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CHAPTER VII. Further views of the same subject, in continuation. And in what do we err? and what causes us to wander from our Father's house," and the way he hath appointed in his Word ? these causes, we will endeavor to point out; and we will also endeavor, to plainly map our course of error and wandering, from the “ truth as it is in Jesus Christ.”
The first error we most naturally run into, is evidently the one which the ancient Jews were inclined to, and which Moses, the mediator of the law, took such remarkable pains and trouble to oko viate and guard against ; and this error is, believing in a plurality, or three Gods, and forgetting their unity. And having discovered and been startled at this gross error, the next course is apt to be, when the enemy of christians charges it home upon us, that we abandon, as many have abandoned, the trinitarian strong-holds, and flee for refuge and shelter, to Sabellianism, still trusting in trinitarianism, still reposing on its armour, on its name, and Scriptural evidences. Then we are extremely apt to deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, in his divine nature, which lays the foundation for a full belief in the Sabellian Doctrine; this point conceded, it is but a trifle to deny there are no such characters as Father and Son in the Godhead, and it follows as a necessary effect. It will De seen at once by every sensible mind, that if we believe in a Trinity, it must be a Trinity of pers sons, or being, or offices. Destroy the idea of the Trinity being composed of persons, it is hard to maintain the doctrine, for we cannot have any revealed, or Scipture names for them; and if we believe in the Word, we will not desire names not found in it: and shall not well like to discard by substitution, such a considerable portion of it, which is so full of edification, consolation, love, and hope, and faith ; and which constitutes some of the most beautiful and sublime truths, sentiments, and language and consistency; and which is as it were the body of heaven in its clearness." For if we call the first person Father, it is ackowl. edged by all on every side of the question, that Father implies Son, and according to Doctor Clarke, generation also. Suppose it should be sạid the first of the persons is called Father, in reference to creation, this does not relievo from the difficulty, for there appears another person in the work of creation, viz. the second person, he certainly can have no name, unless both are called Father. And should we call the second person the Word of the Father, and deny that the Word and Son has reference to one and the same person, it does not exactly relieve from the difficulty, for those that deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in his divine nature, will vociferously cry out, that Father and Son imply “time and generation, and a time antecedent to such generation," which they say destroys the Godhead of Christ. And indeed if this train of reasoning is followed, it is plainly perceived that it will not do to call this second person in the Trinity, the Word of the Father, this would imply a time when this Word was spoken or proceeded
Forth from God, and a time or period antecedent to that time; and Doctor Clarke thinks, that will destroy the deity of our Lord, and ruin the pian of Salvation; and although he and others may in their own conceit have become wiser than the Bible, they do not eondescend to give a name, therefore we still are at an entire loss for a name for the second person in the Trinity. The next and not a very great stride, is to step on to the ground of Sabellius, and conclude with him, that these three are only different qualities or one personi acting in different capacities or offices. Thus we see plainly the road, the devious way of error, when we grope our way in the light of human Jeason alone, and leave the divine lights of Scripture. It is always a downward and dangerous way we pursue, when “much learning" maketh us mad, and we conceitourselves wise above what is written and revealed. Alas, for these 6 troubled waters which cast up mire, and dirt."
In recurring to their notion that if Christ is a being unoriginated and Eternal, he cannot either be the Son or Word of the Father, for the names Son or Word would naturally intimate to us, that he proceeded from the Father, and following up these ideas, other important questions arise in our minds. What could the apostle mean, and have reference to, when he makes mention of a character who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature ? and when he informs us that “ by him were all things created that arein heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or principalities,” &c. in the 1st chapter Colossians. Is the Father the Image of the Invisible God? or was it the human nature of Jesus Christ ? or the first born of every creature? We shall all agree it was not the Father : and how can it be the human nature of Jesus Christ? Another question of very serious and solemn account, is, unto what then were we baptized ? We can find no name for the two first persons, for it seems our brethren will not admit it is correct to call them Father and Son. Shall we baptize in the name of the one God, and the human nature of Jesus Christ? and in the room of the Holy Ghost, shall we say, we baptize in the name of the energy and active force of God ?
But have Sabellius, Arius, or Socinius helped us out of any difficulty ? Admitting the doctrine of Tritheism, or of three co-ordinate and separate Gods, the difficulties in the plan of redemption are insurmountable. But the doctrines of Sabellius, Arius and Socinius, to which vain men have fled for refuge, have not helped us out of any difficulty. By their systems, we cannot find a proper character for a mediator, who is to make an atonement for sin. This is the all-important point, the glad tidings of great joy. All the wise men before the Christian era, were anxiously expecting a revelation as to man's restoration from sin ; religion then was only a local authority, the custom of each particular country; and all agreed that the particular interposition of God, was necessary; they all denounce as foolish, unmeaning, and , abominable the worship in their respective coun
tries; but as human wisdom and power was too infirm to remove ancient prejudices and to establish better and general modes of worship, they recommended the observance of these, until the revelation should come. In what then are these three systems above named better than the hear then ? And why then should we fly to them for
shelter, and leave the refuge and the light of Scripture? Why should we fly to them if they darken the way of atonement for sin; if they destroy confidence; if they embarrass the way by insurmountable doubts; and if we are to rely still upon creature means and inventions ?
Under these systems, if correct-what is our bible ordinance of benediction? Need we indeed wonder there is so much controversy about the ordinance of baptism ? for it must follow that it is a mysterious and unmeaning ordinance. Provided our Lord possessed two whole natures, united in one person, as we have concluded he does, there would appear a great impropriety in both sacraments of the gospel. Po apply them to the lesser nature of our Lord, and omit their application altogether, to the other, and infinitely superior nature, and to leave that without any sacrament, or ordinance to represent it, or bring it to remembrance, seems to our understanding to be irreconcilable. The second sacrament, which we call the Lord's Supper, undoubtedly must have reference to the humanity of our Lord, and to his flesh and blood in particular. Again, if there is not a divine spirit, or third person in the Trinty, possessing vitality, rationality, and real divinity, we cannot imagine why we should be commanded to be baptized in the name of the Holy Ghost.
We have considered the original institution of the divine ordinance of baptism to be of great utility, as a symbol, or remembrancer, of much meaning, leading our minds into frequent recurrence to first and fundamental principles of the gospel of Christ, and to a greater intimacy and nearness, of knowledge which the divine union, and of our adoption into it, and love and fellowship therewith. In