Home > Systematic Theology > Attributes of God: Unity- Book 2- Chapter 2-Section 1

Attributes of God: Unity- Book 2- Chapter 2-Section 1

Book Second

CHAPTER II.

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD.

As we acquire knowledge of other beings, and of the relations which they hold to us, opportunity is given for the development of our moral principles, and the exercise of our moral feelings. It accords with the dictates of individual conscience, and with the moral judgments common to mankind, and with the teachings of God’s word, that the feelings which we exercise, and the actions which we perform towards others, should have regard to their characters and their relations to us. To understand our duty towards God, we must know his character. It is not enough to believe that he exists, but we should labour to acquire a knowledge of him. Let us, then, reverently inquire, Who is the Lord?

SECTION I. – UNITY.

THERE IS BUT ONE GOD.[1]

The heathen nations have worshipped many gods; but the inspired volume throughout inculcates the doctrine, that there is but one God. Moses said, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;”[2] and, in the New Testament, the same truth is taught: “There is one God, and one Mediator;”[3] “To us there is but one God.”[4] It is not clear that the unity of God can be proved by natural religion. In some of the reasonings which have been relied on, the thing to be proved is assumed. The most satisfactory argument is derived from the uniformity of counsel, which appears in the works of creation and providence. The same laws of Nature prevail everywhere; so that, in passing from one region to another, we never feel that we have entered the dominion of another Lord. Light which emanates from the remote fixed stars, possesses the same properties, and obeys the same laws, as that which comes from the sun of our own system.

The proof from revelation is clear and decisive. It is true, that plural names of the deity are frequently used in the Old Testament; but it is manifest that they were not designed to teach the doctrine of polytheism. In Deut. vi. 4, the word “God” is plural, in the original Hebrew; but the whole passage contains the most unequivocal declaration of the unity of God. In Gen. i.1, the name “God” is plural, but the verb “created” is singular, and therefore bars out all inference in favour of polytheism. In several passages, plural pronouns are used when God speaks of himself. “Let us make man;”[5] “Let us go down;”[6] “The man is become as one of us;”[7] these passages, and especially the last of them, cannot well be reconciled with the doctrine of God’s unity, so abundantly taught elsewhere, without supposing a reference to the doctrine of the trinity, which will be considered hereafter.

The unity of God renders his moral government one, uniting the subjects of it into one great empire. It leaves us in no doubt to whom our allegiance is due; and it fixes one centre in the universe to which the affections of all hearts should be directed. It tends to unite the people of God: as we have “one God,” so we have “one body, and one spirit.”[8]

[1] Deut. vi. 4; Ps. lxxxvi. 10; Mark xii. 29, 32; John xvii. 3; Gal. iii. 20; Eph. iv. 6; 1 Tim. ii. 5; James ii. 19.

[2] Deut. vi. 4.

[3] 1Tim. ii. 5.

[4] 1 Cor. viii. 6.

[5] Gen. i. 26.

[6] Gen. xi. 7.

[7] Gen. iii. 22.

[8] Eph. iv. 4, 6.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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