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but we believe it has been satisfactorily proved that he was not the author of it. However that may be, an objector might here reply, that “though the express words of Scripture are perhaps not to be found in that Creed, yet this ought not to be sufficient to condemn it, unless it also evidently contradicts the connected sense and plain tenor of the sacred writings: the question, therefore, is, whether that Creed contains the genuine doctrine of the Scriptures, according to their true sense and meaning ?” Now, to this question, which has been frequently put, we beg to reply in the words of one who styles himself a “member of the Church of England, sincerely attached to her true interest," the late Rev. Mr. Hopkins, of Cuckfield :-“The declarations of the Athanasian Creed," says he, “when compared with those of Scripture, are so far from being found there, that they seem at first view to convey a sense in opposition to that of the sacred writers. There are several propositions in this famous Creed, that appear shocking to common sense, and seem contradictory to each other, as well as Scripture. The language of the New Testament upon the subject of the Trinity, conveys a clear, rational, and consistent sense : but the same doctrine, as set forth in the Athanasian Creed, is all confusion and self-inconsistency : and, consequently, a Christian can be under no obligation to express his faith in such contradictory and unscriptural expressions, which do not seem calculated to clear up a Scripture doctrine, but to darken and confound the faith once delivered to the saints. I must beg leave to remind you, that it is not consistent with the character of a sincere Christian to contend for the imposition of such a Creed upon the consciences of Christians, as it is evidently needless from your own concession, namely, that the expressions in it are not found in Scripture. Can a sincere Christian possibly think, that a doctrine of revelation can be better expressed by men fallible, interested, and contentious, than by the Apostles themselves, to whom it was revealed by the Spirit of God, and who alone had a commission from God to deliver it to mankind whole and undefiled ? Is not this in effect to declare that the language of the Holy Spirit was insufficient to set forth a doctrine fully and completely, without the assistance of new and obscure terms of art, invented by men? Though a Christian has
certainly a right to rejeet such an unseriptural Creed, without a formal examination ; yet I am willing to give it all the fair play its warmest advocates can desire. Let it not be absolutely rejected, unless it contradicts Scripture in sense as well as language.”
The same writer proceeds in an elaborate work to prove (and from the success and celebrity of that work, it would appear that his positions and arguments were exceedingly powerful) that it does contradiet Scripture in sense as well as in language. We must refrain from following him, however, and apply ourselves more closely to the main design of this paper.
One of the main bulwarks of Trinitarianism is the passage of Matthew xxviii. 19:
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” It cannot, however, we think, be justly contended that this text either expresses or implies the mysterious doctrine attributed to it. Baptism is a simple rite, not an act of religious worship; and is expressive merely of belief and obedience. Thus, St. Paul speaks (1. Cor. x. 1, 2.) of the Israelites being baptized unto Moses, namely, into a belief of his Divine commission. And again, in the Acts (xix. 2, 3.) we read of the followers of John being baptized unto his baptism, that is, they professed to be his disciples.
St. Paul thanked God that he had baptized only two persons, lest any should say that he had baptized in his own name (1. Cor. i. 13-15). In another place, he intimates that all who were baptized into Jesus Christ were also baptized into his death (Rom. vi. 3, 4.): not that the death of their Master was an object of worship, (which would be absurd,) but a subject of belief. Hence we infer, that the ceremony of baptism is not indicative of religious worship, being due to the person or thing in whose name it is administered ; but we agree with Locke, who defines the phrase "to be baptized into any one's name, or into any one, as solemnly by that ceremony entering himself a disciple of him into whose name he was baptized, with profession to receive his doctrine and rules and submit to his authority.”
The attempt of Dr. Adam Clarke to deduee the doctrine of the Trinity from this passage of Matthew, on the position that.“ baptism signifies a full and eternal con
secration of the person to the service and honour of that Being in whose name it is administered, but this consecration can never be made to a creature,'
seems beside the mark, or made without due consideration ; for, surely, from the passages above cited we are authorised to reply, that “ Moses
“creature;" John and Paul were "creatures ;” the “body” of Christians spoken of (i. Cor. xii. 13.) is composed of innumerable " tures ;” and “baptism” and “death," if not qualities, are certainly not Divine persons in the Godhead. Moreover, it is distinctly declared that “God's dear Son” is “the first-born of every creature.” (Col. i. 13—15).
Our limits will not allow us to dwell much further on this passage than merely to state our conclusion, and one corroborative fact. We conclude, then, both for the reasons assigned, and others which we have not room to adduce, that the formula of baptism delivered by our Saviour in this text contains no allusion whatever to the popular doctrine of the Trinity; and this opinion is confirmed by finding that the Apostles did not employ the precise words of their Master, but omitted the names of the Father and the Spirit. Thus we read in Acts ii. 38, “ Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” See also Chap. viii. 16 ; x. 48; xix. 5. And in Galatians üi. 27, we find, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” This omission of the Apostles is one which can hardly be accounted for on the assumption that the words in Matthew had a reference to the belief in, and worship of, three co-equal and co-eternal persons subsisting in one and the same essence.
In reference to this text we cannot resist submitting to our readers a remarkable passage in the Confessions of a Member of the Church of England :
“This,” says he, “is certainly the strongest, I believe I may say, the only genuine text that can be fairly advanced in defence of the doctrine of a Trinity of Persons. If our Lord had added the words Three Persons and one God' as does our Church, I should bow with submission, though in opposition to so many other texts.
Had our Lord intended to restore a true but forgotten doctrine, it cannot reasonably be doubted that he would have added these words; and that he would have declared the doctrine in the plainest terms, in the course of his instructions to his disciples. Nothing of the kind is to be met with in any of his discourses; on the contrary, very many of his expressions are irreconcilable with such an idea.
“ The form of the commission thus given to the Apostles, regarding baptism, is certainly very remarkable, and calls for deep investigation and reflection. Long, very long, did it dwell with me, though I continually met with passages in the Bible which seemed to be directly opposed to the use that is made of it.
“ What can a poor frail mortal, conscious of his lack of wisdom, do, but carefully to examine the word of God; to compare one part with another, to meditate deeply upon it, with an earnest desire to arrive at the truth, and to implore the Father of Lights to guide him by his Holy Spirit in the inquiry? This method I have for many years endeavoured most anxiously and devoutly to pursue ; the result has been a clear conviction, that the words delivered in this remarkable text were not intended to be an initiation into the doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead."
The next passage deserving comment, which is frequently adduced to prove that the one God consists of three persons, possessing alike the divine perfections, and who are equally entitled to religious worship, occurs in 2 Cor. xiii. 14., “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with
all." Here we find in the same sentence, the association of the name of Christ and of the Holy Spirit with that of the Supreme Being; Christ's named placed before that of God; and, moreover, the verse itself is alleged by Trinitarians to contain a prayer addressed to Jesus Christ, to God, and to the Holy Ghost. Now, in the first place, we would ask, is it probable that the Apostle (whose words bear clear testimony, in point of fact, to the strict unity of the Almighty, the term God being restricted to one person) would have applied the common name of the Divine Being to the Father only, had he been a believer in the Deity of two other persons, called “God the Son” and “God the Holy Ghost ?
In reply to the reasons above cited as generally assigned for the proof of the Trinity in this text, Mr. Wilson has well observed, that “the conjunction of the name of one individual with that of another, does not imply equality of power, or identity of essence; since we find, in the records of Divine revelation, several instances of the names of men and angels, and even of things, associated with that of the Creator, in the expression of the same: or of similar acts.” These instances are indeed too numerous to quote. He goes on, “If precedence in the order of naming prove anything, in respect to Christ and God, it will prove too much ; namely, that the Son of God is superior to his father ; the argument, therefore, in support of their equality, is manifestly wrong. The Jews charged St. Stepnen with having blasphemed Moses and God (Acts vii. 11); but who, from this collocation of words, would infer, that either the martyr or his enemies had put the Hebrew legislator on a footing of perfect equality with Jehovah ? A similar question might be asked concerning Abram, whom Melchizedek blessed prior to the Most High (Gen. xiv. 19, 20); and concern ing Paul and others, who are in the same sentence mentioned before God and the Lord Jesus (1. Thess. i. 6, &c.) Thirdly, the benediction contained in the passage does not warrant the practice of praying to Christ and the Holy Ghost. If it did, then should we be obliged to admit, that the seven spirits, whose blessing is conjoined by the Apostle John with that of the Eternal One and Jesus Christ (Rev. 1-4, 5), were each of them the Supreme Deity, and entitled to religious adoration. It is worthy of remark, that the Holy Spirit is never mentioned by St. Paul in any other of his forms of benediction of which twenty instances at least might be cited) ; a circumstance which it would be very difficult to account for, on the supposition that this was a Divine person, distinct. from God the Father, and entitled equally with Him to Divine honours."
Having thus given a brief examination of the two principal passages alleged as evidencing the doctrine of a Triune God, we proceed to one or two others adduced. by Trinitarians in confirmation of the opinion that Christ is equal to; or identified with God. The first that presents itself to our attention, as being often quoted to prove that Christ is of the same substance as the Father, is John x. 30: “I and my Father are one."