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imperfect shadows, is still a mystery. 2. That,without comprehending the exact truth, we cannot judge of the analogy between that truth and any other mean of eluci. dation; and therefore it is presumptuous to attempt to explain that distinction in any other way than that in which it is explained by divine revelation. 3. That, since the divine Author of the Christian revelation best knows in what degree, and under what form, we are capable of receiving the truth, and which of all possible views of that truth are likely to be most udvantageous to us, it becomes us to adopt such opinions, and to hold such language, as the Scriptures have suggested. Or, in the more appropriate expressions of St. Paul, we should speak of the things of God, “not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.' 4. That the Scriptures teach the doctrine of the trinity, not only when they make a personal distinction between the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, but also when they make a distinction which is not personal. 5. That our best conceptions of the subject are very imperfect, and therefore, unless we adopt all those modes of elucidations which are used by the sacred writers, we cannot, in the explanation of the Scriptures, avoid falling into many absurdities. 6. That none of those allusions, by which the Scriptures illustrate the trinity, should be pursued beyond the line of analogy. 7. That when we perceive ourselves to be led, by the abuse of scriptural terms, into any absurdity, or into any doctrine contrary to the plain letter of Scripture, we ought to remember that we have another order of scriptural ideas, which should serve as a clew to guide us out of the labyrinth. 8. That Christianity requires every one of its disciples, whether he embrace or reject the terms which are in common use, to maintain the doctrine of a trinity in unity; to place it on its proper basis, divine revelation; and to impute whatever of difficulty or apparent contradiction he meets, not to the unreasonableness of the doctrine, but to the imperfections of his own conceptions.
-Si quid novisti rectius istis,
Of the Origin of the Doctrine of the Trinity. SINCE the preceding pages were written, and some of them were already printed, Mr. G. has published his 9th, 10th, and 11th lectures, in which he has adopted the opinion that the doctrine of the trinity is the result of a gra.. dual corruption of the doctrine of the gospel. Having zealously endeavoured, through one whole volume of lec. tures, to expunge from the Scriptures all the prominent evidence of what he denominates “ the principal doctrines of Christianity," on the supposition that he has perfectly succeeded, he proceeds to maintain this opinion by mul. tiplied references to the fathers of the primitive church.
If they who profess to maintain the doctrines which he has impugned, are prepared to surrender to him the well fortified citadel of Scripture, they must either grant to him the victory, or meet him to finish the contest in the ex. tensive fields of ecclesiastical history.
While the reader hesitates, and hopes to find some alternative, Mr. G. peremptorily summons him to surrender. “ Look, my trinitarian friend, at the ground on which you stand at the year sixty-six. The apostles, you say,,entertained the same views of Christianity as yourself. Well ; for thirty-three years they travel into different parts of the world for the sole purpose of making converts to the Christian religion; the whole of that time is exclusively occupied in this important work; and multitudes actually become their disciples. An account of their transactions is given by one of their own body; but he totally omits to state that this doctrine of a trinity was one of the doctrines which they taught. Farther : in the course of these thirtythree years, the men thus employed publish twenty-two other works; yet, strange as it may appear, in none of these works is any one of these peculiar phrases to be found, trinity, trinity in unity, three persons in one God, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.” (Vol. ii, p. 8.)
If the reader be a genuine “ trinitarian friend,” and have the heart of a Christian soldier, he will not be alarm. ed by the lofty tone which Mr. G. has assumed.' He will perceive that to give some degree of plausibility to the supposition that the doctrines in question have no support from Scripture, this Socinian herald has adopted the contrivance of his predecessors, by substituting the peculiar phrases of human invention for the doctrines taught by divine revelation.
Without any implied censure on those who deem it their duty to vindicate the phrases to which Mr. G. has object. ed, and who think themselves adequate to the task, through. out the whole of this discussion no vindication of any set of phrases, except those of Scripture, has been attempted. Lest the truth of God should be exposed to contempt by be. ing identified with the inventions of men, it has been de. signed to extract from the Scriptures the genuine Christian doctrine, as much as may be, in the language of the sacred writers: to “speak of spiritual things in spiritual words,” and to leave the judicious reader at liberty to make choice of what he deems the most appropriate terms.
The con. test is not on our part about words, but things. When, therefore, Mr. G. speaks of “ this phraseology,
as be. ing thought “so essential to salvation," whom does his arguing reprove? (Vol. ii, p. 9.) When he triumphantly asks, “ Should one of your missionaries, whether to the east or the west, preach one single year, make one single convert, publish one single book upon the doctrines he was sent to teach, and not once mention his important subject, (in the phraseology so strongly objected to,) how would you think he had executed his commission ?" (vol. ii, p. 8,) we are under no difficulty; for we readily and sincerely answer that we should not, on this account, as Mr. G. supposes, “ designate him a faithless servant, who had neglected his duty, and had conceal. ed the word of God.” “ The phraseology” of the schools is not the word of God, but the word of man. And if he “ had not shunned to declare all the counsel of God,” but had “ fully preached” the “unadulterated” gospel : if he had been successful in making converts (not So. cinian converts, converts to a mere opinion, but) such as St. Paul was sent to make: if he had “ turned men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive remission of sins, and an inheritance among all them that are sanctified through
faith in Christ Jesus;" we should approve his labours and rejoice in his success.*
The Socinians themselves use many phrases which are not strictly scriptural: but they are not to be “made offenders for a word.” If, in the language of Scripture, they can vindicate their metaphysical explanation of that truth, " there is one God," they are perfectly at liberty to use the phrase, “ the unity of God.” If they can thus prove that Jesus Christ is no other than a man, they will not be forbidden to insert in their creed the words “sim.. ple humanity." And if they can demonstrate, from the . same source, that the Holy Spirit is only the abstract power of God, we will hold no contest with them on ac. count of their denominating him." the divine energy," or “ an attribute of God.” We will leave the “ strife of words to those who admire and love it. What is there then unreasonable in our conduct if, while we believe the doctrine of the preceding chapters to be the doctrine of the Bible, we find convenient to avoid circumlocution, by expressing our opinion in such terms as, we are aware, are not used by the sacred writers ?
Having thus replied to the insidious insinuation of Mr. G.'s summons, we now declare more directly that no force which he has at his command shall cause us to sur. render the strong fortress of Scripture authority. Let him, 66 walk about our Zion, and go around about her;" let him “ tell her towers, mark well her bulwarks, and consider her palaces."
Having, in the four preceding chapters, stated our opi. nion of the doctrines under discussion, and having exhi...
*"I dare not,” says the Rev. John Wesley, "insist upon any cne's using the word trinity or person. I use them myself without any scruple, because I know of none better. But if any man has any scruple concerning them, who shall constrain him to use them?, I cannot; much less would I burn a man alive, and that with moist, green wood, for saying, “Though I believe the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, yet I scruple using the words trinity and persons, because I do not find those terms in the Bible.' "-(Sermons, vol. ii, p. 21.), The Rev. John Fletcher says, in like manner,
" If by renouncing. that comprehensive word (trinity) we could remove the prejudices of deists against the truth contended for, we would give it up, and always say, The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is what we mean by the trinity."-(Rat. Vin. of the Cath. Faith.)
bited and established what we deem the most direct and positive proofs that that opinion is scriptural, we are now to show that those doctrines, so far from being, as Mr. G. holds, the invention of latter ages, have been gradually discovered from the dawn of divine revelation to the perfeot day. This argument does not rest on any single text, but on the general tenor of Scripture.
“ In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," Gen. i, 1. “ The original word d'ox, Elohim, God, is certainly the plural form of 5, el, or 75x, eloah. (Dr. A. Clarke, in loc.) And therefore indicates to a Hebrew reader a plurality.
“ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," Gen. i, 26. The use of the plural pronouns in this passage is a confirmation of the inference deduced from the preceding; and the pronouns, being personal, convey the idea of personality as well as of plurality.
It does not appear that any created beings were em. ployed in the creation of man ; but it is unequivocally declared that Elohim, “God created man in his (own) image,” Gen. i, 27.
When man was fallen from his original rectitude, “ the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us,” Gen. iii, 22. This distributive manner of speaking indi. cates that the distinction already made is not merely verbal, but real.
When the Lord God cursed the author of the sin of our first parents, and promised them deliverance, he promised that deliverance by one who should be their seed. " I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and be. tween thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," Gen. iii, 15.
Of the fulfilment of this great promise, God gave frequent pledges, by the appearance of a divine person to the patriarchs, and to the Jewish chiefs. This person at first appeared under the human form; but before his depar. ture, his divinity was generally known and acknowledged by those to whom he appeared, and with whom he con. versed. By being denominated the Word, or the Angel of Jehovah, or the Captain of Jehovah's host, the distinc. tion already discovered is exhibited; but by being also styled Jehovah, his divinity is maintained.