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The above writer continues, " What the most prevalent opinions are, at the present day, respecting the doctrine of the Trinity, is not easy to ascertain. There are almost as many theories and modes of explanation, as there have been writers on the subject. This circumstance itself would lead almost any thinking man to suspect its soundness. A fundamental doctrine of revealed religion, it would be supposed, ought to be one, to which Christans can fix some definite character, and in which they can unite in some consistent explanation. But, unhappily, no doctrine has so completely eluded the attempts of its advocates, to define and explain, upon any intelligible principles, as that of the Trinity.” : Is it ignorance, or is it malice, or is it both, that has dictated this article to the Unitarian writer ? From it the reader must naturally infer, that there never was any thing more fluctuating and uncertain than the opinions of Christians respecting the doctrine of the Trinity; and is this, I ask the Unitarians, or has this ever been a fact? Is it true, that “it is not easy to ascertain their opinions respecting this mystery, that there are as many modes or theories of explanation as there have been writers on the subject, that no definite character can be affixed to it ?"'&c. Is the Unitarian really sincere in what he thus confidently holds out to the public? or are these insinuations only thrown out, because he knows that, agreeably to the well known motto of the European sophisters, Semper aliquid herit, something unfavourable to the doctrine of the Trinity will remain impressed on the public mind ? Let us now examine the correctness of this statement.
CXXXI. I defy the Unitarian writer to mention one single Christian nation that has not, or does not, at present, believe the mystery of the Blessed Trinity in the same definite sense and meaning, in which it is, at the present day, believed by all that bear the name of Christians, viz. one only God in three distinct persons, and three distinct persons in one only God, or, what is tantamount, in one only divine and indivisible nature ?
“ Christians, it is said, cannot fix any definite character to this doctrine."
Why? has not Christ himself, clearly fixed it in the passage so often quoted, “ Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ?!? Is not here the distinction of the three Persons clearly pointed out, together with the unity of nature by the phrase “ in the name ?! Has not the disciple of love fixed the definite character of the mystery, 1 Epistle v. 7. “ There are three that give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one ??? Is not Trinity and unity here clearly expressed ? Did not the primitive Fathers, St. Clement of Rome, St. Justin cited above, &c. Did not the councils held against Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, the general council of Nice against the Arians, and the first general council of Constantinople against the Macedonians, clearly define it? If there exists'any difference of opinion or theory among the Christian writers respecting certain questions relative to this mystery as well as to other revealed truths, these opinions are merely scholastic, and have nothing to do with divine faith ; for these writers disagreeing as they do about school questions, on which every one has a right to 6 abound in his own sense,” believe and profess most inviolably, in unison with all christendom, the revealed truths of faith, for instance: That there is only one God in three distinct Persons. As to those writers, who, after having thrown off all regard for authority and ecclesiastical antiquity, and who, looking down with a supercilious look upon the whole Christian world, and the accumulated authority of eighteen hundred years, sit down independent and exclusive judges, to arraign the most high and incomprehensible God at the bar of their reason, and to reject of his revelations whatever soars above. its sphere; with writers of this description we have nothing to do.
“ But unbappily, (so finishes the above article,) no doctrine has so completely eluded the attempts of its advocates, to define and explain, upon any intelligible principles, as that of the Trinity.”
CXXXII. The advocates of the blessed Trinity as well as No. V,
of any other revealed mystery define and explain them on the most intelligible principles, upon principles sanctioned by logic and sound reason, upon principles grounded on the very first notions, which all men have of the Deity; that is to say, on the most certain and undeniable extrinsic evidence that God has revealed them; and surely reason and sound logic dictate that, when it is incontrovertibly certain that God has spoken, it is the first and essential duty of man to bow down and to believe, although he cannot understand the intrinsic nature of what God reveals, because reason and sound logic teach man, that an infinite intellect understands and comprehends more than the limited intellect of'man is capable of . understanding, and that a God of infinite veracity can neither deceive nor be deceived in his communications to men. The same plain good sense, makes us conceive that it is folly and intolerable rashness for a child, (as man is with regard to God,) to pretend to be able to contain in the hollow of his bands all the waters of the ocean, or for a lamp to contain as much light as is contained in the bright luminary of the day.
CXXXIII. “When we have enquired how it is possible, that there should be two other beings, equal in substance, power, and eternity with the Father, and not make together with him three Gods, we have never received an answer any more satisfactory than the proposition itself.”
We have given an answer to this sophism* which will fully satisfy any one, that does not impiously pretend to put himself on a level with his God, and to comprehend as much as an infinite wisdom comprehends. I call it sophism : for there never was a Christian so silly as to pretend, that there are in God two other equal beings with the Father; for as on the one side being in its direct and native signification imports nature or substance, and as on the other there can. not exist but one indivisible nature or substance in God, it is manifest that there cannot be said to be in God three distinct equal beings, but well three distinct and equal persons, who make but one and the same divine being, because they sub
* No. 1. sect. 3. and No. 4. sect. 6.
sist in one and the same divine nature or substance. We shall have occasion to explain this matter more fully in the sequel of this work.
“ When we have asked for Scripture proof, we have been referred to texts, whose language bears no resemblance to that, in which the doctrine is stated, and which oftentimes have very little, if any relation to the subject.”
“ As a last resort, we are conducted to the hidden places of mystery and gravely told, that this profound doctrine was never intended to be fathomed by human powers, and that we must be cautious lest a vain curiosity betray us into presumptuous inquiries."
CXXXIV. Is it we who give the Unitarians this salutary advice, or is it not rather the Holy Ghost ? “ Seek not the things that are too high for thee, and search not into things above thy ability and in many of his works be not curious. For it is not necessary for thee to see with thy eyes those things that are hid; in unnecessary matters be not over curious, and in many of his works thou shalt not be inquisitive. For many things are showed to thee above the understanding of men.” Eccles. iii. 22, 23, 24.–And does not St. Paul, too, lead them to the hidden places of mystery when he exclaims, “O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! For who hath known the mind of the Lord ? Or who hath been his counsellor ?" Rom. xi. 33, 34. And when Christ himself says, “ He that shall believe and be baptized, shall be saved." Mark xvi, 16. Does he invite them to fathom, and not rather to believe his doctrine upon his divine authority? What does also St. Paul mean, when he speaks of “ bringing into captivity every understanding to the obedience of Christ ?" 2 Corinth. x. 5.
“ This, to be sure, in the language of Solomon, is “ the end of the whole matter." For nothing is more idle than to reason with a man, who tells you, he has given up the use of his reason."*
* Christian Miscellany, No. 1. Val. 1.
CXXXV. This, to be sure, that is to say, the divine authority ought to be “ the end of the whole matter” for any sober mind, without requesting any other reason, in order to believe. For nothing can be more rash or impious, than for man to reason with a God, who tells him to give up, not the use, but the pride of his reason, to his unerring authority: man does not give up his reason, but makes the noblest use of it, when he submits to the oracles of an infinite wisdom. Mysteries like the pillar that marched before the children of Israel, have their dark and obscure side: they are dark, obscure, and impervious to the eye of reason, with regard to their intrinsic nature, but they have likewise a most bright and luminous side; which consists in an abundance of extrinsic and irresistible evidence, that God has actually revealed them, and that, of course, although incomprehensible in themselves, they are most undoubtedly true. When on sea, you from afar see a light in the dark, although you do not see the light house nor any object around it, still without the least hesitation you steer your course towards the light, because by the light you are sure that the light-house is there, although you do not see it; and in this, you assuredly act wisely. It is thus Christians act, in believing mysteries, although they do not comprehend them: we cannot see them, we can perceive their intrinsic nature as little as the seaman can discern the lighthouse, but the light of extrinsic evidence, and of irrefragable proofs, by which they come recommended to us, render us most/certain that they unquestionably exist, although their intrinsic nature be hidden from us. This idea is borrowed from the second epistle of St Peter, i. 19th verse. “And we have the word of prophecy more firm: to which you do well to attend, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns." So we do not see the mysteries, but we clearly sce the light, or the reasons why we are to believe them.
CXXXVI. “ But the Unitarian doctrines are rational and Scriptural.”
We have proved them to be as discordant to reason as to Scripture