaven which said, THOU ART
MY Br LOVED SON, in thee I am well pleased" [Luke iii. 22.]

Our Savior, being thus inaugurated, endued, and an-
nounced to the world as the SON OF GOD, proceeded to the
work of his public ministry. In the course of his ministry,
he abundantly testified with his own lips, that he was the
Son of God, that he was sent into the world by the Father
to save sinners. In support of such declarations, he wrought
innumerable miracles by the HOLT SPIRI? which he had
received o the Father.



An Examination of difficult Passages vf Scripture. 163

As a farther confirmation of these truths, while he was
on a mountain with Peter, James, and John, he was trans-
figured before them, and his face did shine as the sun, and
his raiment was white as the light. And behold, there ap-
peared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. And
a bright cloud overshadowed them ; and beho'd, a voice
out of the cloud, which said, " This is my beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased ; hear ye him."

Moreover, at the time of his crucifixion, farther evidence
was given, by supernatural tokens, that he was the Son of
God " Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over
all the land unto the ninth hour." While the inhuman
rabble were insulting him, and calling on him for some
miracle to prove that he was the SON of God, Jesus cried
with a loud voice, " My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?" And as he expired, behold the vail of the
temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and
the earth did quake, and the rocks rent, and the graves of
the dead were opened. Such events produced conviction
in the minds of the Centurion and others with him they
feared greatly, saying, u Truly this was the Son of God."

As Christ had not only foretold his death, but also his
resurrection from the dead, this event was necessary to
confirm the truth that he was the Son of God. Accord-
ingly he was " declared to be the Son of God with power,
according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from
the dead." And after he, through the Holy Ghost, had
given commandment to the Apostles, while they beheld,
he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their
sight.

Thus, Sir, it is conceived, the Father, the Word, and
the Holy Spirit, have testified to confirm the truth, that Je-
sus is the Son of God, that God has given to us eternal life,
and that this life is in his Son. And these three are one, as
the several modes of testifying all unite to prove the self-
same truths.

In the passage under consideration, there is a difficulty
resulting from the distinction of heaven and earth, which
it may now be proper to note. The testimony in both
cases seems to have been given to men on earth : and yet
the first triad is represented as bearing record in heaven


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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 15 of 19)