Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

patible with each other. Reason is "that faculty of the soul whereby we judge of things :" and what would Religion be to us, without the exercise of the judicial faculties of the soul ?

D. S *****

R.

From the Christian Register. EXTRACTS FROM A VERY SENSIBLE AMERICAN WRITER, ON THE ORIGIN OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.

“In Egypt and the adjacent countries, the greatest part embraced the opinion of Origen, who held that the Son was in God that which reason is in man; and that the Holy Ghost was nothing more than the divine or active force.”

Both according to Mosheim and Milner, Origen was remarkable for giving an allegorical meaning to the language of scripture. He flourished in the third century, and, according to Mosheim, "he was a man of vast and uncommon abilities, and the greatest luminary of the Christian Church which his age exhibited to view.??

Another passage from Mosheim may now be introduced, which is of considerable importance to the present inquiry. In page 423, Vol. I, the Doctor states, that in the year 381, Theodosius called a council, which convened at Constantinople, and says, “A hundred and fifty bishops, who were present at this council, gave the finishing touch to what the council of Nice had left imperfect, and fixed in a full and determinate manner the doctrine of three persons in one God, which is as yet received among the generality of Christians.”

From this passage it is evident, that in the opinion of Mosheim, the Nicene council did not, in any detinite manner, affirm the doctrine of three persons in one God; : yet he supposes they did something towards that doctrine, but left it imperfect. But the obliging Doctor has told in the most unequivocal language, when the doctrine of three distinct persons in one God had its "finishing touch," and was adopted as an article of faith. It was in the year 381, about 56 years after the council

of Nice. Until this, it does not appear that any church or any council had, in a definite manner affirmed the doctrine.

Had this doctrine been of divine origin, and of such infinite importance as some have supposed, we might naturally expect to find that it had received its “finishing touchin the sacred oracles. But since it is not to be found in the Bible, we cannot blame the Doctor for speaking of the doctrine as the work of men. Nor can we much wonder that the “finishing touch” was delayed till so near the close of the fourth century, as the year

A. D. 381. The fourth century was very fruitful of inventions in favor of the doctrine of three persons in one God. Mr. Milner has recorded one invention of this century, and named the author. He says, “Flavian was the first who invented the doxology, “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."" Vol. 2. p. 93.

Before I had read this account, I had noticed several doxologies in the Bible, but not one in which the Holy Ghost is so much as named. And I was glad to find, in Mr. Milner, when and by whom this invention und innovation in Christian worship first took place. But if the Holy Spirit be a person, and equal with the Father, is it not astonishing that neither Christ nor his apostles, nor any Christian before Flavian, haù taught the church to include the Spirit, as a person, in a doxology or ascription of praise ? And the circumstance that "Flavian was the first who invented” such a “doxology,” is evidence to my mind that the doctrine of three persons in one God, had never been believed by the church of God prior to the fourth century. And this very doxology invented by Flavian, might have great influence in preparing the minds of the people for the "finishing touch” to that doctrine.

Mr. Milner has given some account of the council at Constantinople, in A. D. 381. He says, There came together 350 bishops—the council was very confused

and disorderly, greatly inferior in wisdom and piety to the council of Nice.-"Faction was high and charity was low at that time.”

“This council very accurately defined the doctrine of the trinity, and, enlarging a little the Nicene creed, they delivered it as we now have it in our common service.” The Macedonian heresy, which blasphemed the Holy Ghost, gave occasion to a more explicit representation of the third person in the Trinity.” Vol. 2. pages 184, 185.

We may here remark

1. If Mr. Milner be correct in stating the number of this council at 350 bishops, and Mosheim be correct as to the number who gave the finishing touch” to the doctrine of three persons in one God, it will follow that this “finishing touch” was given by the minor part of the council. For Mosheim states the number who did this work, at 150 bishops. He does not say

how many more were present-"But faction was high and charity was low at this time :” and by this we may perhaps reconcile the two accounts.

2. According to Milner this council “enlarged a little the Nicene creed," and gave a more explicit representation of the third person in the Trinity.It does not appear that the Nicene council gave any "representation" of the Holy Spirit as a person, nor any idea of three distinct persons in one God. And the additions made to their creed by the council at Constantinople, may perhaps be justly attributed to the spirit and character of the council as given by Mr. Milner. He not only states that faction was high and charity was low at this time, but also that the council was very confused and disorderly, greatly inferior in wisdom and piety to the council at Nice.

That the church in the fourth century made rapid advances in degeneracy, is very evident both from Mosheim and Milner. And if we may give credit to what had been collected from these two historians, are we not justly entitled to this conclusion, that the doctrine of three distinct persons in one God had its birth in the allegory of Origen, its growth in the degeneracy of the church, its maturity or finishing touchin a very confused and disorderly council, when faction was high and charity was low ? and shall it be deemed a crime to call in question the correctness of a doctrine thus produced, or to bring it to the Oracles of God for examination.

If ever the character of a council might give rise to suspicions respecting the correctness of their result, such was the character of the council that gave the "finishing touchto the doctrine of three persons in one God. A worse character was never perhaps given to a council which bore the Christian name, than Mr. Milnor has given to the council of Constantinople. Yet it appears that this is the first council that ever asserted the doctrine of three persons in one God. K.

KNEELAND'S GREEK AND ENGLISH TESTAMENT. Br. Abner Kneeland, of Philadelphia, has lately published a Greek and English Testament, and now informs the public, that the encouragement is such, that he is now about to put it on stereotype. For this purpose, he has published a Letter, soliciting the attention of the learned to a revision of the work. We suggest to Br. Kneeland the propriety of restoring the accents, which we find were mostly omitted in the first edition, Many scholars wish to use them as a directory to the pronunciation. Besides, we are fully persuaded that the practice of printing Greek without the accents is fast growing into disuse. They certainly have been restored at many Greek presses, where they had not been previously used. To those who pay no attention to them, they will give no offence, and those who wish for them, will consider the want of them a blemish.

From the Christian Register.

ON THE FIGURATLVE STYLE OF SCRIPTURE.

Altho sceptical readers of the Bible may be disposed to ridicule some of those figures which appear to them extravagant and absurd ; yet any one who lends an impartial attention to the subject, will clearly perceive that the occurrence of imagery which would be frequently obscure, and sometimes unintelligible to us, was to be expected in any composition formed on models of our sacred writings.

1. The innovating hand of time has rendered many things obsolete ; and, consequently, the allusions which in metaphorical language, are made to those things, must be difficult, if not impossible to be understood. And when we recollect that some portions of the Scriptures were written more than 3000 years ago, and that the latest of them were written between 1700 and 1800 years ago, it would have been very remarkable had we lost sight of none of those customs and none of those events on which the figures of Scripture are founded.

2. The difference between the scene and climate in which the sacred writers lived, and our own, forms another barrier to the right understanding of their figurative terms. This prevents us often froin perceiving the full force of a passage even when its beautý, nevertheless, powerfully effects the mind. Thus when the Psalmist says, As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God,it is impossible not to be affected by the combination of chaste elegance of expression, with vehement ardor of feeling. Yet, in our temperate clime, where water is scarcely ever known to fail,--where the sun is scarcely ever known to pour his sickening ray upon our heads, we are not prepared to enter into all the beauty of the fig. ure as an inhabitant of Judea would have done. Again, the hart is not with us a wild animal, subject to the various privation which it was compelled to endure in the regions where the sun had burned up his food, and dried

« AnteriorContinuar »