Barton W. Stone (1772-1844)
Works of Elder Barton W. Stone
Vol. 1, 2nd Edition, Ed. James Matthes
(Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys and Co., 1859)
AN ADDRESS, etc.
-- 1820 Original Date --
AN ADDRESS TO THE CHURCHES
DEAR 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 reexamine 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 stopt, 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 name 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 cannot 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 Polonos--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 cannot receive it.
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--cannot 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, etc.
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 thro' 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 cannot 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--1 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 farther 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 cannot 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, 1 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 cannot 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--Judg. ix: 33.--And the Philistines called their idol Dagon, in the plural, Elohim, God--Judg. xvi: 22, 24. Also the idol 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, & 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, & 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 farther 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 Scripture, 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 reject 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, cannot; because the two last propositions are not in the Bible. They who profess to believe nothing before they understand it, cannot. 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 shew how many other mysteries exist. He might find a mystery in the existence, the eternity, and infinity of God--in the connexion 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 my own.
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 cannot 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 cannot 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--cannot 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 glo
rious 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, 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 cannot 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 cannot 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 themselves.
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--O 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 cannot 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 spotless robes!
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, cannot 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"--1 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, Oh! 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 cannot 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 cannot 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 cannot be very God, for God is unchangeable. He cannot 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 cannot 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 cannot be humbled--he cannot 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 thro' 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 cannot 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, O 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 by and 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, shew 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, shew 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 10, 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.
Coll. ii: 9. "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." 2 Cor. v: 19. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself." 1 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--1 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 manif
ested 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?"--1 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. 2 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. 2 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 cannot 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 notice.
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 shewing 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 cannot be the one only living and true God; for God cannot 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. 21, 16. "The length, and the breadth, and the height 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. 21, 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 1 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 cannot 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 "all call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ"--1 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 cannot 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 Scrip
tures. 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 cannot 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 enquiry. 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, & 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 shew--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.
Samuel M. Waugh
 Note: Many thanks to Kenneth Sublett for typing and permission to copy.