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mongst them all. Wherefore, when we are told, in Expreffions directed to fuch Perfons, and in fuch Circumftances, that there is but one God: we muft understand, not that there is but one Authority in diverfe diftinct Gods, fubordinat the one to the other (for the Idolatrous Jews, and even the Heathens themfelves, readily own'd all this) but that there is but one God in Number, viz. but one Being who is God.
And indeed the Expreffions of Scripture are fuch, as will admit no other Senfe: nor couldWords have been invented, which should more determinatly contain this Affirmation, viz. that there is in Number but one God, than those which are actually made ufe of in thofe Declarations. Nay, I appeal to your felf, and intreat you to fhew me, how it was pofLible, if it had been never fo certainly intended, to teach us more clearly in Scripture Language (or indeed in any Language) the Numerical Unity of God, than we find it already don in the Texts before quoted. Be perfuaded once more to read them carefully over, and to weigh them exactly. Does not Mofes fay, that there is no God befides the Lord? and that there is none else befides him? Does not the Very God fay, that he himself knows not any God befides himself? Does not Chrift fay, that his Father viz. the felfexiftent Being) is the only God? Does not St. Paul fay, that there is no other God but one? Can thefe Expreffions mean, that tho' there are diverfe diftinct Gods, fubordinat the one to the other; yet there is but one Authority amongst them? If thefe Declarations do not demonftrat, that there is in Number but one God; I am fure, 'tis impoffible for Words to teach that Propofition.
Well then; I hope I may now affert, that the Holy Scriptures affure us, that there is in Number
but one God, viz. the felfexiftent Being. Now it must be noted farther, that this one God is defcribed as the Creator of all Things, in both the Old and the New Teftaments. Particularly, the felfexiftent God declares concerning himfelf, that in fix days the Lord made heaven and earth, the fea, and all that in them is, Exod, 20. 11. and St. Paul and St. Barnabas declare concerning the fame God, that be made heaven and earth, and the fea, and all things that are therein, Acts 14. 15. So that the whole Jewish and Chriftian Churches were fetled upon this Foundation, and primary Article of Faith, viz. that there is but one God, one and the fame Object of their Worship, and that he is the one felfexiftent Being, who is the Author of all things.
Now after all this was don; after fo great a Variety of Book was penned, and fuch repeated Declarations were made, both under the Law and under the Gofpel, by God himfelf, by our Savior, and Perfons Divinely inspired; and after this Doctrin was univerfally fpread: we find even the beloved Apoftle exprefly teaching, that In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God, John 1. 1. and then proceeding more particularly to affirm, that the WORD was the Creator of all things. For he fays, All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made, that was made, v. 3.
I beseech you to confider, how the Chriftian Church must needs understand thefe Paffages of St. John, when he first publifhed them. The felfexiftent God himself, and a vaft Train of infpired Writers in all Ages down to thofe very Times, had moft folemnly affured Mankind, that there is but one God, viz. the felfexiftent God himself.
And St. John, who owns his Belief that the selfexiftent Being is God, adds in the very fame Breath, even in the very next Words, and the WORD was God. Nay he particularly declares, that the WORD was God in the beginning, that is, even before the Creation, as you your felf interpret that Phrase; and that all things were made by the WORD, without admitting the Exception of any one Particle of the whole Creation.
In thefe Circumftances, 'tis notorious, that the Church cou'd not but understand St. John to mean, that the WORD is the one felfexiftent Being. For fince they knew, that there was but one God, St. John's affirming to them, that the WORD was God, and that he was God in the Beginning, nay, that he was the Creator of all things, was in their Opinion the very fame, as if he had affirmed in Terms, that the WORD was the one God of the Jews and Chriftians, even the one felfexiftent Being. For they had received no Notion of any other God; nay, the Preachers and Writers of the Chriftian Church had affured them in the plaineft Terms, that there was but one God. And St. John is fo far from making known to them that Diftinction which you fo carefully inculcate, between the fupreme and the fubordinat God; and thereby introducing and opening to them a Doctrin, which was not only wholly new, and undiscover'd to either the fewifb or the Chriftian Church, but directly oppofit to the primary Article of their Faith; that on the contrary he confirms the obvious, meaning of his Words, and that fenfe in which they wou'd moft certainly be understood by all his Readers, by fubjoining, that the WORD (of which he had already affirmed, that it was God, even in the Beginning) created all things; which Creation of all things
had been conftantly attributed to the one felfexiftent Being in both the Old and the New Teftament, and was accordingly become the conftant and known Character of the one felfexiftent Being.
Wherefore they muft neceffarily believe, either that the WORD is the felfexiftent Being, the one God of the Jews and Chriftians; or else that there was in the Beginning another God befides him, who was the God of the Jews and Christians, even befides the felfexiftent Being. They muft unavoidably conceive, either that the one felfexiftent Being had spoken falfly, and directly against his own Knowledge, when he pretended, that there was no other God befides himself; and that he had purposely fuborned a great number of infpired Witneffes to atteft and propagat the fame Untruth, both under. the Law and under the Gofpel, in every corner of the Earth: or elfe that St. John's new Doctrin of the WORD's being God, was a downright Impofture, because 'twas manifeftly repugnant to the conftantly received Faith of both Jews and Chriftians, in the grand and fundamental Article of it.
But farther, befides that there is a flat Contradiction between the whole Tenor of Scripture and the firft Verfe of St. John's Gospel, according to that Sense of it, which the Perfons he wrote to, could not but understand him in, unless the WORD be the very God, or one felfexiftent Being; I fhall now fhew, that unless you admit the aforefaid Doarin, there is no poffibility of reconciling this Text with the other Scriptures, whatfoever you fuppofe the Name God to fignifie, when apply'd to the WORD.
For if you will not allow, that the Name God, when apply'd to the WORD, does mean the one felfexiftent Being; then it muft fignifie a Being enN 4
Chap. XII. dued with all thofe Perfections (fetting apart Selfexistence only) which the one felfexiftent Being is endued with. And the WORD must be termed God, as confidered, either abfolutely in himself,or (which is your Opinion) relatively to his Creatures, or both abfolutely and relatively together. Now I affirm, that there is a flat Contradiction between the Doctrin of both the Teftaments, and this Verfe of St. John, whatsoever is meant by the Name God, when apply'd to the WORD, unless you will own the WORD to be the one felfexiftent Being, whom I call the very God.
For tho' sds, God, be fuppofed to fignifie a Being endued with all thofe Perfections, which the one felfexiftent Being is endued with (except Selfexiftence it felf, which is now fuppofed not to be included) and tho' it muft indeed be granted, that two diftinct Gods may then be imagined to exist without any Impoffibility in the Nature of the Thing (because they are both equally Gods, in this fuppofed Senfe of the Term, when poffeffed of the requifit Divine Perfections, notwithstanding the one derives them from the other; even as amongst our felves, a Father and his Son are equally Men) Yet ftill it must be remembred, that the one felfexiftent Being is truly and properly eds, a God: and that whether he is ès, a God, as confidered abfolutely, or relatively, or both; yet still he is deÒs, a God, in that Senfe which conftitutes him truly and properly fuch. Now the one felfexiftent Being, who is undoubtedly a God, and whom therefore we cannot but believe, exprefly declares in his own Perfon, and his Writers of the Old and New Teftaments exprefly declare alfo, that there is no other God befides himfelf, in the Texts abovementioned. They never diftinguifh upon the matter; they do