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or hastily pronounced erroneous and absurd, merely because it is incomprehensible. Yet when a proposition is offered to our understanding, (and it must be offered to our understanding, if we are required to believe it,) if it be plainly absurd and contradictory in its very terms, we cannot assent to it: And he who declares an assent to it, is less entitled to the claim of either reason or piety, than he who hesitates, and expresses his doubts. Setting aside the antiquity of the dogma, which is really nothing in its favour, and admitting its contrariety to reason, and to scripture in its most plain and express declarations; what, indeed, is there left for its support? It is this, and only this-we say it most seriously and candidly-that there are some passages in the Bible, which seem to imply the doctrine of the Trinity. The Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit, seems sometimes to be spoken of as a being distinct from God. And Christ has powers and attributes ascribed to him, and is described, in some parts of the Bible, as so connected with the Deity, that, it is said, we are justified in considering him perfectly equal to the supreme God. And yet being a separate intelligence, we are warranted in saying there are three persons in the divine nature; or three gods, and yet but one God.*
Now a doctrine so contrary to, as well as above reason, should be expressly and clearly revealed; otherwise we cannot be required to receive it: whereas it is only matter of construction and reasoning from certain declarations, or interpretations of a few passages of scripture, confessedly difficult and figurative. And the Unitarians contend, that, as the divine Unity is clearly and fully taught, it is the part of reason, and is due to truth to inquire, whether these difficult, obscure and figurative expressions do not admit of a different explanation, and altogether consistent with the doctrine so emphatically inculcated, of one God. If it were possible for a man to be impartial in judging in a cause when he himself is a party, we should not fear to appeal to the candid and intelligent Trinitarian, for a decision in our favour.
The texts of scripture, which are supposed to teach the doctrine of the Trinity, are very few. We think it may be said, that there are none (which are admitted to be genuine) which directly or plainly assert it. And keeping in mind the considerations above suggested, of the explicit declarations, that 'God is one, and of the figurative expressions relating to Christ, on account of his divine commission and miraculous character;
* A mere modal distinction does not satisfy the advocates of a Trinity ; for does their language imply this only.
these passages, most relied on by Trinitarians, will be found to afford feeble support to the article too feeble, indeed, to shake our belief in the fundamental truth of the strict unity of the supreme Deity.
So little stress is now laid by those even who contend for the co-equality of Christ with God, upon the ancient doctrine of the separate and distinct existence of the Holy Spirit, that it is not necessary to dwell on this point. It seems to be generally conceded, that the texts of scripture, which mention the divine spirit and the spirit of God, intend only the intelligence or energy of the Deity himself. And the supposition is perfectly consistent with the popular language, in which the Bible was written.
Whether we examine the Septuagint version, or consider the Hebrew idiom, the celebrated passage in the IX chap. of Isaiah, must be acknowledged by the candid and impartial critic to give no support to the Athanasian creed. It simply implies, that Christ, or the Messiah who was promised, would be endowed with great miraculous powers and have extraordinary knowledge of the will and purposes of Jehovah; that he would be the constituted Head of a new pacific and holy dispensation, to which the world would be subjected, and by which it would be sanctified and governed. He was to be the leading and chief Agent in this great moral creation; and the doctrines he was to teach to effect it, were to be divine and heavenly. So when it is said, his name shall be called Immanuel, or God with us,' the true and only meaning is, that the power and wisdom of God would be singularly manifested by him. In this sense, the Jews understood it. For when our Lord performed miracles among them, they said, truly a great prophet is risen up among us, and God has visited his people.' When our Lord says, He who hath seen me hath seen the Father; I and the Father are one; The Father dwelleth in me and I in him,' &c.; there is no difficulty in explaining these passages in perfect agreement with the entire unity of the Deity. It is evident from the connexion, from other similar texts, and from attending to the manner, in which he speaks of his own and the Father's connexion with the disciples, that the language is highly figurative; and is intended only to suggest the special and extraordinary communications of divine wisdom and power to himself and to the apostles, for the great purposes of teaching and establishing a new religion in the world; and the divine favour and support to be vouchsafed to the sincere and faithful followers of the Messiah. It is only to read these passages with an unprejudiced mind, to perceive that they do not at all teach the co-equality of Christ
with the Supreme Deity. For in all these places, it is expressly stated, that he was appointed, ordained, sent, empowered, and supported by God. And the recollection of his miraculous character and his high prophetic powers will fully justify the phraseology used by the Apostle; especially when we consider the figurative style of the oriental writers.
The introductory verses of St. John's Gospel, which some consider a very difficult passage, when compared with other parts of his gospel, and reference is had to the peculiar style of this Apostle, we think do not militate with the doctrine of the divine unity, so expressly taught in other parts of the evangelical writings; nor represent Christ as an independent, co-equal God. Some, indeed, contend that they represent Christ to have existed before all time, and to have created the visible universe. But on close examination, the more rational and consistent interprétation is, that the divine intelligence or wisdom, by which the worlds were made, and which is the underived source of all light and power, and being, (and therefore with God and God himself) having been disregarded, or unperceived and unacknowledged, amidst prevailing darkness and error, one was ordained and commissioned to be the Messiah, or Christ and anointed of God, to enlighten, to reform and save mankind. That divine spirit, which illuminated the prophets of old, and which, indeed, gives a degree of wisdom and understanding to all intelligent beings, qualified Jesus of Nazareth for the high and holy office of a spiritual teacher and guide and head to an erring, ignorant world.* He had greater degrees of knowledge as to the divine purposes and will than any other prophet. He had the spirit of God without measure.'
Thus qualified and thus assisted, he was a light to enlighten the moral world; the Son, Image, Agent, and Messenger of the Most High. Never did so much divine intelligence dwell in flesh, or in a human form before. And as he was willing to forego his own glory; to devote himself wholly to the cause, for which God had highly endowed him, to labour and suffer for others, he is therefore justly, though figuratively, called 'the Lamb of God;' our ransom, our redeemer. He came to turn us, and thus to save us from our sins; and by believing and following him we shall have eternal life. And had he, indeed, shrunk from his destined work, had he not lived and taught and suffered, as he did, (if one might make the supposition) the world would not have been blest by his perfect example and heavenly
* See Luke i. 35.--ii. 30, 31.—xxiv. 19. John i. 17, 18. Acts ii. 22.— iii. 13-15, and 6. iv. 10.-v. 30, 31.-x. 38.
doctrine; nor supported by the hope of immortality, resting on his resurrection: all would have been moral darkness still. But he was faithful to him who appointed him; he endured temptations; he performed the whole of his heavenly commission; he revealed the grace of God; he exhibited the power of religion in his own conduct; he submitted to death as necessary to the fulfilment of the divine purposes; he was obedient in all things to the will of God; and thus became perfect through sufferings. He is, therefore, exalted to the right hand of the Eternal; and is made Head of the church, or first and chief among the saints or children of God; who, through his faithful agency and the influence of his heavenly doctrines, are to be made partakers of immortality.
It is only to consider our Saviour in this high and holy character, to consider him as faithfully fulfilling this important and divine work of a messenger from God, to enlighten and reform mankind; and all the epithets applied to him in the New Testament will appear perfectly just and consistent, without the strange and revolting interpretation, which the Trinitarians adopt. As he was amply qualified by the Deity to instruct and save the world, it was most proper to speak of him as the Messenger and Son of God; as the Captain of our Salvation,' the resurrection and the life: as having power given him to bestow eternal life' on the obedient and pious; as judge of the world,' as having all authority in heaven and earth,' &c.
We will only add, that the passage in 1 John, v. 7, is acknowledged to be an interpolation by all candid and learned Trinitarians; that, in Acts, xx. 28, it should be Lord or Christ, and not God; and that the texts, 1 Tim. iii. 16; Heb. i. 8; 1 John v. 20, and Rev. i. 11 and 17, are not, all of them, as they now appear in our Testaments, agreeable to the most ancient and correct versions; and that some fairly admit of translations, which afford no support to the doctrine of the perfect equality of Christ with the Supreme Deity.
But upon all these points we have written more fully in other places, and do not now intend to enlarge. We rather refer our readers to Mr. Bailey, the author of the sermons mentioned at the head of this article. He is a decided and able advocate for the doctrine of the divine unity. We do not, indeed, perceive any arguments entirely new, or more convincing than have been urged by other writers. But it is apparent, he has thought much on the subject; that he has read the Bible with attention, for the purpose of forming his opinions consistently with its inspired declarations; and that he is most sincere and impartial in his present convictions. He refers to the opposition of the
doctrine to our reason and understanding; but dwells chiefly on those passages of scripture which are supposed to relate to the subject. He insists on the express declarations in the Bible, that God is one; and that Christ was sent, commissioned and qualified by God for the great work of salvation and that however highly our Lord is represented and whatever epithets are applied to him, they must all be taken and construed in accordance with other plain texts of scripture, which teach the unity of the Deity. The passages quoted by Trinitarians, are mentioned, and the criticisms and remarks accompanying, are correct and discrimi nating. But, above all, there is a most excellent spirit discovered in the whole discussion, which we recommend to all who engage in theological controversy. Why is it, we ask with surprise and regret, that among men who profess to be disciples of the blessed Jesus, and who are contending, not for triumph, but for truth, not for speculative tenets, but for doctrines according to godliness;' there appears so much ill will, uncharitableness and bitter reproaches? Alas, we fear, they know not what spirit they are of. A humble and devout spirit, after all our researches and inquiries, will teach us charity, and will prevent our anathematizing others who are faithful in their investigations and true to their own convictions. We cannot, indeed, conceive that real christians will bite and devour one another.'
We are the more gratified with the views and reasonings of Mr. Bailey, because they are those of a man who has seen and felt all the difficulties with which the subject is encompassed, on the one side as well as on the other. He has been perfectly acquainted with the strong holds of orthodoxy, in which for years he dwelt. He knows the full weight of the arguments on which he once rested, and therefore can the better appreciate those which oppose them. The evidence which has satisfied ourselves, seems to acquire double value, when we find that it has proved sufficient also to satisfy one, who had been accustomed to regard it as light and weak. Mr. Bailey was formerly a decided Trinitarian. But from recent examination of the New Testament and serious reflexions on its declarations, he has become convinced that the doctrine is not taught in the inspired volume: That it is an article framed by fallible men; resting wholly, (so far as scripture is concerned) on forced and unauthorized constructions of a very few texts. The honesty, explicitness, and strength and clearness of reasoning, with which he has declared his convictions to the world, instead of persecution and reproach, merit commendation and praise.
We recommend these sermons to serious and inquiring christians, who are desirous of having their opinious rest upon the