one self-existent Person ?
Mr. JYnes has indeed suggested th^ idea, that the sin-
gular proiV'ims and verbs are most commonly used as
agreeing u-ith God, to guard mankind against the idea of
more G< :ls than one. But may I not, with as much pro-
priety, suggest, that they are thus used to guard us against
the idea of more than one self-existent Person ? or that
thc> were thus used, that in case any should adopt the
opinion of a plurality of self-existent Persons, the error
might be detected by the current and uniform language of
If it be a truth, that there are three self-existent Persons
in one God, it is doubtless a very important truth. Nor
is it to be admitted, that God should constantly speak in a
manner which tended to impress the contrary idea, to pre-
vent our falling into the error of a plurality of Gods. Had
it been a truth that there is but ONE GOD, and that this term
is of " plural comprehension," comprizing three co-eternal
Persons, it would certainly have been a very easy thing
with God to have adopted language conformable to both
parts of the proposition. The suggestion of Mr. Jones
amounts to nothing less than this, that God made use of
language whirh was calculated to lead us into one error?
lest we shou?d fall into another.
Would it not, Sir, shock the feelings of a Christian audi-
ence, if a minister, in his prayers and preaching, should
conform his language to the Athanasian theory, and the es-
tablished rules of grammar ? But if the theory be true,
ought you not to adapt your current language, in prayer
and preaching, to your theory ? You cannot be insensible,
that to use pronouns and verbs of the singul r number, in
relation to God, has a direct tendency to impress the minds
of your hearers with the idea that God is but one Person.
And if you believe the contrary, ought you not to avoid
such forms of speech as naturally tend to mislead the minds
of" your hearers ? You will probably retort the question,
and ask, why I did not avoid such forms of speech while
I was an Athanasian ? I answer, I was not aware of the
inconsistency between my common forms of speech and the
theory I had adopted. If this be your case, you may pos-
sibly be excused in respect to what is past ; but what will
you do in time to come ?
On the Unity of God,
To evade the argument resulting from the use of singular
pronouns and verbs, some will probably say, that each Per-
son in the Trinity is God, and may say / am God ; and that
when a singular pronoun is used for God, one Person only
In reply, the following questions may be asked.
1. If each Person, as a distinct Person, may say /am,
God, will it not follow that there are as many Gods as Per-
2. If the term God be intended to imply three distinct
Persons, and each of those three, as a distinct Person, may
say /am God, will it not follow that there are as manv as
nine Persons in the Godhead ? If the term God do really
imply three Persons, then any one who affirms that he is
God) affirms that he is three Persons ; and three times three
3. If there be three self-existent and co-equal Persons
in the Godhead, can it be proper for either of the three to
say /am GOD, and there is NO GOD BESIDES ME? When
any one Person adopts this language, does he not naturally
exclude every othei Person from the dignity which he
claims for himself? Suppose three Persons to be linked
as co-equal in one Government, under the title of Kir,g ?
would it be consistent for ehhtr of those Persons to say /
am King, and thrre is no King besides Mb ? If any one
of the three should say thus, would it not be untrue in it-
self, and a contempt of the other Persons ?
Supposing that you are of the number of Divines who
venture to tell what is to be understood by the word Person
as applied to the Godhead, and that by three Persons you
mean " three Agents" I would here suggest some thoughts
for your consideration.
Those who avow, that, by three Persons, they under-
stand three distinct Agehts, allow to each of these Agents
self-existence, independence, infinite intelligence, and al-
mighty power, as distinct Persons. Of course, the three
Persons are three infinite Agents. I would now wish to
be informed, what more wou d be necessary to constitute
three infinite Beings. And I would ask you seriously to
consider whether it be possible for you to form any idea of
three infinite Agents, which does not involve the precise
idea of three infinite intelligent Beings*
26 On the Unity of God.
I will next bring into view a text, in which the
the Sox, and the HOLY GHOST, are exhibited, thut you
may see to what the representation in the text would amount
on your hypothesis.
The text we find, Arts-x. 38. " How GOD anointed
JESUS OF NAZARETH with the HOLY GHOST and \virh
POWER ; who went about doing good, and heating all that
Were oppressed of the devil : for God was with him."
Here, Sir, we have the Trinity fairly exhi'>ited. But
What would he the representation, if by tbcr THREE be in-
tended three infinite Agents ? Would not the representa-
tion be distinctly this, that the FIR^T / 1 v//yn r Ac? NT gave
thr THIRD IFF! NIT AGI A'T to enable the SLCOND
to perform miracles ?
The Language of good Writers in favor of what they mean
FOR the support of the doctrine, that the self-existent
Cod is but one self-existent Person, my reliance is placed
on the most obvious and natural import of Scripture lan-
guage. It is, however, hoped, that it will not be deemed
improper or unfriendly^ should I avail m\ sell of the reason-
ings, concessions, and language, of Athanasian writers,
for a farther illustration and confirmation of what I esteem
to be the truth. The authors, whose writings I shall quote,
ave, in my opinion, deservedly in high estimation, as
learned, discerning, and correct writers. And no author
will be quoted or named with the least desire to provoke
controversy, or in any respect to detract from his reputa-
I would now solicit your attention to some passages from
Dr. Hopkins. In his chapter on the Unity of God, and
the Trinity, to prove the Unity of God, or that there is
but ONE GOD, he has made use of some arguments, which,
if I mistake not, are of the same weight against the doc-
trine of a plurality of self-existent Persons, that they are
against the doctrine of a plurality of seU-existent Gods. ;-
Thus he reasons-..
On the Unity of God &T
" There can be but one First Cause who exists necessa-
rlv, and without beginning ; for there* can be but one in-
finite Being. To suppose another, or a second, necessarily
exclude s the first ; and to suppose the first, necessar'ly
excludes the second, and any other infinite Being. The
snme is evident from the consideration of the Divine per-
fections. God is infinite Po er, infinite Wisdom. But
there cannot bt- two infinite Wisdoms, &c. for this implies
Yet, Sir, your theory supposes that there are three dis-
tinct self-existent and independent Persons, which, if I
mistake not, as fully implies three " infinite Wisdoms," &c.
as the supposition of three infinite Beings.
The Doctor proceeds....'* Moreover, if we make the im-
possible supposition that there are two or more infinite Be-
ings, they must be perfectly alike in all respects, or not.
If not perfectly alike, and without any difference, in any
resptct, then one or the other must be imperfect ; for ab-
solute infinite perfection admits of no variation or differ-
ence : so that if any two Beings differ in any respect, they
cannot be both absolutely perfect ; therefore cannot both be
God. But if they are perfect y alike in every respect and
every thing, then they are perfectly one and the same ; and
the supposition destroys itself, being a direct contradic-
If this reafcon : ng be conclusive, will it not apply, in the
most v direct manner, to invalidate the theory of three self-
existent and infinite Persons ? The three Persons must be
perfectly alike in all respects, or not. If not perfectly
alike, one or the other must be imperfect, and therefore
cannot be God : " But il perfectly alike in every respect,
then they are perfectly one and the same."
Those who admit the Doctor's reasoning as conclusive
against three infinite Beings, must, I suspect, to be con-
sistent, reject the theory of three infinite, independent Per-
Dr. Emmons, in his Discourse on the Trinity, has made
th s concession...." Did the Scripture do trine of the Trini-
ty imply that three Persons are one Person, or three Gods
one God, it wou : d necessarily involve a contradiction."
Yet this correct writer has adop ed forms of speech which
evidently imply that one Person is three Persons. Such are
the following..,.'* GOD can, with propriety, say, I, Thou,
28 On the Unity
and He, and mean only HIMSELF.'* " Nothing short of
three distinct Persons in the one undivided DEITY, can
Tender it proper for HIM to speak of HAvisi LF in the first,
second, and third Persons, I, Thou, and He." " And so
there is a certain SOMI THING in the Divine Being, which
renders it equa ly ne essary that HE should exist in THREE
In these passives, H>, HIM, and HIMSF.LF, are used
as pronouns for God or D< iiy. And eich of these pro-
nouns strictly conveys the idea of one Person onlv. Yet the
Doctor supposed that this ont HE, or HIM, might speak
of HIMSELF as THREF. DISTINCT PLRSONS.
Dr. Spring, in hib Sermon on the seif-existfnce of Christ,
gives the following exhortation. ..." Let us tlv n not deny
the self-existence of God, nor the universality of IIjs < -x-
istence, nor that His indivisible essence comprises THREE
By the pronoun His, God is, in the first place, clearly
considered as hut one Person ; \ t we are fervently exhortr
ed not to denv that vi His indivisible essence comprises
THREE DISTINCT PERSONS."
Mr. Jones stands on similar ground. He says, u No
sensible reason can be given, whV GOD should speak of
HIMSFLF ; n the plural number, unless HE consists of MORE
PERSONS THAN ONE,"
And thus says Dr. Hopkins, " If there be a GOD, HE
does exist without 'beginning or succession ; and this is as
innrh above our comprehension, as that HE exists in THREE
To what, Sir, are we to attribute these solecisms ? Not
to the want of m< ntal energy ; nor to the want of piety ;
jjor to the want of scientific or grammatical knowledge.
But these worthy men had been conversant with the Bible,
and from that source had insensibly formed the habit of
usually speaking of God as only one Person ; but this be-
5ng contrary to the doctrine which they ^ ished to support,
they naturally involved inconsistency in their forms of
A volume, probably, might be filled with such sole-
cisms from Athanasian writers. And indeed, Sir, I very
much doubt whether you ever preached a Gospel sermon,
or ever prayed five minutes, without using pronouns in di-
rect contradiction to your theory .
On the Unity of God. 2&
The Mystery of the Trinity in Unity unfolded.
IN a former Letter, I observed to you, that Mr. Jones
considered the term God as of " plural comprehension." I
therefore classed the noun God with other nouns of" plural
comprehension," surh as, Council, Senate, Triumvirate^
&c. But since that time I again perused Mr. Jones' per-
formance, and find that I did iiot fully comprehend his
meaning. As I was reading his remarks on 1 Cor. viii. 6.
4t But to us there is but one God, the Father," I noticed
this idea, " the one God, the Father, is the name of a na-
ture under which Christ, as God, is comprehended." I
was at first wholly at a loss for his meaning ; it however
soon occurred to me, that he considered the term GOD, in
this case, as a general or generic term, comprehending a
plurality of Persons, of one common nature; as MAN is
sometimes used for all mankind. I therefore pursued the
inquiry, to ascertain, if possible, his real meaning. When
I came to the part of his book, entitled, the u Conclusion,"
.my apprehension was fully confirmed.
In page SO, he says, " That the Persons of God are-
three in number, precisely distinguished, on some occa-
sions, by the personal names Father, the Word or Son, and
Jloly Spirit ; and also by different offices. That the same
term is not always peculiar and proper to the same Person ;
because the words God, Lord, Jehovah, and Father, are
sometimes applied to one Person and sometimes to anoth-
er ; while at other times they are not personal, but general
names of the Divine nature"
In page 81, he observes, " There can be no real Unity
in God but that of his nature, essence, or substance, all of
vrhich are synonymous tepns."
That the three Persons are of the same nature or essence^
he considers as proved on this ground, u Because they par-
take in common of the name Jehovah, which being inter-
preted, means the Divine essence ; and what it signifies in
one, Person it must also signify in the others, as truly as
the singular name Adam, in its appellative capacity, ex-
presses the common nature of all mankind"
30 On the Unity of God.
If tliis be the true Athanasian theory of the Trinity, it
is not so mysterious as has been generally supposed ; and
I suspect, it will be a much less difficult task to explain it,
than it wil 1 to reconcile it to the sacred Scriptures.
It is obvious, from the passages quoted, that Mr. Jones
considers the term GOD, as sometimes used, as a general
or generic name, comprising a plurality of Persons of one
common n ture, just as we use the term Man, as comprising
the -whcle species. And he also supposes, that GOD is used
in this sense as meaning the Divine nature, when it is said,
' But to us there is but one God."
And as he has given us plainly to understand, that " there
can be no real Un'ty in God but that of his nature" it is
manifest that, on this theory, the Unity of God is the same
as the unity of Man. Mr. Jones supposes, that the three
Persons in the Godhead are all of one nature, that is, of a
Divine nature. So all the individual Persons of the human
race are, in the same sense, one, they are of one nature^
that is, human nature.
The whole mystery of the Trinity in Unity, according
to this theory, results from the ambiguous use of the terms
GoJ, Lord, Jehovah, &c. these terms being " sometimes
applied to one Person, and sometimes to another ; while
at other times they are not personal, but general names of
the Divine nature" When it is said, there are three Persons
in one God, the word God is used u as the name of a na-
ture ;" and the import is simply this, that there are three
Persons of the same Divine nature.
On this theory of the Trinity in Unity, I would suggest
the following inquiries :....
1. Whether there can be any reasonable objections to
the proposition, which affirms that there are as man) self-
existent Beings as there are self-existent Persons ? While
it has been maintained that there are three selt-existent
Persons, it has been affirmed that there is but one self-ex-
istent Being. But if the Unity is no more than a unity of
nature, why nriy not each of the Persons be considered as
a distinct intelligent Being, according to the natural im-
port of the word Person ? When the word MAN is used
" as the name of a nature," it comprises many intelligent
Beings ; as many as it does of intelligent Persons. Why
is it not thus with regard to that ORDER of PERSONS in-
cluded under the " general name" GOD ?
On the Unity of God. si
2. If it be admitted, that, when it is stated in the
Scriptures that to us there is but ONF GOD, that the term
GOD is used u as the name of a nature" comprising a plu-
rality of Persons, what evidence can we have that the num-
ber of Persons is limited to three ? Why may not that
order of Persons, which is denominated by the " general
name" GOD, be as great as the number characterized by
the general name MAN ? The advocates for the theory
will doubtless say, that the Scriptures mention but three
Persons ; but do the Scriptures say that there are no more
than three Persons in the Godhead ? The Scriptures teach
us, that there is ONE GOD, and that there is none other but
HE. And if such declarations do not limit the number of
self-existent Persons, the limits are not ascertained in the
Bible by any thing with which I am acquainted.
3. Will it not follow, from this hypothesis, that in the,
sense that each of three Persons is called God, there are as
many distinct Gods as there are distinct Persons ? When
the term GOD is used as " the name of a nature," or as u a
general name for the Divine nature" it is easy enough to
see, that in this sense there may be no more Cods than
one ; but Mr. Jones does not suppose that it is always used
in this sense ; he supposes the same name is sometimes
used person lly, and applied " sometimes to one of the
three Persons, and sometimes to another." This is pre-
cisely the case with the word Man. It is somet mes used
11 as the name of a nature," comprehending the whole spe-
cies ; yet at other times it is applied in a personal manner,
sometimes to one Person, and sometimes to another.
John is a man, James is a man, and Peter is a man, &c*
And when it is used in this sense, it admits of the plural
number ; and we may say three men, or three hundred men;
yea, in this sense there may be as many Men as Persons
And in the sense in which the Father is God, and Christ
is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, why are there not as
many Gods as Persons ? It is a clear case, that if each of
three Persons is one Man, those three Persons are three
Men. And analogy will teach us, that if there are three
Divine Persons, each of whom is one God, then those
three Persons are three Gods.
I am well aware, that this conclusion is not admitted by
our Athanasian brethren j but if it do not fairly result from
J32 On the Unity oj God.
Mr. Jones' premises, I shall rejoice to see the fallacy* of
the reasoning detected.
On the whole, the hypothesis of Mr. Jones precludes
the necessity of any distinction between Person and Being,
or intelligent Person and intelligent Being ; and under the
generic or general name GOD, it exhibits an ORDER of SU-
PREME and SELF- EXISTENT INTELLIGENCES, tO each of
whom the name God may be properly applied ; the num-
ber of this ORDER of DIVINE INTELLIGENCES he SUppOSCS
to be but THR! E ; this, however, is only supposition ; there
is no certainty in the case. The Divine nature is doubtless
as extensive as human nature ; and if it include more than
one self-existent Person, it may be impossible for us to see
why it may not comprise as many Persons as human nature.
And as Mr. Jones supposed that not only the word GOD,
but also the word LORD, was used both as an u appellative"
or general name, and also in a personal manner as applica-
ble to each of the Divine Persons, the hypothesis seems to
open the way for the re-aclmission of Lords many and Gods
In speaking of the three Persons in the Trinity, Dr. Em-
mons says, " There is a certain SOMETHING in the Divine
nature which lays a proper foundation for these personal
distinctions. But what that SOMETHING is, can neither be
described nor conceived. Here lies the whole mystery of
Had the good Doctor understandingly and believingly
Tead Mr. Jones on the subject, he would doubtless have
been able to describe that u certain SOMETHING," as well as
Mr. Jones has done. For the " SOMETHING" appears from
Mr. Jones to be simply this, the Divine nature^ like human
nature, may comprise a plurality of Persons.
Thus I have endeavored to unfold the Athanasian mys-
terv of. the Trinity ; the business of reconciling it with the
Bible, I shall not undertake.
&N THE REAL DIVINITT AND GLORT OF
Jesus Christ truly the SON of God,
THE first proposition which I proposed to establish was
this, That the SUPREME BEING, or self-existent GOD, is
Only one PERSON. And it is believed, that, in proof of this
proposition, something has already been done.
My second proposition is,
That Jesus Christ is truly the SON of God. If the
second proposition should be supported, additional evidence
will appear in favor of the first. For according to your
theory, Jesus Christ is one of the three self-existent Per-
sons, and is personally the self-existent God. But should
it appear that he is personally and truly the SON of God, it
will also appear that he is neither the self-existent God, nor
a self-existent Person. For, to a discerning and unpreju-
diced mind, it must be obvious, that it is a natural impos-
sibility that the same Person should be truly the self-exist-
ent G^d and truly the SON of the self-existent God* And
so far as the natural import of language is to be regarded,
the terms a self-existent Son imply a real and palpable con-
tradiction. The term self-existent is perfectly opposed to
the term Son, and the term Son is perfectly opposed to self"
existence. If there be any term in our language which nat-
urally implies derived existence, the term Son is of this im-
port. And to affirm that a Person is a derived self-existent
Being implies no greater contradiction than to affirm tha a
Person is a self-existent Son. And to affirm that Jesus
Christ is personally the self-existent God, and at the same
34 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.
time truly the SON of God, is percisely the same conlradio
tion that it would be to affirm that the Prince of Wo let is
truly King George the Third, and also triily the SON of King
George the Third.
These things I have stated on the ground of the natural
meaning of terms. That the things I have stated are true,
according to the natural import of language, will not, it is
believed, be denied by any person of good discernment and
The proposition, that Jesus Christ is truly THE SON OF
GOD, is so obvious in its natural import, and so plainly
scriptural, that many may suppose it requires neither ex-
p'anation nor proof. Yet such is the state of things in the
Christian world, that both explanation and proof are neces-
sary. For although there is, perhaps, no one point in whioh
Christians are more universal. y agreed than in calling Christ
the SON OF GOD, there is scarce! v am thing about which
they are more divided than that of tht- intended import of
those terms. But amidst the variety of opinions which
have bten formed on the subject, the natural import of the
words has been pretty uniformly rejected ; and almost
even other possible meaning has been affixed to them, in
preference to that which the terms naturally excite. In-
deed, it sft-ms to have been generally taken for granted,
that it is impossible with God to have a SON. Athanasians
appear to have taken this for granted ; and find ; ng that di-
vine titles, divine attributes, divine works, and divine hon-
ors, are ascribed to him in the Scriptures, they have set it
down as an unquestionable truth, that Christ is so far from
being the SON of God, in the natural sense of the terms,
that he is the very self-existent God ; yea, that very GOD
of whom tta Scriptures declare that he is the SON. Other
denominations, taking for granted the same principle, have
pronounced the Saviour to be a mere creature^ more or : ess
dignified and endued. And thus, on the one hand or the
other, almost every possible grade of intelligent existence
and dignity has been allowed him, excepting that which is
naturally imported by his title the SON of GOD.
Two ideas are naturally suggested by the title the SON
of GOD, viz. DIVINE ORIGIN and DIVINE DIGNITY.
By D vine Origin, 1 do not mean that the SON of God is
a created intelligent Being ; but a Being who properly de-
rived his existence and his nature from God. It has not,
On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ. 35
perhaps, been common, to make any distinction between
derived existence and created existence ; but in the present
case the distinction appears very important. Adam was a
created being , Seth derived Y\s existence from the created
na- ure of Adam ; and therefore it is said " Adam begat a
soil in his own likeness." And as Seth derived his exist-
ence from the created nature of Adam, so, it is believed,
tVntthe ONLY BKGOTTr.N OF THE FATHER DERIVED HIS CX-
istence from the self-existent nature of God. In this sense
only do I mean to prove that the SON of God is a derived
The hypothesis, that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God,