Friday, November 23, 2012
JOHN MILTON ON THE ONE GOD OF THE BIBLE
JOHN MILTON (circa. 1608-1674 C.E.): “...Let us then discard reason in sacred matters, and follow the doctrine of Holy Scripture exclusively. Accordingly, no one need expect that I should here premise a long metaphysical discussion, and introduce all that commonly received drama of the personalities in the Godhead: since it is most evident, in the first place, from numberless passages of Scripture, that there is in reality but one true independent and supreme God; and as he is called one, (inasmuch as human reason and the common language of mankind, and THE JEWS, THE PEOPLE OF GOD, HAVE ALWAYS CONSIDERED HIM AS ONE PERSON ONLY, THAT IS, ONE IN A NUMERICAL SENSE) let us have recourse to the sacred writings in order to know who this one true and supreme God is. This knowledge ought to be derived in the first instance from the gospel, since the clearest doctrine respecting the one God must necessarily be that copious and explanatory revelation concerning him which was delivered by Christ himself to his apostles, and by the apostles to their followers. Nor is it to be supposed that the gospel would be ambiguous or obscure on this subject; for it was not given for the purpose of promulgating new and incredible doctrines respecting the nature of God, [116.] hitherto utterly unheard of by his own people, but to announce salvation to the Gentiles through Messiah the Son of God, according to the promise of the God of Abraham. 'No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,' John i. 18. Let us therefore consult the Son in the first place respecting God. According to the testimony of the Son, delivered in the clearest terms, the Father is that one true God, by whom are all things. Being asked by one of the scribes, Mark xii. 28, 29, 32, which was the first commandment of all, he answered from Deut. vi. 4. 'the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;' OR AS IT IS IN HEBREW, 'JEHOVAH OUR GOD IS ONE JEHOVAH.' The scribe assented; 'there is one God, and there is none other one but he;' and in the following verse Christ expresses his approbation of this answer. Nothing can be more clear than that it was the opinion of the scribe, as well of the other Jews, that by the unity of God is intended his oneness of person. That this God was no other than God the Father, is proved from John viii. 41, 54. 'we have one Father, even God. It is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say that he is your God.' iv. 21. 'neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.' Christ therefore agrees with the whole people of God, that the Father is that one and only God. For who can believe that the very first of the commandments would have been so obscure, and so ill understood by the Church through such a succession of ages, that two other [117.] persons, equally entitled to worship, should have remained wholly unknown to the people of God, and debarred of divine honours even to that very day? especially as God, where he is teaching his own people respecting the nature of their worship under the gospel, FOREWARNS THEM THAT THEY WOULD HAVE FOR THEIR GOD THE ONE JEHOVAH WHOM THEY HAD ALWAYS SERVED, AND DAVID, THAT IS CHRIST, FOR THEIR KING AND LORD. JER. XXX. 9. 'THEY SHALL SERVE JEHOVAH THEIR GOD, AND DAVID THEIR KING, WHOM I WILL RAISE UP UNTO THEM.' In this passage Christ, such as God willed that he should be known or served by his people under the gospel, is expressly distinguished from the one God Jehovah, both by nature and title. Christ himself therefore, the Son of God, teaches us nothing in the gospel respecting the one God but what the law had before taught, and everywhere clearly asserts him to be his Father. John xvii, 3. 'this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' xx. 17. 'I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God:' IF THEREFORE THE FATHER BE THE GOD OF CHRIST, AND THE SAME BE OUR GOD, AND IF THERE BE NONE OTHER GOD BUT ONE, THERE CAN BE NO GOD BESIDE THE FATHER...” - (Book 1, Chapter 5, Section 115-117, “Of The Creation,” In: Volume 1, “A TREATISE ON CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, COMPILED FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURES ALONE,” By John Milton, Boston: 1825.)
[FOOTNOTE 12]: Down, reason, then; at least vain reasonings, down. Sampson Agonistes, 322.
[FOOTNOTE 13]: Seem I to thee sufficiently possess'd, Of happiness or not? who am alone
From all eternity; for none I know, Second to me or like, equal much less. Paradise Lost, VIII. 404.