Barton W. Stone
An Address to the Churches, Mathes Edition (1859)
C H A P T E R V.
AN ADDRESS TO THE CHURCHES.
BRETHREN:--I once thought and published to
the world, that I never expected to appear again as a
writer in public; but a desire for your good, and the
advice of many of my brethren in the ministry, have
induced me once more to take up my pen.
For what many of us have esteemed precious truths by which our souls have
been edified in Christ Jesus, we have been severely censured by our brethren
of every name, and driven from their communion as intolerable heretics.
You well know the flood of opposition which has been poured forth against
us, and is yet pouring. I am sorry to say, that opposition has not been
so well directed as to answer any valuable purpose. It has rather tended
to irritate and bewilder, than to convince and reclaim. We are not to be
driven from our sentiments by bare assertions--ill-natured scurrility--heretical
names, nor pathetic lamentations. These substitutes for argument have been
frequently tried; but to me and many others, in vain. Should we be in an
error, such things have a direct tendency to establish us in it. I should
be in a fair way to receive conviction by a candid acknowledgment of the
weight of my argument, should it be specious, than by scores of assertions
of its error, or by evasive shifts to elude its force, or by artful endeavors
to veil it by sophistry, or by eloquent trifling.
We have borne the opposition against us with tolerable patience. But on
a retrospect I fear we have sometimes deviated from that charity, "which
suffereth long and is kind--which envieth not--vaunteth not itself--is
not puffed up--doth not behave itself unseemly--seeketh not her own--is
not easily provoked--thinketh no evil--beareth all things--believeth all
things--hopeth all things--endureth all things."
Zeal in a good cause is certainly commendable and right; but zeal, untempered
with charity, meekness and knowledge, is a dangerous thing. It was this
that kindled the flames of the Inquisition, and smiled at the tortures
and groans of burning saints.--It was this that led Mary of England, with
her humble servants, to bathe their hands in the blood of innocence. It
was this that so frequently crimsoned the earth with the blood of martyrs.
It was even this that killed the Lord of glory and his inspired apostles.
The mischiefs done by it are incalculable. Angry debates--bloody strifes--cruel
persecutions--divisions of Christians, etc., originated from this untempered
zeal. If in this we have erred, as others, may our merciful God forgive
us, and preserve us in future from such offenses!
Being well convinced of the fallibility of mortals--seeing the fluctuations
of the great and good men among us from system to system, and then reverting
to the relinquished system--viewing the confidence of every sect in the
rectitude of their peculiar doctrines, and all believing and declaring
they are honest--hearing every party pronouncing us wrong, and joining
their general voice against us--seeing these things I determined to re-examine
my views of the Gospel. I have no interest in being wrong. Upon the rectitude
of my faith and practice, my eternal interests depend; and the interests
of many, I believe, are deeply involved in mine.
I pay deference to the judgment of the great and pious men who have lived
before us, or contemporary with us. But great and good men have differed.
Therefore from the Bible I wish to draw my sentiments, and by the Bible
to have them judged.
It is well known to you that there are many reports of a heretical nature
in circulation against us as a people, and especially against us your ministers,
which I think are without any just grounds. With these reports the more
credulous shield themselves against the plainest truths of the Gospel when
preached by us, or fly from us as incarnate fiends--these have not only
dissolved with many the sacred ties of Christian love, but have even destroyed
the bonds of natural friendship for us--and by these the ears of many are
stopped, and the heart hardened against the melting voice of mercy. Besides
these common effects, the weak and fearful among ourselves are sometimes
staggered, and checked in their progress to heaven. From attention to these
reports, a stranger to us would be induced to think that we had denied
every essential or fundamental doctrine of Christianity.
It is true we have ventured to deny what is termed the orthodox explanation
of some very popular doctrines. But will any candid man say, that this
is a denial of the doctrines themselves? Should any say, we deny their
explanation of such doctrines, they would speak correctly. For instance:
Calvinists say, the Methodists deny election, Methodists deny the charge
and say, they believe in election. Had Calvinists said, the Methodists
deny our explanation of that doctrine, they would have spoken the truth.
The doctrines of the Bible, we believe, have never divided Christians;
but human opinions of those doctrines without charity, have always done
the mischief. Man, poor, ignorant man, would dictate to the consciences
of his fellows, and if they do not receive his dogmas or opinions, they are branded with the odious
names of heretic, infidel, etc., and their names and sentiments
are trumpeted abroad, distorted, misrepresented
and blackened--for what purpose? Professedly to
promote the interests of religion--but intentionally, I
fear, with many, just to excite the popular clamor and
indignation against them, and to raise themselves on
their ruins.--Poor, weak man wishes the world to
believe him infallible. If not, why so tenacious of
untenable principles? Why not abandon them when
proved to have no foundation in truth? Why not
relinquish them when refuted with the clearest evidence?
It must be because he can not brook the idea
of being accounted a fallible man. Yet all but the
Pope of Rome, and a few of his degenerate sons in our
day, disclaim infallibility, at least in words.
Believing mankind to be fallible creatures, we therefore feel a spirit
of toleration and union for all those Christians who maintain the divinity
of the Bible, and walk humbly in all the commandments and ordinances of
the Lord Jesus Christ, and who live by faith in his name, though they may
hold opinions contrary to ours. We wish others to exercise the same spirit
toward us, that we might be mutually edified--that the interests of our
Redeemer's kingdom might be advanced--and that foul blot upon Christianity,
the division of Christians, might be wiped away, and thus a powerful weapon against revelation be
wrested from the hand of infidelity. We ardently desire to see this spirit
universally prevail throughout the churches of the various denominations.
And in order to clear the way on our part, I will endeavor to satisfy inquiries
respecting those doctrines, which report says, some of us hold.
I doubt not that, as with others, so with us, there are ignorant and unguarded
persons, who give false statements of doctrines held by the society with
which they are particularly connected; but candor forbids us to impute
such to the whole society. We do not wish to conceal from the world that
there are Calvinists and Arminians in many doctrines in our communion,
and yet we live in the closest bonds of Christian union. In this we rather
glory; because we see the practicability of Christians living together
in love and union, who differ in opinions. This has been considered almost
impossible for ages past; hence the long but vain practice of church and
state to enforce uniformity by laws and penalties, on the professors of
Christianity. To force a man to believe contrary to his convictions, is
impossible. He may hypocritically profess what be secretly disbelieves.
Having made these general observations, I proceed to state my views of
those doctrines, said to be denied by us.
SECTION I. OF TRINITY
That there is but one living and true God, is a plain doctrine of revelation.
"We know that an Idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God
but one. For though there be that are called Gods,
whether in Heaven or in earth (as there be Gods many
and Lords many). But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord, Jesus
Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." 1 Cor. viii: 4-6.
Also Deut. vi: 4. Mark xii: 29, etc.
This doctrine is also contained in the creeds of every sect of Christians
with whom I am acquainted. "There is but one only living and true
God, who is infinite in being and perfection, without body, parts or passions."
Conf. Fth. chap. 2, sec. 1st. There is but one living and true God, everlasting,
without body or parts. Meth. Dis. chap. 1, sec. 2.
If then all agree, that there is but one only living and
true God; all must agree that there are not two or
three such Gods. If all agree that this one only God
is an infinite spirit without parts; all must agree that this
infinite spirit is not a compound of two or three spirits,
beings, or Gods. These things are abundantly evident,
concerning which there can be no dispute.
The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. This
is acknowledged by the celebrated Calvin, who calls
the Trinity "a popish God, or idol, a mere human
invention, a barbarous, insipid, and profane word; and
he utterly condemns that prayer in the litany--O holy,
glorious, and blessed Trinity, etc., as unknown to the
prophets and apostles, and grounded upon no testimony
of God's holy word." Admon. 1st. ad Polonus--Cardale's
true Doct.--The language, like the man, I confess
is too severe.
The doctrine of Trinity has long been a subject of endless controversy
among theologists. I have thought the contest a war of words, while the
combatants believed the same thing; seeing they all maintain the Divine
unity. On this doctrine many things are said, which are dark, unintelligible,
unscriptural, and too mysterious for comprehension. Many of these expressions
we have rejected; and for this reason we are charged with denying the doctrine
itself. I shall state the doctrine, as generally stated and defended by
our brethren, who oppose us, and give my reasons why I can not receive
It is commonly stated, that there are three persons in one God, of one
substance, power and eternity. To me it is evident that they who maintain
this proposition, do not--can not believe, that these three persons are
three distinct spirits, beings or Gods, each possessed of the personal
properties of intelligence, will and power; for this would not only contradict
the Scriptures, but also those sections of their creeds just quoted, which
declare that there is but one only living and true God, without parts.
They must understand the term persons in God, not in the proper and common
sense of the word person; but in such a qualified sense
as to exclude the notion of three distinct spirits or
beings. What this qualified sense should be, has long
puzzled divines; and in no proposition are they more
divided. The cause of this perplexity is obvious,
because no idea of it is to be found in revelation nor
reason. Revelation no where declares that there are
three persons of the same substance in the one only
God; and it is universally acknowledged to be above
reason. Imagination has been set afloat, taking different
courses in different men, and wandering through
the unknown fields of eternity, infinity and incomprehensibility.
Their labors have been great; but after
all their vast excursions, they have ended in mystery.
Some think, that by the three persons in the one God, is intended his power,
wisdom and love, personified. This is mere supposition, and wants the authority
of Scripture. But should this be admitted, we should never know where to
stop in forming persons in the one God. With equal propriety we might personify
every perfection of the Almighty. The most rigid Unitarians believe that
power, wisdom and love are in the one God; but they object to the notion
of calling them three persons in God.
Others, by three persons in God, seem to signify that the three persons
are three offices in the one God, as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.
If this be granted, then upon the same principle we may multiply persons
in Deity; for he sustains many other offices as king, judge, lawgiver,
The doctrine, that there are three persons in one God, is principally founded
on I John v: 7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father,
the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." From reading
the context, it is plain, that the matter testified of, is that Jesus is
the son of God. The Father testified this, when he spake from heaven, "This
is my beloved Son, hear ye him." The Word or Son, testified the same
by the many wonders he performed when incarnate. This also the Holy Ghost
witnessed by the many miracles wrought through the Apostles. These three are one. They are one, or agree
in their testimony; as, in the next verse, the three
witnesses on earth agree in one. To say these three
are one God, would contradict the original; for the
word hen, translated one, is in the neuter gender, and
can not agree with the word God. Nor is it correct
to say, these three are one being; for Paul and Apollos
are said to be one--I Cor. iii: 8. "Now he that
planteth and he that watereth are (hen) one." No one imagines that they were one being; but agree, that they were
two distinct men engaged in one work, in one spirit. Our blessed Saviour
prays the Father, that all believers might be (hen) one, even as he and the
Father were (hen) one. Now as all believers are not
one substance nor one being; and as they are all one,
even as the Father and Son are one; we must then
conclude, that the Father and Son are not one substance,
nor one being. This is further evident from
John x: 30, "I and my Father are (hen) one," says
Jesus. Yet in the same Evangelist he said, "My Father
is greater than I." John xiv: 28. If they were
one substance, or one being, there could be no comparison;
as one can not be greater or less than itself.
The fact is, all believers are one in spirit, purpose, and
mind--and this is the oneness which our Lord prayed
they might have--this was the oneness of Paul and
Apollos.--This appears to me to be the oneness of the
Father and the Son.
The text, I John v: 7, the cause of so much altercation,
has long been disputed, as being of divine
authority. It is not found in Griesbach's Greek Testament,
reckoned to be the most correct.--It is not
found in the Syrian Christian's Bible, which Dr. Buchanan
examined in the East.--Many learned men
reject it, and even Dr. Doddridge doubts its divine
authority. After all, I am unwilling to reject it; but am
confident it can not establish the notion of three persons
in one God.
The doctrine of a plurality of persons in the one God, is argued from the
plural termination of the Hebrew word Elohim, translated God. As great stress
is laid on this argument, I will particularly examine
it. Here it will be necessary to introduce the rule in
the Hebrew Grammar, by which we shall determine
the point. "Pluralis pro singulari positus, denotat magnitudinem,
et excellentiam"--which, literally translated, is, "A plural put for a singular
denotes greatness and excellency."--Robertson's Heb. Gram., p. 240.
Now, according to this rule, Elohim, God, is put in
the plural; because the word expresses dignity and
majesty. For the same reason, the Lord said unto
Moses, "See, I have made thee Elohim, a God unto
Pharaoh"--Exod. vii: 1. No one supposes, that because
Moses was called Elohim in the plural, there
must have been a plurality of persons in him; but he
was so called because of his dignity and greatness.
For the same reason Aaron called the molten calf he
made Elohim--Exod. xxxii: 4, 8--wishing, by expressing
it in the plural, to attach dignity and majesty to
it, and by this means to excite reverence in the minds
of its worshipers.
For the same reason, the Israelites called their idol Baal-berith, their Elohim, God--Judge ix: 33.--And
the Philistines called their idol Dagon, in the plural,
Elohim, God--Judges xvi: 22, 24. Also the idols Ashteroth,
Chemosh, Milcom, Baalzebub, Nisroch, etc.,
though each is in the singular; yet each is called Elohim,
God, in the plural--1 Kings xi: 32; 2 Kings i:
2, and xix: 37. No doubt that those idol worshipers
expressed their particular idol in the plural, because
of its supposed dignity, majesty and excellence.
Again, we will apply the same rule to the plural word Adonim, master, "And the servant put his hand
under the thigh of Abraham, his master," his Adonim
in the plural--Gen. xxiv: 9, 10, 51. So Potiphar is
called Joseph's Adonim, master--Gen. xxxix: 2, 3, 7,
8, 16, 19, 20. So the captain of a guard was called in
the plural Adonim, lord--Gen. xl: 7. So Joseph, the
ruler of Egypt, was called Adonim, a lord--Gen. xlii: 30, 33, and xliv: 8. In all these places the plural is used
for the singular, according to the well known rule; because the word expresses
dominion, dignity and greatness.
It would be unnecessary to multiply quotations. These surely are sufficient
to prove to any unprejudiced mind, that the plural word, put for a singular,
does not imply a plurality of persons. If it does, then there was a plurality
of persons in Moses--in Aaron's calf--in each of the idols I have named--in
Abraham--in Potiphar--in Joseph--and in the captain of Pharaoh's guard.
There are surely none who will affirm it. If not, why, or how can they
affirm, that there is a plurality of persons in the one God, because he
is called Elohim?
Another argument, considered of great weight to establish the notion of
a plurality of persons in the one God, is the use of the pronouns us and our, when
applied to him. "Let us make man in our image"--Gen.
i: 26. This and similar texts I shall hereafter
explain, as addressed by the Father to the Son, "By
whom he created all things." I therefore, for the
present, wave the further consideration of it.
That the Scriptures speak of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is believed
and admitted by Christians of every name; and that these three are one in some
sense, I think, none will deny. My view of this oneness
I have expressed a few pages back. If they are
one in any other sense, I shall rejoice to know it.
It is possible that some, more attached to the unintelligible language
of their ancestors than to the simple expressions of Scriptures, may retain
notions or words contrary to what I have stated. They may so darken the
doctrine by words without knowledge, as to bewilder and lose themselves,
and then resolve it all into mystery; and lampoon and bite their fellow
Christians for not receiving their own inventions. But brethren, I hope
"You have not so learned Christ, it so be ye have heard him, and have
been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus."
Others, with whom bigotry outweighs a thousand good arguments, may be deterred
from receiving this view of trinity by being told that it savors of Arianism,
Socinianism, or some other reputed heresy. These and such like names have
driven many into opposite extremes, and kept them from that happy medium,
where truth commonly lies. I know not what the real sentiments of Arius
were, having never seen his writings; nor have I seen his sentiments, but
through the coloring of his enemies. They, who will put themselves to the
trouble of reading this address, will clearly see whose doctrines, mine
or those of my brethren who oppose us, most savor of those just mentioned.
Others, who have labored through mazy volumes of scholastic learning on
this doctrine, may be disposed to object to my view of it, because of its
simplicity. They have been long taught that the doctrine was a high, incomprehensible
mystery. However mysterious it may be, the Scriptures never call it a mystery.
It is a term attached to it by man. The explanation of this doctrine, as
given by some, is truly an incomprehensible mystery. They have said, "The
Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally
begotten of the Father; and the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the
Father and the Son." A part of this explanation is indeed a mystery,
not found in revelation nor reason. We are told by some, that it is an
evidence of an humble heart to believe it. Can any man believe it, whether
he be humble or not? They, who profess to believe nothing without testimony,
can not; because the two last propositions are not in the Bible. They who
profess to believe nothing before they understand it, can not. Therefore
it is as incredible as it is incomprehensible. So it appears to me. But
if others receive it as an article of their faith, I judge them not, nor
reject them from the arms of charity. But to make it a term of Christian
fellowship I think unwarrantable from the word of God. A person of a fruitful
mind may form a very mysterious doctrine. For instance--He might affirm
that the third person of trinity, the Holy Ghost, was an uncompounded compound
of "seven spirits," or seven persons, all co-equal, co-essential,
and co-eternal. To make this mystery pass for truth, he might run through
heaven and earth to show how many other mysteries exist. He might find
a mystery in the existence, the eternity, and infinity of God--in the connection
of soul and body, etc. These mysteries, he might argue, are believed; and
why not his mysterious doctrine too? The answer is, because these are revealed
but his doctrine is not;--these, though above reason, are not contrary
to it; but his is both above and contrary to reason. If a doctrine be revealed,
however mysterious it may be, I will humbly receive it. My reason shall
ever bow to revelation; but it shall never be prostrated to human contradictions
and inventions. Pious and good men have received such doctrines. God loves
and pities them; and so will I.
SECTION II. OF THE SON OF GOD.
We have also been charged with denying the Son of God; or in other words,
his divinity; than which, I think, there can be no charge more unjust.
This I hope to evince in the sequel of this section. The reason why we
are thus charged, seems to be because we have differed from what are termed
the orthodox opinions on this subject. My reasons for thus differing I
feel bound to state; and then shall endeavor to exhibit my own views as
plainly as I can.
There are three general opinions respecting the Son of God. One is, that
he is the eternal Son of God--eternally begotten of the Father. Another
is, that the Son of God never existed until he was born of Mary 1820 years
ago. The third is, that the Son of God did not begin to exist 1820 years
ago; nor was he eternally begotten; but that he was the first begotten
of the Father, the first born of every creature; brought forth before all
worlds; and in the fullness of time was united with a body prepared for
him; and in whom dwelt all the fullness of Godhead bodily. This last opinion
I profess to be mine.
In order to avoid obscurity in the investigation of this important subject,
I will briefly notice the two former opinions, before I particularly state
The first opinion is, that "The Son of God, the second person in the
Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the
Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature,
with all the essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet
without sin: being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost in the womb
of the Virgin Mary, and of her substance. So that two whole, perfect and
distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood were inseparably joined together
in one person, without conversion, composition or confusion, which person
is very God and very man, the only mediator between God and man."--Conf.
Fth., chap. 8, sec. 2. In the same book he is called, "The eternal
Son of God."--Lar. Cat., Q. 36, 37.
"The Son of God, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal
God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of
the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say,
the Godhead and the manhood, were joined together in one person, never
to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly
suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us."--Meth.
Dis., Art. 2.
In these articles I find several opinions against which I object. If I
misapprehend their true meaning, my brethren, who wrote and subscribe to
the articles, will readily excuse me; for they themselves acknowledge the
articles to be mysteries, therefore beyond
their own apprehension.
That the Son of God was very and eternal God, and yet eternally begotten,
is a doctrine to which I can not subscribe; because the terms eternal Son,
eternally begotten, are not found in the Bible. As they are human inventions,
by human reason they may be tried, without the imputation of impiety. According
to the before cited articles, the Father and Son are one eternal substance.
The voice of reason is, that the same individual substance can not beget
itself, nor be begotten by itself. Therefore the substance of the Son was
never begotten nor born. If it be granted, that the substance of the Son
was eternal, and therefore never begotten; but still urged that the Son
was eternally begotten; then it must follow that, what was eternally begotten
had no substance, and therefore, was not a real being. This is virtually
to deny the Son.
If language conveys ideas, it is plain that the act of begetting implies
a previous agent; and that the agent and the act must precede the thing
begotten; therefore the Son could not be eternally begotten.
If the Son be very and eternal God, and as there is but one only true God,
then it will follow that the Son begat himself and was his own Father!--that
he was active in begetting, and passive in being begotten. I would humbly
ask the advocates for eternal generation, did the Son of God exist before
he was begotten? If he did, he never was begotten at all--if he did not,
he was not begotten from eternity; therefore not the very and eternal God.
Did the Father from eternity beget a real, eternal being, or not? If the
Son was a real, eternal being, then there must have been two real, eternal
beings, the Father who begat, and the Son who was begotten; if not two
real, eternal beings, then the real being of the Son is denied.
I again ask: Did not the Father send a real being, his own Son, from heaven
into our world to save sinners? If a real being was sent from heaven, this
being was either eternal or not--if eternal, it argues two eternal Gods;
or that the same one God was sending and sent at the same instant--was
active in sending and passive in being sent; which is impossible.
I am confident that the advocates for the doctrine that the Son was eternally
begotten, do not, can not believe that a real, intelligent being was begotten
from eternity; nor that a real, eternal, and intelligent being was sent
into the world by the Father. What then was begotten from eternity? What
was sent by the Father into the world? Will it be answered, that it was
a personal property--a Divine perfection--a glorious effulgence?--that
this was the Son of God?--that this was very God? To say this, is certainly
a denial of the Son, as a real, proper person; for no one can suppose that
a property--a perfection--or effulgence, is a real intelligent being.
With the notion of the Son being very and eternal God, let us turn to Bethlehem,
and humbly ask, Who is he that was born of the Virgin Mary? Our brethren,
in the before-cited articles, say that the second person of trinity, very
and eternal God, took man's nature in the womb of the Virgin, and of her
was born. Is it possible that our brethren believe that the very and only
true God, was born of Mary? And is Mary acknowledged by Protestants to
be the mother of the eternal God? Tertullian says, that he would not believe
that the sovereign God descended into the womb of a woman, though even
the Scripture itself should say it.--Cardale's True Doc., page 484.
Let us turn to the cross and ask, who is he that suffers, bleeds and dies?
The articles before quoted say, That the second person of trinity was united
with our nature, that the two whole and entire natures, Godhead and manhood,
were inseparably united, never to be
divided, very God and very man in one person, who
truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile
the Father to us. Hence we must conclude that the
very God suffered, yea, truly suffered!--that the very
and only one God was crucified! yea, was dead!--and
buried too!!--and continued three days and nights
under the power of death!--for the two natures, Godhead
and manhood, are inseparably united never to be
divided--therefore as the human body was in Joseph's tomb, so must be the Godhead
too!--All this was done and suffered by the very God, say our brethren
in the forecited, articles, to reconcile the Father to us! Here is certainly
the notion of two distinct Gods held forth--the one an unchangeable God;
the other a changeable one--the one a living God; the other a dead, buried
one--the one reconciling; the other reconciled! But as all acknowledge
that there is but one only living
God; therefore we must conclude that the one that was
dead was not that one only living and true God. And
as all acknowledge the one only living and true God
is without passions, therefore he that suffered such
exquisite passion on the cross, was not the only living
and true God.
All must acknowledge that the only true God can not suffer; for he was
as happy during the suffering of Jesus, as he had been from eternity. I
ask again, who suffered on the cross? Our brethren say that the Son was
very and eternal God; then it follows that the Son did not suffer nor die;
for very and eternal God can not suffer nor die. I repeat the question,
who suffered on the cross? The answer must be, according to these opinions,
not the Son of God who came from heaven, but a mere man, born of Mary thirty-three
years before. How then is the love of God commended in his death? Let our
brethren, who continually say that we deny Christ, and the virtue of his
blood--let them beware lest they be found, at least in words, doing it
If the two natures, Godhead and manhood, be inseparably
united, never to be divided, as our brethren say, why did the Son of God on the cross cry out, "My
God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Why did he say to the thief,
"To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise," and yet his body
in the tomb? How can we conceive of the Godhead lying with the manhood
in the grave? How can the Son, in the end of the world, be subject to the
Father? If the natures be inseparably united, then his soul was dead and
buried with the body. This is materialism.
It is also affirmed by our brethren, the Son of God "took to him a
reasonable soul, as well as a true body." Sar: Cat. 2, 37.--That he
took a reasonable soul, is a doctrine without a shadow of Bible proof;
the contrary of which is plainly declared. "A body hast thou prepared
me, Oh God"--Heb. x: 5. "The word was
made flesh"--John i: 14. "Christ was the seed of
David according to the flesh"--Rom. i: 3. "For as much
as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he
also himself took part of the same"--Heb. ii: 16. If
there is one text to shew that the Son of God took to
himself a reasonable soul, I should be glad to know it.
Though the notions that the Son, the second person of trinity, was eternally
begotten--that the very God was united with human nature in the womb of
Mary, and born of her--that Godhead suffered, died and was buried--that
the very God suffered thus to reconcile the Father to us--though these
notions appear absurd to our limited capacities, yet I would humbly admit
them if the Scriptures ever made such declarations. But as I find no such
declarations in the Bible, I can not admit them as articles of my faith.
Some, better read in the divinity of the schools, than in that of Jesus
and his disciples, may be ready to call this blasphemy. Of such I would
ask, where did Jesus or his disciples ever teach or propose such doctrines?
Search the Scriptures.
I am confident that mystery will be urged as the great argument to refute
and cover these difficulties. But shall we cover ourselves in the mantle
of mystery, woven by our own hands? Shall we cling to a mystery which strikes
at the very existence of the Son of God?--a mystery which destroys the
efficacy of his blood--the commendation of God's love to sinners, and involves
so many absurdities and contradictions? Mystery is one of the names of
the whore of Babylon, written in large letters on her forehead. Her daughters
have the same mark. Rev. 17. Charity would hold my pen from writing this,
yet truth convinces her it is expedient.
Long ago John had a vision of these things in the Isle of Patmos. He saw
a star (an angel of the church) fall from Heaven, having the key of the
bottomless pit--with this key (not the key of knowledge) he opened the
dark cabinet of hell, and let out a flood of smoke (the doctrines of devils
and commandments of men) which darkened the sun (the glorious sun of righteousness,
whose existence, character and glory have long been obscurely seen.) O
Lord, with the breath of thy mouth blow away the smoke from the air, that
the Sun of righteousness may break forth with healing in his beams! Let
the King be seen once more in his beauty, and thy truth in her white and
The second opinion of the Son of God, that he never existed before 1820
years ago, when born of Mary, I will now consider. Though this opinion
at first view appears infinitely variant from the one I have just noticed,
yet by a little attention, we shall find them to be one and the same. I
think, as I have already stated, that they who maintain that the Son was
eternally begotten, do not believe that a real, eternal, and distinct being
from the Father was begotten and sent into the world; but an effulgence,
or personal property or perfection, or a something without a substance,
called the Son of God.--This was united with a reasonable
soul and true body 1820 years ago; and then, and not
till then, had it a real and proper existence as a person.
They who maintain the second opinion will not object
to this notion, but will express their views in the strongest
language, that in this man, miraculously conceived,
dwelt all the fullness of Godhead bodily, to enable
him to do the work for which he was sent.
My brethren who maintain that the Son was eternally begotten, may think
I misrepresent their opinions. If I have, it is without design. When they
so unequivocally express "That there is but one only living and true
God without parts," I thence conclude that they do not believe that
another real and eternal God was begotten from eternity, and sent down
from heaven into the world. If they do, there is a pointed contradiction.
If that which was begotten from eternity, and sent into the world, be not
a real, intelligent being, then call it by what name you please, it does
not alter the matter, it is still not a real being. If so, the two opinions
are one, which is that the Son of God had no proper or real existence till
born of the Virgin Mary 1820 years ago. This doctrine I shall endeavor
to refute, by stating and proving my own. Thus Trinitarians and Socinians,
though always contending, are in my view, the same on this doctrine.
My own views of the Son of God are that he did not begin to exist 1820
years ago, nor did he exist from eternity; but was the first begotten of
the Father before time or creation began--that he was sent by the Father
1820 years ago into the world, and united with a body, prepared for him;
and that in him dwelt all the fullness of Godhead bodily. These propositions
I will endeavor to establish by arguments drawn from the oracles of truth.
ARG. 1.--The Son of God is called the first begotten,
the first born of every creature--Heb. i: 6, "When
he bringeth the first begotten into the world, he saith,
And let all the angels of God worship him." Col. i:
15. "Who is the image of the invisible God, the first
born of every creature." He is also called the only
begotten of the Father--John i: 14; iii: 16, 18. And
God is frequently called the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ--Eph. i: 3; 1 Pet. i: 3, etc. Now
as the one only true God was never begotten nor born--then
the expressions, the first begotten--the first born,
can not apply to the Son as very God. As to the flesh
he was not the first born, for millions were begotten
and born before him. Hence I conclude that the Son
of God was begotten before 1820 years ago, and yet
not from eternity; but before creation began to be.
Humbly would I suggest that Jesus is called the only
begotten of the Father, because the Father begat him
of and by himself, without the means of any other; but
he begat and brought forth all other beings by his Son.
Some have thought that these expressions, first born--first
begotten, refer to the resurrection of Christ from
the dead, as in Rev. i: 5; Col. i: 18.
But Jesus was called the first begotten when he was brought into the world;
and this was prior to his resurrection. And the expression, the first born, in Col. i:
15, evidently refers to a period anterior to creation.
Should it be construed to signify his resurrection from
the dead, then the Apostle would be chargeable with
an uncommon tautology in 18th v.
ARG. 2.--The Bible informs us that "God created all things by Jesus Christ"--Eph.
iii: 9. "God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son--by whom
also he made the worlds"--Heb. i: 2. "Who is the
image of the invisible God, the first born of every
creature? For by him were all things created that are
in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible,
whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities
or powers, all things were created by him and for him.
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist"--Col.
i: 15, 17. "All things were made by him,
and without him was not any thing made that was
made"--John i: 3. "But to us there is but one God,
the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him;
and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and
we by him"--I Cor. viii: 6. From these texts it is plain
that the one God, whose name is the Father, is the only
efficient cause of all things; and that the one Lord
Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, is the instrumental
cause of all things. This proves that there are two
distinct beings; and that the Son, the first born of
every creature, existed before all worlds, angels and
men, consequently before he was united with the body
prepared for him. To say the Son was very God, and
yet that the Father created all things by him, is the
same as to say, that one God created by another God.
"But to us there is but one God, the Father."
ARG. 3.--"And now, O Father, glorify thou me, with thine own self, with
the glory which I had with thee before the world was"--John xvii:
5. The person praying was not very God; for he prays to God. He prays for
a glory which he once had, but has not now; for he emptied himself of it--Phil.
ii: 8; therefore can not be very God, for God is unchangeable. The glory
for which he prays, he had with the Father before the world was; therefore
he must have existed before the world was. Hence it is evident that a person
which was not very God, existed with the Father before the world was; and
this person was the Son of God.
ARG. 4.--Prov. viii: 22, 23, 24, "The Lord possessed
me in the beginning of his way, before his works of
old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning,
or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I
was brought forth," etc. This by general consent has
been applied to the Son of God. But the ideas of
being set up and brought forth can not apply to him as
very God; for God was never set up or brought forth.
The period of his being set up and brought forth was
from everlasting, which is explained by the subsequent
words, from the beginning or ever the earth was. This
exactly comports with John xvii: 5, and proves the
pre-existence of the Son of God.
The learned, by a glance at the Hebrew text, would read it thus: The Lord
possessed me, the beginning of
his way; the particle in being omitted, as not found in
the original. This more exactly agrees with the doctrine
of the Son being the first begotten of the Father.
The learned also know the Hebrew word olem, translated
from everlasting, is much more frequently used for
an indefinite than for infinite time. See Parkhurst's
Heb. Lex. on the word olem. Hence the Latin olim,
which every tyro in Latin knows, refers, not to infinite,
but to indefinite time.
Some think that the Son of God is not intended in the text, but wisdom,
a perfection of Deity. But upon a moment's reflection, can any affirm that
the wisdom of God was ever brought forth, and therefore not eternal. The
Hebrew word helel, translated brought
forth, simply signifies a parturition or travailing in birth. To apply this to
wisdom as a perfection, would be unintelligible; but the application to
the Son of God perfectly accords with truth.
ARG. 5.--2d Cor. viii: 9, "Ye know the grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet
for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his
poverty might be rich." The person spoken of in the
text can not be very God, for God is unchangeable.
He can not, from being rich, become poor. The fact
of Jesus being rich, and becoming poor, never took
place in this world; for in the goods of time he never
was rich, but always poor. Matt. viii: 9, "The
foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head."
Neither in this world was he rich in grace, and became
poor; for though the fullness and riches of grace were
in him, yet in grace he never became poor. If then
the circumstance of the person being rich, and becoming
poor, can neither apply to very God, nor to Jesus
when in the world, then it follows that Jesus was rich
before he came into the world, and therefore existed
before he came into it. But it has been proved that
this person was not very God; and it is evident that
his body did not exist before the world was; therefore
it was the Son of God, who existed in the bosom of
the Father, rich in glory; yet for our sakes he emptied
himself of it, or became poor.
ARG. 6.--John i: 15, 17. John the Baptist's testimony of Jesus. "He that
cometh after me is preferred before me; for he was before me. And of his
fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given
by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God
at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,
he hath declared him." John declares that the Son of God was before
him. Now as a man, he did not exist before John; for John was the elder.
He explains his meaning, of his fullness of grace have all we received.
Have received is in the past time.
Then John confesses that he and all his contemporary
brethren, and all the saints in all former ages received
their grace from the fullness of Jesus. Lest any
might think they received grace from Moses or from
the law, he adds that grace came by Jesus Christ.
If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; if Enoch, Abel, and
Adam, received grace, from whom did they receive it?
Surely out of the fullness of the Son of God. If
those ancient saints had the true knowledge of God,
by whom was that knowledge made known? By the
Son of God; he hath declared him. If then grace, and
the knowledge of God, came by Jesus, and this grace
and knowledge came to the first saints, then the Son
of God was not only before John, but also before
Abraham, before Adam; not his body, for this was
the seed of Abraham, and that with which the Son
was, 1820 years ago, united. If the old saints did not
receive their grace and salvation from the Son of God,
then, in heaven, they can not sing the song of the
redeemed, which John heard, ascribing their salvation,
grace, and glory, to the Lamb.
In this sense the Son of God is called the Alpha and Omega, the beginning
and the ending, the first and the last. Between the Alpha and Omega are
all the letters, by which are formed words and sentences; and by these
words and sentences are conveyed ideas and information. He is therefore
called the Alpha and Omega, because from him we have received all the information
and revelations, which infinite wisdom saw needful. He is not only the
Alpha or beginning of this revelation to Adam, Abel, and the old saints,
but he is also the Omega or ending of these revelations to the world,--the
first and the last, in revealing to a lost world the knowledge and grace
of God. To apply this text, as is generally done, to the being of the Son
of God, as the first being, and therefore eternal God, is gloomy in the
extreme. For if he is the first being he is also the last; and if the last
being there must be an end of all other beings--therefore the life of all
the redeemed must come to a perpetual end.
ARG. 7.--The Scriptures assert that the Son of God
"ascended up where he was before"--John vi: 62.
But the same Scriptures teach us that he ascended up
to heaven--to the right hand of God, where Stephen
saw him--above all the principalities and powers.
Therefore we conclude that he was in heaven--at the
right hand of God--far above all principalities and
powers--before he ever descended into this world.
ARG. 8.--The Scriptures speak of the humiliation of the Son of God. "He
humbled himself"--Phil. ii: 6. Humiliation is a change from a superior
to an inferior state. Now God can not be humbled--he can not change. As
man, we see no steps of humiliation in Jesus,--he was born in a low state--lived
and died the same; therefore, as man, he never descended from a high state
or condition to a low one. But view him as the Son of God, how astonishing
the stoop! The Son of God! the first begotten of the Father--born of him
in the ages of eternity, before time was born or measured by revolving
spheres, before creation lived. The Son of God! in the bosom of the Father
in immeasurable bliss. The Son of God! by whom were made the innumerable
worlds that bespangle the firmament--by whom were made all the happy orders
of angels, principalities and powers, that blaze around the throne of God,
that bow and worship at the feet of their maker, and from whose tongues
roll ceaseless praise. The Son of God! at whose smiles his holy creation
is transported, at whose frowns his enemies tremble. The Son of God! enthroned
at the right hand of the Father--behold the Son of God! a helpless, weeping
babe in Bethlehem--wading through seas of distress through life, hated,
insulted, persecuted by the poor creatures of his power, and objects of
his love; view the Son of God, suffering, bleeding, dying on the cross.
All nature shuddered at the sight. It is not a mere man that suffers and
dies--it is the Son of God! Under the power of death, he lies in Joseph's
tomb. Here is humiliation! a theme of astonishment and eternal praise.
ARG. 9--It is generally believed that the Father made
a covenant with the Son, concerning the redemption
of sinners, before the Son came into the world; in
which covenant the Father promised to hold his hand,
help him in the great work, and preserve him till the
salvation was accomplished, etc.--Isaiah, xlii: 6; xlix:
8. We can not see how the one only living and true
God could covenant with himself; nor how the Father
could make such promises to the Son as very God.
But if we conceive the person to whom the promises
were made, to be the Son of God, the application is
easy, and natural.
ARG. 10.--Heb. x: 5-7, "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he
saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared
me. Then said I, lo, I come, to do thy will, Oh God." The person for
whom the body was prepared, was not God; for he came to do the will of
God. So he speaks, John vi: 32: "For I came down from heaven, not
to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." Hence it appears
that a person existed in heaven previous to his union with the body prepared
for him, and that this person was not very God; therefore it must be the
Son of God.
Other arguments I might advance to establish the proposition of the pre-existence
of the Son of God; but I think those already adduced are sufficient. I
now proceed to establish the doctrine of his divinity, as I find it revealed
in the Scriptures.
Some have thought that the divinity of Christ is sufficiently established
by proving as I have done, that he is the only begotten Son of God--begotten
of the Father himself, and therefore he must be Divine,
as proceeding immediately from the Divine nature.
So the son of Adam was human, as proceeding from
human nature. But waving this point, for the present,
I shall come to the unequivocal language of inspiration.
Jesus taught his disciples the doctrine of his divinity very particularly
at the close of his ministry on earth. He had collected his little family
together--had informed them of his exit from this world to his Father,
and the persecutions and afflictions they should endure for his name. At
this intelligence they were sorrowful--Jesus then, to comfort them, drew
aside the veil of futurity, and pointed to them the glory which should
follow their suffering. In the view of this, they appeared to forget the
troubles of time; their sorrows were partially turned into joy. John xiv:
8, 10, "Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth
us. Jesus answered and said unto him, have I been so long time with you,
and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen
the Father, and how sayest thou then, show us the Father? Believest thou
not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak
unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he
doeth the works. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also;
and from henceforth ye know him and have seen him"--John x: 38. What
delightful astonishment must have seized Philip's mind! He had been always
before looking for a God out of Christ! Happy for the world, had Philip's
ignorance died that day; but it has been revived and has floated down the
current of time to our day.
Col. ii: 9, "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
II. Cor. v: 19, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself."
I. Tim. iii: 16, "God was manifest in the flesh." From these
and many other texts of the same import, the divinity of Jesus is undeniably
established. In him dwelleth, not a part, but all the fullness of Godhead or
divinity bodily. Hence is Jesus called the mighty
God--the everlasting Father--the great God--the true
God, and even Jehovah. We know, we acknowledge,
we worship no other God, but the God in Christ, for
this is the true God, and eternal life. I. John v: 20.
In him centres all the glory of God and man--of
heaven and earth--all the perfections of God, for all
are included in the Father, that dwelleth in him, and
in the fullness of Godhead.
Should any ask how it is that the Father in all his fullness dwelleth in
the Son? I reply in Paul's words, "Great is the mystery of godliness,
God was manifested in the flesh." Matters of fact are stubborn things,
and these prove the doctrine true. Read the history of his life, and see
the astonishing works of Almighty power. With a word the diseased were
instantly restored to health--the dead raised to life--tempests calmed--the
devils subjected. All nature was obedient to his word, that very word,
which first gave nature birth. Yet he attributes these very works to the
divinity in him. "It is not I that speak, but the Father that dwelleth
in me. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else
believe me for the very work's sake"--John xiv: 10, 11. If the Son,
as Son, was God independent, why did he attribute these works to the Father
in him, and not to his own Almighty, independent power?
Should any ask, how can God be seen in Christ when the Scriptures declare
that, "No man hath seen God any time?"--I. John iv: 12; I answer:
We see not his being or essence, for that is invisible; but we see his
glory shining in the face of Jesus. II. Cor. iv: 6. Hence is Jesus called
the image of God--the image
of the invisible God--the brightness of his Father's
glory, and the express image of his person, or more
literally the character of his substance.--Were I sitting
before a looking-glass, and a person standing behind
me, the person is invisible to me; but his image is
seen by me in the glass. I know him as well by the
image as if I saw his very person. So we behold as in
a glass the glory of the Lord--and this glass is the
face of Jesus. II. Cor. iii: 18, and iv: 6.
Some are offended with us, inferring from these remarks, that we deny the
equality of the Son with the Father. I have always thought this doctrine
very obscure; as equality implies plurality; and one is not equal to itself.
If God be one infinite spirit without parts, and if there be but one infinite
and true God, then there can not be another equal to him. This is the language
of consistent reason; but if revelation speaks differently, reason must
humbly submit. There are but two texts of Scripture that I recollect, which
directly speak of the equality of the Son with the Father. These I will
John v: 18, "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because
he had not only broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father,
making himself equal with God." The Jews concluded, because Jesus
said that God was his Father, that he was making himself equal with God.
So they at another time concluded, that he had a devil and was mad. Their
conclusions respecting him are not to be received as true, because they
were blind and knew him not. This of his making himself equal with God
was undoubtedly wrong; for Jesus labors in the following verses to convince
them of it--19, "Then answered Jesus and said, verily, verily, I say
unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father
do," etc. Surely if Jesus had been equal to the Father, he would not
have used such language as this, directly calculated to mislead the people.
In 20 v. Jesus speaks of the Father, showing him all things that himself
doeth--26 v. As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the
Son to have life in himself--v. 27. And hath given him authority to execute
judgment--30. v., "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I
judge, and my judgment is just: because I seek not mine own will, but the
will of him that sent me." These things surely do not look like equality.
The other text is Phil. ii: 6, 7, "Who being in the form of God, thought
it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation
(emptied himself, Gr.), and took upon him the form of a servant, and was
made in the likeness of man. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled
himself, and became obedient unto death--even the death of the cross. Wherefore
God hath highly exalted him," etc. To me it is evident, that the person
spoken of in the text can not be the one only living and true God; for
God can not be emptied, humbled and exalted without a change. They who
are acquainted with the Greek, are well assured that our translation of
this text is not the best. Dr. Doddridge is much better, and certainly
the most literal. "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery
to be as God." Dr. Whitby confirms this reading by abundant quotations
from the Septuagint, where the same Greek word isa is translated
as instead of equal. See Whitby in loco. That
form of God, which he had, was the glory he had with
the Father before the world was. In this glory he
thought it not robbery to be as God. Yet so great
was his love to sinners that be emptied himself of this
glory, put off the form of God, and took on him the
form of a servant, and died for our redemption. But
God hath highly exalted him to that same glory, for
which to be restored Jesus prayed--John xvii: 5.
But Dr. Scott says, that "the learned bishop Pearson has shown that
isa, especially used with einai, may
express equality as well as ison, the proper Greek term
for equal. Thus in Rev. xxi: 16, "The length, and
the breadth, and the hight of it (esti isa) are equal." This may pass with the unlearned. But every man of but
a small degree of learning must wonder at the learned bishop, and Doctor,
for this remark. Every tyro in Greek knows that isa in Rev. xxi: 16, is an
adjective in the neuter plural, agreeing with the three
neuter nouns before it, and properly signifies equal.
But isa in Phil. ii: 6, is not an adjective, and has no
subject with which it can agree. Every subject in the
verse is in the singular number; but isa, as an adjective,
is not found in the singular.
There is a sense in which Jesus may be said to be equal with God, as in
I. Cor. xv: 24, 28, "Then cometh the end, when be shall have delivered
up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when he shall have put down all
rule, authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto him,
then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him, that put all things
(God excepted, v. 7) under him, that God may be all in all." If in
the end, the Son is to be subject to God, it implies that now, or till the end come, he is
not subject; but he is not superior, for God himself is
not put under him: therefore he must be equal. He
is not equal in essence, being or eternity; else he could
never be subject to the Father--and such an equality
would destroy the unity of God. But he is equal in
the great work of redemption; all power in heaven
and earth being delivered to him, and all things in
heaven, as principalities, powers, etc., being put under
him, to accomplish the work, for which he was sent.
The divinity of Jesus I have before proved. If this is what people mean
by the equality of the Son with the Father, I am satisfied with the idea,
but not with the expression. We have an abundance of Scripture to establish
the divinity of Jesus, without torturing such texts as those by which I
have endeavored to prove his pre-existence as the Son of God. By pressing
such texts to prove his divinity, has greatly darkened the truth, and added
many to the number of its enemies.
We are severely beaten by our brethren for believing that the Son of God
is the instrumental cause of creation. If the Scriptures convey not this
idea as plainly as any other in the Bible, I must acknowledge that words
can not be the signs of ideas. For instance, "God created all things
by Jesus Christ"; "With us there is but one God, the Father,
of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom
are all things, and we by him." These and such like texts, have convinced
my mind of the truth contested by our brethren. Let our brethren affix
some more consistent idea to such texts, before they use such severity
as they have done. Let them inform us how God will judge the world by Jesus Christ--how
he reconciles the world by Jesus--how he justifies
by faith, etc.--then we shall understand how he
made the world by Jesus Christ.
Our brethren also accuse us of idolatry for worshiping the Son of God.
They surely do the same; and for this they have the example of the primitive
Christians, who "call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ"--I.
Cor. i: 2. They have the example of the redeemed in glory, for they all
worship God and the Lamb. They have also the example of angels, for said
the Father concerning the first-begotten, "Let all the angels of God
worship him"--Heb. i: 6. With such examples as these, none should
blush nor refuse to worship him. If it be idolatry in us, who is clear
of it? The Scripture says, "Thou shalt worship the Lord, thy God,
and him only shalt thou serve." Our brethren worship the Son as the
only true God; we worship the same only true God in and through the Son.
Our brethren do not believe that the Son is another eternal, distinct God
from the Father; nor do we. When the redeemed in heaven worship God and
the Lamb, do they worship two beings, or but one? When the angels were
commanded by the Father to worship the Son, must they not worship the Father
also? For my part, I feel free to give praise and thanksgiving to Jesus
for what he has done and suffered for me--to love him for his perfection
and goodness--to ask him for the grace that is treasured in him for sinners.
But the same Jesus has taught me that the origin and fountain of all these
things, is God. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten
Son, and with him freely gave us all things." Till it can be proved
that God and the Lamb are one being, I will imitate heaven in worshiping
the Lamb, without the fear of being guilty of idolatry. But if they are
two distinct beings, they can not be supreme Gods; let those who worship
both as supreme Gods, take heed lest they be guilty of what they so unblushingly
impute to others.
Our brethren think they sufficiently confute us when they prove the divinity
of the Son of God by the Divine names, titles, attributes, and worship
ascribed to him. In this they are egregiously mistaken. For, these we ascribe
to him as well as they. The difference is this: They ascribe these attributes
and names to the Son, as in him from eternity. But we ascribe them to him
because the Father dwells in him. For our authority, we have already produced
the Scriptures. Let our brethren prove that the Son was eternal and independent;
then we will acknowledge that he was eternally Divine. The divinity in
him we acknowledge was eternal, because all the fullness of Godhead was
in him. But we can not acknowledge two eternal, distinct beings, possessed
of infinite power, wisdom, etc. Nor can they without contradicting the
first article of their faith.
The common prejudice of education may bear hard against some of these sentiments.
Some may make their own notions the rule by which to judge them; but whether
those notions may be correct, there may be no inquiry. Others, afraid of
thinking wrong, and therefore never thinking for themselves at all, may
fix upon the opinions of their party, as the standard of judgment. But
the honest inquirer will bring these things to the Bible, and judge according
to this rule: this, dear brethren, I hope you will do.
I shall close this section with a few remarks in order to rectify a mistake
in some, respecting my candor and veracity. I had casually observed in
my former address, "that for nearly twenty years past, my mind had
not wavered respecting its truth," meaning that the soul of the man Jesus Christ existed before all
worlds. This doctrine I received when a student of
divinity. This doctrine I preached soon after I came
to this State, as the following certificates will show,--certificates
of men whose piety and high respectability
in society are undoubted. Some of them are ruling
elders in the Presbyterian church.
WE, the subscribers, certify that we have heard
BARTON W. STONE, at least twenty years ago, preach the pre-existence of the human soul
of Jesus Christ; or that the human soul of Jesus existed before the foundation
of the world. Witness our hands, this 20th day of Dec., 1818.
The last subscriber wrote his certificate a little more particular, but
the same in substance. The original is preserved.
But because the West Lexington Presbytery ordained me, and a minute of
the ordination was taken and preserved, without any note of an exception
to the Confession of Faith as made by me, it is inferred by some that I
must have declared that I sincerely received and adopted it. But if I then believed the
doctrine of Christ, as I have stated in my address, I
must in making that declaration, have lied before God,
or swerved from truth.
It is well known by some of the members of that Presbytery, that I did
make exceptions to the Confession of Faith, and declared to them that I
would not receive it further than I saw it agreeable to the word of God.
This the following certificates will show:
WE, the subscribers, do certify that we were present
at the ordination of BARTON W. STONE, at Cane Ridge, by the West Lexington Presbytery. That when the question
was put to him by the Presbytery, "Do you receive and adopt the Confession
of Faith," etc., the said Stone answered aloud, "I do, as far
as I see it consistent with the Word of God." Witness our hands, this
20th of Dec., 1818.
The undersigned being present at the ordination of Mr. STONE, states that when the within question was proposed to Mr. Stone, he made
some exception, which he believes was in the words stated within, or to
the same effect. Dec. 20, 1818.
WE, the subscribers, do certify that more than twenty
years ago, B. W. STONE taught amongst us at Cane
Ridge, the pre-existence of the Son of God; or that
the human soul of Christ (as he then termed it) existed
before it was united with a body.
WE, the undersigned, do certify that we were present
at the ordination of B. W. STONE, at Cane Ridge, and
that when the usual question was proposed, "Do you
receive and adopt the Confession of Faith," etc., he
replied, "I do, as far as I see it consistent with the
Word of God;" or in words to that import.
I could procure scores to certify these facts were it necessary. But these
are sufficient. The Presbytery have done me injustice in omitting a note
of my exceptions in their minutes. The Synod have done me greater injustice
in that noted minute of theirs, in which they declare to the world, that
they have suspended me because I seceded from the Confession of Faith.
Could I have seceded from a book I never received in any other sense than
I yet receive it? I will receive any book as far as I see it consistent
with the Word of God. I stand on the same official ground now that I did
before their vote and minute of suspension. I cordially forgive them for
all these injuries done me.