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their wanderings through the wilderness. It was the same person, who thus appeared under the former dispensation, as Jehovah, the angel of Jehovah, in whom the Godhead resided; who was afterward born into our world of the virgin Mary, having the same complex existence before as after this event; with this only difference, that before, it was angelic, or heavenly, just so far as it was afterwards human or earthly. And it is the same person, who is constituted Lord of the Universe, not in his attributes and prerogatives, as the infinite and eternal God, but in his finite and created nature. It was the same nature, which humbled itself to appear in fashion as a man, and in the form of a servant, that was afterwards highly exalted, receiving a name that is above every name.
Our author is equally dissatisfied with the common Trinitarian theory with respect to the Holy Spirit, and thinks, with many, that it has insuperable difficulties. Instead of being a distinct person in the Unity of the Deity, he thinks it is a distinct agent or being,-employed in highly important offices, having a created as well as an uncreated nature, like the created and uncreated nature of Christ, making a complex person.
His whole notion of the Trinity is thus expressed ;
We have found God sometimes denominated the Father, represented as one being, and one person. We have also found the Son of God, in some respects distinguished from God, and, thus far, the subject of a personality, in which divinity is not involved; and, in addition to this, so united to the divine nature, expressed by the Father's dwelling in him, as to be personally identified with the Father, according to his own saying, He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. Here then are two distinct persons, not both divine, though both united in one, who is the Son of God; the Father uncreated, united with the Son produced to make a complex person. We have, furthermore, found the Holy Spirit a complex person, constituted, like the Son, by the indwelling of divinity in a created spirit. God the Father in whom all divine personality exists, dwells in the Son and also in the Spirit; so that the Son is truly denominated God through the personal indwelling of the Father in him, and the Holy Ghost has the same honours upon the same footing. The Trinity, upon this plan, is no other, than the divine nature, which is the first person, the created nature of the Son of God, the second, and the created nature of the Holy Spirit, the third.'
After distinctly stating and explaining and defending at large his own views of the doctrine of the Trinity, the author offers his objections to that form of the doctrine, which it seems to be assuming at the present time; passing by as obsolete, those explanations of the doctrine and modifications of it, which, though
formerly relied upon, have given place to that form, which it has now taken.
The first objection is, that it contradicts and destroys itself; first, by professing to owe all its support to express revelation, and then by declaring it impossible that it should be revealed. The second is, that it has recourse for support to a flagrant abuse and perversion of language, by applying definite terms to an indefinite, or undefinable subject.
These objections are urged with force, and the reader will probably think in a satisfactory and conclusive manner.
They are suggested, it will be perceived, by that scheme of the Trinity, which is adopted by Professor Stuart in his late publication on the subject, which rejects the use of the term persons, and prefers that of distinctions in the Deity; on the ground, that the term person is not applicable in its usual sense. Or if the term is retained, professes to use it, not according to its ordinary acceptation, nor in any sense that is capable of being defined, or understood.
'Those with whom I am arguing,' says our author, 'admit that there are not three persons in the Godhead, in the ordinary sense of the term. But they plead, that there is no reason for wholly discarding the term, since a better is not to be found. "It has always," says Mr. Stuart, "been a conceded point, that in the discussion of difficult subjects or the statement of them, terms might be used aside from their ordinary import."-Allowed; but was it ever conceded that a man might vary a term from its ordinary or received sense, without defining the sense in which he would be considered as using it? If such a latitude might be taken, I see not how it would tend to render a difficult subject less difficult, &c. But it seems, if we would be orthodox Trinitarians, we must not apply the term person to the Godhead in the ordinary sense, nor in any other that is known, or capable of being defined; for the subject is no other than an indefinable distinction, to express which by definite terms, or in other words, by terms of any meaning, would be just as absurd, as for Paul to have gone on, and told the Corinthians what were those unspeakable words, which he heard in Paradise.'
How far the writer has succeeded in the design of relieving the doctrine of the Trinity from the great difficulties and objec tions, to which it was liable in every form and under every modification in which it has appeared, and in presenting it in a ra tional and scriptural light, different opinions will be entertained. Trinitarians, whose faith has not yet been disturbed, by the inquiring spirit of the day, will probably consider it, as it undoubtedly is, an entire abandonment of the most essential part of the doctrine. They will revolt from the notion of a Trinity so con
stituted, and will think it little short of impiety to apply the term to three distinct beings, so unequal and dissimilar as finite and infinite, created and uncreated. They will think the name but ill preserved, where the essence of the thing is given up. And some, who, together with the doctrine of a Trinity, have been willing to give up the name also, will not improbably have been led to very different speculations on the subject, and think the scheme here offered pressed with difficulties scarcely less formidable, than those with which that is embarrassed which they have found themselves compelled, by the remonstrances of reason and the clear voice of Scripture, to abandon. Nor ought our author to be surprised or disappointed, should this be the case; should there be few, who are ready to fall in entirely with his views, however they may admire the spirit of freedom and independence with which he has been led to them, and respect the talents with which he has been able to explain and defend them, and admit the irresistible force of the arguments, which he has employed against the commonly received opinion upon the subject. With that freedom of mind with which this respectable writer seems to have engaged in these inquiries, and rejecting as he does, the popular doctrine, because it is unintelligible and therefore incredible; he cannot fail to perceive, that the doctrine which he has substituted for it, though relieved from some of the absurdities with which the other is charged, is yet embarrassed by others of a similar kind. That single and deliberate pursuit of what is true and intelligible, which has carried him so far, cannot fail to make him perceive the necessity of proceeding further. And he will see, that all the considerations which he has urged with so much force and justice against the notion of three distinct independent persons in one God,'---may be urged with something of the same propriety, against the notion of two or three distinct natures, so different as finite and infinite, created and uncreated, constituting one complex person, that is, one single consciousness, one agent, one being.' We have no doubt that the author has perceived, and is fully aware of this difficulty, and that he has a solution of it, with which his own mind is at present satisfied. But we are far from believing that a mind so open to the light of truth, so capable of perceiving the whole force of an objection, and so ready to follow the evidence of reason and scripture, as we are induced, by the specimen before us, to believe his to be, will continue to rest satisfied long with any solution, of which we can imagine the subject to be capable. The writer, we are sure, will not be offended nor hurt at these intimations. We make them with feelings of the greatest respect and good will; welcoming him cordially
as a fellow labourer with ourselves in the cause of truth, and in the free and fearless investigation of the meaning of the sacred scriptures; and not doubting that he is one, who believes with us, that more light is yet to be thrown upon those holy writings, -that they are destined to be yet better understood, and that in all our researches to promote this great end, it becomes us to express with freedom and plainness the results to which we are led, to bear with patience the different views of others, and to be thankful for any hints they can throw out, by which we may be led to correct and improve our own system of faith.
The Church of Christ; a Sermon preached on the day of monthly communion, at the Second Independent Church, in Charleston, S. C. By SAMUEL GILMAN. Charleston: Duke & Browne. Pp. 16.
We owe the publication of this Sermon to the Charleston Unitarian Tract Society; an institution of which we have no further knowledge, but of whose utility we cannot doubt. If its affairs are conducted with zeal, and with the judgment which has been exercised in the present case, it may be the instrument of extending widely a spirit of religious inquiry, and a knowledge and love of religious truth. It may thus second the labours and honour the memory of the former pastor of the Second Independent Church, who was himself so fine an example of the power of the gospel, and who so nobly opened a way, which we trust will not soon be closed, for the triumph of religious freedom, and the diffusion of christian knowledge and charity. The memoir of his life and character, upon which we dwelt with peculiar pleasure in our last volume,* presents a picture of independence, integrity, and piety, which cannot be studied without imparting something of the same spirit; and we trust that those who are labouring in the same field, will feel their obligation to tread faithfully in his steps. We hope that that memoir has been printed as one of the Charleston tracts; if not, we could recommend it, as eminently calculated to make the best impres sions, and produce the best effects. It is such actual, living, exbibitions of fidelity and devotion, which are to bring men to love and embrace religion.
It is matter of congratulation that societies are every where multiplying for the purpose of publishing and distributing works of this kind. Their increase in number and in zeal is one of the favourable signs of the times; though much still remains to be done to make them as efficacious as they might be. There is one mode of augmenting their value and influence, which appears to us to promise more than any other; and that is, the establishment of a Library and Tract Society in every parish. Let there be an association of judicious men who shall manage a library, to which the whole congregation may have access, and who shall, from time to time, print and distribute amongst the congregation, such works as may seem to be called for by the state of religion and the aspect of the times. The good which might thus be done is incalculable. A taste for reading might be created and extended, better books would be in circulation in place of those which are now by most persons selected very much at random, hearers would be made more intelligent, and preaching more profitable; while the personal intercourse of the minister would become more instructive, by the reference to subjects, in which books have already created an interest. Within the limits of a single parish, such an association could act with energy and judgment; they could know certainly what was best to be done, and the best mode of doing it; and multitudes would be thus instructed and impressed, who could never come within the operation of more extensive societies. Indeed the larger and more general institutious might be essentially aided by multiplying such minor establishments for they would operate as auxiliaries, to make them better known, and to circulate their publications. There is no way, for instance, in which the interests of the Boston Publishing Fund could be more effectually promoted, its tracts more rapidly circulated, its exertions facilitated and its means of usefulness augmented, than by such associations in our several parishes. We recommend the suggestion to the attention of active and zealous christians throughout our churches.
The design and tendency of the sermon before us, is to inculcate the temper of a liberal and enlarged feeling of good will toward all who bear the name of Christ. From the text, For we are members of his body—the inquiries are made, What is the church, and Who are its members. After a rapid and spirited sketch of the various replies, which would be given to the first question by inhabitants of different countries and christians of different communions; the preacher asks the question at the New Testament. He thence endeavours to make it appear, that the body of men who have right to be called the Church of