Old Mill Yard Tract (No. 231)
(Edition 1.0 19971224-19971224)
Our gratitude goes out to Thomas McElwain for providing us with the attached tract, which is an early English document of the Sabbath Church. It demonstrates beyond dispute that the original doctrines of the Mill Yard Seventh Day Baptist Church on the Godhead were Unitarian as the Mill Yard theologians themselves attest and accord with the doctrines of the Christian Churches of God.
Christian Churches of God
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Dagon fallen upon his stumps: or the Inventions of men, not able to stand before the first commandment of God, Thou shalt have no other gods but me.
By Edward Elwall of Wolverhampton
Printed in the year 1726
Thou shalt have no other Gods but Me.
This Sacred Commandment was spoke by God himself, and not only so, but it was wrote by the Finger of God, therefore all those that Love him with all their Heart, and Soul, and Strength, ought to believe and obey this Law.
Now let all Men that fear God, take particular Notice, that the very last word of this glorious Law, viz. (Me) is a certain Confutation of those who make the most high God to be a plurality of Persons: For the Word Me, doth utterly exclude any other Person from being God, but this one single Me; and cannot admit of two, nor three, nor four. And to confirm this as an eternal Principle to all Mankind, God spoke by the Mouth of his Prophet Moses, Deut. 32, 39. "See now that I, even I am He, and there is no other God with Me." Let no Man violate the plain, open, clear Sense of his Words, for no other Gods but Me doth evidently exclude any other Person but He.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ bears the same Testimony; for when one asked him which was the first or great Commandment of all, he made the very same Comment upon it, as good old faithful Moses had done before, viz. "hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God, is one Lord." Mark 12, 29, and 32. "and the Scribe said unto him, well Master, thou has said the Truth: For there is One God, and there is none other but He."
From hence I draw this natural Inference; that is there is but one God, and there is none other but He.
Then whosoever affirmeth this One God, to be any more Persons than that one He, are utterly false and not true; and do flatly Contradict the plain Testimony of Jesus Christ.
Now the eternal Law which was put into the Ark of God, is this, Thou shalt have no other Gods but Me; yet the Inventions of Men, set up Dagon; but he fell before the Ark. Then they set up in his Place again, but in the Morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his Face to the Ground, before the Ark of God, and such will be the End of all human Inventions.
Now the Words of the God of Truth, in the Fourth Commandment are these, the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; yet the Inventions of Men, set up the Sixth Day for the Sabbath, and others set up the first Day for the Sabbath. Almost all the vast Empires of the World, that are under the Turks, Persians, Mogul, and many other Nations, set up the Sixth Day, for the Sabbath; and almost all the Nations who are, or have been under the Pope, and his inventions, set up the First Day for the Sabbath: All in Contradiction to the sacred Law of God who plainly tells us, with his own Mouth, the Seventh Day is the Sabbath.
And that we might never forget it, nor plead ignorance of it, he was graciously pleas'd to write it with his own Finger upon Tables of Stone, and caus'd it to be put into the Ark of God, where no Ceremonial Law ever came, but only that sacred Law of the Ten Commandments; which Christ tells us, It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass, than one tittle of the Law to fail Luke 16.17. and tells us Mat. 5;17. that he came not to destroy it, but to fulfil, that is, to do it.
In short, how can it chuse but affect the Heart of a pious Man, to see Men prefer their own vain Inventions in Religion, before the sacred commandments of God Almighty.
How often has my Soul been deeply concern'd with Sorrow, when I consider how many persons go to the Steeple-Houses, and there hear their Priest say over the Fourth Commandment, viz. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy, Six Days shalt thou labour and do all thy Work, but the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of Work, etc. and then the People pray, and say, Lord, have Mercy upon us, and incline our Hearts to keep this Law: By which it is evident, they own it to be the Law of God, or else, Why do they pray him to incline their Hearts to keep it? And yet, at the same time, there is nothing more certain, than that they never intend to keep it, or obey it.
Several wise, good Men have conversed with me on this Lamentable Subject, and pray'd for a Reformation; and, indeed, I do not write this to offend or affront any Man, but rather, that they may lay it to Heart, and duly consider, with Fear and Dread, whether God be not mocked; and whether wicked Men be not hardened and emboldened, by the Breach of that Sacred Law, to break others also.
For it is good to observe the Words of the Apostle James viz. Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one Point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, do not commit Adultery, said also, do not kill. Now if thou commit no Adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a Transgressor of the Law, James ii.10,11.
Now, the same may be said of any other of the Ten Commandments; the fourth and the fifth, as well as the sixth and the seventh. But the Generality of Men, had rather take their Religion out of an Almanack, than out of God's Holy Law: For Millions of men will keep the Red Letter Days, which the Pope, of humane Inventions have set up; but the Sacred Seventh Day Sabbath, which God himself hath commanded, they will not keep, nor take any Manner of Regard thereto.
Just in the same Manner they do by the 2d. Commandment, where God saith, Thou shalt not make to thy self any Graven Image, nor the Likeness of any Thing that is in Heaven above nor in the Earth beneath. Thou shalt not bow down to them, etc. But the Inventions of Popes, Prelates, and Priests, have made thousands of Graven Images; and not only bow down to them, but kiss them. And as to the Breach of the 3d Commandment, it is now become as Epidemical, and Universal, disregarded, that a pious Soul may truly say with the Prophet of Old, Isaiah, xxiv.3. The Earth is defiled under the Inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the Laws, changed the Ordinance, ... Isaiah xxix.184.108.40.206.
Let all good People take particular Notice, how God is displeased with all them, whose Fear toward him, is taught by the Precepts of Men: That is, as our Lord words it, All such as teach for Doctrines, the Commandments of Men.
But all those honest, pious Souls, who love the Living God, they will have their Eyes up to the Most High, and to his Prophets, and to Christ and his Apostles, to seek for a Divine Command, in all things that concern their Faith and Salvation, their Worship, or whatever relates to their future State: And as to any Inventions of Men, in matters of Religion, whether Kings or Popes, Prelates or Priests, of any Sort, have nothing to do with them, nor any of the Creed-Makers.
But in all things that are of a temporal Nature, and do concern our Civil State, Worldly Political Government, be sure to be subject to every Ordinance of Man for the Lords sake; and faithfully obey every Magistrate, from the king upon the Throne, down to the meanest Constable in the Land.
But in all Spiritual Things, take our dear Lord's Advice, and call no man Father here upon Earth, for One is your Father even God; and call no Man Master, for one is your Master even Christ; and always remember, that his Kingdom is not of this World.
And if ever People will but lay aside the Traditions of Men, believe and obey the Sacred Commandments of God, and prefer the Words of Christ and his Apostles, before the Words of Popes and Councils; they will soon perceive the Absurdity of the Trinitarian Doctrine, as well as they have seen that of Transubstantiation; and that the former is no better to be defended than the latter, but are both alike Irrational, Unscriptural, and Unnatural, that is utterly contrary to all good Sense and Reason.
For is it not altogether as ridiculous to say, One God is Three or Four Persons, as to say, The Bread and the Wine is the Flesh and Blood of Christ? Nay, would Men but speak out the Truth honestly, Is it not as gross an Absurdity to say, the One God of Heaven and Earth, is Three or Four Persons, as to say, the One King of Great Britain and Ireland, is three or Four Persons? Is not the former altogether as false as the latter?
O Living Lord, I humbly beseech thee, open the Eyes of my dear Countrymen in particular, and all Mankind in general, that they may see, and abhor the Whore, the Mother of Harlots, and all her Abominations and Inventions that are in the Earth: For these are some of the Cups of the Wine of her Fornication, which she hath heretofore, and doth still impose upon us, and many of our Neighbouring Nations; whom she hath made Drunk with her Fornications, and all her false Doctrines.
O Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy Judgments; hasten the Time, I pray thee, when thou wilt magnify thy Law, and make it honourable; when the Kings of the Earth shall hate the Whore, and loath her Abominable Inventions, and all her filthy Fornications.
O that thy People may come out of the Mistery of Babylon, that they be not partakers of her Sins, and that they receive not of her Plagues, for her Sins have reached unto Heaven, and God will remember her Iniquities.
Upon thee, O filthy Rome, I charge all these horrid Inventions, of breaking the First Table of the Ten Commandments; of making the Most High God, the Holy One of Israel, to be a Plurality of Persons; contrary to the First Commandment, Of making Graven Images, and bowing down to them; contrary to the Second Commandment, Of taking God's sacred Name in vain, in a great many of their Oaths, and ridiculous Outward Formalities, contrary to the Third Commandment.
Of changing the Holy Sabbath, from the Seventh Day (which God rested on, blessed and sanctified for Holy Use) to the First Day, which was one of God's Working Days; (and for ever ought to be one of Man's Working-Days) Thus hast thou changed the Ordinances of God, and broken the Everlasting Covenant, directly contrary to the Four First sacred commandments of God.
Besides all thy notorious odious Inventions of Red Letter, Saints Days, and all thy Holy Days; not One of which God ever commanded. I challenge thee, O Rome, and all thy Adherents, to shew me One Precept from God, or from any of his Prophets, or from Christ the Great Prophet, or from any of his Apostles, for keeping any One of thy Red Letter Saints-Days: Either Christ's Birth-Day, or his Crucifixion Day, or his Resurrection-Day, or his Ascension-Day, or any of thy numerous Catalogue of Saints-Days, and Others; which if we should keep but half of them, we should be worse than infidels, in not providing for our families, nor paying our just Debts; so that instead of our being Saints our selves, we should be unjust, wicked Sinners, and displease God. Also thy praying unto the Saints, and to Mary the Mother of Christ, O thou Ungodly Rome, stir up thy self, and answer me; Thou that hast slain so many faithful followers of the Lamb, tell me where any of God's servants and People of Old, did ever pray to Abel, or to Enoch, or to Noah, or to Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, or to Gods faithful Servant Moses, or any of the Prophets? Did ever any one of Gods own peculiar People pray to any one of them? Did they ever keep a Saints Day, for any one of these?
Now hadst thou not a Whore's Forehead, thou wouldst Blush; for thou knowest in thy own Conscience, they never pray'd unto, nor kept a Day, for any of those Holy Men, because God Almighty had not commanded it.
But if any of Rome's Followers, or pretended Protestants, sho'd say unto me, Friend Elwall, why dost thou transgress the Tradition of the Elders; for thou openest thy Shop, and doest all thy Work on first Days, and Saints Days, and on all the Red Letter Days; on Crucifixion Day and Resurrection Day, and Ascention Day, I will answer them in the Words of my dear Lord, Matth. 15.3. Why do you also transgress the Commandments of God by your Tradition? For God Commanded, saying, Remember the Sabbath-Day to keep it Holy, six Days shalt thou Labour, and do all thy Work: But the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God, in it thou shalt do no manner of Work. But ye say, whosoever worketh upon it, he shall be free.
Thus have ye made the Commandment of God of none Effect by your Traditions; But in vain do ye Worship me, teaching for Doctrines the Commandments of Men, Matth. 15.9.
Here it is certain every truly Religious Soul may see, that our dear Lord Jesus Christ, would not have his own Disciples and Followers to regard the Commandments of Men in all Matters of Religion; nor any of their vain Traditions; but he bid them, keep the Commandments of God.
For when one came to Christ, and said, good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? and he said unto him, if thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments, Mat. 19.17.
But here I intreat all Mankind to take particular Notice, that Christ Rebukes this Young Man for calling him good, saying, why callest thou me good? there is none good but One, that is God: Now these Words of Christ are a Demonstration that he is not GOD; for he to whom the Title of Good doth not absolutely belong, cannot be God most high; but by our Lords own Words, this Title belongs not to him, but only essentially to God the Father, therefore he is God alone, and there is no other God but Me.
I fear Religion will never come to its primitive Purity, till filthy Lucre be laid aside, and a Free Ministry set up; then will all Priestcraft and pious Fraud vanish away; When Men shall preach with a single Eye, and a pure Desire to advance the Kingdom of Christ, and to bring their Fellow-Creatures into it, and freely give those Spiritual Things, they freely receiv'd, without Money, and without Price; Then it will be truly said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen! and all Prelates and Priests, of all Sorts, with all their absurd Doctrines, and cruel Persecutions, will all tumble down to the Ground, and fall like a Millstone into the Sea.
What greater Absurdity can there be in the World, than to say, That the most High God, the First Cause or Prime Being of all Things, is a Duality, Trinity, or Quaternity of Persons, when both Natural and Revealed Religion tells us, There is but One God, and there is no other but He. Mark xii.32. And is it not a human invention to say as the Assemblies Catechism, viz. "There are Three Persons in the Godhead" and that they are "Equal in Power and Glory: Whereas Christ tells no, That his Father is greater than he.
And the Prophet Isaiah tells, That God hath no equal: And holy Paul tells us, There is but One God the Father, I. Cor. viii.6. Now whether we are to believe this Fallacious Catechism, or Jesus Christ, Isaiah, and Paul, I will leave all honest Men to judge.
Now indeed, it has created Pity in my Breast, and several pious, judicious Men have lamented with me, That poor innocent Children are taught such irrational, unscriptural Doctrines, which contradict God and his Prophets, Christ and his Apostles: For God said, Thou shalt have no other Gods but me: And Christ said, His Father was the Only true God: And Moses said, Hear O Israel, The Lord thy God is One Lord: And Paul said, There is no other God but One, I. Cor. vii.5.
The Scripture tells us, That Christ was a Prophet, mighty in Deed and in Word, before God and all the People, Luke xxiv.19. Even as God had promised by his Servant Moses, who told us thus, viz. A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your Brethren, like unto me.
Now he that was a Prophet, could not be God himself: It is a Contradiction in the Nature of Things to suppose it; for the Israelites might well say Moses was God, which not One Israelite did ever yet affirm, though he was so favoured of God, and beloved by all good Men, that it is said, There arose not such a Prophet in Israel, whom the Lord knew Face to face; and by whom God wrought such wonderful Miracles, as were never done before nor since, as the dividing the Sea, etc. And so both the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament do affirm, That Christ was a Prophet like unto Moses, and mighty in Deed and in Word; therefore he was not God. And were we not bewitch'd with popish human Inventions, we should think it the most preposterous Notion in the World, to say, That he (who was a Prophet, and he who was God's Servant who God upheld, and whom God anointed; and he whom God sent, and he who could do nothing of himself; and he, who said, His Father was greater than he; and he whom God raised from the Dead; and he who had no Power nor Authority but what he had received of God; and he whom God had advanced to be a Prince and a Saviour; and he whom God had made both lord and Christ, even the Man Christ Jesus, whom God hath committed all Judgment unto, and commission'd him to judge the World; and he whom God hath received up into Glory, where God hath admitted him to sit, or stand, at his Right-Hand; and he who is our eternal High-Priest; and he who continually maketh Intercession for us to God) is God himself.
I say, Would not this Assertion be the Master-Piece of all the Absurdities that ever was invented by Mankind?
The good Lord of Heaven and Earth, open the Eyes of all honest Men yet more and more, that they may see the Truths of God from his own Sacred Words, and never more suffer Popes, Prelates, or Priests, to Lord it over their Faith; but always take our dear Lord's Advice, and call no Man Father here upon Earth, for One is your Father, even God; and to call no Man Master here upon Earth, for One is you Master even Christ. And then from his wise Words, draw this Natural Inference; Never to take your Religious Principles from Men, but always from God and his Prophets, Christ and his Apostles.
For if ye be Holy Men, ye will be all taught of God, if ye turn the Eye of your Mind up unto him; and say within your Hearts, Lord, What is thy Mind and thy Will? make me to know it, and I will do it.
Then that good God who sees the inward Desires of your Souls, and how you thirst after him, he is so full of Tenderness and Love, that he will come, and with his good Spirit, make his Aboad with you. Therefore be sure to remember the Words of our dear Lord: If (says he) Ye keep my Commandments, ye shall abide in my Love, even as I have kept my Father's Commandments, and abide in his Love.
Christ told us thus; If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments of God: By which we know he means the Ten Commandments; because we find he expressly mentions, and nobly illustrates upon several of them. And in John, xvii.3. Christ tells us, That his Father is the Only, True God.
Now, if we will believe Christ, then it is certain, no other Person is the True God but his Father only.
And as our dear Lord Jesus was always so careful to give the Glory to his God and Heavenly Father, let us, as true Followers of him, give the Glory to the peerless GOD, who has no equal, neither is there any God like him: For he alone has Life in himself, without receiving it from any Other: And he alone is Independent, and can do all Things of himself; and he alone is Self Existent, and does not derive his Original, or his Power, from any one; but is the only Infinite King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the Only wise God.
He is the God of the Patriarchs, and of the Prophets, and he is not only the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, but he is also the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who openly declares, That he derives and receives all his Power, both in Heaven and Earth, from God; and that he of his own self can do nothing; and that in the End, he must deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father: And that the Son himself must be subject to him that put all Things under him, that God may be all in all, I. Cor. xi.24. to 29.
If any honest, pious Man will read the above Five Verses, he will evidently see the Truth of what I have asserted; That as it was God the Father who gave the Power into Christ's Hands; so in the End, Christ will surrender that Power to God, in Testimony of his having done all in Obedience to him, and that God may be all in all.
So that as Dagon fell before the Ark of God, so will it be found in the End, that all the absured Inventions of Men, will not be able to stand against the Sacred and True Commandment of God:
Thou shalt have no other Gods but Me.
And now O Lord God Almighty, I humbly beseech thee, for the Sake of Jesus Christ, to dispose the Heart of every sincere Man and Woman, that reads this Testimony to love thee and thy sacred Law, that it may be better to them than thousands of Gold and Silver; and that the Law of thy Mouth (who art the Fountain of all Goodness and Truth) may be preferred before all the vain, absurd Inventions of Men.
O thou pure and perfect Being, thou only living and true God, who gavest me my Breath, and art free to take it again, when, and where, and how thou pleasest, I pray thee Take away the Fear of Man from my Heart, who can only kill my Body. and let me learn of thy Son Jesus Christ, to fear thee and the God of all flesh, who alone canst kill both Body and Soul.
Thou tender, loving, and powerful God, who preservedst Daniel, and all thy Faithful Servants, in every Age of the World, help Lord and strengthen thy poor Worm, that I may still bear my true Testimony for thee, and for thy Sacred Law faithfully, to the End of my Life.
May I not truly cry out, as the Prophet of Old did, Ezekiel xxii.26. Her Priests have violated my Law, and have profaned my holy Things; they have put no difference between the Holy and Profane, neither have they shewed Difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their Eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
It is Time for thee Lord to work, for they have made void thy Law. Psalm 119:126.
Edward Elwall, known as a "Unitarian Quaker" was a member of the Mill Yard Sabbatarian Baptist Church in London. This tract was copied by hand from the copy kept in Dr. Williams's Library in London by Thomas McElwain, who is responsible for copying errors that may be found. Italics in the original have been ignored.