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A few general temarks on the propriety of our Trinitarian
enquiries. Concluding remarks on the three points last stated, in preceding chapter.
We made the concluding remarks of the preceding chapter, before entering upon a more particular consideration of the three points last stated, for the following reasons. 1st. Doubts have been expressed by some, whether we have a lawful right to enquire into the nature, dignity, and character of our Lord, as we have attempted to do in this work. 2d. And very many more have doubted, whether it belongs to us to enquire after the personality, that exists between the Father and the Son. 3d. We may find still more, which have their scruples, whether we are not enquiring after matters not revealed, when we enquire, as to the Union which exists in respect of the Father and Son.
In answer to these queries and doubts, we would observe, that the Lord hath given us the text, for comment and practice, he saith, “ And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Čhrist, whom thou hast sent. We think also, we have a sound reason for calling into enquiry, the personality of Father and Son; for if there is not a clear distinction, discoverable from the light and authority of seripture, existing between the Father and Son, We must irresistably settle down into Arianism, Socinianism, or Sabellianism; and if there is this distinction, manifest from scripture authority, we are under the highest, most solemn, and indispensible requisitions of duty, to find it out, disclose it, and observe it; and to reject these other doctrines, as cunningly devised fables and abominations. There appears to be no other alternative; it is the true doctrine, or these.
These three points, which we arrived at in the preceding chapter, viz. The dignity of Christ's character, and the glories of his nature—the clear distinction between the Father and the Son in point of personality—and the union that exists of the Father and Son, are so indissolubly twain and connected, that no divine ought to touch the one, without bringing into view the union of the whole, as far as his ability and opportunity will admit; for it is sure to leave a flaw in the system, a breach in our wall of confidence, and defence, and an assailable point for the common adversary of souls.
The anxious reader, may now enquire, why shall we be under the fatal necessity of falling into Arianism, Socinianism, or Sabellianism, if we do not keep up a clear distinction, between the Father and the Son in point of personality ? We answer, that to our understanding, that if there is no distinction in this last mentioned point, then it results there is but one person in The God-head. And if this is fact that there is but one person in the God-head; where shall we go to find a Mediator, between the Father and fallen man? Where are we to look for an uncreated advocate to plead our heirship to a heavenly inheritance by adoption? We say should this prove to be the case, in whom are we to place our mediatorial confidence? We are free to acknowledge, if this is so, we cannot direct the reader, nor any fallen son and daughter of Adam, to a better one, than described by Arius, that is, one of an Angelic nature, and the first being that God created out of nothing, and underived from and untied to humanity. Or, we shall have to trust our souls in the hands of a mcdiator of the Socinian description, that is, a mere man, supernaturally endowed with the divine spirit. Or, else we have to go back to the second century, and take up with the docthe of Sabellius, which amounts to nothing more than a trinity of offices; or, as it is stated by some authors, that Sabellius compared the God-head to the sun, as having different qualities; and when God acted as Creator, he is called the Father, when he acted as Redeemer, he is called Son, and when his divine spirit was poured out, he is called the Holy Ghost.
We think these four systems, Trinitarian, Arian, Socinian and Sabellian, comprise all the elementary principles which have been taught as the christian religion; although it should perhaps be mentioned that there may be different míxtures of these systems, and in some respects, these species of doctrine may be blended. There must be one true, as we consider; all cannot be true, and those not true, are not of God, but are the errors, inventions and speculations of men, and like their authors, fallible and feeble, deceitful and delusive.
A reason for enquiring into the Union, which exists of the Father and the Son, is--if there doth not exist a real union of the Father and Son,
which in its nature is different from the union of any two distinct beings, then of course we shall, and do worship, by worshipping both, two distinct Gods, which is called Ditheism. Of this union, there can be no analogy, except the christian union with Christ; or any similitude, with any created thing or being, except the new birth, of course must be revealed in scripture and no where else, and here we have directed and bounded our enquires.
This last point has been brought against the doctrine of the Trinity, and the real divinity of the Son, as one of the most weighty objections which could be found by our most sharp sighted opponents in every age of christianity. If therefore we have not, or do not, establish this personality, and union and oneness, in God-like nature, by the same evidence, they and we believe has conclusively shown man's need of a Savior, why then we must fail in our conclusions; but if this same revelation, believed true, testifies of these things we ought to enquire into it, and believe. Consequently, as our Lord came to reveal to us himself, as the “ way, and the truth, and the life,” we think we may plainly discover a propriety in his disclosing to his disciples, the dignity of his character, and the glory and union of his nature with the Father, as well as the distinction which existed between his Father and himself in point of personality. The latter, no professed christians, contend about; but the union, they strenuously contest.
We flatter ourselves that the reasons mentioned, will satisfy any candid mind, and convince them of the necessity of looking into, and searching the scriptures, in respect to the union that
exists, of the Father and the Son, and the personality that exists between them, as well as to enquire into the dignity of the nature that constitutes the character of our Saviour.
Our opponents, will no doubt ask us to give a further description of the union that exists in respect of the Father and the Son. This we are free to do, so far as the scriptures will warrant, and all ought therewith to be content.
For further delineation of this union, agreeable to our views, we present again the passage, recorded in John, chapter 14, verse 20.—“At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.”
The direct inference is, that this was not so profound a mystery but what the Apostles were to know these two facts, that is," at that day,” refering to the coming of the Comforter, and the full baptism of the Holy Ghost, they were to know that the Father dwelt in the Son, and the Son in the FatherIn the last clauses of the foregoing cited passage, there is much to afford light and knowledge as to the first clause; viz. “and ye in me, and I in you”—as we explain it—when they should know more perfectly that they dwelt in the Son, and the Son in them, then should they know that the Son was in the Father, and the Father in the Son.
When we experimentally know a fact to exist in us, we know that a similar fact may exist, in a case of somewhat of the same nature, Although we may not know the exact mode how the fact does exist, still we are not authorized to deny its existence, or doubt its existence be, cause its modes are anomalous; and especially when the existence is evidenced by him who is