Skeletons of a Course of
By Charles G. Finney
Unity Of God.
First. What is intended by the Unity of God.
1. It is not intended that he is one in the sense of Unitarians, who deny the proper divinity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
2. Nor that he is one in the sense of the Swedenboergens, who hold the Son to be only the human nature of the Father, and the Holy Spirit to be only the divine power, influence, or operation; but,
3. By the unity of God is intended that he is one in opposition to Polytheism, or the doctrine of the existence of many gods.
4. That he is one in opposition to the doctrine of Dualism, or the sentiment that there are two gods, the one good, the other evil.
5. That he is one in opposition to Tritheism, or the doctrine that there are three distinct, separate and independent beings in the God head, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and that their unity is only a moral one.
6. By the unity of God it is intended that God is one in essence or substance, one substratum of being, yet subsisting in three persons.
Second. Some remarks upon the manner in which this subject has been treated.
1. It has been supposed by many that the doctrine of the divine unity is exceedingly plain and manifest, and among the most easily discerned truths of natural religion. To this it may and should be answered:
(1.) That if this were true, the fact cannot be accounted for that the most enlightened nations, that have not enjoyed the light of revelation, have believed in the existence of many gods. They have felt the force of the evidence every where abounding in favour of the existence of a God or Gods, but have, almost without exception, settled down upon the conclusion, either of Dualism or Polytheism.
(2.) The wisest philosophers of the most enlightened nations have not, except in a very few instances, arrived even at the conception of the idea of the unity of God, and have felt such great difficulties in the way of demonstrating it, without the aid of revelation, as to leave them, after all, in much doubt.
(3.) The mass of the Jews themselves, previous to the Babylonish captivity, believed in the existence of many gods, and only supposed Jehovah, or their God, to be superior to all other gods. They only claimed the supremacy of their God, at the same time admitting the real existence, and agency, and providence of the gods of other nations. This accounts for their repeated relapses in Polytheism. Their inspired men held more worthy notions in respect to the unity of God. But the great mass of the nation appear to have been in great ignorance upon this subject until after the Babylonish captivity.
Jacob in his early life appears to have admitted the existence of more gods than one, and suffered the existence of idolatry in his family, as appears from the fact that Rachel, his favourite wife, stole her father's gods.
Solomon either admitted the existence of more gods than one, or was guilty of the most criminal neglect in suffering his wives to practice idolatry even in the holy land.
2. Since revelation has poured its clear light upon the subject of the unity of God, it is easy for us to see the consistency of this truth with natural reason. But it is a remarkable fact that no nation that has once lost the true idea of the unity of God, has ever again arrived at the truth upon this subject without divine revelation. It is often easy when a truth has been suggested, to demonstrate it by the light of nature. But it is a very different thing, as all experience shows, to discover truth before it has been suggested by revelation.
Third. Prove the unity of God.
There is positive proof of the existence of a first cause at the head of a series of events.
2. It is impossible that there should be more than one first cause of the same series.
3. There is no necessity for supposing the existence of more than one first cause of all events.
4. The supposition of more than one is therefore unphilosophical.
5. The human mind evidently feels a difficulty in admitting the existence of more than one infinite being. All Polytheistical nations have conceived of their gods as being finite, not infinite. And whenever the idea of the existence of one infinite God has been entertained, he has been regarded as the supreme God, and no nation has admitted the idea of more than one infinite God.
6. There is not a particle of proof that more than one infinite God exists. One of the principal reasons for supposing the existence of many gods, by heathen nations, was the fact that the creation of the universe was regarded as too great a work to have been performed by any one being. This conclusion was just in them, as they regarded their gods as finite, and not infinite. But when the infinity of God is understood, there is no longer any reason for supposing the existence of more gods than one.
The doctrine of Dualism, or that two Gods exist, one the author of good, the other the author of evil, was founded in the fact of the existence of both good and evil in the universe. That a good God could not be the author of the evil, they justly inferred. And taking it for granted that evil must have some other author than its perpetrator, they ascribed it to the existence and agency of a wicked God. But the existence of good and evil affords no evidence, when rightly understood, of the existence of more than one God. It is true that the evil cannot be attributed to a good God as its author; but it is also true that a good God might create moral agents, and place them under moral government, and for wise reasons decline absolutely preventing their falling into sin. This suggestion sufficiently accounts for the existence of sin in the universe, which leaves Polytheism and Dualism destitute of a vestige of proof. Therefore,
7. The belief in more than one God is utterly unreasonable, as it is the belief of that of which there is no evidence.
8. If there is more than one God, it is of the highest importance that we should be acquainted with the fact, and be able to pay that homage and service to each which we must owe to God.
9. If there is more than one God, the total absence of all evidence of this truth seems incredible.
10. The universe as a whole is a unit.
(1.) This is indicated by its name.
(2.) One set of laws every where prevail.
(3.) This is also evident from the mutual dependence of all its parts.
11. There is a manifest unity of design running through all the universe, which affords the strongest presumptive proof of the unity of God.
12. In view of all these considerations, if the doctrine of more than one God is asserted, the onus probandi lies on him who asserts it.
13. Tritheists do not pretend to find in the light of nature the proof of the existence of three distinct and infinite beings, united in the office, and called by the official name of God, but base their theory upon scripture testimony, affirming that the Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct, separate and infinite beings; and that the unity of God, so largely insisted on in the Bible, is only a moral unity.
14. If the bible does not teach the absolute unity of existence or being in the God head, it seems impossible that any language should teach this doctrine.
(1.) It is affirmed that God is one.
Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear O Israel; The Lord our God is ONE GOD."
1 Corinthians 8:4, 6: "There is none other God but one." "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.
Mark 12:29: "The first of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel; The Lord our God is ONE Lord."
Galatians 3:20: "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is ONE."
Ephesians 4:6: "ONE God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
Matthew 23:9: "Call no man your father upon the earth: for ONE is your Father, which is in heaven."
John 8:41: "We have ONE Father, even God."
1 Timothy 2:5: "For there is ONE God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
James 2:19: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils believe and tremble."
(2.) He is God and Jehovah alone.
2 Kings 19:15: "And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubim, thou are the God, even thou ALONE, of all the kingdoms of the earth."
Psalms 86:10: "For thou art great and doest wondrous things, thou art God ALONE."
Isaiah 27:16, 20: "O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubim, thou art the God, even thou ALONE, of all the kingdoms of the earth." "Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou ONLY."
Nehemiah 9:6: "Thou, even thou art Lord ALONE."
(3.) There is none else.
Deuteronomy 4:39: "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is NONE ELSE."
Isaiah 44:8: "Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."
Deuteronomy 4:35: "The Lord he is God, there is NONE ELSE besides him."
Isaiah 45:5, 6, 14, 22: "I am the Lord, and there is NONE ELSE." "That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me: I am the Lord, and there is NONE ELSE. "Surely God is in thee, and there is NONE ELSE; there is no God." "I am the Lord, and there is NONE ELSE." "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is NONE ELSE."
Isaiah 46:9: "Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is NONE ELSE."
(4.) There is none beside him.
2 Samuel 7:22: "Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God BESIDES thee."
2 Samuel 22:32: "For who is God save the Lord? and who is a rock, save our God?"
2 Kings 5:15: "Behold now I know that there is NO God in all the earth, BUT in Israel."
Hosea 13:4: "Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know NO God BUT me: for there is no Saviour BESIDES me.
(5.) None with him.
Deuteronomy 32:39: "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God WITH me."
(6.) None before him.
Exodus 20:3: "Thou shalt have NO other gods BEFORE me."
Isaiah 43:10: "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servants whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: BEFORE ME THERE WAS NO GOD FORMED."
(7.) None like him.
Exodus 8:10: "That thou mayest know that there is none LIKE unto the Lord our God."
Psalms 35:10: "All my bones shall say, Lord, who is LIKE unto thee?"
Micah 7:18: "Who is a God LIKE unto thee?"
1 Kings 8:23: "And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God LIKE thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath."
Exodus 9:14: "For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none LIKE me in all the earth."
Deuteronomy 33:26: "There is none LIKE unto the God of Jeshurun."
2 Samuel 7:22: "Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none LIKE thee."
1 Chronicles 17:20: "O Lord there is none LIKE thee."
Psalms 86:8: "Among the gods there is none LIKE unto thee."
Isaiah 46:9: "Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none LIKE me."
Jeremiah 10:6, 7, 10: "For as much as there is none LIKE unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none LIKE unto thee." "But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting King: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation."
Isaiah 40:18: "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?"
Isaiah 46:5: "To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?"
15. These things cannot possibly be true if there if more than one separate, independent existence, possessing the attribute of God.
16. Natural and revealed theology agree in revealing but one God.
17. They agree in rejecting the idea of more than one.
18. Natural religion reveals this with the highest evidence that the nature of the case admits.
19. The Bible reveals it in the most full and unqualified manner conceivable.