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Did you know … that Isaac Watts, the father of English hymnody/hymnology (the singing & composition of hymns), the author of “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”; the writer of many trinitarian hymns;
near the end of his life; rejected the ‘Trinity doctrine’ and adhered to the unitarian perspective that “solely the Father is the only true One God” !!!

What follows is one of the most sincerest prayers I have ever come across. Read it slowly and witness the sincerity and the desire for the truth in these words by Watts; as he asked God to clear up the matter of whether …
God is three-in-one or solely ONE GOD??

When he shared his progressive unitarian thoughts and writings with his closest friends; they were greatly dismayed and stated that his writings were not fit for publishing.
So much so, that it is said that only 50 copies of “A Solemn Address” survived.

One man at Watts’ graveside even remarked that “And pity his works were not buried with him!”

I for one am so glad that this writing indeed survived.

Therefore please view and meditate on this solemn address given by Watts. Maybe it will encourage someone to ask the very same questions!



By Sir Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

It is said that only 50 copies were printed,
and that most of these were suppressed.

Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee; yet I may talk with thee concerning thy judgments. Permit me, O my God and Father, to plead with thee concerning the Revelations of thy Nature and thy Grace, which are made in thy Gospel : And let me do it with all that humble Reverence, and that holy Awe of thy Majesty, which becomes a Creature in the Presence of his God.

Hast thou not, O Lord God Almighty, hast thou not transacted thy divine and important Affairs among men by thy Son Jesus Christ, and by thy Holy Spirit? And hast thou not ordained that Men should transact their highest and most momentous Concerns with thee, by the Son and by thy Spirit? Hast thou not, by the Mouth of thy Son Jesus, required all that profess his Religion to be washed with Water in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost? Is it not my Duty then, to inquire, Who or What are these sacred Names, and what they signify? Must I not know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ thy Son, whom thou hast sent, that I may fulfil all my respective Duties towards thyself and thy Son, in hope of eternal Life? Hath not thy Son himself appealed to thee in his last Prayer, that eternal Life depends upon this Knowledge? And since thou hast made so much Use of thy Holy Spirit in our Religion, must I not have some Knowledge of this thy Spirit also, that I may pay thee all these Honours thou requirest from this Divine revelation?

Hast thou not ascribed Divine Names, and Titles, and Characters to thy Son and thy Holy Spirit, in thy Word, as well as assumed them to thyself? And hast thou not appointed to them such glorious Offices as cannot be executed without something of Divinity or true Godhead in them? And yet art not thou, and thou alone, the True God? How shall a poor weak Creature be able to adjust and reconcile these clashing ideas, and to understand this Mystery? Or must I believe and act blindfold, without Understanding?

Holy Father, thou knowest how firmly I believe, with all my Soul, whatsoever thou hast plainly written and revealed in thy Word. I believe Thee to be the only true God, the Supreme of Beings, self-sufficient for thine own Existence, and for all thy infinite Affairs and Transactions among Creatures. I believe thy Son Jesus Christ to be All-sufficient for the glorious Work of Mediation between God and Man, to which thou hast appointed him. I believe he is a Man, in whom dwells all the Fulness of the Godhead bodily. I believe he is one with God; he is God manifested in the Flesh; and that the Man Jesus is so closely and inseparably united with the true and eternal Godhead, as to become one Person, even as a human Soul and Body make one Man. I believe that this illustrious Person is hereby possessed of divine Dignity sufficient to make full Atonement for the Sins of Men by his Sufferings and Death, even though Sin be accounted an infinite Evil; and that he hath all-sufficient Power to raise himself from the Dead, to ascend to Heaven, and fulfil the blessed Works for which thou has exalted him, and to govern and judge the World in thine own appointed time.

I believe also thy Blessed Spirit hath almighty Power and Influence to do all thy Will, to instruct Men effectually in Divine Truths, to change the Hearts of fallen Mankind from Sin to Holiness, to carry on thy Work of Illumination, Sanctification, and Consolation on the Souls of all thy Children, and to bring them safe to the heavenly World. I yield myself up joyfully and thankfully to this Method of thy Salvation, as it is revealed in thy Gospel. But I acknowledge my Darkness still. I want to have this wonderful Doctrine of the All-sufficiency of thy Son and thy Spirit, for these Divine Works, made a little plainer. May not thy humble Creature be permitted to know what share they can have in thy Deity? Is it a vain and sinful Curiosity to desire to have this Article set in such a Light, as may not diminish the eternal Glory of the Unity of the True God, nor of the Supremacy of Thee the Father of All.

Hadst thou informed me, Gracious Father, in any Place of thy Word, that this divine Doctrine is not to be understood by Men, and yet they were required to believe it, I would have subdued all my Curiosity to Faith, and submitted my wandering and doubtful Imaginations, as far as it was possible, to the holy and wise Determinations of thy Word. But I cannot find thou hast any-where forbid me to understand it, or to make these Enquiries. My Conscience is the best natural Light thou hast put within me, and since thou hast given me the Scriptures, my own Conscience bids me Search the Scriptures, to find out Truth and Eternal Life. It bids me try all Things, and hold fast that which is good. And thy own Word, by the same Expressions, encourages this holy Practice. I have, therefore, been long searching into this Divine Doctrine, that I may pay thee due Honour with Understanding. Surely I ought to know the God whom I worship, whether he be one pure and simple Being, or whether thou art a three-fold Deity, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Dear and blessed God, hadst thou been pleased, in any one plain Scripture, to have informed me which of the different Opinions about the holy Trinity, among the contending Parties of Christians, had been true, thou knowest with how much Zeal, Satisfaction, and Joy my unbiased Heart would have opened itself to receive and embrace the divine Discovery. Hadst thou told me plainly, in any single Text, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three real distinct Persons in thy Divine nature, I had never suffered myself to be bewildered in so many Doubts, nor embarrassed with so many strong Fears of assenting to the meer Inventions of Men, instead of divine Doctrine; but I should have humbly and immediately accepted thy words, so far as it was possible for me to understand them, as the only Rule of my Faith? Or hadst thou been pleased so to express and include this Proposition in the several scattered Parts of thy Book, from whence my Reason and Conscience might with Ease find out, and with Certainty infer this Doctrine, I should have joyfully employed all my reasoning Powers, with their utmost Skill and Activity, to have found out this Inference, and ingrafted it into my Soul

Thou hast taught me, Holy Father, by thy Prophets, that the Way of Holiness, in the Times of the Gospel, or under the Kingdom of the Messiah, shall be a Highway, a plain and easy Path; so that the Way-faring Man, or the Stranger, though a Fool, shall not err therein. And thou hast called the Poor and the Ignorant, the Mean and the foolish Things of this World, to the Knowledge of thyself and thy Son, and taught them to receive and partake of the Salvation which thou hast provided. But how can such weak Creatures ever take in so strange, so difficult, and so abstruse a Doctrine as this; in the Explication and Defence whereof, Multitudes of Men, even Men of Learning and Piety, have lost themselves in infinite Subtleties and Dispute, and endless Mazes of Darkness? And can this strange and perplexing Notion of three real Persons going to make up one true God, be so necessary and so important a Part of that Christian Doctrine, which, in the Old Testament and the New, is represented as so plain and so easy, even to the meanest Understandings?

O thou Searcher of hearts, who knowest all Things, I appeal to Thee concerning the Sincerity of my Enquiries into these Discoveries of thy Word. Thou knowest me, thou hast seen me, and hast tryed my Heart towards thee : If there be any lurking Hypocrisy in my Heart, any secret Biass towards anything but Truth, uncover it, O Father of Lights, and banish it from my Soul for ever. If thine Eye discovers the least Spark of criminal Prejudice in any Corner of my Soul, extinguish it utterly, that I may not be led astray from the Truth, in Matters of such Importance, by the least Glance of Error or Mistake.

Thou art Witness, O my God, with what Diligence, with what Constancy and Care, I have read and searched thy Holy Word; how early and late, by Night and by Day, I have been making these Enquiries. How fervently have I been seeking thee on my bended Knees, and directing my humble Addresses to thee, to inlighten my Darkness, and to shew me the Meaning of thy Word, that I may learn what I must believe, and what I must practice with regard to this Doctrine, in order to please thee, and obtain Eternal Life!

Great God, who seest all Things, thou hast beheld what busy Temptations have been often fluttering about my Heart, to call it off from these laborious and difficult Enquiries, and to give up thy Word and thy Gospel as an unintelligible Book, and betake myself to the Light of Nature and Reason: But thou hast been pleased by thy Divine Power to scatter these Temptations, and fix my Heart and my Hope again upon that Saviour and that Eternal Life, which thou hast revealed in thy Word, and proposed therein, to our Knowledge and our Acceptance. Blessed be the Name of my God, that has not suffered me to abandon the Gospel of his Son Jesus! And blessed be that Holy Spirit that has kept me attentive to the Truth delivered in thy Gospel, and inclined me to wait longer in my Search of these Divine truths, under the Hope of thy gracious Illumination.

I humbly call thee to witness, O my God, what a holy Jealousy I ever wear about my Heart, lest I should do the slightest dishonour to thy Supreme Majesty, in any of my Enquiries or Determinations. Thou seest what a religious Fear, and what a tender Sollicitude I maintain on my Soul, lest I should think or speak anything to diminish the Grandeurs and Honours of thy Son Jesus, my dear Mediator, to whom I owe my everlasting Hopes. Thou knowest how much afraid I am of speaking one Word, which may be construed into a Neglect of thy Blessed Spirit, from whom I hope I am daily receiving happy Influences of Light and Strength. Guard all the Motions of my Mind, O Almighty God, against every thing that borders upon these Dangers. Forbid my Thoughts to indulge, and forbid my Pen to write one Word, that should sink those grand Ideas which belong to thy Self, or thy Son, or thy Holy Spirit. Forbid it, O my God, that ever I should be so unhappy as to unglorify my Father, my Saviour, or my Sanctifier, in any of my Sentiments or Expressions concerning them.

Blessed and Faithful God, hast thou not promised that the Meek thou wilt guide in Judgement, the Meek thou wilt teach thy Way? Hast thou not told us by Isaiah thy prophet, that thou wilt bring the Blind by a Way which they knew not, and wilt lead them in paths which they have not known? Hast thou not informed us by thy Prophet Hosea, that if we follow on to know the Lord, then we shall know him? Hath not thy Son, our Saviour, assured us, that our Heavenly Father will give his Holy Spirit to them who ask him? And is he not appointed to guide us into all Truth? Have I not sought the gracious Guidance of thy good Spirit continually? Am I not truly sensible of my own Darkness and Weakness, my dangerous Prejudices on every side, and my utter Insufficiency for my own Conduct? Wilt thou leave such a poor Creature bewildered among a thousand Perplexities, which are raised by the various Opinions and Contrivances of Men to explain thy Divine truth.

Help me, heavenly Father, for I am quite tired and weary of these human Explainings, so various and uncertain. When wilt thou explain it to me thyself, O my God, by the secret and certain Dictates of thy Spirit according to the Intimations of thy Word? nor let any Pride of Reason, nor any Affectation of Novelty, nor any criminal Biass whatsoever, turn my Heart aside from hearkening to these divine Dictates of thy Word and thy Spirit. Suffer not any of my native Corruptions, nor the Vanity of my Imagination, to cast a Mist over my Eyes, while I am searching after the Knowledge of thy Mind and Will, for my eternal Salvation.

I entreat, O most merciful Father, that thou wilt not suffer the Remnant of my short Life to be wasted in such endless Wanderings, in quest of thee and thy Son Jesus, as a great part of my past Days have been; but let my sincere Endeavours to know thee, in all the Ways whereby thou hast discovered thyself in thy Word, be crowned with such Success, that my Soul being established in every needful Truth by thy Holy Spirit, I may spend my remaining Life according to the Rules of thy Gospel, and may, with all the holy and happy Creations ascribe,

Glory and Honour, Wisdom and Power to Thee, who sittest upon the Throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.

4 Responses to “A Solemn Address to the Deity by Isaac Watts”

  1. on 26 Jun 2007 at 8:55 pmSean

    What a heartfelt prayer, what incredible honesty and reverence. I too asked God to reveal himself to me. Of course my pleading to understand him did not come near this masterpiece but I have been lead by him to greater confidence in his oneness and supremacy as Father of all and true God. Thanks for this contribution, Delroy.

  2. on 26 Jun 2007 at 9:04 pmjimS

    I like this guy! I only wished he might have had fifty more years of life to bring the truth foward for many to have known the light Being shown him. I am blessed at how humbly our God and Father carries us in the quiet of His bossom. Some day I must meet this man and embrace him.
    thank you for sharing…


  3. on 26 Jun 2007 at 9:13 pmRich

    Thanks for sharing this great prayer, Delroy! What a gem!

    Makes me realize that it probably would be a good idea for me to deepen my prayer life a little. Isaac’s prayer is a great example of the type of deep and heartfelt supplication that God probably loves to hear.


  4. on 27 Jun 2007 at 8:13 amKaren

    Watts wrote a number of works exploring the unitarian idea. The following is from the Dictionary of National Biography (note that the word ‘pathetic’ in this context means ‘affecting’ or ‘heartfelt’):

    “The Arian controversy of his time left its mark on Watts. His hymns contain an entire book of doxologies modelled on the Gloria Patri. But at the conference about the ministers at Exeter held at Salters’ Hall (1719) he voted with the minority, who refused to impose acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity on the independent ministers. He did not believe it necessary to salvation; the creed of Constantinople had become to him only a human explication of the mystery of the divine Godhead; and he had himself adopted another explication, which he hoped might heal the breach between Arianism and the faith of the church. He broached this theory in ‘The Christian Doctrine of the Trinity’ (1722), and supported it in ‘Dissertations relating to the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity’ (1724-5). He returned to the subject in ‘The Glory of Christ as God-Man Unveiled’ (1746), and ‘Useful and Important Questions concerning Jesus, the Son of God’ (1746). His theory, held also by Henry More, Robert Fleming, and Burnet (DORNER, The Person of Christ, div. ii. ii. 329, transl. Clark), was that the human soul of Christ had been created anterior to the creation of the world, and united to the divine principle in the Godhead known as the Sophia or Logos (only a short step from Arianism, and with some affinity to Sabellianism); and that the personality of the Holy Ghost was figurative rather than proper or literal. None of the extant writings of Watts advances further than this; but a very pathetic piece, entitled ‘A Solemn Address to the Great and Ever Blessed God’ (published in a pamphlet called ‘A Faithful Inquiry after the Ancient and Original Doctrine of the Trinity’ in 1745, but suppressed by Watts at that time, and published in 1802), shows how deeply his mind was perplexed and troubled. He lays out all the perplexity before God, stating his belief in too very words of Scripture generally, with the plea ‘Forbid it, oh! My God, that I should ever be so unhappy as to unglorify my Father, my Saviour, or my Sanctifier. . . . Help me . . . for I am quite tired and weary of these human explainings, so various and uncertain.’ Lardner affirmed that in his last years (not more than two years at most, in failing health) Watts passed to the unitarian position, and wrote in defence of it; the papers were, as Lardner owned, unfit for publication, and as such were destroyed by Doddridge and Jennings, the literary trustees.”


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