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times perfectly seen and known by him: and that we may be convinced that he possesses a clear knowledge of the means of providing for and securing our salvation; and also of the reason of all the difficulties we encounter, although to our perceptions they may seem to occur without design.
How do you prove that a knowledge of the infinite Power of God is necessary to salvation ?
This does not admit of doubt:-for who could hope for eternal life from God, as its original author, unless he were convinced that his power is circumscribed by no limits or bounds ? Or who could endure the sufferings which threaten and befal those who worship God conformably to the Christian religion, unless he were thoroughly impressed with the assurance, that all things are in the hands of God;—that these occurrences happen not without his will; and that there is nothing, either on earth or in heaven, that can overrule his divine power so as to prevent his accomplishing the things he has promised, and which we expect from him?
I now fully perceive that the knowledge of these things is necessary to salvation :-But is it not, besides, requisite to know that God possesses an uncontrolled freedom of will; that he is immense in his presence, infinitely good, and infinitely happy?
It is, indeed, necessary to know these things concerning God:-some of them are, however, sufficiently comprehended in the particulars already discussed; while the rest will be included in the explication of the Will of God.
Show this of each of them separately;—and first, of the perfect freedom of the divine Will ?
This is evidently included in that supreme dominion, which I have already stated to be implied in the term GOD; since there can exist no dominion without freedom of will, nor supreme dominion unless that freedom be perfect. Hence, in lately describing that dominion, I have made distinct mention of will and CHOICE.
Show the same respecting the Immensity of God?
Immensity, in the sense in which the Scriptures attribute it to God, imports the supreme perfection of his dominion, power, and wisdom, and also of his providence, which extends to all affairs, and to all places. In so far then as it may be referred to the divine dominion, power, and wisdom, which I have stated to be all of them perfect, it has been already considered ; --but as far as it relates to the Providence of God, it will be included in the observations on the Will of God.
To what do you refer the Goodness of God?
His goodness, if it be taken to mean his holiness, has been already included under his justice: but if it be understood of his mercy and benignity, as it very frequently is in the Scriptures, it is to be referred to the divine Will.
What say you as to his Happiness?
That God is happy, it is impossible for any one not to believe who admits that he is eternal, perfectly wise, and just, and powerful, and withal invested with supreme dominion over all things. For his life must necessarily be of all others the most perfect and delight
ful. This is to be not happy merely, but blessed in the highest degree.
You have explained to me what things are necessary to be known concerning the attributes of God, in order to salvation: state, in the next place, what those are which you deem eminently conducive to the same end?
The principal thing is to guard against falling into the common error, wherein it is maintained, with palpable contradiction, that there is in God only ONE esa sence, but that he has three persons 4.
Prove to me that in the one essence of God, there is but one Person ?
This indeed may be seen from hence, that the essence of God is one, not in kind but in number. Wherefore it cannot, in any way, contain a plurality of persons, since a person is nothing else than an individual intelligent essence. Wherever, then, there exist three numerical persons, there must necessarily, in like manner, be reckoned three individual essences; for in the same sense in which it is affirmed that there is one numerical essence, it must be held that there is also one numerical person.
4 Whether it be not necessary to salvation to know that God is one in person as well as in essence, may be easily ascertained from the testimony of our Lord, quoted a little further on, from John xvii. 3. And whether in maintaining that there is in the supreme God a plurality of persons, Christians do not involve themselves in the crime of polytheism, and consequently of idolatry, it behoves them again and again to consider. On this point, the observations of Crellius, in discussing this subject in his Ethica Christiana, may be consulted. Vide lib. iii. cap. 2. --BEN. WISSEWATIUS.
Who is this one divine Person ?
By most decisive testimonies of Scripture :thus Jesus says (John xvii. 3) - This is life eternal, that they might know THEE, (the Father) The only TRUE GOD." The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor. viii. 6), “ To us there is but one God, THE FATHER, of whom are all things :"--and again, in addressing the Ephesians (chap. iv. 6), he says, “ There is ONE GOD AND FATHER OF ALL; who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
How happens it, then, that Christians commonly maintain, that, with the Father,—the Son and the HOLY SPIRIT are persons in one and the same Deity?
In this they lamentably err-deducing their arguments from passages of Scripture ill understood.
What are the arguments by which they endeavour to support their opinion ?
The principal are these : first, they affirm, that in the Scriptures, not only the Father, but the Son also, and the Holy Spirit, are severally called and shown to be God; and, since the same Scriptures assert that God is only one, they infer that these three compose that one God.
How can this argument be invalidated ?
I will reply to this question, first, as it respects the Son, and afterwards as it relates to the Holy Spirit.
What answer do you make in respect to the Sou?
The term Gop is employed in the Scriptures chiefly in two senses. The former of these is, when it de
signates Him who so rules and presides over all things in heaven and on earth, that he acknowledges no superior; and is in such respects the author and head of all things, that he depends upon no other being, and possesses power which is absolutely infinite: and in this sense the Scriptures assert that God is One. The latter sense is, when it denotes a Being, who has received from that one God some kind of superior authority either in heaven, or on earth among men, or power superior to all things human, or authority to sit in judgement upon other men; and is thus rendered in some sense, a partaker of the Deity of the one God. Hence it is that in the Scriptures the one God is styled the “ God of Gods,” Psalm cxxxvi. 2; and it is in this latter sense that the Son of God is called God in some passages of Scripture.
Whence do you prove that the Son of God is in this latter sense called God in the Scriptures ?
From those words of the Son of God himself, (John x. 35, 36) “ If he” (David) “ called them Gods, (that is, Psalm lxxxii. 6, 6 ye are Gods)” unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?” Christ most clearly intimates in these words that the title God is applied in the Scriptures to those who are greatly inferior to the one God; that is, to the rulers and judges of the people : and tacitly implies that he was himself for this reason the Son of God, that is, peculiarly, being not inferior to any one of those persons whom